Liam “Hunter” Blake hates the Reapers MC. Born and raised a Devil’s Jack, he knows his duty. He’ll defend his club from their oldest enemies—the Reapers—using whatever weapons he can find. But why use force when the Reapers’ president has a daughter who’s alone and vulnerable? Hunter has wanted her from the minute he saw her, and now he has an excuse to take her.
Em has lived her entire life in the shadow of the Reapers. Her overprotective father, Picnic, is the club’s president. The last time she had a boyfriend, Picnic shot him. Now the men in her life are far more interested in keeping her daddy happy than showing her a good time. Then she meets a handsome stranger—a man who isn't afraid to treat her like a real woman. One who isn't afraid of her father. His name is Liam, and he’s The One.
Or so she thinks.
Coming June 3, 2014!
~ Pre-Order Now ~
~ Excerpt ~
Eight years ago
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
“For fuck’s sake . . . they’re like weasels in heat. I’m gonna puke.”
I nodded, agreeing with my sister one hundred percent.
Barfing was the only reasonable response to this shit.
We stood in our dining room, which connected to the kitchen through a pair of pocket doors. Dad had Mom up on the counter, legs wrapped around his waist, his tongue so far down her throat it should’ve triggered her gag reflex.
“You do realize we’re watching you, right?” Kit asked loudly.
Dad pulled away and turned his head to glare at us. Mom winked, but she didn’t have the grace to blush.
“Take another ten minutes to fix your hair or something,” he said. “Then come back down for breakfast.”
Kit growled next to me. She had Dad’s temper. I wish I did. I always followed the rules, and it kind of sucked. Kit called me a daddy’s girl and maybe she was right. But I just really hated pissing him off.
“It’s the first day of school and I don’t want to be late,” she declared. “You can screw each other any time, but this only happens once a year. I’m hungry.”
Dad stepped slowly away from Mom, turning toward us and crossing his arms. His faded tats told a hundred stories, and most of my friends were a little nervous around him. His black leather cut, emblazoned with Reapers MC colors, didn’t help. Lucky us—we couldn’t have a normal dad who worked at a bank or something.
Ours had to be the president of a motorcycle club.
According to my best friend Quinn, Dad was a badass motherfucker, and she was right. I knew no matter what happened, he’d always be there for me. Secretly, I liked the fact that the Reapers would back him up. The sight of Dad’s tats and patches made me feel sort of safe, but I’d never admit it. None of that made finding him and my mom practically doing it in the kitchen any less disgusting. I mean, I made sandwiches on that counter. Now where was I supposed to make them?
“For once,” Kit said, narrowing her eyes, “would you please act like normal parents and just ignore each other during a meal?”
“Sounds boring,” Dad muttered, narrowing his eyes right back. Mom and I locked gazes, and she made a face. I hated this part—Dad and Kit could turn anything into a fight. Mom said they were way too similar, and I agreed. She was the oil that kept our family running smoothly, defusing situations before they got out of hand.
“I don’t like being bored,” he added. “Go do whatever it is girls do in the bathroom for a while, and then you can come back down. My house, my rules.”
I grabbed Kit’s arm, tugging her away before she fired back at him. She was only twelve and I was fourteen, but she always stood her ground. Sometimes that was a good thing . . . But she needed to learn to choose her battles.
“Just come upstairs,” I hissed at her.
“They’re too old to be screwing in the kitchen!”
“We’re not screwing,” Dad said. “But if we were, that wouldn’t be any of your business, either, kiddo.”
I dug my fingers into Kit’s arm, dragging her out of the dining room and up the stairs. I heard Dad laugh in the background, and Mom gave a little squeal.
“They’re so disgusting,” Kit said, flopping down on my bed. We had our own rooms, but she spent a lot of time in here because it was bigger. It also had a tree branch we could use to sneak out . . . Not that we ever did, but Kit had big plans for high school.
“I know,” I replied. “He’s right, though. It’s his house.”
“At least you aren’t stuck in dumbass middle school,” she said, sighing heavily. “I can’t believe you’re going to be gone! It’s not fair.”
“Only one more year and you’ll be there, too,” I said. Figuring I might as well take advantage of the delay, I studied my hair in the mirror on the waterfall vanity Mom had given me when I turned thirteen. It’d been hers growing up. I’d always loved sitting at it as a little girl, putting on her makeup and pretending to be a princess. “And I’m sure it won’t be that great. I mean, freshman year is kind of lame.”
“Beats the hell out of eighth grade,” she said. “But you won’t get to do much anyway. Do you really think Dad’ll let you go to any dances?”
“Of course he will,” I said, even though I had my doubts. Dad could be . . . intense . . . Kit opened her mouth to say something but then snapped it shut as we heard the roar of Harley pipes coming down the drive.
“What the hell?” I asked, going over to the window. Outside, six of the Reapers were pulling up—at seven thirty on a Tuesday . . . Not good. The guys in the club didn’t tend to be morning people.
“Shit.” Kit muttered. “Something must be going on.”
We looked at each other, and I wondered if she had the same sick feeling in the pit of her stomach I did. “Something going on” could mean anything in our world. Dad didn’t generally let club business overlap with family life, but I’d seen enough growing up that I couldn’t just pretend things were fine and dandy when a third of the brothers showed up without warning.
“I’m going downstairs,” Kit said, her voice grim. I shook my head.
“They won’t want us around.”
We crept down the stairs like junior felons.
I expected to hear hushed voices, to feel the kind of tension in the air that only came when things fell to shit. Instead I heard men laughing and talking in the kitchen. We entered the dining room to find our uncle Duck sitting at the table as my mom brought him a cup of coffee. Dad sat next to him, along with Ruger—the very hot young prospect who’d been with the club about four months. I had to look away before I started babbling or blushing or something.
When I grew up, I was totally marrying Ruger.
This was not something I’d be sharing with my father, no matter how much of a daddy’s girl I might be. Ruger had graduated from high school a year ago, and Quinn had told me she’d caught him screwing her sister, Nicole, in their living room when her parents were out for the night. I’d pretended to be horrified, but I made her share all the gory details . . . and there were a lot of them. Quinn hadn’t run away when she found them. Nope. She stayed hidden and watched the whole thing, which according to her wasn’t a quickie.
Not even close.
Quinn also said that Ruger had a pierced dick, and that her sister cried for three nights straight because he never called her back afterward. When I was old enough, he’d be calling me back. I had big plans for us.
“Morning,” Duck said, smiling at me. He wouldn’t tell me why they called him Duck, but I always thought he looked more like an old bear. Big and hairy, which would’ve been intimidating if he hadn’t been giving me airplane rides and sneaking me candy for as long as I could remember. “You look beautiful, Em. You’re gonna do great in high school.”
He glanced over at my dad.
“I still can’t believe our girl is old enough for this.”
Ugh. I hated it when they did this, especially in front of Ruger. Everyone seemed to think I was a baby, but I was fourteen now. In less than two years I’d be driving. Well, driving legally. I’d been driving on the property for years . . .
“Appreciate you coming out,” Dad said to the guys. “Em, grab some breakfast. We’re gonna give you a ride to school this morning. I don’t want to be late.”
My mouth dropped open and I heard Kit make a startled, choking noise.
“We?” I whispered, hoping I’d heard wrong.
“All of us,” Dad said, offering me a broad smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “You’re turning into a young woman. I figured it might not be a bad idea to remind those little pricks at your school who your family is. Go ahead and set things straight from the start.”
I actually felt dizzy.
“Daddy, you can’t be serious!” Kit burst out. “If all of you guys show up, you’ll scare the crap out of the boys! How will Em ever get a date that way?”
Dad’s smile turned feral.
“Any boy who can’t handle Em’s family has no business dating her.”
I swallowed. This couldn’t be happening. My mom ran her fingers through his hair, and he pulled her down into his lap. They were always like that—all over each other. Still, Mom usually stood up to him when he got crazy protective. Unlike Dad, she had a clue what it meant to be a teenage girl.
“Mom, I thought you were giving me a ride?” I managed to squeak out. She shook her head sadly.
“Sorry, baby. Your father is set on this,” she said. “I’m driving Kit and he’s taking you, along with your uncle Duck and the brothers.”
“Those little pricks at your school need to know who they’re dealing with if they fuck you over,” Dad added, his voice dark. “I don’t want to make things hard for you, but I’ve been a teenage boy. They think with their cocks, so they need to realize they’ll lose those cocks if they don’t treat you right. Nothing quite like a show of force to put a kid on notice.”
“That’s bullshit, Daddy, and you know it,” Kit said, coming to my defense. Thank God, because I’d lost the ability to think or move. “And it’s sexist! Em can take care of herself. You have no right to humiliate her like this.”
“I have every right,” he replied, and I knew from his tone that it was all over. “I’m your father, and it’s my job to protect you. Not my goal to embarrass you, Em, but I’ll do whatever it takes to keep you safe.”
“Nobody wants to hurt me,” I managed to say.
“They’ll want to fuck you, though.”
I felt my cheeks turn bright red and I kept my eyes down, terrified to look at Ruger or any of the others.
“You want me to treat you like an adult?” Dad asked. “Pretty hard when just mentioning sex makes you blush. If you can’t talk about it, you sure as shit aren’t ready to do it. This way nobody will pressure you to, either. Now grab some cereal if you’re planning to eat. We’ll be leaving soon.”
I felt sick. My high school life was over before it even began, and he wanted me to eat cereal?
“I’ll just have a granola bar,” I muttered, glaring at him. Dad shrugged and I saw his hand slide between my mom’s legs.
Ugh. My life sucked.
I usually love riding with my dad.
There’s nothing better than sitting behind him—arms wrapped tight around his waist—as we fly down the highway. Kit may have gotten Dad’s temper, but I got his passion for the road. I’d been saving for my own bike since I was six years old, and I saw the pride in his eyes every time I begged him to take me with him.
Today, though . . . For the first time in my life, I hated it.
We pulled up to the school in a roar, me and Dad in the lead, followed by six Reapers (including Ruger, who’d probably slept with half the girls there before he graduated). Dad stopped right out in front, in a no-parking zone, and the brothers all backed their rides in next to his, forming a row of gleaming chrome. Any fantasy I might’ve had about a quick, quiet entrance on my first day was gone.
One of the teachers—a woman who was probably in her midtwenties—stood out on the lawn looking nervous, but as the guys swung off she didn’t ask them to move. Nope, she just gaped at us, which would’ve been funny if I hadn’t been fairly sure I was in one of her classes. I recognized her from the open house. Ruger smirked and swaggered over to her.
She blushed brightly.
Shit, was there anyone at this school he hadn’t had sex with? Maybe I should rethink those wedding plans.
“Okay, well, thanks for the ride,” I told my dad pointedly. “You can go now.”
“Show me your locker,” he said, obviously determined to smash any chance of happiness I might have during the next four years. I looked up at him and gave it everything I had. The puppy eyes, the little-girl lip bite, a hitch in my breath. Usually I could even squeeze out a tear or two, but that took more prep time.
“Daddy, can you just let me go in on my own?” I asked, my voice a quavering whisper. “You made your point.”
He shook his head, ruthless.
“Don’t even try,” he said. “I’ve seen it all before, and compared to your mother, you’re an amateur. I’m coming inside because I want every kid here to understand you belong to the Reapers MC, and they’ll be answering to us if they fuck with you.”
I don’t know why I bothered trying.
Dad was a force of nature—a tidal wave determined to destroy my life. Every eye followed us as we walked through the doors and down the hallway. Quinn caught my gaze and raised her eyebrows dramatically. I shrugged, resigned, and looked for number 1125, which was on the first floor near the boys’ locker room.
The locker room where the football team was starting to wander out after an early-morning practice.
My life was fucking perfect.
I looked up to see Quinn’s brother, Jason, a junior and one of the team’s defensive starters, watching us. I’d always had a crush on him. In fact, I was sort of secretly hoping he’d finally notice me as someone other than his little sister’s annoying friend. Seriously—if I wanted a guy like Ruger to call me back, I’d need some practice, right?
“Reed,” Dad said casually, jerking his chin toward Jason. “Great season last year. How are things looking so far with the team?”
Jason swallowed, eyes darting between us.
“Um, pretty good,” he said. I opened my locker, wishing desperately that I could crawl inside and die. Or at least disappear for the next four years. Sadly, not even a boobless wonder like me could fit in that metal box.
“Glad to hear it,” Dad replied. He leaned over and kissed the top of my head, then spoke so loud his voice practically echoed. “Enjoy high school, princess. You let me know if any of these guys give you shit, got it?”
I nodded, praying for death. Something fast, merciful.
Aneurysm? Yeah, that’d do it.
“Just go,” I whispered.
“I’ll see you tonight,” he replied, then turned and sauntered down the hallway, the colors on his back a grim reminder to everyone who saw us that my dad was president of the Reapers motorcycle club.
Quinn came up next to me and leaned against the lockers, eyes wide.
“Wow,” she said. “Nobody’s gonna ask you to homecoming or anything, you get that right? And you’re never, ever gonna get laid.”
“I know,” I said, miserable. Not that I wanted to get laid—not quite yet.
But it’d be nice to go to homecoming. I sighed.
“I’m gonna die a virgin, Quinn.”
She nodded gravely, eyes full of sympathy.
“I think that’s a given,” she said. “But look on the bright side.”
“Nuns don’t have to wear those penguin costumes anymore, so at least you won’t have to buy all new clothes.”
I looked over at Jason, who was staring at me like I’d grown a second head.
My dad was the meanest parent ever.
Eight years ago
Natalie wiped off her mouth and looked up at me, her beautiful face sly and calculating. I shoved my softening cock back into my pants and zipped up, pushing forward off the brick wall behind the gas station. Nat rose to her feet, giving me a little smile and biting her lip. I think she was going for playful.
It came off desperate.
“So?” she asked. I raised a brow, questioning.
“Um . . . I was wondering if you could hook me up?”
Fucking typical. Rich bitches.
Not that I should be surprised. In Natalie’s world, I’d never be more than a quick fuck with the right connections. That wasn’t a problem. In the end, business is business, and Nat had plenty of money.
“Whatcha lookin’ for?” I asked, hoping she didn’t expect a discount for the blow job. She was okay, but nothing special. She’d been all over me, and who was I to turn down some chick who wanted to suck my cock? Now that she’d swallowed, she’d turned annoying. Before Natalie could answer the question, my phone vibrated.
I answered, turning away from Natalie. “Hey, Kels.”
“Jim got laid off at the plant today. You need to get home fast, because he’s drunk and I’m scared.”
My entire body tensed and my vision narrowed. That cocksucking bastard. If he touches her . . .
“I’ll be there in a few, okay? Stay calm, Kelsey,” I told my foster sister. “Try and get out of the house and take off for the park. If that doesn’t work, lock yourself in the bathroom. Just hang on—I’m coming for you.”
“Okay,” she whispered, and I heard Jim’s loud, booming voice roar in the background. James Calloway was the foster father from hell, not to mention a complete fucking asshole. I ended the call and glanced over at Natalie, keeping my face blank. I’d learned the hard way to never give away more than I had to.
“I need to get back home,” I told her. “Can I have a ride?”
She smiled, trying to play coy and innocent.
“Of course,” she said, tracing little circles in the dirt with the toe of those fuck-me shoes she always wore. They’d seemed a hell of a lot sexier half an hour ago. “But before we go . . .”
Shit. I didn’t have time for this.
“Give me the fuckin’ keys,” I said shortly, out of patience. She opened her mouth to protest and I narrowed my eyes, letting them go flat and dead. I’d perfected the look over the years and it never failed. She sucked in a quick breath and dug out her keys, handing them off to me. At six foot three, I knew I was a scary fucker.
Terrifying a girl didn’t bother me one bit, either.
I strode around the building to Natalie’s cute little Mustang—a sixteenth-birthday present from Daddy. I slid in and the engine turned over with a roar I might’ve enjoyed at any other time. Natalie jumped into the passenger seat, obviously worried that I’d leave without her.
I would’ve, too, but I didn’t want more attention than necessary. Last time I’d pulled Jim off Kelsey, I promised to kill him if it happened again. Christ, she was only thirteen and had already learned to sleep with a knife. I had a bad feeling things were going to get ugly, and the last thing I needed was a police report about a stolen car.
Five minutes later the Mustang screeched to a halt outside my foster father’s decaying ranch house, which was surrounded by a dying lawn and rusting swing set. His own kids were long gone, and I suspected he’d lose the place without the state payments he got for me and Kels. The social workers hadn’t noticed that his wife, Autumn, had taken off nearly six months ago. Who could blame her? This was only short term for me. But to stay here, rotting for the rest of your life? Fuck no. I’d have run, too.
Usually I didn’t even mind living in his shithole. I liked having my own space. I had the whole basement, although I let Kelsey sleep down there with me. She wasn’t comfortable in her own room upstairs. Too close to Jim. Smart kid.
I jumped out of the car and started toward the house.
“Wait!” Natalie called, following me.
“Yeah?” I asked, not slowing. I heard Jim yell something inside and froze, trying to think. What was the best plan of attack? A loud, clanging noise from next door broke my concentration. That old guy must be out in the garage, working on his bikes again . . .
“You said you’d hook me up?” Nat asked, offering a weak smile. Jesus, is she still here? I reached into my pocket, pulled out a baggie, and threw it at her. Hard.
“There,” I said. “Now get in your fuckin’ car and go.”
Her mouth opened and closed like a goldfish, and I seriously wondered why I’d let her wrap it around my dick. Then Kelsey’s voice tore through the air again, and my vision went red. Making plans was for pussies—that asshole needed to experience pain. I took off toward the back gate, hoping Natalie was happy enough about her freebies to forget anything she’d seen or heard.
It was locked.
I boosted myself up and over the tall privacy fence, catching a glimpse of Natalie in the process. She wasn’t paying me any attention. Nope, bitch was way too busy scrabbling in the dry grass for her goody bag. Kelsey screamed again. I tore around the house, sliding down through a narrow window into the basement.
Jim always kept the doors locked and I wasn’t allowed a key. Not that it mattered—I’d yet to find a lock I couldn’t pick—but right then I didn’t have the time. I ran up the stairs and toward Kelsey’s room, freezing in the doorway.
She cowered back on the bed, shirt ripped almost to her waist, exposing the little flesh-colored bra I’d had to buy for her. Fuckin’ awkwardest shopping trip of my life. A bright red handprint covered her cheek and blood was seeping from her bottom lip.
Jim loomed over her, sweaty and reeking of booze, shoulders heaving as he took deep breaths. His pants were already loose, hanging off his flabby, narrow hips, and his skinny dick bobbled like a drunken cobra.
“Leave her alone,” I said, letting all the hate constantly boiling inside me show. Jim turned toward me and grunted, his red, bloated nose a rotten tomato in the center of his face.
“You’ll die,” said a low voice behind me. Then I heard the unmistakable sound of a gun being cocked.
We all froze as our next-door neighbor walked slowly into the room. He held his pistol casually, more like a TV remote than a weapon. An older guy—probably in his midfifties—and so far as I could tell, he spent most of his time out in his garage, tinkering with motorcycles he fixed up and sold.
In fact, I’d been eyeing his latest project, mentally tallying whether I could afford to buy it.
That was his name. No idea if it was first or last. He was badass, too, with a long, graying beard and faded tattoos all over his arms. I knew he was part of a motorcycle club called the Devil’s Jacks from the patches on the leather vest he always wore. This was the first chance I’d gotten a good look at it. On one shoulder there was a red and white patch with “Burke” over the word “Original.” The other shoulder had a diamond that said “1%” on it. Down below was a long line of smaller patches listing names and dates.
His heavily tanned hand didn’t waver as he held the gun, his eyes as cold and dead as my own.
“Kelsey, get your ass out of here,” I ordered, keeping my voice steady. I really didn’t know Burke for shit, and I had no idea what he planned to do . . . But if I got Kels out safe, I honestly didn’t give a fuck.
“Do what the kid says.”
Kelsey nodded, eyes wide, sliding off the bed and scuttling along the wall to get out.
“Go down to my room and wait,” I told her. “Lock the door and don’t open it for anyone but me.”
Time hung heavy as she disappeared.
“So whatcha gonna do, shoot me?” Jim slurred, his voice belligerent. Not the brightest man at the best of times, but when he got drunk things really fell apart.
“Depends,” said Burke.
“The kid, here,” he replied, jerking his chin toward me. “You want to shoot this asshole, son?”
I glanced over, startled. His face was cold and serious—Burke wasn’t joking. Shit.
This was real.
“Think hard,” Burke said. “You pull the trigger, you can’t go back. But you won’t have to worry about him rapin’ your sister, either. We can make the body disappear.”
Jim’s eyes darted between us, wild with terror.
“Don’t listen to him,” he whispered. “You’ll go to jail. Death penalty. He’s talking about murder.”
“Unlikely,” Burke told him. “Never cared for you, Calloway. In fact, I don’t think one person on earth gives a fuck if you live or die. Your wife is gone, your kids hate you, and according to the papers on your kitchen counter, you got no job. It’ll be like you never existed. Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.”
“The social workers,” Jim gasped in desperation. “The social workers have to come check on the kids. They’ll notice.”
I couldn’t help myself—I started laughing. I hadn’t seen my social worker in over a year. If it weren’t for the state checks Jim drank up every month, I’d assume they’d lost my file. My foster father’s face reddened in rage, and I saw the exact moment his brain turned off and he forgot about the gun.
“I’ll kill you, you little shit,” he growled. “You think you’re so special but you’re trash. That little slut of yours is trash, too. Two piles of garbage stinking up my house.”
“Probably should decide soon, kid,” Burke muttered. “You wanna take him out or not?”
Did I want to kill him? I thought about Kelsey crying, and the time he’d broken my ribs when I refused to hand over a cut of my sales.
I definitely wanted to take him out.
“Give me the gun,” I said, the words tasting sweet.
Jim lunged toward us and the sudden, cracking echo of a gunshot rang through the room. My foster father screamed and fell to the floor, clutching his shoulder. Bright red blood oozed out between his fingers.
Burke didn’t even blink.
He just held his weapon firm, still trained on Jim, and reached around his back to pull a second pistol from his pants. Then he handed it to me.
It fit my hand perfectly.
“You know how to use it?” he asked.
I flipped off the safety and cocked it in answer.
“Finish him off, boy,” Burke said, smiling for the first time. Almost like a proud father. “You’re already in deep, so you might as well make it count.”
I centered the barrel on Jim’s chest and fired.
Looking back, the neighborhood had been exactly what we needed that day—nobody in it gave a fuck about each other, because they didn’t give a fuck about themselves. All of us were already dying slowly. When Burke and I sped up the process for my foster father that afternoon, the neighbors didn’t even notice.
Nobody complained about the shots.
Nobody bothered calling the cops when I carried a hysterically crying Kelsey next door to Burke’s house.
They didn’t look outside when a cargo van pulled down the alley to stop behind Jim’s place. Ten minutes later it left again, carrying a human-shaped package wrapped in black plastic garbage bags.
Jim ceased to exist. So did me and Kelsey.
The next week, we were living in a different town with new birth certificates, courtesy of Burke’s cousin and his old lady. He gave me a hell of a deal on that motorcycle, too. I paid him with the wad of cash I found in Jim’s wallet. A year later, I celebrated my eighteenth birthday by becoming an official prospect in the Devil’s Jacks MC.
Burke couldn’t have been more proud if I were his son by blood.
In a way, I guess I was.