No Escape From War (Trouble for Hire #1) by Cynthia Eden


Prologue


“Why the hell are you here?” Warren “War” Channing slapped his hands on the scarred bar top and glared at the SOB who’d just walked into his place. Last call had been over an hour ago, and he was damn well ready to call it a night. Even if he hadn’t been ready to close, there was no way he’d want to serve this particular jackass.

Dylan Nelson yanked at the too-tight collar of his fancy dress shirt. “We need to talk.”

“You need to get your ass out of my bar.” Did this jerk have any idea how much self-control War was exerting by not immediately jumping across the bar and plowing his fist into Dylan’s weak jaw? Knocking the guy out because he’d been the fool responsible for War’s breakup with—

“I want to hire you.”

“Get. The. Fuck. Out.” War couldn’t be clearer than that.

Beads of sweat dotted Dylan’s forehead. “Look, it’s about Rose—”

The expression on War’s face must have stopped him. Dylan gulped and backed up a step, but he didn’t leave.

Why was the dumbass staying?

“I get that you don’t like me,” Dylan rushed to say.

Oh, you think?

“You probably want to kick my ass.”

Absolutely. “The thought has crossed my mind a time or twenty.” And it sure was appealing right then. It was like the guy was just asking for it.

“Rose—she told me that you did PI work. That was how she first met you.”

I don’t want him saying her name. Because when Dylan said her name, it reminded War of just how bad the breakup with Rose had been.

He’d fallen fast and hard. Huge mistake. Major. But when it came to Rose Shadow, War hadn’t exactly been sane. Lust, blind need—they’d taken over for him. She’d gotten under his skin, addicted him, then wrecked his world. “I’m not talking about her,” he gritted out. Sure as hell not with you.

Dylan took another quick step back. “She’s in trouble,” he blurted.

War tensed. Then he leapt over the bar.

“Oh, Jesus.” Dylan ran a shaking hand over his face. “Please don’t break my nose. You know the business I’m in. I need my face. I’m a people person.”

War’s hands fisted.

“I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t desperate. Desperate. But Rose—”

Warren growled.

“Rose said you were the best! That you kept your services low key, but you were incredible. When it came to tracking people who didn’t want to be found, no one was better. I need you.”

“It’s closing time. You are getting the hell out right now.” Even if War had to throw him out, an appealing option. War reached for Dylan, more than ready to mess up that perfectly pressed, too expensive shirt as he kicked the jerk out.

“She needs you!”

War’s hands froze. “I’m pretty sure I am the last man Rose needs. She made that clear.”

Dylan’s pale eyes darted over his face. “You’re mad at her?”

“We fucking broke up, moron. I’m sure you remember.”

Dylan licked his lips. “I, ah, thought she cleared up all of—no, I can see that she did not.” He winced. “Look, man, it’s bad. It has to be bad, or I wouldn’t be here.”

“Rose is in trouble? Hardly a newsflash. She’s always in trouble. The woman thrives on it.” She was a reporter. If she didn’t find trouble and tell the world about it, then Rose considered that a slow news day. His fingers clenched in the fabric of Dylan’s shirt. Hello, wrinkles. “Go find someone else who gives a shit—”

“She’s going to be arrested!” Dylan’s voice notched up and cracked.

War’s head cocked. “Say that again.” Because he’d liked what he heard.

“She’s going to be thrown in jail. Cops are looking for her. I got a tip—you know, I, um, I’m connected and get insider info. Part of my job and I—”

“Stop the rambling. Get back to Rose.”

“She’s tied to some serious crimes.” His pale blue eyes darted to and from War’s, as if he couldn’t quite manage to hold War’s stare. “But you know Rose, she is good at staying off-grid when she wants to do it.”

Oh, he knew Rose, all right. Biblically.

“She’s missing. The cops are looking for her, but you can find her before they do. And if you do…look, the station wants this handled properly.”