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Jack Horwood hates owing favors. But when a simple day out to treat Gareth to the best oysters in England leads to a discovery of drugs and counterfeit money—things that neither Jack nor Gareth have the jurisdiction to handle—he has to call in help. Help that doesn’t come cheap, and that forces him to do something he promised himself he’d never do again—walk away from Gareth and the family he’s starting to make for himself.
Three months undercover is a long time. After missing Gareth’s birthday, Jack is determined not to miss their first anniversary. But coming home and being home are two very different things. So when he is asked to assist with a corporate espionage investigation, Jack can’t say no, despite knowing it will impact his already straining relationship.
Except, of course, he’s walking into a trap….
“That was one spectacular brunch,” Gareth sighed, mellow and content, as they wandered slowly along the beach. He hadn’t just eaten oysters until he was ready to pop and washed them down with a bottle of creamy, lemon-scented fizz. They’d also been ordered to stop by the shack on their way home to collect a cooler full of freshly caught, baked, and smoked goodies to take with them. And Jack, who took orders as well as a mule, hadn’t said a word against the edict. Now the surf was a soft rattle of pebbles and hiss of foam sinking through sand, the sun caressed his skin, and the salty breeze was surprisingly pleasant. It wasn’t summer warm, but nowhere near chilly either. “And this… this is perfect.”
The day got better than perfect when Jack shed his green fleece, showing off the steel-gray sleeveless top he wore underneath. Gareth feasted his eyes on the long, elegant line of Jack’s back and slid his gaze across wide shoulders down to strong, muscled arms and capable, long-fingered hands.
For someone who always complained about Gareth’s teasing, Jack wasn’t doing a half-bad job of it himself. He looked edible standing on the pebble beach, framed by the endlessly shifting gray-green wash of the sea and with the soft blue and white of an April sky above. Gareth could have sworn that the air around him grew just a tad warmer as Jack stretched his arms up over his head and arched his back, seemingly to work out the kinks, but drawing Gareth’s gaze inevitably to his pert ass and long legs, encased in snug black denim.
After over two weeks of drought, Gareth’s body took immediate notice of the display, especially when Jack pushed his aviators up to rest amid his dark choppy hair, tipped his head back, and basked in the sunshine. Having seen in the past how quickly Jack’s skin caught the sun—he had looked like a local after a mere week in the desert—Gareth knew that he would be asked the following morning if he’d had a good holiday. But that wasn’t what made Gareth’s jeans grow uncomfortably tight. No, that reaction was due to him imagining Jack spread out on their bed, his skin gleaming golden in soft lamplight, and with the same blissful look on his face that he wore right then.
Damn the brat for playing his little games in public! Gareth drew a deep breath and then another, trying to calm his heart and mind. Of course it didn’t work. Wishing the beach and everyone on it into the second circle of hell had no effect either.
“Perfect. Just… perfect,” he grumbled, catching up with Jack.
“Told you. Best oysters in England.”
OTHER BOOKS IN THE POWER OF ZERO SERIES…
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Synopsis: You don’t greet your new boss dressed like an underage rent boy. But when Jack Horwood—ace hacker and ex-MI6 operative—opens the door to Gareth Flynn, he’s too busy to worry over details like that. And anyway, his potential new boss is his former Commanding Officer – the same guy Jack has had a crush on since he was seventeen. So he should understand, right?
When he applied for the job in Nancarrow Mining’s corporate security division, Jack had hoped for peaceful days repelling cyber attacks. Maybe a bit of corporate espionage on the side. His plans didn’t include rescuing abused children, hunting pimps, or dealing with his overly protective and hot-as-hell boss, Gareth Flynn.
Walking away is not an option. Jack never takes the easy way out. More than that, meeting Gareth raises old ghosts that Jack needs to put to rest. Rescuing kids. Taking risks. Saving the day. Jack can do all that – but deciding what to do about his attraction to Gareth isn’t the sort of cloak-and-dagger game Jack plays well. Yet Gareth, strong and smart and always on hand when needed, might be Jack’s salvation.
Synopsis: Jack Horwood doesn’t do families. Or Christmas. From the time his mother sold him to her pimp to the moment he walked out on the man he loved, Christmas has always been about change and painful choices. This year seems no different. Helping Daniel and Nico recover from their imprisonment and hunting down those responsible puts Jack in a frame of mind he doesn’t want to inflict on anyone. Least of all Gareth and the tentative relationship they’ve started to rebuild.
But Gareth, for whom Christmas is all about new beginnings, won’t let Jack take the easy way out. He makes him face his ghosts instead. Even when said ghosts invade their bedroom.
When Daniel’s parents are found, Jack is determined to settle the matter without involving Daniel at all. But fate decrees otherwise, and it’s Gareth who helps him finally understand that the strongest bonds are those forged together. Once he gets that, Jack can step up and make a decision designed to lay his ghosts to rest—for good.
ABOUT JACKIE KESWICK
Jackie Keswick was born behind the Iron Curtain with itchy feet, a bent for rocks and a recurrent dream of stepping off a bus in the middle of nowhere to go home. She’s worked in a hospital and as the only girl with 52 men on an oil rig, spent a winter in Moscow and a summer in Iceland and finally settled in the country of her dreams with her dream team: a husband, a cat, a tandem, a hammer and a laptop.
Jackie loves stories about unexpected reunions and second chances, and men who don’t follow the rules when those rules are stupid. She has a thing for green eyes and tight cyclist’s butts and is a great believer in making up soundtracks for everything, including her characters and the cat.
And she still hasn’t found the place where the bus stops.