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Excerpt

TO THE LIMIT, Book No. 2 in THE BODYGUARDS series

West Palm Beach, Florida

Dark, she could do, Eve Garrett thought as she sat by the curb, her motor running. The rain was another story. She didn’t do rain. 

“Or wind,” she grumbled as a strong gust rocked her little Mazda and the downpour pelted the windshield like BBs. 

Why couldn’t she be curled up in her apartment, comfy and dry and reading a good ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ mystery novel, instead of muttering to herself out here in one? 

She was a long way from her apartment. A long way from comfy. Instead, she was wiping steam off her driver’s side window on a night that was also damp and muggy. And she wasn’t even a little bit at ease about parking on this smarmy back street just off Blue Heron Boulevard in a seedy neighborhood that stank of garbage and rot while she waited for Tiffany Clayborne to show. 

She squinted into the rain. Where was that girl?

Eve cared about the little brat – God bless her – but Tiffany had better have a damn good reason for dragging her out in this crap or when she finally did show up, there might be serious hair pulling involved.

And why the theatrics, Eve wondered uneasily, losing the battle to clear a spot on her window. Why the tears and the almost incoherent begging that Eve meet her here, no explanation provided. 

“Just come, Eve. Please. Please hurry.”

With Tiff, lately, there often wasn’t an explanation. Starting with her eighteenth birthday six months ago, Tiffany had turned into the quintessential spoiled little rich girl, monetarily gorged, and emotionally starved for attention. 

She’d really fired up the after burners in the spoiled rich department lately – like anyone could really compete with Paris Hilton. But it still gave the paparazzi plenty of fodder for sensational stories about her exploits. Eve had figured it was a case of Tiffany’s age proclaiming she was capable of making adult decisions, but her brain not yet come to terms with the new reality of maturity. 

Come to terms, little girl. Soon.

The steam finally got the best of her. Eve rolled down her window thinking back to Tiffany’s eighteenth birthday party. You had your basic cake and balloons and candles. And then, in Tiffany’s case, you had your instant access to a multi-billion dollar trust fund.

Eve was thinking that all that money had screwed with her head. Well, so had Tiffany’s father but that was a whole other story. 

“Come on, Tiff. It’s getting wet out here.”

Eve checked her watch and told herself that to an eighteen year old, fifteen minutes did not constitute late. To a twenty-eight year old who had to be on the job at seven the next morning, however, fifteen minutes constituted at the beginnings of a very bad mood. 

Disgusted, she flipped out her cell phone and punched in Tiffany’s number. No answer. 

“What the heck is going on?” she wondered then sharpened her focus outside her window when she saw a flash of movement by one of the buildings directly across the street. She leaned over in the seat so she could get a better look and through the rain, saw movement again. 

“Tiff? Is that you?”

Whoever it was stopped when Eve yelled, hesitated for a moment, then ducked between two buildings.

It didn’t much matter that Eve had spent seven years as a Secret Service agent. Didn’t much matter that she’d logged her share of stakeouts during that time. At least it didn’t matter to her heart rate because it ratcheted up several beats per minute as a healthy, intuitive wariness and a spike of adrenaline had her popping open her glove box and digging for her flashlight.

She hesitated over the .38 S & W she pretty much went nowhere without then tucked it in her waistband at the small of her back. With a muttered oath, she stepped out into the rain. 

“You’d better have a good reason for playing this game, little girl,” she sputtered under her breath. 

But even as she said it, Eve sensed, gut deep, that this wasn’t a game. Something was wrong. She just hadn’t wanted it to be. Tiffany was vulnerable. Prime predator bait. And what Eve had just seen duck between the buildings looked a lot more like predator than bait.

She was completely drenched by the time she ran across the lot and tucked in next to a dingy gray cinderblock building. The adjacent building was an ugly mustard brown brick. The walkway between the two was narrow and dark; the weeds growing in the dirt that had softened to mud were the primary landscape materials. 

And Tiffany was the primary reason Eve was about to put her life on the line. She reached behind her back for her gun, flicked off the safety and gripping the weapon in both hands, swung into the gap.

Water gushed from the roofs, bypassing debris-clogged eves. Nothing. She could see nothing through the deluge. And then she felt nothing. Nothing but pain as an arm hooked around her neck and dragged her back against a body as hard and unyielding as the building she was suddenly slammed into.

She could barely breath, wouldn’t be on her feet if her attacker hadn’t pinned her between him and the rough cinder block wall. Somewhere at her feet was her gun. And somewhere in the dark, she heard the wail of a far away police siren.

“You’re dead,” he said, his hot breath fanning her ear as the rain poured like a waterfall around them. 

“Who-”

The forearm crushing her throat jerked viciously. Pain knifed through her windpipe. She gasped, sucking for a breath that wasn't gorged with rain and pain and willed herself not to pass out.

“You’re dead,” he repeated, his voice as void of emotion as the night was void of light. “You just don’t know it yet.”

Exquisite, mind-searing pain ripped through her system. She felt a scream boil up just as another jolt tore into her and her muscles started to spasm. By the third jolt, her eyes had rolled back in her head. 

And by the time he let her fall in a boneless lump to the muddy ground, the prospect of death was a welcome relief.

 

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