Hayden rolled his eyes. Iris ate at Sierra’s restaurant at least once a day, and he didn’t know where the slim woman put it all. That wasn’t what he cared about though. “So wait, Sierra was here and left?” They had a standing ‘date’ every Thursday night. It was his favorite night of the week even if it wasn’t a real date. He wished it was though. The kind where she ended up back at his place, naked and underneath him as he pumped into her for hours. He needed to get over his bullshit and just make a move. It was hard though, because if he read her wrong and she rejected him—that thought pierced him in a way he couldn’t even think about.

Iris nodded, her expression curious as she watched him.

Ignoring her for the moment, he picked up his phone and started to call Sierra when it rang. It was his brother. He picked up on the first ring. “Hey.”

“I’m in parking garage B, section 210. Get your ass down here. Sierra’s been hurt,” Jay said hurriedly.

The words were like a punch to his system. Hayden jumped up and motioned for Iris to follow. Time seemed to slow down and everything around him sharpened into focus as they hurried toward the elevators. “How bad? What happened?” The thought of anything happening to Sierra…fuck, he couldn’t even go there. Before he heard all the facts he needed to keep a level head.

“Someone attacked her, slammed her head against a car. She’s got some bruising and she’s upset but otherwise physically unharmed. The fucker got away because I had to check on her first. By the time I went after him there was no trace of him. The paramedics and police are on their way but I’ve got someone…hold on…” In the background he could hear Jay murmuring something then he was back on the line. “Listen, if you see Iris—”

“She’s with me,” he said as they stepped into the elevator. “We’ll be there in less than a minute.”


As they disconnected, Hayden shoved his phone in his pants pocket. He quickly relayed what his brother had told him as the elevator started moving. He slid his master key into the panel so they would go directly to the parking garage. The ride was fast but it seemed like the longest minute of his entire life. As a former SEAL, he’d been on a shitload of brutal missions in war-torn countries, been stuck behind enemy lines with no backup for days, but nothing compared to the fear pumping through his veins now. Not only was Sierra the sweetest, most sensual woman he knew, she fucking owned him. Even if she didn’t know it yet.

“Your brother said she’s unhurt,” Iris murmured, her voice unusually soft.

Hayden couldn’t even respond. His vocal cords refused to work. After what felt like an eternity, the door finally opened and he raced out. Half a dozen men in security uniforms were standing guard, giving Sierra and Jay a ten foot radius. Hayden was sure his brother or someone had already started the hunt for whoever had tried to hurt her. Normally he’d take over the situation, but all he cared about was making sure Sierra was safe. He would deal with hunting down and destroying whoever had attacked her later.

Chapter 3

Sierra’s eyes widened when she saw Hayden barreling down on her and Jay. Her head throbbed, but Jay had gotten an ice pack for her which helped. Now they were waiting on the police so she could fill out a report. She’d have to make an official one at the casino too, but none of that concerned her now.

The craziest sense of relief pumped through her now that Hayden was here. She was still hurt that he’d apparently been going on some date, but she was grateful for his presence. At six feet five he was a freaking giant compared to her. Something she teased him about occasionally. Normally he wore a suit and tie to work but at the moment he just had on dark slacks and a buttoned up white shirt. His sleeves were rolled up, showing off his tattooed, incredibly muscular arms. Everything about him was big, intimidating and sexy.

Ignoring his brother, Hayden didn’t stop until he was right in front of her, completely crowding her personal space. Even though she was standing, he had to bend down because of her shorter height. He cupped the left side of her head, gently rubbing his thumb over her cheek as he turned her head to look at the damage on the right side. She was too stunned by his touch to even think about protesting. Words caught in her throat as he lifted the ice pack away and made a low, menacing sound in his throat.

After a moment he turned her back so that she had to look directly at him. There were so many emotions in his gaze and he was still rubbing her cheek in a soft, sensual way that made all her pain fade. He’d never touched her like this before. Sure, they’d hugged and he occasionally slung an arm around her shoulders in a friendly way but this felt different somehow. Either that or she’d hit her head harder than she thought. It was probably the head thing.

“How’re you feeling, baby?” he rasped out.

She blinked in shock. Baby? Her mouth partially opened as he leaned closer. For a moment she thought he was going to kiss her, but then she realized he was looking at her eyes. Of course he was. She felt like an idiot for thinking otherwise. He was trying to check if she had a concussion.

“Are you nauseated?” he asked quietly.

The concern she saw in his face was almost enough to make her burst into tears. She was trying to keep it together but with him there it was damn hard. “No.”

“Did you lose consciousness?”

Jay had already asked her these questions but she just shook her head. “No.”

“Are you feeling dizzy or tired? Do you hear a ringing in your ears?”

“No to all of the above.”

“What about a headache?”

“Of course I have a headache. Someone slammed my head against a car.” She tried to keep her words light, but her voice cracked on the last word.

Hayden swore softly before gathering her against his chest. He wrapped his huge arms around her and even though she knew it was a mistake, she slid her arms around him and laid the uninjured side of her head against his chest. That masculine, raw scent that drove her crazy twined around her, soothing her as much as his hold did. Right now she needed his strength and wasn’t afraid to admit it.

“What do you know so far?” Hayden asked Jay.

“Someone wearing a black mask attacked her. She screamed, tried to run, and he caught up with her. Slammed her against that car,” he said as he pointed to it. “It was just by chance I was down here too. I scared him off. I wanted to go after him but I couldn’t leave her alone.”

“I’m going to fucking kill him.” There was such rage in Hayden’s voice that Sierra stepped back. He was always in such tight control of his emotions, even when dealing with would-be thieves and criminals at the casino. Nothing ever ruffled him so to hear his voice practically shaking was a shock.

He wouldn’t fully let her go though, sliding his hands lower and keeping them firmly on her hips. “Hayden, no, the police are on their way. They’ll handle this. But I don’t understand how anyone got in here. Unless…” Oh God, why hadn’t she thought of that? It had to be an employee. “Someone from the casino did this?” An uncontrollable shudder snaked through her.

“Not necessarily,” Iris said as she strode up. Sierra had seen her arrive with Hayden but the head of hotel security had been talking on her phone in hurried, but hushed tones. “I just got off the phone with one of the tech guys. Turns out there was a glitch in the system. Two of the doors down here were unlocked because of it and…the video feed was off too.”

Sierra’s blood chilled at the words. Next to her, Hayden stiffened, so she knew she wasn’t crazy. The locks in the garage were electric so she could see a mistake happening if there was a computer error, but for the video feed to malfunction too… “The video just in this garage or everywhere?”

Iris cleared her throat. “Just this section of the garage.”

Which meant this had been somewhat planned. Maybe she hadn’t been the specific target, but the security at the Serafina was vigilant about having eyes everywhere, especially when it concerned the safety of their employees. It was one of the reasons Sierra loved working at the casino.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” Hayden said.

Iris and Jay murmured an agreement as Sierra tried to wrap her mind around what had happened. It still seemed too surreal and she was just so damn grateful to be relatively unharmed. Things could have been a hell of a lot worse. Over the last month Sierra had fired multiple employees. Some for stealing, others for using drugs on the premises. It wasn’t completely out of the realm of possibilities that someone had targeted her because of that. While she wanted to believe the best of people, she’d seen people do stupid stuff when they were desperate or felt wronged.

“I’m having a full systems check and analysis run on our security right now to figure out why we had a glitch with the locks. And you better believe I’ll find out what happened to that feed. This kind of thing won’t happen again,” Iris said.

“I want all the names of the people Sierra fired since the opening of the Serafina. We’ll focus on them first, and if we can’t narrow it down we might expand our suspect pool.” There was no denying the underlying rage in Hayden’s voice. If anything, he seemed even angrier than a few moments before.

The sound of sirens getting near made Sierra wince, but she kept her focus on Hayden. “What about the police?”

“Tell them everything you know. They’ll investigate but so will we. That fucker better hope the cops get to him first.” He didn’t look away from her as he spoke, a silent promise in his eyes that slightly terrified her.

Not because she was afraid of him. Sierra had always known Hayden was a badass. His military record was enough to prove that, but right now she felt like she was seeing him for the first time. Or at least the true warrior lurking beneath the surface. Before she could respond, Jay cut in.

“Shut it, Hayden. Don’t let the cops hear you saying that shit,” his brother muttered at the sound of screeching tires and slamming doors. Sierra looked toward the end of the row of nearest line of cars.