Melissa Foster Passionate Romance for Fiercely Loyal Hearts

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This is Love – Sneak Peek!

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The bright lights of New York City shimmered against the backdrop of tall buildings and the midnight blue sky as the driver pulled up in front of the Ultimate Hotel for the Hearts for Heroes fundraiser. In the privacy of the black sedan, actress Remi Divine scanned the entrance. Wealthy couples decked out in floor-length gowns and handsome tuxedos, every bit as breathtaking as the city itself, smiled for the photographers as they made their way up the steps. Remi was surprised her overprotective much-older brother, Aiden, wasn’t standing at the entrance waiting for her as usual—as if the two gorilla-like bodyguards he’d hired weren’t enough.

Remi had received threatening letters a couple of months ago, and then someone had broken into her house in LA. She hadn’t been home at the time, and although her award cabinet had been smashed to pieces, nothing had been stolen other than some lingerie. Though the incidents had died down and she was now staying in Harmony Pointe, New York, while filming the movie In the Aftermath, Aiden wasn’t taking any chances with the sister he’d raised since she was twelve years old, after their parents were killed in a tragic car accident. Remi owed everything good in her life to Aiden. He was the kindest, most determined man she knew, and she considered herself lucky to have him as her brother and her business manager.

She turned away from the flashbulbs coming from the eager paparazzi and looked past Merrick, the stone-faced bodyguard sitting beside her, to enjoy the beauty of the city for one last moment as she awaited her turn to exit the car. She watched people across the street admiring the hoopla of the event and taking pictures with their cell phones. Sometimes Remi fantasized about being one of those people, rather than the woman in the expensive Jillian Braden gown, draped in diamonds. She loved acting, and she was grateful for her success, but being America’s Sweetheart had come at no small price. Over the last couple of years Remi had begun feeling stifled by the scrutiny.

The stalker and the bodyguards had amplified that oppression, which was why she was planning to take a year off after filming wrapped.

The car inched forward, stopping before the entrance.

“Are you ready to exit the car, Ms. Divine?” Porter, the bodyguard sitting in the front of the sedan, asked rather stoically.

Remi’s pulse quickened as flashbulbs took aim at her window. “Yes, thank you.”

Without another word, the two bodyguards exited the car, swiftly moving into place, flanking her door. She inhaled deeply, silently counting to twenty—the length of time it took the dynamic duo to scan the crowds at these types of events—and her mother’s voice sailed through her mind. Just breathe, Remi. Everything’s going to be okay. Remi sat up straighter, a measured smile sliding into place, and she gazed out the window with ten seconds to spare. Her eyes caught on a broad-shouldered man moving through the crowd with an air of authority. He strode with powerful fluidity, like a puma claiming its territory, parting the crowd with nothing more than a look of sheer confidence and determination.

Porter opened Remi’s door, blocking her view of the handsome man she’d spotted. The humid late-August air clung to her skin as she quickly grabbed her clutch and pushed to her feet, forgetting the importance of an elegant entrance. She craned her neck to get a better look at the gorgeous creature who was avoiding the press like a pro. Her breath caught in her throat. He was tall and darkly handsome, as broad and muscular as her burly bodyguards. He stepped into the aisle like he owned it, his eyes moving just as furtively over the crowd as Porter’s and Merrick’s were.

Just breathe . . .

“Who are you wearing?” A redheaded reporter thrust a microphone in Remi’s direction, snapping Remi’s brain into gear.

“Jillian Braden, from her Multifarious line.” Even as she smiled for the cameras, her mind was weaving a path straight to Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome. Her heart had never thudded so hard over the sight of a man. She had to find out who he was.

She scanned the entrance, hoping to catch up to him and strike up a conversation. But he was gone as swiftly as he’d appeared, as if she’d conjured him from wishful thinking. Her shoulders slumped. Story of my life . . .

She had the world at her fingertips. She was offered all the best roles, begged by designers to wear their diamonds and dresses. She could buy anything she wanted, but the things she really wanted weren’t for sale, and they were always just out of reach.

Porter and Merrick ushered her through the hotel entrance and into the ballroom, where the event was already underway. Merrick stood guard at the entrance to the room, while Porter stuck to Remi like glue. Remi’s eyes swept over the sea of black ties and fancy dresses, and she spotted Aiden across the room talking with his business partner, Ben Dalton. Ben’s sister Willow was the first true friend Remi had ever had. Through Willow she’d become close with Ben’s other sisters, Bridgette, Piper, and Talia, and his fiancée, Aurelia Stark. Those women had become like sisters to her. They were her lifelines, there for her in good times and bad.

Remi’s heart skipped at the sight of her best friends heading her way. Happiness bubbled up inside her as she lifted the hem of her strapless red dress and rushed toward their open arms, swept into a group hug that had her bodyguard circling like a vulture.

“Remi! You look gorgeous!” Bridgette gushed, her burgeoning baby bump requiring more space than usual as she moved in for another hug. She looked beautiful in a tea-length black dress, her fair hair twisted up in an elegant knot.

“So do all of you! I’m sorry I’m late. Filming has been crazy these last few weeks.” Remi hadn’t seen her besties since early summer, which was far too long. “I’ve missed you all so much. I’m bummed Talia couldn’t make it.” Talia was the oldest of the Dalton siblings. She and her fiancé, Derek, cared for his father, Jonah, who suffered from Alzheimer’s.

“Between work, Jonah, and getting ready for the grand opening of their adult-day-care center, they have no time for anything else,” Willow explained. She was a vivacious, curvy blonde, and the owner of Remi’s favorite bakery, Sweetie Pie.

“I’m sure. They must be so excited to see it finally coming to fruition,” Remi said. “Speaking of new businesses, Aurelia, how’s your new bookstore?”

“The bookstore is great! You should stop by when you can.” Ben and Aurelia lived above Aurelia’s bookstore, Chapter One, in Harmony Pointe, though they also owned a large home in Sweetwater, the neighboring town where the rest of Ben’s family lived.

“I will. More importantly, how’s my favorite little girl? I bet Bea misses me.” Bea was Ben’s daughter, who he hadn’t known existed until she was left on his doorstep a few months ago.

“Of course she misses you,” Aurelia exclaimed. “We all do. Wait until you see her again. She’s growing so fast, and she’s just . . . perfect. She and Louie are with Ben’s parents tonight, being spoiled rotten, I’m sure.” Louie was Bridgette and Bodhi’s six-year-old son.

“Can you believe we got Aurelia to ditch her Converse and get all dolled up?” Willow teased.

“Check these out.” Aurelia lifted the hem of her sparkly pink dress, showing off a pair of spiked nude heels.

“Wow! Those are hot,” Remi said.

“Now that Bea’s sleeping through the night and Chapter One is up and running, I actually have the energy to occasionally try to look nice for my man.”

“What she really means is now that Bea is sleeping through the night, my brother is no longer blue-balled and grumpy,” Piper said with a smirk, leaning in to hug Aurelia again. Piper was only about five two and was thin as a rail, but her brazen personality made her seem much bigger. She and her father owned a contracting business, and she was tough as nails.

“Oh, please. Ben gets more action than any guy around here,” Aurelia said.

“Not that I want to compete with my brother. Ew,” Willow chimed in, glancing across the room at her handsome husband, Zane Walker, an actor-turned-screenwriter. “But my man is very well taken care of.”

Aurelia nudged Remi and said, “Zane’s been eyeing the plunging neckline of Willow’s dress all night. That man wants to dive into her cleavage and eat his way out.”

“If I swung that way, I’d want to dive in, too. Willow’s got the best boobs of all of us.” Remi winked at Willow.

“I think mine are pretty hot.” Bridgette blushed and rubbed her baby bump. “And for what it’s worth, Bodhi thinks pregnancy hormones are the best.” She lowered her voice and said, “I’m like a sex maniac these days!”

“Who needs pregnancy hormones?” Piper looked hot in that sexy tight gold dress. Her pin-straight blond hair gave her a dignified air that conflicted with the lascivious look in her eyes as she ogled Porter. She could have any man she wanted.

“You’re all getting more action than me, so consider yourselves lucky.” Remi had enough pent-up desires to last her a lifetime. She’d been intimate with only two men in her life, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t aching for more with the right man. A good man. Someone who could see her for who she was, not only for her fame or how much she was worth.

Piper’s brow wrinkled. “You have two sexy beasts at your beck and call. What’s the problem?”

Ugh. Don’t get me started.” Remi spoke quietly so as not to hurt her bodyguard’s feelings. Although with how stoic he was, she wasn’t sure he had any. “They are so not my type. I like men who communicate with more than grunts or commands.”

“I happen to love commands,” Piper said. “And grunts, if made in the bedroom. Want me to take the delicious ‘Men in Black’ off your hands?”

Remi envied Piper’s sexual confidence. She’d give anything to know what she liked in the bedroom, much less to go after it. She glanced around the room, hoping to catch a glimpse of the mysteriously sexy man she’d seen outside, but it appeared she must have imagined him after all, because he was nowhere in sight.

“Good luck with that,” Remi said. “I swear I’m going to lose my mind if Aiden doesn’t call them off soon. It’s a shame, really. If they weren’t such robots, I might not mind having them around. It gets lonely in that fortress my brother rented for me.”

“Aw, Remi.” Bridgette frowned. “I’m sorry you’re having such a hard time. Has anything happened with the stalker since you’ve been here?”

“Not a peep. As I’ve told Aiden a dozen times, I’m sure he’s moved on to his next obsession. If only Aiden would put his laser focus into finding me a boyfriend . . .”

The girls all talked over one another about how Aiden would give Remi a chastity belt if he even thought she was prowling for a man. In his eyes she’d always be the little sister he had to protect.

“But we can play matchmaker while you’re in town,” Willow offered.

“Hey, if Aiden weren’t leaving town tomorrow, I’d offer to distract him for you,” Piper said, glancing over her shoulder at Aiden. “That brother of yours might be overprotective, but he’s scrumptious. He just needs to loosen up and realize he can use that tie for something much more fun than making a good impression.”

“Piper!” Bridgette chided. “That’s Remi’s brother.”

Piper held her hands up and said, “I’m just trying to do my part to help a friend.”

“Let’s get back to matchmaking for Remi,” Aurelia suggested.

“Thanks for the offer, but as much as I would love that, you know how it is when I’m filming. Going out is impossible. I either have fans all over me or the paparazzi trying to make something out of nothing. And with Aiden’s army at my back, it’s not like I’d have any privacy anyway.”

“Maybe you just need less obtrusive security,” Aurelia said. “I thought Ben referred Aiden to Mason Swift, the guy he used when he was trying to track down Bea’s mother.”

“I have no idea who this Mason guy is, but every time I ask Aiden to call off these guys and find me one plainclothed bodyguard that won’t make me feel like I’m in jail, he says he’s dealing with it.”

“Mason and Bodhi were in the Special Forces together, and then they both worked at Darkbird. According to Bodhi, Mason has a sixth sense for sniffing out trouble.” Darkbird was a civilian company that carried out dangerous covert rescue missions for the military. “I don’t think Mason does security work anymore, but his employees do. He’s here somewhere. You can talk to him if you’d like.”

“It doesn’t matter. I don’t need or want security,” Remi said adamantly. “I think even one bodyguard is overkill. I just need space to breathe.”

“Like I said, I can keep the hunky hulks busy so you can go have some fun. I’ll get them greased up and smiling in no time.” Piper winked at Porter, whose expression remained as unaffected as a mannequin.

“Wow,” Willow said. “I’ve never seen a man not react to you at all.”

“The night’s still young,” Piper said snarkily.

“Go for it,” Remi urged. “I have a bone to pick with Aiden. But first I need to find a bathroom.”

“Out that door and down the hall.” Willow pointed to a door in the back of the room. “Want us to come with you?”

“No. I’m good, thanks. One bodyguard is enough. I’ll be right back.” Remi searched the faces of the crowd as she made her way through the room, hoping to see the mysterious man she couldn’t get off her mind.

Disappointed not to have spotted him, she pushed through the doors in the back of the room with Porter on her heels. She strode down the hall toward the ladies’ room feeling like a dog on a leash, trying to keep her emotions in check. But between her disappointment and annoyance, it was a futile effort. When she reached the restroom alcove, out of earshot of the other guests, she spun on her heels, leveling Porter with her most threatening stare.

“I’m going to the bathroom!” she hissed. “Do you want to pee for me, too?”

Porter’s facial expression remained professional as he said, “No, but I have to check the bathroom before you enter it.”

“Of course you do. Go ahead!” She threw up her hands as he walked past.

Remi turned to catch her breath—nearly smacking into the broad chest of the gorgeous man she’d seen outside. She froze, her heart racing. He was even more devastating up close, with perfectly manicured scruff, full, kissable lips, and steel blue eyes that had the knee-weakening triple effect of being intimidating, seductive, and regal. She didn’t even think that was possible! She’d worked with beautiful men her whole life, and never before had she felt an instant zing of attraction like the one ricocheting inside her now.

She was vaguely aware of Porter knocking on the ladies’ room door behind her as Mr. Devastating’s narrowing eyes pinned her in place and he said, “Don’t worry. I’m not going to pee for you, either.”

Shit. Shit, shit, shit. He’d heard everything she’d said.

She opened her mouth to tell him she was frustrated and shouldn’t have been so rude, but her mouth had gone bone-dry and she couldn’t find her voice. His eyes drilled into her. Disapproving? Amused? She wasn’t sure which, until his lips quirked up in a half smile, half smirk. No acting class could have prepared her for the titillating heat this man exuded—or the embarrassment overtaking her.

He crossed his arms with a discerning, arrogant look in his eyes.

That judgmental look struck a nerve, cooling her desire. She lifted her chin, meeting his steady gaze with an icy look of her own, and said, “Don’t you judge me. I’m sure if you were on a leash twenty-four-seven, you’d snap sometimes, too.”

Her heart pounded as she pushed through the ballroom doors, storming through the crowd in search of Aiden and mentally preparing her next escape—which would be out of the country if her brother didn’t call off his dogs before she completely lost her mind and people started calling her America’s Wicked Witch instead of America’s Sweetheart.

She whipped through the room, becoming angrier by the second, and finally spotted him through the glass balcony doors, talking on his phone. She stormed outside, glad he was alone.

Aiden pocketed his phone, his brows slanting in confusion. “There you are. Where are Porter and Merrick?”

“They don’t matter right now. I’m done, Aiden. I can’t do this anymore.” She paced, arms flailing, frustration flying from her lips. “I feel like a caged rat living with those two guys watching over me. They don’t speak to me except when absolutely necessary. I can handle myself, and I swear if you don’t get them to back off, you won’t be the only one leaving the country tomorrow.”

“Remi, calm down.” Aiden was twelve years her senior, and he lived in a constant state of calm, which could be infuriating. Even when she was a sad and confused preteen after their parents were killed, he’d never lost his cool. People said he was a dead ringer for David Beckham without all the tattoos, but Remi knew David had nothing on the man who had given up his hopes and dreams, along with most of his life, so she could have hers.

“Calm down? That’s easy for you to say. You don’t have men following you everywhere. I can’t even go to the bathroom without one of them standing outside the door.” She was pacing again, unable to rein in months of frustration. “I spend my life living under a microscope by the media, and I have never given you any reason to believe that I can’t handle myself. I can deal with that kind of scrutiny from the press. It’s a pain, but I get it. It comes with the territory. But this? This constant watchfulness? It’s too much!”

“Remington Aldridge, stop,” he said sharply.

She stilled at his use of her real name, which was the only indication that Aiden was ever at the end of his rope and that he’d heard every word she’d said. She crossed her arms and clamped her mouth shut.

“If you’ll let me get a word in edgewise, you’ll see I have taken care of everything.”

“You have not—”

“Have I ever not taken care of you?” he interrupted with a sterner tone.

The brotherly love in his eyes tugged at her heartstrings. “No,” she said more calmly. “But there’s such a thing as doing too much.”

“Not when your life is on the line,” he said firmly, leaving no room for negotiation. “I read every one of your texts. I know you’re frustrated, but I had to work out the details to be sure you’d be taken care of.”

“I don’t need to be taken care of. Whoever sent those letters and broke into my house in LA hasn’t done anything in months. Nobody’s out to get me, Aiden. The stalker has moved on to his next obsession. You have me locked in a fortress at night, and we have security on set. Just hire a driver to take me to and from set, and I’ll be fine.” Remi hated to drive, though she knew how.

“Remi, it’s my job to keep you safe. If I weren’t going out of the country, I’d do it myself. But rest assured, I hear you. I know you want one bodyguard, not two.”

“Plainclothed.”

“Done.”

“And not an asshole.”

“Porter and Merrick are not assholes. They’re professionals.”

“That’s fair.” She huffed out a breath, feeling bad for referring to them that way. “I’m sorry. I just want to be treated normally. Can’t you find a guy who can talk to me like a normal person? Someone who doesn’t watch me like I’m a job?”

“You are their job, Remi, and I’m sorry about that. But I did find you the best security there is, at least according to Bodhi.” He glanced over her shoulder, and a satisfied smile curved her brother’s lips. “Remi, meet your new bodyguard, Mason Swift.”

The name rang a bell, and she felt a little relieved, hopeful that Bodhi’s friend would treat her like a normal person. She stood up a little straighter, praying Mason had not heard her ranting. She’d had enough mortification for one night.

She turned, and her stomach pitched at the sight of Mr. Devastating’s eyes dancing with amusement.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Divine. Mason Swift at your service.”

Sweet mother of all things hot and annoying, someone really was out to get her.

To continue reading, please buy THIS IS LOVE

KINDLE | PAPERBACK | AUDIO

**FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

**This book is published by Montlake Romance (an Amazon imprint) and won’t be available on other ebook retailers, but you can download a FREE Kindle ereader app to read it (link below) or order the paperback.
Free Kindle eReader app ➜ http://bit.ly/FreeKindleApp1

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