by Bess George
Genre: Romantic Suspense
Her life was a lie.
Charlie Gomez always fantasized about a better life or at least a job that didn’t involve scrubbing other people’s toilets. The death of her mother reveals a past that’s based on lies and an unexpected inheritance gives her the opportunity to become a private investigator—the perfect chance to learn a skill for the future while she figures out the past. There’s only one negative in this new gig and that’s her antagonistic sexy new boss.
He has nothing left but a company on the brink of bankruptcy.
Jaxon Roberts was a street orphan who survived and thrived thanks to the kindness of a generous benefactor. But when his adopted father passes away, he’s left with the daunting task of saving McKenzie Investigations and a major surprise: his father left a biological heir, and she’s the key to his company’s survival.
As tension and rivalry give way to love, dark shadows of the past put their future—and their lives—in grave danger. When Charlie disappears, Jaxon is faced with a choice…walk away and preserve the world he knows, or fight for a future with the one woman who can truly teach him what family is all about.
Jaxon parked, and they walked down the wooden path to the docks. The sound of her footsteps stopped, and he turned around to find out why. Charlie stood on the dock looking like a cat on wash day. Both arms held out to the side as if to balance herself, her green eyes were wide and a little crazed.
He frowned. “What’s wrong?”
“This moved when I walked on it. I think something broke. Walking on this can’t be safe.” Charlie’s chest heaved.
“Calm down, nothing is broken. People call this a floating dock. Marina’s use them because they maintain a constant level, regardless of the tide changes.” Jaxon held his hand out to her, but she remained motionless and stared at him as if he’d grown two heads. This fear was so different from the bravado she’d shown earlier that it puzzled him. “What are you so afraid of?”
“I can’t swim,” she whispered.
“Are you kidding?”
“No, I’m not kidding,” Charlie snapped. “Where was a kid growing up in the slums of Los Angeles going to learn to paddle around in the water? Besides, I was too busy trying to earn enough money to pay the rent.”
He understood her snappiness came from fear. “Do you trust me? You’re not going to get wet.”
She stared into his eyes for a full minute before grasping his extended hand. They continued on until reaching the finger pier which ran down the length of his boat. Jaxon jumped onboard and turned to steady her across the small gap. Someone from behind knocked him to the side as they burst past.
Joey nimbly hopped to the dock and would have made a clean getaway except that Charlie stood in his path. His jumping on the pier caused it to bounce, and in her panic, she grabbed the only available thing. Too bad the young boy’s slight weight was no match for her larger, heavier body. Both of them fell backward into the dark water of an empty slip behind them.
Charlie came up coughing and sputtering out sea water but wouldn’t let go of the much smaller boy. Jaxon untied the two red and white life preservers on his boat and threw it to them. “Help her, she can’t swim,” he yelled.
Joey caught the first ring and made sure Charlie held on tight before nabbing the second one for himself. Jaxon used the ropes to pull them both closer. When she was near enough, he reached down to scoop her out of the water and sat her on the dock.
Hair plastered to her head, Charlie glared up at him. “Note to self: you can’t be trusted.”
She spit out more water and a smidgeon of guilt made him stifle the urge to laugh at her wet appearance. He’d asked her to trust him, and she’d ended up getting soaked. Now she was ticked off at him. Even with her penchant for accidents, how could he have foreseen something like this happening?
Bess George lives in Texas with her hubby and kids. Even though Bess crunches numbers for a living, she’s managed to work in some unusual places over the years. The oil business, a gun range, and a golf course are a few jobs where she met all types of characters. She loves to hear stories about people finding the unexpected hero inside each of us.