The Broken Protector
Starting over isn’t easy when an unexpected hero crashes her plans in this steamy and gripping new small-town enemies-to-lovers romance by Wall Street Journal bestselling author Nicole Snow.My fresh start turned into a dumpster fire.Awesome new job. Small town heaven. Friendly faces galore.Then I strolled into my new home and found the unspeakable.Just when I’m sure it can’t get worse, I’m “rescued” by a man who makes me see red for miles.Enter Lucas Graves.A bossy grump with a badge who’s sworn to keep me safe.He rocks the scary-hot vibe, he reads too much, and he never misses a chance to give me crap for being a nerdy little cactus who mouths back.Not the type of man I’d go for in my right mind.Definitely not the type I should keep trading bruising kisses with.Redhaven, North Carolina has driven me insane.Why else does my heart race when Lucas gets jealous and overprotective?How could I think he’ll ever share more than another reckless night?He guards his own battered heart as fiercely as he watches over me.It can’t get more complicated.Oh, but then it does.There’s a razor-thin line between heartbreak and hope with a broken protector.He’s so wrong for me I could scream.But I’m not losing sleep over the very real danger I’m in.I’m terrified that Lucas Graves might be the best thing that’s ever happened—if he’d let us happen at all.
This big slice of feel-good small-town romance brings enemies to lovers fire, hilarious sweetness, heart-thumping suspense, and all the butterflies. Smile yourself silly as one big bossy lunk tries to keep his heart and his secrets from the headstrong new girl destined to make him whole.
I can’t stop scowling at his back, pathetically speechless.
Yeah, I’ve got to find a better way to say dick.
I’m not even sure why he riles me up so much.
Probably that juvenile Miss New York nickname and the way he always shows up without warning. Or it’s the laughably inappropriate way he got me to stop fixating on the dead girl by teasing me about sleeping on his sofa.
Or maybe it’s just that he’s so flipping tall.
I’ve been a short stack my whole life.
And I’ve had more than one person try to make me feel small, crowding me out of daring to take up space.
Trisha’s talking to me.
My face goes hot and I whip my eyes back to her, clearing my throat. “Sorry. So, about those membership plans?”
It doesn’t take long before I’m set up with a monthly trial plan. I’m almost shocked at how cheap it is when I’m used to NYC markups on everything.
I could’ve saved even more if I’d committed to a quarterly plan. But maybe I’m thinking about dead bodies, quietly wondering just what my limit is for how many I’m cool with before I panic and hightail it out of town.
Or I’m just being dramatic, and what’s actually on my mind is tree-lined lanes and how nice it would be to jog down them at sunrise, no membership required.
Sighing, I do a quick five-minute set of stretches before I claim one of the treadmills with House Hunters on TV for company.
I’ve barely started a light jog when the men’s locker room door swings open and Lucas Graves stalks back out, sans gym bag.
He takes one glance at me—a glance that lingers too long, making me nearly trip on my own feet—before he looks at the television.
Somehow, he switches the channel over to Better Call Saul before climbing on the treadmill next to mine and gliding into a steady, pounding pace.
The man goes from nothing to a strong, violent run in under five seconds. Almost like a racehorse bursting out of the gate.
He runs for two solid minutes without even huffing.
This. Is. So. Bad.
My mind goes terrible places, wondering what else his body can do with gym-freak stamina like that.
“I was watching that, you know,” I mutter when I can’t stand it any longer.
He doesn’t look at me, his mile-wide chest rising and falling in deep, steady breaths.
“So change it back. You’ve got thumbs, right?” His gaze stays on his digital readouts as he shrugs.
“Um, yes. I have thumbs. Very observant.” Glaring, I manage to hold up a thumb instead of another middle finger salute. I’m being nice today.
I shake my head, ready for more of his crap, but apparently he’s holding back too.
“So change it back,” I mouth, scowling, but then slow the treadmill and step off it.
I brace my burning feet on the floor for a second before I stomp over, grab the remote on a little console table under the TV, and flick the channel back to my show.
I don’t even make it back to my machine before the sound changes, and Bob Odenkirk starts yelling at a couple cartel guys who look like they eat kittens for breakfast.
Looks like I’m going to get arrested for assaulting a cop today.
I whip my head up, glaring at the TV, then at Lucas.
He’s got his phone out, not even missing a stride as he taps his screen. I catch a glimpse of the Roku logo.
Oh, that absolute jerk. He’s got an app synced to this TV, and he just—
A little growl slips up my throat. Still gripping the remote, I punch the button back to House Hunters, staring at him pointedly the entire time.
He’s still got his head bowed, his face unreadable as the TV changes again.
“Oops,” he whispers. “Butterfingers.”
“Butterfingers, my ass!” I hiss back, stabbing the button again. “Dude, do you mind?”
He spreads his hands.
With his long, easy stride, the motion makes the muscles in his waist pull dangerously tight against his A-shirt that’s finally starting to darken with sweat.
“Don’t know what’s wrong with this damn thing,” he lies. “It’s busted today. Just keeps switching back on its own.”
Right as he taps his phone again, watching me with a mock-innocent look.
Right on cue, the TV flicks back to his stupid suspense show despite me mashing the button down like my life depends on it.
“You don’t know what’s wrong with it, huh?” I can’t believe I’m this annoyed and yet somehow smirking helplessly.
I jab the button again—really fast this time, stabbing it with my fingertip—just as he hits the button on his screen. The TV starts flickering back and forth like a psychedelic kaleidoscope of noise and color.
“Maybe your thumb’s broken,” I say. “Mine are working, last I checked.”
He glances at his hand languidly then, lifting his thumb off his phone. “Must be. Would you look at that. It should stay now.”
I snort and hit my channel again, shaking my head as I try to pick up the pace and try to have a normal workout.
I point two fingers at my eyes and then at him.
I’m watching you.
Nicole Snow is a Wall Street Journal and USA Today bestselling author. She found her love of writing by hashing out love scenes on lunch breaks and plotting her great escape from boardrooms. Her work roared onto the indie romance scene in 2014 with her Grizzlies MC series.
Since then Snow aims for the very best in growly, heart-of-gold alpha heroes, unbelievable suspense, and swoon storms aplenty. With over a million books sold, she lives for the joy of making two people fight with every bit of their soul for a Happily Ever After.
Current fan favorites include her Enguard Protectors series, accidental love novels, plus long beloved MC romance thrillers like the Grizzlies and Deadly Pistols.
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