The Courage to Dare Book Cover The Courage to Dare
(The Man in the Arena Book 1)
Taylor Lee
Romantic Suspense
idesirepublication
Sept. 25 2014
MOBI
220

Until the moment she met him, all Ava knew about the highly decorated former Army Colonel was that he’d been the sole survivor in a heinous wartime tragedy and that his mind was as wounded as his body.  The absence of the cowboy hat revealed an unruly shock of black hair, a strong, chiseled jaw and extraordinary dark gray, brooding eyes. What Ava didn’t acknowledge until later when she was alone and could relive those first unguarded moments was that Luke Lang might be the most devilishly handsome and, surely one of the sexiest, men she’d ever laid eyes on.

Doing his best to cover his shock, Luke acknowledged that the dark-haired woman staring up at him was, in a word, stunning.  Her shining coal black eyes were wide in wonder, confirming she was as surprised as he was. Full lips, a rosy cast to her warm golden skin and a thick mass of curly hair that hung past her shoulders added to the perfection. And that was before he focused on her body.

Swallowing hard, Ava resisted the impulse to avert her gaze.  Instead, she motioned for him to move forward. When he stepped toward her, refusing to relinquish her gaze she made a twirling motion with her fingers indicating that he should turn around. With an audible chuckle Luke stepped closer, then made a production of turning slowly in a circle stopping to present his back toward her.

Staring at him, Ava reminded herself that Luke Lang was her patient and that the tightness in her chest and quivering shivers coursing over her stomach and thighs were unseemly at best.  As it was, she had to press her lips together to keep from licking them.

Ava took a deep breath and surprised herself with the words that came unbidden from her lips. “You have a beautiful body, Colonel Lang. Strong, powerful.”
For the first time since they’d entered the room, his voice was tight, missing some of its taunting cockiness.  Ava had to strain to hear his muttered retort. “ And scarred?”
Ava stepped in front of him and met his dark gaze.  Seeing the physical and emotional pain in his expressive eyes, she merely nodded in agreement. “Yes. Scarred. Like we all are, Colonel.”

Awe-inspiring as her face and body were, and they were that, what attracted Luke the most was the look on Ava’s face as she stood hesitating at the entrance.  Hell, he’d seen baby foxes caught in merciless leg traps who looked less frightened than Ava did.

He groaned to himself. Fuck a duck.  This little princess had him more wrapped than he wanted to admit.  Christ, why couldn’t she just be haughty, with that whiff of elitism that clearly had been bred into her?  That he could handle. But the waif-like expression on her face revealed a deep seated shyness that had his alpha dog rearing up on its protective haunches. Not a good sign from a guy who’d promised himself he’d never so much as speak to the enticing Dr. Patel again.

That was when she saw him.  If the skies had opened and a hail of ice had fallen on the two feet of floor surrounding her, she couldn’t have been more shocked. Sam looked surprised at her sudden rigidity, then followed her eyes. A slight smile tugged at Sam’s lips when he saw Luke sitting on the tall stool leaning back against the bar. Luke caught her gaze and focused on her through narrowed eyes. Feeling the heat course into her cheeks, Ava groaned when Luke raised his glass and gave her an almost imperceptible wink.

Inexplicably, Ava found herself choking back tears.  Her throat tightened and to her horror, she felt tears escape her eyes. Sensing his gaze on her, she pressed her lips in a firm line to stop them from quivering.
Luke reached down and rubbed a tear off her cheek with his thumb. His voice was soft, but forceful.
“C’mon, Doc, you know you gotta be tough to ride this ride.”
Ava swallowed hard and forced herself to meet his penetrating gaze.
“What if I don’t want to?”
“Be tough? Or to ride?”

Luke sauntered over to the loaded Ford Tundra with the Marin County Sheriff’s insignia emblazoned on the side. He climbed in and revved up the engine. A moment passed before he realized that he’d been able to jam his right leg into position without the usual trauma. “Hmm. Whadda you know? Maybe little Princess Bollywood does have healing hands.”

CourageDare_CVR_LRG

Until the moment she met him, all Ava knew about the highly decorated former Army Colonel was that he’d been the sole survivor in a heinous wartime tragedy and that his mind was as wounded as his body.  The absence of the cowboy hat revealed an unruly shock of black hair, a strong, chiseled jaw and extraordinary dark gray, brooding eyes. What Ava didn’t acknowledge until later when she was alone and could relive those first unguarded moments was that Luke Lang might be the most devilishly handsome and, surely one of the sexiest, men she’d ever laid eyes on.