Stranger in my Arms [Hideaway Series #12] [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Rochelle Alers
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: Orphaned at birth and shuttled between foster homes, CIA agent Merrick Grayslake has made a practice of not letting anyone get close to him. But he finds that his emotions are at risk when he is introduced to Alexandra Cole. It has been all work and not enough play for Alex. And what little social life she's had has been on hold for a year while she completes her graduate degree. But her ordinary everyday life changes from the moment she meets Merrick Grayslake.
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Kimani Press
Fictionwise Release Date: April 2007
6 Reader Ratings:
Three knocks on the bedroom door in rapid succession stopped Alexandra Cole as she prepared to slip her feet into a pair of three-inch, silk-covered, midnight-blue pumps.
A frown furrowed her forehead as she stood up. This was the second interruption that had thwarted her getting dressed for her cousin's wedding.
The first time it was Ana who, in the full throes of PMS, had experienced a temporary meltdown when she couldn't zip up the dress she'd chosen to wear for the New Year's Eve ceremony. She and Ana were the same height, five-three, but Alex outweighed her younger sister by a mere five pounds. The crisis was resolved when she offered Ana one of the two dresses she'd brought with her.
"Who is it?" she called out.
Alex rolled her eyes. Now it was her younger brother. "What's the matter, little brother? Do you need me to tie your tie?"
"Very funny, Alex," he drawled sarcastically from the other side of the door. "I came to tell you that one of your loser ex-boyfriends just showed up uninvited, and Uncle Martin's security people won't let him in. What do you want to do?"
Crossing the carpeted bedroom on bare feet, she opened the door. Jason Cole stood before her in a dark blue suit, white shirt and white silk tie. It wasn't often that she saw him in a suit, but Alex had to admit that her twenty-four-year-old brother cut a very handsome figure in tailored attire.
Jason was the quintessential Cole male: over six feet, olive coloring, black curly hair and a dimpled smile. And in keeping with a family ritual that dated back to the marriage of their grandparents from which the prospective groom was exempt, any male who claimed Cole blood affected light-colored neckwear.
"Who is he?"
Jason lifted sweeping black eyebrows. "The message was, 'Tell her Donald is here.'"
Her large clear gold-brown eyes narrowed. "Donald," Alex repeated. She knew two Donalds. One who'd been her study partner in undergraduate school and another she'd dated only twice before she handed him his walking papers. "Did he leave his last name?"
Crossing his arms over his chest, Jason shook his head. "He also said, and I quote, 'She'll know who I am,' end quote."
Realization dawned. He had to be Donald Easton. "That arrogant SOB," she whispered. "Tell them to let him in and have him wait for me by the refreshment tent."
A sardonic smile parted Jason's lips. "If you want, Gabe and I can give him a blanket party."
Her brow furrowed. "What are you talking about?"
"We'll throw a blanket over his head, then kick his ass. And I'm willing to bet that if he wasn't getting married in an hour Michael would also want to get his licks in."
Alex stomped a bare foot. "Stop it, Jason! There will be no brawling tonight or any other night. Donald Easton has a problem with the word no. I'll take care of him."
"Are you sure, Alex?"
Forcing a dimpled smile, she patted her brother's arm. "Yes, I'm sure. Now go so I can finish dressing."
Jason flashed a wolfish grin so reminiscent of their father's. "Okay. By the way, you look great."
Alex closed the door and crossed the expansive bedroom she shared with Ana and two other female cousins whenever they gathered in West Palm Beach.
Slipping her feet into her shoes, she wondered why a man she hadn't seen in nearly a year had come from Virginia to see her. Unfortunately she'd told Donald that she always celebrated Christmas and New Year's in Florida with her extended family; it was apparent he wanted to surprise her.
Well, the surprise would be on him because she had no intention of resuming what had been doomed from the start.
* * *
A member of Martin Cole's private security detail took a glance at the SUV with West Virginia plates and entered the number into his PDA. Smiling, he nodded at the man behind the wheel.
"We'll park your vehicle for you, Mr. Grayslake." He gestured to a parking attendant before returning his attention to Merrick Grayslake. "Once you walk through the gates and make a right someone will escort you to the Japanese garden."
Merrick nodded. "Thank you."
Reaching for the suit jacket resting on the passenger-side seat, he got out of his vehicle, slipped his arms into the sleeves, then as directed made his way through a set of iron gates that protected the property that made up the Cole family West Palm Beach compound.
He hadn't taken more than half a dozen steps when he spied a small camera attached to the upper branches of a tree. Security personnel and surveillance equipment monitored everyone entering or leaving the property.
He'd left Bolivar, West Virginia, at dawn, stopping twice to refuel and stretch his legs. The drive south had taken longer than expected because of bumper-to-bumper holiday traffic along I–95. It was New Year's Eve and motorists were heading either home or to clubs or restaurants where they'd ring in the coming year with their families and/or friends.
At thirty-five, Merrick Grayslake had lost count of the number of countries where he'd welcomed in a new year. Whether in Central or South America, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, or in his last assignment as a CIA covert field operative—Afghanistan—for him it had become just another uneventful holiday.
Now, for the first time in more than two years, he wouldn't be alone or engaged in an undercover mission when the clock struck midnight. It had taken the wedding of Michael Kirkland, a man who'd saved his life, for Merrick to temporarily forsake his reclusive way of life and leave what had become his sanctuary, a modest two-story home near the Allegheny Mountains.
Copyright © 2007 by Rochelle Alers.