A betrayal he couldn’t forget . . .
For Nate Dean, love is a four-letter word. As part of a secret black-ops military unit, he and his brothers were genetically engineered by the government to be ruthless soldiers with an expiration date. They were loyal only to one another . . . until Nate laid eyes on the woman who stole his heart and blew his world apart. Now, years later, his family is still paying the price for his mistake. But as time runs out, there’s only one person who can save his family: the very woman Nate swore he’d never trust again.
A love she couldn’t deny . . .
The moment Audrey Madison spies Nate across a crowded ballroom, she can barely breathe. He’s just as undeniably sexy as she remembers, yet there’s an edge to him now that’s as irresistible as it is dangerous. When he asks for her help, Audrey can’t refuse. But she has secrets of her own–secrets that, if Nate ever discovers them, may cost them both their lives . . .
Originally published May 2014 in eBook format.
Other Books in the Sin Brothers Series
Southern Tennessee Hills
Twenty Years Ago
Nathan’s boots echoed on the hard tiles, the deep sound thrown back by the cinder blocks lining the wall. He’d wiped the snow off the bottom of his boots before heading inside, but the soles were still slippery. His eleven-year-old gut churned, and his mind spun. His older brother, Mattie, was out on a mission, and shit was about to hit the fan.
The situation was totally Nate’s fault, but he couldn’t be taken from the facility. If he was forced out, Matt would blame himself. And who would take care of the two younger brothers when Matt was out on assignment? At around twelve years old, Matt was often out on a job, and somebody had to protect Shane and Jory. Nate had taken on the duty years ago.
He paused outside of the office doorway and took several deep breaths. Centering himself, he smoothed his face into innocent lines and knocked on the door.
“Come in,” came the low baritone of the commander.
Sweat dripped down Nate’s back. He shoved open the door and hurried inside to stand at attention. The scents of bleach and gunpowder nauseated him.
The commander studied him with black, fathomless eyes while sitting behind a metal desk. He wore a soldier’s uniform, his hair in a buzz cut, his body lean and hard. Behind him sat a woman furiously scribbling in a notebook on a small table. Dr. Madison, the head scientist who studied the cadets at the facility, liked to scribble.
“We seem to have a situation, Cadet Nathan,” the commander said.
Nate’s spit dried up. “Yes, sir.” God, please make the situation be about what he’d done wrong and not about Matt’s mission. Matt was invincible. Nothing could happen to him.
“We found your stash of tree, decorations, and cookies,” Dr. Madison said, her blue eyes narrowing in calculation.
Relief tickled down Nate’s spine. Matt was all right. “Yes, ma’am.” Damn it. He’d hidden those items carefully in a storage shack on the outskirts of one of the training fields. How had they found everything?
“Cadet Nathan, this is a military facility. You are a soldier created in a lab to follow orders and protect our organization.” The commander pushed back from the desk and rose to his full height. “How in the world did you learn about Christmas?”
Nate tilted his head to look way up at the commander’s face. Someday Nate would be taller and bigger. Even tougher. But now, not so much. “I can’t remember, sir.” In truth, he and his three brothers had snuck into computer rooms to watch television sitcoms via satellite. The idea of Christmas had struck a chord with all of them.
The brothers fought for freedom by following orders, and they fought for other people to have families and pretty trees with presents. Maybe someday Nate and his brothers could have that, too. If they were strong enough and good enough, maybe they’d get families who would love them. Christmas seemed to be about family and love, both of which intrigued Nate until his chest hurt.
“Humph.” The commander clasped his hands behind his back. “I take it you were planning some sort of celebration with your brothers?”
Nate’s knees wobbled, but he stayed upright. “Yes, sir. I thought the younger brothers should have good memories of their childhoods.” It was too late for him, and that was all right. But he needed to give his younger brothers something good in their lives. Plus, seeing the younger kids happy cut down on Matt’s guilt over how hard he trained them.
“How did you procure the items?” Dr. Madison asked, her pencil poised to write.
Nate shrugged. “I cut off the top of a tree and made the decorations from old weapons.” The presents he’d either stolen throughout the compound or made himself, and those were hidden somewhere else. Hopefully safely. Jory would love the modified remote-control attack helicopter.
“I could have you hanged,” the commander said thoughtfully.
Dread and fear heated Nate’s lungs. Who would take care of Shane and Jory? “Yes, sir.”
The commander scratched his chin and eyed Madison. “Well?” he asked her.
Nate gulped in air and looked toward the woman. Would she want him hanged?
Dr. Madison pursed her red lips. “I think we should give Cadet Nathan a choice.”
Great. Another one of her crappy experiments. “A choice, ma’am?” Nate asked.
“Yes. The first choice is that you relinquish all of the Christmas items, and we’ll forget this ever happened.” She tapped her pencil on the paper. “The second choice is that you go ahead with Christmas for your brothers, and we’ll forget this ever happened.”
Nate swallowed. “What’s the catch, ma’am?”
She smiled, revealing sharp white teeth. “A few days after your pseudo-Christmas, you go onto the training field with the three oldest Brown brothers.”
The three oldest were all around fifteen, and although Nate was a hell of a fighter, he’d get hurt. Nobody could take on all three of them.
His mind reeled as he considered his options. A little bit of pain was worth giving Shane and Jory a small bit of happiness. Of thinking they were part of a real family with good times. Plus, Matt often came back from a mission angry and depressed. A happy memory would be good for him, too.
“I’ll take the second choice—with one condition,” Nate said, his chin lifting.
Dr. Madison giggled. “Listen to the boy, Commander. He’s giving us conditions.”
The commander lifted a dark eyebrow, his lip twisting. “What’s the condition, Cadet?”
Nathan took a deep breath. Maybe the Brown brothers wouldn’t break too many of his bones. “This deal is between us, and I don’t go onto the field with the Browns until Matt is out on another mission.” Jory and Shane would think Nate had gotten in trouble but wouldn’t know why. Hopefully by the time Matt returned, Nate would be mostly healed, so he wouldn’t figure it out. “Matt can’t know the truth.”
“Interesting.” Madison smoothed back her black hair. “You don’t want him to know you’re sacrificing your health for your brothers?”
“No, ma’am.” Definitely not. Matt would blame himself and maybe go off the deep end and finally challenge the commander. None of them were ready for that. Yet.
Dr. Madison nodded. “You intrigue me, young man. How far would you go for family? For love?”
Nate frowned. “I don’t understand the question, ma’am.”
She smiled, her eyes lighting up. “You have a deal, Cadet Nathan. Have a very Merry Christmas.”
* * *
“Jealous?” Nate asked, looking way too comfortable in faded jeans and a ripped T-shirt. A half-full glass of red wine sat next to him on the sofa table.
Yes, actually. He wasn’t hers, but at one point, he had been. He’d been everything, and the thought of him turning that all-encompassing focus on another woman hurt like a knife to the stomach. “Of course I’m not jealous. Don’t be ridiculous.”
The image he presented, Nate waiting for her after a hard day’s work, had filled her dreams for much too long. Home. He’d always been her idea of home, and an ache pounded in her solar plexus. They’d never have that together, although sometimes, late at night when she couldn’t sleep, she daydreamed. Fantasized. Wished. She cleared her throat against an impossible future. “When did you change your clothes?”
The man looked even better in the casual wear than the perfectly cut suit.
“A few minutes ago in your room. I brought an overnight bag.” His feet dropped to the floor as he gestured toward the couch. “Why don’t you have a seat, and we’ll talk?”
An overnight bag? The breath heated in her lungs, and she shoved down interest. “You’re not staying the night.” Weariness weighed down her limbs. “I’m not up for another talk with you.” Man, she was tired. He evoked so many emotions in her, her brain refused to think straight. “Don’t you have a war to go fight?”
“Come here, Audrey.” The low tone combined sexiness and command in a dangerously sensual way.
Her legs slid into motion before her mind reached a reason to refuse. She dropped onto the couch. “You have twenty minutes to ask questions, and then you’re going to leave. Period.”
For answer, he reached for her foot and tugged off the heel. Strong fingers began to knead the arch of her foot, and she couldn’t help a small groan escaping.
“Other foot,” he said. Determination hardened his face while his eyes softened.
Why did he want to bring her pleasure? Was it to manipulate her, or did he remember how much they’d touched? So often and so freely.
God, she missed that.
So she lifted her other foot as if in a dream, and he plucked off the shoe. Both his hands went to work, sending pure ecstasy up her legs. Her lids closed to half-mast, and she studied him through the remaining light. “Why are you being nice to me?”
“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked, his thumb pressing beneath her heel, studying her face and probing deep.
The tendons in her foot relaxed. “Because you hate me.”
His head jerked. “I don’t hate you, Aud.” He ran his thumbs along her arches, melting her body in pleasure. “I don’t understand you, and I’m not sure I ever knew you, but I could never hate you.” Regret tinged his mater-of-fact tone.
“Why not?” she whispered, her body going lax.
He pushed beneath her toes, releasing pressure points as he exhaled slowly. “The only happiness I remember in that hellhole included you. Those days, even if you were acting, those were the best of my life.”
Remembered pleasure soothed her nerves. Her lids opened. “You’re a human lie detector.”
He shrugged, powerful shoulders moving. “Yes, but you got beneath all of my defenses. If anybody could lie to me, it’d be you.”
A feminine contentment overcame her. She was the one woman in the world he’d let in. Too bad she’d taken that trust and broken his heart—even if she did so for the right reasons. “I didn’t lie.” If nothing else, she needed him to believe that—especially since it was way too late to turn back.
The gentleness in his touch contrasted nicely with the obvious strength in his fingers. “You knew we started as an experiment?”
“Kind of. My mother told me there was a soldier who was lost and needed some kindness in his life. She asked me to talk to you, get to know you, even become a friend. I said I’d help.” She couldn’t stop a rueful smile. “I had no intention of falling in love with you like I did.”
“You don’t leave somebody you love,” Nathan said, dropping her feet, his gaze shuttering closed.
You do to protect them. But he wouldn’t understand that, would he? His entire life, all he had were his brothers, and the idea of leaving them wouldn’t have occurred to him. They were all or nothing, the Gray brothers. A familiar ache pounded in her chest. “I’m sorry I hurt you.” She lifted her legs to sit cross-legged on the sofa.
“So why did you?”
“Hang on as Zanetti whisks you away into a world of danger, passion and treachery!” —RT Book Reviews TOP PICK
“Zanetti did a great job with his story. What I love most is how she weaved the action and suspense with the romance. There was a good flow and never a dull moment.” – Five Stars – Angela from Under the Covers
“I am such a huge fan of this series which is packed full of suspense, intrigue, action, romance, love and passion. All the books thus far have grabbed hold of me from start to finish and this third installment was no exception. I highly recommend that if you are new to this series that you commence reading the books right from the beginning as the overall story arc is explored and expanded upon in each installment.” Five Stars – Sinfully Sexy Book Blog
Five Stars – Jessica’s Totally Over the Top Book Obsession
“So I know this sounds cheesy, but seriously I am so thankful for the day I found this author and this series….This is without a doubt MY FAVE EVER!!!” – Five Stars – The Kiwibooknerd
“Blind Faith is a thrilling tale of a Dean brother, a story of passion, rekindling of a lost love, and fighting for what holds most dear and standing up for what is right no matter the cost. A quick paced edgy romance that will keep you coming back for more. EXHILARATING!!” – Five Stars – Addicted to Romance