Cover reveal and taster for Sanctuary. Due for release August 29

sanc 2

The room was silent, save for the ticking of the clock and the occasional snore from Blue, asleep in the corner. Emma rested her head against the windowpane and watched the raindrops as they meandered slowly down the glass.

Somewhere, far in the distance, the sound of a Harley permeated the quiet, and she smiled as the dog lifted his head and thumped the floor with his tail. There had been a time when he would have heard before her, but he was old now and his hearing wasn’t what it used to be.

As the sound grew louder, he hauled himself to his feet and slowly walked to the door, his tail wagging, whining softly. Emma didn’t move from the window seat. Even as the big black bike pulled up outside, she stayed where she was and watched as he killed the engine, removed his helmet and dismounted.

He looked exhausted and – she searched for the word – defeated. His limp, as he made his way to her front door, was as bad as she’d ever seen it, and she could see the pain etched across his face.

Emma stood and waited as he opened the door and rubbed Blue between the ears, then, unzipping his hoodie, let it, and his cut, slide from his shoulders and fall to the floor. The significance of that act wasn’t lost on her, and wordlessly she moved to pick it up. “Leave it.” His voice was hoarse. “I’m gonna take a shower.”

Okay. Are you hungry? I could…..”

No, I’m fine.” He was already heading for the bathroom. “I just wanna get cleaned up and get some sleep.”

As much as she would have liked to, Emma made no attempt to touch him and resisted the urge to follow him. “There are clean clothes in the closet. I’ll get them for you.”

I can get them.”

Okay. Deke…. Samson. Are you…”

He shook his head. “I’m tired, Emma.” His eyes met hers. “We’ll talk in the morning.”

Blue returned to his bed and lay down with a huff. She waited until he’d left the room, then after hanging his cut on the hook behind the door and throwing the hoodie in the washing machine, resumed her place on the window seat and opened her book.

For over half an hour she stared sightlessly at the same sentence. Would they talk in the morning? She very much doubted it. Theirs was not a relationship based around talking. Truthfully she didn’t know what it was based on. Or even if it was a relationship at all

It was five years since their first meeting. She had been waiting tables in a diner when he and his brothers had rolled into town. They hadn’t talked then, either, but when she’d taken the order he’d looked up and, as his eyes met hers, smiled.

It shouldn’t have been enough. And when he stayed behind after everyone had left, waiting for her to finish her shift, she should have told him that this wasn’t how she was. That she didn’t make a habit of taking strange bikers home. Something about him had stopped her. To this day, she had no idea what it was. Sure, he oozed masculinity, and even now when he fixed her with those hazel eyes and flashed her that grin, she’d feel a flutter in the pit of her belly. And the sex – oh god, the sex – was amazing of course, but it was more than that.

When, all those years ago, she’d watched him riding behind her in her rear view mirror, she’d known it was just a booty call… a hookup, nothing more. She hadn’t even expected him to stay until the morning. He had, though. And the morning after that. He’d stayed for nearly a week before climbing on his bike and disappearing from her life.

Since then she had lost count of how many times he’d turned up on her doorstep. He never called first – he didn’t even have her number, nor she his. Sometimes he would stay for only one night, but usually it was more, weeks sometimes. Part of her wanted to tell him that enough was enough. That she deserved better than to be just another of his many women. But Emma was no fool. His life was a million miles away from hers, and he would never give it up for her.

With a sigh she closed her book and headed for the bedroom, Blue following closely at her heels. Deke was already asleep, the single sheet pushed off and covering only his legs. Emma sat on the edge of the bed and gently touched an ugly bruise on his hip. He grunted and, rolling on to his side, reached out and pulled her to him.

This was why she never told him they were done. She could live without the long rides, or nights in front of the fire, smoking weed and drinking tequila, laughing so hard her body ached. She could even live without the feeling of him inside her. But this: lying with her head on his broad chest, his huge arms wrapped around her as she listened to the steady thump of his heart. This was her safe place. She could surrender herself to him completely, secure in the knowledge that he would take care of her. Emma closed her eyes and let sleep claim her. Maybe tomorrow they would talk, but most likely they wouldn’t. He would, of course, fuck her stupid. She pressed herself a little closer to him and smiled. But whatever tomorrow brought, tonight she was in his arms. The only place she really wanted to be.

~ oOo ~

Samson opened his eyes and knew immediately that she wasn’t there. He wasn’t alone, though; the old hound was sprawled at his back, waiting for him to wake up. He rolled over and scratched the dog behind the ears. “You know you’ll get shit for being up here, right?” The dog licked him on the nose. “An’ you can quit that. Now, get off.” With a look of reproach, Blue slid off the bed and threw himself indignantly on the floor. Samson grinned and glanced at the clock on the small table next to the bed. He’d slept for twelve hours and while he felt refreshed physically, mentally he was as exhausted as ever.

He was going to have to move. He was hungry and he needed to piss. Shifting slightly, he did a quick inventory of his aches and pains and, deciding this was about as good as it got, swung his legs over the edge of the bed and headed for the bathroom.

The kitchen was empty – Emma would have gone to work hours ago – but there was a full pot of coffee and he knew there would be plenty of food in the fridge. He searched through the contents, finally settling on some stinky cheese with a hunk of bread she must’ve made the day before and sat down at her old farmhouse table to eat.

A tiny part of him was pissed at her leaving without waking him, and in the past the fact that he’d slept so deeply would have freaked him out. Usually he would be alert at the slightest sound. But here, and only here, with her wrapped in his arms, he slept like a dead man.

Blue rested his head on his lap. “Do I look like a sucker to you? You know the rules about begging at the table.” He broke off a small piece of the cheese. “Here, now fuck off.” The dog ignored him, and he guessed he must be a sucker after all.

He drained his mug and headed over to the sofa in the living room. It would be a while before Emma got back; he may as well make himself comfortable.

His cut was hanging on the hook behind the door. It looked like the blood and dirt from the day before had been wiped off, and a wave of guilt washed over him. He always tried to keep that part of his life away from her. He rarely wore it when he came here, and on the few times when leaving it at a clubhouse or with one of his brothers wasn’t possible, he would wear his hoodie over it. He wasn’t sure why that was so important to him… Showing colors while riding alone wasn’t wise, of course, but it was more than that. Here in her home, he was Deke, not Samson.

She’d asked, many years ago, whether there were others like her. He hadn’t lied; there were other women, not just the club girls who offered a ready supply of pussy, but women who he would call on whenever he felt so inclined. None were quite like Emma, though. He never stayed with those for days on end, and hers was the only place where he kept changes of clothes and a toothbrush.

Unlike his brothers, who had regular jobs, wives, kids…. a place to call their own, all Samson had was his bike, the road and the club. It was enough, but sometimes when he needed to escape all the crazy, he came here.

He knew she’d never be his old lady. That wasn’t a life for her. She loved to ride with him and was under no illusion about the club and his role in it, but she was too much of a free spirit to tie herself down that way. And even if she was willing to give up her solitude, what would the club make of this weird, vegetarian, hippie chick who spent her days growing vegetables or painting, and in the evening would rather curl up with a book than party?

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