Book 3 of the True Brothers MC series
Release Date: July 11, 2017
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Every loner needs a family—and a heart to call home. The bad-boy bikers of the True Brothers MC make good as a strong, silent type shows the right woman that he can speak the language of love.
With her lowlife father in prison for manslaughter, Nicole Walker keeps her distance from the biker scene—until she meets the stud running security at her best friend’s wedding. “Tank” is big, mean, and trouble from every direction. Yet Nicole can’t take her eyes off his chiseled body, or deny the pure electricity she feels when he returns her gaze. Guys like Tank are supposed to be a one-way ride to heartbreak. So why, after a scorching night in his bed, does Nicole only want more?
From his tour in the Marines to his sister’s disastrous marriage, Tank has seen the worst that life has to offer. Ever since his father’s death, Tank’s been fiercely protective of his family—and the True Brothers have always had his back. But nothing could prepare him for a woman like Nicole, who’s determined to break down the walls around his heart. When violence strikes, placing Nicole in harm’s way, Tank digs deep to find the courage to keep her safe—and the strength to love without limits.
“Archer keeps the pulsing energy flowing through a tautly plotted and at times violent tale. Her characters are complex people who could easily appear in anyone’s life. This roller coaster ride has broad appeal.”—Publishers Weekly
“Sexy and intense with a twist that made me cry . . . I loved everything about Resilient!”—USA Today bestselling author Stacey Kennedy
St. Mary’s Hospital
The moment I saw her, I wanted to fuck her.
There was no love-at-first-sight bullshit. I just wanted her naked and writhing under me. Once. Maybe twice. Straddling me. In front of me. On her knees at my feet. Okay, maybe all night long, but that was it.
Anything more was for people who still had hope left inside them. But that shit wasn’t for me. Afghanistan had fucking killed me, even though I still walked around and looked alive. I was dead inside, and it was just a matter of time until my outside matched my inside.
So I fucked ’em and left ’em. I only played with women who knew the score. Usually club pass-arounds. Occasionally with a hot chick I saw at the bar or grocery store, but they all knew what to expect from me. I made sure of that. One night, maybe a long weekend, and that was it.
But the hot brunette on the other side of the room was different.
She wasn’t a club pass-around. Hell, judging by the way she looked and the company she kept, she wouldn’t know anything about the life I lived. If her friend wasn’t clinging to life because of our club business, this chick wouldn’t have been within a mile of any of us or our hangouts. It was in the haughty way she tilted her head and the looks I occasionally saw on her face—like she couldn’t believe Zag and his boys were in the same waiting room as her. My kinda people. If anything, her stuck-up disdain made me wanna fuck her more.
We were all sitting in the waiting room at the hospital—bikers on one side, Jessica’s family, friends, and this chick on the other. She had to be going out of her mind freaking out that her friend had been shot. I mean they were all so . . . middle-class. Normal. This wasn’t something they’d ever dealt with before, unlike our clutch of bikers and bitches on the opposite side of the waiting room. Her other friend, the tiny blonde, was a mess. Between the sobs, the smeared eye makeup, and the clutch of tissues, the blonde was freaking out.
But not my chick.
Nope, she held it together. She smiled and joked—obviously trying to keep everyone’s mind off the trauma taking place on the other side of the waiting room doors. But the tension was still there. I had to look close—from my stance on the other end of the waiting room where I sat with Zag and our Brothers—but her anxiety had been there. Her smile strained at the corners. Her eyes sparkled with a sheen of tears that she never let fall. Her knee bounced with her nervous tension. But she held it together.
It was heartbreaking and hot. Distracting. Made me want to find out what it’d take to make her let loose. A woman like that would be wild in bed once she let go.
“I’m fucking starving.” My buddy Stitch grumbled from my left with his hand over his stomach.
“Cafeteria closed an hour ago.” I replied. “I think there’s some vending machines down the hall.”
“A fucking Snickers ain’t gonna cut it. We’ve been here hours, T. I need food.”
Just then my chick looked up and straight into my eyes. She kinda smirked like she knew what I was thinking, how much I wanted her. I stared placidly back, never flinching or changing my facial expression. Sure, I got caught staring, but I wasn’t gonna fucking apologize. That wasn’t who I was.
My chick narrowed her eyes and tilted her head as she stared me down. Christ, she was a haughty piece of work.
Didn’t make me wanna fuck her any less. In fact, it was part of her allure. The anticipation. The chase. The conquering.
Quickly followed by goodbye.
The blonde said something to my chick and she blinked, breaking our spontaneous staring contest. But not the spell she’d cast over my dick.
I turned and slapped Stitch on the shoulder. “I got my pickup. Let’s go get some JJ’s pizza for everyone.”
“Fuck me,” Stitch groaned as he shifted on the uncomfortable-as-hell chairs. “Screw that. Let’s call a prospect. Sounds like the perfect job for one of those little bastards.”
“Nah, I wanna stretch my legs. Get some air. You coming?” And hopefully it’d help me forget all about the woman I shouldn’t want sitting on the other side of the room.
A chick like her deserved more than a bastard like me could ever give her. Even if it were only just for one night.
Because I didn’t do forever.
Just right now.
And right now I wanted pizza.
One year later
I’d been asked to do some fucked-up shit in my time with the True Brothers MC. Like that time we’d beat down an eighteen-year-old kid in the middle of Virginia Street during Hot August Nights. To be fair, he had it coming, seeing how he’d slapped Bootleg’s old lady. Or just a week ago when I helped a few Brothers drop Joker down an abandoned mine shaft with a bag of lime. I had no problem doing the messy shit—the kinda jobs most guys would balk at—that was the role I filled in the club.
But I’d give my eyeteeth to be standing over a body with a bag of lime right now. Anything but my current job—babysitting Zag’s woman and her hot friend while they ran errands all over Reno. It was fucking torture. Between the bitching and the arguing and the talk about milk leaking out of tits, I was this close to begging to make it stop.
The only saving grace about today was that it put Nicole Walker’s cute little ass in my backseat. I’d kept an eye on her ever since that first time I saw her in the hospital waiting room. She was still just as hot as ever. And twice as haughty. I had to bite back a groan every time she lifted a hand to push back her wild mane of hair. The way it made her shirt tighten over her perfect fucking tits had me shifting in my seat.
Not that she noticed. I was just the silent shadow assigned to watch out for Nicole and Jessica as they tore through town getting everything ready for Jessica and Zag’s wedding in a week.
Nicole leaned forward from the backseat of my truck’s crew cab. Her long, curly brown hair brushed my arm as she spoke to her friend in the front passenger seat. “How in the fucking hell did you keep your mom away from your final dress fitting?”
She could also cuss like a sailor. A woman after my own heart—or would be if I still had one.
“Easy.” Jessica turned to face Nicole. “I didn’t tell her we were going to the dress fitting.”
“Shit. Do you have a death wish?”
“No, but she’s being a pain in the ass. I guess her and dad eloped back in the day, and she’s always regretted it. So now my wedding has morphed into her dream wedding and she’s killing me with all her ideas and demands.”
“I guess it’s just me and you then.”
“Not at this stop. You’re not seeing me in my wedding dress. You can wait in the truck with Tank.”
“Jess, you’re being silly. I’ve already seen you in your wedding dress. Does this have anything to do with those ridiculous meal replacement drinks you’ve been guzzling?”
Jessica didn’t answer. She stared out the window as I pulled the truck into the dress shop’s parking lot.
Oh, shit. Chicks and eating and body issues. I wanted to somewhere, anywhere else than locked inside my truck with these two right now. Why didn’t Bumper get this assignment?
Nicole sat back with a huge sigh. “Jess, that’s ridiculous. You look awesome. You don’t need to lose any weight. No one’s gonna believe you have a three-month-old at home.”
“But I don’t look like I did before. I’m bigger. And rounder. I don’t want anyone to see me before I’m ready. So. Stay. Here.” Jessica shoved the passenger door open and jumped out. The truck rocked with the force she used to slam the door shut.
I watched her stomp to the dress shop and disappear inside. Given what the club had gone through over the last year, it wasn’t easy to just let her go without checking every square in of the store. Jessica had been shot by a former—and now dead—member of our own club. And just a week ago her other best friend had been held hostage and tortured by our rival club. So sitting idly by and just watching my friend’s old lady/soon-to-be wife walk into a building alone ate at me.
If I hadn’t scoped the place out before I picked the girls up and had a prospect standing guard in the alley behind the building, I wouldn’t have let her have her hissy fit. But stressed-out women were usually inches from tears and I wanted no part of that mess. I’d learned that lesson from my older sister and Mom. I think I’d much rather face three Saddletramps armed to the teeth all by myself than a teary woman. Especially Zag’s weepy woman.
So instead, I crossed my arms over my chest and settled in for a long wait.
“I can’t believe she’s being so irrational. It’s just a wedding, for Christ’s sake. And why the hell did I have to come if she’s just going to make me wait out in the car?”
I leaned my head back against the headrest as Nicole’s irate alto voice caressed my ears. Maybe it was twisted, but pissed-off chicks got me hot. She might’ve been on the phone bitching to someone else, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t gonna get my vicarious thrills. I could listen to her reading the phone book. Her voice was so mellow and just . . . gorgeous like the rest of her.
Plus it gave me material for my spank bank.
I was resigned to jerking off to the memory of her voice and face, since technically she was untouchable. Being practically family to two old ladies in the club meant she wasn’t a chick to fuck with. Especially when one of the old ladies was the Prez’s.
“Hey, what the hell do they call you? Truck? Are you even awake up there? Are you gonna answer my question?”
Unless she pulls some kinda bullshit move like that.
I swiveled around and narrowed my eyes at her annoyed expression. “What the fuck did you call me?”
Nicole’s eyes widened. She opened and closed her mouth a few times but couldn’t seem to put two syllables together.
“Unless you want your ass out in the open for everyone to see while I turn it bright fucking red, you show some respect. I might’ve drawn the short straw and have to escort you two around town today, but there’s no fucking way I’m putting up with your bullshit, too.”
Nicole blinked, then found her voice. She tilted her head and scowled at me. “I don’t remember asking you to escort us.”
“Never said you did, baby girl. I go where the Prez tells me to. And today that’s fucking dress shopping with you two.”
“It’s a fitting,” she said, like that was somehow important.
Or that I gave a fuck.
Instead I grunted in response, turned around, and ignored the visibly irate woman in the backseat. She was too fucking hot. When she got pissed off her blue eyes went really dark, and if her chest heaved anymore, she’d be in serious danger of popping a button on her shirt. And wouldn’t that be a shame? I’d finally get a glimpse of her awesome tits.
“You. Are. Such a. Prick.”
I smiled as I settled back into my seat. In the rearview mirror I could see her glaring at the back of my head. “Actually the guys call me Tank.”
Fuck me, she was adorable. “Yeah, sometimes they call me that, too.”
Maybe this shadow detail wouldn’t be so boring after all.
As we sat in my truck listening to Nazareth wailing about a son of a bitch, I remembered that first time I saw her in the hospital. How strong she’d been. How tight she’d made my jeans when I’d pictured her naked and writhing in my bed. I’d kept an eye on her over the next months. Through hospital visits, and later, once Jessica was better, at club barbecues. It didn’t take a genius to see how much she disliked bikers. Sure, she put on a good front—smiling at all the right times and even condescending to talk to a few of us—but she was always a little standoffish. I knew. Hell, we all knew.
Didn’t make me wanna fuck her any less.
Even though I wanted to see the flash of anger in her eyes, I avoided looking in the rearview mirror. I didn’t want her to know I was thinking about her. I didn’t want her to guess how much I wanted her. Still.
It wasn’t like I could have her anyway.
It felt like an eternity, but was really only maybe twenty minutes later when Jessica finally came out of the dress shop with a bulging white garment bag bigger than her. I jumped out of the truck and met her on the sidewalk to do the heavy lifting.
“Thanks, Tank. That sucker is heavy. I don’t know how I’m gonna get through a whole day wearing it.”
I slung the garment bag over my arm, not letting it touch the ground, while I opened the passenger door for Jess. She climbed in, and I shoved the dress bag in the backseat next to Nicole. The back of my hand brushed against her silky thigh, and my cock jerked behind my jeans. Ignoring Nicole’s glare and my body’s annoying reaction, I slid behind the wheel and turned to Jessica.
“Where to next?” I bit out.
Jess raised her eyebrows as she looked between me and Nicole. “Is there—Do I need to apologize for leaving the two of you alone?”
“Nope.” Nicole crossed her arms over her chest and glared at me through the rearview mirror. “Everything’s just hunky-dory.”
I bared my teeth in a facsimile of a smile. “We’re fine.”
Jessica bit her lip before letting out a little chuckle. She swung around in her seat to look at Nicole. “Really, Nic? Tank?”
I froze in my seat. What did she mean by that?
“I’m not talking about this right now.” Nicole sounded like a spoiled teenager.
Christ, I shouldn’t think that was cute.
“But Nic, he’s—”
“Not. Talking. About. It.”
“Ooookay.” Jessica swung back to face the windshield again. “Um, I guess we need to go to the florist next. It’s on North Sierra.”
“Got it.” I put the truck in gear and pulled into traffic.
The entire time I drove, it felt like there was a needle carving into the back of my neck. I was familiar with the sensation—I’d spent ten whole months in the desert paranoid about what was going on behind me. This time I had a rearview mirror and an excuse for my eyes to wander in that direction. Every time I glanced in the backseat I found Nicole’s dark blue eyes staring back at me with an angry glint.
Fuck, she was hot.
But not for me.
That was all it took for me to put my eyes back where they belonged—on the road and away from the brooding brunette in my backseat—regardless of how much I wanted to provoke her until she either slapped or kissed me.
Angry sex was the best kinda sex.
Shit, I shifted in my seat as I pulled up to the florist Jessica pointed out. I should’ve worn looser jeans. But then I never thought I’d have such a hard time keeping my mind off of having angry sex with the bride’s hot friend.
Stopping in front of the florist shop, I surveyed the large windows and didn’t find anyone menacing inside. I watched our tail turn up the alley and waited a sec for him to get into position before I grunted for the girls to get out.
Jessica rolled her eyes and turned to Nicole. “I think it’s best for everyone if you come in with me this time, Nic.”
“Whatever.” Nicole retorted as she angrily tore her seatbelt off and climbed out. “I guess that means you stay here, Trick.”
“That’s it,” I said as I reached for the door handle.
Nicole screeched, slammed her door, then all but ran into the building. I sat back in my seat with a shit-eating grin. Christ, this was gonna be fun.
“I, uh . . .”
I jerked my eyes away from Nicole trying unsuccessfully to hide behind a large planter and found Jessica staring at me with her mouth open. The smile slid from my face, and I stared stoically back at her.
“What—How did you . . . You know she hates bikers, right?” Jessica’s forehead wrinkled with concern. “Like hates them hates them.”
“Yeah. I kinda noticed.”
“Okay. Just so long as you know where you both stand.” Jessica gave me one more searching look. “We’ll be ten minutes, tops.” She gently closed the truck door and made her way into the shop.
I rubbed a hand over my face and heaved a sigh.
I was so fucked.
Text Copyright © 2017 by Gillian Archer