Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Nothing To Lose by Debra Webb and Regan Black Excerpt

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Claudia Mitchell is the safety net for the Dangerous Protectors. Whatever a Protector needs, she taps a few keys and makes it happen. When she receives a desperate call from her sister, Claudia can't use cyberspace to save her... for this one, Claudia has to be there in person. 

Nate Jennings showed the world what being a hero looked like despite being in prison. His heroism earned him a place on the Guardian Agency team. For months now he's had a major fantasy about his tech assistant, Claudia. When she disappears and he is the one tasked to find and protect her, has his fantasy come true?

When there is no one else to turn to and no one else to keep you safe, a Dangerous Protector is the man you want for the job.

Excerpt from Nothing to Lose

Minneapolis, Minnesota, 5:50 p.m.
“Hey, Nate, need another?”
 Nathan Jennings, Nate to everyone in the neighborhood, nodded to the man tending bar at Davy’s Pub. The warm atmosphere, the regulars, and friendly staff had given him a sense of belonging as he settled into life in Minneapolis. It was normal—a status he hadn’t been sure his life would ever reach.
 His cell phone vibrated in the pocket of his jacket. He pulled it out and shook his head. It was no surprise to see Protect flashing across the screen. This, too, was part of his new normal. Catching the bartender’s eye, Nate canceled his refill. No more beer or pool tonight. It was time for business. He waited, his protector instincts already prickling with anticipation.
 He’d finished his last case just before Christmas and the extended idle time was starting to get to him. He liked staying busy. Despite racking up volunteer hours making repairs and improvements at the local family shelter, he was more than ready to sink his teeth into another case, the bigger the better.
 He glanced at the phone and double-checked the signal. Full strength. What was taking so long for the file to come through? The file always arrived within seconds of the protect order. Finally the display lit up with an incoming call. He smiled, eager to hear an intel report from Claudia, his technical assistant with the sexy voice that had sparked more than one erotic fantasy.
 But the display flashed with a blocked number. He frowned. What the hell? This phone was solely for agency business. He supposed a wrong number could happen. “Jennings,” he answered, tossing down cash for his tab.
 “I sent you a protect order,” a man’s voice stated.

Not Claudia. Was this their elusive boss or his attorney or maybe another technical assistant? “Yes.” Nate went outside to continue the call. The cold January air battered his face and caught at his hair.
 “This one is particularly sensitive. You’ll need to stay alert and tread carefully,” the unidentified male voice went on.
 “No problem.” Nate was permanently tuned for potential trouble. He wouldn’t have survived his childhood in Chicago’s South Side or his time in Stateville without that well-honed skill. 
When Nate would have asked for an ID number to confirm the caller was a Guardian Agency employee, the man on the other end of the line gave a sigh and said, “The client is part of our agency. She won’t be happy I’ve sent you.”
 One of ours? She? Wasn’t this interesting? Nate had been with the Guardian Agency for six years, ever since a law firm he hadn’t hired got his prison sentence commuted due to extenuating circumstances. In all that time, he’d never once had another encounter with the lawyer who’d witnessed his signature on the agency contract, or any other Guardian employees. The only thing resembling a personal connection with anyone inside the agency had been his frequent conversations with Claudia. Though she’d revealed a wicked sense of humor, she managed to keep those brief talks on-task and case-related. 
“Is there anything else I need to know?” Nate was anxious now to get that file. 
“What you’ll receive in the file is all I can give you,” the voice said. “You may have to prod the client for additional, more accurate information.”
 “Okay.” Nate and Claudia would figure it out. They always did. Why the hell wasn’t she the one making this call?
 “She believes she can do this alone.”
 Since she was part of Guardian Agency she might be right, Nate wanted to argue, but he kept that opinion to himself. He had a feeling there was something more coming, something he wouldn’t like from this guy. A guy, he decided, who sounded a whole lot like he considered himself in charge. 
“I’m concerned she’s walking into a trap,” he went on. “There’s a man in the area on an FBI Watch List. He may or may not be part of the problem.” 
And there it was, the something more Nate didn’t like. Confirmation that his instincts were spot on. If he were completely honest with himself, he would admit that the strange blend of the unexpected and unknown was what kept him loving this job.
 “Once you have the file you’re completely on your own,” the man continued. “If I come up with anything more useful I’ll get the information to you.”
 Research was Claudia’s job. “What about my technical assistant?” Nate asked, careful not to use her name. He’d never been sent into any situation without Claudia’s expertise at his back. He was sure this guy was an expert, but he and Claudia had a rapport. “Hello? You still there?”
 He stared at the screen and the blinking Call Ended icon. With an oath better left unsaid, he stalked down the street to his parked car. He was half tempted to call Claudia anyway and ask her what the hell was going on. Of course she’d never tell him, even if she knew, but at least he’d get to hear that sultry voice.
Unless Claudia was the she in this scenario.

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