Tall, dark, and lethal…
Trouble just walked into Nicholas Rixey’s tattoo parlor. Becca Merritt is warm, sexy, wholesome–pure temptation to a very jaded Nick. He’s left his military life behind to become co-owner of Hard Ink Tattoo, but Becca is his ex-commander’s daughter. Loyalty won’t let him turn her away. Lust has plenty to do with it too.
With her brother presumed kidnapped, Becca needs Nick. She just wasn’t expecting to want him so much. As their investigation turns into all-out war with an organized crime ring, only Nick can protect her. And only Becca can heal the scars no one else sees.
Desire is the easy part. Love is as hard as it gets. Good thing Nick is always up for a challenge…
Becca’s insides nearly vibrated with the need to know what the hell Nick wasn’t telling her. She’d hit the edge of her tolerance for any more mystery, even of the tall, dark, and achingly handsome kind.
His lips pressed into a grim line and his eyes flashed. “Becca, let’s just—”
“No.” She stepped right into his space and jabbed a finger into the granite of his chest. “Don’t put me off anymore. I deserve to know. I need to know,” she said, hating the strained pitch of her voice.
His expression went dark and his jaw ticked. She saw it in his eyes the minute he made the decision to spill. Her stomach plummeted to the floor. It was bad. He didn’t need to tell her that much. Everything inside her braced for the onslaught of bad news.
When he spoke, the words were even, straightforward, factual. “Someone ransacked your house. Picked the back door lock again. Went through just about every room.”
The brick walls bent and warped around her, but she shook off the dizziness and forced herself to focus on Nick’s face. His presence was the only thing grounding her. “Why would they do that? Could you tell if anything was missing?”
He shook his head. “The why of it I intend to figure out. I promise you. But the place was too much of a mess to—”
“Take me.” Becca pushed past him and hit the handle on the door.
Arms wrapped around her from behind. “Becca, we—”
“No!” She threw off the hold and scrambled away, her back coming up hard against the wall.
Nick’s expression was a roiling sea of emotion. Surprise. Fear. Anger. Concern. “I’m sorry. What just—”
“That was how he grabbed me.” She swallowed hard and shuddered at the remembered press of the man’s flesh against hers. “I’m sorry,” she rasped, embarrassment heating her face, despair and exhaustion sucking the fight out of her.
He came forward slowly. “Don’t apologize,” he said, his voice cranked tight. “And don’t cry.” His thumb swiped under her eye, once, twice, and then his knuckles caressed her cheekbone. The little touches were comforting, sweet, and she thought maybe he needed to give them as much as she needed to feel them. He tucked the loose strands of her destroyed ponytail behind her ear.
“I’m not crying,” she said despite the wetness plain on her face. She shook her aching head, then pressed her cheek into his hand. “I’m not.”
Peering up at him, her breath caught. The moment their gazes connected, his expression shifted from sympathetic concern to uncontrollable desire. His mouth fell open. His chest rose and fell against hers. His fingers burrowed into her hair.
Becca went hot all over, like the sun had hung itself in the stairwell above them.
He leaned closer, closer, his free arm bracing on the wall above her shoulder. The warm puff of his breath caressed her lips as his gaze bore into hers. She couldn’t move, couldn’t blink, couldn’t breathe.
He kissed her on a groan so needful it made her dizzy and wet. His mouth devoured hers, his big hand cupped the back of her head, his body completely surrounded and trapped hers against the bricks. It was a full-body onslaught, with every part of him engaged in the act of claiming and seducing.
Becca clutched at his coat, his shoulders, his back, his hair. Anything to bring him closer, deeper. His lips pulled and tugged, his tongue stroked and twisted. He smelled of leather and mint and tasted like sin.
The harder he came at her, the more her conscious mind let go. Her aches, the stitches, her house, even Charlie—for a few minutes, just a few precious minutes, Becca let it all go.
The surrender was euphoric. It rushed through her blood and sent her flying.
“That was so close, Becca. Too close,” he rasped, kissing her jaw, her ear, her neck, and sending her heart flying. His fingers stroked down over her breasts and found the hem of her shirt. And then those warm, calloused hands snaked up her stomach, pulled down the cups of her bra, and caressed her breasts skin to skin. He massaged her, teased her with roughened fingertips, and tormented her until she was panting.
She gripped the collar of his coat, half afraid her knees would go soft and give out. Nick pulled his body away just enough to tear the coat off his arms and throw it to the floor. Geez, the gun holster was sexy hugging tight over his shirt, but he slipped out of it, too, and eased it to the floor with a thunk. Then his hands were back on her breasts and his tongue was back in her mouth, stealing her breath and convincing her she could live without it.
God, this kiss. It was the kind she’d remember forever, that would invade her dreams and haunt her in quiet moments. The kind her older self could look back on and know, once, she’d really lived. The kind that, no matter what, she could never, ever regret. And it made a part of herself bloom with affection for the man who’d made her feel that way.
She snaked her hands under his shirt, moaning when her palm smoothed over the hard planes and muscled ridges of his abdomen, his sides, his chest. Her fingers swirled through the light covering of hair on his chest and swiped light, teasing brushes over his nipples. The low growls he released into the kiss as they explored each other thrilled her, made her yearn for the opportunity to bring a man as powerful and deadly as him to his knees in ecstasy.
“Closer,” he ground out. With one arm, he ripped the cotton over his head, revealing a body that was no doubt capable of inflicting pleasure and pain in equal measure. Desire roared off his skin and his hands were everywhere, massaging her breasts, kneading at the swell of her ass, pulling them harder together.
The heat of his demanding touches ripped through her and settled a pressing ache low in her abdomen. She squeezed her thighs together in response, emphasizing her arousal against her panties.
“I want you, Becca. I’m not gonna lie.” He spoke in low tones against her cheek, but pulled back to meet her gaze. “But I think—”
She placed three fingers over his mouth. “Don’t think.”
About the Author:
Laura Kaye began writing romance after a minor traumatic brain injury left her with an insatiable creative streak. As she healed, she followed her new creative urges wherever they led—from guitar lessons to fiction writing—completing her first novel in just 12 weeks. A former college professor, archaeologist, and historian of early America, Kaye likes to write sexy, heartfelt novels about men and women looking for—and finding—second chances and a place to belong. Today Kaye is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than a dozen books of contemporary and paranormal romance, including Hearts in Darkness, Her Forbidden Hero, and One Night with a Hero. She finds inspiration in everything from old family lore that involves angels, ghosts, and even evil-eye curses to her eight years of working as a civilian employee for the United States military. She also published two scholarly works of American history under her real name, Laura Croghan Kamoie, before launching her fiction career.