Authors: Tory Richards
Tags: #Romance, #Erotic, #Texas, #Contemporary, #one night stands, #Florida, #lawyer, #dancing, #bodyguard, #gun, #condom, #keys, #sex acts, #bar hopping, #evans brothers trilogy
Copyright © 2013 Tory
Published by Tory
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Email: [email protected]
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters,
places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual
persons living or dead, business establishments, events, or
locales, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may
be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission from the author except in the case of brief quotations
embodied in critical articles or reviews.
Cover Art by Debbie Wallace
Edited by Alisha Corsi
Val had just arrived at her office when her
phone began to ring. She sighed, suspecting it was her dad. She’d
been avoiding him since the evening before, when she’d made the
mistake of answering the phone and he’d started right in on that
nonsense about a bodyguard. Setting her overlarge purse down in her
chair, she reached for desk phone.
“Good morning, dad.” She smiled in spite of
He got right to the point. “It’s about time!
Just get in?”
“I haven’t even sat down yet,” Val replied,
opening the manila folder on her desk. The Rogers case, she’d been
going through it the night before. A messy divorce that had turned
into one missing spouse and the other charged with murder. No body,
but a ton of circumstantial evidence.
“Do you have a minute?” His sharp tone
revealed he didn’t care if she did or not, and Val knew trying to
dodge him again would be useless. She may as well face him and get
it over with.
“Do you want me to come to your office?” She
knew he would, but asked anyway.
“Would you mind, dear?”
His tone had softened a little, now that he
knew she was cooperating. He also sounded distracted, which told
her he was probably doing the same thing she was doing, thumbing
through a file.
“I’ll be right there.” She opened her door,
meeting the eyes of her secretary, Rose. They exchanged knowing
smiles. Rose had been with Val for a couple years. “I won’t be
Her dad’s office was on the second floor, so
she took the stairs. It gave Val a chance to contemplate the reason
he wanted to see her, knowing it would be about one of two
things-either he was still upset with her for calling off her
engagement with a man he thought highly of and felt would be a good
fit for her, or he was going to bring up the bodyguard thing
She released a tired sigh, briefly reliving
the scene she’d witnessed just two days before, the reason her dad
thought she needed protection. One didn’t just witness a hit going
down and then go their merry way. Especially when it involved the
Lord, why did I have to be at the wrong place at
the wrong time?
Knowing her dad’s tenacity, Val had little
chance of winning an argument with him. Admittedly she was just as
stubborn when it came to facing an opponent in the courtroom. Her
father, on the other hand, often played the parent card, and she’d
ultimately give up with grudging understanding, and respect for the
only man she’d ever loved. God help her if he decided to hit her
with both issues at once-she wouldn’t put it past him.
When she reached his door she took a moment
to gather her composure, taking several deep breaths. Then,
straightening her backbone, she opened the door. Her gaze zeroed in
on him where he sat at his oversized desk. Benjamin Martin was a
handsome, middle-aged man without a lick of hair on his head. He
did, however, have a full beard. Dressed impeccably, as usual, the
dark tan of his suit made the brown of his eyes shine darker.
She decided to get the first word in,
choosing the lesser of two evils. “Dad, if you brought me here to
discuss Craig again, I’m turning around and leaving.”
Craig Benton was a catch, but Val had her
reasons for breaking up with him. If she was going to settle down
at the ripe old age of thirty-four, it was going to be for more
reasons than a shared love of socializing. Craig, a successful
realtor who dealt in million dollar properties, had been part of
that bar-hopping, party-scene, so it had seemed like a good idea at
the time, to accept his proposal. A month ago she’d returned the
“We can discuss Craig another time,” he
stated firmly, surprising Val. “Have you seen the morning news?” He
sat back in his chair.
Val stared at him suspiciously. The morning
news? “Dad, I don’t have time—”
“Hal Cramer was released this morning.”
Val swung in the direction of the deeply
masculine voice. She hadn’t even noticed there was someone else was
in the room with them.
She knew as soon as she met
those serious, dark brown eyes that she was looking at Chaz Evans.
He might be a drop-dead handsome identical triplet but he wore his
individuality like a shield of armor. He took her breath away, and
was the main reason she’d broken off her engagement with Craig.
Reminding herself that he was a player, she
ignored her keen awareness of him and schooled her expression to
remain disinterested. Her gaze returned to her dad. “He actually
made bail?” That was surprising since there’d been witnesses to the
incident, including her. She didn’t know what to make of him making
He shrugged. “I’m sure as the nephew of the
mayor that some strings were pulled, and they can certainly afford
to pay for any bail set. At least he’s on house arrest.”
Val sank down into one of the leather chairs
in front of his desk pretending the too-quiet, intensely observing
cowboy watching from the window wasn’t there.
Why is he here,
Had it only been a month since she’d seen him last? It
had been at Marissa’s little gathering at her and Beau’s new ranch.
Val had known the moment that they met that he was a flirt and
could be trouble if she let him. It was around the same time she’d
made some changes in her own life.
“I guess that means he’s pleading
self-defense, or something equally unbelievable?”
He nodded. “Claims self-defense and that you
misinterpreted what you saw. Since he has no priors, and
considering his connections, the judge released him to his
“I know what I saw,” Val said. “I’m not
going to change my story just because his uncle is the mayor.”
How could he claim self-defense when the other person was
running away when he shot him?
Then she remembered something.
“And there was another witness. An elderly woman who—”
“Has suddenly recanted her story,” her
father interrupted, without surprise.
“She’s frightened,” Val said, more to
herself, recalling how shaky and unwilling the woman had been at
the police station.
He shrugged. “Right now you’re the only
credible witness willing to talk,” her father said, not telling her
anything she didn’t already know. “And that puts you in extreme
Val began to understand why Chaz was there.
She’d forgotten he and his brothers owned and operated a security
He shook his head, the look on his face
cutting her off. She knew that look. He’d made up his mind and he
wasn’t going to back down. Val prepared to do battle, wishing Chaz
wasn’t sitting there, so silent and sexy. She didn’t have to look
to know where his gaze was, she could feel it on her like a warm
caress. Against her will, her female parts began to tingle.
“Save your breath. I’m not going to let my
only child go about business like everything’s wine and roses. Not
when a killer is loose and you’re the only witness that can put him
in prison. You know as well as I do what the consequences would be
if he decides to come after you.”
Jamie Moore’s face flashed before Val’s
eyes. Being called at two o’clock in the morning to be told her
client was dead would forever be etched in her mind. She knew what
could happen. Maybe if she’d been a little more insistent about
placing Jamie into a safe house until trial, she would still be
alive today. Hal Cramer might be on house arrest but he could
always hire someone to silence her.
“Do you honestly think Hal Cramer would come
after me? That would be a little obvious, and it would just make
him look more guilty.” She crossed her arms, something Val did
without thinking when she was getting ready for a fight.
“There’s a lot of ways Hal Cramer can do you
in without being obvious.” Chaz’s deep baritone voice made Val
think about warm, smooth chocolate on cold ice cream. “He can have
someone tamper with the brakes to your car; you could become the
victim of a hit and run. Someone could slip poison in a glass
you’re drinking from at a restaurant.”
The crossing of his arms was a definite
challenge. Val knew he was just waiting for her to try and refute
his examples. Instead she pulled her gaze away from his imposing
presence and looked at her slightly amused father. It was clear
that he agreed with what Chaz said.
Great, two against
“You can cross your arms, stomp your feet,
and talk till you’re blue in the face. I’ve already retained Evans
“I don’t stomp my feet,” Val said,
struggling to hold on to her temper.
“You know what I mean. As of now Mr. Evans
is your shadow. I took care of everything before you came in this
morning. Your case load has been divided between Samson and
Bartow.” Val’s jaw dropped, but he kept going. “And you’re going on
a much needed vacation. Mr. Evans has some ideas about how to keep
you safe and suggested you should get away for a little while.”
For a moment Val was stunned speechless. The
last time she’d had her life planned out for her she was seventeen
and going to Florida on spring break with some friends. She shot
Chaz a look that could kill. She could feel the heat of anger crawl
up her neck and settle on her face. He was half-sitting on the wide
window ledge, his arms crossed over his massive chest, and a
half-smile on his face she would have liked to slap right off. He
was obviously enjoying her reaction.
Val turned back to her father. “Dad—”
“Look,” he leaned forward, his expression
turning serious again. “I don’t want to worry about you.”
“I’m thirty-four,” Val, reminded him. Why do
I feel like I’m five years old again?
He brushed her comment aside. “There’s no
age limit on when a parent stops worrying about their child, and we
don’t know what Cramer is capable of doing to stay out of
Oh, God, he’s played the parent card.
They only had each other. Her mother had passed away after a long
illness a few years earlier, something her dad had never fully
recovered from. She uncrossed her arms and relaxed back in her
chair, not surprised to see the look of victory gleaming in her
dad’s warm gaze. He relaxed back in his chair, too.
“Someday I’m going to beat you at your own
game,” she threatened mildly, relenting against her will.
“You know I’m right.” His gaze swung to
Chaz. “So tell us, what are your plans?”
“Yes, tell us.” Val didn’t even try to
cushion the sharpness of her tone. “What do you have in mind for
Ohmygod I didn’t just say that!
Chaz straightened to his full height and
walked toward them, a twinkle of amusement appearing in his eyes
from her comment. “I’ve been thinking about that. Since the word is
you’re going to be on a vacation,” he cast a glance at her dad and
then back at her, “then you’ll take a vacation. You and I, as your
new boyfriend, will head down to the Keys for a couple of weeks.
But that information doesn’t leave this office.”
“What?” she frowned.
New boyfriend? In
Her body thought it was a good idea, reminding her
in obvious ways that she was attracted to Chaz. She almost crossed
her legs to satisfy the itch there.
“I like it,” Ben said with a satisfied
expression. “That will certainly explain why you’re suddenly
hanging around my daughter. Good thinking, Mr. Evans.”