When Juliet goes into the woods to find the sexy, mysterious stranger who rescued her from a mountain lion attack, she finds more than she bargained for. Deacon’s far more dangerous than the Kentucky wildlife. As she tries to fight her feelings for Deacon, she learns more about his family and their legacy of crime.
But Deacon’s an addiction she can’t escape, and every day Juliet falls harder for him. Only his family, the woods that are determined to kill her, and Deacon himself stand in the way of her quest to capture her bad boy’s heart.
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Copyright ©2021 ML Uberti
I set up Grandma Lynnie with a TV tray, handed her the remote, and went to get the laundry off the line.
“This is nine cubes, Juliet Olivia!” she shouted after me, then I heard her grumble, “Oh, those two are stuck together. Harrumph.”
I had paused as she started to scold me, and one of her cats wiggled between my legs, darting out the open doorway in search of freedom. I couldn’t blame him — hell, I wanted to tag along.
“Murray can’t go outside! Go and get him, Juliet Olivia! Go now!” Grandma Lynnie screeched from behind me. I looked at the cat full out running down the road toward the woods at the end of the block and let out a long breath. Every single cat looked alike, three were allowed outside, two were fed by hand, two liked to sleep on my head, and one of them had only three legs. Murray, who apparently wasn’t allowed to escape, was the three-legged miscreant.
“Go!” My grandma raged behind me as I took a deep breath, said a silent prayer for strength and broke into a run down Bell Avenue to try to catch the fastest tri-pod feline in the contiguous United States.
Murray had apparently decided that the woods at the end of the street, the one set a good deal away and down from the hill Grandma’s house sat on and flanked by two others on each side of Bell, looked like the perfect place to run away to. Problem was the woods were dense, and rose up steeply once you crossed the initial few dozen yards in and had a no trespassing sign posted on every tree I rushed past to catch my striped nemesis.
“Murray!” I hiss-shouted at him, but he was booking. And he was surprisingly spry — he dodged trees like an athlete. Little bastard.
I was huffing by the time I breached the first incline, scanning the dark wood for his furry little body. I didn’t see him at first, then caught sight of a gray blur a few hundred feet away and took off in that direction. I was almost on his tail, literally, when I heard a growl on my left and froze in my tracks.
I swiveled my head and saw nothing, but when I glanced behind me I realized I couldn’t see the road anymore — all I saw were trees and moss. I had gone way further in than I had intended to. And if I didn’t turn back now and retrace my steps directly the way I came, I could easily get lost.
I looked for Murray, but the blur was gone and as I twisted forward I heard the growl again — louder and on my right.
A fragment of sun shone down through the thick canopy above, and as my eye scanned the woods, I didn’t see anything. Then a figure moved closer and my eyes tracked the smooth gait of a giant mountain lion that had its eyes — and teeth — pointed squarely in my direction.
“Oh fuck,” I whispered to myself, all the blood draining from my face and my stomach filling with acid. It wasn’t far — not that close but I didn’t think I could outrun it. And if I could, it was standing between me and the direction I was supposed to go in. Which meant I would end up deeper in the woods.
I swallowed hard, wondering how long it had been since I had climbed a tree, and felt myself start to shake as the massive cat stalked slowly toward me.
“Please.” My voice broke as I shuffled back, pleading with an animal that didn’t speak English to, I don’t know, abandon its instinctive nature and decide to take a walk through the wood and find a little bunny to feast on. Or Murray! I’d sacrifice that little asshole to save myself. In a heartbeat.
Maybe that made me a bad person. Maybe that’s why I was going to die — because I was the kind of girl who would give up a three-legged cat to a mountain lion to save her own skin. But, logically, once the lion got done with me, it would probably eat Murray for dessert. So better one of us got out of this alive.
I glanced behind me, seeing nothing but trees and decided I’d rather run than stand here and become a Lion Lunchable, so I twisted on the ball of my foot and took off. I wasn’t very fast even though I had run track in high school all four years — and the mountain lion seemingly liked to chase.
I heard its huge paws hit the ground running as I did, so I zigzagged thinking I could outsmart it. But the pounding of his steps got closer and I was sure I was going to die — and I hadn’t brought in the laundry yet.
Suddenly, I was off my feet and flying through the air, my body moved without my own volition and shoved behind a tree as a hulking figure stepped out and directly into the path of my attacker.
“Go on, get!” the man in the woods yelled, staring down the mountain lion and advancing toward it like he wanted to die.
“Don’t!” I whispered and tried to pull the man back as I got a handful of his shirt.
He pinned me with a dark green gaze and barked one word. “Stay.” Then he moved closer to the lion…
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Starbucks aficionado, lover of throw blankets and betrayer of all things kale, ML Uberti is a Wayne State University graduate and Metro Detroit author with a predilection for oddities and happy endings. She is mom to three autistic kids, 2 ridiculously stupid dogs and wife of a teacher and musician who has endless patience for her impeccably bad taste in Netflix shows and murder documentaries. She is thrilled to dip her toe into scifi romance from contemporary and hopes you enjoy her big, brooding alien alphas and resilient fairy tale queens.