Malachi slouched against the wall and tucked his chin into the collar of his long coat. The New England night was clear and cold, promising only a hint of what Boston’s frigid winter would soon offer. He yawned and crossed his arms over his chest. Truly it was an odd bit of circumstance that made it necessary for Triptych’s manager to stand alone in the cold and wait for the arrival of a special party. Not only did it appear the VIP was going to be a no-show, but Malachi was stuck waiting around all night. It was the only time club personnel manned the back door of the Underground, and at some point in the last decade it had become his job.
A black luxury sedan pulled down the narrow one-way street and stopped. The driver parked, exited the car, and headed around to the front of the club as though he was searching for someone. Malachi straightened, wondering why his party guest had opted for a car service instead of his usual ride. If the VIP had been having car troubles for the last hour, it would’ve been nice to get a phone call. Malachi was trying to decide how to bring up the rudeness without pissing off one of the club owner’s favorite customers when he realized there was no VIP in the backseat.
Several minutes passed, and the driver didn’t return. Malachi was about to call one of his front door managers to find out what the hell was going on when a couple sauntered around the corner. They approached the vehicle as though they’d expected it to be there. Intrigued, Malachi relaxed back against the wall and watched the little drama play out before him.
SELENA AASEN WAS totally out of control and loving every second of it. She was sick and tired of playing by society’s rules. The only thing she’d ever gained from it was a crappy marriage to a man who screwed everyone but her. Her divorce had been final as of two days ago. Now she was ready to see why everyone else loved the party life.
“Kiss me,” she told her date.
He glanced around the darkened side street. “Shouldn’t we get in the car first?”
“No. I want to do it here.” Selena grabbed him by the lapels of his shirt and leaned back against the slick black car.
“Right here in the street?”
“Sure.” She let her lips tickle their way up his neck to his earlobe. “You’re not chicken, are you?”
“I just don’t want to get arrested.” He put his hands on her hips before letting them slide around to cup her derriere.
She nuzzled her lover’s neck. “My driver won’t come back for at least ten to fifteen minutes, and he won’t care.”
“What about police officers hanging around to bust people as they exit the club?”
“Here?” Selena scoffed. “Not likely. I can’t imagine they’d hang out and wait to bust pedestrians. Don’t cops have better things to do?”
He shrugged and began to kiss her. Selena tried to get into the encounter. It was her first after her marriage had tanked spectacularly, and she was determined to have some satisfying casual sex.
Except this isn’t satisfying.
Her potential lover—Dave, if she remembered correctly—seemed into her, but every kiss and every touch made her even more frustrated. Worse, Selena was beginning to suspect Dave the Rebound Date wouldn’t be able to make the aching hole inside her go away for even a little while.
She redoubled her efforts. Writhing against him, she lifted her leg and hooked it around his hip. She ground against the bulge behind his fly and hoped he got the message.
He broke away, gasping for air. “You really want to fuck right here in the street?”
“Please,” Selena begged. “You know you want it.”
MALACHI ROLLED HIS eyes, wondering if it would be worthwhile to cross the street and offer to give the guy some pointers. The woman was a wildcat. With her sleek body and long blonde hair, she was built for sin. If her behavior was anything to go by, she was ready to do whatever necessary to gain satisfaction. Unfortunately for her, that sort of pleasure wasn’t going to happen anytime soon. Her date was 100 percent out of his league. He was groping her curves like a teenager on prom night.
Just when Malachi had had enough of the adolescent-quality peep show, another man strode into view. Fury rippled around him like a tangible aura. Malachi pushed away from the wall and forced himself to remain at ease for the moment. It wasn’t his business.
“What the hell are you doing, Selena?” The new arrival grabbed the fumbling lover by the arm and ripped him away from the wildcat. “You whore! After all your holier-than-thou speeches, you’re out here selling yourself in the street!”
Malachi clenched his fists to keep control. Instead of cowering, Selena seemed to scrape every last bit of courage together. She stood straight and tall despite the fact that her date looked ready to run out on her.
“Uh, I didn’t know you were…involved with someone.” Her date moved away—one step, then two. He gazed at the angry man and gestured to Selena. “Man, I didn’t know she belonged to you, I swear.” Without another word, he took off back toward the front of the club.
Malachi watched the couple face off. It was odd, but she didn’t strike him as the cheating type. She was bold and sensual, sure, but there was a certain vibe easy women gave off. Managing Triptych had given Malachi a good instinct for sensing that sort of behavior. He didn’t get it at all from Selena. Her companion, on the other hand, sent Malachi’s asshole meter rocketing to the max.
“You know,” Selena sneered, “I never intervened in any of your little affairs. I let you do what you wanted with whoever you wanted, Jackson.”
“Until you showed up the other night at Asylum and fucked up my whole life!” Jackson spat. “Do you have any idea what you’ve done? I’ve been banned!”
Malachi realized he knew this little prick. Or knew of him, at least. Jackson Wilhelm was indeed a first-rate bastard. Malachi could see this was going downhill fast. He moved forward with slow, silent steps. Easing his phone from his pocket, he sent a text to the one person he could always trust to watch his back.
“So sorry I screwed up your weekends of drinking, gambling, and screwing around. Maybe it’s just my turn now.” Selena tossed her head, her blonde hair cascading prettily around her narrow shoulders.
Malachi’s instincts screamed a warning just before Jackson’s expression twisted into something cruel. He reached for Selena. “Maybe I’ll just have some fun right here.”
SELENA DIDN’T HEED the warning in her head until it was too late to react. Jackson’s hand closed like an iron band around her upper arm, and he spun her around to face the car. Her chest slammed against the door with horrendous force, and she smacked her chin on the window.
Of all the horrible finishes to her worthless marriage, she’d never once thought Jackson would rape her in the street. She tried to struggle, but he was angry and she was woozy from being thrown around.
Jackson kicked her feet apart and pulled her micro dress up over her ass cheeks. “I think I’m actually going to enjoy fucking you for once. Never expected that to happen.”
His words unleashed a torrent of insecurity that rendered her mute. He’d never wanted her. Not that she’d really wanted him either, but it would have been nice to have had at least one or two decent memories from the longest relationship she’d ever had.
The sound of his zipper was loud in the deserted street. It sent a shot of pure adrenaline into Selena’s blood, and she managed a renewed struggle.
“Hold still, you stupid—”
He never finished his insult. Instead the weight of Jackson’s body was ripped away, and she found herself untethered. Her knees wobbled, and she collapsed to the street beside the car. She had a blurry image of Jackson’s arms and legs flailing as he tumbled through the air like a rag doll before winding up on his ass in the gutter.
“Fuck, Malachi! What’s wrong with you?” Jackson’s voice was laced with fear.
It took Selena a moment to realize her nemesis was now lying in a crumpled heap several yards away. He was actually cringing as he tried to scrabble away from the giant of a man who’d tossed him there.
“What’s wrong with me?” The deep bass voice carried a hint of sarcasm and an even bigger dose of disgust. “You were going to rape a woman here in the street—my street—and you want to know what’s wrong with me?”
Her savior shifted, and Selena got her first glimpse of a profile that would have made a Greek god jealous. It was too dark to see the details of his face, but he exuded the kind of strength and vitality she’d never thought any human man could possess.
Jackson stumbled to his feet and groped in his jacket pocket. When he pulled out a gun, Selena’s gut filled with icy crystals of dread. She had never imagined her ex to be this volatile. He was bat-shit crazy!
We’re going to die, and it’s all my fault.
Except the man Jackson had called Malachi seemed completely unconcerned about the gun. In fact, he laughed. “Do you honestly believe that’s going to stop me from ripping you apart?”
“I’ll kill you!” A note of hysteria entered Jackson’s voice.
There was a gasp as her driver appeared at the mouth of the street. He held up his hands, looking both angry and horrified at the mess he’d just stumbled upon. Selena felt bad for him. She didn’t even know his name. The guy worked for her brother, Erik.
Jackson’s attention flickered to the driver; the barrel of the handgun bobbed erratically. Suddenly Jackson was snatched from behind. Selena blinked. She could’ve sworn a man had just melted out of the shadows in time to grab Jackson and wrench the weapon from his hand. She had only the briefest impression of dusky skin, dark hair, and the sleek build of a predator.
“You.” Malachi snapped his fingers to get her driver’s attention. “Get her in the car and out of here. We’ll handle this trash.”
Selena stared, trying desperately to memorize this strange knight in shining armor. His big body was wreathed in shadows that hid his features—his partner equally so. Still, she was never going to forget these two men who had plucked her from disaster as if they did this sort of thing all the time.
“Come on, Miss Selena.” The driver yanked her up by her armpits. He opened the back door and shoved her unceremoniously into the vehicle.
Before she could voice a protest or ask him to find out the names of the two men who’d rescued her, he had the car in gear and was screeching around the corner with the gas pedal pressed to the floor.
If there were more men like that in the world, it wouldn’t be such a lonely place.