Authors: Marysol James
Tags: #romance, #sex, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Women's Fiction
(Dangerous Curves #4)
By Marysol James
© 2015 by Marysol James.
All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, including information storage and retrieval systems, without prior written permission from the author, except in the case of a reviewer, who may quote brief passages embodied in critical articles or in a review.
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locales are used fictitiously. Other names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination, and any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Cover photo: © Igor Mojzes/Fotolia
Who believes in second chances.
Five years ago. Denver, Colorado.
Doctor Shane MacIntyre entered the hospital trauma unit almost at a run. Yeah, when he got called in, it was always bad – Mac got the urgent-as-all-hell and hopeless-as-all-fuck cases more often than not – but Dr. Sam Innis’ voice over the phone had been more than urgent and hopeless. It had been downright terrified.
Mac rounded the corner, skidded to a halt. Dr. Innis was standing there with a chart and some x-rays. When he spotted Mac, his dark eyes lit up behind his glasses.
“Doctor MacIntyre,” he said, the relief evident in his entire body. “Thank God.”
“Where is she?” Mac said brusquely.
Sam Innis took exactly zero offense at Mac’s growl. Shane MacIntyre was nothing less than the best neurologist that the hospital had ever seen and he’d both trained and worked at the hospital for almost a decade. When he’d left a year earlier to start his own private consultation practice, he’d agreed to be on call for his former workplace when really devastating head trauma cases came in. At moments like this, nobody was anything but grateful for that access and they’d happily put up with Mac’s brisk and gruff manner, no goddamn problem.
“In there.” Sam pointed to the trauma ICU. “She’s – she’s really bad.”
“Summarize.” Mac set his motorcycle helmet on the nurse’s station desk, shrugged off his leather jacket. His long blond hair fell around his handsome, rugged face and the nurses who’d been standing around waiting for Doctor MacIntyre to come blasting in exchanged heated, charged glances. Good Lord, the man was smoking hot.
“She was severely beaten,” Sam began, not wasting any time. “Mostly around her head, but her shoulders, back and stomach received a great deal of injury too. Her right cheekbone is shattered and her right eye is swollen totally shut. She has four broken ribs, a broken arm, six broken fingers, internal bleeding. I removed her spleen almost immediately upon her arrival six hours ago.”
Mac glanced at the young doctor. Sam Innis was barely out of the intern program, but he was already recognized by his peers as an outstanding trauma surgeon. He was cool and calm under pressure, precise and controlled in the OR, kind and warm with patients and their loved ones.
“Go on,” Mac said.
“Unbelievably, there’s no sign at all of rape or any kind of sexual assault.”
Mac heaved a sigh at relief that she’d been spared
particular degradation and trauma. “What else?”
“She’s stable now, but she hasn’t been conscious for more than a minute or two,” Sam said. “When she
come around, she fights us.”
“Tries to get away?”
“Good?” Sam said.
“Yeah. Means that she knows other people are there so she’s aware of her surroundings. Also means that she’s got some guts and she’s going to need those.”
“Yes.” Sam thought about the young woman’s broken, battered body. “She sure will.”
“OK, I’ll go in and see her now.”
Mac stepped in to the ICU, nodded at the staff there. Right away, he spotted the woman in question and despite his years of seeing people smashed up in car accidents and falls and beatings, he stopped, his breath freezing in his broad chest.
Holy fuck, she was bad.
than bad, actually. With damage like this, she should be dead or at least in a coma. How the hell was she still alive, still hanging on? And who had done this to her? This was the work of an animal – quite probably more than one. This was nothing less than a deliberate, brutal, vicious attempt to wipe this young woman’s soul right off the planet. Mac knew nothing about her – not even her name, he suddenly realized – but he knew that there was no way she’d done anything to deserve this.
He approached her bed, his practiced eye taking in her injuries. Gently, he lifted her eyelids, flashed some light to check her pupils. She was responsive and Mac stared down at her for a few seconds, astonished at that fact.
When she opened her one eye and looked up at him, Mac almost fell to his knees beside her at what he saw in its depths.
Good Christ, he’d never seen that eye color in a woman’s face before, not in the whole of his life. It was a startling, vibrant violet. The color of the brightest, most gorgeous autumn sunset over the Rocky Mountains. As he looked down at her, Mac thought of holding this woman naked and close and safe in his arms as they watched the sunset together… after making passionate love in front of his cabin’s massive windows.
But it wasn’t just that amazing color that shocked him. It was what he saw in that bright, perfect eye that grabbed him by the balls and the throat; that grabbed him hard and shook him. That made him both admire
Fire. Fight. Fury.
She was determined to live, he saw now. Whatever had happened to her, whoever had done this to her – that thing and that person hadn’t broken her. Not even fucking
. In that smashed up, shattered body there was the spirit of a warrior, the heart of a lioness. Under all that damage was a woman who was holding on to life with both hands, holding on as tight and as hard as humanly possible. She was going to get through this – no fucking debate or discussion on this point. She was going to fight.
And in that moment and just like that, Mac determined to fight with her.
She blinked and her eye changed. Now Mac saw pain and confusion and a silent plea. His heart squeezed at her vulnerability and before he quite knew where he was, he had her small hand held gently in his massive one.
“Hi,” he whispered, his voice low and husky. “Can you hear me?”
She nodded, a tiny movement. She winced.
“No,” he said. “Don’t move your head, OK?”
She blinked again and he smiled at her instinctive knowledge to communicate through the eyes.
Those fucking incredible eyes.
“I’m Doctor Shane MacIntyre,” he said. “I’m a neurologist and you’re in the hospital. We’re taking good care of you.”
She gazed at him, waiting.
“You’re hurt badly,” he said softly.
“Don’t you worry about anything right now,” Mac said. “You’re safe here. I’m not going to let anyone hurt you again. That’s all over, OK?”
“Can you sleep some more?” he asked. “You need lots of rest.”
In response, she shut her eye and sighed. That soft, lost sound was Mac’s undoing: the urge to curl up in that bed with her came crashing over him like a wave and washed him away. He longed to hold her against him, to just stand between her and the big, bad, brutal world, to keep her safe from whatever monsters had done this to her. He wanted to protect her and he wanted her to look to him for protection. For tenderness and care. He wasn’t a tender man or a careful man, not when it came to relationships, but for her he knew he could and would be. Hell, he
She fell asleep almost immediately, which was no shock considering how pumped full of drugs she was. Mac was stunned that she’d come to at all and chalked it up – yet again – to her fierce dedication to stay right the fuck here.
He waited until she was out completely and then he left her. Sam was still out in the hallway and Mac held out his hand for her chart. The younger man handed it over silently and Mac walked down the hall a little ways, sat down on a sofa.
He skimmed over the medical notes, checked the x-rays and the CT scans. He felt his face go hard with anger. She was going to have a long road to recovery, no doubt about that, but he was going to be there next to her every step of the way.
wasn’t up for any debate or discussion, either.
The last thing that Mac looked at was her name: it was like he was keeping the only bit of sweetness in all of those pages of hell away from himself. Saving the best for last. When he finally read her name, he smiled.
Miranda Campbell. It’s very good to meet you.
Present day. Denver, Colorado.
Kane, hesitated outside Cassie’s Café. She caught a glimpse of her own face in the window and she sighed at her haggard appearance, at the deep purple bags under her violet eyes. She’d barely slept the night before and no goddamn wonder.
The previous afternoon one of her biggest fears had finally come to pass: she’d run in to Shane MacIntyre in public. Turns out, he was good friends with Mirrie’s friend’s boyfriend. As she stood in front of the café, thinking about maybe touching up her lipstick and wondering just why the hell she was thinking about touching up her lipstick, longing for a cigarette and cursing the fact that she’d finally given it up six months earlier, Mirrie pondered what a small world it was. Unfortunately.
When Shane had seen her at Naomi’s art centre opening the day before, he’d played it cool. At least for a while. But the private confrontation in the kitchen had been bad. Well, worse than bad, actually. Awful.
, the hurt and rage in his eyes and in his voice… Mirrie had longed to throw herself at him, to have him hold her again. She wanted to be forgiven for what she’d done to him – even if she’d done it
He’d forced the issue, of course. Demanded to know why she’d disappeared four years before, without anything more than a three-line e-mail saying that she was leaving Denver. Demanded to know why she hadn’t come up to his cabin that weekend. He’d informed her that he’d waited up there for three days and she’d flinched at the thought of how worried he must have been when the hours had passed and she hadn’t shown up. Forget that the cabin had been surrounded by people intent on killing him if she hadn’t gone along with what they’d wanted; all she’d seen the day before had been the deep wound that she’d inflicted on Shane.
Better that he be emotionally wounded than physically dead.
Mirrie shook herself now, braced herself for what was waiting for her in the café. Shane had insisted on meeting today and she’d promised to tell him the truth. About everything.
She was terrified.
Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to open the door and walk in. She glanced around, hoping against hope that maybe he’d changed his mind but no such luck. There he was, in a booth in the far corner, glaring at her. He’d probably been sitting there since the café had opened three hours before, downing coffee and trying to stay calm. She could only imagine his fury and although she knew that he’d never lay a finger on her, she feared his anger more than a punch.
She bit her lip, crossed the room. Those hard blue eyes watched her as she walked over, slid in to the seat opposite his. They silently regarded each other, saw the lack of sleep and strain on the other person’s pale face.
Mirrie cleared her throat. “Hi.”
Mac scowled. “Talk.”
She looked down, wishing that he’d at least said hello. But there was going to be no fucking around, no wasting time. No reprieve for her, not anymore. Well, he
been waiting four years for answers, so she supposed he was done being patient.
The waitress approached and Mirrie paused, gratefully accepting fresh coffee. She twisted her fingers and waited until the woman had walked away, relishing these final few seconds of avoiding the inevitable.
Mac stared at her now as she added three scoops of sugar to her coffee, still completely unable to believe that she was sitting here with him. Fuck, when he’d seen her standing there the afternoon before, he thought he’d lost his goddamn mind. At first, he’d been confused by how different she looked – the Miranda that he’d known had been a soft honey-blonde, she’d barely worn any makeup at all, she’d worn loose, almost hippy-like clothing.
But the woman sitting here at this moment looked like some kind of rock-chick crossed with a biker babe. Hair dyed bright pink, a neck tattoo, piercings in her eyebrow, lip, cheek and nose, heavy makeup. The only thing that Mac recognized were those stunning eyes: they were as pure and perfect as ever. They were the eyes that had gazed up at him from his bed, sated and warm, the eyes that had sparkled at him with both lust and affection. Those eyes had haunted his dreams. They still did.
“Mirrie,” he said, his voice coming out harsh and hard as he remembered how madly in love with her he’d been. “Fucking
She nodded, looked away again. “I know, Shane. I’m just – I don’t know where to start.”
“Start with telling me who beat the hell out of you,” he said. “Who tried to kill you.”
“Yeah.” She took a sip of sweet black coffee for courage. “That was the Fallen Angels.”
Of all the hundreds of scenarios that Mac had imagined,
hadn’t been on the list.
“Why would a motorcycle club want you dead?” he asked, perplexed.
“Because,” she said quietly. “I’m Miranda Kane.”
Frozen with shock, he gaped at her. “
“Yeah.” She gave him a twisted little smile. “Donovan Kane’s younger sister.”
Mac shook his head, trying to wrap his sleep-deprived mind around what she was telling him. Donovan ‘Joker’ Kane was well-known in Denver and he wasn’t known for anything remotely resembling human decency. His father Sandy ‘Sands’ Kane was almost as bad.
“How – how can you be Kane’s sister?” he said.
“I just am. I was born in to the MC life, although I did everything I could to stay out of it. When I was eleven, I begged to move away and live in Colorado Springs and my parents agreed. They were never very interested in raising me or Donovan, and so having one less brat around was cool with them. I lived with my alcoholic aunt and she basically gave me a key to our walk-up in a crappy neighborhood and left me to fend for myself. I took care of myself, mostly, from then on.”
“So when you were eleven you left your parents?”
She shrugged. “More or less, yeah. Anyway, my Mom was a former hellion who got knocked up by accident and Dad never fully committed to her, but he marked her as his, kind of. His first and only real love has always been the club. Same with Donovan – as I’m sure you know. If you hang out at Curves and you know Matt Kingston, then you’ll know my brother well, I imagine.”
Mac nodded. He’d had more than one run-in with her piece-of-shit brother at Dangerous Curves, the bar owned by one of his best friends, Jax Hamill. Curves attracted a rough crowd and for years, the Fallen Angels had been regular patrons. Until Donovan Kane had held a knife to Sarah Matthews’ throat, that is. Sarah was Jax’s girlfriend and seeing Kane with his hands on her had driven Jax over the edge. The Angels were no longer welcome at Curves… but their presence was still felt there. Strongly.
Mac forced his mind away from Gabriela Torres for the moment, though it was hard. She’d been kidnapped and buried alive after witnessing the Fallen Angels President and VP murder one of their former contractors and she was still reeling from the experience. Oh, hell, yeah… the Angels were
making themselves known and felt at Curves. And none of it was welcome or wanted.
So Mac knew full well what kind of monsters Mirrie had been born in to and surrounded by during her childhood, what she’d fought to get away from. But if she’d escaped as a kid, why had they beaten her up so badly five years before?
“Go on,” he said. “I want to hear the whole thing.”
“I know.” She took a deep breath. “Well, about six years ago, I…” Her voice trailed off.
“What?” he said roughly, not liking her hesitation. “Mirrie,
? Fucking tell me.”
“I – I joined AA.”
Mac reeled from his second massive shock of the morning. “AA? Alcoholics Anonymous?”
“Yes. I’m – I’m an alcoholic.”
Mirrie stared down at her coffee and Mac was blindsided by the sudden urge to hold her hand.
, the woman had kept things from him and he now saw with dawning horror that none of what she’d hidden was any damn good.
For the first time since laying eyes on her the day before, Mac began to feel more worried about her than angry at her. Maybe she’d had genuinely good reasons to not tell him any of this… maybe telling him now was hurting her. Maybe what she still had to tell him was worse, even more disturbing. And no matter how furious he was, he didn’t want her to hurt any more. She’d done enough of that in her life already; he knew that first-hand.
“Hey,” he said softly. She started at the gentleness in his tone and glanced up at him, surprised. “Hey, you OK?”
She blinked. “Uh… yes. Well, no. But sort of.”
“Is it OK if you tell me the rest of it?”
She choked on her coffee. “What – now you’re
“Yes.” He sighed and felt some of the rage leave his body on the exhale. “Now I’m asking. I’m even asking nicely.”
“Oh.” She peered at his handsome face, trying to read the expression she saw there. Shane looked – regretful? But why?
wasn’t the one who’d just vanished without a trace four years before. What did
have to be sorry about?
“So.” He pushed his long hair back with both large hands. “Will you tell me? Please?”
“Well, since you said ‘please’…” Despite herself, she grinned at him and to her utter shock, he grinned back.
Damn, it looked good on him. Back when they’d been together, she’d often had her breath smashed clean out of her chest when he’d smiled at her. The man was nothing less than breath-stealing, with that shining blond hair and those clear blue eyes, that strong jaw and those sensual lips. Mirrie remembered all too well how that mouth had felt on her own, on her breasts. Between her legs.
She flushed, looked away. Now wasn’t the time to take a horny trip down memory lane. Today was all about offering up the explanation and apology that Shane so desperately wanted and totally deserved and then walking on out of his life again. This time for good, hopefully. And maybe even with a clear conscience.
“Ummm.” Mirrie struggled to regain her train of thought. “What was I saying?”
“Oh. Oh, yeah. So, I got myself sober and I decided that to really reclaim my life, I needed to walk away from my family and the MC.”
“But you did that when you were eleven, right?”
“No.” Mirrie bit her lip, trying to think how to explain this to him. “When I was eleven, I ran away from my life. I – I escaped it by avoiding it. But what I really wanted to do was take it back by facing it.”
“Ah. I get it.”
“I’d come back to Denver after I finished high school and I was working in an office. Just as a receptionist, nothing amazing, but still. I was earning my keep and I was making it work… with a monster hangover most mornings, but when I stopped drinking, I knew I could make a real go of my life. All I needed to do was cut off all my MC ties officially, once and for all.”
“So you were still in contact with your family then?”
“Sure. They’re my family and no matter how bad it was with them, I saw them sometimes. Birthdays and things like that. And of course, I drank with the MC at their clubhouse. It was free booze which was like a dream-come-true for me and they’re assholes, no doubt about that, but I was welcome and I was safe there. Well, I was until I wanted to be totally free. Then welcome and safe were just about the
things that I was with them.”
The same two words he’d hissed mere minutes earlier, now asked in a gentle tone. A request, this time, not an order. And since he was asking like this, she told him. She took a shuddering breath and got ready to be more honest with him than she’d even been with anyone in her life.
“I took almost every penny I had saved and I bought a whole new identity,” Mirrie said. “With my family connections, it wasn’t hard to find a guy who’d do it. He was expensive but he was fast and the documents were excellent. So, that’s how I became Miranda Campbell… I had the birth certificate, driver’s license and passport that said so.”
Mac nodded. “OK.”
“My plan was to tell my family first, then the MC. I was still considered property of theirs, in a way, and I wanted to figure out a way to leave the whole thing behind that was mutual. But… but it all went wrong.”
Mac waited and when she stayed silent, he prompted her. “How?”
“I’m still not totally sure, but I suspect that the guy who did my new ID ratted me out for a price. I think he took my money and then turned around and told my Dad and the club about what I’d done. Double payday for the dickhead, right?”
Mac caught his breath at the bitterness in her voice. “Yeah. I guess.”
“So when I showed up at the clubhouse to talk to Dad and Mom and Donovan, the club already knew,” Mirrie said. “They were – very angry.”
He gazed at her, sure that this had to be the understatement of the century. “That’s why they beat you up?”
“Not quite.” She turned her coffee cup around and around and Mac saw that her hands were trembling. “They took my new documents away and then they gave me a choice.”
“What kind of choice?”
“They…” Again, she faltered and again, Mac wondered if he was doing the wrong thing by pushing her to talk.
She jumped at the achingly-familiar, sorely-missed endearment and she saw that Shane looked equally stunned to have used it.
“I’m sorry,” he said. “I shouldn’t have… I have no right to call you that. Not anymore.”
“It’s alright,” she whispered, trying not to cry at the unexpected sweetness. “Anyway, Trigger had just been made President and he was hell-bent on being taken seriously as a tough leader who wouldn’t accept any disrespect. He told me that if I wanted total freedom from him and the boys, then I had to earn it.”
“How?” Mac’s voice was gravel.
“I had two choices. I could either open my legs and take every one of them – except my Dad and brother, obviously, though they’d get to beat me afterwards for being such a slut – while the others watched. Or I could give
a chance to hit me. Each member got two punches and they could hit me anywhere they wanted, as hard as they wanted. If I survived the beating, they’d drop me and my ID off at the hospital. And then I’d be free.”