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by Kelly Jamieson
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Suspense/Thriller
Description: Courage is feeling the fear?then pouring on the throttle. Abandoned or betrayed by everyone she ever loved, Sera Manning's life spiraled out of control until a near-death experience left her with a mission. Now a DEA agent, her sole focus--and her first undercover assignment--is to take down a drug cartel that's manufacturing seductive, deadly angel sugar. To do it, she needs access to Operation Black Abyss to establish a connection between the cartel and the Death Angels outlaw motorcycle gang. Which means she must pose as a couple with another agent who's already deep undercover. ATF agent Ryan Thomas desperately needs a female agent to maintain his cover in the gang, but the last thing he wants is a rookie agent jeopardizing his op. Especially one who is a sexy reminder why it's a bad idea to get involved while on a case. Living together, surrounded by crime, pretending their sizzling sexual tension is just for show is getting harder by the day. But as the mission comes to a head, the two fiercely independent warriors must decide which fear is worse. Losing their quarry?or losing each other. Warning: Features a badass biker hero and kickass heroine who go at it undercover--and under the covers.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: October 2012
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [396 KB]
Reading time: 254-356 min.
Sera shot Ryan a disgusted look. "No."
They stood beside Ryan's Harley in the parking lot of the Palms Motel in Clover City, on their way to The Patch for a night of drinking, partying and hopefully recording incriminating conversations. The sun had just set. Palm trees were silhouetted black against the deepening blue of the sky and the streetlights gleamed on the monstrous chromed-up machine next to them. Sera wiped her hands down her thighs.
He laughed. "If you're not, you're nuts."
"Thanks very much." Sera jammed her helmet onto her head and eyed the spoked wheels, the huge engine, the large, chromed mufflers tunneling underneath black leather saddlebags.
"Got your recorders?"
"Yes." She'd received a crash course on how to use the surveillance equipment. Josh Witter insisted she had two, just in case. One tiny device was inside her cell phone; the other looked like an extra battery and was in the pocket of her jeans.
Ryan started the engine--a whine, a bang and then a rattling, bumpy idle. Sera closed her eyes briefly.
Ryan swung himself onto the bike then looked at her. She pressed her lips together. He arched a brow. "Sera?"
She gave a jerky nod then climbed on behind him, wrapping her arms around his waist. God. He was big and muscular and warm, and as she pressed against him she could even smell the scent of the shampoo he used on his hair, clean and tangy.
Okay, she was a little nervous. The machine underneath them rumbled with power and speed. With a roar of the motor, Ryan pulled out of the parking lot onto Juniper Road. Glancing over her shoulder at the rapidly retreating motel, Sera saw the surveillance car driven by Josh pull out to follow them. It was reassuring to know that wherever they went, at least two other agents were sitting outside keeping an eye on things. But that only went so far, as she well knew.
The tranny shifted into second with a clank and a lurch, making her heart lurch too. Her arms tightened around Ryan. Good god in heaven. The choppy roar of the engine and the wind in her ears drowned out any other sounds as she clutched Ryan's body and hung on.
She could not let on that she was nervous about riding on the Harley. The lack of control she felt hanging on to nothing but a black leather jacket while so exposed and vulnerable and flying down the street sent spears of panic through her.
On top of that, she was pressuring herself, like she always did. She really wanted to do a good job of this. She had to do a good job. She knew she could look after herself, but Ryan's warnings about putting all their lives on the line had stuck with her, and she worried she could do something to screw up and get a whole lot of other people killed.
No. It wouldn't happen. She had to think positively.
When they walked into The Patch, Led Zeppelin's Houses of the Holy pounded over the speakers. Ryan took Sera's hand and led the way. She stuck close to him, not because she needed to, but because it looked good.
Several men greeted Ryan--or rather, Tommy, as she needed to think of him--with loud calls and raised beers. He led Sera to the bar and put his arm around her waist as they stood there and waited to be served. She tipped her head and smiled up at him and he smiled back.
Jesus. She hadn't seen many smiles from him since the night they'd met in this exact place. She'd forgotten how sinfully melting-hot that smile could be. Thick, liquid wanting slid through her and down between her legs. She forgot to breathe.
He nuzzled her ear. "Okay?" he whispered.
Get a grip, get a grip. "Okay."
She dragged air into her lungs and smiled at the bartender who slid two bottles of beer across the bar to them. Ryan tossed him a twenty-dollar bill and let him keep the change.
"Throwing money around," she murmured.
"Makes them think I'm rolling in it," he answered back, gaze fastened on her so that anyone looking at him would have thought he'd just said, "Let's go back to my place and fuck each other stupid." Hot eyes and a sexy smile seduced her. "They know I have to get that much cash from selling guns or dope."
"Ah." She nodded, quivering inside. Suddenly doubt filled her. Doubt at her ability to withstand Ryan looking at her like he wanted to do her right there on the bar, smiling seductively, touching her with warm hands. But hey there--she didn't have to withstand it. They were a couple, and if they wanted to convince people of that, she might as well just give herself over to it. As long as she kept her wits about her when it came to other people, she could bask in the glow of Ryan's calescent attention.
She gave him her own sultriest smile then and watched his pupils expand. She tipped the bottle to her mouth and swallowed, icy cold beer tracing a path from mouth over her tongue and down her esophagus. Maybe she wasn't the only one affected. Interesting.
"Hey, Tommy." Vince approached them and gave Ryan a slap on the shoulder. "What's up, man?"
"Not much. Hey, you remember Sara?"
Vince eyed her and Sera smiled. "Hi, Vince."
"Hey, Sara." His eyes moved between them and he smiled then winked at Ryan. "Good work, man." He tilted his chin toward the back of the bar. "Carly's back there, she'll be happy to see you again."
Sera wondered if that was her clue to send her off, but Ryan pulled her against him and wrapped his arm around her. "You can go talk to her in a few minutes," he said.
Vince grinned. "Uh-huh."
"Hey, thanks again for saving my ass the other night," Ryan said to Vince. "I owe you big time for that. Chomp would've killed me."
Vince rolled his eyes. "He was fuckin' hammered. Nice guy, but turns into a mean drunk. Good thing you've got your own babe tonight."
"Not yet." Vince slugged back some beer. "Probably later. So I guess you don't want to meet my cousin Maria, huh?"
Sera frowned and gave Ryan an evil look. He grinned, squeezed her waist. "Nah. Thanks anyway."
"You coming to El Mirage this weekend?" Vince was looking at her. She looked inquiringly at Ryan.
"I don't know," she said flirtatiously. "Am I, Tommy?"
He scowled. "Don't push me, babe. I said we'll see." He looked at Vince and shrugged.
"Bring her," Vince urged. "It'll be fun."
Sera pouted, but sipped her beer.
"Let's go talk to A.J.," Ryan said and pulled her along. Vince followed them down the length of the bar to a table in the back near the pool table, where A.J. sat with a group of guys.
They took up so much space, all of them big, in black leather. And there was Manny, just as big, bald headed and mean looking. Sera ignored him.
As they pulled chairs up to the table, the men all gave Sera a good looking over. She ignored them too, as she took her seat. Ryan sat close to her and leaned in. "You have just been eye-fucked, sweetheart," he murmured. "How was it?"
She couldn't help it. She laughed. "I've had better." She tossed her hair back.
"You got nice tits, honey!" one of the guys called to her across the table.
Sera sent a look his way that she hoped was sufficiently badass and said, "Thanks. So do you. Only, yours are bigger."
The guy looked down at his chest and she saw Ryan roll his lips in to keep from laughing, because it was true. The guy's beer belly was only marginally bigger than his man boobs. Everyone at the table hooted with laughter.
"She put you in your place, asshole," Vince said with a snicker. "I like this girl."
She and Ryan shared a grin and she thought she saw a flicker of admiration on his face.
She mostly sat and listened as Ryan talked to the guys, sipping her beer. She waved at Carly at the next table when they made eye contact. After a while she said to Ryan, "I'm going to talk to Carly." She paused a beat then added, "Okay?"
She pushed back her chair and strolled over to where Carly sat.
"Did you come with Tommy?" Carly leaned over, eyes wide and eager.
"He's so damn hot." Carly sighed then glanced around. "Oops. Gotta watch what I say around Vince. He'd be pissed if he heard me say that."
"He didn't hear," Sera assured her.
"Is this the first time you've been out with him?"
"Second. We went out last night. I gave him my number the other night."
"I thought you two looked like you were interested!"
Sera smiled smugly. "Yeah. I like him."
"Cool. So maybe next weekend you'll come to El Mirage?"
"Is that all anyone ever talks about around here?" Sera pouted. "Tommy's not sure if he wants me to go, but the more I hear about it, the more I want to."
She snickered evilly inside. She'd force his hand and give him no choice in the matter. Ha!
"It's so much fun! We just party all weekend, lots of booze and dope and smack? You'd love it. People come from all over for this trip?"
Carly ended every sentence as if it was a question, which made Sera want to roll her eyes with irritation. "Big party, huh?" she said.
They talked on, Sera wondering how she steered the conversation in the direction she needed it to go. Ryan had told her they were interested in any details about some motorcycles that had been stolen from a bar a week or so ago. Apparently some DAs had been drinking there, and when they came out they saw four chromed-up Harleys that they decided to take. The DAs weren't known for stealing bikes, but this seemed to be their doing, and Ryan, being in the parts business, wondered when the broken-down bike parts were going to make it to the market. But much as Sera liked bikes, she had a hard time getting the conversation to go that way.
Instead she got an earful about Zocco's drug business and how he had this fantastic new drug that helped you lose weight.
"Not that you need to," Carly said, looking enviously at Sera's slim body.
"I'd like to lose a few pounds," Sera lied. God, she'd be a stick if she did, but Carly accepted that statement. "Where does he get it from?"
"He gets it from a guy in Oakland." Carly put her finger to her chin. "He's a DA too."
"Really." Sera nodded. "I'd like to try it."
"Let's go find him."
* * * *
Ryan could almost tell time by how drunk and stoned everyone was. He could handle quite a few beers himself, being a big guy, but he'd gotten really good at making it look like he drank more than he really did.
Everyone got louder and sloppier and clumsier, beers spilling, tempers flaring. A fight broke out up front, but was quickly split up by the bouncer. Ryan met up with Sera again, stood in front of her, pelvis to pelvis, looking down at her. She was probably a bit over average height for a woman, and her posture and strength made her appear taller, but he had a good six inches on her, and four-inch heels brought the top of her head only up to his eye level. He curved his hands around her hips, pulled her body into his. "How's it going?"
She pressed herself against him, sliding her palms up his chest. Damn, that felt good. She tipped her head back and shook her long hair down her back. He wanted to tangle his hands in that hair. Hell, why not?
He wrapped the silky strands around his hands and tugged. Her pupils exploded, darkening her eyes, and her lips parted as she gazed up at him. The scent of her hair drifted to him, fruity like strawberries or something faintly tropical, startlingly fresh in the stale air of the bar.
"We can talk more later," he murmured. She nodded, eyes fastened on his. He lowered his head, inhaled that sweet scent. Their faces almost touched and he watched her eyes study him, eyelids heavy. Then she took a step back.
Which was just as well. He had to maintain his awareness of what was going on around them. Their eyes met and held as he communicated a wordless message to her. I want you. Now. She licked her bottom lip. Jesus. His cock thickened, heat sliding up from his groin all the way to his face, and all the way down to his toes. He swallowed through a tight throat.
Her throat moved too, and then her gaze tore away from his and she dragged trembling fingers across her mouth. She was just as affected as he was.
Shit. He had to get a grip, here. This was just an act. He was not really attracted to her. No fucking way. He pushed down the heat and aching need ruthlessly, but tried to keep the expression on his face the same--hot, interested, aroused. It was all an act.
She stared back at him, and those long lashes framed her eyes like starbursts. She was so confident, so in control, so composed, but at that moment, he could almost believe he had her befuddled with sexual longing and heated arousal. But she was just acting too. And doing a helluva job at it.
He had a job to do, and he was going to do it. And he was going to do it right this time. No emotional involvement. He could take advantage of the sexual heat simmering between them and use it, and that would be it.
It was just a job.
His gaze lowered to her mouth. Her lush, pillowy bottom lip parted slightly from the bow of her upper lip, the corners tilted up a bit even when she wasn't smiling, giving her an appealing, sexy look. He lowered his face closer, watched her eyelashes drift down, her lips quiver. He felt her sigh of breath against his own mouth, and his lips parted, brushed over hers. The sweet fruity scent of her surrounded him and he felt the warmth that shimmered off her body.
"I'm going to kiss you now," he whispered, not sure why he felt he had to give her the warning. It just seemed the thing to do. Given that this was work.