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Incognito Series, Book 1: No Ordinary Love
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Incognito Series, Book 1: No Ordinary Love

Score: 5.00 (votes: 2)

Men and women who have sacrificed their personal identities to live in the shadows and uphold justice for all--no matter the cost.

Kira Gunn, 25-year-old wunderkind, remembers nothing about her life before 31-year-old Vincent Carson. He's been her guardian, her protector, her business partner and her passion for 15 years, yet he remains an enigma who seems to exist solely to give her everything she wants and needs. Who is he? Where did he come from? Who is she and where did she come from? The vague nightmares she's had as long as she can remember--gunshots, utter terror and the gentle eyes of salvation--and Vincent's tender resistance to help her discover the answers of her uncertain past are taking its toll on her body, her heart and her soul. How can she trust a man whose past is as gray as her own? But how can she leave Vincent, the only home she's ever known? For he is her salvation. 

Kira has become the sole reason for Vincent's existence since the moment her vulnerable, trusting child eyes met his own. As Kira struggles with unseen demons, Vincent fiercely guards the truth, even as his own heart takes the wounds of her battle. She wants the one thing he can never give her. To seek out the truth of her past would be to put both of their lives in danger... and could mean losing the only thing in the world that matters to Vincent--Kira's love. 

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  • Karen Wiesner
    Jan 3, 2018, 16:22
    2007 EPIC AWARD Winner
    2006 The Romance Studio CAPA Award Nominee
    L-Edit Slip Finalist
    5 star review from Huntress Reviews
    5 star review from Fallen Angel Reviews
    5 star review from Coffee Time Romance Reviews
    5 star review from Lighthouse Literary Reviews
    5 star review from Long and Short Reviews
    5 star review from The Romance Studio
    The Romance Studio Sweetheart Award Nominee
    A Perfect 10 review from Romance Reviews Today
    4 1/2 star review from Once Upon a Romance Review
    4 1/2 star review from Dark Diva Reviews
    4 1/2 star review from Euro Reviews

    5 Stars! "This is the first book in the Incognito Series. I found it to be a very solid foundation for what could very well turn out to be one of the best romantic suspense novels of the year. It overflows in action and drama, with just the right amount of romance. Outstanding!" ~Huntress Reviews

    A Perfect 10! "NO ORDINARY LOVE centers on two characters that mean everything to each other, practically to the exclusion of anyone else. The first half of the book centers on Kira's and Vincent's relationship, while the second half is full of action that takes unusual but exhilarating twists and turns. One particular turn takes readers to a disturbing world underneath the New York subway. There are a few secondary characters; particularly well written are Angelo, Vincent's old mentor, and Piper, Kira's dog walker. Vincent and Kira are multi-layered characters, who even after being together day in and out for years, still don't quite know everything about each other. Their relationship is claustrophobic and obsessive, especially on Vincent's part. Ms. Wiesner does a good job of explaining why Vincent behaves this way. The lengths that Vincent takes to protect Kira will amaze readers. NO ORDINARY LOVE is the first book in Ms. Wiesner's Incognito Series, my opinion, it's a classic. NO ORDINARY LOVE is no ordinary book, which is why I give it a perfect ten." ~Romance Reviews Today

    5 Cups! "NO ORDINARY LOVE is no ordinary book. Vincent and Kira are transcendent characters, almost larger than life, yet very human in their flaws and frailties. Love burns bright between them, but for Kira it is tarnished with fear, and for Vincent intertwined with duty. Can they possibly escape this baggage and build a real relationship? This is a page turner, taut, nail-biting thriller interwoven with a poignant, powerful romance. It is truly a book I could not put down. There are some spicy love scenes, but emotions far outweigh lust. My need to learn who actually are the good guys and the bad drove me to turn page after page. Revelations came just often enough to keep me off balance until the end, which is happy in spite of all the angst to get there. My recommendation? Buy it. Read it. Soon!" ~Coffee Time Romance

    5 Angels! "NO ORDINARY LOVE is the first book in the Incognito Series. This fantastic, action packed story is one that I will be keeping in my favorites file. These well described and highly developed characters have such an emotional bond between them that it brought tears to my eyes many times while reading this tale. NO ORDINARY LOVE has a lot going on as it lays the foundation for the series and details the mysterious organization, the Network. This story for me was one that I didn't want to put down and when I absolutely had to, it kept calling my name until I could get back to it. Karen Wiesner has got herself a new fan with this captivating and enchanting book and I can't wait to read what else she has in store from the Network." ~Fallen Angel Reviews

    5 Beacons! "This first book of the Incognito Series has me hooked! I was completely engrossed with these characters from word one. Page after page, I felt more connected to the story-line and was extremely impressed by how Ms. Wiesner worked in the underground tunnels and "mole people" that inhabit them. What a wonderful piece of originality. Typically a book on secret organizations and espionage can be very predictable and flat, but there was never a time I felt that this book was lacking. Very nicely done!" ~Lighthouse Literary Reviews

    4.5 Stars! "Having read some other books written by Ms. Wiesner, I must say that I think she's really hit her stride as an author. This book was the best one of hers that I have read to date. I thought she did a wonderful job of building the blossoming romance as well as keeping us on our toes as Kira and Vincent try to stay one step ahead of those who would take them down. The story moves from the first page to the last and I never found myself wishing for story changes or for more/less action. I felt like Ms. Wiesner was anticipating my desires as a reader and was able to deliver the story I wanted. I will say you'd better hold onto your hats at the end. Wow! There are more twists, curves and hairpin turns than on a mountain road. I couldn't put it down and was surprised at how some of the things turned out. NO ORDINARY LOVE is a delightful blend of romance and action. Both segments mesh so well that it will entertain and delight both romance lovers and action/adventure lovers alike." ~Once Upon a Romance Review

    4 ½ Delightful Divas! “This is the second series by Karen Wiesner that I’ve been fortunate enough to read. Although NO ORDINARY LOVE is only the first book in her Incognito Series, I was captivated from the very beginning. The Prologue, even in 3 short pages, was filled with tension. It also started the story off with a bang that rarely, if ever, really let up. A book 350 pages long that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat is nothing to trifle with, and I’ve learned to expect this from Ms. Wiesner. Yes there were times that I had to sit back and take a bit of a breather: while often emotionally draining and even raw, which made NO ORDINARY LOVE all the more powerful. And while I might take a break or two, I also couldn’t put the story aside for any real length of time. The mystery of just who Kira and Vincent are and how they’d come to be where they were, is supremely gripping. For Kira everything in her past is shrouded in mystery and covered in shadows. Sometimes Kira’s emotional turbulence is almost painful but, at the same time, the story is extremely addictive. A need to know permeates the pages. As the story progresses we do learn more, but it’s in bits and pieces. There is always something else that is just out of reach. Karen Wiesner really knows how to keep her readers totally absorbed. NO ORDINARY LOVE—and what Vincent and Kira share is definitely no ordinary love—is larger than life, but it works. While a be-all-and-end-all love like theirs may seem entirely unlikely, as I read the book I couldn’t fathom how it could be anything other than what it was, especially for Vincent. Now there’s a man that gives his heart 100% and once it belongs to someone, that’s it. His connection to Kira is compelling, confusing and controlled. The only thing in his life is Kira—everything he does is for her…yet he’s not a doormat. What he gives, he gives freely and willingly. He also has an innate strength that is beyond comprehension. But the further we delve into the mystery of Kira’s past we discover the reasons for this. Kira is also a very controlled person, but with her I would get the feeling that, at times, she was mere micrometers away from crashing and burning. But she doesn’t come across as weak, definitely when there were forces at work that we didn’t fully understand. Unfortunately, there were also times that I wanted to shake her. Kira and Vincent had reached a crossroads in their relationship and their lives. No longer was Kira content to sit back and let Vincent take care of her; something had to give and, right or wrong, Kira took control of her own life. The stories in the Incognito Series are not only engrossing adventure suspense stories but also once-in-lifetime love stories and personally it’s a combination that I really enjoy. I really have no expectation that this will change. If you’ve never read anything before by Karen Wiesner I truly feel that NO ORDINARY LOVE is an excellent place to start; but be forewarned, this is the first in a series of books and from reading other books by Ms. Wiesner I’m here to say that it’s very hard, if nigh impossible, to just read one.” ~Kathy for Dark Diva Reviews

    4 1/2 Stars! "Thankfully Karen Wiesner is quite a prolific author. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Wiesner, and now I can look forward to many hours curled up with her wonderful, suspenseful, romantic books! She truly knows how to imagine into existence deep, convoluted, intriguing plot concepts, and then to lead the reader on a twisted, curving path, in and out of present and past. This is one author I feel confident in recommending consistently. May she continue with her writing career for many decades to come!" ~Euro-Reviews

    4 Delightful Divas! "NO ORDINARY LOVE is book one of the Incognito Series and the title is perfect for this book. Kira and Vincent share a love that is not ordinary. I was immediately drawn into this intense and complex plot. I was struck by many things, first by the mystery and intrigue, which I was left with after the intense prologue. Karen Wiesner spent a lot of time building these characters and their story. [This book] ...kept me begging for more. I couldn’t stop thinking about it when I had to lay it down. ...I was drawn right back into this intriguing story. The beginning of the epilogue had my heart dropping to my toes. Karen Wiesner did a wonderful job with this book. There is more suspense than you can shake a stick at and there is a deep and abiding love between Kira and Vincent. Then you have several intense, heart-pounding action scenes. Oh, and you can’t forget a few outstanding supporting characters. I am dying to know if I will get to hear more about Angelo and Piper." ~reviewed by Melissa for Dark Diva Reviews

    4 Stars! "Fans of romance and suspense will love NO ORDINARY LOVE. This is not your run of the mill romance, suspense story. Karen Wiesner has written a very unpredictable plot. Readers will not want to put this book down. Readers will enjoy watching Kira and Vincent's relationship grow and mature."

    4 Hearts! "Karen Wiesner has penned a not so ordinary book in NO ORDINARY LOVE. The book grabbed this reviewer's attention from the very first page. These characters are well defined and very believable. The prose in NO ORDINARY LOVE flows smoothly and the action keeps the reader on the edge of their seat. This reviewer felt as though she was right in the middle of the action due to Ms. Wiesner's amazing writing ability; kudos to Ms. Wiesner for this wonderful offering. The plot is well thought out and not a single loose thread is left at a very satisfying ending. This reviewer looks forward to the next installment of the Incognito Series." ~Love Romances

    "NO ORDINARY LOVE was an emotional read. It is obvious that Vincent’s entire world revolves around Kira. NO ORDINARY LOVE was also a thrilling suspense as Vincent and Kira face the past. Without giving spoilers, I will simply say I loved the help they received. It was unique. I am thrilled that additional stories in this series are already available and am eager to read them." ~Joyfully Reviewed

    "The first book in the Incognito Series hooks the reader from the prologue. This story is a page-turner and gets you hooked before the prologue is even over. It follows the story of Vincent and Kira, the defector and a subject, as they try to reconcile themselves with the past and try to move on into the future. It has everything--drama, romance, action, and an overwhelming amount of suspense making you turn page after page. This is a brilliant start to the Incognito Series and many characters are seen in later books. A definite must-read." ~TCM Reviews

    "This read has you sitting on the edge of your chair, pure and simple. It is packed with high stakes, tension and intrigue while the bond of love shared between Kira and Vincent gets tested, hammered and attacked. I was gripped by the emotional turmoil that Kira found herself in. After awhile though, I couldn't get why she was so dead set on finding out about her past. Another thing that I found unbelievable was how Vincent's complete love for Kira seemed to give him an uncanny ability to be there for her when she needed him. It was a bit creepy. But Karen Wiesner has that all figured out and I didn't suspect a thing. I found out 'why' when Kira found out and I was pretty impressed with the scope of the discovery and what that taught Kira about Vincent. In fact, the author seems to have thought of every eventuality when it comes to the life that Vincent left behind--or thought he left behind. I then understood why she wrote him as she did; Ms. Wiesner explains it well. This is definitely an action packed book with romantic overtones which are key in pushing the conflict along in the story. I found myself admiring Vincent and his capabilities and liking Kira despite myself. Her actions make sense because we are all too human at times; we want what we want when we want it, especially when we can make it make sense in our own heads. Until something happens to wake us up; we just pray the cost isn't too high to pay. If you are looking for a tight, fast paced story with serious turns and twists to keep you guessing yet demand a satisfying HEA that makes it all worth while, then I believe NO ORDINARY LOVE will meet your expectations. It blew mine away. I'm still reeling from that even as I type this." ~The Long and Short of It Reviews

    "Award winning author Karen Wiesner has penned another spectacular start to an intriguing series. Ms. Wiesner has a talent for always leaving her audience wanting to know more. I am anxious to read what she does with the character of Piper, who is introduced in this novel. I am also interested to see what happens to Angelo as this series unfolds. Vincent, the alpha male, is strong and capable. His weakness is Kira. She was his Achilles heel and he had coddled her. Just when I wanted to smack Kira upside her head and tell her to listen to Vincent, I realized that once again Ms. Wiesner had done what she does best. She had drawn me into the lives of the characters and I was totally wrapped up in their story. I highly recommend this novel and cannot wait for the next book in this series." ~Writers Unlimited

    "NO ORDINARY LOVE, the first book of the Incognito Series, is a superb romantic suspense thriller that has the audience wondering what is going on from the prologue in which an agent of an unnamed (at that point) group realizes what happened. The exhilarating story line never slows down until the final confrontation as Kira's thirst for her heritage leads her and her champion from relative safety into dangerous situations. The cast--especially the lead duo and the agent searching for them--seems genuine, which in turn makes the conspiratorial cover-up by a clandestine group feel real, too. As always, Karen Wiesner writes a must read for sub-genre fans." ~Harriet Klausner

    "A surprising and outstanding read. NO ORDINARY LOVE is a superbly written story that will keep readers entertained from the first word to the last. This reviewer read the book in one setting. I was just unable to put it down. Ms. Wiesner has given readers a book not to be missed, one that will have readers ready and waiting for book two in the Incognito Series."

    "NO ORDINARY LOVE: that is what Karen Wiesner delivers in this very intense story of a man who gives all to the one he loves. A man who will provide, not only for the now but also for the foreseeable future, and fight to defend his love even at the cost of his own live. One cannot help but wish that out there somewhere, there is one who will love us as Vincent loves Kira." ~Romance Junkies

    "What a fabulous mystery romance NO ORDINARY LOVE is! The author, Karen Wiesner, has created a story to thrill all! The first book in the Incognito Series, NO ORDINARY LOVE, rolls from the crest of a riveting wave of storytelling!" ~Rolling Seas Reviews

    4 Stars! “The title couldn’t be more apropos. The love that Vincent has for Kira is nothing short of amazing. At the beginning I had my doubts but as I read on it became apparent it wasn’t what I’d originally started to think. Love that selfless is rare. Vincent’s love is intense yet simplistic. Kira and her safety are everything to him. This is a great basis for a series, and I’m anxious to find out what happened to Angelo and Piper. The Incognito Series is a perfect blend of intrigue, romance and action. The added layers, overall depth and character development put the series in a category all its own. They’re exciting, suspenseful and keep you on the edge. Definite keepers.” ~Manic Readers

    4 Stars! "Mystery, suspense, and love are intermingled in this exciting story. Karen Wiesner has written an interesting book and I look forward to Book 2 of the Incognito Series." ~Sime-Gen Reviews

    4 Stars! “NO ORDINARY LOVE is definitely the appropriate title for this tale of love and desire between Kira and Vincent. Ms. Wiesner has written the start of a series that both intrigues and has the reader questioning how this could actually happen. Ms. Wiesner has written a very intriguing story that made me keep reading and reading just to find out what would happen to the two main characters. Despite the questions that I had—and they were answered, by the way—it made for a very interesting read. The journey of Kira and Vincent is one of devotion and undying love and also of intense sacrifice. Amazing, Ms. Wiesner—a great start to another interesting series and I for one can't wait to see how it continues to develop!” ~Manic Readers

    "Having this be the first book of the Incognito Series, Karen Wiesner really set the bar high. NO ORDINARY LOVE is not only action packed, but it is also a sizzling romance. Kira is not only confused about her childhood, but is also blown away by the feelings that she has for Vincent. I read this book straight through because there was not one appropriate place to stop reading. The story never slowed down, never got boring, and makes you want to pick up her second book and keep on going. Karen Wiesner writes very fluidly and gives us detail just where we need it. This is an excellent book, and I hope her other books will follow suit!" ~Front Street Reviews

    "NO ORDINARY LOVE by Karen Wiesner grabs the reader from the first page and never lets go until the last, with fast and spine-chilling action. Vincent is a remarkable hero--tough, dangerous, a killer when he has to be. His only vulnerability--a need for love." ~bestselling author Jane Toombs

    "One of my all time favorites now though which I just finished yesterday is a romantic suspense called NO ORDINARY LOVE by Karen Wiesner. Wow! That book had me up all night wondering how it was going to end and if it was going to have a happy ending." ~reader review posted on Coffee Time Romance Boards

  • Stephen Symons, author
    Sep 3, 2017, 05:01
    No Ordinary Book

    ‘No Ordinary Love’ is the title, and that is exactly what it is. It certainly describes the relationship between Kira and Vincent, if, indeed, ‘love’ is what these two odd people share. It is immediately apparent that the bond between them is very deep, very strong, and very complex. But is it love? The first six chapters of the book are taken up with outlining their relationship insofar as the secretive Vincent and the confused Kira can explain it, and we are no nearer an answer.
    From Vincent’s perspective [and being male, I can speak with some authority here] it looks at first more like obsession, even monomania. From Kira’s perspective [and I speak with far less authority on this one] it appears to be ---- well, I really do not know. Nor, come to that, does Kira. Only much later do matters become clearer in her mind.
    The tale is billed as ‘romance, adventure, mystery’, and it is all of these. Romantic, a roller-coaster adventure, and mystery piled upon mystery. Who is Kira, really? She does not know, remembering nothing before the age of ten. If Vincent knows, he will not say. And who, exactly is Vincent? If that is his name. And why would he dedicate his life to the protection of a woman who is not his sister, or his daughter, or his wife, or even his lover? All we can be sure of is that ‘The Network’ is behind it all. What the Network really is remains a mystery, save only that it is monumental, multinational, and has resources and technologies greater than those owned by most nations. What is real purpose? This is never clearly stated. All we can know for sure is that if it became aware of Kira’s existence, then she would live only as long as she remained undiscovered.
    This compulsive reading. Wiesner weaves her tale skilfully, revealing little titbits of information excruciatingly slowly, luring the reader deeper and deeper into the lives – life, I should say – of the two protagonists. Once you start, it is difficult to put down. The prose reflects the pace of events, at times slowing, at times quickening into shorter sentences, becoming at times frantic, almost chaotic, precisely as are the thoughts and actions of Kira and Vincent. There are still a lot of unanswered questions come the finale, but these will no doubt be addressed in ‘ ‘Til Death Do Us Part.’’
    Karen Wiesner has an impressive array of writing awards to her credit. It is easy to see why.
    Definitely four stars.


Angelo's footsteps resounded through the stark corridor of the underground compound as he walked toward the white room where they were keeping the child.

Drop the girl into an orphanage.

That was what Oversight Committee wanted to do with her. Angelo grimaced. He rarely agreed with the powers that be, but in their covert organization he did what he was told. This time he knew he had no choice but to allow the lamb to go into the system. She knew far too much. At just ten years old, she'd seen too much as well. She'd been in hiding for so long, running from the threat stalking her family. Only a few hours ago, she'd seen her father gunned down. The girl's confusion since then had been total, making Angelo wonder if she'd really understood what had happened on that dead end street. If she remembered...

Angelo gritted his teeth. Someday the girl would remember. Someday she would figure it out. Angelo couldn't allow that. Not when he was so close to getting what he needed. The girl's memory would have to be erased.

When he reached the door of the white room, he hesitated. Much as he wasn't looking forward to it, he'd have to tell Kyle what they planned to do to keep the organization secure. Better that Kyle hear it from him.

From the first, Angelo had seen that Kyle wasn't an operative who performed his duty like a well-programmed machine, the way he'd been trained to. He did his job, but he did it his own way. He was an operative worth more than an entire team. But, when Kyle found the girl covered in her father's blood out there tonight, something had happened to him. The child had gone into his arms--into the arms of a stranger--and refused to accept anyone else's comfort. From that moment, Angelo understood his prize operative had lost his allegiance to the organization. His loyalty was to the girl. Probably because Kyle had been, for all intents and purposes, abandoned as a child himself.

Kyle wouldn't agree with what they had to do to contain this leak, Angelo knew. But they had no choice. Focus on the mission. Right now, what mattered was that this girl had seen too much and she would have to be silenced. She would have to disappear. Permanently. It was the only way to maintain structural integrity.

Taking a deep breath, Angelo pushed his card into the scanner and waited for the door to open. By the time Kyle found out, it would be too late for him to change anything.

The white room was the shape of an octagon with flat, brilliant white walls untouched by decoration or places to hide. The bed they'd brought for the girl was empty save for a G.I. Joe action doll and an untouched sandwich. A full glass of milk had been spilled on the floor.

She was gone.

Swearing, Angelo turned back and flew down the hall before the doors had even hissed to a close behind him. God only knew what the girl's parents could have taught her about escape. If she'd somehow gotten out, an alert would have sounded instantly. Unless...

The realization growing in Angelo's mind seemed impossible. Unthinkable. Even when he had the undeniable proof right in from of him, he couldn't get himself to believe it.

Kyle had taken the girl. They'd trained him to disappear without a trace, to be a master of disguise and deception. He was one of the best operatives they had. Regardless, he and the girl would be hunted and they would be found.

Kyle had taken her before they could wipe her memory. Sooner or later, those memories would return.

The girl would be alone at some point, Angelo acknowledged while he unconsciously held the action doll in a strangling grip. And then Kyle wouldn't be able to protect her.

Chapter 1

"You've been a tyrant today." Vincent Carson's gentle, unmistakable voice floated to her from the doorway of her office much later in the day than she'd expected him to appear. "Welcome back, love."

Kira couldn't control her need to look at him, but she could control her rigid expression as she growled, "I leave for a little while and everyone falls into slovenly habits."

Vincent shook his head, not commenting on the state of her own cluttered office as he straightened from leaning against the door frame. Kira clenched her jaw to hold back the instinctive moan cramming itself into her throat and begging relentlessly for release. She'd been gone forever... or may as well have been for how good it felt to see him. Her chest felt impossibly tight watching him enter the room in strides that seemed to eat up her resolve along with the distance between them.

The casually sophisticated clothes he wore could have been nothing at all for the reaction she had to them. What Vincent wore didn't matter so much as the way the fabrics flowed against his body and how he moved with animal-like grace. Though he worked out religiously every day and his muscles were hard as rock, she knew only too well how smooth his skin was. Like steel encased in velvet.

"You've been gone three months, Kira."

Somehow he made that sound even longer than it'd felt to her.

I didn't even think of him. I told myself I didn't notice the time. The void I felt without him. I didn't let myself.

"Everything we needed to get done was done. Profits were up this quarter, as usual," he said, reminding her what she well knew.

The closer he came, the fiercer the pressure coiled in her chest. She could see him again, smell his spicy cologne, so familiar. At one time, his scent had comforted her. Now it heated her blood and made her heart pound painfully. She could feel him before he'd even touched her. The need to be in his arms hadn't lessened in the least during their separation.

"Did you find what you were looking for in Rome?" he asked pointedly, and her eyes narrowed as she gazed at him.

He knew. He knew she'd gone to Rome for the important business reason of searching out new fabrics for the upcoming summer line. Kira Gunn Industries always had the newest, the most innovative, the most exciting fashions. He also knew she'd stayed for no reason. No reason outside of her, not desire... her need to escape him. He'd known the whole time, but he'd allowed her to go. He hadn't come after her. For the first time ever, he'd given her freedom from him. In the past, her any suggestion that meant their separation for even twenty-four hours had resulted in him seeking out and unfailingly finding a more efficient way of doing the task so they could be together. Yet he'd consented for them to be apart for three endless months.

When Kira looked into his dark eyes as he stood in front of her desk, her shock turned to shame she didn't want to feel. She'd hurt him with her need to get and stay away from him. These past few months had been as hard on him as they'd been on her. Why? Why had he let her go? Why hadn't he come after her? And why had he suffered without her? Why?

Forcefully shoving away her guilt, Kira turned back to the mess of papers spread out across her desk.

Nothing's changed. In three months of agony, trying to free myself from this man, I'm right back where I started.

Even as she asked herself what she'd expected, she anticipated his understanding of her feelings now. Vincent was nothing if not empathetic when it came to her. He moved around the desk, put his gentle, tormenting hands on her shoulders, and her frustration mounted even while her willpower crumbled.

Anything she wanted, anything she needed, he would give to her. He wouldn't think of himself for even a second. Even as her soul railed in aggravation at those same things, she soaked it all in.

"You need to slow down, Kira," Vincent whispered, his mouth near her ear. Every nerve ending in her body screamed to vibrant life.

Kira closed her eyes helplessly to the sound. She hadn't closed her eyes for more than a few hours a day for the past three months. Vincent hadn't been there to keep back the horrors awaiting her there. Instead of feeling more focused in his absence, she realized now that she felt weak, out of control--things she couldn't tolerate--and completely lost.

"You're running your employees ragged. You're running yourself into the ground, and I won't let you do it. You should have taken the day off when your flight got in this morning instead of working all day."

Kira made no effort to fight him nor to fight herself and the vow she'd made to loosen his hold on her life. A hold she'd welcomed for as long as she could remember.

"When's the last time you slept? Ate?" One of his hands left her shoulder, and Kira heard rather than saw him picking up the wrappers from various junk foods strewn across her desk and the floor around the wastebasket from a long day at work.

She didn't need to answer. For the past fifteen years--the only years of her life she remembered--Vincent had come to know her better than she knew herself. He seemed to understand exactly what she needed when she needed it...before she understood the need herself. "I take care of you," he'd said more times than she could count.

Kira squeezed her eyes tighter together when he whispered, "I missed you." She heard his pain and couldn't close herself off from it this time.

She was so tired. Vincent would take care of her. She could just close her eyes, lean back and give in.

"Let me call Perry. He can be in your kitchen before we arrive. And then I can watch over you while you sleep."

She shook her head. "I can't sleep."

"You have to. You will. I'll be there."

Sighing, she turned her head to look up at him. He wouldn't relent unless she gave him no choice. And she didn't think she had it in her tonight. She nodded her assent only once.

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