By Michele Mannon
My lover is dead.
And they think I killed him.
I'm running rogue. Hell bent on both revenge and redemption. Whatever it takes, I'm going to finish a job that began nine months ago. An unauthorized assignment that turned horribly, devastatingly wrong. My miscalculation. My fault. My heart left shattered into incomplete pieces which will never wholly fit back together again.
But first I have to outsmart my former organization and the hired killer they've sent after me; a killer who knows my every move, who’s been inside my head, my heart, and my dreams.
“I’ll try not to knick your cheek or nail you in the throat. Seems I’ll have every woman from Oklahoma to Okinawa after me if I mar that handsome lover-boy face of yours.”
The men around us laugh.
“You missed the change in plans, fireball.”
Hayden steps forward. “We’re wasting time. You’ve got one throw.”
“One?” Thank God. As much as I suddenly would like to end the smooth-talking playboy’s ways . . .
I aim the knife’s tip toward his forehead.
“Lower,” Jaxson mutters.
“Between the legs. He’s going to think long and hard the next time he negotiates with me.”
I stiffen. Oh no. This is insane. And damn it. Now where do I aim? Scanning the crowed, I search the crowd for Declan, who gives me the nod yes to the question written all over my face.
When I turn back to face Jaxson, I gasp. He’s kicked off his basketball shorts and is standing before me—us—in cotton briefs. Oh bloody hell, are they tight. Form-hugging. Leaving nothing to the imagination.
What’s between his legs isn’t just a big target. He’s hung like a goddamn stallion. All I can do is stare at his man-gift. Wicked thoughts flash across my mind. Me running my hand over his rigid length. Me on my knees and trying to see how deeply I can take him. Jaxson groaning with a pleasure only I can give him.
“Eyes here,” I hear him say, and I lift my gaze upward, I discover him grinning at me like a madman. “Or you taking a gander of what you’ll miss if you miss?”
I’m temped to hurl the knife at his head anyway. How can he be so flippant at a time like this?
Biting my lip, I try not to eye-fuck my target. Instead I focus on the flash of red barn between his muscular thighs and a hair’s breath of an inch below his impressive package.
“Five seconds, Kylie. Or I toss your ass into the next fight as originally planned.”
I hold the seashell handle, willing my hand from shaking. One. Two.
“Throw it, you toxic bitch,” someone in my fan club shouts. Unforgiving ass.
My eyes lift and connect with Jaxson’s. I’m sorry.
I aim my knife straight for his left thigh and release.
The knife spirals in the air, twice before landing.
“Jesus,” a man to my right cries out.
Shit. Oh shit. I can’t move. Or look away.
Grimacing, Jaxson pulls the knife out his inner left thigh. Muscle. I’ve hit muscle not bone. And, I missed his man-tool entirely.
Yet . . . he’s bleeding. I’ve hurt him.
God. I feel dizzy. And I hear myself panting like a wild animal, trying to draw air into my lungs.
My world spins. He’s injured. I’m the cause. I should have told Hayden no to his change in targets. That I can’t do it. That hurting Jaxson is a risk I won’t run. Jesus. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.
“Every woman I’ve ever met has been aiming to take a slice outta me,” he says from next to me, a second before his arms wrap around me. I squeal in surprise. “But you, fireball, are the first to actually do so. Yep, my first,” he emphasizes. Acting like I achieved some monumental obstacle, gone where no other woman’s dared. Except instead of a fist pump, I feel like tossing up my breakfast up over in the bushes beside the barn. Jesus, he really knows how to win a girl over.
He makes matters far worse by swooping in and kissing me. Licking at the seams of my tightly pressed lips, demanding entry then brushing between them.
His lips are soft as they move against mine, his breath blending with my own.
I want to wrap my arms around him and pull him into me. Comfort him. Steal away the pain I’ve caused him.
Jaxson breaks the kiss, then leans in and whispers in my ear, “This is the beginning to a beautiful relationship.”
I can’t respond. Too keyed up, too aware of our audience to give into the crazy feelings he’s stirred up in me. I’m like broken glass, shattered and scattered about to be crushed beneath his heel. I care about him. The charmer. The man-whore. Silly? Irrational? Far too fast for my liking? Yes. I’m not the kind of girl who loses my head. Ever. Let alone so bleeding quickly.
But I’ve never met a man like Jaxson before.
So I simply stare at him and hoping he won’t notice the raw emotion playing out in my eyes.
I care about you.
I’ll never hurt you again.
Michele Mannon is an avid fan of traveling, skinny cinnamon lattes, and gawking at shirtless men on television--jocks, MMA fighters, vampires, and bikers alike. With a love for different cultures and rich "characters", she earned a degree in French, taught English in Japan, and worked in the NYC fashion industry. Now she puts her experiences to pen, by creating sassy heroines and oh-so sexy Alpha males, and throwing them into situations they'd never dream of being caught in. Michele lives in New Jersey with her family and three wicked cats.