ABOUT LOCKE AND KEY
THE STOIC SPECIAL FORCES OPERATOR
There’s only one person to blame for darkening the last years of Locke Oliver’s military career: Cassidy Noble. And damn if he doesn’t have to save her from the side of a frozen mountain.
Even after the job is done, he can’t shake the woman from his thoughts. He blames her for the deaths in his Army unit so many years ago, and he’s not ready to let that go. It’s driving him to the point of distraction, and now his Titan Group boss says to get his act together or get out.
THE FEISTY, FALLEN REPORTER
Cassidy is a disgraced journalist, once accused of treason—Or she’s an American hero. It depends on who you ask. She’s on a mission to rebuild her name and started with a simple question but discovered a complex web of spies and possible human trafficking.
Titan Group believes in her.
Locke does not. Until he can’t deny the truth any longer about the past or what she’s uncovered in her investigation.
BECOME AN INSEPARABLE TEAM
Cassidy volunteers to go undercover. Locke would do anything to stay by her side as she slips into the network and is sold to the highest bidder. All is going right until everything goes wrong. Nothing is as they expect including falling in love with the woman he thought he hated.
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EXCERPTLocke had kept his eyes on Cassidy the entire time Brock piloted their chopper through the storm. The woman was fearless. Maybe tired, but fearless.
They landed in a place where Titan had a jet fueled and waiting to take them home. In all that time, he hadn’t lost sight of Cassidy. Until now.
The team hit the bathrooms at the private airport to change from the arctic camo to normal clothes that they’d fly in. One by one, they headed to the waiting jet.
Locke was the last one on, taking a phone call with Parker about an old job in Chicago. Soon as Locke wrapped, he hustled to the private jet and bounded up the stairs. It wasn’t often he had flown in a Learjet, and he was ready to relax.
The lights were dim, and everyone was conking out already. He’d be asleep as soon as he searched out a seat. Roman and Cash were already sleeping on two sets of couches, and Rocco had clearly set up shop at the table and chair though he was nowhere to be seen. Bishop had his feet up on the seat across while talking to Alex, and Jax was passed out and had all his shit over the seat next to him. Fucking hell.
Locke rounded a partition as Rocco came around. “Sit down and make nice.”
His team leader’s usually even brown eyes were bloodshot and exhausted.
Hell, they were all tired. “Roger that.” “Make no trouble for her.”
Her? Locke’s eyes tracked over Rocco’s shoulder. Damn it. Last seat available was next to Cassidy. “Boss? There’s bullshit history there, and I don’t think it’s—”
“Are you going to cause a problem?” Rocco growled, exhaustion adding grit to the question.
Damn it. “No.”
With a nod that might as well have been you wouldn’t dare, Rocco walked past the partition and settled into the desk and chair far away from Cassidy that Locke would’ve sold his truck to trade for.
This was going to be awkward. But with his every muscle aching, and half the team snoring already, he planned to be lights out before Cassidy Noble said two words to him.
Locke grabbed an Army sweatshirt and stowed his go-bag in a bin nearby. The sweatshirt could be anything. A pillow. A blindfold. Another partition if he needed to block the view of his red-haired enemy.
Without the protection of the death storm and the dark belly chopper, Locke couldn’t avoid the vibrant— though exhausted— sparkle of the woman he’d last seen in Iraq. Cassidy was curled in her seat with a book in her lap, toying with the pile of dark-red hair knotted on top of her head. The plane’s interior lights showed an almost hidden smattering of freckles and her blue-green eyes. There were valid reasons why she had done well as a television correspondent in the desert. Even in hellacious conditions, she could still look camera ready.
“Joining you,” he mumbled and lumbered into the luxury seat. Aircraft confines and comfort weren’t made for men like him, and already the space seemed too intimate. Add supple leather, and this felt… too close for comfort. He’d kill Rocco for the forced seat assignment. Hell, he’d kill the whole team.
Her slight chin upturned and long eyelashes blinked in recognition of him standing there. “I’m sorry I upset you,” she whispered. “Not upset.”
“Gee.” She smirked away the whisper. “Fooled me.”
“I would have thought your buddy Alex would sit with you.”
“Too much time together.” She rubbed her thumb over the corner of a paperback book. “Maybe I just have that effect on men I work with overseas.”
He frowned. “Maybe.”
“Don’t be a jerk, Locke. I don’t see you winning awards for attitude and compassion.”
Great. A lecture. Somehow, words of wisdom about how to behave didn’t seem appropriate coming from this woman. “Don’t care anyway.”
“We should hash out—”
“I’m asleep, Cassidy.”
“I’m willing to have a conversation about it.”
Nope. Not going to happen. Especially surrounded by his team. Stuck in a tin tube with his nightmare for hours on end? No. Locke grumbled, balled the sweatshirt into a pillow, and closed his eyes.
“Right. I’m asleep too, Captain Avoidance. So much for talking it out. Again.”
Talking it out. Did Cassidy want a fight on an airplane? Really? They could talk out the loss of life, maybe hold hands and chant their way to inner peace.
The loudspeaker crackled once, and a real captain came on. “It’s a short runway and a long trip. Buckle in, and go to sleep. We’ll be wheels up before you know it.”
How the hell was he going to sleep sitting next to…? Locke stole a glance out of the corner of his eye, and Cassidy was dead out. Her pink lips parted, and she leaned against the wall, oblivious to the world.
Dreaming, she didn’t look like the devil or seem like someone who had enough venom in her to destroy an army unit. With her thick red hair knotted high— some pieces had fallen free, covering part of her face— he could see her allure.
Her book slid off her lap and landed cover side up. It was not what he’d have guessed she’d pick for a leisure read. Then again, he didn’t know a thing about Cassidy Noble.
Shadows of Truth. His eyebrow rose as he focused on the subheading: Reality’s Fight for Freedom. Scowling to himself, he mulled over her choice of reading material and the fact that she’d fought to tell him something in the snow shack from hell and even just before she fell asleep.
Their aircraft launched into the air. She didn’t stir, only shifted, sliding her weight from one side of the seat to the other— toward him. And she slouched, piled against him, asleep and unaware, and damn his manners and the soft purr of her dreamy relaxation as she nuzzled against his shoulder and he went ramrod straight. Paralysis had taken over, and it seemed his biceps had coaxed her into falling further into sleep. Cassidy was the cause of his tormented, sleepless nights, and he wanted to shake her awake, but he couldn’t rip his shoulder away.
He had a reputation as a man of few words with a shoulder to lean on— interesting that the one person he hated was literally taking advantage of that shoulder, and after he had given her too many words and not listened at all.
Locke tucked the Army sweatshirt under her neck— as a barrier— and she looped her arm up and snaked around the new pillow, latching onto his forearm in the process.
“No, no, Cassidy,” he whispered, failing to extract himself. “Don’t do… that.”
She sighed and pouted in a deep sleep. Whoa— that was quite the face. But he wouldn’t fall for it. She’d be lethal with that pout, those lips, and that hair if she had half an idea the effect they had. “Not cool, woman.”
This time, he’d get out of her grip even if he woke her up. Locke held his breath and tugged his arm. His face scrunched, but finally, he was free.
Quickly, he looked around. No one had been watching. Jesus. He shook his arm, smoothing out his shirt, and the warmth of her touch dissipated. The idea that Cassidy had been wrapped around him was absurd.
“She’s a snake.” He’d never forget the Night of Fire and the deaths of men who were like his brothers. Locke rubbed his arm then scrubbed his face with both hands, trying to fight the confusion and the memories and maybe have a normal flight’s worth of sleep.
She stirred, but she didn’t look evil. No horns hiding, no whiptail curled beside her. He needed to remember all women looked pleasant when they slept. The sweet, sighing lady next to him was nothing but a trap.
ABOUT CRISTIN HARBERCristin Harber is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling romance author. She writes sexy, steamy romantic suspense and military romance. Readers voted her onto Amazon’s Top Picks for Debut Romance Authors in 2013, and her debut Titan series was both a #1 romantic suspense and #1 military romance bestseller. Website | Newsletter | Facebook | Team Titan Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads
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