FATAL WILD CHILD by Tracy Cooper-Posey
A Romantic Thriller
Romance Suspense Novel
Not all armor is visible. Can he win through hers?
When Seth O’Connor pulls Gabrielle Sherborne out from under her wrecked car in the middle of an icy river high in the Canadian Rockies just before Christmas, he never thought someone might actually be gunning for the infamous wild child of the famous Hollywood director, Cameron MacKenzie Sherborne III, and the family that puts up with her antics.
Told by his superiors to insert himself into the Sherborne family and protect Gabrielle, Seth learns that the former film star is anything but a brat. She’s all woman, incredibly sexy and smart, with a vulnerability that eats right through the armor over his heart. That makes doing his job suddenly very tough for Captain Seth O’Connor, for the unfriendlies are closing in….
A Romantic Suspense Thriller Novel
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EXCERPT FROM FATAL WILD CHILD
COPYRIGHT © TRACY COOPER-POSEY 2011
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
“What’s your name?” she asked.
His eyes widened, as if he were surprised. “Cap—” He grimaced, the expression pulling the corners of his mouth down. “Seth. Seth O’Connor.”
“Thank you, Seth O’Connor.”
He nodded. “I’m going to take you back to my cabin. It’s closer than Jasper by forty minutes and you have to get warm and dry. Besides, you probably don’t want to arrive back in Jasper looking the way you do.”
He shut the door, rounded the nose of the truck and leaned in to turn on the motor and get the heater running. He picked up jeans, boots and a sweater from the seat beside her and shut the door again, as warmth blasted out from the vents in the console, washing over her in welcome waves.
Gabrielle pushed her sock-covered feet up against the floor vents and watched as Seth O’Connor moved to the front of the truck again. He bent, stripping the wet boxers, she assumed, and donning the jeans and boots. She saw the ugly red scar on his back and the well-muscled, tanned shoulders and wondered again about Seth O’Connor. He wore no dog tags, but hadn’t he been about to introduce himself as “Captain”?
He climbed into the truck, his long legs covered in denim and his torso covered by a green sweater that seemed to make his eyes even bluer by comparison. “Doing okay?” he asked.
“Better than,” she said honestly. “You saved my life.”
He shook his head. “You did a fair portion of that yourself. I followed you for about two miles before I found a way to get you off the road. You did a damned good job of staying alive.” He put the truck into gear and steered it back onto the highway.
Gabrielle found her heart beating harder again. She had a feeling that Seth O’Connor knew a lot about staying alive and that his quiet “damn good job” was high praise indeed. It warmed her in a way that Hollywood’s empty compliments and fulsome endearments never had.
She studied his profile as he drove with a non-flashy style, handling the old truck with a competence that was reassuring. He’d managed to overtake the Mustang on curves that scared most tourists, at a speed that had probably tested this truck to the limits. For a long while, the silence stretched between them, warm and comforting. She let it stay that way, enjoying the warmth. Then, knowing she had to deal with it, she sighed and asked the question.
“You never asked me for my name,” she said.
He glanced at her, the blue eyes raking her up and down in one sizzling glance. “No,” he agreed.
“Then you recognized me,” she said, feeling a bone-sapping weariness that had nothing to do with the immersion into the icy water, or the harrowing loss of brakes in mountainous terrain.
“You’re a household name, Gabrielle Sherborne. You’re going to get upset because people recognize you?” His tone was neutral, possible even uninterested.
She swallowed. “Recognized, no. But boast about the fact that they got to strip me naked. That’s something the tabloids would pay a lot to know about, Seth O’Connor.”
“Don’t read ‘em,” he said easily. He turned the truck off the highway onto a well-ploughed road, overhung with old trees with gnarled boughs, bare now, and holding up thick layers of snow.
Ahead, there was a clearing with a big, well-founded cabin nestled under the trees at the back of it. The cabin had a wide verandah, window boxes, a big river stone chimney and a solid lean-to that looked like it served as both a garage and wood store. A gangly Irish red setter was bouncing around at the approach of the truck, its tongue lolling out of the side of its mouth.
“You don’t have to read them,” Gabriel said. “They’ll pay you anyway.”
“I have a job and they pay me more than enough to live on.” He halted the truck with a sharp jab on the brakes, throwing her forward against the seatbelt. It should have been warning enough, she knew. She opened the door, unlatched the belt and climbed down and discovered her mistake. She stepped into snow and almost immediately felt the cold bite into her socked feet.
Seth rounded the truck. “Goddam, couldn’t you wait?”
“You don’t have to look so pleased about it,” she shot back. “They’re your socks.”
He scooped her up and threw her over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes and she drew in a breath, shocked beyond words. The recent emergency aside, people didn’t touch her. Not without negotiation and permission. It wasn’t done. It tended to make security people unhappy, media people far too happy and speculation and rumors rife. She had put a general ban on people touching her even casually years ago. She had learned all the signals and motions that squashed even the most touch-happy people’s tendencies to reach out.
She clutched at Seth’s back, staring at the Irish setter trotting happily after him, as Seth marched up the steps to the cabin, and wondered if Seth was one of those people who completely lacked any sensitivity and rode roughshod over others’ feelings.
The inside of the cabin was warm and comfortable, surprisingly neat and not nearly as rustic as she had been expecting for a cabin on the edges of the national park. She struggled to get down, but he was still moving.
“Hey, I’ve been using my own feet since I was three,” she protested, pummeling her fist into his back.
He dumped her onto a bed and she landed with an ‘oomph!’ and brushed her hair out of her eyes, after sliding the oversized sleeve of the coat down her arm. She looked around. The bedroom was probably his, she reasoned. There was a door to the right that revealed an en suite.
Seth O’Connor stood at the side of the bed, his arms crossed over the thick chest. A furrow dug between his brows. “Take a shower, get warm,” he said, his voice rumbling in his chest. “While you’re there, think about who you want to contact first. I have a land line here, so you don’t have to use a cell phone. There are towels in the cabinet next to the shower. I’ll find fresh clothes you can put on while you’re in there. Something closer to your size.”
He turned to go.
He looked over his shoulder, the single blue eye all she could see of his face.
She took a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’ve spent three years trying to off-load some of the crap I landed myself in over the years. This…felt like I was in it all over again. I prejudged you and I was wrong.”
“You did and you were,” he said evenly. “Not everyone wants to use you, Gabrielle. Some people are actually human beings.”
“I only believe that when I see them bleed,” she shot back. “Some of the people I deal with don’t even have a pulse.”
Seth turned to the door, gripping the handle. He didn’t look at her when he said softly, “I’ve bled plenty.” He shut it quietly.