PROTECTED BY A SEAL (HOT SEALS)
As a Navy SEAL, Rick Mann fought his way to hell and back, but he’s never faced a challenge quite like protecting Sierra Cox. She’s spoiled, she’s annoying. . . and he’s never wanted a woman more. That’s a problem for so many reasons. At the top of that list is that he needs to keep his head in the game because even though Sierra doesn’t take anything seriously, including Rick, the threats on her life are very real.
Some days Rick doesn’t know who he hates more—Sierra or the person trying to kill her. But he only wants to take one of them to bed…
Protected by a SEAL Chapter 6 EXCERPT
The knock on the door interrupted Sierra’s attempt at finding peace and quiet in the midst of this stalker hell that had become her reality . . . that is if she could call the noise a knock.
It was much more like a pounding. One so loud she heard it all the way from the bathtub in her suite.
“Roger? Are you out there?” She yelled the question through the closed bathroom door but since the noise continued, she had to assume he’d gone.
He had said he might run downstairs to grab a Starbucks quick while she tried to relax in the tub.
When he’d second-guessed that decision, saying he was afraid to leave her alone even for a few minutes before the security got here, she’d insisted he was crazy. She was locked in not just the suite, but also in the bathroom. What could happen?
Since the relaxation portion of her bath was definitely done now after the interruption, she sighed and heaved herself out of the water.
It had begun to get too cool for her taste anyway. Give her a scorching bath and she was a happy girl.
Standing, she reached for the towel as the water dripped off her skin tinged pink from the hot bath.
As the pounding continued, she opened the bathroom door and shouted, “One minute!”
Whoever was at the door might not be able to hear her but it was the best she could do at the moment. She wrestled the robe hanging on the back of the door over her wet arms and tied the belt tight as the pounding, thankfully, stopped.
“About time.” She mumbled the complaint under her breath to the empty room as she padded barefoot past the king-size bed and through the door into the living room of the suite.
The sound of a keycard in the lock of the door leading to the hall had her stopping dead in her tracks. It could be Roger, coming back in. But he wouldn’t have knocked. He had a key.
What if it was her stalker? He could have been knocking to see if she was inside and alone. Now that it was apparent she was, he was coming in. He could have knocked Roger out and taken his key. Or possibly stolen a master key from housekeeping.
Horrible scenarios flew through her head as she stood and waited, helpless, for the door to open and reveal who was on the other side. What fate awaited her.
Panicked, she looked for the nearest object she could use to defend herself. The lamp on the desk was glass. That would just break over the stalker’s head and make him madder.
Why was there no pointy, metal letter opener? Then she could stab—
“Hello?” The deep male voice had her heart stopping.
“I have a gun. Don’t come any closer.” She was an actor, and a good one, so the idle threat sounded authentic to her. And dammit, tomorrow she was getting herself a gun for real. She didn’t care what Roger said about it.
Whoever it was must have believed her lie about the gun. The door to the hallway remained partly open, but he didn’t walk through. He stayed shielded safely behind the heavy wood. “Miss Cox. I’m Rick Mann from GAPS.”
What the fuck was GAPS? “I don’t care who you are. Why do you have a key to my room?”
“I met with your manager in the lobby. He gave me a key. Look, if I could just come in—“
“No! Stay where you are. I’m calling Roger.”
“Sierra, I’m right here.” Roger’s voice had her able to breathe again, but she was no less angry and her heart continued to pound.
“Why did you give him a key?” She frowned at her manager as he came through the door, followed by a hulk of a man who dwarfed him in height and size.
“Because he’s going to need one if he’s going to be coming in and out with you for the foreseeable future.” Roger’s calm demeanor about a strange, not to mention large man coming into her suite while she was in the tub made Sierra madder.
“If is the operative word in that statement. I haven’t decided if I’ll be going with his services.” She spat the words as she eyed the man, who had gone from watching the exchange between her and Roger to visually surveying the room.
“I can assure you he’s more than qualified.” As Roger spoke, this Rick person closed the door to the hallway.
“Hold on. I didn’t say you could stay.”
“You can decide if I stay or go while the door is secured. There’s someone at least watching you, possibly out to harm you. Let’s not leave the door open for him to do it, okay?”
The hulk was right, of course, but for some reason that only pissed her off. “Fine.”
He moved farther into the room, heading for the windows. Lifting the curtain, he glanced outside, before letting it fall back into place and adjusting it so there was no crack visible between the two panels. He glanced up at the ceiling, squinting at the smoke detector mounted there.
When he pulled a chair over and stood on it to get a closer look at the mechanism, she couldn’t keep quiet any longer. “What are you doing?”
“Checking for surveillance.” He glanced her direction before focusing on dismantling the hotel’s property.
“Holy shit. I never even considered that.” Roger sighed. “See, Sierra. This is why we need him and his company.”
“Be careful. They’ll probably charge me for that if you break it.”
“I won’t break it.” This time he didn’t even look at her when he spoke, which was probably better since there were now wires hanging out of the ceiling.
“If you get electrocuted, it’s not my fault.”
He laughed, surprising her. Then, the device was back where it belonged. Intact and looking none the worse for his tampering. Even the little red light was blinking away as usual.
Rick stepped down off the chair and moved it back to where he’d gotten it. “Finished and without being electrocuted. Sorry to disappoint you.” He turned to Roger. “There’s no camera in that, but I’d like to bring in equipment and sweep the room for anything that I might miss in a manual inspection.”
Roger’s eyes widened. “You think someone might have planted a bug in here?”
The blond beast dipped his head. “It’s possible. That’s how they could be getting tipped off as to her schedule and movements. People move easily in and out of hotel rooms. House keeping. Maintenance. Anyone could have been in here while you all were out.”
And Roger had accused her of being paranoid in the past? This guy took the prize for paranoia.
“Mr. Mann, no one has to bug my room to know my schedule. Between fans and paparazzi, my every move is broadcast all over social media in seconds.”
He lifted one shoulder, as if he was too lazy for a full shrug. “I’d think that would be one reason why you’d at least want privacy in your own room.”
“Bring in the equipment.” As Roger authorized this sweep, Sierra had to think that bugs—of the surveillance variety, not the other kind—would be less intrusive than Mr. Six-Foot-Five here.
Even if he did have blue eyes and blonde hair and muscles that made his short-sleeved collared shirt fit a little too tightly.
Men like him were a dime a dozen in Hollywood and not a one had ever tempted her. Sierra knew from personal experiences that there was always some flaw. A huge deal breaker that made the single life preferable to pairing off with any one of them. If they weren’t gay, they were assholes.
Her personal guard dog didn’t give off a gay vibe, but he sure had the cocky aura blaring off him like a bad stink.
One thing she hated was a man who acted like a know-it-all. And worse than that was one who was a dummy and still acted superior to her, all because he was bigger and stronger because he had more muscles than she did.
She wasn’t going to put up with it. Not in her own home—or her home away from home for the remainder of this shoot.
“I’ll call now and see about getting that equipment over here.” Mr. Mann, who was so obviously overfilled with testosterone even his name reiterated his masculinity, moved to the other side of the room to make a call on his cell phone.
Sierra moved closer to Roger. “Where did you get this guy?”
“Guardian Angel Protection. They’re a local company.”
Local. That figured. She scowled. “No doubt.”
“They have excellent references.”
“You checked?” she asked.
“Of course, I checked.” A deep furrow creased Roger’s brow. “I even spoke to someone in Senator Greenwood’s office in Washington just to be sure. This is your safety we’re talking about here, Sierra. I’m taking it very seriously. And so is the owner of the security company, which is why he agreed to get someone here tonight, rather than tomorrow.”
She shrugged. “It’s not like we needed him here tonight. I’m just going to go to bed early.”
“And won’t you sleep better knowing he’s out here, on watch? I know I sure will.”
“He’s going to be right here in my living room all night long?” Outside in the hallway would be fine, but a stranger inside her suite was too close for comfort.
“Yes, Sierra. That’s what round the clock protection entails. Day and night. I thought you understood that.”
“I guess I didn’t consider all the implications.”
Roger shook his head, before he drew her to him in a hug. “You don’t have to. That’s why I’m here.”
“You, and now my own personal Ken doll on steroids with an attitude.”
Roger’s eyes widened. “I know, right? He is Ken doll cute but with a GI Joe kind of edge to him.”
Sierra let out a laugh. “Then maybe you should stay here all night too. You know, to supervise his performance.”
“I wish.” Roger glanced at the brute on the phone and then sighed. “Unfortunately, I don’t think he’s interested in me.”
“The only thing he does seem interested in is surveillance equipment, so don’t feel bad. In fact, he’s so damn perfect, maybe he’s a cyborg or something.”
Roger chuckled. “Hey, if this drought in my love life continues for much longer, a cyborg might be an option.”
“You work too hard. That’s your problem.”
He lifted a brow. “Sorry. Can’t help that. My boss is a slave driver.”
Sierra snorted. “If I was in charge around here, GI Joe wouldn’t currently be inspecting my heating unit while on the phone ordering a delivery of bug detection equipment like it’s a pizza.”
Roger turned to her. “You had to say that? Now I want pizza. We never got around to having dinner.”
She laughed. “Might as well order one. Or better make it two. I bet Mr. Manly-Man eats a lot.”
That was the only way to get muscles that large. Lots of food, in addition to pumping iron for hours a day. The bastard could probably eat all the carbs he wanted and not gain an ounce of fat.
Sierra resented the massive intrusion in her life for a whole new reason now.
The thought of having him outside her door all night long while she was trying to sleep had her craving comfort food in massive amounts. But the knowledge of what carbs did to her body had her saying to Roger, “Order me a salad along with that pizza.”
“You got it.” Roger whipped out his cell phone while Sierra watched the new man in her life continue to hold a conversation she couldn’t hear with someone on his cell phone.
It figured he was a fine specimen. Probably nothing between the ears, but from the neck down his muscles were enough to have her remembering keenly how long it had been since she’d had a steady boyfriend.
And in her position, one-night stands were out of the question. Nope. Her life in the public spotlight meant she couldn’t gain even an ounce without speculation in the tabloids that she had a baby bump.
Sierra sighed with frustration. No good food. No sex. No life.
She did have some really great shoes though. That counted for something. Right?
Next up: LOVED BY A SEAL