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Authors: Jill Sorenson

Shooting Dirty

BOOK: Shooting Dirty
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Shooting Dirty

By Jill Sorenson

She’s his only salvation

Ace Clemmons has wanted Janelle from the moment he first saw her. Taking her captive while he carried out his last hit as a member of Dirty Eleven nearly broke him. Now that he’s gone straight, he’s back in her life, looking to stake his claim. He can’t erase the past but he’ll do anything to make it up to her.

Janelle Parker needs a new start, far away from the trailer park and the strip club. A down and dirty affair with a tattooed criminal is a step in the wrong direction, but she can’t resist Ace’s deliciously commanding touch, which has haunted her dreams for months. Soon they’re both in too deep, falling hard and fast—until an old feud with a rival motorcycle club explodes into an all-out war. Dirty Eleven’s enemies won’t hesitate to hurt Janelle to get to Ace. She has to fight to survive...for the fiercest love she’s ever known.

Book two of the Dirty Eleven MC series

84,900 words

Dear Reader,

I don’t know about you, but I need more hours in my day just
so I can get more books read. No matter how much I read, I always feel like the
next great book is right around the corner waiting for me, and that there just
aren’t enough hours in the day to get to everything I want to read. I love my
job, but sometimes I wish I’d win the lottery so I could just spend my days
reading.

This month’s Carina Press releases will have you wishing you
could just spend days reading, because it’s an incredible lineup of books from
Marie Force, Shannon Stacey, Lisa Marie Rice and so many other talented authors.
You won’t want to take a pass on any of them!

Sam and Nick are back in Marie Force’s romantic suspense
Fatal Frenzy
. With Inauguration Day fast approaching, Sam’s
loyalties are divided between a heartbreaking case at work and her need to
support Nick as he takes the oath of office as vice president. You won’t be able
to turn the pages fast enough to find out what happens next! Don’t forget, the
first seven books in the Fatal series are now available in print, starting with
Fatal Affair
!

Shannon Stacey launches a brand-new trilogy this month, and
it’s available in print, digital and audio. What do you get when you mix the
sexiness of Boston firefighters with Shannon’s trademark humor and romance? In
Heat Exchange
, the first book in this hot new contemporary
romance trilogy, meet Aidan Hunt, one of the men of Boston Fire, and the woman
he just can’t stay away from, bro code or no, Lydia Kincaid. Look for
Controlled Burn
, Rick’s story, in December 2015.

Love the Men of Midnight series by Lisa Marie Rice? Never
picked one up before? Don’t miss this sexy, sexy installment of her cracktastic
romantic suspense series. The boy Summer Redding loved and thought dead is
back—now he’s a hardened warrior, a man out for revenge, and he’ll fight to the
death to protect what is his, and that includes her.
Midnight Fire
can easily stand alone, but you’ll want to pick
up the other books in this series as soon as you turn the last page.

In another cracktastic read, Caitlin Dufresne swears she
doesn’t regret any of the sacrifices she’s made in her ruthless quest to be the
best lawyer at her elite Chicago firm, but a one-night stand with the sexy,
stubborn IT guy makes her realize she may have been missing out on more than she
knew...
In Her Defense
by Julianna Keyes is a sexy contemporary
romance that will hit all the right buttons.

Also in the sexy contemporary romance category this month is
author Jill Sorenson with
Shooting Dirty
. Seasoned stripper Janelle
Parker gets tied up in a dangerously sexy affair with Ace Clemmons, the tattooed
criminal who shot her ex. Now she has to deal with both him and his motorcycle
club.

A.M. Arthur’s popular Restoration Series wraps up with
another great male/male romance,
Taking a Chance
. The last thing Ell wants is a broken heart,
but that doesn’t stop him lusting after the sexy carpenter working on his
kitchen. Auggie can’t stay away from Ell, but intense attraction may not be
enough to overcome a secret from their shared past.

If you read Caitlyn McFarland’s debut dragonshifter romance,
Soul of Smoke
, you’ll be anxious to get your hands on
Shadow of Flame
, the second book in her Dragonsworn series. To
end a war that has raged for a thousand years, Kai Monahan and Rhys ap Ayen, her
shapeshifting dragon mate, must navigate a labyrinthine network of spies,
prejudice and divided loyalties—but if they can’t stop denying how much they
need each other first, they’ll lose everything to an enemy they never saw
coming.

Maybe mystery is what you’re craving this month? In
Cover Story
, another intriguing mystery by Brenda Buchanan,
Maine newspaper reporter Joe Gale’s vigorous coverage of a murder trial
involving a member of a high-profile political family leads to a relentless
campaign of intimidation by a shadowy force determined to keep the truth
buried.

Also this month, Dee Carney starts a new paranormal romance
series, Fire Creek Shifters. All shifters live with their beasts, but in
Taming Her Wolf
Chris “Brick” Preston’s is dangerously close
to the surface. And it wants Kim Sharpe. Sex keeps the beast sated for now, but
unless Kim can help him find a more permanent solution, Brick risks becoming a
feral, doomed to be banished—or put down—by his pack.

With all of these to choose from, you might want to call in
sick to work one day. (I’ll write you an editor’s note. I’m sure your boss will
accept that, right?)

Until next month, here’s wishing you a wonderful month of
books you love, remember and recommend.

Happy reading!

Angela James

Editorial Director, Carina Press

Chapter One

Janelle fought the urge to squirm in front of the admissions panel.

She was used to being stared at and putting her body on display, but she didn’t feel this vulnerable on stage. When she was dancing, she was in control. The men who watched her could only see her outer shell, her protective mask. They didn’t have access to the real person inside. They didn’t know her hopes and dreams.

The people across from Janelle were evaluating her character and intellect, not her tits and ass and fake o-face. It was nerve-racking.

“Your GPA meets our requirements,” one of the panel members said. Her gaze was razor-sharp behind horn-rimmed glasses. “You’ve also passed the necessary tests to enter a physical therapy program.”

Janelle tried to appear confident and self-assured. She
had
passed. Just barely, after weeks of cramming.

“Tell us about your spiritual beliefs,” the second woman said.

Loma Santa Fe was a Christian university. Janelle assumed the three staff members on the admissions panel were deeply religious. There were two middle-aged women and a cheerful young man. Although it was second nature for Janelle to appeal to the male of the group, she avoided eye contact with him. He looked familiar.

She shifted in her chair, uncomfortable.

She didn’t remember every customer who came into the club or paid extra for a lap dance in the back room. She remembered very few of them, actually. It was easier to focus on their clothing, or their hands. The hands were important. They reached for wallets, or roved too far. They could also move fast, strike hard.

Janelle had a sixth sense about men, honed from years of catering to their base desires, and she knew this one’s type. Religious, married, Madonna complex. Mostly harmless. She hoped he hadn’t been in the club.

“I believe in God,” she said honestly.

“Do you accept the Lord Jesus as your savior?”

Janelle wasn’t sure what that meant. If Jesus had wanted to save her, he’d had plenty of opportunities—and missed every damned one. “I’ve never been to church before, but I’m open to the idea of Jesus.”

Her response seemed acceptable to the panelists. Maybe they thought she’d be an easy convert. The woman in the middle picked up a pen, as if ready to sign the approval. “Is there anything you’d like to ask, Kyle?”

Kyle offered a polite smile. He was handsome. “No.”

The bespectacled woman flipped to the last page of the file and paused. “The only issue I see is a flag on your background check.”

Janelle’s heart went cold. Background check?

“According to your application, you work as a waitress at Score Pizza. But your IRS report from last year lists another employer named Vixen.”

Kyle flinched at this news, his smile slipping. Oh yeah. He’d been there.

The interviewer looked over the frames of her glasses. “What kind of business is that?”

“It’s a nightclub,” Janelle said. She’d fudged the application. They’d never accept a stripper at a Christian university. Her boss owned both Score Pizza and Vixen, so he’d agreed to change her paystubs and vouch for her if someone called. She hadn’t realized the university would look at her tax forms.

“Do they serve alcohol?” the woman asked.

“Yes.”

“We have a strict policy against students with jobs in alcohol service,” she said, frowning in disapproval. “But as long as six months have passed since the termination of your employment and the start of the semester...”

Janelle felt a spark of hope. They didn’t know what she did at the club, and she wasn’t going to offer the information. Maybe they’d never find out. While she waited, breathless, Kyle scribbled out a quick note and passed it down the table.

“Oh dear,” the woman in the middle said, reading it.

Damn.

Shame and anger washed over her, suffusing her cheeks with heat. She clutched her purse in a tight grip, ready to flee.

Kyle had a gold ring on his left hand. His right was resting on an expensive leather Bible. The fact that this married Christian was familiar with a club that featured topless dancers didn’t seem to register with the other panelists. The only one at fault here was Janelle.

Jezebel.

Her work name seemed especially fitting at the moment.

“We’ll let you know,” the sharp-eyed woman said in a cold tone.

Janelle read her answer loud and clear. It was no, never, not in a million years. Slut. “Thank you for your time,” she said, rising on unsteady legs. “By the way, Kyle, you’re a shitty tipper.”

There was a collective gasp from the table as Janelle strode to the door. She didn’t glance back to see how her parting shot went over. She burst into the hallway and rushed toward the stairs, her chest burning with resentment.

When she stepped into the sun again, she took a deep breath to regain her composure. It was stupid of her to lash out at Kyle. She didn’t remember what kind of tipper he was. He might show up at the club again, wearing an arrogant smirk—because he knew she’d wanted a better life for herself. He’d seen her pursue a goal, and fail.

She’d worked so hard to get to this point. It had taken her four years to fulfill her general education requirement, and another eighteen months to complete the prep work for the physical therapy program. She’d spent over a thousand dollars on her exams. She’d applied for student loans to cover the college tuition fees.

Now what?

Loma Santa Fe offered the only PT program in the area. She lived in a trailer park on the outskirts of Salton City. She worked at a low-end gentlemen’s club in nearby Coachella. She was a single mom with a twelve-year-old son. Her options were limited.

She walked across the parking lot, feeling numb. She could try Riverside University or San Diego State. Both were about three hours from Salton City, the only home her son had ever known. They’d have to move, but she couldn’t afford the rent in a more expensive town, especially if she had to quit her job at Vixen.

Tears stung her eyes as she unlocked her car and climbed inside, tossing her purse on the passenger seat. Why had she opted for minimum wage plus tips instead of working as an independent contractor? If she’d been smarter, and less hungry for a steady paycheck, she could’ve kept all of her earnings off the books.

After a moment of wallowing in self-pity, she wiped away the tears, put on her big girl pants and drove home. She’d figure something out. She always did.

She was a survivor.

Cranking up the country music station, she shook out a cigarette from the almost-empty pack. Smoke filled her lungs and nicotine rushed to her head. She’d been meaning to quit stripping and smoking. Both were bad for her, but she couldn’t think about that now. She didn’t want to think about anything. Not her dead-end job, or that terrible interview, or her son’s criminal father, who’d been killed less than six months ago.

Shivering at the memory, she stubbed out her cigarette and drove on. By the time she got to Salton City, it was late afternoon. She parked in front of the trailer and got out, her spike heels sinking in the gravel. The door was locked; Jamie wasn’t home. She sighed, digging into her purse for the keys. He’d been sullen and rebellious ever since the funeral, spending every spare moment with friends. She didn’t know what to do besides give him space.

Her son was smart as a whip, by some genetic miracle. He was also tall and athletic. Physical, like Shane had been. His teachers all said he had excellent potential. She wanted to send him to college so bad she could taste it.

She went into her room and stood in front of her vanity. The sedately dressed woman in the mirror mocked her.

Fraud.

She removed the pins from her hair, shaking it loose. Then she unzipped her pencil skirt and unbuttoned her ruffled blouse. It was her best outfit, so she hung it back up in the closet and kicked off her toe-pinching heels. They were stylish, but inexpensive. The sticker still affixed to the bottom said $14.99. She saved her money for stage shoes, which cost a bundle. After she got dressed, she stepped into her well-worn cowboy boots. They fit like a second skin, with a medium heel that felt more comfortable than flats.

Breathing easier now, she glanced in the mirror again. Lace camisole, worn denim shorts, flyaway hair. This was the real her. She strode into the kitchen and opened the top cabinet, searching for her tequila bottle.

Bad decisions. That was her, too. Down to the bone.

The tequila bottle wasn’t stashed behind the healthy cereal where she’d left it. Had she polished it off with Tiffany the other night? She was pretty sure the bottle had been half-empty. She’d only taken a couple of shots.

Damn.

She drummed her fingertips against the countertop, contemplating the empty trailer. Jamie didn’t have soccer practice today. He should be right here, doing his homework or playing video games. Now she had to go look for him. He was probably in the rec center on the other side of the trailer park. It had an ancient pool table and some old-fashioned arcade games. Jamie liked to hang out there with his friends. He didn’t want to stay home and watch movies with her anymore.

Janelle understood that a boy his age needed independence. He was on the cusp of puberty, all gangly arms and legs. He acted surly with Janelle and got flustered around Tiffany, her best friend. Whenever Tiffany came over he avoided eye contact, mumbled answers and blushed a lot.

Janelle couldn’t really blame him. Tiffany had the same effect on grown men.

She collected a basket of dirty clothes on her way out the door. The rec room was right next to the laundry facilities. As she scooped up some stinky socks by the couch, she heard the telltale rev of motorcycle engines. They sounded close. She strode forward and peered through the screen, curious. There were two men in front of her trailer.

Motorcycle club members.

Her stomach dipped at the sight of their black leather vests. Years ago, she’d danced at a private party for a group of outlaws from one of the local clubs. They’d paid her with a slap across the face instead of cash.

She backed away from the screen door, her pulse racing. Seconds later, one of the men appeared on her step.

He was her age, about thirty, with a shaved head. Dark eyes, half-lidded for effect. He had a tattoo of a colorful, clown-like figure across the side of his neck. She didn’t recognize him, but the lightning bolt patch on his vest struck an ugly, familiar chord.

“Howdy, ma’am,” he said, peering inside. “I’m looking for Ace.”

A chill traveled up her spine. She knew exactly who he was talking about. The man who’d killed Shane had worn a black T-shirt that said Ace Demolition across the shoulders. He’d taken her hostage for several hours before the shooting.

And he’d haunted her dreams ever since.

It was pretty fucked up, even for her, to be attracted to a cold-blooded criminal who’d dragged her into his truck and held her against her will. But he hadn’t hurt her. He’d done something else to her. He’d looked inside, at the places she kept hidden.

“I don’t know anyone by that name,” she said.

He squinted in disbelief. “I think you do.”

She just stared at him, hoping he’d go away. Even if he didn’t have the gang vest and neck tattoo she would have been afraid of him. He reminded her of a snake, coiled to strike. She forced herself not to shrink back. Sudden movement could set him off.

“The guy I’m talking about is a big, black-haired motherfucker with tattooed knuckles. It says S-L-A-B on one side, C-I-T-Y on the other.” He raised his own fists in an intimidating, unnecessary demonstration. There were silver skull rings on his fingers. “You seen him?”

Janelle shook her head, mute. She could picture those tattooed knuckles as clear as day. Ace’s hands had been large, like the rest of him. Slab City was an off-the-grid community on the east side of the Salton Sea. It was full of outlaws and outcasts. Maybe he lived there. Although she hadn’t
seen
him since the shooting, she’d sensed him. Someone had replaced a broken window in her car, and she’d found an unmarked envelope full of money in her mailbox just before Christmas.

The man on her doorstep relaxed his fists. “Tell him to meet me at the clubhouse as soon as possible. I’ll keep stopping by until he does.”

She didn’t agree to do his bidding. He sauntered toward his friend with a loose-hipped gait. After they both got on their bikes and drove away, she breathed a sigh of relief. Then she rushed outside to find Jamie. The rec center was at the opposite end of the trailer park, next to a deserted playground.

It was empty.

She examined the surrounding area, her throat dry. It was an arid January day, pleasantly warm at seventy-five degrees. The air crackled with static. A tumbleweed rolled past the abandoned swing set and got caught up under one of the picnic tables. She walked around the corner of the building, toward the vending machines.

And there was her son, drinking a soda in the shade.

With his father’s killer.

BOOK: Shooting Dirty
5.21Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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