Beckett and Emilie watched Shane pick glass out of Marz’s arm was about as comfortable as having an armful of glass in the first place. Marz actually hadn’t registered how much it stung until Shane started working.
Tweezers. Plink. Tweezers. Plink. Tweezers. Plink
The more Shane picked at the debris in his arm, the harder Marz’s head pounded. He absolutely loathed the idea of doing this, but everyone else was busy. “B, will you find me some ibuprofen, please?” He rubbed at his forehead above his left eyebrow.
Beckett’s eyes went wide. He was the one person Marz made a point of not asking for help unless the guy offered or Marz had no choice. Not because he thought Beckett wouldn’t do it—he would. But because Marz didn’t want his best friend to see him as any weaker than he already did.
“Careful,” Shane said, eyeballing Marz. “You’re gonna have a shiner.”
“Oh,” he said, dropping his hand. A moment later, he accepted four little red pills and a glass of water from Beckett. “Thanks.”
His friend gave a tight nod. And then it got quiet and awkward again. Marz felt like whistling. Or telling knock-knock jokes. Or sticking a fork in his eye. Literally, anything would’ve been better than having the woman he wanted and the friend who couldn’t not worry about him watch him get doctored up.
Bracing his hands on the counter, Beckett dropped his head and rolled his neck. Marz frowned as the guy eyeballed Emilie, because Marz could almost see the wheels turning in his friend’s head.
“Did you know Derek saved my life?”
“Beckett,” Marz said, as surprised to hear those words come out of his friend’s mouth as he was embarrassed that Beckett was telling Emilie.
Her mouth dropped open and she shook her head.
“Our Special Forces team got ambushed at a roadblock,” he said, completely ignoring Marz. “Seven didn’t make it. I’m only here—”
“—because Derek knocked me out of the way of a grenade. Instead of being blown to bits, I only had a busted-up leg and this,” he said, gesturing to the scars around his eye. “Lost a little vision, too. But Derek”—Beckett met his gaze, and Marz’s chest got tight at the emotion in the other man’s eyes—“well, he lost a leg. And while he lay there bleeding to death, he told jokes. Worst injury of any of us, and he told jokes to keep everyone’s spirits up.”
Marz felt Shane looking at him, but he couldn’t meet the guy’s gaze, because hell if Beckett’s words weren’t lodging a freaking giant knot in his throat.
Beckett twisted his lips and his Adam’s apple bobbed on a hard swallow. “He is the most loyal and self-sacrificing person I’ve ever known—”
“Jesus, Beckett,” Marz said, dropping his face into his hand. Why the hell was the guy doing this right now?
“—and he didn’t have a choice but to lie to you. To protect us and to protect you. And since he was protecting us, he couldn’t immediately trust you. Not when you were the sister of a man who, I’m sorry, we know is involved in criminal activity and we have more than a passing suspicion was involved in the corruption in Afghanistan that led to the ambush, our friends’ deaths, and our discharge from the Army.”
Emilie blinked at him, mouth and eyes wide.
“So, I hope you’ll give my man here a chance, because he deserves it. And because there’s a lot you don’t yet know.”
About HARD TO COME BY:
Caught between desire and loyalty…
Derek DiMarzio would do anything for the members of his disgraced Special Forces team—sacrifice his body, help a former teammate with a covert operation to restore their honor, and even go behind enemy lines. He just never expected to want the beautiful woman he found there.
When a sexy stranger asks questions about her brother, Emilie Garza is torn between loyalty to the brother she once idolized and fear of the war-changed man he’s become. Derek’s easy smile and quiet strength tempt Emilie to open up, igniting the desire between them and leading Derek to crave a woman he shouldn’t trust.
As the team’s investigation reveals how powerful their enemies are, Derek and Emilie must prove where their loyalties lie before hearts are broken and lives are lost. Because love is too hard to come by to let slip away…
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And don’t miss the other Hard Ink books, now available:
Hard As It Gets
Hard As You Can
Hard to Hold On To
Praise for Hard to Come By:
“Rough sex and explosive fights power Kaye’s third Hard Ink novel, a thrilling adventure that feels more like an action movie with a romantic subplot than a typical contemporary romance. New readers will head straight for Kaye’s backlist after powering through this installment.” ~Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“TOP PICK! If you’re looking for danger, gritty action, and sizzling passion, then Kaye has just the book and the series for you.” ~RT Book Reviews Magazine
About Laura Kaye:
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over twenty books in contemporary and paranormal romance and romantic suspense. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.
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