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Sanctuary, Book One
Please note: Protecting Sam was originally published as part of Susan Stoker’s Special Forces: Operation Alpha Kindle World (the title hasn’t changed). This edition is essentially the same thing; the only difference is that all references to Susan’s characters have been removed for legal purposes.
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Former SEAL Steve “Smoke” Tannen is finding the transition back to civilian life more of a challenge than he’d expected. Not only is he dealing with the aftereffects of a horrific ordeal overseas, he doesn’t know what normal is anymore. When his former team leader enlists his help in a project to help other vets, Steve doesn’t hesitate to sign on with a new team.
Samantha Appelhoff dreams of owning her own coffee and bake shop, but a persistent stalker and dark rumors about her past aren’t making things easy. When the sexy, chivalrous guy moves in next door, she plans to keep her distance, but that’s hard to do when he keeps showing up when least expected but always just when she needs him.
Are they just nice neighbors or could they be something more than friends? The attraction is instant and their connection is real, but is that enough to convince Steve and Sam they can have their own happy ending?
“This is an action packed novel filled with romance, adventure, mystery, and family.” – Kindle Customer CT
“I loved this book! It was a quick read but loaded with emotion and suspense.” – Amazon Reviewer Tiffany C
“One of the best reads in this line of stories.” – Amazon Reviewer Red
“Kept me reading from the first page. Some twists you don’t expect. Depicted the reality of living in a small town. I would definitely recommend to anyone who enjoys suspense mix with their romance.” – Amazon Customer Anna
“Ms. Zander’s has written a relevant and important story.” – Colorado Avid Reader
Steve was already halfway down the block, tucked invisibly between buildings when Sam emerged the next morning. Using the skills for which he’d been nicknamed, he stayed in the shadows while following her progress. When she first passed by where he was hidden, she hesitated slightly as if sensing his presence, then quickened her pace. Steve smiled grimly to himself. The woman had good instincts, and that only reinforced his somewhat questionable decision to play silent bodyguard.
He tried to tell himself that he would be compelled to do the same for anyone, that protecting others was wired into his DNA, but that wouldn’t be true. For some reason he couldn’t quite fathom, he couldn’t stop thinking about his neighbor.
It wasn’t as if she’d been trying to get his attention, either. Just the opposite, in fact. She didn’t seem interested in him at all. Maybe that’s what had garnered his attention. Women, even those who had no intention of engaging, often flirted with him or looked at him a certain way. Just because he wasn’t interested didn’t mean he wasn’t aware.
That wasn’t an overinflated ego talking. He wasn’t special. Every man on his team got the same treatment. Just as most men couldn’t help but notice a beautiful, curvaceous woman, most women responded to cut physiques and the quiet confidence that said they knew they were the biggest, baddest things in the room.
But not his neighbor.
Oh, there’d been a brief flare of feminine appreciation in her pretty gray-green eyes, but she didn’t seem inclined to acknowledge it. And that, along with the sense that she was in danger, intrigued him. Besides, if he concentrated on her and her problems, he wouldn’t have to think too hard about his own.
Once he was sure she was safely in the coffee shop, he looped around and headed toward the park. It took only minutes to find what he’d been looking for: the depressions between trunks in a copse of thick evergreens that suggested someone had been standing there for some time.
He peered through the branches, confirming his earlier suspicions. Not only had he felt the sights on him after Sam’s light went out the night before, but he’d seen the telltale flash of something metallic, too. A watch maybe, or a ring.
Whoever the unwelcome observer was, he’d left no further evidence of his presence. He was a novice, but a novice with just enough skill to be dangerous.
Steve worked his way back to his apartment, his thoughts whirling. Who was stalking his neighbor, and why? Was he dangerous, or just a harmless peeping Tom? Steve made a mental note to talk to Cage. According to Church, Cage was the go-to guy when it came to needing intel. Maybe he could provide some information, fill in a few blanks. Starting with Sam’s full name.