Hot Target by Marliss Melton

She doesn’t know how desperately she needs him.


Private Investigator Juliet Rhodes prefers being single. No ties, no losing someone close to her ever again. But Navy SEAL Tristan Halliday, with his can-do attitude and his mouth-watering sex appeal, is hard to resist, especially when his special skills could help Juliet in tracking down her parents’ killer.

Join this fated couple in an adventure that takes them to San Francisco and Monterey and embroils them in a mystery with ties to the Cold War.

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“Ah-ah.” Spotting Juliet’s hand sliding into her purse, Tristan wagged a warning finger at her. “No you don’t. Give me the bag.”

The outrage that had goaded him to ride his motorcycle like a demon through a suburban neighborhood still flowed through him like lava. The relentless and inexorable heat of anger staved off the insecure voice in his head insisting Juliet didn’t want him. Like his birth mother, she’d rather walk away than get to know him.

“Give it to me.” He thrust out his hand.

Her full upper lip curled into a sneer. Tristan had to give her credit for looking unafraid. Yet the flutter at the base of her slender neck revealed that he’d succeeded in freaking her out. Good. It was about time he got her attention.

“Or what?” she taunted.

He snatched the purse so fast she only had time to blink. Digging into it, he found her Ruger and tossed the handbag down. He made a show of checking the magazine and shaking his head when he found it full of bullets.

“If there’s going to be a crime of passion here,” he grated in his best Dirty Harry impersonation, “it’s not going to involve bullets.” Slapping the magazine closed, he laid the pistol on the narrow table in the entryway and gave her a “what now?” look.

Juliet lunged for the purse, most likely going for her cellphone. He grabbed her, catching her up in his arms and eliciting a growl as he carried her, fighting him vigorously, toward the couch. She landed a few good blows, but her physicality didn’t surprise him. He’d found out down in Mexico she handled herself like a cage fighter. That was something he liked about her, actually. However, their wrestling wasn’t so much a fight as it was a prelude to lovemaking.

Her heeled pumps struck his shins before they mercifully fell off. He tossed her onto the sofa, but she’d sunk her hands into his hair, so he went down with her. As they descended, she kicked his upper thigh—three inches from the nuts she was targeting.

He had to admit her training was thorough, but his was more extensive in scope. Plus he was twice her size.

Exerting pressure on her wrists, Tristan freed his hair from Juliet’s grasp. Straightening, he picked her up again and flipped her belly-side down onto the cushions, promptly sitting on her bottom to keep her from going anywhere.

“Get off of me, you son of a bitch.”

“No name calling,” he warned. Catching Juliet’s flailing arms, he pinned them behind her back. “You don’t want to go there. I’m not the one reneging on a promise or running away from an honest conversation. If we start slinging names, I’m bound to call you a manipulative bitch or a low-life coward. See what I mean? Doesn’t get us anywhere.”

She squirmed beneath him, fighting ineffectually to free herself.

“You really should hold still,” Tristan warned, pinning her with a fraction of his weight. “I haven’t been with a woman in six months. Every time you raise your ass, I think about how much you like getting it from behind.”

Juliet stilled instantly, though her chest still heaved with fervor. He knew she worked out daily. That heavy breathing wasn’t just due to exertion.

“Maybe you need me to remind you how much you like it,” he suggested.

“Don’t you dare!”

“I can still picture it—that cute motel room in Playa del Carmen. You practically forced me to have sex with you.”

“What? You bastard, I didn’t force you.”

“I remember you throwing yourself at me. I remember you sliding out of my arms onto your knees to pull my zipper down.”

“Stop it.”

Tristan held both Juliet’s wrists with just one hand, freeing his other hand to stroke the backs of her legs through her lightweight slacks. He skimmed the curve of her bottom and felt her shudder.

“God, you were hot that night,” he reminisced. “I’ve never known a woman as hot as you. I could just touch you like this,” he moved his caress into the warm groove between her thighs, stroking it once, twice, three times, “and make you come.”

She made a sound between a moan and a shriek. “Don’t!”

“What are you afraid of?” He was happy to realize that his blood no longer pulsed with righteous anger. High emotion tended to get a SEAL into trouble. He was having fun sparring with her. He hoped she was, too. Repeating his caress, he was pleased to feel her female flesh swell and firm under the pad of his finger. “You’re a hot-blooded woman. I’m a hot-blooded man. Why shouldn’t we enjoy each other?”

“You can’t force me,” she insisted, her breath still coming in pants.

That remark had him springing off her instantly, moving out of range of her long legs should she think to retaliate. He’d never forced himself on a woman, never would do such a thing, and he wasn’t about to start now.

“No one’s making you do anything,” he insisted as she whipped onto her side, putting one arm on the back of the couch and eying him suspiciously.

Crossing his arms over his chest, Tristan gazed at her and waited.

“What do you want?” Her husky voice betrayed both anger and arousal. Her gaze dropped briefly to the bulge at the front of his jeans before she jerked it away.

“I think I’ve made that pretty clear. I went six months without sex so I could be with you.”

Her eyes widened with surprise. “I never asked you to be celibate. I asked you not to date anyone. Your pathological need for female companionship worried me, that’s all.”

Her psychoanalyzing thoroughly annoyed him. She was the one with relationship issues, not him. “Well, clearly I surpassed your expectations. If you’re done toying with me, I’m here for my date.”

She kept mutinously quiet.

“Or are you planning to renege on your promise?”

“I never promised you anything,” she insisted. “I said I might date you in six months.”

“With the stakes as high as you made them, honey, ‘might’ doesn’t qualify. You owe me a date.”

Available at all fine booksellers. Click here for purchase links.