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When Day Breaks (KGI #9)
Author: Maya Banks


BIG Eddie Sinclair sat behind his aged wooden desk in his big empty house—a house that had once been filled with love and laughter—his gnarled, callused hands shaking.

Sweat beaded his forehead and ran in thin rivulets down his temples, tracing a line over grooved, aged, weather-beaten skin. His hands shook so badly that the papers he’d been holding fell, scattering on the desk, some sliding onto the floor.

He stared up, his gaze unconsciously seeking out the mantel over the fireplace his wife had insisted on having installed in his working space. She hadn’t wanted him to ever get cold. The idea that Big Eddie Sinclair’s gentle wife had been concerned that he’d get cold would have gotten him laughed out of the barracks. His badass buddies would never let him hear the end of it.

Eddie was a big man. A killer. Trained by the best. And in turn he had trained the best. But right now he felt as helpless as a newborn babe. Fear, an emotion that until the day his first child was born had been completely alien to him, gripped him by the balls, freezing his insides. He rubbed at his chest in an effort to alleviate the discomfort and closed his eyes, trying to rid himself of the images the threat had invoked.

He’d lived his life knowing that he was invincible. He wasn’t egotistical. Men who served with the men he served with didn’t think they were good. They knew they were good.

And none of that ability had been able to save his precious wife.

He closed his eyes more tightly against the betraying sting of tears. Even years later, thinking of the love of his life had the power to bring him to his knees. A lifetime of regret stored in the years since she’d died, leaving him with three young children to love, protect and raise on his own. And by God, he’d done just that. He’d made certain they were protected above all else.

And now his precious Eden, his only daughter, was a target. All because of him and the life he’d led, the choices he’d made. The mistakes he’d made in the past. All coming back to haunt him. Still f**king haunting him every goddamn night.

She was the image of her mother not only in looks but in all aspects. Gentle. Loving. A heart of gold. Sweet and innocent. Always willing to look for the good in people. Never seeing the bad.

It wasn’t said in so many words, the threat. But he knew. His gaze fell on the blown-up glossy photos of his daughter. Taken in a moment of unguardedness, a rarity for Eden because he’d taught her to never let her guard down. She might have the face of an angel and pose for cameras for a living, but she had the mind of a soldier. Eddie had ensured that.

I’ll take from you what you took from me. I won’t stop until pain is all you see, all you feel, all you know. I’ll take every single thing you love and then you’ll die. Beautiful, isn’t she?

The note, so simple and yet so life changing, stared back at him, ugly, black.

The photos of Eden glimmered in his vision. Taken of her when she thought she was out of the camera’s eye. None of the glamorous clothing or makeup. If he weren’t so terrified, he would have softened at the real Eden. More comfortable in sweats, hair in a ponytail, face devoid of cosmetics. So beautiful it hurt to look at her because she reminded him so much of her mother.

He reached for the phone, dialing her number before he thought better of it. As it rang, he nearly hung up, but Eden would only call back. What could he possibly say to her?

He had security around her. The best money could buy and yet he knew there was better out there. It wasn’t her he needed to talk to. He needed to speak to others. People who would ensure her safety and put her life before theirs. That kind of blind loyalty was hard to find. Not many men, no matter what, were willing to sacrifice their lives for someone else.

Civilians couldn’t possibly understand that kind of selflessness. They lived in their little bubbles never thinking about the thousands of young American men and women who gave their lives so the rest of America could exist in willful, ignorant bliss.

He didn’t need private security. What he needed was military.

Eden’s voice came over the line just as he started to disconnect.

“Hi, Dad!”

Her cheerful voice hit a deep part of his heart that never failed to tighten whenever she was near.

“Hi, baby,” he said gruffly. “How are you?”

“I’m good. What’s up?”

“Nothing,” he said hastily. “I just . . . I just wanted to hear your voice.”

“Is everything all right? Are you okay, Dad?”

The worry in her voice shook him from his dark thoughts. The very last thing he wanted was her worried and distracted. If she was focused on something else—him—then she wouldn’t be paying attention like she should. She’d make a mistake. Slip up. Allow someone the chance to get to her.

“I’m fine, baby girl,” he said, making his voice stronger. “I just wanted to see how my girl was doing.”

“I’m good. Just got done with the afternoon shoot. If I never see another froufrou yip-yap dog it’ll be too soon,” she grumbled.

Despite the gravity of the situation, Eddie smiled. No. His girl wasn’t one for irritating furballs. She’d much rather be surrounded by bigger, stronger dogs. Her “baby” was an English mastiff well over two hundred pounds.

“King is going to be pissed when he smells these other dogs on me,” she said in disgust. “I’ll have to bribe him with treats for a week.”

“Are you resting enough?” he asked. “Don’t let your agent work you into the ground, Eden.”

She laughed. “If anything I work him too hard. You know that, Dad. He’s always after me to slow down. And well, maybe one day I will. But right now I have to hit it hard while I’m still in demand. In another year or two, no one will want me. There’s always someone younger, prettier coming up the ranks. And you know that I’m getting old in model years.”

He rolled his eyes and let out a grumble. Didn’t make a damn bit of sense to him. Eden was only twenty-four years old and yet she talked like she was some middle-aged nag about to be put out to pasture. She constantly reminded him that for a model, she was old.

“Oh hey, let me go, Dad. That’s Ryker calling now. We’ve been playing phone tag all day and I have to tell him happy birthday.”

Eddie’s chest tightened at the mention of his middle child. Eden’s older brother. The two were as thick as thieves. Always had been. Eddie hadn’t forgotten his son’s birthday. But he’d put his call to him off because he knew what he’d say wouldn’t be the best birthday message in the world.


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