Everyone love a protector with a soft side. Joe of Jade Chandler’s Shake Down, available next week, certainly fits the bill! In today’s Hump Day excerpt, Joe shares a harrowing piece of his past with Charlie, adding an extra layer of intimacy to their relationship. Sparks fly, leading to a sexy encounter we won’t soon forget …
She drew in a quick breath. “That’s not…it’s not you—”
I cut her off with a hollow laugh. “Please don’t say it…you’re breaking up with me…you get we’re not in that kind of relationship.”
My joke flew over her head for a minute, then her lips twisted in a wry smile. “Not the best choice of words, but here’s the thing I can’t get over.” She speared me with her icy blue eyes, “You and I aren’t friends, I just met you a few weeks ago. Why? I can’t let you do this. Risk everything for me. I’m the one who signed up for that job.”
Here we were—the tricky part. She hit on the same thing Delta had hammered me on since I’d told him I planned to protect her. Why me. I didn’t want to spill my tortured past or how I’d twisted her up as my chance at redemption. While saving Charlie was a given, nothing would make up for failing Laney.
“I protected and served until Uncle Sam said adios.” I shrugged. “Can’t I just be the guy who saves the day because I have the skills and desire to do it? A good Samaritan.”
She studied me a long moment and I swear she read my soul. “I can’t let you—it’s too much, too dangerous.” She worried her bottom lip. “And it’s not the truth, at least not all of it.”
I rubbed my neck and debated how much I had to spill to satisfy her. “You remind me of my sister, and I wish to hell someone had stepped in to save her…when I couldn’t.”
Shit. I hadn’t meant to go that far. The truth tumbled out of my mouth, now I was stuck. I paced across her living room, needing space from my admission.
“You have a sister?” Her quiet question almost unmade me. She’d screwed up the most essential word. I’d had a sister.
“She died, while I was enlisted.” The words scraped across the raw wound that never healed. Laney had been all light and joy, snuffed out with a cruelty no one deserved.
“Oh, Joe, I don’t have words…sorry just doesn’t cut it.” Her haunted tone said she knew about loss. “I’m not your sister, though.”
Oh hell no. I had anything but sisterly thoughts about her. I turned to her, met her sad eyes. “I know you’re not Laney. She was thirteen when some bastard raped her, debased her and left her broken by the side of the road. He killed her after so much pain, torture really. And I was across the ocean protecting jackasses when I needed to project her.” The rage ignited my words and I yelled the last part. Thinking of the injustice of Laney’s death always filled me with rage. The same gnawing anger that had ended up getting me expelled from the military.
“Did they catch her killer?” Her matter-of-fact question centered me.
I jerked my head in a single nod. “Not that it matters, nothing can make up for her loss.” I shoved hands in my pockets. “Not even protecting you… I know that.”
“So…why me?” Of course she wouldn’t be satisfied until she’d probed the black center of my soul, the wound that never healed.
I dug up the last truth that would leave me naked in front of the woman.
“From the moment I met you—you reminded me of Laney. You fight on the side of good—driven, spunky, with real sticking power.”
She opened her mouth and shut it. “I know about grief, and you will never save enough, be enough to make up for not being there.” She shook her head and I think she understood where I was coming from because she’d been there.
“Wouldn’t you like to save someone? I couldn’t save my sister, but I will keep you safe.” I met her gaze, pleading for understanding. “Do you trust me to keep you safe?”
Emotion flickered across her face—sadness, regret and acceptance or maybe resignation. I’d take it. The tight ball in the center of my chest loosened just a bit.
“Okay, yeah.” She blew out a breath. “I understand where you’re coming from, but—”
“I’m protecting you.” I wasn’t letting her back out. “You trust me. Say it. You have to trust me more than the feebs.”
“I don’t know why I trust you. You’re—” she flicked her fingers at my cut “—everything I shouldn’t trust yet I do, but that doesn’t make this right or your problem.”
I closed the distance to her, let one finger caress her cheek. “Even if you go to the FBI or Marshals, I’ll follow, shadow you to make sure you stay safe. I’m committed.” Saving Charlie had become my only mission.
“You think we can make them back down?” A seed of hope was buried in her words.
I placed hands on each side of her face. “I know it. I promise we will because I won’t settle for less.”
“Do you always get what you want?” She hadn’t meant for her question as a flirt but it lit me up.
“I wish.” I drew toward her lush lips. “I always get what I hunt.” Lips touched together soft and tentative, I let her settle into me, exploring, holding back my need to possess her, bring her under my control.
Her tongue slid against mine and my thoughts slipped away. Touch. Taste. Temptation. I fell under her influence. In slow sweeps her kisses intensified, her touch tormented. I needed more.
I inched up the silky skirt on her black dress, stroking her bare thigh. She pressed closer, and I grabbed her ass, letting her know exactly how much I wanted her. I had to taste her, then I’d spend the night exploring her inch by inch, one orgasm building to another until she was mine, until she’d never even think of walking away.
I pulled away from her lips and she nipped, trying to bring me back. “You taste so sweet. I’ve been craving you.” Then I kissed her again, starving for another taste.
She moaned into my lips.
I brushed her pert nipple through the dress, and her hips grinded into me. Delicious. Passionate. I ate up the hunger in her kiss. Stoking our desire until we both burned.
Her hands rubbed my biceps, then trailed down my back until they settled on my ass.
“So fucking sexy.” I kissed down her neck and she bucked when I hit a sensitive spot. So expressive, she was more than I’d even hoped. I needed her naked under me.
I walked her toward the couch, needing to get her naked now.
“My room.” Her breathless words punched me in the gut. My cock, already hard, turned to granite.
I groaned. “Lead the way, darling.”
She gave me a beguiling smile and led me upstairs to her bedroom. The swish of her ass and her musky scent made me lightheaded. I don’t think I needed the extra blood in my cock, but my body was locked and loaded, ready for engagement.
We turned into her room and I swept her up and laid her back sideways across her bed. A breathy giggle escaped her, not a Charlie sound for sure, and that made it perfect.
“Take it off, all off.” I stared down at her, loving the flushed look of pleasure on her face.
“All…” She sat up then stood with her back to me. “Unzip, please.”
I did and her dress fell to the floor. A red scrap of fabric crossed her ass. She faced me and her tits almost spilled out of the crimson bra. “Sexy, darling. Now take it off before I tear it off,” I growled, my control barely there.
The panties and bra dropped on top of the dress. I prowled forward. “Lay back.”
“Make me.” Her blue eyes teased and her body tempted.
I cupped her and sucked in her nipple before trailing lower until I found the spot I’d craved. Tucked in behind a small triangle of blond curls, I nipped her clit, worrying it between my teeth. With a moan, she collapsed back on the bed.
I lifted her legs over my shoulder and tasted her sweetness with long, slow licks. Her hips pumped up with another moan. My girl was a talker. I loved every little naughty thing she did.
Shake Down will be available in digital on December 11. Copies start at $3.99, grab yours here: Amazon | BN | Google Play | iBooks | Kobo. And if more Hump Day excerpts is what you crave (who wouldn’t?), we’ve got you covered.
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