Ashlyn: A lonely society princess living in New York City.Buy the book! Amazon|Barnes and Noble|The Book Depository
Daddy hired you to be my bodyguard.
Colin: Childhood enemy, now her protector.
Daddy thought I’d be safe. He thought I’d never fall in love. He thought he could keep me forever.
Charles: obsessed with keeping her safe, keeping her his, he hires the one person he knows she could never fall in love with: Colin.
Daddy was wrong.
“You sure you want to do this?” Felicity giggled behind me.
Adrenaline pumped my blood. “Totally.” Frigid winter air bit through my blazer and whirled up my skirt. “Should have brought our coats.” I chattered.
“We’ll freeze before we’re halfway down the block,” Felicity joked. “But at least we’ll be frozen and free, right?”
I didn’t see Colin anywhere, and figured he was inside the building in this cold November air.
We made a beeline for the opening in the chain link fence and started on a jog down the street. I laughed, enjoying the cold air rushing past me, fueling the excitement bursting from the inside out. At my side, Felicity laughed along with me, the two of us running like kids ditching school. Not that I’d ever ditched before.
We came to a stop at the second corner we passed. Our breath heaved in and out, shooting white smoky plumes into the air. Restaurants were the other direction. In our haste we hadn’t navigated our escape with food in mind, only freedom.
“Here we are,” Felicity blew out with a perfunctory glance around. “All dressed up and nowhere to go.”
“I don’t care if I eat. This is great.”
The male voice startled me, and Felicity and I whirled around. Colin stood five feet away, at the corner. He’d followed us? He wasn’t even out of breath.
“How did you find us?” I gasped.
He started toward me, his eyes sharp. “It’s my job to protect you, remember?”
A tingle raced across my skin when he said the words protect you. At the same time, the word babysitter flashed in my head. Colin held my gaze long enough to pin me like a butterfly in a shadow box before he looked at Felicity and nodded. “Colin Brennen.”
“Felicity.” She tilted he head at me. “Ashlyn’s BFF.” They shook hands. Felicity’s cheeks pinked. “Forever, or until her Daddy finds out about this.”
I frowned, whisked past Colin and headed back the direction we’d come. I glanced back. Felicity hung a few feet behind, and Colin was gaining on me. The harsh wind searing the streets and buildings chilled me to the bone and I wrapped my arms around myself.
Seconds later, Colin’s presence pressed against my side. He had the decency not to interrogate me in front of Felicity and that was good, because anger surged through my body. If he had, I would have slugged him in the face, or at least fantasized about slugging him.
When we arrived at Chatham, Colin took hold of my elbow. His grip sent a wave of electricity through me. Felicity paused at my side, looked at Colin’s hand and then at me.
“Felicity, will you give us a minute, please?” he said.
Felicity nodded. Since lunch was wrapping up, crowds of junior and senior girls paraded into the school, coming back from their off-campus lunches. Groups slowed to watch. Whispers floated in the air. A chill teased my spine.
Colin’s piercing gaze remained on me. I was sure he felt the stares, heard the whispers.
He slipped his arm around me so his hand pressed at the small of my back, and he escorted me to a private corner of the Chatham courtyard. There, his right arm shot up to the stone wall, partially caging me in. Out the corner of my eye, girls congregated, curious.
“Want to tell me what that was about?” He kept his voice low, which I appreciated; even if I was humiliated at being caught doing something every other girl had the freedom to do.
“We were trying to go out for lunch. Lots of girls do it. See?” I swept my hand in the direction of the students behind him. He ignored them.
“You’re not allowed to leave campus.”
I shrugged, and forced indifference on my face. His cologne, faded now, lightly filled my head and caused my stomach to rumble with want. The bell shrilled. He remained anchored to the wall, making me feel frustratingly vulnerable. The dream of him kissing me floated into my brain, leaving me mesmerized by his power to undo me.
“Okay.” I glanced away unable to look him in the eye. “I know.”
“Don’t do it again.” He moved into my line of vision. “Understood?”
He sounded like Daddy. I worked to control my frustration. “Yeah, I understand.” My voice tripped. “So, we’re good then?”
He stepped back with a nod. “Yeah.”
I passed him without looking back, merging into the girls standing and watching us. Catty, curious whispers followed me to class. Stares stole after me, faced me when I went to my locker, visited the bathroom and trailed me when the bell rang signaling that school was over.
Felicity caught up with me at my locker. “Everyone wants to know who the hottie is,” she whispered, her green eyes following the girls walking by staring. “He’s gorgeous, Ash. Daddy done good this time!”
“I know you hate him, but if you have to hate him, you might as well like hating him, right?” She lifted a shoulder.
I slammed my locker shut. “So what if he’s good looking? He’s a hound. A Rottweiler.” My cheeks fired with the lie, and I quickly turned and started down the hall hoping to hide the truth from Felicity. But she knew me better than anyone else—better than my parents, who only knew their Park Avenue princess. A façade.
The author has generously offered a prize for giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a paperback copy of Overprotected, a matching tote and t-shirt, and a book of your choice from Jennifer. Simply leave a comment with your email address! You must comment on every tour stop to enter!
This contest is open to the US only and closes on August 1, 2011.
Visit the next tour stop tomorrow at Reading Little Bit of Everything, which will be interviewing Jen!