Series: Shameless Trilogy #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: June 5, 2017
I am the thing that goes bump in the night. I am a liar, a protector...a killer...I am Noah Blake.
And now that she knows my secret, she hates me.
The guilt and shame I carry around is bad enough...But seeing the distrust in her eyes, that will kill me before my enemies do…
"You can give me that sourpuss expression all you want, I'm not leaving you."
She whipped around to glare at him. "You have a whole team. You can’t send one of the others?"
He shrugged, "Sorry, princess. My guys have actual work to do. Looping you into protection detail actually puts strain on them."
"Oh, I have an idea. Why don't you stop?"
Noah took a step forward, crowding her. She had no choice but to take a step back. When he didn't stop, she backed straight into a wall. With Noah looming over her, his heat enveloped her. She made the mistake of inhaling deep. The scent of sandalwood and something spicy injected her bloodstream with lust.
She immediately started remembering everything about him that she was trying to forget. The tenderness of how she felt in his arms. The way he whispered her name softly when they made love. The way he held her tight, his hands tracing over every inch of her skin. She whimpered.
He leaned close and whispered, "Because I'm not going to let anything happen to you." He straightened and took a deliberate step away from her before adding, "You can be rid of me when we get back to your apartment."
"I can’t wait,” she ground out.
Every cell in her body hated him. Loathed him even. Liar. She should hate him. But she didn’t. She loved him. Still. Even knowing what he had done. That he’d betrayed Rafe, betrayed her, and betrayed her whole family. God, the lies he’d fed her over the years. So many lies.
But despite that, she still freaking loved him. And she missed him with a bone-deep ache. The kind that had her crying herself to sleep every night. She wished she could pretend it was the sex she missed. The comfort of his body. No. It was his laugh and his teasing. And the way he always made her feel safe.
Before that night, she’d never had any reason to fear him. But once she’d touched that scar, pulled the layers back on his secrets, she knew the truth. He was that thing that went bump in the night. He was her worst nightmare. And there was no coming back from that knowledge.
Noah tossed his hands up in the air. "Lucia, I hope you know we can do this forever as far as I'm concerned. No way am I letting anything happen to you. So, I know you're mad and you have a right to be, but you need to understand your safety supersedes everything else. You don't like it? Tough. But I'm here to stay."
She glared up at him. There had to be another way because if she spent another day in Noah Blake's company, she was going to turn into the murderer.
Then she was kissing him again and not with the gentle hesitancy he’d expected. She gripped his hair in both hands and devoured, sucking on his bottom lip with a carnal growl that sent most of his blood racing south. Noah groaned as he hardened instantly and Lucia purred when she felt his arousal. The little vixen had the nerve to slide her legs up and aroundhis waist, squeezing tight and, rocking against his length.
“Lucia,” he breathed warningly.
“Yes. Did you need something?” She batted her eyelashes innocently. It was supposed to be innocent anyway but everything she did was sexy.
“Everything. I need everything from you.”
Something snapped in him and he was suddenly intensely grateful they were already on the bed. They fell back onto the covers in a tangle of arms and legs. He couldn’t get his mouth everywhere he wanted to at once and the urgency drove his need higher. Lucia bucked under him when he took a big mouthful of her breast, sucking hard through the fabric of her T-shirt.
“Need more,” he growled and then pushed her shirt up and pulled the lacy cup of her bra down so he could get at what he wanted.
“Yes, that feels so good,” Lucia whispered.
Her mouth fell open as his tongue swirled around the delicate point. Noah couldn’t have stopped if he’d tried. He couldn’t get enough of the taste of her skin. She whimpered his name several times before he gave her a break. When he pulled back, her nipple was hard and red as a cherry. Lucia’s eyes followed the movement when he licked his lips.
“Noah! Take this off,” she demanded.
He loved hearing the need in her voice, and her eyes glittered when he helped her sit up and pull the shirt off. At his first sight of her in nothing but panties and the lacy black bra, the swells of her generous breasts overflowing the cups, he almost broke down and begged right then and there. She was a goddess walking amongst mortals. Oblivious to his internal thoughts, Lucia pulled at the hem of his shirt.
“I’m the only one undressed. I’m feeling a little lonely over here.”
“We can’t have that.” Noah yanked his T-shirt over his head and threw it on the floor.
Lucia sighed and wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him down into her embrace.
“I really was lonely, you know. For so long all I’ve wanted was for you to see me. For you to let me love you and give you the family you’ve never had. I’ll be your family, Noah. Me and, hopefully one day, our children. You’ll never feel alone again.”
His world stopped spinning and he pulled back to see her face. “Our kids?”
It shouldn’t have been a surprise. He knew Lucia wanted children and a traditional family. Wasn’t that why he’d hated watching her date so much? Because he’d known that one day she’d find some guy, marry him and pop out a few adorable babies. It had torn him up to imagine his Lucia round with another man’s baby.
But the idea of fathering her children hit him like a ton of bricks. He came from the streets and had very few memories of his own father. What the hell did he know about any of that? He’d seen so few functional relationships that it was almost laughable to think he could suddenly be husband and father material. Lucia needed a man who could do both. He looked down at her all flushed and glowing with love in his bed. What had he ever done to deserve the love of a woman like this?
You don’t deserve it, the insidious voice in the back of his mind whispered. She has no idea what you are truly capable of.
“Noah? What’s wrong?”
He hadn’t even realized he’d pulled away until she spoke. Lucia crossed her arms, covering her breasts. Noah’s mind raced as he was assaulted with images of what the future might hold— Lucia holding a beautiful baby with his dark hair and her gray eyes. Lucia happy for a while until she figured out that Noah would never be the man she needed.
Lucia leaving him.
“Nothing. I need to check on things. Stay here.” He kissed her forehead softly when she started to speak. “I’ll be back.”
He could feel her eyes on his back as he knelt to grab his shirt off the floor. It felt like a laser drilling a hole through him and it only made him move faster. He needed to get away. Away from expectations and the love shining in her eyes. He had a job to do. He would never be the man Lucia truly deserved but he could be the protector she needed. All this emotion was enough to make him forget what was truly important, keeping her safe. Emotion made you soft and he couldn’t afford that.
Not with Lucia’s life on the line.
His eyes flickered to her and quickly looked away again. "Lucia, it's fine. It was my choice to comply or not. I chose not to tell him, but I'm sorry I broke your confidence and told him anyway. I was worried you were in danger and, as it turns out, you were. If it had been simple information, I never would've told him."
She rounded the giant island in the kitchen and approached him. He immediately took a step back. Looking even further away from her if that was possible.
Damn, he was so mad at her. "Matthias, I consider you a friend. And I used that. And that makes me a bad person and I'm really sorry. I hope that you can find a way to forgive me."
He frowned but still didn't look at her. "Forgive you? Honestly, it's fine. I would do anything to help you. You’re family. I'm not mad."
Lucia stared up at him. Then she planted her hands on her hips. "Oh yeah, then why is it that you can't look at me?” She opened her arms. "Can we hug this out, start fresh? I won’t take advantage of our friendship again. I promise."
Matthias flushed and hugged the wall like she had cooties. Like the last thing on earth he wanted to do was hug her. Maybe he wasn’t a hugger? No, they had hugged dozens of times.
If Matthias wouldn't come to the mountain then she would bring the mountain to Matthias. She closed the distance between them, her bare feet barely making a sound on the concrete. And then she wrapped her arms around him tight. Go ahead and escape this hug, she thought. But Matthias didn't escape. It took a second, but then he wrapped his arms around her. She had never noticed how tall he was, and he was nearly as solid as Noah.
Geez, did Matthias have muscle? Why hadn't she ever paid attention before?
She’d always taken the mildly geeky exterior, with the glasses and superhero T-shirts, and categorized him as a nerd. Which to her usually meant soft. How had she never noticed that her friend had muscles?
Granted, they weren’t like Noah's. No one had muscles like Noah. She knew she was probably biased, but still.
"I'm really sorry, Matthias."
"You have nothing to be sorry about."
She didn't know how long they stood there, but then Noah's voice came from behind, cold and furious. "What the fuck do you think you're doing running around here naked?"
Matthias immediately released her, but Lucia took longer to step back. When she turned to face Noah, she took in the sight of his boxers and his completely bare chest, and damn it, she salivated. That didn't mean she didn't still hate him. It didn't mean she wasn’t still furious with him, and it didn't mean that she trusted him. All it meant was that she was human. The man looked good.
Good enough to lick, honestly. And she had.
There was still so much she wanted to try with him, so much they hadn't had a chance to do. All the things she’d heard JJ talk about, she wanted to try with Noah. Well, now you're not going to because, hello, we hate him.
Yes, she hated him. But that didn't mean she didn't want to lick him. And somehow, simultaneously, she wanted to murder him, too.
"I am not naked." She slid a glance down at herself, slightly flushing. Shit. She hadn’t put on shorts. She slid a glance to Matthias, who was looking anywhere but at her or Noah. "Sorry. I'm not used to having to cover up.” She turned to Noah. "Besides, you're the one who told me to make myself at home."
Through gritted teeth, he ground out, "That doesn’t mean run around here naked. Matthias is here. Or did you forget?"
"I was just coming for some water. No one was supposed to be awake. The lights were freaking off. Bite me."
From behind her, Matthias scoffed. Noah's eyes glinted and his smile went menacing and predatory. "Anytime. You just tell me where."
And then something happened to her body. It was like her lady parts had softened, readying her body for him to have her against any flat surface. Hell, screw a flat surface. The wall would do if necessary.
Why did he do that to her? She didn't like him. You don't have to like him to want him. Wasn't that the truth? But the last thing on earth she was ever going to do was let him know that.
"Sorry, Noah. Not interested. What's that thing that guys say sometimes? I'm just not that into you?"
And with that, she turned and headed back for her bedroom. She could feel Noah's eyes on her ass. Let him look all he wanted, because he was never going to touch it again.
Shame: A FREE Shameless Prequel
#3 Unashamed – releasing June 26, 2017
AUTHOR BIOS & LINKS
NYT & USA Today bestselling author M. Malone lives in the Washington, DC metro area with her husband and their two sons. She holds a master's degree in Business from a prestigious college that would no doubt be scandalized by how she's using her expensive education.
Independently published, she has sold more than 1/2 million ebooks in her two series, THE ALEXANDERS and BLUE-COLLAR BILLIONAIRES. Since starting her indie journey in 2011 with the runaway bestselling novella "Teasing Trent," her work has appeared on the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists more than a dozen times.
She's now a full-time writer and spends 99.8% of her time in her pajamas.
USA Today bestselling author Nana Malone's love of all things romance and adventure started with a tattered romantic suspense novel she "borrowed" from her cousin.
It was a sultry summer afternoon in Ghana, and Nana was a precocious thirteen. She's been in love with kick-butt heroines ever since. With her overactive imagination constantly channeling her inner Buffy, it was only a matter a time before she started creating her own characters.
While she waits for her chance at a job as a ninja assassin, Nana works out her drama, passion and sass with fictional characters every bit as brazen and kick-butt as she thinks she is.