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Hard Limits

By:Elle Aycart

Chapter One


"I think that man is calling the cops on us," Ronnie said, glancing through the window and waving.

Paige leaned against the steering wheel and smiled innocently at the driver in the next car, but it didn't help. Eyes about to bug out of their sockets, he spoke even faster into his phone, while automatically locking the doors. "We are sooo ending up in jail."

Who would have guessed people would be more scared of her clad in white than in her normal Goth clothes? Then again, she was wearing a wedding dress splattered with red, Carrie style, and Ronnie was too, so yeah, she could understand the horrified expression in the neighboring car. That they were driving at three o'clock in the morning through the Boston suburbs-makeup all smudged and hair in messy snarls of paint and party-didn't improve matters.

"Probably," Ronnie conceded, trying to pat her frizzy curls down. "You better floor it."

No shit. When the light changed, Paige put the pedal to the metal and soon lost the spooked driver. Whichever came next, the arrest or the speeding ticket, she would let her lovely lunatic of a boss deal with it.

After all, their current predicament was entirely Elle's fault. She'd declared her bachelorette party would happen in stages over a whole month, the coed paintball game being the first installment. As if the women hadn't already been an easy mark for those testosterone-ridden, military-trained guys, Elle had made them wear thrift-store wedding gowns over the protective gear. Wrong move. Not even leveling the odds by mixing the teams had helped.

After the shooting fest, looking like vampire gore brides, they'd gone partying downtown. How Elle had gotten them into the club dressed like that, Paige didn't know, although it shouldn't have been a surprise. Elle always got her way. Now, with that ominous weapon of mass destruction called Jack shadowing her 24/7, it was a miracle anyone dared blink at her, regardless of how nuts her requests were.

All in all, a memorable first installment. Paige couldn't wait to see what was to come. By Jack's aggrieved looks, he couldn't either.

Paige glanced at the rearview mirror. No spooked driver, no police cars chasing them. Just empty, quiet road. "We might avoid jail after all."

"Jail would have been a fitting ending for the night. Can't believe it didn't happen before, at the club."

"You seemed to hit it off with Kai," Paige said. "How come I'm driving you home and he's not? Not that I mind. Just curious."

Ronnie laughed. "Didn't you see the way Jack looked at him when we were talking? I didn't want to give my brother a coronary. Besides, better not jinx it now that he's more relaxed and all that crazy stuff about the drug cartel is over." 

And thank God for that. At the time, when Jack had suddenly started following Elle everywhere, Paige had not known what was going on. Then Elle had gone underground, and James Bowen, Elle's brother-in-law, had gathered the staff of Rosita's and informed them he was taking over management of the restaurant temporarily. From then on, there were 250-pound, heavily tattooed bodyguard types on the premises at all hours. In hindsight, no frigging wonder. It was not every day that you had a South American cartel gunning for you.

When all was said and done, Jack had almost lost his life rescuing Elle. Now, though, they were happily in love and about to get married. If the groom or the guests could survive the bachelorette party, that was.

"What about you?" Ronnie asked. "How come you're driving me home and not with some sexy stranger? You were by far the prettiest bride, the way you Goth-customized the outfit."

She shrugged. "No one tickled my fancy."

The last guy who managed that feat had been one of the enforcers for said cartel. The second in command, as she later found out. He had come to Rosita's to scout the place and had struck up a conversation with her. Nick, oil-rig worker, a reluctant participant on a blind date gone wrong. Extremely handsome, interesting, and easy-going, with a fascinating wit and a deep, husky voice, the man had almost convinced Paige to go out with him.

It figured that the lying psychopath would zero in on her. They always did.

Worst of all? She could still feel how badly she'd wanted him.

"You need to give them a chance," Ronnie insisted, distracting Paige from her gloomy thoughts. "Talk to them at least. Like that cute guy who kept sending drinks your way even though you kept turning them down."

A frat boy interested in taking a stroll on the kinky side. No, thank you. Either they ended up disappointed or she freaked out. Both options were unacceptable, really. And unpleasant. Not to mention totally unsexy.

"You need more than drinks to impress a bartender," Paige answered with a wink.

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