Series: Uncompromising #1
Release Date: March 1, 2016
I pretend to smile.
Two years ago my life was perfect, until it wasn’t. I scattered my wife’s ashes then walked away from the Marines. I didn’t think I had anything else to lose.
I was wrong.
The blond showed up at my surf shop, beaten and stabbed. I did what I was trained to do—I stitched her up. I didn’t have a clue who she was and I told myself I didn’t care. Until they came looking for her.
I swore I’d take my last breath before I let anyone else hurt her except I didn’t know she was keeping a deadly secret. Now I had two choices, her life or mine.
Marriage and combat taught me the same thing—I was no one’s hero. And I was about to prove it.
I stood on the deck, breathing in the fresh salt air a few minutes before I walked back into my room. Heading for my home office, I stopped short. Wrapped in a towel, her back to me, Siren was looking at the suits in my closet I rarely wore.
“You lost?” I asked casually.
She didn’t turn around. “You have nice clothes.”
“They were a gift.” I had no fucking clue why I told her that.
She fingered one of my custom-made dress shirts. “From who?”
“She has good taste.”
I told myself not to but I did it anyway. I let the goddamn cat out of the bag. “Had.”
She turned and took in my expression like she was reading my soul. “Had?”
Seeing the bruising on Siren’s delicate face, something strange happened. My heart didn’t take its usual blow over the thought of my dead wife. Instead, it took a hit seeing Siren’s bruising. “She’s dead.”
Nothing changed in Siren’s expression. “Leigh?”
I didn’t respond. I didn’t have to.
She nodded. “I can’t imagine what you went through.” Her voice clear, her eyes studying, she didn’t react with pity or sympathy or fake bullshit understanding. She didn’t even look at me like I was broken.
Air filled my lungs and I inclined my head at my clothes. “You need somethin’?”
“A shirt. Mine are dirty.”
She didn’t flirt. She didn’t feel sorry for herself. She didn’t look like she particularly cared one way or another about anything. I couldn’t figure her out. “Laundry room’s downstairs next to your bedroom.”
“I know. My clothes are in your washer. You said you would loan me a shirt.” She tugged her towel tighter with her good arm. “And it’s not my bedroom.”
I was acutely aware whose house she was in and whose towel was wrapped around her gorgeous body. “You goin’ somewhere with that last statement?”
I didn’t buy it for a second. She was either putting up boundaries or letting me know she wasn’t staying. Either way, I didn’t push. I stepped forward and reached around her. She followed my movements but she didn’t stir an inch. Her cheeks didn’t flush, her breathing didn’t change, even her expression remained the same. I grabbed a T-shirt off the shelf and handed it to her.
Turning her back to me, she dropped the towel to put the T-shirt on and surprise locked the air out of my lungs.
“Hold up a sec there, Siren.”
The thick scar ran straight up her spine from just above her waist to her shoulder blades. I couldn’t stop myself. I skimmed my fingers over the raised flesh.
About the Author
Sybil Bartel grew up in Northern California with her head in a book and her feet in the sand. She dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew her into the world of storytelling. She loves the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes her swoon.
Sybil now resides in Southern Florida and while she doesn’t get to read as much as she likes, she still buries her toes in the sand. If she isn’t writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in her backyard, you can find her spending time with her handsomely tattooed husband, her brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…
Here are ten things you probably really want to know about Sybil.
She grew up a faculty brat. She can swear like a sailor. She loves men in uniform. She hates being told what to do. She can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks her out. Her favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—she can’t decide. She has a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on her for driving directions, ever. And she has a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell her husband.
To find out more about Sybil Bartel, be sure to follow her on Twitter (she loves to hear about your favorite book boyfriend!), visit her website, like her on Facebook or join her Facebook group Book Boyfriend Heroes for exclusive excerpts and giveaways.