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Kiss of a Lifetime

Kiss of a Lifetime
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the hero, Geoffrey Treynor

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Kiss of a Lifetime
May 2015

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Caught in the throes of a violent Caribbean coup, an innocent coed is kept safe by a hard-bitten mercenary.

Convinced they are about to die, Lacy Warrick gives herself to her handsome rescuer…in unexpectedly emotional lovemaking. After they are forced to part at the consulate, a photo of their heart-wrenching kiss ends up on the cover of a national magazine.

For nine years, Geoffrey Treynor gazes at the framed photo on his office wall and dreams of the amazing woman who has never left his jaded heart. But despite the huge changes he’s made to his life, he knows a man with his sordid past is not right for the classy uptown woman. Then, a chance meeting takes them both by surprise…and the bombs they each drop threaten to explode both their worlds. But that’s nothing compared to the fireworks that go off when they succumb for their pent-up feelings and kiss again…

Can love born in bullets survive the truths of peacetime…and lead to the love of a

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From Chapter Three

St. Grinaldi Island, The Caribbean
9 years ago

AT THE HUGE MAN’S WARNING, Lacy Warrick was too scared to think. She just instinctively nodded. Something about the way the man held her—not painfully, just firmly—inspired trust. And he was an American soldier. They didn’t generally go around shooting people with no reason.

“By the way, I’m one of the good guys,” he added, confirming her somewhat irrational conclusion. Before releasing her, he said, “You’re not going to scream again, are you?”

She blinked and opened her mouth beneath his fingers, but they still held her fast, so she just shook her head again.

“What’s happening?” she whispered when he took his hand away.

“Coup,” he said, and scowled down at her. “You American?” When she nodded again, he muttered, “Awesome. Now, now we’re really fucked.”

She swallowed. “Why?”

He just peered down at her like she was too naïve for words. “We’ve got to get out of here.” He tugged her back toward the door.

“Wait! My papers. I can’t leave without them!” She tried to pull her hand from his to get to the museum tables. No way she was leaving her research behind.

He held on tighter. “Are you fucking nuts?”

“They represent three months of work, and—”

“Sweetheart, I don’t think you understand what’s going on here. People are dying. People like you and me. And you’re talking about some ridiculous papers?”

“They’re not ridiculous,” she protested vehemently. “If I lose them, I won’t graduate. My life will be over!”

She had worked too hard for too long, made too many sacrifices to get where she was, to give it all up so easily.

“If we don’t get out of here, your life will be over. Literally. As in, dead.” He grimaced. “Or worse.”

His grim determination finally penetrated. She stopped struggling and stared up at him warily. “What could be worse than dead?”

He gave a rude snort. “Honey, this place is crawling with men with guns who’re drugged up on blood, power, adrenalin, and God knows what-all. You look in a mirror lately? Think about it.”

She gasped as his meaning hit home. “Oh, God.” She cast a bleak glance at the cardboard box on the other side of the museum that held the key to her entire future. But he was right—you couldn’t have a future if you were dead. And she wouldn’t want one if what he was insinuating actually happened.

“Okay. I get the picture,” she said hoarsely, and stopped fighting him. Terror filled her whole body.

He cracked the door and looked out through the narrow opening. And swore under his breath. “Soldiers coming.” He eased the door shut again. “Seven of them. I probably could have taken five,” he muttered. “Not seven.”

Really? Five?

She took him in fully for the first time as he glanced around the room. He was really tall, broad-shouldered, and as muscular as a fighter. He wore a black T-shirt with camouflage fatigues in the color scheme of the palace’s special elite guard, combat boots, and a bandana tied around his forehead. He was also armed to the teeth, holding a machine gun in his hand and a pistol holstered at his waist.

My God. This man wasn’t an American soldier. He was a mercenary. Hired to guard the island’s corrupt dictator.

“Shit,” he cursed. “There’s no way out of this damned museum.”

Her attention jerked back to their surroundings, and her panic soared. He was right. It consisted of two large rooms in the basement, stuffed with glass cases holding the artifacts of the island’s culture and not much else. Both rooms had high, iron-barred windows, and there was no other exit. Other than—

“The stairs!” she said, rushing over to a staircase that led up to the first floor royal reception rooms. She sprinted to the top, and twisted the knob in a blind panic. “It’s locked. Can you shoot it open?”

“You really are crazy.” Cursing, he took the stairs two at a time and hauled her back down just as fast.

The booted feet of the soldiers outside were almost at the entry door to the museum. “Then what do we do?” she asked desperately.

He scanned the room, his expression grim. His gaze halted on the door below the staircase.
“Quick. In the closet,” he ordered, hustling her into the walk-in storage closet tucked under the stairs. This time, she didn’t protest.

There was a jumble of large wooden artifact crates jammed into the narrow wedge of space where the stairs descended to meet the floor. He grabbed the crate at the end of the row and pulled. It barely budged.

Men shouted outside the museum door. More gunshots rang out. Her pulse went into hyperspace.

Muttering another curse, he found the closet light, switched it on, and swiftly shut the door. “Help me,” he whispered urgently.

She saw his idea, and together they managed to haul the row of boxes a couple of feet toward the center of the closet, creating a claustrophobically small space behind them to hide in. She climbed in.

“Lie down,” he ordered. “And no matter what happens, don’t make a sound. Stay here until it gets dark, then run for it.”

Her heart stuttered. “Wait. What about you?”

His impassive eyes met hers. “I’ll be making a stand. If we’re lucky, they’ll think I’m alone and leave when I’m dead. You’ll be safe.”

Now, he was the crazy one. She didn’t see a damn thing lucky about that scenario. And she wasn’t about to let him sacrifice his life for her.

“Are you kidding me?” she whispered vehemently. “Hell, no! I’m not hiding without you.”

His gaze drilled into hers, angry at her defiance. “Woman, you are either really brave or really fucking stupid.”

“What I am is dead serious.” She did not want to die, but she didn’t want his death on her conscience. Her psyche had acquired enough shit growing up. She didn’t need that weighing her down, too.

The enemy soldiers crashed through the museum entry door, their boots echoing loudly across the marble floor as they spread out to search.

“Dead will be the operative word here in about thirty seconds,” he growled.

She tipped up her chin. “Both of us, or neither of us.”