Three years ago, Layna Blair listened in horror over a telephone line as her parents were murdered. When the killer said she was next, Layna panicked and made a deadly deal—his secret in exchange for her life. She’s paid the price every day since, becoming a prisoner in plain sight.
Marine Sergeant Blaze Johnson offers Layna a way out—her freedom, his rules, no questions asked—and she takes it, despite knowing what her keepers do to people who get too close. She doesn’t know Blaze is fighting his own demons or that beneath his warrior façade is a man on the verge of breaking.
Embarking on a wild revenge mission with Blaze and his smooth-talking best friend, Talon, is not what Layna signed on for. But attempting to run when Blaze has made no secret he intends to make her his is a reckless mistake. With the killer closing in, it’s up to Blaze to save them all—and to Layna to realize that she’s risked the one thing she can’t afford to lose.
Book one of two / 93,000 words
Heat level: Steamy; not for under 17, it has open door sex scenes.
I never was one for dreams. Nightmares, yes, but never any of the good stuff dreams are made of. I didn’t fly or soar or relive sweet memories of my parents. I didn’t dream of knights in shining armor or fairy tale endings. I only got the heart-stopping, panic-inducing, sweat-slicked visions of being hunted, chased, mauled, beaten and left for dead. So when I dreamed I was on the hot sands of Miami Beach, drunk with sunscreen fumes, the sun a leaden weight on my stomach, I knew something was up. I shifted, wondering how long I’d been lying out frying myself, when I heard a moan. Then a large, warm hand cupped my breast.
My eyes flew open.
Sexy day-old stubble covering a chiseled jaw surrounded the fullest lips I’d ever seen. Long, dark lashes rested on high cheekbones and before I could think what the hell, Buck’s ice-blue eyes opened and met mine. In the next instant, he raised himself up on one arm, pushed my knees apart with his leg and settled between my thighs. Unmistakable rigid heat pressed against the nothing barrier of my panties and his boxers.
He dropped his eyes and growled low in his throat.
My back arched and my eyes fluttered shut as his thumb glanced across my nipple.
“Not a good idea.” My pathetic attempt at a protest through flared nostrils and a clenched jaw sounded more like a plea any porn star would be proud of.
“Layna,” Buck breathed, leaving open-mouth kisses along my neck and collarbone.
Forcing myself not to reach for him, my fingers curled into the sheets. “Buck.” I tried to issue his name in warning, but I sounded breathless.
His lips, his teeth, found my ear.
“Aaaahhhh.” Jeez, that wasn’t playing fair. He felt so good that in about two seconds I wouldn’t have any self-control left. “Stop,” I begged, squeezing my eyes shut.
Instantly, he stilled.
Okay, think, think, think. Use your head, use your head. Oh my God, his musky, sexy scent, his body heat, his legs against mine, nothing felt better. But I had to stop him. I wasn’t doing this. I couldn’t. Inhaling, stealing my resolve, I opened my eyes.
Piercing, haunted eyes were staring down at me with so much need that I knew. I knew I was seeing the real Blaze Johnson. Not the warrior, but the man.
I touched his cheek. “Are you okay?”
Chest heaving, he said nothing.
My fingers skimmed across features that had been hardened by responsibility. He looked weary and vulnerable and stoic and I wanted him more than I wanted my next breath. “Talk to me.”
“I made you a promise.” Anger tainted the deep quiet of his voice.
He’d made me a lot of promises in the past twelve hours, all of them impossible. My hands wrapped around his neck. “I know.” But I wasn’t sure I cared. I pulled myself up to his lips and kissed the corner of his mouth.
Elbows straight, muscles tense, Buck didn’t move.
My fingers curled in his hair, my tongue swept across his ear, and I feathered kisses along his jaw.
The muscles in his neck strained.
I pulled at his bottom lip with my teeth.
His body came crashing down on mine, his forearms went to either side of my head and he caged me in. His lips parted with a fierce groan and he took control like he owned me.
Buck’s kiss wasn’t a kiss—it was a possession I felt to my very soul. Every breath in his presence was one more step away from who I was before I met him. And when his hips surged forward for one torturous tease of all he had to offer, my lips tore away from his with a desperate cry of need. I didn’t want to stop this. Not anymore.
Raising his head, trapping me in the intensity of his stare, he rocked forward again.
And fear splintered through me.
This was what we would be like together. My desire, his need, my desperation, his promises, I felt every inch of it and I felt my heart—slipping away into his arms. Arms that would be gone in a matter of days. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t give him the last thing I had to give. There would be no coming back. “I can’t do this,” I said frantically.
“Do what?” Buck ran his nose across my cheek and kissed below my ear.
“Casual sex.” It was easier than explaining I had nothing to give.
He met my eyes. “I don’t want casual sex.”
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