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Authors: Marysol James

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Hard Curves (Dangerous Curves Book 2)

BOOK: Hard Curves (Dangerous Curves Book 2)
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Hard Curves

 

(Dangerous Curves #2)

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 design:
www.doc2mobi.com
Cover photo: © olly/Fotolia

Dedication

For M.
Ten years, three months, three weeks and two days sober… and counting.

Chapter One

Naomi Abbott peeled out of the Dangerous Curves parking lot like she had the devil himself chasing her… and in a way she did.
Two
devils, actually. One old and familiar – the one that had tried to ruin her life in ways that she was just starting to get a handle on – and one new. One that was, in some ways, far more frightening than the first.

A dark-haired devil with killer gray eyes and massive hands. A devil with a stare that could smash through every single wall she’d built up to protect herself. A devil that she never saw coming and had no idea how to mount a defense against. A devil who was pure, wicked, muscular, mouthwatering temptation.

Matt Kingston. Goddammit.

She saw a gas station and pulled over. Hands trembling, Naomi reached in to her purse and pulled out the brass coin. The size of a poker chip, painted a shining copper, it represented the most astounding act of self-love that she’d ever performed.

Seven months, three weeks, four days without a drink. And Christ Almighty, right now, I feel every fucking second of it.

The coin was nestled in her sweaty palm, comforting and solid. Something to hold on to, to squeeze, to draw strength from at moments like this. A talisman and a promise.

You’re OK, just breathe. You got out of there in one piece. Calm down and get to Mirrie.

She breathed deeply, felt her heartbeat slow down. Calmer now, but still clutching her sobriety chip, she pulled back on to the highway and headed in to Denver proper. She got lucky and found a parking spot right in front of Frank’s Café. Bonus points for money still being in the meter – a whole hour, which was probably just about long enough.

Naomi pulled her collar up against the bitter late-October wind, shivering. She yanked the café door open, and spotted Mirrie at their usual table in the back. Immediately, any feelings of being unbalanced or skewed disappeared: her world realigned and settled back on its axis. She found her center again.

Miranda Kane watched Naomi approach, her violet eyes steadily taking her in. When Naomi got to the table, she sat down with a huge sigh.

“You OK?” Mirrie said without preamble.

“Not bad.”

“You want to stay here and talk, or do you need to go to a meeting? There’s one in twenty minutes.”

“I want to talk.”

Mirrie nodded. “Talk.”

Despite her shock and stress, Naomi couldn’t help but smile at Mirrie’s brisk manner. The woman’s no-bullshit attitude was exactly what she needed at moments like this. Gushing sympathy or mama-hen clucking would just send her over the edge to self-pity, or maybe even tears.

Naomi glanced around the café, saw an older man staring over at her and Mirrie with a perplexed expression on his wrinkled face. She knew what he was seeing, and didn’t blame him at all for his confusion. After all, Naomi was in a sleek suit with high heels and no ornamentation at all except for a chunky gold bangle on her slim wrist. With her short blonde hair and minimal and tasteful makeup, she was the epitome of a conservative businesswoman. Chic, sedate and streamlined.

Mirrie, by direct and jarring contrast, was like an explosion of color: on her body, her hair, her face. Her hair was bright pink, her eyes and lips were slathered in enthusiastic dark makeup, her face was covered in piercings – eyebrow, nose, cheek, lip – and she had a sprawling neck tattoo. Her clothes were a fashion nightmare of clashing colors and patterns.

Naomi took a few seconds to admire the other woman’s fearless sense of ‘who-the-hell-cares-about-matching-anyway?’ Mirrie worked as a barista at the trendy café around the corner and she was the most toned-down of all the staff. The owner, Spider, had most of his face tattooed with an enormous spider web, which freaked out unsuspecting customers on the regular, until they saw his kindness and humor. Mirrie was exactly like that, actually: shocking and bizarre, until you got past it all and saw her genuine desire to help others.

They had met at an AA meeting. Naomi had been in unbelievably bad shape at that point: shaky and scared to death, vulnerable and alone. She had
no fucking idea
how to live her life without drinking every night, so in self-defense (and in this case, it was literally in defense of herself), she got in to the routine of going straight from work to a meeting to kill the long, empty night time hours.

For almost a whole month, instead of downing two bottles of wine alone at home, or getting smashed in bars and picking up random guys, Naomi had sat in a room with strangers. She was committed to going to thirty AA meetings in thirty days, and beyond that, she didn’t have a goddamn clue what to do next. She drank cup after cup of tea, her hands shaking the whole time, and she listened to others, trying to draw some strength from them.

She’d talked to everyone, and everyone had blended together – except for Mirrie. Mirrie stood out for her, and not just because of her outrageous appearance. Something about her hard edges combined with her gentle eyes had just called to Naomi. And then at Naomi’s twenty-eighth meeting, Mirrie had stood up to speak about her four years of sobriety.

As she’d listened to the younger woman talk about her own journey, Naomi felt herself relax for the first time in ages. For the first time, she really thought that she
could
do this – that it
was
possible. And it had been Mirrie who had made her believe.

She’d gone right up to Mirrie after the meeting; she’d waited patiently while an endless stream of people talked to her, congratulated her, thanked her. Finally, it had just been the two of them in the corner and when their eyes met, it was like a spark of connection, of recognition. Despite all the differences in outer appearances, the two women
saw
each other,
knew
each other.

“Hi,” Mirrie said, her voice roughened from a serious cigarette habit that had started at the tender age of thirteen. “I’m Mirrie.”

“Naomi.”

Mirrie took her in. The pale face, the dark circles under the eyes, the tension wound up hard and unforgiving. “How many days?”

“Twenty-eight.”

“White-knuckling it the whole time?”

Naomi managed a laugh. “Oh, hell, yeah.”

“You want to get a coffee and talk?”

Her throat too tight to utter a single word, Naomi had nodded. Mirrie had taken her two blocks down to Frank’s Café, and the women had talked until almost one o’clock in the morning. When Frank came to tell them that he was closing, and Mirrie had introduced Naomi, Frank had proceeded to go home and left Mirrie to lock up. That was when Naomi asked Mirrie to be her sponsor.

Mirrie had looked at her silently, those amazing light-purple eyes calm and contemplative. “I’d really, really love that, Naomi.”

In the almost seven months since that night, Mirrie had seen Naomi through so much shit, it was humbling and unbelievable. Mood swings and crying jags and urges to relapse so strong that Naomi literally couldn’t speak for the wanting. Through it all, Mirrie had been sharp, patient, supportive. She was a tiny miracle and a life-saver – and at this point, Naomi loved her like a sister.

Frank came over now with a coffee and Naomi gave him a grateful smile. He was also in the club, and had an amazing twenty-two years of sobriety under his belt. He examined her closely, knowing that something had to have happened.

“You alright?” he said.

“Yeah. I mean… kind of. I will be.”

Frank nodded, then left without another word.

“So.” Mirrie stared hard. “Talk.”

Despite her air of brusque command, Mirrie was actually incredibly worried, and she had been ever since Naomi had told her about the meeting with Jax Hamill and Sarah Matthews. They had arranged to meet at Dangerous Curves, of all the damn places – Jax’s bar. The worst place on earth for an alcoholic in early recovery, but Jax had needed his papers and financial figures, and everything was in his office there.

Mirrie had been on standby, in case Naomi called in distress. And sure enough, she’d called for help using their pre-arranged signal – Naomi had let the phone ring for a few seconds and then hung up so Mirrie could call her back with an ‘emergency’. Naomi had bailed on the meeting in less than twenty minutes.

Honestly, though? I wouldn’t have lasted even close to that long in a bar in my first year of sobriety. I’d have cleared the front door, kept right on walking up to the bar. And then planted my ass on the nearest stool and not moved for a day, before waking up in some loser’s bed.

She gazed at Naomi now, waiting for the other woman to start talking. She was rooting for Naomi to get through this, rooting for her in a way that kept her up at night. Mirrie was her sponsor, yeah, but she was also her friend, and her biggest fan. The world
needed
people like Naomi Abbott, and Mirrie was bound and determined to get Naomi to a healthy, healed place. God knows the woman was working at it.

“Well… Sarah was drinking some kind of cocktail,” Naomi said. “And I could smell the damn thing from all the way across the table, you know?”

Mirrie nodded.

“But I was on top of things, mostly because Jax is going to donate an absolutely mammoth amount of money to my art program. That kept me focused and positive. Plus, Sarah’s great, and I’m looking forward to her brother joining the program. I’ve seen Noah’s paintings and he’s amazing.”

“That’s excellent.”

“Yeah.” Naomi took a shaky breath. “Then
he
walked in.”

Mirrie went in to high-alert mode. “‘He’? ‘He’ who?”

“Oh, no. Not
that
he.”

Mirrie felt relief wash over her. “OK. So who?”

“Matt Kingston.” Naomi said the name reluctantly. “He – he’s a friend of Jax and Sarah’s, and he’s also going to make a contribution. Turns out, his niece is already in the program, and he likes it a lot.”

Mirrie’s brow was furrowed. “Matt Kingston? Matt Kingston…” Her expression cleared. “Wait. You mean
King
?”

“Who?”

“Huge guy with dark hair? Scary as hell, tattoos everywhere?’

“Yeah,” Naomi said, startled. “You know him?”

“By sight and reputation only.”

“OK. Is it bad?”

“I’m not sure,” Mirrie said slowly. “Lots of rumors and I’m not in that life anymore, so I can’t say how much of what I hear is true.”

“What do you hear?”

“Well, he owns that garage out on 12
th
Ave… King’s Garage.”

“I know it. A biker garage, right?”

“Not only, but yeah,” Mirrie said. “The local MC’s get their bikes fixed there, but I think that’s ‘cause King’s guys really are the best at what they do.”

Mirrie left much unsaid in that statement, but Naomi heard it all, loud and clear. Mirrie had been raised pretty rough: MC-member and alcoholic father, prostitute and druggie mother, MC-member brother Donovan, who was the worst of all of them.

Donovan Kane was a hardcore criminal who had languished in jail many times for rape, assault, robbery, and had been suspected of murder more than once, though the cops hadn’t been able to make anything stick. He’d terrorized Mirrie her entire life and when she’d gotten sober, she’d walked away from a whole bunch of people who didn’t support her decision – and that had included her own family.

“Got it,” Naomi said. “What else?”

“So despite its criminal clientele, the garage is legit, no doubt about that. I mean, soccer Moms get their minivans serviced there. But King also has a – a second business.”

“Oh, God.” Naomi sat up straight. “What business?”

“Some kind of protective service for hire.”

“Protection? Like Dallas Foreman’s business? Bodyguards and security?”

“Oh, no. Foreman’s outfit is totally on the up-and-up. King’s is way… shadier.”

“Spit it out, Mirrie. Please. You’re killing me here.”

“Ohhh-kay.” Mirrie sighed. “He runs this group of highly-trained ex-special-ops types. Former Marines and Rangers and SEALs and fuck-only-knows-who-else. They’re hired to – perform services. Off-the-grid stuff and I’m not sure how legal it is, to be honest with you.”

Naomi unstuck her voice. “Contract killers?”

“Oh, I really don’t think so. Lots of bounty hunting and extracting women and kids from sex trafficking rings, for example. Going undercover and infiltrating drug cartels and MC’s, too. Just –
dark
, you know? Dallas Foreman works with the police, but I doubt that King does. His clients are all private, and they hire King’s Men to take care of business. At great expense, I should add.”

“King’s Men?”

“Yeah. That’s what they’re called, even though about half of them are women.”

“Oh, fuck.” Naomi took a deep breath. “I can’t accept money from a guy like this.”

“No?”

“Nuh-uh.”

“So you had no idea who he was?”

“Nope. Not a clue.”

“OK, so why were you all shaken up when he walked in, then? What did he do to freak you out?”

“He just – he totally rattled me.”

“How?”

“He showed up and breathed and looked devastatingly gorgeous while he did so.”

Mirrie grinned now. “Yeah, well. He’s a sexy beast, Naomi.”

“No kidding.” Naomi took a big gulp of coffee. “He’s hands-down the hottest man I’ve ever seen in the flesh, and he sat next to me, and then he flirted a bit. And I felt – overwhelmed by him. His body, his voice, his whole vibe. And I remembered how easy I found it to talk to men before… you know, when I was drinking. I’d get drunk and then I could relax and flirt back and go all sex goddess without feeling self-conscious.”

“Yeah. That amazing alcoholic courage, huh?”

“Yep. And that was when I started to lose it. I suddenly wanted to drink so that I could talk to him without being all intimidated.” She bit her lip. “That’s when I called you.”

“I’m glad you did.” Mirrie gazed at Naomi, took in her beautiful face. “You look better now. How you feeling?”

“Better and also worse.”

“Huh?’

“Well, now I need to go see Matt Kingston, don’t I? I have to refuse his financial contribution.”

BOOK: Hard Curves (Dangerous Curves Book 2)
4.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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