Injured in the line of duty,
His orders are simple:
But when a frightened woman bursts into his life, Hugh and his K9 companion have no choice but to risk everything to keep her safe.
The sole witness to a horrific crime, Kaylee Ramay flees to the Colorado Rockies to start a new life. There she becomes Grace, a dog kennel employee desperately trying to avoid attention—especially from dangerously attractive K9 Officer Hugh Murdoch.
Because Hugh is tall, dark…and nothing but trouble.
Hugh is anxious to get back in the field after an act of heroism left him warming the bench. Until then, he and his K9 partner Lexi spend their hours teasing the town’s mysterious newcomer. But when their simmering attraction is nearly cut short by a sniper’s bullet, Hugh’s mystery woman must come clean about the secrets she keeps…
Or both of them will pay the price.
Grace crossed her arms over her chest in an attempt to create a barrier between them. It didn’t help; Hugh was still much too close for comfort. She scrambled to catch the thread of their conversation. “Well, stop being informed.”
Even before he grinned, she knew that hadn’t made any sense.
“About me. Stop informing yourself about me.” That was even worse. Struggling to find her usual composure, Grace shifted back a step. That gave him the advantage, but she couldn’t think with him so near. Stupid Hugh with his stupid, muscly body was distracting her.
“Sorry, Grace.” His grin took on a shark-like cast. “I’m not planning on stopping. You’re a puzzle, and I don’t like things to go…unsolved.”
The last of her equanimity disappeared, evaporated with the knowledge that he wasn’t going to quit investigating her. Beneath her anger and the anxiety about what he’d discover, there was a hard kernel of disappointment. She didn’t want to be interesting to Hugh because she was some sort of unsolved puzzle. Despite herself, she wanted him to be interested because she was fascinating to him.
A tiny, dumb part of her wished that he was as attracted to her as she was to him.
When she realized she was just staring at him, thinking silly, useless thoughts, Grace abruptly turned and walked—well, stomped—toward her car. She was parked on the other side of the building, and she cursed herself for not picking one of the front spots instead. If she had, she’d already be inside, away from Hugh’s looming presence. Having her car sitting exposed, for anyone to see if they drove past, bothered her, though, so she tended to pick the most hidden spots she could find. It didn’t matter that the car wasn’t registered to her real name. Maybe she was being paranoid, but she just didn’t want to take any chances. One screwup, and she would be dead.
She turned the corner. Although she couldn’t hear footsteps behind her, she knew he was there, and close. Shooting him a narrowed-eyed look over her shoulder, she snapped, “Don’t you have something better to do than follow me?”
“Not really.” Although his words were light, the usual humor wasn’t there. Instead, he met her gaze with an intensity that made her whip her head around so she was facing forward again. Jokey Hugh was one thing, but smoldering Hugh could be a serious problem.
“Grace.” He caught her hand, bringing her to a halt. Although her feet stopped moving, almost of their own accord, she kept her gaze focused on her car. “Grace, look at me.”
She couldn’t do it. If she looked at him, she wouldn’t be able to think. It wasn’t good that the man who had the drive to discover her secret made her incapable of rational thought. A tug at her hand made her realize that she was stuck. Until she met his eyes, Hugh was going to stay there.
I can do this. She’d faced worse than Hugh over the past two weeks.
Setting her jaw, she turned around. Her gaze traveled up his solid chest, over his serious face, and locked on to his gaze.
“Why are you running away from me?” he asked, sounding completely sincere. “You can trust me.”
Unable to look away, she just pressed her lips together. She couldn’t trust anyone. Martin Jovanovic’s reach was too extensive. She’d made that mistake already, and it had left her hunted and crouching by a dumpster.
“I can help you.” He tugged her closer, and her traitor body gave in to his pull. His head tipped down, and air from his words brushed her cheek. Her breath left her in a shuddering rush as her eyes closed. He felt so safe, so solid, so strong…
“What’s your name?” he asked softly, directly in her ear. “Your real name?”
With a frustrated sound, she jerked her hand away. He was playing her, using her attraction to him to get the information he wanted. “You are such an ass!” She started to stomp away, but Hugh caught her again, around the waist that time. He pulled her tightly against him, her back pressing against his front.
“It would make things a lot easier for both of us if you’d just tell me the truth.” The rasp in his voice and the way his breath brushed her ear distracted her, tempting her to sink into the heat and strength of him—but then the meaning of his words hit her.
Clenching her teeth to hold back a frustrated scream, she yanked out of his grip and spun around. “I am not your puzzle to solve,” she gritted out, poking him in the chest with each word. “I’m not one of your suspects. You do not get to interrogate me.”
He caught her jabbing finger in a firm but gentle grip. Their eyes met, and his were hot and shockingly hungry. “You’re so beautiful when you’re yelling at me.”
Her mouth fell open, but she couldn’t say anything else. Was he serious this time, or had that just been another way to distract her, to disarm her? “Quit trying to butter me up. It’s not going to make me tell you anything.”
“I mean it.” His expression was completely earnest. There wasn’t a hint of laughter to be seen.
She stared at him, fury and anxiety and desire all swirling together in a molten mixture that burned her from the inside. This man was going to be the death of her. “You are so…”
“I’m so…what?” His gaze dropped to her mouth. “Hot?” The lilt of humor had returned to his voice.
“Arrrgh!” She started to turn away, fully prepared to stomp to her car, after which she would perhaps run him over several times, but his fingers closed around her arm, tugging her back around. Grace opened her mouth, ready to tell him off, but then her gaze collided with his. All amusement had been erased from his expression. The heat, the hunger burning in his eyes erased all thoughts of their latest argument and lit an answering inferno inside her.
Then his lips were on hers, and Grace was lost.
When she’s not writing, KATIE RUGGLE rides horses, shoots guns, and trains her three dogs. A police academy graduate, Katie readily admits she’s a forensics nerd. While she still misses her off-grid home in the Rocky Mountains, she now lives in a 150-year-old Minnesota farmhouse near her family.