When I think of Jack Drago in Circle of Defiance, I think of how different he is from all the other heroes in my books. He loves cats. In fact, owns a white one named Kinky. His best friend is a female (Marie from Circle of Danger), and strangely, considering how he falls in love with unavailable women, he never touches her sexually. And he recites poetry when he’s amorous (fancy way of saying horny).
Though his brother hates his guts, he has a soft spot for the big guy (Rex from Circle of Deception). Hey, he made sure that his brother and his brother’s sweetie reunited. No one knows the real Jack. Totally misunderstood by all who hate him and that’s a lot of people in The Circle. Bless his heart, he even ended up being dumped in Sand City, Alabama drunk and in trouble with the organization that should be looking after him. But one woman understands him, better than he’s comfortable with. She doesn’t have a sweetheart or husband, but I imagine Jack believes she’s unattainable because her dad is the head of a dangerous syndicate. The same one that hung his brother naked by the ankles in a warehouse (Circle of Deception). To Jack, Katerina is merely a challenge. He loves challenges.
Here’s the beginning of the novella.
The sharp smell of blood and alcohol penetrated the cool air as the glass door closed behind Katerina Savalas. She hesitated and scanned the unfamiliar surroundings. Being in the less than safe side of town, she wanted to get her business done and over with as fast as possible.
Never in her wildest nightmares had she imagined stepping into such a place. When her dad kicked her out of the house, she’d sworn she’d find another way to express herself. Too many people believed it to be the perfect way to protest. Instead, it became a rebellion that led to a habit. Not her. No way.
Looking at an intriguing drawing on the wall, she shook her head. Maybe it was a tiny bit tempting.
“Hello, pretty little girl, what can I do for you?” The man smiled and his skin pulled at the black swirling pattern covering one side of his face. A chain connected his pierced nose to a large spool in his ear and jingled when he moved around the counter. He stopped a little too close.
She swallowed, trying to keep her stomach from turning upside down. Just thinking about a needle sinking into her skin gave her the willies. Taking another deep swallow to settle her stomach, she forced her legs to stiffen and hold her up.
Wrenching her gaze away from the maltreated chunk of fat and skin, she looked over his shoulder to regain her composure. “I was told Jack Drago’s here.”
“Who told you that?” His tone was threatening.
“Phil at the Sandbox,” she answered, straining to see around a curtain in the back of the room.
Whoever named the bar had thought they were cute, playing with Sand City’s name. She agreed the place was pretty decent as it sported a couple pool tables in the back and a small stage for local bands. Even on Tuesday nights, families gathered and enjoyed an old movie shown on a drop-down screen. A person could call the atmosphere homey, for a bar. She’d visited it several times since moving into the small town. But then again, the Sandbox being the only bar in town limited her choices.
The owner had told her to hang around until late that evening. Jack often showed up by nine. The problem with that was she didn’t want to waste any more time. So he’d suggested checking at Lonnie’s Place.
From what she’d seen so far of Lonnie’s, she preferred the Sandbox Bar and Grill.
“Phil’s going to get his ass beat, if he ain’t careful. He knows better than to give out info about Jack.”
“So he’s here?” When the man’s brow wrinkled in confusion, she added, “Jack. Is Jack here?”
The Mike Tyson wannabe leaned close, his onion-loaded breath bursting across her face. She moved back a step and pretended to scratch her nose. Anything to block the smell.
“Whatcha going to give me?” He grabbed her arm. “Everyone pays a toll.” The leer told her what he expected.
Without thinking, she pushed forward and brought her knee up hard. He hit the floor with a scream so high-pitched it came out more like a squeak before he curled into a ball. Thanks to her brothers’ endless roughhousing, she’d learned that little trick a long time ago. She grinned and stepped over his body, heading toward the large red satin curtain separating the back of the room. He’d think twice before placing a hand on her again. Nevertheless, she’d better find Jack quick before the man recovered.
Pausing for a second to take a deep breath, she then fisted the soft material, yanking it across the pole, making the large metal rings clank. She gasped.
Stretched out on a recliner, head shaved, broad chest bare, jeans and black underwear around one ankle with a large smirk on his face, was Jack Drago. A shapely blonde sat between his legs with her head bent over his groin.
Face hot, Katerina took one step back but hesitated, squashing the desire to turn and run. She needed his help, and she couldn’t put it off any longer. With her decision made, she forced her gaze to meet his, not caring about whatever she intruded on. Light blue eyes examined her with lazy, licentious interest. No matter how uncomfortable his stare made her feel, she refused to look away.
The man was still as gorgeous as she remembered with his grid-defined abs and huge muscled arms on full display. Some type of Celtic design covered one shoulder to wrist. Piercings through his nipples, one brow, and a loop in his lip made him look like a pagan god while the woman worshiped his . . . staff?
Warmth spread across her face and neck.
“Hey, you look familiar,” he said in the deep gruff voice she remembered. “I know.” He lifted a stubborn chin. “You’re that Savalas girl. Kristina. No. Katerina. Yeah, that’s it.” He slung a beefy arm over his head; his relaxed pose displayed muscles and toned body like a romance novel cover. “Come over and tell me how she’s doing. She claims to be a pro at it, but I think I’m her first.” He chuckled as he lifted a bottle of Devil’s Cut in his other hand and guzzled a third of it.
Shaking her head, Katerina held up a palm. “No. No. I’ll pass. I didn’t mean to interrupt.”
The blonde huffed and leaned back. “I’ve been doing this for ten years, and I’m a hell of lot better at it than the fellow in Atlanta you were telling me about.”
Fellow? Eyebrows raised, her gaze returned to his face. He swung both ways? Then a mechanical humming stopped. What in the world? Unable to resist any longer, she peeked over the blonde’s shoulder.
She breathed a sigh of relief on seeing the artwork the woman worked on. Feeling a little stupid ― it was a tattoo shop ― she eyed the design.
On the left side of Jack’s groin, a large black ink pattern depicted a fallen angel with wings curled over a bowed head and around a bruised, bloody body. Dark feathers brushed Jack’s abs and ended where his thigh and torso met. The design was beautiful and poignant.
When Jack’s cock twitched, she realized where her gaze had drifted, and her face heated again until it probably looked like an overripe tomato.
She twirled around, giving him her back. “Uh . . . I need to talk with you. After you pull up your pants.” The image of his cock would be seared on her brain for the rest of her life.
Barnes and Noble
Be on the lookout for the paperback book with the novellas, Circle of Dishonor and Circle of Defiance, coming out soon!