Authors: Liliana Hart
“That’s a hell of a way to talk about your
own sister, Carlos. Maybe you should get therapy to release all
that hostility. It can’t be good for you.”
Carlos ignored his taunt, his anger already
fueling the fire. “History has a way of repeating itself,
? I enjoyed the little scene you and the whore next door
put on for me and my men this morning. They were horny as hell
after you left, leaving her there all alone while you went to look
at the message I’d left you. You can see right through those flimsy
lace curtains she has up. And she makes sure to raise the blinds
back up after you leave every night. What’s with that, Cade? You
don’t want us to see you screwing your new whore? When did you
“Fuck you, Carlos. Stay away from
“It’s too late for that. You marked her as
yours. I hope that brings her comfort when I rub the drug across
her silky skin and let my men have her.”
The sigh on the other end of the line had
Cade’s anger escalating to the point that he could feel his control
disappearing. He knew what men saw when they looked at
“Her body is something else, my man. Fine
tits and ass, and a mouth that’s going to suck me dry before she
takes her last breath. Just the thought is enough to get me
Cade growled low in his throat and he was
barely able to choke the words out. “I’m coming for you,
Carlos laughed. “You’ve got to find me
Cade disconnected the phone and pushed the
pedal all the way to the floor, and he noticed the car tailing him
stayed close long enough to wave at him and take the next exit.
Which meant they had men set up to watch him at the house.
He used the Bluetooth system in his truck to
call in a favor. He couldn’t be in two places at one time, and he
needed someone to watch over Darcy. To make sure she was safe.
There was only one man he could call—one man he trusted with his
life—to make sure she didn’t get into trouble.
The only problem was that the man in question
was Bayleigh’s oldest brother. There was no way he could tell Brant
about his involvement with Bayleigh or that Bayleigh was in
danger—though there was a chance the DHS agent already knew. Cade
needed Brant to protect Darcy and not ask questions.
Fortunately, Brant owed him a hell of a favor
since Cade had taken a bullet for his friend a couple of years ago.
The angle of the shot would have meant Brant’s death, and Cade knew
he could survive if he intercepted it. The short of it was: Brant
Scott owed him a hell of a favor, and he was about to collect.
“What?” Brant said on the other end of the
“I need help, and I don’t need questions,”
Cade said quickly. “I’m running out of time.”
There was a slight pause before Brant said,
“Protect Darcy. Carlos del Fuego has put out
a hit on her. It might already be too late.”
“I’ve got her covered,” Brant said. “I got
the word this morning about the change of power in the cartel. It
seems some asshole at DHS was hoping the news of Miguel’s coma
wouldn’t become public knowledge, so they’ve been sitting on it for
three weeks. Heads will roll by the time I’m through with
Cade believed it. Brant was a Special Agent
in Charge for DHS, and he wasn’t without power. In fact, he always
wondered if Brant was higher up on the food chain than even he
“As long as Darcy is safe,” Cade said.
“I’ve got my sights on your house as we
speak. I knew they’d be after her. I let your cousin, Cooper, know
about the danger. I figured he’d be pissed if he didn’t know
something could go down since he’s the sheriff.”
“That’s an understatement.” Cooper would have
agents for breakfast and spit them out if he found out something
was going on in his town and no one had informed him.
Brant grunted in agreement. “Coop’s going to
keep an eye on Grant and his wife so I don’t have to split my
attention. I figured the threat to Darcy was the biggest since
she’s by herself and basically unprotected.”
Cade let out a slow breath, grateful his
friend had a sixth sense about these kinds of things. No one was
more important than his family, and their safety was first
priority. Knowing his brother and sister were being watched after
was a hell of a relief. And knowing Shane was out of the country on
his own mission meant that he wouldn’t step into the middle of
things for at least another few weeks. By then, he was hoping it
would all be over. The only wild card was Declan. It was impossible
to outguess him.
“I want you inside the house,” Cade said. “I
don’t care how big of a fit she throws. I want you to be her shadow
until the threat is gone. Tell her I’ve given you permission to
jerk her into a safe house if she doesn’t cooperate.”
The sigh on the other end of the line would
have made him laugh at any other time, because Darcy was a handful
and everybody who’d ever spent five minutes in her company knew it.
But the panic entrenched inside him was too deep, too clawing, and
the need to get to Bayleigh pressed in on him until his chest felt
like it was being crushed by cinder blocks. He sped in and out of
traffic, hoping like hell he wasn’t too late to save her. The
thought of anything happening to her was terrifying, and it brought
back thoughts and feelings he’d buried a long time ago.
“I’ll owe you,” Cade said.
“We’re even, my friend. Keep Bayleigh safe,”
he said. “And don’t do anything that will make me have to kill you
Brant disconnected and Cade shook his head.
Bayleigh would be pissed if she found out her brother was having
her watched. It was the only way he would have known that Cade had
inserted himself neatly into her life on such short notice.
He checked the rearview mirror again and
didn’t see another tail, so he turned the truck onto a
well-trafficked side street and left it parked there. He sent a
quick text to Declan and put his phone in his back pocket. There
was enough moon out to see once his eyes adjusted to the darkness,
but not enough that he couldn’t hide himself in the shadows.
It was a half-mile hike through the treed
area behind his house, and he was grateful there hadn’t been much
rain lately so the creek was running low. His .9mm rested
comfortably in his hand, and he blended in with the darkness as he
came up on the back of his house. The lamps he’d left on in his
living room glowed softly through the shades he’d pulled down
before he left, but it wasn’t his house that had the hairs at the
back of his neck standing on end.
Bayleigh’s house was cast in complete
darkness. In the two weeks he’d been there, she consistently left
her back porch light on and a couple of lamps switched on
throughout the house. She also left the light over her kitchen sink
on all the time. The house was
He edged out of the trees and into the open
expanse of her backyard, his footsteps silent as he approached the
open deck and arbor area. The tiniest sound to his left had him
stopping, his ears pricked for the familiar sounds of the enemy.
Unless they were trained as he had been, it was hard for a person
to stay completely still for long periods of time.
Carlos was playing a game, stringing him
along until he was ready to move in for the kill. And he’d made
Bayleigh a player, just because Cade had been too hot for her to
keep his hands to himself. If Bayleigh was in the game, then he had
no choice but to keep her close to him. For her own protection.
The sound came again and he had his gun
pointed with his finger on the trigger before the target had the
chance to duck for cover.
“Don’t move one fucking muscle,” he
Bayleigh gasped as the dull sheen of the gun
glinted in the moonlight, and she sunk to her chin in the hot tub,
feeling a little too exposed in the tiny black bikini she wore. All
she’d wanted was to soak away the day in peace and quiet, and
neither of those words were ones she’d use in conjunction with Cade
MacKenzie. She’d thought turning out all the lights and pretending
like she wasn’t home would discourage him from seeking her out. She
just needed time. But clearly her plan had failed.
After he’d left her earlier that morning,
she’d done nothing but think about his touch all day, as if she
were an addict waiting for her next fix. She’d never climaxed like
that before—never even thought it possible to lose such complete
control of mind and body. It was disturbing and arousing at the
Cade had managed to strip away the layers
she’d built over the last several years in a matter of minutes. If
she was being honest with herself, he’d gotten to her in the first
five minutes after they’d met.
That was her problem. Her pattern. She
believed in the possibility of soulmates, in the
happily-ever-after. And because of her childhood and the
instability she’d had by not having a permanent home, she was
constantly looking for the one person who could give her that
happily-ever-after and the stability she craved.
Those thoughts had been swirling around her
mind like the water cocooning her body when she’d felt another
presence close by. She couldn’t hear or see anyone, but she
definitely felt them. Her brothers had always told her to trust her
first instinct because it was usually right. She hadn’t thought
she’d made any noise, but screaming for help or running for cover
was out of the question by the time she saw the weapon pointed in
her direction. He’d been that silent. That quick. And obviously
“Don’t move one fucking muscle,” Cade said,
his voice barely carrying across the small distance between them.
“Have you lost your mind, Bayleigh? What the hell are you doing out
Bayleigh swallowed nervously. Seeing him this
way was disconcerting. He moved like the night itself, his body
lithe and graceful like a cat stalking its prey, and his face was
hard—his eyes lethal. This was a man who could kill without
blinking an eye.
“The last I checked this was my property and
I didn’t have to check in with you to relax,” she said, annoyed at
the way she’d cowered. “Thanks for blowing that all to hell, by the
“I thought you were in trouble,” he said
between gritted teeth. “All the lights are off in your house and
you have absolutely zero protection out here if someone wanted to
Bayleigh felt the heat rush to her cheeks and
she damned her tongue even as she opened her mouth. “The lights are
out in my house because I wanted you to get a clue. I didn’t feel
like dealing with you again today. And I knew you were in my yard
the moment you stepped onto my property.”
“Yeah?” he asked. He turned so the moonlight
glinted off the whites of his narrowed eyes. He didn’t look happy.
“If I’d been the enemy, you knowing I was here wouldn’t have done
you a lot of good. You would have been too late to take cover.
Meaning you’d be dead.”
“This isn’t Baghdad, Cade. What enemies? I
have no enemies? You, on the other hand, probably have more than
you know what to do with. Don’t you think you’re overreacting just
a little bit?”
She heard the slide of metal against leather
as he holstered his weapon and breathed a sigh of relief. Her dad
and brothers had made sure she knew how to shoot a gun, but she’d
never been comfortable with them. And she found she especially
didn’t like having one pointed at her.
“No, I’m not overreacting,” he said, running
a frustrated hand through his hair. “Come on. We need to talk.” He
held out the towel to her, but she was already shaking her head
“I meant what I said this morning, Cade.” She
ignored his outstretched hand and relaxed back down in the water,
closing her eyes as if that would suddenly make him disappear.
“You’re sexy as hell and we obviously have some chemistry, but I’m
not cut out for this. I know what I want and need in a man, and
you’re not it. I can’t do meaningless fucks. I’m just not built
that way. So just give me some space and go home.”
Bayleigh didn’t even feel him coming until it
was too late. She squeaked as he pulled her out of the water and
wrapped the towel around her with perfunctory movements. Her arms
were trapped in the towel, so she couldn’t fight as he tossed her
over his shoulder like a bag of potatoes and walked across her
backyard to his house.
“Not one sound, Bayleigh, or I’m going to
spank your ass so red you won’t be able to sit down for a
She froze against him, her pussy clenching at
the thought of his hand against her bare bottom. Jesus, this man
was dangerous to every shred of sanity left in her head. The
thought of being spanked had always been a turnoff. Or so she’d
thought. But as soon as the words came out of his mouth, she was
gushing like a waterfall in anticipation.
He unlocked his back door and pushed it open,
the cool air escaping and bringing chills to her skin. Bayleigh bit
her lip as he pulled his weapon from the holster and nudged the
door open a little further with his foot. Once they were inside and
the door was closed he set her on her feet and took her chin
between his finger and thumb.
“Stay right here until I get back,” he said,
and the look in his eyes told her if she disobeyed she wasn’t going
to like the consequences. She nodded and took a step back as he
made his way through the house, checking the alarm system and
inside all the closets.
She hadn’t seen this part of his house when
she’d been inside earlier that morning, not that she’d really been
paying attention to any part of the house with his tongue down her
throat and his fingers shoved inside her. But now that she had the
opportunity to look around, she found the inside of Cade’s home an
interesting study of the man himself. It was cozy—masculine.