Or maybe he wouldn’t care who was watching. Jorguson had shouted his intent to have her killed. Would this bodyguard try to top that crazy threat?
There was a wall of windows in the restaurant facing the river, and diners were crammed together, their faces plastered to the glass. Some had their cell phones glued to their ears; others were using the cell phone cameras to record the incident . . . for YouTube, no doubt. Certainly, most of them had witnessed Jorguson ripping her dress and then screaming after she’d punched him. The man had howled like an outraged hyena. Surely they’d heard his ridiculous threats, too.
The bodyguard took Jorguson’s orders to “get her” to heart. He lunged. He grabbed her upper arm and twisted as he jerked her toward him. Pain shot up into her neck and down to her fingers. His grip was strong enough to break her bone.
He glanced over his shoulder at the crowd before turning back to her. “You’re coming with me,” he ordered.
A woman rushed out of the restaurant shouting, “You leave her alone.” At the same time, two men in business suits ran past the woman to help Olivia.
“Let go of me,” she demanded as she slammed the heel of her shoe into the top of his foot.
He grunted and let go. Olivia got in a solid kick, and he doubled over. But not for long. He quickly recovered and, roaring several grossly unflattering names at her, straightened and reached for his gun. His face was now bloodred.
Good Lord, was he going to shoot her? The look in his eyes suggested that he might. Apparently, Martin had forgotten his audience, or he no longer cared he was being watched. His impulse control had vanished. He had the most hateful look on his face as he pulled the gun from the waistband of his pants. The two businessmen coming to her aid stopped when they spotted the weapon.
“I said you’re coming with me,” he snarled as he lunged.
“No, I’m not.” She threw a twelve-dollar glass of iced tea at him. He ducked.
“Bitch.” He spit the word and tried to grab her again.
“I’m not going anywhere with you. Now get away from me.”
The gun seemed to be growing in his hand. She backed away from him, and that infuriated him even more. He came at her again, and before she could protect herself, he backhanded her. He struck the side of her face, his knuckles clipping her jaw. It was a hard hit and hurt like hell. The blow threw her backward, but even as she was falling, she didn’t take her eyes off the gun.
She landed on her backside, winced from the impact on her tailbone, and quickly staggered to her feet.
She understood what the expression “seeing stars” meant. Dazed, she tried to back away.
The thug raised his gun again, and suddenly he was gone. Olivia saw a blur fly past her, tackling the bodyguard to the ground. The gun went one way, and the thug went the other, landing hard. Within seconds her rescuer had the man facedown on the grass and was putting handcuffs on him while reading him his rights. When he was finished, he motioned to another man wearing a badge and gun who was rushing across the terrace.
With one of his knees pressed against the bodyguard’s spine, the rescuer turned toward her. She suddenly felt lightheaded. She could have sworn she saw an ethereal glow radiating all around him and the sound of a singing choir echoing overhead. She closed her eyes and shook her head. The blow to her jaw must be making her hallucinate. When she opened her eyes again, the vision and the choir were gone, but the man was still there, looking up at her with beautiful hazel eyes.
“Who are you?” he asked as he hauled the bodyguard to his feet.
“Olivia MacKenzie,” she answered. She sounded bewildered, but she couldn’t help that. The last few minutes had been hair-raising, and she was having trouble forming a clear thought.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“Agent Grayson Kincaid. FBI. Are you all right?”
“I’ve been better.”
“Maybe you should sit down.”
The bodyguard finally found his voice. “I was protecting my boss.”
“With a Glock?” Kincaid asked. “And against an unarmed woman?”
“She kicked me.”
A hint of a smile turned his expression. “Yeah, I saw.”
“I’m bringing charges.”
“You attacked her,” Kincaid snapped. “If I were you, I’d be real quiet right now.”
The bodyguard ignored the suggestion. “Mr. Jorguson has known for a long time that the FBI has been tailing him and listening in on his private conversations. What you’re doing is illegal, but you people don’t play by the rules, do you?”
“Stop talking,” Kincaid said.
Another agent grabbed hold of the bodyguard’s arm and led him away. He didn’t go peacefully. He was shouting for a lawyer.
“Hey, Ronan,” Kincaid shouted.
The agent dragging the bodyguard away turned back. “Yeah?”
“Did you see it?”
Ronan smiled. “Oh yeah, I saw it all. After I put this clown in the back of the car, I’ll go get Jorguson.”
Olivia glanced around the terrace. In all the commotion she hadn’t seen him slip away.
Kincaid nodded, then turned back to her.
“The gun is under the table,” she offered.
“I’ll get it,” Kincaid said.
He walked over to her, and she flinched when he reached out to touch her. Frowning, he said, “I’m not going to hurt you. I just want to see how bad it is.”
“It’s fine,” she insisted. “I’m fine.”
He ignored her protest. He gently pushed her hair away from the side of her face. “Your cheek’s okay, but he really clipped your jaw. It’s already starting to swell. You need to put ice on it. Maybe I should take you to the emergency room, have a physician look at your arm, too. I saw the way he twisted it.”
“I’ll be all right. I’ll ice it,” she promised when he looked like he wanted to argue.
He took a step back and said, “I’m sorry I couldn’t get to him faster.”
“You got here before he shot me. He really was going to shoot me, wasn’t he?” She was still astounded by the possibility and getting madder by the second.
“He might have tried,” he agreed.
She frowned. “You’re awfully nonchalant about it.”
“I would have taken him down before he shot you.”
Her cell phone rang. She checked the number, then sent the call to voice mail. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a man rounding the corner of the building and glaring at her. He stormed toward her, just as Kincaid bent to retrieve the bodyguard’s gun.
“What the hell’s the matter with you?” the man shouted.
Since he was wearing a gun and badge, she knew he was also FBI. “Excuse me?”
“You ruined a perfectly good sting. Were you wearing a wire? Did you get anything we could use? No, I didn’t think so. You weren’t supposed to be here until one. We weren’t ready.”
The agent screaming at her was an older man, late fifties, she guessed. His face was bright red, and his anger could light fires.
He moved closer until he was all but touching her, but she refused to be intimidated. “Stop yelling at me.”
“She’s not with the FBI,” Kincaid said.
“How . . .” The confused agent took a step back. He looked at Olivia, then at Kincaid.
“I’d know if she was. Your undercover woman hasn’t shown up yet.”
“Two months’ planning,” the agent muttered. He pointed at Olivia. “Are you wearing a wire? Jorguson seems to think you are. Are you with a newspaper or—”
“Poole, leave her the hell alone,” Kincaid said.
Poole was staring at her chest. Uh-oh. Olivia knew where this was going.
“If you think you’re going to look for a wire, be advised. I’ll punch you, too,” she warned.
Distraught to have his investigation fall apart, Agent Poole stepped closer and said, “Listen, you. Don’t threaten me. I could make your life a nightmare.” He put his hand in front of her face and unfolded three fingers as he said, “I’m F . . . B . . . I.”
She smiled. It wasn’t the reaction he expected. “You want to talk nightmares?” she said. She put her hand up to his face and unfolded her three fingers. “I’m I . . . R . . . S.”
Titles by Julie Garwood
The Ideal Man
Fire and Ice
Come the Spring
The Clayborne Brides
For the Roses
The Lion’s Lady
A Girl Named Summer
Table of Contents
A Note from the Author about SWEET TALK
Excerpt from SWEET TALK
More books by Julie Garwood
Teaser chapter for THE IDEAL MAN
About the Author
Published by Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3,
Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.); Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London
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Published by Dutton, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Copyright © 1991 by Julie Garwood
All rights reserved
eISBN : 978-1-101-53347-5
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
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For my son, Gerry Garwood.
I saved this one just for you.
He never knew what hit him.
One minute Baron Royce was wiping the sweat from his forehead with the back of his leather-covered arm, and the next he was flat on his back on the ground.
She had knocked him off his feet. Literally. She’d waited until he took his helmet off. Then she’d swung the narrow strip of leather in a circle high above her head. The small stone nestled in the center of her makeshift sling had gathered speed until it wasn’t visible to the na*ed eye. The sound as the leather sliced through the air was like that of a disgruntled beast, half snarl, half whistle. Her prey had been too far away to hear the noise, though, for she stood in the frigid morning shadows of the walkway at the top of the wall, and he stood down below, nearly fifty feet away by her measure, at the base of the wooden drawbridge.
The giant Norman had made an easy target. The fact that he was also the leader of the infidels who were out to steal her family’s holding had sweetened her concentration, too. In her mind, the giant had become Goliath.
And she was his David.
But unlike the saintly hero of ancient stories, she hadn’t meant to kill her adversary. She would have aimed for the side of his temple if that had been her goal. No, she had wanted only to stun him. For that reason, she’d chosen his forehead. God willing, she’d given him a mark to carry for the rest of his days, a reminder, she hoped, of the atrocity he’d committed on this dark day of victory.
The Normans were winning this battle. In another hour or two they would breach the inner sanctuary.
It was inevitable, she knew. Her Saxon soldiers were hopelessly outnumbered now. Retreat was the only logical alternative. Yes, it was inevitable, but damn galling, too.
This Norman giant was the fourth challenger the bastard William of Normandy had sent to take her holding in the past three weeks.
The first three had fought like boys. She and her brother’s men had easily chased them away.
This one was different. He wouldn’t be chased. It had soon became apparent that he was more seasoned than his predecessors. He was certainly more cunning. The soldiers under his command were as inexperienced as the ones who’d come before, but this newest leader kept them well disciplined and at their task hour after relentless hour.
Victory would go to the hated Normans by the end of the day.
Their leader would be dizzy with his success, however. She would see to it.
She had smiled when she dispatched her stone.
Baron Royce had left his mount to pull one of his soldiers out of the moat surrounding the holding. The foolish soldier had lost his footing and fallen head first into the deep water. Because of his heavy armor, he couldn’t catch his balance and was sinking to the bottom. Royce reached down with one hand, caught hold of a booted foot, and lifted the young soldier out of the murky depths. With a flick of his wrist, he tossed the vassal onto the grassy bank. The racking coughs coming from the lad had told Royce he didn’t need further assistance. The boy was still breathing. Royce had paused to remove his own helmet, and was just wiping the sweat from his brow when the stone had found its mark.