When I wrote my WILL COOK FOR LOVE series, there was one character who popped into two of the books that I absolutely loved, Private Eye Rick Bannerman. Cocky, self-deprecating, of course handsome, and with a very dark past, I wanted to give him an HEA of his own and a woman who could stand toe to toe with him in every circumstance. A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: RICK, was born from that premise. It was my first ROMANTIC SUSPENSE and the next book in the series, AIDEN, is coming out soon, so I figured today would be a good day to give Rick and Abby Laine some blog time.
Elite bodyguard and P.I. Rick Bannerman’s job is to protect. He doesn’t get emotional with his clients, but when a woman from his past is threatened, his next job becomes personal.
Family lawyer Abigail Laine is the target of a client’s vengeful husband, but refuses Rick’s offer of protection. He walked away from her four years ago, and she swore to forget him.
Now her reluctance to accept his help could cost Abby her life.
When had her life turned into this stressful jumble?
Abby grabbed the bottle of extra-strength pain reliever she kept in her kitchen junk drawer, shook out three tablets, and swallowed them with a small glass of tap water.
“Head that bad?” Rick asked from behind her.
“I let it go too long.” She rolled her neck, massaged a muscle where it connected with her shoulder. “I should have gotten in front of it right when it started in court. But I don’t like to take anything when I’m working. The pills make me fuzzyheaded.“
Rick reached around her and grabbed the bottle from the counter. “These are plain over-the-counter tablets. I’d think you’d have something stronger, something prescribed, for when the pain gets this bad. I can see the headache all over your face and shoulders. You’re wearing the pain like you’d wear makeup.”
“You can’t know what a boost to my fragile ego having you here is, Bannerman.”
“Your ego is fine,” he said, moving a step closer.
Her kitchen was huge by Manhattan standards. She could have four people stand in it and still have room to cook around them. Not so when Rick was with her. Sure, he was tall, but so were her brothers-in-law. They never made her feel like her personal space was so congested when they were visiting, though.
“Turn around,” he said.
“You heard me. Turn around, Abigail.”
The low, deep rumble of his chuckle sent the tiny hairs on her neck up to attention.
“When I have to be,” he said. “Believe me, for once you’ll be glad you listened.”
“Doubtful,” she murmured. Reluctantly, she presented him with her back.
“Take a breath,” he told her. “A deep one. And hold it for a few seconds.”
“Now let it out, slowly. Count to five in your head while you do.”
“What is this, Bannerman? Some Vulcan mind- trick cure for a headache? Because if it is, it’s not—oh! Oh…my.” The last word scattered out in one long exhale.
“Told you you’d be glad you listened.”
The pressure of his thumbs on either side of her shoulders, a hair below the collar of her blouse as they kneaded, pressed, and drew little circles around her constricted muscles, shot a wave of intense pleasure straight down the length of her spine.
Abby closed her eyes and sighed. “Oh, good Lord. Whatever you’re doing, don’t stop.”
“Your neck is so tight, I’m surprised your spine doesn’t snap when you walk in those stilts you love so much. It’s a wonder you can move at all with any kind of flexibility.”
“Practice.” She all but purred like her cat when his thumbs sank into her flesh. “And motivation. That feels…amazeballs.”
She swore she could hear his grin. He replaced his thumbs with the pads of his first and second fingers, pressed in deep, released, and then did it again.
“Amazeballs, Abigail? How old are you?”
“Oh! I’ll be any age you want me to be, but don’t stop…please.”
His chuckle turned to a laugh. “I can’t tell you how much I like hearing you beg. Take another deep breath.”
Obediently, since she now knew the benefits of being so, she did. “Oh. My. God.”
He’d wound his long, strong fingers up under her hairline. While he flexed them, massaging every bit of her skull, a thousand jolts of electricity bounded down her back. Her legs turned liquid. She needed to sit down before she fell flat to the floor.
“Stop wiggling. Try to hold still,” he said, dangerously close to her ear. The warmth of his breath as it whispered over her neck delightfully singed her skin. “There’s one pressure point I haven’t gotten to yet.”
“I can’t feel my feet.” Good Lord. Did that moan come from her?
“Good. Then this is working. Give me another minute.”
“You can have all night, Bannerman. As long as you want. Just don’t stop.”
For the briefest of moments, so brief she might have imagined it, he stopped kneading, a swift inhale ringing around her. Then, in a heartbeat, he started his ministrations again. For the first time Abby noticed their bodies were touching, the middle of her back pressed along his torso.
While his fingers skimmed up to her temples, she tilted backward, bumping her head against his chest. He was as solid as a block of concrete.
Rick inhaled a jagged breath when the rest of her body pressed into him.
He had the pads of three fingers against her temples now, the concentric circles he pressed and released over them drawing out little mewing noises from the back of her throat. When his pinkies joined their brothers, all four fingers of each hand now splayed along her skin, feathered into her hairline, Abby rolled her neck back and opened her eyes a fraction. Upside down, she saw the edge of Rick’s jaw, watched— fascinated—as his throat bobbed up and down while he continued attending to her.
“I’m almost done. Hold on for another sec.”
She let her eyes drift closed again. Rick moved his hands so they cupped the back of her neck, then, slowly, he brought her head away from his chest to an upright position, leaving his palms flattened across her shoulder blades.
“Take a breath and lift your shoulders,” he commanded.
Abby did, then rolled her head front to back.
“How’s the headache now?”
She opened her eyes and blinked. “Gone.” She whirled around to face him. “Completely gone.”
He nodded and flexed his fingers as if working out his own kinks. “Good. I’m glad it worked.”
“Where did you learn how to do that?” She slid a hand along one side of her neck, tilted her head, then moved it in the opposite direction. “I don’t think my shoulders have been this loose since, well, fourth grade.”
“You spend a lot of time hunched over.” He opened her fridge and pulled out two bottled waters. “Computer. Legal briefs. It’s no wonder your shoulders are tight and you’re susceptible to migraines.”
“How did you know I had migraines?” She took a swig of the water. “I mean, as opposed to regular bad headaches?”
“You wear the pain on your face. It’s obvious to anyone who knows what to look for.”
“And you do?”
He nodded. “Drink the whole bottle and then you need to eat. You haven’t had anything all day. It’s a wonder you aren’t dropping.”
He bent and peeked into the refrigerator. Sipping her water, she took the opportunity to stare at his butt.
Intrigued? I hope so, and if so, you can get your own copy here: A PRIDE OF BROTHERS: RICK
And don’t forget to check back her on June 1, 2021 when I’ll be having my official COVER REVEAL for A PRIDE OF BROTHER: AIDEN. You won’t want to miss this cover because it is perfection!!!
Enjoy your day, kids. Until next time ~ Peg
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