Reed Software and Securities Company: A publically traded tech company with a hidden agenda. They are hired to take on some of the most difficult covert operations and contracts the government won’t acknowledge.
As the new CEO and face of Reed Software and Securities Company, Jacob Reed has been trying to get out of the family business as a covert operator. Lately he’s been fantasizing about settling down, living a normal life away from the paparazzi, guns, and drug lords.
Katie Wilson loves her job as a broadcast journalist for Channel 10 news. She is just beginning to explore her career when she gets the lead on a new story that could blow up an international sex trafficking operation.
When their jobs force their paths to explosively collide, Katie is caught in the crossfire and has no memory of that night. A year will pass before fate seemingly draws them together and he saves her a second time. Now that Jacob has unknowingly brought Katie into his world, she’s become a target for danger from an unknown source… and this time he refuses to let her go at all costs.
EXCERPT ONE / MONDAY
“So this is it, my apartment.” Katie fumbled with her small purse and keys. A small brownstone building with a bright blue door and flowered window boxes stood next to the car’s passenger door.
“I like the neighborhood. Quiet. Safe. Do you have a patio in the back?” Jacob asked, already knowing. He had all of her neighbors looked into, also.
“Unfortunately no. I’m on the second floor, but I love my little place.” Katie felt wary and, having barely known Jacob for 48 hours, she didn’t think it wise to rush into letting him see her apartment just yet. Besides, she knew her closet had recently been torn apart and was all over her bedroom at the moment. Trevor might approve in his quest to get Katie laid, but her mother would have a heart attack.
“It suits you, Katie. I would have been surprised if you chose an apartment by your office, actually.” Jacob leaned towards her slightly so he could see her building better. He was close enough that he could smell her breath, which was still sweet and minty from the chocolate mint that came with the dinner check earlier.
“Really? Initially, I did look there, but it seemed foolish to pay for an overpriced studio apartment. It’s quieter out here and I like the people. My neighbors downstairs are a nice couple.” Katie could feel her heart racing. Jacob was staring at her lips and her eyes, simultaneously. How did guys do that? She wondered. Her cheeks were feeling warm, but became even warmer when he gently cupped her right cheek.
“I think this has become my new favorite part of the city.” Jacob slowly inched even closer and Katie felt her throat constrict as she swallowed, unconsciously licking her top lip. Katie couldn’t recall the last time she felt so tongue-tied and closed her eyes, taking in all the sensations. His male scent, the lock of stubborn hair that drifted over his forehead, and the heat of the car mixed with leather seats, misty rain, and a dog in the backseat.
“Why…why is that, Jacob?” she stuttered, anticipating his next move. She hoped he’d make the next move soon and cease her anxiety.
“Because, silly girl, you live here,” he whispered. Then he kissed her sweetly, testing the first contact of his cool lips to her lightly damped and freshly licked ones. He kissed her again, pressing his lips more firmly to hers before taking her mouth in his and gently probing to kiss her more fully. His tongue swirled in her mouth, commanding but not demanding. While Jacob wanted much more, he also didn’t want to frighten her. If she knew how protective of her he’d been in the last year, she’d have gone running from the car into traffic.
Her body shivered as she surrendered, opening her mouth to his kiss and tentatively responding. Their tongues gently did a pirouette in a familiar rhythm and Katie felt herself becoming a part of Jacob. It was both exciting and frightening. It had been so long since she had let anyone into her life. As the warmth of his kiss singed her senses, she pulled back. Jacob took that hint to end the kiss, gently pecking her on the lips just once more.
“I should…I should go.” Katie could barely catch her breath and Jacob leaned his forehead into hers, cupping her head gently in his hand and brushing her hair back behind her ear and neck.
“Thank-you for a wonderful dinner, Katie. Can I see you again this week?”
It seemed like a full second passed before Katie responded. Jacob held his breath. “Yes, I’d like that.” Katie nodded and Jacob stole a quick kiss between words.
“Mmm-hmm. Yes.” Katie blinked, picking up her keys from her lap. As she pulled away, Hauk barked and licked her in the face. She laughed out loud and rubbed Hauk between his ears.
Jacob laughed and gently pushed Hauk to the back of the car. “Silly dog, you can’t have her. I kissed her first.” With that, Jacob kissed Katie quickly again and she laughed.
“Okay, Thursday. I’m usually done by 6:45, though you might have to rescue me if anything newsworthy happens.”
“I think I can manage that. I’ll see you then, Katie.” With slightly unsteady legs, she got out of the car and jogged up to her door, but she refused to look back at his car. Jacob watched her unlock the door and go inside. Before he drove away, he unclipped Hauk, who jumped into the front seat and put his cold nose on the window.
“I’m going to leave you home next time. Darn mutt.” Jacob affectionately pet Hauk, who barked back.
EXCERPT TWO/ TUESDAY
“Testing out my stamina, sweetheart? I could prove myself in other ways, you know.” Katie threw a pillow, hitting him in the chest. He made an oof sound and caught it, chasing her to the kitchen and laughing. Hauk looked up and barked once before laying his head back down, wagging his tail. Both Jacob and Katie laughed easily.
They decided to let Hauk stay at the apartment. He didn’t seem eager to follow them out; instead, he sat at attention near Katie’s apartment door. Jacob explained that Hauk was used to doing guard dog duties and, sometimes, the older dog just made his own decisions. Katie put a water bowl and a few treats out for him.
They finished their coffee and made their way to Prospect Park. Jacob kept up with Katie, who maintained a swift pace of a seven minute mile. Both were slightly winded after the six-mile run. Jacob could see how Katie maintained her trim figure, as well as caught up to her mugger. They chatted during the run and when Katie sped up to push the pace, Jacob kept up.
Suddenly, Jacob pulled her off the path and into the shade of the trees.
“Now, Katie, I’m not waiting.” He let go of her hand and gently pushed her back up to a tree. Katie felt the bark rub her back, until Jacob put his arm around her and protected her from the tree’s roughness. He tipped her head back slightly, and Katie looked into his eyes. She felt safe with him and let him have his way.
He sensed that the photographer was out there. It was almost impossible to miss his tail this morning on his way to Katie’s apartment. Only an idiot would get that close in his beat up red Honda so Jacob could make out his face. He figured that, if the bastard was out there, he might as well make him work for the photo. It was only a matter of time before they tracked Katie to Brooklyn. He regretted having to leave her later today. He hoped that, by staying at his place, she’d be a little safer…along with the bodyguard detail that he would casually not mention.
Jacob kept Katie distracted. Even he was able to block out his suspicions. He figured that Sunday’s paper would feature another set of photos. Reed Software’s stock prices actually jumped, as did Katie’s news station network shares, because of the newly garnered public interest. However, he didn’t give a rat’s ass about his portfolio. He finally had the woman he’d been waiting for in his arms…awake, no less. Jacob figured that if the paparazzi were going to hound them then they might as well use the publicity to their advantage and try to throw that CIA prick off their tail.
Katie clutched his grey, sweaty shirt in her hands, her nails grazing his shoulders. Her low moan had Jacob cradling her closer. Her stomach was flipping with excitement and from the run. Between breaths, she mumbled to Jacob, “Race you back to the apartment.”
Katie turned and ran, Jacob following right on her heals. He’d chase the little minx to hell and back, if necessary.
EXCERPT THREE / WEDNESDAY
He made his way to the bedroom, unbuttoning his shirt and taking off his belt. He stopped in the doorway so he could watch Katie sleeping in his bed. She slept in the middle, curled up and without a care in the world. She looked relaxed, breathing steady and hugging a pillow. Light from the far window cast shadows and illuminated her hair with rich tones of red in her dark locks. Hauk, who had lifted his head up when Jacob entered, gave a low woof before getting off the bed. He gave him a pet, then Hauk padded off to the living room, and Jacob proceeded to take his shirt and pants off. Feeling tired, he left his boxer briefs on and slipped into the bed. He gently moved in behind her, spooning her body with his larger frame. By moving his hand over her body under the covers, he could tell that she was wearing a tank top with lacey edging and matching shorts. He needed to think other thoughts beside lace, warmth, and the womanly body next to him. As much as he wanted to wake her up and have his way with her, it was still too soon. However, if she initiated things…well, then, that might be another case indeed.
Katie slept deeply. In her dreams, she felt coolness and then warmth. She snuggled deeper into the soft bedding. As she hovered on the border of consciousness, she felt a gentle hand massaging her waist and lower back. Warm lips nibbled on her shoulder and brushed the hair away from her neck, nuzzling her softly. Light from the far window eased its way into the room. Katie woke slowly, smiling in the comfort of Jacob’s warm embrace. She knew it was him right away and eased herself around to face him. He whispered in her ear how he missed her and she wrapped her arms around him.
“Welcome home, stranger.” Katie sighed and breathed in Jacob’s masculine scent.
He grunted a reply. She had no idea how much of a stranger he was to her. “I thought you promised to be naked and waiting,” Jacob teased, wrapping a tendril of her hair around his finger.
EXCERPT FOUR/ THURSDAY
Jacob’s phone rang. He was annoyed because he knew that specific ring tone. His teammates thought they were being smart asses by programing his phone with the “Mission Impossible” theme. They were all meathead dorks, whom he’d trust with his life. He enjoyed the missions, but he was simply getting tired of going out there. He wanted and needed a quieter, more behind-the-scenes kind of job, especially since he enjoyed more of the technical and surveillance side of things, specifically from the comfort of his home office. He watched Katie finishing her news story, speaking with an aroma therapist who was rubbing vanilla oil on the inside of her wrist. Jacob inhaled deeply, wondering how soft her skin would be. He imagined smelling the vanilla oil all over her body, but was only able to smell the leather of his sofa, his coffee, and Hauk so he shook his head free from the torturing thoughts and picked up the ringing phone, turning the TV down.
“Reed,” he answered.
“Hey, Jacob. You catch your girlfriend talking about testicles on TV again?” The female voice laughed deeply.
“Orchids, Lulu. She was doing a story on orchids. Now, tell me, what do you want?” Jacob ran an irritated hand through his hair, imaging Lulu filing away for future reference his admission of watching Katie Wilson. It wasn’t the first time he was caught doing so.
“Well, duh, Jacob! Orchids are a Greek derivative of the word testicles. At least I know my ancient languages. You might want to brush up if you plan on dating the smartass reporter someday.” Scowling, he knew Lulu was enjoying this entirely too much.
EXCERPT FIVE/ FRIDAY
Jacob was on her like prey. He really hoped it wasn’t her and her friend who had screwed up their operation here seven ways to Sunday. “Come on out, miss. I just want to talk to you. It’s okay. We’re a security team. You won’t be in any trouble if you just cooperate.”
Jacob could hear her heavy breathing as she struggled to keep it under control. Her shoes clicked on the flooring as she tried to hide. Hauk barked once, then twice, alerting him to her presence near his location on the second level of the warehouse. She could feel the animal’s hot breath and the bottom of his large paws as he jumped up to herd her where he wanted her. Katie chose that moment to run out from her hiding spot, charging towards him and hoping to make the back staircase.
“Stop!” Jacob was in pursuit.
He watched the accident happen as if it were in slow motion. The woman feigned to the right, then left, where she tripped over a pipe in her ridiculous spindly shoes. As she caught herself, a chain on the floor got caught on her heel. She tripped again but, this time, she was unable to right herself and she fell hard, hitting her head on the floor. Holstering his weapon, Jacob rushed over. She was unconscious and, as he turned her body over, a large lump was already forming on her forehead. This could only get worse. She was going to have a hell of a shiner tomorrow. Her cheek was scratched, but he’d recognize her face anywhere, even in the dark. His gut clenched as he gingerly brushed hair back from her face. It was the stunningly beautiful Katie Wilson, the reporter from Channel 10 news. Fuck.
He heaved a heavy sign and called Nick on the com. He knew this shit storm was going to take some cleaning up. “Nick, we have a problem.”
M.C. Cerny lives with her daughter and her very own heroic Mr. Flashpoint with their three furry cats, who consider themselves more canine than feline. M.C. balances a fulltime career in the corporate world, while pursuing her dream of writing contemporary romantic suspense novels. Her first novel, Flashpoint is her debut novel in a series of post-it-note ramblings. After graduating from NYU with a Master’s Degree and various jobs she's finally settled down enough to let the quirky characters in her head lead the way. When M.C. is not writing, you’ll find her lurking in Starbucks, running marathons, and searching out the perfect shade of pink nail polish.
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