Authors: Jennifer Kacey
Tags: #Bodyguard;Adoption;Erotic;Soulmates;New York;healing hearts;kink;BDSM;stalker;red-hot
He’s hired to protect her, but will her love save him?
The Surrender Series
, Book 2
Campbell Newbury could not believe who his new client was: Natalie Grant, philanthropist and pain-in-the-ass extraordinaire. Of all the security firms in New York, she had to pick his to protect her. But her flaming red hair and curves turn him on. Blond and toned, Campbell is a sex-with-no-strings guy and has bedded countless women. Love? Not an option. Forever? Not in the cards for him. But a bet with his best friend may change everything.
On their first official meeting, Natalie knew all the rumors about Campbell were true. If he weren’t the best security money could buy, she’d want no part of the cocky womanizer. But she needs him. The sudden rush of near hit and runs is proof of that. As the threats escalate, she sees a side of the bad boy he’s tried to hide—and his strong arms provide comfort and something more she didn’t know she needed. Still, she’s careful not to let her heart rule her head. They keep their relationship strictly business by day—and lustfully kinky by night. Will this unlikely couple find their way to forever or will their needs disappear once the dust settles?
Warning: Contains one at-odds couple who like nothing more than to satisfy each other’s kinkiest desires in a no-strings attached hookup. Danger and an unseen threat bind them closer than ever before.
To You—For being everything I didn’t even know to wish for.
To Latoya—For loving Campbell and Natalie and being all smiles when I told you I wanted to let their kink flag fly!!
To Clay—For letting me use your names. As if you had a choice…Mwahaha!
I wasn’t a scared teenager anymore, pregnant with everyone making decisions for me. For my body and my soul and the unborn baby inside me, kicking me in the ribs.
That frightened young girl, almost a woman, died a long time ago. In her place stood a woman. A businesswoman, a friend, a confidante. I was powerful, a force to be reckoned with even in the bustling skyline of New York City, the place I chose to call home.
But fear gripped me by the spine, shaking me so hard my teeth chattered.
Broad daylight should have been safe. The afternoon sun beating down on my shoulders should have been comforting. Warmth should have infused my limbs and lit up a spring in my step.
The walk I was on didn’t comfort me.
It didn’t ease my mind or my body.
Someone was chasing me, stealing my sense of peace.
My calm. My happy that I’d worked so hard to latch on to was shattered in the shadow of fear.
They weren’t on foot though. Not a loan person tracking me on the sidewalk or in a store or a bar.
The faceless attacker swerved out of nowhere while I was walking across the street.
Tires squealed, the scent of rubber burning off the concrete assaulted me.
Not from the person after me.
I wasn’t that lucky.
The sound and vomit-inducing smell exploded in front of me while other vehicles attempted to veer away from the car hell-bent on mowing me over.
My scream. It sounded shrill even to my own ears as I jumped away.
It wasn’t enough.
The world slowed to a crawl, frozen in time as if everything held its breath to see exactly what had to happen to get the pieces to fit into place again.
, something whispered inside my head.
My time would come, my penance to pay for being weak and giving my trust to the wrong man.
But that wasn’t this night. That wasn’t this asshole who thought he could take me out without a fight.
I was not the same scared little girl anymore.
Never again would I roll over and take it. Not from anyone.
No one would ever have that power over me again.
The rev of the engine told me everything I needed to know, and instead of being scared, I got mad.
Diving to the side, my only option, made me grimace and cry out again. The driver of the dark vehicle angled for me one last time before speeding off. Running a red light, they sped away and turned down a side street.
“Ma’am? Are you okay? Ma’am?”
Panting, I lay there as people approached to ask if I was all right.
I am not okay. I am not safe.
Pain lit up along my shredded arm and shoulder.
This wasn’t the first time either. Instead, it was the third time within a month.
Fear closed off my vocal cords and tears stung my eyes.
I needed help and only one company could help me. Only one man could keep me safe.
The one man who could never touch my heart because he wanted it that way. As did I. No emotions. Strictly business.
I could do that.
I had to.
Too much was at stake if I fucked up everything now.
People depended on me. Believed in me. Believed I could do anything. So I had to be that person. That brave, take-no-shit woman I pretended to be. Even if deep down I knew I wasn’t I had to step into the suit of armor I’d wrapped around myself so many years ago. I wasn’t her though. Wasn’t brave or fearless. But I wanted to be. I needed to be that girl. And I’d get there even if I had to die trying.
“I’m becoming a monk.” Campbell sat down at the table across from Clay and shrugged out of his coat.
“Huh? What the hell are you talking about?”
“These chicks, dude. They’re all fucking nuts.”
Clay smirked and stared down at his menu again. “Pick food. We don’t have long before we have to meet your new client.”
Campbell closed the trifold list of food for him and tossed it on the table. “Come on. I’m sharing my
with you.” He made air quotes for that four-letter word and barely kept from gagging on it.
Picking up the menu for Chinese Mirch, located in Manhattan, Clay raised an eyebrow and scowled. “That’s nothing but whining.”
“Whining my ass. You’re the old married guy now. You’re supposed to be all in touch with shit. You’re supposed to give me wisdom and help me sort out my love life.”
“There are so many things wrong with the bullshit that just came outta your mouth I don’t even know where to start.”
“Which part? The old line or the married one?” Campbell couldn’t help but goad his buddy into talking. Giving him shit always made him feel better.
“I’m two months older than you—”
“And yeah, I’m married. With a kid. Who is fucking awesome by the way.”
“He’s six months old. How awesome can he be? He eats, sleeps, and other things I’m not talking about. Ever.”
Clay flipped him the bird. “When you have kids, I’m going to remind you every step of the way how meh you are now. I’m going to enjoy every minute of it when someone shows up and puts you on your ass.”
“Hey guys, I’m Shelley. I’ll be your waitress today. Can I get you something to drink?”
“Water,” Clay ordered immediately. All business. All the time.
Campbell opened his mouth to order a beer.
“And he’ll have water too.”
“Seriously, you’re ordering for me now?”
“When it’s not even noon yet, yes I am.”
“Two waters, coming right up. Do you guys know what you want for lunch or do you want me to give you a few minutes?”
Campbell opened his menu, which was pointless, considering he always ordered the same thing. “I’ll have an order of pork fried rice, your number, and a couple egg rolls.”
“Rice, not a chance, and egg rolls, got it. And for you, sir?” She didn’t crack a smile or anything.
Maybe he was really losing his game with how many friends with benefits he was having to shed lately.
Clay laughed and handed over his menu. “Sesame chicken, good call, and white rice. Plus I need a to-go order of lemon chicken with fried rice when I leave.”
“Got it.” She took Campbell’s menu and walked away with a smile.
“Hey, you’re my married wingman who can’t get any action now. You’re supposed to be helping me get pussy. That way you can live vicariously through my exploits.”
The waitress came back, dropped off their waters, and then left before he could say anything else to her.
“Maybe she’s just not that into you,” Clay offered
“And I thought you were becoming a monk.”
“Yes! I totally am.” He leaned to the side just enough to stare over Clay’s shoulder at Shelley’s ass as she bent over to grab a handful of straws. “Maybe tomorrow.”
Fingers snapped in front of his face and he straightened up.
“What’s your deal lately? You’re restless even for you and that’s saying something for how fast you can run through girls.”
“The girls I’m dating…”
Clay raised an eyebrow at him.
“Fine. Sleeping with.”
“Have you progressed to actual sleep?”
Campbell ignored him. “They’re all batshit crazy.”
“All of them?”
“Care to elaborate?” Clay’s phone display lit up. He pushed a few buttons, turned it off again, and set it down. “Client will be here in a few minutes.”
“Super. Now focus. They all know the score. I don’t try to fool them. You know me. I’m an upfront kind of guy. But after a few dates, dates that are fun, and dates that are
,” he added with an eyebrow waggle, “all of a sudden they start wanting to stay the night, and leave shit at my place.”
“Oh the horror.”
“Again, not helping.”
“What do you expect? You know most people see the natural progression of things as dating and then exclusive dating and then marriage and kids and a dog—”
“Ugh, man. Don’t ruin my appetite, and I’m not most people. You weren’t either until recently.”
“Angela’s always been it for me.” He shrugged. “She let me in again. I wasn’t fucking that up. Not for anything.” A sly smile curled his lips. “And she’s better than anybody else. So. Fucking. Hot.”
“That’s not part of the marriage myth. Aren’t you supposed to ask for it fourteen times before she actually gives it up?”
“I don’t even have to ask.”
“Really? Even after having a kid. Huh. What’s the difference, you think? If you figure it out, you could bottle it and make us a fortune.”
“Ack. I think I just threw up in my mouth a little. Change the subject.”
“Forget I ever mentioned it. What were we talking about?”
“Your new client.”
“Ahh yes. The mystery client.” The waitress arrived with the food and he lost his focus on the job at hand. “Hey, why no number? You’re not wearing a wedding ring. Neither am I. You’re cute. I’m hot. We should go out.”
“I have a boyfriend.”
“So? If he liked it he shoulda put a ring on it. You’re still a free agent.”
“And a girlfriend.”
“Mmmmm… Then we should definitely go out.” He looked at her name tag again. “Shelley.”
She laughed and shook her head. “Let’s just say your reputation precedes you.” She looked over at Clay. “I’ll place that to-go order for you now and bring it back when it’s ready to go.”
She wandered away and checked on another table.
“That’s hot.” Campbell dug into his food.
“Jesus. In a city with a population of one point six million people the fact that she doesn’t want to see you should raise all sorts of flags.”
“Yeah, like the flag at Pancho’s back in Texas where you raise the flag at your table and you get more tortillas. Mmmm…”
“I am going to love the day you meet your match.”
Campbell shook his head with a grimace. “Never going to happen. I was vaccinated from that disease years ago.”
“Care to place a bet on it? A hundred bucks on the fact that within six months you’re down on one knee.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” He held his hand out and Clay pumped it. “Easiest money ever.”
His phone went off. “Hey, your wife’s texting me. Bet she wants to rekindle our torrid affair we started when you had your head up your ass last year.” He read it, and his stomach dropped. “The clinic needs help, and she volunteered me. To help…Natalie.”
“That doesn’t sound like an invite for sex, brother.” There was definite satisfaction in his voice. Smug satisfaction.
“You already knew and you threw me under the bus instead of getting me out of it?”
“Totally replacing you as my best friend.”
Clay took a drink. “What is so wrong with her? She’s hot and has a rack that men should thank her mama for.”
The waitress walked up, but Campbell was on topic and he would not be deterred. “You’re kidding me, right? She’s loud, obnoxious, rolls her eyes all the fucking time. She never stops talking not to mention she looks at me like I’m stupid all the time.”
“You make bonehead comments all the time.”
“I’m being charming.”
“Looks a lot like flirting to me.”
“Totally beside the point.”
“Then I’d say the point is she’s nice, helps women and children, would help
who needed it whether she knew them or not—”
“You make her sound like Santa Claus.”
“She’s awesome. She helped Angela when I wasn’t here to do it. She’s a rock star in my book and everyone else’s I’ve ever talked to.”
“Crawling under my skin I think is like her hobby or some shit. And—” He looked up because he was tired of Shelley hovering.
Natalie stood there.
She wasn’t hurt. She was pissed.
“She’s your new client.” Clay dropped the bomb at their table and Campbell was pretty sure he took it in the nuts.
Campbell glared. “And you knew she was coming? She’s the one who texted you?”
“Yep.” Clay stood and pulled on his coat, kissing Natalie on the cheek.
“And you let me keep going?”
“Worst wingman ever. Bros before hoe—”
“If you dare finish that sentence, Campbell, you are going to wear the rest of your drink.” Her voice. So sweet. Reminded him of the sirens in
. Sounded awesome. Then everybody died.
The waitress walked up. Whatever her name was since he’d already forgotten it. “Here’s your to-go…order…and bills. Umm…hi.” She waved awkwardly once to Natalie. “Are you joining Romeo for lunch?”
“Not helping.” Campbell wiped a hand down his face.
Clay helped Natalie off with her coat and hung it on the back of her chair. “Yes, she is and he’s paying the bill.”
“Perfect, what can I get you to drink?”
“Do I get a say in this?” Campbell grumbled.
Clay gave him the face normally reserved for government officials who cock-blocked them on a job. “No.”
“Diet Sprite if you have it,” Natalie told the waitress with a smile.
Campbell barely restrained his need to growl at the universe.
“Sure do. I’ll grab you a menu and be right back with your soft drink.”
“I’ll let you two get acquainted.” Clay slapped Campbell on the back and left.
He just left.
Natalie piled her scarf and gloves on top of her coat. Plopping down in her seat, she stared at him with an eyebrow raised. “So. You’re supposed to be protecting me.”
. “Apparently so.”
It didn’t take her long to lean forward to glare at him, but she was packing more than her fair share of cleavage.
He was not staring.
Not. At. All. Not—
“Eyes up here, buddy.” She motioned or something but his gaze lingered.
In his defense, he couldn’t help it. He was horny.
It’d been almost forty-eight hours since he’d gotten laid, and that orgasm had been ruined by the now inevitable “where is this going” conversation.
Finally, he glanced up at her but the rosy color in her cheeks surprised him.
She grabbed her Sprite and took a drink. He wondered when the waitress…whatever her name was…had come back.
“Are you done ogling now?”
He couldn’t tell if she was offended or confused. “You have a nice rack, I’ll give you that one. Hanging them out there like that demands a glance.” He looked again. “Or two.” Didn’t take her two seconds to roll her eyes. “What? You don’t believe me?”
“Whatever.” Her food arrived and she thanked the chick who brought it. After placing her napkin in her lap she took a small bite of…whatever she’d ordered.
“Why do you need protection?”
She swallowed, blotting her mouth with a napkin. “Someone’s decided they don’t like me.”
“I’m actually quite likeable.”
He covered it with a cough.
“Everybody knows that was fake. You know that, right?”
“See.” Campbell shook his head, leaning forward onto his elbows to shake a finger at her. “You say you’re likeable but the first chance for you to let me off the hook you call me on it.”
“Just because I don’t perpetuate the myth ‘your shit don’t stink’ doesn’t mean I’m not nice.”
“That’s not a myth.”
The corners of her mouth twitched as if she wanted to smile. But her eye twitched too. Kinda looked as if good and evil were fighting over a bone.
Wish it was my bone.
He leaned back again, needing a bit more space between his bone and her full lips.
… “Okay. So someone doesn’t like you. Can’t say I don’t empathize—”
“Hardee har har.”
“But…I still don’t see why that necessitates a protection detail.”
“Dislike has…escalated.” She looked around as if to see who was listening.
“Mostly. Come on, girlie, help me out here. You’re going to have to trust me.”
Raising an eyebrow made her look like Clay. She moved the neck of her shirt over the curve of her shoulder, exposing a big patch of scratched skin on her upper arm.
“What happened?” He automatically reached to touch it, and she wrenched her shirt back up as if he were going to burn her.
“Someone tried to hit me a couple days ago.”
“Hit how? Hand, shopping cart, turkey leg?”
“They tried to run me over on the sidewalk.”
“This is New York, sweetie. Lots of—”
“Don’t call me sweetie or girlie or honey love or any of the other stupid pet names you call your hookups. And I know what happened. I was there. All three times.”
He held his hands up, trying to process the last words. “I’m not saying it isn’t possible. All I’m saying are the odds of that happening are long.”
“Hi, folks. Can I get you anything else? Dessert?”
Natalie stood, yanking on her gloves and scarf. “No, we’re quite done.”
The poor waitress looked flustered at best. “Here’s the bill then. Thanks for coming.” She rushed off like he normally did after a sex date.
Campbell pulled his wallet out to grab cash, while Natalie shoved her arms through the sleeves of her coat. “Hey. Why are you rushing out? We have to talk about this. Get a game plan.”
“By talk you mean you tell me why I’m wrong and I fall all over myself in thanks? I think I’ll pass.”
“Hey, wait. Natalie. Wait!”
She stormed out in a huff. Campbell planted his hands on his hips and hung his head.