Chloe Burgesse is crushed after being left at the altar. She thought her life was complicated before embarking on her should-have-been honeymoon—alone. She had no idea how much worse it could get when a Special Forces soldier takes a leap onto her car. She didn’t see the Pandora's box she'd opened for herself by offering aid. She didn’t see the attraction to Jericho coming, nor did she intend to fall in love with a perfect stranger.
Master Sergeant Jericho Eden is in Brazil doing reconnaissance work on a suspected terrorist compound when his team becomes scattered. On his way to his execution, a woman unwittingly offers aid. Together they are thrust into a world of duplicity and danger. Nothing new for Jericho, but Chloe's only chance of survival relies on his instincts, skill, and discipline—something he is having a hard time getting a grip on with his new distraction.
Jericho dropped himself at the base of the twin kauri tree again and patted the spot of forest floor beside him. "Time to rest."
Chloe turned from the little pool, where he had unknowingly left her contemplating what it would be like to kiss him. Her brow pinched as her stare fell on Jericho. She looked him up and down, pausing.
The last time she had been kissed was over Fourth of July weekend at a country club where she and her ex had celebrated their wedding shower. It had been a short peck, over all too quickly. Now thinking back, the kiss had also been slightly cold. She had thought so then, too, she supposed, but had chosen to ignore the tiny pang of hurt.
He had kissed her goodbye at his car. She remembered following him there as he left early, supposedly for a forgotten meeting with a client. After he left her at the curb, she'd watched him drive away and wondered why he hadn't wanted to kiss her more deeply. He is my groom, after all. Shouldn’t he be in love with me? she'd thought.
Chloe snorted now.
She wished her ex's lips had never touched hers. If she had the power, she would erase the entire relationship.
And so, there was something she wanted to do before she died, in case she met her end tomorrow or even during the night.
Chloe hesitated, chewing at her bottom lip nervously. She wasn't even remotely sure how to approach a man she intended to kiss without being invited to do so. She had always let the man lead.
She took a deep, steadying breath and crossed over to the tree, feeling brave as she approached, but grew timid as she sat down.
"Is everything all right?" Jericho asked.
Chloe sighed, shutting her eyes briefly.
Oh, hell, what did she have to lose anyway?
Chloe gathered her nerve.
It wasn't as if rejection would be anything new to her.
Chloe reached out quickly, cupped Jericho's cheek with her palm, and before he could stop her or protest, she tilted her head and claimed his lips in a gentle kiss.
A hot spasm of desire struck her harder than she'd anticipated.
Chloe pulled back to view his surprise, expecting to find astonishment, and she did.
All the blood in her body seemed to rush to her head in an instant as she waited for what seemed like forever for him to respond.
He blinked and shook his head, confused. "What was that for?" he murmured dazedly.
Chloe bit her bottom lip, dropping her stare back to his mouth. "If I die, I don’t want that asshole to be the last man I kissed," she said in a whisper, offering a smile and a nervous little shrug. She started to turn away, but he caught her by the arm.
Jericho chuckled low, the deep richness of his voice sending electrifying quivers though Chloe. He reached to brush the side of her face with his palm, and his hands quickly deepened into her hair, tangling his fingers at the back of her nape as he pulled her to him.
"If that’s the case," he said against her lips, "then we should do a kiss justice." Jericho dragged her body against him, enveloping her in his strength. His lips sealed over hers.