Hard to Forget Page 1

Author: Bella Jewel

Series: Alpha's Heart #3

Genres: Romance

PROLOGUE

The rain is cold against my skin, each drop sinking in slowly, as if torturing me. My hair is plastered to my face and I’m furiously blinking back the droplets that insist on invading my eye space. My clothes are soaked and I can feel the chill right down to my bones. My shoes squish every time my foot hits the pavement, which is a lot.

Considering I’m running.

It’s barely past five a.m. and yet here I am, pounding the pavement. Most people think I’m crazy—the truth is I probably am. I’m twenty-eight years old and instead of acting like most normal girls, I’m out training for my job. A job I’ve studied for and fought for since the day I left high school—it’s been nothing but a constant battle, especially considering it wasn’t always what I planned on doing.

I’m a bodyguard.

Well, I’m trying to be. I have a job, I have a boss, I have a team and it took a good long time for them to accept that I could do the job as well as them. I was constantly battling against the other members, proving my worth, and it seemed no matter what I did, they just didn’t think I had what it takes. It took me a solid two and a half years to earn even a snippet of respect.

Lucky me.

The man running beside me both loves and hates me. I’ve come to this conclusion on my own because he can’t seem to decide which one it is. One moment he’s barking orders at me, and then he’s staring at my breasts longingly. It’s alarming and kind of flattering all at once. Still, he trains with me every single day and I’m grateful for that.

I hate running alone.

When I got out of school, I was going to join the armed forces, it was something I always wanted to do. I can’t say there was an exact reason for it, but sometimes you feel you are just born to do something. Then came the test that changed my life. Turns out you have to have exceptional eyesight to join the forces. Mine was shit, and eye surgery improved it a bit, but not enough to make the cut.

Originally, I was crushed, and for months I couldn’t figure out what to do. It was something I’d planned from day one, and to have it taken from me seemed almost cruel. Then there was a day when I was out with my uncle, and we saw a drive-by shooting. A man, all dressed in black, single-handedly saved a person’s life. Turns out that person had hired him to do just that. My passion was reborn. I could do it. I could still protect and serve.

So last year I officially became qualified to protect someone’s life. And a second experimental eye surgery worked better than I’d ever hoped.

“Where’s your head at this morning, Delaney?”

Kyle yells this through the pouring rain, snapping me from my thoughts. I turn and glare at him, trying hard not to notice how good-looking he is all wet and panting. Kyle might drive me bonkers, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that he’s considered a fairly good-looking man—well, to most. He’s not really my type, and I think he hates that.

His usually brown hair seems darker in the rain and it’s pressed to his forehead. His strong jaw is covered in a few days’ growth and his blue eyes seem grey beneath the mist. He’s over six feet tall and built like a stone, which I’m grateful for considering I stand at five ten. Yes, five feet ten. I’m as tall as a man. This makes dating particularly difficult considering I’m bigger than most of the guys who take me out.

“Jesus, Delaney, wake up!”

I blink and realize I zoned out again.

“I didn’t realize our running was a chance for us to happy chat and tell life stories,” I reply bitterly.

Kyle snorts. “It’s not, I have no interest in your life stories.”

I flash him a grin. “Sure you do.”

“No, I don’t. I’m just making sure you’re with me.”

“Well, Kyle, last time I checked I was right beside you. I think you need to get your eyes checked.”

“Shut it, Delaney. Just run.”

I grin and run. I love taunting Kyle, more than I love my job some days. Okay maybe not more than my job, but it is entertaining. I don’t think Kyle will ever come out and admit he likes me, but I know he does. How can he not? I mean, come on, I’m pretty bad ass.

And I can outrun him. “You’re falling behind, old man,” I call, running ahead. “Better keep up or you’ll be the laughingstock of the team.”

“Bite me, Delaney,” he barks, running harder.

Ah yes, I do love running with Kyle.

CHAPTER ONE

I plod next door into my Aunty Bett and my Uncle George’s apartment to borrow their carton of milk. I’m sure they adore having me live next door, especially when I continually steal all their food. I’ve lived next door to them since I was nineteen. They own the apartment block, living in the biggest one themselves. When I turned eighteen they told me if I got a job, they would rent one out to me.

I’ve been in that one for nearly ten years now.

I was raised by Aunt Bett and Uncle George when I lost my mother and father at the young age of five. They died in a car accident and Aunt Bett and Uncle George stepped forward and took me on. They were close with my parents, Uncle George and my dad were brothers. They became like my own parents and helped me through some dark times.

They have one child, Jed, who is only a year older than me. He’s my best friend and has been since the first day I was welcomed into their home. He used to climb into the bed with me when I was crying at night and hold my hand until I stopped. He’s like my own brother and I adore him. Though there are certainly times I’m sure he doesn’t adore me. I drive him a little crazy.

I slip into Aunt Bett and Uncle George’s apartment like the stealthy little crime fighter I am. I tiptoe over to their fridge and open it, pulling out the carton of milk. My clothes are still damp from my run, but I need a cup of coffee before a shower. It’s what motivates me the entire time I run.

“I know you’re not poor, Laney.”

I squeal and spin around to see Uncle George sitting at the table in the dark, coffee in his hands.

“Uncle George,” I cry. “Why are you sitting in the dark like a creeper?”

He chuckles. “Why are you sneaking into my house like a creeper?”

I grin and wave the milk carton. “I needed milk.”

“You can’t afford your own?”

I pout. “Well sure, but yours tastes better.”

He snorts. “I wouldn’t know. Maybe if you went to the store every now and then, I might be able to come and try some of yours.”

“Good point,” I say, waving the carton again. “Okay, I’m going to just borrow a splash and bring it back.”

He grunts as if he knows I’m not going to bring it back. I smile and walk over, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “You know I love you, Uncle George. You’d be lost without me.”

I reach the door before I hear him grumble, “How can I miss you if you won’t go away?”

I smile all the way back to my apartment.

*   *   *

“You stole our milk again!”

The sound that fills my apartment comes from Jed and his loud, booming voice. I smile as I pull on my boots. Jed appears in my bedroom doorway a second later, glowering at me. Jed is the exact replica of George, with his raven black hair that falls messily over his brown eyes. His skin is olive and he’s tall and lean. He’s an athlete, and he runs for a living, and the look suits him.

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