One of our favorite romantic suspense series is Black Knights Inc by Julie Ann Walker. One of the stories I’ve been waiting for has been Wild Bill and Eve, so I’m really excited to share a snipped of this awesome book.
“What in the world?” Bill heard Mac yell over the grumbling sound of dual V-twin engines. He gripped Phoenix’s handlebars tighter as he squinted up the block to where the red-blue-red flash of emergency vehicle lights bounced menacingly against the surrounding buildings. “I think that’s Delilah’s!”
Bill realized in that moment, as he twisted his wrist and blazed through the red light and cross traffic—heedless of the sound of squealing tires on either side of him and the fact that the silver bumper on a Chevy half-ton pickup truck came within an inch of his biker boot—what it meant when people said their hearts froze. Because his stopped beating, turned to a hard fist of dry ice in his chest, and proceeded to burn a hole straight through his soul.
He wasn’t thinking when he blasted into the little parking lot in front of Red Delilah’s, Phoenix’s fat rear tire bouncing over the curb until his teeth clacked together with brain-jostling force. He wasn’t thinking when he toed out the kickstand and jumped from the bike, switching off the growling engine. He wasn’t thinking when he ran toward the waiting ambulance and the body-bag-laden stretcher being loaded inside.
“Eve!” He frantically tossed off the restraining hands of the police officers who leapt toward him, instinctively shoving an elbow into someone’s nose. “Eve! Eve!” His wailing, breathless cries howled from him like the wind blowing over the dunes in the desert. His lungs worked like bellows, but no oxygen got to his brain.
“Stand down, asshole!” one of the officers shouted in his ear, snaking an arm around his throat as two, then three more uniformed CPD boys tried to wrestle him to the ground. He fought them like he was fighting for his life, hissing and biting, punching and kicking. He was a mindless beast, bent on only one thing: getting inside that ambulance and—
When he heard his name, when he heard her sweet voice, all the fight seeped out of him like air from a torn balloon. He choked on a hard, wet sob that lodged in the center of his chest. Then, the next thing he knew, he was kissing concrete, there were an unknown number of very pointy knees digging into his back, and his wrists were being secured by a cold, hard set of handcuffs.
He didn’t care. Because she was alive! The CPD could take out their billy clubs and pound the living shit out of him for the rest of the evening if they wanted to, and he’d still be smiling.
“Get off him! Get off him!” From the corner of his eye—the one not being ground into the parking lot’s hot pavement—he could see Eve pushing officers aside. “He’s with me!”
Slowly, the restraining hands disappeared, as did the pointy knees. And after a ringing command from Eve that someone should help him up, two policemen grabbed his elbows and hauled him to his feet. The very next instant, Eve was pressed against him. Her arms were around his neck, her head was on his shoulder—the smell of her fruity shampoo obscured the more pungent aroma of car exhaust—and she was sobbing and squeezing him so tightly he could barely breathe.
Who cares? Oxygen is overrated anyway.
“Jesus, Eve…” Her name was a benediction and a prayer all rolled into one. He wasn’t a religious man, but he whispered heartfelt thanks skyward to anyone who might be listening and went to wrap his arms around her, to hold her close to his pounding heart. But the handcuffs stopped him with the bite of unyielding steel.
“Get these fucking things off me,” he growled at the officer closest to him.
The man wiped a hand under his bleeding nose—apparently this was the one Bill’d clocked with his elbow—and glowered. Then the policeman took a deep breath, obviously deciding he might’ve done the same thing had he thought the body of someone he cared about was being loaded into a waiting ambulance, and moved to oblige Bill’s request.
Bill had just enough time to wonder uneasily at the direction of his thoughts—Someone he cared about?—when the handcuffs disappeared and his mind blanked because…heaven. She was safe in his arms, warm and alive and breathing his name into the space where his T-shirt ended and his chest began.
“What happened here, Eve?” He dipped his chin to whisper against her ear, the delicate shell felt baby-soft against his lips, and the subtle smell of her lotion elicited an ill-timed response from the imbecile housed behind his zipper.
For the love of God, nuclear bombs could be exploding around me and being this close to Eve would still have me springing a chubby.
She pulled back, and he recognized the look on her tear-soaked face. He’d seen it plenty of times in the killing fields of this war or that conflict. It was a combination of shock and horror…and guilt. And it was enough to take the edge off his unrepentant libido.
“Th-that was s-s-supposed to be me.” She nodded toward the ambulance, her expression caving in on itself, her slender form quaking like a rickety telephone pole on the edge of an immense fault line. “They c-came here for m-me.”
Supposed to be her? What?
“What do you mean?” he demanded, instinctively thumbing away a glistening tear from her smooth cheek, growling when he noticed the circle of angry bruises darkening up around her neck making the white of her pearl pendant stand out in harsh contrast. He’d seen that before, too. Some sorry sonofabitch had tried to strangle Eve. Some sorry, dead sonofabitch should Bill ever find him and get his hands on him…
“Th-the men who killed Buzzard,” she choked. Buzzard? He glanced toward the ambulance, then closed his eyes as a wedge of remorse briefly invaded his mounting rage. The rascally biker had been an annoying, charming, and licentious old fart by turns. But he’d been a decent fellow, all things considered. And he’d certainly deserved a shitload better than whatever violent end he’d obviously met. “He caught a stray bullet,” she went on, and once again his heart stopped cold because…bullet. There’d been bullets involved? Jesus Christ. “But it was a bullet meant for…for me.”
Her voice rose with each syllable, and he knew the sounds of hysteria and shock when he heard them. Soon, she was very likely to either completely lose it or go catatonic. He’d seen both, experienced both, and he wasn’t sure which was better. One allowed the horror to spill out in a vile, endless stream. The other allowed it to slowly simmer until the terror coagulated and hardened into something awful that you carried around inside yourself for life.
Sweet Jesus, how he wished he could take it all away. Just pluck the experience from her psyche and take it into his own, lock it in the box where he kept all his unspeakable memories…
“H-he…he said,” Eve stammered, and he could tell she was becoming more and more unstrung with each passing second. “He said, there she is and pointed his gun at me. I dove for him. We…we struggled. So…so—” She couldn’t go on, and he did the only thing he could think to do. He pulled her against him again, holding her as tight as he could.
So, whoever wanted to kill her had found her here at Delilah’s? But, how?
Confusion and rage warred inside him for supremacy. But he knew neither of those emotions was what Eve needed from him now. Tamping down his desire to ask more questions or just begin to arbitrarily kill everybody she knew for good measure, he cupped the back of her warm head in his palm and tried his best to hold her together because she felt like she was about to blow apart.
Then, she did something so shocking he could only stand there like a friggin’ idiot.
She kissed him.
One second the woman’s nose was buried in the crook of his shoulder, and the next second she grabbed his ears and slammed her mouth—her open mouth—over the top of his.
And unlike that girl he’d known years ago, this one didn’t hesitate. There was no slow, tentative tasting, or gentle foray of her tongue into his mouth. Hell no. This was the kiss equivalent of zero to sixty in less than a second, and all he could do was blink at her blurry face in cross-eyed confusion for a long moment during which time she kissed him so passionately he was surprised he didn’t just melt into a puddle of lust around his biker boots.
Eventually, however, instinct and bone-deep hunger took over, and he reached up to palm her tear-wet cheeks, angling her head so he could join in on the two-tongued fun fair they had going.
And, it was confession time again. Because, he didn’t give a rat’s ass that this was undoubtedly one of those instances when a person had mistaken grief for lust. He didn’t give a rat’s ass that she’d likely regret this in about two seconds flat…that he’d likely regret it, too. Because for one blessedly passionate moment, the past was forgotten. For one brilliant instant, it was just the two of them, locked together, giving in to the flame of desire that’d burned in them since the moment they first locked eyes on each other.
1. Trust no one… Eve Edens has been abandoned, used, or manipulated by almost everyone she’s ever met. Born into ridiculous wealth, she’s dealt with the petty jealousies and sordid little resentments for nearly thirty years. But after three botched attempts on her life, she can no longer ignore the truth. Someone wants her dead.
2. Avoid the bad boys at all costs… William “Wild Bill” Reichert, the wonderfully sexy boy who abandoned her years ago, is back in town. Only he’s no boy. Now he’s a covert operative – and he’s all man. When Eve hires Bill to help her discover who is behind the attacks, Bill soon comes to suspect it’s someone much closer to Eve than she dares to believe.
3. And never fall for the same ruse twice… The search for the killer takes Bill and Eve deep into the dark secrets and strange world of the rich and famous, and into the heart of red-hot passion re-ignited by the peril that threatens to consume them both. But does Eve dare risk her heart on Bill a second time?