Echo–romantic suspense by Anne Conley in the Pierce Securities series.
Cover Model: Devon Ryan
Photography: Tresal Photography
Cover Art: LoveBooks Cover Design
One attack in her home is enough to make Lacie Hill freak out, but a second is enough to make her check out. Lacie was happy with her solitary life—kindergarten teacher, weekly girls’ nights out, and a father she’s close to. When she’s targeted for sick games with unknown players, she forces herself to act normally and hope everything will go away. You know, ostrich impersonation. The police are doing everything they can to help. Nothing left for her to do, right?
When Lacie’s father hires Pierce Securities to help her, the only person not working a job would be the boss man, Simon— a control freak who loves his rules. He’s trying to find his sister’s stalker while keeping his micromanaging eyes on all the guys in the office. He has policies in place for reasons. For safety. For professionalism.
For his heart.
But will Lacie’s case be an echo of his past? Or will he be able to protect her and love her at the same time, breaking all his hard and fast rules?
Lacie Hill was painfully early to school, obtrusively to get ready for her day, but unobtrusively, to avoid her own home. As she walked around straightening desks and picking up papers, she gave herself a talking to. She was leaving all the negativity at home, where it belonged. She didn’t need to show her fear to her students. This was where they came to learn through play, and Lacie was all about teaching. She loved being a teacher, and watching the children as they grasped concepts and gained knowledge, even without knowing it. It was why she existed.
A knock at her door, and a familiar throat clearing had her turning around.
“Hi, Daddy!” With long strides, she walked over and hugged the man who had raised her after her mother died when she was eight. He rarely had time to come into her classroom, but had managed to visit more since last week. She hated that the evil following her had tainted his school the way it had, but at least it hadn’t managed to invade her classroom.
He squeezed her tightly, cocooning her in only the safety a father’s hug could. It wasn’t until she’d squeezed for a good thirty seconds that she saw the man standing behind him.
“I finally managed to get you an Aide for the classroom. Mr. Pierce is going to help you out with your students, and anything else you may need.” Her father stepped back, and the stranger held out his hand to shake hers. She almost didn’t see it, though, because… his eyes. The heat flashing in them as he stepped forward to shake her hand consumed her, a hunger that tracked through her veins and coursed around her body before it shuttered into a look of benign nonchalance. It was so fast, if it hadn’t have had such a physical effect on her body, Lacie might not have noticed it.
Lacie glanced at her father. Surely the new man was vetted and verified, because with everything that had happened, she was wary of strangers. The hunger that had flashed in his eyes had been terrifying.
And this guy was definitely strange.
For one thing, he was dressed in a suit. Lacie had never seen a teacher’s aide who dressed nicer than the teachers. Or the administration either. His suit was designer, she could tell that much. And it stretched across a frame that wasn’t used to sitting behind desks and working in classrooms. This Mr. Pierce was built like a small line-backer—broad shoulders, tapered waist.
But it was his eyes that struck her most. Gray eyes with a light green ring around the pupil gave them an eerie quality, but they were clear and held an intelligence that belied his position. Not that teacher’s aides were stupid by any means, but this guy did not fit into that mold. And the way he had looked at her sent shivers down her spine, and Lacie reminded herself again
, that Daddy had checked the guy. But his look was full of something dangerous, hot, and feral, all wrapped into one darkening gaze.
“Ms. Hill,” he spoke, prompting her to realize she was staring at him.
“Sorry,” she held out her hand to shake his. “Mr. Pierce, it’s nice to meet you. I’m excited to be working with you.” Not that she had known about him, but knowing her dad, he’d probably busted his butt to get her someone in her classroom to help out since the tire-slashing incident last week.
As her hand touched his, Mr. Pierce’s grip surprised her. Warmth filled her hand, almost a zinging like what she’d read about in romance novels. Which she’d always thought was stupid. But she had the inane desire to shake the tingling off her hand when he let go. His had was calloused, as if he was used to working. Although, if the muscles that seemed to shape the suit were any indication, he probably lifted a lot of weights. And apparently had an electrical socket hidden in there somewhere. The buzz of electricity that flowed up her arm was ridiculous, but he didn’t seem to notice it, with the exception of his sharpening gaze.
“Well, I’ll leave you two to it, then,” her father said awkwardly before backing out of the room. “Have a great day, sweetheart.” He winked at her, then left Lacie alone with the stranger in the suit who was supposed to help her all day.
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Anne has written her entire life and has the boxes of angst-filled journals and poetry to prove it. She’s been writing for public consumption for the past several years. Currently, she has four romance series. In Stories of Serendipity, she explores real people living real lives in small town Texas in a contemporary romance setting. In The Four Winds, she chronicles God’s four closest archangels, Uriel, Gabriel, Raphael, and Michael, falling in love and becoming human. In Pierce Securities, she gives us Ryan, Evan, Miriam, Zack, Quinten, and Simon. Her newest series, Book B!tches, is all about a group of women in Mystic, Texas who get into all sorts of shenanigans.
She lives in rural East Texas with her husband and children in her own private oasis, where she prides herself in her complete lack of social skills, choosing instead to live with the people inside her head.
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