Read Strip You Bare Online

Authors: Maisey Yates

Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Women's Fiction, #Contemporary Women, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Contemporary Fiction

Strip You Bare

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Copyright © 2016 Maisey Yates

Cover image © Slava_Vladzimirskaya/iStock;

chain motif © d1sk/Shutterstock.

Deacons of Bourbon Street
logo © Okay Creations

Author photo © Kerry Shroy

The right of Maisey Yates to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

First published in this Ebook edition in 2016

by HEADLINE ETERNAL

An imprint of HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by arrangement with Loveswept,

an imprint of Random House,

a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

Apart from any use permitted under UK copyright law, this publication may only be reproduced, stored, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means, with prior permission in writing of the publishers or, in the case of reprographic production, in accordance with the terms of licences issued by the Copyright Licensing Agency.

All characters in this publication are fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

Cataloguing in Publication Data is available from the British Library

eISBN 978 1 4722 3682 1

HEADLINE PUBLISHING GROUP

An Hachette UK Company

Carmelite House

50 Victoria Embankment

London EC4Y 0DZ

www.headlineeternal.com

www.headline.co.uk

www.hachette.co.uk

About the Author

USA Today
bestselling author Maisey Yates lives in rural Oregon with her three children and her husband, whose chiseled jaw and arresting features continue to make her swoon. She feels the epic trek she takes several times a day from her office to her coffee maker is a true example of her pioneer spirit.

In 2009, at the age of twenty-three, Maisey sold her first book. Since then it’s been a whirlwind of sexy alpha males and happily ever afters, and she wouldn’t have it any other way. Maisey divides her writing time between dark, passionate category romances set just about everywhere on earth and light, sexy contemporary romances set practically in her backyard. She believes that she clearly has the best job in the world.

To keep up to date with Maisey’s new releases and other news, sign up for her newsletter at
www.maiseyyates.com
, follow her on Facebook at
www.facebook.com/Maisey-Yates-Romance-Author
and on Twitter
@maiseyyates
.

Praise for the Deacons of Bourbon Street Series:

‘If you’re a big fan of MC romance, then definitely check out the Deacons of Bourbon Street’
Pretty Sassy Cool

‘The passion is off the charts . . . Highly recommend this story’
Karen’s Book Haven

‘I couldn’t put this one down . . . Fans of dirty romances with seriously naughty and sexy heroes should not miss this book. It may make readers spontaneously combust . . . It is hot enough to start a fire with’
Romance Novel News

‘Hang on to your seat as you read this one and get ready to take a cold shower . . . If you want a hot, sexy read that is not your typical MC read this is it! May the Deacons go on forever!’
Southern Yankee Book Reviews

‘There’s heat, emotion, mystery, suspicion and danger coating every page in equal measure’
My Written Romance

‘This tough and dirty world is fascinating and satisfying’
Publishers Weekly

In the Deacons of Bourbon Street Series

Make You Burn
by Megan Crane

Fire Me Up
by Rachael Johns

Hold Me Down
by Jackie Ashenden

Strip You Bare
by Maisey Yates

About the Book

 

Meet the Deacons of Bourbon Street, bad boy bikers who are hell on wheels and heaven between the sheets. The final thrilling destination is
Strip You Bare
by Maisey Yates.

Micah Carpenter was done with the Deacons of Bourbon Street ten years ago. But when tragedy calls, Micah returns to his brotherhood. Joining the hunt for their mentor’s killer, he crosses paths with a Southern belle who exudes class – and sex appeal. Micah knows better than to turn the heat up with an ice queen, but he can’t resist offering her a taste of the wrong side of the tracks.

For Sarah Delacroix, reputation is everything. From an established family rocked by scandal, she longs to restore their good name. Micah is exactly the kind of man she should avoid: his sleek exterior hides the heart of a predator and his body is dripping in tattoos. All too soon he’s getting under her skin – and she’s learning she might have a wild side after all.

For more badass bikers, don’t miss the rest of the Deacons of Bourbon Street series:
Make You Burn
by Megan Crane,
Fire Me Up
by Rachael Johns, and
Hold Me Down
by Jackie Ashenden.

To my fellow biker chicks in crime: Megan Crane, Rachael Johns, and Jackie Ashenden. The only thing better than writing books is writing them with your friends.

Chapter 1

There was a feeling of homecoming that people often waxed lyrical about. It was immortalized in songs, in literature, and in film. Peace, belonging, and all other manner of bullshit.

Micah “Prince” Carpenter didn’t feel any of those things.

No, since his return to New Orleans a few weeks back even walking around felt like he’d taken a bullet to the chest. Lead twisting itself around his heart, interfering with every beat, every breath. Or that could just be the godawful humidity.

But he had a feeling it was to do with the city itself. Like an aging matron trying to coat every imperfection with more and more makeup, the French Quarter clung to its former glory, claiming cracks in the sidewalk and corroded metal on the curling wrought iron balconies as part of its charm.

The Delacroix House, where Micah found himself, was no exception to the air of haughty, tarnished glamour. Even now the old building thought far too highly of itself for a place that had been all but abandoned for more than ten years. Heavy brocade drapes hung in the windows, at the center of the room a settee and two wingback chairs, flanked by solid mahogany tables, still invited guests to come and sit down. To enjoy a little bit of southern hospitality, even if the only residents were ghosts.

There was something oppressive about New Orleans, where even the air was heavy. But Micah was stuck here for the foreseeable future.

Fuck Ajax and his fucking brotherhood. His fucking honor.

And fuck himself for his inability to walk away.

Micah walked deeper into the sitting room, stirring up a cloud of dust with each step. The old house would seem remarkable to some, but nothing about these stately southern homes appealed to him. He preferred things sleek, modern. And in his new life, far away from here, he surrounded himself with those things.

The humidity, the heat, was oppressive, in spite of the time of year. Sometimes he thought this city was sitting right on the mouth of hell. He stripped off his suit jacket, reached up and loosened the knot in his tie, then draped his jacket over the back of one of the chairs. Then he turned and sat, looking around the darkened room. At the golden sconces on the wall, their shine diminished from years of neglect. At the wallpaper, dust clinging to the textured flowers that covered the deep blue surface.

It was opulent, that was for sure. Even the dirt couldn’t hide that.

But whether or not he was impressed by the house was irrelevant. Because this wasn’t about the house. It was about the woman who was still under the impression that she owned it. Or more specifically, it was about her family.

The Deacons’ connection to the Delacroix family apparently ran deeper than simply claiming their infamous prodigal son Leon as a member.

That much had become clear when they were sorting through all of Priest’s holdings after his death. Not only were there the assorted properties on Bourbon Street, but there was this house that had—as far as anyone else knew—belonged exclusively to the Delacroix family since it was first built.

Not anymore. The Deacons had possession of it now.

And given that they were sure Priest had been murdered, any connections that seemed out of the ordinary were worth exploring.

Which was a damn shame because it meant his ass was parked here for the foreseeable future.

The sound of high heels clicking on the marble floor made him turn. Just in time to see a petite dark-haired woman freeze in her tracks.

Upper class. She reeked of it. From the perfectly smooth waves of rich dark hair tied back in a bun, to the pale pink dress that flowed over her curves like water. The kind of woman that was off-limits to a guy like him. Or at least the man he had been. The kind of woman who was way more trouble than she was worth. At least, that had been his take on them when he’d lived down here. There were a hell of a lot easier ways to hook up.

When he’d ridden down Bourbon on a Friday night on a motherfucking Harley, he’d had his pick. And if he hadn’t been in the mood to pick, he’d just take them all back to the clubhouse for a little bit of fun.

These days he liked a higher class of ass. And there were plenty of women dying to get down and dirty with a tattooed bad boy. Gave them a little thrill. And he lived to please.

There was no point messing around with ice princesses. No matter how hot it got, they never seemed to melt. And he did not have time for that shit.

But, if this was Sarah Delacroix—and he had a feeling it was—he had to make time for her.

“I’m sorry,” she said, tilting her head to the side. He wasn’t at all surprised that the first words out of her mouth were an apology. That was the way women like her operated. All bless-your-heart and sweet smiles. Till you crossed the line and they shanked your ass with their high heel. “Did we have an appointment that I forgot about? Are you with Lance Construction?”

“No, baby,” he said, that backwater accent he’d done so much to diminish over the years flowing out like honey. “I’m with the Deacons. And I own this place.”

“Interesting,” she said, her tone losing a little bit of its warmth now.

“Not particularly. It’s pretty straightforward. Your family doesn’t own this property anymore, Ms. Delacroix.” She couldn’t be anyone else.

“I would need to see documentation of that,” she said, her tone unfailingly smooth. “And I would appreciate an introduction, as well. You seem to know my name, but I couldn’t begin to guess yours.”

She said the words politely enough, but he could sense the underlying insult. He knew who she was because Sarah Delacroix mattered. And she had no clue who the tattooed, suit-wearing guy sitting in her house was. Which meant he couldn’t be all that important.

From experience he knew that southern belles could dish out insults with unrivaled precision. They could flay your skin from your bones and you would barely feel it until after the fact.

That was not how Micah operated. Subtlety wasn’t a part of his lexicon.

“I have documentation.” He reached into the interior pocket of his jacket, producing the deed to the property.

He didn’t make a move to rise from his seat, and neither did he extend his hand. Rather he rested his forearm on the brocade-covered arm of the chair, letting the paper dangle between his fingers. Sarah waited for a moment before walking across the room and holding out her hand.

“May I?” In response he flexed his wrist, bringing the document up a fraction of an inch. She forced a smile. “Thank you.” She took the deed from him, skimming it quickly. “This is signed over to the Deacons of Bourbon Street.”

“That’s right. And the responsibility of dealing with this particular property has fallen to me.”

“And, may I ask, what you intend to do with that responsibility?”

Sarah Delacroix was crisp like a green apple, and just as tart. Though, she hid that tartness beneath a layer of expertly applied makeup and genteel manners, beneath a shiny perfect exterior. It made him want to take a bite, uncover all the hidden flavor beneath, let the juice run down his chin.

The thought sent a sharp pang of lust straight to his gut and he felt his dick start to wake up and take notice.

Shit. Now was not the time to be cracking wood over some random chick. He had a whole night ahead for that, and there would be satisfaction in it besides. This was business.

“Haven’t decided yet. Or rather, the club hasn’t decided. I was just going to sell it.”

“That might put a slight damper on my Christmas party,” she said, patting her hair, not a lock shifting out of place.

“I can see how it might. The Deacons are known for a lot of things. Their rousing rendition of ‘Silent Night’ is not one of them.”

“You will have to forgive me as I’m not overly familiar with the organization to which you’re referring. I’m not certain what you are or
aren’t
known for.”

“Well, it isn’t Christmas fucking cheer.”

“If you say so. You will have to fill me in just a bit,” she said, her voice clear, cutting.

He had not expected that. He had expected her to scurry out of here as soon as she’d spoken two words to him, kicking up clouds of dust with her five-inch heels as she went. Instead, she was standing her ground, arms crossed beneath her damn fine breasts, her hip cocked out to the side.

“You don’t know who the Deacons are, sweetheart?”

“I do know several of the deacons at my church. However, I don’t believe I’ve ever seen you there on a Sunday.” There was something in her tone that he found amusing. Something that hinted at a whole ocean’s worth of depth beneath that smooth, seemingly shallow surface.

He laughed, shifting position in the chair, stretching his legs out in front of him. “My version of religion is best practiced outside the sanctuary.”

“I don’t feel any more informed than I did a second ago.”

“You weren’t meant to. I don’t have anywhere else to be. Scoping out the Delacroix mansion was the only thing on my list for the day. Lucky you, baby.”

“So lucky I’m thinking of buying a lottery ticket after this.”

She smiled, lips a perfect matching pink to her dress, nothing in her expression ringing false at all. She was good. Damn good.

He laughed again. He had the feeling that she wanted to either run away in a panic, or slap him across the face and tell him to get the hell out. But her training prevented her from doing either of those things.

Instead she remained standing there, stiff, still. Perfect posture, perfect everything. It was like she had invisible ropes wrapped tight around her, binding her, keeping her restrained.

If there was one thing he missed about being a part of the MC, it was that he’d never had to give a fuck what anybody thought. He’d had to modify that a little bit in the business world.

After he’d been banished by Priest, he’d had two options: jail or another MC. He’d had no interest in either. So he’d spent his time carving out a third option while he’d made his way to the West Coast. Eventually landed in San Francisco where he’d gotten involved in real estate development. Right place, right time, and a willingness to cut throats—metaphorically—had built his personal empire into an impenetrable fortress.

He owned several hotels in San Francisco—a city where hotels were scarce and rooms were priced at a premium. But Micah hadn’t stopped there. He’d been expanding, moving into different cities, different countries.

He was a man in a high-powered position, and his version of well behaved was very different from Sarah Delacroix’s. He could still call a spade a spade. She had to wrap it up in a pink ribbon and call it something fancy.

Though, she was doing a decent job of getting some verbal nettles beneath his skin.

“You may want to hold off on choosing your lottery numbers,” he said.

Her lips twitched, almost imperceptibly. He couldn’t tell if he’d successfully amused her or if she was pondering bludgeoning him to death with her handbag.

He had no issue with her knowing who the Deacons were. He could just tell her. But it was just so damn entertaining to string her along. And he had been short on entertainment since his return to New Orleans. What he’d had instead was a lot of verbal barbs from the men who had once considered themselves his brothers, and a whole lot of alcohol.

This was a hell of a lot more invigorating.

“I won’t be rushing out anytime soon. I had one thing on my list today, too. And it was to begin taking inventory of the more minor things that need to be done to the house. I am restoring it for a Christmas party in a couple of months.”

“As it is now, you could open up the doors and have a Halloween party.”

She looked up, and his gaze followed hers, to the cobweb-laden chandelier that hung in the center of the ceiling like a big tree ornament wrapped in ghostly tinsel. “Yes, perhaps.” She looked back at him, her expression expectant.

“You still hoping for story time?”

“Unless the option of you signing the property back over to me and vacating the premises is on the table.” For the first time, she flashed a bit of the true depth of her annoyance.

“Sorry, not an option.”

She moved closer to him, high heels clicking on the floor, dust moving around her, a little bit ethereal. A little bit dirty. A whole lot sexy. She took a seat in the armchair that sat slightly angled toward his, and crossed her legs at the ankles. “Story time it is, then.”

Sarah Delacroix was not easily ruffled. She was a New Orleans debutante, onetime princess of the Mardi Gras parade, consummate hostess, and perfect daughter. The responsibility involved in being each one of those things was weighty, indeed, and she had never once bowed beneath it.

She was, however, feeling a little bit ruffled now.

The last thing she had expected this morning when she’d walked into her family’s old French Quarter mansion was to find a very large, very dangerous-looking man sitting in one of the wingback chairs as though he were master of the manor.

It had crossed her mind upon entry that he might be a ghost. Considering the house had been left vacant since Hurricane Katrina had ravaged the city, it was entirely possible that her welcoming committee would be someone from the beyond.

Sadly, it was becoming clear that he was flesh and blood, and it would take a lot more than a séance to get his behind out of her house.

Yes, he had a deed saying it belonged to “The Deacons” or whatever, but that didn’t make it a
legal
document. It didn’t make it real.

The Delacroix family had all but abandoned this portion of their empire after Katrina, leaving their old, beautiful family mansion here in the Quarter to rot. As though it had died in the storm with her father.

But when she’d told her grandfather last week that she intended to revitalize it, to bring the family’s storied Christmas party back to life, he had said nothing that indicated there might be an issue of ownership.

Over the past few months Sarah had felt like she’d lost everything all over again. Her mother’s death following a long illness, the end of her engagement, her grandfather’s failing health.

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