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Dangerous Breed is book two in the Time Served series.
Each book follows a different couple and can be read as a standalone.
- Age Gap
- Former Prisoner
- Scarred Hero
- On the Run
Preacher Graves made a fatal error in judgment when he was just sixteen years old, and it cost him twenty years. Now, he plans to live out his days in quiet isolation. For six months, he’s done just that. Until a favor for a friend finds him rescuing a twelve-year-old boy from a ruthless biker gang, putting him face to face with the boy’s beautiful and very damaged older brother, Memphis.
Memphis Camden suffered an unspeakable childhood, culminating in an act that left him disfigured, inside and out. When he could, he ran, leaving his past behind, including a baby brother he thought was safe. For a time, Memphis is content living and working in an LA flower shop. He’s put thoughts of love aside, unable to trust anybody enough to let them see all of him. But a phone call changes everything.
Preacher assumes his protective detail will end when Memphis arrives, but one look and he can’t bring himself to leave. Memphis is terrified of his abuser, but he’s fiercely protective of the brother he barely knows, and now, Preacher feels the same way for Memphis.
But protecting the Camden brothers is going to take more than just Preacher. Their father is the head of the vicious biker gang that chained up one son and maimed another, and he’s decided they need to be silenced. Memphis is battling a past that’s come back to haunt him and the irresistible draw Preacher seems to have over him, but each time he gets close, Memphis pulls away. Can Preacher keep Memphis safe and convince him that he can trust him with his body and his heart?
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
LOOK INSIDE: CHAPTER ONE
“Tell me why you do this again?” Preacher Graves asked, wrinkling his nose at the stench coming from the property just ahead of them.
“Because that smell is a bunch of dogs lying in their own filth or dying from septic shock after being torn up in a dog fight,” Cy said. “And those fuckers in that house right there are the ones who caused it. So, we’re going to go roust them so Animal Control can come in there and do their jobs. Get these animals the care they need.”
Preacher gave a long-suffering sigh. It wasn’t that he didn’t care about the animals. He did. But, even though Cy and Preacher had done twenty years in a federal penitentiary together, Cy’s record was expunged. Whereas Preacher was guilty of the crimes that had sent him up north for twenty-five years, and he really wasn’t looking forward to going back. “And this is all legal? What we’re doing? Like, the cops aren’t going to arrest us for busting into somebody’s private property?”
Cy shook his head. “This is our job. We have a deal with the state. Because we’re private citizens, we have a little more leeway with what we can get away with than county employees. Besides, these shitheads all have records longer than my dick.”
Cyrus Whitaker was a huge man by any measure. Even behind bars, his very presence had often been enough to prevent anything too gruesome from happening to him. Preacher, on the other hand, had survived by creating a persona for himself. As he’d aged, he’d gone from target to guru, his near constant state of zen and a small wooden cross convincing the other inmates he had some kind of wisdom to share. It was all bullshit. Preacher didn’t have shit going for him. He just wanted to be left in peace, but Cy paid cash and Preacher was in dire need, so there he was, with an illegal firearm jammed against his lower back, about to raid a house full of dog-fighting criminals. Prison had been much easier in some ways.
Cy crept forward, peering in the window. He held up four fingers to Preacher before crouching out of sight. They weren’t alone. Cy had hired both Lawson and Javier, both former inmates from the same prison, as well as two other guys, Manson and Cabbot, who were not only convicts but former gangbangers. They were a ragtag group if Preacher had ever seen one, but he didn’t think the dogs were real picky about who rescued them from the hellhole that was a rusted out shed.
Cy gave one final nod before planting a booted foot on the door and pulling a shock and awe. “Nobody move!” he shouted, voice booming.
Chaos erupted, the four men scrambling for their weapons about a minute too late. They froze, hands in the air, clearly irritated but not afraid.
“On your knees, hands behind your heads. Now!”
One guy with a tattoo across his forehead spit on the floor. “You don’t look like fucking cops to me.”
“Do I look like somebody who won’t hesitate to splatter your brains across this ugly fucking wallpaper?” Javier asked, lowering his weapon to kick the other men’s guns out of reach. “Lawson, frisk them. Make sure they ain’t holding.”
Lawson grimaced. “Ah, man. Why do I have to do it? They all smell like weed and stale beer.”
“‘Cause it’s your fucking birthright, bitch. Just do it.”
A strange sound caught Preacher’s attention. He didn’t know what it was at first. A whimper, maybe? It could’ve just been a squeaky fan, but it was coming from the end of the hall. He jerked his head in that direction, and Cy gave a nod.
Preacher kept his gun drawn and pointed straight ahead as the whimper became two voices. A child was crying, and a man was yelling, but the words were muffled. Preacher gently tried the door knob. Locked. The child inside was frantic, and the man’s words were much clearer. “You called the cops, you little bitch? I should fucking shoot you in the head for ratting out your family. Maybe I’ll just take this instead.”
The child’s response was a wail of dismay. “No! Please, Nash. I’m sorry.”
There was a strange high-pitched sound, but Preacher didn’t need to hear anything else. He kicked the door in, the cheap wooden frame splintering into a million pieces. On the other side was a small boy cowering in the corner and a large bearded man holding a Pit Bull puppy by the scruff. Despite the gun Preacher was holding, the man sneered at him. “Who the fuck are you?”
“I’m the guy who’s gonna empty this clip in your skull if you don’t very gently give that puppy back to the boy.”
The man looked to be no more than mid-thirties at most, but he had a meanness in his eyes that gave Preacher pause. He knew the look of somebody who was comfortable with dying. It was the same look lifers got once they’d done enough time.
“Don’t get antsy. Just put the dog down and we can all play nice.”
The man dropped the puppy just as he swung on Preacher. He managed to dodge the wild punch but not without stumbling. The man was bolting out the open door and into the woods before Preacher could even raise his weapon again. The boy snatched the gray and white puppy up, clutching it to his chest.
The puppy appeared to be fine, but Preacher couldn’t say the same about the boy. He had a bloody nose and a black eye. He was filthy and malnourished, a steel ring locked around his tiny ankle. “Jesus,” he muttered under his breath.
There were three more puppies in a cage on the other side of the room and no other furniture, just a bucket in the corner and the open door the man had taken off through. Shit. What the fuck had he walked into?
He dropped his weapon to his side and crouched down to the boy’s level. “Hi, what’s your name?”
“Hi, Knox. I’m Preacher. What’s his name?” he asked, pointing to the puppy wiggling against the boy’s dirty green t-shirt.
The boy gave him a guarded look, clutching the puppy close. “This is Donatello. That’s Rafael, Michelangelo, and Leonardo.”
A spark of recognition lit in Preacher’s brain. “After the ninja turtles. Nice.”
The boy seemed to relax after that, as if Preacher had passed some test. There was more shouting from the main room, and then Cy was standing in what used to be the doorway. Knox’s eyes went wide as saucers at Cy’s presence. He was still intimidating even in street clothes, especially with his mohawk and the skull and crossbones tattoo below his eye. Cy looked just as shocked to see the young boy. “Everything okay here?”
“I think we’re going to need a medic and a hacksaw if we have one handy?”
Cy followed the length of chain to where a metal loop was bolted into the wall. He walked to it and gripped it tight, seeming to test it, before wiggling it once or twice and then yanking hard, sending drywall raining down on the boy as the ring came free in Cy’s hand. He looked to Preacher. “Take him outside. Have Pam look him over. I’m sure they have something in the truck to get that off.”
Preacher scooped up the boy and the puppy.
“Don’t hurt them!” Knox cried over Preacher’s shoulder. “They didn’t do nothing.”
“Nobody’s going to hurt them. They’re going to get them help. Just like we’re going to get you some help, okay?” Preacher promised.
“I don’t need help. I’m fine,” the boy said, even though Preacher could still see the tracks of the boy’s tears in the dirt on his cheeks.
Pam stood by the truck as Animal Rescue worked to tranquilize the animals in an attempt to get them in the cages. Her eyes widened as she saw the boy and his puppy, but she plastered a big smile on her face almost immediately. “Who have we got here?”
“This is Knox and his puppy, Donatello,” Preacher said, setting the two down on the tailgate. “Knox, my friend, Pam, is a nurse. Would it be okay if I held Donatello while she just takes a look at you?”
Knox eyed Pam warily but handed over the squirming puppy.
“How old are you, Knox?” she asked as she looked at the boy’s bloody nose and then his teeth.
She nodded. “Oh, wow. That puts you in…what? Fifth grade?”
He shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t go to school.”
She gave Preacher a startled look. “Oh, no? How come?”
“Nash says somebody has to watch the puppies until they’re old enough to start training and take care of the bait.”
“Bait?” Preacher echoed before he could stop himself.
The boy just looked toward the shed where the dogs had been kept before turning away. Pam looked down at the boy’s shackle. “Preacher, can I talk to you alone for a moment?”
Preacher handed the puppy back to the boy. “We’re just going to be right over here.”
Knox just shrugged like he didn’t care, but Preacher could feel the boy’s eyes on him as they walked.
“We need to call the police. They were clearly holding that boy hostage. This is kidnapping or, at the very least, massive abuse and neglect,” Pam said.
Preacher nodded. “One of ‘em ran off when I showed up. The boy called him Nash.”
Pam’s lip curled in a sneer. “That boy’s about twenty pounds underweight, and I’m betting there are probably some more signs of abuse under those clothes. He needs a hospital.”
“How are the animals?” Preacher asked, shading his eyes to look in the direction of the shed.
“About how you’d expect from years of torture and abuse. Some will probably have to be put down, but I have hopes we can rehab and rehome most of them. I’m going to get Nick on the phone and have him track down some more info on these guys. We gotta find out if this kid has a mom and dad that aren’t living in a shack in the middle of the sticks, and if so, how did he end up out here?”
Preacher shook his head. “You call the cops. I’ll call Nicky. I’m not supposed to be here, and I’m definitely not supposed to be armed.”
Pam took the gun from Preacher, checking the safety before she slid it into place under her shirt. “Deal.”
Preacher pulled his cell phone free of his jeans and dialed one of three numbers stored on his phone. “This is Webster,” Nicky said. He still went by his old last name to everybody but the guys he’d gone to prison with, even though his married name was now Whitaker. It was still weird as fuck to him that Cyrus and Nicky had become a couple in prison, but they were both good guys.
“Hey, it’s Preacher.”
“Preacher? Is Cy okay?” Nicky asked, panic creeping into his voice.
“Yeah, Cy’s fine. The same pain-in-the-ass bleeding heart he always is. I need you to give me everything you can on whoever owns this property. 3849 Crawfish Drive. Rexford, California.”
There was the sound of typing. “The deed says the property belongs to Keith Camden… Keith Camden is… Oh, shit. Ol’ Keith, aka Tennessee, is currently being held without bail on a drug trafficking charge in Arizona.”
“He’s apparently the head of the Devil’s Crew motorcycle club. They sound like lovely people. Just your average gun-running, drug dealing band of murderers.”
Preacher shook his head. “Fantastic. Don’t suppose there’s anything in there about somebody named Nash?”
Once more, he listened as Nicky typed frantically. “Nash. Nash,” he muttered absently. “Got it,” he cried. “Nash, as in Nashville Carter Camden, age thirty-three. One of three sons born to Keith Camden. The others being a twenty-six-year-old son named Memphis Daniel and an almost twelve-year-old son named Knoxville Coe. Nash, like his father, has a long list of felonies that he has somehow never served time for. The little one seems to have disappeared off the radar after first grade.”
Preacher glanced over to where Cabot was working to get the cuff off the boy’s ankle. “Yeah, we found him here. He says he wasn’t allowed to go to school. What does it say about the middle son? Is he a scumbag, too?”
“Hold, please,” Nicky said, clacking away rapid-fire. “No. Memphis Camden works at a flower shop here in Los Angeles. As far as I can tell, he’s never been in any trouble. Lives in a studio apartment over said flower shop. Why?”
“You might want to try to get him on the phone. If the oldest one’s in the wind and the dad’s a piece of shit, somebody’s going to have to take guardianship of the kid. Pam says we gotta get the kid to the hospital to get looked over. They’ll probably want to keep him at least overnight.”
“Yeah, alright. I’ll see about getting in touch with him. You just bring my husband home in one piece.”
Preacher’s gaze fell to Cy, whose knee was firmly planted in the back of one of the men from the house. “I think he’ll be just fine.”
Preacher found himself looking at the small boy once more. He wasn’t sure the same could be said for Knox. As the ambulance pulled up, he disconnected, jogging back towards the boy. “Hold up. I’m riding with him.”