by Jade Cary
The Point of It All Book One
Diana Kenyon is a beautiful, successful doctor with her own practice and her own life. But the occasional work she does for the DC-based Stanton Group thrusts her into the dark world of political refugees, kidnapping and torture. Her boss, and godfather, Jack Stanton, runs an organization that rehabilitates victims of political torture, giving them new faces, thanks to Dr. Kenyon, and new lives, thanks to The Stanton Group.
When Jack thinks Diana might be at risk herself, he forces her to attend a seminar that will hopefully give her the skills she needs to keep herself safe.
As the company owner of VRS Securities, Valerio Rios knows his subject well, and his seminars are well-attended by top executives from top companies who do not want to pay huge ransoms for their executives’ safe return. Val has seen firsthand what these victims go through. When Diana turns up missing, Val is hired to find her and bring her home safely. But rescuing the beautiful doctor is not the end of Val’s work. Someone is after her, and Val is determined to keep the independent and strong-willed lady safe. As he tries to find out who is after her, and why a successful doctor was taken in the first place, lies, deceit and mistrust hinder his efforts. Val Rios is a no-nonsense man, and Diana Kenyon is stubborn, willful and independent. Sparks fly as Val grows more determined to see her safe, and in his bed where she belongs, even if it takes a couple of trips over his knee to do it.
Note: This was previously published Jan 2012 by LazyDay Publishing. New material has been added, and it has been newly edited.
Genre: Contemporary RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon ARe iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Doctor, Romantic Suspense, Spanking, Mystery
Release Date: September 1, 2016
Publisher: Blushing Books
Excerpt & More
Val held up a hand to the other men to stay were they were, and he followed the woman back across the dirt expanse to the rear of the encampment. A large carpa stood erect behind barely standing lean-tos and shanties thrown up with haste and little expertise. The army-green blended into the landscape, making it the perfect makeshift clinic, out of which, it appeared, Doctor Kenyon operated.
A naked child toddled out of the tent. His stomach was grossly distended. Parasites, dysentery—any number of things. The dim lights strung between the trees illuminated the encampment enough to see the face of the round woman as she shooed the child away and entered the tent. A generator hummed its white noise behind the large carpa. The woman spoke in hushed tones Val could not make out. She came out a moment later and motioned Val inside with a smile, happy she was helping someone else by lending her ‘healer’.
A dozen cots lay side by side. An antiseptic smell mingled with something sour and old. Most of the cots were filled. Diana Kenyon stood in the center of it all, holding an infant in her arms. Her hair was tied back and appeared longer than the picture he carried; her face was gaunt. The infant lay motionless in her arms. She shook her head at the round woman, then handed her the child. The round woman disappeared without a word. Then she turned her weary blue eyes to Val. A spark of recognition appeared and left just as quickly.
“Doctor Kenyon? Doctor Diana Kenyon?”
“Diana,” he said. “I am Valerio Rios. I’ve come to take you home.”
He pronounced her name Dee-ana, the Spanish way. She stared at him and pulled the latex gloves off her hands. She picked up a bottle and splashed half of its contents over her hands. The acrid smell of rubbing alcohol filled the air. She met his eyes.
“Thank you for coming,” she said weakly. “But I’m not going anywhere.”
They sat outside under the string of lights. Diana’s gaze was far away. She looked sick and near exhaustion. Putting together a quick assessment, Val noted her color was gray, the skin around her hands was dry and shriveled, and her hair, a beautiful honey blond when he saw her in Miami, was now thin, lifeless and devoid of color. She appeared dehydrated. She’d been missing for six months, so Val believed her condition was not permanent. Yet, he’d be hard pressed to convince anyone else of that right now.
He had a problem: she’d escaped her captors—this much was confirmed. If he knew why they wanted her in the first place, he could assess the immediate danger. If it was strictly for ransom, she’d be safe. They would not waste the time looking for her, preferring to move on to a new target. But Val believed she had something that they wanted, and her kidnapping was about more than just ransom. Keeping her safe was his priority, and it didn’t much matter right now what she wanted. It was obvious to him that the gitanos had taken care of her and protected her well. She appeared well enough to travel.
“You are not staying here. You know that, right?” Val said, blowing into his cup. The coffee was horrendous. He tossed it with a purpose across the dry dirt and set the cup down.
“I told you I’m not going with you, Mr. Rios.” She half sat on the stump of a large tree, and he sat on a wooden platform with cut wood piled behind him.
“I heard you.” He was not in the habit of explaining himself beyond a few words, and only if it was crucial to life or limb. He could haul her out of here in a nanosecond and it wouldn’t even cause him to breathe hard, but he knew he’d not win her trust by doing that.
Val assessed her again. The woman had been through a lot—a lot being relative. To a woman like her, the act of kidnapping and being held, assuming not another thing had been done to her, was horrifying enough. But he knew how these things went, especially for women. Had she been beaten, sexually assaulted, starved, deprived of basic needs? Most likely the answer was yes to all. Some sensitivity was in order.
“We don’t have a lot of time, Diana.” He spoke low, his voice even and his tone sympathetic. “I do this for a living, and I will keep you safe, I promise you that.”
“I want to stay here.”
“Can you tell me why?”
“They need me.”
“Well,” Val said, looking around the encampment. “That’s probably true, but you’re needed back home as well. Your family needs you, your patients need you.”
Diana stared into the night and shook her head.
Val knew from experience that after an ordeal like this, the victim sometimes felt too tainted, too sullied, to return home to a normal life. Elements of Stockholm syndrome, where the abuse victim sympathizes with her captors/abusers and even grows to ‘love’ them, could be present here, too. Val assumed the worst, always, and hoped for the best. What he did know was that he needed to get Diana Kenyon out of the area. Her family and some good counseling would help her navigate through this; Val would and could not. His job was to get her home.
“Is there anything you need to take with you?” he said, his tone now no-nonsense. “If so, get it now.”
Diana chuckled without looking at him. “Did you take a look around in there?”
“Yes, I did. I saw it, Diana. And while you won’t agree with me now, it isn’t your responsibility. You were brought here under extraordinary circumstances, and these people were lucky to have you. But it’s time to go.” He paused. “C’mon. I’ve got your clothes and your big silver purse in my vehicle.”
That seemed to get her attention, but she shook loose of it quick. “I am not some child who is asking for one more turn down the slide. We’re talking about people’s lives.”
“And I was hired to protect yours,” he said quietly.
“And here I thought you just taught seminars.”
“I wear many hats. Glad you remember.” He paused. “This isn’t open for discussion. You have five minutes.” His tone brooked no argument.
She gazed at the stars, out in abundance tonight. “Your arrogance certainly hasn’t waned.”
“Nor has yours.” He stood. “We are leaving, doctor. You can do it under your own steam or you may take a ride over my shoulder. It doesn’t matter to me.”
She glared at him and stalked into the tent. Val folded his arms and looked around the encampment. It was filthy. Trash lay strewn about, mixed with animal feces and old bones from meals long ago eaten, remnants tossed haphazardly. A fire burned somewhere close by. It made him think of home. I’ll close this case and take some time off, he promised himself. He looked to the doorway of the carpa.
“Can I help with anything?”
She appeared in the doorway, leveling a shotgun at him. “Yes, you can. You can leave. Right now.”
Val blew out a breath. There were many things he tolerated in the wild and varied life he led, but there were few things he truly hated more than to have a gun pointed at him. Being shot at was worse. That really pissed him off.
Val saw the determination in her eyes—there was no doubt in his mind she would pull the trigger. The unknown was whether she possessed adequate aim. He remembered the woman who sat at the back of his seminar that day. And then he remembered the woman out by the pool later on. He assessed his next move, and thought about how far he would go to not only keep himself alive, but her, as well. He held up a hand, and the men behind him lowered their weapons.
He took a deep breath, and leveled a steely gaze at her. “Listen to me, now, jovencita, because I’m only going to warn you once. Put that gun down and come over here right now. Do it immediately, or you will not like what happens next.”
Diana chuckled. “There is nothing you can do to me that hasn’t already been done,” she sneered. “So, bring it on.”
“Very well, Doctor Kenyon, I will grant you your wish.” He took one step toward her. “But before I do, I will give you one more opportunity to think this through. I suggest you take me up on it.”
She swallowed hard. “What are you going to do, Mr. Rios?” She raised the gun higher. “Spank me?”
His mouth curled into an amused sneer. “Oh, that can be arranged.” His eyes bore deep into her, his jaw set in a white line that all but screamed do NOT test me. He heard her speaking Spanish to the round woman earlier. He decided to test her comprehension.
“Voy a tener los pantalones abajo y nalgadas en frente de mis hombres.” The men whistled and chuckled behind him, and he watched her face change from balls-out bravado to shock. Then he watched a red stain creep up from her chest to her forehead. He deemed her comprehension adequate.
“If you believe you haven’t been humiliated enough over the last six months, I’d be honored to offer you a bit more.” He took another two steps. “Put that gun down and come here to me. Now.”
The visceral reaction Diana experienced at his words stunned her. Indeed, many humiliating things were done to her over the last…what did he say—six months? But he had just threatened to take her pants down and spank her in front of his men. The thought of enduring such a thing from this man gave her pause. She did not know him, and he certainly did not know her.
He wouldn’t dare…would he?
She leveled the gun at his head.
Val’s eyes narrowed and he took two steps toward her, and that is when Diana pulled the trigger and the blast from the gun exploded in the quiet night. Val’s head jerked to the side and his eyes got wild as he touched the area over his right ear. His fingers came away bloody.
“Fuck,” Val growled as Hector moved on her like a man possessed. This time Val did not stop him. Hector wrestled the gun from her hands and yanked her to her knees. The blast caused others from the encampment to come running, some carrying weapons of their own. Val’s men turned their weapons on the assembled gitanos, warning them to remain still. If Ms. Kenyon had the wherewithal at this moment to see beyond herself, the realization that, through that one careless act, she had put the very encampment she was trying to help in danger would become clear. Val, of course, no longer gave a shit.
The night grew eerily quiet as he stalked over to her, fisted her hair, and lifted her to her feet. Daggers flew from his heated eyes, and by the look in hers, she knew he intended to keep his word. He moved to his left, her hair still locked in his fist, and sat on the flat tree stump where she sat only moments ago. Diana found herself airborne, then dropped unceremoniously over a pair of spread legs. She felt the momentum continue, and flailed her arms for some kind of hold lest she end up face first in the dirt. He grasped her hips and settled her into position, and she grabbed on to his leg for balance, believing that falling on her face would be less appealing than what was about to happen. His left arm held her firmly tucked against his body, while his right hand found the waistband of her thin cotton pants, handmade by the same charming Romani woman who forced her to drink that awful stuff that stopped her from throwing up.
“No,” she whimpered.
“You shoot at me and then you tell me no?”
“Let me go.”
“You insisted on testing me, jovencita. Now you will pay.”
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Be on the lookout for Jade Cary's future release(s): The Reason for it All coming Fall/Winter 2016
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