This week’s topic is character. I thought I’d give you an early look at Davis Weeks, the hero in FEARLESS (Harlequin Intrigue, July 2013). Davis showed up in last year’s COPY THAT but FEARLESS is his story. Here is the first time we meet him in this book:
Davis Weeks rubbed his eyes as he walked out of his bathroom, fresh from a shower. Thanks to the sticky Maryland summer heat, he didn’t bother changing out of the towel wrapped around his waist. He was tempted to let it fall to the hardwood floor and stand naked in front of the fan. But because he could see the narrow street one floor down, he decided to keep something on. No need to scare the crap out of poor Mrs. Winston next door. The woman had to be over eighty, though from the way she winked at him all the time he wondered if she’d enjoy the show.
Sweat dripped down his back just from the ten-foot march from the bathroom to the bedroom window. Man, it was hot. That would teach him to buy a rundown townhouse in Annapolis, then not be home long enough to fix it up or figure out some sort of air-conditioning solution.
Between the massive summer thunderstorms and the tropical storm that blew up the coast earlier in the week, the small strip of land behind his house, listed as a backyard on the real estate sales contract, had morphed into a muddy mess. He’d just burned off some of the extra energy rumbling around inside him by laying gravel over the driveway off the alley. Why he picked a humid afternoon for the task had more to do with being limited to desk job duties at work than anything else. He wasn’t the sit-around type.
Now his muscles burned and his lower back begged for mercy. Three months shy of his thirty-fifth birthday and his bones creaked. He chalked the new pains up to too many years of chasing, shooting and diving for cover. He used to recover from jobs within a day or two. This time he neared day ten days and his ribs still ached from where he got hit by that car. At least he got the bad guy.
He started to stretch his arms over his head and winced from the pull. Glancing around for a clean t-shirt, his gaze fell on the unmade bed. The blinking green light on his phone caught his attention next. With his job at the Corcoran Team he was on call all the time, and that habit gave him some comfort, but he had forgotten to bring the cell with him when he went outside earlier. He’d been unavailable for two hours, which was a record.
He swore under his breath as he reached over. A few buttons later and a voice he hadn’t heard in months buzzed in his ear. Eleven months and twelve days, but who was counting?
Davis, it’s me. I’m in huge trouble. I…need you. Please be home.
Lara Bart, his former fiancée and the sole reason he went off the grid on a job that ended with busted ribs and a bruised jaw. The passing of days didn’t matter. He knew that voice, could hear it every time he closed his eyes.
He also knew something was very wrong. The slight tremor. The stammer. None of that was normal for her. Husky voice, yes. Scared? Never.
The swearing this time included a few extra words and a lot of grumbling. Jamming his finger on the button, he called her back and nearly threw the phone when it went directly to voicemail. He’d just pivoted and started stalking to his closet when the doorbell rang. He took off down the stairs with his bare feet thumping against each step.
As he hit the foyer, the rapid-fire knocking started. Breaking from protocol and his usual common sense, he entered the code on the alarm and pulled the door open without checking. Lara shoved her way inside and went straight into his arms. Her arms wrapped around him as her cheek landed against his bare chest.
“You’re home.” She was out of breath and trembling as she mumbled the words against his skin.
The touch had his brain cells misfiring. It took a second for all the pieces to register. Her hair was lighter, with touches of blond through the rich brown waves, but it was still so soft. And his need for her still kicked hard enough to knock him over.
Ignoring the feel of her in his arms, he set her away from him and conducted a visual scan of her body, trying to remain as detached as possible as he checked for obvious injuries. “Are you hurt?”
She shook her head. “Well, except for my knee.”
Looking down, he noticed her ripped dress pants. That, along with the untucked and torn silk blouse, signaled trouble.
“What happened to you?” He was about to drop to the floor and check her leg, but her next comment stopped him.
“I was attacked.”
She conducted security clearance interviews, but there was nothing inherently dangerous about her job. He knew because he checked out her company and its independent contractor ties with the Department of Defense when she took the position. Not that she knew that.
And it didn’t matter that they’d broken up. He watched over her and always would.
“I should have called the police, but all I could think about was getting to you.” Her hands were in constant movement. Her gaze bounced all over the room, and she pushed her shoulder-length hair out of her eyes.
“Okay.” Good, even. Being her first thought certainly didn’t suck, but he needed her to calm down. “Take a deep breath.”
Her chest rose and fell as she took his advice, but her hands kept shaking. “There was blood everywhere.”
Dread ripped through him. Didn’t sound like this, whatever “this” was, happened at the office. It took all his considerable control to focus the energy pinging around inside of him. He wanted the information fast and clean, but she wasn’t a field agent with the sort of delivery skills for that. Then there was the problem where her words kept jumbling together.
He cupped a hand over her cheek and lifted her head until her almond-colored eyes met his. Even terrified and twisted up, she was still the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen. Tall and trim with high cheekbones and a face that you could slap on a magazine cover without make-up.
But none of that mattered now. He needed information. Without it, he couldn’t step in and fix whatever this was.
Copyright 2013, HelenKay Dimon
All Rights Reserved, Harlequin
Don’t forget to check out the other snippets: