About Hidden Impact
An aloof bodyguard and mercenary puts his heart on the line in HIDDEN IMPACT, the first book in the Safeguard series by Piper J. Drake. Fans of Marie Force’s Fatal series or Laura Kaye’s Hard As It Gets, will love this brand new romantic suspense series.
He’s not the hero she’s looking for…
As part of the elite Centurion Corporation team, military-veteran-turned-mercenary Gabriel Diaz is a natural defender. He’ll do anything to ensure a mission is successful. Anything but get emotionally invested—he learned the hard way that can be deadly. Easy bodyguard jobs in between the more challenging missions are all he’s interested in now.
Maylin Cheng is desperate and running out of time. Her younger sister has gone missing but no one seems to take her concern seriously. Her last hope lies in asking an aloof bodyguard for help. He dismisses her outright, but all that changes when she is almost killed in a not-so-accidental hit-and-run right before his eyes.
As Maylin leans on Gabriel, she begins to rely on him for more than just her safety. But as their attraction grows, so does the danger surrounding them. When the elaborate web they’re trapped in unravels, Gabriel will do anything to protect them. Even if that means putting his heart in the crosshairs.
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“What you need to do is hear me out.” Steel edged her voice now, and maybe a bit of desperation.
It was the former, not the latter, that made him take a real look at her.
Her eyes caught him first. Deep emerald green. Shocking, actually, set in a delicate Asian face framed by a cascade of hair so black the lighting caught blue highlights. Her features were naturally beautiful, accented with a minimal amount of makeup. Very different from the majority of the people in attendance, regardless of gender.
Color leached from her face as she must have realized she had his full attention. But she didn’t back away or break eye contact. Good for her. Lesser men had balked when Gabe had stared them down.
“My little sister is missing.” The edge was gone from her words but the desperation was still there.
Anger washed away. Damn. “I’m sorry, miss. But the police are the people to contact.”
Political targets, reporters and prisoners of war were the kidnap victims private military might be contracted to locate and retrieve. The kind of people held for ransom in places so far off the radar, even sunlight might not find them. And those weren’t his team’s specialty.
The woman in front of him was a normal civilian. Willowy, slender. The thought of a little sister conjured up images of some tiny waiflike kid. He and his partners were heavy hitters, not the kind of people you sent in to do anything but cause strategic destruction. They went into hot spots overseas and did the things politicians didn’t admit to knowing about at these glitzy events, things a US uniform wouldn’t be doing. Delicate, gentle—the sort of handling a traumatized girl retrieved from a kidnapping situation would need—was not their forte.
The older sister shook her head. “I’ve spoken to the police and the US Embassy. No one will do anything, not yet. And by the time they believe something’s actually wrong, I might never find her.”
Missing persons cases were tough. She was right about the time crunch. There was only a short window before the abducted was more than likely dead. Considering what could have already happened, death might not be the worst thing either.
Definitely not going to add to what this woman was already imagining. Hopefully she didn’t know what could happen.
“You’d do better hiring a private investigator.” He drew his eyebrows together, tried not to let the urge to squirm under her very direct stare show. Damn. Give him vapid groupies and a clueless entourage and he had no problem staring them down. This woman, it was like she could see straight through him and know how much he didn’t want to cause a scene at this very moment. There was nothing good he could do for her.
She gasped and cool air rushed in, clearing away some of the fog.
“That’s it, sweetheart. Take another breath nice and slow. Slow.” Strong hands patted her down, touched her with gentle purpose. “Does anything hurt? Your neck, your head?”
“The way you took her down, it’s amazing her skull isn’t splattered all over the sidewalk.” Another man’s voice floated over from some distance away. Or was it a shock thing?
Maybe she was in shock.
Did people’s feet get cold at times like this? Only her left one.
“Your left foot is colder because you lost a shoe when I shoved you out of the way.” A thread of amusement ran through the original speaker’s voice. She liked the sound of it. Kind humor, like what she heard in his words, was the sign of a good man. “I’m going to help you to a sitting position, but if anything hurts at all, you let me know right away and we’re laying you back down. Understood?”
“Yes.” She said it out loud on purpose, because she was pretty sure she’d been talking out loud anyway so it’d be good to know if she could do it when she actually meant to.
The same big hands she’d taken note of before took hold of her, one sliding under her neck to give her support as she came up to a sitting position.
“Slow,” her caretaker admonished.
His choice of speeds was frustrating.