The New York Times bestselling author of Reaper’s Stand is back in her “uber-alpha rough world of MCs”* as one woman’s future is rocked by the man whose hardcore past could destroy her…
He never meant to hurt her.
Levi “Painter” Brooks was nothing before he joined the Reapers motorcycle club. The day he patched in, they became his brothers and his life. All they asked in return was a strong arm and unconditional loyalty—a loyalty that’s tested when he’s caught and sentenced to prison for a crime committed on their behalf.
Melanie Tucker may have had a rough start, but along the way she’s learned to fight for her future. She’s escaped from hell and started a new life, yet every night she dreams of a biker whose touch she can’t forget. It all started out so innocently—just a series of letters to a lonely man in prison. Friendly. Harmless. Safe.
Now Painter Brooks is coming home… and Melanie’s about to learn that there’s no room for innocence in the Reapers MC.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
About the Author
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Read an Excerpt
“Fuckin’ hell,” Horse said, looking out across the crowded clubhouse. I paused, beer halfway to my mouth, turning to follow his gaze. “Painter, brother, you gotta stay calm—”
That’s when I saw her.
Melanie Fucking Tucker.
This wasn’t happening. Maybe I was hallucinating, because I couldn’t imagine a reality where she’d actually be this goddamn stupid. I dropped my beer bottle, glass shattering as I stalked across the room. Everything narrowed, my vision fading to red.
“Hold on, son,” Picnic growled. I respected the hell out of him, loved him like a father . . . but there wasn’t a fucking thing the Reapers MC president could’ve said to slow me down in that instant. That’s because the mother of my child stood in the clubhouse doorway, eyes wide and scared. She knew she’d fucked up.
Standing next to her was a man. A biker. Hangaround? He’d wrapped his arm around her like she belonged to him.
Yeah. He put his hands on my Melanie.
Except she wasn’t mine and hadn’t been in a long time. Her choice, so fuck her very much. But that freedom she’d wanted so badly came with one rule and she’d just broken the shit out of it. No bikers. Yet here she was with some cockwad asshole, some douche who thought putting on leathers gave him the right to exist.
In an MC clubhouse, no less.
This was a problem. A big fuckin’ problem. That terror on her face was totally justified, because she was about to witness a goddamn murder. And no, that wasn’t just a figure of speech. In ten seconds I had every intention of ripping the dick off his body, feeding it to him at knifepoint, and then jerking it back out his ass before repeating the process.
A hand wrapped around my arm, silently warning me—my president, trying to calm me down. I shrugged it off, tuning out whatever the hell Pic was trying to communicate as I lunged forward, catching the little prick by the front of his shirt. I jerked him savagely into the center of the room. A rushing sound filled my ears and in the distance I heard Mel scream. Then my fist connected with his face, sweet pain tearing through my knuckles as time slowed.
I love fighting.
Not just winning, but the rush of energy, the sweetness of the pain, and the incredible focus that hits when your entire existence narrows to one moment of terrible purpose. It’s primal and beautiful, and it’d never felt better than it did in the instant Melanie’s new boyfriend went down.
I followed him, pounding his face into hamburger and savoring the fountain of blood exploding from his nose. Fuckin’ cathartic as hell—his life was over. More screaming cut through the fog of violence.
Damn straight, she should be screaming. She should be fucking afraid.
I smiled, because from Mel it sounded sweet as hell. She’d called me an asshole ten thousand different ways over the years, ranging from enraged hatred to whispered insults between kisses. It worked for me, too. I was a total asshole, but for once she’d just have to suck it up and deal with the consequences.
She’d broken the fucking rules by bringing him here.
Simple, right? One condition I’d given her. No. Fucking. Bikers. All she had to do was keep her ass out of my world, because so long as I didn’t have to see her sucking someone else’s cock, I could pretend it wasn’t happening.
Not a complicated concept.
Arms came around me, strong arms dragging me off my victim before I could finish killing him. Then I heard Puck’s voice in my ear.
My best friend. Puck, who’d taken my back for a year and a half in prison. I’d trusted him with my life inside, and I trusted him now. I should be listening, but I really, really wanted to end this cockwad’s life.
I shrugged Puck off, determined to finish it.
“He’s not worth it, bro,” Puck gritted out. Melanie was still making noise. Between us, her pussy of a date moaned and cried, whimpering about how he didn’t want to die. Yeah, you better beg for your life, bitch. “You kill him here, you’ll never see your kid again. Whatever shit goes down with you and Mel, you gotta think of Izzy.”
Fuck. I took deep breaths, forcing myself to calm as I stood over the man, staring between him and Melanie.
Had to focus.
The image of my beautiful, fuzzy-haired blonde baby girl flashed through my mind. Izzy. I’d do it for Izzy. I ran a hand through my hair, holding back the fire raging through me.
“Get him out of here,” I finally managed to growl out. Nobody moved as the man rolled to one side, whining like the little cunt he was. Fucking pussy hadn’t even managed to get in a hit. A distant part of me noted he wore leather with Harley Davidson patches, but no MC colors. Who did he think he was, coming to the Silver Bastards clubhouse? This wasn’t a game. “Get him out of here before I kill him!”
“Fuck,” Horse muttered, stepping forward to grab the douche by the armpits. A path cleared as he started dragging the man toward the door. Melanie shouted at me again, and I turned on her, stalking forward. This was it—I’d had enough of her shit. She wanted to play games? Perfect, because I loved to play, and she knew damned well I liked to play rough.
Melanie was about to get one hell of a reality check.
Picnic stepped in front of her, arms crossed as he stared me down.
“Not happening, son.”
“It’s none of your business,” I snarled. I was right, too—so what if his old lady loved the little bitch? He’d been standing between me and Melanie for way the fuck too long, and this little scene tonight wasn’t club business. Melanie was mine to deal with. There wasn’t a man in the room who had the right to say otherwise, including my president.
“She’s the one who came here,” I reminded him.
“I didn’t even know where we were going!” Melanie yelled from behind him. “It was just a date, you asshole!”
Red filled my vision again. My jaw clenched, and I smelled the blood on my hands. “He’s a fucking biker. You broke the rules, Mel. Get over here.”
“Not happening,” Pic said, his face grim. “I am not dealing with this tonight. Painter, get your ass home. Melanie, you’re with me.”
The air around us cooled. The brothers—Silver Bastards and Reapers both—had been watching all along, but now there was a new, quiet intensity in the air. This had just gone from a confrontation between me and a woman to a confrontation between two full members, and we didn’t usually air that shit outside the chapel. Pic might be the president, but like I said, this wasn’t club business.
He needed to step back. Now.
Suddenly Mel shoved him out of the way, although how she did it I had no idea—she weighed maybe a dime and a quarter soaking wet, the little witch.
“What I do is none of your goddamned business!” she shouted.
I caught Pic’s eye and he shrugged, knowing he was beat. “Fuck it. I’m done with both of you.”
About time. I gave Mel a slow smile, savoring the moment she realized what’d just happened. We might be in another club’s house, but the Silver Bastards were brothers to the Reapers. Pic had spoken because Mel was tight with his old lady, but he’d been overstepping. If she’d kept her mouth fucking shut, she might’ve walked out of here. Now? Not so much.
“I’ll give you a ride home, Mel,” I said with soft menace, enjoying the sudden shock in her face. “We can talk when we get there. Privacy, you know?”
She glanced around, eyes wide. She knew half the men here tonight, but they could be strangers for all the good that’d do her now. Ruger. Gage. Horse. Puck. They all stared back at her, eyes cold. Not one of them would lift a finger to protect her—not from me.
“Fuck . . .” she whispered. Yeah, enjoy your reality check, baby.
“Maybe we’ll do that, too,” I said, thinking about that hot, sweet pussy of hers. Hadn’t felt that for years now, but I still dreamed about it every goddamned night.
I reached for her, jerking her into my arms as she screamed. Nobody moved. Seconds later I had her over my shoulder, hauling her out into the night. Her hands pounded my back, which was adorable because she didn’t stand a chance.
Little Melanie was all grown up.
I’d spent five years dancing to her tune, but that shit was over. In my mind, she’d lost her freedom the instant she threw her leg over another man’s bike.
Now all I had to do was fuck some sense into her.
Five years earlier
Southern California, State Correctional Facility
You know, someday you should really tell me how you got started with your artwork. It seems like I share everything with you, but you never tell me anything real about yourself. It’s kind of weird. I keep thinking that I should stop writing to you, because it’s not like we even really know each other. (I still don’t quite understand why you let me borrow your car all this time, but I really appreciate it—I make sure the oil is changed and stuff.) Then something will happen and I find myself wanting to tell you about it, so I write again.
Anyway, you don’t have to write back if you don’t want to. I know you think I’m just some kid, but I’m twenty years old now and I’ve lived through my own shit.
Okay, so I had to stop writing for a while. Jessica stopped by—we’re getting a house together this semester. (Um, just so you know, she told me. About you and her, I mean. She said it didn’t mean anything, but I can’t help but wonder if you still think about her like that.) She’s doing really well, by the way. We just finished summer session, and she got a 3.00 GPA, which kind of kicked ass. I’m super proud of her, because she has learning disabilities, so it’s not like that was easy. I have good news, too—they told me today that I’m getting a full tuition/books scholarship, which means I can use the rest of my financial aid to live on. I won’t have to work this year, so I’m loading up on the credits. If everything goes right, I’ll transfer to the University of Idaho in January, a whole semester early!
So . . . something happened that I wanted to tell you about. I met a guy. He’s cute, and we have the same birthday—isn’t that funny? We went to this party at a house downtown and they were singing “Happy Birthday” to him and then Jessica started singing “Happy Birthday” to me and things sort of grew from there. We’ve been on a couple dates now, and he just asked me if it could be exclusive.
What do you think about that?
I mean, do you think that a guy should be asking that after such a short time? I know, I should probably talk to Loni about it, but she totally worries all the time, and . . . anyway . . . I just wanted to know your opinion.
Should I start dating him for real? Any reason I shouldn’t?
PS—thanks for the drawing you sent—it almost feels like I’ve been there. Every time I see one of your sketches it blows me away. I can’t imagine being able to create something like that.
I folded the letter carefully, looking out across the yard. The air was warm—perfect, really—and I thought about Idaho, where you couldn’t sit outside like this for most of the year.
The only good thing about prison was I hadn’t frozen my ass off last winter. People back home saved all year to try and find some sun during the cold months, but I’d gotten my snowbird “vacation” for free. In the distance, Puck wandered toward me, his path apparently aimless. I knew better. He had shit to distribute, and it was my job to watch his back and make sure nobody noticed anything while he made his rounds.
That’s when Prince Fester of the Fuckwits ran up to me, grinning.
“You get a new letter from Melanie?” he asked, eyes bright. I shrugged my shoulders, trying to ignore him. This idiot was me and Puck’s cellmate, and I gave serious thought to shanking his ass at least twice a day.
“She send any pictures?” he asked, licking his lips. I fought back a snarl.
“Shut your fuckin’ mouth. I catch you touching her picture again, I’ll kill you. That’s not a joke, Fester. Puck and I already planned out exactly how we’re gonna do it.”
His smile faded, his feelings obviously hurt. Jesus help me, just one little slice . . . that’s all I want. Just one swipe of the knife to take out his tongue. “You don’t mean that.”
I didn’t answer, because the man had the brain of an eight-year-old. A vicious, dangerous eight-year-old who’d been committing armed robbery half his life, but trust me—he was seriously lacking in the IQ area. Puck was always telling me to be patient with him, and I tried. Seriously. I tried fuckin’ hard, but sometimes it took everything I had not to cut his tongue out for real.
“So, I had this idea,” he said, leaning up against the wall next to me.
“Shut the fuck up and go away.”
He frowned. I ignored him until he shuffled off like a kicked puppy, keeping my eyes on Puck as he drifted toward a cluster of skinheads. Always thought that was funny. They called him a mongrel behind his back, but when he had product they were happy to forgive Mr. Redhouse for his many sins against the Aryan race. I’d have laughed if I wasn’t so busy making sure nobody murdered him.
Just two more weeks.
Two more weeks in this shithole, then I’d be headed home to Coeur d’Alene. Back to my bike and my club. My brothers.
Pretty Melanie, driving around in my car because I’d felt guilty about leaving her alone without transportation that last night . . . Christ, thought I’d be loaning it to her for a couple days, and now she’d had it for a year. Ridiculous, but who was I kidding? I liked the idea of her in my car—of her thinking of me every day. Of her owing me.
Not like I needed the damned thing in prison.
I reached down, feeling the letter in my pocket, wondering what the hell I should tell her about the asshole trying to get into her pants. Wanted to say she should blow him off—he wasn’t good enough for her. She was too young, too soft, and too pretty for some twenty-year-old cocksucker looking to get his rocks off. He didn’t care about her, either—he just wanted to get laid. They all did. Maybe he’d grow out of it someday, although I had five years on him and I hadn’t yet.
I had no right to an opinion, though. She hardly knew me. We’d spent maybe eight hours together total, and trust me when I say there weren’t any happy endings. I’d given her a ride home, watched a movie with her. Taken her to dinner to get her out of the club’s way—it wasn’t even a particularly nice dinner, not like she deserved. She was nothing to me.
Puck glanced in my direction, offering a jerk of his chin. Deal was done. I pushed off the wall, wandering slowly toward him. Fester tried to follow me, but I shut him down with a dirty look. Just another day, exactly like every other I’d spent in here the last thirteen months.
Except it wasn’t.
Today I’d learned some prick was sniffing around Mellie, and there wasn’t a goddamn thing I could do about it. For all I knew he was fucking her right now, balls deep, telling her how much he loved her.
She’d probably fall for it, too.
You know, I write these fuckin’ letters to you, but they’re fake. I ask about your friends and your school and whether you’re meeting people. It’s bullshit, Mel.
Here’s my reality.
Yesterday I stabbed someone before he could stab me. Puck and I sold some shit to a bunch of white supremacists and we turned around and sold the same damned thing to some Mexicans. We had pudding with our dinner for dessert.
Then I jacked off three times thinking about you.
Those are the highlights. Like a fairy tale, right?
Remembering you keeps me going, which makes no fucking sense at all. I hardly touched you. I still think about what you smelled like when you sat next to me on the couch, though. You were just this little thing and you shivered under my arm. I know you were scared of the movie and I could’ve picked something else, but I wanted the excuse to hold you.
That’s when I started thinking seriously about us fucking.
I had this vision of shoving you into the cushions face-first, then ripping down your jeans and pushing so deep you’d feel it in the back of your throat. That’s the kind of guy I am, Mel, and that’s why you should stay the fuck away from me.
You give me the chance, I’ll pin you down and keep pumping no matter how hard you try to get away. I dream about it every night, I jerk off to it, and today I gave serious thought to killing a man because he has the same fantasies about you as me. That first night, I promised London I wouldn’t touch you, but my cock had already been hard for hours. Good thing she showed up when she did—saved your ass. How’s that for luck?
When I took you to dinner, I was going to be good. Tried to be good. I know you didn’t understand why I asked you out or what it meant. They needed you out of the way, Mel. That was my job—to keep you busy. And I promised London I wouldn’t pull shit on you but she’d been lying to us all along and I kept wondering if that meant my promise didn’t count anymore.
Pretty damned sure it hasn’t counted for a while now.
You were talking and smiling and blushing. My dick was so stiff it nearly snapped in half when I tried to stand up. Took everything I had not to throw you on my bike and ride off with you . . . I want to tie you up and come in your ass and shove my cock down your throat until you choke. I want your hair in little-girl pigtails so I can hold on tight while I fuck your face. I want you to cry and scream and give me everything. I want to fucking OWN you. How’s that for reality, Mel? You still want my advice about boys?
I’m coming home soon. You should run away while you still can, Mel. I’ll make you dirty, so dirty you’ll never be clean again. I’ll make you pay me back the hard way. You think you’re all grown up, but you’re not. There’s so much I could teach you . . . do to you. Jesus, if you only knew, you’d never write to me again.
You should move to Alaska.
Change your name.
Good luck, though, because I’ll find you and take you and—
I dropped my pencil, wondering why I’d thought this was a good idea. I wasn’t going to send it, of course. I’d send her some friendly little note and tell her she should be dating and having fun. But some part of me thought writing my real thoughts out might fix my obsession. Instead my dick was like a rock. Again.
I started shredding the paper into thin strips, because no fuckin’ way I wanted Fester to read it. He always scrabbled through our garbage like a rat. Puck didn’t need to see it, either. He was my brother—best brother I could have, and he’d proven it a thousand ways since they locked us up—but damn if he needed to know how pussy-whipped I’d gotten.
Right . . . Who was I kidding?
Puck was probably laughing his ass off about it right now.
I grabbed another piece of paper, thinking I should write her a real letter. Congratulate her on her grades and then tell her she should find a decent boyfriend. The words wouldn’t come, though. Too busy thinking about her lips, I guess. They were round and pouty. Created by God expressly to suck cock. My cock. Right on cue, it went from hard to painful, a pillar of concrete in my pants, desperate for some action.
“I drew you a picture,” Fester said, offering me a goofy grin from his bunk. He held up a piece of paper covered in bright orange and red crayon. The red was blood seeping out of stick-figure bodies he’d drawn. I had no fuckin’ idea what the orange spirals were supposed to be. Maybe the voices in his head?
He liked to talk about his art with me, like we had something in common. Sometimes I could almost see where he was coming from. Scary fuckin’ thought.
“Leave my brother alone,” Puck told Fester, his voice hard. He was already down for the night, reading some history book. World War II snipers—he loved that shit. “Lights out soon anyway. Put away your crayons and go to bed, cocksucker.”
Fester giggled, and I stood painfully. My bunk was only three steps away, but each one hurt worse than the last. Felt like my dick might split wide open, there was so much blood trapped in there. I collapsed onto my back, waiting for the lights to go out.
That’s when I’d jerk off.
We all would.
Fester better not get jizz on my pictures of Mel. I really would kill him. The lights went off with a thudding noise, like something out of a movie. Never understood that—didn’t seem like flipping a switch should be so loud.
Seconds later my hands were on my pants, shoving them down as I lifted my hips. My dick sprang free and I wondered for the thousandth time how I’d be able keep my hands off her when I got home.
Fester grunted in the darkness as I grabbed my meat.
Two more weeks.
If I had any decency at all, I’d leave her alone. Yeah. I could do it. I’d probably imagined how beautiful she was anyway. Men built all kinds of crazy fantasies on the inside—always fell to shit when they got out again. Mel was just another bitch, one with too much baggage. I didn’t really want her. Sure as hell didn’t need her.
Right. Who the fuck was I kidding?
What People are Saying About This
Praise for Joanna Wylde and her novels
“Raw…and riveting.”—Katy Evans, New York Times bestselling author
“Sex that blisters the imagination.”—Publishers Weekly
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book on of the best in this series. Usually the girl gets on my nerves, like Sophie in her and Rugers story. Mel is the only one I totally understood why she was holding a grudge. Sometimes it's hard to let go of the past. Painter was awesome so much more then I expected. I liked they way he stepped up. My second favorite in the series. KCM
Each of this author's biker books focuses on a certain couple. This is the story of Melanie Tucker and Levi “Painter” Brooks. For some reason, Painter is the Reaper that caught my attention the most. I've been waiting for his book, and I was not disappointed. In order to see the full relationship of a couple we get the past and present. During this, we see bits of things that have happened in other books from different points of view. Puck and Painter are best friends so Puck shows up several times in Reaper's Fall. Puck and his book were my least favorite of this author's MC members and biker books. I like him much better after these insights and seeing how he is with Painter, Mellie and Izzy. I really enjoyed all of the female friendship parts. Jessica and Melanie have been friends forever. Since Jessica's aunt London kind of adopted them both and she's marrying Reese, father to Kit and Emmy Hayes and president of the Reaper's MC, there's a great big family feel to everything also. The antics these girls get into made me want to giggle. Many times we only think of the hard life and sexiness aspects of biker romances so these lighter bits were nice. Getting to really know Painter and Melanie through their ups and downs and learning their histories totally kept my attention. Yes, they made mistakes and did things I didn't like, but the outcomes were realistic, and they came through the other side smarter. Reaper's Fall is a must read for anyone who loves bikers, bad boys or MC romances.
I can't help it. I love MC books. This time is about Painter and Melanie. They were penpals while he was in jail. He is freed and they can't deny the amazing chemistry they have between them. Altough they try to fight it. And when things get complicated, she doesn't seem to be able to forgive his past mistakes. As usual with this series, I really liked the book. The only thing that I was not happy about is Jess. She should mind her own business.
I love this series so much!
Kind of suprised with other comments. I really enjoyed this story. It did have a different feel to it since the main characters are younger. Much of the dialogue between Mel and Painter was pretty powerful due to their situation. I am a fan of this author through and through.
I did like this book, but i just felt like it moved slow. I had to keep putting it down and then coming back to it, hoping it would finally hook me. There is nothing better than a book that you cant put down no matter how long it might be. This book was not it for me, but was worth reading as i do love this series and in the end loved painter and mels story being told.
Sad to say but this was the least favorite Reapers story. There were too many side stories going on. It was hard to focus on the main characters. Reese's daughters were weird - more so than in previous books. Glad this wasn't my first Joanna Wylde series. 300 pages.
No words for how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this series!! Each story is unique and can be read out of order, although I do recommend reading this one after Devil's Game and Reaper's Stand. I only start one of these books when I have time to myself - no work, no interruptions!
I absolutely loved this story. I always figured Painter was a pansy and didn't go after what he wanted but I was wrong! If I could give it more stars I would because this story blew me away!!!
All of this series is great! Don't hesitate to buy any of them
Painter (Levi) and Melanie's story was raw and intense.Told from both POVs from the H and the h, Joanna Wylde had introduced Painter and Mel thru previous stories, and now we see their struggle. It is not necessary to read previous stories in the series as this is a standalone book, but wow, don't miss out if you love biker stories. Having the story told from Painter's POV gives us a real indepth look into Painter. It was a love and hate for me with him at times, but life is about ups and downs. Mel's POV and struggle was heartbreaking, but showed how strong she could be when it was needed. Of course we get a HEA, but when it comes to MC club life, the road isn't always as easy and clean as we like. Another winner in MHO. 4.5 stars!!!!
I really enjoy this series! Another great read from Joanna Wylde.
I love all Ms Wyldes books. Not disappointed!! Waited what seemed like forever for this to release. Worth the wait!!
Best book of the series so far! Absolutely LOVED it!
Finally Painters story...it was well worth the wait!!!!