It's almost time for the release of Fatal Intentions! It comes out on March 31, 2017, but here's an exclusive sneak preview of the first chapter of the book, just for you! This is Jean-Luc Boudreau's story,and he meets his match in feisty Mackenzie Andrews.
Less than two feet away, the gorgeous blonde glowered at Jean-Luc like he was the pile of steaming dog poo she’d just plopped her four-inch heel into. Hey, not his problem. He’d been minding his own business, sitting on his father’s back porch, enjoying a cold beer when she’d climbed out of her car, demanding he come with her. Right. She might be cute as a caterpillar, but it wasn’t happening. He was eyeballs deep in the ongoing EryX Pharmaceutical debacle Carpenter Security Services was currently working on, and this was the first time he’d stopped long enough to take a deep breath.
His entire perspective did a one-eighty the moment she uttered two little words. Words which not only changed his mind, but had him halfway to her car before he realized he’d taken the first step.
“What did you say?” His voice held a forceful demand, and he didn’t give a damn whether she liked his tone or not. She’d been the one who’d shown up unannounced, spewing demands.
Her brown eyes flashed with an inner fire, while her navy blue and white stiletto heels sank into the brittle grass. This late in December, it was mostly brown anyway, hibernating for the coming spring.
“Which part of the sentence are you having difficulty with, Mr. Boudreau? Was it the part where I politely asked you to get in the car and come with me?”
“Chére, you haven’t uttered a polite word since you opened the car door and stepped onto my drive. Which, I might add, is private property.” He almost chuckled as she tossed a swathe of blonde curls over her shoulder, but the glare told him to swallow the laugh tickling his throat. He couldn’t help thinking about the old saying, if looks could kill…
“You are such an ass,” she muttered sotto voce, though still loud enough he heard her quite clearly. Inhaling, she gave him a polite smile—one that came nowhere close to reaching those whiskey-colored eyes, and pasted on a smile.
“I’m sorry if I’ve been rude, Mr. Boudreau. Can we start again?”
“Forget rude. I want to know what you meant telling me my wife is dying.”
She blinked several times before answering. “I’d think the message was fairly self-explanatory.”
Holding onto his composure took a herculean effort, because he really needed to keep a clear head. Turning his back on the woman, he walked back to the porch and picked up his abandoned beer bottle, taking a long swig. After her pronouncement, he needed a second to figure out what the hell was going on. He rotated his neck, hearing the joints creak and pop with each movement. Instead of getting a peaceful few hours of R&R, it looked like he’d have to deal with this woman’s misconception and send her on her way.
“Nothing you’ve said is self-explanatory. Let’s start at the beginning. What’s your friend’s name?”
The blonde eyed him for a minute before answering. “Lexie Warren. I believe you know her?”
The minute the name left her lips, memories swamped him, tossing him back in time. Little Lexie Warren. He hadn’t talked to her in years. They’d lost touch when he’d joined the military and she’d headed off to college, young and eager to take on the world. In the beginning, they’d kept in touch, but like all long-distance friendships, time and situations got in the way. Real life had a way of interfering in the best laid plans, and eventually they’d drifted apart.
Friends throughout the last couple of years of high school, they’d quickly decided nothing more was in the cards for them. That spark, the zing of sexual attraction wasn’t there. Besides, adding a male-female relationship to the mix would have ruined their friendship—one he’d cherished for a number of reasons.
“How do you know Lexie?”
“I told you, she’s my best friend.”
“If that’s true, why haven’t I heard of you?” No need to mention he hadn’t heard from Lexie in what seemed like forever.
A slight blush colored her cheeks, and he watched her closely. Her face was expressive, so much so he practically read her every thought. Not surprisingly, he noted the slight stiffening of her spine before she spoke.
“Probably for the same reason I hadn’t heard about you, Mr. Boudreau. Lexie never once mentioned your name—not until she sent me to find you.”
He ran a hand across his face, wishing he wasn’t so wiped out. Maybe if his mind was fresher, or he wasn’t operating on three hours sleep in the last forty-eight, he might have considered his words before he spoke. He was always the quiet one. The thoughtful one. Second in command at Carpenter Security Services, he ran a tight ship and coordinated the ops, answerable only to Samuel Carpenter, the owner. He never did anything spontaneously, without careful thought and planning. He’d discovered a long time ago, going off half-cocked inevitably led to disaster.
But right now he wasn’t thinking clearly. Instead, he followed his gut, trusting it. Those same instinctual vibes that kept him alive on the battlefield in Basra were pinging in the back of his head, and he knew there was really only one option. The choice he’d known he’d make from the minute she’d stepped from the car.
With deliberate care, he placed the beer bottle on the bottom step of the back porch and straightened.
“Take me to Lexie.”
# # # # # #
Mackenzie Andrews swallowed back her sigh of relief. Dang, convincing this tall, dark, and most definitely gorgeous man to come with her had been tougher than she expected. Of course, had their positions been reversed, she’d have a million questions if Mister Dangerous and Sexy showed up on her doorstep too.
She’d almost backed up and turned the car around when she’d first caught sight of Jean-Luc Boudreau. The dark-haired man sitting on the porch barely resembled the pictures Lexie had shown her days earlier. The younger Jean-Luc had been laughing and smiling, full of joy and life. The Jean-Luc sitting in the passenger seat beside her looked like he could snap her neck with a flick of his wrist.
A tiny shiver skittered down her spine when she caught a whiff of the spicy soap he’d used recently. Hair still damp from a shower, he was all lean muscle, hinting at the hard body beneath his clothes.
Stop it! Now isn’t the time to be thinking about how cute he is. Who cares that it’s been a long, dry spell and you haven’t been on a real date in longer than you care to remember? Right now Lexie has to be the focus, and getting Jean-Luc to her ASAP.
She started at his question. Those were the first words he’d spoken since they’d left Casa Boudreau behind. Apparently, Jean-Luc Boudreau tended toward the silent end of the spectrum, because he hadn’t peppered her with questions the minute they’d hit the highway. Instead, seated beside her, he’d watched the miles fly past without uttering a sound—until now.
“The doctors aren’t sure what’s wrong with her. She hadn’t been feeling well for several weeks, slowly getting sicker. Nobody has a clue what’s wrong, but she isn’t improving.”
“Where is she?”
“You don’t know where she lives?”
He shook his head, a tiny smile playing about his lips. “Chére, I could find that information with one phone call. I meant, what hospital is she in?”
Right, of course. From the little information she’d been able to glean about Jean-Luc Boudreau, he worked for one of the most elite security companies in the country. It probably would only take a phone call to know everything about Lexie—or about her. And isn’t that a happy thought?
Mackenzie thought she heard a curious sound at the end of the word, like he was biting back a chuckle.
At her nod, he grimaced. “You planning on driving us all the way to Fort Worth now?”
“Woman, that’s at least a ten hour drive.” He shook his head, as if questioning her sanity.
What the heck does he expect, for me to suddenly sprout wings and fly us to Texas?
Without another word, he pulled a cellphone from his pocket and dialed.
“Samuel, something’s come up and I need the jet.” He was silent for a long moment, listening to the other person, because he glanced her way once, mouthing the words pull over.
Spotting a gas station about a half mile up the road, she drove into the lot, and pulled behind the building, leaving the engine idling.
“Yeah, I know. This is personal business. I need a couple of days off.” He was silent for another minute, before chuckling. “I love your fiancée. She knows how to push all your buttons. Have the pilot file a flight plan for Fort Worth. We’ll be at the airport in thirty minutes.”
The female voice on the other end was loud enough Mackenzie heard the “we” and saw Jean-Luc wince, before adding, “I’ll fill you in as soon as I have more details, Samuel. Thanks.”
After the call ended, she shifted in her seat to face him. “We’re flying?”
“Saves time. If Lexie’s condition is as serious as you’ve stated, the faster the better, right?”
Might not be a bad idea. She’d planned on driving straight through, but flying would certainly make things easier—except that meant leaving her baby behind.
As if reading her mind, he continued, “I’ll have somebody at the airport drive your car back to my father’s house. It’ll be fine there until we can make arrangements to get it returned to you.”
“You better make sure nobody puts a scratch on my precious car, or I’ll take it out of your hide, buster.”
He simply quirked a brow, and folded his arms across his massive chest, as if to imply whatcha gonna do about it? Well, he’d find out if anything happened to Lil’ Reba.
After giving precise directions to the private airport where the corporate jet would be waiting, he closed his eyes, leaning back against the headrest. She only half paid attention to the road, while thinking about Jean-Luc and Lexie. She’d never mentioned anything serious with Jean-Luc, but there must have been if they’d been married. And how could Lexie, her very best friend in the whole world, never have mentioned the fact she’d been married before? Mackenzie chewed on her lower lip, wondering what had driven them apart.
She adored Lexie Warren. The relationship between them was more than mere best friends. Lexie was the sister she’d never had. With only a younger brother, and a passel of all male cousins, Mackenzie grew up more tomboy than girly girl. Meeting Lexie changed that.
Lexie had helped her break free of her shell and embrace her feminine side. One of the few people who’d seen beneath her timid, shy façade to the woman she’d hoped to become. She’d taught her the ins and outs of makeup and fashion and boys—the kind who weren’t her brother or cousins.
They say you can’t choose your family, but if she could, Mackenzie would pick Lexie in a heartbeat. She was the sister of her heart, even if they didn’t share the same DNA.
And she was scared. Terrified she’d lose her before she had a chance to tell Lexie exactly what she meant to her. But she’d done the next best thing—she’d driven nonstop to find the one man Lexie wanted by her side.
She stole a surreptitious glance at Jean-Luc. Sure, he was handsome. Any girl with working female parts and a heterosexual bent wouldn’t kick him out of bed. But he had the personality of a wildebeest—a rabid, snarly one.
“You’re thinking so hard over there I can almost hear it. What’s got you so worked up?”
She sighed. “Worrying about Lexie. Why can’t the stupid doctors figure out what’s wrong with her?” She slammed her hand against the steering wheel. “I’ve never known anybody as full of energy and life as Lexie. Seeing her in a hospital bed, it tears me up inside.”
“We’ll get it figured out, chére. Between me and Samuel Carpenter, we’ve got connections with some of the best physicians in the country. I won’t hesitate to call in any specialist she needs.”
“I’ll hold you to that.”
The rest of the trip passed in silence, until she pulled through the gates of the private airstrip, and Jean-Luc directed her to stop close to a luxurious Gulfstream parked on the tarmac.
“This is your corporate jet?” Her eyes widened when she noted two men in uniform as well as one woman who stood by the stairs leading to the open door.
“Not mine, Carpenter’s. Actually, it belongs to Carpenter Security Services. In emergencies, he lets me borrow it. And this definitely constitutes an emergency, oui?”
Thinking about her friend, she couldn’t agree more.
“Agreed. Let’s go help Lexie.”
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