Have you read the first book in the Bryant Brothers series yet? (RACING HOME) Better get on it – book 2, To Love & Protect, is now up for pre-order, and releases on July 28!
What’s that, you say? You’d like a teaser from book 2? Well, as a matter of a fact, guess what I have for you today!
TO LOVE & PROTECT
Philip Bryant, second born son to a fine, upstanding family, is anything but.
He wants to amend his ways, though. Operate on the right side of the law. Be a positive, contributing member of society.
A buddy who works for a government agency gives him the perfect opportunity to change his stripes. But instead of doing what he was told to do, he kidnaps the witness to an attempted murder.
The witness’s name is Maecie McIntosh. She’s a hairstylist with a whole lot of opinions, and she isn’t afraid to put him in his place. And the more time he spends with her, the less he wants to let her go. Can kidnappers develop Stockholm Syndrome?
Or is this what true love feels like?
Bryant Brothers series
Each book has its own happily ever after, however it is recommended they be read in the following order:
To Love & Protect
The Right Tool
“You look way more rumpled than usual,” Richard Gerrard commented as Philip slid into the booth across from him at the diner in downtown Detroit where they almost always met to talk business.
Philip glanced down at his V-neck sweater and white T-shirt. Although he hadn’t taken the time to trim his beard this morning, he didn’t think it looked scruffy, and his clothes weren’t overly wrinkled, so Richard must have noticed the bags under his eyes.
“You know what I do for a living,” Philip replied, stifling a yawn and waving at the server who was holding a coffee carafe in her hand, systematically refilling customers’ cups. “Unfortunately, most of my clientele don’t keep bankers’ hours.”
“Philip Bryant,” his buddy drawled, “serving and protecting the bad guys since 2016.”
The young server, wearing jeans and a green T-shirt with the name of the diner screen printed over her left breast, stepped up to their table and flipped over the ceramic mug that had already been placed in front of Philip’s seat. “Sugar and creamer’s right there,” she said, pointing at the table. “I’ll take your order in a minute.”
She left, and Philip grimaced. “Thanks for making it sound exactly as shady as it is.”
He grabbed the menu, even though he almost always ordered off the specials board. Today he had a choice of country eggs benedict, strawberry pancakes, or Detroit style corned beef hash. He had no idea what made it Detroit style, but he loved a good corned beef hash, so he tucked the menu behind the napkin dispenser and doctored his coffee while Richard contemplated his options.
The server returned, took their orders, and hurried away again.
Richard glanced around the restaurant. Philip had already scoped out the place before sliding into his seat, so he knew there were three tables of elderly couples, a few suits sipping coffee while working on their laptops, and a twenty-something couple who looked as if they hadn’t gone to bed in at least thirty-six hours.
“Hey, at least you’re making bank.”
Philip sighed. “I should try taking legit jobs once in a while. Working as contract security for people who don’t necessarily operate on the right side of the law definitely more than pays the bills, but it feels like my soul is shriveling up and dying.”
Richard snorted and took a hit of coffee. “You and me, we should have switched lives years ago. You’re the do-gooder who’s rolling in dough because you babysit people who are very likely—no, they are criminals. And I’m the poor shmuck who can’t catch a break, working for the man and making peanuts.”
“Not all my clients are criminals,” Philip argued, which he knew damn well was for his own benefit, not Richard’s. His buddy seemingly had no problem with some of Philip’s clients’ highly questionable ethics and morals.
Shaking his head, Richard said, “And here I’m protecting the world from illegal arms deals and terrorists and I can barely pay my mortgage.”
“That’s because you spend too damn much time at the casino and betting on your favorite football team. If you change nothing else but stopped buying lottery tickets every week, there’s your mortgage payment.”
Richard waved off his suggestion and then leaned back so that the server could place their plates on the table. While he squirted ketchup on his hash browns, he said, “I should be able to do both. You’re able to do both.”
Philip hated it when Richard was in this mood. It wasn’t a damn competition.
“I don’t play the lottery,” Philip said. Which Richard already knew. This wasn’t a new topic of conversation.
“But you could.”
Yeah, he could do a lot of things. “It’s a choice. One you could make, too, you know. And if you feel like you can’t, then maybe you need to get some help so you can.”
Richard dredged a triangular slice of buttered toast through runny egg yolk and crammed it into his mouth. “Stop. You sound like my ex when you talk like that.”
Philip sighed. He was pretty sure Richard had a gambling addiction, and like most addicts, he refused to see what was so obvious to everyone around him. And got defensive when someone suggested he needed help.
Richard’s ex, like Philip and Richard, had been a marine. She was also an exceedingly tolerant woman, but even she had gotten sick of begging him to seek help, which inevitably led to screaming arguments, and she’d divorced him two years ago.
After another scan of the restaurant, Richard said, “Maybe I can help with that soul of yours. I have a job for you if you’re interested.”
Richard worked for the federal government, specifically for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, better known as ATF. Richard and Philip met while they were both in the Marine Corps, and they’d become fast friends. They both got out at about the same time, and when Richard was accepted as an ATF agent, Philip had considered going that route too. Until a contract job landed in his lap and introduced him to the lucrative world of “securities.”
Maybe this was a sign. While technically Philip had not broken the law himself, he certainly had plenty of dirt on some pretty grimy people, and Richard knew it. Richard also knew Philip was loyal, if to the wrong people.
But if his friend was offering him contract employment with the ATF, that must mean Philip had a shot at going legit.
He rested his forearms on the table and tried not to look too excited. “I’m listening.”
“Frank Charles. Does that name sound familiar?”
“Pyrotechnics. Isn’t he the guy in charge of the Detroit fireworks?”
Richard nodded. “We’ve been watching him for a while now.”
“We believe he’s using his pyrotechnics distribution license to illegally sell explosives to terrorist groups.”
Philip let out a low whistle. Frank Charles, by all appearances, had been an upstanding member of the Detroit community for decades. His fireworks displays were arguably the best in the country, and he was well-known for giving back to the residents of the city that embraced the colorful and spectacular way he lit up the sky over the riverfront each summer.
Unfortunately, Philip knew from firsthand experience that the ones who put on the most positive public image were often the most corrupt.
He rubbed his hand over his face. “What do you need me to do?”
Hey, at least this one was clear-cut: he was definitely working for the good guys.