Two struggling souls seek peace and end up finding each other...
Layla Evans was a damned good defense attorney with the fancy car and beach condo to prove it. But, sometimes success comes at too steep a price and she’s done with it all. She’s sold her soul to the devil for the last time. Escape comes in the form of an unexpected inheritance. She leaves her expensive, tailored lifestyle and turns in her high heels for a pair of cowboy boots. The move is a major but with any luck her demons will stay behind with her old life.
Ben Callahan knew a thing or two about demons. His have haunted him day and night since leaving his Special Forces unit a few years ago. It was the sole reason he sought out the solitude of the mountains. With nothing more than a cabin, a fishing pole and a few acres, he was finally able to sleep a little at night. Until he gets a new neighbor that rocks his carefully constructed world with all the force of an IED.
When Layla’s past catches up to her, Ben finds old instincts kicking in. His need to protect the woman he is falling for becomes stronger than his desire to protect his heart. Can he get to Layla in time to save her and also heal his battered soul?
A little excerpt:
Without another word, Ben followed her directions and headed to the bedroom. All the way there, Layla alternated between anger and gratitude. She was flipping hot that another human being had inflicted such physical pain on Ben and down-right pissed off that someone he loved had in essence treated him worse than his torturers. On the other hand, if those things hadn’t happened she wouldn’t be in the arms of a man she was pretty sure she was close to falling in love with.
He placed her carefully on top of the colorful patchwork quilt Layla had found in a closet when she took the house over from her deceased father. After replacing the mattress, box spring and sheets, the handmade piece made her feel homey and comfortable. It almost seemed sinful to have it present for what she was about to do with Ben who was stretching out on the bed on top of her.
She didn't have a problem with that at all.
Ben adjusted the pillows behind her head. Layla couldn't stop trying to touch him. She was as hungry for the contact between them as a man starved for food but he stayed just out of reach of her embrace.
"Ben!" There was frustration in her cry. She needed him and she needed him right now.
"Shh…" He held a finger to his lips as he ran his hand along the bottom of her shirt, slipping just inside. The muscles in her abdomen trembled under his fingertips. With that hand he slowly inched her shirt up exposing her stomach. Layla shivered. Ben continued to pull the top up until the bottoms of her breasts peeked out. She heard him suck in a breath and then release it slowly. "Are you sure…?"
"Oh, yes," Layla replied before he could even finish his question.
Sitting up and pulling her with him, he yanked the tee shirt up over her head and then pushed her gently back against the pillows. "It's been a while—I might be a little out of practice." The pink tinge of embarrassment in the russet skin of his face just made her smile.
"Just like riding a bike, I promise."
As she contemplating pushing him over and climbing on top of him, Ben leaned in and took her lips. The kiss was tentative at first, not like his usual passionate go broke or go home approach. Wrapping her arms around his neck she pulled him back down on top of her, opening her lips and granting him the access he hadn't yet asked for. To hell with it, the guy had no idea what he wanted. She would just have to show him.
The feel of his hard chest against her softer one was glorious in all the ways one could imagine. So many nights of sleeping alone, the other side of the bed cold and empty, could be coming to an end. Layla hadn't been alone as long as Ben but she had been lonely for a lifetime. She needed this as much as he did, if not more. Trailing kisses from her lips to the line of her jaw and down her neck, Ben let out a little moan that Layla echoed. His touch sent sparks shooting over every last one of her nerves. Her entire body was electrically charged and ready to spontaneously combust if he didn't do something soon to relieve the agony.
"Ben, please." She reached for the button on his jeans as his mouth moved a little lower on her chest. He stiffened for a second and Layla was certain he was about to flee like a startled deer but he slowly relaxed.
He nodded against her chest and she felt a shudder run through him before he spoke. "Do you want me to close the shutters and pull the drapes?"
"Now why would I want you to do that?" Layla slid her hands up his abdomen until she held his face in her hands. Avoiding her gaze, Ben kept his eyes focused on the place where her heart beat. Just having him stare at her like that, so focused, stepped up the rise and fall of her chest.\
"Look at me, Ben." He did as she asked. "I am not Lauren. I am not repulsed by you. Can't you see that by now? Everything—and I mean everything— about you turns me on. Now, stop holding back on me, would you? I want the lights on and the windows open. If it will make you believe me, we can go out back in the middle of the pasture and do this."
"I'm sorry." He shook his head vigorously, tossing a lock of thick, dark hair onto his forehead. She reached up and pushed it away as he laughed. "Damn it! Why do I keep saying that? I feel like a teenaged boy getting it on for the first time!"
"Don't apologize any more. There is nothing to be sorry about. I want you, you want me and it's Lauren's loss."
He seemed to consider what she said for a moment before jumping up off the bed. Afraid he was leaving, she started to speak until she realized he was pulling off his boots and dropping his jeans to the floor.
"That's so much better." Layla grinned, feeling giddy. "Now get back over here."
Ben did as he was told but instead of stretching out over her again, he hooked his fingers in the waist of her borrowed sweat pants and yanked them down. Layla giggled. "Now I’m the one that feels like the teenager. Did you lock the door?"
Ben laughed, a relaxed sound that just added to the excitement of the building anticipation. "Nope. Let your folks walk in. I don't care."
"My folks? You're ridiculous!" She squealed as he dropped down on top of her again. His hands went everywhere his mouth wasn't. Her body was hot all over, muscles pulled so tight she thought they might snap as Ben continued exploring parts of her that had been dormant for much too long. When his fingers trailed their way along the top of her pink lace panties, Layla's pulse pounded so loudly in her ears she thought she might go deaf from it.
The pounding got louder. And louder. Ben stopped the assault his tongue and lips were waging on her and sat up. "Did you hear that?"
"What?" She gasped, reaching for him again.
"Someone's knocking on the door."
"They will go away eventually." Her voice was hoarse with need as she tried again to reach for Ben at the same time he rose from the bed.
"Wait here." The undertone to Ben's voice unnerved her. The pounding had grown more insistent. Ben pulled on his jeans, settling them over his hips but not bothering to button them.
"What's wrong?" she asked, grabbing her shirt and pants and scrambling back into them.
"I don't know. Were you expecting any visitors?"
"I don’t know anyone and I haven't called the insurance company yet."
Grabbing a gun off the bureau she hadn't realized he’d been carrying, he held a finger to his lips telling her to be quiet. "Stay out of sight and be quiet."
She thought about arguing with him that he wasn't her father or her boss but something in Ben's eyes told her do as he asked. Ben made his way down the hall toward the front door. Layla trailed behind, quiet as a mouse despite the fear setting up camp in her insides. No one knew Ben was there. What if it was the same person that had burned her barn down and painted the cows?
Why would a criminal knock on the door?
The thought made sense but then why was Ben holding a gun, ready to shoot whoever it was that kept pounding on the door?
She watched from the corner of the hallway as Ben looked through the peep hole. Her heart raced and her body shook just a little. Ben was all business. Standing behind the door, he grasped the handle and yanked the door open pointing his gun at the chest of whoever was there.
"Who the hell are you?" Ben demanded.
"Who the hell are you?"
She heard a click as Ben readied his weapon. His voice was low and deadly. "I asked you first."
"Whoa, man! Put the gun down!"
It couldn't be.
She stuck her head around the corner and yelled. "Ben, no!"