Saturday Excerpt: Fast Burn by Lori Foster
We definitely recommend you start off your weekend with a strong, protective hero. After all, what better way to keep things exciting? Brand Berry of Fast Burn will definitely raise your temperature, so make sure you have a cold drink nearby when you dive into this excerpt!
About Fast Burn:
For the woman who’s his perfect match, he’s willing to break the rules…
The moment Brand Berry meets beautiful, driven Sahara Silver, the connection between them is electric. It’s also something he can’t pursue. Sahara wants him, sure—to join Body Armor, where his MMA skills, size and cocky attitude make him perfect for her elite crew of bodyguards. For Sahara, the agency always comes first, and Brand needs more. Yet when she’s kidnapped by men searching for her missing brother, he doesn’t hesitate.
Somewhere along the way, flirting with Brand for the sake of business turned very personal. Despite his refusal to join Body Armor, it’s Brand who steps up when Sahara needs him most. Now there’s no more time for games and no point denying the hunger they both feel. They’ll escape together or not at all. But if they survive, can Sahara finally surrender control to claim this blazing passion?
Sahara Silver sat behind her enormous desk in her posh office on one of the upper floors of the elite Body Armor agency. Bright October sunshine splashed through tall windows. A large vase of fresh f lowers, delivered that morning from a very content client, filled the air with sweetness.
For the most part, she was content.
She ran the most elite security agency in the area, probably in the whole country. To stand out from the crowd, she’d taken a different approach in selecting her bodyguards—sexy competence. To prove the old mantra that “sex sells,” she’d acquired a trifecta of studly employees, ex-MMA fighters with ability, skill and yes, sexiness. Her agency was recently instrumental in solving a high-profile case, but she was no less satisfied with the outcome of other, more personal, cases.
Body Armor saw results. Clients could come to her with a wide array of needs and know they’d be in good hands.
Yes, her life would almost be perfect…if her brother weren’t missing, presumed dead by everyone except her.
Once she found her brother—because in her heart she knew he was still alive—he’d reclaim control of the company he’d founded. He wouldn’t be thrilled with the changes she’d implemented over the past year and a half, but always, from the time she was a know-it-all preteen, he’d encouraged her independence, her fearlessness and her confidence. Scott would understand why she’d had to put her stamp on the agency once she’d inherited it.
Not that it mattered. She’d turn it all over in a nanosecond to have him back. She’d live in a cardboard box on the street if she could just hug her brother one more time.
“Brand Berry is here to see you.”
Surprised, Sahara glanced at Enoch, her right-hand man and very good friend. “Brand is here?”
She immediately felt flustered. Absurd. “I wasn’t expecting him. Did I miss a meeting?”
“No.” Enoch lowered his voice in a conspiratorial way. “He said he only needed a minute of your time when you were free, and since you’re free right now—”
“Yes, of course. Show him in.” Even as she said it, a tiny unfamiliar thrill ran through her.
She’d made a point of surrounding herself with some of the finest male specimens on the planet—professional fighters that she’d turned into prime bodyguards, each of them in high demand. It was her vision for Body Armor, to get rid of the stuffy Men in Black clones and offer instead real men, with real muscles, certifiable machismo and lethal ability with or without a weapon.
No, she didn’t fire the previously established bodyguards; that would have been disloyal to her brother, who’d hired them. She simply reassigned them to the more boring cases, and overall they were happy with that.
Anything to do with a celebrity, a dignitary or a politician her elite team now covered.
She desperately wanted to add Brand to that team.
Thinking she’d have a minute, she was just circling out from behind her desk when Brand stepped in around Enoch. Instead of waiting in the guest area, as a client would do, he must have been hovering right outside her door.
Her toes curled in her high heels.
Enoch was on the small side, five-two, slight of build, with average brown hair and eyes. It was his keen intelligence and attention to detail that made him so perfect at his job.
But his size didn’t really matter when he stood next to a man who made most everyone seem small, her included. Brand was a big and badass professional MMA fighter with a solid steel frame of muscle all wrapped up in a cocky attitude.
Faded jeans molded to his thick thighs, going well with his running shoes and an ancient Aerosmith T-shirt that stretched over his chest and broad shoulders. Reflective sunglasses pushed to the top of his head made his golden-brown hair messy. Darker brown eyes held her captive as he murmured, “Sahara.”
Leaning a hip against her desk, she drank in the rugged, virile sight of him. “Be still my heart.”
Wary exasperation rooted him to the spot.
Yes, she always spoke her mind. Why not? She was the boss and her employees knew her interest in them wasn’t personal. Of course, Brand wasn’t yet an employee.
Putting her hands together, her fingers extended to frame him in a square, she remarked, “A photo of you looking just like that could launch my new line of advertisement.”
He crossed his arms. “Advertisement for what?”
“Bodyguards with ability and sex appeal.”
He’d look great on a billboard, maybe with a gun in his hand. She could already see it. Maybe she should ask Enoch to keep a camera at his desk for occasions like this?
When Brand just stood there, his expression amused, she smiled. “Tell me you’ve come to give me good news.”
She’d been after him for a few months now to join the agency, constantly throwing out bait, trying to reel him in. He’d nibbled, but he wasn’t caught. Not yet.
“I came to talk about that, yes.”
Elation conflicted with disappointment. There were times when she hoped they could take a different path from employer and employee, one more personal, intimate.
But in the end, the business came first. Always.
She hadn’t given up hope for her brother, and when he finally returned, he deserved to find the company thriving.
She’d put her heart and soul into making that happen. There was no time for anything else.
“Perfect.” She tried to be excited, but it wasn’t easy.
“Actually,” Brand said, coming to stand very near her, “I’ve been offered another fight.”
That gave her pause. She’d thought he was done with the Supreme Battle Challenge, better known as the SBC, for very difficult, personal reasons that he’d shared with her, but not many other people. “I thought you needed to be around more for your mom.”
“My mother,” he corrected, “not my mom.”
For Brand, there was a huge difference between the two. Sahara knew because he’d explained it to her. “Right, sorry.”
Still, the woman had suffered cardiac arrest and, due to complications, had almost died. Personal conflicts aside, Brand had overseen her care. “But don’t you need to—”
“I decided an influx of cash would be better.”
So he could pay for what was needed, instead of getting so closely involved? That, too, made sense given their backgrounds. “I see.”
“The SBC would reward me for taking the fight with a nice bonus.”
“Oh?” If that’s all it took, she could offer some signing bonuses of her own. “So how long do I have to wait for you to finish up—”
“It would be my last fight, but,” he said with gentle emphasis, before she could make assumptions, “I’m not agreeing to be a bodyguard.”
Her stomach bottomed out. This felt too much like losing, and by God, she did not lose. Determination stiffened her spine. “Tell me what it is you need.” More money, obviously. She could swing that. “Designated time off? Better benefits for dependents?” Working around that would be trickier, but she’d figure it out.
Looking for more bodyguard heroes? We have the perfect list for you! If not, let us know in the comments what you’re reading.