Author: Piper J Drake
Series: True Heroes #2
Release Date: July 26, 2016
Genre: Contemporary Romance, Military, Romantic Suspense
More Info: Goodreads
Purchase: Amazon US
Purchase: Barnes & Noble
Purchase: Amazon UK
Love is an act of bravery.
Retired Navy SEAL Alex Rojas is putting his life back together, one piece at a time. Being a single dad to his young daughter and working at Hope's Crossing Kennels to help rehab a former guard dog, he struggles every day to control his PTSD. But when Elisa Hall shows up, on the run and way too cautious, she unleashes his every protective instinct.
Elisa's past never stays in her rearview mirror for long, and she refuses to put anyone else in danger. But with Alex guarding her so fiercely yet looking at her so tenderly, she's never felt safer . . . or more terrified that the secrets she keeps could put countless people in grave peril. The only way for both to fully escape their demons will take the ultimate act of courage: letting go and learning to trust each other.
Title: Ultimate Courage
Series: True Heroes #2
Genre: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Author: Piper J Drake
Release Date: July 26, 2016
You’ve got to be insane.”
Elisa Hall took a prudent step—or two—back as she observed the standoff brewing in front of her. A tall man stood between her and the emergency room reception desk, glaring at the woman in scrubs behind it. He stood at an angle to Elisa, so he could see the reception desk to his right and the entirety of the waiting area in front of him.
He clenched his fists.
Elisa retreated farther back toward the entrance, releasing her throbbing rist and letting her hands fall to her sides. Harmless. Nothing to see here.
“I’m sorry, sir, but ambulances take precedence over walk-ins,” the nurse repeated. She was braver than Elisa would’ve been in the face of rage on a level with the man’s at the counter.
He was dressed in loose fitness shorts and a close-fitting black tee. His hands were wrapped in some cross between tape and fabric.
“Fighter” might as well have been printed across his very broad, muscular shoulders.
Actually, now that she was looking, his tee said Revolution Mixed Martial Arts Academy.
Well, then. Maybe she should just take more ibuprofen and forget about seeing a doctor for her swollen wrist after all. Getting her injury examined wasn’t worth staying anywhere near this guy.
The nurse glanced quickly at Elisa then returned her attention to the man, her expression softening with sympathy. “As soon as an examination room opens up, we’ll get you in to see the doctor. Please, wait right here and fill out these forms while I help this young lady.”
Wait, what? The man’s face, and his focus, turned towardher. Oh, great.
Usually she envied nurses their ability to sympathize with so many patients and make such a difference in their lives. Now was not one of those times.
Elisa squashed the urge to bolt. Never ended well when she tried it. Better to hold very still, wait until the anger in front of her burned itself out, and pull herselftogether afterward.
Instead, she fastened her gaze on the floor and tried to keep her body from tensing visibly. Silently, she sang herself an inane nursery rhyme to take her mind
off the weight of the man’s intense glare. Please, please, let him walk away. They were in public, and even though the emergency room waiting area wasn’tpacked, it still had a dozen people scattered around the seats.
But the expected explosion, shouting, other things . . .never happened. Instead, the man had quieted. All of the frustrated aggression seemed to have been stuffed away, somewhere.
She swallowed hard. Relief eased her constricted throat, and she breathed slowly for the time being. Leaving remained the best idea she had at the moment.
But he stepped away from the counter and farther to her right, motioning with a wrapped hand for her to step forward. As she forced her feet to take herselfcloser to the reception desk—and past him—he gave her room.
Belatedly, she realized his movement also happened to block her escape route toward the doors. He couldn’t have done it on purpose, could he? But Elisa took a step up to the reception counter and away from him anyway.
“Yes, dear?” The nurse’s gentle prompt made Elisa jump.
Damn it. Elisa’s heart beat loud in her ears.
The nurse gave her an encouraging smile. “Don’t mind him. He’s been here before. I’ve already asked another nurse to bring ice packs as fast as possible. I don’t
mind if he blows off some hot air in my direction in the meantime. I would be upset, too, considering today’s situation.”
Elisa bit her lip. She could still feel the man standing behind her, his presence looming at her back. He couldn’t possibly appreciate the nurse sharing some of
his private information. And he didn’t seem to need ice packs or any other medical attention. He appeared very able-bodied. “It’s none of my business.”
The nurse placed a clipboard on the counter and wrinkled her nose. “Oh, trust me, the entire waiting room knows what his concern is. Tell me what brought you here.”
This might be the most personable emergency room reception area Elisa had been to in years, not counting the extremely angry man standing behind her. They were either not very busy—not likely if all the examination rooms were full up—or extremely efficient.
Efficiency meant she could get in and out and decide what her next steps would be.
“My wrist.” Elisa held out her left arm, her wrist obviously swollen. “I thought it was just a bad sprain, but it’s been more than a few days and has only gotten worse. I can barely move it now.”
And if she could have avoided it, she definitely wouldn’t have stopped in to get it treated. An emergency room visit, even with the help of her soon-to-be nonexistent insurance, was still an expense she didn’t need. It’d been six months or so since her last significant paycheck, and she could not afford to extend her insurance much longer. Plus, it might be better not to. One less way to track her.
“Is that your dominant arm, dear?” The nurse held up a pen.
Elisa shook her head.
“Oh, good. Leave your ID and insurance card with me so I can make copies. Take a seat over there to fill out this form and bring it back to me.”
Okay, then. Elisa took the items and made her way toward the seating area, thankful the nurse hadn’t asked her to give her name and pertinent information verbally. It was always a risk to share those things out loud.
She’d learned over and over again. There was a chance a slip of information in the unlikeliest of places would find its way to exactly the person she didn’t want
to have it. No matter how careful she’d been over the last several months, it hadn’t been enough yet.
But it would be. This time. She was learning, and she was free. Every day was a new chance.
Nodding to herself, Elisa looked for a seat. It might not be crowded, but just about everyone in the room had decided to sit with at least a chair or two buffer between them and the next person. The buffer seats were all that were left, and most of the other people waiting to be seen were either men, or women sitting with men.
Then she caught sight of a young girl sitting with her legs crossed in the seat next to the big planter in the corner. Slender, but long limbed, the girl had a sweet face and the gangly look of a growing kid. Elisa guessed the girl was maybe eight or nine, could even be ten. Hard to pin down age when the kid had such an innocent look to her. The seat next to her was open, and she was waiting quietly, hugging a big, blue, plush . . . round thing. Whatever it was.
Elisa walked quickly over, and when the girl looked up at her with big, blue eyes, Elisa gave her the friendliest smile she could dig up. “Mind if I sit next
The girl looked around, her gaze lingering on the receptionarea behind Elisa for a moment before saying,“Sure.”
Elisa took a seat.
After a few silent moments, the little girl stirred nextto her. “Are you sick?”
Well, paperwork didn’t take much of her attention,and it’d been a while since Elisa had been outside ofher own head in a lot of ways. Conversation would be
a welcome change and a good distraction from the constantworry running in the back of her mind. “Not sickso much as hurt. I won’t give you the plague.”
A soft, strained laugh. “Same here.”
Elisa took a harder look at the big, plush toy. It wasn’tfor comfort as Elisa’d first assumed. It was supportingthe girl’s slender left arm, which was bent at an impossibleangle.
“Oh my god.” Why was she sitting here alone?
“Don’t worry.” The girl gave her a quick thumbs-upwith her right hand. “The doctors are really good here,and I’m in all the time.”
Such a brave face. She had to be in an insane amountof pain. And here she was encouraging Elisa.
“Is there someone you should talk to about how oftenyou get hurt?” Elisa struggled for the right tone. It wasone she’d heard more than once when people had beenconcerned for her. Some places had safeguards in placefor . . .
Blue eyes widened. “Oh, it’s not what you’re thinking.Trust me, people ask my dad. And it’s not likethat at all. I study mixed martial arts. I get bruised and
bumped all the time, and usually it’s nothing, but Dad alwaysmakes me come in to get checked.”
It was hard not to believe in the earnest tone. Butmonsters were everywhere.
The girl gave her a rueful smile, still amazing consideringhow much pain she had to be in. “This time itwasn’t just a bump.”
“Which is why they’re going to see you as soon asthey can, Boom.”
Elisa hadn’t heard the man approach. He was justthere. He kneeled down in front of the girl then gentlytucked an ice pack around her arm while moving it as
little as possible. For her part, the girl hissed in pain butotherwise held up with amazing fortitude.
Elisa would’ve been in tears. The forearm had to bebroken. Both bones. It didn’t take a doctor to figure thatout. No wonder the man had been mad earlier. She’dwant this girl to be seen as soon as possible, too. Shedropped her gaze, unable to watch.
“Here.” An ice pack appeared in her view. “Your wristshould be iced, too. Take down the swelling while youwait.”
Speechless, Elisa looked up.
The man’s words were gruff, awkward. His expressionwas blank. But his eyes—a softness around hiseyes—and a . . . quiet in the way he watched her made herswallow and relax a fraction. Her heartbeat stuttered ina fluttery kind of way. A completely different reactionfrom what she should be experiencing if she were wise.She didn’t know this man and he was probably married.The girl had a mother somewhere. Where? Maybe onher way. This man was just being nice. Maybe.
Learn from your mistakes. You never know who a personreally is.
A high adrenaline contemporary suspense series featuring hot military heroes, the women who love them, and the dogs that always have their backs.
Honor, Loyalty, Love
David Cruz is good at two things: war and training dogs. The ex-soldier’s toughest case is Atlas, a Belgian Malinois whose handler died in combat. Nobody at Hope’s Crossing kennel can break through the animal’s grief. That is, until dog whisperer Evelyn Jones walks into the facility . . . and into Atlas’s heart. David hates to admit that the curvy blonde’s mesmerizing effect isn’t limited to canines. But when Lyn’s work with Atlas puts her in danger, David will do anything to protect her.
Lyn realizes that David’s own battle scars make him uniquely qualified for his job as a trainer. Tough as nails yet gentle when it counts, he’s gotten closer to Atlas than anyone else-and he’s willing to put his hard-wired suspicion aside to let her do the same. But someone desperate enough to kill doesn’t want Lyn working with Atlas. Now only teamwork, trust, and courage can save two troubled hearts and the dog who loves them both…
Coming December 20th!