A brand new, gripping novel of romantic suspense from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Dana Marton.
When an American teenager disappears abroad, Clara Roberts, a by-the-book investigator on a secret mission, joins forces with Light Walker, an ex-SEAL turned lawless mercenary, to save her. The sparks they generate—and the trouble they stir up—threaten to set the jungle ablaze. Nothing is what it seems in this fast-paced romantic thriller. As attraction grows into love, looming danger turns into all-out war, and the whole region explodes around them. Clara and Walker must hold on to each other and race against time to survive.
…the front door banged open, and she turned that way, still hoping for her travel guide, finding herself staring at a mercenary who looked like he’d just stepped out of one of those high-testosterone video games.
A machete strapped to his back, a semiautomatic slung over his shoulder, and an army knife on his belt, he walked into the cantina with a swagger that said he could beat any man in town, and could take any woman to bed. If he wanted.
He was taller than the locals, his hair a few shades lighter, a couple of days’ worth of bristle covering the lower half of his face. He wore army boots, cargo pants, and a black T-shirt that did nothing to conceal a distracting amount of muscle. White flashed as he chomped on the cigar between his teeth, his eyes covered by sunglasses.
Clara slid down in her chair and inched farther into the shadows as she watched him. Okay, so Pedro wasn’t alpha dog of the local pack. This guy was most definitely the top predator in Furino. His body language seemed completely relaxed, yet power emanated from his every pore.
All around, hands surreptitiously migrated to the tops of the tables, as if making sure the newcomer didn’t accidentally misinterpret any move as someone going for a weapon.
The mercenary took the empty stool at the far end of the bar. He didn’t ask for a drink. The bartender poured him one anyway. He didn’t so much as cock an eyebrow at a woman. But Margarita went to sit on his lap and rubbed against his well-built chest like a cat. She just about purred.
The waitress’s lustrous mahogany hair tumbled to her waist in waves, curling and swinging all over the place. She looked wild and free. Clara touched a hand to the strict bun tucked under her baseball hat.
The mercenary tossed back his drink with one hand while putting the other one on Margarita’s bare knee, running his palm up her thigh, under her short red skirt. He bent to her neck and nibbled her. Or maybe whispered something into her ear, because Margarita threw back her head and laughed.
One second Clara was glaring at them with annoyed disapproval, and the next she suddenly felt her own skin heat, as if the man was touching her, his callused palm running over her naked skin. A long-neglected part of her body tingled, waving a flag, Hey, remember me?
At the bar, Margarita flattened her palms against the muscles of the mercenary’s chest and caressed them, moving lower and lower.
Clara blinked. What the hell was wrong with them? Then she clenched her jaw. What the hell was wrong with her?
It had to be the heat. A dozen fans whirled overhead, swirling the hot, humid air without providing much relief.
The mercenary chatted on with the bartender, as if being publicly fondled was par for the course for him, certainly nothing to remove his sunglasses over.
Appalling. Both his behavior, and that Clara would feel hot and bothered from simply watching the outrageous bastard.
Then he finally slid off his glasses, and the next second his unerring gaze pinned Clara, and it was too late to turn away or slide down in her chair, because he’d caught her watching him.
He gave a knowing smirk as he shooed the waitress off his lap and patted her curvy behind. He never looked at the woman again as he sauntered toward Clara, over six feet of pure muscle and laser-focused attention.
The scene should have been the opening shot of an action movie—light glinting off hills of muscles, determination in every masculine move, a cock-sure grin. Casting directors all over Hollywood would have peed their pants at the sight of this guy.
He dropped into the chair across from Clara, his muscled thighs spread. She clamped her own thighs together. His white teeth flashed in the dim light of the cantina as he chomped on his cigar and took stock of her.
“Are you lost, Cupcake?” His I’m-a-bad-boy-and-you-know-it voice scraped along her nerve endings. He was definitely American. East Coast, if she had to guess from his accent.
Her grandmother used to say there were men the devil put on Earth to test good women. Clara was tempted to ask the guy whether he’d just zip-lined in from hell.
“Go away,” she said instead.
His voice dipped. “How can I, when your eyes begged me to come over?”
She rolled said eyes so hard, she might have caused permanent damage.
One: she hadn’t begged in her life.
Two: the only thing she wanted was to hit him over the head with the bottle of tequila between them on the table. She was trying to keep a low profile, and he was drawing every eye to them.
He smiled around his cigar. “What’s your name?”
DOD Investigator Clara Roberts, she badly wanted to say to wipe the superior smirk off his face. “None of your business.”
His eyes were a brilliant multi-color green like the rain forest, alive and full of secrets. He let his gaze travel over her chest from left to right, then from right to left with undisguised disappointment.
He tsked. “No tits, no manners.” He shook his head. “You should try to have at least one or the other. A pair of great tits covers a multitude of sins.”
When his gaze reached hers again, the very fires of hell glinting in his eyes, he said magnanimously, “Don’t worry about it, Cupcake. You look like the brainy type. Believe it or not, that appeals to some men. I think I read that somewhere.” He edged his chair forward, until their knees touched under the table.
A tingle ran up her thighs at the contact. She shifted her legs away from his. “Please leave.”
“I can’t. You need me.” He flashed an infuriatingly cocky grin. “Walker.”
A who? Her mouth dropped open. Light Walker? The hippie travel guide Walker? The one she’d been picturing with long, thinning hair, wearing a tie-dye shirt?
How on earth did her father even know a man like this? And why on earth would he send his daughter to him?