We are 4 weeks away from Ryder and Hadley! SQUEE!! For those of you who can’t wait for more Dirty Little Secrets, I have a little treat for my awesome readers. Scroll down for your exclusive sneak peek of CHAPTER 1 of RESTRAINED UNDER HIS DUTY.
An uninhibited politician’s daughter falls for her loyal bodyguard behind closed doors in this scandalous novel from the USA Today bestselling author of Bound Beneath His Pain and Tied to His Betrayal.
As the chief of security for a prominent senator, Ryder Blackwood is stunned when an anonymous source sends him a compromising photo of his boss’s twenty-five-year-old daughter getting down and dirty in an underground sex club. If it gets out, the media firestorm could ruin her father. More troubling for Ryder is how arousing he finds the whole situation. He’s known Hadley Winters since she was a kid. And now she’s the woman in all his most private fantasies.
Wild behavior helps Hadley get through those painful, lonely nights, but she’s been waiting a long time for a man like Ryder to protect her from herself. Ryder is raw. He’s real. And he makes her feel safe. Now that they’ve both become pawns in a blackmailer’s dangerous game, there’s more at stake than her father’s political career. As the intimate threats tear apart a tender new love, Hadley is forced to trust Ryder with her life—and her heart.
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Sexy. As. Hell. Trouble.
I’m rooted to the shiny marble floor watching Hadley Winters pour herself a glass of wine in the chef’s kitchen of the historic Queen Anne mansion belonging to her father. Her back’s to me, teasing me with how her heart-shaped ass perfectly fills out her blue jeans. Her body with perfect curves tempts me. Her long legs were made to be around my waist. But the way she teases me is my punishment for a crime I never committed.
What I feel for Hadley is worse than hunger. It’s worse than thirst. It’s even worse than pain. She’s my forbidden fruit that I crave to taste, and yet my duty as chief of security to her father, Senator Gary Winters, makes her inconsumable.
Over her shoulder, the trees of Lafayette Park wave in the wind outside the window. San Francisco is sunny and bright this afternoon, but my mood is anything but chipper. I try to avoid Hadley at all costs.
Today I can’t.
I clear my throat, garnering her attention, and as she turns, her mesmerizing light green eyes catch mine and widen. Warmth and emotion cross her face that’s not unknown to me. The attraction is shared between us, and we both know that. She becomes all I see, as a soft flush creeps over her freckled cheeks and her perfectly sculpted lips curve slightly.
“Blackwood,” she finally addresses me, tucking her pale blond, shoulder-length hair behind her ear.
“Ms. Winters.” I mirror her formal address, fighting against the heat rising in my groin. Totally aware of her now, I step farther into the kitchen and toss the magazine I’m holding onto the counter in front of her. “We need to talk about this.”
She sips her red wine, taking a good look at the cover of the tabloid magazine Gotcha! Silently, she begins to flip a couple pages and reads the article: Is Senator Winters’s daughter, Hadley, becoming a handful for head security detail and multimillionaire Ryder Blackwood? Our sources say yes! And they also tell us that the kick-ass bodyguard is madly in love with her. She smirks when she finally lifts her twinkling eyes to mine. “Unless you’re ready to admit that there’s some truth behind this story, then there’s nothing to talk about.”
I ignore where she’s trying to direct the conversation. Something I’ve become an expert at doing. To keep the conversation on point, I, wishing this wasn’t the case, tell her, “The tabloids have taken a sudden interest in my life. Sadly, that means both you and your father are likely to come up on the radar because I work for the senator.”
Hadley laughs softly and leans against the countertop behind her. “Really, Blackwood, let’s be honest here. You don’t exactly work for my father. You’re loyal to him. There’s a huge difference there.”
Two things come to mind. First, she’s not wrong—the senator stopped paying me for my intel and protection a long time ago. After my service with the Army Rangers, her father had hired me as his chief of security due to his close relationship with my dad, and he gave me the money to get my security company up and running. Now Blackwood Security is one of the top private security detail companies in North America. I have operatives working all over the world for top government officials, diplomats, and celebrities. While I have financially paid back the loan, the personal debt for where he’d gotten me in my career so quickly has yet to be repaid.
Second, she’s trying to downplay my importance to him to knock down the first boundary between us. “Listen, there are things I know about you,” I explain gently, staring into her pretty eyes that hold the power to bring me to my knees if I let them. “Things that, because of the tabloids’ sudden focus on me, could be a problem for you.”
Her brows slowly begin to furrow. “What things?”
I snatch the eight-by-ten photograph I’d placed in the back of the magazine earlier and offer it to her. “This, for one.”
She visibly gulps at the photograph of herself, bound, gagged, and getting fucked in Afterglow, a local sex club. “This happened months ago. How did you . . . ” It’s blatantly clear that she’s never seen the picture before now, and I admit that I’m a bit surprised when her head snaps up, eyes narrowing. “To be perfectly honest, Blackwood, this is none of your business.”
“Believe me, I’m well aware.” Not willing to argue that point with her, I take the photograph from her and return it to the back of the magazine. “But let’s discuss this, shall we? If this picture found its way to me, how long do you think it would take the tabloids to get ahold of it? Your father doesn’t need a scandal like this.”
“I’m well aware,” she cleverly throws my own words back at me.
I fight my grin. I’ve seen middle-aged men cower in my presence. This twenty-five-year-old woman stands before me as an equal, and I fucking enjoy it.
“But I’m also very careful,” she adds, taking another look at the cover of the magazine before glancing my way again. “The security where that photo was taken is extremely tight and cellphones and cameras are forbidden, so please explain to me how you got this picture?”
“That, I’m afraid, is not for me to share.” Because I’m as loyal to my sources as I am to her father. While I believe that she took great precautions to ensure her sexual rendezvous didn’t become the next big story, I add, “Regardless that you’ve been careful, we need to be more careful now.”
“Clearly.” Her top teeth begin to worry her lip while she hesitates. It guts me that I needed to show her this photo in the first place, but I keep the thought to myself, as she reconciles whatever’s on her mind and quickly continues. “Do you know if this is the only picture out there or if there are more?”
I see her mind working behind those intelligent eyes and lean my shoulder against the doorframe. “It’s the only one.” Her expression tightens, and I answer her question. “You don’t need to worry about this photograph getting out. The reason I have it is to protect you, not hurt you.”
“Good,” she says in obvious relief, as if that’s the end of the conversation.
I snort. We’re not even close to being done. “It would be in your best interest to stay away from any clubs or any people affiliated with these clubs until some of the heat on me dies down.” I pause, letting her process what I said, frustrated that I can’t get a read on her. Christ, I wish I could, because the mystery of the woman before me is one of the reasons she’s so damn tempting.
She’s got secrets I desperately want to know.
I note the lines of frustration between her brows, and I hate putting her in this position. She’s young, free, and still finding herself. Determined to right this wrong, I offer, “I can arrange for you to meet with a vetted Dominant in the privacy of a well-secured location to correct this position I’ve put you in.”
Just that easily, her brows rise and she smiles. “Is that so? Now do tell me, Blackwood: How could you possibly arrange that?”
She wants inside my head. But she’s not going to get those answers. Not today. Not ever. “I have connections to help you here, Hadley. Nothing more. Nothing less.”
Something changes in her expression going soft and curious, as if she’s breaking my shields apart. The air crackles with heat and desire when she leaves her place at the counter and moves closer, her spicy scent spiraling around me. “What if I said I didn’t want another man?” she asks, voice raspy. “What if I said I wanted you?”
I part my lips and then shut them. This woman blows my mind. Her confidence astounds me. She may be a good foot shorter and nearly half my size, but her heart and her bravery shine through. It’s sexy and beautiful in one big sweep, and it makes me fucking crazy.
“Hadley,” I say sternly, reminding her that this is a bad idea.
“Ryder,” she whispers back, begging me to change my mind.
I’m fighting to keep my feet firmly on the ground. This is a game we play, she and I.
I set the limits.
She pushes against them.
But the game needs to stop. This little firecracker, who’s beyond her years, is going to make me do the one thing I never do: Break my oath to my duty.
Just as she gets this close, I lift a brow. “Do you want my help or not?”
She blinks and steps back, putting distance between us. Disappointment darkens her eyes. “Thanks and all, but I think I can find a man myself.” Her voice is devoid of emotion. The moment we had now gone completely.
She thinks it doesn’t affect me, but it does. I’m ripped apart, cold in ways I’ve never been cold before. I stay on the spot, curling my toes in my boots, afraid if I move I’ll do something I shouldn’t. Like grab her and ravenously kiss away that disappointment, replacing all the coldness with wicked heat.
Obviously annoyed with me and done with the conversation, she goes to walk by me. Without considering the consequences, I reach out and grasp her bare arm. Her soft gasp is a jolt straight to my cock.
“Whatever you do, do not trust anyone right now,” I tell her.
She pauses, eyes searching mine. “Why do you look so worried, Blackwood? The tabloids have you running scared?”
Her concern touches a place in my chest I won’t allow her to go. “It’s trouble that I can handle.” The warmth of her flesh heats my palm, all too inviting. Fighting against myself, I slowly release her arm. “But the situation with the tabloids is a concern, especially considering whatever reason they’ve brought you into this alongside me.” Truly that concerns me most of all. We never had a relationship besides my working for her father. My instincts are screaming at me that there’s meaning behind that, and I need to—and will—dig deeper on this. “Please be careful.”
“Don’t worry about me, Blackwood,” she says gently, and her nostrils flare, as if she’s consumed by the overwhelming need to draw in my scent as much as I am hers. “I’ll be safe. Promise.”
The last thing I see is her smile before she vanishes through the doorway. The sassiness in that smile tests my resolve to remain professional. I flex my fingers, feeling my skin tingle, fighting against the desire to bring her back into my arms so I can finally curb my hunger for her.
Frustrated, and enduring a raging hard-on, I open the magazine again and examine the photograph of her. She’s a beauty in bondage, and I ache to see her up close and personal this way. But I’m crippled all the same, unable to stop staring at the way the man’s hands are holding her arms tight.
She’s not yours to claim, echoes through me.
That’s when I realize I might have a greater danger than the tabloids.
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Thanks for keeping it sexy!!