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The best defense is no match for desire this hot…
Kate McKinnon’s Sanctuary is an island of refuge in a western frontier shrouded in post-apocalyptic chaos. Her only escape from her crushing responsibilities is occasional radio contact with other pockets of survivors. Especially one man whose deep, raspy voice cuts through her exhaustion, straight to her heart. A man whose face she has only imagined.
When she and her ranch hands are surrounded by renegades, she doesn’t recognize the leader of the militaristic band that rescues them, but knows that voice.
Ty Bennett is already half in love with the human woman whose voice haunts his dreams. His impulsive offer to add muscle to the Sanctuary’s defenses is dangerous to them both. Helping her may redeem some of his sins, but proximity only increases his hunger to possess her—body, soul…and blood.
Without hesitation, she welcomes Ty and his men into the Sanctuary…only to discover the reason why they only ride at night. Yet the survival instinct that screams at her to drive them off is no match for Ty’s seductive powers. Or the need for protection from the threat that howls at Sanctuary’s gates.
“So where are we going to bed down for the night?”
Kate felt the earth move beneath her feet—so shocking was the undercurrent of sensual promise in his question. She drew in a shaky breath. “We’re not stayin’ in town.”
He laid his other hand on top of hers, enveloping her in heat that radiated up her arm and to places she had no business noticing when danger was still afoot. “My men need to top off the vehicles and find that crowd of troublemakers before we head out to your ranch.”
“Fine,” she said, her voice clipped. “We’ll see you at the ranch tomorrow. I’ll be sure to tell the men at the gates not to shoot you on sight.”
He squeezed her hand. “I don’t want you heading out there on your own. The sky will be pitch-black soon.”
“We’re ready for any trouble.” The only trouble she saw was standing right in front of her.
His eyes narrowed. “There’s no need to take the risk. We’re here to help. Let us do our job.”
She slowly pulled away her hand. She couldn’t think when he touched her. At least not about anything that made any sense. His broad frame and handsome face turned her brains to mush.
“Katie, you need any help out there?” Shep shouted through the window.
Still not willing to turn her back on Ty and his men, she shouted over her shoulder. “Everything’s under control,” she lied.
“We need to talk,” Ty said.
“I agree. There’s a gazebo out back on the grass.”
“You really want to be out in the open for it?”
“Who the hell’s gonna attack with the Army in the front yard?” The intimacy of four walls around them would be too tempting. She’d fantasized about him too long.
He drew a deep breath and signaled with a wave of his hand for her to precede him into the church.
Accepting his direction meant turning her back on him and his men. But hadn’t she already surrendered when she’d left the safety of the church? What chance did she really have if things turned ugly? Deep inside, she wanted to trust him. Wanted so much more.
This man had kept the hope for a better future alive in her heart for months. He’d made no promises and told her damn little about himself—but she’d held tight to the strength in his voice when he’d admonished her for being reckless, praised her for her courage and comforted her all those times she’d felt so overwhelmed.
She’d wanted to turn over the reins to someone stronger and more capable. Well, here he was.
His body appeared relaxed, like he had all the time in the world for her to make up her mind. She wondered what he saw and wished now she’d at least run a comb through her hair before she’d bound it in her usual ponytail.
Her dad had always said she should go with her gut when logic failed. Her instincts told her he was a dangerous man—and she wanted him on her side. Whatever the cost.
If her body was only too happy to surrender, she was entitled to enjoy making payment. She turned and led the way into the church, her heart skipping a beat when his hand settled on the small of her back. The pressure, even through her coat, thrilled her.
Shep awaited them, his rifle barrel pointing toward the ceiling. His eyebrows rose when he saw how close Ty stood.
“I know him, Shep. He’s here to help.”
He nodded and lowered his weapon as more men filed inside the chapel, but he didn’t look happy.
“I’ll have the men get the generator going and set up a perimeter defense,” Ty said.
Another load off her shoulders. She glanced above to the choir loft. “It’s okay, Danny. You can come down, now.”
Danny’s face, brimming with curiosity, peered over the balcony. “You sure?”
“Yeah. I’ve been…expecting them.”
Ty nudged her back, a reminder he wanted to talk.
“I’ll be in the back,” she said to Danny and Shep. “Take a load off. Looks like we’ll be spendin’ the night here.”
She headed to the back of the church, hanging a left at the altar and striding into the corridor where the church offices stood vacant. The door leading to the lawn in back opened with a whine, and Kate stepped into deepening twilight with Ty right behind her.
Their boots crunched on the dry grass adding to the crackling tension building in her shoulders and back. Ty was here. They were alone. What would happen between them? Would he insist on taking his pleasure now the bargain had been made?
She wasn’t sure whether the thought excited or appalled her. Sam had been her only lover, but not once in their years-long arrangement had she felt this sharp-edged excitement.
Mingled with anticipation was the fear she’d disappoint. Ty was so much more man than she was woman.
They climbed the steps of the gazebo, and she turned to face him. Shielded from any prying gaze by the lattice-board sides of the building and the dried vines clinging to the frame, they stared at each other for a long moment.
Now that they were alone, she felt more than a little unnerved by his dark, hooded gaze. She cleared her throat. “You said you wanted to talk.”
His gaze bored into hers. “We should set some ground rules.”
She nodded, her mouth suddenly dry. Rules? “For the trip?”
“For what happens between us.”
A fine trembling started deep inside her. He’d shot straight past business into intimacy. “All right. Shoot.”
“First, you tell me everything I want to know. No secrets.”
“Will you do the same?”
She snorted softly and gave him a derisive look. “I’m supposed to give you my trust, but you won’t reciprocate?”
“It’s a little complicated. There are things best left alone for now. Can you live with that?”
It was perverse, but the mystery surrounding him was a huge turn-on. “Depends.”
He lifted one eyebrow in question.
“On whether you follow through with your promise to provide safe passage to the people at the ranch.”
He canted his head and stared like he was trying to see inside her. “Don’t you want to ask anything for yourself?”
She licked her lips. “I think I’m going to get it.”
His lips curved, and his dark eyes crinkled at the corners. “I think you’re right,” he said, his voice a deep, smooth rumble—like a panther’s purr.
Her cheeks burned beneath his scrutiny. “What else?”
“I’m in charge. No questions. When I’m not there, you’ll follow my next in command.”
Her teeth ground in frustration. “Will I have any say?”
“I’ll listen. But I make the decisions.”
“Will your next in command have power over me?”
“He’ll give the orders, but you’re mine. He won’t touch you.”
The way he said it, flatly like an already recognized fact, rankled while at the same time tripping a thrill that heated her body from the inside out. She didn’t know how to respond.
“Does anyone else have a claim on you?”
The deep, dark texture of his voice upped the tension building in her core. “Why?”
“Just wondered if I might have a fight on my hands.”
She shook her head, ready to deny, but remembered his warning about no secrets. “My foreman, Sam…he’s the only one. Sometimes. But he won’t interfere.”
“When was the last time you slept with him?”
She jerked at the crudeness of his question and dropped her glance, unable to hold hers steady beneath his steely gaze. “Weeks, and we don’t sleep together,” she muttered.
“Take off your hat.”
His tight, roughened voice drew her nipples instantly to aching points. She closed her eyes and slowly took off her hat.
“Your hair. Let it down.”
Her fingers trembled as she fought the elastic band, but finally her hair fell around her shoulders. She knew it was longer than had been fashionable, but her dad had loved her ponytail and had tweaked it often.
She gave him a quick glance to gauge his reaction. The flare of his nostrils seemed a good sign he was pleased.
Her hand rose to smooth down the flyaway strands.
He reached out, and tipped her chin upward to study her features. “Green. I thought they might be.”
“Do we still have a bargain?” she asked, trying to sound cool, but knowing he heard the nervous quaver in her voice.
His response stole her breath away. He stepped so close the heat radiating from his body warmed the space between them. As she tilted back her head to hold his gaze, his head dipped and his mouth covered hers.
Now she’d been kissed plenty, but she’d never been devoured. He ate her lips, slanting over her mouth, sucking her lower lip between his teeth to nibble and then sealing their mouths to thrust his tongue inside. He swept behind her teeth, stroked over her tongue and curled his to tug and tease until she groaned.
Kate grasped the corners of his shoulders, holding on for dear life as he circled and prodded and told her without words how he’d fuck her. Hard, relentless—leaving nothing undiscovered.
She’d never known the likes of the lust that arose inside her—so strong her whole body shuddered with need. She closed the distance between them and pressed her breasts against his chest.
Ty’s hands dropped from her face and parted her coat to reach inside. He smoothed around her waist to her back, and lower, to cup her bottom and draw her hips close.
His erection, thick and hard as a post, ground into her belly, building a fire that swelled her pussy and drenched her panties—she was more than ready to keep the bargain. Now!
He lifted his head and dragged in a deep breath. “I won’t take you here.”
“Why not?” she asked and glided her lips along his firm jaw.
“It’s too open.”
“Who’s gonna watch?” God, couldn’t he tell she didn’t care? She nipped his chin.
“It’s almost dark. The moon’s rising.”
“You think werewolves need moonlight to prowl?”
“I know they’re more vicious when the moon rules them. We go inside.”
Kate jerked away, and his hands fell to his sides. Maybe he didn’t want her as much as she did him. Maybe he’d just been playing with her to see how far he could lead her. She drew the edges of her duster tight around her and swept her hat from the floor where she’d dropped it. She placed it on top of her loosened hair and gave him a look that anyone who knew her would say meant war.
“We still have a bargain,” he reminded her.
“I still don’t follow orders well,” she said through gritted teeth.
“Like I said, I’m gonna take care of that. Let’s get back inside. I need to check on the men.”
Kate wiped her mouth with her forearm and cursed under her breath. Her lips still throbbed. Anyone looking at her would know she’d been kissed. She shook her head. Since when did she care? She’d been ready to fuck him where they stood.
Her body hummed with frustration, but she put one foot in front of the other, ignoring the moist heat between her legs and the man at her back.
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