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INTO THE FURY
BOSS, Inc. #1
Releasing on January 26, 2016.
A bodyguard, a bounty hunter, a P.I.--the men of Brodie Operations Security Service, Inc. are down for the job. . .
Sinners, whores, and sluts beware--your time is at hand: a faceless menace is threatening lingerie models on a cross country tour, and Ethan Brodie is there to defend and protect.
Ethan's learned the hard way that beauty is no substitute for character. So even though Valentine Hart is one of the most breathtaking women he's ever seen, he's keeping his hands off and his eyes open. Or that's what he tells himself.
Then one of the models is murdered, and the closer Ethan gets to the answers, the closer he finds himself to Valentine--and the hotter the pressure feels. There's more to Val--more to the other girls--than he could have guessed. But one is keeping a secret that could kill them all.
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The only lights on in Val’s Montlake duplex apartment were the lamp beside her bed and the screen on her computer. She was up late studying, trying to catch up on the Internet courses she was taking.
Snoozie, her big gray cat, slept on his pillow on the back of the desk. Even asleep, he was great company.
Val sighed. With rehearsals, she wouldn’t be doing much studying this week. She’d be getting home late and she needed her beauty rest, needed to look her absolute best for the dress rehearsal, then the fashion show on Saturday night. She owed it to the people who were counting on her.
The Internet contest she’d won six months ago had secured her a place as a La Belle Lingerie fashion model. Out of thousands of women, she was the lucky winner.
The work was grueling. She’d never understood how hard a fashion model worked. Though La Belle models weren’t half-starved, anorexic women like high-fashion, couture design models, they had to be in top physical condition. The women were expected to ooze sexuality. They’d been chosen for their full breasts, small waists, and perfectly curving hips. La Belle models wore lingerie designed to appeal to men—which was the reason women bought it.
A strict diet regimen was required, along with the two to three hours a day she spent with a trainer to ensure her body stayed perfectly toned and fit.
The job had required her to drop out of school to train for the fashion show and do PR work for the company, but La Belle was paying her a boatload of money, enough that she’d be able to finish at the U of Washington next year with a degree in veterinary medicine.
Val loved animals and always had. Becoming a vet was a long-time dream, but her scholarship had run out after she’d earned her bachelor’s degree. With her parents’ help and working two part-time jobs, she’d managed to get through her first year of vet school, but the tuition was nearly twelve thousand, with fees on top of that, living expenses, food, and travel to and from campus.
On a whim, she’d entered the modeling contest, and to her amazement, she’d won.
God and the genes she’d inherited had blessed her with excellent bone structure, as well as a really good body. Though a lot of women would think the high-paying, seemingly glamorous life of a model was the job of a lifetime, running around half-naked in sequins and feathers just wasn’t the life for her.
Instead, she was using her physical assets to pursue the goals she had set for herself when she was in high school. Val glanced at the clock, saw it was after midnight, reached over and turned off her laptop. Tomorrow was another rehearsal day. At the end of the summer, her contract with La Belle would be up and she could finish her final term at school. Her job as a fashion model would be over and she could return to a normal life again.
Val smiled. After the whirlwind tour and her fifteen minutes of fame, it might take a while to figure out exactly what normal was.
* * *
Sitting in front of his laptop on the desk in his bedroom, the man moved the mouse and changed the font. He chose another font and typed the next word, then changed the font again, continuing, one by one, until he finished the note. The printer hummed as he printed the words on a plain white sheet of paper.
Sinners, SLUTS, and WHORES--BEWARE.
REPENT or you WILL be NEXT.
He was proud of his handiwork. This note matched the first, its message more than clear. When the note was found, there’d be no doubt who was responsible. And he’d be careful to leave no clues that could be traced back to him. He just had to work out the timing, then make sure everything went the way he planned.
As he mentally went over his preparations, he began to look forward to the encounter, always an adrenaline rush. He’d been missing that lately. He settled back in his chair and studied the note.
Soon, he’d deliver it.
He smiled, anticipating the challenge, then the satisfaction of a job well done.
Ethan’s second day at the theater was hectic. The women were busy rehearsing, and for the first time, he began to see what a difficult job they had. Not just walking out on the stage tossing their hair and smiling but placing each step exactly right, moving in ways that best displayed the garments they were selling. They had to learn dozens of different poses and cues from the choreographer, who was constantly making changes and asking them to relearn something they had only just learned a few minutes before.
Add to that, the way they took care of their bodies required tremendous work. Ethan regularly pumped weights and worked out in the gym in his apartment complex. It was just part of his job. These women worked with trainers, dieted furiously, limited their alcohol intake to practically zilch, and went to bed early. When in the hell did they have any fun?
After watching them a while, when a woman he’d dubbed Heather-with-the-silver hair strutted down the runway in her sky-high heels, stepped wrong and went down hard, he was only a little surprised.
Being close to the stage, he jumped up on the runway and walked over to help. Her nails dug into his arm as she took hold and tried to stand, released a grimace of pain.
“Take it easy.” Crouching beside her, he urged her to lie back down.
“Don’t move her!” Daniel Clemens and his young assistant rushed forward. “Someone call Dr. Harrison!”
“I’m okay,” the blonde said, but he could hear the anxiety in her voice. “Please—just give me a minute, Daniel. I’ll be fine.”
Clemens was tall and slender, with light brown hair moussed into some kind of bed-head style. Ethan had a
hunch he was gay, but he wasn’t flamboyant. And as Matt Carlyle had said, he was clearly good at his job.
The choreographer knelt next to Ethan. “We can’t stop rehearsal. We need to get her off the stage, but she can’t walk on that ankle. Do you think you could carry her back to one of the dressing rooms?”
“Not a problem.” Bending, Ethan scooped the girl up in his arms and started striding toward the back of the stage.
Heather slid her arms around his neck. “Wow. If my ankle wasn’t hurting so damn much, I’d be impressed.”
His mouth edged up. “You aren’t that heavy.”
“Oh, you are a sweet talker.” Heather flashed him a pain-filled smile, then returned her attention to Clemens, who hurried along beside them. “I’ll be okay, Daniel, really. It only hurts a little. I’ll be fine by tomorrow.”
“Sorry, dear girl. You know show policy. We’ll have to see what the doctor says. I’ll go make sure he’s on his way.”
Daniel hurried off as Ethan carried Heather into one of the dressing rooms. He tried not to notice the array of hot-pink panties, skimpy lace bras, feather boas, sequined thongs, and God-only-knew what else. Gently, he settled Heather on the sofa against the wall and stood up just as another woman pushed her way into the already cramped quarters.
Though her dimples weren’t showing, he recognized the blonde.Valentine.
She reached down and gently caught hold of the injured woman’s hand. “How are you doing, Heather?”
At the contact, the girl fought not to cry. “Oh, God, Val, I can’t believe this.”
“You’re going to be okay. Just lie back and let me take a look, all right?” Valentine knelt next to the platinum blonde.“Somebody get an ice pack. We need to keep the swelling down.”
She glanced over, spotted him standing in the doorway, and seemed to remember who he was. “Ethan, can you find someone to get an ice pack for us?”
He nodded. “I’ll take care of it.” His last glimpse as he walked out of the dressing room was Valentine moving the ankle. He heard Heather’s hiss of pain, and then she started to cry.
“I’ve got the ice coming,” Daniel told him when he reached the open area behind the stage. “We keep a couple of physicians on our payroll, on call for emergencies like these. It shouldn’t take Dr. Harrison long to get here.”
“Will she be able to do the show?” Ethan asked.
Daniel shook his head. “From the looks of that sprain, it isn’t likely. La Belle has liability concerns when it comes to job-related injuries. Besides, I don’t think she’d be able to walk the runway in a pair of spike heels.”
Ethan didn’t think so either. But then, he couldn’t figure out how the models managed to do it when there was nothing wrong with them.
Kat Martin is the author of twenty-one Historical and Contemporary Romance novels. She tackles many different aspects of her genre with settings ranging from the rugged West to the Antebellum South, Regency, Georgian, and Medieval England. Not one to shy away from change, she also tackles Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels which involve the paranormal. Some of her titles include Nothing But Velvet, Sweet Vengeance, and Dangerous Passions. These works have won a bevy of awards including a recent Romantic Times Magazine nomination for Best Historical Romance of 1998 for her latest release, Wicked Promise. She is also published in, among others, Germany, Norway, Sweden, China, Russia, and Spain.
Before starting her writing career in 1985, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, Larry Jay Martin, also a Kensington author. After double majoring in Anthropology and History at the University of California at Santa Barbara, she found herself incredibly interested in the past. In fact, she and Larry often do research in the areas where their books take place. She remarks, "We like to stay in out-of-the-way inns and houses built in times past. It's fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a bygone era."
In May, Kat will release her next Historical Romance, Night Secrets. Following that is an upcoming Zebra release, a Contemporary Romantic Suspense entitled The Silent Rose, which will be out in August. "It's a ghostly tale of romance and intrigue that was based on a real life incident," says Kat. "It's a little bit scary, a whole lot sexy, and hopefully lots of fun to read."
INTO THE WHIRLWIND
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