CIA Operative Joshua Lassiter is always in the midst of danger. When an international incident requires his attention, the journey begins. In foreign territory with a ruthless King at the helm, Joshua finds himself rescuing royalty and a mysterious woman.
Akande Ambree has a mission: kill the man who dishonored her family. Ready to give her life in honor of her country, it is Joshua that crosses her path. Life takes on a different meaning under the tutelage of a Lassiter in more ways than one.
Love for your country or the sweet love of a man.....
The choice comes with trust.
It felt as if she was floating on a cloud. The guard would be coming through soon to check on the girl, she thought. Opening her eyes was the last thing she wanted to do, but she had no choice. Akande rolled over flinging one arm over her forehead. She suddenly sat up, threw the sheet off and jumped out of the bed. Turning around, looking from one item to another. This was not the dungeon, she thought as she swiped her hair from her face. Her eyes quickly darted around the room until she spotted him sitting in the chair near the door.
Akande looked up to see a man dressed in a tan linen shirt, matching pants and sandals, with his ankle resting across his knee. She had never seen him before and had no idea if he was friend or foe. Looking around the room there was nothing she could use as a weapon. Glancing down, she noticed her clothes had been changed and she felt clean. She narrowed her eyes at him. At least in the dungeon, she knew who her captors were. Here, she did not know where here was. The unknown was a fear for her, therefore she did the only thing she could. Attack.
Joshua saw her intent before she took the first step. He jumped from the chair he was casually leaning in. Using his arm, he blocked her kick, which caused her to fall to the floor. Standing now, he watched as she jumped up and took the battle stance with her feet apart, arms up, ready to attack. It tickled him to see she had taken a battle stance against him. He thought she would stay down. He was wrong.
“So you know a little Tae Kwon Do?” He asked as he appeared to be lazily leaning against the wall. He’d learned a long time ago to never underestimate his opponent.
“Come near me and I will kill you.”
Two strides and he was in the center of the room with his arms folded across his chest. He smiled down at her. “Many women have tried, my sweet, yet, I’m still standing.”
“Who are you?” The woman questioned in an angry voice.
“Joshua,” he raised an eyebrow. “I know who you are. I don't understand your attitude at the moment. Most women are grateful when I rescue them. You are not.” He stepped back and grinned at the woman who looked ready to kill. “Do you know each of your names begins with the letter A? Akande Ariana Aubree. Nice name, by the way. You know, we have this company at home called Triple A. Can I call you Triple A?” He turned to take a seat at the table, when she attempted to kick him from behind. He caught her legs in midair and held her upside down. “Now, why do you want to be this way? All I said was good morning.”
When she composed herself, in the upside down position, she curled her hand to make a fist, pulled back and swung.
He jumped back. “Oh no, not the jewels, baby.” He flipped her onto the bed, as if she was nothing more than a flea. Taking the silk scarf from the chair, he tied her feet and hands together behind her back. She lay on her stomach like a seesaw, as he pulled a chair to the foot of the bed, where she could see him.
“Okay,” he took a moment. “I’m going to forgive you, for I understand you may be a little confused at the moment. However, you take another swing at my jewels and I’m going to knock you out. Are we clear?" He smiled, as daggers appeared to be shooting from the woman’s eyes. He wondered if that would translate into passion in a bed. He shook the thought away as the door opened.
LaVere' walked in with a tray of food. He froze in the spot, tilted his head at Joshua and raised an eyebrow. “You seem to have a way with women.”
Joshua smiled. “I think she likes me.”
LaVere' put the tray of food on the table then glanced at the angry woman tied up on the bed. "I am not getting that feeling. Are you making progress?”
“Yes,” Joshua replied as he walked over to the table, picked up a slice of toast and bit in to it. “She speaks English.”
“That should make communications easier.”
Joshua looked at her. “I don’t know.” He shook his head. “She just tried to hit my jewels.”
“Ouch." LaVere' frowned, then folded his arms across his chest and stared at the woman. “Your mother would not be happy if you are unable to give her grandchildren.”
“True,” Joshua replied as he carried the tray over to the bed. “That’s why I’m going to plan number two.”
“Can you handle her or do you need me to stay?”
Joshua looked incredulously over his shoulder. “Is that an insult?”
“You’re the one with the woman’s hands and legs tied behind her back,” LaVere' laughed. "Since she speaks English this may be a good time for you to explain your life's mission," he smirked, then walked out of the room.
Taking a seat, Joshua smiled. There may be something to LaVere's suggestion. "You may not believe this, but women generally love me. I think we just got off on the wrong foot." Still receiving daggers from the woman, he decided to switch tactics. He turned to the food. It was mid morning, maybe she was hungry. "This looks good.” He sat back and bit into a slice of mango. Closing his eyes, he moaned. “Mmm, this is really good.” He picked up a napkin, held it under the fruit, then put it to her lips. “Here taste.”
She turned her head away.
“I bit it first so you would know it’s not poisonous. it really is good. Try it.”
The woman watched him, then her eyes narrowed. She opened her mouth and he placed the fruit inside. She bit down on his fingers and would not let go.
"Damn it." He dropped the napkin on the bed, then squeezed her jaw applying pressure until she released his fingers. He shook his fingers as if the bite was nothing. “Okay. That was my fault. I tried to force you to eat, when I should have asked if you were hungry.” He sat forward and looked at her. “So let’s try again. Hello. My name is Joshua. Is it okay if I call you Triple A.”
“That is not my name,” she angrily replied with an accent. “My name is Akande Ariana Aubree.”
“Okay, now see we are getting somewhere." Anxiously, he looked at his fingers to make sure she had not drawn blood, then turned back to her. "Since we are making progress, tell me this. Were you being held against your will?”
“As I am now?”
“See, there’s a difference. I rescued you and even had breakfast brought in as a peace offering, thinking you may be hungry. In payment for my thoughtfulness and bravery, I might add, what did you do? You attacked me without cause or provocation. All I want to know is, if you were being held against your will, do you want to go home?”
A flicker of surprise appeared in her eyes, then quickly disappeared. Sitting back in the chair, he crossed his legs at the ankle and just stared at her and thought. Masking your reactions takes years of practice. The stance she took before attacking him was not amateurish, it was a professional stance. Where did she learn that, he wondered?
She had beautiful eyes, a slight slant to them. Dark lashes, against smooth chestnut skin. Her natural hair, was twisted in a large single braid, that was wrapped around her head giving it a crown effect. To him, she looked like a temptress, in a neat little package. A wildcat. He liked that. “Where are you from,” he asked?
The room was silent as he patiently waited for her to reply. At some point, she would realize he was not the enemy.
“Finally," he threw his hands in the air. "Okay, next question. Do you want to return home?” He watched as the question played in her mind. He wondered why she had to think about the question. He would think she would be excited with the possibility of seeing her loved ones again.
“Okay,” he stood, and placed the tray back on the table. He walked back over to the bed and stood over her. “I’m going to untie you. Make a wrong move and I will take you out. Do you understand?"
"Yes," she replied.
With one flick of his wrist, she was released. She immediately jumped up from the bed and kicked his legs from under him. He fell to the floor and she sat on his back, grabbed the scarf, and tied it around his neck then pulled with all her might. “Where is the girl?”
"Whoa. That was good," he laughed as he reached back grabbed her by the neck and flipped her over. "One good turn deserves another," he said as he now sat on her back. "You got the drop on me." He shook his head as he pulled the scarf from around his neck then ripped it in half. "I was looking at your lips instead of your eyes." He huffed as he ripped the scarf again. "My bad. What you don't know is I have six sisters who have tried that maneuver on me. You could take lessons from them." He huffed, angry now, he stood, putting his foot in her back to keep her down. "First you tried to kick me." He tied her feet together. "Then you tried to hit me in my balls of all places," he yelled as he turned her over and tied her hands. "Then you bit me." He tied a strip around her mouth placing a knot behind her head. He stood over her to take a look at his work. Satisfied, he picked her up and sat her on the edge of the bed. "I pride myself on being a patient man, however, you are slowly pushing me over the edge,” he yelled. “The only thing keeping me from knocking you the hell out is I think you have the girl’s best interests at heart." He huffed, then pulled the chair up and sat in front of her. "The girl is back with her family. Now, what was your role in her capture?”
The woman angrily mumbled something.
He realized she couldn't speak. Frustrated, he reached behind her and pulled the scarf from her mouth and glared into her eyes. "I kill people for a living. Keep that in mind the next time you think about doing something to piss me off. Now answer me," he sat back.
The woman flinched at the controlled anger he was displaying. With fire coming from her nose, she replied. “I had no role in her capture,” she seethed. “I was only told to care for her. Where am I?”
“Not important.” He crossed his legs at the ankle. His legs were so long they almost reached where she was sitting. “I'm not a mean person. I do however kill people when provoked. If, I’m so inclined I rescue a few. I’m good at both--damn good.” From time to time I return people to their families. You hesitated when I asked before. Are you sure you want to go home?”
All Akande could do was stare at the tall dark man before her. Friend or enemy, he was an imposing figure. What had happened, she did not know. The last thing she remembered was hearing steps at her door. Her confinement had heightened her senses. The moment his steps stopped at the first door, she immediately awakened. Not moving, she watched as his penlight swayed around the room. The click, he thought was silent, vibrated through her mind, as if it had been a bulldozer. She sprang up and grabbed the heaviest thing she could find, a book. After waiting for a minute, she heard no movement. She took a step towards the open doorway and peeked around in the room. Her next memory was of a few minutes ago when she opened her eyes.
Fear, more so uneasiness, spread through her, for she did not recognize him or know where she was. Anger filled her for she was tired of people just taking her and locking her away. Did he just ask something?
She heard him ask again. “Am I what?”
“I need you to stay focused. Are you sure you want to go home?”
“If I am, what are you, as the Americans say, my knight in shining armor?”
“I’ve been called that from time to time,” he smiled displaying two huge dimples on each cheek.
His smile jarred her senses. She did not believe men who looked like him really existed. This man, she could look at for days and never blink away. He was dressed as if he was on vacation, not like a warrior, yet, there was something clearly in his eyes indicating he was dangerous. For some reason, unknown to her, she felt drawn to him. She shook the feeling away. “I want to leave here. I want to go home."
“Where is home?”
The sight of the fiery woman of five minutes ago, with her head now down, bothered him. He placed a finger under her chin, she quickly pushed it away. “ That’s more like it. I like my women fiery. This is the last time I’m going to ask. Where is home?”
He stood, giving her the feeling he was towering over her, as her eyes traveled up his body to reach his eyes. Another feeling invaded her senses, but this was not the time to figure it out. This may be her only opportunity to escape.
She exhaled. “My uncle is King Tarik of Asmere.”
Excerpt for The Book of Joshua I - TRUST ©2013 by Iris Bolling
Iris Bolling Biography
Iris s Bolling was born in Richmond, Virginia, has a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Management. S is currently a Workforce Development Trainer with the Commonwealth of Virginia, providing management training and professional development consultation for the state workforce.
In an effort to combine the areas in her life she enjoys the most, education, politics and romance, she penned her first manuscript, Once You’ve Touched the Heart, which was release in March 2008. Since that time she has released books 2-5 of what has become The Heart Series which includes, The Heart of Him, Look Into My Heart, A Heart Divided, A Lost Heart and her latest release, The Heart. In May of 2011, Iris introduced her new novel, Night of Seduction/Heaven’s Gate.
In April of 2010 Iris was named Debut Author the Year, at the Romance Slam Jam conference. Her novel, Once You’ve Touched the Heart was voted the Readers Choice Award with Shades of Romance Magazine for, Romance Book of the Year. Iris was voted Romance Author of the Year and Author of the Year. Her novel A Lost Heart was nominated Romantic Suspense Novel of the Year, at the 2011 Romance Slam Jam. In 2012 her book Teach Me, was awarded Heroine of the Year-Diamond Lassiter