The Guardian of My Soul
by Emily A. Lawrence
The Guardian of My Soul, Book 1 in the Soul’s Desire series.
Kristen Mancuso, daughter of a renowned fashion designer has everything her heart desires, and yet she’s still unhappy. After her father’s death, her mother’s overprotectiveness has prevented Kristen from choosing her own path in life, and she often feels as if she's a prisoner in her own home. Kristen thought her twenty-first birthday would magically bring her the freedom she craved. She was wrong. When her mother hires Alec Warner to be her personal bodyguard, Kristen rebels against it, unaware of the true reasons why he’s needed and the very real danger threatening her safety. Having someone shadow her every move is the last thing she wants. Alec is handsome, intimidating and determined to stand between Kristen and anyone who would harm her. Kristen doesn’t know what to do with Alec. She’s drawn to him, and while he is committed to his job, he refuses to allow her to control him the way she does with other men. Their relationship is volatile and explosive, yet they discover they have more in common than they ever dreamed. Together they face demons from their past and secrets which could tear them apart. Alec and Kristen fight their attraction for one another, but that’s one battle where losing may very well give them everything their souls desire…
*Content Warning: intended for mature audiences 18+ *
I could hear the sound of the galloping horse way before I could see it. I knew it was Alec. No matter what I did or said to him, the man had a stubborn habit of tailing me. He was relentless. In spite of my turmoil, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was as relentless in other areas of his life as well. That focused, determined passion would be irresistible in bed. I quickly wiped my tears off my face, feeling both my cheeks were burning. He stopped at a considerable distance when he found me and just stared at me, apparently deciding on how to proceed. Alec took his time, approaching me at a slow, cautious pace, as he would approach a small, frightened animal which would dash away at the least provocation. “I really can’t get five minutes alone?” I grouched, looking at him through speculative eyes. For a moment he appeared disconcerted and I felt a sad satisfaction. “It is part of my job description,” he murmured quietly, stopping a few feet away. I shook my head, tired of hearing the same old explanation over and over again. “Is kissing me a part of your job description too?” I demanded. “You kissed me back,” he retorted in a calmly manner. Alec never gave anything away, none of what he was feeling. It infuriated me. “It will never happen again. I don’t want you to touch me.” I managed. “Oh, really? I could make you beg me to touch you,” he said simply. The smug grin he wore, displaying his perfect white teeth, was the epitome of defiance to me. In a matter of seconds he changed from calm and reasonable to imposing and defiant, faster than a chameleon could change the color of its skin. But instead of anger I could feel excitement sparking through my veins like wild fire. I jumped to my feet and I halfway expected him to step back, but he stood his ground. “Why did you do it? What are you trying to achieve? Is this some kind of game to you?” I drew back my fist as if to strike out at him, but he caught it easily. His hands wrapped around my wrists, holding me securely. “Let go!” I cried. “Be still,” he commanded. His voice was dark velvet, raspy with magic and sex. I stared into his eyes. I didn’t understand the sensations rioting through me. It was frightening. Alec’s jaw clenched. He made a noise—a growl—and suddenly his mouth crushed down on mine and plundered, taking me completely off guard. The kiss warmed me, his tongue tasting until I was panting, furious at myself for wanting more. I writhed against him trying to escape, but he was too strong and demanding. My struggles resulted in my breasts scrubbing across his hard chest, making my nipples feel swollen and heavy, betraying me. I stilled and he finally allowed me to breathe, but I was trapped in his arms. Alec was breathing harshly, his eyes clashed with mine, then moved down to kiss my swollen lips one more time. I couldn’t handle it, so I jerked my face away. “I want more,” he groaned, releasing my right wrist. With gentle but firm movements he twisted my hair around his hand until I had no choice but to look at him. There was a heat in his eyes which belied the mildness and candor of his countenance. He had no right to appear so in control when my flesh was tight and achy and I needed... Damn him! Mr. Confusing has done it again. “Say you never want it to happen again,” he whispered a few inches away from my face, his eyes daring me. “I...I never want it to happen again,” I replied in a peremptory whisper, ignoring the pulse of need pounding between my thighs. “Liar...” He freed me from his grip and returned to his horse. He mounted him and then waited expectantly for me to follow him. I was not sure why I did it, but I fulfilled his silent wish and got up on my horse, joining him. My mind, my emotions and my heart were in total disarray. The horses quickened their pace, broke into a trot and then went into a canter side by side. There were so many unanswered questions swirling inside my brain, but I was afraid to address them to him, afraid of what he might tell me, of what I might discover. Images of our passionate embrace danced in front of my eyes. I shook my head, but the feeling wouldn’t go away. No matter how much I fought not to allow him to tempt me, I found it impossible to resist him. The more I tried, the more intense the longing grew, startling me. Fear twisted in my gut as I realized I was slowly but surely losing control over my own will. I forbade myself to scream in frustration or show any sign of weakness. We reached the stables and let John take care of the horses before we started for the house. “Kristen...” Alec addressed me by my name for the first time, a question and an apology in his tone. A fine tremor rocked me and a tingle sprang to life in my breasts, stopping me in my tracks. I had never dreamed the sound of one man’s voice speaking my name could invoke such longing within me. His hand gently locked around my arm and spun me around to face him. “Look...I’m sorry if I upset you today. I really am. I couldn’t—” “Don’t. Alec...please don’t tease me. What happened today was wrong. I never should have kissed you. We don’t know each other...at all. You don’t even respect me or what I say to you. I don’t know what Mother would say. A bodyguard daring to kiss her daughter...” I blinked, trying to picture her reaction. “I’m not afraid of her or anybody else,” he said dryly. “Perhaps you should be.” “I’m not. I’m my own man. But it looks like you’re afraid of her. You wouldn’t even breathe if she told you not to.” “That’s not true.” I frowned. “Then why do you care so much about what she may have to say in regard to us?” “There is no ‘us’, Alec! Whatever this is, it never happened. For your sake and mine, just drop it before it ends badly.” “Badly...as in you falling in love with the son of a mere bodyguard?” I trembled. “I’ll never fall in love. Not with you, nor with any other man. So forget it!” “Never say never, sweetheart.” He took one last long look at me before strolling away. I felt like I’d been run over by a steamroller.