Title: Defending Chloe
Author: Susan Stoker
Release Date: December 4, 2018
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Gorgeous women don’t just stumble onto Ronan Cross’s remote property. But this one—vulnerable, victimized, and needing the kind of help only Ronan can offer—tells a story that makes his blood boil almost as hot as his need to protect her.
Since her father’s death, Chloe Harris has become a prisoner. Her own brother, a flesh peddler and low-level player in the Denver Mafia, is forcing her to sell her body for an endgame Chloe never saw coming: control over a vast fortune. Her only way out is to run—straight into the arms of the one hard-bodied man she can trust.
Defending Chloe could rain punishment down on the Mountain Mercenaries. Her brother has Mob connections and the local police in his pocket. But Ronan still has an edge—the unshakable loyalty of his deadly teammates. As well as an unquenchable thirst for retribution…and Chloe.
Chloe stared at all the clothes on the bed. Allye had arrived with a dozen bags in hand and told her she’d picked up a “few things” to tide her over.
“A few things?” Chloe asked in disbelief.
Allye laughed. “Ro said money was no object, and he wanted you to have enough things so you could have a choice of what to wear and not have to do laundry every night. I had to guess at your sizes, but I got some stuff with elastic waists just in case I was wrong in my assumptions.” Then the other woman began dumping the bags and showing off what she’d bought.
A shy smile formed as Allye’s words sank in. The thought that Ro wasn’t thinking about money, only her comfort, made Chloe feel good. Really good.
Allye smiled back as she said, “Ro doesn’t have to let you stay here, Chloe.”
“What do you mean?”
“Rex has a ton of contacts. And I mean a ton. This is what the Mountain Mercenaries do. They help get women out of bad situations. Ro could’ve asked Rex to set you up with one of the underground resources he has. You know, a safe house? You’d be just as safe there as you are here. But for some reason, Ro refused to even consider it. I know for a fact Gray suggested it. But you’re still here. He gave me his own money to get you stuff to wear. And he insisted that I find this for you.” Allye pulled out a bottle from a small bag she’d been holding.
Chloe recognized the brand of lotion she used.
“I’m going to say this only once, then I’ll never bring it up again . . . but I feel like I kind of have to.”
“Don’t hurt him,” Allye said. “These guys . . . they’re total badasses. Professional soldiers. They can kick ass like you’d never believe. They go into situations no one else would dare. They take chances, and they’ll do whatever it takes to rescue women. I don’t know the other guys all that well yet, but I know Gray, and I have a feeling that deep down, they’re all scarred in one way or another. They’re all committed to saving women and children from the evils in the world, and there must be a deeper reason behind that than just wanting to do the right thing. And if Ro is anything like Gray, once he’s committed, he’s committed. He’ll move heaven and earth to make sure you’re happy, content, and safe. That’s how Gray is with me. I know without a doubt that Gray will never cheat on me, and he goes to great lengths to make sure I’m satisfied . . . in every way, if you know what I mean.”
Chloe stared at Allye with wide eyes as she continued.
“Ro strikes me as the same kind of man. I’m still getting to know the guys on the team, but I feel they wouldn’t be as close as they are if they didn’t have the same values and beliefs. Ro acts like the standoffish Brit more often than not, but he feels as deeply as anyone I’ve ever met. He likes you, Chloe. I was surprised when he actually left you here alone. He thought you’d bolt. Hell, I thought you’d leave. But you didn’t. And that means something to Ro.
“All I’m saying is that if you’re using his help to get away from your brother, good, I don’t blame you . . . but don’t lead him on. Ask if you can go into witness protection. Or into the underground program the Mountain Mercenaries have set up. Don’t stay here and make him think there’s something between you if you don’t feel that way.”
It was a long speech from the other woman, and Chloe felt the butterflies in her stomach again. She hadn’t thought much about how Ro was feeling because she was so uncertain herself and felt so out of control. But the idea of Ro keeping her around for a personal reason was appealing. More than appealing. She thought about how he’d washed her hair, how his hands had felt on her scalp. A man who was simply rescuing yet another woman from a bad situation wouldn’t do that, would he?
Allye cleared her throat, and Chloe realized she was waiting for her to say something. “I won’t lead him on,” Chloe said quickly. She hadn’t thought she’d want a boyfriend for a very long time after living under her brother’s controlling thumb, but Ro was nothing like Leon. He was bossy and tended to do things without asking her, but Chloe somehow knew if she objected or pushed back, Ro would listen to her and be flexible.
“Cool,” Allye said with a relieved sigh. “Now, shall we figure out which of this stuff you like and want to keep?”
Chloe smiled tentatively at the other woman. “Yeah. Thanks.”
“You’re welcome. I have a feeling we’re going to be good friends,” Allye said, handing the bottle of lotion to Chloe and turning back to the bed.
Watching her dig through the clothes and start to put them in some sort of order, Chloe gripped the plastic bottle tightly. Allye would never know how much her words meant. It had been a long time since Chloe’d had a friend. A true friend.
Meet “Mountain Mercenary” Ronan Cross From Defending Chloe:
Greetings Ronan, or can I just call you Ro?
Ro is fine.
I understand that you are part of Mountain Mercenaries, a secret group of ex-military men who save women and children from dangerous situations. Can you comment on this group?
No. As you said, it’s a secret group.
What about your handler Rex? He is particularly secretive.
Rex is amazing. I’ve never met him, but I don’t have to have met him to know he’s one scary bad ass dude. He knows people from all levels of law enforcement, and I wouldn’t be surprised if he had the President’s phone number programmed into his phone as well. But, like anyone in this line of business, he’s got some demons. Me and my fellow Mercenaries just hope they don’t come back and bite us in the ass one day.
There have been some major changes within the Mercenaries lately — especially with the introduction of Allye your teammate Gray Rogers’ significant other. How has having a civilian woman in the mix changed things? Does it make you think of anything that you may want in your future?
Allye is great. Love her. None of us had ever thought much about women…or at least having anything permanent with any specific woman, but seeing Gray with Allye makes me realize that one day I’d love to have a relationship like theirs. I want a woman who can stand up to me when I’m being a wanker but who isn’t adverse to letting me be a guy. And before you ask, what I mean is that I know myself, I’m gonna want to open her door and pay for shit. I’ll have no problem telling my woman that I love her, but I don’t want someone who will lose their shit if I track a little bit of mud in the house. Does that make sense?
Definitely. So what do you do for fun? You know, when you aren’t saving damsels in distress!
I’m a mechanic. I tinker with cars for fun. There’s nothing like taking in a car that won’t run, and turning it inside out to figure out what the problem is. The best feeling ever is when that beauty is driven off after I’ve given her new life.
And finally, tell us a bit about women in your life. Do you have a special someone?
Not yet. Although I have to tell you, I met the most intriguing woman the other day. There was just something about her that I can’t forget. Of course, there’s the little matter of figuring out who gave her the bruise she was sporting on her back and making sure she’s safe, but otherwise….
About the Author:
Susan Stoker is a New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author whose series include Ace Security, Badge of Honor: Texas Heroes, SEAL of Protection, Unsung Heroes: Delta Force, and Mountain Mercenaries. Married to a retired army noncommissioned officer, Stoker has lived all over the country—from Missouri to California to Colorado to Texas—and currently lives under the big skies of Tennessee. A true believer in happily ever after, Stoker enjoys writing novels in which romance turns to love. To learn more about the author and her work, visit her website, www.stokeraces.com, or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/authorsusanstoker.