Authors: Grae McTavish
Smoky Mountain Motorcycles
DEA Agent Jake Lawson nearly died in the line of duty. His body healed, but his spirit struggles over the loss of his partner. How can he go on, knowing he failed?
Widow Willa Montgomery is the black sheep of her wealthy, overbearing family. She’s always been too tall, too curvy, too sensitive. When she inherits a small bed-and-breakfast nestled in the picturesque Smoky Mountains, she finally finds her place. But the inn is more work than any one person can handle. When Jake agrees to help the struggling widow, he never imagines how much he himself will be helped.
Can a man who’s seen so much darkness find peace in the arms of a woman who’s never fit in, when so many people are trying to keep them apart?
Smoky Mountain Motorcycles
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Erotic Romance
First E-book Publication: August 2012
Cover design by Harris Channing
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This is for my girls, who put up with hours of me rambling about plots and characters, who help me with research and grammar, who always encourage me to follow my dreams.
To all the teachers who inspired me.
And of course for my wonderful hubby, who lets me be me and sacrifices his body for hours of “research.”
Smoky Mountain Motorcycles
Copyright © 2012
Jake Lawson was tired, mentally and physically exhausted. He’d been working undercover for the DEA at the Rusty Screw for over a year, and it seemed that for every one asshole he helped put away, two more showed up. He rolled into the rutted parking lot in front of the notorious biker bar and pulled up next to his partner.
Maggie was a senior agent, and she’d been his mentor since he’d transferred to the Special Gang Unit. She was one tough old broad, that’s for sure. He respected the hell out of her, though he wondered how she did this year after year. Right now he was posing as the bartender who was open for any type of side deal, and she was his waitress, scouting out those deals. They were a good team and had managed to get some rotten dudes off the streets.
“How’s it going?” she asked, and he envied her calm. She swung her leg over the seat of her low cruiser, setting aside her battered helmet with its trademark sticker stating, “This Bitch Doesn’t Fall Off.” Joking aside, her dedication was legendary, though few people knew much about the real her.
“Same shit, different day,” he grumbled, lingering on his bike. His mind went to the wedding invitation he’d received this morning. His old buddy, Gabe, was getting married, lucky bastard, and his bride was smoking hot and nice. It was the nice that got him. He wanted that warm, safe place to go home to every night. He’d seen too much darkness lately.
Maggie gave him an odd look before shrugging and pulling the keys to the bar out of her jean pocket. She slid the keys into the dented lock and swung the door open, and then everything slowed down.
Jake saw the flash of light in the darkened doorway. He watched his partner freeze, noted the look of shock on her face. The thunder of the gunshot made his ears ring. He was off his bike and running toward her, but she seemed miles away. Her knees gave first as she crumpled to the ground. Gravel scattered as he skidded beside her.
“Maggie!” he cried, drawing his gun even as he covered her shaking body with his own. The red stain blossomed across her chest. He pressed his other hand to it and scanned the area for the source of the shot just as another rang out.
Pain ripped through his leg, but his training kicked in. He followed the trajectory of the bullet to just inside the bar. Taking aim, he fired, even as he felt himself start to grow cold. Another shot split the late afternoon air, whizzing past his head. He fired again and was gratified to hear a pained grunt.
Another shot and fire lanced through his head. Stars burst in front of his eyes, and the world dimmed.
Willa Montgomery inhaled deeply as she pulled her famous French toast casserole from the oven. It had turned out perfectly. The smell of cinnamon filled the air. The pecans sizzled on the stove in a butter-pecan glaze. When they were done, she would drizzle them over the casserole. It was a special request from her best guests. The couple gave her hope. They were so completely in love it made her heart ache. They were also completely in lust, which made her body ache in places she’d never ached before. Certainly the relations she’d had with her late husband had never set the walls on fire the way the Cavanaughs always threatened to do. It was a wonder the couple didn’t set off the new smoke alarms she’d just installed.
Setting the dish onto its cooling rack, she looked around the kitchen of the Mountain Escape Inn. It was a small bed-and-breakfast located in a lush valley in the Smoky Mountains of North Carolina. She was filled with a mixture of pride and apprehension. She loved the beautiful old home she’d inherited. She loved running the bed-and-breakfast, but sometimes it felt like shoveling snow in a blizzard. It seemed like every time she got something fixed something else broke. Still, she wouldn’t ever trade the independence it had brought her for the financial security she’d lost.
The kitchen door swung open, and she turned to greet Danny Cavanaugh. She was petite, dark, and curvy. The exact opposite of Willa, but they’d become instant friends when the couple had showed up at her B and B during a sudden late-afternoon thunderstorm. It still was hard to wrap her brain around the fact that cute little Danny rode her own motorcycle. Willa had never known a female that would even consider such a thing, but then she’d never known any male who’d ridden either. Her uptight, conservative parents would never associate with someone like that. They would have been horrified with the ripped jeans Danny wore or the leather her darkly handsome husband Gabe wore. In the circles where Willa had been raised, they would be considered persona non grata, the dregs of society. Willa knew better.
“Yummm! That smells so good!” Danny cried, inhaling deeply.
Willa laughed, enjoying her friend’s enthusiasm. “Danny, you’re a guest. You’re supposed to wait in the dining room for me to serve you.”
Danny just waved this aside. “Guest smest, you don’t have to treat me like anything but your friend.” And that just summed Danny up. She was a loving, open person who enjoyed life, so very different from the people in Willa’s past.
When she’d moved into the B and B, Willa had sworn to surround herself with only good, loving people. She’d never found that love and acceptance in the snotty upper crust circles she used to live in, but then she’d never really fit in anyway. Here, in her own place, she surrounded herself with quality people. Sure she had a cantankerous customer or two, like the professor. Dr. Snodgrass came over at least once a month to work on the book or article he was writing. He always found at least one thing to complain about. If the scones were light and fluffy, then the blackberry jam was a little too tart. If the pot roast in au jus sauce was tender, then the garlic mashed potatoes were just a bit too lumpy. Yet, despite his complaints, he always came back. Last month she’d even caught him whistling. She’d realized the professor just liked to debate. It wasn’t that he was being disagreeable. He enjoyed the banter.
Danny was her favorite customer though. They could spend hours talking about the books they’d read or the newest music they’d downloaded. Willa loved to listen to Danny talk about riding the most. A part of her wanted to give it a try but doubted she’d ever have the nerve. Gabe had offered to take her for a ride to let her see how it felt, but she hadn’t had the nerve. Besides, it seemed so intimate, the way you wrapped yourself around the driver like that.
Shaking off her wandering thoughts, Willa removed the caramelized sauce from the burner to cool. Scooping the casserole onto the antique Depression glass plates she’d recently added to her collection, she then began to drizzle the caramelized sauce over the steaming dish.
Leaning in, Danny inhaled deeply. “Oh my God!” She moaned. “If I lived any closer to you, I’d be as big as a house. That smells incredible.”