Protect and Defend
Mikaela Laughlin discovers a whole new world, and an entirely new species, when she tours the crime lab to meet Lieutenant Diarmid Redwolf while researching her next book. She’s lusted after “Delicious Diarmid” from afar for a long time, but meeting him sets her body on fire. It doesn’t take long for Mikaela to discover there’s more to Diarmid than meets the eye.
Diarmid has bad guys to catch, but meeting the voluptuous author has him wanting to catch her instead. His shapeshifter blood recognizes his True Mate and he wants her in his arms. Now. But with a cold-blooded serial killer on the loose, Diarmid has one shot at his future and he will not fail. Because this time, the killer wants Mikaela.
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An Excerpt From: PROTECT AND DEFEND
Copyright © FRANCESCA HAWLEY, 2009, 2017
All Rights Reserved, Francesca Hawley Romance
“Just wait there while I come around to help you down,” Diarmid ordered. Miki bristled at the tone of command in his voice.
“I am perfectly capable of getting out of a vehicle myself.”
“Indulge me.” Diarmid grabbed his garbage, shoving the SUV door open.
He stalked around the vehicle where Miki waited for him. She didn’t know why she waited, but she did. He opened her door and lifted her to the ground. He grabbed her garbage along with his and she moved out of the way so he could close the door. He stopped at the back of the SUV to grab his kit then headed for the front entrance. Miki ran to keep up as he crossed the street. He slowed to accommodate her shorter legs and from that moment on, she didn’t have to run anymore.
“Sorry,” he muttered.
“No problem.” She glanced at his kit. “You weren’t kidding about keeping it stocked were you?”
“No, Mikaela, I wasn’t.” Diarmid raised a red-gold brow at her as his lips twisted into a wicked smile. “I keep my weapon clean and ready for use whenever it’s needed too. You’re welcome to inspect it at length if you’d like.”
Miki blushed a fiery red from his suggestive banter, almost tripping up the stairs as they climbed the steps to the entrance.
“Yeah. Um… Right. I’ll take your word for it, Diarmid.” Miki could almost visualize his weapon ready for use and had to look away when he chuckled at her as he pulled open the entry door to allow her to precede him.
“Too bad. I was looking forward to showing it to you.”
His gravelly voice sent chills down her spine making her clit throb in response. Damn him, he was enjoying this. She stopped to slug him in the shoulder before breezing past him through the doors. His laughter echoed behind her.
Half a dozen cops stared at her as if she had two heads when Diarmid followed her inside. He tossed the garbage into a trash can, motioning her toward the elevators. Miki sucked down the last of her shake and threw it away. She glanced around the lobby. Miki had the impression the cops in view wondered how she was still alive after whacking him. She raised her brows at one or two of them. They looked away, pretending they had other business to conduct. She shook her head.
“Do they think you’re a god or something?” Miki asked curiously after the elevator doors closed behind them.
“No, but I do outrank them.”
“Your rank wasn’t the reason they looked at me like I’d just taken my life in my hands by smacking you, though I think you will admit you deserved it.”
Miki turned to him. Diarmid pressed the stop button, set his kit on the floor and stalked her into the corner of the elevator.
“All I did was offer to let you inspect my weapon.”
His grin teased her as his hand went to his waist. He unsnapped his holster and rocked his gun out then he pulled the clip and emptied the remaining shell from the chamber leaving the slide open, then Diarmid handed the unloaded weapon to her for her perusal.
Miki blushed because she’d been thinking about something else and she knew he’d meant something else when he’d said it. She took the gun from him, blinking because it was heavier than she expected. She lifted it in his direction, but he gently, but firmly, pointed the muzzle at the floor.
“I never point my weapon at someone unless I intend to use it.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” She eyed the weapon, deciding two could play this game. “It isn’t as big as I expected, but I suppose it gets the job done. After all, it isn’t the size of the weapon that counts, but how it’s used, so they say.” She lifted her eyes to Diarmid’s, raising her brows tauntingly.
His suggestive grin widened as he leaned closer. “It isn’t the size of the weapon but the caliber of the ammunition that does the job. I can assure you, my shot can do any job you need doing.”
Miki couldn’t stop a flirtatious laugh from escaping. “I’ll let you know if I have any jobs I need you to do for me, Lieutenant.”
“I can think of one or two I’d be happy to volunteer for.” Diarmid took the weapon from her hands, reloaded it and reseated it in his holster.
“Really.” Diarmid leaned toward her to nuzzle her neck, taking a deep breath of her scent. He nibbled her earlobe. “I can show you how to shoot a weapon, how to clean it, and I think we’d both enjoy the process of holstering it deeply and thoroughly. Over and over.”
“You don’t just put it in once and leave it there?”
“Oh no. You have to slide it in and out to make sure it’s seated just right. Do you want me to teach you?”
Miki groaned arching toward him, sliding her hands over his chest and up around his neck. “Yes, I think I might like that part the best,” she whimpered when his hands cupped her bottom lifting her toward his hips.
He slid a leg between her thighs. Miki ground herself against his leg just as he caught her mouth with his. She opened her lips so they could taste one another. His tongue dueled with hers until they were both breathless. Diarmid lifted his head and Miki stroked his cheek softly.
To ease the sexual tension, she joked, “I told you if both of us ate onion rings it would cancel out.”
Diarmid smiled, dropping an affectionate kiss on the tip of her nose. “So you did, but I think we’d better stop now because the security officer on duty is probably tired of staring at the ceiling.”
Miki gasped as she realized there was surveillance in the elevator. “Oh my God.” She found the camera easily and wanted to sink through the floor. She buried her hot face against his shoulder.
Diarmid caught her chin gently in his hand. “Don’t be embarrassed, Mikaela. After all, I’m the one who works here. I can assure you they’ve never seen me seducing a woman in an elevator before.”
Miki giggled. “Poor baby. How will you ever live down the damage to your reputation as a hard-ass?”
Diarmid threw his head back and laughed; Miki felt as if she’d won the lottery. “I’m sure I’ll survive it somehow. You’ll just have to find a way to console me.”
He gave her a wolfish grin, waggling his brows at her then stepped over to the control panel to set the elevator running again. He picked up his kit, winking at her when the doors opened. The reception officer stared at them both, blinking and speechless.
Miki chuckled as Diarmid escorted her down the hall. “So, where are we headed first, Lieutenant?”
Let’s go visit Vasha in the morgue.”