Chapter One Five years later Clint stood in the shadows of one of his favorite clubs, his eyes narrowed on the dance floor. He liked Diva's for a variety of reasons. The music was a mix of tracks. A little hard rock, a little Goth, a little pure fun. The women were the same mix, but he had found they all went for one thing in particular. The darker edge of sex. The dominance games, the harder, powerful sensations to be found with a man willing to push their limits. He hadn't expected to find Morganna here. The music playing now, he imagined, was meant to be pure fun. It should have been causing a riot. A mix of fury, disbelief, and wild hunger filled him as he watched the witchy little woman on the dance floor strut some daring stuff. She had his body tense, his cock engorged. A man only thought about one thing when he watched a woman dance like that, and it wasn't how concerned he should be with her safety. A man thought about sex when he watched her, and when he watched her dancing like a wanton, the need for sex overrode all else. The song was a fast-paced rock version of a messed-up line dance, he guessed. The dance floor was packed with women and a few men, laughingly following the singer's direction. Hell if he had ever heard of the guy. Casper? Clint shook his head in disgust. Diva's had an interesting mix of music some nights. The point being to get the women on the dance floor. On display. This music wasn't his thing, but Morganna was. Unfortunately. There she was, dressed in a little hip-hugger girls'-school skirt that barely covered her curvy little ass. Her ass nothing, the top of the skirt barely kept her decent. He swore if it dipped just a breath, then there would be no secrets left to bare between those pretty, shapely thighs. The white tank top she wore might at first thought have been considered demure. On the rack it might have been decent. On Morganna, it was a crime. It barely reached her belly button, flashing an indecent amount of skin, not to mention that damned gold belly ring he didn't know she had. When the hell had she had her belly button pierced? Raven hadn't said anything about that, and his sister was usually a font of information where Morganna was concerned. The top was thin; thankfully, it looked like she might be wearing a bra. He couldn't be sure from this distance. She wore a pair of black-and-white girl's shoes on her dainty feet but a pair of over-the-knee white stockings on her sexy legs. Those stockings were going to be the death of him. He could see her stretched out on his bed, her hands tied to the headboard with the silky hose while he stretched between her thighs and drove her crazy with his mouth. The image almost had him panting in anticipation. Oh yeah, he knew exactly how to use those stockings. Long, long, nut-brown hair rippled down her back as she tilted her hips forward, placed one dainty foot in front of her, and shook her ass in a move that had a cold sweat popping up on his brow. His dick was ecstatic. If she could dance like that, then those sweet hips moving, rotating, thrusting, would play hell on a man's sanity in the bed. And to top the entire outfit off was a thin black leather collar buckled around her neck. Sweet God have mercy, Clint prayed silently as he watched her, his eyes narrowed, his muscles tense. And the truly frightening part was that she was actually having fun. He could see it in her face, in her exotically tilted laughing gray eyes. In the way she moved. If she put half as much effort into fucking a man as she did into driving them crazy on that dance floor, then Clint was in trouble. Deep, deep doo-doo, as his dad once used to say. As the song came to an end, she shook her head, causing that long skein of hair to ripple and sway again as the leather-clad man beside her lifted her in his arms and swung her around with a laugh. If his hand had slipped down so much as a thought farther than it had toward her shapely ass, then he would have gone on the endangered-species list. Because Clint knew he would have tried to kill him. She patted the man's shoulder, making a laughing comment as she turned away and headed back to the crowded table she had been sitting at. The chairs were taken, but rather than taking the offer one of the men made as he patted his knee, her hip bumped at one of the women, who moved over a few scant inches on her own, allowing Morganna to perch on the edge. She crossed her legs as she leaned forward, listening to something the heavily Goth-dressed woman beside her was relating with an animated wave of her hands. Clint wiped the sweat from his brow and took a deep, steadying breath. He felt as though he had run a marathon. His heart was pounding in his chest, blood pooling between his thighs, torturing his cock. And it was all Morganna's fault. He glared back at her, not even bothering to rein in the crash of male irritation the thought brought. What the hell was she doing here? The women who came to Diva's knew the score, knew what they wanted, but even more, they knew what the men wanted. Sex. Wild, often extreme, sometimes not so sober, sex. He shifted his shoulders, flexing the muscles in an effort to relax, at least marginally, to find the strength to pull his eyes from the sight of the leather-clad man who had embraced her moments ago, bending close to her, his hand lying intimately on her shoulder. Clint had been standing there for over an hour, hiding in the dark corner, watching her, trying to watch those around her. He had come there to find a woman to help relieve the dark restlessness growing in his gut since he had been home. And he had found the woman. Despite the objections his conscience threw out at him and against all common sense, he was going to take her. From all appearances she knew the crowd she was running with well, which meant she had progressed past fairy tales and daydreams and into reality. He could fuck her and walk away, just as he had with every other woman he had taken to his bed. There would be no tears, no recriminations, no dreams of happily ever after. Did she have a lover? He watched the men who seemed to flock around her like wolves. She wore a collar around her neck with no adornments, no leash. It meant here, within Diva's, she was unclaimed. No other Dom held her loyalty and no Dom could be penalized with the loss of membership by disappearing with her. Clint watched the men around her. That didn't mean she didn't have a lover. Not that he cared at the moment. Not that he would care later. She didn't seem to pay attention to one man more than the other, and as she ordered a drink from the waitress, Clint could have sworn he caught a glimpse of weariness in Morganna's face. He grimaced at his overactive imagination. Morganna had been a social butterfly even before she came of age. She was one of those women perfectly at home in the middle of a crowd, finding her sense of purpose in the number of so-called friends she could gather around her at any one time. It shouldn't have surprised him that she had stepped into this lifestyle. The fact that it did caused a moment's worry. It was driving him crazy, watching the men who were drawn to her like flies to honey, their hands touching her bare shoulder, her satiny arm, trying to feel that ribbon of silk she called her hair. For eight years he had fought to stay away from her, to keep from sinking into that sweet, curvy body and destroying both of them. The two years before she turned eighteen didn't count. Seeing her as a woman and reacting to her as a woman, as he had just after she turned eighteen, were two different things. He had convinced himself she was innocent, too soft for his sexuality, too gentle for a dead-end relationship. Because Clint had learned years ago, at the brutality of his father's fists and his mother's faithlessness, that happy ever afters just didn't exist. And he didn't want to hurt Morganna. He had no desire to break her tender heart or to see her soft gray eyes fill with tears. But if she was here, enmeshed in the seedy sexuality of the club scene, then she surely knew the score. He could have her. Just once. Maybe twice. And he could walk away without risking his soul. He set his jaw in determination as he straightened from the wall and began moving toward her. The crowd parted before him. In a room of male Dom wannabes, Clint knew he stood out in the crowd. He wasn't a wannabe. He was strong enough to take what he wanted and make it stick. The crowd here knew him, understood him. He shrugged away the feminine hands that reached out as he passed by them. Women he had known in the past or those who had wanted a ride. He knew them, too. They craved the adventure, the excitement, the dark, carnal excesses that could only be found with a certain type man. He had a reputation for being just such a man. As Morganna was soon to find out. Morganna stilled her impatience, the instinctive irritation at having so many people around her, so many men trying to touch. You'd think they'd never touched a woman before. Sweaty hands running over her hair, her arm, and even worse were the ones who thought they could start at her knee and she would never notice their hands attempting to slide to her thigh and beyond. Twits. She gripped the wrist of yet another, glancing up at him as she attempted a polite smile. "I just washed," she informed him with what she hoped was a decent facsimile of a smile. A husky chuckle sounded in her ear before the bozo gripped the curve of her shoulder and arm and squeezed intimately. As though she knew him. Thankfully, the waitress chose that moment to arrive with their drinks, forcing him to move. Twit. Morganna took the soda she had ordered, sipping at it gratefully as the band shot into a dark, primal number that sent the energy level in the room pulsing. Lowering her glass but keeping it in her hand, she stared around casually, paying particular attention to the tables around them. She couldn't see her mark. She had glimpsed him earlier as he made his way across the room, a short Latino in black leather, his hand casually gripping a short dog chain. She knew what he was looking for. A woman who would allow him to leash her, to dominate her. He was also suspected to be one of the men involved in the drugging and kidnapping of six women who had turned up dead in the area. The new date rape drug was rumored to be under strict control until the suppliers could determine its worth on the streets. It was making them a fortune in the pornographic rape videos they were making; that was a certainty. Morganna suspected this man was the supplier whom the two men Joe Merino and his teams had arrested last week had refused to name. Adonis Santos had also been arrested last week when Morganna witnessed him tapping the powdered drug into a young woman's drink as two of his friends kept her occupied. The arrests of the three men had been a major break in the case Morganna had been assigned to in her first assignment with the Atlanta division of the DEA. "Hey, Morg, we need to hit this song." Jenna Lancaster, a secretary from the office Morganna worked at, bounded from her seat when another teeth-jarring set began. Morganna lifted her drink as she shook her head firmly. Hell no. She was out for a while. She hit the glass for another long swallow, wondering at the tingling at the back of her neck. Reaching back, she rubbed at the skin beneath her hair, looking around casually, wondering why she was suddenly so uncomfortable. She drained the soda, setting the glass on the table as it began to vacate, nominally, as the crowd moved for the floor. Pulling her hair over her shoulder, she sighed in relief at the brush of a breeze over her nape. "Another drink, Morganna?" Sandoval Mitchell watched her with dark eyes, his expression somber, watchful. He was like that. Always so serious it made her wonder why he even came here. He didn't dance much, rarely flirted. He just seemed to enjoy being on the outskirts of the crowd, always watching. Morganna knew most of the people gathered around her. It would be the same no matter which club she hit in town. Most were regulars, and some were even harmless. But mixed in were a few deadly individuals intent on destroying lives. It was the deadly Morganna was looking for. "No, thank you, Sandy." She smiled back at him warmly as she leaned back in the chair, taking the seat Jenna had vacated. "I think I'm good for the night." His dark eyes flashed with disappointment. He was kind of cute, in an immature way. He was a player here, not really into the scene in any serious way. He dressed the part with the black leather pants, leather vest, and boots but just didn't quite pull it off. "Would you like to dance?" The request was made with charming politeness. He was one of the few men there who wasn't a wolf. As she opened her lips to speak, she froze, staring over Sandy's shoulder in shock and amazement. It couldn't be Clint. She watched as the tall, broad body moved through the crowd, wide shoulders displayed perfectly in the snug black T-shirt he wore, the muscles of his arms bulging, the tight, hard abs flexing. Long, muscular legs ate up the distance, encased in snug denim, cupping a bulge that drove her imagination wild and made her mouth water. His black hair was longer than it had been last time she saw him, but it was still fairly short, brushed back from his face and emphasizing the strong, fierce features that had haunted so many of her nights. And his eyes. Deep, almost black, a midnight blue that made her heart beat faster, made her hungry in a way no other man could. What the hell was he doing here? She had no intention of waiting around to find out. There were a few things that Clint didn't know about her life, and Morganna found that she liked it that way. It kept her life running much smoother and without the hassle of worrying about him poking his nose into a career choice that had turned out to be exactly what she was looking for. Moving quickly to her feet, Morganna headed in the opposite direction, hoping to make it to the ladies' room before he caught sight of her or caught her. She wasn't stupid; he was coming for her and she knew it. She could feel it. She pushed through the throng, glancing behind her and feeling a start of apprehension sear her chest at the intent, primal expression on his face. Yep, he was after her, and he was gaining on her fast. Too fast. She pushed harder at the bodies blocking her way, weaving her way through the crowd as she fought to get to the bathroom. Once she was there it would be simple to send out an SOS to her backup and get Clint off her back. She couldn't risk it now, not while she could be seen, heard. The primal beat of the music emphasized the pounding of her heart as she glanced behind her again. He was closer, stalking her, his expression intent, carnal. Dangerous. She broke through the mass of bodies and streaked toward the long hallway that led to the bathrooms as well as the private rooms reserved for sexual play. Too bad she hadn't thought to reserve one; she could have locked herself in. But the bathroom was just ahead, the small neon light clearly lit over the doorway. Her hand touched the door as she went to lean her weight into opening it, but hard hands gripped her hips, nearly picked her up from the floor, and began to propel her forward. "You should have headed for the exit," Clint said into her ear. "You might have actually escaped then. What the hell are you doing here?" Shock held her speechless as he paused at one of the private rooms, swiped a card through the security lock, and propelled her through the open door. It wasn't a bedroom; there was no sleeping done here. This was a sex room. A large box bed sat in the middle of the room. There were shelves of sex toys, a wall hung with small whips and quirts. Manacles hung from the wall over the bed and chains with leather straps led from the floor at each corner of the bed. And Clint had a key to it. Which meant he knew what the hell went on in here. Even more, this was his personal room, reserved for him alone. He would have placed the toys here, the manacles, the accoutrements of the erotic and extreme. Shock plunged through her body. She had known he was dominant, highly sexual. But she had never suspected this. "Fancy seeing you here." She swung around, opening her eyes guilelessly as she stared back at him, fighting to calm her racing heart. "And you're not wearing leather, either. Aren't you breaking some kind of unwritten Dom rule?" He stared back at her. Morganna fought to keep her expression a bit mocking, rather than slack with amazement. And here she had thought she knew everything there was to know about her best friend's brother. "Is that look a permanent part of your expression? I don't think I've seen a change in years," she accused him lightly when he didn't speak. "Most people try for a little variety sometimes, you know?" "Is complete insanity a part of your personality?" he asked in turn. "I'm starting to think I should have let Reno tan your backside when he caught you slipping from your bedroom window years ago." Morganna rolled her eyes and fought to keep from showing her nervousness. "Reno wasn't going to 'tan my backside' then any more than he would now. He was all bluff." His lips tightened. Clint wasn't all bluff, and she knew it. "You need to be spanked," he growled, shooting her a brooding look as he strode to the small bar. She stared around the room again. "Well, if punishment were my thing, then you would be the man to come to. Tell me, do you really use this stuff?" He glanced over his shoulder, his gaze moving to the toys and sexual paraphernalia. "Sometimes." He shrugged. "Some subs almost require it." She raised her brows. "Does it turn you on?" His gaze flickered as it returned to her. "Would you like to find out?" It didn't turn him on. She could see it in his eyes, in his voice. Sometimes she knew Clint better than she knew herself. And she knew the look in his eyes as he answered her. A look of wary regret. "I think I'll pass tonight." She smiled back. But when he turned away from her, Morganna jumped for the door. The knob wouldn't turn. "You need a key," he informed her calmly as he poured a drink before turning back to her. Damn, he looked like a Dom. Brooding sexuality swirled around him as he lifted the short glass to his lips and tipped it back. When he lowered it again, his blue eyes seemed to burn into her. "I asked you a question. Answer me." She crossed her arms beneath her breasts as she faced him challengingly. "What do you think I'm doing here, Clint? It's a club, isn't it?" His jaw bunched before he brought the glass to his lips again and finished the drink. He looked even less pleased than normal. But he did look sexy. Hell, he always looked sexy. "You know what kind of club it is." His voice was hard, dark. The hunger slipping into it had her nipples peaking beneath her top, the flesh between her thighs moistening. "So I do." She fought to control her breathing, as well as her reaction to him. She knew exactly what kind of club it was and she knew the type of men who reserved these rooms. Realizing that Clint was one of those men had both fear and excitement racing through her. "So I'm asking you again. What are you doing here?" She had never heard that tone of voice before from him. Rasping, filled with lust. It shook her to her core. "Now, Clint, why do you think I'm here?" She cocked her hip and propped her hand on it, watching his eyes flare and loving the response. This was a side of him she had never seen. A side that fascinated her, drew her. Shocked her. "That's what I was asking you," he finally snapped. "Honestly, Morganna, I can't come up with a single reason why you would be here." "Of course not--you're too busy trying to convince yourself I'm complexly nonsexual and therefore unthreatening." She shrugged. "I'm not responsible for your self-delusions." Daring him was never a good idea, but she couldn't seem to help herself. Some imp of self-destruction was lodged in her brain and playing hell with her sense of self-preservation. He set the glass on the bar then, and before her stunned gaze he sat down in the plush chair beside it and stared back at her. His expression was so filled with lust, with carnal knowledge, that the fires burning in her body since she first caught sight of him began to flame higher. "Sexual, are you?" He flashed her a hard look. "Since when?" "I don't kiss and tell," she informed him with a polite smile. "A girl needs to have a little mystery, Clint." His blue eyes gleamed in assessment. Oh, now that look was interesting. If a little scary. God, why hadn't she known this about him? "Come over here." His voice was lower, darker, suggestive. His tall frame slouched in the chair, his legs splayed out before him as he stared back at her with that brooding, hot look. So hot it made her flush, made her breathe in nervously as she gathered her courage and stepped closer. "Closer." He lifted a hand from the chair arm, his fingers beckoning her closer. "Why?" She didn't trust this new Clint in any way whatsoever. "So I can show you why little girls shouldn't play grown-up games," he growled. "Come on, Morganna; show me how grown-up you think you are." Copyright © 2006 by Lora Leigh. All rights reserved.
Lora Leigh is the author of Live Wire, Forbidden Pleasure, and Enigma, among many others. Writing is her passion, her peace, and her lifeline, and she can often be found daydreaming and plotting and planning with the varied characters that fill her imagination. When she isn’t writing, she tends her flower gardens, watches horses romp outside her home, or spends time with the family and pets she fills her life with. She lives in the rolling hills of Kentucky.