Content Notes: Explicit Sex

Despite Dubai’s oppressive heat, heiress Brennan Caruthers is gearing up to throw a holiday party. She has almost everything a modern woman could want—a tight-knit circle of friends, challenging career, financial independence, and an impressive shoe collection. But when armed men attempt to kidnap her straight off a six-lane highway, she’s forced to revisit her past, and ends up spending the nights leading to Christmas with a man she’d rather forget.

Major Karl Reed can’t imagine a worse end to his year. Cover blown and mission details leaked, his Delta unit and their families have become targets of a vengeful criminal cell. After receiving news of a failed attack on his estranged wife, he rushes to the Emirates to whisk her into hiding. But when his damsel in distress digs in her stiletto heels and presents him with a better plan, he’s forced to become her unwelcome houseguest. Assuming he keeps them both alive, they might just celebrate their first Christmas together.

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"Oh my God. I'm so sorry." Brennan moaned as her gaze dropped to the empty teacup. Grabbing a hand towel, she rushed over to the fridge and filled it with ice.

"I'm fine." Karl squawked.

His profusely-apologizing wife raced to his side and pressed the cloth-wrapped ice onto his chest. For once, their height difference worked in his favor. He was pretty sure the scalding liquid had been aimed at his face. Good thing she missed.

He caught her wrist. "It's alright. I've been through worse."

Her upturned face contorted. Tears brimmed. "I have no idea what came over me—"

"I went out of my way to make you angry." He gave her a reassuring smile. "I deserved it. I was being a Class A jerk."

The corners of her lips quirked up, but her brows remained furrowed. "Just a bit."

He guided her hand over his chest so the towel could absorb the remnants of her tea.

Tendrils of golden hair escaped the clip to frame her face. All thought of pain went up in smoke. With her trim body an inch away, the slim possibility of a first degree burn seemed inconsequential. "I didn't mean what I said. You know how everyone says it takes two people to end a marriage?"

She nodded as he grabbed the towel from her and placed it on the kitchen island.

"They're wrong. In our case, it took one." He cupped her face with both palms. Her skin felt like silk. She smelled of sugar and spice. "I don't blame you for wising up and walking out. I hated hearing you apologize because you’re the last person who should."

Her eyes widened, lending her face a heartbreaking vulnerability. "I think I finally figured out why I'm so angry.”

He chucked her under the chin. "Oh yeah?"

“I'm happy you're here." Thick lashes fanned over her rosy cheeks. "And I don’t want to be."

He should step away. The right thing to do was let her go. But he couldn't—not again. It'd taken all his willpower not to chase her down the first time, and he wanted her back. The sudden awareness made his head spin. No job was worth never seeing her again. He'd been a fool, and it might be too late.

He wanted to kiss her so much it hurt. Her scent filled his lungs. Her satiny hair whispered over the back of his hands. When he bent forward, her lips parted. A blush colored her pale skin as she drew in a shallow breath. Desire shone in those green depths, and he knew he could push her to give him what his body demanded.

But he hadn't earned her trust. He'd caught her in a moment of weakness, and when the sun came up, she'd regret letting him have his way. He wanted more than a night of passion—more than a single intimate embrace. Now that he knew what he was fighting for, he refused to win a battle and lose the war.

Lowering his hands, he stepped back. "Where did you put the lights?"


He focused on keeping his tone casual. "There weren't any on the tree in your living room. I can't sleep, and I have energy to burn. Let me string them up for you." She blinked. "You want to put up Christmas decorations?"

He lied, "I can’t think of anything better to do."