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Authors: Alannah Lynne

Tags: #Romance, #General, #Contemporary, #Fiction

Reaction Time

BOOK: Reaction Time
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eBooks are
not
transferable.

They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.

This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.

Samhain Publishing, Ltd.

577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520

Macon GA 31201

Reaction Time

Copyright © 2008 by Alannah Lynne

ISBN: 978-1-60504-271-8

Edited by Heidi Moore

Cover by Anne Cain

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

First Samhain Publishing, Ltd. e
lectronic publication: December 2008

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Reaction Time

Alannah Lynne

Dedication

This book is dedicated to the three most important men in my life. My real life hero and husband, whose courage and strength never cease to amaze me. And to my sons.

Thank you for all your support, encouragement and enthusiasm. I love you!

Reaction Time

Chapter One

Nikki Kincaid shook her head,
almost
feeling sorry for the kid in the piece-of-shit Honda next to her, revving his engine and signaling he wanted to race. She knew she shouldn’t accept his challenge. Street racing was dangerous, plus the pesky little detail that it was illegal. But dammit, it was fun.

And she wanted to have a little fun for a change.

Did the kid honestly think his one-hundred-and-fifteen-horsepower Civic could compete with her Shelby GT500? The power of her Mustang alone would leave him sitting at the light wondering what happened. Considering she had one of the fastest reaction times in the NHRA Pro Stock Drag Racing Series, when the light turned green she’d be a quarter mile down the highway before he could blink.

She sighed. Three years. That’s how long it had been since she’d had any fun. That’s how long it had been since racing stopped being a choice and instead had become a job that carried an overwhelming responsibility. That’s how long it had been since racing ceased to be her true love and passion.

But this little race would be like before—fun.

She glanced around, checking to make sure there were no other vehicles in the way and no cops. Well, none other than her irritating passenger. Looking out the passenger window, she nodded once to the kid before returning her attention to the stop light. “That car sounds like a pissed off bumblebee,” she muttered beneath her breath, unable to believe the kid truly wanted to race.

As the word “race” hit her brain circuitry, her body instinctively took over. Her left hand clenched the steering wheel while the fingers on her right twitched on the Hurst shifter. Her left foot mashed the clutch to the floor and the toes on her right flexed with the anticipation of stomping on the gas pedal.

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Alannah Lynne

She flicked a casual sideways glance to her passenger, Adam “Tight Ass” Guthrie, off-duty detective and friend to her brother, Nate. Head bent over, eyes focused on the threatening letter she’d received that morning, he was oblivious to the kid next to him or the launched gauntlet.

Nikki smiled as she considered the added bonus to this race. Tight Ass was gonna shit a brick.

He would probably lecture her on yet another of her obligations—acting as a responsible role model. He would probably make the three-hour trip to Richmond miserable. He would probably do that anyway, so she might as well go for it now and have her fun.

God, she could throttle Nate for insisting she have a weekend babysitter. The threats she’d received, the ones suggesting her health might fare better if she didn’t race anymore, seemed relatively harmless. But her ever-watchful big brother insisted she have protection. Tight Ass agreed with Nate’s cautious attitude, damn her bad luck, and had volunteered to take a couple days off to accompany her to the drag strip.

Unfortunately, he was the last person she wanted to spend five days with.

Maybe if she made his life hell he’d pack up and leave. Then she wouldn’t have to deal with him or the mix of unwelcome emotions his presence stirred in her.

The left-turn lane got the green arrow and she zeroed in on it. Watching. Waiting. As soon as that light turned red, she’d get the green light.

Yellow.

Adrenaline pumped through her veins like it always did at the starting line of a race.

Red.

She popped the clutch and mashed the gas at the exact instant her light flicked green.

Tires squealed and her body slammed backwards into the seat from the forward thrust.

Second gear.

Third gear.

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The kid was still sitting at the light and she burst out laughing, imagining his face.

Eyes wide, mouth dropped open. Friends in the car laughing their asses off at the spanking he’d just gotten.

Fourth gear.

Fifth gear.

She cut her gaze to Tight Ass’s fingers embedded into the dashboard. He was wearing an expression she imagined was similar to the kid in the car. Pure shock.

She threw her head back and enjoyed a rare, roaring laugh as she slid the shifter into sixth and eased her foot off the gas. One hundred ten was probably pushing it.

“Stop!” her passenger demanded.

She bit into her bottom lip to squelch the laughter and continued to let the car coast to a slower speed.

“Stop the fucking car. Now.”

“All right. All right. Give me a sec to get to the exit.” With feigned concern and a lot of humor, she asked, “Do you need a men’s room, or is the side of the road okay?”

His lip curled back in a snarl.

Holy shit
. Eyes wide, she sucked in a startled breath. Much to her surprise, and dismay, Tight Ass was even hotter all riled up.

She stopped on the side of the road and as she shut the car down, he shot out of his door, circled the car and yanked her door open. He grabbed her arm and jerked her from the car while she fought to shake him loose. “Let go of me,” she yelled.

Snatching off his sunglasses, he got nose to nose with her and snarled, “You ever pull a stunt like that again and I’ll kill you myself.”

Several things struck her at once—his impressively broad chest, his strong shoulders and his incredibly thick neck.
I wonder if he has hair on his chest or if it’s smooth and
lickable
. She swallowed hard and swiped her tongue across her bottom lip. It was impossible to tell through the loose-fitting knit shirt, but she did know one thing. His lips, now pulled into a thin, tight line, were definitely kissable.

Dear God, what am I thinking?

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Alannah Lynne

This was why she avoided him. He confused her. His overbearing personality and often alarming intensity scared her. Despite that, with nothing more than a heated look, he made her body hum and purr like a well-tuned engine. And right now she wanted to strip and lick him like a Tootsie Roll Pop.

She pulled her gaze away from his mouth and looked into his eyes. She’d always considered her chocolate eyes dark, but his were black as lumps of coal and equally cold.

Completely devoid of any emotion.

Her stomach dropped and her chest ached. Seeing him remain completely unaffected while she suffered through a heat wave, hurt and pissed her off. However, she’d never allow him to know it, so she hid her hurt the only way she knew how, with her smart mouth and in-your-face attitude.

She pushed her breasts forward until they were pressing into the fabric of his shirt.

“You’re supposed to protect my body.” She pressed against him harder. “Whatcha gonna do? Handcuff me so I’ll behave?”

An intoxicatingly predatory smile shattered his hard expression and he leaned in close to her ear. “Be careful what you ask for, sweetheart,” he threatened, the raspy rumble sending warm breath down the side of her neck and a cold shiver racing down her spine. “You might get it.”

Nikki fisted her hands at her sides and fought the urge to grab onto him as his spicy scent, hot body and gravelly voice filled her with a disturbing sensation.

Desire.

Reckless, nearly uncontrollable desire.

While Nikki searched for words—something she never, ever had to do—he hooked his fingers under her elbow and led her around to the passenger side. Opening the door, he said, “I’m driving from here on out.” Then he unleashed a smile that reeked of wicked intent and self-assured arrogance. “And I’m betting you learn to behave even without the handcuffs.”

8

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Chapter Two

Thirty minutes had passed since Adam’s ridiculous comment and Nikki was slumped down in her seat, booted feet propped up on the dashboard, brooding. What the hell did he mean she’d
learn to behave
? She didn’t care much for his attitude and she sure as hell didn’t appreciate him insinuating she’d
asked
to be handcuffed.

Even if it might have sounded that way.

And at the time seemed somewhat appealing.

But that was when he looked all ferocious and sexy. Not all arrogant and…sexy.

Time to set him straight on a few things. “For the record,” she said, leveling him with a pissed-off scowl. “I never said I
wanted
you to handcuff me. That was your overinflated ego being delusional.”

His lips twitched as if he were fighting a smile. “Oh, you want it all right. Even if you haven’t yet recognized it for what it is.”

She felt her eyebrows shoot to her hairline while her mouth dropped open. “What?”

When he continued to look amused but didn’t respond, she crossed her arms over her chest. “What do you mean ‘haven’t yet recognized it’? How the hell do you know what I want?”

“Because I’m an investigator, it’s my job to read people.” He flicked his gaze from the road and studied her. Returning his attention to the road, he softly added, “I’m also a sexual Dominant and I recognize the signs of a submissive.”

This time her jaw damn near hit her knees.
Oh shit!
If she’d known he got off on abusing women she’d never have provoked him. “You mean you get off on beating women?”
Well, hell
.

He snorted. “Hardly.”

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Alannah Lynne

She dropped her feet to the floor and turned in her seat to face him. “You don’t have to beat up women in order to get it up?” She cringed. How could she ask such a personal question? She didn’t want to know about his sex life and she certainly didn’t want to know what excited him. And yet, she’d asked and now found herself holding her breath, waiting for an answer.

“The whole BDSM scene has been skewed by Hollywood and wild imaginations. It’s not at all what most people think.”

“How is it?” She bit her tongue and gave herself a mental head slap. Why, why, why did she continue to ask these questions?

He shifted his gaze back to her and a warm smile slid across his face. “A Dom and sub relationship is very…powerful.”

This time she snorted. “Yeah, well, that’s pretty much the way most people see it.

One powerful person in charge getting off using whips and chains to beat someone who’s tied up and helpless.”

The smile dropped off his face. “It’s a total exchange of power,” he said, his voice low and tight. “And I’ve never used whips or chains on my subs.”

As a memory swam to the front of her mind, her stomach tightened and a knot lodged in her throat. It was late one night and she’d been out walking. As she came home, she saw Adam leaving her brother’s half of the duplex, a petite brunette tucked in close to his side. She’d been captivated by his attentiveness toward the woman and had stayed hidden in the shadows, watching the two of them interact. The woman had looked happy and probably infatuated, but she definitely hadn’t looked abused.

“What do you use?” Her mouth opened and the words flew without any consent from her brain.

His sunglasses kept his expression masked, but she could tell he was carefully considering his answer by the way he chewed the inside of his jaw. Finally he said, “If they like to be restrained I’ll use a rope, or silk ties, depending on how rough of a sensation they prefer. Mostly I’ll use a flogger. Or if they liked to be spanked I’ll use a 10

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Reaction Time

paddle or leather strap. A few enjoy the cane.” He shrugged. “It depends. I use whatever my subs enjoy.”

She narrowed her eyes and studied his profile. Focusing on his straight, almost aristocratic nose and hard, square jawline kept her from thinking about the roller coaster in her stomach. And the annoying throbbing a little further south. Alarmed by her body’s reaction to his words, she squirmed in her seat. The level of her curiosity also concerned her but she couldn’t stop the questions from flowing. “They enjoy it?”

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