Liv never expected to find herself trapped in a dark alley facing a band of rough bikers. And she certainly never expected to see him again. Back in college when they dated, he was heir to his family's business empire--and their fortune. She expected him to become a billionaire. Instead, he's the heavily muscled, tattooed member of a rough biker gang...and just as sinfully sexy as ever.
When Shock sees Liv again, he's ready to pay any price to have her in his bed and on his bike. Shock has his own scars to deal with, but he soon learns that Liv is in desperate need of financial help, though she won't tell him why. So he offers her a sensual deal: his help for her complete submission. Can Liv entrust Shock with her secret...and how can she stop herself from falling for the hard rider?
This is part one of HARD RIDE, a three part novel.
About the Author
OPAL CAREW is the author of fifteen erotic romances for St. Martin's including His to Command, Blush, Riding Steele and other erotic romance novels. She lives in Canada and makes regular trips to the U.S. to speak at conferences and industry events.
Opal Carew is the author of Total Abandon, Pleasure Bound, Twin Fantasies and other erotic romance novels. “So why do I like writing erotic romance?” she asks. “I like being able to push beyond traditional boundaries.” Opal loves crystals, dragons, feathers, cats, pink hair, the occult and all that glitters. While she writes, she listens to inspirational music, lights candles and keeps crystals near. Before devoting herself to her passion as a writer, Opal spent 15 years as a software analyst, and she has a degree in Mathematics from the University of Waterloo. She lives with her husband and two sons in Ontario, Canada.
Read an Excerpt
Hard Ride: Part One
A Novel in Three Parts
By Opal Carew
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Opal Carew
All rights reserved.
Liv sipped her drink as she glanced around the bar, her heartbeat racing. Carl said he would meet her here at midnight and it was now close to one. She glanced toward the bar and the big, scary-looking tattooed guy who kept staring at her.
He saw her glancing his way and smiled, then stood up and started walking toward her table.
She turned away, keeping him in her peripheral vision, hoping he would be discouraged by her lack of interest. But no such luck. He grabbed one of the empty chairs at her table and turned it around, then sat down on it backward.
"Hey, babe. You look pretty lonely sitting here all by yourself."
She turned to face him. His dark, unsettling gaze locked on her.
"A pretty little lady like you shouldn't be all alone. Me and my men would be happy to offer our company."
The scraping of other chairs drew her attention as three other guys sat down. They plunked their half-drunk beer bottles on the table.
"I'm not alone. I'm meeting someone here," she said.
"Really?" He glanced around. "I don't see no one." He glanced at the burly bearded guy to his left. "Hawg, do you see anyone?" Hawg shook his head. "No, sir, Crow, I don't see no one."
Crow leaned close to her, his sour beer breath enough to make her want to vomit. "I think maybe you're lyin' to us. You bin sittin' here for near an hour and no one's come by." He scratched his raspy chin and glanced at the others. "I think maybe the lady thinks she's too good for us."
"I think you're right, Crow," the tall man who sat across the table from him said. He had a ring in his nose and a tattoo along each side of his neck.
"Hey, leave the woman alone or I'm callin' the cops again."
Liv glanced up thankfully at the bartender, who'd stepped to her rescue.
"Danny, why don't you just stay out of it. It's no skin off your nose if —"
"Shut it, Crow," Danny said, cutting off his words. "If you don't want me banning you from here for good, then get lost. You're cut off anyway."
Crow scowled, but pushed himself to his feet. "Whatever."
The others followed him to the door and they left.
"Look," Danny the bartender said, "I don't need you coming in here, causing trouble with my regulars."
"But I didn't do anything."
His gaze slid down her body, then back up, and he harrumphed. "Yeah, right." Then he turned and walked away.
Anger seethed through her. All she did was sit in a bar and be female and she was blamed for the actions of those oafs?
She'd long ago realized that life wasn't fair, but she hated being reminded of it.
She settled the bill and stood up.
* * *
Shock stared across the bar at the woman sitting alone at the table. She had big eyes, a small, heart-shaped mouth, and honey-blonde hair that floated in waves over her shoulders.
"Ah, fuck," he said as recognition hit him.
Wild Card glanced around from his conversation with Magic and Dom. "What is it?" "I know that woman," he said. And, as usual, she was somewhere she shouldn't be, probably causing all kinds of trouble.
He'd watched as the men approached the single woman sitting at the table, ready to lurch to her aid. She clearly hadn't wanted their attention, but Danny had stepped in before things had gone too far.
If Shock had known it was Liv, though, he would have been at her side in the blink of an eye. As much as he resented her rejection in college, it didn't change the intense protectiveness he'd always felt for her
She stood up and headed for the door.
"Guys, let's go," Shock said.
"I'm not finished with my beer," Magic complained.
"Now," Shock said.
Magic grumbled, but tipped back his bottle and downed what was left. So did Wild Card and Dom, then all of them stood and followed Shock out the back door, to where their bikes were parked.
* * *
Once out on the street, which was pretty deserted at this time of night, Liv started walking down the road. She wanted to grab a cab, but there were no cars at all on this road right now. After a few minutes of walking, heading toward a busier street, she started to get nervous. It was at times like this she wished she still had her car, but with the drain on her finances, it was a luxury she could no longer afford.
There were some men hanging out on the corner ahead. Rough-looking men. Maybe she should go back inside and have the bartender call her a cab.
She turned and started to walk back, but as she got close to the bar, a few more rough-looking types exited the bar and started walking toward her. Their gazes locked on her.
Her stomach clenched and a chill quivered through her.
Damn Carl for leaving her stranded here. Ordinarily, she would never come to a place like this, especially alone, but Carl had insisted the only time he could meet her was after his shift as a bouncer at a nearby bar.
She turned down an alley beside her. She was pretty sure it led to the next block and she could probably catch a cab there. Or at least slip into the all- night diner she'd seen on the way here this evening.
But as she walked down the dimly lit alleyway, she wondered if she'd made a grave mistake. She couldn't see very far ahead, but shouldn't she see streetlights from the next block? Or headlights of cars driving by?
She heard a sound behind her and glanced over her shoulder as she picked up her pace. Her breath caught at the shadowy shapes of three men behind her. She lurched forward and ran smack into a big, solid body. She gasped as she pushed herself back from a man with a broad, muscular chest and thick, tattooed arms.
Oh, God, the guy from the bar.
She gazed up at him, expecting to see the leering face of the man called Crow, but her eyes widened. In the dim light of the alley, she couldn't make out much of his face, but this tall stranger wasn't Crow or any of the men who'd been with him.
He grasped her arms and propelled her backward toward the building, then she felt the brick wall at her back. All she could see of his face was the steely glint of his eyes. Her heart pounded.
"Do you really think it's a good idea to be walking through a dark alley alone at night?" His words came out low and fierce.
Tears threatened at the dire situation she found herself in, but something about his voice nagged at her. There was something about it that was ... familiar.
He leaned in closer. "But you always were lacking in common sense."
Shock vaulted through her. That was it. That voice unmistakably belonged to —
He tightened his hold on her shirt, pushing her harder against the wall, anger emanating from him, so volatile she knew he was using his impressive self-control to suppress it. But she sensed it could explode at any time.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"No, you don't ask me questions," he flared. "You're the one in a dangerous situation. I ask the questions. What are you doing here?"
His tight grip on her loosened a little, and the short, raspy breaths she was sucking in slowed down. She took a deep intake of air to calm herself down.
"What was it?" he went on. "A dare? You never could resist those."
She frowned, annoyed at him for bringing up the way she'd been when she was in college. A lot had happened since then, and she was much more responsible now. He didn't know that. After they'd parted ways, he'd probably gone back to his rich family, taken control of the business, and become a big hotshot CEO. Not that she'd heard anything about him. He traveled in different circles than she did.
Of course, he always had. Even when they'd known each other in college. He had money, family connections, everything. She'd worked for everything she had. But Mr. Devin Ancaster had never understood that. He was from a completely different world.
"I was supposed to meet someone here," she said.
It was unsettling being this close to him. The old attraction flared in her despite the fact she thought she'd left those feelings behind a long time ago.
His eyebrow arched. "Your boyfriend suggested you meet him here? You should dump him."
She scowled. "He's not my boyfriend."
The warmth of his big body so close to her kept her senses reeling. If only he would step back and give her some breathing space.
He shrugged. "Whatever. Whoever he is, you shouldn't trust someone who suggests you come somewhere like this, especially late at night."
"Don't tell me who I should and shouldn't trust," she snapped. "It's my life and I've been taking care of it just fine without your help, thank you very much."
The steel in his eyes eased a little and he stepped back. The tension in her body dissipated as he gave her more space.
"How did you plan to get home? Is your car nearby?"
"No, I was going to get a cab."
"I'll take you."
"You don't need to do that. I can make my own way home." She glanced around the alley, wondering how to get to a busy street from here. But the thought of walking through the alley, then down the street where she remembered the men hanging out at the corner, made her nervous.
"But ... maybe you could just walk me to where I can find a cab."
"So you're actually willing to accept some help from me?" Annoyance flickered through her. "If it's a problem ..." He grasped her arm and hooked it around his elbow. "Not at all."
Devin led her back to the street where the other three men, who she'd noticed behind her earlier, still stood. She'd forgotten all about them.
"You know those men?" she asked as they got closer to them.
"Liv, these are my friends. Wild Card, Magic, and Dom."
They all stepped onto the well-lit street again. They were all tough-looking men wearing heavy biker boots, jeans, and T-shirts, their arms well muscled and inked.
The one named Wild Card grinned. He was the shortest of the men at about six foot two, with hazel eyes and dark blond hair spiked on top and short on the sides.
He held out his hand and she shook it. He had a tattoo the length of his left arm, swirls of blue, purple, and red surrounding three stars.
Magic had dark brown hair that was combed back like James Dean. The sleeves of his T-shirt had been torn off, revealing arms just as bulging and inked as his friends'. He shook her hand with a firmer grip and she noticed that the thorny vine tattooed on his arm extended under the shirt at the shoulder and coiled around his wrist. The way the thorns were inked, they seemed to penetrate his skin, complete with drops of blood.
Dom, who was the tallest, offered his hand next. Both his arms were covered with thick, black Celtic tattoos. A one-inch scar slashed across his chin, partially covered by the fringe of hair that formed a line along the edge of his chin from temple to temple. His big fingers enveloped hers and she felt power emanating from him. He was strong, with a potent masculinity, and she felt deep in her bones that he would always be in control in any relationship with a woman, but that woman would be totally safe and protected with him.
Which was how she'd always felt with Devin.
She turned to look at Devin again, and was jolted by the sight of him. Gone was the young man who'd always projected an image of casual elegance in expensive designer clothes that accentuated his clean-cut good looks. Now he wore the same type of attire as the others, and from his biker boots, faded, well-worn jeans, and T-shirt stretched taut over his muscular chest, to his unshaven face and unkempt hair, he was every bit the badass biker.
It didn't change how exceptionally handsome he was, though. If anything, the way his thick, dark brown hair, combined with the scruffy whiskers on his face, gave his chiseled good looks a rugged edge.
He even had tattoos. On one bicep he had two dragons within the boundaries of a star frame, and on the other, what looked like a newly added tribal armband, judging from the trace of redness.
"Liv's an old friend from college," Devin told them.
"Any friend of Shock's is a friend of ours," Wild Card said.
"Shock?" She glanced at Devin.
"That's what people know me as now," Devin said.
"That's his ride name," Magic said. "Now"— he grinned —"what did you say his real name is?"
"She didn't," Devin said, sending her a stare that made it clear he didn't want her telling them.
She pursed her lips, the rebel in her considering telling them right now, but why make him angry? Especially since she did want him to walk her to a taxi.
"If he says his name is Shock, then that's what it is."
Magic laughed. "Spoilsport."
"I'm walking Liv to a taxi," Devin said. "I'll see you back at the house later."
"Okay, man," Dom said. "But I'd have Liv check her wallet first."
Liv frowned, then dug through her purse looking for her red leather wallet. "Oh, my God, my wallet's gone."
Dom shrugged. "They've had a problem with pickpockets at Matey's Bar."
"How did you know where I was?" she asked.
"We saw you in there," Devin answered. "And I saw those guys badgering you. That's why we came out to see if you were okay."
His words rankled. She didn't need anyone looking out for her.
Except tonight she had.
Or had she? After all, it was Devin — or should she say Shock — who had scared the crap out of her.
She glanced down the road at the tough-looking men hanging out at the corner. Their number had grown since the bar had closed. She did not want to be roaming around here alone at this hour.
She zipped up her purse. But with no money she couldn't get a cab. The thought crossed her mind to ask Devin if she could borrow some money for a taxi, but she pushed it right out of her mind. She had promised herself long ago that she would never ask for money — or anything else — from Devin.
Anyway, it would all be too complicated. She'd have to arrange to get it back to him, and that would mean contacting him, and she did not want to see him again. Their past relationship was over and should remain in the past. And the way he'd changed ... she didn't want to get caught up in whatever had changed him. He had his friends and his life, and she had hers. And what was going on in her life was enough to cope with right now without taking on someone else's stuff. Especially when that someone else was Devin, a part of her past she just wanted to forget.
Shock. She had to remember he was Shock now.
"So, will you accept that ride now?" Devin asked.
She glanced up at him, and then pursed her lips. "Yes, please."
* * *
Shock led her to a big Harley and handed her a black helmet. She pulled it on and stared at the bike.
"Get on," he said.
She frowned, unsure how to do it with a dress on. Before she could pick her strategy, he encircled her waist with his big hands and lifted her onto the bike. Her thighs were spread wide, hugging the black leather seat, and she quickly smoothed her skirt over herself, afraid he'd gotten a glimpse of her pink lace panties. Her cheeks flushed and she realized she was being ridiculous. They were both adults ... and they were just panties.
Devin grabbed a black leather jacket and helmet and pulled them on, then mounted the bike in front of her. He settled his big body between her legs, the warmth of him against her inner thighs sending her senses reeling.
"Put your arms around me."
He glanced over his shoulder. "You have to hold on to me."
"Oh, right. Sorry." She slid her arms around his waist, her hands resting lightly on the leather of his jacket as she tried not to actually make contact with him.
He pressed her hands tight against his stomach. The feel of his hard muscles under her fingertips, even through the warm leather, sent heat fluttering through her.
"You have to actually touch me to hold on. You don't want to fall off the bike and onto your ass, do you?" He grinned. "If that happened, then you'd be flashing those pink panties of yours to the world."
Her cheeks flushed even hotter.
Then the engine started and the bike shot forward. She sucked in a breath and tightened her hold on him, afraid her ass would land on the pavement. When he turned onto another road, she rested her head against his back, clinging to him as the bike leaned to the side.
The feel of the supple leather against her cheek, the manly smell of it, filled her with longing.
Back in college, they used to study together, and they'd become friends. Then it became complicated by a growing attraction between them. If things had happened differently — if that incident hadn't happened — then they probably would have gone somewhere with it. Developed a romantic relationship. Become lovers.
But she couldn't. Not after ...
Her heart clenched. She'd pulled back and she knew he'd never understood, but there was no way she could have told him about it.
Now, as she clung to him, she wondered what had happened to him — whether his situation had changed or he was just defying his family. But there was no denying that he was earthier. And more rugged.
And at the same time totally intimidating with his badass clothes and his biker attitude. Which, she admitted, was a big part of why she was filled with yearning.
She knew him, but she didn't. Which made him a mystery.
But no matter how big and intimidating he was, she knew what was inside, and that he would never hurt her.
Excerpted from Hard Ride: Part One by Opal Carew. Copyright © 2015 Opal Carew. 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.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Hard Ride: Part One,
Also by Opal Carew,
About the Author,