Desire explodes and passion flares in #1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh's story Erin's Kiss, previously published in the anthology Hot Alphas, now in ebook format.
Ex-Marine Turk has become Erin's sworn protector. The target of her CIA-operative brother's foes, Turk is the only port Erin has to cling to in a storm. He promised her brother long ago never to touch her, but how can he resist a woman who aches to be with him as much as he burns for her?
|Publisher:||St. Martin''s Publishing Group|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
#1 New York Times bestseller, LORA LEIGH is the author of the Navy SEALS, the Breeds, the Elite Ops, the Callahans, the Bound Hearts, and the Nauti series.
"Lora Leigh writes compelling, red-hot romance." --Sacramento Book Review
Read an Excerpt
By Lora Leigh
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Lora Leigh
All rights reserved.
The night had finally wound down, the last customer urged out the door, and the Broken Bar was closed up for the night.
Standing next to the counter, Erin Masters surveyed the pristine area critically, ensuring everything was ready for the next night.
The head bartender and club manager, Jake Manning, had left her in charge of cleaning and restocking the various bottles of drinks kept on hand. The large crowds known to descend on the nightclub on any given night left no time to replace bottles. And he was damned picky about making certain everything, down to the last speck of dust, was cleaned away and the serving area ready to go the next evening.
Glancing to the mirrored wall behind the wide counter, she found the neon BROKEN BAR sign. Her gaze moved to the camera eye in the center of it, then gave it her customary wink. She knew the girl that worked the security recordings. The wink was a nightly salute. Gabby would roll her eyes, Erin knew, and remember the night they'd had one drink too many, and revealed how each of them had become fixated on one of the Broken Bar's security agents.
For Gabby, it was Iron.
For Erin, it was the hard, tough Turk Rogan.
Folding the damp bar towel she'd used to clean the wood bar, Erin pushed it into the small plastic bag of towels used that night and tied the bag closed. Picking it up she pushed through the swinging doors to the kitchen, finally relaxing at the thought of going home for the night.
Leaving the bag at the back door for morning pickup she made her way back to the front to check everything one last time. Jake could become highly critical if anything in the bartending section wasn't just right. She sure as hell didn't want him tearing her ass as he'd torn the last assistant's. That one he'd sent running from the club in tears as she quit on the spot.
Flipping the kitchen light out, she stepped through the swinging doors once again and almost ran face-first into one of the nicest stretches of chests she'd ever beheld.
Powerful, not too wide, but rippling beneath the black T-shirt he wore. Her fingers itched to smooth across the expanse of powerful muscles.
He made other parts just ache.
"Turk." She stepped back, looking up into the rough-hewn, hardened features of the security agent working cleanup with her.
Dark, chocolate-brown eyes were set into a brooding expression that gave him a hard, savage look. A sexy rough-hewn toughness that just took a girl's breath away.
His gaze lowered to her lips. That look made her mouth go dry. It made her sex wet.
"Erin." Deep, whispering of sensual delights and wicked knowledge, that voice sent shivers working down her spine as his gaze lifted to hers once again. "Have you finished up here?" He stepped back, slowly, allowing her to ease from the doorway to the dimly lit bar area as she looked around one last time.
"Let's hope I am." She grinned back, smoothing her hands down the side of the short, black skirt she wore.
Turk's gaze flickered down her body before coming back to hers, the shadow of something hungry in his eyes caused her heartbeat to pick up, racing in excitement as she swallowed nervously.
"Everything looks great." He nodded, finally glancing around himself, his eyes narrowing. "Jake shouldn't be able to bitch — no matter how much he loves doing it."
Amusement gleamed in his eyes as they met hers once again.
"Good." She glanced over the area again though. "Perhaps I'll survive my first night closing."
"You'll survive," he promised as though he'd already decided that on his own. "If you're ready I'll walk you out to your car. The rest of the waitresses have left and I'm ready to head out myself."
"I just need to stop in the lounge and collect my purse." She was already turning for the exit from the tending area, all too aware of the fact that he was walking behind her.
And he walked silently, too. There wasn't so much as a whisper of his footsteps. Quiet, intense, his scarred face was normally implacable, his voice deep. He was the epitome of the type of agent her stepfather preferred as security personnel for the nightclubs that worked beneath the Covert Information Network.
The Broken Bar was one of those establishments, while five of the ten security personnel were longtime agents of the network. Ex-military, Rangers in this case, most of them wounded in some way that had ended their official military careers. The agents for the network were deep cover, their identities changed years before, most without families or ties to pull them back to the lives they had once lived.
Turk Rogan was just such a man. His military career listed him as troublemaker, dishonorably discharged from the Rangers after an accident that had caused his own injuries. The truth was, he was a man with no family, no one to care that he never returned. A Ranger who had nearly given his own life for his country and the soldiers he fought with. When he was offered the chance to continue protecting his nation in another capacity, he'd jumped on it.
Like the agents that worked for the network, Erin kept her past strictly quiet. Being the stepdaughter of the regional director of the network and stepsister of the security director could become uncomfortable if others were aware of it.
Besides, her stepfather and stepbrother weren't exactly men that made others comfortable. As a matter of fact, they were known to piss others off routinely just for the hell of it. Her stepfather often told her that a man that stayed loyal despite his anger was the man he could trust at his back.
There were many of those agents she truly hoped John Delanore — J.D. as others called him — and her stepbrother, John D., didn't have to trust at their backs. One of those men might end up braining those two with a two-by-four. She knew she was tempted to do so often.
Stepping from the bar ahead of Turk she waited as he locked the doors before moving toward the side of the building. As they began walking, his large, broad palm settled at the small of her back, the warmth of it heating her flesh as her heart rate kicked up in speed once again.
Shadows swirled about the parking lot, and a light fog whispered around the deserted area, its moist warmth settling around them as the night enfolded them.
She'd parked her small sedan in the employees' parking area. As they turned the corner of the bar she noticed he'd parked the wicked black motorcycle he rode next to her. He'd been doing that since the first night she'd arrived at the bar.
"Be careful driving back to your apartment." His dark voice was low, intimate as they neared her car. "The fog is wicked tonight."
They lived in the same small apartment complex, his apartment right across the hall from hers.
"I'll be fine," she promised, a little warmed by the protectiveness he hinted at.
He made her feel secure. Not overshadowed or guarded, but secure. She realized she'd grown used to the fact that he rode behind her whenever they left together, that he was there in the early hours of the morning when she arrived home while everyone else was sleeping.
Stepping to the side of her car she pushed the remote lock, hearing the snick of the door unlocking as she turned back to him, the sexual, sensual awareness that flooded her body weakening her knees as she looked up at him.
It was the look in those dark eyes. A knowledge that he had every intention of acting on the attraction that sparked between them like an invisible flame.
"You kept up tonight after Jake left," he stated as a small grin quirked his lips. "You surprised me."
"It wasn't that bad," she assured him, catching the side of her lower lip between her teeth before quickly running her tongue over her lips again. "Jake's a hard act to follow though."
"So are you." His hand settled on her hip as he moved closer, the night suddenly heating as his body brushed hers. "Erin, if you don't want me to kiss you, then you need to get your ass in that car and haul out now."
The suggestion had her eyes widening before her gaze moved involuntarily to his lips.
Would his kiss be as hot and as filled with pleasure as she imagined?
Lowering his head slowly, Turk gave her plenty of time to run, "to haul out" as he called it. She had no intentions of running. She felt as though she'd been running all her life, until now.
As his head tilted, his arms went around her. When his lips settled on hers the whimpering little cry that left her throat shocked her.
It was like pouring gasoline to a flame. Like pouring pure, shocking emotion into an eruption of pleasure.
His lips took possession of hers, dark experience and sensual knowledge wrapping around her as he pulled her against him. The heavy imprint of his erection pressed into her lower stomach. Heat settled immediately between her thighs, her erogenous zones kicking to life with a force that stole her breath.
Pleasure surrounded her.
Like a heavy veil of intimacy it enfolded her, shrouding logical thought, hiding her from the implications of exactly what she was doing as pleasure flooded every area of her body.
That pleasure was immediately followed by a pulse of arousal so sharp it clenched her womb. The sensitive flesh between her thighs grew more sensitive by the second, her ability to think, to process the sensations overwhelmed by the pleasure itself.
It was like being taken, possessed by a hunger she'd had no idea she harbored inside her with such strength.
As his hand cupped the back of her head, broad fingers spearing into her hair, Erin found herself arching to get closer. Her breasts pressed into the heated width of his chest, her nipples hardening to immediate, painful sensitivity as her breasts began to ache for touch.
For his lips.
For his hands.
She shook in the grip of a hunger she'd never known and one that rose with such strength inside her that the hot flares of pulsing sensitivity and exquisite electric sensation became more than she could bear.
Just as quickly as the kiss had begun tearing through her senses, it was over.
Releasing her, Turk quickly stepped back, his gaze locked on hers as she lifted her lashes and stared back at him in shock.
Why would he stop?
Reaching around her rather than pulling her back to him, he opened the door of her car instead.
"It's getting late." The hard, dark rasp of his voice had moisture pulsing from between her thighs once again. "You need to get home."
Did she really?
Blinking up at him, Erin was slow to process the rejection. But it finally processed in her passiondrugged senses.
Her knees stiffened. Pulling back from him quickly, Erin gripped the car door and slid inside. Shoving the key into the ignition, she moved to close the door.
The hard fingers still gripping the frame tightened.
Turning, Erin stared up at him, hoping like hell the anger that tightened her body wasn't apparent in her eyes.
"Erin ..." A grimace pulled at his features as discomfort shadowed his expression in the dim light.
"I get it," she told him softly. "We can discuss it at another time."
"What do you get?" His expression became shuttered, remote.
"Not something you want to pursue at the moment," she said as though she understood. "It's not a problem. And as you said, it's late. I need to be going."
Tugging on the door she almost breathed out in relief as he released it. Pulling it closed Erin slid the car into reverse and accelerated out of the space. Sliding it into gear and pulling from the parking lot moments later, she had to force back a shaming tear of regret.
Damn, it was hard to imagine never feeling his kiss again. A kiss that had burned through her senses like wildfire and threatened every ounce of control she'd ever believed she had over herself.
It was evident, though, that Turk Rogan hadn't felt those same flames.
Wasn't that too bad? For her at least. Because she would have loved to have seen exactly where they would have ended. She ached to feel, just one more time, the calm that stole over her restless spirit, even as excitement churned through her senses as he held her.
That feeling that finally she'd found a place all her own.
* * *
Turk watched the car as it pulled onto the main road, a curse slipping past his lips as he pushed the fingers of one hand roughly through his hair and strode to the cycle.
Son of a bitch, he should have known better.
Hell, he had known better, he reminded himself. He'd managed to control the impulse to kiss her every night since she'd first arrived to work at the nightclub. As he'd gotten to know her, the impulse had only grown. And he hadn't been alone. The wary interest in her eyes had assured him he wasn't aching in vein. And aching he was.
His erection throbbed like a wound, fully engorged and howling in protest at the loss of the pleasure that echoed to the hard flesh. Like sweet little fingers of heat spreading from her kiss to his hardened shaft rising between his thighs, his flesh demanded her touch. The pleasure of her hungry kiss mesmerized him. Pulling back from her had been like cutting his own arm off or some shit.
Blowing out a hard breath he jerked his helmet over his head and secured it. Turk told himself it was better that she thought she was being rejected. The truth was far too weird to even get into. How a full-grown man could be weakened by one pint-sized little woman's kiss he couldn't figure out.
The fact was it had been so damned hard to pull back, almost impossible to put distance between them, was a warning he knew better than to ignore. He would have ended up trying to take her there on the hood of her car if he hadn't heeded it.
That skirt wouldn't have stood in his way. Pushing it over her thighs would have been easy. Of course, it might have taken him awhile to finish if he'd given in to the hunger to taste more than just her kiss. Before the night was over, the security cameras would have recorded a hell of a lot more than one brief touch of their lips.
And Turk would have revealed a hell of a lot more than just his interest in the new assistant bartender.
He'd have revealed a hunger he was hard-pressed to control.
And control meant everything.
Or it had....
For far too many years his control had been all that had saved him. The knowledge that his battle to rout out the monsters that destroyed the life of his baby sister so many years ago could only be accomplished if every part of himself was focused on it.
And he'd sworn he'd never allow himself to care for anyone else to the point that their deaths destroyed him.
Cara Jane had been too little to protect herself. He'd raised her after their parents' deaths. He'd loved her. Two months before he was due home from the military she'd been killed in a suspected terrorist bombing while on vacation with their aunt and uncle in England.
He'd lost the three last remaining members of his family that day. And he'd lost the little sister he'd promised he'd always protect.
Ten years later and sea-green eyes were making him forget the vow he'd made at his sister's graveside to never risk his soul again. To never let himself love anyone else. Not in any way.
Yet, Erin was sneaking her way inside his emotions, and he couldn't seem to stop the slow, steady headway she was making into his heart.
A heart he'd believed he no longer held.CHAPTER 2
The watcher watched as the prey stalked to his motorcycle and rode off behind the young woman he'd pulled back from so abruptly. Turk Rogan wasn't the first choice for the betrayer, but Erin Masters was definitely the type of woman the betrayer had once shown such a fondness for.
Pretty red-gold hair and mesmerizing eyes, but with a streak of a rebel gleaming in her gaze.
There had been a certainty that drastic measures would have to be taken after failing to identify the prey several months before. The other men suspected had shown no true fondness for any particular female. Without a lover to protect, the betrayer would never reveal himself. He would never make the call that would reveal him.
This woman meant something to Rogan though.
This one was important.
Satisfaction lit a glow of hope inside a heart black with hatred. Perhaps, finally the game would be drawing to a close. Perhaps it wouldn't be necessary to draw the ultimate bait out to lure the prey to his death.
That was a weakness the watcher had feared being forced to use. One that could possibly backfire ... With any luck Rogan was the one hiding from a past filled with blood, broken innocence, and destruction.
The one responsible for such betrayal that even now, so many years later, the effects of it were still being felt.
Excerpted from Erin's Kiss by Lora Leigh. Copyright © 2015 Lora Leigh. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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