THAT MAN 8 (That Man #8) by Nelle L'Amour



Chapter 1





Jennifer


Click.

“Blake, do you hear that?” I whispered, fear creeping into my bones. My heart pounded against my ribs. And my chest constricted.

Just home from our amazing trip to Scotland, in time for my twenty-sixth birthday, I’d tossed and turned for hours, unable to fall asleep. I was suffering from jet lag. I anxiously glanced at the clock on my nightstand—it was only ten p.m., but in Scotland, it was six o’clock in the morning. Almost time to wake up.

I heard another barely audible click. It sounded like it was coming from the door to our condo—like the deadbolt was unlocking. Someone was trying to break in! I was positive!

“Blake!” I repeated, my voice rising over his light snoring. He was sound asleep, his chest gently rising and falling. I swear my husband could sleep through a 9.0 earthquake unlike me, who was a light sleeper because of the deep-seated anxiety I still harbored. Someone had tried to rape me when I was in college, and that someone—a deranged game show producer—had tried to kill me shortly after I joined Conquest Broadcasting and would have had Blake not shown up—just in the nick of time—and stopped him. Don Springer was out of my life for good and while I’d gone into therapy after the harrowing life and death experience and taken a self-defense course, I was still traumatized by the slightest disturbance.

“Blake, wake up!!” I said in my loudest hushed voice, nudging his shoulder.

He shifted in the bed, pulling the duvet up to his chin. “What’s going on?” he murmured, his voice groggy and his eyes still glued shut.

“Listen! Do you hear that?” I repeated. The rattling sound was unmistakable. The front door had been opened. “Someone’s in the house!” Panic in my voice, I bolted upright. A cold shudder skated down my spine.

Consciousness slowly filled Blake. His long-lashed eyelids fluttered, then blinked open. His irises glowed midnight blue in the darkness. Shoving the covers down, he pushed himself up to a sitting position.

Neither of us said another word. Light footsteps thudded in our ears, followed by the clatter of drawers and cabinets slamming open and shut. The frightening reality finally sank into my husband. Wearing not a stitch of clothing, he jumped out of bed. My eyes trained on his magnificently sculpted body—those gorgeous rock-hard glutes and long muscular legs—as he hurried to his walk-in closet.

“Blake, what are you doing?”

“Shh! Be quiet and stay still! I’m getting a weapon!”

A weapon? Given that we lived in a luxury, high-security doorman building, we didn’t keep a gun in the apartment. Even after the incident at my former duplex. The closest thing we had was the set of butcher knives in the kitchen. And my pepper spray, which was likewise in the kitchen in my backpack. But those weren’t going to help.

My heart beating double time, I watched as Blake flung the closet door open and re-emerged with a long stick in one hand, the other gripped around a small object I couldn’t discern.

“What are you holding?”

“My Little League baseball bat!” He held it up, flexing his pronounced bicep as he brandished it, and then tossed me the small object. With a thump, it landed on the bed close to me.

“W-what’s this?” I stammered, reaching for the small shiny object.

“My Swiss Army Boy Scout knife.”

Under normal circumstances, I would have playfully challenged my husband’s claim to being a Boy Scout—Boy Scout’s honor—but this was hardly the time. Our lives were in danger.

“Hold on to it and call 911!” Gripping the bat, he tiptoed toward our bedroom door.

“Blake, I’m scared! Be careful!”

He disappeared. Without wasting a second, I grabbed my phone and called 911.





Chapter 2





Blake


My heart beat like a jackrabbit’s as I stealthily crept down the dark hallway that led to the living room. Every nerve was on edge, every sense on high alert. More footsteps thudded in the near distance, followed by the clamor of dishes and silverware. We were definitely being robbed!

Breathing in and out of my nose, I gripped my bat tighter, willing myself to stay rational and in the moment. My mind swam with questions and worst-case scenarios. What if the burglar had a knife or a gun? What if he attacked me? Took me by surprise? And maybe there were two of them! More than anything, I hoped my tiger, whom I loved more than life itself—the woman I would slay dragons for—would be safe. Then, an unsettling afterthought hit me. Shit. I forgot to tell her to lock the bedroom door, but now it was too late. Naked as I was, I mentally donned my red cape. I was That Man, her superhero and protector.