November 10th, 2014
Eliana’s Warlord


She walked into the bar and Jax knew she was trouble.

Perfect trouble. Heart-pounding trouble. The kind of trouble another man might just be willing to die for.

She came in with her shoulders hunched and head ducked, the black hoodie that might mean she was coming out of Elias’s warren pulled forward in a vain effort to hide a beautiful face.

Good luck with that. What little he could see of her caramel-toned features was enough to get him straightening out of a slouch, his body humming and his dick going hard in a scorching rush of I want.

This was his place. Painted green with his graffiti tagged on either side of the door instead of just at the building corners.

She’d known coming in that there was a good chance he’d be here. She’d known coming in that for a warlord, I want and I’ll have were indistinguishable.

His territory. His turf. His little kingdom carved between the towering external wall of New San Jose and the wild lands.

A quick glance in his direction, the barest touch of her eyes to his before she looked away and the voices around him went silent.

He willed her to look at him again so he could signal her over to the table.

She ignored him, making a straight line for the bar. And fuck if her disobedience didn’t make him a different kind of hot.

Behind the bar, Enrique stopped bullshitting with a customer and started moving, combing back long black hair with his fingers and anticipating where she was going to be when she reached the polished wood.

Enrique’s expression said, I’m going to fuck this one.

Not until after I’m done, Jax thought, and stared hard enough to have Enrique look away from the woman and at him.

A minute shake of Jax’s head said, Mine.

A tip of Enrique’s chin downward. Acknowledged.

Jax’s cock was already throbbing, pulsing against his jeans in a let-me-out-to-play beat that had him reaching down and adjusting himself.

They might not make it out of the bar before he took her. Hell, they might not even make it to the back room.

Wouldn’t be the first time he’d fucked a woman in front of his men and the hangers-on and whoever else happened to be there, spies included.

A feminine hand landed on his stomach and pushed beneath his waistband to grasp his dick, reminding him that he hadn’t been alone when she walked into his place.

His cock jerked in Shell’s hand, animal reaction, but his dick wasn’t really interested. Been there, done that. More than once. Hell, more times than he could remember, because these days convenient trumped the effort required to summon a woman to his table or his bedroom or wherever else he wanted to take one.

Steps away from the bar, the woman he wanted veered and headed toward the hallway leading to the bathrooms and back room.

Jax grasped Shell’s wrist and pulled her hand away from his dick. “Go keep Enrique company.” Only fair to toss tonight’s bartender a consolation prize.

The woman slipped from sight. Jax slid out of the booth.

He lifted his gun off the scarred wooden table.

The law of New San Jose said only those with permits could own a firearm. The truth was, only the privileged elite were wealthy enough to pay the fees.

But this was his warren. And he was the law here.

He jammed the gun into his waistband at the middle of his back and headed toward the hallway without a glance at Shell.

Half a step from the table and she’d ceased to exist for him. Fuck, he couldn’t even remember the last woman who’d had his dick banging to get free of his pants or his heart beating fast.

Jax reached the hallway entrance. Anticipation surged through him, heat that hurried his steps. A couple of minutes max and she’d be stripped and flat on her back.

Long strides took him to the women’s bathroom. He banged the door open.

A blonde at the sink spun and gasped. Her hand flew to her throat. Her eyes widened to a pleading, terrified look that told him she thought she’d caught his interest but she belonged to somebody she loved.

His bar. His warren. Everything in it was his for the taking.

“Out,” he said.

She fled past him.

He was almost insulted by her relief. He might have a reputation for doing several different women in the same day, but he’d never killed a man over a woman. Never taken one who belonged to someone else unless she was offered to him. Hell, he’d turned down plenty of women who did belong to someone else.

Jax looked at the five bathroom stalls but didn’t bother bending to see which one she was in.

His hand dropped to the front of his jeans, gripped his cock through the rough material. Fuck, he wanted her. How could just a quick glimpse of her face and barest touch of her eyes to his have him panting after her like a man without enough money to visit a whorehouse?

“Come out of the stall,” he said, and even he heard the dark hunger in his voice.

A toilet flushed.

His cock pulsed through the jeans, demanding he unzip.

A twist and the slide of a latch preceded the slow swing inward of the stall door closest to the frosted window.

He fought against stepping forward. She’d come to him. Not the other way around.
A redhead emerged, feverish anticipation in her blue eyes, lips wet and blouse unbuttoned to reveal deep, creamy cleavage.


“Out,” he growled.

She registered surprise. Then confident expectation, not believing he could be rejecting her.

He’d seen her around a lot in recent weeks. Contemplated taking her up on the offer in her every glance, but let the opportunity go when one of his men went after her first.

She came toward him, the way she moved an invitation for him to order her onto her knees with her mouth open, or to brace against the wall and hike her nothing of a skirt up and spread her legs.

Maybe another time.

He hardened his expression, used the jerk of his head to tell her to go around him. Not that he’d be surprised if he found her waiting at his table, claiming she thought that’s where he meant her to go.

She passed him, close enough he smelled her perfume.

Behind him the door opened and closed. He felt the emptiness in the bathroom then.



He ripped open the closest stall door.

Then a second. A third.

The fourth.


Jax slammed out of the bathroom. His muscles tightened in a rush of aggressiveness.

He stalked to the door leading to the back room. Stabbed the keypad to the right of the door, each metallic click adding to his impatience.

Only his inner circle had the code for the lock, but she better not be in the back room.

A final click and he surged through the doorway.

Samuel was boning a blonde on the couch, the darkness of his skin magnified by the paleness of hers. He jerked, growled, “What the fuck!”

His face turned toward Jax and he sighed, levered himself upward, the plaited hair he was so proud of sliding off his shoulders. “You need the room? Or you need me for something?”

“I’m good.”

Jax stepped backward, pulling the door closed and not liking the relief that swept through him.

He touched his hand to his shirt, pressed the tattoo inked above his heart, not that he needed any reminders of what a woman was capable of and why he’d never let one have power over him.

The only reason he was chasing after this one was because she’d managed to catch and hold his interest, that’s all. He’d fuck her and set her free, same as all the others.

His attention snapped to the men’s bathroom. His muscles tightened again. Three fast strides and he entered, the door hitting the wall and rebounding.

Empty. But she’d been there.

Cool, night air flowed into the room where she’d climbed on a urinal and opened the window to leave unseen.

Jax spun and went straight to the bar.

Shell was on her knees giving Enrique head behind the counter, but having his dick in her mouth wouldn’t have made Enrique less observant.

“She come back through?” Jax asked.


“Anyone just come in?”


Jax headed for the front door. Luke, sitting near it, gently lifted his woman off his lap and got to his feet.

Rand, in a booth to the left, shoved the brunette hanger-on he’d been making out with aside and stood.

There was a scrape of chairs behind Jax, three of his other men readying themselves for action. And fuck, he didn’t want any of them with him.

He put his hand up to stop the ones behind him from following, saw Luke’s expression go tight, gaze flicking to a newcomer who’d shown up earlier and had the vibe of a spy belonging to one of the New San Jose elite.

Luke put his muscled bulk between the door and Jax. “The woman?”

“Went out the bathroom window.”

“I’ll find her.”

His woman didn’t like that. She crossed her arms, holding back the protest even if she let it take over her face.

Luke’s massive arm went across her shoulders. He pulled her against his side to mollify her.

She was a looker with her rich brown skin and large breasts. Jax got the attraction but he still couldn’t wrap his head around Luke trusting his heart to a woman.

Some of his other men, yeah, they’d come from a different kind of family. It didn’t surprise him they’d settled on one woman. Made no apologies about getting their woman’s name inked above their hearts and keeping their dicks in their pants except for pissing. But Luke…

He shrugged it off. Their lives, their choices. It’d never be his.

“Move,” Jax said, the word coming out harsher than he’d intended.

Luke cocked his head. The bare hint of a smile on his lips was nearly an invitation to fight. Just because they’d been willing to put their lives on the line for each other since they were kids didn’t mean they pulled punches or were afraid to draw blood.

Jax bared his teeth. “Get out of my way.”

Luke showed more of his, the smile moving to his eyes.

“Sure thing, Jax.”

Luke got out of the way and Jax stepped into the cool night air.

They’d give him a head start, but at least two of his men would follow, most likely three since he hadn’t given a direct order to remain behind.

He peeled to the right. A shot of adrenaline hit at facing the narrow alley between the bar and one of his storehouses.

In a little while the moon would be high enough to light the long strip between buildings. But right now it was all darkness. Enough to cover her escape or hide someone waiting with a knife and a death wish.

He touched the gun at the base of his spine. Smiled and entered the alley without pulling the weapon.

Moving fast, his eyes adjusting, he reached the place beneath the open bathroom window where she would have dropped to the ground.

It hit him then, she was running from someone, not escaping his interest.

It only made him want her more.

Fucking perverse. But maybe things had been too quiet for too long and that’s why he was in the mood for trouble.

He jogged to the end of the alley, emerged at the back of the bar. Rand, Leon and Luke waited there.

Jax’s lips quirked upward at thinking about Samuel’s reaction to them cutting through the back room and interrupting his fuck.

“See anyone?” Jax asked.

Rand shook his head. “No.”

Jax looked at Luke, ground his teeth against reacting to the I’m going to enjoy this smile. “Go back inside. Anybody shows up from now on who isn’t a regular, sweat them. I want her name. I want to know who she’s running from and why.”

Luke punched in the code and pulled open the back door.

“Fuck it!” Samuel yelled at being interrupted again.

Jax laughed along with the others, but just as fast the humor evaporated. “If she circles back, keep her here,” he told Luke. “And make damn sure nobody touches her.”

“Sure thing.” Luke stepped through the doorway grinning. “Happy hunting.”

Leon touched a finger to the dark soul patch he’d taken to wearing. “I’m seeing the potential here. Maybe we should start sending some of the whores running and hiding.”

Rand smirked. “Women you’ve been sticking your dick into lately, I can see why maybe it’s starting to feel like you’re shooting fish in a barrel.”

“Back at you,” Leon said. “You’ve been doing the same women. So has Jax.”

Wide mouths opening and closing on dicks. Thighs flapping open and bodies flipping over to be taken from the top or from behind, yeah, kind of like fish in a barrel, which was why he was out here chasing a mystery woman instead of inside fucking Shell.

Question was, how well did his mystery woman know his warren and where was she heading? A specific destination? Or was she just looking for a place to stop and hide for the night?

His territory was pie-shaped, kissing the New San Jose wall for a relatively short distance, then widening and becoming more and more like the wild lands the further out it went. He didn’t waste resources lighting streets, but the full moon meant the market square a few blocks away would be packed with vendor carts and musicians hoping to grab extra business. It meant the bars closest to the square were selling less liquor but had a steady stream of men drinking with their buddies outside then coming in to warm up between the legs of the whores who worked the upstairs rooms.

It was as good a place as any to start looking for his mystery woman.

Jax started jogging in that direction.

Rand pulled up next to him. “Sweat anyone who comes in looking for her? Make sure nobody touches her? Not like you to go all caveman over a woman.”

“You’ve lost it if that’s what you think. Wanting answers is not going caveman.”

Rand grinned. “If you say so.”

“I say so.” Putting sarcasm in his tone, Jax added, “You happen to notice she was wearing Elias’s colors?”

“And that matters how? Unless maybe she’s a stray and you’re planning on being neighborly and returning her.”

Jax clenched his jaw rather than let Rand goad him into saying that unless she was wearing some other man’s ink, he wasn’t interested in returning her, only fucking her.

Ahead of them the laughter and easy chatter of the marketplace changed to a buzz carrying the word fight.

Jax closed the distance at a faster pace.

At the back of the crowd, money was already changing hands.

Rand took point, putting his hands on the shoulders of the two men in front of him.

They half-turned, fuck if I’m going to let you through on their faces and about to leave their mouths until they saw who wanted through.

They stepped aside, telling the people in front of them.

Nobody wanted to be standing anywhere close if a fight broke out with the warlord and his men.

A path opened, straight to the front of a fight circle.

“I got fifty standard copper pieces on hoodie,” said a slurred-voiced man standing two back from the circle’s edge.

A gray-haired woman in front of him and to the right turned. “I’ll take the fifty.”

Jax hit the edge of the circle and there she was, the gathered crowd trapping her with Tanya, one of the regular vendors selling pig meat in the square.

The black hood was thrown back, revealing warm caramel skin and light brown hair that reached her shoulders, each strand softly kinked a dozen times.

His hands flexed. Need burned through him at imagining himself fisting her hair and using those soft, silky strands to draw her to him.

Fuck, she was beautiful. Up close he didn’t think once or twice would do it for him. It might take twenty, thirty rounds to get her out of his system.

He’d let her fight as long as it didn’t look as if she’d get hurt. He’d give her a chance at victory, and then he’d claim his prize.

“What started it?” he asked the old woman who’d taken the drunk’s bet.

“Tanya’s man took an interest in her.”

Jax turned hard eyes on the man in question.

The sun hadn’t been down long and already Tanya’s man swayed from too much drink.

“He touch her?”

Jax felt the excitement of those close enough to hear the growled question.

“Grabbed her,” a sweaty, rank-looking man standing on the other side of the woman said. “Tried to kiss her.”

Fury moved through Jax. Nobody touched what belonged to him, and until he said he didn’t give a fuck who she was with, she wasn’t available.


He stopped before giving the order to drag Tanya’s man over so he could break his fucking hands and rip off his lips.

“Yeah?” Rand asked, I fucking called it, you’ve gone caveman over a woman in his voice.

Jax clenched his jaw. A muscle spasmed in his cheek.

He dismissed the order with a shake of his head. Ignored the flash of Rand’s teeth.

Rand took a silver piece from a pocket, walked it through his fingers. “I’ll put this on hoodie, Leon. You on?”

Leon shot a look at Jax, then Rand. “Suck-up.”

Rand laughed. “Can’t blame me, can you?”

Jax crossed his arms over his chest. Fuckers had been with him too long for him to get mad at some of the shit they pulled.

In the ring, Tanya swung a meaty fist.

His mystery woman ducked but she didn’t follow it by launching an attack.

Tanya charged.

His woman leapt away. Kicked, landed a blow to Tanya’s back and sent her crashing forward—

And again, failed to attack.

Whoever she was, she’d had some self-defense training, the kind someone might have taught a younger sister to help her get away from trouble, not engage it.

Tanya charged again, face reddened.

She swung a beefy fist and again his woman dipped, dodged, danced to the side, making Tanya appear clumsy.

Some in the crowd cheered.

More booed.

“Going to get uglier if hoodie doesn’t engage,” Rand murmured.

Jax agreed. He could feel the mood shift to impatient. The crowd wanted blood, not the beauty of lithe, evasive movement.

And every one of hers was just that. Lithe. Evasive. Sensuous. Every one of hers made him want to get his hands on her, to strip away the rest of her clothing.

She danced away from Tanya, kicked again and made contact.

Tanya grunted and staggered.

It wasn’t enough to satisfy the crowd. Like a predatory animal with one mind, the crowd closed in, tightening the circle to force an escalation into violence.

Sensing it, or perhaps sensing that she’d lost whatever advantage she’d gained by entering his bar and escaping through the window, she went on the offensive.

Three lucky strikes, one with a foot, two with fists, and Tanya was on the ground, a couple of teeth glistening on the sidewalk and blood seeping from beneath the hands held to her face.

Jax moved in before the circle collapsed and his woman tried to dart through an opening and disappear. Her back was to him but he knew the instant she became aware of his approach.

She surged forward, away from him.

The couple in front of her closed the gap.

She turned slightly and the scrawny man she faced paled and threw his arm across the shoulders of the muscled man to the right.

Jax’s smile was hard and satisfied. His inner circle could get away with treating him as if he wasn’t warlord, but the people in his warren knew better. Whether they’d won money or lost money betting on her, no one in the crowd was stupid enough to open a path and allow her to escape when he was the one coming after her.

He reached her. Locked a hand around her upper arm.

Electric pleasure traveled from his palm to his chest and then straight to his dick. “Let’s go.”