Published by Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Marteeka Karland
Who knew I’d find my destiny at Christmas? Not me. Or her daddy. Don’t mean I ain’t keeping her.
Darcy: I didn’t run away from a sadistic stepfather and a mother who wouldn’t protect me just to be carted off by some strange man. I fought the son of a bitch. Woulda won, too, except the bastard had help.
Viper’s rough around the edges and some kind of badass biker, so there’s no way this is going to work out well. Unfortunately, he calls to me on a purely sexual level. Makes my heart race and my body melt just looking at me. It doesn’t help he’s actually nice to me. He claims to know my dad. My real dad. Says he’s been sent to bring me back. I have no idea if I believed him or not. Just don’t really have a choice but to go along. At least for now.
Viper: I tracked the cunning little wench for three fuckin’ days. In the fuckin’ snow. She’s good, too. She survived on her own in a hostile environment with only a little trouble. That alone would make me respect for her, but then she had to go and kick me in the balls. Had I not been on the ground in agony, I’d have been turned on beyond belief. Now, with her safely under my protection, I’ve got to figure out how to keep my hands off her so her father won’t kill my sorry ass. He’s our intel man and one of my best friends, so I don’t want to cause him grief. But I want Darcy. Badly.
It’s Christmas Eve, and there’s an enemy on our doorstep with a unique gift. One that will leave us all with some hard choices — Darcy especially. What unfolds next is something none of us ever planned for.
Warning: Viper (Bones MC 4) deals with issues of abuse and human trafficking that may be triggers for some readers.
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Copyright ©2019 Marteeka Karland
Winter hung heavy in the hills of Kentucky. One thing Viper hated was winter. Not because of the cold, snow, and ice, but because of the absolute silence in the outdoors. It made hunting that much more difficult. Normally, he enjoyed a challenge, but when the prey was human, there could be nothing to give him away. He’d been on her trail for three days now. There had been no sign of a fire or that she’d sheltered anywhere other than a snow dome she’d built to block the wind and keep in as much of her body heat as she could.
She was good, he’d give her that. He’d been in the service with men who couldn’t do what she could, especially given the few resources she had. As far as he could tell, she had nothing but the clothes on her back. One thing was for sure, once he got her back to the Bones compound, she had some explaining to do.
“Anything yet?” Data sounded anxious. And with good reason. Their intel and communications man had only just found out the he had a daughter, and only because her mother had called exactly three days ago — an hour before Viper and Arkham had been set on her trail — and informed him. Though the woman had remarried several years earlier, she kept in touch with Data. Why, Viper didn’t know. That was Data’s story and one he’d have to share with his daughter. Apparently, the only reason his ex had told him about Darcy now was because she’d run off, and her mother was done with the girl. Couldn’t deal with Darcy any more. Data’s daughter was her daddy through and through. Though Viper had no idea what Darcy had done, it was enough to make her mother and the woman’s husband abandon Darcy while the couple and their other two daughters — not Data’s — went to California on vacation. Data had been livid. Viper had a feeling his next assignment would be to hunt down the girl’s mother and stepfather and teach them a lesson.
“I’m just that little bit behind her, brother. Another hour and I should have her, though.”
“She’s one little girl! You’re a big bad Marine sniper! This shouldn’t be that fuckin’ hard!” Viper raised his eyebrows. Data was normally a by-the-numbers kind of man. He never got excited unless it was warranted. Kind of like when he realized his crew was in the middle of El Diablo’s muscle with only one team and minimal backup.
“Relax, brother.” Arkham sounded almost bored when Viper knew he was alert and watching as intently as he was. “Girl’s wily. Uses the landscape for cover. Even found a snow dome where she slept last night.”
“She can’t last out there forever with no fire. Rein her in!”
Viper knew when a man was on the edge. Didn’t take a genius to know Data was there. “We got this, brother. We’ll have her back at the compound by tomorrow.” It was a hard promise, but one Viper intended to keep. He ground his teeth. One little girl indeed.
Light was fading in the winter sky. Clouds hung heavily, promising more snow after nightfall if not sooner. Nothing stirred around them. Animals huddled down to wait out the coming storm. Even the evergreen trees were still in the slight breeze. The silence was nearly total.
“Got her,” Arkham muttered through his earpiece. “Your four o’clock. She just sat on a fallen log.” There was a pause while Viper looked in the indicated direction. “She’s done, Viper. I’m headed in.”
Sure enough, the girl sat on the long about a hundred yards away. She looked up at the sky, then at her surroundings and put her head in her hands. Yep. She was done.
Viper made his way to her as Arkham came at her from the opposite direction. They were almost on her before she realized she wasn’t alone. Immediately she slipped off the log and crouched into a defensive position, grabbing a rock beside her to use as a weapon.
She didn’t say a word. Viper expected to see fear in her eyes, and perhaps there was. But mostly what he saw was a cold, hard determination.
“We’re not gonna hurt you,” Viper said, hands out in front of him as he approached her.
“I know,” she said, her voice a whisper of sound.
“Viper!” It was the only warning Arkham could issue before the girl attacked. She launched herself at Viper. In reflex, he caught her.
Two things happened when he closed his arms around her. First, Viper recognized she was more than a girl. The woman had curves aplenty, two of which were mashed against his chest, rubbing over him with every movement of her body. Second, the woman was fucking fierce. Viper was perfectly capable of defending himself, but he was hesitant to do anything for fear of hurting her. So she pummeled him with that fucking rock. By sheer luck, she didn’t catch his head with it, only his jaw. Viper retained his hold on her with one arm securely around her waist while using the other to block her blows as best he could. For such a small little thing, she packed quite a punch! Despite his efforts, she still connected several times before Arkham disarmed her. Bastard didn’t help him any more than that. And still, she fought. Apparently frustrated with her lack of progress, Darcy shrieked, kicking out and continuing to hit at him with her fists.
“Knock it the fuck off, woman!” Viper finally set her on her feet and captured her wrists in his hands and wrapped his arms around her, trapping her with his superior strength. “Look at me, Darcy!” Viper used every ounce of command he possessed. In the end, it was probably the use of her name that made her pause in her tirade. “Look at me!” When she gave him a wary look he took a breath. “Your father sent us to find you and bring you home.”
“I’m not going back! I’m old enough to make my own decisions, and I’ll be damned if I go back to that bastard!” Her struggles resumed. She tried to hike her knee up into his groin, but he managed to avoid it, pulling her tighter against him. It was getting exceedingly hard to ignore the lush curves pressed against him. The woman was tempting in the worst way.
“You’ve never even met your dad,” Viper said, struggling to hold her while not hurting her. “I assure you, he’s a good man.”
“Rayburn, my stepdad, is a molesting bastard and my mom is nothing more than his pimp! I’ll kill both of them and you before I go back!”
Viper was so shocked, he relaxed his hold for a second, giving the girl enough leverage to break free. Darcy promptly kicked him in the balls before spinning around to flee again. Arkham caught her, spun her back around, and zip-tied her hands behind her back, ensuring he didn’t get a repeat of what Viper got. Once she was secured, he looped a length of rope around her waist and tied her to a tree.
“That should take care of that.” Arkham turned his attention to Viper, kneeling down beside his biker brother. “You gonna be all right?”
“Shut the fuck up, you smug bastard.” Viper tried to sound menacing, but it was hard to do when his balls were stinging. Didn’t help with him down on one knee looking up at the big man, either.
“Just trying to help a brother out.” Arkham raised his hands in surrender before turning back to their prisoner.
“You gonna fight me, girl?”
“You gonna try to take me back to that hellhole?” She had to look up at Arkham, but Darcy didn’t seem the least bit intimidated. In fact, she looked to be sizing him up, looking for the easiest way to take him down.
“Hadn’t planned on it,” he said.
When Arkham didn’t offer anything else, Viper added, “It’s your biological father who sent us. We’re takin’ you back to the clubhouse.”
She looked from Arkham to Viper. “Biological father. Clubhouse?”
“Yeah.” Viper groaned as he got to his feet. “Look. I’m Viper. This is Arkham. We’ve been huntin’ you for three fuckin’ days, sweetheart. I’d like to get out of the fuckin’ snow.”
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Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.