Creating a character can be a lot of work, but when that character decides to come alive, changes and gains a personality as you write, it’s really fun.Â The secondary character in Private Property, Sam Watson, did that to me while I was writing him.Â At first I pictured him as a dark and dangerous type – almost a Morpheus from the Matrix type character.Â Then he opened his mouth and suddenly he had a quirky sense of humor that dispelled all that darkness. Not dangerous. Not in the sense I’d originally intended.Â With his Georgian drawl, and laid back manner, he darned near took over the story, so in order to get him to cooperate, I had to promise he’d get a story all his own.
And he did, in fact Angela specifically asked about Sam having his own story in “the email” when she offered me the contract for Private Property.Â Sam was such a larger than life character, instead of settling for a novella, he insisted on a full length novel.Â He got one. Personal Protection’s almost 80,000 words long, all devoted to his story. And since he’s such a large man, I had to give him a heroine who could keep him in his place. Enter Rosalinda Maria Ramos. All 5’1″ of her. (Rosie insisted I add that inch. I question her veracity on that. Okay, maybe she is. When she’s wearing heels.)Â The two of them struck sparks, I loved writing their conversations, watching the byplay. Apart from writing their conversations as they butted heads, I enjoyed playing with stereotypes.
Since Sam is a former FBI agent who owns his own bodyguard company the immediate story that popped into my head was how he had to protect the heroine. Then I thought. Nah, that’s been done before. How can I change that up?Â What about the other way around? How would a 6’6 tall former FBI agent react if he’s the one being threatened, if he’s the one having to accept a bodyguard? Sam wasn’t thrilled with the idea.Â Especially when I put Rosie in charge of his team, responsible for guarding him. Oh, he doesn’t for a minute doubt that Rosie can protect him. That’s not the issue for him.Â What sticks in his craw, is that he thinks other people will figure he’s incapable of guarding himself. Rosie has her work cut out for her, dealing his ego …
Sam Watson excels at keeping other people safe. Now a stalker is targeting him, but so what? A few doctored photos and a couple threatening phone calls are no big deal. He can watch his own back. Then again, the view from behind the sexy spitfire assigned to protect him isnâ€™t so badâ€¦
Rosalinda Ramos has managed to keep her attraction to Hauberk Securityâ€™s owner tightly under wraps. Itâ€™s just as well he doesnâ€™t know. One slipâ€”in the bedroom or on the jobâ€”will cost her her heart and her career, so sheâ€™s got only one thing on her mind. Protect Sam, whether he wants it or not.
The stakesâ€”and the heatâ€”rise exponentially when she discovers Sam belongs to an exclusive sex clubâ€”one she must investigate for potential suspects. Suddenly she finds herself immersed in a world that pushes her boundaries.
Sam delights in leading Rosie deep into his sexual shadowsâ€”until they go one game too far. Making him wonder if he can allow the woman he loves to take a bullet for him.
There’s an excerpt below the cut … You can also watch the video trailer here.
Rosie checked the apartment before they let Sam enter. Theyâ€™d been monitoring the hallway since theyâ€™d arrived that afternoon and knew exactly who was home and who wasnâ€™t but she wasnâ€™t going to take any chances. Theyâ€™d coordinated with the Hauberk Security guards manning the front desk and had descriptions of all the regular tenants. Plus, while Kris and Andy were installing the extra hallway cameras, theyâ€™d discovered a high-pitched yapping down at 1206 started anytime someone opened a door, loud enough that they would have heard it even if someone hadnâ€™t been monitoring the cameras. The sensors on the terrace doors showed no breech, so they wouldâ€”shouldâ€”know if someone had scaled the wall or climbed in from another apartment. But even so, it was her job to make sure the perimeter hadnâ€™t been breeched and no one was laying in wait inside the apartment. Sheâ€™d be damned if sheâ€™d slack off when her boss was watching.
Once sheâ€™d given the all-clear, Sam walked into the living room and shrugged off his jacket. He tossed it over the back of one of the leather couches. She tried to inhale a lungful of air filled with his scent without him noticing. God, just being in the same room had her wanting to rip her clothes off and jump him.
When he realized sheâ€™d shut the door with her still inside, he frowned. â€œYou donâ€™t have to stay with me. I donâ€™t need a babysitter, Ms. Ramos.â€
â€œUntil we discover whoâ€™s making the threats, I want someone with you twenty-four/seven. Besides, Chad gave me orders to stick to you like glue.â€
A flash of his eyes told her he wished he could countermand his secondâ€™s order, but his clamped jaw told her heâ€™d swallowed his objection. God keep her from men who thought they were bulletproof.
He headed toward the kitchen sheâ€™d scoped out earlier. She couldnâ€™t help but be impressed by the granite counters, the cherry wood cabinets and the gleaming stainless steel appliances.
â€œYou want a beer?â€ He opened the fridge and stared. â€œWhat theâ€¦? You didnâ€™t have to shop for me.â€
â€œAside from a six-pack of Heineken, the fridge only contained a hunk of moldy cheddar and a half dozen boxes of take-out Chinese that were about to sprout legs and walk out on their own. I figured if we wanted to eat, Iâ€™d better order some groceries.â€ Not to mention sheâ€™d thrown anything out that had been opened in case the prowler had tampered with them. The right poison could kill him as efficiently as any bullet.
He poked through the Sub Zero. â€œChicken, cold cutsâ€¦hey, you bought pecan pie. Howâ€™d you know that was my favorite?â€
She shrugged, wondering at the warm and fuzzy feeling creeping through her. â€œLucky guess.â€
â€œThank you.â€ He lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to her knuckles. The fleeting touch zapped the warm and fuzzies to scorching flames.
There was a look on his face she couldnâ€™t quite fathom. A hungrinessâ€”not for the food sheâ€™d put in his refrigerator, but for her. It left her both excited and unnerved.
â€œF-for someone who has a kitchen as big as most peopleâ€™s apartments, and appliances my mother could only dream of, you sure donâ€™t look like you make use of it.â€ Ay bendito, heâ€™d actually made her stutter.
â€œItâ€™s sort of wasted on me. Unless I have someone to cook for that is. I make a mean Chicken Creole for two.â€ He removed a Heineken and cracked it open. â€œSo how come youâ€™re the one babysittinâ€™ me tonight, and not Walters or Campbell?â€
He lifted the beer and sipped then lowered the bottle and stared at her, frowning. â€œTell me you didnâ€™t agree to play a game of poker to determine who got stuck with me.â€
Sam chuckled. â€œHe sure doesâ€”I lost almost two thousand to him before I twigged to his game. That boyâ€™s slicker than owl shâ€”droppings.â€
â€œI was lucky. When I first joined Hauberk up in New York, Rick Sparks taught me how to spot someone cheating. So I caught Andy dealing from the bottom on the second hand we played. Iâ€™ve never trusted him with a deck of cards since.â€
â€œYeah, Rickâ€™s pretty slick too.â€ He placed the beer bottle on the counter, turned it in precise quarter turns.
â€œBut you never did tell me how you ended up with the short straw tonight?â€
â€œWe figured it might raise some eyebrows if people found him sharing the apartment with you. Easier to explain a woman coming and going in your apartment than a man.â€
At least thatâ€™s what she thought Andy had said, but heâ€™d managed to twist and turn the conversation around in such a convoluted path, she wasnâ€™t entirely sure what his point had been. Sheâ€™d given in because she knew Kris was still concerned about his joke about her checking the mail and wouldnâ€™t want to face Sam just yet.Â She already knew that sheâ€™d made a mistake in agreeing to stay in the same apartment with him. Sheâ€™d go to sleep smelling the cologne that subtly permeated the sheets knowing the only thing separating her from him in that custom made bed of his was two thin sheets of drywall and a couple of metal two by fours. That and her willpower. Which was threatening to take up sleepwalking.
She realized he was talking and forced herself to focus. â€œâ€”day and age, I donâ€™t think many people blink at two guys sharing an apartment.â€ He lifted the beer then paused and frowned. â€œYou sure you donâ€™t want a beer?â€
Rosie leaned her hip against the counter and decided to deliberately put some space between them, mentally if not physically. â€œYou know, earlier today Kris wondered if maybe you were trying out some new form of employee evaluation. Is he right? Because frankly, if this is all your idea of a test, I find your methods insulting.â€
â€œWhat makes you think it might be?â€
â€œDrinking is against the rules for an operative protecting their principal. Yet you deliberately offered me a beerâ€”twice.â€
â€œItâ€™s not a test. I was trying to be hospitableâ€”itâ€™s how my momma raised me. My daddy taught me to look after myselfâ€”which is why having youâ€”anyoneâ€”babysit me while theyâ€™re waiting around for someone to try to take a potshot at me sticks in my craw.â€
â€œThatâ€™s precisely what Hauberk hired me to do. Itâ€™s understood that weâ€™re agreeing to protect our principals by whatever means necessary.â€
â€œYeah, wellâ€¦if it comes down to taking a bullet for me, donâ€™t.â€
â€œIâ€™m supposed to let them shoot Hauberkâ€™s owner and president?â€ She crossed her arms and waited for him to answer.
He lifted the bottle to his lips and hesitated, his gaze dropping down to her cleavage and the three buttons sheâ€™d left undone. He muttered something under his breath that sounded rather like â€œdeath of himâ€ but she couldnâ€™t be sure.
Her theory about him having a death wish started niggling again. Had he done something he was ashamed of? Did he feel he deserved a bullet for whatever heâ€™d done?
â€œHow will you protect me if youâ€™re dead?â€ he demanded. â€œIâ€™m not the president with over two hundred agents who can jump in if one falls. If someone shoots me, youâ€™ll follow standard Hauberk procedureâ€”keep yourself safe, and get me the hell out of Dodge. You can get me medical care once youâ€™re clear of any danger.â€ He finished his beer and stashed the empty bottle in a bin under the sink then stalked out to the living room.
Once heâ€™d flipped on the large flat screen to a football game, she knew it was time to change tactics. She wandered around the apartment, waiting for a commercial break before picking up a picture of a woman with similar golden skin and high cheekbones. She already knew who it was, sheâ€™d been through his file, but wanted to keep him relaxed. Hoping to project a casual manner, she asked, â€œSheâ€™s pretty, who is she?â€
â€œThatâ€™s my little sister, Sarah.â€ His defensiveness dropped, pride filling his voice. â€œShe graduated medical school last year and is doinâ€™ her residency in Atlanta.â€
â€œAnd this lady?â€ She picked up the picture of a Hawaiian woman in traditional Hawaiian garb with dark hair and high cheekbones, and Samâ€™s beautiful smile.
â€œThatâ€™s my momma.â€ His entire face softened as he looked at the picture. â€œAfter Pop died, she moved back to Hawaii.â€ His brow creased. â€œIf she calls, donâ€™t tell her that youâ€™re here to protect me, all right?â€
â€œSheâ€™ll get upset?â€
Sam snorted. â€œMore likely sheâ€™ll get on a plane and come here to try to run the detail herself. She was a nurse with the Armyâ€”served in â€™Nam for two toursâ€”thatâ€™s where she met Pop. I swear sheâ€™s a mind reader because you canâ€™t get away with anything when sheâ€™s around.â€
The next picture was one of Mrs. Watson and a small boy with a full head of black curls. Before she could ask, Sam sneered. â€œYeah, thatâ€™s me. And if you say how cute I was, Iâ€™ll kick you out.â€
â€œI wonâ€™t.â€ But she wanted to.
He ran a hand over his stubble. â€œAnd donâ€™t tell me youâ€™d like me to grow it out because Iâ€™m tall enough as it is without lookinâ€™ like someone parked a goddamned poodle on my head.â€
Rosie couldnâ€™t help but laugh as she moved along the mantel and picked up the next picture. Sam in leather pants and motorcycle jacket, standing by a black and chrome Harley, the Washington Monument in the background. It was the look of adoration on his face as he smiled at a curvy redhead wrapped up in his arms that had caught Rosieâ€™s attention when sheâ€™d first seen the picture earlier that day.
â€œThatâ€™s Jill Hoskins.â€ A bleak look crossed his face as he turned his head to stare out the window. â€œShe died two weeks after that picture was taken.â€
Carefully setting the picture back on the mantel, Rosie murmured, â€œIâ€™m sorry.â€
â€œYeah. So am I,â€ he replied even quieter, one of his hands rubbing idly at his chest. After a moment, he hit the remote and unmuted the television, focusing on the scrimmage instead.
She waited until halftime before speaking again. â€œHas Chad told you about Troy loaning us one of his operatives to help out?â€
â€œYeah, Scott Phillips.â€ Samâ€™s scowl and something that sounded like it would be a particularly filthy curse in what might have been German. â€œIf anyone should be on vacation, itâ€™s Scott. Instead Troy sics him on me. Do him a favorâ€”give him a pile of files to check out or something. Keep him busy, will ya? He sits around with nothinâ€™ to do, heâ€™ll drive himself crazy second-guessing himself.â€
Without another word, he stalked from the kitchen and headed down the hall to his bedroom. Obviously she needed to take a look at Phillipsâ€™ file herself and find out why he deserved a vacation. A burnt out operative definitely wouldnâ€™t help protect Sam.
Thirty minutes later, a rhythmic noise had her peeking around the door. Wearing only a pair of shorts, Sam was working out on a rowing machine. His shoulder muscles rippled and his thighs bulged as he hauled on the pulley. Rosie stood in the doorway, entranced by a bead of sweat as it rolled down his forehead and slid down his neck.
Heâ€™s your boss, her conscience hissed. She fled to the safety of the living room, wondering if she was fleeing Sam, or the strength of her desire.
If you’re interested in reading more, you can read the rest of the excerpt here
- About the Author
- Posts in the Past
A former nurse, assistant to a chief of security, computer instructor, and tech support analyst, Leah Braemel is the surrounded by men â€“ her husband and two sons. She swears the dust bunnies that are taking over her house are all male too, except for the rate at which they breed â€“ there has to be a female hiding amongst them somewhere. In order to give the bunnies privacy, Leah hides in her office writing steamy romances. Her latest release, Personal Protection, is now available. To find out about her other stories, visit her website at www.LeahBraemel.com.