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Naked Flame

Naked Flame

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Naked Flame

124 Seiten
2 Stunden
Nov 13, 2017


Charity Vance needs someplace to lie low and decide what to do with the rest of her life. Burned out from years in the Dallas PD, she’s eager for a fresh start in Saddle Wells, Texas. On a night out with friends, she can’t help but notice the brooding local bar owner needs a hand, so she steps in and ends up right in his arms.

After two tours in Afghanistan, Liam Douglas has settled in to Saddle Wells, running his dad’s bar, but it’s hard to keep good help. Having Charity around is more of a distraction than he wants or needs, but he can’t seem to deny whatever there is between them.

When a drug lord from Charity’s past breaks out of jail and comes looking for revenge, she knows it will be better for everyone if she leaves town, but leaving Liam is more difficult than she thought, and although neither one of them wanted a relationship, it seems there are already strings binding their hearts.

Nov 13, 2017

Über den Autor

Desiree Holt is the USA Today bestselling author of the Game On! and Vigilance series, as well as many other books and series in the romantic suspense, paranormal and erotic romance genres. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The (London) Daily Mail, The New Delhi Times, The Huffington Post and numerous other national and international publications. Readers can find her on Facebook and Twitter, and visit her at as well as

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Naked Flame - Desiree Holt

Table of Contents


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six


About the Author

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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Copyright © 2015 by Desiree Holt. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.

Entangled Publishing, LLC

2614 South Timberline Road

Suite 105, PMB 159

Fort Collins, CO 80525

Visit our website at

Select Contemporary is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.

Edited by Heidi Shoham

Cover design by Fiona Jayde

Cover art from iStock

ISBN 978-1-64063-074-1

Manufactured in the United States of America

First Edition May 2015

Rerelease November 2017

To David, as always.

Chapter One

Charity Vance dropped into the chair at her desk, leaned back and ran her hands through her short cap of dark curls. The day had been especially grueling. Testifying in court always made her edgy, but today was especially more so. The takedown of the drug dealer, the gunfight that had erupted that night and the constant tension in the courtroom had all combined to give her the mother of all headaches. Not that every trial didn’t have its own strain, but Paco Morales was truly a power-hungry psycho who didn’t take kindly to having that power disrupted. While she answered the questions from both the district attorney and the defense attorney, she’d called on every bit of self-discipline to be able to look directly at him.

The threats shouted at her as she stepped down from the witness stand still echoed in her ears as she’d left the building and driven back to the police department offices. Hard as she tried, she couldn’t erase Paco Morales’s shouts from her brain.

I’ll get you, bitch. Prison won’t stop me. My crew will find you wherever you go.

She hadn’t felt the tension ease up until she’d reached the comfort of the bullpen at the Dallas Police Department. In ten years with the police department, she’d faced a lot of down and dirty, hostile criminals, but none had actually frightened her the way Morales did. Maybe part of it was just exhaustion with the job. The Morales task-force project had been long, intensive and draining. She felt as if every bit of energy had seeped from her body and left her limp and exhausted.

She needed to make some decisions about her future life before the events in this one killed her altogether.

Still thinking about Morales?

A gravelly voice interrupted her thoughts. Charity opened her eyes to see Milo Stanton, her lieutenant, standing beside her desk. Tall and heavy set, he looked like the former boxer she’d discovered he’d once been. His jacket was off as usual, his shirtsleeves rolled up and his tie askew. He looked the way he always did, as if he’d pulled an all-nighter and carried the weight of the world on his shoulders. But he also projected a stability that had kept her grounded since she’d joined his squad. The enormous, solid presence had settled her and given her comfort more than once.

Her gaze dropped to the large Starbucks coffee he had the fingers of one large hand wrapped around.

Oh, bless you, bless you. She took the cup, lifted the lid and inhaled. Her favorite. Mocha latte topped with whipped cream. She licked the frothy topping before taking a slow sip. Heaven. Sheer heaven.

Better than the mud we serve here, Stanton agreed. I figured you’d need it by now. Helen called to tell me she was on her way back from her interview, so I asked her to stop and get it.

Blessings to her too. Charity took another sip, the delicious mocha latte warming her system and easing her frayed nerves.

Rumor has it the trial was a real pisser. Stanton hiked a hip onto the corner of her desk. I heard Paco was pretty vocal with his threats after your testimony.

You could definitely say that. She shrugged. Nothing I haven’t heard before though.

Listen to me. Stanton locked his gaze with hers. He’s no one to ignore. His crew is the most vicious of any drug gang in Dallas County, and they have strong ties to a cartel in Mexico.

I know, I know. That’s why the task force worked so hard to tie him up tight.

And you did good work on that task force too. I got great feedback on your efforts.

Charity had been one of two detectives from the Dallas PD assigned to work with the Drug Enforcement Agency to take down the Morales crew and follow the links to Mexico.

Thanks, LT. It was an excellent group to work with.

I thought about assigning some protection to you until the trial is over and Morales is out of the area. He’s got the word out on the street that you’re a top target.

Charity glared at him. No. And, no. I mean, no.


I’m a police officer. You’re going to assign another officer to protect me? We have too many crimes that need solving.

And I don’t want your murder to be one of them. Stanton studied her for a long moment. There’s another option. You might consider taking some time off until that scum is safely locked away for good. Fully paid, of course. But I do believe you’d be better off out of town for a while.

Charity lifted the lid on her cup and studied the foam crowning the liquid. She’d been trying to get up the courage to talk to her boss for weeks, but she’d wanted to get this trial behind her first. She hoped he wouldn’t give her a hard time. She pulled in a deep breath and let it out slowly.

Actually, LT, there’s something I’ve been meaning to discuss with you. She set her cup down and sat up straighter in her chair. This is probably as good a time as ever. Maybe even the optimum one.

Stanton frowned. Why do I think this isn’t something I want to hear?

I hope you’ll understand what I’m about to say and not give me a hard time.

Well, out with it. Let’s hear what it is.

She sighed. I’ve been with DPD for ten years now, ever since I graduated from the academy. I love it here and I love everyone I work with. She gave him an impish grin. Even you, Mr. Grumpy.

He gave a soft chuckle. We work well together, he agreed.

But I’m tired. Really tired. The task force really kicked my butt.

I’m sure it did, he agreed.

I just—I think— She shook her head. What I’m trying to say is I need a change. Of scenery as much as anything else.

What about Tom? Not that it’s any of my business, but you guys looked like things were really working out.

Charity fiddled with a pen on the desk. Yeah, well, appearances can be deceiving. He caught the same disease as the men in my other two relationships.

The demands-of-a-cop’s-life disease? Stanton guessed.

She nodded. It always works in the beginning, but then the difficulties of the job get to be too much. The late-night callouts, the uncertain hours. She twisted her lips in a grimace. And the inability to understand that sometimes when I come home with the weight of the job on me, I just want someone to hold me and be quiet with.

Divorce rate is high among police, he reminded her. I consider myself damn lucky that RayAnn is the woman she is.

Amen to that. Anyway, I think I’m just burned out on the city, this job, the men I meet here. Besides, my two closest friends moved away during the past year, and…and…

And you need to get away for a while, he finished for her.

More than just a while, LT. She chewed her lower lip. I need to try being something besides a cop. Not deal with the scum we see every day. Not, you know, always be looking at the seedy side of life. She held up her hand when he opened his mouth to say something. This isn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision. I’ve given it a lot of thought. The Morales case just clinched it for me.

Charity, you’ve been a cop for ten years. You’re a natural.

And maybe I will be again. Who knows? She took another swallow of the delicious coffee blend. I’m not running away. I want you to know that. I just need…something different for a while. I want to figure out how to have a real relationship with someone. Do some planning for the future.

Yeah, I get that. I do. Just don’t jump into something blindly.

She ran her fingers through her curls. "I was damn lucky to get out of that firefight with Morales and his crew without

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