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Texas Heroes #2
A charming, confident FBI analyst gets more than the fling he bargained for when his lover lands smack in the middle of his investigation.
Gabe Lopez travels to Everness, Texas, to investigate and profile a dangerous group of white supremacists living on the outskirts of the small town. As far as he’s concerned, the assignment can’t end soon enough. When he stops to help Matt York with a flat tire, he anticipates a sexy distraction—nothing more. But Matt has a knack for getting himself into trouble, and soon Gabe is torn between protecting Matt and doing his job.
Matt left a successful life and business back in San Francisco to fulfill a promise to his aunt: find his runaway cousin and bring him home. But Tommy is on a dangerous path, and someone is trying to scare Matt off—or worse.
When the situation escalates, Matt turns to Gabe, who doesn’t like mixing business and pleasure. But in Everness, the secrets are buried deep, and like it or not, Matt is at risk of being buried right alongside them.
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When he pulled up outside the main office, the premises at least looked somewhat well-kept on the outside, if outdated. It was like this whole town was in a 1960s time warp. Last time he’d seen so many white picket fences, he’d been watching some kitschy housewife movie Krissy had dragged him to at the indie film theater down the block from their shop.
The owners were a couple in their fifties who were way too jolly about having him as a guest. They asked all sorts of enthusiastic questions when they found out he was from San Francisco, before confirming he was staying two weeks. He almost felt bad when he told them he wasn’t actually sure; their faces fell that dramatically. Did they really have so few guests that this was the most exciting thing that’d happen to them this year?
He took his key, promising he’d keep them in the loop about his travel plans, and then escaped back out to his rental car. He carefully drove through the portico to the motel’s interior, finding only one other car in the lot. Turned out his room was right there, so he parked next to the sedan. As he got out and went around to the trunk, the little FBI sticker on the back caught his attention and he suddenly realized the vehicle looked concerningly familiar.
“Oh no,” he uttered, freezing up on the spot. “No way.”
He could not be that unlucky. Please tell him he had not just been given a room next to the hottest guy he’d ever met and made a huge ass of himself in front of a mere hour ago.
One of the doors opened and for a second, he scrabbled with the wild urge to duck behind his car and hide. But, come on, he did have some self-respect. Mostly, though, his not moving all came down to the fact he was still rooted to the spot with disbelief.
He glanced up from the sticker on the back of the sedan to find himself being stared at by none other than FBI analyst Gabriel Lopez, looking almost as dumbfounded as he felt.
“Matt?” Gabe stepped forward, sounding somewhere between confused and worried.
“Um, hi…. Again.” Oh God. Lamest-greeting-ever award goes to Matt York.
“Hi.” Gabe smiled, the grin spreading across his face like someone had just told him he could eat the last chocolate cream puff. “Fancy meeting you here.”
“Yeah.” He gave a weak laugh, feeling his stupid, stupid cheeks getting warm. “Staying here too, huh?”
“Number eleven.” Gabe hiked his thumb toward the door he’d just stepped out of.
“I’m in twelve.” He held up the key, the shiny plastic tag catching the sunlight with a brief flash.
“Well, how about that.”
Gabe sauntered forward. He’d changed into a new shirt, this one a powder blue, his neat tie navy blue shot through with silver. Gabe leaned casually against the side of the car and crossed his arms with a small, almost secretive smile. The thin material of his shirt stretched over his defined biceps, and Matt had to blink several times to stop himself staring.
“Need a hand with that luggage now?”
Oh crap. Oh damn. Oh shit. He didn’t know whether to melt in a puddle at the tips of Gabe’s shiny black dress shoes or run all the way back to San Francisco with his head in a paper bag to hide his bright red face.
Was the guy really flirting with him, or was he just desperately wanting to see something that wasn’t there? Get some chill, Matt. He forced himself to take a long, slow breath. On the small chance Gabe actually was flirting with him and didn’t think he was a complete blockhead, then he didn’t want to blow this—
Actually, scrap that. God damn, did he want to blow this. He dragged some equilibrium to the fore, reminding himself again that he was a successful guy who owned his own business and could step the hell up when he needed to.
“Sure,” he finally replied, amazed that his voice came out sounding even. “I’ve got two cases, so go ahead and grab one.”
He didn’t wait to see what Gabe would make of that. Instead he busied himself getting the trunk open and hauling out the suitcase on the left. He brushed by Gabe, who’d come over to help himself to the smaller second case. Tugging up the handle, Matt headed to his room, putting all of his concentration into unlocking the door and pushing it open. The interior was dim from the curtains being closed, so he parked the suitcase just inside the door and went over to push back the heavy material.
The inside actually wasn’t too bad. It looked surprisingly clean, anyway. Fake wood paneling, terra-cotta-colored paint on one wall, obligatory print of some Van Gogh painting on another wall, and floral bedspread that looked like a colorblind florist shop had thrown up on it—unsurprisingly matching with the curtains—all about as dated as the rest of the town. At least it didn’t smell musty and there weren’t any obvious or suspicious-looking stains that would leave him fighting the urge to throw up.
“Charming, isn’t it?” Gabe swung the door shut behind himself and set the small case on the laminate table in the corner. “I’ve stayed in worse places, though, so I’m not complaining too much.”
Matt took his wallet and phone out of his pocket and went to put them on the table next to where Gabe was standing. He tried to come up with something to say. Except his brain apparently wasn’t agreeing with the plan of providing him any words, leaving him nothing but an awkward silence. At least, he felt awkward. Gabe seemed relaxed enough as he ambled the short distance across the room and poked his head into the bathroom.
“This room is a mirror to mine.” Gabe pivoted slowly as he slid his hands into his pockets, looking so damn sexy just standing there not even trying. “Which means our beds are against the same wall. Just a heads-up if you were planning on having any guests.”
A slight, irreverent grin flitted over Gabe’s face before he schooled his features into something that could almost have been considered innocent.
“Thanks, I’ll be sure to keep that in mind,” he returned with a hint of exasperation, recalling his conversation with Sammie about his apparent dry streak and the odds of finding someone worth looking at twice in Texas. Seemed like he had to eat humble pie over that one.
A trill sounded from Gabe’s pocket and he pulled his phone out, glancing at the screen. “I have to go. Got a few things to get done this afternoon.”
“Yeah, no problem.” Matt went over and opened the door, feeling torn between disappointment Gabe was leaving and relief he didn’t have to keep trying to think of things to say.
Gabe shoved his phone away again as he crossed the room. The analyst paused in front of him, dark gaze considering. “Don’t suppose you want to go out for a drink tonight?”
About the author:
Jess Anastasi has been making up stories ever since she can remember. Though her messy handwriting made it hard for anyone else to read them, she wasn’t deterred, and now she gets to make up stories for a living. With a multi-award-winning science fiction romance series to her name, her books feature larger-than-life heroes with relatable vulnerabilities who find themselves in situations that push their resolve to the limit. Jess is a tea addict who loves loud music, dancing in her kitchen, and a good book on a rainy day. A fangirl at heart, she probably spends too much time watching too many TV shows. Jess lives in regional Victoria, Australia. Find out more about Jess and her upcoming releases at her website.
Promotional post. Materials provided by the author.