Saxon Black walked into the bar as if he owned the place. He’d learned long ago never to show weakness—weakness only brought a guy trouble—so he sauntered right into that pit of hell with a broad smile on his face and with his hands clenched into battle ready fists.
This is the last damn job I take. The last one. I don’t care what Vic says.
There hadn’t been time for a full briefing on this mission. He’d been in the area, positioned perfectly, and he’d been told to move into The Blade right fucking then.
The bar was filled with a mixed crowd—bikers and wanna-be bikers. Men covered in tats and women in sexy leather. Others were there, folks flashing cash, men in clothes that cost far too much money. He strode past them all, not even pausing as his gaze swept that crowd. When someone got in his way, he just moved that someone out of his path. Not too gently.
His gaze found the door marked PRIVATE. A guard was there, body too tight and with what Saxon knew was a gun tucked under his jacket. Hardening his jaw, Saxon headed right for the guy.
The fellow’s hand slammed down on Saxon’s chest. “We got a private meeting in there!” he barked. “So back the hell off!”
Saxon smiled as he glanced down at the guy’s hand. The man had made a mistake. He’d reached out and grabbed Saxon with his right hand. That was obviously the guy’s dominant hand, so he wouldn’t be able to pull the gun as quickly with his left.
“Obviously,” Saxon muttered as his hand flew up and he caught the man’s wrist, “you don’t know who I am.” A man with an image to maintain. He twisted the jerk’s wrist, didn’t break it, not yet, but the guard howled and dropped to the floor.
Easy enough. The bigger they are, the easier they fall.
Now that the guard was out of the way, Saxon kicked in the door.
A lot of things happened at once then—and he’d sure as hell not been expecting any of them.
A woman screamed when she saw him. A woman with deep green eyes and terror stamped on a beautiful face that should never show fear. She was tied in a chair, the ropes tight around her, and a gun was pressed to her temple.
The hell, no.
A man charged at Saxon. An idiot with big fists who didn’t know how to deliver a punch to take down his enemy. Saxon dodged his blows and drove his own fist into the guy’s jaw. The man’s grunt was drowned out by the woman’s scream. Saxon took a fast, lunging step toward her.
“Saxon.” His name was snarled. Snarled by the bastard holding the gun on the pretty blonde. “You need to walk away. This doesn’t concern you.”
Ah, but sadly, it did.
No one else had come charging into the room, even though he knew the folks behind him must have heard the blonde’s scream. The people in The Blade weren’t exactly big on helping. Neither was he. Not generally, but this was one of those special situations. I’ve got to follow Vic’s orders.
“Please,” she said, and when his gaze returned to her face, he saw tears glistening in her eyes. Such insanely deep eyes. “Th-there’s been a mistake. Help me.”
He didn’t like seeing that gun at her head. And he sure as shit didn’t like the bruise that slid over one high cheekbone.
The fool on the floor—really, one punch had taken down the guy—was trying to rise. Two more men were behind the idiot with the gun.
“Walk away,” the idiot said—Saxon recognized the guy as Kurt Taggert. A real piece of work. A man who would do anything, if the price was right. But his specialty—his specialty was murder. If you wanted someone eliminated, then the word on the street said to hire Taggert.
Saxon rolled back his shoulders and turned for the door. Only instead of walking through it and heading back out into the bar, he slammed the door. Hard. He’d broken the lock when he kicked the door in, so there was no way to secure the room. He’d have to make sure that he stayed alert for all attacks. After a brief moment, Saxon turned back to the little group. No one had moved. The blonde still looked terrified.
His gaze swept over her, slowly. She was wearing a skirt, one that revealed long and perfect legs. Her feet were bare, so he could see the red on her toe nails. Cute fucking feet, too. He sighed. His gaze drifted back up her body—nice breasts, round, high. Probably would fit great in his hands and—
“What the hell are you doing?” Kurt demanded. “I told you to get out!”
“I like her.” The words were growled. Low.
And they made fresh fear appear in the blonde’s green eyes.
“Too bad,” Kurt told him, with a hard shake of his head. “She’s not yours.”
Ah, but she would be. “How much do you want?” Saxon asked him.
Another tear rolled down her cheek. He really didn’t like that shit. Saxon had a rule about women crying—they fucking shouldn’t. At least, not around him.
Kurt jerked the gun away from the woman’s face and aimed it at Saxon. Kurt’s goons moved forward, as if that had been a signal they were waiting to get from their boss. “She’s not for sale,” Kurt said flatly.
“Sure, she is. Everyone has a price.” A lesson he’d learned early in life. Saxon kept his body loose and ready for an attack. “How much for an hour with her?”
The blonde’s mouth dropped open. Then she screamed. Loud, ear-piercing.
The gun was heading back toward her head. Saxon was afraid that Kurt was going to hit her with it, or, much worse, just shoot her right there. So he lunged forward and put his hand over her mouth. “Screaming can come later, baby,” he told her.
Her gaze—terrified, stark—met his.
He smiled at her. Unfortunately, he knew the sight wouldn’t exactly be reassuring.
Kurt shoved the gun against Saxon’s chest. “I don’t care who you are,” Kurt told him. “I don’t care if the others jump when you appear, I don’t give a shit about—”
“You’re just going to kill her.”
She shuddered in the chair.
“That’s what you do, right, Kurt? If the money’s right, you take the hit. Just like you did on Jenny Long.” He threw that name out deliberately.
Kurt laughed, and his face—thin, a bit rat-like, gleamed for a moment with pleasure. “The money was very right with her. Freaking FBI turncoat. She deserved all the pain I gave her.”
No, she hadn’t. Jenny had been a good woman and a standout FBI agent. Saxon’s back teeth ground together. “I only want an hour, then you can have her back.” Lies and truth didn’t matter to Saxon. They couldn’t. Not in the world he lived in.
“She’s got to suffer,” Kurt said, as if that should be obvious. “Her pain is part of the deal.” The gun was still pressed to Saxon’s chest. An annoyance. One that Kurt would regret.
Saxon looked down at the gun. “How much were you paid for her?”
The woman was trying to talk behind Saxon’s hand. Muttering frantically.
“And unless you’re going to give me ten grand for that hour with her—then you need to get the hell out of here. Because I’m supposed to be dumping her body in forty-five minutes.”
Her muttering stopped.
Saxon sighed. “It just couldn’t be easy…”
“What?” Kurt demanded.
“My night.” Then Saxon grabbed the gun, he jerked it right out of Kurt’s grip because the idiot hadn’t been expecting him to attack. Saxon drove his elbow into Kurt’s face and heard the bones crack as the guy’s nose broke. The goons in the back lunged forward. They were drawing their own weapons.
Saxon shot them. He didn’t kill them, because killing hadn’t been on his agenda, not that night anyway. But the men went down, groaning in pain.
The guy he’d taken down when he first came into the room—that guy tried to play hero again. He tackled Saxon, sending them both to the floor. Only Saxon was stronger in that little fight, and a fast slam had the guy’s head hitting the rough cement that served as the floor, and the guy didn’t bounce back to his feet.
Kurt rushed out the door. The coward had let his men fight while he ran. Now Kurt probably thought he’d get more backup from the others in The Blade. And if the guy brought more folks in there, Saxon would have to keep fighting. “I don’t have time for this shit,” Saxon muttered.
He pulled his knife from the sheath around his left ankle. Then he headed toward the blonde. He hadn’t thought it would be possible for her eyes to get any bigger, but they were huge right then.
“Please, don’t…there has to be a mistake! I—ahh!”
The knife sliced through her ropes and her scream cut off.
He hauled her up and onto her feet. “Here’s how this is going down, sweetheart.”
She was staring at him in shock. Right, like women hadn’t done that before. But then she gave a hard shake of her head. “I’m…Elizabeth. Elizabeth Ward. I need—”
He waved that away. They could talk about needs later. Right now, it was ass-hauling time. “We’re going out the back. You’re not going to scream. You’re not going to fight me. Because if you do either of those things, you’ll be dead.”
Her lips were full, plump, and currently trembling. “Y-you’ll kill me?”
He grabbed her arm and ran for the back door. “Have you realized it yet? I’m your hero. The only guy who can keep you alive.” He shoved open that door, and they ran into the back alley. It was pitch black out there because it was a cloudy night and they had no stars or moonlight to spill down on them.
Voices shouted behind him. Uh, oh. He glanced back. Kurt had come with his reinforcements. “Should have given me my hour,” Saxon called out to the prick. “So now…I’ll just take more.”
He kept his grip tight on her and hauled ass. Lucky for them both, he had excellent night vision—and a motorcycle that wasn’t too far away. He jumped on his bike, shoved the helmet at her, and had that engine growling to sweet life in seconds.
“Get on,” he ordered her.
Kurt shouted, “Bitch, I will kill—”
She got on the motorcycle.
Saxon’s hands flexed around the handlebars. “Hold on. Tight.”
Her fingers tentatively curled around him.
“Tight,” he snapped. What the hell? Did she think they were about to go for a Sunday drive?
Gunfire blasted at them. He ducked, and those bastards were lucky because their bullets missed his bike. If they’d hit his ride, he would have gone back and kicked their asses—mission orders or no orders.
He revved the engine then turned around—and headed right for his pursuers.
Kurt was shouting orders. The others were trying to make a human wall in that alley, sealing Saxon and his blonde inside. So he just went straight for the wall of bodies. If the guys didn’t get out of his way, he’d go right over them—no, right through them.
More gunfire blasted. The bullet came so close to Saxon’s arm that he could almost feel the burn on his skin. I’m lucky they don’t have better aim. Then the fools were scrambling out of his way even as the blonde behind him held on with a tight, death grip.
They raced into the night. And he didn’t look back, not even once.
Elizabeth Ward held onto the man before her for dear life. He was riding that giant beast of a motorcycle way too fast. The wind whipped around her, her thighs vibrated from the powerful engine, and her hands—her hands were locked around the guy who’d been called Saxon.
Hero, my ass. She’d seen the way the guy looked at her. She knew what he planned to do. Kurt had been intent on Elizabeth’s torture and death. This guy—big, blond, and scary as all hell—had other plans.
He wanted her. There had been no mistaking the flare of lust in his eyes, and if she didn’t get away from him soon, Elizabeth was afraid she’d be facing a whole new nightmare.
He turned off the road. They’d zigged and zagged all over Miami, and she had no clue where they were right then. Wait, no, check that—they were in another alley. Near another rundown building. Lost.
Only, this time, he actually stopped the bike. He threw down the kickstand and killed the engine.
“I think we ditched them.” Because Kurt and his jerk battalion had tried to follow them. Only Kurt hadn’t been able to keep up with the motorcycle, not when it cut so easily through the city.
Unlike Elizabeth, Mr. Big, Scary, and Dangerous wasn’t wearing a helmet. Probably because the guy had a death wish. Probably because—
“You can let go now.” His voice was the deepest, darkest rumble she’d ever heard, and it actually took a few seconds for his words to sink in.
When they did, she was horrified. Her hands flew away from him and she shot off that motorcycle. A bad move, really, because her thighs were still shaking from the ride, and Elizabeth hit the ground.
She pushed up fast, though, and staggered to her feet. Elizabeth tossed away her helmet and ran.
Unfortunately, she didn’t get far. A big, strong hand caught her shoulder and spun her around. In the next breath, her back was being pushed into the nearby brick wall, and Saxon had her hands pinned above her head. He held her easily, her wrists trapped in one of his hands.
“Didn’t we cover this?” he muttered, and his voice, if possible, had gone even deeper. “No screaming, no running—”
“No fighting,” she whispered back to him. “You said no…fighting. You never said I couldn’t run.”
He laughed then. A sound that was as deep as his voice and sent shivers racing over her body.
A man wasn’t supposed to laugh when a woman was terrified. She knew nothing about the guy except for the fact that she’d seen him shoot two men and beat the crap out of at least two more. And he’d said he…wanted her.
For an hour.
“Please, let me go.” Elizabeth wasn’t above begging, not then. She just wanted to survive that night. To get back to her apartment and pretend this whole terrible nightmare had never happened. “I won’t go to the police, I promise. I won’t tell them anything about you.”
His head came closer to hers. She couldn’t discern much about him in that moment, it was too dark, but she’d seen plenty in that terrible little room.
Saxon. He’d been huge, filling that doorway. He had to be at least six foot three, and his shoulders had been so wide, his arms heavy with muscles. He wore a faded t-shirt and loose jeans. He’d fought with a cold, vicious fury, and he hadn’t even broken a sweat when he’d taken down his enemies.
I thought Kurt was scary. He’s nothing compared to this guy.
“I don’t want to let you go.”
Those words terrified her. No, he terrified her. He leaned even closer. She could feel the light stir of his breath against her cheek. She had a flash of being tied in that chair and looking up—and into a pair of dark and deadly eyes.
And I asked him for help? A desperate woman would do anything. And she was desperate right then.
So…Elizabeth didn’t fight his hold. She relaxed her body. If he wants me…Her mouth skimmed over his jaw. A light, soft kiss. Hesitant. She felt the rough edge of his stubble against her. She also felt his body tense.
“What are you doing?” Saxon demanded. There was no accent to his voice. Just flat, hard darkness.
She kissed his jaw again, and forced herself to whisper, “You wanted an hour, right?” Oh, dear God, had she just said that? But being with him, right then, was still better than being held back in that little room at The Blade, with a gun against her head.
How did this happen? I was walking home, and those men just grabbed me. I kept trying to tell them they had the wrong woman—no one would listen! No one would help me!
“I’ll give you an hour,” Elizabeth promised him. She rose onto her toes and pressed a light kiss to his lips. “If you…if you let me go.”
His body stiffened even more against her, as if he were locking his muscles.
He shook his head. Terror squeezed her heart. She kissed him again. More frantically, wild now because this was her only hope. He was her ticket to freedom. They’d ditched the others, and now she just had to deal with him.
A growl built in his throat, and his hand tightened around her wrists. “Be careful,” he warned her.
She didn’t have time to be careful. Her tongue licked over his lips and—
He kissed her back. His mouth parted, and he took control. His lips were demanding on hers, his desire obvious in the way his tongue thrust into her mouth and the rising bulge in his jeans that she could feel shoving against her. His right hand curled under her chin, and he tilted her head up so that he could kiss her even deeper.
“Fucking taste delicious,” he bit off against her mouth. “So sweet…” His tongue swept past her lips again. He shifted his stance just a bit as he tried to get even closer to her.
And that was just what she’d been waiting for. Elizabeth’s knee came up in a fast and brutal hit. She made perfect contact because his pained grunt filled her ears and his grip eased on her hands. Elizabeth tore away from him and she ran as fast as she could.
She opened her mouth and screamed as loudly as she could. Oh, hell, yes, she was going to scream. She was going to fight. She was going to run. There was no way she’d just die easily.
His footsteps pounded behind her. Her bare feet hurt as she ran over that rough street. She’d lost her high heels when those jerks grabbed her outside of her apartment.
She turned to the left. Saw only another alley waiting. But music was blaring in the distance, a Latin beat, and she knew that music meant people. If she could just get there, she’d survive. She’d find real help and not just—
She’d finally found light. A weak street light that fell down on the man before her. A man who was holding a gun.
She could hear the sound of Saxon’s thudding footsteps growing closer.
The man with the gun—she couldn’t see much of his face because the light was behind him. He was big, with shoulders nearly as broad as Saxon’s. And his hold on that weapon wasn’t wavering.
Could this night get any worse for her?
Saxon’s hands closed around her shoulders.
Yes, the night just got worse. So much for her run at freedom.
“The rules were simple.” Saxon spun her around to face him. “Were you trying to piss me off?”
“I was trying to stay alive! I was trying—”
“I don’t have time for this shit.” That voice belonged to the man with the gun. “Saxon, get her in the van and let’s get the hell out of here.”
Wait—no. No, that guy could not be working with Saxon. But…but Saxon had just tossed her over his shoulders like she was a sack of potatoes. She punched him. She kicked, but it didn’t matter. In about three seconds, Elizabeth found herself in the back of a van, with Saxon right at her side.
“Move an inch,” he told her, voice flat, “and I’ll tie you up.”
She stared up at him as she tried to fight the panic that clawed at her insides. “Why? Why are you doing this to me?”
The other guy was up front. He’d just cranked the engine. “Someone will take care of your bike, Sax.”
Saxon grunted. “You owe me so much for this one.”
“You got the confession, and you saved the girl. That’s win, win,” the driver said as the van took off.
What? She inched back against the side of that van.
“Stop,” Saxon ordered her. His hand closed around her shoulder. “My balls are blue, so I’m not in the mood for your shit right now.”
And she wasn’t in the mood for this nightmare. “You can’t kidnap me! The cops will find you! They’ll toss you in jail and they—”
Saxon was laughing. She decided that she hated his laughter.
“I’m not kidnapping you, sweetheart. I’m saving your gorgeous ass.” He caught her chin in his hand once again. “Maybe you can thank me for that later.”
“Yeah, you’re fucking welcome.”
And the van kept driving hell fast into the night.