Authors: Laina Kenney
DIG Security 3
After a traumatic escape from Ireland in the middle of the night, Avelyn runs to her Uncle Conn, a security expert in the United States, for safety. Texas provides a safe haven but supplies danger of a different sort as Avelyn tries and fails to resist the heated appeal of her two tall American bodyguards. What woman could pass up the tempting opportunity to experience two men at once?
Locke and Sam McCann, twin brothers and friends, have always known that one woman would complete them both, but time and circumstance have all but killed the dream of finding her. The beautiful Irish fugitive lights fires in their blood, waking the dream they had almost given up.
Avelyn knows the men want nothing more than to protect her from any threat, but who will protect her heart and her reputation if she falls in love with both of the twin Texans?
Contemporary, Ménage a Trois/Quatre
DIG Security 3
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
Copyright © 2011 by Laina Kenney
E-book ISBN: 1-61926-069-7
First E-book Publication: November 2011
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2011 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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For Sue, because full speed ahead is the only way to live.
DIG Security 3
Copyright © 2011
Avelyn listened with her ear pressed to the inside of the bathroom door and tried to calm her racing heart. She could hear the springs on the creaky old sofa in her dad’s Dublin flat. Paddy O’Neill must be sitting down. He was whistling a jaunty tune. She could just make out the words as Paddy told his hulking bodyguard to wait outside in the hallway. A hinge squeaked, and the front door clicked shut.
She turned on the water in the tiny shower stall and glanced in the mirror. Her auburn hair was wild and fly-away. The pale skin of her cheek was red with a flowering bruise, and a few drops of blood ran down her throat from a knife slice under her ear.
She looked a fright, but she was alive, and Paddy hadn’t forced her into having sex with him to pay off her father’s loan. Not yet, at any rate.
Thankfully, Paddy was from a different generation. The former IRA spokesman turned loan shark was willing to play the gentleman when she drew on her acting ability and begged for a few minutes to shower and prepare for their “first time” together. She privately thought Paddy and men like him represented the worst of the former Irish Republican Army, those young hotheads who tried to force their political agenda by blowing up people. Her father, who had been an IRA member in his youth, claimed she just didn’t understand that era of unrest and that most of the IRA soldiers were just idealistic young men fighting for freedom from injustice.
Avelyn listened when her father spoke of those days, but she couldn’t accept his reasoning. No excuse was good enough to cover political shootings or car and subway bombings leading to innocent civilian casualties. The two of them would never be able to agree about that.
Her hand brushed the sore spot on her arm, and her thoughts jumped to Paddy’s demands. Her stomach lurched, and a shudder ran through her at the thought of submitting to Paddy’s touch. She gritted her teeth. Never.
Under cover of the sound of the cascading water, she shoved a few essentials in her leather hobo bag and quickly climbed out the bedroom window with her sneakers knotted around her neck. Her suitcase caused a pang of regret. It was still in the entryway where she had dropped it, but she couldn’t take the chance of retrieving it.
She stood at the top of the fire stairs and steeled herself to look down once. The wet paving stones three floors below swam in her vision, and she grabbed the flimsy railing. The stairs seemed to sway, and her stomach rolled in protest. After a moment of dizziness, she was able to focus on the steps under her feet.
She clung to the inner railing and leaned as far away from the edge as she could without touching the wall. Even the third storey was too high for her. She clenched her teeth and kept going down one step at a time.
Using this method, she made her way down the shaky fire escape and dropped lightly to the wet stone of the back courtyard.
She put on her sneakers and ran.
When she had covered several blocks through the back streets of old Dublin, she ducked into a narrow alley by the green grocers and pulled out her cell phone. She knew from previous visits to her father that cell phone coverage in Dublin could be hit or miss at times. Praying for a strong-enough signal, she dialed with a shaking hand.
“Please, please,” she chanted under her breath, willing the call to go through.
“Conn, here,” the beloved voice answered, and Avelyn burst into tears.
“Uncle Conn, I’m in trouble,” she sobbed, “in Dublin. I need you.”
“Where are you, girl?”
She glanced up at the quaint old street sign and relayed her location through chattering teeth.
“He wasn’t at his flat when I got there, and there were two other men there waiting for him. They used to be IRA, and he owes money to them. I got away from them out the back window, and I ran.”
Her throat closed, and she choked on the words. It was bad, but it could have been so much worse.
“Good girl. Stay where you are and stay hidden.”
Conn didn’t waste time asking for long explanations. God, she loved him.
“And I’ll have two old friends there in a few minutes. You’ll know I sent them because they’ll get out of the car and call my name, not yours. They’ll get you to the airport in Dublin and get you on a plane to Texas. It’ll connect through another city first. You’ll be safe here with me, and then we’ll sort out your trouble. And after that I’ll track down my useless bastard of a brother and have a word with him.”
His tone was calm, matter-of-fact, but she heard his knuckles snap in the background.
“I love you, Uncle Conn.” It was all she could say.
“I love you, too, pixie. Hang on. You’ll be in Texas soon. Call me again when you get your pickup. If I don’t hear from you in thirty minutes, I’ll be sending a full team out to tear up Dublin. Bye for now.”
When he ended the call, she wanted to scream in protest. He was her lifeline, and she didn’t want to let go. She didn’t want to be left alone in a dingy back alley just before midnight. She knew Uncle Conn would arrange things for her, he was as reliable as the sun coming up, but that belief didn’t keep her emotions from screeching with alarm when the call ended.
She slipped back farther in the alley and huddled down against the cold bricks behind a round garbage bin. The cool drizzle was sinking through her twill jacket and thin denims, leeching away her body heat.
Tears ran down her face, mixing with the light rain. Her arm ached where Paddy’s bodyguard had grabbed her, and the knife cut under her jaw stung in the rain. But she was alive and whole, and if she could just wait it out, Uncle Conn’s friends would ride to the rescue.
A car’s headlamps illuminated the front few feet of the alley, and Avelyn shrank back into the shadows. Uncle Conn had said to stay hidden.
An older man in a black shirt opened the passenger door and stepped out into the rain.
He called out, “Conn Reilly! Conn Reilly, I hope to God you’re down there, or I’ll be hunting the streets of Dublin in the rain for a chestnut-haired pixie.”
Uncle Conn’s friend! Avelyn tried to rise and fell against the stone wall. She struggled to her feet, her knees stiff, cold hands clutching the handle of her hobo bag.
She stumbled forward on the uneven stones, willing her chilled muscles to obey. The man approached with his hands lifted in a pose of surrender.
“Ah, love,” he said when she came up to him. “You look half-dead, but I’m that glad to see you just the same. Conn is calling in all manner of old favors. Your Uncle Conn could rouse the dead without shouting and no mistake.”
He helped her into the back seat and closed the door.
“There’s an old woolen shawl back there. Wrap up in it and try to get warm. You’re shaking and no wonder, but you should be safe now. We’ve got you booked on a night flight to New York, three hour layover there, then on to Dallas, Texas. Conn, or one of his team, will meet you at the airport and drive to your destination from there. Just relax for now if you can.”
Avelyn wondered where she would end up, but maybe the man didn’t know the answer either. Conn didn’t share information that he considered important, and there was just no point asking him if his mind was made up. She might as well ask a mountain to move a few feet out of her way.
The man passed her a small first-aid kit and cleared his throat. “Any wounds we can’t see? My wife could meet us at the airport if you need a woman to talk to, love.”
The kindness in his voice had her gulping back a fresh flow of tears as she wrapped the shawl around her. Maybe the heavy wool would help stop her sudden convulsive shivering.
“No,” she said through her chattering teeth. “Just a little cut and some bruises on my face and my arm.” She clamped her teeth together and willed the awful trembling to cease.
His eyes were searching when he looked at her, but he left it at that, and she was thankful. She really didn’t want to talk about it with a stranger.
“Still got your phone, love? I’d consider it a personal favor if you would call Conn before he calls me,” he said. “The man doesn’t wait well.”
Avelyn almost smiled at the understatement. She dug around in her bag for the phone and dialed.
Conn picked up in the middle of the first ring. She told him she was in a car on her way to the airport and complimented his friends. Conn asked to speak to his friend, and the man spoke briefly into her phone, mentioning her bruises and general condition, before passing it back to her.
“Be careful, pixie,” Conn said. “It won’t be long now. You just go along for the ride, and we’ll have you safe in Texas before you know it.”
“Thanks, Uncle Conn.”
Avelyn flipped the phone shut and slumped down in the back seat. She could see the top of her head in the rearview mirror of the car.
She closed her eyes and sank back against the seat. She had survived, and Uncle Conn’s friends were driving her to the airport.
The man driving was silent, but the other man was keeping up a running monologue about the construction at the airport that never seemed to end and the dark Dublin rain. It didn’t require any response from her. She wondered idly if he was talking for her benefit and found the thought comforting.
Her arm was beginning to throb. The bruises felt bone-deep. She cradled her injured arm against her middle and fought back the tears. If it hadn’t been for Uncle Conn—No, she wouldn’t think about “what-ifs.” She was lucky to be alive, and she was grateful.
She snuggled down further, pulled the scratchy wool up around her face and watched the dark streets of Dublin fly by as they raced through the night.