by Connie Wood
genre: romantic suspense
Will their shared past thrust them into danger - or each other's arms?
Roman Grisham returned from combat never able to return to the military he so loved. And he wants answers. His answers are linked to the shy and quietly sexy, Germaine Andrews who is looking for quiet seclusion after her life was torn apart. Now they need each other to unriddle the past, but their future is fraught with danger.
She winced at the venom in his reply. No wonder she didn’t try and get close to people, she reminded herself. Still, she needed to be professional and friendly and they would be working together for a while.
“I didn’t mean to imply you couldn’t. It’s just that I know where the coffee room is and I wasn’t sure if they had shown you when you arrived.”
He deemed to look contrite, though it didn’t sit well on him. “I know where the coffee room is. How do you have your coffee?”
“White with two sugars please.”
He continued to look at her a moment longer. She squirmed under his gaze, just as she always did. The familiar embarrassment etched itself up her spine as heat suffused her face. Strangely, he didn’t appear to be staring at the side of her face that held the angry red reminder of her past.
A ghost of a smile played at his lips, before sadness blanked his eyes. He turned slowly and walked across the room towards the door to the small kitchenette. His walk was fluid, even with the limp of his left leg. Encased in denim jeans, she had to admit that his leg was the last thing she noticed.
Geri blushed at the thought. It had been a long time since someone caused such images to flit across her mind. She was no innocent, which was true. The last few years had been traumatic enough to bury any sensual emotions along with any feelings of beauty. Her scar was deep and confronting, even if it only did run down the side of her face. She traced the line from her right temple down her jaw and all the way down to her collar bone. A sad smile pursed her lips before she dropped her hand back to the newspapers on her desk. If only the scar was the solitary reminder of the trauma that had plagued her life. That she could have handled. She knew beauty wasn’t everything. It was what lay beneath the scar that marred her soul.
Gerri blinked back hot tears and took a deep calming breath. Her emotions weren’t usually this close to the surface and it irritated her that she couldn’t keep them under control. It was this man, Roman’s fault, she thought resentfully, looking towards the door. If not for him, she would still be down in her nice little sanctuary, in the Archives room. Not having to deal with feelings long since buried.
When they’d met earlier this morning, he commented that they would get along just fine. After spending the entire day practically locked up in this room together, she couldn’t see how that was supposed to happen. The man was surly to say the least. She could almost feel the energy inside him; it coiled like a spring about to let loose any moment. He could hardly sit still, his movements smooth and methodical, but he couldn’t hide the agitation behind them.
He had only said a few words to her since their initial debriefing. And then he had only given her the bare minimum information to do her job. Gerri looked down at the newspaper article spread before of her.
The tears threatened again. How was she going to get through this? “Breathe deep child, we will get through this.” The words long forgotten echoed through her head. She smiled in spite of herself. Her Dad’s favorite saying to his head strong, impetuous daughter always had the power to calm her.
He’d always been there to ease her anxiousness. How she missed him. The last time she’d heard him utter that phrase had been during a time of great duress. She had gotten through it. He had not.
Gerri did as his words commanded; she breathed deep. Trying to concentrate on her work, she turned to the next newspaper article. At least this research pertained to war on the African continent in general. If he had requested her to research Zimbabwe, she would have packed up her things there and then and hightailed it out of the room. Her father was buried in that foreign land, along with the memories of the woman she used to be.
It still bothered her that she had been asked to do this research job in the first place. Her time in Zimbabwe, while not exactly a secret, wasn’t something that she advertised. The question of why would someone request her for this job lodged in the back of her mind. Gerri started as Roman backed through the door, using his back to push it open. Her first instinct was to rush over there and help him, but after her last comment, she had the impression that her assistance wouldn’t be appreciated. She feigned interest in the newspaper until he wheeled over the coffee trolley next to her desk.
“Here’s your coffee.” He handed it to her, and added a little awkwardly, “I found some biscuits and cake stashed at the back of the fridge. I thought you might be hungry.”
She smiled up at him as he passed her the coffee and she wished she hadn’t. She had effectively avoided looking directly at him since their initial meeting. He really was devastatingly handsome. The darkness of his brown eyes ignited sparks deep within her belly that had lain dormant for too long. Their renewed arousal made her feel uncomfortable. She squirmed and averted her eyes.
She hastily grabbed the coffee from him, spilling half of it all over the newspaper.
Instantly he was there at her side. He took the overly large white mug from her hand. “Did you burn yourself?”