Edge of Control
Book 3 of The Edge Series
Down & Dirty
Book #3 in USA Today bestselling author Megan Crane’s scorching Edge series takes place in a destroyed world, far in the future, where a brotherhood of unforgiving raider warriors best described as Vikings meet outlaw bikers keep what they take…
Riordan is a ruthless warrior whose foes tremble before him in his drowned and ruined world.
The last thing he wants to do is go undercover as a weakling to spy on his clan’s enemies. Much less with Eiryn— a badass raider warrior in her own right and the only woman Riordan’s never been able to forget.
Eiryn has been betrayed too many times. An escape into a dangerous mission where she can pretend to be the soft, biddable female she’s not seems like the perfect solution. She’s sure she can control the fiery passion that simmers between her and Riordan, the man she’s spent years pretending to hate. After all, the unquenchable lust that flares between them now is all for show… isn’t it?
“Gritty, harsh, but yet beautiful…burns bright and hot.” (Night Owl Reviews)
“[W]ill keep you up late into the night.” (Straight Shootin’ Book Reviews)
*Features a dominant hero, a badass heroine, graphic, steamy sexy and a happily ever after.
Don’t miss the other books in this series!
- ROMANTIC THEMES: Bad Ass Heroine, Mistaken Identity, Girl Next Door, Special Ops Hero, Military, Heroine On the Run, Bad Ass Alpha, Dystopian Romance, Erotic Romance, Fake Relationship, Friends as Family, Lovers Reunited!, Marriage of Convenience, Meddling Relatives?, Playboy Hero, Vikings?, Warrior
Edge of Control
About an hour into her watch, Eiryn heard the sound of someone approaching her perch from a long way off. She heard the scrape of boots against the rocks below her and the shower of loose pebbles here and there, and understood that these were deliberate shout-outs, letting her know that someone was coming toward her perch without any murderous intent.
Because there wasn’t a single one of the brothers who would make that much damned noise creeping up on the nighttime sentry otherwise.
Especially not Riordan, who she’d seen follow enemies so closely they should have been able to hear him breathe, or feel it on the back of their necks, yet they’d never guessed he was there.
Because of course it was Riordan. Eiryn knew it before she saw him, with a certainty that might have unnerved her if she’d had the time to really think about what that meant.
He crested the side of the hill a moment later, moving with that easy grace of his that never failed to make her stomach curl in on itself. Stupid stomach. Eiryn wanted to point her blade at him again, if not run him straight through, but she didn’t—and then she felt very virtuous and even a bit like a martyr for keeping it so civil.
Not that Riordan was looking at her, or appreciating her great sacrifice for civility’s sake. He didn’t spare her so much as a glance. He stood there for a moment on the edge of the hill’s steep slope, his swift, warrior’s gaze taking in the view and doing a quick visual sweep over the area.
Eiryn did the same from her place, hunkered down on a rock that was too cold to be quite comfortable, the better to keep her wide awake and glaring into the darkness. The fire from the explosion still flickered and flamed high up on the mountain as the last of the temple burned itself out, but the forest still stood, too wet from the summer rain to act as kindling this long after the initial blast. Down near the beach, the raiders were camped out around the bonfire. Most of them were lying down now, if not already sleeping, while the plump moon edged its way toward the far horizon, away from the coming dawn.
And then there was the sea, inky black and fathomless from this height, the night time wind making the lines on the anchored raider ships flap and echo while the waves surged against the shore. The seductive, merciless sea. Those maps that Tyr’s woman had brought them showed a completely different world, with so much more land stretching out across the water. It made Eiryn a strange kind of restless to think that there were once so many places a raider ship couldn’t reach. She preferred the majestic oceans—all of them. The intimate dance of a sail against the wind. Salt water all around and the roll and crash of the waves. Miles and miles of rugged coast to explore and conquer.
Moments dragged by. The silence, never comfortable in the first place, curdled.
Riordan stayed silent, which she was certain was a deliberate tactic in his part, the dick. Still, Eiryn couldn’t take it. It clawed at her. Maybe it was the dark fact of his solidly built presence entirely too close to her up here on the top of an exposed hill. Maybe it was the itchy thing that wound its way down her spine because of it. Because of him. Either way, she wanted him gone.
“Just say what you hiked up here in the butt end of the night to say or go,” she gritted out, keeping her gaze trained on the rolling sea. “And if I have a vote? You can just go.”
“Why?” he asked in the next breath, as if he’d been waiting for her to break all along, tallying up her weaknesses on that scorecard he carried around in his head.
She didn’t pretend she didn’t know what he meant.
“Maybe it’s my life’s dream to pretend to be some weak ass compliant woman,” she suggested, doing very, very little to contain that lash in her voice. “Or better yet, to have one of those winter marriages. Nothing better than bad sex on command. The entire mainland population can’t be wrong.”
She had the sense he shook his head, though she didn’t look over at him to confirm it. She kept her attention on the sea instead, as if she expected monsters to lurch from the depths at any moment and end this conversation. Maybe she just hoped they would.
“Why?” Riordan asked again, a little more resolve in that dark magic voice of his, and she couldn’t understand why she still wasn’t immune. After all this time, surely she should have built up some resistance to him. “You might as well tell me. I’m not leaving until you do.”
Eiryn blew out a breath and ignored all those licks of heat and that involuntary neediness that wound around inside her and made her hate herself for all that melting. She comforted herself with the knowledge that he didn’t know. He might suspect, but he couldn’t know. It was her secret shame—and it would stay that way.
“Why do you want to do it?” she asked him, maybe a little harsher than necessary. She didn’t wait for him to answer. “If that’s not a mystery, my volunteering shouldn’t be either. You know how this goes. Clan first, clan forever.”
He turned then, and she realized with a scraping, hollow sensation in her stomach that Riordan—the clan’s happiest brother by far, not that she’d ever believed that or benefited from it—was seething mad. At her.
“I don't want to do it. But it’s my job, so I will. See how that works?”
Eiryn shrugged, and opted to ignore the dig at her recent performance. “We’re all brothers. It’s our responsibility to protect the clan. All of our responsibility, not just yours.”
“You understand how this is going to go.”
He was more than simply mad, she realized with a sinking sensation in her stomach. She could see it coming off of him like smoke. He was straight up furious, so much so that he vibrated with it, and her curse was that she found that… fascinating. Riordan was usually all smiles and laughter and a hearty clap on the back. Not temper and too much fire beneath it. It reminded her of the raw version of him she’d thought she’d known a long time ago.
It was a problem, was what it was, and he was still talking to her through bared teeth. “What a winter marriage means.”
Somehow, Eiryn didn’t think he was worried about church teachings and mainland conventions and all the rest of that nonsense the raider clan ignored entirely, unless it was to mock it all.
“Is this about the sex?” She didn’t actually roll her eyes at him, because that was like pulling a blade on a man like him when he was in a temper, but she came pretty close. “Are you twelve years old?”
“Yes, Eiryn. This is about sex.” Riordan bit the words out, and there was nothing about him that was twelve years old. He was all man, sculpted muscles and those wide, solid shoulders, punching a silhouette against the night and making that awareness she didn’t want hum inside of her. “Every day. That’s their stupid law, isn’t it? Every. Fucking. Day. For six months.”
Eiryn didn’t want to think about that. Not directly. Because sex with Riordan had never been about getting off. And it had never been about politics or male bullshit. No wrestling matches to prove his dominance. Not Riordan. Sex with him had wrecked her and made her new, destroyed everything she’d thought she was and rendered her little more than a pathetic addict deep in his thrall, and she was glad that she’d never found that kind of dark, consuming intensity anywhere else. That it didn’t seem to exist anywhere but in the slick, heated spaces between their two bodies. She shouldn’t miss it.
Of course you don’t miss it, she snapped at herself. Because she couldn’t.
That would be like missing the Storms. No one could possibly be so foolish or so deeply, incomparably self-destructive. Not even her.
“I’ve always wondered about those laws,” she said instead of answering the question she didn't want to address. She kept her voice conversational, as if this was a casual little chat they happened to be having in the middle of the night. Out of earshot of anyone else. On the chilly crest of a mainland hill. “Do they check up on everyone or is it more of an honor system? Do you think they have to perform their daily duties in public to prove they’re good and compliant? Like, right out in the open in one of those concrete courtyards? That sounds pretty unlikely, given the tight assed compliant idiots we’ve come across over the years.”
“Maybe you should focus,” Riordan growled at her. “This isn’t a bullshit discussion around the fire with too much drink making your head spin. This is what you signed up for tonight. With me.”
“I’m aware, thank you.” She sighed, then made herself look at him with exaggerated patience. “Yes, Riordan. We’re going to have sex. We’ve had sex before, so it’s not really going to be a revolution. Deal with it.”
He paused for a moment, then let out that low, arrogant laugh of his that she hated. Or wanted to hate, anyway, even as it rolled through her like entirely too much heat, making her stomach flip over and her pussy clench.
“That’s not the problem, babe.” And she could feel his gaze all over her, too much like his battle-roughened hands all over her skin, damn him, which she didn’t want to remember. “The problem is the only once a day part. And the fact it’s supposed to suck.”