Available Now from the world of Rachel Van Dyken’s Eagle Elite!
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📖 EXCERPT 📖
“See?” Renee spread her arms wide and gave a little shrug. The moonlight cast a glow through the impressive kitchen window, giving her such an ethereal look I stopped breathing for a second before schooling my features. “Nothing to worry about, nobody here to kill me.”
I didn’t relax my stance or lower my gun. “So you checked the crawl spaces? Closets? Dark corners?” I took a step as she shook her head slowly. “Then surely you checked the pantry, right? I mean it’s right behind you. Hell, there could be someone with a gun trained on that pretty mop of hair right now and you wouldn’t know until it was too late.” Her eyes widened like she hadn’t thought of it. Of course she hadn’t. It wasn’t her job to think about the monsters in the dark, just like it wasn’t her job to protect herself. That was why she had me.
I reached behind her and opened the pantry, pointing my gun inside before shutting the door and facing her again. “It’s clear.”
Her lower lip trembled. “I didn’t think of the pantry.”
“It’s not your job to obsess over the pantry,” I whispered in a gruff voice. “It’s your job to listen to me when I’m trying to do my best to keep you safe.”
She looked away. “Can’t save everyone.”
“But there’s absolutely nothing wrong with trying, Renee.”
I said her name.
It tasted sweet on my tongue.
The moan that wanted to follow was barely suppressed by clenching my teeth together.
“Are you going to do a sweep of the house?” she asked quietly.
“Did you want to join me?”
“Am I safer with you or by myself in the kitchen?”
“With me,” I lied. Physically she would always be safe from our enemies—but I knew the truth in my soul. I was just as dangerous to her as a bullet. My being with her would eventually kill her.
All the wives knew it.
They knew that eventually there would be blood.
And if their husbands were gone—it was only a matter of time before it was theirs that was spilled.
I’d like to think that’s why we drank wine like water.
Because when you constantly stare down your impending doom, you start wanting to celebrate every extra minute you’ve been given.
“Let’s go.” I nodded toward the hall. My footsteps whispered against the carpet. Nothing seemed out of place—which was almost more suspicious. People were messy. The hallways were lined with family pictures of Renee smiling with her parents. A heaviness settled on my shoulders.
“She can’t know,” Phoenix had said earlier that night. “At least not yet.”
I knew she was close with her parents. I also knew that they were dishonest with her. And she wondered why she was the one nannying the kids.
Why she was constantly under the watchful eye of Nixon.
I shook my head and kept walking with a stiff Renee next to me.
I cleared each room, each closet, each corner, and twenty minutes later when I felt it was safe enough for her to do more than breathe at my side, I lowered my gun and put it back in its holster.
“All good?” Renee stepped away. She rarely looked me in the eyes, but this time they locked onto me for a good three seconds before she tucked her hair behind her ear and walked farther and farther away.
I almost reached out and grabbed her arm.
Almost jerked her against my chest.
Almost confessed it all.
The lies they’d told.
The secrets we kept.
All to keep her safe.
All to keep her in the dark.
To keep her alive.
Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she’s not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.
She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband, adorable son, and two snoring boxers! She loves to hear from readers!