Chapter 1

“That is one hell of an ass,” Vincent murmured to Kell.

Following the other man’s gaze, Kell grunted the expected agreement, then froze. That was a nice ass. The best he’d ever seen. He’d also held onto it as the woman it belonged to wrapped her legs around him while he pumped into her for hours.

Though Charlotte’s back was to him, the formfitting red dress clung to her sleek—and a little curvier than he remembered—body like a second skin. In an opulent room where most of the men and women were wearing black or other dark formalwear, she stood out like a beacon. It wasn’t intentional, either. Even if she’d been wearing simple black, she’d have shined as brightly. The woman just seemed to glow. With dark hair, smooth pale skin, lush lips and an elegant bearing, she was the kind of woman men wrote fucking poems about. Well, not men like him, but she certainly inspired that kind of shit.

Right now her dark hair was piled on her head in some sort of complicated twist, revealing just how deep the V of that dress went. She wasn’t showing too much skin exactly, but he didn’t like the thought of other men seeing her. He nearly snorted. It wasn’t like he had a claim on her. Hell, he hadn’t even seen her in a year. Still…his gaze trailed over all that smooth skin and all he could picture was how she’d looked bent over her bed as he’d trailed kisses along her spine and backside.

He straightened, placing the still-full champagne flute he’d never intended to drink in the first place on the tray of a passing server. As part of their security cover tonight, he, Vincent and another dozen men and women were posing as guests at the extravagant party. The couple having the party didn’t want overt security. Didn’t want to offend their wealthy guests’ sensibilities, apparently. “When did she get here?”

“Who, red dress? Couple minutes ago…and she’s talking to Lizzy. That woman has the hottest friends. Hell yeah, I think I might ask for an introduction later.”

“Stay the fuck away from her,” Kell growled before stalking in their direction.

He loved Vincent like a brother. They’d been in the Teams together and the other man had saved his ass more than once. After the Navy when Kell had joined the FBI, Vincent had started working for Red Stone Security. Now years later, Kell was with the same company, but he’d kick Vincent’s ass if he ever made a move on Charlotte.

Coming to Miami had been a damn good career move, but right now the only thing he could focus on was the woman who’d stomped on his heart a year ago.

Not that he blamed her for how she’d reacted to what they’d done—fuck, he couldn’t even go there right now. Couldn’t even think about their history and how he’d messed things up so damn badly. All in one night, too. He’d completely screwed up a chance at even being friends with her when he’d made that stupid admission to her.

As he made his way through the room, circling around her, she must have felt his intense scrutiny. Though she was with Lizzy and two other women, she glanced over her shoulder, a relaxed expression on her pretty face—until she spotted him.

Though she was fair skinned, she paled even more as their gazes connected. Her dark brown eyes widened and she blinked twice, as if to make sure she’d actually seen him.

Oh yeah, sweetheart. It’s me.

Taking him completely by surprise, she turned away from him, murmured something to one of the women, then practically sprinted into the crowd.

Away from him.

Even though he was hyper vigilant about the guests and his surroundings, Kell’s gaze narrowed as he watched that fine ass run away. She’d never been a coward before so it shocked him that she was acting like one now. There was a lot of shit they needed to say to each other and while now clearly wasn’t the place, he couldn’t believe she’d actually tucked tail and run.

Not this time.

Rolling his shoulders once, he let her go. For now. He was working and wouldn’t let anything get in the way of his job. But he’d damn sure find her before the night was over. Glancing around the expansive room, he surveyed some of the wealthiest people in Miami. Glittering jewels, pricey dresses and some of the most expensive art anywhere in the world was on display.

The Garcias wanted to show off their collection while throwing a thirty-five-year anniversary party. Anyone who was anyone in Miami was there. Kell had met Corinne Garcia and the sixty-year-old woman was eccentric and adorable. Standing a little under five feet tall, she’d married a man twice her size who looked fierce where she was soft and sweet. Somehow they fit. Together they’d accumulated a mass of wealth. Kell’s job was to make sure there weren’t any surprises tonight. There hadn’t been any credible threats beforehand, but with all the art and jewels around, they weren’t taking any chances with their safety or that of their guests. Something Kell respected. Some wealthy people became blind to the everyday threats facing them, but not the Garcia couple.

“You see something wrong?” Porter Caldwell, Lizzy’s husband and one of his bosses, slid up next to him like a ghost.

Kell hated when he did that. But the former Marine moved like stealth personified. “No.”

“Then what’s wrong?”

“You know the woman in the red dress Lizzy was talking to earlier?”

Porter shrugged and grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing server. Unlike Kell, Porter wasn’t working tonight. He might run Red Stone Security with his two brothers and father, but the man’s wife came from serious wealth and they’d been invited as guests, not security. Still, Kell knew him well enough that Porter was definitely carrying a weapon and was watching the crowd. “Lizzy’s parents know her parents. She’s visiting from Virginia. Or maybe living here,” he said distractedly, his gaze narrowing on the man walking up to Lizzy.

“You know why?” Kell asked, still scanning the room for any possible threats, but was thankful everything was calm and uneventful.

“Something to do with her kid. I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.” Porter let out an annoyed sound, but Kell ignored it as he tried to digest what his friend had just said.

Kid? What the hell? Charlotte didn’t have any children. Turning back to his boss, he gritted his teeth when he realized Porter had already melted into the crowd and was heading straight for his wife. The man in the expensive suit who’d been heading her way earlier was currently talking to her—and apparently Porter didn’t like that. Ever since Lizzy had gotten pregnant Porter had been acting even more paranoid than normal. Not that he blamed the guy.

Sighing, Kell turned and slowly started making his way around the west side of the room. Porter must have been mistaken. Maybe he was talking about one of the other women Lizzy had been talking to—though there hadn’t been any other women in red dresses he could have been referring to. Work came first and right now he needed to keep a sharp eye out for any possible threat. They weren’t expecting any trouble, but he wouldn’t let his guard down. Trying to shake that nagging feeling that something was off with Charlotte, Kell had reached the open French doors at the back of the house when someone spoke into his earpiece.

“Got a man secured by the back wall, but he’s working with a partner. Male, five ten, dark hair, wearing a tux, heading toward the pool house,” Travis, one of the other security guys, said, his words clipped.

“I’m on it. Those on perimeter stay put unless you see the suspect. Don’t leave your posts.” There were men and women placed all around the giant estate, and just in case this was a ploy to weaken their defense, he was taking this guy down himself. “Who’s the closest to the pool house?” he asked as he hurried across the yard, disappearing in between a cluster of thick oak trees.

“I am.” Iris Tarango’s quiet voice came over the line. The tall, reed thin woman with clear Native American roots was deadly with a blade. He knew she’d been in the Marines and there were whispers that she’d been part of a secret intel-gathering group before coming to work for Red Stone, but that could all be bullshit. What he did know was that she was damn capable.

“I’ll take the west side of the pool house, you take the east. If he’s trying to scale the wall, he’ll use the building as cover.” Kell drew his weapon from his concealed shoulder holster, holding his SIG at the ready if he needed to use it.

There weren’t supposed to be any guests this far back on the grounds so he wasn’t worried about anyone seeing his weapon. Even if someone did he didn’t care. He had a job to do. As he neared the pool area he slowed and ducked behind a tree, only peering out to scan the other trees and the pool house for threats. He wasn’t actually worried about someone dropping down from the trees to assault him, but in his experience it was better to be prepared than end up ambushed.

He could hear a low, grunting and clanging sound so he eased out of his hiding place and hurried around the dimly lit pool to the one-story building. Slowly he crept along the wall and once he reached the end, he carefully looked around the corner.

For a moment he blinked at what he saw. A man in a tuxedo had a green hose with a nozzle on the end of it in his hands and was trying to throw it over the privacy wall like it had a grappling hook attached to it or something. Clearly these thieves hadn’t thought anything through. Probably thought they’d do a quick grab and run.


Sheathing his weapon, Kell crept up on the man and tapped on his shoulder as he reached him. The man yelped and jumped as he turned. From his right Kell heard Iris snicker, but she didn’t make her presence otherwise known.

“What are you doing?” he asked the other man calmly.

“Uh…” He looked around frantically and dropped the hose. As he moved a diamond bracelet fell out from somewhere under his jacket—he’d probably lifted it from a guest. The man stank of booze and even though he swayed once, he tried to take a swing at Kell.

Easily dodging the wide punch, Kell grabbed his arm, twisted him around and slammed his face against the wall as he pinned his arm behind his back. As the man struggled and cried out about ‘suing his ass’, Kell spoke into his communicator. “Got the other guy. Tell the police we’ll be bringing them around the side of the house. They can pick them up near the main gate.” He didn’t want the guests seeing any of this.