Royals & Rogues

By: Heather Long



Neither Anders nor Ford raised an objection, so she nodded. “We have everything.”

Hugh lifted her suitcase then raised his brows. “It’s light, considering.”

Considering what? She hadn’t packed formals. “I packed what I’d need for training.” She could wear evening dresses and heels with the best of them. She had plenty of practice. No need for them at a boot camp. Her bodyguards stayed close, but once again bracketed her. They must have checked out Dillon extensively, because neither tried to prevent him from walking next to her.

Thank God. Of course, her father made all the arrangements. If they couldn’t trust the major’s judgment, who could they trust? Them trusting her trainer, however, meant she could get the most out of the exercise.

“We’ll get you fitted for fatigues on property. The first week, you won’t need them, but you will for week two.” The clipped formality seemed at odds with his southern drawl.

“I can’t tell you how excited I am. Papa said you run one of the best retired Marine operated fitness camps in the United States.” Outside the terminal, moist air hit her like a slap. Hours of recycled, almost too cool air, didn’t prepare her for the thickness of humidity coating every single breath. She checked her watch, it was still early in Atlanta and autumn. She’d done a lot of research about Hugh Dillon and standard training for the USMC as well as what she needed to make on her entrance exams and to pass her physical. Maybe I should have researched the weather.

“We do a standard physical,” Hugh said as he led the way from the terminal to the parking structure. Traffic flowed around them, heavier than she expected. It was a major hub, but the heavy traffic congested the roads circling the front of the terminal. Fortunately, they were able to cross into the structure. “I scheduled yours for this afternoon.”

“Very well, do we need to stop somewhere on the way?”

“Nope.” An SUV’s alarm echoed as he unlocked the doors, then the motor started while they were still a hundred feet away. Anders strode ahead and checked beneath the vehicle. Long years of habit had Frankie waiting with Ford. Pausing, Hugh frowned as he watched the bodyguard then gave her a long assessing look. “Our physician will handle the physical. He has your medical records and signed the nondisclosures your family required.” No element of question, though instead of focusing on her, he scanned the area around them.

She’d seen that look before. Every single one of the family’s security agents possessed the watchful wariness as they scanned their surroundings. For a split, second his gaze collided with hers and his cool eyes warmed.

“I don’t think you have anything to worry about while you’re here. The property is secure.”

“Anders and Ford believe in cautious optimism.” Her shrug drew his bemused attention. At the questioning raise of his brows, she grinned. “I can be optimistic. They’ll be cautious.”

A smile curved his firm lips, and her heart did a little backflip. He really was quite handsome. The square jaw and strong face hid emotion and wore expressionless well, but when he allowed himself to relax, he transformed. Even his close-shaved haircut seemed to suit him, softening what could have been a blocky appearance. Why am I paying so much attention to his physical details? He’s my training officer. Well, he wasn’t technically an officer, and she didn’t exactly report to him in a formal way, but he was in charge of her training.

“Will they be joining you on your runs?”

Anders gave them an all clear, and they headed for the vehicle. “Probably. They run with me at home and at school.”

“So, you two go with the princess everywhere?” The level of skepticism and doubt in his voice irritated her. More so because he directed the question to Ford as he opened the rear hatch and slid her suitcase inside.

“We work as a team of six, and two of us are always on duty. For the purposes of this visit and due to the relatively isolated location, Anders and I will assess the situation. We also have access to U.S. security support.” Ford added his bag, then Anders while the other man scanned the garage. “The land survey you sent was very useful as were the technical specs, but until we’re on property…”

“You can’t make a proper security threat assessment.” Hugh frowned, his jaw tensed. He flicked a look at her then at her guards. “One of our survival exercises will require her to track and find her way on her own.”

“We’ll discuss the measures necessary when the time comes,” Anders said, his smooth tone brooking no arguments. A fresh layer of exasperation prickled over her. “We should move for now.”

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