Dawn Freeze had a huge crush on Hawk Rain for years, and the entire town knows it. It's understandable?the man is total hotness. That tall, lean body. Intense dark eyes. And always one foot out the door. Now he's on leave for exactly one week. And this time, he's made it crystal clear that he only wants one thing. Her.
Hawk's been fighting his attraction to Dawn for as long as he can remember. She's his best friend's little sister, and that means hands-off. Except now she's all grown up, and her sweet sexiness is exactly what he craves. But just as Hawk allows himself one mindblowingly intense night with Dawn, he learns that everyone he loves is in danger. Especially her.
And the only way to protect Dawn is to push her away...
Each book in the Maverick Montana series is STANDALONE:
* Against the Wall
* Under the Covers
* Rising Assets
* Over The Top
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Read an Excerpt
Over the Top
A Maverick Montana Novel
By Rebecca Zanetti, Liz Pelletier, Vanessa Mitchell
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2015 Rebecca Zanetti
All rights reserved.
Make a man feel special, and he'll follow you like a chestnut wanting a carrot.
~ The Lady Elks Secret Archives
Hawk Rain sat back in the chair at the round table, his gaze on the frothy mug of Wallace Pale Ale in front of him. As usual for a Saturday night, Adam's bar in downtown Mineral Lake was hopping with ranchers kicking back with microbrews, peanuts, and loud laughs. The place smelled like pine, beer, and home, but the cozy atmosphere failed to calm him. Apparently the bar had purchased new glasses. The thought irritated him, and he couldn't figure out why.
"What are you moping about?" The question came from Colton Freeze, his best friend, and held no judgment. Just thoughtful contemplation.
"Nothin'." Hawk took another drink, eyeing Colt, who sprawled in his chair after a long day of punching cows.
The guy's hair almost reached his shoulders in a myriad of cool colors — black, reddish blond and brown — from his Native American and Irish ancestry that somehow blended together. His blue eyes were dark and serious, his jawline scruffed, and his shoulders stiff. "Huh. Nothin'. Are you all right?" Colt asked.
If one more damn person in town asked Hawk how he was doing or if he was okay, he was going to pummel them. "Adam bought new mugs."
Colton shoved a cowboy hat back on his head. "So?"
So? Hawk had been gone too long, taking care of business, and things had changed. So had he, but nobody could see the damage that had been done. "I liked the old mugs." He lifted his, which was heavier than the former ones, damn it.
Colton's chair scraped on the scarred wooden floor as he pushed back from the table, his lip twisting. "We're talking about mugs instead of anything serious now?"
"Yes." If Hawk's buddy wanted to get deep and talk about feelings, he could go chat with his very knocked-up wife.
"Fine. Are you home for good this time?"
Hawk sighed. "No."
"Well, that displeases me, because I figured you were in Mineral Lake for good last time, then I got married, and then you disappeared," Colt murmured.
"I had something to take care of — and I can't talk about it." Hawk had signed on for a civilian mission, and he didn't regret one second. Especially since he'd actually lived through it and made it home. "The job isn't finished, not really, and I'm just here to rest up." The idea that he'd be able to finish the job, to completely destroy Meyer's organization, was too much to hope for.
"I'm tired of the secrecy, and I'm ready to help." Colton tapped his fingers on the table. "I know you're still working for Reese."
"Yep." Hawk took another drink. Reese was a former DEA agent turned private security guru, who had hired Hawk right out of the military for one big job. One that wasn't over yet. "Reese is a good guy."
"I know." Colton turned as a light swept across the stage at the far end of the room, and a cheer went through the boisterous crowd. His mouth tightened. "She is not wearing enough clothes."
Hawk's entire body went on full alert as he took in the lead singer — his friend's little sister. Holy fucking shit. Dawn Freeze sidled up to the mic dressed in a tiny skirt that barely covered her ass and revealed long and lean legs encased in cowboy boots. Red and black cowboy boots.
His balls pulled tight and bellowed a hello.
The stunning minx wore one of those fancy bustiers that pushed up what had to be perfect breasts. A saucy black cowboy hat perched on her head, and even across the room, Hawk could see the amused sparkle in her dangerous eyes.
Blue didn't come close to describing those eyes, and he'd go to the grave before admitting it, but they were the last image that had flashed through his brain before he'd nearly died the year before.
He may have even whispered her name before falling unconscious.
That was in the past, and any thought of claiming her would stay there as well. He was about as screwed up as a guy could be, and he was smart enough to know it. Plus, there'd come a time when he wouldn't make it home from a job, and he couldn't leave his girl behind like that. Especially a sweetheart like Dawn. When she gave her loyalty, it was forever, because the woman was all or nothing and always had been.
He shifted in his seat to ease the pain of his suddenly raging cock and took a deep drink of the potent brew. This was no big deal, and he was out for fun with his best friend.
Then Dawn opened her mouth and started to sing.
A groan rumbled from his chest. Sexy and surprisingly husky, Dawn's voice wrapped around the room, focused hard, and licked right up his dick.
He downed half his beer, and the cold drink slammed into his gut.
Colton grinned and slapped him on the back. "The girl can sing, though. Right?"
Clueless. Fucking clueless. Hawk managed a smile and a nod.
Colton continued, "We didn't like her singing in a bar, but what the hell. It's not like we haven't taught her how to maim anybody who bothers her."
Hell yes. Hawk had taught her to go for the eyes, back in kindergarten when Billy Nolan had pulled her hair. "I figured she'd quit singing now that she's working for the family company."
Colt shrugged. "She likes to sing, too."
Yeah. With a voice like that, she could probably go far if she had any interest in being famous. Which she didn't. "What the hell's up with all the pink?" The decorations were pink, the band wore pink ... even the drum set was pink.
"It's Sizzled Pink. They're a traveling band, and Dawn sang for them a few times during college." Colton shook his head. "Sometimes I think she's a little tempted to keep singing, but then I figure she'd rather stay home and get settled in her new job as VP of Finances for Lodge-Freeze Enterprises. Thank God."
Hawk nodded. While Dawn liked to sing, it had never truly been her passion. He knew her, understood her wants. At one point, he'd been what she'd wanted.
Hell, maybe he still was.
But she was one of a kind, and she deserved the whole package, with a guy who wasn't half-crazed sometimes by the feeling of an imaginary riflescope catching his every move. He was safe now, but he couldn't get rid of the expectation of imminent attack ... yet. At some point, he'd feel peace again, and he was working hard on it. He'd spent the last eight months taking care of the biggest threat hanging over his head, which he hadn't thought he'd be able to do. If he could take down the rest of the organization, and live through it, then ... maybe?
But dating Dawn would seriously strain his relationship with Colton and Colt's older brothers, and Hawk needed them. They were family. However, Dawn Freeze was special, and a chance with her might be worth the risk. As usual, when he thought of her, his thoughts zinged around his brain until his ears rang.
Her gaze met his, and her voice lowered to a huskier tone. Those eyes softened, and she stepped closer to the mic, her hands wrapping around the base.
Nothing was too much to give to have those hands on him. He lacked the strength to look away. Or maybe it was the will to look away. So he watched her, allowing her to dig deep into his soul as the music rose in tempo.
The song finally ended, and he breathed out, not realizing he'd been holding his breath.
A shadow crossed between their table and the bar lights as steps clipped closer. Colton smiled, his tough expression mellowing. "Melanie." Standing, he yanked back a chair for his eight-months pregnant wife, who was dusting snow off her heavy jacket.
Hawk half stood and waited until Mel sat. Then he stiffened as Colt pulled out another chair for Anne Newberry, Colt's secretary. The curvy blonde dropped into the chair with a sigh of relief, her thick boots scattering slush. What the hell? He hadn't realized the women would be joining them.
Melanie reached to tug him into a side-hug. "I'm so glad you're home."
Emotion pricked the back of his eyes, and he gingerly returned the embrace. "Me, too." He'd been best friends with Mel and Colt since early childhood, and he'd missed her. When she and Colton had finally gotten together, the relief Hawk had felt at knowing they'd both be safe and protected had floored him. The pregnancy had added a lovely glow to her smooth skin, or maybe that was just the love obviously there for her husband as she winked at Colton.
"I hope you don't mind that Anne and I joined you guys." Melanie pulled a bowl of peanuts her way to grab a handful. "We went shopping and figured it'd be fun to watch Dawn sing."
Hawk forced yet another smile. "That's great." The hell it was. Now Dawn would think he was on a double date, and the last thing he wanted to do was hurt her. Sure, he couldn't make a move on her right now. But shoving another woman in her face was something he'd never do. Her crush on him wasn't exactly a town secret.
Shit. In Mineral Lake, Montana ... town secrets didn't exist.
Colton ordered lemonade for Melanie and a beer for Anne from a waitress they'd all known since grade school. The music continued while Hawk tried to engage in conversation and appear normal.
Was Dawn watching? He tried to capture her gaze several times, but she kept busy entertaining the crowd. She really could sing.
The night droned on, and finally he figured he'd just stay late and explain to Dawn that this wasn't a double date — in case she cared. Maybe she wouldn't mind. Or maybe he'd hurt her feelings by drinking with another woman under her nose — date or not. Either way, he needed to explain.
Yeah, he was fucking pathetic.
The music wound down, and his body finally started to mellow as the band stopped playing.
Melanie gasped next to him.
Adrenaline swamped his system. "Mel?" he asked, reaching for his keys.
Her brown eyes widened, and delight lifted her lips. Grabbing his hand, she pressed his palm to her abdomen. "Feel."
Womp. Womp, womp, womp. A little foot drummed against his hand. Heat roared through him, and for the first, time, a genuine smile tickled his lips. His shoulders relaxed. "The kid can kick."
"Kids." Melanie grinned and patted Hawk's knuckles.
Hawk leaned back. "Kids? As in you have more than one in there?" He glanced down at Mel's protruding tummy, and his smile spread.
She chuckled. "Yep. Two. Probably girls."
"Boys," Colton said.
Hawk would never understand why they didn't just find out the sex of the babies, but he figured a kick like that was probably from a girl. A rambunctious, feisty, sweet girl like her mama ... and now there were two mini-Mel's on the way. God help the town.
"I can't wait to see the little ones." His chest lightened in a way it hadn't in over a year. Two babies coming. Hope for the future, and for once, he could actually feel it. He laughed out loud.
Anne pushed back from the table. "Speaking of little ones, I have to get home to Tyler."
Hawk and Colton instantly stood. The single mom was often busy, and her husband had died in a construction accident. With no family, Anne had headed west to start a new life for her and her kid. Of course, the Lodge-Freeze clan had instantly folded them into the family.
Colton whistled at Adam behind the bar. "Just put it on my tab."
Adam nodded, while his attention remained on the band as they packed up.
Hawk rubbed his chin. Adam had purchased the bar after attending business school, which he'd done after a stint in the military. They'd bonded right away and had been friends for years. In fact, Adam had sent more than one care package to Hawk overseas. "Why isn't Adam playing the guitar?" Hawk asked.
Colton grinned. "Bar fight last week. Adam had to step in and sprained his wrist. Looks like he took off the bandage, though."
"How's the bar doing?" Hawk asked.
Colton helped Melanie from her chair, biting his lip as she groaned and lifted her big belly. "Seems to be doing good. We're supportive."
Mel snorted. "We do our best." She leaned up on her toes to brush a kiss across Hawk's jaw. "Come for dinner tomorrow night."
The gentle touch felt like home. "Yes, ma'am," he said. His mama, God rest her soul, had taught him not to refuse a woman offering a guy home-cooked food. Plus, Melanie was one of the best cooks in Maverick County. "I'll be there."
Colton lifted an eyebrow. "You leaving right now?"
"I'll be along shortly." Hawk pointed to his half-full glass.
"Okay." Colton herded the women through the nearly empty bar. Once the band stopped playing, folks usually headed home. The band began packing up amid calls of "good night" and "see ya next Friday."
Hawk finished his beer, his gut churning. He hadn't seen Dawn in about seven months, although he'd answered every letter or email she'd sent. They'd kept the conversation simple and had focused on home.
Two of the waitresses cashed out and stomped into the wintery night. Then a couple of the band members. Adam disappeared into the back room.
Hawk stood and shifted his weight. He took off his cowboy hat to set on the table. He cleared his throat. Maybe he should sit back down.
Dawn swept around the drum set and headed his way. Her smile was one of the prettiest things he'd ever seen.
Without an ounce of hesitation, she barreled right into his arms.
Warmth and woman. His arms tightened around her, but he kept his hold light. She had such a large personality, he forgot how damn small she was. The woman didn't even reach his chin.
Her scent of wild huckleberries wafted around him, slammed into his heart, and zinged down to his groin.
He swallowed and stepped back, his throat threatening to close. "You were amazing tonight."
Delight danced across her face. She lifted her head to meet his eyes, hers like blue diamonds sparkling against classic features. Her mother was Native American, her father a spirited Irishman, and she'd inherited the best from both — beautiful blue eyes and long, silky black hair. "Thanks. I'm so glad you're home."
He nodded and cleared his throat. Then he grabbed his hat off the table to twist in his hands. "I, ah, wanted to explain."
Her gaze stayed so warm it nearly thawed him. The woman was glad to see him, and damned if that didn't feel good. A tiny wrinkle creased between her arched brows. "Huh?" she asked.
The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her, but they had to get things straight now. The old crush she had on him needed to be buried. "I wasn't on a date with Anne."
Dawn stretched her back, pushing out those glorious breasts. "Okay."
He shook his head, trying to concentrate on the moment and not her amazing tits. Colton would rightfully kick his ass for going there. "I just didn't want you to think I'd come in here on a date."
Dawn stilled. She blinked and then narrowed her focus to his face. "Why not?"
Because the woman had crushed on him big time, and that didn't just go away. "I don't want to hurt you."
Her smile held a hint of danger. "Do I look hurt?"
Hell no. She looked like an angel fully prepared to sin. "You know what I mean."
She bit her lip, and he wanted to groan. Again. "I really don't know, Hawk. Last time I checked, we were just friends. You made that abundantly clear last year."
Yeah, he had. He'd said those exact words to her after Colt and Melanie's wedding, figuring there wasn't a chance in hell he'd survive his last job and make it home. Yet here he was. "I just wanted to make sure we were on the same page." He sounded like an asshole, damn it.
Then she smiled, and he forgot to breathe. Again. "We're on the same page," she murmured.
The end of the bar slammed open, and Adam strode around with a thick blue ski jacket in his hands. "Damn, Hawk. It's good to see you."
Hawk nodded and leaned over for a manly half-hug. "Ditto. We'll have to have a drink sometime this week."
"Name the night, and I'm here." Adam turned toward Dawn. "Sorry I took so long."
Hawk frowned and eyed the bar owner. The guy was well over six foot, built tough, and smiling way too gently. "Took so long?" Hawk asked.
Dawn chuckled. "Were you counting your money from tonight? Miser?"
Adam grinned, flashing what people probably thought was a charming dimple. "I've asked you repeatedly to stop calling me that." He helped Dawn into the thick jacket. "You ready?" His smile relaxed his usually hard face.
Dawn patted Adam's flat stomach and turned back to Hawk. "I think so. Are we done?"
Excerpted from Over the Top by Rebecca Zanetti, Liz Pelletier, Vanessa Mitchell. Copyright © 2015 Rebecca Zanetti. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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