Witness to Passion

By: Naima Simone

(Entangled Ignite) (Guarding Her Body)

Under his protection and in his bed…

For Fallon Wayland, birthdays are just another reminder of her looming spinsterhood. This year is shaping up to be no different. Unfairly fired from her job, dumped by her boyfriend, and oh yes, witnessing the murder of a high-ranking lieutenant in the local crime family… Yeah, birthdays suck.

Ever since a disastrous, hot-as-hell kiss years ago, soldier-turned-security specialist Shane Roarke has avoided his baby sister’s reckless—and gorgeous—best friend. Yet when her life is threatened after she witnesses a gang hit, he insists on protecting her…even if she objects.

The two are forced to hole up in a safe house. Alone. Passion long denied erupts between them, burning away their inhibitions. But even as layers—and clothes—are peeled away, danger closes in. Shane and Fallon might finally have a chance at love…if they survive long enough to see it.

To Gary. 143.

Chapter One

“Happy birthday!”

Fallon Wayland snorted at her best friend, Addisyn Roarke’s, exuberant greeting. “Birthdays suck ass,” she said into her phone.

A sharp gasp came from behind her, and with a wince, Fallon peeked over her shoulder and met the disapproving glare of Betty White’s angry twin sister. Sorry, Fallon mouthed with an apologetic smile and a shrug before turning around. And tried to pretend the woman’s furious stare didn’t burn the back of her neck like a sniper’s scope.

God, could this line move any slower? She glanced down at her watch. 8:30. She had twenty minutes to buy coffee for herself, her boss, Carolyn Task, and Carolyn’s ass-grabby son, Mitchell, and then traverse the Charles Street morning traffic to Caro’s event-planning office.

Well, damn. Unfortunately, her red cape and blue tights were at the cleaners.

“You’re in a real chipper mood,” Addy drawled. “This is your birthday, Debbie Downer. Cheer up.”

Fallon rolled her eyes, shifting one step forward in the line that moved at the speed of a molasses-covered snail. “What’s the purpose of birthdays anyway? To commemorate the day a person was born, rejoice in another year of life, celebrate wisdom gained and lessons learned. Yada, yada, yada. Blah, blah, blah.”

They were all the same, just varying in degrees of suckiness, broken promises, and disappointments. And while today, on her twenty-fifth, she might not have suffered anything more catastrophic than being late for work because of a coffee run and enduring an eat-shit-and-die glare from an octogenarian… Well, the day was still young.

“That is so cynical. Even for you,” Addy complained.

“Cynical, huh. Well, let’s see. On my sixth birthday, I expected a party with all my friends, a magician, clown, and a pony. Instead Mom brought home a new stepdad and a surprise trip to Paris—which, by the way, didn’t include me.” Fallon ticked off one finger. “On my tenth, all I got was a numb butt from sitting for hours on the living room window seat, waiting for Dad to come pick me up. Unfortunately, a business trip trumped my birthday. On my fifteenth, Mom took my puppy—Dad’s gift—to the pound because it crapped on her precious Persian rug.” She ticked off another finger. “And on my eighteenth, I lost my virginity.”

“Riiight.” Addy sighed. “Brandon Hyatt.”

“Two meh minutes of my life I’ll never see again.” Fallon snorted. “His basement couch had more of a thrill than I did.”

She’d never told Addy about the other reason she hated her eighteenth birthday with a passion. Shane Roarke and that ill-fated birthday kiss. The kiss—and esteem-shattering rejection—that had sent her running to Brandon and his couch in the first place.

She made a sound between disgust and…disgust. Just the name of Addy’s older brother caused her scalp to itch. And her heart to pound. And her belly to clench. But that was neither here nor there. With his black hair, turquoise eyes, and amazing body, Shane Roarke could tempt a nun into changing camps.

Unfortunately, he was more pious and righteous than any bride of Christ could ever hope to be.

“All right, I have to place this order.” Fallon said, finally stepping up to the counter. “Thanks for the birthday call, but I have to go. I’m running late as it is.”

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