NIGHTFALL by Desiree Holt and Joey W. Hill
Ranch owner Quinn Pedraza has to find someone to run the saloon he won in a bet, but more than that, he needs a woman who can handle his alpha personality…and closet submissive sexual cravings. When vampire Selene Torres arrives on the scene, he gets everything he wants—and learns what he really needs.
Inside Scoop: Quinn’s BDSM journey is not for the faint of heart and includes extreme sexual situations and dubious consent, as well as male/male scenes.
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An Excerpt From: NIGHTFALL
Copyright © JOEY W. HILL & DESIREE HOLT, 2014
All Rights Reserved, Ellora's Cave Publishing, Inc.
Quinn Pedraza stared at the stack of bills and swore colorfully to himself. He didn’t need this aggravation. The After Hours Saloon had become nothing but a pain in the ass to him. Vendors wanted payment right now and, even though it was crowded every night, the place wasn’t generating the cash he’d hoped.
What did you expect out of a place you won in a poker game? He’d thought it would give him an extra source of income. What a laugh that was.
The office, its tiny space filled with the desk, a filing cabinet and two chairs, was a symptom of everything that was wrong. The floor and furniture were scarred and scuffed, paint was peeling on the walls and it seemed every day he accumulated more trash. He’d even stopped changing from his work clothes before heading out here. What difference did it make if the smell of horses and cattle and everything else still clung to him? The saloon wasn’t much better.
The inside of the building needed work and the bar setup needed a good overhaul, but with the end of summer and work ramping up at the ranch he didn’t have any time to get to it. He’d shut the damn place down, except in Nightfall there wasn’t another spot for people to hang out. That included men and women, ranchers and hands, good people and bums. If he shut down, they’d probably lynch him.
On the plus side, bad as things were going, he was lucky there was no competitor within miles of the place. But working the ranch all day then spending hours here at night was draining him, and not just financially. He’d spent too many years on the rodeo circuit, living out of trailers and tents, crowded into places with mobs of people. Privacy was important to him now. So why did he hang onto this place where he was thrust in the middle of people every night?
His Comanche grandfather, his mother’s father, would have berated him for even having a place that sold alcohol. Which was ironic, because Quinn had kept the place thanks to the advice of another Comanche—Sam Red Elk.
The Indian who looked as if he was a baked part of the Texas landscape had been in and out of Quinn’s life since his teens, the kind of steady mentor his volatile father never had been. He had an odd way of showing up at unexpected times, giving Quinn counsel that, while sometimes cryptic, usually steered him onto the right path.
The night Quinn had won the saloon, Sam had pulled one of his unexpected appearances at the game. He hadn’t wanted to play. Instead he propped himself in a chair in the corner, whittling on a stick. Didn’t say a word until Quinn won the saloon. Then Sam looked up, dark eyes meeting Quinn’s. He nodded and rose, leaving the game as if his task was done. When Quinn caught up to him in the parking lot, he mused aloud about selling it, but the Indian shook his head.
“You’ll want to keep this, Quinn. It will bring something good into your life.”
Quinn knew Sam was considered a shaman among his own people. He himself had seen enough in Sam’s company to accept it without a doubt. Though when it came to the saloon, he was starting to wonder if the man had been in a snake-bite delirium. Not that he’d ever say that where Sam could hear him. The shaman might be able to turn him into a coyote or something. Though if he had to deal with this mess much longer, that might start to look pretty appealing.
Leaning back in his chair, his booted feet up on the scarred old desk, Quinn closed his eyes and rubbed his temples, trying to ease the headache that wouldn’t quit. Beyond the closed door he could hear the usual noises of a rowdy crowd, warming up as the evening wore on. He needed to check on Artie. Make sure he was taking care of business out there.
He’d thought hiring a manager and a couple cute local girls to help him bartend and bus tables would keep him from putting in all these hours at the saloon at night. But he’d quickly found out he couldn’t afford a good bar manager, not when the bigger cities had more to offer one. Hiring Artie Sampson had truly been a last resort. The man had been fired from every job he’d ever had, but Quinn was desperate and told himself he was giving the man a second chance. Apparently, some people didn’t deserve second chances. The girls seemed too busy flirting most of the time to be any help at all.
A loud crash jerked him out of the chair. Rolling up his sleeves, he yanked open the office door and stomped out to the saloon, his boots striking the boards loud enough they should have been heard over the noise. The scene he walked into made him want to shoot someone. Or himself.
The blast of the old-fashioned jukebox overrode the hooting cheers of the beer-guzzling crowd, egging on the two men pummeling each other in the middle of the room. As Quinn watched, they rammed into a table, overturning it and shattering the wealth of uncollected empty glasses it had been holding. A chair splintered under the men’s weight as they rolled over it.
Fucking shit. Drawing a breath, Quinn prepared to wade in and yank the two drunks apart by the front of their shirts. But then she beat him to it.
He was sure no one like her had ever walked into After Hours, or any other local bar or saloon he’d experienced. She couldn’t have been more than five feet tall, but the high heels of the fancy dress boots she wore beneath a pair of snug jeans gave her at least another four inches. Hair like spun gold fell in waves to her shoulders, shimmering as she moved. A thin blue short-sleeved top with a light spray of sparkles across a New Orleans bar logo hugged breasts that would be a nice handful, and Quinn had large hands. A silver pendant that looked like a tiny dagger through a heart pointed right down at the tempting hint of cleavage, a warning and invitation together.
When he pushed himself past the usual focal points to get to her face, he found features like blown glass, perfect and delicate. At first glance, he thought she wasn’t much older than the pair of twenty-one-year-old girls he’d hired for low wages to pour drinks. But a second look said this was a fully mature, sexy woman. Ethereal yet earthy. Her eyes matched the blue of her shirt, the smoky color of an early dawn sky.
When she stepped between the two men without hesitation, he bit back an oath. He was ten paces away, too far to keep her from getting mashed like Spam between two slapped-together pieces of Merita.
Instead, one slim hand landed on the barrel chest of Howie Gold, a regular, the other on the arm of a drugstore cowboy who’d probably said something stupid to set off Howie. They both had clenched fists and alcohol-induced stupid written all over their faces, but then she leveled that blue gaze on them. “You’re interfering with my getting a drink. And that pisses me off.”
She didn’t raise her voice, but she didn’t need to do so. The impact of her expression turned them into deer frozen in the headlights, waiting for a truck to hit. Those blue eyes held something… Well, he knew how crazy it sounded, given he could have picked her up under one arm, but the word that came to mind was dangerous .
Mesmerizing was a close second, and he meant it literally. Something about her quieted the crowd and held both men in place, those fists loosening into uncertain curls.
In contrast, that sense of danger made Quinn want to keep coming toward her. His cock had hardened, pressing against the denim of his fly and demanding release. No, demanding to be plunged into the tight wetness of her body.
There was no way she could sense his reaction. A handful of occupied tables were between him and her, plus a bunch of people on their feet to corral the fight. He was just one in the crowd. Yet when his cock stiffened, her gaze flicked away from the two men and lasered right to him.
He had a voracious sexual appetite and liked a dozen different kinds of kink. All the women he’d chosen in the past fifteen years—and the rodeo circuit had provided a lot of those—had seemed to enjoy sex with him. He tried to be a generous lover and, without ego, he knew he had the kind of alpha male personality women liked, strong and demanding in the right ways. Their willing compliance should have been enough for him.
Yet sometimes, lying awake in the hours before dawn, a sleeping woman next to him, he wondered if they were too obedient. Too acquiescing. And damn it all, that didn’t make any sense. It wasn’t as if they just lay there and waited for him to give them orders. Most of those relationships had had some substance to them, such that a couple became more than just casual sex. Annie had been the last of those, some time ago.
Since then, he’d had the occasional casual fuck, but it was halfhearted. He’d told himself it was because of how hard he was working, but he knew that was a lie. Every relationship had lacked some intangible thing he couldn’t put his finger on.
Something that he had the oddest feeling had just put its finger on him .
In her eyes, he saw a deep, reciprocal interest. Deep as in dark and mysterious, a cavern that held unknown hazards. But almost as soon as he registered it, her attention went back to the two would-be combatants. “You can take this outside,” she said. “Beat the shit out of each other in the parking lot. I don’t care. It’s not happening in here. But whether you do that or you stay inside and behave, you’ll go give the bartender an extra twenty for the glasses you broke. That’s only fair, right?”
She wasn’t patronizing or sarcastic, which might set them off again. If anything, her no-nonsense tone reminded Quinn of the way his own mother used to handle problems between him and his brothers. She had a quiet firmness that convinced them of two things—she loved them, and she would beat the hide off them without remorse when they deserved it. Even when they reached the ages that they towered over her, they respected her the same way. She also stood between them and their loud, domineering father, the only one he seemed to listen to.
This woman gave Howie’s chest a light tap, her fingers tightening on the drugstore cowboy’s arm. “I’m not in the habit of repeating myself, boys. Do we have an understanding?”
“Yes ma’am,” Howie mumbled as the other man dragged his hat off his head.
“Good.” She gave them a tight smile and glanced over her shoulder at Maria, the goggle-eyed waitress and barmaid on shift tonight. “Charge my tab for one of those pizzas with all the fixings and bring half to each of them with a pitcher of ice water. That’ll soak up some of the alcohol interfering with their better judgment.”
Releasing them, she stepped back. With only a brief shift in expression, she made it clear they were dismissed to do her bidding. Quinn watched in amused disbelief as the stubborn cowhand and dumbass kid both moved to the bar, reaching for their wallets.
Then he had bigger concerns. As the crowd started to wander back to their tables and own conversations again, her gaze came right back to him.
He knew he had features that most women found pleasing—a rugged physique, thick brown hair and brown eyes. One woman had told him when he looked her way it was like falling into a vat of melting chocolate. However, this woman considered him from head to toe as if she was watching molasses meander down his naked body. It was the first time a woman had looked at him like he was something she was literally considering eating.