They say you can’t go home again. Jared Crowe never wanted to.
Home meant facing memories of abuse and neglect. Of dark closets and evil nightmares. Of his own relatives intent on killing him. But now his brother’s kidnapping forces him to face those demons. Only this time, Jared isn’t a scared little boy. He’s a full-grown Special Forces operative bent on revenge.
As a little girl, Sparrow Pickney risked her life to free two abused boys. As a grown woman Sparrow needs to earn a place in her adopted family’s business or be forced into a life of degradation. The chance to prove her family loyalty comes when she catches Jared spying on the compound and captures him.
When Jared sees his captor, he realizes she’s the girl of his dreams and vows to rescue her from a life of poverty. What Jared doesn’t know is Sparrow may not be the savior he remembers…but the one responsible for abducting and torturing his brother.
Jared is determined to find the truth. But that truth may be more than his heart can take.
It had been nearly twenty years since he’d seen her, but Jared could never forget those golden eyes. Eyes that had haunted his dreams ever since. Had she joined up with Kay? Or was she simply one of those poor souls struggling to survive?
The thought of Sparrow slowly starving filled him with a sense of guilt. He should have made her leave with them. Even though they’d been children when she’d freed them, Jared had been big enough to drag her out, whether she’d wanted to go or not.
She leaned over him, reaching for his hands. Her floppy hat fell down, blinding her, and she ripped it off and tossed it across the room. Long caramel-colored hair, full of sun-kissed highlights, waterfalled down the sides of her face and tickled his nose. Her scent surrounded him now, flooding his senses. Honeysuckle and wildflowers. His cock swelled in an instant. Jared gnashed his teeth together, trying to quell his intense reaction to her nearness.
Sparrow leaned down further and her loose tank top gaped open, treating him to a glorious view of surprisingly plump breasts cupped in a plain sports bra. His gaze locked onto her beaded nipples through the cotton. Fuck he wanted to rip that bra down and reveal what was hidden beneath. The loose manly clothes she wore made her look stick thin, but womanly curves were concealed beneath them.
Sparrow sighed and sat up straight, leaving rope dangling uselessly on his wrists. Jared gripped the metal headboard with his hands, waiting for her next move. She stood there for a moment and studied him, trying to decide what to do. Well, he wasn’t going to help her out one little bit.
“Keep your hands right there, got it?” Her voice was stern.
“Yes ma’am.” He had no intention of acting up. Yet.
She placed a knee on the mattress, and in one swift movement straddled him, settling on his belly. Jared groaned and closed his eyes thankful she hadn’t sat down lower on his body; otherwise, she would have gotten her own surprise. She leaned over him spreading her knees wider up his chest. His eyes popped open, unable to resist another view of her bare skin.
“You can stop with the theatrics right now, I know I’m not big enough to crush you.”
If only that were his problem. Her shirt dipped down even more and he fixated on the pale mounds of her breasts straining against the material of her sports bra. It was a crime to lock those beauties up in serviceable cotton.
She should wear nothing but pure silk and lace, perfect for him to rip off her body.
Her hair curtained around him again, and her soft lips parted in concentration as she worked. He was aware of every inch of exposed skin—from the graceful hollow of her neck to her supple forearms peeking out from the rolled up sleeves of her checkered work shirt. Even more aware of the intense heat radiating from her core, pressed so intimately to his chest.
“There. All done.” She sat back, a satisfied smile on her lips.
Jared tugged on the rope. He’d completely zoned out on anything other than her straddling him. It didn’t give an inch—the knot she’d tied was worthy of a professional. A small ounce of foreboding seeped into him. “Where did you learn to tie knots?”
“Trapping. Working snares. Been doing it since I was a kid.” Her words were so matter-of-fact, he had no doubt she spoke the truth. Holy shit. He yanked on the ropes, but they didn’t move.
“Impressive.” Jared wriggled his fingers and wrists, testing for any weakness. He found none.
“Might as well stop struggling. Nobody’s ever been able to get out of one of my knots. And I used my new rope too, so it wouldn’t snap easy.” She made a snapping motion with her fingers, the emphasis driving in just how stupid his plan had been. He should have used that easy opening she’d given him with the gun.
His foreboding turned to real worry. He had to get out of here to rescue his brother. Hoyt’s life depended on him. If he couldn’t get free… “Nice, now what?”
“Now you tell me who you are and why you’re here.” Sparrow sat back on her heels, the curve of her ass grazing the tip of his cock. He clenched his muscles, fighting to free himself from the pull of lust.
Remember, you’re the soldier trained in interrogation techniques. Now he just had to stop thinking with his dick for long enough to find out where Hoyt was being held. “My name is Jake.”
She tapped her chin, staring down at him. Once again he was enthralled by the intense color of her eyes. They were golden, almost like a cat’s, with a darker brown ring around the edges. “Jake. You don’t look like a Jake.”
He enjoyed hearing the name on her lips. Would enjoy hearing his real name even better. Her soft accent and long vowels stretched it out slow. Sensual. “And what do I look like?”
“I don’t know. Killer? Tiger?”
“That’s what people name their cats.”
“True. Why are you here?”
“Why did you take me hostage?” he countered.
“You were spying on my family. Only our enemies do that.” She shifted, brushing against his tip again. Fuck he wanted to rip free of these bonds and throw her down beneath him. Where was his detached logic now? Something about her was making him lose control.
“I have no interest in you. I was looking for a family member who went missing, know anything about that?” He studied her reaction intently, watching for any flash of awareness, but she didn’t give away anything.
“Haven’t seen anybody new around here in a long time, and I would know. Sorry, but you plopped down on the wrong piece of land.”
“He told me he was coming here.” Not really, but Jared knew without the slightest shred of doubt that Hoyt had been taken by the Crowes. Miss Kay wanted to finish what she had started all those years ago, even if Jared didn’t know why. It was bad enough his parents had died when Jared was only nine, Hoyt six, but to have his aunt try to murder them….
Jared yanked on the bonds again, testing the bed frame. It screeched but held firm. Shit.
“What does he look like?” Every time Sparrow moved or shifted he felt her. Desire was holding him hostage as much as the damn ropes. Got to get free. Got to find Hoyt.
“What do I get if I tell you?”
“What do you get? You get to live.” Her brows shot down as if confused.
“You won’t kill me.”
“How about we make a little trade—you give me something, I give you something.”
“Give? What do you want?” She laid her palms on her thighs, kneeling over his body, the position incredibly erotic.
Blushing aside, maybe she wasn’t so innocent after all. He had a plan and she was part of it. He knew he could get more information out of Sparrow than her giant ass brother. And he’d find it a hell of a lot more enjoyable too. “Kiss me.”
She stopped moving all together and her eyes narrowed in on his mouth.
“Give me a kiss and I’ll sing like a bird.”