Authors: Diane Saxon
Atlantic Divide Book 2
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © Published 2013, Diane Saxon. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
From the moment British Special Forces Operative Michael Marsden meets Deputy Sheriff Bill Swann, sparks fly and lust flows.
When a man meets a woman who rides a Harley Davidson and wears a gun strapped to her hip, he’s bound to be in for a few surprises. Because long-legged tomboy Bill is definitely not what she seems.
Having made it clear he’s looking for a no-strings-attached fling, Michael realizes he has to use all of his tactical knowledge to negotiate his way around Bill’s five older brothers to get her alone. Then he needs to get past her defenses. And his own heart.
Meghan, I loved making you cry.
Laura, you can read it now that you’ve finished your law degree.
Allie Hart – thank you once more
They were going to die. He knew it.
The silver moonlight shone like a beacon across the flat, never-ending desert and chased the shadows until they resided in only a few select places, not enough to camouflage their dark figures and their blackened faces. The star-peppered sky gave them no hope of cloud cover at any time.
Bombing started three minutes too early in the distant north. Soldiers could be seen below them, running to their defense positions, their vehicles, and their cover.
Michael signaled to his left, his right. They advanced. Their dark figures visible in the silvery light. They were definitely going to die.
The Americans dropped another bomb, a little too close for comfort, but it gave them the distraction they needed to race into the compound unseen.
Leading the attack, Michael kept low, navigating his way around the outer buildings from memory of the maps he had studied. His heart pounded as he pushed himself harder, legs pumped faster. His team kept close. He gave the signal to stop. They waited. Listened.
Outside the window of a small, insignificant outhouse, he gave the instruction to hold position. He then lifted himself stealthily over the windowsill and slipped, a dark shadow, into the pitch-black room beyond.
Michael’s night-vision goggles picked out the lone target hidden crouched in the corner. The man’s wide eyes glinted in the green hue, his breathing fast and shallow. As he became aware someone else was in the room with him, the target’s breathing stopped, he raised a hand to protect his face.
Three rapid gunshots. One to the forehead, two to the heart.
Michael crouched over the crumpled figure. Checked.
The green light of his goggles gave an eerie glow as he scanned the target. He noted with annoyance—one shot to the forehead, one to the heart, and the third was a gut shot. Damn it, he was getting too old for this shit. He should have aimed higher as the body flicked back. He was slowing down. He needed to get out.
He checked the target’s pulse. Gone.
He slipped, soundless, through the window, pulled the pin and rolled a grenade into the room behind him.
By the time the Americans had completed their air raid, no one would know the target had been taken out by the UK Special Forces. They wouldn’t know anyone had been there. After all, even the target hadn’t officially been there. There wouldn’t be anything left to verify an assassination. No assassination would ever be acknowledged. That’s the way it worked.
As he darted his way back to base, the soft silver moonlight disappeared under the onslaught of orange firelight and black smoke.
It wasn’t the blazing heat of the day that made him tug his silk tie away from the collar of his shirt and rub his thick, blond hair so it stood up in spikes on top of his head.
No, he’d been able to stand the heat of the Afghanistan sun for seven months. He’d sat out in it hour after hour on observations. Bitter cold at night, scorching hot during the day, until the spit dried in his throat and his tongue swelled so he couldn’t swallow.
This was different. Thick, wet humidity like he’d never known. As he sucked in each breath, he tried to separate oxygen from water.
Of course she didn’t help. The woman he watched from across the other side of the county sheriff’s office. She hadn’t noticed him, which was good, because his chest had felt constricted since the moment he saw her. Humidity be damned.
He sat back in his seat, regulated his breathing, relaxed. His eyes tracked her movements while she carried out her job.
Tall for a woman. He estimated she stood just shy of his own six feet two. Decked in shapeless, dirt-brown deputy sheriff uniform pants and rough leather boots, her khaki shirt bagged around her slim body to disguise any curves she might have.
By all accounts, she should have been masculine, with her short, spiky ebony hair, but her face was a vision. Smooth butterscotch skin, enormous almond-shaped eyes, colored deep, soft praline, edged with long soot-black lashes. Not a smidgeon of makeup anywhere to be seen. Her wicked ebony eyebrows arched to give the distinct impression of a woman of the world. Her full, softly curved mouth laughed as she helped an old man out of a chair.
Michael could hear her voice, husky and slow, pure Southern bourbon drizzled lazily into a crystal tumbler.
Distracted from his contemplation, he lifted his head as his brother-in-law, Sheriff Jack T. Swann, stepped out of an open doorway.
“Bill.” Jack’s voice boomed across the hall, and the demon vision lazily turned her head and smiled, one eyebrow quirked inquisitively.
Jack nodded in Michael’s direction. “Could you take the boy there and drop him off at my place?”
She turned, unhurried, as though sudden movement was too much of an effort in the intense heat. She pinned Michael with her direct gaze.
“Hey, tiger,” she invited, “you ready?”
Ready? He’d been ready since the moment he saw her. His tongue thickened, and he thought he might drool, so he just nodded…twice…slowly. She smiled slow and wicked as her eyebrows raised, and she jerked her head in a smooth invitation for him to follow. She swaggered past and stepped out into the brilliant sunshine. He hurried after her and simply gaped as she stood beside a shiny black Harley Davidson.
“So, how do you know Jack?” she asked as she pulled a couple of safety helmets out of the pannier and handed one to him. She slid her own over her head as she waited for his reply.
Christ, get ahold of yourself
, Michael thought and cleared his throat.
She took his helmet back off him, pushed it firmly on his head, and her fingers lightly grazed his skin as she adjusted it, sending his pulse into a frenzy.
“I’m his b-brother-in-law K-Kate’s uh b-brother.” His voice was muffled as his cheeks were squished into the helmet.
Her fingers stilled on his face, and she raised her head to stare straight into his eyes. Slow and intimate she studied his features; her deep brown eyes traced a lazy pattern all the way down his face as she bit her bottom lip in silent contemplation.
A sharp heat of lust screamed through his loins as he stared at her mouth and wondered how it would feel to bite that lip himself.
She smiled, the slightly crooked smile of a really bad girl, and murmured. “Oh, I knew Kate’s brother was coming to visit, but I hadn’t realized that was you until you opened your mouth and”—she leaned forward, her wicked eyes narrowed as she pinned her gaze on his mouth—“stu-stu-stuttered.”
She tilted her head to one side, gave his face another long, hot scrutiny. “Yeah, I can see the family resemblance. You have Kate’s pretty blond hair, but your eyes…they’re green, like Lydia’s.” She leaned in close, almost stopped his breath as her nose practically touched his.
“Yeah, real mossy green. You come from a handsome family, Michael. Real handsome.” One elegant, long finger flicked his visor down over his face. She turned and effortlessly lifted a slender, mile-long leg over the Harley.
“Jump on board, tiger. I need to stop at my place first to change, if you don’t mind.”
Michael nearly swallowed his tongue. Mind? This stunning woman was taking him to her place. What was there to mind?
He slid on the bike behind her, settled himself so the inside of his thighs fit snug around her backside, and the heat radiating from her made his loins feel like they were on fire.
He closed his eyes, blew out a breath, and tried to calm his racing pulse. He’d never had trouble speaking with women before. He had no idea why this one had him tongue-tied. Maybe it was the gun she had strapped low on her hip that gave her such an air of authority. Maybe it was simply because he hadn’t had sex in a long time, and this woman fit his fantasy to perfection.
As she applied the bike’s brakes, Bill felt Michael’s tense body slide close, his muscular thighs tightened around her butt, squeezed possessively, seared her with his heat, and if she wasn’t mistaken, his impressive erection pressed hard against her. His hands rested light and respectful on her waist, but there was nothing else respectful about him.
Her usual slow, steady pulse beat a rapid tattoo against her rib cage. Her breath quickened, and her heart thundered in her ears. She was so used to being treated like one of the boys, she surprised herself with her total awareness of this male. She had managed to turn a complete stranger on, and handsome and sexy though he was, it unnerved her. She needed the journey over before she combusted.
She turned the Harley down the long dirt track that lead to her house, kept her speed up so it bumped and ground over the uneven surface as her passenger let out small, strangled grunts. His body jolted and jarred against hers, until finally he wrapped his arms around her waist and slid as tight as he could get against her back.
The heat of his long, slim body surrounded her, his wide chest was plastered against her back, his loins pressed hard against her ass. He wasn’t holding her tight; he simply engulfed her, which made her breath come in short, sharp pants as she turned the bike into her front yard and cut the engine.
The silence was deafening.
He still held her, and he didn’t seem to be able to let go. Her hands rested on the top of his for a moment before she gently pried his from around her waist and pushed his arms back with her elbows.
“Off you get, tiger.” Her voice was slower and huskier than before. She felt like she’d been drugged by the afternoon sun.
As he sat upright for a moment, she felt him inhale deep, calming breaths…one, two, three, and then he lifted himself off the bike. Humor returned as she chuckled to herself. She figured she’d just frightened the hell out of him. What terror could do to the toughest of men! And he really didn’t seem that tough. Smooth, elegant, sophisticated…but not tough.
“Hey, you sure you can stand up?” she asked as she swung her leg over the bike.
The small, strangled noise he emitted from behind his helmet had her sharp eyes centered on him, one eyebrow raised. His dark visor still covered his face, so she flicked it up one fingered.
“You okay in there, tiger?”
His face flushed. He nodded at her again without saying a word as he removed the helmet.
Her breath was short, and she knew her pulse had kicked up a notch. Her gaze moved over him. She’d never seen such a beautiful man in all her life. She was so used to all the tall, dark-haired, dark-eyed men around her that her reaction to this blond-haired stranger with light green eyes had thrown her. Real aqua green, translucent in the late-afternoon sun.
His blond hair was short, but it was…ruffled, sexy, as though he’d just gotten out of bed, and the thought of that made her insides heat. Longer at the front, his hair fell across his forehead as he dipped his head forward, pushed his fingers through it to flick it back into place. It looked soft and fine. She wondered what it felt like as she watched his long, slender fingers give it a quick scrub, probably to get rid of his hat hair. She quirked a smile—men and their egos.
He was taller than her, but not by much. Although he had broad shoulders and a muscular chest, he was slim, almost skinny, with a long, fine bone structure, so different from the men she had lived around all her life.
Their eyes locked, and he seemed to study her as intently as she did him. She noticed the tawny flecks in the green that could only be seen close up.