Author - Sybil Bartel
Series - Unchecked #2
Publisher - Carina Press
Publication date - August 31st 2015
Genres - Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Book two of Unchecked
After her parents were murdered, Layna Blair spent three years on the run—until Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson stepped in and saved her. With him, Layna knew safety for the first time…but two weeks after shipping out for another tour in Afghanistan, Blaze comes home early.
When Layna sees the jagged wounds covering his body, every truth she thought she knew is destroyed. Blaze is distant and angry and though her heart is shattered, Layna desperately tries to keep their relationship together in the face of another tragedy. When the tenuous bonds holding them together are ripped apart by a revenge-hungry maniac, Layna must trust her survival instinct and bury her past for good.
But the enemy is two steps ahead, and before she can take action, Layna’s hand is forced by his deadly demands—save herself or save the man who risked his life for her freedom. Blaze saved her once. This time it’s her turn to protect him.
His intense gaze fixed on mine, he held out his hand but he didn’t say anything.
I slipped my fingers into his and the heat that shot up my arm and spread through me settled in like a low, constant pulse of awareness that made everything inside me tingle. I looked up and was startled to see him frowning. “What’s wrong?”
The crease in his brow went deeper and the seriousness in his eyes twisted like hesitation. “Not one thing.”
His words not matching his expression, he looked distracted, bordering on nervous. But that was impossible. Blaze Johnson didn’t get nervous, ever. “Blaze?”
He brought my hand to his lips and gently kissed me. “My Layna,” he whispered.
My heart melted. “I love you.”
The soft smile that barely touched the corners of his mouth was his only response. A few months ago, the gesture and lack of words would have eaten at me. Tonight? I understood the intimacy. I knew I was seeing a smile that no one else in the world ever saw. I knew the twist of those lips and quiet reverence was a promise of what would come later when we were behind closed doors. I knew his silence meant he was comfortable enough to let his body language speak for him. I knew this because he’d taught me how to pay attention.
Blaze led us to the elevator and we silently waited. When we stepped into the small space, the atmosphere swelled with his presence and the butterflies came swarming back, swirling with a heady tension I’d become addicted to. The memory of his body earlier today over me, in me, it made desire coil hot and urgent in my blood.
Breathless, I cleared my throat. “Where are we going for dinner?”
His thumb slowly dragged across the back of my hand like he knew my every desire-laced thought but when his eyes traveled from my face to my dress. His features became hauntingly stern. “Not far,” the gentle cadence of his voice at odds with his expression.
“Is everything alright?”
The elevator doors slid open but instead of walking out, Blaze turned and cupped my face. His eyebrows drew tight. “I want tonight to be perfect for you. If it’s not what you want, you tell me. Understand?” His expression, his voice, they were so fierce, he looked angry.
The butterflies in my stomach became sharp angles and something close to panic seeped in. “What do you mean?”
“This is your choice, Layna. Remember that.”
I grew up in Northern California with my head in a book and my feet in the sand. I dreamt of becoming a painter but the heady scent of libraries with their shelves full of books drew me into the world of storytelling. I love the New Adult genre, but any story about a love so desperately wrong and impossibly beautiful makes me swoon.
I now live in Southern Florida and while I don’t get to read as much as I like, I still bury my toes in the sand. If I’m not writing or fighting to contain the banana plantation in my backyard, you can find me spending time with my handsomely tattooed husband, my brilliantly practical son and a mischievous miniature boxer…
Here are ten things you probably really want to know about me.
I grew up a faculty brat. I can swear like a sailor. I love men in uniform. I hate being told what to do. I can do your taxes (but don’t ask). The Bird Market in Hong Kong freaks me out. My favorite word is desperate…or dirty, or both—I can’t decide. I have a thing for muscle cars. But never reply on me for driving directions, ever. And I have a new book boyfriend every week—don’t tell my husband.