The new Hard Core Justice Thriller series is about US Marshals who are thrust into extraordinary circumstances, where everything goes wrong while trying to protect their witnesses. And of course, they fall in love along the way, but can they survive to have a happily-ever-after? In this excerpt, US Marshal Nick McKenna has been protecting Lori Carpenter for the past year. She is supposed to testify in twenty-four hours, but assassins have been sent by a drug cartel to silence her. They’ve finally taken a moment to catch their breaths and regroup.
I hope you enjoy the excerpt and pick up a copy of HOSTILE PURSUIT today!
Lori reached for his hand and drew it to her chest. “You’re like an onion, Nick McKenna, lots of layers. Some of them pretty dark, but I’ve got a funny feeling about you.”
“Oh, yeah. What’s that?”
“No matter how deep or scary those layers are, I don’t think you’d make me cry.”
The air hung thick between them, electrified, damn near flammable. They were two pieces of flint, igniting whenever they touched. One tiny spark and they might both combust.
“I would never make you cry,” he said. “Unless they were happy tears. You’re such a good person, so beautiful. I’d cut off my right arm before hurting you.”
On some level, despite his bad-boy alter ego, she sensed he believed that to be true.
“What about you?” He caressed her cheek with his knuckles, those dark, exacting eyes taking her in. “You’ve been holding back pieces of yourself, too.” A statement, not a question, that stalled the oxygen in her lungs. “I just shared my darkest, ugliest secrets. Quid pro quo.”
The caress in his voice was more powerful than a physical stroke, tempting her to unburden herself. Nick was formidable and capable. He could handle anything. Even the truth?
She tensed and backed up against the table. If he knew…no, when he found out…
Lori wasn’t ready for that, to ruin this. “What you see is what you get with me.”
Nick flashed her a come-on look and erased the gap separating them. “We all have secrets.”
Sins to atone for. But hers weren’t up for discussion.
“You’re safe with me, Lori,” he said, and she knew he didn’t only mean physically, but her heart was battered and bruised, more fragile than she dared admit.
He slid his hand under her hair at the nape, cupping the back of her head, and dragged her flush against him. Lori’s body heated and her pulse kicked up at his proximity.
She didn’t resist, surrendering to his maleness and sexiness and the take-charge side of him, the blend of which was intoxicating.
His strong arm wrapped around her waist. Protectively at first, then he planted his palm on the small of her back in possession, drawing her pelvis to his. Her gaze moved past his broad shoulders and fixed on his lips. He looked like the kind of guy who kissed and made love the way that he fought. No holds barred, pouring his all into it.
Life was too short. The god-awful events of the day had made her painfully aware of that, more than ever. She was done holding back, tired of denying her growing attraction to this man.
“All I’ve wanted since the day I was assigned to you,” he said, “was to protect you, keep you safe.” That smoldering gaze searched hers and she was tempted to confess everything.
He was a little dark, a little crazy, a little rough. Dangerous, but the good kind. She was a little damaged, a little pragmatic and a whole lot scared. Dangerous, too, but a different sort.
They were wrong for each other in a thousand ways. Knowing there was no future for them, but having such powerful chemistry, it was impossible to be rational.
“Is that all you’ve wanted over the past year?” she asked. She didn’t want to die with regrets. Wishing she had seized the chance to taste Nick McKenna, just once. Her mouth watered at the thought. She’d never been so hungry for a man’s kiss, for his touch.
“No. It’s not.” He fell silent then and cupped her cheek. His thumb brushed over her lower lip, causing a liquid rush of weakness in her knees.
He gripped her hips, lifting her up onto the table, and pushed forward. She let her legs slide apart to accommodate him. Her muscles strained with anticipation, the urge to hasten the contact that she craved swelled in her chest like a soap bubble and she had to act before it burst.
In the span of a breath, her arms twined around his neck and her lips were on his. The kiss was shockingly soft at first, closemouthed and languid.
His tongue glided along the seam of her mouth, teasing it open. She melted against him and sighed as his grip on her tightened. The heels of his palms pressed into her hipbones, his fingers molding to the curve of her waist.
She tingled as though her body was waking from a long slumber with renewed circulation.
He growled, deepening the kiss, stroking her tongue with lush, greedy slides of his own. All the oxygen was sucked from her lungs, and her thoughts evaporated in a stab of pure longing.
With her breasts crushed to his chest, his heart raged against her sternum, the beat guiding her own pulse. He pulled her hips forward, making her achingly aware of every hard, hot, aroused inch of him.
She’d never needed anything more than to have the solid pressure of his body against hers, his sinewy strength and leashed control wrapped around her. His hips rubbed against her inner thighs, the friction creating a deeper ache that made her forget about the pain in her body. Awakened a yearning for something wild and passionate, caution and reason thrown to the wind.
Nick was the perfect man to give it to her.
A throat cleared in the doorway. They both jumped, pulling apart and looking embarrassed. But Nick stayed close, keeping one hand on her hip.
Renee stood on the threshold. “Excuse me. I’m sorry to interrupt, but I wanted you to know that I tried to call my mother.”
“You did what?” Nick snapped, his face turning furious. “I explained how precarious this situation is. Her life is on the line.”
“I meant well. Yes, you’re the professional, but I knew if you spoke to Mom face-to-face for two minutes, you’d know without a doubt that you can trust her.”
Nick’s jaw clenched. “You shouldn’t have gone behind my back and—”
Lori put her palm to his chest. “Nick, you were going to ask her to call the sheriff anyway.”
He turned to Lori, his brow creased. “That’s not the point.”
“No, it’s not,” Renee said. “If you’d let me finish. I said I tried to call her. I couldn’t get through. The phone line is down.”
A fresh wave of tension sloshed in Lori’s stomach.
“Is that unusual for the phone to go on the fritz in this area?” he asked, taking out his cell.
“Yes, it is and I couldn’t get a signal on my cell.”
Nick checked his phone. He looked up and shook his head. “No signal, either.”
Her heart pounded hard as a fist against her sternum. The waking nightmare at the mall and the safe house resuscitated, engulfing her once more. The ache returned to Lori’s throat on the next swallow, spreading with the next breath. The apparatus the woman had used to try and strangle her was called a garrote. A word she wished she had never learned and now would never forget.
“Do you have a two-way radio?” Nick asked.
Renee shook her head. “I don’t.”
A loud ding made Lori’s pulse spike and she took a startled breath. “What is that?”
Nick went rigid. That internal switch in him had flipped and he was once again the icy, detached marshal prepared to annihilate anyone who sought to do her harm.
About the Book
When ruthless killers target them, even a safe house isn’t safe.
Only twenty-four hours remain until marshal Nick McKenna’s informant, Lori Carpenter, will testify against a powerful drug cartel. Nick has kept her safe for an entire year, but now all hell is breaking loose. With a team of cold-blooded assassins closing in, the by-the-book lawman decides to go rogue. He’ll risk his life for duty…and put it all on the line for his irresistible witness.
“I’m going to warn you: you will not be able to put this book down.” -Anita, Goodreads reviewer
“This edge of your seat romantic thriller had me hooked from the beginning and didn’t let up until the sizzling conclusion.” -David, Goodreads reviewer
“A suspenseful, jam-packed read!! I couldn’t put the book down because I wanted to know what would happen next-and it was a lot!”-Jewels Book Blog, Goodreads reviewer
“What a wild ride Hostile Pursuit was from the first page to the last!”-Katie, Goodreads reviewer
GIVEAWAY: To celebrate the release of HOSTILE PURSUIT, Juno is giving away a nine-book bundle and a $25 gift card. Open internationally. Must be 18 years old to win.WIN SIGNED INTRIGUE BOOK BUNDLE + GIFT CARD
About the Author
Juno is the award-winning author of steamy, action-packed romantic thrillers that keep you on the edge of your seat. She writes about kick-ass heroes and strong heroines fighting for their lives as well as their happily-ever-after. As a veteran Air Force Intelligence Officer, she uses her background supporting special forces to craft realistic stories that make you sweat and swoon. Juno currently lives in the DC area with her patient husband, two rambunctious kids, and a spoiled rescue dog. To receive a FREE book from Juno, sign up for her newsletter at junorushdan.com/mailing-list/. Also be sure to follow Juno on BookBub for the latest on sales at bit.ly/BookBubJuno.
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