Lora Leigh’s Wicked Lies is out this week!
From #1 bestselling author Lora Leigh comes Wicked Lies, a sizzling novel of the Men of Summer-their ways and means, and the women they desire…
HE’S TEMPTING FATE
Jazz Lancing is the stuff of legends. A mountain-bred ex-Navy SEAL with rugged dark looks, a tall muscled frame, and gorgeous blue eyes, he can have any woman he wants in the state of Tennessee. Except Annie Mayes. The beautiful, innocent teacher refuses to fall for Jazz because she’s hiding a secret more powerful than her own temptation …
SHE’S IN TOO DEEP
Jazz knows that Annie isn’t who she says she is-that she’s lying about her identity, her past, and her motives. But can she be trusted? Little does he know Annie has been craving his kiss for years, dreaming that Jazz would take her in his arms and save her from her demons. But telling Jazz the truth could put both of them in peril. In this deadly game of danger, deceit, and darkness, is desire worth the risk of losing…everything?
Check out this exclusive look at the third chapter:
From CHAPTER 3
Beautiful, beautiful little liar.
She was so fucking good. So good that Jazz didn’t know whether to be pissed off or amused. What she didn’t know was the fact that her secrets were going to be busted. He would make damned sure of it.
Once she’d helped Jessie straighten the kitchen she’d had the nerve to say good night and just leave. It wasn’t even dark yet. He hadn’t had a chance to cop a feel, steal a kiss, or piss her off before she left.
What he had managed to do was to make certain the bloody dish towel they’d pressed to her hand was bagged and prepped to send out for DNA results. When he’d seen her cut herself he’d nearly frozen in such a gut-level reaction, it had shocked him. The fact that she had been hurt had been so offensive to him that he wondered if he’d ever be able to see her with a knife in her hand again. It was obvious she needed a little practice before using one again.
“How long before the DNA results come back?” he asked Slade as they watched Annie’s taillights fade into the night.
“A few days to a week,” Slade answered absently as he propped his foot on the railing and leaned against the post of the porch. “Bridget will send me the results and I’ll match them first against the personal DNA database I’ve set up before running them on the federal program.”
If Slade was ever caught, there would be hell to pay. His fingerprint and DNA database for damned near everyone he’d come in contact with since returning to Loudoun included men and women the federal government was probably salivating for at any given moment. Unfortunately, it was 100 percent illegal as well, especially for a former federal agent.
“You think she has relatives in Loudoun?” Sometimes Slade’s suspicions went in strange directions.
Slade shrugged at the question. “She reminds me of someone. I just can’t place who. I’ve spent the majority of my life here, so I thought it seemed logical to start here.”
Slade was damned good with faces, but the suspicion only followed his own that the color of her eyes was due to contacts and that her hair had been colored. Like Slade, he must have seen her somewhere, possibly even here in Loudoun. It wouldn’t have been recently, though. A relative of a friend perhaps, or someone they’d dealt with in a business capacity.
“Let me know when the results come in,” Jazz asked, heading down the steps.
“Leaving?” Slade’s quiet voice was amused.
“I told Jessie good-bye before coming out here,” he promised his friend. “I have things to do tonight.”
“Things like heading to town to surprise Annie with a little visit?” Slade was no one’s dummy.
“Seems like the thing to do. Make sure her boo-boo is still covered and all that.” He chuckled as he threw his hand up in a farewell gesture and stepped into his pickup.
Okay, so he was chasing after a woman when he hadn’t done so in a lot of years. It wasn’t as though he were becoming involved or anything.
He left emotional entanglements to men like Slade and Zack. They needed the women they were focused on at such a gut-deep, primal level that it would destroy them should anything happen to those women. Jazz had learned years ago what happened to him when he let himself get emotionally entangled with someone and she died. As though he hadn’t learned his lesson the first time when his mother had died. Hell no, he’d had to go and let himself get entangled with a little vixen who had walked into his heart without his knowledge. He hadn’t even been aware of how important she was to him until she was gone.
Pulling out of Slade and Jessie’s driveway, Jazz turned onto the main road and accelerated away from the house. The drive into town didn’t take long, despite the curvy mountain road. In less than twenty minutes he was pulling into her driveway and turning off the truck.
Night had eased fully across the mountains, bathing them in mystery and the shield of darkness. Annie’s house sat on the outskirts of town, about halfway up the quiet street. The houses here weren’t as pristine and well presented as those closer to the town’s center, but the gentle wear Annie’s home was showing gave it a sense of character and life that the others didn’t have.
The rental was a spacious, single-story brick with a fenced front and backyard. The grass was trimmed; no weeds struggled to take over even at the edges of the yard. It was clean, if empty of most of the feminine touches he would have expected. There were no flowers ready to burst into rioting color. No newly planted shrubs or even a potted plant on the wide front porch.
The house was dark but for the faint hint of light at the rear of the house, but he knew she was there.
The main door eased open as he stepped to the porch. Coming to a stop he just stared at her as she stood on the other side of the storm door without opening it or asking him in.
“What are you doing here, Jazz?” The wariness in her tone gave him a vague sense of discomfort. It bothered him that she didn’t trust him, that she stayed on guard with him.
“Fuck if I know,” he admitted, watching her through the glass. “I should be home getting ready to go to work tomorrow, not standing here wondering how I’m going to try to talk you into letting me visit for a while.”
There was no way he could explain to her why he needed to be around her. He couldn’t even explain it to himself.
To protect her?
He could buy that, he was pretty “hands on” when it came to his damsels in distress.
She looked away, her gaze going to the darkened street before she shook her head slowly. Unlocking the door she stepped back, watching him as though she expected him to jump her at any moment.
It wasn’t trust—maybe more weary resignation than anything else—but he was in the front door. That was definitely a step in the right direction.
She’d changed from the jeans and T-shirt she wore at Slade and Jessie’s into a pair of soft cotton shorts and a tank top. She still wore a bra, though, where most women would have already tossed it to the side for comfort’s sake.
Ready to run at a moment’s notice, wasn’t she?
He bet she had a small pack that contained everything she needed if she had to escape quickly. Hell, he knew she did. He still kept one himself. Just in case.
Moving inside he closed the doors behind him, locking them automatically as she moved to an end table and turned on the lamp there.
The soft, low light bathed the room in a gentle glow.
It was as sparse as the front lawn. There was no more there than what had to be. Couch, two chairs, matching end tables, and a flat-screen television. A flannel throw was tossed over the back of one recliner but there were no pictures, no mementos, nothing that would illustrate parts of her life as most women had. No knickknacks, flowers, framed prints on the bare walls, or books to mark her tastes.
There was nothing to leave behind if she had to run. No pictures of friends who could be endangered, no indication of where she might go or where she might hide.
This room made his chest tighten, made him hurt for her. It was as empty as she seemed to have been forced to make her life.
Fuck, who was she? What the hell had her so spooked that she thought he’d ever allow her to just disappear?
“What do you want?” There was an edge of defensiveness in her voice, that tone that never failed to make him want to show her exactly what they both wanted.
Looking around the room it was all he could do to tamp his anger down, to pull back the urge to demand answers. He wanted to give her no chance of lying, no way to wiggle out of the facts. Anyone forced to live on the run long enough to learn how to stay unencumbered would know how to lie and make it believable. He didn’t want that between them. Nor could he handle the hunger for her that seemed to grow daily.
Damn her. He thought of little else anymore but her. It was bad enough before he’d learned that she wasn’t who she said she was—and that she could be in danger. Now it was like a constant storm surge, battering at his self-control until he began to wonder if he’d make it another day without confronting her. Without claiming her.
He hadn’t wanted like this since he was a young man, since he’d learned the danger in it. And even knowing that danger now, he couldn’t seem to step back.
“I’m sorry I made you feel as though I were dissecting you at Slade and Jessie’s.” He held back a smile as suspicion instantly lit her gaze.
“Really?” She crossed her slender arms beneath her breasts, cocked those shapely hips defiantly, and stared back at him, plainly disbelieving.
“Cross my heart.” He laid his palm over the middle of his chest as he watched her somberly. “That wasn’t what I was doing at all.” His hand dropped from his chest as his grin slipped free. “I was actually undressing you with my eyes.”
She wanted to laugh, he knew she did. The way her lips tightened, the narrowing of her eyes to hide that gleam of amusement.
“Jazz, one of these days you’re going to make me kick you,” she warned him with convincing disapproval.
He might have been convinced if he hadn’t caught that little twitch at the corner of her eyes when he winked at her.
“Come on, laugh, you know you want to,” he dared her.
“What I want is to know why you showed up on my doorstep tonight,” she retorted, glancing away from him momentarily.
When her gaze returned it was once again calm, though the suspicion still lingered. Watching him, her hand lifted to brush back her hair as it fell from behind her ear to brush against her cheek. She tucked the strands back with two fingers, though, rather than the three most women used. The odd little habit seemed strangely familiar, he just couldn’t place it.
The bandage he’d put on her hand earlier was gone, he noticed then, the wound now covered with a Band Aid, albeit a large square one. And she acted as though it hadn’t even happened. Or as though being cut, being hurt, wasn’t exactly foreign to her.
“You’re driving me crazy,” he finally told her. “And the thought that you believe I’d hurt you irritates me, sweetheart. It irritates me a lot.”
It bothered him more than he wanted to admit to himself. But as he stood there, facing her, he had to acknowledge to himself that her lack of belief in him had him questioning himself and what he might have done to make her distrust him.
“I don’t believe you’d physically hurt me,” she said carefully, swallowing as the pulse at her throat began to speed up. “I never thought that, Jazz.”
It was the truth.
She stared back at him directly, remorse darkening the hazel eyes as regret filled her expression.
Some of the tension that held his body taut relaxed. He hadn’t realized how much it did bother him that she might be scared of him. Wary of his intentions, he could understand. Frightened of his strength, well, he’d have to do something about that, if it had been the case.
“Then how do you think I’d hurt you?” Stepping closer he watched the indecision in her eyes, watched as she considered moving back, running from him. In the end she stood firm, even when he reached out and tucked that falling hair back into place for her.
“Like this,” she snapped, a little glare on her face. Her hands lifted to press against his chest when he stepped closer. “You use your soft words and your appreciation for a woman to seduce her straight into your bed. And it’s all a lie, isn’t it?” A hint of anger flashed in her eyes, and she did step back then. “You lie with every kiss, every touch, then you lie further when you convince them that walking away and staying friends will be so much more emotionally fulfilling than kicking your ass to the curb to start with.”
Kick his ass to the curb? Hell, what had he done?
Of course staying friends was better than breaking hearts and leaving hard feelings. Hell, there was enough of that going around. There was no need for him to add to it.
“Damn, you definitely have an opinion on me, don’t you?” He wasn’t angry, but he damned sure wasn’t happy at the moment. “Where the hell do you come up with this crap? Because I haven’t broken as many hearts as possible? Because I’m not moaning and moping because mine might have been broken? Really, darlin’? Don’t you think that’s just a little judgmental?”
His heart had been broken, though. It had been decimated to the point that it had taken nearly a decade to heal.
“No, I really don’t.” Her chin lifted stubbornly. “I know what I’ve seen out of you in the past two years and I know what I’ve heard. Your ex-lovers talk about you as though you’re some sort of trophy they were allowed to hold for a while. Now all they dream about is one more night. Well sorry, but that just isn’t me. I’d just go ahead and shoot you.”
Damn, she was a bloodthirsty little thing, wasn’t she?
He almost chuckled at the fierceness of her expression as it mixed with feminine arousal. She hadn’t learned yet how powerful anger could make the hunger.
“Shoot me for what?” He feigned disbelief. “For seducing you? Because I want you, because my dick is perpetually hard?”
A flush mounted her cheeks then, her gaze almost dropping to his thighs as though to verify his claim.
“Your dick stayed hard before I ever met you,” she accused him a second later, disgust snapping in her tone as she flipped her hand toward him disdainfully. “If you weren’t such a damned hound dog, Jazz, things might have been different, but as it is the thought of being part of the Jazz Lancing fan club just doesn’t sit well with me.”
It didn’t sit well with her?
So that was why her nipples were so hard they looked like little pebbles beneath her bra and shirt?
That straight little nose lifted, nostrils flaring as though some scent offended her, and Jazz could feel the dark core of sexual dominance rising inside him with a strength he hadn’t experienced before her.
At this rate they were both going to end up regretting what he was coming far too close to doing.
Or maybe not—
“Keep lying like that, baby girl, and I’m going to show you how full of shit you really are,” he warned her as she glared up at him, defiance and stubbornness tightening her expression.
“And how do you think you’re going to do that?” Little fists clenched at her sides as she angled herself as though attempting to go nose-to-nose with him. “You couldn’t show me a damned thing, Jazz, you’re too busy protecting that cold little heart of yours while you’re notching your bedpost like some collector.”
Staring into her eyes he saw the anger, that it was a very small part of the heat driving her. Her breasts were heaving, hard little nipples tempting him to touch, to taste. And he was betting they’d be candy-sweet. Her hazel eyes were greener, a hint of freckles over her nose more noticeable, and he knew what arousal looked like in a woman. He knew how hunger brightened her eyes, flushed her cheeks, and plumped the curve of pretty breasts. And he knew she was showing every sign of it.
“Let me just show you how I’m going to prove it.” Before she dared try to avoid him, he gripped her hips, lifting her against him, he wrapped one arm around her waist, the other around her back. His hand buried in the back of her soft hair, his fingers clenching in the silken strands.
Pulling her head back his lips slanted over hers, tongue driving past them as control exploded into a white-hot, searing lust he swore he’d never known before. Her kiss was like pouring gasoline to a fire. They were both burning out of control now.
She could slam his ass for his hunger, for lovers he hadn’t touched since meeting her, and all the while lie through her teeth about her own need for him?
The hell she would.
She was practically shaking as her arms slid around his neck, holding on to him as though terrified he’d let her go. Her lips parted, a whispery moan leaving them as he tasted her with his lips and tongue, claimed her kiss, devoured the hunger he could feel in her response.
Pleasure consumed his senses. Her sharp little nails rasping against the back of his neck like a cat kneading in pleasure. She arched against him, her lips moved beneath his, taking his kiss as he took hers. And those tempting, firm little breasts, confined as they were in that bra, pressed into his chest, rubbed against it, and drove spikes of sensation straight to his dick.
God help him, he’d never wanted anyone . . . anything . . . like he wanted this woman.