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Running with the Devil
By Lorelei James
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2007 Lorelei James
All right reserved.
Chapter OneAssless chaps were all the rage in Sturgis.
Drake March sauntered through the Broken Arrow Campground, taking in the sights and sounds of the world's largest biker party.
Through the dusty haze kicked up by thousands of motorcycles, the variety of bare butts tortured him. Skin tones ranging from milk-light to coffee-dark. Flaunted breasts played peek-a-boo beneath strands of metallic-colored plastic beads. Guys snapped photos of half-naked chicks as proof they'd actually seen some titty action at the Legendary Arrow.
Vegas had nothing on the anything goes atmosphere. Blowjobs in broad daylight. Couples coupling next to the main performance stage while a Christian biker club sang about sin and redemption. A magnificent woman slinked by wearing a studded dog collar-her jeweled nipple rings were attached to a long, thin silver chain that disappeared into the crotch of her purple thong. Two topless babes were making out on a bucking mechanical bull while the drunken crowd egged them on.
No wonder his concentration was lousy.
He'd spotted another flawless ass bent over an electric blue Outlaw custom chopper when a sharp command echoed in his earpiece.
"Target spotted. Ten yards to your left. Copy."
Beneath his Ray-bans, Drake's eyes narrowed on his contact, then widened. "That's her? The redhead with the big tits?" He inwardly winced. His supervisor would ream him when she listened to the surveillance tapes. But damn, it was hard not to show pure male adoration at the way the woman filled out the miniscule black halter-top.
Ms. 40C leaned against the plywood wall of the beer garden, plastic cup in hand, a walking ad for juicy wet sex.
"I thought Jerry's files said she was blonde?"
"Guess Miss Clairol got to her before we did," Geo drawled.
"You sure it's her, Bobby?" Drake asked.
"Yep," Bobby said. "She's wearing the flag."
Drake's gaze zoomed over the white ribbon tied on her left arm and down, past the golden bell winking in her navel. A skintight leopard print miniskirt molded curvy hips. The ensemble ended with a pair of glossy black thigh-high boots showcasing world-class legs on par with her world-class breasts.
He nearly stumbled over his tongue. Jerry my man, you had exquisite taste.
"Drake, you there?"
"Roger that, I'm on it."
"You mean on her, you lucky son-of-a-bitch," Geo groused in his ear. "Next time, I get to be point man and you get to coordinate recon in the damn truck."
"You wish. Stay alert, Bobby. I'm switching to B-mode." Bobby was his ground support. Drake removed the lip mic, leaving the small earpiece intact. For all intents and purposes he resembled just another security goon.
Raking a hand though his hair, he started toward the mysterious woman, remembering at the last second to paste on a smile.
Her demeanor didn't change at his approach, save for the imperceptible tightening of her blood-red mouth. Dark maroon sunglasses rested on an aquiline nose, hiding her eyes. But he sensed beneath those cheap shades she studied him intently.
"Jerry Travis asked me to meet you here."
Her assessing gaze started at his Caterpillar boots and traveled up every inch of his six-foot-four-inch frame. She tilted her head back and murmured, "Seems old Jerry's come up in the world."
"Can we go someplace private to talk?"
She lifted the cup to her mouth, running the tip of her pink tongue along the rim before tossing the empty container into the garbage can. "Maybe. If I've got the right incentive."
He grinned. "Name your price."
"Sugar, you couldn't afford me." She untied the ribbon from her arm, zigzagging it up his forearm, soft as a whisper. After she'd wrapped it around his bicep, her fingers smoothed the satiny strap, lingering on his muscle flexing beneath it. "But I'll admit you've piqued my interest."
Drake suppressed a shudder of raw pleasure. A whiskey-warmed voice and cool caress on his heated skin; this woman packed a powerful punch. The kind of visceral reaction he hadn't allowed himself to feel in ages.
"There's an empty table about fifty feet to your left. I'll join you there in a minute."
"Where you gonna be?"
"Getting a beer. Want one?"
A barrel-chested man stopped and gave Kenna a once over followed by a sharp wolf whistle. "I'll buy you the whole damn keg or whatever else turns your crank, honey, if you'll ride around on the back of my hog today."
Her sultry siren act vanished. "No thanks."
His beefy, hairy shoulders lifted. "Your loss."
She shuffled her feet, a sign she might bolt.
Screw that. Drake had waited too damn long for this. "Maybe you should come along as I grab that beer."
"Maybe you should hurry the hell up before I get bored with this cryptic conversation and disappear." She spun on her stiletto boots, ass swaying beneath her body-hugging skirt, wild red hair brushing her shoulders.
Great. He'd hoped not to spook her, but thanks to that lowlife biker she was wound tight as a whore in church. He paid for the draft and picked his way through the trash littering the flattened grass and sinkholes to the rickety picnic table.
He'd barely slid onto the bench seat when she demanded, "Cut the shit. Who are you?"
Wow. She'd changed from simpering to seething pretty damn quick. "Name's Drake," he said, sipping his ice-cold beer.
"What do you want?"
"To talk to you."
"So you said. Where is Jerry?"
He gazed at her over the top of his sunglasses. God she was striking, not the washed-up druggie he'd expected. He floated a deliberate pause, announced, "Dead," and waited for her response.
No sound escaped those ruby lips, but she arched back as if making a move to leave.
Without missing a beat, Drake wrapped his big hand around her smaller wrist and yanked her closer until those bountiful breasts were within licking distance. He smiled-all teeth.
"Let go, you fucking psycho."
"Now Kenna. Is that any way to talk?"
"How about: If you don't let go of me right fucking now I'll break your fucking nose. Is that more fucking polite?"
Her tone was so chillingly matter-of-fact he suspected she probably could. Or was it a con? And why the hell did the tough chick act make his dick hard?
Drake grinned, slow and easy. "If I do let go, promise you won't make me chase you down? Because I have no qualms about tackling your sweet ass right into the dirt, sweetheart."
"Bet you'd like that."
"You have no idea." He loosened his death-grip in a show of faith. "All I want is to talk to you. Then you're free to go." Unless you'll somehow prove useful to me and then you couldn't pry me from your side with a crowbar.
She seemed to consider it before she nodded.
"Good." He released her wrist and she rubbed the spot he'd touched like he'd somehow marked her soft skin.
And her attitude got to him. Oh, he would like to mark her. Eat at that abundant mouth until it was swollen from his hard kisses. Trail his teeth across the slender column of her neck and lower to bestow slow, thorough love bites around each nipple. He'd suck a path down her smooth belly. Flick his wet tongue over that intriguing little bell in her navel. Settle his mouth on her engorged sex until she writhed and bucked beneath his punishing lips, sharp teeth and lashing tongue.
"Get on with the damn questions then."
Whoa. Talk about reverting to juvenile fantasies. He kept his face impassive even when his body protested the sudden shift from boiling point to deep freeze. "When was the last time you heard from Jerry?"
"He emailed me two days ago, asking that I meet him here instead of our normal place. Didn't tell me why."
Drake removed his sunglasses hoping it'd prompt her to do the same. "Do you always do what Jerry asks?"
She tapped her fingers on the table next to an enormous purse beaded in a rainbow pattern. "Only when I get email from a dead man. Then I get very curious."
That floored him. "You knew Jerry was dead?"
"Yep." She paused, showed her pearly whites. "I assume you sent that bogus email?"
His answering smile was equally tight.
She ripped off her shades and his breath snagged in his throat. Jesus. Not only were her eyes snapping fire, they were the most unusual shade of blue he'd ever seen. Almost purple.
"Why did you show up here anyway if you knew the email was a fake?" He watched her delicate nostrils flare outrage. Why his cock took particular delight in her show of feminine temper was a mystery.
"To see what kind of freak uses a dead friend as a way to hook up with chicks. What the fuck is wrong with you? Suggesting I tie a ribbon around my goddamn arm like some kind of primitive cowbell?" She actually growled annoyance. "I came here to kick your balls up your ass. I don't know what Jerry told you and I don't give a flying fuck if you've got some weird James Bond fetish-"
"Whoa whoa whoa. Hang on a sec. Jerry didn't tell me anything. That's why I had to use his email address to get a message to you."
Excerpted from Running with the Devil by Lorelei James Copyright © 2007 by Lorelei James. Excerpted by permission.
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