Sneak Peek Wednesday: Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker

I’m sharing an oldie but a goody with you guys today.

 

Hell On Wheels
(Black Knights Inc., #1)
By: Julie Ann Walker
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Published: Aug. 7, 2012
Genre: Romantic Suspense

He’s the bad boy she’s always wanted…

Nate “Ghost” Weller has loved Ali Morgan nearly half his life. But he’s done something so heinous he’s convinced she’ll never forgive him if she discovers the truth, so he keeps his feelings and his secrets to himself. Then she blows into town with a mother lode of bad guys on her tail and Nate can’t deny she’s in serious trouble. Unfortunately, he’s the only one who can help her.

She’s the good girl he’s kept at arm’s length…

Ali knows Nate as the most solemn, aloof man on the planet. Sadly, he’s also the sexiest. For years she’s avoided him, unable to stomach his dark scowls and brooding silences… especially when she secretly yearns for his touch. Now she must rely on him to save her from the malevolent shadows ghosting her every move. When the bullets explode, so does their passion. But can love really conquer all? Or are some things just too terrible to forgive?

 

 

 

Sneak peek…

After twenty minutes of pure hell, forced to watch her struggle to keep herself together, struggle to keep from bursting into a thousand bloody pieces that would surely cut him as deeply as they cut her, he nosed the Jeep along a narrow coast road, through the waving, brown heads of sea oats, until he stopped at a wooden fence. It was gray and brittle from years spent battling the sun and weathering the salt spray.He figured he and that fence were kindred spirits. They’d both been worn down by the lives they’d led until they were so battered and scarred they no longer resembled anything like what they’d started out being-and yet they were still standing.

Right. He’d give anything to be the one reduced to an urn full of fine, gray ash. Between the two of them, Grigg had been the better man. But on top of being uncaring, Fate was a stupid bitch. That’s the only explanation he could figure for why he’d made it out of that stinking, sandy hut when Grigg hadn’t.

A flash of Grigg’s eyes in that last moment nearly had him doubling over. Those familiar brown eyes…they’d been hurting, begging, resigned…

No. He shook away the savage image and focused his gaze out the windshield.

Beyond the fence’s ragged, ghostly length, gentle dunes rolled and eventually merged with the flat stretch of a shell-covered beach. The gray Atlantic’s vast expanse flirted in the distance with the clear blue of the sky, and the boisterous wind whipped up whitecaps that giggled and hissed as they skipped toward shore.

It just didn’t seem right. A day like that. So sunny, so bright. Didn’t the world know it’d lost one of its greatest men? Didn’t its molten heart bleed?

He switched off the Jeep and sucked in the familiar scents of sea air and sun-baked sand. He couldn’t find his usual comfort in the smells. Not today. And, maybe, never again. Hesitantly he searched for the right words.

Yeah, right. Like there were any right words in this God-awful situation.

“I won’t offer y’platitudes, Ali,” he finally managed to spit out. “He was the best man I’ve ever known. I loved ‘im like a brother.”

Talk about understatement of the century. Losing Grigg was akin to losing an arm. Nate felt all off-balance. Disoriented. More than once during the past week, he’d turned to tell Grigg something only to remember too late his best friend wasn’t there.

He figured he wasn’t suffering from phantom-limb syndrome, but phantom-friend syndrome.

“Then as a brother, tell me what happened…what really happened,” she implored.

She’d always been too damned smart for her own good.

“He died in an accident. He was cleanin’ an old gas tank on one of the bikes; there was a spark; some fuel on his rag ignited; he fell into a tray of oil and burned to death before anyone could get to him.” The lie came out succinctly because he’d practiced it so friggin’ often, but the last word still stuck in his throat like a burr.

Unfortunately, it was the only explanation he could give her about the last minutes of her brother’s life. Because the truth fell directly under the heading National Security Secret. He thought it very likely Ali suspected Grigg hadn’t spent the last three-plus years partnering with a few ex-military, spec-ops guys, living and working in Chicago as a custom motorcycle builder, but it wasn’t his place to give her the truth. The truth that Grigg Morgan had still been working for Uncle.

When he and Grigg bid their final farewells to the Marine Corps, it was only in order to join a highly secretive “consulting” group. The kind of group that took on only the most clandestine of operations. The kind of group whose missions never made the news or crossed the desk of some pencil-pushing aide at the DOD in a tidy little dossier. They put the black in black ops, their true identities known only to a select few, and those select few were very high up in government. High. Like, all the way at the friggin’ top.

So no. He couldn’t tell her what really happened to Grigg. And he hoped to God she never found out.

She searched his determinedly blank expression, and he watched helplessly as the impotent rage rose inside her-an emotional volcano threatening to explode. Before he could stop her, she slammed out of the vehicle, hurdled the fence, and raced toward the dunes, long hair flying behind her, slim bare legs churning up great puffs of sand that caught in the briny wind and swirled away.

Shit.

He wrenched open his door and bounded after her, his left leg screaming in agony, not to mention the goddamned broken ribs that threatened to punch a hole right through his lung. Blam! Wheeze. That quick and he’d be spending another day or two in the hospital. Fan-friggin’-tastic. Just what he didn’t need right now.

“Ali!” he bellowed, grinding his teeth against the pain, running with an uneven, awkward limp made even more so by the shifting sand beneath his boots.

She turned on him then in grief and frustration, slamming a tiny balled-up fist into the center of his chest. Sweet Christ…

Agony exploded like a frag grenade. He took a knee. It was either that or just keel over dead.

“Nate?” Her anger turned to shock as she knelt beside him in the sand. “What-” Before he knew what she was about, she lifted the hem of his T-shirt, gaping at the ragged appearance of his torso. His ribs were taped, but the rest of him looked like it’d gone ten rounds with a meat grinder and lost.

“Holy shit, Nate!” He almost smiled despite the blistering pain that held him in its teeth, savage and unyielding as a junkyard dog. Ali never cursed. Either it was written somewhere in her DNA or in that contract she’d signed after becoming a kindergarten teacher. “What happened to you?”

He shook his head because, honestly, it was all he could manage. If he so much as opened his mouth, he was afraid he’d scream like a girl.

“Nate!” She threw her arms around his neck. God, that felt right…and so, so wrong. “Tell me! Tell me what happened to you. Tell me what really happened to Grigg.” The last was breathed in his ear. A request. A heartrending plea.

“Y’know I can’t, Ali.” He could feel the salty hotness of her tears where she’d tucked her face into his neck. Smell, in the sweet humidity of her breath, the lemon tea she’d been drinking before he knocked on her parents’ door and told her the news that instantly blew her safe, sheltered world apart.

This was his greatest fantasy and worst nightmare all rolled into one. Ali, sweet, lovely Ali. She was here. Now. Pressed against his heart.

He reluctantly raised arms gone heavy with fatigue and sorrow. If Grigg could see him now, he’d take his favorite 1911-A1 and drill a .45 straight in his sorry ass. But the whole point of this Charlie Foxtrot was that Grigg wasn’t here. No one was here to offer Ali comfort but him. So he gathered her close-geez, her hair smelled good-and soothed her when the grief shuddered through her in violent, endless waves like the tide crashing to shore behind them.

And then she kissed him…

 

 

 

4 Thoughts on “Sneak Peek Wednesday: Hell on Wheels by Julie Ann Walker

  1. Who doesn’t love a bad boy?(lol) Hugs and Happy 4th! RO

  2. This sounds good but I don’t handle the suspense in romantic suspense well! lol

  3. Ohhh I want 😀

  4. Oh that one sounds pretty good.

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