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       The Heat, p.1

           Heather Killough-Walden
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The Heat

  The Heat (A Big Bad Wolf romance) by Heather Killough-Walden

  The Heat© 2009

  By Heather Killough-Walden

  The Heat

  By Heather


  Thank you…

  To my husband, for his unending support

  and to Eroticarepublic, for helping me get my start.


  “Open your legs.”

  She pulled against the handcuffs that secured her to the headboard railing, testing them. She was nervous now. A change had come over him, it seemed. She wondered whether she should have told someone where she was going –

  “I said spread your legs,” he repeated, a hard edge to his tone.

  She stared up at him, trying to figure him out. It’s part of his game, she told herself. Just let him get his jollies off. He’s gonna let you go and you won’t have to spend the night in the joint. Whatever it takes.

  She opened her legs, allowing each ankle to drop off of the sides of the hotel room bed. Cold air wrapped around her thighs, chilling her thoroughly.

  He nodded once – approval. “Good girl, Lily.”

  “My name’s not Lil-”

  “It is tonight,” he corrected as he leaned forward and placed his forefinger to her lips. She stilled beneath him. “Understand?” His eyes glittered unnaturally.

  She nodded her compliance.

  Chapter One: The Boy In Blue Wears Black

  “Tabitha, shut your dirty mouth and hand me another beer.” Lily laughed and held out her hand. The black-haired woman grinned wickedly and pulled another beer from the depths of the ice chest. Chunks of melted ice fell away as Lily twisted the top off of the bottle and placed it to her lips.

  Tabitha sighed and shook her head. “So enough about men. For now.” She took a drink, swallowing as she said, “Tell me about the Lone Star state. What’s it like in the land of rattle snakes and belt buckles?”

  Lily had moved from Baton Rouge to go to school in Texas after she’d graduated. She finished taking a swig and shrugged. “Where I was, it was drier.” She paused. “Hotter.” She sat back on the couch, her thoughts turned inward. “There are no trees, so the construction workers hide under the bridges to cool off.”

  Tabitha whistled low. “Hotter than it is here?” she asked, incredulous.

  “By about twenty to thirty degrees, believe it or not.”

  “You’re tellin’ me it’s a hundred and eight degrees there?”

  “In the summer, yeah. The streets can actually melt. Your shoes stick to the tar and cars always squeal when they pull out, even if they’re going slow. It’s hot.” She shook her head and took a big drink. Just thinking about the place had overheated her and she needed to cool off.

  Tabitha joined her in shaking her head. “Well girl, to be honest, you didn’t miss much while you were gone.”

  Lily frowned. “What do you mean?”

  Tabitha’s expression took on a mournful cast. “Right after Katrina, our population just about tripled. Crime shot through the roof.” She sighed. “Danny was way overworked, trust me.” She referred to her brother, Daniel – the police officer. Lily remembered him. He was hard to forget. “People got mean,” Tabitha went on. “Drivers got nasty – stopped letting others cut in front in traffic. Everything went up in price. Racial slurs were constant. It was… not nice.”

  Lily was quiet for a moment. Out of respect.

  Then she asked, “How long did it last?” Since she’d been back, she’d been treated with nothing but the slow, easy kindness that she remembered so well. It was the southern hospitality she’d grown accustomed to while growing up in Louisiana. Ask someone where you could get a cab, and the person would shake their heads and offer you a ride. “Goin’ that way anyway….”

  If you needed change for a phone call, someone was sure to let you use their cell phone instead. And if you inquired as to where you could get a good plate of Jambalaya, a Baton Rouge citizen was sure to come forward and invite you over for dinner. That’s just how it was done.

  Tabitha sighed. “Until just recently, actually. I’ve noticed that things are getting back to normal. It’s like people are finally settling down into their lives again; rememberin’ who they were. Who they are.” She shrugged and took another long pull on her beer.

  Lily digested this information and the two young women fell into a companionable silence. And then Lily took a deep breath and let it out in a contented sigh. “I really missed the rain. I had the constant urge to pour Dasani bottles out over the parched land in Texas.” She laughed. “Or, at least pee outside.” Tabitha’s laughter joined hers. “Even in the quote-unquote-rainy season, it hardly ever-” But there, she stopped. A sound had brought her to a halt. It was a wonderful, thunderous sound, deep and true. She would recognize it anywhere.

  “Is that a Harley?” she asked.

  Tabitha’s brow drew together. “Yeah, it is. It couldn’t be….” She stood and turned toward the kitchen, where a screened door looked over an asphalt veranda beyond. Lily followed her gaze, standing as well.

  A rider pulled onto the black-top outside, his lean silhouette outlined by the lamplight and the full moon above. For a Louisiana night it was surprisingly clear. Lily found herself moving with Tabitha, floating toward the screen door, drawn by the classic figure – a man, hard as steel, atop a thundering stallion of chrome.

  The engine idled as the man lowered one boot to the ground and seemed to gaze at the two of them through the full-face shield of his dark helmet.

  “Well I’ll be damned,” Tabitha whispered, her lips drawing into a smile as she unhinged the chain lock on the door and began to swing it open. “Big brother’s come to call.”

  Lily’s eyes widened. “Big brother?” She stared at the tall figure on the soft tail Harley. That was Tabitha’s brother? “You mean Daniel? Holy….”

  Tabitha grunted in something like derisive agreement and stepped down onto the back porch. Lily followed, placing her beer on the counter before she let the screen door swing shut behind her.

  The rider pulled the helmet off his head and kicked down the stand, which Lily noticed was topped with a skull and crossbones. He slowly dismounted and walked toward them. Lily noted his height, which had been tall when they were in high school but seemed even taller now. What was he, six-two? Six-three? Six-foot-three-inches of muscle. Tight black jeans outlined what looked like hard and toned quads, and a tight black t-shirt hugged well-honed biceps tanned from the sun. From riding.

  Raven-black hair fell in loose waves to his shoulders. Blue eyes glittered like sapphires beneath the street lights as he made his way toward them. Lily tried not to let her jaw hang open. She clamped her mouth shut tightly. She refused to lick her lips.

  The man was very nearly on fire.

  “Well, howdy big brother. What miracle of fate has transpired that would grace us lowly family types with your mighty presence this night?” Tabitha drawled at her brother, standing, hands-on-hips a few yards away. Daniel Kane grinned broadly, flashing perfect white teeth in that smile that Lily fell for ten years ago as a senior in high school.

  “Now, now, there little sis. No need to go hostile on me. I’m a busy man; you know that cher.” His southern drawl was deep and sexy and Lily suddenly felt the absence of the beer she’d left in the kitchen.

  Tabitha shook her head but smiled, finally, and threw up her hands in defeat. “Damn, it’s good to see you, Danny.” She moved forward and he embraced her in a warm hug. The muscles of his arms corded as he did so and Lily felt heat rise to her cheeks.

  Daniel’s eyes found her and peered at her over his sister’s shoulder, suddenly pinning her to the spot.

  “And could that be little Lily?” he asked, his
eyes taking on a strange gleam, his smile turning impish. He gently pulled away from his sister, whom he’d had to bend to hug. His sparkling stare turned intense and Lily hugged herself, for some reason suddenly uncomfortable. There was a depth to the man’s gaze that was almost intrusive.

  “Hi Daniel. Long time no see,” she said.

  Kane eyed her for a long moment, his gaze sliding down her body and back up again in the typical openness that southern men were not afraid to flaunt. At once, Lily felt conspicuous in the light white sundress she’d chosen to wear that night. It was hot and the sundress was a thin cotton fabric. It had felt easy, cool, and just right for hanging out with her best friend. Now she was regretting the choice.

  “My, my, cher. But you’ve grown.” He shook his head slowly, patent admiration apparent on his handsome features. And then he came forward and Lily forced herself not to step back.

  “I could say the same for you.” Lily’s gaze skirted from him to his bike, several paces away. “Since when do you ride?”

  “Since forever, cher. I was born in the wind.” He shrugged and chuckled softly, the sound sending a delicious shiver through Lily’s body.

  Tabitha moved up behind him, catching Lily’s attention. “Don’t pay him no heed, Lil. Once a womanizing creep, always a womanizing creep, respectable job or not.” She shook her head admonishingly, rolling her eyes as she spoke.

  Daniel stopped a few short feet away from Lily, grinning down at her. “Now, now, Tabby. Is that any way for a repeat offender to treat the Chief of Police?”

  Lily blinked up at him. As did Tabitha.

  “What the hell you talkin’ about Danny? You get the job?” Tabitha asked incredulously. Daniel didn’t look at her for a long moment, his eyes locked onto Lily’s. But then his grin broadened and he turned to face his sister. “Yep.”

  Tabitha’s eyes got really big and her dubious expression became one of mixed surprise and joy. “Holy shit, big brother! You better not be yankin’ my chain!”

  “I swear by all that is unholy, little sis.” He chuckled and raised his right hand, as if swearing on a Bible. “Word came down from the Mayor’s office this morning.”

  Tabitha hugged her brother again and then pulled back, shaking her head. “You’re like, twelve, Danny! Don’t you have to be ancient to get that job?”

  Daniel cut his gaze to Lily, who hadn’t yet said anything, and she couldn’t help but feel that he was checking for her reaction to the news. “Well, now, it’s true that I’ll be the youngest Chief Baton Rouge has seen. But I’ve been on the job for fifteen years.” He looked back at Tabitha. “I guess the Mayor felt I’d earned it.”

  Tabitha could only continue shaking her head. “I don’t believe it. What are you gonna do with all that power, Danny?” She smiled ruefully. “Oh, but did they ever make a mistake this time.”

  Daniel laughed again and then turned his attention back to Lily. She blushed beneath his constantly returning scrutiny. She couldn’t help but feel she was intruding on what perhaps should have been a private moment between two family members. But she was also in a unique position at the moment. Because though she hadn’t actually seen him in many years, Daniel Kane had been visiting Lily in her dreams for a long time. Since high school. And he’d only improved with age.

  He was four years Tabitha’s senior. That made him almost five years older than Lily. Lily had first crushed hard on him when she and Tabitha and their mutual friend, Alexis, had been freshmen “bulldogs” together at East Baton Rouge parish’s Magnet High school. Everyone of his friends and admirers – and there were more than a few of those – knew that he wanted to go into the police force. He’d never failed to make that clear.

  When he graduated, amongst the raucous cheers of his buddies and the silent tears of many female devotees, that was exactly what he did. He went into the force. Lily hadn’t seen him since then. She’d been out of the city since graduation and had actually held prime residence in New Orleans until, as luck would have it, just before Katrina hit and she’d moved to a small town in West Texas. Plus, she always abided by the law, so truth be told she’d had rare occasion to cross paths with any police officer, much less Kane.

  Five years ago Tabitha had told Lily that her big brother had been promoted to Sergeant. Lily was pretty sure that was the only thing, good or bad, that she’d heard about the man for more than a decade.

  And now, here he was. Tall, strong and handsome as ever. He looked as if he simply didn’t age. And he was the Police Chief of Baton Rouge.

  Instinctively, and without meaning to, Lily’s gaze slid to his left hand. No ring. Gay? She glanced back up at his face and was immediately caught up in his gaze. It was like blue fire, warm and promising.

  Nope. Not gay. Immediately, she fell back on the old given law of straight, handsome and unhitched males. He was afraid of commitment.

  Of course, that probably wasn’t exactly true either. He was a cop. He was obviously committed to his job, or he wouldn’t be standing there before them, telling them that he’d just made Police Chief.

  And, it wasn’t exactly a fair thing to assume, either. After all, she herself wasn’t the most romantically committed individual in the world. To be honest, she had enough responsibility to deal with without the added pressures of family planning. At twenty-eight, she wasn’t yet hitched, and it wasn’t because she was ugly. And it wasn’t because she was gay.

  “So, what will it be, cher? You got no words of congratulations for your new Police Chief?” Kane smiled down at her, his eyes twinkling mischievously, his smile on the verge of teasing.

  “Congrats, Daniel. I’m happy for you.” She smiled back up at him, hating the fact that she blushed at the slightest provocation. But he was too close and his nearness was having a chaotic effect upon her body. She could almost feel his skin against hers, even though there was a good two feet of space between them. He’d filled that space somehow. With black magic, she was pretty sure.

  Lily knew what she would be dreaming about that night.

  “Why thank you, cher.” Something flashed in his eyes, there one instant and gone in the next. Lily blinked, unsure what it was she thought she’d seen.

  “Danny, we were just having a drink. Join us?” Tabitha asked.

  Kane gazed at Lily for several more long moments, and just before the silence would have stretched into discomfort, he pulled his gaze away and leveled it on the house a few yards away. “Why, I do believe I will. You ladies alone?”

  “It’s ladies night, big brother. But we’ll make an exception for the commissioner. And, by the way, what the hell do you mean by ‘repeat offender’?” Tabitha grabbed her brother by his elbow and began to stride toward the house. Lily fell into step beside them.

  “Tabby, I’m a cop. You don’t think I know about your need for speed?” He was still smiling, but now the smile had taken on a reproachful edge. Lily watched the exchange with interest. Daniel Kane was very much the older brother, and every bit a police officer. “If it weren’t for the fact that you have family in the House, you’d have lost that license of yours three tickets ago, little sis.”

  Tabitha made another derisive noise and pulled open the screen door. Kane waited for the girls to enter before him and then shut the screen behind him.

  The three of them moved to the couches in Tabitha’s living room and Tabitha handed her brother an ice-cold beer. He shook off the ice and twisted off the top, tossing the lid onto the coffee table, where the girls had placed the others. Then he sat back, took a long pull from the bottle, and laced his right arm over the back of the sofa. Lily sat facing him. Tabitha stood near the piano, which had been her mother’s many years ago.

  Daniel eyed Lily. “What are you driving these days, cher?” He smiled and leaned forward, his elbows on his knees, both hands wrapped easily around the dark bottle. “Is that your little Dodge out there?”

  “Yep, that would be mine.” Lily wasn’t rich. She owned a two-door, black ’98 Dodge Neon.
It was a stick and it weighed next to nothing, so its 130 horse power engine was fast enough. More or less. Most days.

  “It’s cute. And a stick.” His smile became reckless. “I like a girl who can handle a stick.”

  Lily did not miss the entendre. But she refused to acknowledge it. She switched directions. “It’s nothing like the Night Train you’ve got out there. Nice bike.”

  Daniel’s brows rose. He blinked. “You got a dark and dangerous side to you, cher? Nice girl like you knows her bikes?”

  It was Lily’s turn to smile now, and she did, as she brought her bottle to her lips and took the swig she’d been wanting to take for the last ten minutes. Daniel watched her carefully as she drank. His sapphire eyes shimmered with secrets.

  Then, in a low tone and a voice that made her nerve endings come deliciously alive, he asked, “Want a ride?”

  Lily nearly spit out her beer. Did she want a ride? Like nothing else she could think of at the moment. The instant she’d heard – and felt – the engine, she’d longed to get on the bike. What girl didn’t want that kind of power between her legs?

  She swallowed the beer and glanced at Tabitha. Tabitha’s eyes were narrowed. “You’re incorrigible, Danny. Leave the girl alone.”

  “Yes, I want a ride.”

  Tabitha’s eyes widened and Kane grinned. He put down his beer and stood, offering Lily his hand. She bit her lip, considering for a moment. And then she put down her beer as well and reached out for Daniel’s hand.

  His fingers wrapped around hers, warm and secure. Her blush was back, but she ducked her head, hiding it as she maneuvered her way around the low coffee table to his side of the living room.

  “Um, Lily…”

  “Now, now, little sister. The lady’s made up her mind.”

  “Shut up, Danny.” Tabitha brushed past them as they exited through the kitchen and the screen door slammed shut behind them. The Night Train sat waiting, its polished chrome flashing invitingly beneath the tall street lamps. “Lily, you want some pants? I got some jeans.”

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