Cannon’s all about control. Until now—until her.

Fresh out of Delta Force, Rick “Cannon” Sloan is doing his best to carve out a new life for himself—find his next mission. And just his luck—there’re plenty of bad guys roaming the streets of Seattle to strike up a new business.

He didn’t count on running into trouble on his first case—one with deep green eyes, auburn hair, and a killer smile. Deputy U.S. Marshal Jericho Nash is definitely more dangerous than the men he’s hunting. One chance meeting, and Cannon has a bad feeling he’s already in too deep.

But just when he’s ready to make his move—finally charm the lady into his bed—Jericho’s neck-deep in danger. She might be the law, but her enemies aren’t playing by the rules. Which means, Cannon’s taking the war to them.

With the help of some former teammates, he’ll defy the odds because once he’s committed, he’s all in. He’s determined to have a future with Jericho, and he’ll use whatever tactics are necessary to make it happen. Even if it means giving up his control.

Damn, she’s fine.

Master Sergeant Rick “Cannon” Sloan, Army retired, eyed the blonde across the bar. V-neck crop top, tight black skirt and biker boots—the lady was dressed to kill. She had her elbows propped on one of the bar tables, showing off a healthy dose of pale cleavage as she leaned forward, dainty fingers absently skimming up and down her cooler. She’d hooked the heel of one black boot in the lower rung of the chair, her other foot tapping the floor. If it weren’t for her steady hands and even expression, he’d have pegged her as being nervous. And she should be. She was seated next to the reason Cannon was at the bar. Biding his time. Hunting.

Nigel O’Mally. The bruiser in the leather jacket, who seemed determined to get his hand on her crotch. Cannon had to admit, she was good at deflecting the asshole’s advances without pissing him off. Just enough to make O’Mally work harder—shift tactics. Up his game. Too bad he wasn’t going to score tonight. And just as well. Most of the women he ended up leaving with didn’t make it home alive. And the ones who did, wished they hadn’t.

Not that anyone could connect him to the murders. Bastard seemed to have a horseshoe shoved up his ass. That, or he’d bought enough blue uniforms he didn’t need luck. But, he’d been caught trying to pull off some lame-ass robbery—had managed to trip just about every security measure in the process—and was currently out on bail. Of course, he’d missed his court date, giving Cannon the excuse he needed to drag O’Mally’s ass back in—profit in the process. And if there was any kind of justice, the U.S. Attorney’s office would find a way to pin the murders on him while he rotted away in a cell.

“Hey, buddy. Are you going to order a drink or just sip soda water all night? This is a bar, ya know.”

Cannon glanced at the bartender, keeping his eyes narrowed. Mouth pinched tight. He didn’t answer, just stared at the guy until the other man took a step back. He swallowed—hard—then moved down the bar.

Good. The bartender recognized that Cannon was dangerous. Could sense he was someone accustomed to death. To fighting. And the guy had acted accordingly. Even now, he didn’t make eye contact. Barely looked Cannon’s way. Which suited him, because the last thing he needed was a scene. Something to out him before he was ready. The night was slowly coming to a close, about twenty patrons still left in the bar. He’d hoped more would leave once midnight had come and gone, but at least it wasn’t still overflowing with bikers and gang members.

He looked over at the blonde, again. While her clothes definitely blended in with the other women in the room, something about her seemed…off. And it was more than just the color of her hair—her piercing green eyes begged for auburn locks, not blonde—it was her mannerisms. She didn’t move like the other women—loose. Unsteady. Her actions felt calculated. And there was still that tapping foot…

Nigel wrapped an arm around her while twisting in his chair and dropping his other hand onto her thigh. Blondie’s lips quirked, and her fingers tightened on her cooler bottle.

Shit. Cannon was good at reading body language. And the lady was about ten seconds away from smashing the bottle over O’Mally’s head. If Cannon didn’t intervene before that, it could ruin the entire takedown—cost him the fifty-thousand in bond money.

A bounty hunter.

If his teammates had told him he’d end up tracking down scum for money, he’d have flattened them. Punched them in the face then walked away without a second thought. He’d spent his entire adult life in the Army. Had worked his way up from a lowly recruit to lead in his unit. Was trained in hostage rescue, extreme weather survival, hand-to-hand-combat. There wasn’t a vehicle he couldn’t drive. A threat he couldn’t address. And here he was, sitting in a bar that smelled like old beer and stale peanuts as he waited to make his move. One that wouldn’t put the remaining patrons in danger.

Or her.

Fuck, he needed to stop focusing on the woman. She was lucky Nigel wouldn’t get more than a grope out of the evening. Cannon couldn’t waste his time worrying if she might get shoved aside. Maybe knocked down. Just as long as the asshole didn’t have the chance to take her as a hostage, the night would end pretty much as Cannon had expected—Nigel cuffed and unconscious in Cannon’s truck. The money he needed to start his own company all but in his pocket. Everything else was just a roadblock. And he had a way of dealing with those—he just hit the gas and barreled right through.

Blondie shifted in her seat, and he knew she was giving herself a better exit strategy. A way to slip out without getting caught up in Nigel’s arms. Which meant, it was time to end this charade.

Cannon eased off the chair, scanning the bar, again. Not much had changed. Two redneck boys were still playing pool in the far right corner. A handful of college-aged kids bumping and grinding on the dance floor. There were two men at a table close to O’Mally. Similar clothes, though, they hadn’t so much as looked at the man all night. Still, Cannon made a mental note to continue tracking their movements. He needed to be ready to react if they turned out to be the asshole’s bodyguards.

That left only blondie as a wildcard.

Cannon walked forward, seamlessly shifting into warrior mode. Gone was the unobtrusive observer. The guy who’d blended in for the past two hours while waiting to strike. Now—he was primed. Muscles ready. Every sense honed on his progression across the bar. The feel of the floor beneath his boots. The slide of his jacket across his gun. He wouldn’t draw unless forced. He planned on getting close to O’Mally. Too close for the bastard to get the jump on him, but perfect for taking the creep down. Bare-handed.

Oh yeah. He’d enjoy that part. Giving the man a taste of what he dished out. If there was one thing Cannon despised it was men like O’Mally who preyed on women. Who thought, because they were bigger and usually stronger, it was their right to treat them however they saw fit. O’Mally was a threat. And Cannon had made a career out of eliminating threats.

He stalked across the floor, senses alert. The two men playing pool started shoving each other, voices raised. No doubt one of them would throw a punch. Though, based on the size difference, it would be over in all of two seconds. Not that he was in the habit of judging an enemy’s skill by their size—he’d witnessed guys fifty pounds lighter than him and a good six inches shorter take out a bar full of bikers—but… He’d studied their mannerisms, too. The short guy didn’t stand a chance.

Something clattered to the floor by the pool tables, and O’Mally looked over. Perfect. The asshole wasn’t even watching Cannon. Sizing him up. If he had, O’Mally would have been puffing out his chest—making himself look bigger. Maybe scowling, showing a hint of teeth. Guys like him knew threats when they moved in close. Not that he’d necessarily peg Cannon as a lethal one but possibly competition for the blonde.

The one Cannon couldn’t seem to get out of his head. There he was, about five seconds away from confronting his target—when all his attention should have been on the mission, on all the ways this could go down. Ensure he was in complete control—and a part of him was focusing on her. On the slight rustle of fabric as she slid one leg over the other—tights. Flesh colored. Nearly invisible against her skin. Or how a light flush had crept across the upper swell of her breasts. Not arousal. More frustration or anger, considering there was also a slash of red across her cheeks. She was sizing up O’Mally, the way he should be looking at Cannon—her eyes narrowed. Lips a thin line across her face. One hand slipped inside the purse hanging at her side, and Cannon saw a glint of something metallic on the inside.


His instincts had been right. She wasn’t like the other women here, after all. She was a plant. Maybe a cop or a fed. Hell, he wouldn’t rule out assassin. Though, more likely another bounty hunter. Not a lot of women chose that route, but she definitely had the “calm and collected” vibe going. Now that he was closer, he picked up on more. Her muscles were primed, much like his, ready to strike. And she hadn’t positioned herself for an easier exit. She’d turned so she had a clearer opening to grab O’Mally—slam his head into the table. Get behind him before he could react. She’d most likely been waiting until the crowd thinned out enough she could make a move. Cannon just wasn’t sure if she was an ally or another mark he’d have to deal with. If she wanted O’Mally dead or alive.

Either worked for Cannon, but damn it—he could really use the bond money. Allow him to rent a space, hire a buddy or two to start expanding his services. Men he trusted—who he’d bled with. And if she was a threat, a hired hand… Shit, he wasn’t sure he could take her out. Just the thought of hurting her…

Another step, and her head whipped around, her green eyes finding his and staying. Christ, she was beautiful. Made his damn chest tighten, his lungs fight to inflate. She was all smooth, pale skin, with full lips and high cheekbones. She wore more makeup than anyone needed, though, he suspected it was all part of her cover—to look the part. Blend in.

He had to hand it to her, she was a hell of a distraction. As long as she struck at the right time, she’d have a real chance at bagging the bastard. If she had backup. Surely, she hadn’t come alone. Getting the jump on the guy was one thing. Dragging his ass out to her car—facing any possible company the creep might have hiding in the crowd. Like those two guys sitting behind her—it was suicide.

But, she hadn’t so much as made eye contact with anyone else in the bar since Cannon had sat down. Hadn’t focused on anything other than O’Mally and her phone when she’d gotten what he assumed were a few texts. Cannon knew. He’d been watching. But no one had been busy with their phone at the same time she had, which suggested…

Fuck. She was alone. 

But, it was too late. He was already past the point of no return—inside his strike radius. Ready for battle. O’Mally had turned back, had finally caught sight of him. The bastard immediately straightened. Fisted his hands—one on the table, the other across the back of her chair. A fucking game changer just waiting to happen. It put her within reach. A possible target. Or a hostage. Either was bad. 

Blondie read O’Mally’s intentions—swiveled a bit more. Just enough the bastard would have to lunge out to grab her shoulder. 

She’s got good instincts.

Too bad it might not be enough. Unless she was a professional. Then, he might end up on the wrong side of a gun. He was ready, but there were too many variables, and he didn’t have enough intel. He’d just have to go in. Adapt.

He’d spent the past ten years adapting. If he’d learned one thing during his time in Delta Force, it was that no plan ever truly translated into the field. Sure, his team made a best guess. Tried to account for all possible outcomes. But there was always something that wasn’t on the schematics. That hadn’t been factored in. A family member when the mark should have been alone. Weapons that hadn’t been accounted for. Murphy was always out there, just waiting to fuck things up.

And he was sure as shit sitting on Cannon’s shoulder, right now—itching to throw a wrench into the entire mix. One with stunning green eyes and a killer smile. 

Cannon stopped in front of the table instead of simply grabbing the guy, knocking him on his ass then carrying him back to his truck. The short confrontation—letting the jackass know, not to mention the woman, that Cannon was there to take him in—would give him some useful information. How she reacted, consciously or not, would be just enough to tailor the rest of his takedown.

He hoped.

It could also blow the entire op right out of the water. If she made a move right then… He’d be adapting to some deadly changes. The kind that might get one of them killed.

No doubt about it. Adapting was a bitch. 

O’Mally sneered at him, gaze clearly assessing him. “Fuck off.”

Cannon stood still, hands at his side—within reach of his M9. Or the Ka-Bar on his thigh. Fuck, the asshole looked wasted enough Cannon could probably go for the twenty-two in his ankle holster and still out draw the creep. “Nigel O’Mally?”

“Whatever it is you want, I ain’t interested. Now, fuck off, before I get nasty.”

Cannon’s lips twitched, and it took him a moment to realize he was smiling. Fuck, he couldn’t remember the last time he’d smiled. Maybe Indonesia in ‘14. It felt odd, tugging at muscles he rarely used. But just the thought that the bastard would throw a punch—or, better yet, draw—it warmed Cannon’s chest. 

He took a moment to glance at the blonde, but she hadn’t reacted. Not so much as a twitch of her lips or a raise of her brow. Stone. Cold.

So much for getting a read. Gaining the upper hand.

He palmed the table. Showtime. “There’s nothing I’d enjoy more than having you get nasty. But… I don’t have all night. And your bounty isn’t getting any higher. So, you can either come quietly or—”

O’Mally moved. Reached inside his jacket as he lunged for the girl. But she was already sliding right, slipping out of the chair. Two seconds, and she was out of reach, backing toward the wall. Cannon shifted left. A quick swing of his fist, and O’Mally’s arm was knocked away, his gun clattering to the table. A step, a reach, and the bastard was in his hands—squirming, trying to find purchase.

Cannon twisted, brought the fucker’s head down on the corner of the table. It cracked hard, left a bloody smear, then he was falling. Crumpling on the ground at Cannon’s feet.

Four seconds flat.

Until the men behind O’Mally’s table jumped up. One grabbed Blondie—yanked her against his chest. His beefy arm wrapped around her shoulders, a fucking Sig Sauger pointed toward her head. The thing was massive—more firepower than the bastard looked like he could handle. But it didn’t matter. No one missed a target that close.

His buddy was still drawing—the silencer on his gun catching on the pants. Another two seconds, and he’d have it free. Possibly firing off rounds in a panic, because his eyes were like white saucers. Huge. Unblinking. He most likely had tunnel vision—couldn’t see past his boss getting slammed into the table. That made him dangerous. Unable to process whether he should fire, only that he could.

But Cannon was already working through steps four and five. Already had his M9 in one hand, his knife in the other—his sights on the asshole holding the woman. A quick shot, and he’d clip the man’s shoulder—or better yet, peg him right between the eyes—eliminate any chance of the jerk shooting her. Cannon would have to be quick—catch the prick’s buddy with his knife before the idiot fully drew. Started shooting whoever moved.

Until the woman punched up her arm, caught the creep holding her in the chin. A drop of her weight, a twist and shove, and she had him spread out across the table, face smashed into the top. She pivoted just enough to kick the other guy in the knee, buckle his leg. Another shift, and that gun Cannon had glimpsed was in her hand—pointed at the guy stumbling against the wall behind her.

Her hair fluttered around her face, tilting off a bit to one side as she huffed, one hand holding the asshole to the table, the other leveling her Beretta at his friend. She spared Cannon a quick glance before focusing on the guy she’d kicked. “Freeze, asshole.”

The guy blinked, glanced at the O’Mally, around the bar, then nodded. 

She motioned to his weapon. “On the table.”

He all but dropped it, wincing when it nearly clattered to the floor.

“Gently. Now, unless you want to go to jail with your two buddies, here, I suggest you get lost. Fast.”

He nodded, again, looked over once at Cannon then took off. Bumping into several people on his way to the door. It bounced off the wall, a cool swirl of air breezing through the bar.

She waited until the door closed then focused on Cannon, slamming the guy she was holding against the table, again, when he shifted. “Move, again, and I’ll let him deal with you.”

The asshole looked at Cannon, paled, then stilled. 

Blondie smiled, finally gazing up at Cannon. She studied him for several moments then arched a brow. “Pretty sure I know most of the local hunters. You’re new. You got a name?”

“Most people call me Cannon.”

“Cannon? That’s it?”

“It’s enough. And you are?”

“Nash. Deputy U.S. Marshal Jericho Nash. And it looks like we just collared the same guy.”