Sometimes it takes finding an opposite to show us the beauty within ourselves.
When security consultant and ex-mercenary, Gabrielo ‘Snake' Barbas, thwarts an attack of one of his co-workers, Riley Banks, he takes it upon himself to keep the smaller man safe. His job is made harder when he discovers the attacker is actually Riley's ex-boyfriend, a ruthless man from a very wealthy and powerful family.
After a night of passion, Snake decides to take Riley far away from Richmond, Virginia to a town in Wyoming for the annual Cattle Valley Days celebration. He should have known that sex with Riley wouldn't be enough, but he feels he has nothing else to give such a nice guy. Riley is the sexiest man Snake's ever taken to his bed despite Riley's claim otherwise.
Riley knows he's average-looking at best, so why does Snake continue to flatter him? It's obvious he's not going to kick Snake out of bed, even after Snake informs him that sex is all he has to give. Why does Snake see him so differently than the rest of the world?
While Riley is busy trying to figure out the man who touches him like no other has before, Snake is busy trying to protect him from a monster in a business suit.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Gabrielo 'Snake' Barbas pushed his jaw to the side, cracking his neck, as he continued to stare at the surveillance monitor. Training hadn't been part of his job as a recruiter for Tisdale Security, but he hadn't been happy with the shoddy work performed recently in the control room. He spotted a shiny red car parked in the back of the employee parking lot and waited for Brian, the technician, to take notice.
When Brian switched the feed to a different camera, showing the back of the building, Snake crossed his arms over his chest and groaned. "Go back," he ordered.
"To what?" Brian asked.
"The parking lot." A good technician was worth his weight in gold if you could find one, and Snake had a feeling he needed to keep looking. Brian was a nice enough guy but didn't have the passion necessary for the work. Watching surveillance footage all day could be boring as fuck if you didn't have the drive for it.
"What am I supposed to see?" Brian pulled the parking lot up on three different monitors, giving himself three separate angles to study.
With a resigned sigh, Snake leaned forward and tapped the glass. "What's that?"
"A car." Brian glanced at Snake. "There are a lot of cars. It's a parking lot."
"How many cars do you see with people in them?" Hell. It was like trying to teach a newborn to walk.
"None, but maybe he's just waiting for someone or taking a call or something."
"Possibly," Snake agreed. "But it's your job to make sure he poses no threat."
"How do I do that? I'm not supposed to leave the command center," Brian blustered.
"You fucking watch him. It's your goddamn job!" Snake was losing his patience, which didn't bode well for poor Brian. He was beginning to rethink his decision to settle down and give up the mercenary career that had netted him a bundle of cash. Lifting his hands, he started to run his fingers through his hair, only to remember he'd cut it off, skull short, only the day before. Fuck!
* * *
"It's only four-thirty. Where're you going?" a co-worker asked.
"I have an appointment." Riley Banks took a moment to clean his desk, locking all financial documents away securely before shutting down his computer. He usually stayed until at least six, but he'd received a disturbing call from his ex's parole officer that morning.
"Did you clear it with Steven?"
"Yeah." Riley shrugged into his suit jacket. No one at Tisdale Security knew about his past, and he hoped to keep it that way. Cal was used to him leaving much later in the work day, so if he could get out and get home before Cal came looking, it could very well save his life. It was worth pissing off a co-worker.
"See ya tomorrow," Riley called out before leaving his cubicle. His job in the accounting office wasn't exciting, but he felt safe working for the security company. Just because he didn't want his co-workers to know what he'd been through didn't mean he wanted history to repeat itself.
When the elevator doors opened, Riley stepped inside and stood in front of two muscular men. He didn't know any of the specialists by name, but there were a few he recognized. The two behind him must be new, because neither looked familiar.
"Did you see that blonde in supplies?" one of the men asked. He groaned. "Man, she has the best tits in the whole building."
Riley rolled his eyes. No wonder women thought men were pigs. "Her name's Rachel," he added to the conversation. "She's married with a fourteen-month-old son named Ben." He stared at the men's reflections in the shiny elevator doors. It was obvious by the way they sneered down at the top of his head they hadn't appreciated him butting in.
The moment the doors opened, Riley shot out of the elevator and headed to the side door that would lead him to the parking lot. Although he hadn't approved of the way the two specialists had talked about Rachel, he wasn't dumb enough to stick around for the fallout.
Nearing his two-year-old white Toyota Camry, Riley fished his keys out of his pocket. The hair on the back of his neck began to prickle when he heard a noise off to his left. Don't look. Just get in the fucking car, he told himself.
"We need to talk."
Shit. Shit. Shit. "You're not supposed to be here, Cal." He hit the unlock button on the key fob and reached for the door handle.
Cal laughed. "I do a lot of things I'm not supposed to do." He reached over Riley's shoulder and slammed the door shut, almost smashing Riley's fingers in the process. "We have some unfinished business."
"I didn't press charges. You're the one who violated the restraining order," Riley mumbled.
"And you're the one who took out the fucking thing in the first place!" Cal screamed in Riley's ear.
Riley closed his eyes and winced. The last time Cal had found him, he'd broken three of Riley's ribs and given him one hell of a concussion, not to mention the bruises he'd sported afterwards. "Please leave me alone."
"Problem?" a deep voice asked.
Riley bit his bottom lip. He'd been forced to get a full protection order against his ex after the preliminary order had lapsed while Cal was in jail for the last beating.
"No problem. We're just catching up," Cal answered. He put his hand on Riley's shoulder and squeezed. "Isn't that right?"
Riley tried to remember the reason he'd taken the job at Tisdale, even though it hadn't paid as much as his previous job.
"No." He opened his eyes and tried to pull out of Cal's grasp. "I'd like to go back inside the building." He turned his head to the kind stranger who'd interceded and was surprised to see the scary, sexy guy he'd seen roaming the halls from time to time. "Would you mind walking with me?"
With a narrowed gaze, the hot tattooed hunk motioned at the car. "Lock up your car," he instructed.
Riley tapped the fob again and heard the locks engage. He stared up at Cal. He couldn't believe he'd once thought the man was gorgeous. "I was issued a protective order against you, and it's good for two years. Next time you come near me, I'll call the police."
Cal, who was roughly the same size as the tattooed man, chuckled. "Good luck with that, and unless you plan to sleep at your desk, you have to leave sometime."
Riley was knocked to the side as the hunk slammed Cal against the car.
"Call the cops," the hunk ordered.
Cal growled as he struggled to get away when Riley pulled out his phone. "Don't you fucking dare!" Cal warned Riley. "My people found you in less than a day. You put me back inside, and you'll pay for it."
The hunk slammed Cal against the car twice more, breaking Cal's nose in the process. Riley heard the satisfying crunch as Cal roared in pain.
"Shut the fuck up," the hunk demanded.
Riley's thumb hovered over the keypad. The last time Cal had been sent to County for violating the restraining order, Riley had uprooted his entire life by moving and changing jobs. How many times would he have to do it before Cal left him alone? Sadly, Riley had a feeling Cal wouldn't release him until he was dead.
"Do it," the hunk growled, "before I deal with him my way."
Taking a deep breath, Riley wondered if he shouldn't let the hunk have Cal to do with what he pleased. Lord knew, Cal had never given a moment's thought before hitting him, and with his family connections, even if he was sent back to jail, he wouldn't be there long. "How would you deal with him?"
The hunk turned a pair of dark, forest green eyes on him. "The fact you're asking that question tells me how afraid you are. What'd he do?"
"Which time?" Riley shook his head. "He keeps coming back."
A murderous expression transformed the hunk's face from sexy to scary. Shit. The last thing Riley wanted was to feel responsible for the hunk going to jail. He broke eye contact and concentrated on pushing the all-too-familiar three numbers into his phone.
* * *
Snake eyed Riley closely as the small brunet talked to the police. He'd seen Riley on several occasions and had definitely taken an interest, going as far as to find out who he was and what department he worked in. Unfortunately, he'd decided fucking someone who worked in the same building was a bad idea, especially someone as hot as Riley. He no doubt was into drama and getting everything his heart wanted, and Snake didn't play that game with anyone. As he watched Riley push those damned wire-framed glasses higher on his nose, desire took control of his better judgment.
Earlier, when he'd spotted Cal climbing out of his car at the back of the lot and head straight toward Riley, Snake hadn't been able to get out of the command center fast enough. He'd never been able to explain it to people, but he seemed to have a gift for spotting trouble before it happened, and the asshole who'd stalked toward Riley had definitely been looking for trouble.
When Riley nodded and shook the officer's hand, Snake walked over. "Are they arresting him?" he asked.
"They're taking him in, but they don't think they can hold him. Evidently, the protection order doesn't go into effect until the other party is served papers, and there was a screw up when they let him out of County, and they didn't serve him." Riley shrugged. "He'll be served now, so next time he shows up, I can have him arrested."
"That's bullshit!" Snake stared at Cal in the back of the patrol car. He'd seen the expression on Cal's face too many times. "Your ex's fucking crazy and will come after you again."
"Yeah." Riley turned his back on Cal. "Thanks for your help, ummm ..." "You can call me Snake."
"Snake? Okay, well, thanks for your help, Snake, but I have a few things to do before they release Cal." Riley started toward his car.
"Wait." Snake caught up with Riley. "Do you have a gun?"
Riley shook his head. "I'm not the kind of person who could shoot someone, so I thought it would be safer not to have one."
Snake couldn't say the same. In his line of work, you did what needed doing. Unfortunately, the job often included killing, which had led to his alcohol addiction and need for almost constant sex. He'd eventually given up the booze, but he would never give up the fucking.
"Come inside with me. Even if you don't want a gun, there're plenty of weapons you can use to protect yourself." Snake put his hand to the small of Riley's back, urging him toward the building. He fought the urge to slide his hand down further, the need to cup Riley's cute bubble butt almost overwhelming. "Are you seeing anyone that could help you if your ex shows up again?"
Riley shook his head before again pushing his glasses into place. "I couldn't bring someone else into my screwed up life."
Snake swiped his security card through the reader before opening the door. "Don't tell me you're celibate." It was a horrifying thought to Snake. "God made dicks to be sucked and holes to be filled." Censoring himself had never been one of his strong suits. He'd grown up talking openly about sex to his dad and the other men of the motorcycle club his father belonged to. Of course it hadn't been gay sex he'd discussed, but for a young man, just talking about his need for a blowjob to his dad had been incredibly liberating.
Riley gasped. "Did you really just say that?"
Snake drew Riley into one of the blind spots the security cameras didn't pick up. He smiled down at the tasty morsel of a man and sighed. "I say what I think, and right now, all I wanna do is take you into my office and fuck you stupid." He took a step back. "But, I know you've just been through shit, and I won't press it."
Riley stared up at Snake, his big pale blue eyes wide. "Why?"
"What?" Snake was so caught up in Riley's gaze, he didn't understand the question.
"Why would someone like you want anything to do with someone like me?" Riley's expression fell. "Or am I just another hole to you?"
Offended, Snake crowded Riley's personal space, putting their bodies in direct contact. "You think because I have tats I'm not good enough for you?"
"What? No!" Riley put his hands on Snake's chest, obviously trying to put distance between them, but Snake wasn't about to budge. "You're one of the sexiest men I've ever seen, and I'm ... me."
Snake tried to follow Riley's reasoning. The one thing he got out of the statement was that Riley thought he was sexy. Win! What the fuck was up with the last part though?
"You saying you don't think you're sexy?" Although Riley was nearly eight inches shorter, Snake did his best to fit their bodies together. "You feel my cock?" Riley nodded.
"It's hard because of you." Christ, how could someone as hot as Riley not see themselves when they looked in a fucking mirror? Snake lowered his head and captured Riley's mouth in a kiss. He didn't give Riley time to think before he pushed his tongue between Riley's lips. Oh, fuck, yeah. He groaned as he lifted Riley into his arms, putting their cocks into direct contact. He ground his erection against Riley's as he continued to thrust his tongue in and out.
Riley whimpered and wrapped his legs around Snake.
A throat cleared behind them. Snake wanted to ignore the intruder, but fucking a co-worker in the hall might not be the best idea he'd ever had. He broke the kiss but didn't release his hold on Riley. Turning his head, he regarded Fin, one of his top recruits. "Yeah?"
"Steven's been briefed on the incident in the parking lot. He's looking for you," Fin said, his eyes downcast.
Steven Tisdale was the brother of the CEO and Riley's boss. With reluctance, Snake lowered Riley to the floor. Whatever Steven wanted, Snake had no doubt it had to do with Riley. "Is he in his office?"
"Where else?" Fin grinned.
Snake returned the grin. It was a running joke among the specialists that Steven Tisdale had been born into the wrong family. There were four Tisdale brothers. Three of them were tough as nails — men who fought along with the other specialists when the need arose. Then, there was Steven. Although the youngest son was as strong as his siblings, he was also a coward who preferred to hide behind his name.
"Thanks. We'll go there now." Snake reached for Riley's hand and followed Fin down the hallway toward the lobby. He released his hold when they entered the public area of the company, but didn't separate himself from Riley.
Fin had the elevator door waiting for them when they arrived. Snake nodded his appreciation as he stepped inside. When Fin started to follow, Snake gave the man a subtle shake of the head.
Alone with Riley, Snake knew they were still being visually monitored, so he kept his hands to himself. However, that didn't mean he'd forgotten their earlier encounter. "After we see what the hell Steven wants, I'm going to take you home and fuck the hell out of you."
Riley remained quiet until they arrived at their intended floor.
"Okay," he whispered before getting off the elevator. "But, I think I need to tell you something before we talk to Steven."
Snake stopped walking. "What?"
Riley cleared his throat. "I think he likes me," he announced. "He asked me out a month or so ago, but I told him I was still dealing with an ex."
Shit. Snake didn't mind fighting for Riley, but if things got hairy, it could cost both of them their jobs. "Do you like him?" Riley glanced around before shaking his head.
"Okay. I'll take care of it." Snake marched toward Steven's executive office, prepared to go to battle. Riley had a great ass, but was it worth his job? Probably. He paused in front of Steven's assistant's desk. "I heard Steven was looking for us?"
The assistant, an attractive woman in her thirties, raked her gaze up and down Snake before answering. "He's expecting you," she said, stressing the last word.
Snake gestured to one of the empty chairs in the small receiving room. "Have a seat, and I'll find out what he wants."
Riley sat without a single protest.
Good. Snake liked men who could take direction without questioning everything. He knocked on Steven's door before opening it. "You wanted to see me?"
"Come in." Steven leaned back in his chair and steepled his fingers. "I just watched the video. I appreciate you intercepting Mr Neiman on Riley's behalf."
Mr Neiman? "You know the guy?" Snake hadn't known Cal's last name until he'd heard Riley tell the cop.
"I went to prep school with him. Calloway Neiman is the grandson of Caldwell Neiman." He gave Snake a pointed look, like Snake should know who the hell that was. When Snake shrugged, Steven sighed dramatically. "The Neiman's own the largest tobacco plantation in North Carolina. They practically run the state and its elected officials. Very old money. Very prestigious family."
Snake didn't see the point. "So?"
Steven glanced out of the floor to ceiling window before returning his attention to Snake. "We can't afford trouble with the Neiman family. I've already spoken with the police department, and they tell me Cal will be released as soon as he's served with the protection order papers."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Snake Charmer"
Copyright © 2014 Carol Lynne.
Excerpted by permission of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
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.