Here are two pics that have inspired two very different heroes. Inspirational, aren’t they? Cade McCord is the hero in Merger (here’s the link) and Gavin Michaels in the hero in a current WIP.

Since Merger is posted…  Here’s a little of the opening from Gavin’s story, Close Protection:

“Gavin, your fiancee is here. Should I let her in?”

“My what?” Gavin stuck his head out of his trailer door, the color draining from his face. “I don’t have a fiancee. Hell, I barely even have a girlfriend,” he added, his million dollar face twisted in confusion.

Travis Michaels looked at his incredibly perplexed cousin, and offered the only answer he had, “She said her name was Rebecca and she was your fiancee. I hadn’t met her, so I came to you.”

Motioning for Travis to follow, Gavin walked back into his trailer and began to explain. “Alright, I will admit I dated Rebecca Alstead for all of ten minutes, but she and I weren’t a good match.”

Nodding, Travis translated, “So, you met her at a club, fucked her a while and moved on?”

Gavin was pacing now, essentially turning circles in the cramped space of his trailer. After watching a few minutes, Travis finally asked, “Fine then. What do you want me to do about it?”

“Send her away, pay her off, make her leave me alone. I don’t care what you tell her, just get rid of her.”

-Two Years Later-

Gavin Michaels’ girlfriend of less than a month was hospitalized today after another woman locked her in a storage closet. Brooke Isle, twenty-four, of the FOX series Connections, was drugged and held in the three-by-three closet by a woman claiming to be Michaels’ fiancee. Rebecca Alstead, 32, is wanted by the Santa Barbara police for questioning.”

Lyla Moore muted the news. A girlfriend and a fiancee? What, he have a wife too? She shuddered. She might not wish a scandal on anyone, having been through it firsthand herself, but even as freaking gorgeous as Gavin Michaels was, if he was double-dipping, it served him right. Of course, drugging the girlfriend might be a tad excessive. Shaking her head, she punched the buttons on her elliptical machine, and kept at it.

She was packing up to head home when she glanced at the headlines running across the screen:

MICHAELS RENEWS RESTRAINING ORDER AGAINST ALSTEAD. BROOKE ISLE ADMITTED TO SANTA BARBARA COTTAGE HOSPITAL.

“Damn.” Lyla didn’t often speak to inanimate objects or empty rooms, but this seemed appropriate. Gavin had a restraining order? Oddly fascinated, she began to play scenarios in her head. Surely, if there had been an order of protection, there would be police documents on file. Brooke had been drugged, but with what? And why had Rebecca claimed to be his fiancee? Just because Gavin’s last movie grossed a bazillion dollars, and he made twenty million a picture, or was there something more?

Unable to rest, she hit the internet hard when she got home and was disturbed by what she discovered. Unbelievably, there was a lot to be found. A wedding registry, a wedding page at theknot.com, and a very obsessive fanpage were easy to locate, but the worst was a blog attributed simply to Becca. The last entry was the most chilling.

Gav is cheating on me again, and I won’t have it. He keeps postponing the wedding, and that will not do. I will marry Gavin if it’s the last thing he does. He will be mine if it kills him.

Before she knew what she was doing, Lyla had called her boss. “Ross, it’s Lyla. Who handles Gavin Michaels protection and security?”

“Been watching the news, have we? Black & Black, I believe.”

“I have. I think he’s in danger.”

“I know this is what made you a great Secret Service Agent, Moore, but this isn’t for us.”

“It should be. You and I both know publicity and an outstanding warrant won’t stop a determined stalker. When we add in the fact the chick is crazypants….” She sighed, then tried not to sound like she was begging when she added, “Please see what you can do.”

“I will, but only if you turn over your findings to SBPD.”

“Done.”

Lyla laid her phone on the end table, shaking her curly blonde hair free of its ponytail as she did. If Ross could get in touch with Gavin’s people, then she knew just the way to both protect him and draw out Rebecca Alstead. Nothing would infuriate the woman more than a new girlfriend.

~*~

“I received a call from Ross Trent of Trent, McKenna and Buchanan today. One of their operators believes you are in danger and that TMB can better protect you than your current service. That operator found evidence turned over to the police this morning.” This was the fourth similar call Travis had answered this morning, but this one actually had credence.

“Trent, McKenna and Buchanan? Didn’t one of their agents protect Kimberlynn Smythe from a serial killer?”

“Sean O’Dell, yes.”

“Have their agents arrive tomorrow. Brooke might have only been tranqed and traumatized, but let’s see what this firm can do.”

“Keep your wits about you, Lyla. Gavin Michaels is Hollywood A-list. What you do here could secure more lucrative accounts like his.” Unlike Ross, Patrick Buchanan always had his eye on the bottom line, despite the very impressive business TMB did with Smythe Securities, McCord Brothers & Reagan International, and DeMille Enterprises among others.

Lyla chose to only nod, replying, “Yessir. I promise not to break any arms.”

Patrick blew out a breath, “Really, Lyla, do me one better. Promise to get along with him. You will likely be living with him for a while, and being amicable would be advisable.”

She couldn’t help it, she grinned. She managed to say, “I will try my best to get along with the rich, famous, sinfully gorgeous man,” before breaking into laughter.

“See that you do,” Patrick told her with an incline of his head.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Michaels is not taking any visitors today,” Travis told the blonde at the gate. He hated to turn away such a beauty, too. He couldn’t tell her eye color, but the face was great, and the body, well, a lot of people paid good money to be built like that. In this town, he’d bet this one was no exception.

“I have an appointment,” she explained to the camera. “I’m Lyla Moore of Trent, McKenna and Buchanan.”

Wait. Lyla, not Lyle. How was this woman supposed to protect Gavin from anything? “I was expecting-”

“Someone else, I know. A burly woman or a man named Lyle.”

“Lyle,” he answered before buzzing her in.

When she walked through the door, Travis was almost upset he was a married man. Damn, but Gavin lived a charmed life. Well, except for the crazy stalker part.

Lyla extended her hand, “Nice to meet you, Travis. It’s good to meet Gavin’s cousin and right hand man.”

He accepted her hand, all the while wondering how someone so feminine could protect his cousin.

A smirk quirked her lips. “I know what you’re thinking. How’s a five foot four woman going to protect a six foot two man? How? We need to flush Rebecca out. She’s determined Gavin is hers and she’ll stop at nothing to have him. She’s escalated from threats to drugging and actual contact. So, I’m here as Gavin’s new girlfriend.” She paused, winking before adding, “who knows Krav Maga, Tae Kwon Do, and is damn handy with a nine millimeter.”

Gavin rounded the corner in time to hear Lyla explain her plan. The woman was hot personified. He may have spent time with celebrity women, but this one had them all beat. In a body-hugging black tank top and equally well-fitting jeans, she was built more like a centerfold than a bodyguard. A centerfold who could kick ass and shoot people. Damn.

At the sound of someone approaching, Lyla looked up and almost couldn’t draw breath. Holy shit. Gavin Michaels was even more attractive in person. With his chiseled face, chocolate hair and ice blue eyes, his was a face worth millions. She had no doubt he had broken more than his share of hearts with his face alone, but the body was to die for. It was sad she was giddy knowing she’d have to hang all over him for this assignment. She just had to keep focused; distraction was deadly in her line of work.

“You certainly look more ‘hot girlfriend’ than trained operative to my untrained eye.”

Really? He was opening with how hot she was? Upside: If he kept this shallow-thing up, she’d worry less about being distracted. Downside: Shallow? Dammit.

“Vice President Bucknell thought so too.”

“Get out. You’re the ‘young, attractive Secret Service Agent’ that broke his arm?”

Of course. At least they could get this out of the way now. “He and I had a disagreement regarding his protection. He felt I was more useful on my back. I disagreed.”

“Remind me not to get on your bad side,” he replied with a chuckle. Sobering, he told her, “For the record, any man who tries to force a woman deserves a shot in the head. Bucknell got off easy.”

Okay, so not so shallow. She wasn’t sure if she could survive this assignment if he was understanding on top of being edible. Why had she volunteered for this? Oh, yeah, he was in danger, and she could protect him. She briefly contemplated smacking herself. “I broke his arm, was dismissed and black-listed from any other government agency. He had to weather a small scandal and moved on.” She stomped her booted foot. “Enough about me. I am moving in with you, and for all intents and purposes am your new live-in, hot and heavy girlfriend.” She paused, tilting her head to watch Gavin’s reaction, “Will that cause a problem with Brooke?”

He let out a mirthless laugh. “No. Brooke and I weren’t exactly committed. Besides, locking a claustrophobic woman in a tiny closet is a great way to traumatize the hell out of her. She threw me out of her hospital room and told me she never wanted to see me again. The worst part is she told me she wouldn’t even watch any more of my movies.”

Damn. His movies were good. “Her loss.” Lyla shrugged. “So, where do you want me?”

He almost took the bait. Instead he said, “Let me show you upstairs,” motioning with his left hand for her to follow. She followed him up a winding staircase to a long hall. “My room is at the end of this hall. Feel free to choose any of the others here.”

Plush was the word that came to mind as she explored the four bedrooms. Each had its own en suite complete with jacuzzi. She ended up choosing a room done in blues and greens that just happened to be right next to Gavin’s. The better to protect him, of course.

~*~