Someone is watching her… Shannon Fabray’s career in the art world is on the rise thanks in no small part to her signature sculpture Her Marine. But with fame, comes fans and some like to get closer than others. Coping with the notoriety, Shannon doesn’t let the constant contact get under her skin until one night, it goes to far and to Shannon’s horror, one of them is making it very clear he wants the artist for himself and sees her as a possession that should be added to his collection. He’s coming home… After a dozen years in service to his country, Lieutenant Brody Essex has lost count of the missions he’s run, the hours he’s spent in the field and the number of days he’s been out of the country. Budgetary issues freeze his promotion, and his unit is left on the ground in Afghanistan, but he makes it work because the only countdown that matters to him is the one that will bring him home. Home to the artist that carved a niche in his heart. When bureaucratic snafus hold up his paperwork, he sucks it up until a phone call alerts him that Shannon’s loft has been broken into, and she was nearly kidnapped. Breaking all the rules… Now Brody will break the rules and go AWOL, heading home without permission because his girl is in danger and she needs her Marine bodyguard…
"Heather Long's Marines are a luscious treat that will leave readers breathless and clamoring for more." ~Melissa Schroeder, USA Today bestselling author
Brody accepted that blame. Shannon had been in the States, she’d been safe at home. No one should have had anything in for her—least of all some sick fuck sending her nasty letters and trying to kidnap her. He wanted to know who, he didn’t really care why. The why didn’t matter. The who did. As someone who specialized in fast response, all he needed was a target. Eliminate the target, eliminate the problem and make his girl safe again.
That was his priority now, but to Damon all he said was, “Sorry man.” From the corner of his eye, he caught Damon’s nod. They didn’t need a lot of words. “What about Bates?” He’d never met the woman, never heard of her before now, but he owed her. She’d taken a bullet for Shannon.
“Gut wound. Ugly as fuck, but the docs all said she’ll pull through. She’s in ICU, and Morgan has two of his guys watching over her in case the asshole makes another try. She might be able to ID him.” What he didn’t have to add was that she hadn’t woken up to confirm or deny that supposition. Finally, they were off the highway and the landscape gave way to the green vista he recalled from his last visit to the campus.
Damon waved to a man at the gate and it lifted while they were still approaching. The addition of a security gate was new. But the facility continued to grow. He’d received regular updates from all of his brothers here. They’d added new buildings, bought land across the street and if the scuttlebutt was true, they were building single-family homes and more. Luke Dexter seemed to be taking over the town of Allen, one square mile at a time.
What little amusement he found in the thought was fleeting as Damon drove up the long drive and then took a turn-off that headed into a private parking area. As soon as he put the truck in a parking spot, Brody exited with his bag in hand. “Apartment number?”
“307.” Brody had turned and was on the move when Damon called after him. “We’re here if you need us.”
“Thanks,” he called back over his shoulder, but didn’t slow his pace. He spotted the guard easily enough, and second one patrolling the green belt. Cameras were placed every thirty yards or so.
Yes, Luke had beefed up his security and it looked too precise to be a recent thing. Taking the stairs two at a time, Brody made a mental note to talk to him about it later. The door to 305 opened and a man stepped out to block his path—Special Forces babysitter number one. He had his cell phone to his ear and he seemed to be listening for a moment, then he nodded to Brody and backed into his apartment.
Damon called to let them know of his approach most likely, but he didn’t slow his pace. At 307, he paused. He needed to have his shit under control when he saw her. The last thing she needed was a caveman treatment or worse, the surge of predatory violence rolling through his blood. Thirty seconds, he counted off in his head before he knocked twice. “Shannon?” Because she didn’t need to be afraid for even a second about who waited on the other side that knock. “I’m here, babe.”
The door locks tumbled—one, two, and finally a chain rattled before the door opened wide. She stood in front of him, her amber eyes wide and wild in the paleness of her face. Her long hair hung all around her, shining as though she’d brushed it over and over again—a habit she had when truly nervous or trying to work something through. Either sculpting or brushing her hair, and she didn’t have her tools here.
A red, angry scrape marred her cheek and darker shadows bruised the underside of her eyes, but she was still the most beautiful woman in the world to him. His heart felt like it strangled inside and he gave her a moment to accept that his presence, but she moved, rushing forward and he opened his arms and caught her.
He was home.