Triple Release of the MEN OF MERCY Series
AUTHOR: Lindsay Cross
COVER DESIGNER: Kim Killion
OFFICIAL GENRE: Romantic Suspense (hot heat level)
PUBLICATION DATE: Oct 21, 2015
Hunter James didn’t want or need redemption.
Until one mission turns his world upside down.
He left Mercy to fight for his country and escape a broken heart. Years later, he is hard. Cold. A man without mercy. Part of an elite Task Force, he tracks a brutal terrorist to his home town. And runs into the woman who betrayed him…
Evangeline Videl was destroyed when Hunter left. Determined to move on, she finds another man, but discovers too late the monster hidden beneath his smooth smile. Struggling to find the conviction to live, Evie finds her life spinning out of control.
Then Hunter returns…
Forced to band together to find the terrorist before its too late, Hunter and Evie must learn to forgive or risk losing the promise of redemption and their lives…
"Hey." His Southern drawl put Matthew McConaughey to shame. Slow. Sexy. And familiar.
Her gaze traveled up the muscled torso to a pair of dark chocolate-brown eyes.
"Hunter James." His name breathed past her lips on a whisper.
For the second time that night her heart stuttered and her stomach clenched tight.
Hunter blocked her path, his towering six-foot-four frame packaged in a tight-fitting black T-shirt and jeans that showcased his muscles. His arms had to be twice the size they were the last time he’d been here. His gaze twice as intense. Her reaction twenty times that.
According to the town gossips, he’d been back in Mercy for a couple of weeks, but so far he’d avoided her. And she’d prayed daily he would stay away. Every time he came home on leave, he seemed to make it a point to show up here. At her bar. With another woman on his arm. Making sure she saw he’d moved on. And each time her heart broke a little more.
"Need some help?" he asked.
Her brain took a full minute to kick into gear, then another minute to reconnect to her mouth. "What?"
"You look like you could use some help. Can I do anything?" His serious voice passed through lips that were way too tempting.
She couldn't think. The man standing before her had gone AWOL with her heart over five years ago, like the tail end of a twister after a storm. Part of her had been happy he'd left. The other part had been devastated. Their love had been wild and crazy, but ultimately destructive.
She noticed the knotted wood cane leaning against the table beside him. "What's with the cane?"
Hunter grinned and shifted his weight to the side. "What's with the wet clothes?" He extinguished his cigarette and stepped away from the doorway leading to the upstairs apartment, his limp noticeable.
Evie crossed her arms over her chest, the action squeezing more beer out of her bra. Her lips pressed into a tight line and she forced herself to answer, "Wet T-shirt contest. It's a new thing we’re trying."
Evie straightened her arms, clenching and unclenching her fists at her sides in time with the ticking in his jaw. A couple day’s stubble graced the hard planes of his face, only a little shorter than the black hair buzzed close to his scalp. He looked as if he’d been chiseled from steel.
Hunter leaned in close and Evie's stomach knotted. Lust built inside her, pushing against her dam of resistance. "I bet you won."
He wasn't staring at her chest, she had to give him that. No, his target appeared to be her mouth. His head lowered to hers and her mind went blank. If she had been thinking like a full-grown woman, she would have jerked back before his lips made contact. But tonight her brain had pointed and aimed but failed to fire.
Ranger James accepted his best friend’s death like a good soldier. With guilt. Regret. Vengeance. But a forbidden desire keeps pulling him from his mission…
Desire for his best friend’s widow.
Killed in Action. That’s why Rachel Carter’s husband wasn’t coming home.
A war widow, alone and broke, Rachel struggles to revive her family’s crop dusting service to survive. Now she takes to the skies to find escape. Escape from the pain. From the guilt. From the earth-shattering desire for her husband’s best friend.
Rachel and Ranger can’t fight the attraction between them any longer. But one fateful night cleaves their new found love in two...
Can they find the will to fight for true love? Or will an evil so shocking destroy their lives for good?
Rachel spun around, the yellow airplane a perfect backdrop to her beautiful face. “What are you doing here?”
Ranger let his gaze travel from her scruffy boots, torn jeans and gloriously figure hugging tank, to the top of her dark red head. Her pink cheeks flushed.
“Like what you see?”
Ranger approached, her green gaze turned wary. Good. She should be worried. She’d doused him in chemicals. His skin still itched. He reached forward, plucked an oil stick from her ponytail and sent her hair spilling to her shoulders. He caught the brief scent of flowers and oil.
Rachel grabbed her hair, lips parted. Angry. Stubborn. Sexy.
He held up the stick right in front of her face. “Oil stick.”
Rachel snatched it from his fingers and tossed it across the room. “I told you to stay away from me.”
Ranger shrugged, his brain still caught on the image of her jean-clad ass hanging out of that airplane. Forget Sports Illustrated. He had farm fucking fantastic right here.
"Don't you think dropping that all-natural excuse for chemicals on me is a bit dramatic? If you want to get me naked all you had to do is ask." Ranger gestured to himself, sweeping his hand from his head down to his torso, Rachel's eyes followed.
That definitely wasn't desperation or anger in her gaze.
The desire he’d been trying to hold in check for months reared up inside him.
"You think I want to see you naked?” Rachel snorted, lifted her chin. “Besides, I figured anything would be an improvement to your normal smell.” So much for her vulnerability.
The wind picked up, blew into the hangar. Ranger shifted, praying the wind wouldn’t open the fly on his boxers, and almost covered himself. Almost. Until he remembered she was the reason for his stench. Instead, he stood tall. “You’ve never had a problem with the way I smelled before.”
“My manners were just too good to say anything.” She strode past him, punishing him with the sexy sway of her hips.
Dammit, he was so hard up for her, even her walk had his mind blanking. He stood there, nearly naked, and drenched in herbicide, and she walked past him like a stranger on a sidewalk.
Running from him. Again.
“Rachel Ann.” He didn’t yell, but she stopped mid-stride. Turned. Lips parted.
“You did that on purpose,” Ranger said. She’d been hard headed even in high-school, when he tried to break up with her, explaining that he needed a little space to see if life in Mercy was what he really wanted. Jumping on the marriage and kids bandwagon at eighteen years old had scared the shit out of him. But he’d obliterated any chance for reconnecting with Rachel when she’d seen him making out with Tonya at the football game senior year.
He hadn’t thought that leaving her to sow the wild oats of his youth would be a self-fulfilling prophecy of regret. Or that his best friend would move in on Rachel so fast and fill the void that Ranger had left in her heart.
“You bet your ass I did.”
“What the hell for?” He couldn’t get her smell, her taste, her touch out of his head. But she’d dumped shit on him for the last time.
Her eyes narrowed and her lips flattened. “I warned you.”
Yeah, she’d warned him to stay away from her. He’d stayed with her for weeks, helping her after the funeral. She’d healed physically, but remained an emotional tomb.
“I promised Shane, if anything ever happened to him, I’d look out for you.” He wanted to take her in his arms and kiss that angry expression right off her face. He’d wanted her since high-school, but when she’d married Shane, he’d vowed to put those feelings away. Forever. But the attraction hadn’t disappeared. And he knew it never would. “I know the chemistry between us is weird. Scary. But dammit it’s real and it’s here and now. You’re just flying through the clouds because you don’t want to see what’s on the ground right in front of you.”
If he hadn’t been studying every minute expression on her face he would have missed the brief flash of vulnerability in her gaze. Then her anger slid back in place. “The only thing I feel is annoyance. Are you so desperate that you have to chase after what you can’t have? You dumped me first, remember?”
Him? Desperate? No. He’d never had a problem getting women. Until Rachel.
If he hadn’t been so young and stupid he would have been the one she’d married. Not Shane.
Now all he could think, all he could see, was the small sprinkle of freckles across her pert nose. He could be on a mission in a third world country or down the road. It didn’t matter. She affected him.
He had an all-consuming need for his best friend’s wife. He hadn’t counted on lust eating him alive.
They say you can’t go home again. Jared Crowe never wanted to.
Home meant facing memories of abuse and neglect. Of dark closets and evil nightmares. Of his own relatives intent on killing him. But now his brother’s kidnapping forces him to face those demons. Only this time, Jared isn’t a scared little boy. He’s a full-grown Special Forces operative bent on revenge.
As a little girl, Sparrow Pickney risked her life to free two abused boys. As a grown woman Sparrow needs to earn a place in her adopted family’s business or be forced into a life of degradation. The chance to prove her family loyalty comes when she catches Jared spying on the compound and captures him.
When Jared sees his captor, he realizes she’s the girl of his dreams and vows to rescue her from a life of poverty. What Jared doesn’t know is Sparrow may not be the savior he remembers…but the one responsible for abducting and torturing his brother.
Jared is determined to find the truth. But that truth may be more than his heart can take.
It had been nearly twenty years since he’d seen her, but Jared could never forget those golden eyes. Eyes that had haunted his dreams ever since. Had she joined up with Kay? Or was she simply one of those poor souls struggling to survive?
The thought of Sparrow slowly starving filled him with a sense of guilt. He should have made her leave with them. Even though they’d been children when she’d freed them, Jared had been big enough to drag her out, whether she’d wanted to go or not.
She leaned over him, reaching for his hands. Her floppy hat fell down, blinding her, and she ripped it off and tossed it across the room. Long caramel-colored hair, full of sun-kissed highlights, waterfalled down the sides of her face and tickled his nose. Her scent surrounded him now, flooding his senses. Honeysuckle and wildflowers. His cock swelled in an instant. Jared gnashed his teeth together, trying to quell his intense reaction to her nearness.
Sparrow leaned down further and her loose tank top gaped open, treating him to a glorious view of surprisingly plump breasts cupped in a plain sports bra. His gaze locked onto her beaded nipples through the cotton. Fuck he wanted to rip that bra down and reveal what was hidden beneath. The loose manly clothes she wore made her look stick thin, but womanly curves were concealed beneath them.
Sparrow sighed and sat up straight, leaving rope dangling uselessly on his wrists. Jared gripped the metal headboard with his hands, waiting for her next move. She stood there for a moment and studied him, trying to decide what to do. Well, he wasn't going to help her out one little bit.
"Keep your hands right there, got it?" Her voice was stern.
"Yes ma'am.” He had no intention of acting up. Yet.
She placed a knee on the mattress, and in one swift movement straddled him, settling on his belly. Jared groaned and closed his eyes thankful she hadn’t sat down lower on his body; otherwise, she would have gotten her own surprise. She leaned over him spreading her knees wider up his chest. His eyes popped open, unable to resist another view of her bare skin.
"You can stop with the theatrics right now, I know I’m not big enough to crush you."
If only that were his problem. Her shirt dipped down even more and he fixated on the pale mounds of her breasts straining against the material of her sports bra. It was a crime to lock those beauties up in serviceable cotton.
She should wear nothing but pure silk and lace, perfect for him to rip off her body.
Her hair curtained around him again, and her soft lips parted in concentration as she worked. He was aware of every inch of exposed skin—from the graceful hollow of her neck to her supple forearms peeking out from the rolled up sleeves of her checkered work shirt. Even more aware of the intense heat radiating from her core, pressed so intimately to his chest.
"There. All done." She sat back, a satisfied smile on her lips.
Jared tugged on the rope. He’d completely zoned out on anything other than her straddling him. It didn't give an inch—the knot she’d tied was worthy of a professional. A small ounce of foreboding seeped into him. “Where did you learn to tie knots?"
"Trapping. Working snares. Been doing it since I was a kid." Her words were so matter-of-fact, he had no doubt she spoke the truth. Holy shit. He yanked on the ropes, but they didn’t move.
“Impressive.” Jared wriggled his fingers and wrists, testing for any weakness. He found none.
“Might as well stop struggling. Nobody’s ever been able to get out of one of my knots. And I used my new rope too, so it wouldn’t snap easy.” She made a snapping motion with her fingers, the emphasis driving in just how stupid his plan had been. He should have used that easy opening she’d given him with the gun.
His foreboding turned to real worry. He had to get out of here to rescue his brother. Hoyt’s life depended on him. If he couldn’t get free… “Nice, now what?”
“Now you tell me who you are and why you’re here.” Sparrow sat back on her heels, the curve of her ass grazing the tip of his cock. He clenched his muscles, fighting to free himself from the pull of lust.
Remember, you’re the soldier trained in interrogation techniques. Now he just had to stop thinking with his dick for long enough to find out where Hoyt was being held. "My name is Jake."
She tapped her chin, staring down at him. Once again he was enthralled by the intense color of her eyes. They were golden, almost like a cat’s, with a darker brown ring around the edges. “Jake. You don't look like a Jake."
He enjoyed hearing the name on her lips. Would enjoy hearing his real name even better. Her soft accent and long vowels stretched it out slow. Sensual. "And what do I look like?"
"I don't know. Killer? Tiger?"
"That's what people name their cats.”
"True. Why are you here?"
"Why did you take me hostage?" he countered.
“You were spying on my family. Only our enemies do that.” She shifted, brushing against his tip again. Fuck he wanted to rip free of these bonds and throw her down beneath him. Where was his detached logic now? Something about her was making him lose control.
“I have no interest in you. I was looking for a family member who went missing, know anything about that?” He studied her reaction intently, watching for any flash of awareness, but she didn’t give away anything.
“Haven’t seen anybody new around here in a long time, and I would know. Sorry, but you plopped down on the wrong piece of land.”
“He told me he was coming here.” Not really, but Jared knew without the slightest shred of doubt that Hoyt had been taken by the Crowes. Miss Kay wanted to finish what she had started all those years ago, even if Jared didn’t know why. It was bad enough his parents had died when Jared was only nine, Hoyt six, but to have his aunt try to murder them....
Jared yanked on the bonds again, testing the bed frame. It screeched but held firm. Shit.
“What does he look like?” Every time Sparrow moved or shifted he felt her. Desire was holding him hostage as much as the damn ropes. Got to get free. Got to find Hoyt.
“What do I get if I tell you?”
“What do you get? You get to live.” Her brows shot down as if confused.
“You won’t kill me.”
“How about we make a little trade—you give me something, I give you something.”
"Give? What do you want?" She laid her palms on her thighs, kneeling over his body, the position incredibly erotic.
Blushing aside, maybe she wasn’t so innocent after all. He had a plan and she was part of it. He knew he could get more information out of Sparrow than her giant ass brother. And he’d find it a hell of a lot more enjoyable too. "Kiss me."
She stopped moving all together and her eyes narrowed in on his mouth.
"Give me a kiss and I'll sing like a bird."
Lindsay Cross is the award-winning author of the Men of Mercy series. She is the fun loving mom of two beautiful daughters and one precocious Great Dane. Lindsay is happily married to the man of her dreams – a soldier and veteran. During one of her husband’s deployments from home, writing became her escape and motivation.
An avid reader since childhood, reading and writing is in her blood. After years of reading, she discovered her true passion – writing. Her alpha military men are damaged, drop-dead gorgeous and determined to win the heart of the woman of their dreams.