Excerpt from Force

by Taylor Longford

His dark gold hair fell over one side of his face all the way to his chin, framing a very square, very full mouth that struck me as both savage and brutal…not to mention sexy as hell. Morris Samuels might have a Cam Newton smile but this guy had a mouth that screamed kiss-me-now. Not that I was interested or anything. Because (like I said before) at that point in my life I was convinced that you couldn’t count on guys for nothin’. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t appreciate a nice looking face.

Moving on, my gaze drifted down to his bare shoulders, which were hard to ignore because they were so wide and carved with muscle. Covering the rest of his upper body was a black leather vest worked with thick decorative welting that crossed his chest and disappeared behind his back. A thick band of roughly finished suede slanted from his shoulder to his waist and I assumed it was the strap for the sheath he carried his sword in.

On his legs, he wore a loose pair of knee-length brown shorts, which were cinched at the waist with a wide leather belt. And hanging from the belt was a sheathed knife as well as a drawstring pouch…that gave him an odd sixties look. I’m not sure what the shorts were made from but they looked old and decrepit and not particularly clean, like they’d been used for mud wrestling more recently than they’d been washed.

He wore no jewelry, which probably wouldn’t have suited him; he was that tough looking. But he did have a blue tattoo on his neck, the color so bright it seemed to glow on his skin.

Wh-what are you doing here?” I gasped, when I’d caught my breath.

“I was just…having a quick nap,” he growled, sounding a little defensive as he lifted his sword over his shoulder and dropped it into the sheath behind his back.

“In a dumpster?” I questioned, even though I knew that plenty of homeless people took refuge in the big tin cans on wheels.

“Is that what this is?” he asked, glancing around.

“Uh-huh,” I answered while privately thinking “definitely not from around here”. And while I was doing that, I took a closer look at his leather vest. I’d never seen anything quite like it and wondered if he was newly hatched from some Eastern European country since I couldn’t read his accent. To be honest, he looked like he’d arrived from another era, but I decided to go with Eastern Europe because (to put it bluntly) he looked that exotic.

And he looked hungry.

Sighing, I dug in my pocket and pulled out a couple of tens. “You look like you could use something to eat,” I said and tossed the money at him.

He narrowed his eyes on the bills sitting on the jumbled paper at his knees. “What’s this?”

“Money,” I answered. “American money. Buy yourself some food.”

His brows pulled into a fierce frown and his gaze swung back to my face. “I don’t need your help,” he growled, clearly insulted.

“And you don’t know how happy I am to hear that,” I muttered beneath my breath.

He tilted his head and studied my face. “What?”

“I’m sorry,” I answered, getting impatient. “But you look like you need somebody’s help.”

“I’m not a beggar,” he said in a sliding rasp that made the hairs stiffen on the back of my neck. “And I don’t need your help.”

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