First surrender, p.1
First Surrender, p.1Part #1 of The Serafina: Sin City series by Katie Reus
Copyright © 2013 by Katie Reus
Cover Art by Sweet ’N Spicy Designs
Digital Formatting by Author E.M.S.
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This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental. All rights reserved. With the exception of quotes used in reviews, this book may not be reproduced or used in whole or in part by any means existing without written permission from the author.
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Sierra took a subtle sniff of her upper arm as she rode the elevator up to the fiftieth floor of the new Serafina hotel and casino—owned by billionaire Wyatt Christiansen. As head chef at Cloud 9, one of the restaurants at the Serafina, she sometimes smelled like food at the end of a long shift even though she’d changed clothes. Okay, she always smelled like food. Which wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but she’d cooked a lot of seafood today. She didn’t scent anything too strong but was sure her friend Hayden would tell her when she saw him. At least she’d changed out of her work clothes and chef’s coat so she was comfortable in jeans and a fitted T-shirt.
He’d started work at the Serafina the same time she had. It had officially opened a year ago. She’d been brought over from one of Christiansen’s other hotels to work here and Hayden had been hired after retiring from the Navy. Christiansen’s wife Iris ran all the security at the hotel, but Hayden was directly under her as her second-in-command. Sierra didn’t know how they handled the stress of security at such a mammoth hotel. She’d go cross-eyed trying to watch all those cameras at once. But, they had a good team with minimum problems.
As the elevator dinged, announcing her arrival to the security floor, damn butterflies took flight in her stomach. It always happened when she was about to see Hayden and she hated it. When she’d first met him, she thought he was a big jerk. A big, scary jerk. Okay, a sexy-as-hell jerk with tattooed sleeves covering both his arms. His tats added to that whole tall, dark and intimidating thing he had going on. As a former SEAL, Hayden certainly had the training for his current profession. But she’d come to learn that he was one of the sweetest men she’d ever known. For the last year they’d hung out constantly as friends and Thursday nights they had a standing ritual of dinner, drinks and sometimes she coerced him into going dancing with her and her friends. Usually he just stood guard by one of their tables and growled at any males who got too close. Which made her adore him even more.
God, she really was a masochist. Hayden was never going to be interested in her romantically but that didn’t stop her from wanting him more and more every day. Hayden could have any woman he wanted and she knew she didn’t fit the mold of his type. It was her freaking curse in life. Growing up and in college she had a lot of male friends because of her ‘friendly’ personality but she never dated any of them. One of her college friends had told her that she was way too ‘the girl next door type’, the type of girl you brought home to your mother—which was freaking annoying. She wanted to be the type of girl who got a man’s pulse pounding out of control. The kind who got him so hot and bothered that he couldn’t think straight. But not just any man. Only Hayden.
Her flat sandals snapped softly against the marble as she entered the security floor. A giant glass wall greeted her. Behind it she could see desks, and too many television screens to count. Some huge, some small, focused on dealers’ hands, patrons, the various bars and pretty much anywhere legal a camera could go. The array of them still astounded her. Stopping at one of the glass doors, she placed her hand on the biometric scanner. Once it scanned her palm, the door immediately opened with a whoosh. She had no business up here but about eight months ago Hayden had programmed her into the system so she wouldn’t have to bug him every Thursday. Sometimes she got off earlier than him and preferred to wait in the security room as opposed to the bar in her restaurant. She was there enough during the week; she didn’t want to hang out in her off time too.
Stepping inside she was inundated with noise and frantic chatter. Men and women were talking into their headsets, some clearly worried. There was normally a fast pace up here but today it seemed different.
Glancing around, Sierra didn’t see Hayden anywhere but assumed he was in his office. Before she’d taken two steps in that direction, Marty, one of the tech guys, jumped up from his desk when he saw her. “Hey, honey. What are you doing up here?”
She normally didn’t like nicknames but Marty called every female honey. She smiled. “Just stopping by to see if Hayden could sneak away early.”
Marty’s eyes widened slightly. “Oh…he’s not here. He said something about a date.”
A date? The word was like a punch to her gut. For a moment she was totally stunned, but she wasn’t going to show it in front of anyone, especially not a coworker. This place was worse than a middle school when it came to gossip. So she pasted on a smile. “Oh, right. He mentioned that, I totally forgot.”
Marty started to respond but Iris Christiansen strode through the glass doorway looking fierce in black pants, a crisp white button down shirt and a sleek, clearly custom-made black jacket. Everything about the other woman was, well, fierce. She was gorgeous but also a little scary, especially since Sierra knew the former Marine was always well-armed. The tall woman gave Marty one look and he scampered away.
Luckily she gave Sierra a bright smile. “What’s up, Sierra? You got a problem at the restaurant?”
Still struggling to find her voice, she shook her head. “No problem, just leaving. See you tomorrow.” Sierra tried to hurry away, but Iris followed her to the elevators.
“What’s going on? You don’t look okay.”
Sierra swallowed hard. Lord, was she that transparent? “Just had a long day. Busy, you know?” Gah, why wouldn’t the elevator hurry up?
Iris raised a dark eyebrow. “Do I need to kick his ass?”
Staring at her, Sierra frowned. “What? Who?”
“Hayden. What’s he done now?”
The mention of his name made Sierra’s stomach flip-flop. It also pissed her off. If he’d had a date he could have had the decency to tell her. Shrugging jerkily, she breathed out a sigh of relief when the elevator stopped and dinged. “Hayden hasn’t done anything.” And she wondered why Iris would assume this had anything to do with the man. It wasn’t like they were dating.
Iris didn’t respond, but her lips pulled into a thin line as the doors shut behind Sierra. Once she was alone, Sierra didn’t bother to keep up a happy face. Hayden hadn’t mentioned dating anyone in the past year, though she knew the man had to be dating. He was walking, talking sex appeal. Absently she rubbed the center of her chest. So, he was dating. No big deal. Right? Ugh, yeah right. Swallowing back the traitorous tears threatening to overwhelm her, she hurried into the below ground parking garage. Normally Hayden or someone else walked her to her vehicle but she didn’t want to bother asking anyone else. Not when she felt like crying. No way was she embarrassing herself
Picking up her pace, her sandals slapped quickly across the concrete. As she reached the second row of cars, a tiny scream escaped her lips as a man wearing a mask jumped out from behind her Jeep. The guy was huge, maybe six feet tall, and when she saw the flash of metal—a knife!—in his hands, her chest constricted as a hundred horrible scenarios raced through her mind. Knowing she’d only get one chance she let out a blood-curdling scream at the top of her lungs as she backtracked and started running in the other direction.
Blood rushed in her ears as she continued screaming and digging in her purse for her pepper spray. She knew she wouldn’t be a physical match against anyone and—pain exploded in her scalp as he grabbed her by the hair and jerked back.
Instinctively she reached back to try to stop him and quickly realized her mistake. Using a lot of force, he slammed her forehead against a nearby car. Another burst of pain launched inside her skull as she tried to shove away from the vehicle. He pulled her head back again and she struggled to find breath—suddenly she was falling.
“Hey! Stop!” An angry male voice ricocheted off the walls of the parking garage and she heard multiple sets of footsteps pounding against the pavement as her palms hit the ground.
Rolling over, she raised her hands instinctively to fight off another blow but found Jay, Hayden’s brother, racing toward her. It was hard to see because of the tears blurring her vision but he was hard to miss.
She struggled to stand but stopped and just sagged against the vehicle, thankful someone had been there to scare off her attacker. The side of her head ached but she didn’t even care. Closing her eyes, she let her head fall back against the vehicle and didn’t bother to fight the tears that poured out. When she thought about what could have happened…a sob wracked her body as she wrapped her arms around herself.
“Come on,” Hayden muttered to his computer screen as it powered down. He wanted to get the fuck out of here and meet up with Sierra. Glancing at his cell, he frowned when he saw the time and started to text her. Normally he didn’t bother her during working hours because she was just as busy as him and could barely look at her phone, but she should be off by now. As he started punching in letters, the glass door to his office opened.
Iris, his direct boss, stepped in looking pissed. At him. His eyebrows raised. He’d seen Iris angry at a lot of people, namely jackasses who’d tried to rob the place, but her ire had never been aimed at him. Before he could ask what was going on, she turned and snapped the shades down on the window to his office. It overlooked part of the security area, giving everyone open access to him and vice versa.
After giving them privacy, she dropped into one of the chairs in front of his desk. “What’s going on with Sierra?”
That stopped him cold. Had something happened? Ice chilled his veins. “What do you mean?”
Iris’s dark eyes narrowed accusingly. “I just saw her leaving and she looked upset. She tried to cover it, but she wears her emotions right out in the open. I swear if you hurt that girl—”
Hayden held up his hands. “What the hell, Iris? I’d never hurt Sierra.” He’d rather cut off his own arm than cause her pain.
Iris immediately relaxed. “Okay, I figured you didn’t do anything but had to be sure. We can’t afford to lose her—I’d kill you for that alone. That woman can freaking cook.”
Hayden rolled his eyes. Iris ate at Sierra’s restaurant at least once a day, and he didn’t know where the slim woman put it all. That wasn’t what he cared about though. “So wait, Sierra was here and left?” They had a standing ‘date’ every Thursday night. It was his favorite night of the week even if it wasn’t a real date. He wished it was though. The kind where she ended up back at his place, naked and underneath him as he pumped into her for hours. He needed to get over his bullshit and just make a move. It was hard though, because if he read her wrong and she rejected him—that thought pierced him in a way he couldn’t even think about.
Iris nodded, her expression curious as she watched him.
Ignoring her for the moment, he picked up his phone and started to call Sierra when it rang. It was his brother. He picked up on the first ring. “Hey.”
“I’m in parking garage B, section 210. Get your ass down here. Sierra’s been hurt,” Jay said hurriedly.
The words were like a punch to his system. Hayden jumped up and motioned for Iris to follow. Time seemed to slow down and everything around him sharpened into focus as they hurried toward the elevators. “How bad? What happened?” The thought of anything happening to Sierra…fuck, he couldn’t even go there. Before he heard all the facts he needed to keep a level head.
“Someone attacked her, slammed her head against a car. She’s got some bruising and she’s upset but otherwise physically unharmed. The fucker got away because I had to check on her first. By the time I went after him there was no trace of him. The paramedics and police are on their way but I’ve got someone…hold on…” In the background he could hear Jay murmuring something then he was back on the line. “Listen, if you see Iris—”
“She’s with me,” he said as they stepped into the elevator. “We’ll be there in less than a minute.”
As they disconnected, Hayden shoved his phone in his pants pocket. He quickly relayed what his brother had told him as the elevator started moving. He slid his master key into the panel so they would go directly to the parking garage. The ride was fast but it seemed like the longest minute of his entire life. As a former SEAL, he’d been on a shitload of brutal missions in war-torn countries, been stuck behind enemy lines with no backup for days, but nothing compared to the fear pumping through his veins now. Not only was Sierra the sweetest, most sensual woman he knew, she fucking owned him. Even if she didn’t know it yet.
“Your brother said she’s unhurt,” Iris murmured, her voice unusually soft.
Hayden couldn’t even respond. His vocal cords refused to work. After what felt like an eternity, the door finally opened and he raced out. Half a dozen men in security uniforms were standing guard, giving Sierra and Jay a ten foot radius. Hayden was sure his brother or someone had already started the hunt for whoever had tried to hurt her. Normally he’d take over the situation, but all he cared about was making sure Sierra was safe. He would deal with hunting down and destroying whoever had attacked her later.
Sierra’s eyes widened when she saw Hayden barreling down on her and Jay. Her head throbbed, but Jay had gotten an ice pack for her which helped. Now they were waiting on the police so she could fill out a report. She’d have to make an official one at the casino too, but none of that concerned her now.
The craziest sense of relief pumped through her now that Hayden was here. She was still hurt that he’d apparently been going on some date, but she was grateful for his presence. At six feet five he was a freaking giant compared to her. Something she teased him about occasionally. Normally he wore a suit and tie to work but at the moment he just had on dark slacks and a buttoned up white shirt. His sleeves were rolled up, showing off his tattooed, incredibly muscular arms. Everything about him was big, intimidating and sexy.
Ignoring his brother, Hayden didn’t stop until he was right in front of her, completely crowding her personal space. Even though she was standing, he had to bend down because of her shorter height. He cupped the left side of her head, gently rubbing his thumb over her cheek as he turned her head to look at the damage on the right side. She was too stunned by his touch to even think about protesting. Words caught in her throat as he lifted the ice pack away and made a low, menacing sound in his throat.
After a moment he turned her back so that she had to look directly at him. There were so many emotions in his gaze and he was still rubbing her cheek in a soft, sensual way that made all her pain fade. He’d never touched her like this before. Sure, they’d hugged and he occasionally slung an arm around her shoulders in a friendl
“How’re you feeling, baby?” he rasped out.
She blinked in shock. Baby? Her mouth partially opened as he leaned closer. For a moment she thought he was going to kiss her, but then she realized he was looking at her eyes. Of course he was. She felt like an idiot for thinking otherwise. He was trying to check if she had a concussion.
“Are you nauseated?” he asked quietly.
The concern she saw in his face was almost enough to make her burst into tears. She was trying to keep it together but with him there it was damn hard. “No.”
“Did you lose consciousness?”
Jay had already asked her these questions but she just shook her head. “No.”
“Are you feeling dizzy or tired? Do you hear a ringing in your ears?”
“No to all of the above.”
“What about a headache?”
“Of course I have a headache. Someone slammed my head against a car.” She tried to keep her words light, but her voice cracked on the last word.
Hayden swore softly before gathering her against his chest. He wrapped his huge arms around her and even though she knew it was a mistake, she slid her arms around him and laid the uninjured side of her head against his chest. That masculine, raw scent that drove her crazy twined around her, soothing her as much as his hold did. Right now she needed his strength and wasn’t afraid to admit it.
“What do you know so far?” Hayden asked Jay.
“Someone wearing a black mask attacked her. She screamed, tried to run, and he caught up with her. Slammed her against that car,” he said as he pointed to it. “It was just by chance I was down here too. I scared him off. I wanted to go after him but I couldn’t leave her alone.”
First Surrender by Katie Reus / Romance & Love / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes