- Pub. Date:
As the heir to a large pharmaceutical company, Marco Adamo had it all. But when a drunk Marco crashes his car, leaving him unharmed but his best friend in critical condition, Marco’s life is thrown off track. In an attempt to regain control over his life, Marco flees to the military and returns, ready to own up to his actions and his past.
Four years later and returned a changed man, Marco meets the beautiful Kat Delagrange. But before their relationship can blossom into something real, Kat learns that Marco was the man behind her brother’s severe injuries. Kat vows to keep Marco out of her life…until a shadowy man from her past threatens her, making her realize that she’ll need to trust Marco to protect her…and in the process, find a way to let him into her heart for good.
Trust In Me is the next Fight For Me novel by Jessica Linden.
Related collections and offers
About the Author
Jessica Linden lives in Virginia with her college-sweetheart husband, two rambunctious sons, and two rowdy but lovable rescue dogs. Since her house is overflowing with testosterone, it’s a good thing she has a healthy appreciation for Marvel movies, Nerf guns, and football. Her books include Fight for me.
Read an Excerpt
Marco Adamo pulled out of the car dealership parking lot in a new pickup truck, his army-issued duffel bag that contained all his possessions in the world sitting in the passenger seat. Even though it was a full-size truck, it still felt small after he'd spent the last eighteen months riding around in a Humvee in the Middle East.
He headed in the direction of Adamo Enterprises, his family's pharmaceutical company. That's where he should have gone hours earlier when his flight landed instead of taking a cab directly to the car dealership.
He dismissed the thought, telling himself that acquiring transportation was more important. After all, he didn't want to burden his family with having to drive him around. It was the thoughtful thing to do.
It had nothing to do with him putting off the inevitable.
Everything had gone to shit in his absence. His father was awaiting trial for the creation and distribution of narcotics. His grandmother's health had begun to fail, probably as a result of the former. His mother seemed to be in denial, carrying on as if nothing had changed. And his brother, Tony, was stuck trying to keep the company from going under.
Marco couldn't have stopped most of those things from happening, but that last one was on him. He was supposed to take over at Adamo and when he'd unexpectedly joined the army, Tony had had to pick up the slack. His slack.
He wondered if his brother had forgiven him for that yet.
There was a lot Marco needed forgiveness for and the least of it was from Tony.
Memories from the accident that had forever changed the course of his life ran through his mind. As a result, he'd given up everything and escaped his hometown.
But he wasn't the one who'd truly lost everything. No, that had been his friend Ryan.
And it was all his fault.
He hit a red light a few blocks before the office. Across the intersection, a car pulled off onto the shoulder. Smoke billowed out from under the hood. A woman dressed in business attire got out of the driver's side and kicked the tire, then leaned up against the car and crossed her arms.
He winced. She'd be lucky if she hadn't broken her toes in those shoes she was wearing. He watched as car after car passed her, not one stopping to help. Hell, even a damn police cruiser passed her by.
What the hell was wrong with people? Then again, in his younger days, he might have passed her, too.
When the light turned green, he pulled to a stop behind her. As he got out of the car, she turned and he stopped in his tracks. She was, in a word, gorgeous. Long wavy dark hair framed her face. His eyes were immediately drawn to her lips — full luscious lips that were a natural shade of pink. He wanted nothing more than to see if they felt as soft as they looked.
He almost laughed at himself. Here he was with nearly a damn hardon in the middle of traffic after encountering the first attractive woman in his path. He'd spent way too much time in the desert.
As he approached, he slowed for a different reason. When her dark eyes met his, they hardened, becoming defensive. She crossed her arms over her chest and widened her stance. Defensive posturing 101.
He put his hands up, feeling very much like he was infiltrating hostile territory. Damn. All he wanted to do was help, but he felt like he was back at war.
"Are you having car trouble?" he asked.
She gave him a look that told him what she thought of his dumbass question. Of course she was having car trouble.
"The piece of shit died on me." She shot the car a nasty look.
"Do you want me to take a look?"
She pursed her lips. "I don't know ..." Her eyes became guarded once again.
Marco put his hands on his hips. "Look, I get it. I'm a strange guy, but it's daylight and there's people all around us. I'm not going to hurt you. You're safe."
She blushed and the pink tint spreading on her cheeks only made her more attractive. "Sorry. I'm not trying to be a bitch. I'm not used to people wanting to help me."
For some reason, that made him sad. "Then you've been hanging around the wrong people."
She blew out a breath. "Don't I know it."
"So do you want me to take a look?"
"Yes." She paused, offering a small smile that hit him like a sledgehammer. "Please."
He walked over to the car and reached into the grille, searching for the hood release pull. He popped the hood, but the bar that was supposed to be there to keep it up was missing.
"Sorry." She put her hands on the hood to hold it up. "See?" she said. "Total piece of shit."
He didn't comment, instead trying hard not to ogle the impressive pair of breasts that were now dangerously close. Her raised arms only amplified them and through her blouse, he could tell they were nearly perfect — full, supple, firm.
Christ. His reaction to her was ridiculous. It was like he'd never seen a beautiful woman before.
To be fair, he had just spent months on deployment. The only women he'd seen were fellow soldiers and he regarded them as one of the guys.
Marco didn't know a lot about cars, but he could diagnose basic problems. And in this situation, the problem was obvious. He pointed.
"See that black hose?"
Her brow wrinkled. "Damn, the one with the gaping hole in it?"
"That's the one. It allows the antifreeze to flow from the radiator to the engine. So all the steam is your antifreeze evaporating."
"That doesn't sound good."
He glanced over at her, realizing she'd been holding up the hood this whole time. He was a jackass.
"Here." He took the hood out of her hands and lowered it.
"Thanks." She rubbed her hands together to get the dirt off them. "So I guess I need to call a tow truck."
Marco regarded her for a moment. Her expression was one of resignation, telling him she was used to dealing with life's little irritations.
Or big ones. Hell, he didn't know her. He hadn't even asked her name. Or given her his for that matter.
"It's an easy repair," he commented, wanted to soften the blow for some reason.
"Yeah." She paused, her lips thinning. "I'm late getting back to work as it is. Do you happen to know of a good shop around here? My usual one is miles away. I don't want to tow it that far."
"Like I said, it's an easy repair. You wouldn't have to take it to a shop. Do you have someone who can help you? Like ..." He trailed off, not finishing his thought — like a husband or a boyfriend. That would have sounded like he was fishing for information, which he definitely wasn't.
Either way, she didn't take the bait. "I have my brother, but he can't ... I'll just call a shop and have it towed." She pushed her hair out of her face and looked up at him. "Thanks for your help."
He rubbed his chin. If she took it to a shop, they'd charge her easily three times what the repair would cost if she bought the hose herself at an auto part store.
She looked down at the silver watch on her slender wrist and cursed. Then she opened the passenger door and retrieved her phone.
"I could fix it for you," he offered. "I don't have any tools with me, though. And we'd have to get the parts, of course."
She shook her head. "That's okay. I'll call a shop."
"Are you sure?"
Why was he arguing with her? He was jet-lagged and exhausted and he hadn't even seen his family yet. She said she could take care of it, so why didn't he just let her?
Because you want to spend time with her.
That answer startled him. Dating a woman was not on his agenda. Yet here he was, not wanting to let this beauty go.
"The thing is I'm late getting back to work from my lunch break. And I just started, so I really need to get back."
"Call your boss and let him know about your car. Surely he won't hold it against you."
She hesitated for a moment. "No, I suppose not."
"I'll tell you what — we can push your car into that parking lot there. I'll give you a ride to work. I'll get the parts and tools and meet you back here after you get off. I can fix it right here in the parking lot."
He shrugged. "It's seriously not a big repair."
"I don't want to hold you up."
"I don't have anywhere to be."
Her mouth twisted as she deliberated. "I don't normally get into cars with strange men, but you've made me an offer I can't refuse."
"The Godfather. I like it. But you won't be getting into a car." He grinned. "I drive a truck."
Kat Delagrange hit the lock button on her key fob before hopping into the truck's passenger seat. She hoped she wasn't making a mistake, getting in the car with ...
Damn. She didn't even know this guy's name. If that wasn't a red flag, she didn't know what was.
She was being way paranoid, but you didn't grow up on the south side of the city and come away unscathed. Or easily trusting. And any trust she'd had left in men was completely dashed after her time in Florida. No one in their right mind would blame her for being wary.
She pulled the seat belt across her chest, looking at him out of the corner of her eye. His eyes met hers and he grinned a boyish smile that set her at ease.
He was good-looking. She'd give him that. Tan skin. Intense eyes. Dark hair shaved close to his scalp. That — and the army duffel bag he'd shoved behind the seat — told her he was military. He'd risked his life for their country.
"I'm Kat," she said. "And I never got your name."
"Marco," he replied, his eyes meeting hers again. "It's nice to meet you."
He didn't drop his gaze and her heart pounded. "Likewise." Though she didn't consider herself talkative, she also wasn't one to be at a loss for words as she currently found herself.
"So where am I taking you?"
She snapped out of it. "Right. Adamo Enterprises. It's —"
His chuckle cut her off. "I know where it is."
"You don't work there, do you? I just started and there are so many people ..." She trailed off, remembering the army duffel bag in the back. Stupid question. This man was a solider. Marco had military discipline written all over him.
Except there was something ... more about him, too. Something told her he might have a hard time taking orders. He seemed to be a man who took fierceness and loyalty to the next level.
"No, I don't work there." His expression changed, turned darker as his jaw worked. Then in a flash, it was gone, leaving Kat wondering if she'd imagined it.
She cleared her throat as he pulled out into traffic. "I can't thank you enough."
She could replace a faucet, change a dryer belt, and fix the wiring on a light switch, but when it came to cars, she was clueless. And she hated that. She loathed having to depend on someone to help her. It was so much easier — and more dependable — to simply handle things herself.
It was backward, really. In her crappy apartment, maintenance was supposed to take care of those things. They were so damn slow in getting around to it though, so she'd just as soon do it herself. But she did have the option of having those things fixed for free. Yet her stupid car — the one thing she couldn't fix on her own — seemed to cost her more and more. It was probably getting to be time to replace her car — the piece of shit was already fifteen years old — but it was paid for. Her money was spent on more important things.
So she would make do, as she always did.
"It's really no problem," Marco said, glancing over at her. "I don't have anything going on today."
"Still, it's very kind of you. I could pay you for your time. And mileage."
"There's no need."
For the first time since getting in the car, she noticed the newness of it. Her foot shifted, making a crackling sound. She peeked down at the floorboard — it was covered in plastic. And there was an overwhelming new car smell, not that she had much experience with that smell outside of those little deodorizers that clung to the air-conditioning vents.
"Is this truck new?"
"I drove it off the lot an hour ago." The way he said it told her he didn't take absurd pride in his vehicle the way some men did.
They stopped at another red light and she tapped her hand on her knee. This was taking so long. There was traffic on the south side, but it came at expected times, like rush hour. On the north side, the traffic was unpredictable. There were so many more people out and about at odd times of the day, clogging up the roads. She still wasn't used to it. She'd traveled to the north side for her old job, but not into the business district.
She'd never worked an office job before. She'd always worked in restaurants and catering, usually tending bar. Tony had done a good thing giving her this opportunity and she needed to prove to him she could earn her keep. She didn't want him to regret taking a chance on her.
When the building came into sight, she breathed a sigh of relief, gathering her things and preparing to jump out of the truck as soon as Marco pulled into the parking lot. Then she realized they hadn't made arrangements for this evening.
Damn. She was conflicted about that. She'd just met this guy and hated to be a burden to him.
Even if he was smokin' hot. Even if she wouldn't mind him working under the hood of her car.
And that thought was exactly why she shouldn't accept his help. She needed to focus on her new job. Besides that, her judgment in men was faulty. Marco seemed like a nice guy, but she'd been wrong — so terribly wrong — before.
Maybe she could coerce Knox, her friend's boyfriend, into helping her. Hell, Tony would most likely help her, but he'd done so much for her already and he was so busy with work right now. He had enough of his own problems to solve without her adding her piece of shit car to the list.
The truck pulled to a stop next to the front door and Marco put it in park. "What time do you get off?"
"Really, you don't have —"
"Are you always this difficult?"
She started at the question for a moment, probably because the answer was yes. But damn, she didn't like depending on people. She'd learned the hard way the only person she could depend on was herself, so when people offered to help, her knee-jerk reaction was to decline.
"What time do you get off?" he repeated.
She hesitated for half a second. Fuck it. She didn't have time to sit out here and argue with him, not when she was already late. "Six."
"Then I'll see you at six."
She held his gaze for a moment before jumping out of the truck and rushing into the building.
Marco watched as Kat disappeared into the building. For a brief moment, guilt hit him. Should he have told her he was an Adamo? His brother Tony was her boss. He somehow felt like he'd deceived her.
Nonsense. Though the company was in his family, it wasn't his company. He'd given up his claim when he'd joined the military. Hell, his father had nearly disowned him. Not the typical response when a son decides to fight for his country.
Marco idled next to his father's empty parking spot labeled with a CEO sign. Then he shrugged and turned into the space. It's not like his father would be using it today.
Or anytime soon.
He strode into the office and stopped, realizing he didn't know where his brother's office was.
"Can I help you?" the receptionist asked. She smiled at him in a way that suggested she'd like to help him with more than just directions. She was pretty and in another life, perhaps he would have flirted with her. Gotten her number.
But those days were gone. He no longer allowed himself casual hookups or anything else that could be deemed reckless. He'd left reckless behind when he joined the military. And besides that, he found himself scanning the area, looking for Kat.
Knock it off, Adamo. You're just being a Good Samaritan.
"I'm here to see Tony."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"No. I'm his brother."
"Goodness!" The receptionist blushed. "I should have known. You look just like him."
That was a fair assessment. They were only a year apart in age and when they were younger, they passed themselves off as twins, though they hadn't been able to do that since they were twelve. They shared the same dark hair and eyes. Tony loved to lord the fact that he was half an inch taller over his big brother.
"I'll let him know you're here," she said, picking up her handset.
"No," Marco said and she paused. "He doesn't know I'm coming."
She nodded with a knowing smile. "A surprise then. Okay. Third floor. Second door on the right."
Marco took the stairs to the third floor and paused in front of his brother's door. The sign on the wall read TONY ADAMO, CEO. It was a strange sight.
Excerpted from "Trust in Me"
Copyright © 2017 Jessica Linden.
Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.