Authors: Tina Wainscott
is a work of fiction. Names, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
A Loveswept eBook Original
Copyright © 2014 by Tina Wainscott
Wild on You
by Tina Wainscott copyright © 2014 by Tina Wainscott
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Loveswept, an imprint of Random House, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
is a registered trademark and the L
colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.
eBook ISBN 978-0-345-54835-1
Cover design: Caroline Teagle
Cover photograph: Claudio Marinesco
Cover illustration: Claudio Marinesco
This book contains an excerpt from
Wild on You
by Tina Wainscott. This excerpt has been set for this edition only and may not reflect the final content.
“So you’re really joining this Justiss Alliance. You gonna wear a cape and tights?” Rath Blackwood leaned back against his Shovelhead Harley in the semidark parking lot of the Ship’s Inn. An odd name considering the dive was nowhere near water.
Julian Cuevas flipped him off and gave him a
. “No costumes required. Though it is Superman-esque, now that you mention it. Private security firm on the surface, low-key with glasses if you will, but wrangling justice outside the boundaries of the law behind the scenes.”
Rath whirled his finger. “Booyah.”
“Cynical son of a bitch,” Julian said, but he couldn’t help chuckling anyway at his facetious use of the marine phrase. “That’s what we stood for, why we joined the SEALs.”
“Yeah, and look how that turned out.”
“Don’t remind me.” Julian’s fingers closed over his key, the edges biting his skin. All his plans, his military future, had exploded like an RPG. It hadn’t taken his life or limbs, but it had torn his integrity and purpose to shreds. “This is different. It’s private sector, so we skip the red tape. Risk and Sax have already pulled a mission, and they’re psyched about doing more. I’m ready.” He tipped his chin toward the bar, where a patron’s bad taste in jukebox music thrummed through the walls. “I’m tired of miles of asphalt, punctuated by bars like this. Tired of assessing the hostility of the natives, figuring out whether the place is predominantly motorcycle gang, and predicting how we’re going to be received.”
It was always the same. How interested were the patrons in the newcomers? Did they give them hairy eyeballs, the look of suspicion? How many wore patches designating them outlaw motorcycle gang members? The one percenters, as they called themselves, were armed, drunk, and sometimes hopped up on crank, a bad combo in
itself. Add in the invincibility their gang affiliation gave them and it was danger set to boil.
Those first few minutes were critical in establishing how Rath and Julian would be perceived. Julian wore his badass Latino look, with his five o’clock shadow and the swagger of a man who had killed—and would do so again, if necessary. Rath, the redneck from Tennessee, wore his longish wavy hair and “don’t fuck with me” airs. Both carried Glocks and knives to back it up.
Rath stroked his dark beard. “That’s what makes it exciting. It’s like walking into some dive in Afghanistan. Your senses are on alert, analyzing and shit. Keeps you sharp.”
It did feed Julian’s need for that edge of danger. Getting some guy out of a bad situation was like a hostage extraction. Drunk guy mouthing off to a gang member equaled bad news times twenty. Two rival gangs in the same bar, times a hundred. A war raged right here in America, gang against gang with no compunction about using violence to make a point.
Julian rubbed the back of his neck. “But there’s no purpose in it. We’re just staying out of their way while we drink and play pool and occasionally rescue dumb people who get themselves into bad situations. I’ve officially gotten the piss out of my system over the defuckle.” A Rathism for the fucked-up debacle that had cost five of their team their careers. “I’m ready to get back in the game. How about you? Come to headquarters with me and check it out.”
Signing on to The Justiss Alliance a few days ago had felt a bit like walking into the Navy recruiter’s office ten years ago. Three of their teammates had gone through TJA’s orientation so far.
“Look, I’m not questioning your motives and plans, and you don’t question mine. You go get justice for Chase’s clients.” Rath waved his fingers as though shooing him on. “I’m nailing justice for our trashed careers. For our fallen OIC. We all could have been killed. Risk was nearly mowed down.”
“Justice, Rath, or revenge?”
“Same result.” Rath’s mouth set in the stubborn line Julian knew all too well. “I
can’t move on with my life until I find out.”
“The Wolf is long gone. Or dead. We don’t even know the mole’s name. Or that he did set us up.”
The U.S. agent covertly working with
, the Hammer, had discovered their goal was a front. Instead of being an organization out to squash drug cartels in Mexico, they were a cartel themselves that wanted their competition out of the way. And they were happy to use the funds and weapons the United States had been secretly supplying to do it.
It was decided to send in a team of SEALs to take out the leadership and make it look like another cartel hit. Then the United States could gracefully back out of their relationship, deeming it too volatile. But as two of the SEALs slipped into the leader of the Hammer’s bedroom, they discovered someone had already executed him and his wife—and was waiting to kill them. He succeeded, mortally wounding the OIC—Officer in Charge. His identity revealed exactly who was behind the assault.
To prevent retaliation, the U.S. government claimed that the rogue OIC had undertaken the assault himself, talking five SEALs into going with him. Those SEALs had been tried in a mock hearing for the public’s benefit. They had not been court-martialed, but had been relieved of duty.
Julian ran his thumb along the tank of his Harley Fatboy. “You going down to Mexico by yourself is a bad idea. The Hammer’s as powerful, and as violent, as the other cartels. If they recognize you, they’ll feed you to the dogs. We could run this through The Justiss Alliance—”
“I told you, this is my gig. If I crash and burn, I do it alone.”
Julian had to try, even though he knew Rath was as moveable as a mountain when he set his mind to something. Julian knew his brother was only trying to protect the rest of the team, but he hated to think of Rath going it alone. He held out his hand, clasping Rath’s. “I respect that. Stay alive.” The two hugged briefly and stepped back. “When are you heading down?”
“After I go home and set my affairs in order. I want to make sure my younger
brother ends up with all my shit. Otherwise it’ll get sold for beer and cigarettes. I’ll keep in touch with you chuckleheads, don’t worry.”
“Ah, now you’re just getting mushy.”
Rath straddled his bike and kicked up the stand. “I’d better roll before I start embarrassing myself. Be safe.” He started the engine and tore off into the night.
Julian watched until his taillight faded into the distance. A deep, sudden sense of isolation kicked him in the ass. It was the first time he’d been alone. Growing up in a big Puerto Rican family, then on to BUD/S and the teams, he’d always had people around. Now he stood in the nearly empty parking lot of a run-down bar feeling utterly alone. To punctuate the moment, the light that shone over the remaining bikes parked along the wall crackled and blinked out.
Julian was about to mount his own bike when a familiar sedan pulled into the lot and parked. He’d seen it at the gas station earlier that evening. The driver, a beautiful redhead, had pumped gas while the guy with her ambled into the station. Julian had toyed with offering to take over the nozzle for her, as a gentleman should, but her suspicious glare halted that idea before he’d taken a step closer.
She pulled her hair into a ponytail with a practiced hand as she stepped out of her car and searched the parking lot. Her gaze skipped over where he lurked in the shadows, then settled on the door with an odd mix of trepidation and determination. She did not by any stretch look like the kind of woman who regularly went to bars like this, even with her faded jeans and black boots. Or gun, he noted, seeing the faint outline beneath her shirt at her waist.
Her light, creamy complexion reflected the light, which revealed high cheekbones and a lush mouth. No makeup. She looked healthier than the women he saw in these dives, no sign of the ravages of meth use. She wasn’t here to buy, sell, or get laid, but she did have a purpose.
She got back into the car, and the two remained there. They weren’t making out or sitting in a way that indicated they were on a date. Something about them—about her—gave him a hairection. That was another Rathism, a word Rath had made up for
when the hair on the back of one’s neck stood on end. An omen. These two were up to something. He crept around the back of the stand-alone building that he suspected had been a fast food restaurant at one time and came out not far from their car.
Though she had parked off to the side, and some distance from the second light in the lot, Julian could see the way she scanned the parking lot.
Her voice was soft, yet it carried to where Julian lurked. “I see a few Harleys, but not enough for the whole group to be here. And no Billy Bob outside guarding the bikes.”
“They must have changed their plans,” the man said. “We should probably head out.”
“They might just be running late. It’s not like these gangs have a rigid schedule.”
There was nothing familiar or warm in the tone of their conversation. They were obviously here for some purpose that involved the Kings of Chaos, since this was their territory. That made it even more intriguing. Dealings with gangs like them usually involved drugs or stolen motorcycles, and Julian’s gut said that this woman had no interest in either.
The two in the car didn’t speak for several minutes. Waiting in the shadows was nothing new for Julian. Usually there was the prospect of something exciting at the end of any wait. Being shot at. Taking out bad guys. This time it would be solving the mystery of why these two were here.
Ten more minutes passed. The bar door opened and four men and two “ol’ ladies,” as the bikers called their women, stumbled out. The men’s vests bore the Kings of Chaos logo: a ram’s head, its horns curling back to form handlebars. A little research on the smart phone always paid off. The Kings had racked up some serious offenses over the years, including murder, motorcycle theft, and extortion. They were vicious and unpredictable, but they weren’t known for attacking outsiders without provocation. Of course, provocation was in the eye of the beholder.
Several of them had sized up Julian and Rath when they’d entered the bar, no doubt taking in their confident swaggers and the cold, hard way they assessed the room. Maybe they’d noticed the lumps beneath their loose shirts. Julian and Rath gave them
respectful nods that meant:
You don’t give us trouble, you won’t die tonight