and Able


Kensington Brava


ISBN-13: 9780758211767

Originally published: 04/25/06

Latest publication: 09/01/08

Meet three sexy men who individually are Ready, Willing, and Able to go the distance–and together, are unstoppable…

Claire Sharp trusts few people and relies on no one. But after her life is threatened, ex-mercenary Brett Adams blows into her self-contained world, full of southern charm and rugged good looks. But Claire is not about to fall into Brett’s bed. For one thing, the guy has a no-commitment clause that would stump most big-shot attorneys, and for another, despite her response to his sensual kisses, in Claire’s experience sex isn’t exactly fireworks and brass bands. . .

Brett plans to prove her wrong. He’ll give her a white-hot pleasure like nothing she’s ever known and she’ll realize that some things in life are worth every risk. When the threat to Claire grows dangerously close, pitting them against deadly odds, Brett will do whatever it takes to save her. Because Claire Sharp has just found herself a man who’s ready to bring it on, willing to do what it takes, and able to go the distance. . .




“Wolf, Nitro, and Hotwire are hot and smart, and sure know what to do with the erotic passion Monroe gives them.” – Michelle Buonfiglio,

“Monroe writes with a flourish the type of lovemaking and desire that women can truly appreciate.” 4 Stars – Romantic Times

“And Able brings Lucy Monroe’s Mercenary trilogy, that began with Ready and Willing, to a fabulously satisfying conclusion. These two characters fit together like two puzzle pieces; every action in the book reflects the connection between them.” 5 Stars – Cynthia, A Romance Review

” Brett ‘Hotwire’ Adams is one hot alpha hero who’s found his match–and mate–in Claire. It was pure pleasure watching these two totally different people come to the realization of being in love.” 4.5 Stars – Deborah Hosey, The Romance Reader’s Connection

” I can’t imagine a better conclusion to Lucy Monroe’s Mercenaries trilogy than AND ABLE. The clever, suspenseful plot and intriguing characters are blended together in perfect balance, with plenty of steam to spice things up.” – Alane Coppinger, Blue Ribbon Reviews

” Lucy Monroe weaves a fast action-filled tale fraught with danger and filled with mind blowing romance in AND ABLE. Hotwire, a hunk of a hero is perfect for strong willed Claire and all the characters you’ve met in READY and WILLING are there. You must not miss the explosive conclusion to the addictive Mercenary Trilogy, Ready, Willing & Able.” 4.5 Stars – Donna Zapf,

” And Able is an awesomely great ending for Ms Monroes series and will have you waiting on pins and needles to see how Hotwire and Claire work through their differences at the same time as needing to cool off after the very erotic love scenes. And Able is definitely my fav of the series and I cannot wait to see what Lucy Monroe comes up with next.” – Barb Hicks, The Best Reviews

” An absorbing tale of passion and love, don’t miss AND ABLE.” – Jennifer Bishop, Romance Reviews Today

” I enjoyed revisiting this group of ex-mercenaries who love with a vengeance and will do anything to protect the ones they love. Pickup a copy of And Able and travel the road of love and intrigue, see if Brett and Claire are Able to find true love, if they live long enough.” – Helen Slifer, Writers Unlimited

what other AUTHORS and BOOKSELLERS are saying…

” Dear Lucy, I just finished the new story, And ABLE. What a great combination of action and adventure mixed up with your special blend of romance. It is wonderful to see that all of your heroes have such worthy mates. Not a wimp among them. I will be sorry not to learn how they all grow old together and raise families etc. These folks are so real to your readers and myself. I loved spending time with them all. Wishing you the best with this new release.” ~ Sharon at Munchkinbooks

” Dear Lucy – Just a quick note to say I loved …And Able. Haven’t had a chance to read the Harlequin Presents that came out this week, but it’s next. Good work!” – Lee Ann Daugherty, Romance Specialist, Waldenbooks

what READERS are saying…

“Thanks for your books. I am not a reader (in fact I hate-hated to read), but recently started reading Jennifer Weiner’s books. When I finished those, my girlfriend gave me Ready, Willing, and Able. I have read all 3 of them in 6 day. I am now searching for more of your books to read. I am also looking forward to your new ones that are coming out. Thank you for books, they have really got me into reading for the first time!” ~ Tanya

“I am currently reading the Mercenary trilogy and I just love this series. Wolf, Nitro & Hotwire are fantastic heroes and you matched them with some great heroines. Thanks for such a great series.” ~ Danny

“Hi Lucy. I just finished reading Ready, Willing, And Able and I thought they were hot! I’ve only been reading romance for about a year now, and I must say, this is only the second time I’ve dropped a book while reading the love scenes. I’ve only read this series and The Real Deal, but I think you are great! I’ll be sure to get my hands on your other books when I see them.” ~ Carmina

“I just had to write you are my favorite author and have been for about a year and a half I had stopped reading for about 7 years while I was raising my son and working to keep a roof over our head but when I started reading again I found one of your books and then had to go on line to get all of the older books I hadn’t read and I loved everyone of them. Well I just finished your series Ready Willing and Able now I have to tell you I did it backwards, I was in Boarders a couple of weeks ago and decided to go ahead and buy it even though I hadn’t read the others well I couldn’t put it down and then I had to go on line again to get the other two books so I read them backwards because Ready was the last one to make it to my house but let me tell you it didn’t make any difference to me they were the best I have read so far. So I just want to say please don’t stop writing because I for one will never stop reading your books.” ~ Denise G

“I just finished your series Ready, Willing, and Able. All I can say is where can I find one of them guys? <snip> I can’t wait to read of Ethan’s story.” ~ Penny

“Lucy – I just finished reading your triology Ready, Willing and Able. icould not put them down, i was so intrigued by your characters, the way that one plot fell into another without overpowering your main lovers. And the imagery from simple everyday events to the steamy sequences, I was mesmerized.” ~ Michelle (eM)

“Hi Lucy, I thoroughly enjoyed Ready, Willing, And Able and I recently read The Real Deal. Great books.” ~ Debbie

“I loved Ready, Willing and Able. Any plans to write more “merc romances”? I sure hope so.” ~ Mary

“I am so in love with the Ready, Willing and Able series! I’m not usually a “re-reader” but I’m starting all over on them now.” ~ Melissa

“Howdy Ms. Monroe! I just finished reading ‘AND ABLE’ and wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed reading Claire and Brett’s wonderful story. I’m looking forward to reading the other two books in this series. Best wishes and keep ’em comin’!!!” ~ Jeanette H

“AND ABLE did not disappoint! LOL A great read, as usual.” ~ Helen B

“Again, Lucy Monroe brings readers to their knees with this very sensual, sensitive and powerful love story with a little Southern charm thrown in for good measure. I’m sorry to see Wolf, Nitro and Hotwire leave plus the women they’re fallen in love with but a happy ending none the less. Thanks Lucy for this wonderful series.” ~ Marilyn

“I just wanted to tell you that I just finished reading the books “Ready, Willing and Able”. I loved them!!! I am waiting for your next one. Sincerely…” ~ Ina RT

“And Able lived up to my expectaions and so much more! I absolutly loved it, Lucy! This was a very special story. You’ve done it again! Howire is the best. He nudged Simon to my second favorite hero. Great job. Have a great day!” ~ Kelley

“I just finished and Able all three of your stories are wonderful they grabed me from the very begining and I had trouble putting them down the passion is hot and the people feel so real that at the end of the book I want more!!! I can’t wait for Ethan’s book Keep writing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” ~ Carrie H

“I just finished reading your books Ready, Willing, & And Able. I love all the characters. I could not put the books down and felt I really knew these people. And Able just arrived from my book club yesterday and I have already finished it. What do you have coming out next?” ~ Robin

“Just finished Able!!! Kudos to you. I loved it. So many threads to tie together. Thanks for letting me into their world.” ~ Cora

“OMG I can’t begin to explain to you what a joy it has been to read all three of your stories — Ready, Willing and Able. The names fit the men to a T especially, like a friend mentioned to me, Hotwire. How explosive were he and Claire? You are going to be around for a long time my dear — I just can’t wait to see what else you have in store for us readers that are your fans! A Loyal Fan…” ~ Qua

“I just had to let you know I just finished Willing & And Able, and I’m a Fan for LIFE!! I’ve loved your stories for a long time, but Hotwire was simply delicious!! I was led to your books from Lori Foster’s message board, and was hooked right away. I look forward to your next books…Tempt Me is definitely next on my list! THANKS for all your wonderful stories!!” ~ Jackie

“Just a short note to let you know how much I enjoyed reading “Ready”, “Willing” and “Able”. The 3 stories were great. I really have enjoyed every book of yours that I have read. I’ll be watching for future books.” ~ Paula B

“Just finished reading this today and what a fabulous story. Just the right amount of tension with lots of steamy love scenes. When it became “the end” I was shocked. I wanted more more more! Oh, man, I feel so sad because the series is over. If you haven’t picked up Lucy’s books, then you’re missing out. Great job, Lucy!” ~ Patti

“I finished And Able over the weekend and hated to see it end. I actually went back and started re-reading Ready!” ~ Laurie

“I felt the exact same way! It was hard to see the books end – I loved them so much. I like how Lucy makes her characters more complex as she goes along. I didn’t think it was possible to like Hotwire any more than I already did, but she managed to eek out even more emotion. That’s our Lucy :)” ~ Stacy

“Hi Lucy – I just wanted to tell you that i read And Able this week and it was so good!” ~ Moran

“I just finished “And Able”, and it was awesome, just like Ready, and Willing……so, tell me what you are working on next, and when it will be out!!!! Thanks!” ~ Kathy

“I just wanted to say that I just finished reading and Able. I loved it, but Joshua holds my heart! Followed closely by Brett and Daniel. I was going to ask if you were going to do a story for Ethan because he intrigued me and then I had an A HA! moment because you have mentioned Ethan in the blog. I can’t wait to read more, more, and more!! I have converted others into die hard Lucy Monroe fans!” ~ Jennifer

“I just finished And Able, it was great!! I really enjoyed the series. You rock..” ~ Stacy S

“I just finished reading Ready, Willing and Able. Very interesting stories. I also can not wait until Take Me comes out. I really enjoy reading all your books.” ~ Martha E

“Oh, Lucy, I loved it! It was sad to see the trilogy end because I loved them all so much, but it was a wonderful ending. Hotwire was every bit as tortured as Nitro, and I adored him. Clare was amazing – I loved her stubborn streak. A+++” ~ Stacy

“I would like to tell you how much I have enjoyed your latest release “and able” It was great. I have been waiting so long to get this book. I loved every book in this triology. You really are an oustanding writer.” ~ Aurey, UK

“Ohhhh, and I finished …and Able this week and it was sooooo good! It made me want to read all three books in the series over again in a row:) I’m sure the book you’re working on now will be just as good, deadline dementia or not!” ~ Michelle




Did death before dishonor cover the maid of honor sneaking out of the wedding reception?

If it did, Claire Sharp’s honor was in danger of extermination and she was ready to pull the trigger. She simply could not stand another minute of the torture, not another second.

Josette would understand…she hoped.

Claire slunk stealthily into the hall outside the reception room of the classy downtown Portland hotel. There were people out here too, but only hotel staff…no one from the wedding party. No one to see and notice her.

She exhaled a sigh of relief as she cleared the room.

“Did you need something, Miss Sharp?”

She almost choked on her own breath. She could not believe it. Not out here…

“Miss Sharp?”

Tensing, she turned to find a black clad waiter smiling at her inquiringly.

Whose idea had it been to introduce the wedding party to the hotel staff? Probably Wolf’s. He was good at organizing things and had actually done a lot to help Claire’s best friend and former roommate, Josette, plan her wedding. Ex-mercenaries were a strange breed.

Claire forced a smile for the waiter. “Um…no, just the…the…” Inspiration struck. “The restroom. I need the ladies room.”

He pointed to a deserted looking – Thank you, God – red carpeted hallway behind her. “Just that way, Miss Sharp.”

“Thank you.” And she scurried off as fast as she could, considering she was wearing the stiletto heels of death.

Would it be considered rude for the maid of honor to change into jeans and tennies at the wedding reception? She’d never been to one before, much less playing a participating role. But she was almost certain protocol dictated she keep her glad rags on. Darn it.

She just felt so exposed. The full skirt of the strapless, royal blue silk dress stopped four inches above her knees and the back of the bodice, held together with thin velvet lacing tied in a very girlie bow right in the center of her back, dipped almost to her tailbone.

Josette had insisted it was perfectly respectable, but Claire was not used to going without a bra and her breasts weren’t exactly tiny. She felt like they jiggled every time she moved and as the maid of honor, she ended up moving a lot. She’d worried it was going to be like this, but when Josette had asked her to wear both the dress and heels to be in the wedding, Claire had been unable to say no.

Josette was not only her best friend, but other than the elderly residents at the nursing home where she worked, Josette was her pretty much her only friend. At least that counted.

Josette had just married a man she loved and who adored her to distraction. Nitro thought she was everything a woman should be, which explained how Claire’s friend could hook up with such a predator type. Both Josette and Nitro were former mercenaries, but he was a lot more dangerous to Claire’s way of thinking. The man oozed silent menace, but then so did his two closest friends, Wolf and Hotwire.

Wolf, at least, was domesticated. He had married Lise the winter before and they were expecting their first baby. Claire often marveled at how well the often vague and very imaginative author of kick-butt women’s fiction got along with the ultra practical Wolf.

Hotwire was still single and making it very clear to anyone who cared to listen, he intended to stay that way.

No matter how attracted she was to him, Claire had no intention of trying to change his mind. However, something she’d said or done must have convinced him otherwise, because he had taken pains to let her know his stand on commitment.

He probably felt the need because of the way she stared at him like a love struck teenager whenever he was around. She couldn’t seem to help herself, but it was so embarrassing…not to mention unexpected.

She didn’t do love-struck, star-struck or any other kind of struck.

Okay, sure, Hotwire had a body that rivaled Michelangelo’s David and a southern charm that had the other female guests looking ready to swoon. He was also an inveterate flirt and his honeyed Georgia drawl made her feel like she would melt in a puddle right at his feet. Which was darn embarrassing, even if no one else knew about it.

But the worst deal was that underneath all that devastating charm, he was every bit as dangerous and aggressive as Nitro. The kind of man a woman knew could keep her safe and who actively made the world a better place. For Claire, that was a lethal combination. She could probably file that reaction under protector-type-struck, which was only marginally better than love-struck.

He was so lethal, he made her feel downright lusty and that took more doing that the whole protector-type-struck thing. A world weary twenty-eight years old, she’d been around the block and back again and she did not do lust. It was a total waste of energy as far as she was concerned.

But darned if when Hotwire got within ten feet of her, she didn’t go and get all shivery. The parts of her body she hadn’t exposed to anyone except her doctor for longer than she wanted to keep track of tingled for goodness’ sake.

Standing around in a dress that made her feel half naked did not help.

She hovered uncertainly outside the bathroom. Did she have the nerve to go out to her car and get her regular clothes to change into? More importantly, would it upset Josette very much to have her maid of honor turn back into a computer geek with no style sense?

“Sugar, you look ready to bolt.” The familiar Georgia accent went through her like a bolt of lightening.

Claire whirled around, her heart beating an irregular ratt-a-tat-tat in her chest.

“I was thinking about changing my clothes,” she admitted. “I’m not used to dressing up and don’t really enjoy it.”

Hotwire’s blue gaze went over her like seeking hands, really talented seeking hands. “That’d be a real shame, Claire. You look beautiful.”

She couldn’t help it; she laughed. “Yeah, right.”

Even on her best day, having had a stylist do her hair, a make-up artist do her make-up and wearing the designer dress Josette had bought her, Claire knew she wasn’t beautiful. Passable sure, any woman could be passable but beautiful was not something she’d ever aspired to. Nor was it something she was ever likely to achieve.

Unlike her mother, who had been broken on the inside but very beautiful on the outside, Claire had average looks and an average figure that was maybe a tad too curvy in places. Her hair was the color of cooked carrots and what she knew about styling it wouldn’t fill up the back of a cereal box. She was nothing like the women that flocked around Hotwire wherever he went.

And she really didn’t mind. Beauty wasn’t exactly a blessing for most women cursed with it. Look at her mom…look at half the actresses in Hollywood for Heaven’s sake. Most of them had lives that would make your average family psychologist cringe.

Giving her a quizzical look, Hotwire reached out and adjusted the chain on her locket.

An heirloom that had been passed down for five generations in her family, it was the only thing Claire had left of the good times before her dad’s death. She’d almost lost the necklace when her and Josette’s house was burglarized, but Hotwire had gotten it back for her.

“Why’d you laugh?” he asked, his voice making her insides do that shivering thing again.

“No reason.”

He traced the chain of her necklace until his fingertip rested over the locket, but he might as well have been touching her directly. The feeling was just as electric. “Come on, sugar, tell me why you laughed.”

“Because it was funny,” she croaked out, her normal insouciance apparently on vacation in the Bahamas at the moment.

“I didn’t intend it to be.”

She tried to affect a casual shrug, but ended up brushing her breasts against his forearm. Her, “Sorry,” came out sounding suspiciously like a moan.

He didn’t look in the least affected by their nearness. His to-die-for good looks were not marred by tension, sexual or otherwise. In fact, he seemed perfectly relaxed, though he wasn’t smiling. He was a magnificent, golden lion at rest, the potential for powerful action there, but momentarily dormant.

“I’m not used to women dismissing my compliments,” he said with a frown.

She couldn’t tell if he was really angry with her or teasing. “Um…I’m really sorry?”

He shook his head. “An apology won’t cut it. You’ve besmirched my sense of honor. We take that seriously where I come from.”

She laughed, still not sure from his unreadable expression and downright dangerous aura that he was serious, or not. “What do you expect me to say?”

“Nothing.” Then he just stood there, silent and taking up more space than even his over six foot frame should occupy.

His hands rested against her neck, one thumb now brushing back and forth across her rapidly beating pulse. She began to wonder if her assessment of him as lion at rest was accurate. She realized he was coiled to spring at any moment and like truly mesmerized prey, she didn’t think she could lift a finger to stop him.

The heat of the locket warmed by his hand burned against her bare skin. “Thank you,” she blurted out.

One brow rose. “For the compliment?”

She shook her head and then realized that might have been a mistake when his blue eyes narrowed.

“Then why?”

“For finding my locket and returning it to me. I know it’s just a necklace, but it means a lot to me.” It was her talisman, serving to remind her she did not have to follow in her mother’s footsteps, that she had women in her lineage she could be proud of.

“Josie said it was your grandmother’s.”

“Yes and her grandmother’s before that.”

“You must have loved her a lot.”

“I did. She died when I was eight and I’ll never forget her. She was a formidable woman.” Unlike the daughter she’d given birth to.

“Who is Norene?”

“She was my mom.”

“She’s dead?”


“I’m sorry.”

“Thank you.” She didn’t like talking about that part of her life. There was too much pain wrapped up in the memories and pain meant a vulnerability she’d long ago rejected. “Josette said you finished installing the security system in the house.”


She tried to step back, away from him, but he moved with her, his hands continuing to caress her throat with subtle movements. It was all she could do to keep focused on their conversation. “I don’t understand why she wants one now that she’s not going to be living there.”

“You live there and a woman alone needs a good security system.”

If he knew some of the places she’d lived in her life, he would realize the safety of a locked door in a decent neighborhood was a luxury she didn’t take for granted. “Josette lived alone before I moved in.”

“She was a merc.”

“I’m not exactly helpless.”

“Honey, if those terrorists we took down have friends, you’d be worse than helpless around them.”

“What’s worse than helpless?”


“Oh.” She tried taking a deep breath to calm down, but all she inhaled was his scent and she had to bite back a moan of pleasure at the unexpected intimacy of it. What was it about this guy? He was just so darn male, even the way he smelled excited her previously happily dormant feminine sexual instincts. “There’s no reason to believe anyone connected with them would have a grudge against me.”

“Josie was part of the team that brought the bad guys to justice. People like that do not forgive and forget.”

“But I’m not Josette.”

“It’s not like she took an ad out saying she was getting married and taking off on a month long honeymoon. You are the one living in her house.”

She thought the worry was far fetched but didn’t say so. She knew Josette had to agree because she would not have allowed Claire to continue living in the house if she believed doing so would put her at risk. The security system had been Nitro and Hotwire’s idea, although Josette had gone alone with it easily enough.

Claire didn’t mention that to Hotwire either. “I’m sure any security system you devised is more than adequate.”

“No security system is fail-safe, even ones as complicated as what Wolf and Nitro have installed around their homes.” He went on to describe the measures he and Wolf had implemented. “Oh, and I bought you a can of mace for every room of the house.”

“For every room of the house?”

“I like to be thorough…in every way.”

The message that went through her had nothing to do with his intentional meaning she was sure. But she could imagine him being thorough as all get out and her fantasies were not about alarm systems. So long as they stayed fantasies, it was okay.

“I see.”

“A self-defense weapon won’t do you any good if it’s in the bedroom while you’re accosted in the kitchen.”

The only person she felt in danger of being accosted by right now was him and if that happened, the last thing she’d want to do was fight. Which was a really dumb attitude she couldn’t seem to shake.

Sex was not worth getting all shook up over, so why did hanging around this man make her feel like an Elvis Presley song?

“But mace?”

“Yes. Since you won’t use a gun.”

“You make that sound like a crime.”

“It’s just…” He paused as if searching for a word. “Different.”

“I guess a mercenary would see things that way.”

“Former mercenary.”

“Right…now, you are a security specialist.”

“Among other things.”

She wanted to ask what other things, but suddenly, talking just wasn’t an option.

The lion inside him was looking at her through his darkening blue eyes and the expression was one of a lethal predator deciding how best to devour his prey. “I know you tried to forget it, but you besmirched my honor and you need to do something to make up for it.”

“I do?”

“Uh huh.”

How’d his face get so close? “Wh…” She had to clear her throat. “What do you mean?”

“I think a kiss would do it.”

“What?” Kissing was the best part of sex she supposed, but that wasn’t saying a lot. So why did the prospect of locking lips with Hotwire sound so darn exciting?

“A kiss, Claire. You know what a kiss is, when a man and woman—”

She covered his mouth to stop the tantalizing words. “I know what it is, smarty pants, but why would you want one from me?” That was her fantasy.

And as she’d just reminded herself, fantasy was well and good…acting on it was not.

He licked her palm and she jerked her hand from his mouth.

He smiled that devil’s smile that always sent her insides jumping. “Because you’ve offended me and now you must make up for it.”

“You’re crazy. Nitro and Wolf offend you all the time. I don’t see you kissing them.”

He smiled, his eyes so full of sensual suggestion, her knees went weak. “My friends are not beautiful women.”

“Well neither am I,” she said sarcastically.

“There you go, besmirching my honor again. My mama would be appalled at your opinion of my veracity.”

She wasn’t going there. “You don’t expect Josette to kiss you when she offends you.”

“I would prefer not to end up in a fight to the death with Nitro. He’s a scary son when he’s riled.”

“You’re not afraid of anyone or anything,” she scoffed. “Josette told me stories.”

Something moved in his eyes and for a second she saw the mercenary that had gone into war torn countries to bring out hostages. His was the face of a man who had and would kill again if necessary to preserve the safety of those he had committed to protecting.

But just as quickly as it surfaced, the look disappeared and Hotwire’s blue eyes burned with sexy challenge. “I want a kiss, Claire…are you going to give it to me?”

“Sure.” She went up on her toes, intent on bussing his cheek.

He turned his head just enough though and her lips ended up pressed lightly to his. She didn’t open her mouth, but she didn’t pull away immediately like she’d planned to either. She hung there, suspended by the connection between their mouths, her body humming with excitement. One second the kiss was soft and light and the next he yanked her against his hard male body and his mouth slammed down over hers with definite intent.

He took her mouth with the skill and power of an invading army…or one very formidable mercenary.

The man certainly knew how to kiss. He ate at her lips until she was dizzy from the pleasure of it. His fingers massaged her jaw, as if encouraging her complete surrender, the only kind she was sure he recognized. She’d never experienced anything so amazing in her life as Hotwire’s kiss. She moaned out her approval while gripping the front of his white silk dress shirt in her fists.

He growled something she could not understand against her lips and then his hands skimmed down, over her naked shoulders and around to the exposed skin of her back. His fingertips touched bare skin between the velvet lacing and played tantalizingly with the bow.

Man alive, what would she do if he untied it? She’d read about being branded by a man’s touch, but had never known what it meant…until now. Her skin grew hot under his fingers, so hot she would swear burn marks would be left behind. Only it did not hurt like a burn.

It felt too darn good for her sanity.

Without really thinking about it, she opened her mouth. His tongue tangled instantly with hers and took immediate and absolute possession of the interior of her mouth. Pleasure jolted through her body, spearing her right between her legs and she arched her pelvis toward him.

His hands traveled down over her bottom to the backs of her legs below her skirt hem, then came up under her skirt and back up her legs. She almost jumped out of her skin when he touched the sensitive flesh of her inner thighs. He curled his big fingers around them, holding her while his thumbs kneaded her bottom and he lifted her into closer contact with his body.

She undulated against him in a move that felt entirely natural, but froze in shock as her mound brushed against the hard roll of his erection.

He wasn’t so inhibited. He used his grip on her to move her up and down the length of his engorged and rigid penis, making a low masculine sound of pleasure as he did so. Tremors more powerful than a Richter ten earthquake went off inside her.

“Stop trying to seduce my maid of honor, Hotwire. It’s time to throw the bouquet.” Josette’s voice crashed through the passionate haze surrounding Claire, bringing her back to reality with a thud.

What in the world had she been doing?

Hotwire jolted like a man shocked by a live electric wire and broke the kiss, practically tossing Claire away from him. She tottered on her unfamiliar heels and almost fell. He reached out to steady her, his expression pained, but snatched his hands back the moment she stopped wobbling.

The silence between them was more charged than the air after an electric storm.

“You have five minutes and then I’m tossing the bouquet,” Josette said, her gaze faintly amused and assessing, before she turned to head back to the reception.

It would take Claire five minutes just to get her breath back. How was she supposed to walk back into the reception on top of that?

After several more seconds of charged silence, he said, “I’m sorry. That was way out of line.”

“I liked it,” she admitted. Way too much, but hot kisses were one thing. Doing the deed another and she really didn’t want him thinking she was open for that kind of play.

“No doubt,” he said, sounding terribly arrogant. “I’ve never had any complaints on my technique, but I was out of line all the same.”

“If you say so.”

“Look, I’m not in the market for a committed relationship and you’re not the type of woman to settle for a one night stand or even a short affair.”

“Of course not.” Her distaste for the very thought had to have been written on her face because he winced.

The thing was, she didn’t think Hotwire was a one night stand kind of guy himself. Only, for some reason he wanted her to think he never got serious with women. She realized that was the message he’d been giving her since the day they met, but it simply did not ring true. He had too much integrity to be a true hound dog. Regardless, patently, he had no desire to get serious with her and that’s all that really mattered.

Besides which she wanted a relationship with a man like she wanted to retake her finals from last semester and flunk them all. There was no place in her life for a man…not even a super sexy stud who made her insides go nuts with something as simple as a kiss.

“Right, we’re at opposite ends of this particular data array,” he said.

“So, no more soul kisses.”

“That felt more like a groping, marauder kiss to me.”

“I do not grope.” Hotwire looked truly offended.

“So the fingers I felt on my behind were a spectral phenomenon?” she mocked.

“I’m not a ghost.”

“I can vouch for that,” she said with a small smile, still tingling in places she never talked about.



by Lucy Monroe

3rd Book in Mercenary Trilogy Ready, Willing and And Able

Kensington Brava

September 2008

ISBN 978-0758211774


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