Melissa Foster Passionate Romance for Fiercely Loyal Hearts

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KINDLE | APPLE | NOOK | GPLAY | KOBO | PAPERBACK

IF ALAN ROGERS had been referred by anyone other than Chloe Mallery—the only woman Justin Wicked wanted in his bed—Justin might have already cut off the long-winded, condescending jerk and been on his way out for a drink with his older brother and business partner, Blaine. They’d spent the hour since closing time listening to the executive director of the Lower Cape Assisted Living Facility (LOCAL) drone on about his expensive home and the elaborate patio he wanted them to install.

“I assume you two will be doing the work?” Alan asked, giving Justin and Blaine a scrutinizing stare.

Justin could feel the pompous prick judging his tattoos, worn jeans, black T-shirt sporting a Dark Knights at Bayside motorcycle club logo, biker boots, and the leather jewelry he wore. The Dark Knights were known in most circles for the work they did to keep the community safe, and for their charitable efforts, like raising awareness about suicide and bullying prevention. Justin doubted this guy, with his fancy suit and patronizing looks, had any idea about the good they did, and he didn’t give a rat’s ass what the guy thought of them. After spending nearly a third of his life afraid to envision a tomorrow, much less a future, not a day passed when Justin didn’t thank his lucky stars for the Wickeds and the motorcycle club that his father, Rob “Preacher” Wicked, and his uncle Conroy had founded more than thirty years ago.

The tension on Alan’s face eased as he shifted his attention to Blaine, just as Justin had known it would. While Justin carried a usually well-hidden chip on his shoulder from the rough life he’d lived prior to being fostered and then adopted by the Wickeds, Blaine was a James Marsden lookalike with an easy smile and clear, unhaunted eyes. Like Justin, Blaine was a member of the club, along with their other two brothers. But Blaine played the games Justin refused to take part in, like wearing button-down shirts or Cape Stone polos and covering most of his tattoos when he was at work. But looks could be deceiving. His badass brother was a fucking beast who wouldn’t hesitate to unleash his wrath in order to protect others.

No one knew how deceiving looks could be better than Justin. The universe had known exactly where he belonged when he’d been placed in the Wicked household. He and his brothers shared the same tall, broad-shouldered stature, dark hair, and ice-blue eyes as Preacher. Their younger sister also shared their coloring, though she was petite, and her eyes were as clear as the summer sky. No one had ever guessed that Justin was adopted.

“I’ll be drawing up the plans,” Blaine said, exchanging a knowing glance with Justin.

“But as we explained, our team will be laying the stone.” Justin rolled his shoulders back, feeling twitchy from standing still too long, and said, “Our guys are bonded and insured and have worked with us for years. You’re in competent hands.”

Alan nodded and said, “Chloe has good things to say about you boys.”

Justin gritted his teeth against the man’s condescending tone. Preacher called them his boys, but he said it with respect and pride. Even their sister, Madigan, called them boys from time to time, but always with the loving tone of an adoring sibling. But he’d had enough of this guy’s attitude. He pushed to his feet and said, “Boys? I’m pretty sure Chloe can attest to—”

“That’s good to hear,” Blaine interrupted, shooting Justin a biting look. “We always appreciate referrals. We’ll need to come out and assess the property before giving you an estimate.”

They scheduled an appointment to see the property the following Thursday morning. Alan wouldn’t be home, but he assured them that his wife could show them around. Justin couldn’t imagine what woman would marry his pretentious ass. He bit his tongue until Alan walked out the showroom doors, and then he said, “Fucking prick.”

“Maverick, you sure you want to take on this job?” Blaine asked.

Like Preacher, Justin went by his given name in business and by Maverick, his road name, when he was with other Dark Knights, while Blaine and their younger brothers, Zeke and Zander, preferred not to use road names. Before Justin could answer, the showroom doors opened and in walked Zander and their cousin Dwayne aka Gunner. Like Justin’s their jeans were worn and their boots scuffed.

Gunner, a stocky ex-marine-turned-animal-rescuer with closely shorn blond hair and tattoos from neck to wrist, hiked a thumb over his shoulder and said, “Who was that douchebag?”

“He works with Chloe.” Justin was as close to Gunner and his brothers, who also went by their road names, Tank and Baz, as he was to his own siblings. He’d also been close to their late sister, Ashley, who had committed suicide by overdosing several years ago, when she was in college.

“Someone needs to take the stick out of his ass,” Zander said as he hoisted himself up to sit on the table where Blaine was gathering brochures. Zander’s filter was nearly nonexistent. As a kid with a learning disability, he had always been the class clown—anything to keep his nose out of the books. Zeke, who was only a year older, had become his protector and his tutor. Zander was twenty-eight now, and he was still a jokester.

“No kidding.” Justin turned to Blaine and said, “And to answer your question, yes, I’m sure I want to take on the job. Chloe asked for a favor, and she never asks for a damn thing.”

“Then why are you always doing shit for her?” Gunner asked.

“Because we’re friends, and that’s what friends do.”

Zander cocked a grin and said, “He thinks it will get Uptown Girl into his bed.”

Justin glared at him. They were always teasing him about her being out of his league. He’d met her through his closest female friend, Violet, who owned Summer House Inn in Wellfleet with her sister, Desiree. Chloe had immediately caught his attention, and yeah, at first glance she was a tall, blond, regal beauty. The kind of woman who wouldn’t give a biker the time of day. But she sure as hell flirted with him in her own scorching-hot way, though he knew it looked to others an awful lot like she was blowing him off. But he’d learned her little tells—the hitching of her breath, the extra second she took before speaking to steel herself against their white-hot chemistry. Her keen hazel eyes and smart-ass banter intrigued him as much as her brilliant mind and gorgeous body. He knew in his gut that there was a lot more to Chloe—and to them—than met the eye, and he was determined to peel away those perfectly put together layers even if it took him a lifetime.

“Fuck that,” Gunner said. “She’s gorgeous, but you’ve been dicking around with her forever. It’s time to find another woman to ride your hog.”

Jesus. Do you really do shit expecting sex in return?” Justin shot him a disbelieving look.

“No, man,” Gunner said. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“But you’ve got to admit, you’re always helping her—like she’s your woman, not just your friend,” Zander said.

“I don’t keep a tally on friendship, and a woman doesn’t have to be mine for me to treat her well. Doesn’t love, loyalty, and respect for all mean anything to you?” He knew they were just giving him shit and that they all lived by the Dark Knights’ creed, but Alan Rogers had put him in a crappy mood.

“Of course, man,” Gunner said.

“Good. Then shut your mouth about Chloe. I’m not just interested in screwing her, and she’s not ready for me yet,” Justin said arrogantly. “She still believes her Prince Charming wears a frigging tie, and that’s okay. I get it. She’s a classy chick. But trust me, one day she’ll get out of her own fucking way and know who her man is meant to be. Some things can’t be rushed.” That was a lesson Justin had learned long ago. He’d been placed with the Wickeds as a foster child when he was eleven, and it had taken him about a year to open up to them. Twenty-plus years later, he still considered it the best thing he’d ever done.

“I’m going to call Chloe and let her know we met the guy. Be right back.” Justin walked out of the showroom and headed toward his office. Chloe answered on the second ring.

“Mr. Wicked, my favorite biker boy. To what do I owe this pleasure?”

Her alluring voice brought a smile to his face. “Hey, heartbreaker. I just met with the guy you referred, Rogers. Can’t say I like him much.”

“I know he’s a little strange, but he’s my boss, and his wife is the sweetest woman on earth. When I saw her a few weeks ago, the patio was all she could talk about. She shouldn’t pay the price for his being weird. I would really appreciate you helping them out.”

“Only for you, princess.” He had about a hundred terms of endearment for her because she was too complex and compelling for just one.

“I don’t think I’ve ever worn a tiara,” she teased.

“Then I’ll have to fix that.”

“You realize I said tiara and not spiked leather collar, right?”

Man, he dug her. “Does that mean you’ve worn a leather collar before?”

“Oh my gosh. No.” Her embarrassment radiated through the phone.

“I might have to fix that, too.”

“In your dreams. Listen, I hate to cut this short,” she said apologetically. “But I just got to Undercover. Can we talk later?” Undercover was a bar in Truro owned by their buddy Colton.

“Sure, no worries.” Justin ended the call and headed back to the guys, wondering what was going on at Undercover.

“Hey, just a heads-up,” Gunner said as Justin joined them. “The cops are closing in on that dogfighting ring.” Gunner and his brother Baz, a veterinarian, had uncovered a dogfighting ring a couple of weeks ago and had alerted the police. In situations where animals were at risk, they worked with the authorities to get them to safety at Gunner’s rescue. “When they shut it down, I’ll need help transporting the dogs back to the rescue. Think either of you can be there to help?”

“Of course,” Justin said.

“I’ll make time. Any idea when it’s going down?” Blaine asked.

“Cuffs will update us at church Wednesday night.” Cameron “Cuffs” Revere was a policeman and a Dark Knight, and church was what the club called their weekly meetings. Gunner clapped a hand on Justin’s shoulder and said, “Want to hit the Hog?” Gunner’s parents, Conroy and Ginger, owned a restaurant and bar called the Salty Hog, a favorite haunt for locals, tourists, and of course, the Dark Knights.

“Not tonight,” Justin said. “I’m heading up to Undercover.”

Blaine pulled his keys from his pocket and said, “Is Chloe going to be there?”

Justin nodded.

“Does she have another date?” Blaine asked.

“Dude, is she still wasting her time using those dating apps?” Gunner asked. “Going out with clean-cut guys who work desk jobs and probably fuck for three-minutes, missionary style, without messing up her hair?”

Justin gritted his teeth against the idea of Chloe fucking anyone but him and said, “I don’t know what she’s up to tonight, but I want to make sure she’s safe.”

“If Chloe’s there, you can count me in.” Zander smirked. “I’ll call Zeke and have him meet us there.” He was always trying to drag Zeke into his playboy ways, though Zeke preferred to commune with nature rather than hang out at clubs. “Hey, Maverick, may the best Wicked win.”

As they left the showroom, Justin said, “I thought you liked your pretty face in one piece, little brother.”

“You misheard me, bro. I like my pretty face on a woman’s piece.” Zander laughed and high-fived Gunner as they headed for their motorcycles.

“Idiots,” Justin said as he locked the showroom doors. “Blaine, you coming?”

“Someone’s got to make sure the animals don’t get out of hand.”

***

UNDERCOVER WAS THE only nightclub in Truro, a small beach town, and like on most summer nights, it was packed. Justin’s eyes swept over the crowded dance floor as he made his way toward the bar. Colored lights rained over scantily clad women and testosterone-laden men, who were bumping and grinding to a seductive beat. He’d seen Chloe dance plenty of times when they were out with friends. She had moves that could make a dead man come. As he wove past the last few tables and joined Blaine and the others at the bar, he was relieved not to have spotted her on the dance floor with another guy.

Blaine ordered a round of beers and motioned across the room. Justin followed his gaze to Chloe, looking sexy as sin in a black sleeveless dress as she entered the room from the hallway that led to the ladies’ room. Her hair was like spun gold. It brushed her shoulders and framed her gorgeous face as she moved gracefully through the crowd. She stood out like a diamond in a sea of rocks. Chloe didn’t rely on low-cut tops or short skirts like other women did. She was confident and smart, and she had a sharp mouth. A mouth Justin had fantasized about so many times, he was sure he knew exactly how it would taste the first time they kissed, how it would feel the first time she wrapped her luscious lips around his cock, and the way that mouth would look when she cried out his name as his face was buried between her legs.

“Damn, bro,” Zander said, tearing Justin from his reverie. “I don’t care if you smash my face. She’d be worth every bruise.”

Justin shot him a dark stare, then turned his attention back to Chloe as she lowered herself to a chair across from another fucking clean-cut Ken doll wearing a button-down shirt and tie.

“Looks like a date to me,” Blaine said, handing Justin a beer.

Justin took a swig, his eyes trained on Chloe.

As though she could feel him watching her, she looked over. Their eyes collided with the scorching flames of a blowtorch. Her lips tipped up at the edges, and Justin felt a tug deep in his chest. There it was, the moment that burned past the heat to the something more he couldn’t name but knew existed.

In pure Chloe fashion, she narrowed her eyes and shifted in her chair, crossing her long legs. He fucking loved her legs and she knew it. She lifted her chin in that defiant way she’d been taunting him with since the day they’d met and turned her beautiful eyes on the geek sitting across from her.

Justin ground out a curse. He tried to focus on the shit his brothers and cousin were saying, but like metal to magnet, his attention was drawn back to Chloe. She looked bored, and her eyes skirted back to him. That’s it, baby, you know you want me.

Her date pulled out his phone and pressed it to his ear as he stood up. He held up one finger to Chloe and walked away from the table. Fucking idiot. Justin took advantage of the opening and headed over to her. She watched him approach. Her poorly stifled smile didn’t hide a damn thing.

“Hey, blondie,” Justin said as he took the seat across from her. “What kind of douchebag leaves a gorgeous woman alone?”

“The most boring kind on earth,” Chloe said, stealing a glance in the direction the guy had gone. She leaned across the table, eyes dancing with mischief, and said, “Any chance you want to pretend to be my jealous ex-boyfriend?”

Justin scoffed. “You’ve got to be kidding me. Is he being disrespectful? Because if he is—”

No. He’s just a total dud, and I don’t want to sit here anymore.” She sighed and said, “I’ve ended so many dates before dinner, I’m starting to feel like a bitch.”

“Maybe it’s time you stop making those dates in the first place.”

“I’m not so sure you’re wrong about that.” She cocked a brow and said, “I’ll owe you big-time if you save me the notch in my bitch belt and be that jealous ex-boyfriend.”

“I’m not into debts. And trust me, babe. I will never be your ex-boyfriend. But I will be your last, because once you realize you’re meant to be with me, no other man will ever be enough.”

She rolled her eyes. “Never mind. I’ve got this.” She sat up straighter, readying for battle, and looked directly at the soon-to-be-ditched guy, who was now heading back to the table.

Justin knew damn well she could handle herself, but he’d take great pleasure getting rid of that asshole. “What’s the dude’s name?”

“Jeffrey.”

“Figures. He pushed to his feet and strode over to the loser, planting himself between the guy and Chloe. “You Jeffrey?”

“Yes. And you are?” He tried to peer around Justin.

Justin moved with him, blocking his view. “I’m Chloe’s friend. She’s done with this date. It’s time for you to leave.”

Confusion riddled his brow. “What…?”

“Sorry, man, but she’s not into you. Now turn around and walk out of the bar.” Justin had at least twenty pounds of muscle on the guy. But it wouldn’t matter if Jeffrey was as big as a house. Justin was fearless, and he backed down for no one.

“But—”

Justin stepped closer.

Jeffrey uttered “bitch” and turned to leave. Justin grabbed his arm and spun him around, getting right in his face, fuming through clenched teeth, “Say one more word about the woman that you never should have been allowed near, and it will be your last.”

A bead of sweat appeared on Jeffrey’s forehead.

“Now get out of here.” Justin waited until the guy was out the door before returning to Chloe, who was shielding her face in embarrassment. “Come on, dollface. I’ll give you a ride home.”

“I told you I could handle it. You didn’t have to go all caveman on him.” She reached for her purse and said, “I have my car. I met him here.”

“Then I’ll walk you to your car.”

“I appreciate the offer, but you don’t need to.”

“No shit. But I’m not the kind of guy who lets a lady leave alone, so let’s go, sweet thing. Smile and head for the door.”

“You’re so pushy,” she said as they cut through the crowd.

She’d said it teasingly, but he knew little Miss Independent better than that. She was proud of being self-reliant. What he didn’t know was why she was dead set against letting anyone else take care of her.

“What did you say to him?” she asked.

“I told him the date was over.” He held the door open, scanning the lot as he followed her into the warm night. “Do you see his car?”

“No. He was parked over there.” She pointed to the far end of the lot. “He’s gone,” she said.

Justin put his arm protectively around her. As they walked to her car, he slid his hand to her waist and pulled her closer. She lifted her eyes to his and the temperature spiked. Her cheeks flushed, and he knew she felt the same soul-searing impact he did.

She jammed her hand into her purse, moving out of his grasp as she withdrew her keys. “I owe you one,” she said a little breathlessly.

“You’ll never owe me anything, baby. Why do you waste your time with losers like that?”

She shrugged one shoulder. “On nights like this, I have no idea.”

“A woman like you shouldn’t be screwing around with dating apps and Ken dolls when you’ve got a real man standing right in front of you.”

Justin,” she said apologetically. “You know I swore off dating bad boys a long time ago.”

“That’s what you keep saying, but you have no idea how good bad can be.” He stepped closer, trailing his fingers along her arm, loving the hitch in her breath. “When you realize the error of your ways, you know where to find me.” He kissed her cheek and said, “’Night, hot lips. Be safe.”

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