Contemporary Erotic Romance/73,000 Words

Kings of Guardian (Book 1)

In a world of shadows, smoke, and covert black op missions—where people vanish and living one more day is never a given—falling in love is the last thing Victoria and Jacob expected.

Victoria Marshall didn't cooperate by dying in the Afghani hell-hole like the CIA expected. Defying all probability, a privately-funded black ops group led by a handsome, sexy-as-sin southerner pulled her out of the warlord's prison cell and brought her home. Even half out of her mind with pain Tori knew this man was special. She made a date with the commander to meet one year later at a restaurant of his choice. Keeping that date was the best thing she ever did.

Jacob King found little physically attractive about the woman he saved from the warlord’s camp, though it was hard to see what lay under the filth and suppurating wounds she suffered from countless beatings. He admired her brave humor in the face of her agonizing injuries. This kind of tough-minded woman was someone he'd like to know as a friend. He never expected the leggy, blond bomb-shell in the red dress who showed up for their date.

But then he never expected she would save his life, either. In a world of shadows, smoke, and dangerous covert missions, where people routinely vanish and living one more day was never a given, Tori and Jacob fight to build their happily ever after.


Other Books by Kris


Excerpt

Chapter One
 

Curled on the crude bench, Tori blinked and fought to keep her focus. She etched one more line into the soft plaster of her cell wall. The added line brought the total to sixty-seven white marks scratched into the dirty plaster. Her mind twisted, muddled by fragmented thoughts. The words that haunted her formed a familiar cadence. When would they come? When would the pain stop? Is it morning or evening? Will I die today? 

A door slammed at the far end of the corridor and the echo lingered in the cell. A low rumble of male voices reached her. She recognized the familiar tones. The guards. They no longer cared if she overheard them.


Terror spiked through her. Please, God, let it be morning! Which guard remained? Was it Emad, the day guard, who slept at the desk at the end of the hall and moved only when someone knocked at the door, or Kassar, the night guard, evil incarnate? An uncontrollable shiver rattled Tori’s body. Just like Pavlov’s damn dogs, her body reacted to the sound of Kassar’s voice. Now just the thought of him induced the response. 


Kassar had held her head under water while another guard pressed glowing coals from a hand-rolled cigarette into the soles of her feet. The smoldering cinders seared through the ulcerated abscesses already branded deep into her arches from torture on previous nights. 


Her screams pressed oxygen from her lungs. Desperate for air, her body inhaled the vile sludge that passed as water while Kassar held her head under the surface. A vicious grab of her hair pulled her up choking and vomiting. The bastard made sure she remained conscious. Kassar knew how to maximize the anguish and terror he inflicted.


“What is your mission?” His guttural English demanded an answer.


“I’m a photographer!” Her head was immediately plunged back into the putrid fluid sloshing in the bucket. Again searing agony ripped across the sole of her foot, and again the excruciating pain forced an involuntary scream and inhale. Just before she blacked out, hands grabbed her hair and pulled her to the surface.


“American whore! Tell me who sent you!”


“Photographer, freelance…nobody! Please! Let me go!” Her cries of innocence had only inflamed his anger.


The interrogations and torture had not broken her. Her captors knew only her cover story. That she maintained her cover story signed her death certificate just as certainly as admitting she worked for the CIA. No one will help. I know it. The freelance photography company would be a dead-end. Rightfully, no one there would claim knowledge of her. The CIA would never have the opportunity to confirm or deny her employment; she’d never confessed to working for them. There would be no ransom, no happy-ever-after ending to this nightmare. Death at Kassar’s hand would be the only escape.