August 3rd, 2012 - Excerpt Five - Day Five
Today we conclude our Special Edition Romance Previews featuring MATERIAL WITNESS by L.A. Mondello. We hope you enjoyed it!
Let's set the stage for today's excerpt:
At every turn Jake and Cassie have had someone tailing them. Somehow, someone always finds them…until now. They’re alone and the burning desire that has been building is too hard to control.
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Who does she trust when she’s living the real life horror of one of her crime novels…
Bestselling crime novelist, Cassie Alvarez, aka Cassie Lang, had murder on her mind when she walked into Rory's Bar under dressed and under cover to research her latest crime novel. Researching the cool, blue-eyed and dashingly handsome man at the end of the bar stirred her senses more than she wanted to admit. But was this man of leather armor all he appeared to be?
Playing White Knight to an innocent wasn't how Detective Jake Santos planned to spend his time under cover. But there was no way "CJ" was what she claimed to be and that nagging tightness in Jake's chest told him he'd better take her home to safety and leave it at that. Then the barroom exploded with gunfire, leaving a trail of dead that includes a notorious Providence crime boss and an undercover FBI agent. When Cassie’s name is leaked to the media as the only witness to the grisly murders, Cassie insists she only trusts Jake to protect her.
The FBI wants their star witness happy and will do anything to make sure Cassie testifies. But it is clear to Jake that the shooter isn’t the only person who wants Cassie dead. Not knowing who to trust, he vows to protect Cassie at all cost despite the fact that guarding the beautiful novelist is a serious distraction.
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“You take good care of me, Jake.” She leaned her body closer to him as she sat on the edge of the sofa. She planted her hands on her knees and pushed herself up until she stood right in front of him.
He held his breath, wanting just to bend his head and get a fraction closer to her. He couldn't kiss her. He knew he shouldn't. That didn't mean he didn't want to with every ounce of his being.
“I make a mean chicken soup,” he said softly, picking up one of the cans on the table.
“You don't have to cook for me to take care of me.”
She shook her head and licked her lips.
Good Lord, how Jake wanted to kiss her. What he wouldn't do to just forget all the reasons he couldn't and celebrate all the reasons he should cover her mouth with his. Forget his damned code of ethics. Forget Angel Fagnelio and all the scumbags of the world who inflicted pain for pleasure. All he wanted to do—no, needed to do—was kiss Cassie and feel her small body next to his. He needed it as much as he needed his next breath.
Jake gazed down at her, saw the moon and the stars shining in her warm brown eyes, felt the very earth beneath his feet shift.
“We keep playing this game, you and me, but we never take the next step.” Her voice was like silk running over his skin, soft, feminine and enticing.
“Is that what you really want?”
She nodded without hesitation. With her deep sigh, her chest rose and stretched taut the stained cotton shirt she wore, defining the delicious swells of her breasts.
“It's your choice though,” she said. “I've made my feelings perfectly clear.”
She nodded her head toward the open bedroom door. “I'm going to go in there now, pull this bloody shirt off me and leave you to think about what it is you really want.”
For a lingering moment, their gazes locked. More was said in those few seconds than had been said the entire time they'd been together. With great strength, he held himself back from touching her. There was more than just lust flowing between them. Even he could see that. What they had was total explosive emotion that was rare.
Jake stood still in the center of the room, watching as Cassie walked to the bedroom. She didn’t pause at the door this time, as she had last night. She just lifted her chin and gracefully moved away from him, never looking back.
Filling his lungs deeply with the stale air in the room, he ran his hand over his face, smelled the lingering scent of the ointment still clinging to his fingertips. He rolled the pad of his thumb and index finger together and closed his eyes, searching for an answer. Anything that would bring some sense to the insanity they’d been living these past few days.
He wanted Cassie. She'd made it more than clear she wanted him, too. He genuinely cared for her. He'd gone to bed with women for less than that before. But he wouldn't do that to Cassie.
She was special. More than special even. There was a rarity about Cassie that reached out and grabbed something deep inside, pulling him to her right from the start. She wasn't the kind of woman he could just have a simple fling with, then walk away. The truth was, he’d reached a point of no return where Cassie was concerned. He didn't know if he could walk away from her.
He'd been right about one thing from the start. Cassie Alvarez was lethal. But only to his heart. Her innocence and sass wrapped around him, making it hard to think about anything else but her. The very thought of waking up and not hearing her musical laughter broke him in two.
No one had a crystal ball to look into the future and see what tomorrow held, least of all him. He didn’t know how this threat with Angel Fagnelio and the FBI would ultimately play out. And if he didn't have the answers to that, how could he think about moving forward toward any kind of future with Cassie beyond this case?
Except for one very real thing. Angel Fagnelio wasn't here. And more importantly, no one knew they were here. Of this much Jake could be certain. No one had followed them on the road leaving the cabin. He hadn’t been distracted by conversation as they drove because Cassie was virtually silent throughout the drive.
Fagnelio isn't here, Jake thought as he moved his feet toward the bedroom door. There was no threat that could destroy them. It was only him and Cassie. And right now, he wanted her.
Have a nice weekend!