Excerpt for Riding Hard - A Scorching Hot Romance Novel (Falling Fast Book 1) by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

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I've been following her for a month now. She's 35, average height and curvy in all the places a man like me drools for. As a private detective, you're not supposed to fall for your targets. But damn it to hell - I've fallen like a rock in the ocean for Lila Suns.

In the cold, January afternoon, I sit in the driver's seat of a beaten, green Oldsmobile across the street from the rundown motel called Sunset Inn. Out the windows, there's the crowded streets of southern Washington Heights. In this part of New York, everything seems weathered and worn - the dead-eyed people, the cracked buildings, and every single rundown, cheap car parked along the curb. It's the type of neighborhood people live in because they have to, where there's pick-pockets on every corner and hustlers along every crumbling city block.

Again I wonder to myself, what's a woman like Lila doing coming to this crummy old motel every other week? Lila Suns – she’s from North Manhattan, from a high-rise apartment with her millionaire husband Mr. Mark Suns, so what is she doing slumming it here every other week?

And then, I see her. She's the ray of sunlight along this broken, gray strip. Lila Suns, a beauty covered in a gray winter coat and a black sun hat. It'd be easy not to recognize her. She hides behind her thick coat and dark sunglasses, but I know those calves well.

Huh, I think. She has those heels on again. Black pumps, probably the cheapest pair a woman like her owns. And I recognize those dirty blonde locks curling out from under her hat and falling upon her shoulders and back. That's Lila Suns alright, walking up the block towards the Sunset Inn, and just watching her makes my jaw drop every damn time. I stare at her legs, imagine what she looks like in a shorter dress, imagine what she looks like without the dress on, imagine what her voice sounds like... My manhood starts to pitch a fight against my jeans.

Damn it. Down boy! I shift in my seat and look away for a moment. It's been too long since I've felt a woman's touch. There's enough testosterone in my body to fill a tank, and Lila is the kind of woman that makes it boil under my tense muscles.

I look back across the street. Lila stops just before entering the Sunset Inn. She makes a subtle look left, and then right. She looks behind her. Can she feel me watching her? She looks my way.

I duck quick and look forward. "Shit!" I turn back, and I catch her walking into the motel.

My jaw clenches. I get out of the car. This is it. Time to catch her. After all this time, I have to find out what she's doing in this place. Who she meets or what's she hiding.

My breath fogs in the afternoon cold. I smell the rotten smell of the city, carbon monoxide and garbage, as I cross the street. Determined, I go into the Sunset Inn and follow this woman.

Lila walks coolly past the front desk. Straight forward. She doesn't turn her head one way or the other. She walks straight to the other end of this rundown dump of a lobby and turns right for the little stairway. Her calves flex when she takes the first few steps, and then she's out of sight.

I hold back a minute, give her space so she doesn't see me. This motel is old and empty. The little man behind the front desk doesn't look up from the porn magazine he flips through. Ten seconds, and then I head for the stairway.

A prostitute in a short red dress and fishnet stockings comes down the stairway as I approach it. She eyes me and gives me a wink. "Hey buddy. Watcha doing here?"

"Not today, miss," I say in a low tone.

On the stairway, I climb slow and silent. The steps are metal so they won't creak. Two flights up, I catch Lila as she makes a turn onto the third floor. I take two steps at a time to catch up.

At the third floor, I hide behind the corner of the stairway. I peek out and see her go to the end of the hall.

Lila stops before the last door on the right. She turns my way.

I duck behind the corner fast. I wait. Three seconds, I hear a door open and shut. Lila is gone. She's in that last room on the right.

Silent, I rush to the end of the hall. I wait and listen. There's no sound on the other side. I try to turn the doorknob, slowly... locked. I kneel before it and pull out my keys. Attached to the key ring are two lock picks. Luckily, old doorknobs like this are easy to get past. I pick the lock, open the door enough to slip in, and I enter.

I'm silent. My years of marine training taught me how to enter a space undetected. And inside the room, I find it untouched. It's a crummy old room that smells like cheap fabric softener and dust. There's a single bed on one side, an old TV across from it, and beside the bed, there's Lila Suns.

I freeze.

Lila Suns, the wife of a millionaire I've been paid to follow, has a black Colt handgun aimed right at me.


My hands are trembling, palms are clammy, and I can hardly breathe. I've never aimed my gun at any man before, and now I've got one in my line of fire. I'm so shocked I can't even speak.

His eyes meet mine. They're fierce. Dark and fierce, relentless in their gaze. Eyebrows low, jaw clenched, this man holds still as he stares back at me. He makes a move.

I jolt. "Stop!" My finger threatens to squeeze the trigger and end him.

"I'm just raising my hands," he reassures me. "That's all." He raises his palms in the air.

My body shakes. He moves slowly, but he's a threat. A man his size could take me down with no effort, so I keep my gun on him. "Get in and close the door," I demand.

He shuts the door behind him.

"Keep your hands raised!"

He raises his hands.

I point the gun to the bed. "There. Sit down."

He sits down on the edge of the bed. "Lila you don't have to do this."

I flinch. "How do you know my name? Who are you? Who are you with?" I study him.

He's a big man. Dark eyes and dark, wavy hair. They match the color of the heavy scruff along his strong jaw. He wears a thick leather jacket, torn jeans and a black wrist watch. From his build, I know he isn't some average guy off the street. No, this man is meant for physical work, work like catching criminals like me.

"Lila, please put the gun down." His voice is deep. His stare stays on me, right into my eyes. He makes my knees want to buckle. "Lila?"

"Who are you?" I ask again. My hands shake. I keep my distance. "I won't ask a third time."

He waits. He doesn't seem nervous like me. But he's cautious. He slowly stands up from the bed. At his height, he towers over me. He takes a step closer.

"I'll shoot you," I stammer. "I swear I will."

"My name is Rex," he says. "Rex Copper."

Liar, I think. Don't trust anything he says!

He takes another step closer. "Lila, I'll tell you everything you want to know, just put the gun down."

My stomach drops. I tighten my finger around the trigger. He's so close, and I might miss the shot with these trembling hands.

"Lila?" He waits one more second, then pounces! He grabs my wrist and twists it fast. He slings me forward, wraps my arm around my back, slips my gun from my hand and keeps me pinned against his body in a vice grip of muscle.

I open my mouth to scream, but I stop. Don't scream, I think. That'll just bring the cops here.

This animal holds me tight. "I don't want to hurt you," he pants into my ear. "I'm not here to hurt you, Lila. I swear."

"Then let me go!"

He squeezes me. His jacket is rough. His jeans rub against my leg, and his hands are firm and keeping me under his immense power. "If I let you go," he says, "I want you to sit on the bed and don't move or scream. Got it?"

My heart pounds. I catch of whiff of him, animal musk mixed with scents of the city. His breath is hot on my ear and he makes the hair on my skin stick up.


Sit on the bed? Listen to this stranger? I'd almost rather get shot. But he's got the upper hand. Fists clenched, rage boiling, I nod my head. And he lets me go.

I back away from him carefully. His fierce gaze stays on me, gripping my very soul. My eyes dart downward and catch sight of my handgun that's now under his control. He has the power now.

"Lila," he says, "I'm here because your husband hired me."

I freeze. It seems like the whole world stops. My husband? He hired this man? I gulp. "To kill me?"

"No, to follow you. To watch you. He, I shouldn't be telling you this... He suspects you're having an affair."

I can't breathe. I can hardly move. My lips are tight when I speak to him, voice shaking. "Rex, was it?"

He nods.

There's a knock at the door. We're silent. Our heads turn to face it. Then, I look back at him.

"You don't even know half the trouble you fell into..." I look back at the door, and I brace myself because I know what's coming.

The door bursts open and wooden pieces of the doorway fly through the air.

Rex gets in between me and the door in a protective stance.

At the door is the man I almost fear as much as my husband, Leo Shark. He's average height for a man, shorter than rex, with a stocky build and raised shoulders under his heavy black jacket. There's a scowl on his face and a gun in his hand. When he sees Rex, he raises his gun instantly and threatens to fire. "Who da hell are you?"

Rex raises my gun. He stays in between me and Leo. "I could ask you the same question, pal," he growls.

This is it, I think. This is how I die. Unless I think fast enough to get out of this...


What the hell have I gotten into? Who's the dirt bag at the door? What exactly is Lila hiding? My muscles are tense. Grip tight on the handgun, I'm ready to put a bullet through this man. It wouldn't be my first kill. And I'll be damned if anything happens to the woman behind me.

Just as us men squeeze our triggers, Lila speaks up. "Leo, wait!"

"Leo?" I ask.

"Leo, this is Rex," Lila says fast. She takes a step forward. "He's with me."

I get in her way to protect her.

Leo keeps his gun up. "What da hell is he doin’ wichu, Lila? This man a rat?"

"No," she says fast. "No! He's, he's uh..."

I think fast. I gotta talk. I gotta talk and get Lila out of this conversation. "She hired me," I tell him.

"For what?" Leo asks.

"The run," Lila says fast. "I hired him for the run tonight. I wanted protection."

I can see Leo sweating and trembling. He's not a killer. That's easy to see. A run? A night run? It suddenly makes sense. Lila is a mule, and this man, he probably has what she's delivering.

"You got the stuff?" I ask Leo.

Leo's lips curl into a nervous, angry snarl. "Lila? Is this man cool?"

Lila steps aside, out of the range of fire. I catch her eye. She looks at me, hazel brown eyes on fire with fear and the rush for survival. "Yes," she answers. "Leo, you can put your gun down. He's fine."

Leo holds his aim moments longer, and then he lowers his weapon and sighs. He wipes nervous sweat from his forehead. "Alright. If you try anything, buddy, I'll put a bullet in ya." He digs into his jacket and retrieves a pound-heavy bag of white cocaine. He tosses it onto the bed. He speaks to Lila. "Boss wants it there by midnight, Lila. Better not waste time." He glares at me. "Don't screw this up, buddy." He backs out of the room, and then his footsteps echo down the hall as he makes his getaway.

In silence, I turn and face Lila. "So, this is what you've gotten yourself into, drug dealing."

Lila's eyes are ablaze. "There's no time for explanations." She snatches up the bag of coke and tries to stuff it into her coat. "You heard that scum bag. I've got till midnight to get these drugs to the drop off point."

I grab the bag away from her. "I'm going with you."

"No, you're not." She pulls away from me.

I grab her arm and pull her to me. I catch the scent of her perfume. It's intoxicating. Her lips quiver, and every instinct in me to protect is ignited all for her. "I'm going with you, Lila Suns. Whatever kind of trouble you've gotten into, you need help. And I refuse to let you do this alone."

She hesitates. She's terrified. She seems like she might crumble into my arms any second. She takes a deep breath, and she looks me in the eyes. "Alright. Let's go."



This beast of a man, Rex, keeps my gun as he leads me out of the crummy, cracked walls of the Sunset Inn. Past the hookers, past the other dealers, Rex protects me all the way across the street where he opens the passenger door to an Oldsmobile and tells me in his deep voice, "Get in."

I don't have a choice. Everything is moving so fast. I get into his car. My mind races. My hands tremble. I watch him get into the driver's seat. He takes out the bag of coke he hid in his jacket. He puts it under his seat and starts the car. "Where's your drop off point?"

I can hardly think straight.

"Lila?" He puts the Oldsmobile in drive and floors it on. We race onto the street in front of honking cars and screaming pedestrians. "Where's the drop off point?"

My eyes dart left and right. My head feels foggy. "Up, upstate. An old warehouse in Croatian."

"Croatian," he says. His brows lower. He turns left and speeds away from the neighborhood, heading for a garage at the end of 47th street. "That's a drive. You're right. There's no time to waste."

"Where are we going?" I ask.

"You'll see."

Who is this man, I think. I look him over. He's strong. He's serious. But I don't know if I can really trust him. He has my gun, though, and I don't have a choice.

Rex drives us into the parking garage. He swerves left and right, two levels down until we reach a half empty parking level where he drives to the very back. He parks. He walks to a covered car against the concrete wall and yanks off the blue cover. Underneath is a sleek, black Thunderbird made for scorching pavement.

"Get out," Rex says to me.

I follow him to the Thunderbird, but I'm afraid. "Who are you?"

He throws the cocaine into the trunk of the Thunderbird. He comes back to me, gun in his hand. "Lila, I told you. Rex Copper."

"Why are you doing this?" I keep my distance from him. "You can get away. Right now and leave me on my own. So, why are you helping me?"

His eyes meet mine. His gaze makes me want to crumble. "It's hard to explain," he answers. He hands me the gun. "You can have this, if it'll help you to trust me, Lila."

I hesitate, but I take the gun from him. My hand trembles.

"Lila, I know you're afraid. Your husband hired me to follow you. But now, I'm gonna protect you. I'll do anything to keep you safe. Now, we're already burning time. Are you with me or not?" He extends his hand, palm up.

Terrified, something tells me he's the only man I can trust right now. I take his hand. "Okay."

In the Thunderbird, the tires screech as we peel out of the garage and race onto the city streets. There's five hours now until midnight. And if we don't get to the drop off point, there's no telling what will happen to me.

A million questions race through my head. "Are you a detective?" I ask Rex.

"Yeah." His hands are tight on the steering wheel. His focus is relentless.

"A detective who can afford a Thunderbird, interesting." I keep the gun in my hand. I take darting glances at Rex, noticing how handsome he is behind his intimidating presence. "What do you know about me, Rex Copper?"

He looks my way. He grips the steering wheel a little tighter. "What do you mean?"

"You know what I mean. You've obviously been following me a while. What all do you think you know about me?"

His nostrils flare. He's intense. "You're Lila Suns. Wife of Mark Suns, a millionaire who made his money off stocks and screwing other people out of their money."

"Nothing the papers and tabloids don't already report." I lean towards him. "Tell me something no one else knows."

He meets my gaze. He shifts in his seat and tugs at his shirt like he's getting hotter. "Every Tuesday you visit a little coffee shop in Manhattan and order a latte. You sit in the back, where no one can watch you write in a journal."

My lips tighten. He really does know things about me.

Rex continues. "Some nights, you jog around the city, five blocks from your apartment building. And you always stop at the top of this block where you can see the Hudson River. And you look out at it like..."

I gulp, nervous about asking. "Like what?"

"Like you wanna escape to it." He glances at me. "You grew up in Manhattan. You're an only child. Your parents, they died ten years ago and left you with all their bankruptcy debt. And that's where Mark Suns came in. You married richer than you ever imagined, but it never took that look out of your eyes."

I tense up. Sure, Rex Copper is intriguing and handsome, but suddenly I feel invaded. "What look..."

His jaw clenches. He looks me in the eyes, and he doesn't say a word.

"Rex," I say as I lean a little closer. "What look?"

"Emptiness," he answers. "You're empty. And you're unhappy. I know that feeling. Because..." He looks at me again. He takes a right turn and floors the pedal as we head into south Manhattan. "Because I feel it, too."

Something about him strikes a nerve within me. He's too personal. Too straight forward. "You don't know a damn thing about me, Rex Copper!" I lean away from him. I throw my hand up. "Not one damn-"

"Hey!" He reaches across me and lays his arm over my body. It's heavy and strong and pins me to the seat. "You can't move so fast and careless like that if you're gonna hold that gun."

"Get your arm off me!"

"Not until you put the safety on that gun!"

My skin feels hot with rage. "How?"

His lips curl into an infuriating grin. "You don't know how to put the safety on your own gun?"

"Are you going to tell me or not, you ass?"

He laughs under his breath. “That switch right there near the back of the handle, lock it.”

I set the gun in between my seat and the door. It's quiet. Rex and I look at one another. I glare at him. There's something about him now that makes my blood boil.

He leans forward and keeps one hand on the wheel as he takes off his jacket. "It's hot in here." He tosses it in the backseat, and he's left with a plain black shirt that hugs the curves of his rugged muscles. He catches me staring and flashes me a sly smirk. "See something you like, Mrs. Suns?"

I dart my gaze. "Of course not. You're not even my type."

"You mean rich?"

I flash him a stern glare. "Shut up, Detective." It's too hot for my coat, so I strip it off of me and toss it into the backseat with his. "Alright, mister man. Obviously you know quite a bit about me, and now it's time for me to find more out about you."


My manhood twitches in excitement when my eyes lay on the bare skin Lila shows. She's down to a tight little black dress that hugs her curves. Damn, I'm jealous I'm not that dress on her body.

Lila catches me staring at her bare thighs. "Excuse me, Detective?"

I look up to meet her gaze. "What do you wanna know?"

"Everything that I don't know." She drums her fingers on her knee. "What does my husband know about me? Does he know I'm running drugs?"

"No. He thinks you're having an affair."

"And you? Are you going to tell him?" She flashes me a stern look of her hazel eyes. It's intense and seductive, the stare of a dangerous woman, the sexiest type of woman. "I'll pay you to keep your mouth shut, Detective."

"Let's just get to the drop off point, Lila, then we'll worry about what to do after."

She looks forward. Quiet, nervous. The sharp breaths she takes makes her breasts rise and fall. I steal a glance at the cleavage shown at the top of her dress. She catches me. I look away and shift in my seat as my body starts to ache to have her.

"You still haven't answered why," she says. "Why are you doing this?"

I look her in the eyes. "Trust me, Lila Suns. It would only scare you if I told you."


Outside Manhattan, I drive the Thunderbird onto the highway and zoom past cars like they're standing still. Lila holds on tight to her seat, but I can see the thrill in her eyes. "You're going so fast," she gasps with a deep breath.

"Do you want me to slow down?" I ask.

She shakes her head. "Hell no."

Croatian, a little village town quaint with shops and bed-and-breakfasts, is an hour north of Manhattan. I wind along the back roads into the deep woods until we arrive just outside the town. I pull over at a rest stop, and the headlights if the Thunderbird rest on a highway sign that reads: WELCOME TO CROATIAN.

"Where are you supposed to drop the coke?" I ask Lila.

She straightens up. Her body is tense, arms pulled in, and she looks around nervously. "Kensington Park. It's another twenty minutes just outside this town." She looks at me. "Rex, if they see you with me, they're going to get suspicious."

I look into her eyes. Those hazel eyes of hers could break my soul. I don't think. I act. I take her hand, hold it firm and gently. "Lila, I'm not backing out now. I'm with you until this is over."

Her hand feels warm on me. She breathes faster. She looks at our hands. She trembles.

Ten minutes later, I drive us along the winding roads into the isolated woods. Closer and closer, we reach Kensington Park. Lila's fear becomes more visible. Her legs shake. She can't sit still, and her hand rests uneasy on her handgun she hides next to her seat.

"Why did you do it?" I ask her. "Why did you get involved with drug dealers?"

She looks out the window. "You were right about me, Detective. I'm empty. Miserable. And there's things about my husband that no one else knows. How much of a monster he is. I have to get out. Out of that house, out of this country. So, every penny I make from this I'm saving, and one day I'll leave him and start all over." She looks at me, water in her eyes. "One day."

Just before the dark woods of Kensington Park, I park and kill the engine. It's near pitch black out in these woods at night. And it's almost midnight.

I take Lila's hand. "Are you ready?"

She pulls her hand away. "Let's get it over with."


I put on my coat and face the cold air of Kensington Park. Rex follows behind me. Our shoes crunch across the ground as we trek into the deep, dark woods. It smells of pine and dirt. I hold tight to my gun and the bag of drugs I'm so desperate to get rid of.

Even though I can't completely trust Rex Copper, I feel better knowing he's behind me. I know he'll protect me if I need it. And something tells me I just may.

"You can stop right there, missy," calls a raspy voice from beyond the trees.

Rex jumps in front of me and blocks me with his body. He raises his gun, two hands on it, ready to shoot.

"And who's this?" The owner of the raspy voice steps out from the trees. He's Cutthroat, one of the drug lord’s henchman. He's a short, balding scumbag with a tattoo on his neck and one gold tooth. "Boys, come on out. Looks like we've got a party."

Two other men emerge from the trees. They're big men, tall with shaved heads, in baggy jeans and heavy jackets. All three have guns. All three look ready to attack.

"Cutthroat, what is this?" I ask. "It's just supposed to be you and me like always."

"Cutthroat?" Rex whispers. "Ridiculous."

"Things change, darling." Cutthroat steps forward. "We're under new management now. And the new boss, well, he had a little request for how to handle all our old mules."

Rex flexes, making himself bigger. He raises his gun at Cutthroat.

Cutthroat flashes a wicked smile. He knows he doesn't have to raise his gun. His two goons raise their weapons at Rex.

"Rex, what are you doing?" I whisper.

"These men aren't here to just hand the drugs to, Lila," he says to me. "They were going to kill you."

My blood runs cold. I look around Rex at Cutthroat. "Is that true?"

Cutthroat smiles. "Sorry, darling. Business is business. It's nothing personal. The only question is..." His evil eyes land on Rex. "Who the hell are you?"

"Her bodyguard," Rex answers in a deep voice. "And you aren't getting anywhere near her."

Cutthroat snaps his fingers. "Enough games. Boys?"

The henchman take two steps towards us. They're going to grab me.

"Rex!" I yell instinctively. I raise my gun at them.

The henchman freeze.

"Rex, what do we do?" I whisper. If I shoot the henchman, Cutthroat will shoot Rex. If Rex shoots Cutthroat, the henchmen will shoot me. "Rex?"

Rex waits a moment longer. "Lila, get ready..."

I gulp, and my stomach drops. "For what?"

"This!" Rex spins around. With one arm, he wraps around me and pulls me down. We duck.

The henchmen fire, but they shoot Cutthroat instead. Cutthroat screams, and then he gargles on his own blood as he hits the ground.

Rex spins me around while we're still knelt. "Lila!" he yells. He aims his gun behind me at the henchmen.

They fire two shots. He fires at their legs. He shoots them both. He takes them down. He leaves them crying out in pain.

I breathe fast. Mind racing. Everything seems like a blur. I realize I'm on the ground. My hands are on the rough, cold dirt and snow.


I can't move.

"Lila? Did they get you?"

I shake my head. "I'm fine. I’m not hit."

Rex storms to the henchmen before they have a chance to get their weapons. He kicks their guns away. He aims at their faces. "Who's the new management?"

They're too scared to answer.

I look to my left and see Cutthroat’s dead body on the ground. My stomach churns. "Dear God," I whimper. What have I done?

"What's his name?" Rex demands.

"Screw you," they hiss back at him. They cough and pant, unable to get up on their shot legs. "We'll never tell. And back up is coming."

"Fine," Rex growls. "Have it your way." He cocks his gun. He's going to kill them.

"Rex, stop!" I jump up.

Rex freezes. He turns his head to me. "Lila, stay out of this."

"Don't do this," I demand. I tremble, but I stand my ground.

His shoulders raise. From the side of his face I see his scowl. He hates these men just as much as I do, only I can't let him shed more blood.

"These men will hunt us down," he yells at me. "Lila, just look away!" He steadies his gun again.

I leap forward and put my hand on his forearm. "No! Don't shoot them."

He shoves me off him. "Lila!" He roars as he spins around to face me. Eyes filled with fury, muscles flexed and teeth bared, he's a beast. An angry, vicious beast.

But I hold my ground and keep my stare back into his dark eyes. In the moonlight, he meets my gaze, and in the moonlight his shoulders drop and the fury fades from his eyes. He lowers his gun. Head down, eyes on me, he lets out a deep breath. "Alright, but we can't leave them like this."

Five minutes later, the two henchmen are tied to a tree by a rope from the trunk of the Thunderbird. They're gagged and helpless. Rex took their guns, took out the bullets and threw them where the rope had been. Rex tries to take my hand. "Come on, Lila. We gotta get out of here."

I yank away from him. "Don't touch me."

He sighs. He points towards the woods. "Do you hear that?"

I listen carefully. Through the soft winter breeze, I hear engines, car engines in the distance that approach fast.

"That's back-up for these scumbags," Rex says. "We gotta get out, because unlike you these guys won't hesitate to kill."

I fold my arms. "I don't like your attitude, Detective."

Rex grunts in frustration. "Lila, do you wanna live or not?" He walks to the Thunderbird. "I'm leaving. Unless you'd like to stay and explain why you're still alive, I suggest you get in my car."

Glaring at him, I get inside and slam the door shut.

Rex jumps in. The thunderbird revs as he drives onto the backroads away from Kensington Park. Out my window, I can see three black cars winding through the trees to the spot we just left. Rex was right. We would've been outnumbered.

"So," I ask, "Where do we go now?"

Rex looks forward with a stern gaze. "I'm taking you somewhere safe."

I stare at him. Rex Copper is impossible to figure out. What kind of man has a gun and rope in his car? What kind of man drives a car like this? Rex. Rex Copper is that kind of man. He's just saved my life, and I can't deny my attraction for him. That strong gaze, his protective strength and build, my heart beats faster for him.

My skin is warm. As my heart pounds, it sends the rush of hot adrenaline coursing through my veins. I feel it my hands, in my thighs, all the way up and in between my legs. My body craves him as this rush of danger pulses through me. Body trembling, I hold onto my seat and get ready for the fast ride ahead.



Foot on the pedal, I race the Thunderbird south to the city. Lila Suns sits next to me, her legs crossed towards me. My blood pumps like a raging river, through every vein, sending testosterone and adrenaline pumping through my body like a drug. All for her. All for Lila. I'll do anything to protect her.

"Who are you?" she demands of me. "What kind of detective is able to take down three armed men? What kind of detective drives this kind of car? Who are you?"

I grit my teeth. She deserves an answer. "I used to be a marine," I tell her. "Let's just say things didn't work out." I take a hard left onto the highway. Far in the distance we can see the lights of the city. "After I left the corps, I needed some extra income. Detective work is easy if you know the right people." I look her way. "And your husband is one of them. But now I wanna know something. How the hell did you think you could survive in a world like this? With drug dealers and murderers?"

Her eyes sear me. She's furious, scared, or both. "His name was Carter," she answers. "And he seemed, so nice. A gentleman in a grey suit. He met me one day, at that coffee shop you've seen me at. He was the one who offered me the job."

I zoom past traffic on the highway, hands tight on the wheel, ears glued to what Lila says.

"It was easy at first," she says. "I just met one of his dealers at the Sunset Inn and took it wherever the drop off point was. It never felt dangerous. But I bought a gun just in case." She holds her Colt in her lap, right on her bare thighs. "And then, Emilio said tonight would be the last drop off for me. I have enough money saved up, so this was it. I would never deliver drugs for him again. I just didn't think he would be killed. And I never thought they would try and kill me."

I sigh heavy. Lila is a dangerously beautiful woman, but she's made some even more dangerous choices. "Damn it, Lila," I groan.

"Don't act like I dragged you into this." She glares at me. "I told you that you could walk away. I told you I don't need you."

"I know you did."

She pauses. "Then why did you? Why are you still helping me, Rex Copper?"

Because you're mine, I think. Because everything about you makes me feel alive like I've never felt before. Because you're a fucking drug to me, Lila Suns.

I look over her bare legs. I peek at the cleavage I can see through her open coat. My racing pulse and my desire combine to swell my cock into an erection I can't have right now. I can smell her. My hands crave to feel her flesh. I look away. I can't have her. Not right now.

"I told you," I growl. "It would only scare you."

Back in the city, I drive through the crowded streets like a mad man. Lila holds tight, and her body is stiff as she watches the buildings and cars and people fly by. And I watch her. She gets this look in her eyes, the flash of lust, lust for danger.

She's a dangerous woman, I think. My kind of woman.

"Where are we going?" she asks.

"Call your husband," I order. "Tell him you're not coming home tonight. Make up something. Lie and say you're with a friend."

"Just take me home," she fights.

I shake my head. "Not a chance. If these men are after you, they'll go to your house. I'm taking you somewhere safe."

She raises one eyebrow. "And where's that?"

I look her way. "My apartment."


My apartment is in South Manhattan, on the 4th floor of a little building on the corner of Lexington and Tenth Street. It's a studio apartment, one giant and empty space I've had for almost six years.

Lila scans the apartment, studying it with caution. I can see the suspicion in her gaze. "So, this is where a private detective lives?"

"This is where a detective like me lives." I make sure all windows are down and locked. I shut the blinds. I deadbolt the door. My gun is loaded. I'm ready to kill to protect Lila if I have to.

Lila watches me. There's a lot of distrust in those hazel eyes. It's easy to see that. And I can't blame her. Her lips quiver a little. Her hands tremble. She's probably never been in this much danger in all her 35 years.

I approach her. "Lila?"

She backs away from me. "I lied to my husband. Told him I was staying with a friend on the other side of the city. I lied to him. And now, now I don't know. I've never lied to him. Not straight to his face." Her chest swells with a deep, nervous breath.

I take another step towards her. "Lila, there's nothing I won't do to keep you safe. Do you trust me?"

She pauses. She looks me in the eye. She nods. "I do. I trust you, Rex."

We stand close to one another. Hearts pounding, bodies aching, it's all I can do to fight the temptation to grab her and take her. I pull away. "Every door and window is locked," I tell her. "Make yourself at home. I'm gonna hit the shower."

I undress and step under steaming hot water in my shower. It feels good on my skin, on my muscles to ease the tension. I stand under the water, head down, imagining Lila over and over again. I'm not lying when I say I'll kill for her. She doesn't know it, but she's the closest thing to love I've ever known. And there's no way in hell I'm losing that.


While I hear the shower running near the back of the apartment, I take off my coat and try to relax. Rex has a bottle of wine in his kitchen cabinet. Already opened, I pour from it and have myself a drink.

What have I done, I think. What kind of trouble have I gotten into? What kind of man have I ended up with?

This isn't so bad, I think. At least I have Rex. He makes me feel safer. When he says he'll do anything to protect me, I believe him. I think I know men well enough to know when they're lying. And Rex isn't. He really cares about me. And that is terrifying.

The shower stops running. I turn and see Rex emerging from the bathroom, dressed only in a little towel that barely wraps around his taut, muscular waist. He raises one eyebrow to me. "I see you broke into the wine."

It's a little hard to focus. The steaming water is still dripping from Rex’s muscles. He glistens like a shining wall of strong man, teasing me. It makes me wonder just what other weapons he might be hiding under that towel...

"Lila?" he asks. His voice is deep, controlling, yet gentle. "Are you alright?"

I turn from him. "Of course I'm not alright!" My heart racing, stomach fluttering, my arousal turns to anger. "I'm trapped here. With you! A man I barely know!" My hands start to shake. My voice trembles. "And you still won't even tell me why. You won't even tell me why you're helping me, Rex Copper!"

Rex sighs. He keeps his distance. "I told you, Lila, you can trust me."

"Not completely." I fold my arms and face him. "I can't trust you completely until you tell me the truth. Why are you doing this?"

His resistance is clear in his gaze. Head low, eyes on me, his shoulders raise in defense. He lets out a deep breath though flared nostrils and gives into me. "Because, Lila, I think I love you."

My body flinches. Did I really just hear him say what I think he said?

"I told you," he says. "You're gonna be scared if I tell you the truth. But that's the truth. I know, it's crazy. I only really just met you today, but I feel like I've known you a lifetime. The way you smile. The way you talk. That look in your eyes. I know it sounds ridiculous, Lila. Trust me, I'm afraid of the way I feel, too. But I can't help it." He gets closer to me, towering over me.

All that power and strength is going to make me crumble.

"I want you, bad." His voice lowers. It's soft and dripping with longing. "That's why I'm with you right now. That's why I'm not going anywhere. Because you're mine. And being this close to you..." He's so close I can almost feel the heat radiating from his naked body. His eyes wander up and down my body, and when his gaze meets mine, I see a hunger and desire in them. It's a hunger and desire that awakens my own yearnings. "Being this close to you, Lila, makes it hard for me to resist putting my hands on you."

My body shivers. I don't what I feel more, hatred or hot desire. I slap his chest. "Damn you, Detective! You can’t have me. It's not fair. You've had months to watch me, gather information on me, and me? I've only known you half a day." My heart races. I lick my lips, and my eyes wander at their own will, over his lips and jaw, over his shoulders and massive and muscular chest. I look at his stomach. There's a trail of body hair leading from his belly button and underneath the towel like a teasing line of temptation. And under his towel, I can see the tent he's pitching against the weak fabric. My knees are going to buckle. My head rushes.

"I know it's not fair," he tells me. He gets closer.

"Then stay away from me," my lips say. But my body? My legs won't even take one step back. I want him just as bad as he wants me. This man I still yet to know fully... I crave him. He's adrenaline. He's the rush of the fight for survival. He's power and he's protection. "Rex, stay, stay..."

He takes another step closer, his eyes looking straight into mine with a fierce wanting. His towel isn't going to hold back much longer against his growing desire. He's close enough to...

I grab him. I grab this beautiful bastard and pull him closer. He grunts and then breathes deep. We freeze in a hot, tense moment. Who's giving in first? He does.

Rex pulls me to him, tilts his head and crashes his lips onto mine.

His kiss is still and controlling. It's powerful. I almost collapse from the rush in my head, but Rex holds me to his body. He holds me, saves me from falling. He pulls back. Our eyes meet in a shared fear of falling for one another, but there's no going back for him. He kisses me again, harder, breathing faster like he's been waiting a lifetime to touch me. And then, his towel drops.

I put my hands on his arms. It all happens so fast. My head spins, but I love it. I squeeze his arms. My nails dig into his flesh. Arousal and the rush of it all overcome me. Next thing I know, I'm raking my fingers through the back of his hair along his neck. I'm kissing him back like a mad woman, panting and shaking and quivering with every smooth slide of his lips on mine. It's too hot for this dress. I reach one hand back to unzip it.

Rex grabs the zipper behind me. At the same time he pulls down the zipper of my dress, he gently bites on my bottom lip. The dress is loose. We let it drop down my body and to my ankles. Rex holds my hand as I step put of it. Now, I'm undressed to lingerie and heels. Rex is pleased. I can see the glint in his eye, and I notice his engorged sex twitching like it's cheering for my naked body.

Rex pulls me back to him. He puts my hands on his chest. He puts his hands on my waist. We kiss. He parts my lips with his and slips his tongue over mine. His tongue massages mine. It's dominant like the rest of him. His hands reach lower and he squeezes my buttocks. Gentle at first, then harder and firmer as his animal lust goes beyond his control.

I gasp. I claw. My cheeks flush. My legs ache, the heat in between them growing strong and aching. It's longing and wanting. I'm wet for his touch.

He throws me onto his bed, and I surrender gladly. I bite my lip and watch him throw my heels to the floor. He kneels on the bed before me. His hands take my legs. They run up my calves and to my thighs, firm and strong. His lips and tongue follow after. He kisses my thighs, tastes them, while his hand caresses my calf and massages me.

My breath quickens. My skin tingles.

His fingers slide under the lace of my panties. He can't tease himself, so he slides them downward.

I raise my hips and let him take them off me. I'm exposed to him. Aching, dripping I am his for the taking. I can hardly breathe now. Hardly think. All I do is feel.

He licks up my thigh. He squeezes me flesh. He grunts, and his eyes close. He presses his lips closer and closer, until they press against me.

My fingers curl into the sheets of his king sized bed, and my head tosses back.

His lips are warm and firm. He kisses my slit. My clit is swollen for him. He wraps his lips around it and kisses. It sends tingles through my whole body and makes me quiver. I feel his tongue, just the tip, trace along my sex. He tastes me, and he groans with pleasure. I can feel his hot breath on my body.

My back arches. It's seconds, no minutes of his giving me pleasure. There is no time anymore. I'm lost in the things he's doing to my body. I whimper. He licks. I whimper louder. He sucks on my lips and probes me with his strong tongue. I moan. My eyes roll back. He puts his hands on my thighs and keeps my legs spread. His mouth takes hold of me, controlling me, sending me spiraling into a writhing frenzy. I get louder and louder. I've never felt this kind of abandon. I can't hold back.

His tongue moves faster. He gives me little flicks at my most sensitive spots. I can hardly stand it at first, but then it all feels electric. A drug. His talent with his lips and tongue are a drug shooting into me. My legs quiver. I cry out. My back arches. Everything tightens.

He groans with satisfaction and gives me what I need, hard and fast with the flick of his tongue and massage of his lips.

My body ignites into orgasm that makes me scream. It's an earthquake on his bed, and I'm the crumbling city. Head spinning, eyes rolling, body twitching and voice stifled by the power of release, my body seizes for nearly a minute as he services me through pleasure. When it's done, I breathe again, fast and heavy. I'm sweating. My fingers could tear through his bed sheets. He kisses my sex. He arises and crawls on top of me.

He licks the taste of me from his lips. His eyes are on mine. His body overpowers me. The head of his manhood teases us both at the entrance of my slit. He's throbbing, aching. His lips snarl, and his eyes flash his animal desires. He smells of musk from the beads of sweat forming along his skin and in the ridges of his swollen muscles.

I grab him and draw to me. My fingers rake along his chest, feeling his fine dark hairs. His head rests on mine. Our lips are open, and our bodies are ready. He pushes into me.

We flinch as the sensation takes hold.

He goes in another inch. His thickness stretches me. My face scrunches and my toes curl. More. I want more of him! I grab him by his hips and pull.

Gritting his teeth, he plunges deeper into me. He throbs. He pulses. He's holding back. "Fuck," be whispers hoarsely, "Lila, you're gonna make me..."

I kiss him. My eyes close. "I don't care! Just do it, Rex."

He pulls out to the head, and he thrusts back in. He thrusts. He thrusts again. Hard. Deep. Faster and faster with every intense motion. He grunts. His grunts turn to panting. Again and again. Until the bed rocks.

My legs squeeze around him. I moan louder and louder. My body writhes under him, but he keeps me locked under his control, in and out, and in and out, with hot aggression like my body gives him life. "Yes!" I cry out. "Yes!" I yell louder. I hold onto him as he fucks me into another orgasm. He thrusts as I squeeze, and I feel every rock hard inch as I drench him in my juices.

He can't hold back. He grabs my hand and pins it to the mattress. His fingers curl in between mine. His lips on my neck, he thrusts deep, then again and again. He jolts and groans out loud with an animal roar. He explodes inside me, pulsing, throbbing. His body sweats and shakes out if his control. He collapses, barely keeping his massive weight off me. He kisses my neck. He pants. He holds my face and kisses my lips. "I love you Lila Suns," he whispers, eyes closed, heart pounding so hard I can feel it against my chest.

I close my eyes. I want to tell him I love him, but I can't. I don't even fully trust him. I can't trust anyone. Rex Copper is a rush, a thrill like a drug. But is he a man I love? Or is he just a man I need for now?



The next morning, I wake up naked with a smile on my face. Lila Suns fell asleep in my arms last night. A woman like her, perfect in every way, fell asleep in the arms of a guy like me. I roll over to see if she's still asleep next to me, only she's gone. The other half of my bed is empty.

I sit up.

Lila is gone. The deadbolt on the front door is unlocked. Her clothes and purse are missing.

"Shit!" I jump out of bed and get dressed. There's only one place I can think of where she's ran to.


My Thunderbird peels across the pavement as I speed through the city. It's a half-hour ride through the crowds and traffic to the other side of Manhattan where Lila's husband, and my boss, lives. They live in a high-rise at the top of Snopes Tower, overlooking Manhattan like a king and queen. Access is restricted, but since I work for Mark Suns I know all the codes to get into the building and take the elevator up to the top floor. Outside Mark’s front door, I press the buzzer and wait for the voice of his assistant like always.

"Mr. Copper," says the slimy voice of his assistant, James. "We aren't expecting you this morning."

"James, just let me in you prick," I growl. "I've got something important to tell Mr. Suns." I hesitate, but I know what to say to get inside. "It's about his wife."

There's silence, and then I hear the door lock ring as it unlocks. I go in fast. I don't know why, but the first person I expect to see is Lila. She's the only person I want to see, but instead...

Mark Suns stands in front of me. He's at the window of his high-rise, gazing out at the city and the sun as it rises above the skyscrapers. He matches his apartment in that everything about both reeks of money. The apartment is furnished with white couches and tables imported from Europe. Mark Suns wears a grey suit from Italy. On his fingers are golden rings. His grey hair is slicked back, and he's clean shaven because he has James do it for him every morning.

James stands near me. He wears all black. He's a scrawny, lanky man with a hooked nose and thin hair. He scowls at me, but then again he's never liked me.

Mark turns around to me, and my stomach drops. His eyes narrow. He strokes his chin as he paces his living room towards me. "Rex Copper. I wasn't expecting you, Detective. Tell me, what exactly is it about my wife that you want to tell me so badly?"

"She uh, she..." I draw a blank. I could tell him that I slept with his wife last night. Or I could say she's working with drug dealers that want her dead now. Maybe Mark Suns could help, but something seems different about him. Something I can’t trust. "I know where she's been going," I blurt out.

Mark studies me, and then be laughs. "Detective, I'm sure my wife goes a lot of places. You'll have to be a little more specific."

I'm about to lie again, say anything to save Lila.

But Mark holds up his hand in a motion to silence me. "Save your breath Detective. I already know where my wife has been going."

"You do?"

Mark nods. "She called last night, said she was staying with a friend of hers, Ingred Goldstein. I happened to call the house of Ingred Goldstein. Her husband is a good friend of mine, or should I say, was." Mark turns to the window. "You see, Ingred wasn't there last night. She's in Chicago with her suck mother. But you know who was?"

I sigh. "Her husband."

"That's right. So you see, Detective, mystery solved." He says his finger at me. "Come here. Let me show you something."

I join Mark at the window. Outside, I see the heated pool he keeps. The sun shines down on the water, and it ripples and glistens. And swimming along the surface in a tight, red swimsuit, is his wife, Lila Suns. My heart beats faster to watch her.

"She's beautiful isn't she?" Mark asks.

I know better than to answer.

"She came home this morning, acting as if nothing had happened last night. But she has no idea I already know her dirty little secret."

I grit my teeth. "Sounds like you don't need a detective anymore then."

"No, I don't." He looks at me, an evil in his eyes. "But I still need you, Rex. You see, I'm not the kind of man a woman can cheat on and get away with it. I'm the kind of man who will make her pay. So, until that time comes, what I need now is a man to keep an eye on her and make sure she doesn't get out of my reach. Can you do that, Rex?"

My fists clench. This bastard wants me to help him control her, so he can punish her. I would die before I hurt Lila, but if I leave her, only God knows what will become of her. I nod my head. "Yes sir."

Mark flashes me a wicked smile. He pats my shoulder. "Good man."

Out the window, we see Lila emerge from the pool. Water drips off her. She wraps a towel around her body and walks towards the door.

"Just look at her," Mark says. "You're looking at a dead woman walking, my man."

My jaw clenches. Rage boils within me. But I hold back. If I attack now, Lila could get hurt.

Lila enters the apartment. She freezes when she sees me, only a moment. And then she plays it cool. "Who is this?"

"This my dear," Mark says. He puts his arm around my shoulder and introduces me. "This is Rex Copper. Your new bodyguard."

Lila and I lock eyes. We can see the tension igniting between us. But we keep quiet.

"I'm going to shower." Lila takes a last look at me before ascending the stairs to her bedroom.

Mark lowers his voice. "Rex, James and I are leaving now for a business meeting. I don't trust this wife of mine. So, if she tries to leave, don't let her. Do whatever you have to, but don't let her get away." He gets closer. "And if she does, I will destroy you. Understand?"

I nod. "Yes sir."

Mark and James leave me alone with Lila. I hear the shower running upstairs. I make sure everything is locked. I go up to the second floor. I creep into the bedroom, go to the bathroom and stop in the doorway.

Lila is under the hot water in her shower. There's no doors, just an open space leading to a dark colored, tiled nook where shower water falls from the ceiling. It splashed over Lila's naked body. Damn it, watching her sets my blood to pumping and hands to wanting. I can't look away if there was a gun to my head. She's perfect. My eyes follow along the curves of her body while she rinses her hair. Arms stretched, her back arches, showing me the sides of her breasts and making my pulse rage to my manhood.

Heart on fire, I approach. "Why did you come back here?"

She jumps and spins around. She covers herself, until she sees its me. Then, her arms drop and she lets out a sigh of relief. "Rex, what are you doing here?"

I stand just before the shower. Little drops bounce off the tile and onto my jeans. "Lila, why did you come back here? It's dangerous. Do you realize you could've gotten yourself killed?"

"I did what I had to do, Rex." She keeps her distance. She glares at me through the steam of the shower. "And I'll do what I have to do to get out of this. To be free. From Mark. From all of it. And I don't need you to hold me back."

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