It wasn’t like I was sneaking out.
I was a grown adult, and I could do what I wanted.
Except it was midnight, and I was sneaking around the back of the property. The moon hung low in the sky, brightening up the whole side of the gardens and expansive rolling hills, bathing the grounds, and subsequently me, in bright light.
When I told Tabs I would handle the midnight run down to the shops three kilometers away to get ice cream, I hadn’t wanted to risk going out the front in the likelihood that my brother would see me, stop me, and ask me a whole slew of questions I didn’t feel like answering.
Big brother Gabe had all kinds of rules about my presence on the compound. Which was bullshit, because dammit, I was a grown ass adult.
So really, he was forcing my hand.
You could just move out.
I could, but that would be surrender. Besides, the enormous compound that was the Gentlemen Rogues headquarters was my home. So for now, I’d stay subversive.
Dressed in all black, I kept to the shadows along the edges of the trees heading toward Tabatha’s car on the north lot. She’d left it parked at the bottom of that hill, and her keys jingled in my pocket as I headed that direction.
She liked to see if she could find a way to sneak onto the property. Every time she managed it without someone stopping her, she gave herself a high five and then properly closed up that security gap. We all had our oddities. I wasn’t going to begrudge Tabatha hers.
When I passed the training lodgings, I crouched under a window by one of the hydrangea shrubs. God, this was ridiculous. I should be able to take my own car and come and go as I pleased.
As if your brother is going to allow that.
Ever since my birthday three months ago, he’d been a little extra about security. Almost as if he’d known what I was up to. I vanished off the security cameras for a whole four hours, and he’d gone mad when I came home. I’d gotten a lecture, and he’d gone on and on about responsibility. But I’d explained that I’d left the club early and gone to Tabatha’s, giving our guys the slip. Needless to say, he didn’t buy that for a minute.
I was twenty-two years old. I hardly needed a security detail. Hell, I was my own bodyguard. I was well-trained, almost always well-armed, and…
A rustle behind me made me hold perfectly still in the shadows. What the hell was that? Had someone snuck past the perimeter?
It was one thing to get out; it was a whole other thing to get in. I reached for my phone, ready to make an SOS call if needed. And just as I turned my attention back to my original target, a hand clamped over my mouth and a hard body jerked me up. My body went ice cold and burning hot all at once.
I struggled against the hold, and a very male voice behind me whispered in my ear. “Hold tight. I don’t want to hurt you.”
Hurt me? The fuck? I was going to hurt him.
I slapped my hand back toward the easy target, his groin. But he blocked it, which left me few other avenues. I clamped both hands on the hand that was covering mine, peeled it down just enough to get my teeth free, and then bit him with every ounce of pressure in my mouth. With a muffled curse, he groaned and released me, pitching me forward.
I stumbled, but then I caught my balance and whipped around.
I couldn’t see him well in the dark, but he was big. Taller than my five-foot-eight frame at least. Was he familiar?
“You don’t want to do this,” I warned.
“Are you sure? Seems like I’m about to enjoy dragging you in.”
His voice was low and smooth. It sounded like whiskey pouring over rocks, and I could almost see that sort of amberish smoke coming off a solitary ice cube in a glass. Holy hell. Why did he feel familiar?
“Dixon, is that you?” Ryan Dixon had been a recruit a year ago, and he’d flirted relentlessly, despite the Rogues no-dating rule. He’d been kicked out of training for making unwanted advances toward a female recruit.
“I don’t know who the fuck Dixon is, but I know you’re in trouble.”
“Oh, you think so?”
He lunged for me, and I turned out of the way, sending a strike straight to his throat that sent him sprawling. I was on him in a flash, trying to get him in a headlock. Unfortunately, I didn’t have any purchase, so he stood easily, lifting me with him and backing me up against the wall of one of the training facilities. Since no one came running out, I assumed it was empty.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.
He tried to dislodge me, but I had my arms locked around him. My legs as well. With a grunt, he crashed me back against the wall, and I gnashed my teeth, feeling my spine rattle.
Who the fuck was he?
He smelled good.
Sandalwood and male. Familiar. Like a song that was just on the tip of my tongue but I couldn’t grasp.
Luckily for me, he started to sag from the lack of oxygen. He sank to the ground and then pitched forward. I held on for another second. I didn’t want to kill him. I just wanted him to pass the fuck out.
I released my arms, unlocked my legs, and climbed off him. But not quickly enough. His arm snatched out, grabbed me by the ankle, and tugged me down. He rolled on top of me, and we struggled.
“What the fuck?”
Again, a hand clamped over my mouth. The moonlight gave me little to go on in terms of his identity. His hair was inky dark, slightly curly, with a lock falling on his brow as he loomed over me. Suddenly, a tingle of awareness skipped my spine.
I knew him.
No. God, no.
He was still for a second, and then he laughed.
Out loud. Head thrown back. And even though I couldn’t see his face, I knew his laugh would be rich and warm, which turned my insides into a pooling puddle of need. I knew that laugh.
He eased his weight off me a little while clamping both my hands above my head as his hands roamed over me.
“Just what the fuck do you think you’re doing? I will scream, and so help me God, if you touch me—”
“Sweetheart, I like my women willing. And while you are stunning, I generally like women who want to climb into my bed. I’m just checking you for weapons. Who are you? What did you take?”
Who the fuck did he think I was? He knew me. “I didn’t take anything,” I muttered.
“I’m sure you’ve asked many girls to lay still, but I won’t be one of them.” I lifted my hips and rolled him over. His eyes widened in surprise just before I delivered an elbow to his jaw, wrenching my wrist from his hold. He growled, but by then I’d already adjusted my legs and pinned down his arms.
“Who are you?”
Why was he asking who I was? Did he just assume I was undercover?
I pulled the small knife that I always had strapped to my lower back and held it at his jugular. “You first.”
“My name is Lachlan King.”
What. The. Actual. Fuck.
He said it without hesitation. What the hell was he doing here? Was he an agent? Had he always been an agent?Had he played me?
Of course he played you.
Three months ago when I’d met him and slept with him, I was nothing more than his mark.