An angry biker at a crossroads. A woman in search of a fresh start.
Lisa Wenhold’s business partner stole everything. Her dreams of opening her own business are ripped away when she learns the debt he owes to a local motorcycle club now falls to her. With her brother being a member of a rival club, going to him would start a war between the two MCs. She thinks she has a solution, until a sexy biker with a surly disposition saunters into her life…
Rage has never met a woman as feisty, proud, and determined as Lisa. Nor has he ever fought this hard against such a fierce attraction. Even so, resistance is crucial considering she’s the sister to one of his biker brothers. He’s instructed to protect her, and he’ll honor his word. But things are getting harder by the day...
Falling into bed together is unexpected, in the best way imaginable.
Falling for one another absolutely cannot happen.
That’s doable, right?
Not a chance.
Release date: October 27, 2022
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Deep down, I loved Mondays. Especially now that I was making my dream come true. For years, I’d been dreaming of launching my own furniture company. I’d moved to Jacksonville a few weeks ago to get settled. Today was the day I would set up my workshop. Excitement bubbled inside me like a shaken bottle of champagne.
I pulled into a cramped parking spot behind my retail space, lost in the bubble of my own world.
For once, I didn’t mind that my business partner, Scott Clouse, had insisted we only enter through the back door since the front wasn’t ready for customers and it would be more secure. It was time to bring in the power tools so we could design and assemble pieces.
I unlocked the back door, but it didn’t open easily. A weight kept me from pushing inside. I heard a deep groan. It took some effort, but I shoved until I could squeeze through the door frame.
Then I fought against the bile rising in my throat.
Scott lay motionless on his side bloodied and bruised.
What on earth?
As the door slid closed, I noticed the streak of blood on the concrete floor.
“Oh my God, Scott! What happened?”
He groaned, and his eyes closed.
I yanked my cell from my messenger bag.
Before I engaged the keypad, he spluttered out a cough.
“Scott! Are you okay? I’m gonna call the cops—”
“No, Lisa. Don… Don’t do that,” he mumbled.
“You need an ambulance!”
“Make it worse,” he breathed.
“You’re not making sense, man. I can’t make it worse and neither will the EMTs.”
“They took everything. You call 911, they’ll come back.”
I closed my eyes and took a deep breath as I replayed his words in my mind. “Who took everything? What was there to take?”
Our equipment was in a trailer parked in the back of the retail space. We hadn’t brought any of our lumber or my tools inside yet. That was on the agenda for today.
Then I peeked out the door. Where the trailer normally sat behind Scott’s truck…his truck wasn’t even there. How had I missed that while parking my Kia?
I glanced down at him. “Someone stole the truck?”
“I fucked up.”
My heart sank and my body went with it. On my knees, I caught his eyes. “How did you fuck up?”
“Needed a hit.”
My head tilted. Vaguely I noticed he had a blister on his arm. It looked like it came from a burn. I forced myself to ask, “A hit? What are you talking about? You don’t do drugs. I’ve never known you to do drugs.”
He pulled down his sleeve, covering the mark on his arm. “You don’t know me, Lisa. Never knew shit about me.”
My eyes widened. “That isn’t true. We’ve been working together for over three years. Jesus! We’re opening a business together. And you threw it away for drugs?”
“Didn’t have a choice. Owed too much money.”
I shot to my feet. “How could you owe too much…”
My lungs hollowed and I fought against the bile again. Pulling my cell from my back pocket, I prayed I was wrong… but I knew Scott had done me wrong in ways far, far worse than anyone ever had before.
I had good credit. Great credit, Scott had said. The business loan was in my name alone, but I’d listed him as a partner since he often picked up our lumber. He had access to the funds.
The banking app loaded on my phone, confirming my worst fears. His truck, the trailer, and my tools weren’t the only thing missing.
The money was gone.
And I was fucked.
It took major effort, but I didn’t kick him in the head. I did drag his sorry ass out behind the shop. Then I locked the door, sat down at my desk, and buried my head in my hands. Even if Scott didn’t want me to call 911, I had to report the theft. The insurance company would require proof of the missing property at a minimum. Our minimal inventory was missing or destroyed which was as good as being gone.
While I waited for the Jacksonville Sheriff’s officer to arrive, I looked up at the wall calendar, but I didn’t see it. My mind turned over as many possible solutions to this as I could fathom. Though, there weren’t many. I kept circling back to the same one, and it stung to even think about it. Yet, I couldn’t let my pride get in my way.
My big brother, Ryan, was part of a motorcycle club. He lived in Biloxi, but his club had a chapter here in Jacksonville.
Pappy’s words came to me strong and clear. “Always remember, the only way to fight fire is with fire, little Lisa. And we, Wenholds, are nothing if not fighters.”
A drug dealer took my money and my Pappy’s tools because of Scott’s addiction. Nobody better qualified to get my livelihood back than the Riot MC brothers.
But I hated the idea of relying on Ryan and his MC brothers to make that happen.
Yet, desperate times… they always called for the most desperate measures.
My furniture wasn’t beautiful because of me. It was beautiful and glorious because of Pappy’s tools. The idea of replacing those with equipment from Harbor Freight made me more nauseous than seeing Scott’s blood on the floor.
I called my brother. He didn’t answer.
“Men,” I breathed.
I smiled as I recalled he had a woman in his life again. My finger hit Fiona’s contact info.
Then I frowned when it went to voicemail.
“What the hell?” I whispered.
The phone rang in my hand, and I nearly dropped it. Ryan’s name displayed and I answered.
“You call me?” he asked.
“Yeah. I’m in Jacksonville and I got a problem. Can you put me in touch with one of your ‘brothers’ here in town?”
He paused for a long moment, which didn’t surprise me. He’d always weighed his words – though not always his actions.
Finally, he asked, “What’s your problem?”
“I don’t want to talk about this on the phone. Can you give me the address to their clubhouse? Let them know I’m coming by.”
“You aren’t going to the clubhouse. Tell me what’s going on.”
I sighed. “I need help only the Riot MC can give. Tell them I’m on my way there. I’ve been to the Biloxi clubhouse. Jacksonville’s can’t be that much different.”
He sighed. “It can. It is. And my little sister ain’t goin’ there.”
I shook my head as irritation welled inside me. “Forget it. I’ll figure something out.”
“What is the problem, Lisa?”
“Doesn’t matter. I got myself into this shit, I’ll get my dumb ass out of it.”
He spoke, but I hung up and powered off my phone.
A knock sounded at the front of the store. I came out of the office and saw a police officer at the glass door.
The next morning, sunshine glared into my cheap motel room as I stared at my laptop screen. A map showed the area pawn shops. My stomach sank as I realized – yet again – how big Jacksonville really was. After filing a police report yesterday, (Scott had left by the time the cops showed up – the coward) the officer told me they’d send a report to the pawn shops to be on the lookout for my tools. But it was up to me to go to each one and search for my tools… assuming the drug dealer went that conventional route. As opposed to finding a fence and selling Pappy’s tools privately.
Yesterday, I’d insisted the landlord send someone to change the locks on the doors. I couldn’t afford for Scott to break into my space and try to burn it down. That was extreme thinking on my part, but he’d probably try to file an insurance claim just to get that money as well.
I gathered the sides of my hair on top of my head. It was my go-to thinking pose and normally helped me figure my way out of many a jam. No such luck today.
“Near or far?” I wondered aloud.
It hit me, that I should split the difference. I would drive thirty miles to Hock Pawn shop on the outer edges of Jacksonville, and then hit a shop closer to where I was staying on the way back. Even though I didn’t expect these businesspeople to help me, I had to put in the effort. Losing those tools broke my heart on top of shattering my dream, and I had to get them back.
An hour later, a bundle of bells tinkled when I opened the door to Hock pawn shop. A red-haired man wearing a t-shirt with the store logo leaned over the glass counter as he helped a customer.
From my left, a deep voice said, “We aren’t buying more jewelry right now.”
I aimed my eyes in that direction only to fight biting my lip. A man with the sexiest light brown eyes had his hands braced on the counter putting his biceps in stark relief. He wore a Hock Pawn shop t-shirt, too, but I couldn’t tear my eyes from his. The scowl on his face made my heart race. I didn’t know if I’d put it there, but I liked the idea of rubbing him the wrong way. Though with his long, light brown hair and strong frame, I liked the idea of rubbing him the right way, too.
With a blink, I pushed aside my thoughts of rubbing him. “Good to know, but I’m not here for jewelry. I wanted to know if you’ve gotten any tools today.”
That strangely sexy scowl deepened. “Get tools every day. What kind?”
“They’d be old wood-working tools, made in America. Nothing from China.”
“This ain’t Home Depot. Everything we take in is ‘old.’ Be more specific.”
When the officer took my information for his report, I had to list everything that was in the trailer. Off the top of my head, I rattled off the most important tools.
He squinted at me for a second, turned around and grabbed a clipboard hanging behind him. As he scanned the top page, his lips pursed, and I noticed the stubble surrounding his lips. It wasn’t quite a beard or goatee, but it was getting there. I ached to feel it against my cheeks.
I shook my head to get a grip on myself. This was ridiculous.
He put the clipboard on the counter and glared up at me. “Your man lose his trailer?”
The tone of his voice rankled. I crossed my arms under my boobs. “The trailer belonged to my business ‘partner.’ It wasn’t lost, but rather stolen and my tools were in it. I’m getting those tools back, come hell or high water.”
His thick index finger tapped the clipboard twice. “We got the message from JSO. Nobody’s been in here with tools.”
He turned around, hung up the clipboard, and sauntered into the back. I hadn’t looked for his name on his t-shirt.
“What if I want to buy something while I’m here?” I called after him, willing him to turn around.
He glanced over his shoulder. “My associate, Li, will take care of it.”
With that, he closed an office door behind him.
This day sucked donkey balls.
“Sorry, he’s like that, miss. I’ll be with you in a moment,” said Li, the red-headed man.
I shook my head. “Not a problem. I don’t need anything really. Thanks.”
Rage couldn’t get away from her fast enough.
In the office, he had clocked her Kia rolling into the parking lot on the security footage streaming on a monitor. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up before she even got out of her car. The way her body moved across the small parking lot spoke to every cell in his body.
A woman like her had to be looking to pawn jewelry or buy some on the cheap. He hadn’t pegged her for tools. She’d shoved her arms under her ample breasts, hiding her hands. It was good to be wrong about her. Better that she left.
He heard the bells ring and then Liar came into the office.
Liar pulled some papers from the filing cabinet. “What the hell man? Have you always got to scare off customers? I know you came by your road name legitimately, but it wouldn’t hurt you to put a damper on that shit.”
Rage glowered at Liar. “Man, you heard her. She didn’t ‘need’ anything anyway. My instincts told me she wasn’t going to spend money the moment I watched her get out of her piece of shit Kia.”
Liar sighed. “You’re missing the point, man. And she didn’t look like she wouldn’t spend money. Something about her seems familiar. Don’t you think?”
Leave it to Liar to point out the thing that had been niggling Rage from the jump. Everything about her reminded him of someone. From the way she walked, to the way she stared at him, and that anger flashing in her eyes when he assumed she had a man.
Just thinking about it had blood flooding his dick.
He shook his head. He didn’t need or want familiar. Not anymore.
No. He was at a crossroads and only the most drastic change felt like the right move.
Becoming a nomad held some appeal. But a little voice told him he needed to leave the brotherhood completely.
His fists clenched at the thought.
He needed a change. That was certain. And that change couldn’t happen fast enough.
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