Former Special Forces.
One last mission.
These are the men of Hard Ink.
Ever since hard-bodied, drop-dead-charming Shane McCallan strolled into the dance club where Crystal Dean works, he’s shown a knack for getting beneath her defenses. For her little sister’s sake, Crystal can’t get too close. Until her job and Shane’s mission intersect, and he reveals talents that go deeper than she could have guessed.
Shane would never turn his back on a friend in need, especially a former Special Forces teammate running a dangerous, off-the-books operation. Nor can he walk away from Crystal. The gorgeous waitress is hiding secrets she doesn't want him to uncover. Too bad. He’s exactly the man she needs to protect her sister, her life, and her heart. All he has to do is convince her that when something feels this good, you hold on as hard as you can—and never let go.
It’s release day! And I’m so excited to share Hard As You Can, the second book in the Hard Ink series, with all of you here today! Hard As You Can follows the surviving members of a disgraced Army Special Forces team as they fight to regain their stolen honor, and finds their investigation crossing paths with a waitress willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her younger sister. For Shane McCallan, saving Crystal Dean is a mission he refuses to turn down.
Today, I’ve got a super sexy scene to share with you, one that was a total surprise to me as I was writing it! I hope you enjoy this peek at the first time Shane and Crystal find themselves alone with each other:
“Do you like to dance, Crystal?” Shane asked in a low voice.
“Uh, what? Why?”
His smile was crooked, playful. “ ’Cause dancing’s something people do when they’re getting to know each other.”
“Really?” Maybe where he was from. Then again, she worked in a strip club. Dancing was something people did to make money. So, okay, maybe her view of dancing was a bit jaded.
“Absolutely. Ask anybody.” The song faded away, followed by the announcement of a Southern rock station’s call sign. A new song started, and Shane turned to her with a smile. “Dance with me.”
Crystal peered up at him without the slightest idea how to respond. Because her body was saying hell, yes!, while her brain was screaming bad idea, really, really bad idea.
He stepped closer, arms raised, expression full of all kinds of invitation.
The next thing she knew, her right hand was in his and her left had slipped around his neck. Ohmigod, ohmigod, ohmigod, ran over and over in her mind. What am I doing? But then he tucked her hand against his chest and tugged her against him with the hand that settled at her lower back. And the closeness stole her breath.
He moved them to the beat of the song, a slow, sexy, bluesy number she didn’t know but would never forget. Some songs carried memories like the images were imprinted upon the very lyrics themselves, and she had no doubt this would be one of them.
All of a sudden, the air in the room felt ten degrees warmer. As they swayed to the beat, Shane’s body pressed against hers from thighs to chest. With every step and move and turn, Crystal’s breasts rubbed against the hard plane of his chest. Strong hands held and guided her body, making her want to feel them explore her everywhere. Arousal rose like a waking dragon inside her. Cautious. Curious. Dangerous.
This was wrong and stupid on so many levels. But, scary as it was, it felt so freaking good that she couldn’t force herself to pull away. One song. It’s just a dance. Just a dance just a dance just a dance.
And, holy crap, she wasn’t the only one aroused.
Against her belly, Shane hardened.
Crystal sucked in a breath, and he pressed his lips close to her ear. “We’re just dancing here. That’s all. I promise,” he said. But the adrenaline was already in her blood, setting her to a trembling she couldn’t control. Part curious interest and part instinctive fear. “Sshh,” he almost cooed. “Just dancing.”
The echo of her own thoughts from a moment before allowed her to draw a breath that almost calmed. They turned and swayed to the music, moving closer, pressing tighter, Shane’s lips so close to her face that she could feel his breath shudder across her cheekbone.
He was a fire she had no business playing with. She knew that even as she leaned her face against his . . . and got exactly what she’d hoped for.
He kissed her.
Just a brush of his lips against her cheek, but a kiss all the same.
And as much as it made her head spin, it was the little catch of breath in the back of his throat that sent a jolt of electricity down her spine to settle low in her belly. Light as a feather, he caressed her cheek, her temple, her ear with his lips. With him, always such gentleness, so different from almost every other sexual experience she’d ever had. It made her feel safe to allow this to continue.
Between them, his erection was firm, long, totally unyielding.
She shivered, caught between interest and fear, desire a river moving faster and faster inside her. The whole experience was a revelation—that her body had the capacity to respond this way, that a person existed who could pull these reactions from her.
For a moment, she gave herself over to the dizzying sensations. In her mind’s eye, she saw them undressing, fumbling their way back the hall, falling naked and wanting on the bed. What would it be like, just once, to take something that she wanted without worrying about anyone else, without being afraid? Just one wild, secret night, all for her? What would Shane be like?
So that’s Shane and Crystal for you! Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!
Read an Extended Excerpt of Book 1, Hard As It Gets
Laura is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of over a dozen books in contemporary and paranormal romance. Growing up, Laura’s large extended family believed in the supernatural, and family lore involving angels, ghosts, and evil-eye curses cemented in Laura a life-long fascination with storytelling and all things paranormal. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and cute-but-bad dog, and appreciates her view of the Chesapeake Bay every day.
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