Dauntless (The Agency Erotic Suspense Duet)
Recent events have left Gia injured, emotionally bruised and fundamentally violated. ‘The Agency’, known as a high class and elite Match-Making organization, has turned out to be far more expansive and nefarious than she had ever dreamed… and its web has been cast over her life.
With a multi-million-dollar business in the balance, along with new relationships and past mistakes coming to haunt her, Gia must struggle to see through the mire and discover where the truth may hide… or if she knows the truth at all.
Elliot has revealed himself, while Dane is proving just as powerful and charming as he first appeared. Both appear the perfect match for Gia’s battered soul, yet as new rumors and dangers swirl, she is starting to wonder how she can possibly choose between them and if she does, will she lose them both?
“Is it a game of lies and manipulation or is their relationship real? Gia’s life has imploded, and this intense story is full of passion, jealousy, deceit, revenge, danger, fear, violence, and some very memorable characters. I definitely recommend this two-book set.” Amazon Review
Excerpt from Dauntless (The Agency Erotic Suspense Duet)
“Now for the good stuff,” she said, grinning as she pulled out her phone. “I got a list from Tim of all his single friends and acquaintances who we both know would love to meet you.”
“Hold that thought,” I said. I got up and went to the restroom around the bar. Her husband was nice, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her I didn’t want a Tim or a Tim-like man. Yes, he was loving, attentive, and a great dad, but he was too much like Patrick—always focused on how to increase his power and profile. I wanted a man who was comfortable and confident in himself, a man who put me first, a man who wanted me.
I washed my hands and fixed my hair before going back to join Astrid.
On my way back to our table, I spotted Liz Crenshaw coming through the entrance. We hadn’t seen her in a while so I walked closer to greet her but then stopped—she wasn’t alone. She was with an attractive twenty-something man. I was surprised and impressed, not only by his age, but by what he was doing. He grabbed her face and kissed her passionately. His hands moved down to her hips, and then lower. He was touching her in a way I’d never been touched in public before. It was raw, possessive, and passionate. I was enthralled.
Then another man came up to stand next to them. He was the tall, dark, and handsome type, striking in looks and well put together. He was dressed in a leather jacket, designer gray slacks, and a black button-down shirt opened at the collar. He was brooding, but magnificent. He tapped their shoulders and, for a moment, looked my way. I quickly turned my head, finally realizing how rude I’d been by staring. They parted, and I was about to move back to my table when Liz called out to me. “Gia Walsh!”
I turned and took the hug. “It’s Ruiz,” I reminded her.
“Oh. Congratulations,” she said, covering her mouth. Her lips were swollen, and she had a sappy grin on her face. “Sorry, but—”
“No apologies,” I cut her off. “Patrick was an asshole.”
“Amen,” she said.
I laughed. “Astrid’s here, want to come over and say hello? You can have dinner or share a dessert with us if you’re alone.”
She glanced behind her and the men were gone. “Yes, that sounds great. I was going to wait for my friend to finish his meeting at the bar, but it could be a while. We can all catch up.” She excused herself for a call and I heard her explain a change in plans to dine with us, then she followed me over to our table where she hugged Astrid. After Liz ordered a potato bisque and salad, Astrid asked her, “What are you planning for the holidays?”
Liz tossed her hair back. “Oh, the usual boring affair.”
I arched my brows. She didn’t mention her new lover, and for whatever reason, I didn’t either, at least not yet. “Same here. I’ll probably redecorate or something tedious.”
Liz laughed, arching her back in a way that made the V-neck of her tight cashmere sweater dip.
“What is going on with you?” Astrid asked. “You look different.”
Liz shrugged and ran her hand through her new long red hair. “I recently got a makeover.”
“I’d say it was more than that,” I murmured. This went beyond her new highlights and layered hairstyle. She was giving off a sexual charge, and just a glance around the restaurant let me know men were responding by gazing over at Liz. Their looks were curious, their smiles full of admiration. She must have felt them looking, but she didn’t discourage them; instead, she just took it in stride.
Yeah, I’ll have whatever she’s on. I wasn’t sure about what had brought this boost in confidence, but I was happy for her, and honestly, downright envious. From the view on the outside, I’d have said she’d hit a gold mine in whatever she was doing now, and I wanted to know more.
“How about another round?” Astrid asked.
“Sure, but I’ll be right back,” Liz said, rising to go to the restroom. I stood up too, and Astrid minutely shook her head.
“You’re going again, Gia?”
I lifted a shoulder. “It’s the cocktails.” It was a little lie, but I wanted a moment alone with Liz.
She was at the sink putting away her phone when I arrived.
“I saw you sucking face at the door,” I said, grinning and poking her shoulder. “Spill.”
She laughed gleefully, and I joined in with her. “God, Gia…I mean, when Marco is around, I just forget myself.”
I couldn’t hide the wide grin that spread across my face. Even his name was sexy. “How did you meet Marco?”
“I may still have the card.” She dug in her purse and handed me a black and white card that said The Agency. “That’s how.”
“What is it?” I stared down at it
“It’s like a matchmaking service,” she said.
I wrinkled my nose. “I hate that shit.” I held the card out for her to take back. “No thanks.”
She pushed it back toward me. “This one is different. It’s exclusive,” she explained, leaning against the counter. “What I’ve found and learned…it’s beneficial in many ways.”
I shook my head. “Is this another one of those hot new online matchmaking companies? I can’t put my photo and information online.”
Along with the non-disclosure we’d agreed on to get Patrick to finally sign, he’d added a clause that we both agreed to avoid public relationships until after his re-election the next year, and not to embarrass each other in any scandal. If that happened, it would make the agreement null and I’d have to give him half of the money and property created during our marriage, so I had agreed. It could include some of my family inheritance released during the marriage and dividing up my company, neither of which I would ever risk losing.
“This one is strict about being secretive,” she said. “You know how it is with hacking, social media—it’s hard to have any privacy. From what I’ve found, they pride themselves on being discreet. This isn’t going online. It’s invitation only, but I have no doubt they’ll take you. I’ll check tonight.” She pointed down to the card. “You’ll need to present it to gain access to their building.”
“So, men like Marco are available at this agency?” I asked.
“Yes, and I would go with you, but we’re together now,” she boasted brazenly. “I didn’t meet him right away. There were other men before him—many.”
My mouth dropped open. Well, Liz was full of surprises tonight. “Many? Damn, slow down, woman.”
She lowered her head. “I’d only been with Richard. Christmas Eve would have been our tenth anniversary…” Her voice faltered.
I took her hand. Her husband Richard’s death the year before had been hard for her. I was happy she was trying to move on with her life. “I was teasing. I’m sorry.”
“It’s okay. I’m fine,” she assured me. “Anyway, his name is Marco and he’s wonderful. He treats me like a queen. I would have introduced you to him, but he had a working dinner with his friend Dane Westbrook.”
“Dane?” I said in as casual a tone as I could muster. “Was that the name of the other man?”
She blotted her lip and grinned. “Saw him too, eh? You interested? I only just met him. I’m not sure he’s available, but The Agency has plenty of good-looking men. They’re sure to have whatever you might be looking for. The more detailed you are, the better the match. You can get a man that’ll take you for a picnic in the park, or you can go to the other extreme and get one who will tie you up, just like some of those erotica books you were always reading.” She giggled.
I powdered my face. “Were? Still am. You have the same books, need I remind you?” I pointed out, laughing. “I’m not interested in being treated like some personal blow-up doll.”
She laughed and said, “You don’t have to. It’s about finding what you want and exploring who you are. I’ll make the call for you. Text you later.” She moved toward the door.
“Wait, I haven’t agreed,” I called after her.
She paused in the doorway. “I know you want to be treated, Gia. Try it out. It’s better than being lonely.”
“I don’t know…” I said. Then again, what did I have to lose? Awkward online dates and mediocre app hook-ups?
Astrid opened the bathroom door then came inside and took our arms. “Come on back to our seats, you two. The food is getting cold at the table.”
“We’re coming,” I said hurriedly, collecting my purse. Before I closed it, I took another glimpse down at the card. It was a chance for a change. I might be able to expand my prospects and find a man more compatible with me; I couldn’t just throw that away. I quickly tucked the card into my bag.