He has nothing to lose and everything to gain.
Josie discovers a hidden treasure in a box of books from an estate sale. A naïve online inquiry sets forth a chain of perilous events as potentially deadly thieves emerge from the woodwork. Rattled, she turns to the FBI for protection.
After a tragedy years before, Ghost swore to dedicate his life to fighting evil while locking away his feelings. When a buddy calls in a favor, Ghost reluctantly accepts the bodyguard job to a pretty biathlon athlete with an inquisitive, bubbly nature.
Josie’s heart breaks for what tight-lipped Ghost must have suffered and vows to bring laughter and happiness to his life, if he’ll just give her a chance.
With bad guys hot on their heels, can Ghost protect her from their deadly intentions? Can Josie discover the man underneath the impenetrable shield and remind him how wonderful happiness and love can be?
Publisher's Note: This book was previously published elsewhere. It has been revised and re-edited for release with Totally Bound.
General Release Date: 24th April 2015
Ghost hunkered down in the dark, surveying the bleak landscape and watching for activity from the stout cement building just ahead. Now and again, a shadow would slink, sprint or twitch—The Wind Warriors. All former special ops men and one woman who made up a ragtag, highly skilled and top secret mercenary team who worked for the government to wipe out the nastiest vipers around.
After checking his watch, he moved into a ready state. From his vantage point, hiding under an evergreen tree on top of a small hill, he could take out anyone who threatened his comrades and provide cover as they moved in close. While he preferred his primary occupation as a freelance assassin much better, the Wind Warriors paid well and kept his sniper skills at their peak.
Without his night-vision glasses, he would have been blind in the deep black of the moonless night. Silence reigned across the land as he lay in wait.
He recalled another night, a replica of this one. His Navy SEAL Team Six had drawn the assignment to sneak in and rescue an American physician held by radical terrorists in the Middle East after the doctor had been captured on a volunteer mission. The man had donated his time, skills and equipment to help the local families that had no medical care. Instead of praise and gratitude, he’d been nabbed and paraded around in a celebratory fashion, as if the large terrorist group had captured the president of the U.S. himself.
A chopper had dropped the team a distance away. Slowly but surely, they’d crawled, dashed and dove until they’d reached their destination, staying well under the radar of the terrorists, relying on stealth instead of firepower for fear that at the first glimpse of the approaching team, the guards would execute the doctor. As a unit they’d surrounded the small house that served as a jail, blocked the exits, taken out a couple of guards then together had kicked in the doors, rushing in with guns locked and loaded.
The physician had survived the incident unscathed, unlike the one and only love of Ghost’s life.
At the very same time that had been happening, a drunk driver had slammed into his wife, killing her instantly, along with the beloved unborn child she’d carried. The man’s car had erupted in a ball of flame, leaving nothing but cinders by the time the fire department had arrived to put out the fire. Damn bastard, may he burn in hell. A repeat offender, the man had had no business behind the wheel, let alone killing innocents—like Ghost’s wife and child—with his reckless driving.
He’d needed someone to beat to a pulp, to focus his rage on, to take the drunk driver’s life just as he’d taken sweet Lindsay’s, only the powers above had taken the choice out of his hands, leaving him with unequivocal and unrelenting fury without an outlet.
Rage flamed in his gut. Quickly he bottled the volatile emotion, tamping down on the intensity. In a few short minutes, he could release the potent brew, using the explosion to fuel his determination, his focus to wipe out each and every bit of scum from the earth before his own demise. Not that he worried about death… Hell, he’d challenged the Grim Reaper more times than not, holding no fears or illusions, accepting the probability that he would die in the line of duty, sooner rather than later. After he’d lost Lindsay, his life had held little appeal anyway.
He smirked at the memory of the officer who’d labeled him suicidal right before he’d turned in his resignation from the elite military squad. The decorated idiot hadn’t had a clue. Just because he no longer had anything to live for didn’t mean he was ready to allow evil in the form of power hungry humans to shorten his lifespan—not before he managed to destroy more than his fair share.
The Wind Warriors allowed him to do that—take out top-ranking drug lords, chase them into their dens, and commence with whipping ass before blowing the whole operation sky-high. A chance to take out the devil incarnate on his road to eventual salvation or hell. He didn’t care which.
The name, whispered over earpiece, brought him back to the present. “Mark.”
Kaboom. Mass chaos ensued. His rifle barked as he laid down cover for the small band of mercenaries as they swarmed the building, daring the enemy to provide the smallest target so that he could hasten their trip to hell.
“Let’s see what goodies we have here.” Josie knelt on the old sheet she’d draped across the floor a couple of minutes before, her attention fixated on the cardboard box sitting in the middle. Leery of spiders or other creepy crawlies, she hesitantly reached in, plucked the first book from the top and turned it over to read the front. Nothing rang a bell, so she used a dishrag to clean the spider webs and dust from the novel, then set it aside.
She had impulsively decided to attend an estate auction that morning after she’d woken up early and yearned to get out of the apartment to do something different for the day. Like many others, she had walked through aisles and aisles of tables laden with glassware, trinkets and toys. Nothing had caught her attention—until the auctioneer had begun selling boxes of unsorted stuff. Once he’d announced a hefty box full of old books, her interest had piqued enough for her to move in front of the portable stage. An inner voice had nagged her, demanding she purchase the container—take a chance. Besides, if all else failed, she could donate the books to the library she worked for and receive a tax break in the process. For the selling price of ten bucks, she couldn’t lose.
She reached in and pulled out one hardback book after another. The titles and authors failed to jar her memory and no rare classics waited inside. Nonetheless, she refused to be discouraged. People made startling finds at estate auctions all the time. While she might not come up with an original copy of the Declaration of Independence worth millions, finding an old second or third printing of a piece of fine literature remained possible.
Her pile grew taller as she dug her way to the bottom. Plucking the final volume, she wondered at the uneven weight of the copy. Not much, but enough for her research librarian senses to pick up. The faux-red leather binding reminded her of the old encyclopedias salesmen used to carry door to door. Dust and several old webs told a story of years being stored in a box.
As she wiped across the bottom, she discovered another interesting tidbit. The pages wouldn’t part. They weren’t stuck. No. They were simply carved to appear real. Puzzle pieces began to click as she studied the item in her hand. This wasn’t a book at all. Instead, she’d bet the imposter served as a small, flat box used to hide valuables.
Excitement washed over her as she deftly ran her fingers over the sides, then the top and lastly the bottom, searching for a latch or some way of entry. Finally, her thumb brushed across a slight protrusion. With a gentle nudge, she felt the lock give, only to stick again.
“Dang it.” She jumped up, headed into the kitchen then returned with a butter knife. With exquisite care, she worked at the lock, finally managing to force the old metal apart by bending the hook. The box wouldn’t be usable again after she broke the latch mechanism, however, curiosity overrode her caution. Something important had to be inside—at least important to someone in the past.
Slowly but surely, she opened the lid, letting it fall to rest on the sheet. Inside was what appeared to be white linen handkerchiefs wrapped around oddly shaped objects. After gently picking the first up, she pulled away the layers of cloth until the mysterious treasure dangled from her fingertips.
Growing up in the Midwest, I began reading romance novels in high school, immediately falling in love with the genre, to the point where I decided to write professionally for a career. However, that dream splattered against a brick wall, resulting in a quick death in my first writing class in college when my professor told me bluntly that I wasn't any good at it. I shifted gears quickly, and left my writing dreams behind, eventually settling on becoming a nurse.
A few years back, I stumbled across a fan-fiction writing site on a favorite author's webpage. I began to read stories others wrote, not only making some wonderful close friends from the experience, but also, really learning to write for the very first time. Here I was able to share short stories, practice my writing skills, and truly develop into a writer. More than that, the experience allowed me to revitalize my dream, as I rediscovered joy in writing. Now, I spend my days off with my alpha male characters, quick witted heroines, and see how much trouble everyone can get into.
When I'm not working or writing, I enjoy working in the garden, canning, and seeing my backyard as a living canvas for my whimsical landscaping, and, of course, reading romance novels.