Anna Winje arrives in Hong Kong as the new Consul General for Norway. Negotiating the largest and most lucrative shipping deal in the history of the two countries places Anna in a vulnerable position. As factions argue the deal, her life is endangered, but instead of hiding, she accepts help from Anton and bravely protects her country’s interests.
Powerful industrialist, Anton Zhang heads the largest corporation involved in the deal. He shields Anna at the request of his government, taking her to his island compound. Together, they withstand escalating attacks - unclear who is the target and who the enemy. Close proximity and danger build into a potent attraction that increases the stakes.
Anton's love for the courageous Anna is instant and all consuming, but she does not believe she can attract and hold the brilliant younger man. Anna will sacrifice her deal and her life if it will keep Anton alive. Anton vows he will safeguard not only her life, but her heart.
Blood poured from the wound, though he pressed both hankies against it. Anna’s face was white. Her eyes glazed with pain and shock.
“Anton,” she choked out. Her tongue stroked moisture over her lips. “Anton. Someone shot me.” Shock dilated her pupils.
“I have you, Anna. You’re safe. Just hold on until the medics get here.” Ruthlessly, he tore six inches off the bottom of her knee-length skirt and formed a thick pad.
She bit into her plush bottom lip, as he pressed hard against the wound. He wished he could absorb her pain into himself. Sweat trickled in a line down his spine, but he knew she’d die if he didn’t slow the bleeding.
Her breathing became harsher. Had the bullet meant for him nicked her lung? He wrenched his mind back from self-blame. Anna needed his total attention.
Her fingers fluttered above the wound, her eyes questioning. “Am I going to die, Anton?”
He grasped her blood-stained fingers in one hand, noting her chilled flesh. “No. I won’t let you die,” he promised. “Put your suit jacket over her,” he commanded one of her guards.
The dark jacket settled over her. The second guard folded his jacket and, kneeling, used it to pillow Anna’s head. Anton gave them a nod of thanks, reading the concern and respect on their faces. They cared about their principal and had stood guard around her body, so a second bullet would have gone through them. They’d done their jobs. Why Gustavson hadn’t walked ahead of Anna, screening her on the stairs was something Anton would check into later. Now, he cocooned Anna in reassurance, as well as fabric.
“The bleeding is slowing. The medics will be here any second. You’re doing fine, Anna. Just stay with me. Stay calm. I have you safe.” He strained for the sound of emergency sirens, finally taking a breath as he heard them shrilling in the distance.
Gustavson dropped on one knee beside him. “How’s she doing?” The older man’s eyes were hard, his body tense.
“She’s a strong woman, smart enough to stay calm.” Anton smiled for Anna, praising her, hoping his words would lend her strength. “She’s handling a bullet wound like everything else, with grace and intellect.”
He felt her fingers squeeze his hand. She released her bottom lip and gave him a shaky smile. “You’re scaring me,” she husked.
Startled, he studied her face. He frightened her. The thought froze him in place.
A glint of humor shone through the pain shrouding her eyes. “You’re so beautiful when you smile, I’m afraid I’ve died, gone to heaven, and an angel is hovering over me.”
Anton leaned closer, until their eyes were only a hand’s span apart. “There would be nothing angelic about me, if you died, Anna. So you better put all your indomitable willpower into holding on. I’d go on a rampage that would chill your diplomatic soul.”
Her lips lifted, the dimples at the corner deepening.
Anton’s heart felt like it had been caught in an ever tightening vise.
Consternation, then fear flashed across her face. “I’m so cold. It’s going dark. I’m swirling, swirling. Anton, Anton…” she cried weakly. Her lashes settled like delicate fronds onto her cheeks. “Don’t leave me,” she gasped before her body went slack.
The next two minutes tore Anton’s world into pieces he would never fit back together in the same pattern. His face remained implacable, his pressure on her chest never lightened, yet he experienced the deepest anguish of his life. Suddenly, the medics were dropping beside him, pushing him back as they took over.
He stood on shaky legs and glanced at his watch. Seven minutes. A lifetime. He’d never forget the warmth of Anna’s blood pumping against his hand. Never forget the sound of her calling his name as she fell unconscious.