Ace of Spades
by Sandra Owens
Series: Aces & Eights, #3
: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: February 6, 218
Two FBI agents struggle with desire in the shadow of a killer, in the third installment of Aces & Eights.
Nate Gentry has been a rock for his two younger brothers since the day their mom walked out and left them with their abusive father. Now that they’ve grown up, he’s watched Alex and Court fall in love and settle down. But Nate isn’t made for romance. He keeps his relationships casual. And getting casual with his partner is a fantasy he can’t shake…
Taylor Collins has feelings for Nate, too—and though they run hot, her best friend on the team is strictly off limits. Until a spark in his eyes says, Go for it. But reaching out could prove to be a bad move now that they’re working closer together than ever, and on the most dangerous case of their careers.
An investigation into a brutal series of murders is stirring up bad memories for Taylor, and neither she nor Nate can imagine how close to home it’s going to hit. When it does, Nate will risk everything—including his heart—to keep Taylor safe.
Taylor was trained to observe, and observe she did. Why else would he be squirming in his chair if she weren’t making him hot and bothered? She swallowed a smile. “Just putting it out there. If you were like any other man, I could be all coy”—she fluttered her eyelashes—“and girlie.” Ah, the ghost of a smile, there and then gone, flitted across his face.“Please don’t ever go all girlie on me.”
“I wouldn’t know how if my life depended on it. Give me one good reason we shouldn’t give in to this thing between us? And don’t say you’re afraid of screwing up our friendship.” She believed that was a part of it, but there was more to his reticence than that.
“Isn’t that a good enough reason? It’s one you should be worried about.”
“But I’m not. It’s chemistry, Nate, nothing more. We’re consenting adults, intelligent, and all that. There’s no reason we can’t enjoy each other for however long we want and still be friends when it’s over.” And yes, she was saying what she thought he wanted to hear. If she told him she loved him, he’d probably ask for a transfer to the other side of the world. She waited, watching him spin his beer bottle, sensing that she was finally going to find out why he’d always held back.
He lifted his eyes to hers. “What if you fall in love with me? I’ll never marry, and I won’t ever change my mind about that.”
“Not a problem, but why not? What if you do eventually meet someone and fall in love?” And that would kill her.
“I won’t.” He stared at her with the kind of intensity that was so him. “When you say not a problem, how can you know that for sure?”
She didn’t. “I’m not looking for a ring on my finger. There’s too much on my plate as it is what with my job and the girls. The last thing I need is a man wanting me to take care of him, too. Or, God forbid, trying to tell me what to do.”
“And you think I would?”
No, he was a man who wouldn’t make those kinds of demands from her. He was also the one man she thought she could love for the rest of her life. But she’d cut her tongue out before ever admitting that to him.
“I don’t intend to find out whether you would or not since I’ll never give you that kind of power over me.” He still hadn’t explained why he was so adamant that he’d never marry, but she’d drop it for now. “So, what do you say?” She reached across the table and trailed her finger over his arm. “Are we going to do it or not?”
He laughed. Actually freaking laughed. She felt like she’d just won the lottery, but she didn’t make a big deal over it. Knowing Nate, if she did, he’d never laugh again. Her heart pounded as she waited for his answer. She hadn’t intended to push the issue tonight, but she only had so much patience. If he said no, it would be the last time she’d ask. If nothing else, she had her pride.
Without answering, he pulled a twenty out of his wallet, dropped the money on the table, and then grabbed her hand, tugging her up with him. Mere seconds later, they were outside. He kept walking, not saying a word, and even with her long legs, she had to jog to keep up with him. She figured one of two things were about to happen. First option, he was going to put her in her car, tell her to stop asking to have sex with him, and then send her on her way. What she hoped would happen was that he’d finally caved.
When they reached her car, he backed her against the door, put his hands on the roof, caging her in, and said, “I give up.”
Then his mouth came down on hers. Like the first two times he’d kissed her, this one was possessive, demanding, and hungry. But so much more, as if now that he’d agreed to this, he was all in. He tasted like malt beer and wintergreen. Tangy and delicious.
Her legs lost the will to hold her up, only the car at her back and Nate pressed against her front keeping her on her feet. When he pulled away, she growled in displeasure, and another ghost smile curled his lips, gone as fast as it had appeared.
“Go home, Taylor.”
What? “But I thought—”
A best selling, award-winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed thrilling stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.
Sandra is a member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll and a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.