Insider Threat was supposed to be the first book in a new series. Evelyn got kidnapped at the end, and you were all hyped up for a new story. I worked on the new book featuring Evelyn and Austin’s story for five months and gave up. Nobody wants to read a romance in which the hero and heroine are apart.
So, I have now given Austin and Evelyn their own happily ever after. Evelyn has NOT been kidnapped, and Insider Threat, with its familiar cast of characters is now the last book in the Echo Platoon series. If you want to read Austin and Evelyn’s happy ending, I’m posting it here for your convenience and permanently putting it on the Insider Threat page on my website:
The sun was plunging behind the trees, turning the sky pink, by the time Evelyn left the office. She scarcely saw the sky as she locked the building behind her. A grim joylessness had taken up residence inside her. Long work hours were supposed to take her thoughts off Austin. His occasional texts hadn’t helped any, but she couldn’t bring herself to block him. Nor had she deleted his voicemails. She kept them, not listening to them, in the off chance he never came back, in which case his voicemails would be all she had left of him.
The depressing thought put a lump in her throat. With heavy steps, Evelyn plodded toward her parked car. She took her phone from her purse as she neared her vehicle and turned it back on. The notification of another voicemail from Austin made her jerk to a halt. She suffered an overwhelming urge to listen to it.
Yes. No. Yes. With a tremor of excitement, she clicked play and put her phone to her ear while unlocking her car remotely.
Hey, it’s me. I’m back at the Beach. I’d like to see you soon. Call me. Please?
The message whipped her heart into a gallop. The empty feeling that had filled her for weeks abruptly vanished. Joy put wings on her feet, and realization struck. My God, what a fool she’d been for fighting her feelings! Love was a gift. You didn’t just throw it away to play it safe. She might as well have been dead for all the joy she’d felt while he was gone.
So, what now? She slipped into her old blue Volvo with her thoughts on fire. For the first time in weeks, she caught herself smiling. A world of possibilities unfolded before her eyes, leaving her scarcely aware of where she was and what she was doing.
Look, just concentrate on getting home, she advised herself. She would text him then and ask him to come over—after she freshened up.
Was she being rash? Was she behaving like her mother? Doubts descended as she braked at a red light. Austin was five years younger than she was. That potential issue hadn’t changed. And what about Andrew? He’d told her SEALs made lousy husbands. But who had designated her stepdad the expert on either SEALs or relationships? No one. Besides, he didn’t even know Austin. Once he met him, Evelyn was sure he would like him.
All of her agonizing, she realized, was just Post-Traumatic Stress from having been dragged through her mother’s multiple marriages. Her own life would be different. She wasn’t doomed to repeat Susan’s mistakes. For Pete’s sake, hadn’t she drilled that very thing into the heads of countless clients?
Optimism kicked her doubts out the window. As the light turned green, Evelyn accelerated along Oceanview Avenue, passing the slower cars. The sky had blushed to a deep rose hue, as if the very world was as flushed with anticipation as she was.
Normally a cautious driver, Evelyn turned into her neighborhood with her tires squealing, her heart beating a tattoo. She was almost to her house when she spotted a car backing out of her driveway. Wait, that wasn’t . . .Yes, it was! She laid on her horn. Austin’s brake lights flared. As she pulled in alongside him, he drew forward and parked again, grinning at her through his window.
So much for freshening up before she saw him again. This was more spontaneous. Evelyn shook off her seatbelt as she shoved out of her car. Austin, looking impossibly virile in jeans and a long-sleeved T-shirt, was already shutting his own door. Just enough sunlight remained for her to make out his watchful expression.
Love crested inside of her. With a sob, Evelyn flung her arms around him and hugged him with all the passion she’d been trying to squelch since their first encounter. “Austin, I love you!” she admitted breathlessly, against his ear.
His arms locked her to him. “Did you just say you love me?” His tone was incredulous.
He relaxed his grip enough that she could pull back and catch his face between her hands. “Yes. Tell me I’m not going to regret loving you.” It was her insecurity speaking.
Joy lit the depths of his clear gray eyes. He smiled with absolute confidence. “I’ll never give you a reason to regret it.” He ducked his head and kissed her.
Nothing in the world had ever felt so right.
I hope you enjoyed the closure for these two characters.