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Archive for 'Flashback'



Flashback: Hard SEAL to Love (Contest–2 Winners)
Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

UPDATE: The winners are…Ann and Michelle Levan!
*~*~*

I’ll make an announcement soon about a new SEAL story. Can’t share the news until I have a hard date and cover to share, but it should be very, very soon! In the meantime, I have lots of military heroes for you to enjoy, including several stories centered around a Navy SEAL or two or three… 🙂

Enjoy the excerpt I’ve included. I really, really enjoyed writing a story that featured a female amputee. And you would not believe the number of online articles I read and YouTube videos I watched to make sure I got the details right! I was determined to do Kylie justice.

Here are all my currently available titles in Uncharted series.
Peruse these lovelies…

Watch Over Me Through Her Eyes
*~*
Baby, It's You Before We Kiss
*~*
Hard SEAL to Love SEAL Escort

Click on the covers to learn more!

Contest

I’ll choose two winners! Tell me whether you’re ready for more SEAL stories for a chance to win your choice of an Uncharted SEAL story!

Hard SEAL to Love
Hard SEAL to Love

Former SEAL, “Big Mac” McLane, is sure he earned all kinds of bad karma somewhere when his first mission with Charter Group is guarding the “Love Boat” and its activity director. Okay, so the cruise line is sponsoring a special cruise for wounded soldiers and their families — a great cause — but Big Mac doesn’t do well around families and children, and Kylie Hammond is cute, but he feels like he has two left feet whenever she’s around. But he’s going to do his job, keep it strictly business, fade into the background whenever she’s around, but it seems Kylie has other ideas…

Kylie knows the big SEAL isn’t exactly gung-ho for his new assignment, but she can’t be more pleased. The big man’s the yummiest thing she’s ever seen, and coaxing blushes and glares from him becomes her favorite sport. But then things begin to go wrong aboard ship, people disappear, and then someone’s killed. The thing her charity most feared — a terrorist attack at sea — appears to be underway. Now, she has to trust Big Mac and his team to keep her wounded soldiers safe.

Excerpt

Mac stepped through the entrance of the Hampton Inn. The lobby was a study in orderly chaos. Suitcases were lined up and stacked against one wall. Men and women, some in wheelchairs or walking with crutches and walkers, and missing limbs—some multiples—filled the space.

Mac tamped down a feeling of guilt for being able-bodied and whole as he walked through the throng, nodding now and then as he passed the veterans. He headed to the concierge and asked where he could find Kylie Hammond. After being informed which conference room Soldiers’ Sanctuary had commandeered to hand out welcome packets to arrivals, he headed down a hallway, relieved he didn’t have to push through a sea of bodies. He was ready to start this op. Sooner the better. Five days would fly by, and then he’d have the down time he needed to get his head on straight before the next assignment.

Stepping inside the room, he noted two long conference tables filled with plastic buckets of folders. Three elderly men manned the table.

One of them who sported a gray buzz cut and a surprisingly muscular build glanced his way. He lifted his chin in greeting.

Mac decided he was as good a place to start as any and strode toward him.

The old man held out his hand. “Joe Olinksy,” he said, in deep, loud voice. Then he leaned against the table edge and whispered, “You with Charter?”

Mac eyed him then glanced at his two buddies who were moving closer. His presence as part of the security team was supposed to be on a “need-to-know” basis.

Grinning, Joe waved a hand. “We’re part of your support. Eyes and ears only. We’re a little too long in the tooth to be the muscle, but we’re here to help. We’ll be staying in the stateroom next to yours.”

Skeptical that this band of elderly brothers could be of any service at all, Mac drew a deep breath and gave Joe’s two companions another look.

“This is Morty,” Joe said, pointing toward a thin man with a round, pot belly. “And that’s Sly.”

Sly smiled, and his teeth were blindingly white and little too large in his mouth.

“Ex-marines, 3rd Division during Viet Nam,” Joe said. “You a SEAL like Wiley?”

“Semper Fi,” Morty said, grinning.

Mac grunted, revising his original assessment. These guys had seen real action. “I’m looking for Kylie Hammond.”

“She’s out in the atrium,” Joe pointed toward the windows behind him, “getting a cup of coffee. She’s been manning the tables since dawn. And don’t worry about us. We can handle ourselves. After all our help on the last cruise, Poppy made sure to add us to the team. We’ll have your six.”

The three elderly men hadn’t been mentioned in any of the briefings he’d attended back at HQ. Wiley for damn sure hadn’t said a thing, but then again, Wiley had looked a little smug when he’d heard Mac was being assigned to protect his wife’s best friend. He cleared his throat. “Mac McLane by the way,” he said, giving a nod to all three men.

“We’ll see you aboard the Oceanus,” Joe said.

Mac left them and thought about calling Wiley to find out why the hell he hadn’t mentioned his geriatric buddies. Just to bitch because he was already dreading the coming minutes. He didn’t have a lot of experience with Ms. Hammond’s brand of womanhood. He’d served with women in the field, and slept with the women who swarmed bars outside Navy bases, hoping for a hookup with a SEAL.

Women outside those two categories tended to make him nervous. In his experience, women had served only two purposes, as support and/or stress-relief for a SEAL. Not that he looked down on them. He liked the women he’d known. But he hadn’t had to think much about what kind of impression he made or how to talk to them. He could be gruff and blunt. What the hell would he talk about for the days and nights he and the princess would be glued to each other’s sides?

Entering the atrium, he glanced around for someone who fit the picture he’d made up in his mind. She’d be pretty, no doubt. He couldn’t imagine anyone who was friends with Poppy Shackleford and attending her social functions looking any different.

Most of the small round, brightly tiled tables were filled with men and a few women. Probably wives of the wounded soldiers, who’d be accompanying their husbands on the cruise.

One woman sat alone, her head bent over her cell phone which lay flat on the tabletop, a tall Styrofoam cup beside it. Her hair was a mass of dark brown curls. Her body, what he could see of it hunched over the table, was slender. Her bare arms and the tops of her shoulders, revealed by an olive tank, showed well-developed muscles. She wore no jewelry, save for a watch on an olive-colored web strap. Faux military-issue? And now he wondered whether she was one of those who was so enamored of military men she wore cammo pajamas. He’d met a few like that. As he moved nearer, she must have sensed someone watched her.

The woman’s gaze lifted from her phone and locked with his.

As he took in her features, he slowed his steps. Wide-set green eyes whose gaze never wavered, tan skin, rose-colored lips, cheeks that were prominent and high. She was lovely, but didn’t wear a hint of makeup. She didn’t need it. Unbidden, interest flared inside him, heating his blood.

“Are you Mac?” she asked, her voice even and little husky.

His tongue felt thick as he gave a crisp nod and replied. “You Kylie?”

Her smile was a little tight, but she pushed up from the table to greet him, her arm reaching forward.

When he looked down at her hand, with its long fingers and short bare nails, his gaze dropped to her legs. Another shock stole his breath. She wore shorts which ended at mid-thigh, revealing one long, nicely turned limb paired with a shapely thigh that disappeared into the black cup of a prosthetic limb.

Flashback: Between a SEAL and a Hard Place (Contest–2 Winners)
Saturday, February 2nd, 2019

UPDATE! My two winners are…Eileen and Sheryl!
*~*~*

I hope you haven’t forgotten my Uncharted SEALs stories! I do have quite a few of these action-packed stories for you to enjoy—12 of them! And I’m not saying I’m done with them either. In fact, one of the stories, Big Sky SEAL is about to have a sequel inside the Montana Bounty Hunters series, Big Sky Wedding!  I’ll have that story to you before the end of this month!

Uncharted SEALs spawned my Montana Bounty Hunters, and soon, MBH will spinoff to another series, but I’m not talking about that yet! Just know I love my military heroes, and I don’t plan to stop writing them anytime soon! I love writing them! They’re fast and funny. I make myself giggle when I write them.

And why write if you don’t have fun doing it, right? My Motto, always!

Here are all my currently available titles in Uncharted series.
Peruse these lovelies…

Watch Over Me Through Her Eyes
*~*
Baby, It's You Before We Kiss
*~*
Hard SEAL to Love   SEAL Escort

Click on the covers to learn more!

Contest

I’ll choose two winners! Tell me whether you’d love to see more Uncharted SEALs or Montana Bounty Hunters, or both for a chance to win your choice of an Uncharted SEAL story!

Between a SEAL and a Hard Place

The last person world-class sniper, Wolf Kinkaid, expected to see in the crosshairs of his rifle during an operation to take down a drug cartel assassin was his pretty, bounty hunter wife. He takes the shot, disarming the bad guy, but the assassin wasn’t working alone, and now, Piper is a target for revenge.

Solution? The two of them hole up in a safe house while his team tries to find the assassin’s psychotic brother. Piper and Wolf have issues to resolve, and all that time alone gives them something they haven’t enjoyed in excess for a while—each other. But while they get close, the enemy closes in…

Excerpt…

So many things were the same. Merciless heat beating down from above. Staring through the scope of a Macmillan Tac-50 from a dusty perch. Spotter at his elbow. Familiar chatter from the mission commander in his ear. And yet, everything was different.

For Wolf Kinkaid, the differences made the experience surreal. Yes, the air was hot, but he wasn’t wearing a heavy helmet, which would have cooked his brain.

His position was on a high-rise rooftop rather than amid rocks in a lonely mountain pass. The spotter at his elbow was dressed in SWAT black rather than a uniform of woodland camouflage, as was he. And the commander providing updates of what was happening inside the building entrance he surveilled wasn’t talking about insurgents. He gave details about an Assistant District Attorney, a “suit” who was about to exit the law building they watched.

Yup, he was a long, long way from Afghanistan.

“Suit’s taking the elevator,” Deke Warrick, the mission commander, said quietly over the comm in his ear.

Wolf checked the pictures he’d taped to the wall he knelt behind. One was of ADA Ben Souther who had a hit on him from a Mexican cartel, primarily for the fact he was preparing to prosecute a high-ranking cartel member for murder and racketeering. The second photo was of the assassin that the team—which consisted of FBI, ATF, and Charter agents—was trying to take down. They wanted to arrest the bastard and maybe milk him for names of other members residing in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Wolf’s particular talent was needed to implement Plan B if the assassin got too close to Souther.

Outfitted with a Kevlar vest, Souther was accompanied by two bodyguards, both provided by Wolf’s new employer, Charter Group. They’d trained for this mission for a week in another city with a similar topography, all while keeping Souther in a safe house. Souther’s office had hired the company to provide added protection and, hopefully, nab another cartel member, because the cartel lieutenant they’d captured had, so far, remained uncooperative. After weeks of lying low, Souther had grown restless and suggested they end the impasse by allowing him to act as bait.

He was a gutsy bastard, an ex-Marine who’d used the GI Bill to complete his education and become an attorney. So, Charter had agreed, figuring he knew the score and could handle himself should shit go sideways. A situation which chatter from paid CIs said was about to happen.

“Get ready,” said Deke. “He’s about to come through the doors.”

His sights already set, Wolf looked through his scope, noted Souther’s set jaw, his short buzz-cut. Determination and fearlessness radiated from the man. He wasn’t a SEAL, but the man was a warrior, no matter he now wore a suit and tie. His battlefield was a different kind of minefield, a courtroom.

The doors swung open, and one of his guards preceded him, glancing left and right before turning to usher Souther through them. His second guard kept close to his back, glancing behind then taking in the sidewalk and the armored car placed behind a barricade that stood in front of the doors.

“We have movement from the West,” said Deke.

Wolf pivoted his weapon on its tripod. A slender figure with an impressive rack, wearing a ball cap, moved forward at a fast clip. But she wasn’t the target. He recognized that long, fit frame. Her brown and copper hair was drawn back in a ponytail that bobbed behind her. He noted a cord extending from her ear to her collar.

Damn, his fears were confirmed, the little twit was on the job, and likely looking for the same target they hoped to capture.

“Wolf, is that—”

“Southwest corner of the building,” came another urgent voice.

Again, Wolf sighted down his barrel. No time to wonder why she was here or how she’d discovered their plan. A man wearing blue jeans, a cowboy hat drawn low over his forehead, and wearing a casual jacket also made his way down the sidewalk from the opposite direction.

“God dammit,” he whispered as he took a bead on the man, ready to pull back the trigger at the first sight of a weapon—should the team closing in on him not get there in time. He glanced to the left, hoping the damned woman wasn’t about to get in the way of his bullet. Then she glanced up to the rooftop where he perched, mostly hidden, and he cussed again. She knew he was there, but she was still coming fast.

She reached behind her and drew a handgun then kept it hidden against her thigh.

“Dammit, he’s got a gun!” Deke said. “Wolf! Take him out!”

Wolf adjusted, aimed for the middle of the cowboy’s thigh, drew a breath, held it for a split second, and then pulled the trigger. Blood spurted from the wound.

Piper sprinted the last few feet and took the assailant down at the knees. His cowboy hat fell away, long black hair spilled, a dark hard-edged profile was revealed. They had their man.

Or rather, Piper did, pressing into the wound Wolf had made while shoving her Glock hard between the bastard’s legs.

The man reached out his hands and dropped his weapon to the pavement at the same moment the first of Souther’s guards took position over him and Piper, his stance wide and his weapon pointing downward.

Blood pounded in his ears. Wolf cussed again and put down his weapon.

“Want me to pack up for you?” his spotter drawled.

Wolf shot him a deadly glare. “Not a fucking word.”

The man smirked and took up position behind the weapon, likely to watch the fireworks through the scope.

Wolf headed to the stairwell and hopped the steps two at a time, racing downward. At ground level, he hit the bar on the exit door with a bang and sprinted across the street.

The team was converging. Souther had been moved to the armored car. Piper was still on the ground, but now lying face down beside her “collar” with her hands cupped behind her head.

“I have paperwork in my pocket,” she said, annoyance in her voice. “He’s mine to return to Houston on an outstanding warrant.” Frowning, she glanced behind her shoulder. “Is this really necessary?”

Deke shook his head then spotted Wolf bearing down on them. “Mind explaining how she knew to be here at this exact moment?” he bit out.

Wolf shook his head, too furious to get out the words. She’d promised him she’d be taking easier jobs, ones close to home. And although she’d never promised to stay completely out of harm’s way, something that would have been impossible for a bounty hunter to do, she had said she wouldn’t be seeking the most dangerous, high-value jobs. At least, she’d kept the first promise about staying closer to home. He bent and tugged at her earpiece, dislodging it.

When she looked over her other shoulder at him, she ventured a thin smile. “Hi, there, hon. Thought that might be you on the rooftop.”

He brought the device to his mouth. “Calvin, hustle your ass down here. Now,” he gritted out then dropped it. She began to open her mouth. “Just shut up.” He glanced at Deke, wanting to know if he had a preference for how this should be handled.

“Bring her along. I’d like to hear her sorry excuse, too.”

Several of the team turned as a large man barreled down the walkway, huffing. “Damn, Piper,” Calvin said, pausing beside her, then bending, hands on his knees as he gasped for breath. “Told you this was a bad idea.”

“I took him down,” she said, her voice gruff. “He’s mine.”

“Don’t think they’re gonna agree, baby girl, and your man looks ready to pop an aneurism.”

She glanced back again. “Can I get up?”

Barely able to keep his motions contained, Wolf reached behind his back, drew out a set of cuffs and snagged her wrists, drawing them down to the small of her back, and quickly snapping on the cuffs. Then he gripped her upper left arm and levered her to a stand.

Deke handed him her piece and the keys to the vehicle they’d come in. “See you back at HQ.”

Wolf grunted and goose-walked his wife to the underground garage.

Flashback: Before We Kiss (Contest–3 winners!)
Thursday, July 5th, 2018

I love my Uncharted SEALs series. All have rugged, alpha heroes. All have strong heroines. Humor. Action. All the ingredients that make the stories fun for me to write, and hopefully, fun for you as well.

With Uncharted SEALs, I experimented a bit. For the first time, I did sequels with the same characters—for the simple reason I couldn’t say goodbye to them. I wanted to see inside their Happy Ever Afters. Through Her Eyes and Between a SEAL and a Hard Place share the same main characters, as do Dream of Me and Heart of a SEAL. Big Sky SEAL gave birth to my Montana Bounty Hunters, introducing Jamie and Reaper, who as a result of their work in Big Sky earned their own satellite office of MBH.

A fun theme I used in two of the stories was a cruise ship. Both Before We Kiss and Hard SEAL to Love are set on the same ship, and have the same supporting characters. You’ll meet the old guys in the scene below. Hope you enjoy it!

Watch Over Me   
*~*
Baby, It's You Before We Kiss Special Forces: Operation Alpha: Between a SEAL and a Hard Place 
*~*
  Head Over SEAL

Click on the covers to learn more!

Contest

Win your choice of one of my Uncharted SEALs stories! There will be 3 winners! All you have to do to enter is answer me this…

If you could go anywhere in the world, what would be your cruise destination?

Before We Kiss

Before We Kiss

Navy SEAL, William “Wiley” Coyote, should have known his “piece of cake” assignment would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz.

A general’s daughter, Poppy Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a man made famous for defeating insurgent forces. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, and the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq—not from the physical wounds that had claimed his two legs—he’d taken his own life. His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances. Her mission in life is to see that no veteran of war would ever feel so alone, so hopeless he’d choose her dead fiancé’s path. Which was why, despite the current threats against her father, she was on this cruise, assessing the ship’s ability to accommodate the soldiers rather than sending a surrogate.

However, the first threat doesn’t come from terrorists with an axe to grind. Mexican banditos stop her tour bus heading toward Mayan ruins to shake down the passengers for their money and belongings. When one snaps a picture of her, he soon figures out there’s a much bigger payday. She knows she’s going to be kidnapped, but she didn’t know someone was on that same tour bus who had her back.

Wiley’s unconventional takedown of her would-be kidnappers exposes the fact her father didn’t honor her wishes to fly under the radar. And now that the cat’s out of the bag, Wiley’s made it clear he’s moving into her suite for the rest of their time at sea to keep her out of harm’s way.

Excerpt from Before We Kiss

William “Wiley” Coyote should have known the “piece of cake” assignment his team leader, Deke Warrick, offered him would go sideways in a hurry. But he’d been lured by the promise of an all-expenses-paid cruise. A nice “fluffy” assignment after the last one spent escorting freighters through pirate-infested waters in the Strait of Hormuz. He was due a vacation, and he’d envisioned slipping into a chaise on the cruise ship’s deck while his target sunbathed nearby. Something his team leader had warned him might not be in the cards. After all, Deke’d had a similar, simple assignment when he’d been tasked with protecting a girl. And look what it had gotten his buddy. Shot at. Then married. Happily, it seemed.

Not that Wiley had marriage on his mind. No, sir. Not him. Everything he owned was stuffed into a duffle bag. He lived in hotel rooms, tents, and, now, a cruise boat cabin. No, he had nothing to offer a bride. Marriage wasn’t something in his cards. And certainly not to some celebutante who couldn’t keep her picture off multiple social media sites on a daily basis. That sort of exposure, even by association, would be deadly in his line of business.

He’d listened intently when Deke outlined his assignment, determined to keep this job all business, despite the photos that had spilled from the envelope during his initial briefing.

“Every time she steps out of her suite, the room attendant will buzz you. You keep on her tail, but not close enough she notices. Her daddy said she’d raise hell if she knew he’d hired security after she refused a special detail.” At that point, Deke had grinned. “I think he’s a little afraid of her.”

Wiley hadn’t smiled. Instead, he’d grunted. General Shackleford wasn’t any lightweight desk-jockey. He’d seen his share of action.

The ship had barely left the Port of Miami before Wiley understood. The woman never stopped moving. Or talking. Sometimes loudly, if she didn’t like what she heard. If he could have worn earplugs, possibly his first impressions of her would have been very different.

Poppy Shackleford was a pretty little thing. Blonde-haired, blue-eyed, lightly tanned, curves in all the right places. And maybe five-foot-two in her espadrille sandals. He’d had a girlfriend charge two pairs to his credit card years ago, so he knew darn well what they were and how much the cork-heeled things cost. Although he could appreciate the sexy curves the three-inch heels gave her toned calves, he wasn’t risking getting any closer. So far, he’d managed to operate under the radar. He had no doubts she’d know exactly what he was there to do if she got one good look at him. Nothing escaped her attention. Not the too-steep ramps leading onto the ship when they’d embarked. Nor the undercooked steak she’d been served last night in the dining room.

He’d begun to think she was deaf because she talked so loudly, but then he’d realized her complaints were on behalf of her fellow passengers, and this cruise had been billed as senior-themed. Most of the thousand passengers on board were over seventy. The dinner conversation surrounding him last night consisted of tracking blood sugar levels as his companions pricked their fingertips and fed droplets of blood into their readers. Afterwards, their conversation drifted to the best fiber to promote healthy bowels and where the captain would store their bodies if they happened to pass during the night.

“No kidding?” Deke had said after Wiley’s status update early that morning.

Wiley’s jaw ground shut at the snickering no hand over a receiver could muffle. “The Countess cruise line’s security seems pretty tight. Someone is always nearby, although they’re better at blending in than I am.”

“You mean you didn’t pack any Hawaiian shirts?”

“Don’t own one,” he’d gritted out.

“How are you keeping from blowing your cover?”

Wiley grunted. “I haven’t shaved, and I have on my cowboy hat and boots.”

“So you’re sticking out like a sore thumb.”

“She won’t expect a security detail to blend in quite like I do.”

Deke grunted. “Just remember you have people positioned around the ship. Channel two if you need them.”

Which would be great if his assignment was actually aboard the ship. The farther into the jungle their tour bus drove, the deeper his concern grew. They were on an excursion to view Mayan ruins. Anywhere along their route would be a great place for an ambush. The two security people provided by the cruise line to accompany his target were in good shape, but he could tell neither was armed. Conventional weapons were impossible to smuggle aboard the ship, and the weapons kept under lock and key aboard the vessel wouldn’t have been permitted for this little jaunt.

And why were they out here? If he remembered right, the pyramids weren’t exactly wheelchair-friendly. But he knew Poppy was thorough, that she took her tour coordinator job seriously. No stone would be left unturned. No tour unvetted, personally, by her.

He’d read the dossier Charter Group had put together. Poppy Shackleford, daughter of Lieutenant General Randall Shackleford, wasn’t some spoiled daughter of a famous man. She’d endured her own tragedies—the loss of her mother when she was young and her father stationed in Afghanistan, the loss of her fiancé after he’d sustained wounds in Iraq, although not from the physical wounds that had claimed both his legs. Frank Sutton, who’d been despondent over the loss, had killed himself.

His death was why Poppy was involved in Soldiers’ Sanctuary, a non-profit that helped disabled soldiers adjust to their new circumstances, whether supporting wounded vets with additional therapies the VA was slow or unable to provide, or seeking the latest in prosthetics and mobility devices. And the organization provided mentorship, one wounded soldier to another, to ensure no veteran of war would feel so alone, so hopeless, they’d choose Frank Sutton’s path.

Wiley understood and admired her for not simply crying then moving on, but embracing a cause that might help others. However, today he wished she wasn’t quite so determined to make it impossible for him to protect her. Not that she had a clue he was there. If she’d glanced toward the back of the air-conditioned bus, all she might have noted was one dark head amid a sea of white, gray, and blue.

The fellow seated next to him gave another narrow-eyed, flinty glance.

Wiley aimed a frown his way, hoping the old guy would mind his own business. The man was burly, surprisingly muscled for an old dude.

He leaned sideways in his seat and whispered, “Name’s Joseph Olinsky, but you can call me Joe. I’m a Marine.” He nodded toward the head of the bus where Poppy stood beside the tour guide, asking questions. “She someone important?”

Not as invisible as I thought. Wiley blinked. “No, sir. I think she’s just another passenger. A noisy one.”

Shaking his head, Joe grunted. “She has a detail. That guy with a clipboard ain’t a cruise director. I’d say he’s ex-Navy, probably a SEAL. Has a trident tattoo on his upper arm. Saw it when he was stowing her backpack into the overhead.”

Knowing there was no use convincing Joe he was just a guy on a trip to see a pyramid, Wiley gave him another look. He recognized the type—his dad had been the same steady, patriotic sort. Once a Marine, always a Marine. Maybe he did need backup, should shit go sideways. “You’re right,” he murmured. “The cruise line provided her security.”

“What about you?” his gray-haired companion asked.

“Name’s Wiley, and I was Navy.”

“A SEAL,” he said, nodding. “Can’t hide that look. Everyone else, besides her, has been taking a nap. Not you. You’ve been watching the road ahead. Expect trouble?”

“Not expecting, but prepared.”

Joe nodded. “Don’t get along as well as I used to,” he said, patting his right knee. “But I can be another set of eyes. And I do know who she is, son. She’s the daughter of that general ISIS wants taken out. They had his face and his daughter’s plastered all over Facebook faster than Homeland and the FBI could take down the pages.”

Wiley almost smiled at how in tune the old guy was. “Nothing much gets past you, does it?”

Joe lifted his chin toward two older gentlemen seated across the aisle from them.

Wiley glanced over to find both old codgers staring back.

“We were in the same division, the 3rd, during Vietnam. We’re all that’s left of our company. Try to take a trip every couple of years. Went to Nam five years back. There were eight of us then.”
Wiley nodded his understanding.

“That’s Morty,” he said, pointing at the thin one with a round belly. “The other one’s Sly.”

Sly gave him a grin that displayed unnaturally white teeth.

Wiley gave both men a nod then turned his attention back to the front of the bus.

“She know you’re tailing her?”

How had the old guys figured out he was there for Poppy? He remembered how the old men had jostled him, cutting him from the rest of the group when they’d boarded the bus. He’d thought it unintentional, but now knew they’d meant to be seated beside him. Admiring their cunning, he shook his head. “She doesn’t know. Not yet, anyway.”

“Need a better cover,” Joe said, eyeing his boots and the scruff on his chin. “Could tell folks you’re my grandson.”

Wiley chuckled. Sounded like a better plan than the one he’d started with. “Just don’t get in the way. If things go down…”

“You could use another set of eyes—between the three of us, we might just make one good pair.” Joe tilted his head toward his buddies.

This time, Wiley laughed.

Joe grinned and gave a slow nod to his companions, who settled back in their seats and now directed their attention to the job at hand—and the woman wearing the pretty blue dress at the front of the bus.

Suddenly, the bus shuddered and slowed. Cries arose from those seated near the front.

“Fat’s in the fire now,” Morty said, pointing forward.

Wiley cussed. A pickup was parked sideways in the middle of the road. He began to rise, but then he noted the four men standing in front of the truck. All dark, but with features that were clearly Mestizo. So, bandits rather than terrorists. He settled back in his seat. He’d let this play out a bit before he gave himself away. As long as no one was hurt, he’d keep his cover.

Flashback: Baby, It’s You (Contest)
Tuesday, February 6th, 2018

We’re still on grandma watch here. Her respirations are slowing, and she’s only woken up a couple of times the past day or so. My sister, Elle James, and her dd arrived yesterday to provide much-needed relief. We’ll likely be holed up in grandma’s room, tending to her while we try to sprint through some pages today. Anything to keep our minds engaged elsewhere.

Do you have big things planned for today? I have a suggestion! Read the excerpt below from Baby, It’s You, and tell me you’re not tempted to find a SEAL book-boyfriend to spend your day with!

Contest

Comment for a chance to win one of my Uncharted SEALs stories!
Click on a cover to explore the series!

Watch Over Me Her Next Breath Through Her Eyes Dream of Me

Baby, It's You Before We Kiss Special Forces: Operation Alpha: Between a SEAL and a Hard Place 

Hard SEAL to Love   Head Over SEAL

Baby, It’s You

Baby, It's You

Carter Vance, Jr. stands at the fork in the road. Wounded in action, the Navy SEAL has a decision to make: whether to find work with a spec ops unit, or return to his family ranch in Texas and repair his fractured relationship with his dying father and the woman he wronged. Complicating the decision is his reignited attraction to Melanie Schaeffer and his confusion over his feelings for his dead brother’s little girl, whom Melanie has raised since his brother’s and her sister’s deaths by a terrorist’s bomb.

Read an excerpt…

The morning that would change Melanie Schaeffer’s life forever began quietly enough. The whoosh of a curtain opening sounded a moment before sunlight spilled across her bed. Melanie rolled to her back to see the maid picking up clothing Melanie had left draped over a chair the night before.

A blush crept into her cheeks. She didn’t think she’d ever grow accustomed to having someone else handle her intimate items. “You don’t have to do that,” Melanie said as she pushed another pillow behind her head. “I can clean up after myself.”

The maid gave her a cheerful smile. “It’s my job. And I wouldn’t have woken you at all, but you did say you wanted to get used to the time change…”

Yes, there was that. After two days, she still felt a little muzzy-headed. The nine hours’ difference in time zones from Austin to this little city bordering Asia and the Middle East took some getting used to. Melanie rubbed her eyes and blinked, focusing on the sun peeking through the arched window and the view of the lovely, lush garden beyond it. Bushes exploding with large cabbage roses and tall, fruit-laden palms nearly obscured the ten-foot wall surrounding the estate nestled in the diplomats’ sector. Read the rest of this entry »

Flashback: Hotter With A Pole (Contest)
Saturday, December 23rd, 2017

UPDATE: The winner is Ronnie C!

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Christmas is almost here! And so much is happening in my world, I’m having a hard time catching my breath.

Some of you may remember that, last year, my family was dealing with my then 97-year-old grandma who had fallen and broken her back. After spending time in rehab, she was moved home, and our family pitched in to give her round-the-clock care. Well, this year is a new crisis. Beginning about two weeks ago, her health is failing, and despite the doctor’s best efforts, and ours, she’s declining. I suppose it’s to be expected at 98, and she’s ready for it. Still, we’re all very saddened, and we’re back in “pitch-in” mode.

My dd is her nighttime care-giver now. My SIL just started a new job with the sheriff’s office and works nights. So, guess what my job is? Yeah, I’m the kids’ nighttime babysitter. They are running me ragged, and my working hours have been slashed. We’re all tired and squeezed. No complaints though. Grandma and the kids come first.

So, here’s hoping your holidays are more joyous and restful than mine!

Contest

Comment for a chance to win one of my Delta Blue or Delta Fire stories! 

Hotter With A Pole

Hotter with a Pole

Noah hopes buying the classic ’68 Camaro from a fellow firefighter’s widow will ease some of the grief weighing down his heart. When a noise under the hood sends him looking for a mechanic, he finds so much more. Big and burly Hoyt grabs Noah’s attention right off, and not just because of his bad-boy biker looks and ice-blue eyes. The fact Hoyt is a Dom and a member at Club LaForge certainly interests Noah.

Hoyt never thought he’d feel that rush with a man again after his partner died, but his body certainly reacts to meeting Noah. LaForge seems like the perfect place to meet and work off some energy and explore this sudden flood of desire. The heat between them starts to burn through their emotional barriers, whether the men are ready to make a deeper connection or not.

 

Read an Excerpt

Noah stopped before the sign at the intersection. One right turn and one block’s drive, and he’d be at the fire house.

His fingers tightened on the leather-wrapped steering wheel of the Camaro. He still didn’t think of it as his Camaro. No one at the station would either. It was Danny Truitt’s car.

And the only reason Noah was driving it now was because Danny was dead.

“Huh.” Noah rubbed the pain over his heart. It was funny, but even thinking those words still had the power to make his chest tighten. Which made driving his buddy’s car feel somehow disloyal. Read the rest of this entry »

Flashback: Bad Moon Rising (Contest)
Sunday, January 8th, 2017

UPDATE: The winner of the free download of Bad Moon Rising is…Kim Smith!

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This one came out a little over a year ago. Love panther-shifters? Love a sexy Cajun drawl? Enjoy the excerpt!

Comment for a chance to win a free download of Bad Moon Rising!

Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon Rising

 

On a whim, romance author DiDi Devereaux decides to travel to remote Louisiana bayou country to take possession of a house she inherited from a reclusive relative. But before she reaches her destination, she drives her car into a ditch to avoid a large animal that leaps into her path. Rescue comes in the form of a sexy sheriff, whose gruff demeanor seems to hide a feral attraction. As DiDi settles into her new home she finds herself torn between her attraction to the sheriff and the raw, handsome bad boy whose offer to help her renovate her home is a little too convenient and tempting.

Nothing in Bayou Noir is what it seems. When strange things begin to happen, her natural curiosity leads her into danger…

Get your copy here!

Read an excerpt…

DiDi hit SAVE and shut down her computer. Her newest story was beginning to pull together—or at least, the characters were coming alive. The external plot of her novel hadn’t yet gelled, because she hadn’t discovered what secrets the sheriff and the bad boy hid.

But the characters were now fully fleshed—the two men appealing to her heroine in ways DiDi understood all too well. The question she still struggled with was which man her heroine would ultimately choose. The thought made her smile.

DiDi closed the computer lid. Of course, Sheriff Breaux and Bobby Sonnier were the models for her two heroes. All the while she’d described her heroine’s first meeting with the men, she’d described her own feelings, and how her curiosity and body had both been aroused. Which man did she, DiDi, prefer? Funny, she couldn’t remember the last time she’d thought a man so disturbingly attractive. But in this remote location, within a single hour, she’d met two.

She stretched her arms above her head and glanced at her watch—two o’clock AM. Since she was a night owl by habit, she didn’t worry. However, the room was warm. The AC chugged along, but didn’t seem to cool very well. Upon returning to the room, she’d changed to cutoffs and a tank top, but the fabric stuck to her skin. Maybe drinking something ice-cold would cool her enough to rest comfortably. She slipped the pass key into her back pocket, tucked a couple of dollar bills into the front one, and let herself out of her room.

Outside, she breathed in the thick, humid air. The night was quiet except for the distant, blended hum of insects and frogs. Maybe it was the cloying heat, but she felt restless and aroused. Her thoughts swirled with the erotic fantasies she’d been spinning into a story.

A woman caught between two men.

On the outside, one wore a white hat, the other dressed like he’d just dragged himself out of bed. But inside, both souls were painted with the same darkness.

The soda machine stood next to the office, so she walked barefoot along the sidewalk, slid her money into the slot, and hit the button for a Coke. The machine shuddered, but nothing dropped into the well at the bottom.

“Damn.” She hit the button again. Nothing. Cursing, she bent and stuck her arm up into the opening, found the bottom of her can lodged at an odd angle, and rattled it until it dropped into her hand.

When she straightened, she held the can away and opened the tab, letting it spray outward.

The can was icy cold, and she drank down several gulps before turning back to her room.

DiDi drew up short. A car had parked in front of her room. A sleek Caprice with the township’s emblem and blue lights on the top. Sheriff Breaux stood with his arms crossed over his chest, watching her.

Had he seen her wrestle with the coke, her butt in the air? Would she ever catch a break with the guy?

DiDi made herself straighten her shoulders and sauntered toward the large man. Did he always wear that expression—so dark and intense, so watchful? She caught the way his narrowed glance scanned her bare legs and feet, and she shivered.

She’d take his frown over a smile from another man any day—the gesture did things to her. Challenged her. Made her tingle in all the right places. “Evenin’, Sheriff,” she drawled, walking closer.

“Miz Devereaux,” he said, nodding.

“DiDi,” she replied, curving her lips. “I thought we were getting friendly.”

His expression didn’t soften. “It’s late. Doesn’t a city girl like you know it’s not safe to be alone outside after dark?”

“Tell me,” she said softly, teasingly as she leaned against her room’s door. “This is a small town. What should I fear? And is the danger sporting four legs or two?”

His features stilled. He stepped closer and looked down his nose.

A move like he was trying to intimidate. She didn’t know why, but his stance aroused her.

“Bayou Noir is a quiet town,” he said, his voice dead even, “but you’re a beautiful woman. More temptation than man or beast might be able to resist.”

DiDi blinked, all bluster gone. Heat soaked the crotch of her panties. He thinks I’m hard to resist? “Looks like I don’t have a thing to fear with you here, Sheriff.”

His lips crimped in irritation, and he shook his head. “Told you before, Mason,” he bit out. “Seein’ as how we’re friendly now.”

Two could play this game of chicken. She stepped close enough she could smell him. “What if I like sheriff? I like a man being in charge.”

His nostrils flared. His eyelids fell. “Careful, chère…

“Am I really that hard to resist?” DiDi lifted her chin.

He didn’t answer, but his gaze fell to her mouth.

DiDi knew she’d roll her eyes if a character in her book licked her lips at a time like this, but she couldn’t resist the tease. She stroked her bottom lip, wetting it and watching Mason’s eyes narrow further, homing in on the simple little motion.

“You like playin’ with fire?” he muttered, his voice guttural.

“I’m not playin’.”

His eyes were shadowed, a touch sinister and frightening.

She couldn’t have said why, but she wanted to rattle him. Answer his challenge with one of her own. DiDi leaned into Mason, pressing the hand not holding the soda against his chest and rising on her toes. When her mouth approached, she saw his lips part.

But he held still, watching her with that dark, steady gaze.

She placed her lips against his and rubbed, and then did it again when he still didn’t move. Pulling back, she gave him a slight glare. His expression hadn’t changed, but that didn’t defeat her. No way could she be this hot if he wasn’t returning some of the heat.

Plus, he hadn’t warned her away with a word or a gesture, hadn’t moved back either. Not exactly a no.

Angling a hand backwards, she set the soda on the windowsill and reached up to clutch his shoulders, pushed her chest against his, snuggling closer, and kissed him again.

His hands curled gently around her waist.

Her heart sped up, her body melted. She pressed her lips harder.

However, Mason pushed her away…but his fingers didn’t let her go.

Rather than reach for him again, DiDi curved her fingers into her palms. She’d never thrown herself at a man like that, without an ounce of encouragement. Feeling like a fool, she pushed at his hands. “Don’t worry,” she said, unable to hold his steady stare now that she’d humiliated herself. “I promise I won’t attack you again.”

“DiDi.”

“What?” she snapped, lifting her face, hoping to salvage her pride.

“Dammit.” His lips slammed on top of hers. His hands let go of her waist and glided around her back, pulling her against him. And then he was walking her backward, pushing her against her door while he devoured her mouth.

DiDi thought she’d been ready for his kiss. Ready for whatever he’d bring, but under the onslaught, her head swam, her knees weakened. She locked her fingers behind his neck.

Scents intensified—the smell of thick, green forest, the exhaust of his car, his aftershave, the unique smell of his masculine musk.

Sounds—an indistinct hum before—returned, becoming louder. Crickets chirped, frogs croaked. The wind sifted through the trees, rustling leaves and creaking branches. And his heartbeat grew loud enough, insistent enough, her own matched its beat.

And God, the lush, wet thrill of that kiss! His mouth was hard, his tongue sinfully fluid, sliding along hers then tangling and twisting until she had to suck on it to keep him still and savor the sensual connection.

DiDi felt as though she drowned in a perfect moment, falling deeply into lust, her body shivering and bending toward him.

Mason broke the kiss. His gaze raked her face; his jaw tightened. “Better get inside an’ lock that door, chère.”

“And if I don’t want to?” she asked breathlessly, looking deep into his dark eyes.

“Gimme your key.”

Relief made her knees shake. He’s coming inside. She dug into her pocket for the key card and handed it over. He swiped the key and pulled down the latch next to her hip. Then he tossed the key toward the bed behind her and grasped her waist.

DiDi began to reach up to enfold him in her arms—

Scowling, Mason pushed her backward and closed the door in her face.

“Fuck,” she whispered. That had never happened before.

Flashback: Laying Down the Law (Contest)
Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

UPDATE: The winner (selected by a random number generator) of the free
download of Laying Down the Law is…Jen M!

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Happy New Year!

Yeah, getting tired of hearing that already? I still can’t believe it’s 2015. Or that it marks the 15th anniversary of the start of my writing career. In January 2000, as part of my new century resolutions, I decided it was time to become the person I wanted to be when I grew up—a writer. My sister, Elle James, and I entered the fray together, and thankfully, we’ve both succeeded and we’re both still writing! So there is magic in making those big dream kind of resolutions!

One of this year’s resolutions is to continue what I think is something you all enjoy—hosting new and popular authors on my blog so that you have a chance to meet them and see the fabulous stories they are bringing you. Also, I will give you plenty of encouragement to come back again and again, to this blog, by not only offering great guests, but also frequent chances to win some great prizes.

And if you don’t want to miss those opportunities to score a prize or meet a new author, be sure to subscribe to my blog. Scroll down this page, looking to the left-hand column until you see, “Subscribe to Blog via Email.” It’s as easy as that!

If you post a comment today, you’ll be entered
to win a free copy of the story below!

Oh, and one last thing before I share a fun excerpt from my favorite Triple Horn Brand novella—I’ll be sending out a newsletter soon, filled with goodies you won’t want to miss. So, if you’re not already signed up, here’s the link: Newsletter Signup.

Laying Down the Law

Laying Down The Law

“With amazing suspense, and hot, dominant lovin’ this cowboy and his high school sweetheart take the reader on an amazing emotional journey. Mixed with a bit of humor, sizzling bedroom scenes, and cowboys that steal your heart, Ms. Devlin has created a beyond 5 Book worthy start of an incredible new series. I am absolutely dying to know what happens in the next Triplehorn story!… Once again, thank you, Ms. Devlin, for stealing my heart with complex and witty characters, hot sex and riveting suspense!”
5/5 Books, Reviews by Molly
Seeking sanctuary could be the hottest mistake she ever made.

The TripleHorn Brand, Book 1

A lifetime ago, Zuri Prescott kicked the dirt off her boots and ditched her small-time small town for the glam city life—and lived to regret it. When she’s framed for a bank job, she lights out for home, seeking refuge with her old high school sweetheart while she figures out her next steps. Only she discovers that the boy she left behind is the last man she should trust.

Sheriff Colt Triplehorn knows trouble when he sees it, especially when it comes in the form of a familiar trespasser, caught naked between an angry bull and her underwear. Sure she’s up to her usual no good, he grants her sanctuary at his ranch—the better to keep an eye on her, and purge her from his system once and for all.

Reconnection is sweet and hot, but the heat can’t hide the truth. When Colt inevitably finds out what Zuri’s running from, it’s too late to put the fire out, and he’s got a career-compromising choice on his hands. Follow the letter of the law, or follow his heart.

Product Warnings: When a sheriff captures the girl who got away, expect revenge so hot it leaves brands on two lonely hearts…

Zuri looked up, her hands pulling the belt tighter around her waist, grateful that this time she was covered neck to mid-calf. Still, she was hyper-aware she was naked underneath it and only one knot away from making another big mistake.

“You find everything you needed?” he asked, his tone impersonal.

Oddly, she thought she might actually prefer that ragged edge of anger he’d blistered her with by the river. “Yes, thanks.” She dropped the ties and smoothed her hands down her sides, nervous beneath his unblinking stare. “I don’t suppose you have anything I might wear, besides this robe, that is.” She flushed at how awkward this felt, how ridiculous her situation was. A closet full of clothes hung waiting for her six hundred miles away.

“You’re pretty skinny. I might have some sweatpants and a T-shirt, but you’ll have to cinch in the pants at the waist to keep ’em from fallin’ off.”

Skinny? Once he’d likened her slender frame to a filly’s, and she’d taken it as the highest compliment. She lifted her chin. “That’d be fine.”

She jerked when he strode for her, but he edged around the bed, headed to his dresser and pulled out a pair of gray sweat pants and a navy tee. He tossed both on the bed, and then stood with his hands fisted on his hips.

Zuri bit back a complaint, wishing he’d quit hovering because he was keeping her on edge. But when he didn’t budge, she dragged her feet to the bed, scooped up the wash-softened cotton and turned toward the bathroom.

“Uh uh,” he said, tsking softly. “My house. My clothes. My rules.”

She glanced over her shoulder, not knowing if she’d heard him right, but that same hard challenge he’d issued when he’d demanded the kiss was stamped all over his granite features.

She knew she ought to ignore him and lock herself into the bathroom to dress and gather her scattered wits, but the underlying tension riding the edge of his jaw excited her.

Colt had never been this dominating…except when they had sex. She’d loved it then. Her body seemed to crave it now. Heat bloomed again, winding around her core. A delicious little thrill accelerated her heartbeats.

Without a saying a word, she walked back to the bed and tossed down the clothing. Then keeping her gaze glued to his, she slowly untied the belt and let the robe fall open. With a sexy shrug, she let it slide off her shoulders and pool behind her on the floor.

Colt blinked first. His gaze trailed downward. His throat worked around a tense swallow, and Zuri couldn’t help the smile that tugged at the corners of her mouth. He might think he was in charge, but she knew better. Colt liked what he saw.

His quickening breaths were the first clue. The curving of his fists the second. When he opened his stance, just a few inches, she nearly crowed.

Reaching for the cotton pants, she wished she had something sexier to slide inside, then wondered if she’d lost her good sense to think that way. She had enough problems on her plate. But how could she dress and prevent him seeing what this was doing to her? Bending and opening her legs to step into the sweatpants made her feel vulnerable, exposed in a way that just standing there naked hadn’t. “I don’t understand you, or why you’re doin’ this.”

“You don’t know me.”

“I guess that’s true. It’s been a long time.”

“You didn’t know me then.”

She pulled the pants upward, over the curve of her bottom, feeling a little less off-center now that her lower half was hidden from his view. The waist of the pants settled on her hips and she rolled the band to gather up the excess fabric. “Guess that’ll have to do,” she muttered.

As she dragged the T-shirt over her head, she reminded herself why she was here. Definitely not to play games with her ex-boyfriend. She needed a safe place to stay. And she needed to keep Colt clueless until she had a chance to find her car and get rid of the damning evidence before the police found it. Her story might sound a little more believable then.

When she’d pulled the fabric down, fully covering her body, only then did she raise her glance to Colt’s again.

His brows pulled together. “Gonna tell me what’s going on? Why you’re here?”

“I’m a little hungry,” she said, knowing her attempt to stall was completely transparent. “I don’t suppose I could eat first?”

Colt dropped his fists and stepped closer, forcing her chin higher to hold his steady gaze. “If you’re in trouble…”

What? He’d help? She didn’t think so. Colt appeared to be the same inflexible cowboy. He’d always judged a person’s actions as either black or white, right or wrong. No interesting muddying of the colors accepted. She’d forgotten that about him.

She pondered telling him part of the tale, but worried he’d use what he learned to play with her some more. He seemed to like that fact he held the reins.

Zuri licked her lips. “I need a place to stay. Just for a little while.”

His gray eyes, once so warm and open, narrowed. A muscle flexed alongside his jaw.

She waited him out, knowing he wasn’t satisfied with her response. The longer the moment stretched between them, the more uncomfortable she grew. Still holding his steady gaze, she shifted her bare feet, supremely conscious of the fact she wasn’t wearing a stitch of underwear and that his clothing, while freshly laundered, still carried the hint of his unique scent. She was at his mercy. Completely.

Colt inhaled deeply, and then issued a soft, masculine grunt. He reached down and closed his hand around hers, then tugged her closer to the bed. He sat on the edge, staring at their hands before he looked up. “If you stay…you’ll sleep here,” he said, his voice tense and ragged.

Zuri wet her lips with her tongue because her mouth had suddenly gone dry. What he proposed sounded both so…wrong, yet incredibly tempting. She couldn’t get words past her tightening throat. If she could have, she didn’t know whether she would have told him to go to hell or given him a breathless yes. Instead, she squeezed his fingers.

So many thoughts swirled in her mind. Their past, her impossibly complicated present. It sounded so simple. She’d sleep beside him. Make love with him. Maybe she’d even find out that her memories of their being together were painted in rosy hues because she’d been younger, and he’d been her first.

Perhaps in exchange he’d give her clothes and money so that she could make a graceful exit.

Zuri crowded closer to his knees, tilting her chin.

Colt’s lips curved slightly at the corners, and although his gaze remained narrow, he scooted back.

She climbed over his lap, facing him, her thighs sliding over the outside of his, not saying a word, following her instincts although they’d led her down treacherous paths before. She slipped her hand alongside his neck, felt the heavy thrum of his pulse and bent down, her mouth hovering above his. “Think you can keep this uncomplicated, cowboy?”

A deep, throaty groan seeped between his lips, and she leaned into him, settling over the ridge throbbing beneath the placket of his jeans. She could do this. She could take what she wanted from him without losing her heart again. It was just sex. Just an arrangement for shelter, for time.

She had no illusions that she’d be sought by the law and soon. Her job would report her missing. The police would check her apartment and her background. But Detective David Satterly might want her involvement kept under wraps until he’d gotten to her…that might work to her advantage.

As Colt’s arms closed around her back, he lowered himself to the bed and brought her with him.

Sighing, she let her worries slide away. For now, she’d enjoy this little interlude. Accept the pleasure she knew he could deliver. She was older, had learned a few things about how to keep a relationship light. It was just sex.

But then he slid his hand beneath her shirt and scraped his callused palm upward to close around her bare breast. The sandpaper rasp of his thumb across her nipple lit a spark.

Their kiss turned instantly carnal, tongues stroking deeply, lips latching desperately together. Their bodies ground together, frustrated by the clothing separating them.

A knock sounded at the door.

“Ignore it,” she whispered.

Colt sighed. “Can’t. Gabe’ll just barge in. Have to explain it to him first.”

She sat, still straddling his hips. He slid his hand slowly from under her shirt and she climbed off. She turned her back to the door as Colt’s footsteps tapped across the bare wood.

Behind her, the brothers’ voices whispered too low to make out the words, but the rapidity of their exchange, short-bulleted bursts, told her Gabe wasn’t happy with her being here.

Keeping her back to them, she glanced into the dresser mirror and ran her fingers through her damp, tousled hair. Then her gaze fell on the jumbled items resting in a wooden tray. Keys, change. Silver gleamed. She stepped closer and plucked up a metal badge, Sheriff etched on its surface.

Zuri’s hand closed around it and the sharp edges dug into her skin. The one man she’d thought she might seek refuge with was the last she could trust with her secrets.