Tangled Vows

By: Stella Hunter

Chapter 1

Bailey Lennox scanned the sea of bodies before her, her observant eyes missing nothing, her rigid stance ready to pounce at a moment’s notice. Only a velvet rope and the decorum of the rules of etiquette separated her from the raucous crowd.

The shouts from the photographers intensified as a white stretch limo pulled to the curb on her left. From the corner of her eye, she saw the limo door open and a man step out onto the red carpet. Camera flashes erupted all around her. Bailey blinked rapidly to clear her vision but otherwise never lost her focus. She was here for one thing and one thing only—she had a job to do. She wasn’t here to fawn over some stupid celebrity.

She felt, rather than saw, the man from the limo move down the red carpet behind her. The crowd in front of her shifted to her right, following his progress towards the theater.

Suddenly, adrenaline flooded her body. It took a split second for her mind to register what her body already had. The movement of the crowd had thinned the ranks of people closer to the curb and revealed a scowling man. Even though it was early autumn, the night was too warm for the knit cap and lightweight jacket he wore.

Bailey’s eagle eyes caught the tightening of the man’s facial muscles as he slipped his right hand from his jacket pocket. Her military training kicked in, and she calculated her options and made a decision even before she saw the glint of something in his hand. He was too far away and still too shielded by the crowd for her to stop him.

Swiveling on the ball of her right foot, she took a running leap at movie star, billionaire, People Magazine’s sexiest man alive for three years straight, and world’s most eligible bachelor, Everett Parker.

Chapter 2

The air rushed out of her chest as her body collided with Parker’s and they hit the ground. Bailey glanced up, and her eyes met the darkest blue eyes she’d seen in a long time. Memories of the last set of blue eyes she’d been face to face with like this pushed past her mental blockade, and she gasped at the remembered pain.

She shook her head to break loose from the past that haunted her and closed her eyes, focusing on her other senses instead. People shouted around her, but her traitorous body only registered the hard planes of the muscular body beneath her. He was indeed a fine specimen of a man.

A smirk spread across Everett Parker’s face as she opened her eyes. “If you wanted an introduction, all you had to do was ask,” he joked.

Bailey didn’t respond as a colleague grabbed her forearm and helped her to her feet. Two other security guards helped Parker up and hustled him into the theater. Bailey felt those blue eyes bore into her until he disappeared behind closed doors.

“Are you hurt?” Jace asked.

Bailey brushed off his concern. “I’m fine. Nothing I haven’t done before. Did you get the guy?”

Jace nodded. “Yeah, we got him.”

“Good. At least I didn’t make an ass out of myself for nothing.”

Jace laughed at something Bailey didn’t get, and she quirked an eyebrow at him. “Something funny?”

“Oh, it wasn’t for nothing. That cute little ass of yours on top of the Everett Parker is going to be famous after it’s plastered all over the news.”

Bailey’s cheeks burned, and she turned away to hide her discomfort in the darkness. She had just been doing her job. She’d taken this job only because it offered a certain level of anonymity. She didn’t want to be labeled a hero and paraded in front of the world like a prize turkey. Again. Shit.


I laugh at Lee’s stupid joke. We’d all heard that one before, but we had to do something in this hellhole to break the monotony. Laughing was always better than bitching when you couldn’t change your situation.

“Ah, shit,” Compton grumbles.

I glance down to see him hopping on one foot with the sole of his combat boot covered in dog shit. I laugh again, this time for real.

A movement in the adobe building up ahead catches my eye, and I jerk my attention back to the Afghani village around us. This area is supposed to be safe, but I’ve heard too many stories to be letting my guard down.

But it’s too late. A shot pierces dry air. Lee staggers in front of me. He turns, trying to take cover in the building next to us. Compton is already running for the open doorway. I’m frozen, can’t move. All I can see is the fear in Lee’s blue eyes. Sensing more movement around us, I dive for Lee, trying to shield him with my body as Compton offers us cover fire.

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