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Authors: Helenkay Dimon

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Chain of Command

BOOK: Chain of Command
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Chain of Command
By HelenKay Dimon

Book one of Greenway Range

Retired marine Sawyer Cain can’t forget all he’s seen and lost, but he can try to start over. Opening a gun range with his closest friends is the first step toward a new life—one where he finally buries the guilt he can’t seem to shake. So much depends on the property he needs to buy...and the gorgeous but completely frustrating woman who refuses to sell it.

Hailey Thorne is done—with loss and with anything military, after the closest thing she had to an uncle died in Afghanistan. When Sawyer shows up on her porch he has military written all over him. He’s one more in a long line of people who wants the land she inherited, and suddenly he’s everywhere she goes. Hailey can’t get the broad-shouldered, dirty-talking, dead-serious man out of her head. Or her life.

Sawyer’s not above using his skills in the bedroom to try to convince her to sell, and Hailey is more than willing to let him. Their pleasure-only arrangement works...until emotions get in the way. But Sawyer has a secret he’s convinced will have Hailey hating him forever, and Hailey’s not willing to risk loving anyone she could lose.

72,000 words

Dear Reader,

This month I’d like to take a moment to thank all of you who read, review and recommend. Word of mouth is so critical to the success of a book, and we so appreciate not just those of you who write reviews on retailers, review sites, and your personal blogs, but also those who have a love of talking books, as I do, and recommend the things you enjoy to friends, family and fellow readers in conversation, on social media, and at parent/teacher conferences (yes, I’ve done this!). Thank you, you help us grow and thrive!

Speaking of books to review and recommend, I hope you find something in this month’s lineup that inspires you. First, we’re pleased to introduce two debut authors. In
Time Served
by Julianna Keyes, eight years in prison have left Dean insatiable, and a decade apart isn’t enough to stop Rachel from surrendering any way he asks. Don’t miss this sexy contemporary romance debut!

For those who have longed for something different in historical romance, Pamela Cayne delivers in
The Fighter and the Fallen Woman
. In Victorian London, Lady and King, a prostitute and a street fighter, are kindred souls, each trapped in their own hells. Both owned by a ruthless businessman, they have no chance at love if they don’t first risk death.

Also new to Carina Press this month is a brand new male/male space romance series from author duo Jenn Burke and Kelly Jensen set aboard a
Firefly
-esque freighter, following a cast of misfit super-soldiers who have been through intergalactic hell and offering up a delicious and unexpected reunion romance. Don’t miss the first book in the
Chaos Station
series!

For those who love revisiting favorite authors, HelenKay Dimon’s
Chain of Command
is available in March 2015. Special ops Marine Sawyer Cain is ready for civilian life, trading danger for more stability by opening a gun range with his friends, but first he needs the land and that means going through Hailey Thorne...and nothing prepares him for her.

A drunken kiss between an out gay man and his supposedly straight best friend awaken long-repressed feelings that neither man is able to ignore in fan favorite A.M. Arthur’s
Getting It Right
.

Proving that all good things come to an end, we’re sad to say farewell to urban fantasy series Monster Haven from R.L. Naquin. In
Phoenix in My Fortune
, Zoey must stop the terrifying Shadow Man from breaking the ancient Human/Hidden Covenant and taking away all the Hidden in our world forever—including Zoey’s family.

Hunted by a killer, Layna Blair knows trust isn’t a mistake she can afford, but the six-foot-four Marine makes her an irresistible offer—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked in
Impossible Promise
by Sybil Bartel.

Author Kate Willoughby delivers another sizzling contemporary romance in
Out of the Game
. Alex Sullivan may be the San Diego Barracudas’ resident playboy, but he’s never forgotten his kiss with Claire Marzano. When he sees her again at a teammate’s wedding, he can’t think of anything but spending more time with her. Preferably naked.

Last, we wrap up two science fiction trilogies this month. In
The Epherium Chronicles:
Echoes
by T.D. Wilson, Captain James Hood and his ship, the
Armstrong
, survived the battle of Cygni, but the victory at the new colony puts humanity in more danger both in space and on Earth.

And from Timothy S. Johnston’s science fiction mystery series the Tanner Sequence, described as Agatha Christie meets Michael Crichton, Homicide Investigator Kyle Tanner is on an emotional journey as he hunts killers in a society plagued by violence and brutality. Stranded on a disabled vessel with a hostile crew that includes at least one serial killer, he must rely on the love of a remarkable woman in order to decipher the clues and solve the mystery in
The Void
.

Coming in April 2015: a hot erotic romance, two new debut authors and the launch of a new male/male new adult trilogy.

Here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.

Happy reading!

~Angela James
Editorial Director, Carina Press

Dedication

For Melissa Cutler, who joined me at the gun range and for the all-day class that gave birth to the idea for this series.

Acknowledgments

Thank you, first and always, to my husband. You make every day better and never complain about my deadline stress. Every writer needs a spouse like you.

Another person who hears me complain is my amazing editor, Angela James. Thank you for your patience, guidance and talent. There’s a reason every author wants to work with you. You make every book you touch better.

I got the idea for this series while taking a firearms familiarization course through the Aegis Academy. Everything about the series is fictional, but ideas come from everywhere and shooting a Glock made this one happen. So, thank you to the professionals of the Aegis Academy for the great course and the inspiration.

As always, thank you to the readers, bloggers and reviewers out there who support the romance genre. None of this can happen without you—you’re the best!

Chapter One

Real-life Sawyer Cain proved far more potent than the version she’d seen in photographs. Dark hair all grown out from his military days, broad shoulders...that expansive muscled back. Hailey Thorne picked him out from fifteen feet away, across a crowded bar. Bad lighting and all. It was almost too easy to spot him and zoom in for a better look.

Not that she was here to gawk, though it certainly didn’t hurt anything to steal a moment or two and admire the guy from a safe distance. Men did that sort of thing all the time. No reason a woman couldn’t engage in a bit of male appreciation now and then. But this was about recon. She’d heard all about him. He kept contacting her. Leaving messages that highlighted his commanding presence without saying much at all.

At first she’d been intrigued...well, to be honest, she’d never stopped being intrigued, which explained why she tracked him down. Not hard to do in the small area north of San Diego. The sleepy beach-town atmosphere—even though the town sat miles away from the water—meant new people stuck out, especially ones that looked like him.

And Sawyer had made an impression. He’d also been asking about her. Even stumbled into her friend’s bakery and dropped her name. From what Hailey picked up, Sawyer pegged her as being older and didn’t have a photo or clear description. Her knowing about him and him only knowing her name made him interesting. It also put him squarely on her radar.

Grabbing the opportunity to meet him on neutral turf with all the barriers down seemed like a good idea. Or it did until he turned his head and pinned her with an intense stare. The face was as impressive as the rest of him.

She forced her legs to move. She aimed for a self-assured walk in her spiky heels and dark jeans but feared her steps came off as clunky. Suddenly each thigh weighed a hundred pounds and she all but dragged them along with her.

An odd sensation but one Sawyer didn’t appear to notice. No, he watched her every move with his gaze performing a quick bounce up and down her body as a smile formed on his lips. When she got closer, he nodded toward the empty barstool next to him.

She didn’t play hard to get. She wasn’t there to ignore him, so she slid onto the seat and tried not to notice how their legs touched. The fact he never broke eye contact set off some sort of weird fluttering in her chest. She chalked it up to indigestion because she was absolutely not the fluttering type.

“What are you having?” he asked.

The deep voice skidded across her senses. It figured he sounded as good as he looked. The guy did not make the whole
staking him out and staying cool
thing very easy. “Whatever you’re having.”

“You can’t go wrong with beer.” He winked at her then signaled the bartender.

Women talked about the parts of a man they found attractive. Ass, shoulders, face. Sawyer scored high in all three. But she always looked at the hands. She liked long fingers and clean nails. Not too pretty. Hands that showed off a work ethic and certain strength, along with a promise that he knew what to do with them when the lights went off. Damn if Sawyer didn’t win that contest too.

He held out one out to her. “I’m Sawyer.”

She shook it...while she lied her butt off. “Let’s call me Sue.”

The bartender plunked a bottle and glass down in front of her. She grabbed for the bottle to keep from latching on to the handshake too long.

“So...” Sawyer rested his elbows on the bar and managed to look hot doing even something that mundane. “Do you usually call yourself something other than Sue?”

“Usually.” But the goal was to keep her identity a secret. Just for now, until she could figure out the smooth-talking hottie’s real game.

“Aren’t you the cryptic one?”

“I hear some men find that compelling.” She’d never been the mysterious type. More like practical and a straight shooter, but there was something about the innocent flirting, the testing of a surprise attraction that struck her as pretty empowering.

“I can guarantee you have my attention.” He spun the bottle around until the bottom clanked against the wood bar. “Had it from the second you walked in the door.”

That made two of them. “You’re quite the sweet talker.”

“For the record, talking is just one of my skills.”

Did his voice dip even lower?
“Oh really?”

For a second her reason for coming here tonight, to track down the guy who kept asking to meet her, slipped from her mind. The noise of the bar, the hum of conversation and music playing in the background, faded away. There was just him and her. And that face...sweet baby Jesus. Pronounced cheekbones and a firm chin. He could be on a recruitment poster for just about anything. People would line up to join.

“Not to brag, but...” He wiggled his eyebrows. On him it came off as cute rather than cheesy.

She’d really been hoping for cheesy. For anything that would make it easy for her to write him off, go home, kick off the stupid shoes and send a polite “thanks, but no thanks” text in response to his requests for attention. But, no.

“Do tell.” The words slipped out of her before common sense could take hold.

“There are things I like to do.” His eyes actually gleamed a bit as he said the words.

Green. She’d been unable to tell the color of his eyes in the photos Rob left, but now she knew. Grass green, a bright shot of color in the middle of the whole Tall, Dark and Holy-Hell-He’s-Hot thing he had going on.

She inhaled, trying to quiet the sudden buzzing sound in her brain. “Like?”

“Are you sure you want to know?”

She wouldn’t be able to think about anything else until he spit it out. “Yes.”

“They’re pretty naughty.” He smiled. “So am I.”

This guy knew how to flirt. “Don’t keep me waiting.”

“Things I’d do with my mouth and hands. Over your skin. Across your collarbone...down to the small of your back. Heated touches that start a countdown running in your head while you beg for more.” He set the bottle away from him. “Things that involve us getting out of here. Me sliding those sexy jeans down your legs. Smelling you. Tasting you.”

Sweet damn
. She didn’t do one-night stands and as a rule she stayed away from military guys. Far away. She’d suffered one loss too many to dive back into that pool. Her parents. A boyfriend. Rob Turner, the uncle-in-every-way-but-blood who raised her but died in Afghanistan a little more than a year ago. Sawyer might be a retired marine but he still possessed the mindset. They all owned it. That unrelenting need to get back in the game. And she didn’t need another
rush into a fire
type.

But that didn’t diminish his hotness. Not one bit, which ticked her off. He talked with that smoky edge to his voice and she wanted to strip off her bra.

Maybe meeting him at a bar had been a bad idea. Like, epically bad.

After years of obvious matchmaking attempts and misfires, Rob had used a lighter touch when it came to Sawyer. Talked about his honor and decency, sent photos and never let a letter or call go by without mentioning the guy.

Interesting how Rob left out the part about how she would meet Sawyer and be struck dumb for the first time in her life. And how annoying was that?

“That is quite a line you have there, Sawyer.” Good thing she didn’t have a glass of water in front of her or she might splash herself with it. She settled for taking a long swig of beer instead.

“Believe it or not, I didn’t come here tonight looking for a good time.” He leaned in closer. “Not that I would say no.”

“Okay.”

His eyes widened. “Okay or
okay
?”

Much more of that and she’d drag him out to her car. “What did you want when you walked through that door?”

He shrugged. “A few minutes to think and plan.”

Not something she understood. Even with the temporary roommate she had hours to fill. Too many minutes to think about loss and what she wanted to do next. Her life hovered in a holding pattern and she had no one to blame but herself. “About?”

“I have some decisions to make.” He traced a finger over the bottle’s label.

She managed to pull her gaze away from his hand but it wasn’t easy. Neither was forcing her voice to stay light. “And you said I was cryptic.”

“I have a business I’m trying to get off the ground and I need some land...” His voice drifted off. “Not important.”

Disappointment filled her. Flooded through her and wiped out everything else.

His comment explained the calls. When he’d left messages saying he had an “issue to discuss with her” he’d actually meant business. Like everyone else, he called because she inherited Rob’s land. Acres of open space in San Diego County. The same land that had a line of investors, developers and scam artists coming to her door.

The whole scene exhausted her. The idea Sawyer was one of them, the fast-talking salesmen types, chilled the heat running through her. Here she thought he’d been following up on Rob’s attempts to throw them together. Not that she planned to go along with that, but for a second there she hadn’t hated the idea.

She shifted on the stool, putting a bit of space between them. “I’m sure you’ll figure it out.”

She could hear the ice in her voice. Hard to hide it since it flowed through her.

If he heard it, he didn’t let on. He kept picking at the label. “That depends on someone other than me.”

“Who?” But she knew. On her. One more business guy looking to partner up and make some money.
Blah
.

“Again, not important.” He pointed at the bottle in her hand. “Want another?”

Until that minute she hadn’t realized she held the bottle in a death grip. She forced her palm to unclench even as everything inside her tightened. “I should go.”

“Huh.” Not a question. He made the noise and shot her a look. A bit confused. Maybe disappointed.

Well, that made two of them.

One of her feet hit the floor as she got ready to make a run for it. But his expression stopped her. It was as if he sized her up and found something interesting. Like a bug trapped under a glass.

She couldn’t help but ask. “What?”

“Your voice.” His eyes narrowed. “You sound angry all of a sudden and I’m wondering why.”

That was fair. It wasn’t as if he’d actually done anything wrong. They didn’t have a deal or an understanding. Hell, he didn’t even know who she really was. Still, she couldn’t help the kick of frustration and overall feeling of grumpiness that worked through her as she watched him now.

“No.” She slid all the way off the stool and stood on the side farthest away from him. “But I am going to leave.”

Go home and curse a little. Not listen to his voicemail just to hear the sound of his sexy voice, because that would be pathetic and she’d done enough sad things for one evening.

He turned in his seat. His gaze never strayed. He didn’t glance around the bar or let his attention wander to other women walking by, even though more than one openly stared at him. “Alone?”

“Yes.” Though she doubted she’d forget him. No matter how much she wanted to.

“Ah.” He put a hand on the bar. Had his cell in his hand and held it up. “Am I wasting my time if I ask for your number?”

If he only knew... “You’ll figure it out.”

“I hope that means we’ll meet again.”

There was no easy way to end this, so she went with one bit of truth about the relationship he didn’t even know they had. “I’m sure you’ll be in touch.”

BOOK: Chain of Command
6.73Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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