A lustful young woman is about to draw her crush into a heap of trouble in this steamy romantic suspense from the author of Wrong for Me.It was anything but easy, but Gideon Black has finally managed to create a haven for himself on the gritty streets of Detroit. He worked hard to get on the straight and narrow, pulling himself up from an underground crime syndicate before it consumed him completely. But the past isn’t staying put, and now that it’s come calling, it’s not after him, but the woman he considers the closest thing he has to family…
Zoe James has always loved Gideon more than anything in the world. She knows he only wants to keep her safe, but his overprotectiveness has taken over her life and it’s got to stop. She’s sick of him treating her like a little girl, but is she woman enough to handle the truth when it finally comes out? As old enemies close in, a complicated but undeniable passion is growing between them. Gideon tries to hold on to Zoe and keep her safe, but he may have to let her go in order to save them both…
Praise for Dirty For Me
“An intense scorcher of a story that is sure to delight fans and win her a legion of new devotees…Unforgettable.”—RT Book Reviews, Top Pick
“Tension and heat pervade the frequent sex scenes…Readers will eagerly anticipate future installments in the series.”—Publishers Weekly
“An explosively sexy start to the Motor City Royals series. With this beginning, there’s no telling what other surprises Ashenden has in store.”—Heroes & Heartbreakers
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Sin for Me
By Jackie Ashenden
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2017 Jackie Ashenden
All rights reserved.
Zoe sat on one of the coveted corner couches in the darkest part of Anonymous, sipping her frozen blackberry margarita and nodding her head up and down in time to the hard-thumping bass that vibrated through the nightclub.
Anonymous had only been going a year, but its gritty, industrial atmosphere — the huge vaulting space used to be some kind of factory that had been abandoned along with seemingly half the buildings in Detroit — was a major draw for the young, cool, and often tragically hip.
It was Saturday night, which meant the place was packed with miles of tattoos, more piercings than a death metal concert, and so many beards and man buns she may as well have been in Portland. Not that she minded any of those things.
In fact, it was the whole reason she was here in the first place. By herself. Without anyone cramping her style.
Anyone being Gideon Black.
She sat back on the couch, surveying the heaving crowd on the dance floor in the middle of the club, then checking out the long metal length of the bar on the other side of it, just to be sure a familiar tall and hulking figure wasn't lurking around.
But no, seemed he'd believed her when she'd told him she was joining Tamara and Rachel for a girls' night at Rachel's place.
She picked up her margarita and took another hefty sip, scanning around for any likely looking dudes.
There were lots of guys, obviously, and more than a few who were her kind of tall, dark, and handsome. Lots to choose from, in other words. But she wanted her first one-night stand — her first anything, really — to be with someone she kind of liked.
What does it matter? It's only one night.
She wasn't there to pick someone to have a relationship with. She only wanted someone hot who could make her forget her stupid, goddamn unrequited love for Gideon. A love that wouldn't ever be returned, at least not in the way she wanted it to be. Because he pretty much saw her as a little sister and nothing more.
Well, you are his little sister.
Not technically. She was his little foster sister. And she'd only been that for a year when they'd lived in the same foster family. Then he'd turned seventeen and aged out of the system. So really it didn't count.
It still pissed her off that he refused to see her as anything different, though.
No, scratch pissed. She was fucking furious. Furious at him, somewhat unfairly, but mainly with herself. Because she'd felt that way about him for ten years, and nothing had changed.
Oh no, wait. Something had changed. He'd told her a couple of weeks ago to stop following him around all the time. Like she was some kind of stupid, eager puppy.
You are a stupid, eager puppy.
Zoe swallowed half her margarita, balefully looking at the crowd around her.
Ever since they'd first come to Detroit from Chicago, she'd been at his side, living in their apartment above the garage while he'd protected her, looked out for her, made a family for her with Rachel and Zee and Levi. And she'd been happy. Safe, protected. Being near him, knowing he was there, had been all she'd wanted.
But lately she'd started to find that safety and stability a little too stifling. A little bit too much like a cage. She'd started to think about what she wanted to do with her life, about the direction she was headed. And after watching Zee find Tamara, and Rachel and Levi find each other again, she'd begun to think about her own love life — which was nonexistent.
Currently you are headed to Nowheresville via Virigin for-ever Town.
The leash Gideon kept her on was short and feeling shorter by the day, especially in the past month or so. And his getting pissed off with her for following him around and daring to ask questions about her future, hurt.
Something needed to change.
Hell, she hadn't been a rebellious teenager, not with Gideon being a very strict big brother stand-in, so maybe she was due a little rebellion time. Like now.
Zoe sniffed and drained her margarita, putting the glass back down on the low metal table in front of her with a click.
She wasn't seeking attention; she was just trying to do what any twenty-five-year-old woman would. Have a normal damn life, and part of that normal damn life included going out to a nightclub, getting drunk, then getting laid.
Not necessarily in that order.
Across the dance floor, over by the bar, her attention snagged on a tall guy with broad shoulders and dark hair. Pretty hot-looking. No tats, but then you couldn't have everything. He made eye contact with her, and she found herself blushing and looking away, which was super annoying.
Her experience with men amounted to checking out hot dudes on Tumblr, and talking to her friends in a few of the online forums she frequented. Though really, who knew what sex they really were? She was assuming guys, but on the Internet it was never safe to assume anything.
Her experience with actual men in real life was nil. If you didn't count Zee and Levi, which she didn't.
Maybe she should have brought Rachel or Tamara along with her as wing women. Then again, they probably wouldn't approve of what she was doing, and she'd prefer to keep it on the down-low anyway.
It was bad enough everyone knew about her stupid Gideon crush. Having other people witness her general man-ineptness would be a blow to her pride she didn't think she could take.
She glanced back at the bar again, to see what the guy who'd looked at her was doing, steeling herself not to look away this time. And her heart gave a small hop inside her chest.
Because he was coming toward her.
She reached out for her margarita but sadly there was no more left, so she had to fiddle awkwardly with the empty glass as the guy came closer. She tried not to blush or grin at him like a lunatic.
Man, he was pretty nice-looking. Didn't have Gideon's air of gentle but firm authority or his compelling charisma, but there was something about him that she liked anyway. He was certainly approachable. At least, he was approaching her.
He wasn't a local, that was for sure, since locals knew who she was and who was protecting her and liked their balls to remain in place. So obviously this guy had to be from somewhere else. Which was fine. In fact, better than fine. It suited her purposes nicely.
She swallowed as he came up to the table, suddenly aware that she was pushing herself back in her seat. Stupid. She needed to chill the hell out.
"Hey," the guy said, giving her a very direct smile. "Looks like you're all out of ... whatever was in that glass of yours."
"Blackberry f-frozen margarita," she said, the words coming out in a helpless, stammering rush. "And ... uh ... yeah, I am."
"Can I get you another?" His eyes were blue and they roamed over her with disconcerting frankness, as if he was sizing her up.
Okay, this is your moment of glory. Do it.
Zoe returned what she hoped was a natural-looking smile and not a fixed rictus, which is what it probably was. "Um, sure. That would be great."
* * *
Gideon was not happy. Anonymous was the last place on earth he wanted to be at one a.m. on a Saturday morning, but unfortunately, since Zoe had not in fact gone to Rachel's for a girls' night like she'd told him, he was going to have brave the revoltingly hipster crowds in order to check it out.
It wasn't that he didn't like nightclubs. He just didn't like them with Zoe in them. On her own.
Normally he was a chilled out guy; never let his temper rule him. Was calm and considerate and patient. But right now he didn't feel very fucking calm. Or considerate or patient.
Right now, he felt fucking pissed.
The line outside the door to the club was insane and the bouncer was new, which meant he didn't know Gideon and didn't realize that Gideon basically ruled Royal Road — a fact that should have granted him automatic entry without any dicking around.
Sadly for both Gideon's temper and the new bouncer's reputation, there was dicking around.
Eventually, after a tense five-minute standoff, Gideon cowed the bouncer into submission with a promise to report him to Jimmy, the guy who owned Anonymous, before banging open the doors and stalking into the club.
The noise and heat of well over a hundred people all dancing, drinking, and doing various other and probably illegal things hit him like the front of a particularly violent thunderstorm, fraying the already tenuous grip he had on his temper.
He didn't know if she was here or not, but he was hoping for her sake that she was, because he was coming to the end of his considerable patience.
The past few weeks had been a real fucking trial, what with Zee and his goddamn father threatening them all, and then Levi getting out of jail and having a few issues adjusting. Which in turn had unfortunately attracted the attention of the very last person on earth Gideon wanted attention from. The person Gideon had been protecting Zoe from for the last ten years.
It hadn't been Levi's fault. Levi didn't know Zoe's or Gideon's background, or what had gone down with Zoe's mother. But still. Oliver fucking Novak was now sniffing around Royal because of Levi's development plans, which meant Gideon didn't want Zoe going AWOL, and certainly not at night.
Yeah, she better be here. He didn't know what had gotten into her, whether it was some kind of late puberty/rebellion thing or what, but that shit was getting old and she didn't understand the danger she was in.
Which means you have to tell her.
Gideon glowered at the crowds on the dance floor, scanning around for a small, delicately built young woman with black curls, big golden eyes, and glasses.
He had his reasons for not telling her, the main one being that he hadn't wanted her living her life in fear. Then again, if she was going to pull this kind of shit, then clearly they were going to have to have a discussion. Novak hadn't taken on Levi's plans purely to shine up a down-and-out neighborhood for his senatorial bid. He'd chosen Royal for a reason and maybe that reason was Zoe.
Gideon moved around the dance floor, trying to spot her. It didn't look like she was there, though it was a little difficult to tell what with all the writhing bodies. Lights were flashing, sparkling off sequins and sliding over glistening skin. A woman ran a hand along his arm on her way toward the dancers, giving him a suggestive look.
He shook his head and, ignoring her pout of disappointment, shifted his attention over to the long metal, industrial-looking bar. No sign of Zoe there either.
Last place to look was the seating area at the back of the massive space and if she wasn't there, he was going to have to figure out just where the hell else she might be, because there weren't many other places in Royal she would have gone to.
Worry began to thread through his anger and he had to fight the very real urge to start picking people up and flinging them out of his way.
He'd protected Zoe ever since she'd been a kid and he'd be damned if he failed in that duty now just because she was having a teenage tantrum.
The seating area in Anonymous was composed of black leather sectional couches and small metal coffee tables. The lighting consisted of exposed, old-fashioned filament bulbs and glass light shades. There was graffiti on the exposed brick walls, all adding to the gritty, industrial vibe of the place.
He checked out the huddled groups around the tables, and then, his anger beginning to flex like a bodybuilder on steroids, the pairs entwined in the darker areas toward the back.
Not that it should matter to him either way whether Zoe was with anyone or not, but still. He didn't like the thought of it. She was too young for that kind of stuff, too innocent. Jesus, if some fucking asshole had picked her up, there was going to be hell to pay.
But Zoe wasn't part of any of the entwined couples, which made him feel relieved and yet even more worried. Because if she wasn't here, then where the fuck was she?
He turned and made another circuit of the entire club, just to be sure.
But it wasn't until he'd turned to head toward the exit, his worry deepening into genuine fear, that he caught the sound of a familiar laugh. It was husky and warm and infectious, and it felt like he hadn't heard it in far too long.
He whipped his head sharply toward the sound, narrowing his gaze down a long corridor that led to the club's bathrooms.
A couple stood together, the woman against the wall, the man in front of her. She had her head tilted back so she could look up at him, her black curls tied back into a thick ponytail that fell to the middle of her back, her glasses pushed up her nose. In the darkness it was difficult to see the expression on her face, but then came the sound of her laughter. The man bent his head and kissed her, stopping the sound dead.
For a second Gideon just stood there staring, relief holding him motionless. Then he saw red, his anger smashing right through that relief like a wrecking ball through an old brick building, propelling him toward them before he was even conscious of doing so.
Taking a fistful of the guy's T-shirt, Gideon yanked him away hard. "Oh no you fucking don't."
The man stumbled back a few steps while Zoe's eyes went wide with shock.
"Hey! What the fuck?" the guy cried.
Gideon stepped in between them, putting his back to the asshole behind him, meeting Zoe's big gold eyes. He didn't waste time with niceties. "Where the fuck have you been?"
"What? What the hell is wrong with you?" The shock twisting Zoe's fine, delicate features began to fade, morphing into anger. "I've just been having a night —"
"You lied to me," he interrupted, not sure what he was most furious about: the fact that she'd worried the hell out of him, had told him she was somewhere else, or that he'd caught her kissing some random asshole.
Why should that bother you?
He ignored that thought. "You told me you were at Rachel's."
"Zoe?" The random asshole was standing behind him and no doubt spoiling for a fight since Gideon had interrupted him in full seduction mode. "Who is this guy? Is he bothering you?"
Not happening. So not happening.
Gideon spun around, met the other man's eyes. "Get the fuck out of here. If I catch your hands on her again, I'll pull your spine out through your neck."
"Oh my God, Gideon!" Zoe's husky little voice practically vibrated with rage. "You're being a giant dick!"
But he paid that no attention, keeping his gaze on the man in front of him, staring him down. "Make a good decision." He kept his voice hard. "If you want to come back to this club again, you'd better leave now before I change my mind and start making life difficult for you."
The guy scowled. "You and whose fucking army?"
Obviously, he wasn't from around here. Because if he was, he'd have shut up and done whatever Gideon said because no one screwed with Gideon or one of his crew, and especially not with Zoe. Not if they knew what was good for them.
Gideon wasn't a violent man. Oh, he'd done violence in his past and once had even made a living out of it. But he didn't relish it and preferred to handle situations in other ways. Still, he had a line and that line was the little family he'd created here in Royal Road. Most especially Zoe.
Anyone crossing that line was going to find himself without an important part of his anatomy.
"I don't need an army," he said coldly. "Now get out of here before I lose my patience and get security to throw you out."
The guy spat a few curses, but it turned out he had some brains after all because he stalked off into the crowd, giving Gideon one last baleful look.
Which Gideon ignored.
"You asshole." Zoe's voice was low and fierce. "Thanks for ruining a perfectly good night."
He swung back around to meet her furious gaze, conscious that he was pretty fucking enraged and that there was no good reason for it. Though on second thought, it was probably due to the relief that she was okay. Definitely nothing to do with that bastard and the fact that some stranger had been kissing her.
Excerpted from Sin for Me by Jackie Ashenden. Copyright © 2017 Jackie Ashenden. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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