“Shayla Black’s books are a must-read.”
—Lora Leigh, #1 New York Times bestselling author
More Than Protect You, an all-new must-read novella in the More Than Words series by New York Times bestselling author Shayla Black is available now!
Can I keep the gorgeous, gun-shy single mother safe—and prove I’m the man for her?
I’m Tanner Kirk—Certified firearms instructor and mixed martial arts enthusiast. When I filed for divorce at the end of an empty marriage, all I wanted was a vacation in paradise, not another woman in my life. But how can I possibly say no to Amanda Lund, a young single mom desperate to learn self-defense? Or refuse the banked desire on the guarded beauty’s face?
So I seduce Mandy until we’re burning up the sheets…and soon find my heart entangled with her bruised and battered one. But when a nemesis from her past tries to destroy our future by unearthing my secret, will she understand and forgive me—or give up on us forever?
**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you’ll enjoy each one as much as we do.**
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There’s nothing like Bon Jovi waking me up before five a.m. on a Sunday morning. I eye my phone, now blasting “You Give Love a Bad Name,” my soon-to-be ex-wife’s ringtone. She only ever calls when she wants something, so this ought to be interesting.
I grope the device off the nightstand and flop back to my pillow. “What, Ellie?”
“It’s Elise now.”
The day I met her, working on a ranch a hundred miles outside of Pueblo, Colorado, she was Ellie. She was a happy-go-lucky nineteen and didn’t have an uncompromising thought in her head. I took one look at her sloppy ponytail, hazel eyes, crooked smile, and very short shorts—and I fell. We got married a few years later, bought a house, and started a business together. Everything was going all right…until it wasn’t. Eight years had gone by when I looked up and realized I was married to a stranger. When she asked for a trial separation, I didn’t fight. That night, I packed a bag and walked out the door. I haven’t missed her since.
“Do you know what fucking time it is in Maui, Elise?”
“Early. I know. But since you haven’t been available during reasonable daytime hours lately, I thought I’d try this.”
So me ignoring her three phone calls yesterday wasn’t subtle enough? “What do you want?”
“Did you get the paperwork yet? I signed it. The carrier shows it was delivered to you on Friday.”
She’s itching for our divorce to be final. In truth, I’m feeling the same. We separated nearly two years ago, and finally this long road is almost over.
“And? Is that all you have to say?”
“Yeah.” Mostly because it drives her crazy. I’m not trying to antagonize her simply to be a vengeful asshole. I’m just hoping if these phone calls are painful enough she’ll stop.
She sighs like she’s grappling for patience. “Tanner Maxwell Kirk, please give me a straightforward answer once and for all. Are you going to sign the papers?”
“Yeah.” Why would I stay married to her now?
“You in a hurry?” I ask out of curiosity more than anything. And maybe because I want to yank her chain.
“Not that you care, but yes.”
“Why? You’re not looking to get married again, are you?”
She hesitates. “I don’t see that it’s any of your business.”
“Then I don’t see why I have to sign right away.”
“Ugh, you are the most frustrating, infuriating man! I only married you because I wanted off that damn ranch, and I didn’t know how damaging the traditional, patriarchal institution of marriage was…”
I tune out. I’ve heard this speech. She didn’t find marriage demeaning or oppressive until she decided to go back to college and took a bunch of classes that turned her thinking inside out. Fine. I never wanted to hold her back. The moment she asked, I set her free. A few months later, I even hired an attorney to make it official.
Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of nearly eighty novels. For over twenty years, she’s written contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances via traditional, independent, foreign, and audio publishers. Her books have sold millions of copies and been published in a dozen languages.
Raised an only child, Shayla occupied herself with lots of daydreaming, much to the chagrin of her teachers. In college, she found her love for reading and realized that she could have a career publishing the stories spinning in her imagination. Though she graduated with a degree in Marketing/Advertising and embarked on a stint in corporate America to pay the bills, her heart has always been with her characters. She’s thrilled that she’s been living her dream as a full-time author for the past eight years.
Shayla currently lives in North Texas with her wonderfully supportive husband, her daughter, and two spoiled tabbies. In her “free” time, she enjoys reality TV, reading, and listening to an eclectic blend of music.
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