Love And Protect

Dating a coworker can be complicated, but who knew it could also be deadly.

While Maddie Dempsey doesn’t need a man to express his undying love, she wants one who can commit to her for more than a weekend. So despite her attraction to him, Maddie’s kept her coworker Keith Wallace, a man who doesn’t know the definition of commitment in the friend zone. Or at least she thought he didn’t know the meaning until recently.

Keith’s friends believe he prefers no-strings-attracted relationships because he’s afraid of commitment. But that’s not why. He’s just never met anyone he cared enough about to stay with until Maddie. And when she finally gives him a chance, Keith intends to prove to her they belong together.

Unfortunately, someone from Keith’s past isn’t ready for him to move on, and she’ll do anything to remove Maddie from the equation and have him back in her life.

Read an excerpt from Love And Protect

Kicking off the blankets, Maddie rolled onto her back. For the past two hours, she’d been staring into the darkness, unable to fall asleep. She could blame that all on one person, too. Keith Wallace.

Technically, it wasn’t the first time since they’d met that he had affected her sleep. At least a couple of times a month, she woke up from an erotic dream starring him and then lay awake wishing he was there so they could act it out.

She’d spent her adult life working in male-dominated fields, yet she’d never fantasized about a coworker until him. Precisely what it was about Keith, she couldn’t put her finger on. True, he was handsome, but not big-screen-worthy like Spike. And there really was no other way to describe Spike. The guy should be starring in action films, not living in Virginia and working with her. Regardless, the day all six-feet-two inches of Keith walked into the team meeting room, he’d captured her attention, and he’d had it ever since.


Despite wanting to rip the guy’s clothes off every time he entered whatever room Maddie was in, she’d initially treated him the same way she did the other guys on the team. Romantic relationships in the workplace often brought issues. Ones she wasn’t sure any guy was worth, no matter how attracted to them she was. It hadn’t taken long for Maddie to nix the idea of them ever being more than friends.

Although she went on a lot of dates, usually with men her friends set her up with, she didn’t do one-night stands or leave bars with guys she’d just met. Unfortunately, the same couldn’t be said about Keith. Like the other guys on the team, Keith wasn’t shy when it came to talking about his sex life, so she knew it wasn’t unusual for the guy to sleep with a woman he’d just met or take out a different woman every weekend. While she didn’t need a man to get down on his knee and profess his undying love, she wanted someone who could commit to her for more than forty-eight hours—something Keith was incapable of doing.

Or at least she’d believed that until recently.

The day he’d picked her up at the airport, she’d accused him of having an aversion to relationships that might lead somewhere. Rather than come back with a response, something like he preferred his sex life to be a buffet where he could sample different women rather than a sit-down meal, Keith had informed her the only thing he had an aversion to was oysters. While it could’ve been just a sarcastic reply—the guy was known for them—something in his eyes said otherwise. Then again, whatever she saw or thought she saw could’ve been caused by the airport lighting.

Either way, the comment had bugged her all week. Although she wasn’t proud of it, she’d invited Keith but not the other members of HRT to her house, expecting Jasmine to let him know she was open to some adult fun tonight. And since Jasmine was single again—her most recent relationship had lasted all of two weeks before she gave him the boot—she would do that. The first time Jasmine had met Keith at a cookout, she’d commented that she’d do him in a heartbeat, although she’d been dating someone at the time. And when Jasmine came on to Keith, Maddie envisioned them leaving together.

What she hadn’t expected was for Cassidy to flirt with him too. Well, maybe flirt was too mild a word. She’d known Cassidy for years, and she’d never seen her behave like she had tonight. Her friend had practically been sitting in Keith’s lap during the poker game. Maddie chalked her unusual behavior up to it being her way of getting over the recent disastrous end to her engagement. And when she’d seen the attention Cassidy was giving Keith, she’d known he wouldn’t turn down her offer. Cassidy was beyond gorgeous. Although she’d never admit it, Maddie was a little envious of her. Even on her best days, when Maddie put in the effort, she couldn’t compete with Cassidy.

Instead of leaving with either woman, though, Keith had followed her into the kitchen and proceeded to show her how unskilled every guy she’d ever kissed was before asking her to spend the day with him tomorrow. Like an idiot, she’d allowed her body, rather than her brain, to decide for her. No longer subjected to Keith’s lazy grin, the one she’d seen him use on other women and that guaranteed he never left a bar alone, her brain was reconsidering her answer.

The man never had trouble finding a weekend companion, so he wouldn’t have turned to her if that was all he wanted. Not only that, but Keith also wouldn’t risk their working relationship or friendship for a night or two of sex. Still, that didn’t mean crossing out of the friend zone was a good idea. Once left, the friend zone was almost impossible to return to. And Maddie could easily see Keith deciding he preferred his casual hookups after a couple of weeks. Even if she was the one to end things, it might make working together uncomfortable. And not just for the two of them. The end of their relationship could create a sticky situation for the entire team.

Or we might end up growing old and gray together.

Keith had turned down not only Jasmine but Cassidy tonight, proving anything could happen.