Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Preview BATTLEFIELD by Gwendolyn Casey

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The Covenant, 2

Gwendolyn Casey

Copyright © 2018


Vegas, November 15th

“Ladies and gentlemen, we are now starting our descent to McCarran International Airport. Please put your tray tables and seats in the upright position and make sure all electronic devices are stowed. Flight attendants, please prepare for landing.”
I breathed a little easier after the pilot’s announcement, confirming this flight was almost over. It was my first time on an airplane, which should have been exciting, but I held nothing but dread for my destination. Getting on the plane, I had been determined and confident. Now I felt stupid. After all, what type of girl goes chasing after a man who left her in the middle of the night with nothing but a note stating it was over? How foolish could I be? Every mile we flew closer to Vegas, I felt more desperate and pathetic.
Everyone had told me to forget about him, to move on. And I knew they were right, but there were just too many questions I needed answered before I could truly get over him. I had reason to believe he still loved me. That was reason enough to search him out, or at least it had been two layovers ago.   
When we taxied to the gate, I thought about stopping at the first counter I could find and buying a ticket back home. That was where I belonged, not chasing down a man who rejected me.
But before I could chicken out, I recounted all the reasons I had to find him, and my determination seemed to return, albeit a little shaky. But being on solid ground again made me realize that I would regret not going forward. I was here. I might as well live the pain now rather than spread it over a lifetime if I went straight back home.
After a twenty-minute wait in line for a taxi, I told the driver the hotel I had booked online. It was off the strip but close to the address that I had been keeping in my pocket since it was given to me.
I was exhausted by the time I made it to my room. I dropped my small carry-on onto the floor and flung my purse on the dresser, falling backwards onto the bed and kicking off my shoes. I lay there, just staring at the popcorn ceiling, and thought about the last time I was in a hotel. That night he had convinced me to be his in every way and I had surrendered wholeheartedly. He made me feel special and beautiful. He made me believe he would rather die than leave me.
But he did leave me, I thought as I sat up. I wished death had been the reason. Maybe I could have forgiven him if he was dead.
I showered and changed into some black shorts, a silky white top and black blazer that was more club than conference room. I did my make-up, so my green eyes popped and put my dark brown hair up in a flirty ponytail. I brought it all together with some subtle but sparkly jewelry. The look was completely different than anything I'd worn before, which was mostly jeans and tees, but I loved it. A broken heart had a way of changing you, or maybe I had just wanted to change. The look was sophisticated and sexy. I put on some black ankle boots and grabbed my purse.
I had a very precise plan, and I had to look perfect to survive it. I had been reassured that this outfit would make any man think twice about pushing me away. It would be my armor. If he did reject me again, I had every intention of swinging my hips and letting my long legs eat up the floor as I walked away.  
And if the worst happened, I would come back to the hotel, check out and head straight to California. That was the plan before he came into my life, and I have no problem picking up where I left off, I thought confidently, if a little anxiously.
I left the hotel and entered the address into my phone. The afternoon sun was hot, but the place wasn’t too far to walk. The GPS led me down the block and two over. As I approached the destination, I saw two women going into a door on the side of a brick building that had four stories. Glancing at my phone, I realized that this was probably the place. I stopped for a moment and took three long breaths.
You can do this. You must do this.
As I exhaled the last breath, I straightened my back and strode across the street. Approaching the door, I steeled myself for what might be waiting on the other side.
The door opened into a dark hallway where the smell of sweat permeated the air. There was light coming from around a corner, and my heels clicked on the floor as I walked that way. My eyes squinted when I came into a large room with windows pouring in sunlight from three sides. Beneath the beams of light, there was a large boxing ring surrounded by other training equipment like free weights and punching bags. And there were at least a dozen men working out. Some had on boxing gloves while others just had tape. Trainers shouted orders above the sounds of punches and the Guns N’ Roses song playing from a boom box in the corner.  
Suddenly, a whistle came from my right.
“Over here, sweetie,” a short man with dark hair said, gesturing to a group of girls that stood in the corner of the gym. I walked over and stood with the other young women, not sure what was going on but too nervous to ask.
“Can you all line up?” Short man asked.
The women all moved to do as he asked, and I ended up on the end. As I looked down the row, I noticed that they all seemed to be in their twenties, dressed nicely and all very pretty. I knew I would have to say something eventually, that I wasn’t with these girls, but I decided to keep it to myself for a few minutes, so I could find out what this place was exactly.  
The short man was looking up and down the row of girls.
“Hey, Benny. Give me a hand over here,” he said over his shoulder. 
A taller man with blond hair and big muscles turned from the two guys that were sparring in the ring and walked over.
“We know that you all have the experience for this job, but the question is if you have the right stuff. We only need eight of you. You'll be serving a very select clientele, and we need beauty as well as brains,” Shortie said.
Serving? I hoped to God they meant waitressing.
“I’m going to ask each of you a few questions and then we’ll go from there.”
He started at the other end, asking each girl her name and age, and looking them up and down before writing the information down on a clipboard. The taller man, Benny, followed behind giving each girl the same scrutiny.
I started to regret the heels I was wearing the longer I stood still. While my determination wanted heels, my feet were protesting heartily. I felt like it was forever before the two men made it to me.
“And you?” the man said, giving me the same up down look.
I smiled sweetly. “My name is Cecilia, but everyone calls me Cece. I'm nineteen.”
“Hmm, a little young,” he said.
“Yeah,” Benny said. “But I like her, Gary. She has that innocent look about her.” He nudged the shorter man’s shoulder with his own. “Probably still has her cherry.”
I couldn't help but glare at the taller man. Talking about my vagina so casually made me want to slap him.
“She maybe a virgin, but that look is fire and ice,” Gary chuckled. “She’d chew your nuts off before you could get it in, Benny.”
“I still like her,” Benny said softly, giving me a wink as they walked away.
They spoke quietly to each other for a few minutes before Gary turned back to the girls looking down at his clipboard. “Okay, Louise, Jenna, and Lora. Thank you so much for coming, but I'm afraid you don't quite meet our criteria.” The three girls walked toward the exit without a word, leaving ten of us.
“We should probably let boss man decide the rest,” I heard Benny say before he walked into an office a few feet away. He came back out a few moments later and was followed by another man. A very handsome man who was also tall and well-dressed. His dark eyes and hair suggested Spanish or Italian heritage, and the lines of his suit said wealth.  
Another man came out of the office as well, and I had to hold back a gasp.
It was him. The man who tore my heart out and left it to freeze in the snow. The man I gave myself to with complete trust, only to be abandoned in the dark.
Jordan Mitchell.
He looked good, and I hated him for it. I was hoping to find him looking miserable with dark bags under his eyes and a full-grown beard. Instead I find a man in dark gray dress pants and a fitted purple dress shirt that hugged his masculine form perfectly. His dark hair was still trimmed short, and his face was clean shaven. There were no dark circles under his warm brown eyes. He looked young and relaxed, like his life was good. He obviously wasn’t awake at night thinking about me. 
My heart picked up speed as I watched him approach, trying to remember all the things I was going to say to him.
But they didn’t seem important right now. All I wanted was for him to look at me.
“Here are the waitresses, sir. We're having trouble getting down to eight, so we thought we'd let you decide,” Gary said.
The handsome man stepped forward. “Hello, ladies. I am Rafe Digali, the owner of this club,” he said without an accent. He smiled as he looked up and down the row of girls before he moved a little closer.
Jordan stood with the other men, his eyes drifting over the girls, his face indifferent and bored. When his gaze landed on me, there was no shock or sign of recognition. His eyes just lingered a little too long on mine before moving away.
There was no way he didn’t recognize me. So, he’s going to pretend we don’t know each other. I hated to admit how much that hurt, but it did.
“I see why you boys are having trouble. You are all very beautiful,” Rafe said as he came down the line. When he came to stand in front of me, I smiled and tried not to look at Jordan again. Rafe smiled back at me and crossed his arms as he stood, staring at me. In my heels, we were the same height. Getting a closer look, he was just as handsome up close, with high cheekbones, tan skin, long lashes, nice teeth, and thick black hair that was styled perfectly. But it was a beautiful handsome. I could imagine that he had been called pretty boy more than once. My guess was that Rafe had Latino parents, but his accent was too American to suggest he grew up anywhere else.   
I couldn’t help but blush and bite my lip as Rafe continued to look me over, eyes lingering on my legs and breasts before meeting my gaze again. I could tell Rafe was a man of confidence, but the way he met my eyes told me that he wasn’t a complete womanizer like the men behind him. He thought I was sexy, but there was also respect in his gaze. I liked that.  
Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Jordan approach his back casually.
“This one is too young I think,” Jordan said, and it took everything in me not to glare at him. Instead I kept my eyes on Rafe, banking on his fascination with me.
“How old are you?” Rafe asked.
“Nineteen,” I said softly. He simply nodded and continued to stare, taking interest in my lips this time.
“I like that one, boss,” Benny called out. “She looks all kinds of innocent, but she's got some fire behind those eyes.”
Grateful for the support, I instantly forgave Benny for his earlier comment about my vagina.
“What do we care for innocence or fire?” Jordan sneered. “We need someone trustworthy.”
Rafe reached a hand up to my face and let his finger graze my jaw. The man probably didn't notice, but Jordan moved a little closer to his back. 
“I agree with Benny,” Rafe said. “She is something special.”
I smiled and looked down, honestly flattered. Rafe was gorgeous, so how could I not be flattered? Too bad he wasn’t my type.
Rafe finally turned away and said something to Gary.
My eyes went to Jordan's, and, for a moment, I saw possession and rage contort his features. My body reacted in the way it always did to that look, flushing my skin with heat and making my thighs squeeze together. I wondered what angered him more, the fact that I was staying or that two men in this room had flirted with me. I hoped it was the latter.
I lifted a brow at him, daring him to say something, to come up with another excuse to get rid of me. But then the look was gone, the mask of indifference dropping back into place.
Before I knew it, two other girls were walking away, and Gary was addressing us all. “Follow me, ladies. I'll show you where you will be staying.”
Gary led us to an elevator and continued to talk. “There are four levels to this building. The two top floors are the club where the fights will be taking place and you will be serving. The second floor has the dorms.”
“Why do we have to stay here?” one girl asked.
“Mr. Digali expects discretion from his employees, and he needs you to be ready at a moment’s notice. The fights can be arranged rather quickly.”
I looked at some of the other girls, and they looked back at me, clearly wondering why discretion and secrecy were necessary. But no one said anything.
We were each shown to a room that was tiny and very Spartan, with only a small dresser, a nightstand, and no closet. It was small, but at least we each had our own.  
Gary let me know what time I should be downstairs for training and then left me alone in my room. I sat down on the small twin bed, and I wondered how I was going to play this. Jordan wanted to ignore me. He probably thought that would make me leave. But I wasn’t leaving until I had answers.
I found myself smiling as I thought about how all this worked out. Being hired as a waitress at his club was kismet, and I would play the part of the sweet and innocent until I got what I wanted.
Before going back to the hotel to get my stuff, I wanted to check out the shower situation. The hall was empty as I headed to the end and opened the door to the bathroom. Suddenly, someone shoved me inside.
I turned around to see Jordan closing the bathroom door and locking it.  
That look of anger and possession was back, hardening his face like a man about to commit murder. My heart picked up speed, excited to be near him, but scared shitless at the same time. I felt my cheeks redden and my pussy tingle, as if it could feel his strength from where I stood, and I wanted it taking me, holding me, fucking me. I held my breath, waiting for him to say something, but he simply stared me down, his face ablaze with fury.
I stood up straight and crossed my arms, feeling my own anger rise with my arousal. What right does he have to be angry? I was the one betrayed.
“What are you doing here, Cece?” he said, his deep voice vibrating along my skin, creating goosebumps.
I stayed silent, not ready to tell him my reasons just yet.
“How did you find me?” he growled.
“It doesn't matter,” I said.
“It was Mark, wasn't it? Stupid motherfucker,” he spat, shaking his head. After a moment, his gaze came back to mine. “I don't want you here.”
“No shit,” I said. “Sneaking out in the middle of the night made that perfectly clear.”
I thought I saw a flicker of guilt, but it was impossible to see before he masked it.
“That's right. I don’t want you. I want you to leave,” he said, stepping closer, his aggression betraying his words.
I had to raise my chin to meet his gaze, as even in heels he was taller than I was. “No,” I said.
“You heard me,” I said slowly. 
He growled, and I felt it down below like a vibrator against my clit.
“Damn it. This is not a game. You are leaving,” he demanded, coming even closer. 
I felt rage boil in my chest. “You can't tell me what to do. I will stay if I want to.”
Suddenly, he reached over and grabbed my hair, yanking it and pulling my body against his in the same motion. “Have you forgotten who you belong to?” 
I nearly moaned at his dominant tone, loving how it made me feel. I missed it so much. But I pushed at his arms and struggled against his hold. “You just admitted it. I am not yours anymore.”
“Want me to prove it?” Then he brought his mouth to mine, kissing me roughly. His tongue speared my lips, making me wet and needy. I was ready to wrap myself around him and take him deep inside me like before, when he possessed me so thoroughly I couldn’t remember my own name, much less my pride. Moans came from my throat without my knowledge, and I pushed myself closer to him, wanting the feeling of his body on mine again. Now with Jordan so close, touching me, dominating me, I was desperate for the attention.
I knew I needed to push him away, but he felt so good that I wanted just a few moments of his touch, a few more moments of his tongue twining with mine. It had been so long.
With that thought, I remembered why it had been so long. It was because he left me. The pain sliced through my chest so fiercely that I suddenly bit down on his lip, wanting to share the pain.
“Fuck, Cece,” he said, jerking back a little.
I shot out my tongue, tasting a little bit of blood. He watched the action, and I smiled at him, feeling the evil bitch rise from within.
Jordan stared down at me, still gripping my chin in his strong hand, and I knew he could see the change. That I wasn’t the same girl he left back in South Dakota. But the lust didn’t diminish from his gaze. Instead it turned darker, harder, like the devil come to take my soul to the depths with him.
But that wasn’t going to happen, not this time.
His hand gripped my neck, ready to pull me back to him, but I shoved him back. As always, my strength was no match for his, so his body stayed flush with mine. It only served to make him stop the kiss.
“Get out,” I said firmly, pushing him again. “Get out or I will scream.”
I felt his grip on my waist tighten to almost bruising before he stepped back, nearly shoving me into the wall behind me as he let go.   
“It’s not safe here,” he said through gritted teeth.
“I don’t care,” I responded.
With a snarl, he turned to the door and unlocked it. But before he opened it, he looked over his shoulder at me and said, “Stay the fuck away from Rafe.”
Then he was gone. I backed up until my ass hit the sink counter, and I gripped it for stability. My whole body was shaking from the kiss, the anger, everything. But as my breath settled, I found myself smiling, almost laughing out loud.
Jordan still wanted me. I could feel it in his hands and his kiss. He tried to push me away by saying he didn’t want me. But then he tried to command me away by claiming that I still belonged to him. He couldn’t seem to make up his mind, and I planned to take full advantage of his indecision.
It was a small victory, but the battle had only begun. I still had a lot of ground to cover. I would see this through if it killed us both.
Jordan had fought like hell for me once. I’ll be damned if I won’t fight for him.

Praise for BATTLEFIELD by Gwendolyn Casey

"All I've got to say is d-d-d-d-daaaaayuuuum!!!"
"Lots of dog-eared pages in this one!"

As a member of the Aces MC, nothing in the world is forbidden to Jordan Mitchell, and he is not in the habit of denying himself the things he wants. But when he meets his younger brother’s girlfriend, he finally knows the torture of wanting something he can’t have.
Cecelia Taylor knows Jordan would be a mistake since the first time she meets him. Not only is he a filthy biker but also an arrogant jerk who can never seem to keep his hands to himself. And yet, she can’t seem to resist those hands … or his bed.
Their relationship is a battle from the very beginning, with casualties on both sides. But when Jordan’s mysterious past comes calling, their love is put to the test, and they both have to decide if what they have is worth a real fight.

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