Book #2 in The Martin Family companion series
Release date: November 6th, 2013
A man determined to protect her…Caleb Martin is no stranger to hazardous situations. He's seen enough bloodshed to last two lifetimes. When an innocent evening takes a dangerous turn, Caleb takes matters into his own hands. If she wants his help, it’s his rules, his way. Period.A woman who won’t be controlled…When it comes to relationships, Samantha keeps things casual, unassuming. Safe. Caleb Martin is far from safe. His ‘my way or the highway’ attitude pushes all the wrong buttons, and she’d sworn no man would have that kind of power over her again.A hunger that won’t be denied…Protecting Samantha from the man that stalks her shouldn't test his patience—or his control—but her smart mouth and hot Irish temper stoke the fuel of his desire. She is pure sin—a distraction he doesn’t need, a temptation he can’t resist.Despite their animosity, Caleb has starred in her fantasies for years. His ruthless sensuality proves to be more potent than she ever imagined. As Caleb masters her body, Samantha must keep a tight grip her heart.
FIRST IN THE SERIES
He turned to her. Heat pooled in her stomach as his gaze traveled slowly, deliberately, from her face. He seemed to take in every inch of her before stopping to linger over her bare legs. “I don’t sleep much. I’m sorry if I disturbed you.”
“You didn’t.” The devil in her insisted she cross her legs, exposing more of her thigh to his view. She enjoyed his eyes on her, as if he saw the woman she was instead of the pain in his ass he’d claimed her to be. She was tempting fate, knowing that any second he’d remember who she was and that look in his eye would change.
For now, she’d use any means to distract him from his pain. Her pain would come later, when she was alone again.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“Talk about what?”
“Why you’re still up.”
He chucked a thumb at the windows. “Daytime.”
She clamped her mouth shut before she said something she’d regret. And he thought she was stubborn. She pulled in a slow, steady breath. “True, but barely. On a normal day, I wouldn’t be up yet.”
“Exactly. Go. Rest.” He closed his eyes as if to shut her out.
She could feel his irritation, but, this time, it wasn’t directed at her. It gave her hope as she pressed on.
“Are you hungry? I could make us some breakfast. If you don’t mind me searching through your fridge, I’m sure I could find something edible.” In fact, she’d been surprised at the amount of food she’d seen. She’d half expected him to only have beer and water and maybe a stray bottle of ketchup. Like Alec’s fridge.
“For the love of christ, what do you want? I don’t want to eat. I don’t want to talk.” He sighed, apparently resigned to her company a few minutes more. “What do you want, Samantha?”
Right now? To slap the shit out of you.
Hurt invaded her chest as she stared back at him. Gone was the pain she’d seen earlier, as well as the male interest. What remained was the Caleb she knew. Cold, hard, angry.
She shoved the hurt away and bit back the sharp retort he deserved. She softened her features, allowing herself to appear vulnerable. It wasn’t much of a stretch. “Can I stay with you?”
* * *
Caleb jerked, surprised by her request. “That’s not a good idea.”
Even as he said the words, his cock came to life. It seemed the lower half of his body thought it was a very good idea. And seeing her in nothing but his T-shirt wasn’t helping. Jesus, he hoped she had panties on under there. A bigger, harder, part of him hoped that she didn’t.
Samantha shifted, exposing more of her delectable thighs. “It’s not like I’m asking you to get a root canal. You can wipe that horrified look off your face.”
Caleb checked his expression, doing his best to appear calm, bored even. She’d surprised the hell out of him, coming in his room like she had.
He was angry. Angry with himself and the past that wouldn’t free him. Angry at her for being here, for looking as if she belonged here. This was his space, damn it. How was he supposed to relax with her prancing around half naked, knowing she’d pleasured herself and called his name?
He wasn’t stupid. He suspected it was his fault she was awake, and now she was here—checking on him as if he was a child who needed coddling. He didn’t need coddling. His body demanded the satisfaction that would only come from pounding his aching flesh deep into her soft, wet pussy.
As tempting as that idea may be, he was still trying to wrap his head around how he felt about her.
“You’re tired. You don’t know what you’re asking.” And he couldn’t think straight. He was low on sleep and even lower on patience. He shoved his hands into his hair and blew out a breath. “You can’t be in here. Go back to bed.” Before he forgot all the reasons he shouldn’t fuck her silly.
“Why did I think… God, I’m such an —” She closed her mouth, her lips drawn into a thin, tight line. Her cheeks flushed as she advanced on him. “I’m sick of you judging me. Telling me what I should and shouldn’t do. If you hadn’t noticed, my night sucked. Hell, the last year has sucked. So, you can shove your overinflated male ego up your own ass. I’m not asking you to have sex with me for chrissake.” She stumbled back and planted her butt on the edge of the bed. “Just for once, Caleb, can’t you set aside your feelings? Forget your stupid sense of responsibility where I’m concerned and just be here for me like a normal person?”
What the fuck?
“My stupid sense of what?”
The laugh that escaped her lips made him uneasy.
“You heard me, horseman.” She eased back to her feet and sauntered toward him. “You think I don’t know how you feel about me? Let me see … troublemaker, instigator, bad influence.” She ticked off the words on her fingers. “Oh, and my personal favorite … menace. Really, Caleb. Menace? That’s a little strong don’t you think?” She fisted her hands on her hips, her eyes glittering with unshed tears. “I know you don’t like me. If it weren’t for Amanda and Alec, I wouldn’t be here and we both know it.” Her chest rose and fell in rapid succession as she glared at him. “And I’m sick of being your charity case.”
Caleb fought the urge to look away. She hadn’t lied about the words he’d uttered to describe her over the years, but to have them slung back at him just pissed him off.
“You want to know what I’m sick of, Samantha? I’m sick of you pushing my buttons. I’m sick of your stubborn-assed attitude when it comes to your own safety and I’m fucking sick and tired of you calling me horseman!” His shout rattled the windows, but he didn’t care. He was on a roll now, like a fucking train wreck, unable to stop.
Crossing his arms over his chest, he glared down at her. “If you and Amanda hadn’t decided the woods were the best place to partake in a little underage drinking, the boys and I wouldn’t have had to saddle up to go find your drunk asses before some wild animal made you a snack. Did you ever think of that, Samantha? During your little adventure with my baby sister, did you stop to consider the consequences? Do you ever?”
Samantha made a noise of disgust and stormed from the room. “This is what I get for trying to be nice,” she yelled.
Caleb went after her, following her into the spare room. “Nice? Nice?” The floodgates were open, his anger and frustration leaving any sense of self-preservation in the dust. “You think calling us the horsemen of the apocalypse is nice? Is that fun for you? Because all it does is remind me of being scared out of my ever-loving mind that something was going to … that Amanda …” No, he wasn’t going back there.
Not. Going. There.
“And as for my stupid sense of responsibility, I protect what’s mine, damn it!”
Samantha’s sharp intake of breath drifted through his angry haze and punched him in the gut. She sank back to the bed and wiped the tear that escaped the corner of her eye.
It was like ice water to his soul.
This woman tested his restraint. No other woman, save his sister, had ever pushed him so hard. It was infuriating and intoxicating at the same time. She left him off balance, out of control—two things that spelled disaster where he was concerned.
Caleb ran his hands through his hair, settling his palms on the back of his neck.
His heart skipped a beat as emotion played out on her face. Sadness, regret, and finally … resolve.
“Get out.” Her voice was soft. “God, what was I thinking? Just get out.”
He stood there, unable to move as he struggled to comprehend the vulnerability pouring out of her. His gaze traveled over the delicate features of her face, the line of her shoulders. The rise of her breasts, her slim waist, and long legs. Her feet were bare. Her toenails were painted a rich red that spoke of fire. Passion.
She shifted on the bed and winced, making him feel like a total ass. Again. Her night had sucked. With her tough-as-nails attitude, Caleb hadn’t considered she might actually need comforting.
He took a deep breath. “I’ll stay.”
Her eyes, blue and blazing, snapped up. “Of course you will. Because why in the hell would you listen to me?”
“You asked me to stay.”
“I asked you to leave.”
“As you so diligently pointed out earlier, I don’t listen.” And he still had things to say.
She rubbed her temples, as if their argument had given her a headache. “Fine. Whatever.”
“Samantha. Look at me.” When she didn’t move, he crouched in front of her. He tilted her chin until she looked at him. “I don’t dislike you. I need you to know that.”
She offered him a sad smile. “The gesture is appreciated, Caleb. Thank you.” She pulled her face away.
Refusing to let her retreat, he tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear and cupped her face. Soft, warm skin greeted his palm. He brushed his thumb across her cheek, amazed by its smoothness. “It’s the truth. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean —”
She put a finger to his lips and he barely resisted the urge to open his mouth and taste her.
“Yes, you did. And it’s okay. We may not get along, but at least you’ve never lied to me. Please don’t start now. I’m a big girl, Caleb. I can take it. And I owe you an apology. I’m sorry for not considering your feelings where Amanda is concerned.”
Her touch rocked him. Revamped his desire to have her wet and screaming his name. “I’m sorry for all that.” He offered her what he hoped was a reassuring smile. “I’m so used to you calling me horseman now, I’m afraid I’d never answer to anything else from your lips.” Those sweet, succulent lips. “What is it about you that makes me so crazy?” he murmured.
She chuckled. “I’m too tired to fight anymore, Caleb. The best course of action would be to find the evidence I need to bury Matteo. Then we can move on.”
The mention of her stalker snapped his brain back to attention. He had a job to do. Eliminate the threat and protect Samantha.
Best he remember that.
Distractions led to mistakes. He couldn’t afford any more mistakes.
He forced his voice level, undemanding. “It’d be a lot easier if you’d let us help. Let me help. Trust me to take care of this for you.”
Asking for her trust was a long shot. In truth, he probably didn’t deserve it. But, he had to try. Needed to try. He would protect her.
“Trust you?” She seemed to consider his words. After a moment, she surprised him by nodding. “I can’t promise miracles, but I’ll do my best to follow your lead … until this is over.”
Caleb resisted the insane urge to pump his fist in the air. “So, we have a deal then?”
She caressed her fingers over his jaw. He leaned into her gentle touch, feeling it all the way to his bones.
“Oh, now you’re willing to make deals?” She looked him dead in the eye. “All right then, but once Matteo is caught and the threat against me is gone? You’ll go on with your life and I’ll go on with mine, and hopefully, we can stay out of each other’s way. That’s the deal.”
She dropped her hand to her lap.
“After this, Caleb, we’re done.”
Parker Kincade is an award-winning erotic romance author of The Martin Family Series. Her first novel, One Night Stand, won the category of Best Erotic Romance in the Celtic Hearts Romance Writers Golden Claddagh contest and was named finalist in the Romance Writers of America/Passionate Ink Stroke of Midnight contest.Parker lives in the southern United States with her husband, children and beloved boxer sidekick. She loves reading, playing golf, spending time with her family and friends, ice cream from the ice cream truck, taking her dog to the park and watching old musicals.
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