Authors: Cross Kaylea
Tags: #Romantic Suspens
Copyright © 2013 by Kaylea Cross
Cover Art by Syd Gill Designs
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.
I dedicate this book to all those who have served and those currently serving. And a special shout out to the few and proud of the United States Marine Corps—Semper Fi.
This is the fourth book of my
series, and I hope you love Blake and Jordyn’s story. I adore friends-to-lovers/best-friend’s-little-sister stories, and this one really tugged at my heartstrings. Also, I hope you learn a thing or two about snipers you didn’t know before!
Up next is Alex’s story. You know how I love older heroes, and this story’s gonna be emotionally intense.
She’s wanted him forever
For years former Marine Jordyn Bridger has been in love with a man who refused to see her as anything but his best friend’s little sister. A mind-blowing kiss finally changed that, but then he disappeared from her life. Now he’s back, to recruit her for a job with his NSA-sanctioned Titanium Security team. They’re going after the terrorist responsible for the recent attacks on their team and Jordyn is eager to lend her skill set to the hunt. She’s determined to prove to Blake that she’s capable of holding her own—both in the bedroom and on the battlefield.
He’s never walking away again
Former Marine Scout/Sniper Blake Ellis hid his true feelings for Jordyn for years out of respect for her and her family, but once he learns those feelings aren’t one-sided, he can’t keep his distance any longer. When a team tragedy thrusts Jordyn into the front line with him on a battlefield, Blake will do whatever it takes to protect her. She’s everything he ever wanted in a woman but he was too stubborn to see it. Now it might be too late for them. As they race to capture the terrorist they’re hunting, Blake and Jordyn find themselves fighting for their lives. If they want to make it out alive they must work together to defeat an unseen, powerful network that will stop at nothing until their entire team is dead.
This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine.
My rifle is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life.
My rifle, without me, is useless. Without my rifle, I am useless. I must fire my rifle true. I must shoot straighter than my enemy who is trying to kill me. I must shoot him before he shoots me. I will...
My rifle and I know that what counts in this war is not the rounds we fire, the noise of our burst, nor the smoke we make. We know that it is the hits that count. We will hit...
My rifle is human, even as I, because it is my life. Thus, I will learn it as a brother. I will learn its weaknesses, its strength, its parts, its accessories, its sights and its barrel. I will keep my rifle clean and ready, even as I am clean and ready. We will become part of each other. We will...
Before God, I swear this creed. My rifle and I are the defenders of my country. We are the masters of our enemy. We are the saviors of my life.
So be it, until victory is America's and there is no enemy, but peace!
Rifleman’s Creed, United States Marine Corps
Seven months ago
The house was quiet. All the guests had finally left. Without Jamie here the house that had been like his second home suddenly seemed so empty.
Blake Ellis entered the kitchen to find Jordyn still putting away the last of the leftover food. She glanced up at him, looking exhausted and tense as she pushed a hand through the tumble of rich brown waves cascading over her shoulder. The sleeveless black dress she wore hugged the lean lines of her body and the black heels accentuated the muscles in her long legs. “Everyone gone now?”
He tore his gaze away from her sexy bare legs and nodded, unsure how to help. “Can I give you a hand in here?”
“No, I’m almost done.” She went back to covering the platters of appetizers with plastic wrap and shoved them into the big fridge. “You can go, if you want. You don’t need to keep me company.”
Yes, I do.
He couldn’t leave her like this, even though he knew it was probably best if he did. “I’ll drive you home when you’re ready.”
“I can drive myself home.”
“You’re not driving tonight, Jordyn.” He’d stopped after the second round of shots in Jamie’s honor a few hours ago. Jordyn had had at least three more since then. And he could tell she was barely hanging on to her control at this point.
Rather than argue, she let out a weary sigh and shut the fridge. “Fine. Thanks.”
“Did my parents already go up?”
“About ten minutes ago.” Mrs. Bridger had looked like she was on the verge of puking when her husband had rushed her up the stairs and left Blake to see the last of the guests off. The hellish day had taken its toll on all of them.
Jordyn hung up the dish towel, glanced around the spotless kitchen. “Well. Guess I’m done.”
Even from where he stood Blake could see the shadows beneath her eyes. Her mother said Jordyn hadn’t been sleeping, hadn’t been eating since they’d been informed about Jamie’s death. “I’ll take you home, then.”
Jordyn met his gaze. Her deep blue eyes were so full of pent up grief and emotion that Blake worried she might shatter. Throughout the funeral and the reception that followed the graveside service, she’d stayed busy in the kitchen or visiting with the guests.
He knew she’d done it as an escape mechanism and to ease the burden for her parents, especially her mother. But Blake also knew just how badly Jordyn was hurting right now. She’d worshipped her older brother. Blake had too. Jamie’s death had ripped open a gaping hole in their lives that would never be filled.
Jordyn followed Blake to the door, pausing to stare at the picture of Jamie her parents had placed on the living room mantel. Him in his dress blues the day of their Marine Corps graduation. Blake had stood in formation next to him on the parade ground.
The early March air held a chilly bite. Blake draped his jacket over Jordyn’s shoulders, covering the thin shawl she wore. “Thanks,” she murmured with a sad little smile, and it was all he could do not to wrap his arms around her. Instead he led her out to his truck and drove to her place twenty minutes away. In the driveway he hesitated. She seemed so sad and alone, he just couldn’t leave her. “Want me to come in for a bit?”
“I’d love some company, if you don’t mind.” She sounded relieved that he’d asked.
Hell no, he didn’t mind. As long as he remembered to keep his hands off her.
He took his shoes off at the door, started a fire in the living room fireplace for her and sat on the couch. She joined him a minute later, leaning her head back against the cushions as she stared at the flames. “That was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do,” she murmured. “Standing there while they lowered him into the ground.”
“Yeah.” Blake would never forget the resounding thud of the casket as it hit bottom. Jordyn had visibly flinched.
He turned his head to look at her. The firelight played over her face and reflected off her long brown hair. She looked so lost, so sad, it killed him. She’d held up better than he’d expected during the service. He’d been beside her the entire time but other than gripping his hand tight, she hadn’t reached for him. The part of him he kept carefully concealed from her ached for her to reach for him.
She met his gaze, those deep blue eyes glistening with tears. “I miss him,” she whispered, her voice cracking.
His heart constricted at the grief on her face. “I know, honey.” He lifted a hand to stroke the soft waves of her hair. A soothing, reassuring gesture, but to him it meant so much more. His muscles knotted with the need to cup her face between his hands and kiss her the way he’d been dying to for so long. He wanted to kiss away the sadness and the grief, replace it with the heat and tenderness burning inside him.
He knew he was walking a dangerous line. One he couldn’t cross. Not now. Not ever.
But something seemed to break inside her at his touch. Her face crumpled. She reached for him. Threw her arms around his shoulders and buried her face into his neck as she began sobbing.
Blake squeezed his eyes shut and dragged her closer. It was good she was finally letting this out, he told himself. And god-dammit, he fucking loved the way she burrowed so trustingly into his arms.
He locked her to him, trying to absorb some of her pain even as he reveled in the feel of her against him. Soft, warm, needing him. He battled the sharp spike of need he’d kept buried for so long. He held her as she cried herself out, saying nothing, letting the strength of his grip reassure her that she wasn’t alone, that he cared.
More than she’d ever realize.
At last she quieted, resting contentedly in his arms. She raised that gorgeous tearstained face to his and met his eyes. He was stunned by the female awareness that shone in her gaze. They stared at each other, the air between them crackling with a sudden sexual tension so thick he could hardly breathe. He gazed down at her, didn’t move. He didn’t trust himself to—he wanted her too much. Was he misreading this?
But when she slid her hands up to cradle his head, he was done for. He couldn’t stop himself from leaning down those few last inches and covering her trembling lips with his. Jordyn gasped and tightened her hold on his head. Kissed him back with so much hunger it left him reeling.
Heat roared through him. Even as he told himself to go slow, be gentle, the kiss turned wild and molten within the space of a few heartbeats. His tongue was in her mouth, stroking, taking, and she was right there with him. He felt her trembling in his arms, making tiny mewling sounds of pent up need. He wanted to satisfy that need so badly his hands shook. He kissed her hard and deep, tasting a hint of scotch and the salt of her tears on his tongue.
She twisted in his arms and rubbed against his body. Erotic little sounds came from her throat, as if she couldn’t get close enough and had been dying to taste him.
Blake was on the verge of losing control and he knew it.
He was seconds away from pushing her flat on her back on that leather sofa and stripping her naked just so he could stroke and taste all that soft, smooth skin. Jordyn. The woman who until a few years ago had been almost like a sister to him.
Before she’d inexplicably become so much more.
Realizing what he was doing—what he was jeopardizing—he broke the kiss. She blinked up at him in confusion, those pretty blue eyes heavy-lidded with desire, pink lips swollen and damp from his mouth.
He tore free of her arms, ignoring the way his body screamed in protest and demanded that he finish what he started. His heart pounded. Jordyn sat frozen on the couch, staring up at him with wide eyes. “Blake, what—”
My fault. Fuck.
He dragged a hand over his head, feeling like the worst kind of asshole on the planet. What the hell kind of friend was he? To both her
Jamie? His best friend was dead, and he was kissing Jamie’s little sister.