Go Deeper into the Cold River Ranch Series

In the central Rocky Mountains of Colorado, some miles and whole worlds away from the tony ski slopes of Aspen and the glittering city life of Denver, lies Cold River Ranch. Three generations of the Everett family poured their lives into the land, running Angus cattle on over four hundred acres of prime real estate outside the small, western town of Cold River in the remote and scenic Longhorn Valley.

When Amos Everett dies unexpectedly, he throws everything into chaos—a state of affairs that likely would have pleased him. A gruff and unforgiving man at the best of times, Amos managed to alienate all three of his sons after he ran their mama off for good when the boys were still young.

Some wounds never heal, especially in families. And some grudges run as long and deep as the stretch of the Colorado Rockies…

That’s why, by unspoken agreement, Amos’s grown sons have had as little to do with their father—and each other—as possible since they grew up and got out from under the old man’s thumb.

Brought back together at their father’s funeral, Amos’s three sons have a lot of decisions to make. The bank is circling and rich, fat cat investors want to develop the land into condos for Colorado’s ever-voracious seasonal tourists.

The Everetts have one gorgeous year in the Rocky Mountains to come together as a family and save their heritage once and for all—or lose the ranch, and each other, forever.

Go Deeper in the Alaska Force Series

In the remote islands of Southeast Alaska, a ferry or plane ride away from anything resembling civilization, is the hardy, rugged town of Grizzly Harbor. Like most Alaskans, the citizens of Grizzly Harbor—a place no one can “end up in” because it’s so inaccessible—are suspicious of outsiders who stick around past tourist season, deeply self-reliant to make it through the endless Alaskan winters, and content to aggressively mind their own business.

It’s the perfect place for a man with a name he hasn’t used in years and a past he’s not allowed to discuss, courtesy of the United States military.

Isaac Gentry has more medals and commendations than he can count, but all of them are highly classified. When he comes back home to Grizzly Harbor, he’s not in any way the eighteen year old kid who left for the Marines. But he’s also not ready to settle down into a civilian life that doesn’t fit. And the only thing he has to his name as a regular person is a falling-down old lodge that’s been in his family for generations, out there on the other side of a usually impassable mountain in a place his great- great- grandfather, a con man and a Gold Rush hustler originally from San Francisco, aptly named Fool’s Cove.

It’s a no-brainer to start running different kinds of missions, here on US soil for a change, with skills honed in the Marines and what people like to call Delta Force. And this time, he gets to choose what sorts of problems he spends his time on. It doesn’t take long for his reputation as a solver of unusual problems to spread. Some brothers from the same fires Isaac knew well, along with other individuals of certain temperaments and complementary abilities, come and join him way out in the middle of nowhere.

Grizzly Harbor is far enough away from everything and anything to let soldiers who’ve been in too many hells to count start imagining a different way to live, with enough space to work through things like PTSD however they see fit, out there in the Alaskan wilderness with no witnesses but the snow-capped mountains and the glaciers. And soon enough, Isaac’s inability to adapt to civilian life has transformed into something singular and impressive:

Alaska Force. A light in the dark. Hope for the hopeless.

Assuming, that is, that you can find your way into the Alaskan wilderness in the first place. Then take one of the few ferries or sea planes that flies from Juneau across the inside passage to Grizzly Harbor. And then find the Alaska Force offices, such as they are, over a bitch of a mountain on a dirt track that’s barely a road in the few weeks of the year the pass is open, to a cove surrounded by rock walls and the cold sea—which means you can be sure they’ve seen you coming from miles off. And then, assuming you make it past the bears and the weather and the snipers, convince the meanest, toughest, baddest ex-special forces operatives in the world that they should take you and your problems on.

But if they do? You better believe they’ll solve it. That’s what they do.

Go Deeper Into the Hotel Temptation Series

Investment guru, luxury hotel, and “experience” collector Daniel St. George lived hard, large, and very, very well. And was happy to go out the same way, in a fiery crash on the Autoban rather than a slow surrender to the cancer that was eating away at him and stealing his control. In addition to his legacy as one of the most intuitive business minds of his generation, he also left behind his reputation as an accomplished ladies man. He marinated in beautiful women and was proud of it—but he never acknowledged the handful of children he left behind in his wake.

So it comes as a surprise when his will reveals that he’s left his most significant and beloved hotels properties to the three sons he never wanted to know while he was alive.

Particularly to those sons. Half brothers who have no intention of being any kind of family with these perfect strangers…

Despite all the things they’re surprised—and a little irritated—to find they have in common.

A Deep and Dark December Evening with Gunnar and Maud…

“Little nun,” Gunnar said into the dreamy, dark quiet of a long evening, “I want you to make yourself come. Or, to be more precise, try.”

Maud blinked, shifting almost instantly from her usual half-aroused state in her mate’s presence to something a whole lot edgier.

“Now,” Gunnar said when she didn’t move, though he didn’t look up from the book he was reading, lounging there on one of the deep, comfortable sofas in the part of their sprawling little basement kingdom that Maud considered their living room, stuffed into what was once the prow of a ship. He had his strong legs thrust out before him and crossed at the ankle, wearing the dark, loose trousers he favored when he was spending time in his shop, calculating this and building that. He’d showered not long ago and his dark hair was still damp, making his blue gaze seem even more like smoke. And he hadn’t bothered with a shirt because he kept it warm down here below the raider lodge.

Mostly because he also liked to keep Maud naked in these long evenings when it was just them. She was curled up beside him, reading her own book and not wearing a thing because he preferred it that way and she did too. Sometimes he reached over and rubbed his fingers over her absently as he read, or watched something on one of his screens, or fiddled with one of his inventions. He liked to trace the church’s mark on the nape of her neck, up there beneath the collar she wore, brushing aside her blonde hair as it slowly grew longer so he could toy with it as he pleased. She liked to lean into the touch of those battered, clever fingers, because her grim, harsh raider made her feel safe, deep inside, and his hands on her body made her glow.

It had always been that way. She had no doubt it always would.

It was a typical evening down in what Maud knew others called Gunnar’s Basement of Pain, both of them reading quietly as the late December dark pressed down on the eastern islands all around them. Gunnar’s loyal pit wolves slept in careless piles at the perimeter of the makeshift room, always alert to any possible intruders into the basement domain—which gave Maud ample time to pull on something to cover herself, if that was the mood Gunnar was in. Sometimes it wasn’t.

I thought we agreed you weren’t going to parade your mate around naked, Wulf had said when he’d come upon them once, throwing open that far-off basement door and walking right in as if he owned the place.

Which, of course, he did. He was the raider king.

Maud had been sitting on the floor between Gunnar’s legs, completely naked save for her collar, and had only smiled serenely at Wulf when he’d gazed at her, then back at his blood brother with the too-blue eyes they shared.

It’s not a fucking parade when I’m sitting in my own rooms, minding my own business, getting ready to fuck my woman. Something I don’t think I need your permission for. But Gunnar’s hard mouth had curved as he’d eyed the king who was also his younger blood brother. My liege.

You’re right, of course, Wulf had said with a roll of his eyes. You can do whatever the hell you want in your kinky basement paradise. Now can we talk about strategy?

There were a lot of names for this place where Gunnar’s imagination was allowed to roam free and unfettered, Maud reflected. From the area where he built new machines and revolutionized the raider fleet to the more dangerous area that was all about the particular inventiveness he liked to visit upon her body whenever possible.

But she just called it home. The first she’d had since she was a girl, unless she counted the convent and the endless scrutiny of Bishop Seph.

Which she did not.

She still got a little giddy when she thought about Gunnar’s half-sister Eiryn, the formidable personal bodyguard to Wulf himself, giving the bishop a little taste of his own brand of prayer back in September.

I told him you said hi and then I knocked him the fuck out, Eiryn had told her gruffly when she and Riordan had gotten back and had told their story to the rest of the brotherhood.

She’d looked distinctly uncomfortable when Maud had beamed at her. And she’d stiffened as if she’d wanted to unsheathe her blade and fend Maud off with blood when Maud had actually dared hug her.

You could just say thank you, Eiryn had muttered.

I just did, Maud had replied calmly, and had then wisely stepped away.

But this was not the time to think about her relationships with all the deadly raider brothers who were related to Gunnar. Or any other raiders at all.

Not when her favorite raider had lifted his head from his book and was watching her with that stern, intent blue gaze of his, his hard mouth unsmiling in the way she liked best. The way that made something deep inside her shiver awake and aware, making her breasts feel heavy even as her pussy ached, wet and greedy. He did that to her so easily. All it took was a few words or that unfaltering gaze of his, as if her obedience was a fact, not a choice.

Which made her that much more determined to please him, however she could. All these months later, after he’d taken her virginity himself and claimed her as his forever, her desire to make him proud of her only grew. The longer they spent together, the more inventive the clan’s resident tech genius got. And she was his favorite plaything. His happiest experiment.

He proved it every day. And she honored that by proving in return that he was right to trust that she could take what he gave her, and thrive. Maud didn’t care what the rest of the raider clan called their tight, hot circle of need and trust. She knew what it really was.


He gave her a thousand deliciously creative opportunities to prove her devotion to him, and she enjoyed every last one of them.


Maud shuddered, thinking of the last time he’d hung her from that great big X of his in the most dangerous corner of this sprawling basement packed full of magic, wherever she looked. She loved and hated that lopsided cross in equal measure, and had spent quite a lot of time with it over the past six months.

Gunnar, she knew, loved it unreservedly. A few nights ago he’d tied her up, making her shiver with anticipation and greed, and then he’d clamped her, nipples and clit, making her sob. First in the rush of pain, so intense she’d nearly come from it alone. Then in something else entirely as that wild blooming thing, hard and sharp and entirely theirs, took her over and made her hum from the inside out.

He’d taken his time then, testing out a length of leather he’d cut and cured just for her, he’d told her in his matter-of-fact way, and he’d assured her she would thank him for it with every stroke. He’d turned her pink, laying stripes against her skin, and she’d loved every one of them—especially when she’d hated them.

And she’d thanked him for every brilliant, slick sensation that burst in her and then warmed into something else, wet and hot and his. Always his.

Maud had lost herself in that space he’d introduced her to, that bright red gleaming fire, stretched between pleasure and pain. It was the gift they gave each other, that perfect agony, her obedience and his demands. It made her his and it made her come and she’d done that over and over while he’d laughed in that way that set her alight and made her love him all the more, dark and grim and glorious.

But she’d thought tonight was going to be a quiet one. Everything couldn’t be a pageant. Every night couldn’t leave her writhing and sobbing on the floor, very nearly outside herself.

Could it?

“Surely you’re not going to make me repeat myself,” Gunnar said after a moment, almost conversationally, but there was no mistaking that hard note beneath it. That threat.

Maud’s heart kicked at her even as she felt that astonishing hunger for him that never seemed to dim kick into high gear, flooding her pussy and making her breath go shallow.

“No, master,” she murmured.

She set her book aside and kept her eyes on Gunnar as she slid her hands down her smooth thighs, then between them.

He watched her as she found her pussy, then nodded at the floor before him and the thick rug that often cradled her knees when she knelt for him. For a convent-raised girl who’d learned to kneel on stone, it still seemed an unimaginable luxury.

Like love every time she sank down before him.

She did that now, her blood already hot and the folds of her pussy already slick when she reached between her legs again.

Gunnar didn’t appear to pay her any attention, which, perversely, made it all that much hotter. Maud stroked herself, kneeling there before him, playing with her clit as if she was an extension of him. As if she was acting as his instrument. As if he was the one making all that heat deepen and glow, engorging her clit and making the fire gnaw at her. When all he was doing was stroking his dark beard with one hand as he read his book.

She was nearly there. She was going to—

“Stop,” Gunnar murmured, almost absently.

But Maud didn’t make the mistake of thinking he didn’t mean that as a serious command. She knew better.

She stopped, her chest heaving as she panted.

“Hands on your head, please,” Gunnar said in the same casual tone. “Are you forgetting anything, little nun? Anything you think you should tell me?”

Maud was dazed as much by her body’s powerful need to climax as by his question.

“What? No.” She caught the dark look he threw at her. “No, master.”

Gunnar sighed, and settled back against the couch.

“Continue, then,” he invited her. “Make sure your nipples are hard and high, Maud. And get your fingers deep into that hot little cunt.”

She did what he told her to do. She pinched her nipples until they stung, but stood up. She slid her hands down the length of her body and then thrust two fingers deep inside her pussy, which she found nothing much like that hard, huge cock of his she could see growing there in his trousers, right in front of her. But she didn’t dare reach out for him. Not when he was clearly making a point.

Not when her fingers only made her want him more.

She rubbed at her clit with her other hand, bringing herself even more quickly to the edge —

Where he stopped her again. And asked her the same question. Again.

And when she still didn’t have anything to tell him, he only shook his head at her.


“Are you this cruel?” she demanded, but it wasn’t a real question.

He nearly smiled. She saw the ghost of it on his mouth and the light of it in his gaze, all hers. “You know I am. You love it.”

That was the thing. She did.

Gunnar was merciless — and she loved that, too.

He took her to the edge over and over. When he decided she wasn’t suffering enough, he made her crawl over to the little chest in the corner to select a butt plug from the assortment he kept and added to as he pleased.

“You can choose the size you think you deserve, little nun,” he told her from the couch, sounding something like lazy, which made her want to kill him almost as much as she wanted to come. She couldn’t tell which she wanted more, in fact. “But I warn you, if I think you’re going easy on yourself, you won’t like how I handle it.”

Maud glared at the smooth wooden plug that Gunnar called the baby plug, and usually used only to make her walk around amongst the rest of the clan some days when he wanted to focus her thoughts on him. There was no way he would consider that an appropriate selection for whatever punishment this was. She pulled in a breath and then picked up the plug she hated. It was thick stone, heavy and hard, and her whole body clenched too tight as she picked it up. Fear or a fierce, vicious desire, she couldn’t quite tell.

Gunnar made a noise of approval.

“Good girl,” he said in his dark, gruff way, and that was all she needed.

She oiled it as she knelt before him, then handed it to him the way he liked her to do. He lifted a brow and she leaned forward to kiss it.

“Thank you, master,” she murmured, without having to be prompted. It earned her a brush of his hard fingers against her cheek.

Then she turned around, getting down on her hands and knees and lifting her butt to him.

He smoothed his hands over her, and she thought he might smack her ass, but he didn’t. He only warmed it a little with his big, battered hands, and then he set the plug to her asshole.

She breathed, then pushed out the way he’d taught her, and he slid the plug inside her in a single, smooth thrust, filling her that easily. That completely.

And everything inside her seemed to crystallize. Every breath was a shudder. Everything was hot and needy. If there was a wet and ruined world outside this little grip of dark, greedy hunger, Maud forgot it. There was only the enormous thing in her ass, her throbbing clit, and the dark, dangerous raider behind her, who laughed softly at the picture she made before him.

“Stay where you are,” he told her, and he smacked her then. Not hard. Just enough to make that plug light her up, the fire of it racing straight to her clit and making her sweat. “Tell me, Maud, when is the last time you bled?”

She could hardly think. Much less count back, with her face against the rug and Gunnar’s wicked hands behind her. He smacked her again. Then again.

“I don’t know…” she moaned out into the rug, moving her hips in a kind of drunk rhythm as he maintained that same pace, sending everything into shattered pieces and bright hot shards as she fought to keep from tipping over the edge.

“You do.”

She fought to think, as every just-hard-enough smack sent her spinning. And she could feel her orgasm coming at her the way it always did when he spanked her, dark and uncontrollable, all that pain and pleasure and Gunnar the same as far as her hungry pussy was concerned.

“The end of October,” she managed to get out. “Early November.”

“And what month is it now?” he asked, as gruff and certain as ever.

“December,” she panted at him, at the rug, her hands in fists as she fought the great, dark tide of sensation storming toward her. “The solstice was last week. Nearly January—oh.”

“Yes, my little nun. Oh.”

Gunnar smacked her harder then, directly on her pussy, and Maud exploded.

She shook and she shook, one sensation feeding on the next until she was sobbing into the carpet, and it was only when she’d collapsed, limp and wet-eyed, that she started to come back to herself.

And then Gunnar was picking her up, settling her across his lap so the shift of the plug inside her nudged her eyes open and there was nothing but the wall of his hard chest and his serious blue gaze on hers.

“I didn’t know,” she whispered, still sounding broken. “I didn’t think about it.”

“I can see that,” he murmured, brushing her hair back from her flushed cheek. “You’re lucky. The penalty for deliberately deceiving me would be much worse.”

She frowned at him. “I would never deliberately deceive you. I love you.”

“I believe that more and more with each day, little nun,” Gunnar said quietly. “Soon it will be a fact. Like the way I love you. Like the child you carry. My child.”

Satisfaction gleamed in his gaze, bright and very male.

“Do you really think…?”

“I do.” His voice was a low rasp. Deep and certain. “You bled regularly before now, then stopped. Your tits are more sensitive. You’ve suddenly decided you hate things you ate happily two weeks ago. And you’re sleeping more than you used to.” His mouth shifted into one of his rare smiles. “I’m sure.”

Maud shivered at that, and then again when he slid one of his great big hands over her belly and held it there.

She couldn’t imagine it. She tried to imagine a baby inside of her, then in her arms. A tiny mouth to her breast. A small, perfect creature with its father’s eyes. And she was amazed when something deep and warm rose up from a part of her she hadn’t known was there, flooding her with something a lot like joy.

As if she’d wanted this desperately. Maybe she had. Maud had never thought much about motherhood, at least not consciously, except the fact she wasn’t likely to have that option. She’d been promised to the church for other things. And then she’d promised herself to Gunnar and she hadn’t thought beyond him.

She hadn’t wanted to.

He’d taken her from a red desert and certain death, and he’d given her the whole world. He’d set her free. He kept her collared because he knew the collar — the symbol of his possession and his grip on her — allowed her to soar as high and as hard as she could.

He let her love him with all of her heart.

And now he was giving her a child, too, in this world that had so few.

Maud thought she might burst with all the things she felt, and she could see he felt them too. His marvelous eyes gleamed, dark and wild.

Filled with that same hot joy she could feel all over her, like his hands.

“You were supposed to kill me,” she whispered. “And instead you keep bringing me to life. Over and over again.”

He took her mouth then, her lethal raider who loved her. All of her. Who’d saved her even when he’d meant to destroy her. Who’d taught her about love and sex and the real, flesh and blood magic of both. Who knew her body better than she did. Who she trusted with every last part of herself.

She kissed him with all of that, her love and her life and the child they’d made, pouring it all into him until that fire burned inside of her all over again. Again and again. Until she was shifting against his lap, caught between the hard ridge of his cock and the rude intrusion of the plug that kept her from getting too comfortable or ever really backing away from that trembling storm of desire.

“You can’t possibly think I’m going to let you come again so soon, little nun,” Gunnar laughed against her mouth, and the laughter had that dark edge that sent goose bumps shivering down her arms and her spine, while sensation pooled in her clit and made it ache.

She loved him more every day. Every wicked, twisted part of him that matched her so completely.

“Of course not,” she agreed, and then laughed as he moved her, shifting her back off of his lap and onto the floor between his outstretched legs. On that sweet, soft rug.

“You failed to tell me you missed your monthly bleeding,” he said, very severely, though she knew that gleam in his gaze meant he was kidding. In his way. “You concealed the changes in your body.”

“I’m a remarkably wretched mate,” Maud agreed cheerfully. Then caught the warning lift of his brow. “I mean, master. I’m a wretched mate, master.

She could feel the air of the room on her tender, likely pinkened ass. She could feel that enormous plug inside of her. Her breasts ached and her pussy was wet and hot and greedy all over again.

And she could tell from the way Gunnar gazed down at her that this was going to be a long night. Possibly even a pageant, the way he was studying her.

She was so lucky that sometimes she could hardly stand it.

“What can I possibly do to make up for all these sins?” she asked, unable to keep from grinning.

Gunnar reached down and traced his thumb over her lips, then unfastened his trousers, pulling out his smooth, perfect cock. Maud was instantly that much wetter, hotter, needier. And her mouth watered.

“Why don’t you start with a little prayer for forgiveness?” he asked her, his voice that rough caress that she thought would always make her feel exactly like this. Loved and wanted. Safe and wild.

“Amen,” Maud breathed.

And for a moment, they only smiled at each other, electric and a little bit giddy and flush with the knowledge that they were going to be parents. That they’d made a child in this dark world where hope was so hard to come by. They’d found each other and they’d made something better, two miracles in a place that didn’t believe in any.

Two miracles and it had only been six months. Imagine what lay ahead of them.

Maud smiled so hard she thought it might hurt her. Then she slid her hands up his thighs, bent to suck the thick head of his cock into her mouth, and prayed.

She prayed and she prayed.

Just the way he liked it.

One Fine Winter Morning with Tyr and Helena…

Helena wasn’t where she was supposed to be, which Tyr didn’t like at all.

He shook his head, letting the stinging ice water from the shitty November morning outside go wherever the hell it wanted, all over the stone floor. He wiped his face with his hands and then looked around the Lodge’s big hall again, but she still wasn’t there. He’d told his favorite not-so-compliant girl to wait for him after his slippery, frigid, brutal training run, tucked up next to the big ass fire in the hall of the Lodge. Wearing as little as possible, like his own, personal camp girl.

Because the long, gloomy, dark as fuck winter stretched out forever in front of him and it was easy to slip into routines. Ruts. Tyr was happy to let routine carry him through his training exercises, especially on grim days like today, all freezing rain and mud. But he didn’t much like routine when it involved his woman.

His cock was an adventurer, the greedy little shit. Always had been. And Tyr particularly liked fucking Helena in public, where she got off almost as much on the fact everyone could hear her lose it as whatever he might be doing to her to make her lose it. He’d greatly enjoyed playing around with that during the long September equinox celebration, where the clan gathered every night and got their heads around the coming dark with as much feasting and fucking as possible. But it was a long way to December and the next clan-wide party, so Tyr had figured, why not make the most of a random morning with the brotherhood looking on? His mouthy little mainlander had probably come at the very idea.

I want you waiting with a smile on your face and a hot drink for me, baby, he’d told her as he’d pulled on his weapons harness earlier this morning. The rain had been drumming against the windows, but that didn’t mean anything except he was going to get wet. And nothing else.

I’ll be sure to get right on that, Helena had replied, with that wise ass smile of hers curving her plush mouth. He was still obsessed with it. With her. She’d been stretched out naked in his furs, her arms up over her head, looking flushed and freshly-fucked after his favorite kind of early morning wake up. More than that, she looked like what she was. His. Oh great war chief, your every wish is my command.

Your ass better be down in the hall when I get back, Helena, he’d told her, because he never backed down from a challenge. Especially not when it was his woman who’d issued it. If I have to hunt you down in Gunnar’s basement of pain, I might let him deal with you.

That was a lie, of course. He wouldn’t let anybody touch her. He’d kill the bastard who tried. And if he ever fucking lost his mind and changed his position on that? It certainly wouldn’t be to let that kinky motherfucker Gunnar tie her up and play his dark games with her tight little ass. Hell, no.

Tyr nodded at the camp girls who passed him, clinging to each other and walking in a way that suggested they’d had a long night placating the cooped up brothers. He scanned the hall one more time just to make sure Helena really, truly was defying him, and then he grinned.

There were few things he liked more than teaching his woman lessons. It made his cock fucking jubilant, in fact, just thinking about the ways he could express his thoughts on being openly defied like this.

Tyr took the stairs from the lobby of the great hall two at a time, nodding at his brothers as he passed them but not letting any of them pull him into conversation. The rains were here and would be squatting down on top of the Eastern Islands for months, the way they did every year. All the brothers were all restless. They all missed the sea on their faces, the sting of the salt. Tyr was sure he wasn’t the only one missing the sheer, sweet pleasure of a raid. He missed swinging his blade and making the little mainland bitches cry as they scattered before him—but none of that was going to happen any time soon, which meant there were no conversations that couldn’t wait.

At least these days he had an alternate form of entertainment that was entirely his, unlike many of his brothers.

When he slammed open the door to the rooms he shared with Helena, he made sure there was no grin on his face. He shrugged out of his harness and left it on the big table in the main room, then headed down the hall. She wasn’t in the bathroom. She wasn’t in the bedroom. He was thinking about moving from happy anticipation to seriously pissed when he saw the little bit of movement on the other side of the glass doors that led out to the wide deck overlooking the island-studded harbor.

He kicked off his boots and peeled off his trousers, and when he shoved his way through the doors, he was naked.

Better yet, so was she.

Helena was as naked as she’d been when he’d left her earlier, something he got to really appreciate when she stood up in the bubbling tub where she’d been sitting. Waiting, if he had to guess. Then his head went a little fuzzy. The hot, scented water poured over her bare skin and steam came off of her as she stood there in the cold rain, like a wet dream. His favorite wet dream, in fact.

“You get lost?” he asked in a growl.

It should have scared her. It might have, once. But today she only smiled at him.

“Are you trying to intimidate me, war chief?” she asked in that snotty little voice of hers that they both knew only ever got her in trouble. The best kind of trouble.

“I have to try, now?” Tyr shook his head. “I must be slipping.”

He moved to the edge of the raised pool, never shifting his hard gaze from his woman. Her pretty tits, thrust up and waiting for his mouth, his hands. That snotty, smart mouth. The dark hair she’d piled high, wet and steaming too, which told him she’d dunked her head beneath the water to keep warm.

“Well,” Helena murmured, as if she was offering him her condolences. “It’s the off season. You can’t be a rampaging, bad ass raider every second of every day. Everyone needs a little a downtime.”

Tyr swung over the side and into the pool, letting the heat of the silky water close over his cold body. He sighed a little bit at the instant, deep pleasure of it, but made no move toward her. He settled down on one of the submerged benches, stretched his arms out along the sides of the pool, and studied her for a moment instead. Then another moment, because he liked the way she flushed a little bit at his scrutiny, but lifted her chin like she didn’t want him to see it.

“Was I unclear earlier?” he asked. Eventually.

Helena sank down into the water opposite him. “Not at all.”

“I’m pretty sure I told you exactly where I wanted you to be, sweetheart, and it wasn’t here.”

Helena shrugged, though there was a gleam in her smoky gray eyes that made the November day all around her seem dimmer. Even wetter. Darker by comparison. But that was just Helena, he knew. She’d never blended well. She never would.

“I didn’t feel like it,” she said.

He paused to really savor that bullshit. The fact she’d actually said that to him. Every part of him went tight in delicious anticipation—but he locked himself down. He made himself wait.

“What did you say to me? I didn’t get that. It sounded like you said you didn’t feel like doing what I fucking told you to do.”

He sounded furious. Almost cruel. But his woman only lounged back against the far side of the hot pool and smirked at him.

“Your ears are working just fine, Tyr. They always are.”

Tyr smiled then. The way he did in battle, slow and harsh, like he already knew how the fight was going to end. Which he always did.

“Helena.” He said her name like he was tasting it. Or maybe like he was already tasting her. “You have about three seconds to stop being an asshole and save yourself from the deep, dark hole you’ve dug for yourself over there.”

Helena looked bored. “You don’t get to have everything you want just because you want it, Tyr. You should know that by now. Life is short and hard and blah blah blah, that’s the raider way.”

“You’re just making it worse.” He shook his head as if that made him sad. A little bit sad, anyway. “Three.”

Her gaze flickered, but she didn’t look away. Or back down. “At a certain point, all the threats just stop being effective. You know that, right?”

“I think you know I don’t make threats. Two.”

“You make promises, right.” She rolled her eyes, but he could see the way her pulse was going wild in her neck, his little liar. “Very scary. I’m deeply cowed.”

“One.” He shook his head. “Time’s up, little girl. You going to give me a good reason for ignoring what I told you to do today?”

Her cheeks were stained with color that he knew she’d claim was the heat of the water if he asked, not how excited she was. So he didn’t ask.

“No,” she said. “It sounded boring.”

Tyr let out a little laugh at that. “You going to apologize for shooting off your mouth, Helena? This is your last chance.”

And his woman only smirked a little bit, her smoky gaze bright. It made his cock even harder. It made his chest tight. It fucking delighted him.

She pushed herself off her seat and moved across the floor of the tub until she was standing between his legs. The rain coursed down over her but she didn’t seem to notice. She was slick and wet and his. Even better, every line of her lush little body was an open challenge as she angled herself toward him like this was a fight she had a hope in hell of winning.

Sometimes he thought she’d already won. Everything.

“Make me,” she suggested, right in his face.

Tyr surged to his feet, hauling her up against him as he went, and let himself go. Completely.

He took her mouth, bold and sure, eating at her like a starving man. Helena wrapped her limbs around him and kissed him back. Again and again, as hot and as wild as he was. Her felt her tits against his chest. He felt her fingers on his braids. He dug his hands into her hair and held her head where he wanted it, and then he shifted her against him until the head of his cock found her pussy, soaking wet and ready for him.

Always so ready for him. Always so perfect.

He pulled his mouth away from hers then, dropping one hand to wrap over her hip and hold her immobile, a breath away from what he knew she wanted. What he thought he might die if he didn’t get. Soon.

“You need to learn how to obey me, Helena,” he growled.

She was panting, and trembling against him. She was sleek and soft and beautiful, and then she laughed, and he felt that everywhere. His feet. His cock. His heart.

“I would,” she told him, tilting her head back so he could see the smile that lit up her face. “I’d happily obey you. But you’d fucking hate it.”

She was right about that, of course. Tyr loved battle. He craved the fight. It shouldn’t keep surprising him that Helena knew that. Or that she kept contriving ways to make sure nothing came too easy all the time, on the off chance she could ever bore him.

But he hadn’t become the war chief of his clan by being a dumbass.

“Wrong answer, baby,” he said sternly. He let her begin to take him. She sank down on him, inch by slow inch, as he held her there above the water. “You know you’re going to have to pay.”

“Oh, no,” she said, breathless and deadpan at once, too much laughter in her gaze as it met his. “Not that.”

“And tomorrow your ass is going to be down by the fire where the whole clan can see you while they have a little breakfast. Naked and begging, Helena. I know how much you love to beg.”

“I love a lot of things,” she told him, and then they both groaned when he was finally fully lodged inside her. “My first winter without having to worry about compliance. So much food. All those furs. You.”

“Don’t try to wiggle out of the punishment you’ve earned, babe. It’s embarrassing.”

Helena didn’t look embarrassed. She moved her hips, rocking him in even deeper, and he sank down onto the bench, still holding her against him. The hot water was like an embrace, but she was scalding. He tested her, just to see, pulling out and going back in slow. Torturously slow, so he was gritting his teeth and her eyes were nearly shut when he was finally all the way inside her again.

He’d never loved anyone the way he loved this woman. He hadn’t imagined he could.

“I love you,” he told her gruffly then, in case there was any doubt.

Her eyes opened wider then. She smiled. “I know.”

He ran his hands down the perfect line of her spine to get his hands on her ass.

“And it’s with love that I tell you that if you don’t show up tomorrow morning, naked and ready to go when I get back from my run, I’m going to spank that ass of yours before I get started. Bright red, Helena. And I’ll keep it that way for a week.”

“Promises, promises.”

“You think you can play this game with me, but you have no idea what you’re doing. If I was a better man, I’d feel sorry for you. I really would.”

“So much talking,” she groaned. Then she clenched around him, hard, bearing down so the sleek glove of her pussy felt like sheer magic. He hissed in a breath and fought to keep himself in control. “It’s hard to feel properly intimidated when there’s nothing but endless words.

“Tomorrow morning, Helena.”

“Well, Tyr,” she replied, hooking her arms a little tighter around his neck and then taking matters into her own hands by swiveling her hips against him. He let her do it. They both knew he only gave her control for a little while, usually in the beginning. Because they both loved it when he grew impatient with that, and then finished. “I guess you’ll have to wait and see what happens, won’t you?”

Then she really started to move.

And Tyr decided he could plan what he’d do to her—spread out before the fire so his brothers could see what was his from a distance and watch him enjoy it—later. Much later.

Right after he enjoyed his hot little drink almost exactly the way he’d ordered it, after all.

Go Deeper Into the Edge Series

A hundred years ago, or so the stories went, the great Storms came over the course of a few tumultuous decades and kicked the world’s ass. Cities fell. Seas rose. People died.

A lot of people.

The rich built themselves walled compounds on higher ground in places like the Rocky Mountains and called themselves kings. The poor either prostrated themselves to these new overlords or perished in the wild, alone and unguarded. Those who survived learned how to wrestle some kind of life from the new land and the much larger, far deadlier sea, conserving and hoarding what few resources remained.

Some grew. Others took.

Harsh times bred hard men. And the hardest of these by far were the bands of raiders—groups of men who laughed in the face of what governments remained and chose to live free instead. These men took over the new, remote eastern islands that remained when the storms passed, in what was left of the mountains in the far northeast. They swore fealty only to their chosen clans and the kings who won their thrones with strength and maintained them with cunning. They prized their brotherhoods above all else, carved their oaths into their skin and made their vows in blood and battle.

Clan first, clan always. Clan forever.

A man had only what he could take with his hands and kept only what he could protect with the steel of his blade—because gunpowder was a tricky thing after over a century of too much water, and guns were as useless as cars in a world with very few remaining roads and power only in the richest of places.

Years passed, and in the darkness, the raiders became the monsters of their new world. Scary stories whispered around the fire, when the cold nights drew near. Dangerous men who came in the night in their terrible ships and took what they wanted, whenever they wanted.

They helped themselves to precious stores hidden away in the abandoned factories and old office buildings people fashioned into castle keeps. They took food and they took fuel. They liberated softer, more malleable men from higher ground compounds to work in the new fields they held as their property and to follow the orders of these harsh barbarian brothers. And they took women. Women to fuck, women to breed. Women to make the sharp, cruel edges of their hard world that little bit more bearable.

Some, it turned out, more than others.

Because some of these women had minds and plans of their own…