Thrive (Guardian Protection Book 2) by Aly Martinez
From USA Today bestselling author Aly Martinez comes a new standalone second-chance romance.
When I was nineteen years old, I was faced with a choice that changed my life.
Keep the safety of what I already knew or risk losing everything with the young, hotheaded soldier who stole my heart.
I chose the wrong man, and for seventeen years, I paid in tears, blood, and shattered dreams for that decision.
Now, there’s a man in my house, holding a gun to my head on the order of my ex-husband—given from his prison cell.
That hotheaded soldier I was too afraid to choose? He’s now a six-foot-three wall of muscle who works at the country’s most premier bodyguard agency. I’ve always wanted him, but now, I’ve never needed him more.
It’s the call I’m terrified to make.
I’m sure he still hates me… Even though I’ve never stopped loving him.
Excerpt Thrive by Aly Martinez
“Johnson Googled you,” he stated as if it should have been a revelation.
I twisted my lips. “Okay?”
“That’s how we found you. If you know enough about a person, it doesn’t take much to track them down.”
“Yeah, but this is a new place. Trust me. It’ll be fine. Just drop me off and I’ll be out of your life forever.”
He scoffed. “Funny, I thought you were out of my life seventeen years ago. And yet here you are.”
My whole body jerked as if I could dodge his jab, but it hit me square in the stomach. It shouldn’t have hurt the way it did. He was speaking the truth, which was probably why it was so painful.
Slapping on a little sarcasm for defense, I replied, “And you seem thrilled about it. So, yeah. I’m thinking it’s best if I let you off the hook now and we go about our separate ways.”
His eyes flashed wide as if I’d dealt a verbal blow of my own. “I’m not on your fucking hook, Mira.”
I swallowed hard. “That’s…that’s not what I meant. I just thought—”
He planted his hands on his hips. “That you’d get yourself killed? Because that’s exactly what’s going to happen if you go at this shit alone.”
“I’m not trying to go at anything, Jeremy! That’s the whole point in going home. You, Rhion, Johnson, Leo… Everyone was great to me today. I will never be able to repay all of you. And I’m not going to sit here and allow that debt to grow.”
“I don’t know how you can repay people, either, but I assure you dying is not it.”
“So I’ll lay low. He won’t be able to find me.”
“Jesus, you are so fucking stubborn. Does Kurt know your full name? What about your birthday? Social Security number? Mother’s maiden name? City you were born?” This was not asked in query. This was not asked gently. This was not asked to provoke thought—unless that thought was to point out that I was an idiot. And he wasn’t done. “Considering I know the majority of those answers, I’m thinking your ex-husband has enough information to find you anywhere.”
“Kurt is in jail!” I informed, and it was in a tone that said I thought he was the idiot.
“And he still found you!” he roared.
Pursing my lips, I glared. His attitude was shit. But his point was not.
“Fine. I’ll go to a hotel,” I suggested.
“Is the credit card going to be in your name?” he shot back.
I rolled my eyes. “I seriously doubt Kurt has any buddies who work for the bank.”
“You willing to bet your life on that?”
“Maybe if it would get you to stop yelling at me.”
With long strides, he closed the distance between us. “I’m only yelling at you because you are not using your head here.”
My body came alive all over again. I couldn’t breathe. Not with him that close. I couldn’t imagine how torturous it would be to go home with him. I was barely standing after the two interactions we’d had. A couple of days with him would do me in. I didn’t want to go to his house and see firsthand how beautiful it was. I didn’t want to see pictures of his family hanging on the walls. I couldn’t handle the reminder that losing me was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
Because losing him had been the worst.
“Mira,” he whispered.
My vision began to swim. “I don’t want you involved in this anymore. I was wrong to call you.”
“But you did,” he whispered. “And I’m here. Trying to help.”
“Please. Please, I’m begging you, just….take me home.”
I wasn’t sure if I could survive Jonah or whatever else Kurt had planned for me, but I knew, deep down to the marrow of my bones and with an absolute certainty, I wouldn’t survive even one night with Jeremy Lark.