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Damaged Like Us (Like Us #1)
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Don’t date your bodyguard.
Maximoff Hale is a force of nature. A ship unwilling to be steered. Headstrong, resilient, and wholly responsible — the twenty-two-year-old alpha billionaire can handle his unconventional life. By noon, lunch can turn into a mob of screaming fans. By two, his face is all over the internet.
Born into one of the most famous families in the country, his celebrity status began at birth.
He is certified American royalty.
When he’s assigned a new 24/7 bodyguard, he comes face-to-face with the worst case scenario: being attached to the tattooed, MMA-trained, Yale graduate who’s known for “going rogue” in the security team — and who fills 1/3 of Maximoff’s sexual fantasies.
Twenty-seven-year-old Farrow Keene has one job: protect Maximoff Hale. Flirting, dating, and hot sex falls far, far out of the boundary of his bodyguard duties and into “termination” territory. But when feelings surface, protecting the sexy-as-sin, stubborn celebrity becomes increasingly complicated.
Together, boundaries blur, and being exposed could mean catastrophic consequences for both.
The Like Us series is a true series, one continuous timeline, that follows a family of wealthy celebrities and the people that protect them. Damaged Like Us can be read and enjoyed without reading any of Krista & Becca’s other novels.
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“You can’t tell me one thing about him?” I ask for probably the millionth time. I haven’t actually been counting. But from Akara’s annoyed bite into his blueberry bagel, I’m guessing my question died a bitter death five minutes ago.
Today is doomsday.
The day where my unconventional, strange life becomes colossally more complicated. I can handle shit storms while propping up the Earth with one goddamn hand—but I like to be semi-prepared for situations. I have a real switchblade in my fucking pocket, but I want a metaphorical one too.
Akara swallows his bagel. “You want one thing?”
“Just one,” I affirm.
“He’s your new bodyguard.”
I slowly blink into a glare. “Thank you for offering the one thing that I already fucking know.” It’s the one thing that’s been driving me up the wall like a possessed Spider-Man. I’ve had the same bodyguard for my entire life, and he decided to retire recently.
Just yesterday, I said goodbye to Declan. It’s bittersweet. He wants to spend more time with his wife and two kids, not be the 24/7 bodyguard to an internationally famous human being. I get that. Selfishly, I wish he could stay longer.
And when I mean longer, I mean forever.
Personal bodyguards are like spouses. All of my immediate and extended family have one. They follow us everywhere, eat with us, guard our rooms if we bring home strangers—or in my case, “uncomplicated” hookups. Mind-blowing fucks. One-night stands. All of that is being passed to a new someone.
I’ve never had to introduce a new bodyguard to the ins-and-outs of my life. It’s not just going to be a Day In The Life of Maximoff Hale. It’s a permanent position that’ll last decades unless he turns out to be an incompetent prick.
This pivotal moment has put me on edge because Akara—the lead bodyguard in Security Force Omega—refuses to share more information about him.
“Like I said an hour ago,” Akara tells me, “it’s better if you meet in person.” Before I can reply, his cellphone pings.
I hope it’s my new bodyguard. I check my canvas wristwatch.
He’s twenty minutes late, and Akara already assured me that he received the invite.
Location: Superheroes & Scones
Time: 6 a.m. (before the store opens at 8 a.m.)
The homey but massive store is empty. I only turned on a few lights since no employees are here yet, the place quiet. Dimly lit. While I wait, I stand behind the bar counter and pour myself an orange juice.
I’m not stealing.
My family owns the two-story hybrid comic book store and coffee shop. With red and blue vinyl booths, stools, and then rows and rows of shelved comics and merch, Superheroes & Scones resembles a retro diner and modern comic store. Eighty-five of them exist throughout the globe, but this one in Philadelphia is the very original.
Since its creation, it’s had a few major renovations. The second floor used to be offices for a comics publishing company, which has since moved next door.
Capping the jug of juice, I look to my right. Bright blue stairs twist towards a second-floor loft area. Littered with colorful beanbags, sofas, coffee tables, and mounted televisions that play superhero films nonstop.
If I could rank my favorite places in the world, Superheroes & Scones would be number two. Right behind a pool.
I take a large swig of my OJ, and Akara’s phone starts buzzing in quick succession.
I wipe my mouth on my carved bicep and notice the text message boxes lighting up his screen. “Someone’s popular.” That better be my tardy bodyguard.
Akara wipes his fingers on a flimsy napkin. “It’s only one person.”
I crane my neck to try and see if I can spot a name.
Akara angles the phone towards his chest and scrolls through the messages. “Chill. Eat. Try not to overthink, if that’s at all possible for you.”
“It’s not.” I can fucking admit this.
Akara smiles but concentrates on his phone. Pieces of his straight black hair touch his dark eyelashes. His cut muscles could tear through his blue Studio 9 shirt. There’s no uniform for security detail. Bodyguards just typically dress for the occasion.
Like when I attend formal charity events, they’ll wear suits and tuxes.
I roll my shoulders backwards, muscles tight. I need to stretch, swim several laps. I check the time on my phone. Then I take another swig of orange juice and watch Akara text.
“You know,” I tell him, “I’m not asking for the meaning of life or a planetary map of undiscovered galaxies. You could give me his hair color. Zodiac sign. Maybe a last name—”
“Nice try.” Akara’s brown eyes lift to mine just to say you can’t bullshit me before he returns to his cell. “Why don’t you finish making your list for him?”
“I already printed it out.” It’s in the pocket of my jeans. Akara suggested I bullet-point the “rules of my life” for the unknown person.