Zy and Tessa’s story starts with my latest…Wicked As Lies.

Zy and Tessa’s story starts with my latest…Wicked As Lies.

“I’m ready,” he called behind her.

Given how achy her body was in places it shouldn’t be, she was, too. But those were her rebellious hormones talking. She wasn’t having sex with him.

The doctor cleared you to resume all normal activity.

She had, but nope. Not happening.

Tessa stood. “Let me set Hallie on her activity mat and find my first aid supplies.”

As soon as her baby girl was happily engaged on the bright mat, Tessa turned to face Zy and stopped—moving, breathing, thinking.

He stood in front of her wearing a pair of black low-slung sweatpants—and nothing else. His five o’clock shadow inched onto his thick neck, which gave way to two thick slabs of bronze muscles. Both bulging shoulders were covered in tribal tattoos that ran down his beefy arms, flanking abs so ridiculously taut calling them a six-pack would be an insult. He even had those notches above his hips that made her drool.

Mercy me!

“Where do you want to do this?”

On the bed? Against the wall?

But he wasn’t asking about sex, and she needed to stop thinking about it. “Why don’t you sit on the sofa? Are the wounds on your back?”

“Mostly, yeah.” He sauntered closer, closer, sat on the edge of her soft couch, then sent her an expectant stare.

First aid kit. Right. “Two seconds.”

Tessa whirled away and drew in a breath, trying to calm herself. On the top shelf of her pantry, she found her first aid supplies. Since she wasn’t sure what he needed, she grabbed everything, washed her hands, then turned back to Zy.

He watched her, stare unsettlingly direct and unwavering. “You okay?”

“Of course.” But his question implied that he’d noticed her staring. She tried to break the tension with a smile. “It’s just a little odd having a half-naked stranger in my house.”

“I don’t mean to make you uncomfortable. As soon as we’re done, I’ll toss on a shirt.”

“It’s fine.” Except she’d have to touch him first.

Tessa laid all the supplies on her coffee table, then scooted in behind Zy, staring at the wide expanse of his back. He’d been injured more than once. A collection of scars—some fresh, some faded—littered the landscape of his skin, but she barely noticed. His shoulders were broad and beefy, the right one crisscrossed with a series of scrapes, stitches, and bruises. And his muscles had muscles. From there, a series of ripples and bulges flanked his strong spine as his body tapered to narrow hips.

She sat frozen. She’d only ever seen anything like him in a magazine.

“That bad?” he asked.

His question jolted her out of her trance. “Just trying to decide what might work best. It’s scabbed over, but I see signs of infection trying to set in. Give me a minute.”


Tessa did her best to gather her wits, dousing a cotton pad with some hydrogen peroxide. As she pressed it to his wounds, she glanced at the other set of stitches just above his ear, much harder to detect as the hair he’d had brutally buzz cut all over grew around it.

“How did you get injured?” she asked as she cleaned that spot as well.

“This time? Bryant, Walker, Trees, and I were playing dodge the RPG in Mexico. I nearly lost.”

She already knew better than to ask why they’d been down there. “RPG? Like a rocket launcher?”

“More or less. Cartels have no sense of humor.”

Of course not, and she didn’t know how he could.

“Anyway, shrapnel and debris from the ground beside the impact point sprayed up and tagged me. Some damn rock hit my head, too. I had a concussion and I apparently bled like a bitch. Scared Trees to death. But I made fun of him later for panicking at all the blood.”

She blinked. They’d been in a dangerous situation, and he could have been killed. Yet Zy had ribbed his fellow operative about it? “Seriously?”

“Yeah. Of course, he made fun of me for passing out. But I still owe him since he had to drag my unconscious ass onto our getaway chopper.”

Tessa pressed a hand to her chest. “How do you deal with so much danger?”

He shrugged, those big shoulders moving as she reached for the antibiotic ointment and unscrewed the cap.

“Part of the job. I’m used to it. Thanks for being gentle back there. Trees was a lot less nice my first night or two out of the hospital. I told him to knock that shit off or I’d repay him once the shoe was on the other foot.”

Not if, but when. That blew Tessa’s mind. She’d been incredibly rattled by Cash breaking her window and threatening her. Zy faced death head-on frequently; all the guys did. Somehow, she’d just never realized how truly dangerous their work was.

“I’m doing my best,” she promised as she squeezed some ointment onto her fingers.

And now she had to touch him. Direct skin-to-skin contact.

Tessa swallowed and her fingers shook as she lifted her hand to him. At first contact, he shuddered.

She jerked away. “Did I hurt you?”

“No. Just wasn’t expecting it.”

He’d known her touch was coming. Was he…affected by it? The way she was affected by him?