King of Clubs
by Sandra Owens
Series: Aces & Eights, #2
: Contemporary Romantic Suspense
Publisher: Montlake Romance
Release Date: June 27, 2017
In the second novel in acclaimed author Sandra Owens’s Aces & Eights series, passions—and tempers—flare as one star-crossed couple gets a second chance at love.
Covert FBI agent Court Gentry loves his brothers, his job, and his Harley-Davidson. Once he loved a girl, too, but when she broke his heart, he put his emotions on lockdown…until she crosses his path again.
On vacation six years ago, free-spirited Lauren Montgomery fell hard for Court Gentry. She returned home happier than ever, only to descend into a spiral of abuse by her ex-husband, Stephan. When Stephan threatened to kill any man who touched her, Lauren cut Court from her life—but not from her heart.
When Lauren and Court reunite after her friend marries his brother, Court guards himself against the person who made him feel such intense passion and pain. Except the undeniable spark between them is impossible to contain and heating up fast. Six years ago, it was love. Now, it’s just lust. Keeping it merely physical is a foolproof plan…right?
When Stephan is released from prison, Lauren can’t outrun her past anymore, and Court vows to protect her. But with Lauren in imminent danger, Court must question his heart and risk his life to save the woman he never stopped loving.
He’d just stepped out of the shower, a towel wrapped around his waist, his aim his bed when Alex walked into his bedroom. Sometimes he regretted they each had keys to the three condos. Tonight, he wanted to just crawl onto his king-sized mattress and try to go to sleep, forgetting the day he’d had. Unfortunately, there was a mountain of paperwork to deal with before his debriefing in the morning.“I’m on the way to pick up Madison,” Alex said. “Come with me. We’ll grab a late dinner.”
That was Alex for you. Never settling for an easy answer. “No because no.” He scowled when his baby brother, ignoring him, disappeared into his walk-in closet.
“Just something casual.” Alex came out, tossing a pair of jeans and a T-shirt on the bed. “Mad loves the food trucks, so probably we’ll get fish tacos.” He looked up, fucking love stars shining in his eyes. “She loves those.”
Court refused to feel jealous that Alex had found the love of his life. He’d once thought he had, but that just proved what a fool he’d been. “What part of no don’t you get?”
“Bro, you’re hurting my feelings.”
Those pitiful eyes weren’t going to work on him. Which was why, thirty minutes later, he wanted to put his hands around his own throat and choke himself when he walked alongside Alex as they approached High Tea and Black Cat Books. Damn Alex and his baby brother way of getting everyone to do what he wanted.
There was one reason, and a really big one at that, for his not wanting to be anywhere near High Tea and Black Cat Books. Her name was Lauren Montgomery. Since he’d kept that secret to himself, he couldn’t exactly blame Alex for dragging him along.
Other than Madison’s and Alex’s wedding two months ago—which no excuse for not attending would have been acceptable—he’d not seen Lauren. And even at that event, he’d avoided her as much as possible. He couldn’t go there again. Not with her. She’d almost destroyed him once. Damn if she’d do it again.
Whenever Alex mentioned that Lauren was coming over to see Madison, Court made a point of not being home on the off chance they might decide to pop down one floor to see him. The only reason he was tagging along now was that when he’d tried to use the cut on his face as an excuse to stay home, Alex had called him a crybaby.
That had resulted in a round of wrestling before Court had thrown in the towel, agreeing to come as far as the door to the bookstore before heading on over to Aces & Eights, where he’d have to hide out in the office since he was supposedly in a jail cell somewhere. That was fine since he had a ton of paperwork awaiting him, detailing what had gone down tonight, which had also given him an excuse to drive his own car.
Although the outlaw biker gangs that frequented their bar rarely made their way to South Beach’s touristy streets, Court wore a ball cap pulled low over his forehead and a pair of fake glasses.
“Why’s Madison here this late anyway?” Usually, she came home after she and Lauren closed up for the night. That the woman he hadn’t seen for six years before she’d walked back into his life and his new sister-in-law were partners in the bookstore just proved the universe was a jokester.
“She and Lauren wanted to get some restocking and other stuff done tonight.” Alex gave him a sly look. “Maybe Lauren would like to come with us.”
Court refused to take the bait. His dumbass brother was trying to play matchmaker. If he said absolutely not, that would only lead to questions he wouldn’t answer. Besides, he’d never agreed to go anywhere with them.
“No comment, huh?”
“I have no comment because I’m going straight to the bar, where I’ll bury myself in paperwork. You and Madison and Lauren can do whatever you want.”
“You used to be fun, brother. What happened to… Who the hell’s that?” Alex picked up his pace.
Court frowned at seeing a large man crowding Madison and Lauren. He jogged alongside Alex.
“Your husband isn’t pleased with you, Lauren. He expects you to be home when he arrives.”
Husband? Court came within seconds of walking away, but one glance at Lauren’s pale face and the worry in Madison’s eyes kept his feet planted in place.
“Who the hell are you?” Alex said, pushing between the man and Madison. He tucked his wife next to him. “I asked you a question.”
“Not that I owe you an answer, since my business is with Lauren, but I am simply passing on a message from my brother to his wife,” he said with a Russian accent.
“He’s not my husband,” Lauren screamed.
Court stepped next to Lauren. “You heard the lady. You need to go.”
The man’s vivid blue eyes shifted to Court. “And you are?”
“Her boyfriend.” He clamped his mouth shut. Where the hell had that come from? And worse, was Lauren’s reaction.
A best selling, award-winning author, Sandra Owens lives in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. Her family and friends often question her sanity, but have ceased being surprised by what she might get up to next. She’s jumped out of a plane, flown in an aerobatic plane while the pilot performed thrilling stunts, has flown Air Combat (two fighter planes dogfighting, pretending to shoot at each other with laser guns), and rode a Harley motorcycle for years. She regrets nothing.
Sandra is a member of Romance Writers of America’s Honor Roll and a 2013 Golden Heart® Finalist for her contemporary romance, CRAZY FOR HER. In addition to her contemporary romantic suspense novels, she writes Regency stories.