One year ago, Denver Jones blew up his life and left everything behind. To stay alive, he had no other choice. But now, when video footage of the woman he could never forget goes viral, begging for his help, he has no choice but to go to her. Her niece has been kidnapped and Denver and his blood brothers are the only people she can trust.
But Denver isn’t the only one watching that video. The deadly forces from his past see it too-and they’ll use anything–and anyone–they can to lure Denver out of hiding to exact their revenge.
Noni slowly came awake with a heater at her back. The smell of male and forest filled her senses.
She stilled and listened to his even breathing. He was asleep. Good. She took a moment to feel his presence in bed again. Some of the happiest times in her entire life had been with him in bed. Man, she’d fallen for him fast and hard. They’d only dated for about three months, but she could remember each and every detail as if it were yesterday. The feeling of him in bed was right.
Yet it wasn’t. It couldn’t be. For months after he’d left, she hadn’t slept in her bed. She’d watched television until falling asleep on the sofa in her living room.
She couldn’t do this. Be with him like this. Everything feminine in her wanted to turn around and snuggle into his arms. But he’d be gone soon, and she knew it. Why torture herself? The room was still dark, so dawn had yet to arrive. She slid from the bed as quietly as she could, turned and backtracked to the doorway.
He slept on his back on top of the covers, his huge body taking up most of the bed. His movements were nil, but his breathing even. How tired had he been? A lock of his black hair had fallen on his forehead, and her fingers itched to push it away. To caress down his hard jaw and muscled neck to that wide chest. She’d once spent an entire morning kissing that chest.
Man, she missed him. Even now, with him near and her so pissed, she missed those moments. When he was hers to touch.
Enough wallowing. That was beneath her, and she was stronger than this. There was no choice. She swallowed and gathered her courage, sliding out of the room and quietly shutting the door. After a quick trip to the one bathroom, she tiptoed into the living room and surveyed the computers. The materials from her backpack were spread over a table, while other manila files and yellow notepads were scattered around.
Forgoing hers for his, she flipped through them. A small, very small, part of her felt guilty to be going through Denver’s things. The other part, the one he’d abandoned alone in a bed in Alaska, didn’t give a hoot. The man would never level with her, so she’d be the detective in this case.
The file held a bunch of notes and pictures of red-headed women. Something about a Copper Killer serial case filled one. She pushed it aside and opened another file labeled as “Dr. Madison.”
“See anything that interests you?” Denver asked from hallway entry.
Noni jumped, her lungs compressing. “I’m just getting started.” She would not feel bad. “I read about the Copper Killer case in the newspaper. He was a serial killer who focused on redheads. They caught the guy here in Snowville, right?”
“We caught the guy,” Denver said, not moving. He leaned against the door frame, his hair mussed up, whiskers covering his square jaw. His ragged T-shirt was wrinkled, and his jeans ripped, and nothing in the world had ever looked so delicious. Sexy, tousled, and dangerous.
Noni cleared her throat. A pulse set up between her legs. So that’s why he had been in town. “That wasn’t in the news.”
“It wouldn’t be.” He pushed away from the door frame toward her, holding out his hand. “My records.”
She clutched them to her chest. “I’m not done snooping.”
“Yes, you are.” He grasped the manila folders with two fingers and pulled.
She could fight him, but in a tug of war, she’d probably lose. Or at least get a paper cut, and those sucked. “Who is Dr. Madison?”
At the question, his lazy indulgence disappeared. A flash of heat hit his eyes, and for the moment, he looked every bit as deadly as he’d warned her that he could be. Barely leashed violence poured off him in a heat she could actually feel. “Nobody,” he said, his voice guttural.
Noni gaped at him. At the change in him—in a second. “Right. I, ah, I can see that.”
Then the gates shuttered closed. A veil fell over his expressive eyes, effectively shutting her out.
She exhaled. “I’d forgotten that look.” When they’d dated, every time she’d asked about his life, about his childhood, he’d shut her out. And she’d let him. Oh, she’d sensed the pain in his past, and she’d just accepted him, knowing someday he’d open up to her. Someday he’d feel free enough, safe enough, to confide in her. “I was such a fucking idiot,” she muttered, letting the truth finally in. Even when they’d been together, he hadn’t let her know him.
“No, you’re not,” he said gently. “I’m good at playing a part. Really good.”
Fire lashed her. She jumped up, sending the chair flying back. He had fooled her, and he had done a good job with it. But there had been moments…real moments. She had to trust herself and what she felt. Could she shake him? Get him to admit it was more than just a part? “Oh, baby. You’re not that good.”
“No?” he asked silkily.
“No.” She levered up right into his face, finally trusting her instincts. “I may not know the details of your life, of your big secrets, but I know you a little bit, asshole.” She slapped a hand on his chest. Hard. “Whether you like it or not, you revealed some of your true self.” While she didn’t know the facts, she knew his heart. Whether he liked it or not. Since he’d shown up in her motel room, she hadn’t had time to really think. No way would he hurt her. While he was dangerous, she was safe. “Suck on that.”
“Maybe,” he said, pressing his hand over hers. “It doesn’t change anything. We’re gonna find this baby and get you safe. Then I have another job to do.”
“Jobs,” she sputtered as his heart beat so steadily against her palm. “Tons of jobs, right?”
“No. Just one.” His hand completely covered hers, and she couldn’t move it. The way he said the words gave her pause. Such finality in each syllable.
Her gaze dropped to the files in his other hand. “Dr. Madison?”
He slowly nodded.
“You’re trying to find her?” That’s what he did, right? He found people or things. His detective agency found the lost. That’s what he’d always said.
She swallowed. “Then what?” Instinct chilled down her back, but she didn’t know why. Tension choked around them. “What happens to Dr. Madison?”
“I’m going to kill her.” With that, Denver released Noni’s hand and moved around her to the computers. “Now. Let’s find that baby.”