Pop star Abby Murphy is living every girl’s dream. She has fame, fortune, and a handsome boyfriend, a guitar player named Sean. That changes the night she finds him in the arms of another woman. Hurt and betrayed, Abby ends their relationship. But Sean won't accept the breakup, and she soon learns that he’s had a hidden agenda all along. Overnight, Sean transforms from loving boyfriend to dangerous adversary, and Abby no longer knows who she can trust among her friends and family.
Abby turns to her bodyguard, Danny Nucci, a man who will do everything in his power to keep her safe. But when Abby realizes her feelings for Danny run much deeper than she thought, she refuses to give in to her attraction in order to preserve her new found independence as well as protect Danny from Sean's machinations.
When Abby finally finds the strength to reclaim her life and acknowledge her growing love for Danny, will she be able to let him in? And will Danny be able to overcome his own demons to be the man she needs him to be? Or will she be forced to let him go forever?
The sun rose, and the rays seeped through the windows of the hotel suite. The brightness woke Danny before his alarm. He grabbed his phone to check the time a moment before his alarm starting blaring.
“Fuck.” He pressed snooze and stretched lazily. From the corner of his eye, he saw someone in the chair across from him. His body and mind were in action, assessing the threat, before he realized that is was Abby. At some point while he’d slept, she’d moved from the bedroom to the chair. She was wrapped in the blanket from his bed, snoring lightly. Her head was tilted to the side, resting on a small accent pillow, and her feet hung over the edge. She looked utterly adorable, and Danny hesitated to wake her. After last night, she needed the rest, and he had work to do before they were scheduled to be on the bus. He’d let her sleep a while longer.
He decided to deal with Vivien first and dialed her number as he walked into the bedroom.
“Mr. Nucci,” she answered. He wanted to roll his eyes every time she called him “Mr. Nucci.” Everyone in Abby’s entourage was informal except her. Danny tried to avoid dealing with Vivien. She and Abby had a complicated relationship that he tried to stay out of. It wasn’t his business, and as long as it didn’t affect Abby’s safety, he didn’t need to weigh in. Abby had hinted at a troubled home life when she was younger, but she’d never really shared that part of her life with him.
“Vivien, I’m not sure if you’re aware of what happened last night, but—”
“I’m well aware of my daughter’s impulsiveness.”
Danny held his tongue. Vivien hated to hear about problems. She just wanted them to go away.
“I think we need to discuss this situation.”
“What’s there to discuss? Abigail knows what’s expected of her.”
“That’s between you and Abby. I’m here to keep her safe, and last night she was assaulted. That warrants a conversation.”
“I don’t agree, but if you insist, we can meet for a few minutes this morning. I’ll have my assistant call you with a time.” She hung up the phone before Danny could say anything else.
He stared at Abby sleeping in the other room. If he wanted to prep her for their meeting, he needed to wake her now. Danny returned to the living room.
“Abby,” he whispered and sat next to her on the ottoman. He shook her gently. Nothing. She didn’t even stir. He watched her sleep for a moment then leaned over to gently push her champagne-colored hair away from her face. He took in her fair complexion sprinkled lightly with freckles and then abruptly stood. He needed to stop before his thoughts got the better of him. The last thing he needed was for Abby to see how much she affected him.
He worked hard at keeping things professional because he knew all too well what happened when he cared too much for someone. Since Vanessa, Danny hadn’t allowed himself to get close to any woman, and he still wasn’t ready to take that step. Shit, last night he nearly lost it when he saw Sean with Abby. It brought up too many memories that hit too close to home. He failed when it came to Vanessa; he wasn’t going to let anything cloud his judgment this time.
He watched Abby resting soundly, but he couldn’t stop thinking of his fiancé. He blamed himself for her death. And at the time, it nearly destroyed him.
Their tour of duty in Iraq had been tense, and his mind was on other things. He missed the signs that something was wrong, and after she died, nothing anyone said could convince him that he wasn’t responsible. Not only were they engaged, but she was also a fellow soldier who he’d worked with since boot camp. They’d served side-by-side, both sergeants in the Psychological Operations unit, commonly known as Psy-Ops.
“Abby.” He said her name louder but didn’t touch her this time. Abby said something in her sleep, but he had no idea what. Danny chuckled because, really, she was just too adorable.
“Come on sleepyhead; you have to wake up,” he coaxed.
“Go away.” She gathered the blanket closer to her body.
“I can’t. It’s time to get up. Let’s go.” He pulled at the blanket and saw that she was only wearing the T-shirt he gave her last night. He stared. Her legs were smooth and sexy, and there was a hint of her purple lace panties peeking out. Danny threw the blanket over Abby and stood quickly. He worked for Abby. He didn’t need images of her half naked in his brain.
He walked behind the chair. Distance was a must right now. His phone alarm sang “Reveille” and instead of shutting it off, he increased the volume and placed it by Abby’s ear.
She jumped, causing the ottoman to shift forward. Danny laughed at her expression but stopped when she lost her balance and fell to the floor. Like a scene from a sitcom, she landed on her ass, with her legs up in the air. Abby quickly covered herself with the blanket.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Screw you, Nucci.” She looked up at him with narrowed eyes. “Now help me up, asshole.”
Danny helped her stand, mindful of her bruised arm. The blanket fell to the floor, leaving Abby in his old New York Yankees T-shirt. Even though he knew what to expect this time, the sight was too much to ignore. He tried to avert his eyes but failed.
Abby laughed and walked slowly into the bedroom, shaking her sexy ass. “I’m gonna grab a quick shower. Can you get my suitcase or do you have another one of these I could wear?” Abby flipped up the end of Danny’s shirt, giving Danny an eye full.
“I’ll get your clothes.” Danny sighed and looked up at the ceiling. He was clearly off his game.
“Thanks.” Abby winked and laughed even louder. She closed the door and left him standing in the living room with his mouth hanging open. Holy shit. His mind raced with all the things he wanted to do to her, and he was thankful for the reprieve. He grabbed the keycard to Abby’s room and left to go get her things.
Debra is a native New Yorker who made her escape to the suburbs. She often returns to her hometown to visit her favorite deli for a bagel with butter, because there’s no better bagel than a New York bagel. When not in search of bagels, Debra spends her time running Book Enthusiast Promotions, an online promotions company that helps indie authors spread the word about their books.
She’s also the owner of The Book Enthusiast blog. She started writing lyrics in her wall-to-wall NKOTB bedroom at the tender age of thirteen while dreaming of the day she’d become Mrs. Jordan Knight. That dream never came to fruition, but she has continued to write. Now she’s working on her first novel.