Against the Edge (The Raines of Wind Can - By Kat Martin


Houston, Texas

His head was pounding. Too much Jack Daniel’s last night. When Ben Slocum pulled his big black SUV into the driveway in front of his garage, the only thing on his mind was getting a couple hours of sleep.

Reaching up to hit the garage door opener on his visor, he spotted a silver Buick with Hertz rental plates parked in front of the house. His gaze swung to the porch, where a woman in a conservative yellow business suit stood rapping on his door.

Ben groaned. Last night two of his best friends, Alex Justice and Sabrina Eckhart, had gotten married. Alex, one of his fellow private investigators at Atlas Security, had fallen hard for the pretty redhead. Ben had never seen a guy look happier about getting hitched.

Their early-October wedding had turned into good news for Ben, who’d gotten lucky with a slinky little blonde from Dallas he had met at the reception. He’d spent the night in her bed at the Marriott, and neither of them had gotten much sleep.

Still dressed in his black tuxedo, Ben glanced at the porch, shoved the Denali into Park and turned off the engine, cracked open the door and slid out from behind the wheel. His pants were wrinkled, his white pleated shirt haphazardly buttoned and opened halfway down the front. His black bow tie hung loose around his collar.

Company this morning was the last thing he wanted.

He took a long look at the woman whose attention was now fixed on him as he crossed the front lawn. She was tall and slender, with dark brown hair clipped back at the nape of her neck, and a very pretty face. High cheekbones, a heart-shaped face and full lips. Too bad they were currently thinned in a disapproving line.

He wondered what she was selling. Whatever it was, he wasn’t buying. He just wanted to hit the sheets.

Ben strode up on the porch. “’Fraid nobody’s home,” he said, hoping she would just go away. He wasn’t in the mood for another female, no matter how good she looked.

“I can see that,” she said. “I’m looking for Benjamin Slocum. I presume that’s you?”

He lifted a black eyebrow. “And you would be?”

“My name is Claire Chastain. I need to speak to you, Mr. Slocum, on a matter of extreme importance.”

“I’ll be in my office this afternoon. Why don’t you stop by...say three o’clock? We can talk about anything you like.”

“This can’t wait.”

Of course not. She was a woman. Everything was a matter of critical meltdown. “Is this business or personal?”


He let his gaze drift over her, taking in the soft curves. Slender and elegant, but there was plenty of female wrapped up in the pretty package.

“Do we know each other, Ms. Chastain?” As in, have we spent the night together? Maybe I drank too much and don’t recall?

But he hadn’t done much of that since he’d left the SEALs. Since then he had behaved himself. Well, more or less.

“No, we’ve never met. Please, Mr. Slocum. This is important, and I would rather not discuss it out on your front porch.”

Irritation filtered through him. “Angel, this had better be good.” Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his house key, stuck it in the lock and opened the door. He went in and turned off the alarm, stepping back to allow Claire Chastain into his living room.

Ben closed the door. “Look, lady, I just got home from a wedding and I need a shower. There’s a coffeemaker on the counter in the kitchen. Coffee’s in the cupboard overhead. If you want to have a sensible conversation, I suggest you make us a pot.”

The woman’s dark eyebrows shot up.

“And don’t be afraid to actually put some coffee in the pot.”

Her mouth dropped open. Ben chuckled to himself as he turned and headed for the bedroom.

* * *

Of all the nerve! Everything she had heard about Ben Slocum appeared to be exactly correct. The man was arrogant and overbearing, downright rude. In his rumpled tuxedo and smelling of sex and perfume, it didn’t take much imagination to know he had spent the night in a woman’s bed.

He was a navy SEAL, she reminded herself. That had to count for something. They had a reputation for being tough, brave and honorable. Still, from the information she had, he had been out of the military for the past five years, a medical discharge at twenty-eight after a combat wound in some godawful jungle in the Philippines.

She had no idea the sort of