A fast-paced, sexy thrill-ride of a novella from the New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovers series.
Rachel Linden is a schoolteacher who changed her town, her job, and her life after her divorce. Now, this wallflower is determined to have a little fun—specifically, with Decker McConnell, a bodyguard whose talents under the sheets make her melt. Until she learns that his motives are just as dangerous as they are wicked…
Wicked All Night originally appeared in the anthology Wicked and Dangerous
Praise for the novels of Shayla Black:
“Sizzling, romantic, and edgy, a Shayla Black story never disappoints!”—Sylvia Day, New York Times bestselling author of Bared To You
“Shayla Black creates emotional, searingly sexy stories that always leave me wanting more.”—New York Times bestselling author Maya Banks
“Scorching, wrenching, suspenseful, Shayla Black’s books are a must-read.”—#1 New York Times bestselling author Lora Leigh
“Much sexy fun is had by all.”—New York Times bestselling author Angela Knight
Shayla Black is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over 40 sizzling contemporary, erotic, paranormal, and historical romances, including Theirs to Cherish, Ours to Love, Mine to Hold, Belong to Me, Surrender to Me, Delicious, Decadent, Wicked Ties, Bound and Determined (writing as Shelley Bradley), and Strip Search (writing as Shelley Bradley). She lives in Texas with her husband, munchkin, and one very spoiled cat. In her "free" time, she enjoys reality TV, reading and listening to an eclectic blend of music.
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
AS DECKER MCCONNELL STRODE INTO THE LOUD BAR AT HALF past nine on a Saturday night, the woman’s picture burned a hole in the pocket of his black shirt. In the past six hours, he’d stared at it a hundred times. Rachel Linden, age twenty-nine. Divorced. Graduate of UCLA, summa cum laude, with a degree in education. Recent transplant from sleepy Moss Beach on the Florida coast to Louisiana. Currently employed by the Lafayette Parish school system as an elementary English teacher. Those facts might define the brunette whose dark eyes sparkled from a seemingly average oval face, but that didn’t explain why just looking at her photo made him hard as hell.
“You sure this Rachel woman is going to be here?” his boss, Xander Santiago, asked, propped up against the quiet corner of the bar on his left.
“Unless she bails on her own birthday party, yep. I’ve got to find her before this situation goes south.”
Decker sighed and surveyed the crowd through the club’s flashing lights. People were getting their drink on and looking around for a nightly hookup. From what he could gather, Rachel was only here because the new neighbors and coworkers who had become her friends insisted that she celebrate her big day. Though the club was packed more tightly than meat behind cellophane, he hoped he’d spot her soon. Every minute that slid by was another minute that bad shit could happen.
And he wasn’t about to let it. He was a protector by nature. If the cops weren’t going to help, then he guessed it had become his job. For whatever reason—boredom, maybe?—he felt the urge to make sure she stayed safe.
Rachel’s picture suggested that she possessed a shy, good-girl quality. Not usually the kind of female he gravitated to. That meant he’d probably find her in a corner somewhere, trying to blend into the wall. He’d have to fish around for some way to set her at ease before he glued himself to her side long enough to untangle this clusterfuck he’d unwittingly stepped in. As far as he was concerned, naked was the best way to keep her from harm’s way because he wasn’t remotely interested in being her big brother. Everything he’d been able to dig up indicated that since becoming single again, she’d lived like a nun. That was really fucking unfair to the male species. The idea of her peeling off a button-down shirt and “work-appropriate” skirt to reveal her soft curves, scantily clad in lingerie, made his cock stand up and salute.
Get your mind out of the gutter and back on business.
Decker hated that voice in his head. The gutter was way more fun.
“Are you sure about this?” Xander’s brother, Javier, asked beside him.
He turned to the guy with a shrug. “No, but I don’t know what my more appealing options are. Believe me, if I hadn’t run into a colossal pile of shit this afternoon looking for a cold beer and an easy lay, I wouldn’t be here now, searching for a woman I’ve never met.”
“And you tried the police?” Xander asked.
“Useless.” Decker rolled his eyes. “How much evidence should I need to prove another man’s intent to commit a crime? The fuckers could at least look into it.”
But the lazy bastards of the Lafayette Police Department hadn’t listened to a word he’d said while LSU played football. On the other hand, he probably shouldn’t send a starched uniform fresh out of the backwoods police academy to do a job the CIA had trained him once upon a time to do far better.
“So you think this plan will work?” Javier asked.
“You got a better one?” He shoved Rachel’s picture under the other man’s nose. “Look at her. She’s a school teacher. She looks sweet, for fuck’s sake. I can’t stand here with my thumb up my ass and let this nut job put a hole in her head.”
Studying the picture, Javier sipped his tonic water. After a couple of years of supposedly being cozier with vodka than sanity, sobriety now suited him. “Of course not. I’m just saying that if she’s recently divorced, she might not appreciate you romancing her for ulterior motives.”
“What my brother means is that in a few short months of marriage to London, we’ve learned how quickly our lovely bride can hand us our balls when we’ve screwed up.” Xander smiled. “He’s thinking that you’d probably like to keep yours attached to your body.”
“Exactly.” Javier grinned.
“I can’t tell her the truth,” Decker argued. “Why would she believe a total stranger trying to convince her that someone’s put a price on her head? Besides the twenty-five grand and the phone number this guy gave me, all I’ve got is her picture and some basic information I could have pulled off the Internet. None of that proves anything. If she actually does believe me, I’d probably scare the hell out of her.” He tossed his hands up. “This asshole gave me a few days to finish the job. I’ll just make the problem go away by then. Even if Rachel isn’t thrilled with my method, she’ll be alive.”
He peered deeper into the club, ignoring the come-ons of a few girls who didn’t look old enough to even be here, wearing skirts so short he could almost tell if the carpet matched the drapes. Finally, the crowd parted, and he spotted his target near the wall, just as he’d predicted. Rachel. White wine in hand. Long hair like a chocolate waterfall. Pretty profile. Thick lashes. Button nose. Full lips that would look perfect wrapped around his cock.
Damn it, he wanted to get her naked. What a shame that wasn’t his first priority with her, but he hoped he could find a way to make it a close second.
She smiled as a tall, African-American woman beside her whispered in her ear. Then suddenly, Rachel whipped her gaze around and met his stare. Her little, rosy mouth opened with a gasp. Even through the smoke and over the racket of the bad country singer on the stage across the room, he could all but hear the sound. Yeah, he felt the electric zing, too. Up his spine and clear down to his toes, it engorged his cock so completely, he wanted to rip off that god-awful sensible blouse she wore, tear away her panties, and fuck her breathless in the next thirty seconds. Normally, he would, but this situation meant he had to use the head up north—at least a little. And didn’t that just piss him off.
How fucking ironic that he couldn’t pick her up just for the fun of it. No, he had to get close to keep her alive. Honestly, Decker didn’t like lying to her either. The hell of it was he couldn’t think of another way to protect the woman he’d been hired to kill.
* * *
RACHEL LINDEN FIXED her gaze across the room at the man staring her way, standing between the two suits. Her jaw dropped before she forcibly snapped it shut. Holy cow! Between the alcohol and the press of bodies, she was overheated. But he made her shiver.
Military-short black hair capped off his angled face, covered by a healthy two days’ growth of beard. His eyes remained hidden behind a pair of aviators that rested on top of chiseled cheekbones. His black shirt nearly busted at the shoulder seams. Under the short sleeves, his biceps bulged. The soft cotton clung to every valley and ridge of his pectorals and abdominals.
He was a man with a capital M, the sort who made a woman swallow her tongue. The kind her mother had warned her about. The type who’d starred in her fantasies. And the one she wanted sliding against her skin-to-skin now. Dark and bad, yes . . . but those big hands and muscled forearms alone said he’d be oh so good.
Just looking at him, Rachel had trouble breathing. Every inch of him was hard. If she’d had a fantasy in the flesh, he’d be it.
A tattoo—Asian writing maybe—drifted down his veined forearm. Dog tags hung from his neck. The little smile curling his lips was somewhere between an invitation and a challenge. And he was staring directly at her.
The bottom fell out of her stomach. Normally, she’d shy away from such a man. Aaron, the fifth grade social studies teacher, had asked her out a few weeks ago. He was polite and had kind brown eyes. He’d mentioned a local theater production that sounded interesting. That was her speed. This man in front of her . . .
“He looks good enough to eat. And to lick, slurp, suck . . . Damn, girl!” Shonda, one of the art teachers, murmured in her ear.
If you’re going to dive into a meal after starving, why not start with the juiciest one you can find?
She glanced at Shonda’s dark skin gleaming under the dim house lights and faintly flashing colored strobes. “Is it my imagination or is he staring at me?”
“Right at you, like he thinks you’re a tasty snack. Go on now. Talk to him.”
And say what? Hi, I haven’t had sex since I divorced my ex over a year ago, and I’ve never had it as down and dirty and sweaty as I’ll bet you could give it to me.
“Maybe he thinks I work here.”
Shonda snorted. “Maybe you’re insane. Jarelle is an awesome fiancé with enough freak in bed to keep me smiling, but hell . . . If I were single, I’d be all over that guy like paste on wallpaper.”
Rachel laughed. Leave it to Shonda to tell it like it was. And to be right. Rachel had to admit that she’d never know what could be if she didn’t try to talk to Mr. Tall, Dark, and Hot.
She turned back toward him, a welcoming smile in place. But he was already leaving behind his two friends, wearing insanely expensive suits, and walking her way. No, “walking” was the wrong word. “Approaching” was too weak. “Looming” maybe? Still not right. “Prowling,” yes. “Stalking” sounded even more like it.
He tore off his sunglasses to reveal a stark pair of blue eyes, unabashedly roaming over her body with a heat that made her swallow. He kept coming at her, invading her personal space without compunction. Reflexively, she retreated. He smiled, then did it again and again—until her back hit the wall.
Mercy, the low rumble of his voice was sexy. Her knees quaked.
“Hi.” She breathed the word as if she couldn’t quite catch her breath.
He looked her up and down, obviously scoping her out. “Hmm, you with all those curves, and me here with no brakes . . . Damn!”
OMG, was that some sort of pick-up line?
“Um . . .”
If he’d intended to flatter her, he was headed in the wrong direction. She’d write him off, except . . . The black skirt Shonda had insisted she wear tonight had seemed stupidly tight—until she saw the appreciation in his gaze. That and his line, no matter how terrible, made her think that, maybe, he actually found her sexy. And she wasn’t interested in him for his conversational skills.
“Too much, huh?” he asked with a frown. “How about, there must be something wrong with my eyes because I can’t take them off you.”
He was trying to pick her up—badly—but out of a bar full of pretty girls, he’d zeroed in on her. Would wonders never cease?
Maybe if she stopped focusing on her ex-husband’s litany of critical comments and started to believe that some men might like her as she was, curves and all, it wouldn’t seem so weird.
“Definitely too much.” She gave him a smile that she hoped looked sophisticated and wry, rather than giggly and excited.
“Oh, you like subtle. I got it.” He leaned closer and leered. “Hey, baby, you come here often?”
The most obvious pick-up line ever, and when he delivered it with a grin, she laughed. If this was his idea of starting a conversation, she wasn’t sure whether she should be annoyed or charmed against her will. But she was definitely leaning toward the latter.
“Never. This is my first time,” she admitted. “You?”
“Same. I was thinking that I hated places like this until I saw you. You’re better than a broom because you swept me off my feet.”
Rachel couldn’t help but laugh. “Right . . .”
“No lie, beautiful.” He winked at her. “Tell me, what’s your sign?”
Yield. If she were holding a sign, that’s probably what it would say because that’s kind of what she wanted to do for him. Oh, but she guessed that wasn’t what he meant.
“Libra,” she said finally. “Today is my birthday. And I’ll only keep talking to you if you stop with the pick-up lines.”
“Happy birthday! You mean I can’t ask you for a Band-Aid?”
She frowned. How had they gone from pick-up lines to Band-Aids? “I’m sorry?”
“I need one because I scraped my knees falling for you.”
Rachel tossed her hands up, shaking her head, and giggled. “Does this sort of thing usually work for you?”
He shrugged. “Don’t know. I never tried. You wanna tell me come morning?”
“My mama has a word for men like you. ‘Incorrigible.’”
Mock horror crossed his face. “I’ve given you the impression that I’m a bad boy with no manners. Okay, maybe that’s not too far off. How about we start over? Decker.”
He held out his hand for a friendly shake, and she hesitated only an instant before she slipped hers inside. A quick sizzle between them nearly made her shiver. It traveled up her arm and through her body as his hand—warm, calloused, and huge—engulfed hers. Dark hair dusted his forearms. Veins stood out. Decker was obviously strong, but he touched her gently. When he smiled, the light inside reached his eyes.
Slowly, he released her, and she was almost disappointed when he did. “So, Rachel the birthday girl, can I buy you a drink?”
She shook her head. “I’ve already had two. That’s my limit. I still have to drive home.”
“How about a dance?”
As if the cosmos knew exactly what Decker had planned, the twangy singer suddenly took a break and the deejay played something slow and sexy—the kind of music that made people want to drop their clothes and get horizontal.
“I’m not much of a dancer,” she demurred.
Because if she pressed up against him and swayed to the music, she might get ideas about taking him for a test drive, at least for the night.
Wasn’t that half the point of coming here?
She’d allowed Shonda and a few of the others to drag her to this dive to not only celebrate her big two-nine, but to see if, maybe, she could find a hot guy to spend the night with. She hadn’t been touched since well before her divorce, and she wanted to be kissed, experience some serious skin-on-skin contact, then cuddle afterward. Decker didn’t necessarily look like he specialized in cuddling, but he seemed more than capable of making her scream. A definite bonus since giving orgasms had never been Owen’s strong suit.
“Good thing for you I am, then. C’mon . . . One little dance won’t hurt. It’s either that or I give you more bad pick-up lines until you agree.”
“You have more?”
“Oh yeah!” He grinned. “Can I have your picture so I can show Santa what I want for Christmas?”
“That’s months away.”
“Good point. I don’t want to wait that long.” He thought for a moment, then grinned again. “Are you a parking ticket? Because you’ve got ‘fine’ written all over you.”
“Oh my—Where do you find this stuff?”
“Thank the great people at Google.”
“You looked that up on purpose?”
“Yep. I’m sure my mom would be super proud.”
She slapped her hand to her forehead. When was the last time she’d laughed this much around a man? Never. Owen possessed zero sense of humor. Decker was totally different—and a welcome change.
Swallowing back her usual caution, Rachel nodded at him. “One dance.”
“Great!” He grabbed her hand and tugged her onto the floor.
As he dragged her past her friends, she turned to see Shonda give her a thumbs-up, her neon pink nail polish glowing in the dim lighting. Beside her, the office aide, Alicia, laughed at something a guy at the next table said. Every man talked to Alicia. Blond and stacked and sweet as the day was long, it was a miracle that she was still single at the ripe age of twenty-four. Rachel was sure that some smart guy would come along soon and rectify that.
“Ah ah, eyes here, birthday girl.” Decker gave a little tug on her arm, and she fell right against him. He settled his arms loosely around her waist, his big hands laying claim to the small of her back. His fingers dipped a little bit lower. His blue eyes flared with wicked heat. “Now I’ve got you where I want you. But I might have a problem.”
She gave him a wary frown. “What’s that?”
“I hope you know CPR because you take my breath away.”
A laugh spilled out before she could stop it. She gave his shoulder a playful hit. “Stop. Tell me something about you, other than your affinity for looking up crazy things on Google. Where are you from? What do you do?”
“I’m from all over. Military brat who eventually went into the military, too. I’ve been out a few years. Then I did some work for Uncle Sam. Now I work for S.I. Industries in security.”
The military fit. Working for the government? She doubted very much he’d pushed pencils for the IRS, but she didn’t pry. Security made sense, too. With his ridiculously bulging shoulders and air of strength, he looked more than capable of being a protector.
“S.I. Industries?” she asked. “Was that Javier and Xander Santiago you were talking to?”
Since moving to Lafayette over the summer, she’d read their names and seen their pictures repeatedly in the local rag. The brothers were only slightly better known for their prestigious, growing company and the jobs it was bringing to the area as they were for the rumors they shared a wife.
“Yes. I’ve worked for Xander for a few years. Until he got married, I did nothing but bail him out of scrapes. Now I devote my spare time to whatever makes mischief.” He winked. “How about you?”
“I’m a school teacher. Fifth grade English.”
Decker gave her a long, slow smile. “I got a whole bunch of naughty teacher fantasies.”
“I’ve got,” she corrected automatically.
“You, too?” He pretended to misunderstand. “Awesome! You know, if you were my homework, I’d be doing you on my desk.”
“You did not just say that,” she scolded.
“I totally did.” He flashed her a grin. “Google really is helpful. I have more.”
“Stop, please.” Rachel laughed. “I’m raising the white flag.”
“Not yet. I have one more you need to hear.” Decker curled his arms more tightly around her.
The breath of air between them disappeared as he fitted her against his body. Rachel gasped. He was hard all over. Her palms slid up his biceps and over his shoulders, both like rocks. His chest was like a hot slab of concrete. The ridges of his abdomen led her to believe there’d be at least a six-pack under there. But lower . . . He bent his knees a fraction and notched his erection against the vulnerable V between her legs. And oh, all that thickness and length couldn’t be him, could it?
“Yes?” she moaned as he rolled his hips against her and hit one really pleasurable spot that . . . wow.
“That’s a nice dress you’re wearing,” he murmured in her ear, then brushed his lips up the side of her neck until she trembled and closed her eyes.
“It’s a skirt and blouse.”
“Whatever. It would look better on the floor next to my bed.”
Rachel’s breath caught. He was propositioning her. Guys like him never found her attractive. They usually liked Alicia. On the one hand, her libido definitely wanted to say yes. She found everything about him made her heart rev. Her common sense might be hesitating, but every cell in her body clamored for her to rub against him and grab whatever pleasure he was willing to give her. But the more cautious part of her just wouldn’t be shushed.
“How do I know you’re not a crazed killer?”
He cocked his head. “You have any Taliban or drug cartel affiliations?”
“Um . . .” Rachel reared back a bit in his arms. “No. I can safely say that I don’t.”
“Then we’ll have no problems. The only thing I want to massacre is your desire to say no.”
Decker might have phrased it like a joke, but he looked dead serious. Was she actually considering this? Was she really thinking of going home with a man she’d met ten minutes ago and opening her body to him?
Well, sunshine, if you want sex with a hot guy, it’s not like Magnolia Elementary school is a hotbed of gorgeous, single men. You’re going to have to step out on a limb.
Ugh, she hated that little devil on her shoulder, always urging her to do something she probably shouldn’t.
Rachel opened her mouth to politely decline when the voice blared in her ear again.
Think about this. Who talked you into marrying the poster child for bedroom boredom, even knowing he was way more versed in physics than pleasure?
The voice had a really good point. Besides, he worked for a good company and had friends who were upstanding financial pillars of the community now. How bad could he be?
She peered up at Decker, curling her arms just a bit tighter around his neck. “Do you know anything about physics?”
He raised a dark brow. “Would that turn you on?”
“No.” Not at all.
“Then you’ll be happy to know I failed eleventh grade science.”
“Thrilled.” She sent him her most dazzling smile.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I hate when I pay for a book twice! This story is part of the 2013 Wicked and Dangerous. If you have read that, don't buy it again here.
Thanks it to ft
Just enough steamy-ness mixed with roughness!! Loved it!
Hot guy, hot girl, steamy hot sex from begining to end , funny, silly, this short story had it all! Wish it wasnt a short story
Really enjoyed this...So damn hot it could burn your finger...
Couldn't stop til I got to the end.
When Rachel is in trouble Decker protects her! Rachel has no clue she is in danger. Decker was just sitting in a bar when a man approaches him thinking he is someone else. This man wants to put a hit on Rachel. Decker sees her picture and wants to find out who is behind this hit! At first he thinks it's her ex. But when he seduces her to get close to find out if she knows of any enemies he falls head over heels in love and so does she! Love anything written by Shayla Black! You will love this story too! A must read!
Enjoyed this novella as part of the Wicked series.
This was amazing as always love her books.
Fast and sexy short story This author always delivers a good read
Decker was smoking hot loved it