Life as a crime boss ain’t all it’s cracked up to be…
Hunter Wallace has money, power, and a self-made family, but his life won’t be complete until he has the woman who drives him in crazy in his bed. He has a plan but everything changes when he finds out she has a stalker.
She isn’t looking for excitement…
Honor Monroe’s life rarely veers to the wild side and Hunter makes it hard to resist. The man is nothing but trouble and she is oh so tempted to indulge, though she knows it would probably be a heart breaking kind of mistake.
Sometimes the bad guy is the best protection…
Instinct drives her to Hunter. There’s no one tougher in River City, but is he any safer than the danger stalking her?
AUTHOR’S NOTE: Claiming Honor is a 32,000 word novella with a bonus short story, Loving Serenity (3000 words). It contains violence, explicit language, and graphic sex. For mature readers only.
Nightclubs are never my first choice to grab a beer with the guys. I’d much rather go someplace laid back or buy a case and hang out on my back deck. The Hot Spot–what an absurd name–is the newest to be seen in place in River City. I wouldn’t be here but I have a meeting with the owner, Dan Phillips. He runs the local drug trade for Chase Beaumont, who runs his operation from the Birmingham area, on the opposite end of the state from me. It’s pretty damned profitable from what I see, too. I don’t want anything to do with that shit, but I do have other business with Chase. Which is why I’m meeting Dan here tonight.
Normally, I’d insist on another venue and just bring Lake and Ryder with me. That’s more about show of force than defense. But Walker and Trace are here too, since Trace’s wife, Lynn and her cousin Grace, who’s just moved back to town, decided to go dancing and this is the new popular club. I don’t like their women anywhere near business, but I’m biting my tongue with it this time since Honor, Grace’s sister, is supposed to show up at any minute with their friend Faye. Honor has been running long enough and this is the last place I want to confront her. But if I ordered her or the other women to stay away they’d just blow me off. How the fuck do I deal with that? I’d never hurt a woman. Men who do that shit are scum and I won’t be one of them. But once I claim Honor? I won’t stand for her ignoring my rules. Clubs are not safe for single women. Not in my world. I keep checking the door but I’m not the one who spots their entrance.
“What the fuck is she wearing?” Ryder mutters.
He’s sitting next to me. I hear the scowl in his voice while I search the crowd.
“Which one?” Lake asks.
There’s no mistaking the appreciation in his tone. That’s when I see Faye wearing a red dress covered in fringe. It has a deep neck, showing off her cleavage, while the short length showcases her long legs. Ryder is practically foaming at the mouth. Any other time I’d find this amusing but I haven’t seen Honor yet. Then a woman comes around the side of the bar, hands a glass of something to Faye, and I think I’m having a stroke. Honor. My woman, though she hasn’t admitted it yet.
She’s wearing a short skintight black leather dress with an inch or so black lace as a hem. She’s practically spilling out of the bodice. The top of the dress is also black lace and I can just see the large flower tattoo on her chest and shoulder through it. When she turns, I groan. Fuck. Is she trying to kill me? The dress is backless, the leather just covering her perfect round ass, and shows off another tat, this one a large colorful peacock that starts at the nape of her neck and stretches down her spine to the small of her back. I’m torn between admiring the damned nice view and covering her with a blanket so no one else gets a look. And people are definitely looking.
The two women finally spot us and start working their way through the crowd. Honor ignores me when she reaches the table, finishes off her drink, and leaving the empty glass and small purse on the table, heads out to the dance floor. Lynn and Grace are already out there–wearing a lot more clothes–and Honor and Faye easily slip through the gyrating crowd to join them. The beat of the music is loud and driving and Honor immediately loses herself in it, moving her hips to the music. Damn, she’s fucking hot.
Some guy steps up behind her and tries to get in close. I rise to my feet, but it’s unnecessary. She’s quick to twist aside, completely blowing him off, and he slips away. But I remember what he looks like. I’ll be sure to keep an eye on him and warn him off if necessary. She may not be ready to accept my claim yet, but I’m sure as fuck not sharing her while she runs scared. Before I can step in, one of Dan’s guys comes to me and leads me up to the balcony office where he oversees the club.
“Dan,” I say, offering my hand though I’m really not feeling friendly. He knows it too. He grins at me.
“Hunter,” he greets me.
He looks out the glass wall overlooking the dance floor. I know he’s watching Honor. Who isn’t? She is a different woman when she’s dancing. Uninhibited. Abandoned. I want her in my bed just like that, so bad I think I might explode.
“If you don’t take care of that sometime soon, someone else will,” Dan says softly.
I fight back a growl and the urge to brawl. Dan is right and I know it.
Dan holds his hands up in surrender. “I know that, man. No argument here.”
But he’s right. Honor has to stop running. She belongs with me. In my house, in my bed. In my life. I’m getting hard just imagining having her so close all the time. Since I’m fairly certain that’s not happening tonight, I focus on business.
“Talked to Chase?”
“Yeah. He can reroute your delivery to his contact in Jackson.”
I nod. I don’t like using Dan as a go between, but after Honor’s cousin Tim, Chase’s last guy in River City, tried to kill Lynn, and then his brother Carlos tried to kill Grace a couple of weeks ago, the feds and state police have been looking at him too closely. The last thing I need is my business being connected to his, but neither of us can sit on a shipment of stolen luxury cars forever.
“I’ll let him know,” Dan says.
I start to leave, but he stops me.
“I heard you’re fighting a couple weeks.”
I turn back. “Yeah. So?”
Dan grins. “Just figuring out who to bet on.”
“Honor know about it?”
I stare at him until he shifts nervously. Why is he so interested in my woman? But despite the flash of tension, I see amusement in his expression. He’s fucking with me. If I hadn’t known him my whole life I might be tempted to pitch him over the railing.
“My woman is none of your business, Dan. You should fucking remember that.”
“No problem, man. See you later,” he says, heading back downstairs.
I find Honor in the crowd and watch her a few minutes before rejoining my men.
I feel him. Watching me. Wanting me? He has other priorities though. He disappears with one of Dan Phillips’ men. I’m not an idiot. I know Hunter’s businesses are illegal. Half of them at any rate. I can’t live with that. Can I? Tonight I just want to dance and drink. Tonight I don’t want to think. And I don’t. I lose myself to the music and I drink way too much. Before I know it Faye is saying she’s leaving, but that’s fine. Grace will take me home. I need this tonight. Just…mindlessness. I need to forget that I’m Honor Monroe. That I want a man who is so totally wrong for me. I’m the Miss Goody Two Shoes he’d never want. Not really. I’m just a novelty for him.
Except that’s not who I am. That’s just how everyone sees me. If it wasn’t impacting my sex life so horribly, I might laugh about it. But it seems much more serious now and I don’t want to think, so I dance. I know I can do that safely here. I have enough friends around. I’m not very surprised when Hunter finds me though. He comes up behind me, wraps his arms around me, and whispers in my ear.
“Your bed or mine, baby?”
The question makes me stiff. Pisses me off. Oh my gawd, I am so pissed. The assumption…it just makes me see red. It also turns me on. He’s always so in charge. I bet he’s aggressive and demanding in bed, just like I want. I have to get away from him before he figures that out.
“I’m going home,” I snap. “Alone.”
Because if he comes with me, I’m lost and I know it. He laughs softly.
“Maybe you need a taste of what’s to come.”
Before I can ask what he means by that, he maneuvers me into a dark corner. He turns my back to the wall and presses against me. Every long hard inch of him. I feel his cock pushing against my belly and it takes everything I have not to moan in pleasure. One hand grips my hip, while the other tunnels into my hair, taking a hard grip and tilting my face to his. He lets me see the kiss coming. I should protest, but I’ve been fighting this attraction so long. What can one little taste hurt anyway?
His mouth brushes mine again and again. Soft. Teasing. Not at all what I expected and for a second I’m disappointed. Until he catches my bottom lip between his teeth and tugs. I gasp at the hint of pain and he takes advantage, his tongue stroking into my mouth. Claiming. Marauding. The fingers in my hair tighten enough to sting and I love it. Then he lets it slide from his fingers, his hand moving to cup my face before trailing down my throat. Over my collarbone. Coming to rest over my pounding heart. He breaks the kiss. I’d protest but he’s staring at me with so much possession in his eyes I know I only have one option.
His expression closes off, like he knows exactly what I’m thinking, but his eyes are still burning into mine. He drops his hand and backs away slowly. I want him to come back. To finish what he’s started. At the same time, I want to disappear. He strokes his knuckles down the my cheek and I shiver. How can I want someone so much who is so horribly wrong for me?
“Ryder will drive you home,” he says abruptly.
Then he turns and stalks off through the crowd. What the hell just happened here? It wouldn’t take too much to persuade me to go home with him right now and he just disappears? I should be happy but I’m oddly deflated. I head back to the table. I’m not sure if I want to confront him or just get the hell out of here. Since he’s not there and Lynn and Grace have left, I decide to go home too. I figure I’ll go out front and grab a cab but Ryder won’t hear of it. Of course not. No one disobeys Hunter.
The drive to my house is pretty short. Inside, I shower and crawl into bed, bury my head under my pillow and promise to forgot I ever met Hunter Wallace. Right. Like that’s going to happen.