The moon’s rays kiss Raina’s marred cheeks and illuminate the torment in her eyes.

My hands burn to cradle the fine bones of her face and feel her silky hair fall against my touch. At the same time, every muscle in my body flexes to destroy the man who hurt her. The existence of such strong and contradictory feelings leaves me breathless and off balance.

I wish she would’ve succeeded in killing him. Not just to save my family the trouble. She deserves restitution as much as we do.

The fucker’s out there somewhere, gathering resources and waiting for the moment to snatch her back. He must be dealt with.

I pull the truck under the archway for Julep Ranch and park beside Jake’s pickup in the lot.

She glances at the estate, then the door handle beside her hand, but doesn’t move to step out. “Why am I here?”

We weren’t followed, and I haven’t seen another car since I hit the dirt road. John won’t come here, but he could hire or blackmail someone else to come. Nowhere is safe for her.

I turn off the engine and tilt my head, watching her from beneath the brim of my hat. “Have you ever fired a loaded gun?”


“Ever killed anyone?”

Her head gives a slight shake. “No.”

“Do you know how to defend yourself against a man twice your size?”

She looks down at the bruises on her arm and blows out a sharp breath. Then she finds my eyes. “Where are you going with this?”

“I’m going to help you.”

“You want to help me?” My heart gallops into a thundering sprint. “How?”

“I’ll keep you safe here.” Lorne nods at the estate, his face hidden in the shadow of his hat. “And I’ll teach you how to shoot a gun and fight with your hands.”

A spark of life ripples beneath my skin. He could give me a wealth of knowledge. Hunting was part of his upbringing on the ranch, and he probably learned how to scrap in prison. Although, as intimidating as he is, I imagine he only needs to stand tall, look a man in the eye, and growl.

I’m dying to accept his offer, except… “You’re a felon. Pretty sure that means you can’t be around firearms.”

“I cannot possess a firearm. If it’s attached to you and you’re in control of it, I won’t be breaking the law.”

“But you were advised to not be in the vicinity of a gun, right?”

“I don’t give a fuck. I live on ten-thousand acres. No one’s around to witness what I’m doing.”

It’s a risk, but a small one in the scheme of things.

“Shit.” He pushes his hat down his forehead and slumps in the seat.

I follow his gaze to the front door, where Conor explodes out of the house and charges toward us, her eyes blazing in the moonlight and red hair whipping behind her.

My stomach sinks. She has every right to be pissed at me for stealing from her family.

“This should be fun.” He rolls down the window and rests an elbow on the frame. “She’s fixing to chew me up and spit me out.”

Him? What did he do?

“Evening, darlin’,” he drawls as she reaches the truck.

“Speak of the devil and he shall appear.” She sets her fists on her hips and scowls at him. “You better give your heart to Jesus, because your ass is mine.”


“You think you could’ve bought a cell phone and called your sister while you were missing for twenty-four hours?” She stomps a boot. “I oughta jerk you bald for making me worry.”

He’s been gone since yesterday? Looking for me? He sure as hell didn’t spend twenty-four hours at the strip club. He didn’t even go inside.

“I’ll get a phone tomorrow.” A muscle flexes in his cheek.

Her frown deepens, and she crosses her arms.

Seeing them side by side, I realize beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder. It’s in perfectly designed genetics. The Cassidy genes should be bottled and cloned.

They share the same vibrant green eyes, except his are darker, harder. She has the feminine version of his nose. Same oval-shaped face, pouty lips, and alabaster complexion. Her hair is every shade of fire, and his is as black as mine. She’s soft and petite where he’s solid and angular. They’re proportionate, symmetrical, unlawfully easy on the eyes.

Sleeves of ink paint beautiful murals of color from her wrists to her shoulders, and I wonder if he has tattoos. A lot of inmates get them in prison, but it’s rare to see ink in Sandbank.

“I’m sorry.” His lips flatten. “I should’ve called.”

Her expression softens. “Don’t do that to me again.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

My eyebrows lift. His heart might be a thumping gizzard, but it sure loosens up for his sister.

“And while you’re shopping for a phone, get yourself some clothes. Or I’ll do it for you.” She hooks a thumb under the strap of her yellow tank top. “Pastels are in. You’d look as cute as a bug’s ear in pink.”