All I want is forever with you...
Neo Zuberi is from a long line of “Protectors.” Like his ancestors before him, his body is a shield, built to protect and serve. And then he meets her. Chloe is everything he wants in a life partner. Unexpectedly, protecting her is becoming his greatest challenge. She’s earned the ire of a dangerous crime syndicate and has also become a target of Neo’s mortal enemy. Through every twist and turn, the threat is imminent and overwhelming. Neo has always been the resource everyone relies on to assist them during perilous situations. Now he needs his SEAL brothers and some of their formidable friends to support him in confronting these deadly foes. How does he convince the love of his life that spending forever with him is worth the risk?
He's beyond anything I've ever expected...
As a CIA agent, Chloe Pierre doesn’t scare easily and usually confronts danger head-on, never needing to be rescued by anyone. She doesn’t need a man to slay her dragon. And then Neo rescues her when she’s already accepted her impending death. He’s beyond anything she’s ever expected or hoped for. His every look, every touch promises the love her heart has been craving. How can she trust in love that’s this strong and has come so fast?
Chloe Pierre stopped breathing, paralyzed with shock at the sight of the gang of men coming toward her in black facial masks, military-style attire, and combat boots. They were heavily armed with a series of guns and knives. She looked at the three men tasked with ensuring her safety and immediately looked away. The stark fear on their faces, except for the traitor in their group, made her brace with the knowledge of her impending death. She didn’t blame the men for that show of emotion; after all, they had to know that they were woefully outnumbered and out gunned. The two courtroom assistants who also flanked her, both men in their early thirties, didn’t deserve to die. It didn’t help that they were descending the steps from the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris courthouse either. They were like sitting ducks on an open pond.
With the international journalists camped out around the court every day and the number of Parisians interested in this case, they’d never expected to be attacked in the open like this. There wasn’t even the cover of darkness to shield their assailants from identification. This brazen display spoke volumes about the potential corruption in the city. The usual presence of police officers outside the courthouse was conveniently absent.
Chloe briefly thought of her family in Haiti, who were dependent on the income she provided. Her mother and siblings would be devastated by her death, of course. Her mother had eight children, and Chloe was the oldest offive brothers and two sisters. At twenty-seven years old, she’d been financially contributing to the care of her siblings more now than ever. However, she was gratified that even in the event of her death they would continue to be taken care of financially. Not only would they receive an insurance settlement from the French government that she temporarily worked for, they would also receive insurance and pension from the American intelligence agency that secretly employed her.
Too bad that she’d contacted her friend and British agent Malika Anderson, aka Duchess, only yesterday with a tip and her fears about the leaks in the investigation and case. Duchess would have been forced to choose between the safety of thousands of people and the safety of her friend. Again, she didn’t blame Malika for choosing the people. As agents, they made that choice daily and knew that, at any moment, they would have to give up their lives for their country. It was telling, though, that she hadn’t thought to call her boss, Polo Garcia, who was also her boyfriend. Yeah, after this mission, she really needed to think long and hard about his nonchalant attitude about her safety and his lackluster approach in resourcing this operation. She no longer had confidence in his ability to protect her or even perform his job effectively. Everything that he’d tried to do had been apparently blocked.
This case that she was current prosecuting had seen two previous judges and prosecutors killed, along with the investigative teams. This time, the French, American, and British governments wanted this nightmare to be over and the men convicted. She was sorry that she, too, had failed to bring to justice the leader of the Albanian gang that had been plaguing Marseille for over thirty years.
Her musings had taken mere seconds, and she watched dispassionately as the gang of men positioned their weapons to shoot. Chloe wasn’t afraid to die, but she wasn’t about to go down without a fight either!
Malika stared at the text she’d received from Chloe with escalating trepidation. While she had cut the amount of missions she took with MI6 or CIA, she still logistically assisted several agents from those agencies. Agent Chloe Pierre was one of those agents. Much like the enigma and reclusive that Malika had been, Agent Pierre was the same. Like most CIA agents, Chloe usually worked undercover. Her records and history were buried deep and remained impossible to access. Chloe had been on an assignment for the past few months working as a prosecutor in the French courts to convict a brutal and dangerous gang leader. The British and American governments’ interest in this Albanian gang stemmed from their suspicion that the gang was responsible for a string of random bombings throughout London, Washington, Los Angeles, and New York. Thousands of people of varying nationalities and demographics had been killed in this yearlong nightmare in Britain and America. A task force of three intelligence agencies— MI6, CIA, and Mossad—had been created, and key agents had been deployed to track the terrorists. Chloe, as an international lawyer, stepped into the role as a French prosecutor without raising any eyebrows. Her Haitian heritage also helped the authenticity of her French accent. What made her so invaluable was her ability to blend into most societies’ legal professions and languages with no difficulty. As an international lawyer, she was well respected for her proficiency in complex criminal law in numerous jurisdictions.
Malika read the cryptic text again from Agent Pierre and tried her best not to worry about her friend. Her petite stature and striking African features often misled men about her lethal fighting skills and her ability with a gun.
Agent Pierre: mission yielded next target; stop Twickenham; less than twenty-four hours; trust no one.
Duchess: Where in Twickenham?
Agent Pierre: Not clear and no time to ascertain. We are targeted as well.
Duchess: How long do we have?
Agent Pierre: Hours
Duchess: For Twickenham or you?
Agent Pierre: Both
Duchess: I’m getting you out of there!
Agent Pierre: Too late, my team has been compromised.
Duchess: Can you get to a safe place?
Agent Pierre: Negative.
Duchess: Don’t give me that shit. Get out of there!
Duchess: Are you there?
After half an hour of unsuccessfully trying to get a response from Chloe, Malika called her husband, Sean, ex-Navy SEAL but often secret law enforcer.
“Sean, I need your help,” Malika said into the phone without a greeting.
“Anything for you, baby. What’s up?” Sean asked cheerfully.
“I have an agent in trouble.”
“I thought your days of getting me to do MI6 jobs were over.”
Malika knew not to get upset at Sean’s seemingly carefree demeanor. She’d learned a long time ago that his teasing smile hid a lethal, dangerous soldier. “There may be an incident in Twickenham. Can you guys check it out?”
“When you say an incident, are you talking terrorism?”
“I don’t know.” Malika sighed in frustration. “I don’t know what we’re supposed to be looking for, but my agent sent a text, and there’s a huge rugby tournament there today. England is hosting France.”
“I’m online with Neo now. He’s wants you to send him what you received from the agent.”
“Thanks, honey. Can you guys also help me get my agent out of France?”
“You do know that we’re not your private SEAL team, right?” Sean laughed.
“I’m sorry, honey. I know this is the third time I’ve asked you guys to go out on a mission in the past month.” She sighed in remorse. “I wish I had another option. I certainly hate putting you guys in the crosshairs of British intelligence.”
Sean laughed. “Don’t worry, babe, we love pissing them off.”
“Dominic’s not going to be happy about this.”
“He’s never happy.” Sean chuckled. “I’ll smack Dominic if he gives you a hard time.”
Malika shook her head as Sean rung off, laughing at his own joke. Dominic, their team leader, wasn’t known for his sense of humor or patience with incompetence in the intelligence agencies. He wasn’t likely to deny her request to deal with this issue, but he wasn’t going to be happy about it either.
Ten hours later, the game had just begun when Dominic and Sean found five bombs throughout the rugby stadium. The bombs had been sophisticated and strategically place to cause maximum losses. If they had been successfully activated, they would have killed over eighty thousand people in attendance.
Now she was waiting on reports from Neo and Rico, who had left for Paris to find Agent Pierre.
Malika had begun to worry when she got a feed advising of the carnage on the steps of a Parisian courthouse. Lawyers and innocent passersby had been killed.
Neo, where are you?Malika punched the message into her phone. Thirty minutes later, she was still staring at the one grey tick on the message indicating that while the message had left her phone, Neo’s phone hadn’t received it, nor had he read it. She tried Rico next and got the same.
Neo stood a few feet away from the courthouse where Malika had assured him her agent would be located. At the sight of Agent Pierre descending the steps, for the first time in his life he froze in the middle of a mission. She captivated and called to every masculine instinct in his body. She wore a crème dress that fitted her body like a glove, darted at the waist with gold buckle accents. The pencil skirt had a sassy slit on her left thigh, and the bodice had a V-neck cut-out at the collar that gave a discreet hint of cleavage. Her sleek, curvy body immediately made his pulse quicken in awareness. Her hair cascaded about her shoulders in silky dark waves. She carried herself as though she were an African princess, beautiful, regal, composed. Her mocha skin glistened in the brilliant French sunlight. Even with the emergence of what appeared to be armed attackers, she didn’t change the calm expression on her face or the confident posture she displayed. He was mesmerized by her stunning beauty.
Neo pulled the hoodie over his head and a half mask over his mouth and nose to obscure his face as best he could. With the number of cameras about to pick up what would go down, he couldn’t afford for anyone to realize who and what he was. In order to save her, the world was about to witness something he’d kept hidden from even his SEAL mates. Now he was glad Rico had stayed with Dominic and Sean to help their mission. This scene had death all over it and he couldn’t be distracted trying to ensure Rico’s safety too.
He moved silently and swiftly through the crowd as people around him gasped with shock at the sight of the drawn weapons aimed at the lead prosecutor and her team. With all eyes on the gunmen, no one noticed his approach. The sound of bullets filled the air within seconds of Neo reaching her. She screamed as he shielded her by wrapping his arms around her. With a speed he hadn’t anticipated, she twisted out of his hold and tried to take him to the ground. If he’d been less trained and not as strong as he was, he wouldn’t have been able to restrain her. Ignoring her struggles against his chest, Neo pivoted on the balls of his feet and fired his own weapon while lifting her and making his way back up the steps.
Bullets rained on him, and he lost count of the number of bullets that pierced his skin. Pain ricocheted throughout his body; however, he forced himself not to react. He doggedly brandished his weapon at any threat in their path, as several attackers now blocked the way to the courthouse.
Chloe stopped struggling as soon as she seemed to realize he was trying to protect her and instead twisted until she freed her hand. She reached between her thighs and pulled out a gun with an agility he didn’t expect. With a precision he could only marvel at, she brandished the Sig Sauer in her palm with lethal accuracy, taking out a few of their attackers behind him. Her skill was both surprising and impressive. She wrapped strong thighs around his waist and moved into differing positions with incredible flexibility and speed as she fired her weapon. He was not only distracted with admiration at her fierceness with a gun he was also distracted from the feel of her softness and feminine scent filling his senses. Their eyes met for a brief sizzling moment. That quickly and at that moment, he felt the most intense grip around his heart. It was as though the wind had been knocked out of his lungs by a sledgehammer.
Only when he felt another bullet launch into his side inches from her thigh did he force himself to refocus. His desire to protect her now had a new significance. Especially since their assailants weren’t content to simply fire on them. Men started charging toward them. Neo wasted no time in showing them what a bad idea that was. He fired with deadly resolve at any attacker who got within a few yards of them.
Neo had known as soon as he came upon the scene that this had been a setup. Her security team had already been cut down. However, one had miraculously survived to aim his gun at her. Chloe barely gave him a glance as she expertly fired a bullet between his eyes. Neo again had to check his impulse to react to her skill and cool.
He held her tightly against him as he sprinted through the doors of the courthouse. Parisian security forces, or police nationale as they were called, immediately fired on him.
“No!” Chloe wrapped her arms around him as if she could protect him in that manner. “He’s with me.”
However, it was already too late to stop the three bullets that found their mark in his shoulder, his leg, and side.
Neo glared down at the officers who’d shot him. They stared at him in horror, realizing that their bullets hadn’t brought him down.
“Put me down,” Chloe demanded.
Neo immediately let her slide down his body. He couldn’t prevent the hiss of air from his lips as pain sliced through him.
“I’m so sorry,” she murmured anxiously. Standing on the tips of her toes, she grazed her fingers gently over the wound on his shoulder. “Are you okay?”
She held his gaze, and her honey-colored eyes were murky with concern.
Neo knew that if he opened his mouth he’d sound as though he had a huge frog lodged in his throat. Every time he gazed into her eyes his throat closed, his breathing ceased, and he didn’t want to find out whether he could speak or not. At the feel of her soft fingers, he was completely weak in the knees. Sean would be laughing his ass off if he was here to witness my downfall. Un-fuckin’-believable!
With the sound of increased gunfire and approaching footsteps at the entrance, Neo was forced to focus again on the attackers. He grabbed her hand and pulled her along the hall until he found a door leading into a vacant office. He pushed her inside.
“Wait! Don’t leave me here,” Chloe called out to him as he closed the door behind her and locked it by bending the knob to make it useless. She couldn’t leave and no one could enter.
Neo quickly sprinted back toward the incoming threat.
The security forces were fast losing to the attackers’ more superior firepower. The officers were equipped with revolvers while the men advancing on them held automatic weapons and were quickly decimating them. The thought of any of them reaching Chloe and hurting her enraged him. It was as though he had shifted into a different gear, where he felt no pain, he was fearless, stronger, faster, invincible, and, most of all, her shield. His aim was never truer and his fighting skill never deadlier. Ignoring the sea of onlookers who would be witness to his unusual powers, he laid waste to any remaining threat to Chloe.
When all was silent on the steps, there was a sea of dead bodies and Neo had melted away as though he were a phantom. He had to find a place to heal.