Excerpt: Hard As You Can by Laura Kaye

Hard As You Can Excerpt, copyright Laura Kaye, all rights reserved. Posted here with permission

It’s release day! And I’m so excited to share Hard As You Can, the second book in the Hard Ink series, with all of you here today! Hard As You Can follows the surviving members of a disgraced Army Special Forces team as they fight to regain their stolen honor, and finds their investigation crossing paths with a waitress willing to do whatever it takes to stay alive and protect her younger sister. For Shane McCallan, saving Crystal Dean is a mission he refuses to turn down.

Today, I’ve got a scene filled with lots of sexual tension and emotion to share with you, one that I absolutely adored writing! I hope you enjoy this look into the growing attraction between Shane and Crystal from Hard As You Can:

“I didn’t mean to criticize you, Crystal. I just cannot abide violence against women. Period. Especially not someone I know.” A long pause. “And definitely not someone I like.” After everything that had happened to her, the words were a balm for her psyche.

Footsteps came up behind her, slowly, cautiously, like she was a wild animal who would bolt in an instant. And she supposed there was some truth to that analogy.

Torn between returning to the danger she knew or staying with the one she didn’t, Crystal debated. Her heart told her Shane might well be the most dangerous man she’d ever met because he made her want, wish, maybe even dream.

Not at all sure it was a good idea, Crystal slowly turned.

Shane was right in front of her. A rock in the middle of a raging sea, a refuge she might claim if she had the strength and the will and the nerve to fight for it. To believe she deserved it. She hugged herself.

“Hey,” he said, cupping her face in his big hands. His fingers slid behind her neck and gently massaged.

She shook her head and glanced toward the treetops in an effort to pinch off the sting building behind her eyes. Why did she have to meet him now? She’d had a plan, and all she’d needed to do was follow it for a few more months. “You don’t even know me.”

“No. Not everything. But I know more than a little. And that much I like enough to want to know more.” His fingers rubbed her neck, gently, soothingly.

And his words, well, his words were perfect. Maybe even too much so. Too good to be true, she thought. “I already told you I’d share what I’d learned. You don’t have to play me.”

His eyes narrowed, and he frowned. “You listen hard and you listen good, sweetness,” he said, the words firm but the tone urgent, almost desperate, and laced with his southern accent. “I’m not perfect, and God knows I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. But I would never play with a woman’s emotions to get information out of her. That kind of manipulation doesn’t hold with me. Ever.”

Sweetness. She’d heard everything he’d said. The passion with which he’d said it. The sincerity that burned from his gaze as the words had poured from his lips. But it was the term of endearment that reached into her chest and gripped her heart. For a long moment, they stood there, bodies touching, faces inches apart, his hands holding her in that firm-but-gentle way he had.

Thunder rumbled again, closer this time, and her heart was a drum beat double-timing
inside her chest. If his hands didn’t feel it racing, he’d have to hear it, because the sound was a loud rush rush in her ears. Beneath the sports bra and tank, her nipples went hard. If his gaze dropped, she knew he’d see, but she couldn’t bring herself to feel self-conscious about it. Not when he was looking at her like he wanted to devour her.

His gaze dropped to her lips.

She shuddered, everything inside her but the smallest voice of reason crying out for him to do it. Just once.

“Tell me not to,” he said, his voice a raw scrape.

So that’s Shane and Crystal for you! Did you have a favorite line? Thanks for reading!
~Laura

“Edgy, sexy, and full of suspense! A great read from a great new author!”
~J.R. Ward on Hard As It Gets

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