by J.C. Valentine
Spartan Riders, #2
Publication Date: July 26, 2016
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, MC Romance
Synopsis: Talia McKinnon said goodbye to love the day she signed the divorce papers and moved across the country looking for a fresh start. With work occupying her days and nights, a relationship is the last thing on her mind, until a run-in with a hot-as-Hades, leather clad biker changes her mind. He’s everything she shouldn’t want but has to have. The problem is, he’s not that easy to catch.
Tucker “Country” Abrams believes in two things: brotherhood and women. He takes his job seriously and his women hard, but at the end of the day, the only loyalty he has is to his club. So when a night with a beautiful stranger threatens to change everything, he’s quick to apply the brakes. But when a little detective work reveals that Talia may be much more than a one-night stand, Tucker is tasked with an impossible decision. Will he push her away, or go against every instinct he has and pull her closer?
Shoving aside the empty, Tucker ordered a coffee, black, then sat back and waiting for it to arrive. No sooner than he’d lifted his iPhone from his pocket, preparing to scroll through his Little Black Book of fine ass bunnies who were always DTF, the seat next to him became occupied.
Tucker did not need to look up to notice the female sitting there. Nor did he need to look to see that she was watching him. He did, however, need to look up at the sound of that soft as velvet voice.
“Shame, a man drinking alone on a Friday night.”
Holy fucking hell. Her voice was pure phone sex operator. His dick swelled instantly, and Tucker shifted in his seat, his lips curling into a slow smile as he turned to face her head-on. “Nothin’ wrong with a man drinkin’ alone, sugar. Now, you on the other hand…” He made a show of eying every inch of her svelte frame. She was well-covered in a pair of tight black pants and black halter top laced with fringe, and even though he’d heard that black was supposed to give that slimming effect, he could tell the thickness of her thighs wasn’t just because she was short. The woman worked out.
Mmmm. Thick, solid thighs. She was sitting, so he couldn’t tell for sure, but Tucker would bet his left nut that she had an ass to match.
She gave him the same once-over, lingering on the bulge along his inner thigh. A bold one, she was. Her tawny eyes rose up and met his, the corner of her mouth and a single eyebrow lifted in amusement. Or perhaps that was appreciation…
“Your date stand you up?” she asked, lifting her chin toward the phone he still held in his hand.
Tucker looked down at the thing, surprised. Forgot he even had it out. A list of numbers identified by nicknames like Double Mint Twins and Freak Nasty stared back at him, and suddenly, the need for a quickie had lost its appeal.
Putting the phone away, Tucker leaned forward, folding his arms on the bar, and stared into the woman’s amazing eyes. “Looks that way. Broke my heart.” He pouted a bit, pure show, and she knew it.
“Bitch.” A smirk played on her perfectly formed rose-petal lips. She leaned a little. “Just so you know, I’d never break your heart. Now, other things…” She left that one dangling, sparking Tucker’s intrigue.
“Other things…” Lifting his hand, Tucker slid the pad of his thumb across his bottom lip, appraising her once more. “You know, I would not be opposed to see what kind of ‘things’ you have in mind.”
She chuckled, a soft, delicate sound, just like everything else about her. “I don’t know if you could handle the kind of things I’m thinking.”
Tucker’s eyes narrowed and, deciding to match her boldness, he said, “I can handle whatever you want to throw at me, sugar. I should warn you, though. It’s you who might not be able to handle me…” With a start, he realized he hadn’t caught her name.
Reading his expression and extending a delicate, fine-boned hand, she said, “Talia. And I assure you, it’s the other way around.”
And wasn’t that exactly what he wanted to hear. Grasping her hand firmly, Tucker held onto it far longer than was necessary. “My friends call me Country, but you…” He rubbed his thumb across the soft skin on the back of her hand, then lifted it to his lips, kissing baby soft knuckles that smelled faintly of apple blossoms. “You can call me Tuck.”
She grinned, not understanding the significance of him allowing her to call him by his real name. No woman had ever known him as anything but Country, but her…There was something about this one that made him want to lose the filter. Get a little closer.
“Nice to meet you, Tuck.”
“Exactly my thoughts, Talia.”
Her eyes sparkled at his seductive purr, and Tucker did a mental fist pump. Hook. Line. Sinker.
Striding up to the bar, he took a seat on one of the ratty leather stools and made eye contact with Ginger behind the bar. “Hey, hot stuff, how’s it goin’?”
Somewhere in her mid-thirties, Ginger was a stunning redhead with a smile for everyone. She’d been raised in the life and had a special place in her heart—and between her legs—for every man in the club. If ever there was a caretaker among them, it was Ginger. She was the person the men came to with their personal shit, spilling their heart out along with their cum, and she was always good for patching them up quick and sending them on their way. She never got possessive, never slung around attitude, and never tried to tie anyone down.
Not even Quick. Blake was her first and only love. Not even her ex-husband, Hawke, held that honor. He was just a placeholder, and they all knew it. But now that Blake was wifed up with Gabby, his kid’s hot ass teacher, any hope she had of landing him was long and truly gone.
Every time Tucker rolled up on her, he saw the sadness in her eyes, but he never commented on it. It wasn’t his place.
“Hey, stranger.” Ginger flashed him that soft, alluring smile that made all the men’s hearts twist just a little. His own double-tapped his ribcage as she stepped up. “What’s your poison?”
“Just a couple bottles of water for the road.”
“Comin’ right up.”
While Tucker waited, he leaned into the counter, watching her ass sway as she took the couple of steps over to the mini fridge and bent down. Like he said, she made all their hearts do a little jig. She was a beautiful woman. A man would have to be dead below the belt not to be affected by her.
The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end an instant before the oversized body slid onto the stool next to his. The smell of leather tingled in his nose along with the unique spice of Repo’s cologne. Even though his muscles flinched, ready to fight or run at a moment’s notice, Tucker maintained an air of serenity. Confidence, in any situation, could mean the difference between getting your ass beat and…well, not. The latter of which was a possibility, since everyone also knew that Repo, the Spartan’s VP, had a definite thing for Ginger.
Both of the men eyed Ginger’s ample backside. From the corner of his eye, Tucker watched Repo run two calloused fingers over his white beard. It made him cringe inside. He’d be a liar if he said he didn’t have a healthy fear of the man. Any day of the week, the asshole was an intimidating fucker, but the snow-white hair and full-on beard, coupled with those piercing, otherworldly blue eyes gave him the heebie-jeebies.
“Like what you see?”
The gruff question was spoken without inflection, giving Tucker no indication of what his current mood was. Seeing as there was no right answer to be given, he said, “What’s not to like?”
Ginger turned back then and lined up two bottles of water in front of Tucker and a beer already cracked open and ready in front of Repo.
Repo lifted one ashy brow at her and she trilled a laugh. “Honey, you should know by now that any time you enter a room, I feel it.”
His grin was wide and alarming. Tucker had literally never seen the man smile. Goose bumps erupted down his arms.
Using the same sandpaper voice, Repo told her, “You know how to stroke a man’s ego.”
“And you know how to stroke a…” She glanced over at Tucker and winked, leaving her sentence hanging.
“Uh, yeah, that’s my cue, folks. Enjoy your…” he waved a bottle between them “whatever this is.”
A hand clamped down on his forearm, stopping him. Repo leaned in, slanted Ginger a meaningful look. She took the hint, turning away and busying herself with something under the bar. To Tucker Repo said, “As long as it’s only your eyes, you get to keep your balls, feel me?”
Tucker swallowed, then pasted on a bright, easy smile. “Yeah, I feel ya, boss.”
“Good, spread the word. Red’s on lock from here on.”
He didn’t figure Ginger knew that, which was probably why Repo had made sure to send her away first. If she had heard him issuing threats, warning the men off her, the whole clubhouse would feel her wrath. The woman knew her place, sure, but she wasn’t a pushover. If there was something she didn’t agree with going on that directly concerned her, they were going to hear about it.
Tucker simply nodded again, turned, and walked out. Repo would find all that out soon enough. As far as Tucker was concerned, though, he had nothing to do with any of it.
With that thought in mind, he climbed onto his bike and hit the open road.
It didn’t take long for Tucker to hunt down what he needed. All the hallmarks were there in the investigator’s report: abnormal heat markers present at multiple points, evidence of tampering with the electrical box, and the presence of an accelerant. Add that to the windows and doors all having been left open when the crew’s statements claimed they were always kept closed, and it was the fucking trifecta.
Unfortunately, there was nothing to point to a possible motive or the person or persons involved in setting the fire, but all Tucker had to do was look at what was used to make a connection: a combination of acetone and lighter fluid, two main ingredients in your common meth lab.
So the answer to their little mystery had to be Ricky fucking Cruiz. He was the only person who had motive and means, which made him guilty as sin in Tucker’s book.
“The bastard is going to pay.”
Standing on Blake’s front porch, picking his teeth with a toothpick, he stared out over the lawn and nodded. “That he is, my friend. That he is.”
“No one messes with my property and gets away with it.”
“No, they don’t.”
“You do realize this means Cruiz is in town, right?”
“Either that or he has his lackeys doing his dirty work while he sits off someplace cushy eating Bon-Bons and watching Married with Children reruns.”
“I love that show,” Blake commented. “They never should have canceled it.”
“Fucking crime,” Tucker agreed, shaking his head.
They stood in comfortable silence for a minute before getting back to business. “You think Jodi has anything to do with it?”
Tucker paused in his picking and looked up at his president. Eyes shot through with worry and tension stared back at him. “She’d be fucking stupid if she was.”
Blake’s head bobbed slowly on his shoulders in agreement. “So that’s a yes.”
“Stupid bitch. I should have listened when everyone said to stay away from her.”
“You were a kid,” Tucker offered, hoping to ease his guilty conscience somewhat. “None of us thought with the big brain back then.”
“That’s some truth right there.”
“How’s Gabby taking all this?”
“I haven’t told her.”
Tucker shot him a look that clearly conveyed he thought his friend was crazy for leaving her in the dark. It was always better to be prepared than to find yourself in the middle of the jungle without a weapon and one hand tied behind your back.
“Can you blame me? She’s a runner. One word about this, and she’d freak out. She’d start blaming herself again and then making excuses why she should leave and save us all the trouble.”
“Hmm, yeah, woman logic. Gotta love it.” Tucker pitched the frayed toothpick into the lawn. “Have you reminded her that Cruiz is coming whether she’s here or not? That this beef goes back to when we were all just a twinkle in our father’s eyes? He’s just using her and that money as an excuse to ignite a war between the clubs.”
“I’ve told her a thousand times. Trust me, she’s got a knack for twisting everything around in her head and believing it’s her fault. Shit, Ash got his finger slammed in the trunk while helping put away groceries the other day and she was convinced it was a sign that she wasn’t meant to be a mother.”
Tucker’s eyes widened. “Seriously?”
One of Blake’s dark brows winged up. “Seriously.”
And he thought something was wrong with him for avoiding relationships? “Tell me you set her straight.”
A sly grin crept across his president’s face. “Several times.”
“That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” They laughed and pounded fists. “You still workin’ on that new addition, man?”
“Like it’s my job.”
“Man, if you’re comparing sex with a job, then you’re not doing it right,” Tucker chided. “Sex with a woman is a privilege. Anyone who skims the details and doesn’t fully appreciate what she’s givin’ them doesn’t deserve the invite.”
“Spoken like a man in love,” Blake muttered, but Tucker had exceptional hearing, and he caught every word. The bastard.
“Fuck you very much. You know where I stand on this topic, and I’m done repeating myself. One of these days, you’re going to see how wrong you are, and then we’ll see who’s laughing.”
“It’ll be me.” Blake lifted his chin, a clear challenge. “Anyway, I should get inside before Gabby decides to come lookin’ for me. She hates when I leave a job unfinished.”
Tucker chuckled and shook his head. “Yeah, you definitely don’t want to get fired from that job.”
“A wise man once told me that it’s not a job if you do it right.”
With a wink and a wave, Blake turned to head back inside. “And hey, Gabby said to remind you about dinner. You’re supposed to bring your girlfriend. Guess they hit it off at the party.”
Tucker’s head dropped back on his shoulders, and he groaned. Again with the girlfriend bullshit. It was starting to feel like a losing battle, always correcting everyone. Whatever, it didn’t affect his personal life in any way. Let them think what they wanted. It had absolutely no bearing on whether or not he’d settle down. Which, for the record, would never happen.
“Text me the time and we’ll be there.”
“You got it, bro.” Blake disappeared inside, leaving Tucker to stand there and wonder what the hell his life was turning into, and more importantly, how he was going to stop it from happening.
Tucker was frowning. “So you don’t want to…”
“No! No, I do. I definitely do.” She patted the air. Realized she looked like a crazy person and pressed herself against him instead. Up close, she could see the golden flecks in his caramel colored eyes, along with shots of pale green, like a starburst. “What I meant to say was let’s get things started.”
“So eager.” Looping his arm around her waist, Tucker pulled her in tighter, allowing her to feel his erection pressing against her navel. “I like it. Where’s the bedroom? Unless you prefer the couch? Or maybe the counter? I’m totally flexible.”
So many options. Unfortunately, the only place Talia could be certain the cameras weren’t watching was the bedroom. She pointed in its direction. “Through there.”
Grinning like a cat with a bowl of milk, Tucker carried the water bottles in one hand and held hers in the other.
Her room was just as expensively outfitted as the rest of the apartment when it came to the cost of materials and the level of quality of the furniture, but when it came to style, it was much more subdued than the rest of the place.
The difference was that it was Talia’s personal space and the one place she could retreat to truly relax. She’d read somewhere that the bedroom should be treated as a sanctuary in order to foster a calm mind and help reduce everyday stressors, which would lead to good sleep and all around better frame of mind.
Since she always got a full eight hours and could honestly say that her tension eased the minute her toes sunk into the carpet, she had to believe there was something to it.
A Ficus stood proud between three bay windows, surrounded by two club chairs that she alternated between using for reading and to prop her feet on. The bed was a standard queen with an antique iron frame that’d been painted white and then destressed in places to expose the ironwork underneath. The predominate color in the room was Robin’s egg blue with spots of yellow and touches of red sprinkled here and there to create pops of color.
It was a no-fuss space that always made her feel at home in a place that was far from it. Just another way that her job was different from everyone else’s: whereas most people worked an eight-hour shift and called it a day, she literally lived her job most days, so she rarely got to leave work behind at the end of the day. It was a reality that rarely bothered her, but when the occasion did arise, it was a struggle to remind herself why she’d chosen the profession and how much she enjoyed it.
“I like your style,” Tuck praised as he took the lead, heading straight for the bed with her in tow. “It’s surprisingly masculine.”
He was referring to the choice of furniture: bulky dark grain woods mixed with metalwork and plain beige fabrics. Very basic, very streamline. No doubt, the women he usually spent his time with were all about the usual pink and floral with ruffles routine girls were taught to like. Bleh. She had never been the type to conform to societal norms.
“Thanks.” She wished she could say that she’d decorated it herself, but that would be a lie, and given the way he seemed to look straight through her most of the time, she wasn’t even going to go there.
“Okay, so how do you want to do this?” he asked. Setting the bottles down on the side table, taking care to use the coasters she kept in every room, he turned to face her.
“I’m not sure what you mean.” How to do what? Whatever it was, she knew he couldn’t be talking about sex, because he definitely knew his way around that.
“Sex,” he said, shooting that theory down. “It’s your place, so you have first dibs. Top, bottom, side, or standing. Or, if you really want to get crazy, Cricket told me about this one time where he had one of the bunnies stand on her head and put her legs on his shoulders while he—”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa!” Talia yelled over top of him. “This is so not something I want to hear.”
“Sorry, yeah. I said the same thing, but some things you can’t unhear, and that? That was pretty damn interesting, so I’ll admit that I filed some of it away for later use. So if you’re feeling adventurous, just let me know, and I’ll be happy to hook you up.”
He winked. She may have swooned a little. “Yeah, sure, okay, I’ll definitely do that.” She rolled her eyes, hoping her disinterested huff was convincing. Sex while standing on your head? How did that work?
There was so much she didn’t know, so much she had yet to learn. It seemed that Tucker was determined to see to it that he fixed that problem posthaste. It was a good feeling, being wanted. Desired. During the last months of her marriage, Brock had made it a point to beat her confidence down, drilling it in that she wasn’t a good wife. She never cooked or cleaned to his standards, didn’t dress sexy enough or maintain herself as he wanted. In his eyes, she had never been woman enough for him, too independent, too focused on work and not enough on him. In hindsight, she wasn’t even sure why she’d married him in the first place. With her job, they were often separated for weeks at a time, and when they were together, they were always butting heads. Eventually, though, she’d come to her senses and realized that, despite what she did for a living, she wasn’t the problem. He knew what he was getting into when he married her and no matter what, she didn’t deserve the abuse. So, after telling him that he wasn’t man enough for her, she left without a backward glance.
Just because she was the one who left didn’t mean that it didn’t still hurt, though. Sometimes, like now, when she thought on it too long, it struck a chord deep in her that seemed to hum through her every fiber, leaving her feeling the lowest of the low.
But now she had Tucker, who made her feel like every woman in those romance books he read about. Did he learn a thing or two from them? Hell yes. She’d experienced it at his place, and now she was about to experience it again.
Stepping into his personal space, she slid her arms around his shoulders and smiled up into his face. “I’d like to start out on top, and then we’ll go from there.”
“Handstand sex?” he asked hopefully.
Her head fell back, the hangover now reduced to a dull ache, and she laughed. “Maybe.”
“I’ll take it.”
Absorbing the light in his eyes, the pure joy in his smile, and the euphoric feeling he gave her every time he looked at her like that, Talia thanked her lucky stars that she’d been assigned to the case she had…then wondered what she’d do with herself once it was all over.
But she didn’t want to think about all that now. Right now, all she wanted to do was get lost in the man in front of her and the untold pleasures he would bring.
Rising onto her toes, she whispered against his lips, “Thank you.”
“For being you. The last guy in my life wasn’t so nice.”
Tucker’s jaw clenched. “Then it’ll be my pleasure to erase him from your memory.”
“So are you going to tell me why you put eyes on me?”
A muscle in his jaw jumped, and his lips pressed into a firm line. Which was why she knew that the next words to leave his mouth were going to be either an out-and-out lie or only a smidgeon of truth.
“Like I said, the city isn’t the same as it used to be. I like knowing that you’re safe while I’m gone.”
“Awww, sniffles,” she jeered to his obvious vexation. Dropping the act, Talia said, “Why don’t you stop treating me like a delicate flower and tell me why you really did it.” If she sounded a little peevish, it’s because she was. Having a tail that he’d put on her was dangerous. One slipup on her part and her cover would be blown. She couldn’t very well spend her days trying to shake one of his men while on the way to meet one of hers. It just wouldn’t work.
Tucker snorted. “A delicate flower? I don’t think the way I treated you could be described as delicate, sugar.”
“Are you being fresh with me, Tuck? Because I’m being serious right now. If you don’t tell me what that man out there on the bike was all about, I will punch you in the mouth for lying to me.”
Fire danced in his eyes and a cocky smile twitched at the corners of his mouth. “Has anyone ever told you, you are sexy as hell when you’re mad? Because I am two seconds away from ripping those clothes off and demonstrating how turned on you’re making me right now.”
Despite her irritation, a warm, fuzzy feeling tickled in her belly, but Talia forced herself to focus. “Answers, Tuck, or else.” She shook an angry fist in the air between them, demonstrating what she would do to him if he didn’t start talking. See, two could play at this game.
As if her threats didn’t concern him at all, Tucker started laughing…and he didn’t stop for a good long time. What must have been several minutes later, his eyes watering and his face red as a beet, he took a deep breath and finally calmed down.
Arms folded over her chest, Talia made the picture of a woman who was well and truly past the limits of her patience, yet she was, remarkably, still holding on by a thread.
“You really want to know why I put him out there?”
She arched a brow that said duh. Of course, she did!
“Fine, but don’t freak out, okay?” He waited for her to agree before continuing. “When I left earlier, I saw a van sitting down the block. I didn’t like the looks of it, so I asked one of the prospects to come down and keep an eye out until I got back.”
Her watchdogs, no doubt. That he’d noticed them at all was a problem. Either they were too obvious, or he was entirely too observant. But the reason behind why he acted the way he had? Well, that wasn’t so bad. Actually, it was kind of sweet when she thought about it. Her irritation fizzling away, she dropped her arms down to her sides, deciding to let him off the hook. “You really did that for me?”
His eyes softening, Tucker replied, “I just found you. No way am I letting someone take you away from me.”
Jesus, he was good. “If this is a line just to get in my pants,” she said, “it’s working.”
His answering smile was salacious. “I think we’ve already established that I don’t need lines to get in your pants, but I’m glad it’s working nonetheless.”
Cupping the back of her head, he pulled her over for a kiss. Leaning into him, Talia threaded her fingers through his hair, wondering just how far she could take this and remain objective. Don’t get attached, McKinnon. Don’t get attached.
Grasping her hip, Tucker urged her into his lap, situating her legs on either side of his. Surprisingly, her being on top was one position they hadn’t fully explored yet. Fishing one hand up her thigh and under her shorts, he fingered her slit while his other hand snaked beneath her top to massage her breast. Talia’s eyes rolled back into her head, and she moaned, loving the feel of his hot hands against her skin. As he pushed a finger inside of her, she began rocking her hips.
“That’s right, sugar, ride it. Show me how you’re gonna fuck me.”
His words, so crass, made her pussy clench, aching for more. Her hips moved faster as if having a mind of their own, and when Tucker flipped her shirt up and leaned forward, clamping his teeth down on one hard nipple, a jolt of pleasure shot like lightning down past her navel and straight to her clit. Her eyes shot open, finding his. She felt almost crazed as she gazed down at him, riding his finger like she wanted to ride his cock.
He must have read her right, because the next thing she knew, his hand had left her breast. She whined her complaint, then licked her lips in anticipation when she saw why.
Reaching between them, he dug inside the waistband of his pants, pushing them down with his wrist as he pulled his weeping cock out. Standing straight, it jutted from his hips, as thick as her wrist with fat veins standing out in stark relief. Unable to help herself, Talia ran her fingertip over the flushed head, spreading the silky juices around. The pulse between her legs grew so intense, it was almost painful, and he must have been suffering too, because Tucker’s head dropped back against the headboard, a moan spilling past his lips as he began to pump his shaft in long, measured strokes.
“Sit on me, sugar,” he urged, desperation evident in his voice. “Fuck me good and hard.”
With his head thrown back, his muscular throat on full display, his lips parted and skin flushed, he was the picture of masculine hotness.
Talia’s inner vixen rose up onto her knees, and she peeled aside her shorts, revealing her wet and ready pussy. Seeing her bare and ready for him, Tucker’s chest rose and fell heavily, and he angled himself toward her, holding his shaft at the ready.
Bracing her hands on his shoulders, Talia positioned herself over him and slowly lowered herself down. He slid in slowly, easily, fitting tight as a glove and filling her to capacity.
When she was fully seated, they both groaned, taking a moment to absorb the sensation of being connected. Then, with deliberate slowness, Talia began to move.
HAVE YOU MET THE PREZ OF THE #SPARTANRIDERS MC? GET LOST IN #GRIT, BLAKE AND GABBY’S STORY NOW!
Synopsis: Gabby Morgan isn’t looking for love. Not even a little romance. Following a rocky past that she’d just as soon forget, she’s determined to focus on the future. One that most certainly doesn’t involve the tough-as-nails, short-on-words, hot-as-hell biker…or his kid.
Blake Mahone may not be done with women, but he’s finished with relationships. Then Gabby Morgan enters the picture. She’s flawless, refined, and as his kid’s teacher, way out of his league. She acts like she hates him, but her eyes tell a different story. Before he knows it, Blake finds himself hot for teacher, and he’s more than ready to learn all her secrets. Now all he has to do is convince her to give him a shot…without getting them both killed in the process.
ABOUT J.C. VALENTINE
J.C. Valentine is the USA Today and International bestselling author of the Night Calls and Wayward Fighters Series and the Forbidden Series. Her vivid imagination and love of words and romance had her penning her own romance stories from an early age, which, despite being poorly edited and written longhand, she forced friends and family members to read. No, she isn’t sorry.
J.C. earned her own happily ever after when she married her high school sweetheart. Living in the Northwest, they have three amazing children and far too many pets and spend much of their free time together enjoying movies or the outdoors. Among the many hats she wears, J.C. is an entrepreneur. Having graduated with honors, she holds a Bachelor’s in English and when she isn’t writing, you can find her editing for fellow authors.
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