No Compromise [Secure eReader]
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eBook by Rochelle Alers
eBook Category: Romance
eBook Description: As the driven executive director of The Sanctuary, a program dedicated to reaching out to victimized women, Jolene Walker has neither the time nor the energy for a personal life ... until she meets United States Army Captain Michael Kirkland, a sexy, powerfully compelling intelligence expert who tempts her to trade in her eighteen-hour work days for sultry nights of sizzling passion. But their bliss is shattered when Jolene takes on a mysterious new client whose deadly secrets plunge her into a terrifying world of danger, leaving Michael no choice but to risk everything to save the woman he loves...
eBook Publisher: Harlequin/Kimani Press, Published: 2007
Fictionwise Release Date: October 2007
3 Reader Ratings:
"I can't believe you're actually leaving, sir."
United States Army Captain Michael Blanchard Kirkland glanced over his shoulder when he heard the familiar voice; his grim expression softened as he stared at his assistant standing at attention in the doorway of the small space he shared with another military aide. A slight smile tilted the corners of his firm mouth.
"At ease, Franklin." He turned back to filling the canvas bag on his desk. "You've got a serious case of denial."
Second Lieutenant Kyle Franklin stepped into the office and closed the door. His dark gaze lingered on the tall, perfectly proportioned physique of Michael Kirkland in civilian clothes. He'd seen his superior officer out of uniform many times over the past year, but only outside the Pentagon. The realization that Captain Kirkland was to begin an official leave of absence saddened him, because he'd enjoyed serving as his assistant.
"I just hoped you'd change your mind, sir."
Michael pushed a small leather-bound planner into the bag and zipped it. He was finished. Now, all he had to do was walk out of the world's largest office building, retrieve his car, drive to the 14th Street Bridge, cross the Potomac River, and make it to his residence in Georgetown and freedom.
He'd spent the past four years waging an undeclared cold war with General Harry Cooper—a war that could only end without a winner. General Cooper wanted from him what he was unable to give any man: his passion. That he reserved for women only.
At first he thought he'd imagined the two-star general's subtle interest in his private life, but as one year became two, three, and then eventually four, he knew that the older career officer would never approve his request to return to his former post as a highly trained military intelligence officer. And because Coop, as most of his staff referred to him, had become more aggressive with his sexual advances Michael had requested and was finally granted an official six-month leave.
Coop was livid once his aide had gone over his head to solicit the approval, but there was little he could do to contest it after the request was authorized by the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Lieutenant Franklin did not understand that he had to leave before he was court-martialed. And if General Cooper had made an attempt to physically touch him, he would've forfeited his life; what Michael had to decide was whether he would dispatch Coop quickly, silently, and mercifully, or make him suffer until he begged to die.
However, Captain Michael Kirkland had no intention of spending the rest of his life in a military prison, so he'd opted to temporarily walk away from a way of life that had become as essential to him as breathing. He loved every phase of the military—from the tactical maneuvers to the special training operations—as much as he loathed Harry Cooper for forcing him to retreat to civilian life, much like a coward deserting his post.
Reaching for a lightweight khaki jacket hanging from a coat tree, he slipped his arms into the sleeves, then, without a backward glance, walked out of the office and out of the Pentagon.
Quickening his pace, he made his way to the parking lot and his assigned parking space. Pressing a button on a keyless remote device, he opened a door to a late-model SUV and placed the bag behind the driver's seat before slipping behind the wheel; minutes later he left the boundaries of the Pentagon behind. Late-afternoon traffic moved quickly, and half an hour later he unlocked the door to the converted carriage house he'd purchased three years before. It was now his permanent and legal residence. It had become a sanctuary—a place where he shut out military deceit and simulations, but as he crossed the foyer and walked into the yawning space that had been set up as a living-dining room, it suddenly felt like it was a prison without bars. He had six months, one hundred eighty days, to decide whether he would continue his military career or become a civilian.
At thirty-two, he was still young enough to consider another career. His credentials were impeccable: He'd graduated with honors from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, and during his tenure in Washington he'd returned to college and earned a law degree.
Running a slender hand over his coarse, black, close-cropped hair, Michael closed his eyes and inhaled deeply before slowly letting out his breath. He repeated the act a half-dozen times, feeling some of his tension and anxiety easing. He opened his eyes and the clear green orbs shimmered with confidence under a sweep of incredibly long, thick black lashes. He wouldn't think of his future—not now.
A clock on the mantel of a massive fireplace chimed the quarter hour. It was five forty-five. He'd promised he would attend a surprise birthday celebration for his friend's mother. The engraved invitation indicated cocktails would be served promptly at seven.
Climbing a winding wrought-iron staircase that led to a loft containing a trio of bedrooms, he pulled the hem of his shirt from the waistband of his slacks. A slight smile curved his mouth. A social gathering was what he needed to take his mind off his uncertain future. It had been months since he'd accepted a social invitation, and he knew the McDonald soiree would only be a temporary diversion; but he was willing to accept anything at this time.
He would take the time given him, and before his leave ended he would determine where life would direct him.
* * *
The telephone rang, startling Jolene Walker. She'd been so absorbed in writing the first draft of a grant proposal that she'd shut out everything around her. It rang again, the flashing light indicating the call had come in on her private line. Glancing at the small brass clock on her desk, she noted the time, frowning. It was 4:30. How had the afternoon slipped away so quickly?
Copyright © 2002 by Rochelle Alers.