Dare to Run (Sons of Steel Row)

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9781494519582: Dare to Run (Sons of Steel Row)
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Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he's ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission-even if he is one of the boss's top men. Plus, someone's placed a hit on him. And then there's that feisty little bartender who's going to cause him even more trouble.

Heidi Greene knows to keep her distance from a ladies' man like Lucas-even if she can't keep her eyes off him. When he rescues her from an attack in the alley outside her bar, she's forced to stay by his side for safety. But the longer she spends time with him, the greater her chances are for getting hurt in more ways than one.Contains mature themes.

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About the Author:

Jen McLaughlin is the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of steamy new adult books for the young and young at heart. Under the pen name Diane Alberts, she writes bestselling contemporary romance, including the Shillings Agency series. Jen lives in Pennsylvania.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

He watched me with narrowed eyes that did bad things to my equilibrium. I knew from memory that they were green. Like, really green. They looked clean and fresh and happy, but he was none of those things. He always came in wearing jeans and a muscle-hugging long-sleeved shirt, which he always rolled up to just below his elbows to show off his strong arms covered in a thin dusting of fine hair. I’d stared at those freaking arms way too many times. I’d never been one for arms, for the love of God, but on him? They just worked. Everything did. In truth, he looked raw, gritty, and dangerous. And he had the faintest hint of a Boston accent.

As if he hadn’t already been unfairly sexy.

Dare To Run

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

CHAPTER 1

CHAPTER 2

CHAPTER 3

CHAPTER 4

CHAPTER 5

CHAPTER 6

CHAPTER 7

CHAPTER 8

CHAPTER 9

CHAPTER 10

CHAPTER 11

CHAPTER 12

CHAPTER 13

CHAPTER 14

CHAPTER 15

CHAPTER 16

CHAPTER 17

CHAPTER 18

CHAPTER 19

CHAPTER 20

CHAPTER 21

CHAPTER 22

CHAPTER 23

CHAPTER 24

CHAPTER 25

CHAPTER 26

CHAPTER 27

CHAPTER 28

CHAPTER 29

EPILOGUE

Acknowledgments

Excerpt from DARE TO STAY

CHAPTER 1

LUCAS

The smells of rotting fish, salt water, and dying dreams on the docks of Boston Harbor were all too familiar to me, but even so . . . they made me reflect on my choices every single fucking time. I’d lived in the heart of Boston my whole life, but I’d never taken the time to enjoy the city the way the tourists did. For them, it was all about a celebration of freedom and liberty. It was all memories and American pride and all the shit that goes with it.

For me, the city meant jail time for assault, bloody bar fights, meaningless one-night stands, blackouts from binge drinking, money lost to gambling, lives lost to violence, and shady shipments on the docks at midnight. Which was why I stood here in the dark, with no moon shining brightly, watching a bunch of sweaty men struggle to unload crates from an incongruous shipping container that looked as if it carried car parts but held so much more. The lack of natural light made the job nearly impossible, but we weren’t about to turn on the spotlights so they could see better.

As I watched, I crossed my arms and tapped my foot impatiently. We were well within the allotted time I’d scheduled of twenty minutes, but it felt as if I’d been standing on these smelly-ass docks for hours, watching men grunt and curse at one another for not moving fast enough. They’d probably move a little faster if they stopped throwing nervous glances my way, silently communicating with one another about the “new” guy, fresh outta lockup.

I didn’t have the patience for this type of shit, which was why I didn’t normally oversee this portion of the business. Supervising the weapons shipments was my little brother’s territory, but word had come in that the ATF had been tipped off on the impending shipment of guns. So I’d told Scotty to keep his ass home and I’d take care of things.

To throw the feds off, I’d moved our delivery up, and now I was standing on the docks watching for any suspicious activity . . . in more ways than one. Scotty, on the other hand, had opted to spend his night off trying to get in the pants of some girl he “loved,” attending some lame-ass event to prove he was a “decent” guy.

He wasn’t.

None of us were.

Illegal guns were just part of what we dealt with, for fuck’s sake. That didn’t exactly scream decency to me. Knowing Scotty, he’d been up front about his employment, tossing the bad-boy element in the girl’s face. It had obviously worked. Me? I tended to avoid anything that required more than a slap on the ass and a thank-you as she walked out the door, never to be seen or heard from again. I’d been locked away from society for too long to try for anything else.

Add that to the fact that some little shit had tried to kill me—and almost succeeded—the week before I got out and I was left with the utter inability to trust anyone. Anywhere. I couldn’t afford to anymore. I hadn’t figured out whether the attack in prison was personal or business yet, but I knew one thing. Some prick wanted me six feet under.

Working for our gang, the Sons of Steel Row, under the reins of Tate Daniels, entrepreneur and illegal arms dealer extraordinaire, had taught me a thing or two about when something belonged on the library’s fiction shelves, and when to categorize it as real.

And the threat on my life had nonfiction written all over its cover.

One of the roustabouts tossed me a narrow-eyed look, trying to get a read on me, no doubt, and I stared right back at the little shit. I might be keeping my guard up, but that didn’t mean I was sitting here wallowing away in fear of my impending death.

People lived. Then they died.

That was life.

And as the overseer of this godforsaken shipment, it was my duty to keep things running smoothly. We had imports and exports to manage, inventory to distribute, and cash to launder. Shit needed to get done, and it needed to get done right now.

A crate hit the ground, causing a huge boom loud enough to awaken a deaf man. I growled and stepped forward, my fists tight at my sides. Striding forward, I moved right up to the two men who’d made the racket. One was a new recruit who’d joined when I’d been locked up, and the other was a potential member. “Can you maybe manage to unload our merchandise without, oh, I don’t know, waking the entire police precinct? I rescheduled this for a reason.”

The potential, who’d dropped it, flushed and lowered his head. “Sorry, Mr. Donahue.”

“Hey, it’s not my fault he’s an idiot,” the worker bee said.

I didn’t know him, but I knew for a fact he’d been born and raised in the same shit hole we’d all come from in Boston—a neighborhood near Southie that had been coined Steel Row. Probably in his twenties, he was the same redhead who’d been eyeballing me earlier. His glare filled with an unspoken challenge, he wore a baggy shirt, a pair of ripped jeans, and a bad attitude. He had muscles that rivaled a linebacker’s, but that didn’t matter. I welcomed the confrontation.

The challenge.

That’s what I used to like about this job. It kept me on my toes. But everything was too damn easy now. It bored the hell out of me. I cocked my head and crossed my arms. “Is that so?”

“Maybe you guys should get rid of the weak links every once in a while and this kinda shit wouldn’t happen. What was Scotty thinking, sending you here to run things you know nothing about? Exactly how long were you in for, anyway?”

I closed the gap between us and stared the man down. He wanted to challenge the bear? Then he’d get the bear. “Loyalty is rewarded, you little shit. I did my time, and I kept my mouth shut. If the ATF came swooping in here right now, could you do the same?”

The man didn’t speak.

“Answer me.” Without another word, I unholstered my Sig P229 and pressed it dead center to his forehead. My voice was calm and deep and I made sure to speak slowly. “Because the way I see it, there’s only one other option in this world.” Staring him down like the rat he was, I tightened my grip on the trigger enough to make him sweat. “So. You tell me. What’s it gonna be?”

The man swallowed hard but didn’t back down. I almost admired that, but he was too much of a dipshit to appreciate the value of his courage. Instead of answering my question properly so his brains didn’t end up on the dirty docks, he asked, “You gonna pull the trigger?”

My finger twitched even more. For a second, I wanted to do it just to shut the idiot up. A little peace and quiet would do a hell of a lot for the headache building behind my eyes. But even though I was in charge here tonight, this was my brother’s crew. It wasn’t my job to decide if I needed to rid us of yet another fuckwit. That choice would be up to Scotty.

But still . . .

The point had to be made that nobody should mess with me and that I wouldn’t tolerate insubordination from an underling. All around us, the men watched, waiting to see what I would do after that blatant display of disrespect. I’d been challenged, and it was time to show the rest of them why they shouldn’t do the same.

Forcing an easy grin, I shrugged and slid the gun back into my holster. “No, I’m not going to shoot you. That would bring the boys in blue on our heads, and I don’t want to be behind bars again. Not yet, anyway.”

“Yeah.” The man looked at his buddies, grinned, then tugged on his shirt like he was some thug that had flirted with the devil and lived to tell of it, before turning back to me. “That’s what I thought, man.”

“Sir,” I said from between clenched teeth, still grinning.

“What?” The man laughed. “What did you call me?”

“I said”—I rolled my sleeves up, slow but sure—“you should be calling me sir. I am in charge of this run, and as such, I own your pathetic little soul tonight.”

The man paled, watching my movements with wide eyes. When I took a menacing step toward him, he stumbled back one step before he forced his feet to stand still. “Y-You’re not my boss. I work for your brother.”

“My brother runs this little crew, yes. While I—?” I grabbed the front of the little fucker’s shirt and hauled him close, nose to nose with the twat. “I’m higher up the food chain, because I’ve worked my way there by following the rules. That puts me in charge of everyone on this dock. Did no one teach you about hierarchy? About showing respect to those who can get your death written off as an acceptable loss?”

The man gripped my forearms, shaking his head. “I get it, man. I get it.”

“I told you to call me sir.” I shook the man. “What’s your name, dipshit?”

The man let out a scared little whimper. So much for that budding respect for the man’s balls. They’d shriveled up into the size of raisins at the slightest sign of danger. “D-Doug. Doug Pearson. Look, I’m—”

“Shut the hell up.” I shoved Doug backward, sick of hearing his voice already. “When you speak, it hurts my head.”

Doug stepped back. “I’m—”

“Jesus Christ, you don’t get it, do you? Let me show you how to listen to your superior’s orders in this crew.” Hauling back my fist, I punched him in the nose, grinning as the sound of his septum cracking into pieces filled the silent night. Still, that wasn’t enough. Man, I’d missed the feeling of things cracking under my fists.

It had been too long since I’d had a good fight.

When Doug hit the ground, his hand pressed to his bloody nose, I grabbed his shirt, forced him to his feet, and punched him in the gut. As Doug doubled over, wheezing for breath, I leaned on the injured man’s back as if he was a piece of furniture. To me, he was. He was here to do a job, and that was it. When he stopped being useful, I’d toss him in the garbage with the rest of the shit that was no longer of any use to me. “You stand the hell up when I’m teaching you a lesson, and you shut up, too. And next time, you damn well better call me sir.”

Doug wavered but managed to stand straight. “Y-yes, sir.”

“Good boy.” I grinned wider, knowing I looked maniacal and not giving a damn about it. I patted Doug’s cheek hard. “And you might want to think twice before opening your mouth to someone who doesn’t give a shit if you saw Mother Mary herself over his shoulder. Understood?”

Doug nodded, his lower face smeared with blood. “Yes, sir.”

“Good.” I pointed at the crates. “Now, wipe the blood off your face and get the rest of these unloaded. And make sure you clean up after yourself. We don’t need a blood trail.” I threw a scathing glance at the rest of the crew, who’d done nothing but watch. “That goes for all of you.”

They all jumped into motion like obedient worker ants, including Doug. No one spoke, but they exchanged silent glances as they moved the crates out of the container and into the truck that would carry the goods to the old warehouse outside Steel Row where we stored our inventory. I’d busted their buddy’s nose, but in this world? That earned you respect.

They wouldn’t mess with me again.

Chris, my best friend and another lieutenant, came over to me, crossing his arms as he got closer. He watched me with an appreciative light in his brown eyes. Chris was the one exception to my no-trust rule. He’d gotten me into this world, against all odds, and had been there for me when I’d needed him most. “You handled that well.”

It was sick that beating some dude up was a way to earn praise in my career field, but it was what it was. This life was the only life I ever would know. And that was fine by me. “He deserved it for being a dick.”

“That’s because none of these guys take you seriously.” Chris lowered his head, his brown hair hiding his eyes from me, and studied his nails. His green T-shirt pulled at his muscular arms, and his ink spread all the way down to his wrist. He’d been in the gang since he’d been a teen, like me. He’d joined because his pa had been a member, so this life had been carved out for him from the moment he came into this world.

Those weren’t my reasons for joining.

Hell, I wouldn’t know my father if I passed him on the street. When my mother was alive, God rest her soul, I’d doubted if she’d even known who he was, either.

“Yeah, well, that’s their mistake.” I straightened my sleeves. “Not mine.”

He looked over at the crew, who definitely had a new sense of urgency in their movements. “Maybe because you’ve been in lockup the past two years. They didn’t know who you were, besides the fact that you got put away for assault, and now you’re here, bossing them around on the docks.”

Chris and I had always been tight. When I’d been doing time, he’d come to visit me twice a month. Kept me posted on the happenings in the real world. He’d visited more than my actual brother had, but that was no surprise. I’d always looked out for Scotty, but Scotty wasn’t exactly the sentimental type of guy who put a priority on family visits. And that was fine, too. “I hadn’t been planning on being here at all. This isn’t my department. I came because of the damn ATF. And Scotty has some chick on the line.”

“Since when do you care what Scotty wants when it comes to this shit?”

I shrugged. “Since I spent some time behind bars . . . Scotty and I aren’t as close as we once were. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to let him play chicken with the feds. He’s too damn cocky for his own good.”

“So he’s off fucking some girl while you stick your neck out for him? Like usual?” Chris rolled his eyes.

I moved my shoulders, wanting nothing more than to get the hell out of here. They were almost finished, so I’d be free any minute now. Free. Funny choice of words. I’d never be free. Not really. The closest I got to free was when I walked down the Freedom Trail. “Yeah. Basically.”

“You’ve got to stop treating him like a kid. He...

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9780451477590: Dare to Run (The Sons of Steel Row)

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9781472234827: Dare To Run: The Sons of Steel Row 1: The stakes are dangerously high...and the passion is seriously intense

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Book Description Tantor Media, Inc, United States, 2016. CD-Audio. Condition: New. Unabridged edition. Language: English . Brand New. Lucas Donahue is not ashamed of his criminal past, but after a brief stint in prison, he s ready to go legit and live a normal life. The problem is, no one leaves the gang without permission-even if he is one of the boss s top men. Plus, someone s placed a hit on him. And then there s that feisty little bartender who s going to cause him even more trouble. Heidi Greene knows to keep her distance from a ladies man like Lucas-even if she can t keep her eyes off him. When he rescues her from an attack in the alley outside her bar, she s forced to stay by his side for safety. But the longer she spends time with him, the greater her chances are for getting hurt in more ways than one.Contains mature themes. Seller Inventory # AAC9781494519582

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