Guarding Gwen

March 26, 2019 – Wilde Ways – Wilde Ways, Book 2

Lights. Camera. Action.

Gwenevere Solomon is the current “It” girl in Hollywood. The star of a dozen films, she seemingly has the world at her feet. Gwen’s problem? She also has one very dangerous stalker at her door. His attacks are getting bolder, and Gwen is becoming more and more afraid. Because this stalker…he knows secrets that she’s fought hard to keep buried. The kind of secrets that can destroy a woman’s life.

A ghost from her past can save her.

Gwen needs protection, and she needs that protection now. So enter her new leading man…Simon Forrest. Tall, dark, and ever-so deadly, Simon is the lover she left behind. Or rather, the lover who left her behind. He went off and became a SEAL, saving the world and riding one adrenaline high after the other. But he’s back now, and as part of Wilde’s elite security team, he’s supposed to offer the best, most discreet protection service in the business. He’ll pretend to be her lover so the press won’t realize her life is going to hell, and Simon will stop her stalker.

He can keep his hands off her…and keep her shielded at the same time.

Simon never got over Gwen, and the fact that she’s been filling the big screen with her gorgeous self? Yeah, it’s just made her even more tempting…and put her even further out of his reach. Simon was never good enough for Gwen, and he knew it. But this time, he can help her. He can catch the stalker, unmask the jerk, and keep Gwen shining in her spotlight. Easy as pie. Or, it should be.

Except…Simon might not be able to stop himself from falling for her all over again.

Because when the cameras stop watching, that’s when the real action begins…GUARDING GWEN, a sexy romantic suspense from New York Times best-selling author Cynthia Eden.

Author’s Note: Love sexy suspense and second chance romance? Then GUARDING GWEN is for you. A stand-alone romance with no cliff-hangers, this title features one red-hot, alpha hero and a strong, funny heroine who has plenty of secrets hiding in her past.

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Chapter One

“I want Simon Forrest.” Gwenevere Soloman sat in the leather chair, her long legs crossed in front of her, casually swinging one high-heeled foot. The shoes were Louboutin, black on top and fiery red on the bottom. They screamed money and style, just like the rest of her outfit. The pencil skirt and the designer blouse had been custom-made for her. Gwenevere—or really, just plain Gwen—knew that she looked wealthy and in control. That had been the plan, after all. To appear to have her shit together.

When in truth…she was freaking the hell out. It was a good thing that she made her living as an actress. Otherwise…

The man across the desk cleared his throat. His dark eyes studied her and his handsome face showed his curiosity. “Ah, Ms. Soloman, clients don’t generally get to request specific security personnel.”

“Gwen, please. We’ll be working together, so let’s not be formal.” Her heart was racing in her chest, but her voice was perfectly calm. “I came to Wilde Securities because I was told you were the best in the business. That you handled high profile clients with the utmost discretion.” Don’t show fear. Don’t.

Eric Wilde—the man who was Wilde Securities—inclined his dark head toward her. “Yes, we are the best.”

No modesty there.

“But you just came in from the street and you told me that you wanted my Vice President—not some regular agent—to personally handle your case.” He gave her an apologetic smile. “That’s not how things work here.”

Okay. Not good. She slowly uncrossed her legs and leaned forward. She put one well-manicured hand on his desk. “I will pay whatever is necessary, but I need Simon Forrest.”

Eric’s eyes narrowed as he seemed to assess her. “Why him, in particular?”

Because they had a past. Not a good one. Actually, a rather messy and extremely painful past, but Simon Forrest was the most lethal bastard that she knew. And in this particular situation, lethal was needed.

“Money doesn’t matter to me.” The words were so easy. She knew he’d have no clue that, once, money had mattered. Mattered so very much. Once, she’d had nothing. She’d been so desperate that she would have done anything to survive.

But that girl…she was dead. Long gone. Gwen gave Eric another broad smile. “I need the services of Wilde Securities, and do you really want me to leave this office and spread word to my friends that you refused me?” That sounded way arrogant. Unfortunate, but necessary. And it was a total bluff. She had no intention of telling anyone that she’d ever visited this high-rise office in Atlanta.

Eric weighed her words. He studied her with his head cocked. Could he tell she was bluffing? Oh, jeez, no, he couldn’t. Could not. Or at least, he’d better not be able to tell. She’d won a freaking Academy Award last year. She could surely fool one security guy. Right?

Eric pushed a button on the phone that perched on his desk. “Dennis…”

Dennis was his assistant. The guy had tripped when he’d first seen Gwen. Cutely charming.

“Get Simon in here, would you?” Eric continued, his voice brisk. “I have a case that I need him to consult on.”

Consult? No, Simon needed to take her case. And she wasn’t leaving this office until she got him.

Eric leaned back in his chair. Crossed his arms over his chest. “Why.” Not a question. More of a demanding growl.

She blinked. Looked innocent. “He was recommended to me.”

Eric shook his head. “Try again.”

“Excuse me?” She thought her frown of confusion was a nice touch.

“No one recommended Simon. He’s a dangerous asshole that most people avoid. His people skills are…less than desirable. He growls more than he talks, and the guy lives for adrenaline.”

Okay, yes, that was the Simon she’d known and loved.

No, no, I didn’t love him. A teenage crush. That crush had ended long ago. And he’d sure as hell walked away from her fast enough. Walked, run. Whatever. Then he’d stayed away. Long after the point when he should have come back.

But that didn’t matter. She’d moved on. So had he. And she would have stayed out of his life permanently, except…


Her past had come back to bite her in the ass.

“Ms. Soloman?” Eric prompted.

“I told you, call me Gwen. Everyone does.” She dropped her smile. It wasn’t working on the guy, anyway. What was he? Made of stone? Ice? “I know that Simon is dangerous. I heard that fact about him.” She rolled one shoulder in a careless shrug. “I happen to need a little danger in my life.”

If anything, his dark gaze became even more intense. “Tell me what’s happening.”

She glanced over her shoulder. The door was still shut. “Why not just wait for Simon? Then I only have to share the story once.” And she could better keep track of her lies.

Eric exhaled on a long sigh. “You know that I can tear into your life and know every secret that you possess within about five or ten minutes? You understand that, don’t you?”

Her head whipped back toward him. No, she most certainly had not understood that.

Eric lifted a brow. “It’s kind of what I do. And a woman like you…a woman whose life is lived in the tabloids, well, it’s not like you have a lot of deep, dark secrets anyway.”

You’d be surprised. She’d managed to bury a whole lot of secrets. Too bad some of them had decided to crawl out of their graves.

The door opened behind her. She heard the faint squeak of the hinges.

“Where’s the fire?” A deep, dark voice demanded. “I was working on a case with Julia, but Dennis said I had to drop everything and get my ass up here, pronto.”

Chill bumps seemed to cover her. Gwen licked her lips and hoped like hell that her expression had remained contained. Eric’s eyes were on her. He’d been studying her so carefully. He’d been—

“You know him,” Eric said flatly.

Okay, Eric was good. Very good at watching people. She’d have to remember that trait for the future. But then, she’d come to Wilde Securities because the firm was supposed to be the best. Score one for Eric.

Simon’s footsteps padded closer. She hadn’t looked at him yet. She should. Just get it over with. He’d probably changed in the years. Maybe he wouldn’t be as handsome any longer. Maybe she could just look at him and not feel a single, solitary thing—

“Is this a new client—” Simon’s words ended. Just stopped as he finally got a look at her. As he stared down at her, Gwen saw the absolute shock fill his green gaze. He shook his head, as if he couldn’t quite believe what—no, who—he was seeing. Then… “Gwen?” He reached for her. Bent toward her and pulled her out of the chair. His hands wrapped around her shoulders, his grip tight, a little rough, and he stared at her as if—

“Uh, right. Figured as much,” Eric noted dryly. “You two do know each other.”

Simon’s head had been lowering toward hers. His gaze had been on her mouth. Oh, no way. The guy hadn’t thought he was going to kiss her? Not happening. She wanted his protection, his particular skill set…not his mouth.

Gwen raised her hands and pushed against his chest. His very muscled chest. Someone had been working out, hard. Even though he wore a fancy suit, she could feel the strength and heat of his body far too easily. “Let go.”

He did, instantly. Simon stepped back and shook his head. “This isn’t a dream?”


“Because I swear, I’ve had dreams like this.” But then his gaze cut toward a watchful Eric. “Only your ass is never in my dreams.”

Eric’s lips twisted. “Good to know.”

Gwen backed away from Simon. “I’m not a dream. I’m a client.” And, dammit, the years had been kind to Simon. More than kind. He was even more muscled than he’d been. Not a boy, but a man now. Wide shoulders. Powerful chest. Dark hair that was a little long. A square, chiseled jaw, perfect cheekbones, and a line of stubble on him that was just downright sexy.

He wore a suit, but looked rough and ready. Fierce.

Some things didn’t change…

“A client?” Simon rolled back his shoulders. He shook his head. His gaze slid over her, and she could have sworn she felt the scorching heat of that look like a burn on her skin. “Gwenevere.

“Gwen,” she gritted out.

His gaze snapped back up to her face.

She lifted her chin. “You’re in the protection business, aren’t you?” She waved between him and a too-watchful Eric. “Well, I need protection. The best money can buy.”

Simon’s gaze went cold and hard. “Who’s threatening you?”

Ah, that would be the question. “If I knew, then I would have taken care of him myself.” She sat back down. Took her time about it. Crossed her legs. Swung her high-heeled foot. Noticed that Simon’s gaze went straight to her legs.


Her heart jumped. No, no, dammit, this was going to be professional. The last thing she wanted to do was walk down that particular road with Simon Forrest again.

Her lips twisted as pain knifed into her heart. “At least it’s good to know you remember me.”

He leaned over her. Got all in her space as he caged her with his hands on either side of her chair. “A man doesn’t forget a woman like you.”

Oh, that was—

“Especially when your image is shoved at him twenty-four hours a day, on every TV set or movie screen in the area.”

Had he just sounded bitter? Like he had a right to be bitter. She raked her gaze over him “If you don’t like watching,” she advised coldly, “turn the channel.”

His features hardened.

Okay, this was not going as she’d planned. Maybe she hadn’t planned well enough. Truth be told, she’d panicked. She’d been in Atlanta, filming a superhero flick that would not—could not—be named due to contractual issues, and when the latest threatening message had come to her, Gwen had freaked. She’d freaked and thought of the one person who could handle a mess like the one she was in.

She’d…oh, damn, it was humiliating, but she’d immediately gone running to her ex for help. An ex who hadn’t spoken to her in years. An ex who apparently hated having her image “shoved at him.” Her chin notched up. “Move your hands.”

A muscle jerked in his jaw. That really sexy, stubble-covered, lickable jaw.

He moved his hands.

He backed up, and he took his delectable scent with him. A masculine, crisp scent.

She smoothed her perfectly smooth skirt. “This was a mistake. I shouldn’t have come here. I don’t think you are the right security firm to handle my…situation.”

“Your situation?” Simon fired back. “What’s wrong, baby? A sex tape about to hit the Internet? Want us to stop it for you?”

A sex…She laughed. Laughed at him and it actually felt good to laugh.

He didn’t laugh with her. But then, he’d never really been the laughing type. Always so serious and intense. Intense was the keyword for Simon. Gwen tipped back her head and gazed up at him as he continued to glare. “Oh, Simon, really. A sex tape doesn’t hurt anyone’s career these days.” She waved her hand vaguely in the air. “Sex tapes just make people more famous.”

A snarl slipped from him.

Someone needed to relax. “But I don’t need to be more famous. And I don’t have a sex tape. Thanks for asking, though.” She folded her hands and put them in her lap. Her gaze slid to Eric. Now that she was up-close and personal with her ex, she realized the error of her plan. Such a mistake. Why had she thought Simon could help save the day? The guy was pissed at her. Who the hell knew why? After all, he’d been the one to walk. But…

I don’t know him. Not anymore. The old Simon would have immediately jumped to her defense. He’d always protected her, back in the day. From every threat out there. No one had hurt her, not when Simon was close.

Then he’d left, and he’d been the one to hurt her worst of all.

The past is over. Move the hell forward.

Instead of protecting her, Simon had entered the fancy office and immediately attacked.

Actually…Gwen thought about the situation for a moment. No, he’d…come in and tried to kiss her. That had been his first act.

Then he’d attacked.

And, jeez, she couldn’t handle this drama. She liked to keep her drama on the movie set. “A mistake.” She pushed to her feet again. Slid around him and headed for the door. “This was—”

“I’ve always been your mistake. We both know that.”

His words stopped her cold. Gwen glanced back over her shoulder at him. Why would he say that? She’d never regretted anything they did.

His hands were fisted at his sides. His gaze burned as it held hers. “Why are you here, Gwen?”

Because I’m scared. No, terrified. Someone is watching me. All the time. Someone who knows my deepest, darkest secrets. Someone who wants to destroy me.

“I thought I could turn to an old friend for help,” she said, voice halting. Someone I could trust. “But I see that I was wrong.” She reached for the doorknob.

“Stop.” Eric’s voice. Low but all authoritative. The guy was probably used to giving orders. She wasn’t used to taking them. Not unless those orders came from a director on set. So, Gwen opened the door.

Dennis stood a few feet away, his eyes huge behind the lenses of his glasses. She started to stride past—

A warm, strong hand—with slightly callused fingertips—curled around her wrist. “Please, stop.”

Simon’s voice. Only it wasn’t growling any longer. It was low and soft, almost tender.

A shudder slid over her body. For just a moment, she could so easily remember the way things had been. Back when she’d been eighteen and absolutely, completely obsessed with him.

Those days are long gone. You need him now for an entirely different reason. Use him and move the hell on.

Her head turned, and she found herself looking up into his eyes. His gaze practically blazed with emotion as he stared at her. And if she didn’t know better, Gwen would swear…the man was staring at her as if he wanted to eat her alive.

“Uh, yes.” Eric cleared his throat. “Simon, you and I need to talk privately for a moment. Gwen, why don’t you sit back down in my office? I’ll have Dennis bring you some coffee.”

Simon’s hold tightened on her.

Eric closed in. Tapped his shoulder. “Conference room,” he prompted. “Let the pretty lady go. You and I are going to have an important business meeting in the conference room.

Simon slowly let her go. As he freed her, his fingers slid along the inside of her wrist. Her pulse gave a fast and hard jerk. Did he feel it?

A cracking voice announced, “I’ll get coffee!” Right. The assistant. Dennis.

Eric steered Simon down the hallway while Gwen returned to the office. Gwen sucked in some deep, much needed breaths, and when the assistant burst in with a giant grin on his face and a coffee mug gripped in his hand, she managed to give him a faint, grateful smile.

Even as she realized that her whole world was probably about to implode.

All of these years…and one touch from Simon could still stir desire within her. Dammit, if she was going to use him, she needed to be one hell of a lot more careful.


“What. In. The Hell?” Eric put his hands on his hips and glared at Simon. “Are you insane? Having some kind of breakdown that I need to know about? Because I know you didn’t just antagonize the most famous actress in the world for shits and giggles!”

Simon winced. They were in one of the conference rooms at Wilde Securities, and Eric was pissed. Obviously. Eric’s voice wasn’t loud. No, on the contrary, it was dead soft—always a bad sign. The angrier Eric got, the quieter he became. “She’s not the most famous,” Simon mumbled.

Eric’s brows shot up. “Are you kidding me right now?”

He shrugged.

“Gwenevere Soloman is on the cover of every magazine out there, and she was in five movies last year. If word gets out that someone on my team is being a jackass to her…that crap will not look good for me.”

Okay, yeah, he’d overstepped. He’d screwed up. But… “Since when do you care what some Hollywood celeb says about you? You’ve got more money than God. You don’t need another client.”

Eric stabbed a finger toward him. “I don’t turn my back on people who need me. And she is scared.”

Simon took a step back. He didn’t like the idea of Gwen being scared. Didn’t like the idea of anything bad ever happening to her.

Wasn’t that the reason he’d stayed away from her for so long? Because he was the something bad. And her life was literally fairytale perfect without him. Only, if it really was perfect, then why was she at Wilde Securities? “She has to have her own bodyguards.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. His fingers sawed across the stubble on his jaw. Hell. He’d just come off one case from hell, and he knew he had to look like shit. Of course, Gwen would see him this way. She looked perfect, the sexiest thing he’d ever seen, while he’d probably seemed like some thug off the street.

“I think this is more than some bodyguard situation.” Eric dropped his hand. “She came in and asked for you. Specifically, for you. She wanted you to take her case, and right before you stormed in and showed Ms. Soloman what a true ass you are, she had just told me that she’d be willing to pay any sum in order to get you to personally take her case.”

Uh, that was odd. “She hates me.”

“I can see why,” Eric muttered. “Charm is not your strong suit.”

He glowered at his friend. “I can be charming.” Under the right circumstances. And those circumstances did not involve walking into Eric’s office and coming face-to-face with Gwen. With his Gwen.

Holy fuck. She was even more gorgeous now. Even sexier. With that warm, golden complexion, with all of that thick, dark hair. Long and curling. Red, plump lips. High cheekbones. The faint mole near her right eye. A little mark he’d kissed so many times in the past. And her body. Damn. The woman had curves that went on for days. High, firm breasts. An hourglass figure with flaring hips. And her legs…he’d always loved her long legs. Her legs were freaking perfection, and Gwen in those fuck-me shoes…

How many times have I fantasized about seeing Gwen again?

Only this hadn’t been a fantasy.

“A sex tape? Seriously?”

Oh. Eric was still talking. Simon winced.

“You asked her about a sex tape?”

Simon closed his eyes. He should probably confess. “When it comes to Gwen, I’m a jealous bastard.”

“You think?”

His eyes flew open. He glared.

“What is the history?” Eric demanded. “Wait, let me guess…lovers?”

Ancient history.”

“So ancient that you saw her and your first instinct was to try and kiss her?”

Okay, yes, guilty. The past and present had blurred for a moment. He’d messed up. Typical for when he was around Gwen.

“Gwen Soloman is important. Too important to screw with. So, can you keep your control and do the job with her?” Eric exhaled. “Or do you want me to refer her to someone else?”

If Gwen was in trouble, he would be the one helping her. Always. Fury grew within Simon as he tried to figure out just what was happening. Who could be hurting her? And why? “I want to help her.” No, he had to help Gwen. Protecting her had always been as natural as breathing to him.

A smile came and went on Eric’s lips. “Figured as much. But I also figured you needed to get some space before you jumped the woman.”

Her skin had been softer than he remembered. Her eyes a deeper, darker gold. She’d smelled like sweet vanilla, and he’d been dying to pull her into his arms, to take her mouth with his, and make sure she wasn’t a dream.

Instead, he’d insulted her, been an ass, and had the woman running for the door. Yep, way to reconnect with the woman who’d owned his heart when he’d been nineteen. But he wasn’t a punk kid anymore. And she wasn’t his. Not any longer.

So why do I still feel like she is?

Eric studied him with faint curiosity. “How the hell did an ex-SEAL get involved with the Hollywood ‘It’ girl?”

“I wasn’t a SEAL back then.” His words sounded too dark and rough. He cleared his throat and tried again. “And she wasn’t rich and famous.” She’d just been Gwen. His Gwen.

His first.

Just as he’d been hers.

If anything, Eric appeared more worried by that admission. “You gonna be able to stay professional on this one?”

Simon wasn’t going to make a promise he might not be able to keep.

“Or should I convince her that another agent would be better? I mean, you’re VP here. I didn’t think you were going to do more field work. I thought you were more managerial now—”

But Simon gave his friend a slow smile. “What can I say? You know I like getting my hands dirty.” The more dangerous the job, the more he liked it. “And you don’t need another agent. I’ve got Gwen.” The words came out with a possessive edge.

Since Eric had his own possessive tendencies—particularly when they came to his wife, Piper—the guy just gave a nod. “Then let’s not keep our new client waiting.” Eric turned on his heel and led the way back to his office. When Eric swung open the door, Simon saw that Dennis was inside with Gwen.

The guy was practically fawning over her. Seriously? People should know better than to drool on clients. That shit was unprofessional.

“Want more sugar in your coffee?” Dennis asked her. “Some cream?” He inched closer to her.

Simon rolled his eyes, caught the guy’s elbow, and steered him back toward the door. “She takes her coffee black.”

He pushed Dennis out and shut the door—maybe a little too hard, but what the hell—before he spun back to face Gwen.

She frowned at him. “Um, I do like sugar and cream in my coffee.”

He opened his mouth. Closed it. Realized that when she’d been eighteen, she had liked her coffee black. But she wasn’t an eighteen-year-old girl any longer.

And I might not know her at all.

She put her coffee mug down on the desk. Squared her shoulders. Focused not on him, but on Eric. “Will Wilde Securities be taking my case or do I need to look elsewhere?”

Eric opened his mouth.

“We’re taking the case,” Simon assured her. “Now tell us what in the hell is going on.”

Because he was watching so closely, he saw the slight sag in her shoulders. The slump of relief. She’d been afraid that he wouldn’t help her.

As if he’d ever been able to refuse her anything.

She should have remembered the promise he’d made her long ago…

He’d sworn then that he’d lie, he’d steal, he’d kill for her.

Of course, he’d also promised to love her forever.

Simon forced his hands to stay loose at his sides. “Gwen?”

Her tongue swiped across her lower lip. “I have a stalker.”

Yeah, he’d suspected that. Simon wanted more details.

“He’s been watching me for some time now. Wherever I go, he’s there. He takes pictures. Sends them to me. He wants me to know that he’s watching.”

“Surely your security team is on this?” Eric asked. “I know the studios are always watching out for their talent—”

“He’s been able to discover secrets about me.” Her gaze fell so that she was staring at her hands. Hands she’d twisted together. “Information that if—should these particular details ever make it to the public—I’d be destroyed.”

Simon strode closer to her. “Gwen?”

Her head tipped back. Her hair slid over her shoulder. Her incredibly thick lashes lifted as she gazed at him. “Not a sex tape,” she muttered. “Something a thousand times worse.”

His heart surged in his chest. “What is it?”

But her gaze cut toward Eric. “How does all of this work?” And she lifted one hand to push back her hair. “Like…do you guarantee confidentiality to your clients?”

“Everything is kept strictly confidential,” Eric assured her.

She nodded. But then Gwen bit the lower lip she’d recently licked. “Even if it’s something…illegal? Even if…say, in the course of the investigation…you were to discover that I’d committed a crime?”

Gwen? Commit a crime? She’d been squeaky clean back in high school, even when things had gotten bad.

“It depends on the crime.” Eric’s expression showed no emotion. “And if you are covering up a crime, you need to realize right now that the first thing we do is uncover secrets. We have to know every aspect of our clients’ lives if we are going to protect them. You can’t hold back. If there is something you’ve done…”

She was on her feet. “Thank you for your time.”


“I appreciate the consult today, but, um, I really should talk more with the studio.” She hurried for the door. “I didn’t think this through. There are other people I should see. Thank—”

Simon stepped into her path. “You’re scared.”

He could see the fear in her eyes.

But she just lifted her chin. “This was a mistake.”

Those words…fuck, they were the same words he’d given her long ago. Right before he’d shipped out.

“This was a mistake, Gwen. We’re too young. I don’t have anything to offer you.

He could see the memory, right there between them. Could practically feel it in the room.

“I thought I needed you,” she whispered. “I don’t. My mistake.”

No, no, but…

She skirted around him. Walked out of the office. The door closed behind her with just the softest of clicks.

He’d been the one to walk away before. When he’d left her, he hadn’t glanced back, though he’d wanted to. He’d wanted to turn back, wanted to run to her, wanted to hold her and never let go. He hadn’t. He’d lost her.

Was he really supposed to just let her go this time?

“She doesn’t want us to know what she’s hiding.” Eric’s tone was quiet. Thoughtful.

Tension burned in Simon’s gut. “She’s scared.” And that shit just wasn’t going to work—not on his watch. “Fuck what she said. We’re taking the case.”

“Uh, our would-be client just walked out the door. I think that means that there is no case.”

Simon marched for said door. “We’re taking the case.”

Gwen wasn’t going to slip from his life, not again.

No fucking way.