Leather and Lies
By Celeste Straub
Publisher: 5 Prince Publishing
Publication Date: October 3, 2018
Genre: Adult, Romance, Suspense
For twenty-four-year-old Skye Winters, criminal profiling is the perfect career: helping solve cases without all the emotional baggage. When her cousin, Kortney, becomes the latest in a string of young women to vanish, Skye’s professional and personal lives collide. Cue the nuclear mushroom cloud.
Amid the fallout, Skye meets Wes Carson, the mysterious and smart-mouthed new biker in her father’s motorcycle club. She tries to ignore their chemistry, even after accepting Wes’ aid in the search for Kort. Then one spontaneous afternoon takes them over the edge, forcing Skye to consider she might be in love. Too bad it’s with a liar.
Unraveling Wes' lies leaves Skye ensnared in an FBI investigation, making her question her profiling skills and her heart. With Wes in danger, her affection overrules her caution with disastrous results. Will Skye survive to solve the case, save Kort, and still salvage a relationship with Wes?
An amused half smile flits across Wes’ face in the pause after his introduction. “You must be Skyelar,” he continues. “All your dad can talk about is the great job you just got in D.C. A profiler for the FBI or something like that, right?”
My face flushes. Shifting, I rub my suddenly sweaty palms along my shorts before tugging at the hem of my tank top. The ensemble would not have been my first choice had I known I would be coming face to face with a complete stud.
You should have introduced yourself when you shook his hand. Ugh. Now he probably thinks you’re socially inept.
“Nice to meet you, Wes,” I finally reply, finding my voice and manners. “Call me Skye. I’d love to work for the FBI someday, but my new job is with the D.C. police.” Pausing, I decide to get the awkward interview done and over. There might not be time once a dozen hungry bikers raid the food. “So, my mom tells me Dad offered you a place to stay.”
He appraises me with a perceptive smile. “Ah. You’re to profile me and report to the boss. Right?”
I blink, taken aback. Well, no point beating around the bush now.
“Everything you say can and will be used against you in the court of Mom.” My voice stays playful. I’m not trying to make the man feel like he’s under interrogation. Except he is.
Wes chuckles. It’s a deep and pleasant sound I immediately want to hear again.
“Perhaps I should plead the fifth?” he asks.
“That would just make me wonder what you’re hiding.”
I tilt my head to the side, studying him. His brown eyes lock with my blue and I see secrets. I inhale, the air thinning to Mt. Everest proportions. The void between us pulsates with caged energy. I can’t help noticing the subtle swirls in his dark eyes, like milk chocolate melting in a double boiler.
Can he sense your secrets as easily as you sense his?
The unsettling thought rips me from my trance as I break the stare first, blood warming.
“I’m an open book,” Wes offers, hands out and palms up.
I narrow my eyes, planting my hands onto my hips. Those secrets I sensed in his eyes don’t raise any alarm bells, just an honest curiosity as to what he’s hiding. “No. If you were, you would have a social media presence.” His eyes widen slightly. “I already Googled you.”
He seems to rein in the surprise as his arms cross. “Find anything interesting?” he asks casually. Much too casually.
He knows you didn’t find a damn thing.
“You have a terribly common name,” I grumble through gritted teeth.
With a smirk, he leans in. “I know,” he whispers.
Boy, I’d like to wipe that smug look off his lips. Or kiss them.
Fuck! Where did that come from? Keep it together, Winters. He’s just a pretty face.
“Well, I’ll happily report to Mom you’re a sociopath who will murder us in our beds. I’m sure you won’t mind staying at the lovely Motor Coach Inn. I hear their amenities are five stars.”
His face blanches, arms falling to his sides. Now it’s my smile that turns smug.
“Okay, look…” he runs a hand though his hair. Toeing the carpet, he speaks to the floor. “I just went through a divorce. It wasn’t particularly amiable, so I deleted my Twitter and Facebook accounts. I would really appreciate the opportunity to stay here for a little while.”
Sliding my hands off my hips, I tuck my thumbs into my back pockets and take pity on him by changing the subject. “So, you’re friends with Dave?”
Wes looks up from the floor as he shakes his head. “I’m not sure I’d classify us as friends. We work and ride together, but otherwise we run in very different circles.”
I catch the timbre suggesting he has no desire to ever run in those circles, either. Mentally, I take back the strike I gave Wes when I first learned of his association with Dave.
“And what do you do for Amazon?”
“I’m a shift manager.”
Okay, so he’s comfortable in leadership roles. Works and plays well with others, even people like Dave who he may not like much. Finally, a glimpse of his personality.
“Sounds exciting.” I can’t hide the sarcasm.
He shrugs. “It’s a paycheck.”
“But you’d rather be doing something else.” I sense it. “What’s your dream job?”
“Powerball winner,” he shoots back with a cheeky grin.
I laugh. “That’s everyone’s dream, but it’s not a job.”
He takes a step closer, then another, until only a few inches separate our bodies. A whiff of sandalwood cologne invades the air between us. He bends closer to my ear, as if he’s about to impart some great secret. “I’d like to be a spy, like James Bond,” he whispers.
I laugh harder this time and he rewards me with another lopsided smile. After Kort’s disappearance, the levity comes as a welcome distraction.
“Is it because of the gadgets, guns, or girls?”
“Definitely the women,” he replies, a flippant smile gracing his face. “I’m hiring for a Bond girl, if you want to apply.”
He’s flirting with you!
My brain freezes, groping for a witty response. The already charged air between us practically sparks. I grip the edge of the bar for dear life, needing to say something or risk crossing that paper-thin barrier into awkward silence, but my brain reboots too slowly.
With my thought-to-mouth filter not yet fully operational, I blurt, “Sign me up.”
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Celeste Straub is a hopeless romantic who enjoys plotting the slightly sadistic journeys her characters go on before they finally reach their happily-ever-after. She enjoys a quiet country life in northeastern Pennsylvania, residing on a piece of the old family farm with her husband, son, and two cats. Writing as a hobby since childhood, Celeste spends her days as the grant writer and operations director for a local non-profit agency focusing on public health issues. When she’s not penning steamy romance scenes in her spare time, her interests include traveling, visiting amusement parks, collecting baseballs, hiking, and reading.
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