Good Guys: Part Two

The limo’s window behind Max’s head had begun to fog up.

He’d massaged her feet for the last ten minutes as she’d laid against one side of the long bench in the back of the huge vehicle.

“Mmm,” she purred. His foot rub was hands down the most sensual thing anyone had ever done to her. His hand covered her whole foot, thick fingers pulling on her toes.

“This is very Kate and Leo,” she breathed.

He grunted a little. “Yeah, but I’m not dying at the end. I get on the door.”

“Ah, so you know there was room for them both.”

“Of course there was.” He grinned at her. “But in some people’s worlds, dying is the romantic ending.”

Her heart hitched. “Not in mine. Remember my haunting warning.”

“You’re safe with me because it’s not romantic in my life either. That’s why I got out.”

She swallowed. “Out?” She’d learned a lot about Max, even more than the fact that he worked magic on feet. Like how he was a breakfast sausage purist. “None of that tofu turkey crap.” And how he loved movies; the older, the better. It was kind of fun, like a conversation you had on a real date.

But as he told her what Shakedown was like, his work there, and how Declan had hired him as fast as the man had hired her, he kept dancing around something. It was as if he didn’t really want to let her in on this past he’d alluded to before.

“Yeah. Out.” His gaze leveled on hers, and his hands stilled. “From the Flaming Tides. Gang.”

She gasped. “Oh, sorry.” Was that the right thing to say? In every movie she’d ever seen, if she expressed shock at such an admission, it was usually followed by someone then saying, “Now, you die.” She bit her bottom lip and tried not to tremble. “Never heard of them.”

“Good. Getting out was … difficult.”

“I’ll bet.”

“Don’t take that bet. It involved a lot of … fighting.”

She swallowed—hard. “Is this your way of saying you killed someone to escape?” she asked flippantly.


A little gasp escaped her throat. Trouble was the last thing she needed. She needed to rebuild, not get swept into a world of illegal activity. “Oh. That’s …” What? She swallowed—hard. “Max, I can’t get caught up in anything.”

His nostrils flared. “Yeah, I get it.” He let go of her feet and slid away.


“I recognize the look on your face.”

She crossed her arms. “What look?”

“Let’s go inside.”

“No. What look?”

When he didn’t answer, she cracked open the door. “Fine. But next time you don’t want a woman to be shocked, don’t drop ‘I killed someone once’ on the first date.”

“You needed to know,” he gritted out. “And if you aren’t going to listen to me, then I was wrong about you.”

“Oh, really?” Bastard. She didn’t want to have that conversation right then. Maybe never.

Time to go. Job or not, there was being stupid, and then there was stupid. Hanging out with a bunch of ex-cons? Yeah, that wasn’t exactly going to get her reputation back on track.

She cracked open the door and scrambled out.


Chapter Three


Anna took one long breath and pushed open the front door of Shakedown. It’d been two days since meeting Max, ex-gang member and foot massager extraordinaire, and Declan, who, with any luck, was still her new boss.

She was still miffed. At who, she wasn’t exactly sure. Maybe herself, for starters. Almost having sexy times in the back of a limo—twice now—with a guy she hardly knew? Her life had sunk to a new low.

Still, a job was a job, so there she was.

At least Max wisely didn’t call her or show up at her front door after she’d hightailed it out of Shakedown’s garage last night.

She glanced around at the darkened club. Still elegant. Still scented with vanilla and lavender. Still her only hope of raising enough money to move on with her life.

Once her debt was paid, she could always quit.

“Ah, there she is.” She spun toward the black curtain separating the business offices from the club floor. “Right on time, I see.” Declan leaned against an ornately carved cane. Max stood behind him, his face schooled to pure granite.

The fact he looked so cold only pissed her off more. Did he really think he could fill her in on his past and that she’d just act like it was nothing?

“Mr. Phillips, thought I’d get started right away. If I still have a job, that is.” She stared directly into Max’s eyes. Dared him to say anything.

He chuffed.

Oh, he was angry at her?

“Of course,” Declan says. “Why don’t you and Max have a moment and then come back to my office when you’re ready.” He chuckled and limped away behind the curtain.

She charged up to Max. “What did you tell him?”

“Excuse me, Miss High and Almighty, but I don’t run to my boss when women run away from me.”

“I didn’t run.” More like acted on a moment of clarity. She’d been too rash of late, and it was time to stop. “You need to give a girl a minute.”

“Take all the minutes you want.”

Laughter filled the air as two women swept through the curtain. She blinked. She was seeing double—two of Phoenix.

“Oh, hi, Anna. This is my sister, Starr.”

“Nice to meet you,” the woman said.

Oh, they were twins. Had to be. “Uh, hi.”

“Ladies.” Max grinned at them. Now, he smiled?

Starr winked at him. “Hey there, Maximillian.” It came out like a purr. The kind you heard in movies during seduction scenes.

Max’s neck reddened.

He was the club’s man whore, was he? Okay, dodged a bullet. Nice guy or not, he clearly had a thing going on with Phoenix’s equally gorgeous sister.

The two women sashayed to the front door and were gone.

“They’re triplets,” Max said.

She faced him. “What?”

“Phoenix, Starr, and Luna. You haven’t met L yet. She’s the one you shouldn’t underestimate.”

“I take it you know a lot about those three. Starr especially.” She even had a special name. Unlike Anna. Everywhere she went, she ran into another Anna.

“She’s like that with everyone.” He crossed his arms, which was something given the size of his biceps. “Jealous?”

“You wish. In fact, life-saving door privileges revoked. Climb on Starr’s.” She stomped through the curtain. Where was Declan’s office again? She opened the first door she saw and stared into the parking garage. The limo was parked nearest to the door. She couldn’t get away from it, could she?

“Looking for something?”

She spun at hearing Max’s voice and ran right into his chest. She might as well as run into a brick wall. “I’m fine.”

“You don’t seem fine. Look.” He scrubbed his hair. “I’m sorry my past upset you, but it is what it is. Just like yours is.”

Oh, low blow. “Is that what you tell everyone when you have them in the back of your limo?”

“It’s not mine. And we were there to have some privacy. Lots of ears here.”

“They don’t know your past?”

“Of course they do. They don’t care. Unlike a certain woman I’m staring at right now.” He pushed her forward and let the door close behind them. “We don’t need the whole club listening in.”

“I wasn’t judging you.” She wasn’t, not really. “You automatically assumed that I’d run. So, guess what? Expectation fulfilled. Happy?”

“Not in the least. Though I’m rather glad we’re getting our first fight over with.”

“We’re not fighting.” Her voice echoed against the concrete walls.

“Yes. We are.” His tone matched hers. She turned to go back inside when he grasped her arm—gently. “Hey.” His touch was so gentle that her eyes pricked. “I expected you to run because most women do.”

His kind eyes stared down at her, and her heart panged. What was it about him? She should be running. Her feet wouldn’t move her.

He dropped his hold and scrubbed his chin. “You’ve had a shitty week? I had years of hell.”

She could see it if he had to kill to have a normal life. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t judging you.” Okay, maybe she had been judgmental.

He rose to his full height. “I’m not in that world anymore. Never going back.”

All her irritation drained like a damn breaking.

She grabbed his hand, and he intertwined his fingers with hers and held on. Warmth spread everywhere in her body, and an odd intimacy crossed between them.

“I wasn’t running. Seems like I only run into you.” Twice now if she counted in the hallway.

Finally, she earned a half smile from him. “Didn’t hurt.”

“Good.” She pulled him into the garage and toward the limo. For the life of her, she’d not ever know what caused her to be so bold—for the second time with him in forty-eight hours. But they had unfinished business, and she couldn’t go to work with him believing she’d rejected him.

As soon as they were inside, she scrambled up and straddled him. His chin jutted back as if also surprised by her move.

She giggled a little. “Oh, sorry, but to balance on that door in the middle of the ocean, someone would have had to be on top.”

“So, my door privileges are back?”

She nodded. “I’m sorry. I understand that sometimes you have to do what it takes to save yourself.” After all, look at what she’d attempted to do to manage the embezzlement charges being laid against her.

“Be forewarned, Aspen-Anna.” He brushed the hair off her face. “I had to do a lot.”

His bald admission sent blood rushing through her ears, but oddly, she wasn’t afraid. More like she was in the presence of someone who’d lived a very different life from hers, one she’d hoped never to encounter. Yet he was able to walk away with his humanity. That was a special human.

Two weeks ago, she’d been living in a utopia, completely unaware of what some people went through. Who would she be if she hadn’t lived such a sheltered life? What if she’d stayed at that strip club? Worse, what if Sol had caught her? Stapling a guy’s dick was one thing, but to actually have to fight?

“Okay, tell me what you think I need to know.”

He cleared his throat. “Got scars.”

She folded forward and traced the scar on his cheek with her finger. “This one?”

His face broke into a grin. “Nah. That was from Judy clocking me with a swing when I was five.”

She laughed. She couldn’t picture Max being five years old. Or anyone, let alone a little girl, getting the upper hand. “Rude.”

He shrugged one shoulder. “Eh. I tried to kiss her.”

“I wouldn’t clock you.” (But good on Judy. Consent isn’t just a word.) “I mean, if you tried …”


“I don’t know, really. I mean. Are you good at it? Because I was pretty drunk the other night, and women judge a lot by—”

His lips were on hers so fast she nearly fell backward. His large hands caught her and cradled her back.

As for kissing? Oh, he was good, alright, just as she knew he’d be. The way he slid his lips over hers, almost too much over her smaller mouth, was nearly feral. It was exactly the kind of kiss that got her naked in under five seconds.

He broke his lip lock but barely pulled back. “Scale?” Even that close, she could tell he wore a smug smile.

What a dichotomy. One minute he seemed hesitant and shy, and the other, he was a Casanova.

“Seven.” No need for him to get cocky.

“I’ll have to try harder.” He arched his crotch up. A baseball bat had grown inside his pants in the last two minutes. She’d always loved that game.

Her breath came faster. “I think you’re pretty good at hard.” She only hoped Declan was serious about them having “a moment” because if he didn’t move things forward immediately, she’d die.

The fact she was now employed at Shakedown and he worked there, which meant she’d see him a lot, never arose in her mind. Or perhaps her brain had already gone through mental gymnastics realizing if the boss and the lead dancer were a thing, then a little nude baseball action in the boss’s limo wouldn’t be fire-worthy.

Or the fact that he was just so honest about his past and wanted her to hear it before they went any further.

Or perhaps it was because he had a code—and had proceeded to follow it even if she didn’t know all the clauses and amendments of said code. For one, they both still had all their clothes on, which was man speak for I-was-waiting-for-you-to-make-a-move. It showed he had some modicum of respect for her, right? He was letting her call the shots.

All those split-second reasons why it was perfectly okay for her to get some in a garage, of all places, paled to the truth, however. He just felt right.

Her fingers played up and down his captured hardness. He didn’t move to undress her, and she began to worry her he might actually think they were only going to talk.

She leaned down to him. “You’re definitely door worthy.”

“Now you’re just trying to get me naked.”

She squeezed his length, and at last, his breath hitched. “What gave you that idea?”

“Never tease where the door is concerned.”

Speaking of which. “Will anyone see us?”

“Tinted windows, plus no one comes to the garage this early. But …”

“What’s wrong?”

His eyes narrowed a little. “Am I with Aspen right now or Anna?”

She cocked her head. Should she be offended he thought she might be playing him? “How about Aspenanna? Rhymes with banana. A little bit of each? Phoenix said—”

“I want Anna.”

Oh. “Okay. To be honest, I kind of sucked at being anyone else.”

One side of his mouth inched up. “You don’t need to be anyone else here.”

He slid his hands up her thighs and pushed her knit dress up her body until she had no choice but to raise her hands and let him divest her of it—thank God. Her dress—the one she reserved for interviews—got tossed to the limo floor.

And that was how she ended up nude in the back of a limo. At least that was what she’d tell someone if she ever got any friends back. How he stripped her of her bra and panties with equal speed. How he kissed her until she could barely breathe. How he wanted her—not some made-up persona.

Still, he was fully clothed.

She fluttered her eyelashes. “Don’t I get to see more of you?”

“In time. For now, my most favorite part is all yours.” He undid his belt buckle, then unzipped his pants, never taking his eyes off her face. “Be gentle with me.” He winked.

“Do I have to be?”

He slowly shook his head.

Her fingers found their way inside his pants, and she nearly choked on her own tongue. She’d grown wet before, but now Niagara Falls threatened. The need to touch him, kiss him, do filthy things with him until they couldn’t see through the limo windows from the steam. God, let her not be able to sit down for a week after tonight.

He cupped her face, his fingers threading through her hair. He massaged her scalp. His gaze ran over her body, and his voice grew hoarse. “Very few would be worthy of having my view right now.”

“Not many have.” In fact, she’d been living in a sexual drought. Now an arousal fog had settled over her, her sex throbbing and demanding to impale herself on him. Her fingers squeezed his cock once more, and his eyes narrowed ever so slightly.

“Good.” He dropped one hand, his other still possessively threaded through her hair. Her scalp pulled a little as he began to unbutton his shirt. She couldn’t help but drop her gaze to his chest.

He revealed his chest, dusted with dark hair over skin inked everywhere. Black and red images she couldn’t quite understand. Circles and fire and … a long red wave seemed to be the backdrop. There was no question he’d told her the truth about the scars, either, as several long gashed marred his skin. But instead of presenting a victim, he presented a warrior.

Her hands moved to his pecs, needing to touch and feel him. His muscles twitched. He was one hundred percent male and pure power. That reality unhinged any last speed limiter she had on slowing things down.

He reached into his pocket with one hand and drew out a condom. He got it on himself, which was a minor buzzkill, even if it was necessary.

But then her lips found his again, and her body got right back on board. The feel of his strength under her hands, the way his deft fingers dug into her ass, she could tell this man knew what he was doing.

He grasped her hips and positioned her over him. The silky head of his cock was right at her entrance when he spoke into her mouth. “Fuck me.”

Thank God, because she’d grown desperate.

Her entire identity had flipped in the course of one week. Hesitation, protests, or any other things that “good girls” did or said to feel better when they were being bad weren’t even possible with her anymore.

She sank down on him and didn’t try to tamp down the long moan that rose in her throat. Nothing had ever felt that good. And by the way he bit down on her bottom lip when she took him all inside, so he might agree.

They rocked together for long minutes until her head spun and her legs ached. Her breath came in gulps, and her sex was clenching. He grasped her face and held her gaze like he wanted to see her come. “From the second I saw you in this backseat, I wanted you riding me.”

“But you didn’t.”

“I did in my mind,” he ground out. “And many. Times. Today,” he said, pitching his hips hard, thrusting even deeper into her.

“Thank God you’re impatient,” she whispered. Max’s head fell back against the seat, and he hissed as she began to grind herself down on him, and he met her in equal measure.

Her lids drifted half closed, pleasure spiraling through her whole body. She couldn’t imagine being anywhere else, doing anything else better for herself than that.

It didn’t take long for her orgasm to rise like the cheap date it was—ready and willing to go there as soon as it wanted to. It’d been so long since she’d had sex, let alone good sex with someone so clearly in his element fucking.

She let go, and he matched her. And it felt so damned good.

She lay against him for a while, feeling his chest rise and fall under hers. The window closest to her was so fogged beads of moisture clung to the glass. She drew a smiley face in it.

“Anna was here,” she whispered.

“She came. She saw. She conquered,” he chuckled, sending a rumble through her chest. She eased up to look at him, and his hand returned to the side of her face, those thick fingers once more woven into her hair. “Conquered me.”

They stared at one another, something intimate passing between them. It wouldn’t to be a one-off. A promise of more hovered between them.

She rolled her lips between her teeth. “So.”

“All I’m going to be thinking about from now on is you.”

Her breath hitched. She didn’t want him to feel obligated to promise her anything. After all, she was the one who’d practically jumped him twice.

Both of his hands held her face. “Anna Davis, only you are allowed in the back of my limo.”

“It’s the first time I’ve ever been in one.”

“Second. And not the last. I’ll drive you home after work. Then we’ll talk about how we can get some more practice in.”

Practice?” She slapped his pec.

He reached for his shirt. “Well, I have to up my game because my new girlfriend here is a sex fiend.”

“What can I say? My new boyfriend’s got a code and will make room on his door for me. Turns me on.”

His smile broadened. “You haven’t seen anything yet.” He pushed her off his lap and reached for her dress.

“Oh?”  She took her crumpled dress from him.

“We’re just getting started. Declan’s got two limos and an RV. Way better than a carriage in the hull of a ship.” He zipped up his pants and buckled his belt. “Though I think you’ll look best in my California king.”

And she thought she moved fast? Still, what started as her worst night ever just might have become one of the best nights of her life.

“New girlfriend, huh? Does that mean I have to cancel my date with Leonardo DiCaprio?” She pulled her dress over her head.

A low growl came from him. “I don’t share—no celebrity clause, either. When I said girlfriend, I meant it. Just you and me and this beautiful ass of yours.” He reached over and spanked her butt—the move sending renewed interest straight between her thighs.

How could it only have been two days since she met him? It felt like they’d known each other for months already. Was that what it felt like when you met The One? You just knew?

She sighed dramatically. “Leo’s going to be really disappointed.”

“Don’t worry. We’ll invite him to the wedding.”

Strange thing, she could picture it. A 1920s Titanic theme, where she’d walk down a spiral staircase, and they’d give life preservers as take-home gifts. She shook her head, amused by her own imaginings.


“Nothing.” Maybe someday she’d tell him about it.

One thing was for sure. If they were lucky and it really did work out between them, she’d tell their daughter how she could meet a good guy even in her darkest hour.

As for now, she knew one thing. She wasn’t going to drown. Not today.

Max smiled over at her, and her insides got all gooey.

Maybe she’d never find herself drowning again.



Thanks for reading! If you haven’t read all the Shakedown books, you can access them here:

Tough Luck
Their luck may be tough, but their love is much tougher. It just might not be enough to save their lives.

Tough Break
Declan, Shakedown’s owner, doesn’t pine for women. They come to him. Throw themselves at him. Except her.

Tough Love
No matter her refusals.
No matter her futile protests.
No matter her denial of the red-hot heat between them.
He will have her.