Protecting His Kidnapped Family - Leslie North


At first glance, Noah Wild wasn’t sure which was the greater masterpiece—the design the tattoo artist was completing, or the ass of the woman the guy was inking. Both were breathtaking, that was for sure. Add in the fact that the woman, whoever she was, didn’t seem to care that her butt was in full view of an entire gallery of people who were there to celebrate said artist’s work and…

Ding! Ding! We have a winner!

Man, there was nothing Noah found more attractive than a strong, confident woman. Of course, being strong and confident meant that the women he’d dated had no trouble kicking him to the curb when he proved that he sucked balls in the relationship department. He’d gotten the memo—relationships weren’t for guys like him. So he wasn’t planning to do anything about his instant, intense attraction. He was fine appreciating her from afar.

He tossed back another glassful of horribly overpriced booze, then set his empty on the tray of a passing waiter before grabbing another. It had been a long time since he’d gotten drunk, but why not? He had nowhere to be in the morning, and he was between SEAL missions, so why not indulge?

His traitorous cock twitched as if in agreement.

Stand down, sailor.

Nope. Not going there. Not tonight. Not with a stranger. He had plenty of options in the available bed partner category. Women who knew the score and were more than happy to obey his rules—one night, no strings, no emotions involved. No sense straying from his chosen path to pursue a woman who might not agree. Even if she was gorgeous.

Noah’s chest tightened as a couple other men stopped to admire the mystery gal’s curvaceous behind and he squeezed the crystal tumbler in his hand tighter. Stupid. What did he care if guys gawked at what she obviously didn’t mind having on display?

Except for some weird reason, he did.

Before he could stop himself, Noah’s feet carried him across the room and closer to the station where Rebel was working. The renovated Atlanta warehouse space was packed with people, all standing around talking or admiring the huge photos of the artist’s previous works adorning the brick walls. Noah’s was up there too, the guardian archangel inked across his lower right ribs and abs. Funny, since he’d never really been religious, and he’d always imagined himself more as a superhero kind of guy. Angels weren’t really something he gave much thought to in his career as a Navy SEAL. But when he’d finally managed to score a coveted appointment with the sought-after artist, he’d known the minute he’d seen the intricate design of Gabriel battling a demon that he had to have it on his skin.

Speaking of skin, he was near enough to the woman to see her creamy flesh up close. The artist was focused on his work, despite the crowds and conversation around him, making precise marks with his needle. From where he stood, Noah couldn’t quite tell exactly what the finished design would be, but he didn’t care. Sexy woman, sexy spot for some art, no matter what that art ended up being. On closer inspection, he could see that the ink wasn’t on her butt, but rather on the curve of one hip. And that tiny, delicate black thong she seemed to think passed for underwear? Forget about it.

He downed the rest of the contents of his glass in one swallow, glad for the distracting burn in his throat, then set the glass aside without looking, his gaze locked on the vision before him. God help him, he wanted to get closer—but he couldn’t quite figure out an angle of approach that didn’t sound sleazy or dumb. Despite his work and his tough guy persona, Noah wasn’t really all that smooth with the ladies. In fact, he rarely carried on more than brief conversations with them, mainly about hooking up. Now though, in front of all these people, he needed to play it cool and try to impress this woman while there was still time. If he waited for the artist to take a break, he might never get to talk to her, and that was a chance Noah wasn’t willing to take.

Heat surged alongside the adrenaline in his system. Noah swallowed hard, his gut tingling.

Say something, idiot.

But the more he tried, the more words refused to come. Gah! Maybe it was the booze. Maybe it was nerves. Whatever it was, he was blowing his chance and…

The woman turned her head