Damaged by Elle Wylder by Elle Wylder - Read Online

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Damaged - Elle Wylder

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WYLDER

Author's Note

Damaged is the second book in the Bank's Crossing series. If you enjoy this story please join my mailing list or visit my Facebook group for information on new releases.

Blurb

Tattoo artist Nancy Burke likes her life fine the way it is. She has her art and her friends, and has worked hard to recover from the abuse of her dead ex-husband. So what if it’s a little lonely? It’s peaceful. One man challenges that peace and makes her long to let loose. For one night. And one night only.

Disabled war veteran Brad Moore knows he’s damaged goods, but that’s not enough to stop him from pursuing Nancy. She’s the exact opposite of the kind of woman he usually goes for, but maybe that’s exactly what they both need.

AUTHOR NOTE: This is a 14,000 word short story that was previously published as my other penname, Loribelle Hunt.

Contents

Author's Note

Blurb

One

Two

Three

Four

Five

Six

Seven

Eight

Nine

Ten

Eleven

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COPYRIGHT

One

Nancy

Two A.M and the wedding reception is finally winding down. Thank God, the torture is almost over. I only have one thing on my mind: escape. Well, there might be a man on my mind, too. An impossibly dark and hot and enigmatic man that scares me as much as he excites me.

There are only a few stragglers left, and I motion to the bartender to issue the last call. He does and hands me a glass of champagne. I shouldn’t accept it. I've already had a couple more than is prudent, since I don’t drink much. But I'm not driving so what the hell? My head might protest in the morning, but I'll survive it. I frown into the glass before taking a long swallow. There are other things in my life that haven’t been nearly as easy to survive as a hangover.

After taking another swallow, I set the half-empty glass down and smile my thanks to the barkeep. I've smiled so much tonight my face feels frozen into that position. I walk into the remaining crowd, subtly but clearly letting it be known the party is over.

About an hour’s drive east of Panama City, Bank’s Crossing is a small beach community in the Florida Panhandle. Most of the reception’s guests will walk home, and a couple of the gutsier men ask if I need someone to walk me. I decline those offers with a smile and shake of my head, and they leave quickly. Much as I want to take credit, I know it belongs to the man watching from the shadows.

Him again.

Silent. Impossibly still. And always, always expressionless. Except when he meets my gaze, as he does now. I can't repress a shiver. His face doesn’t change, but his eyes... I'm not sure what I'm reading in them, only know that it scares me as much as it excites me. Hot, territorial, possessive. How can those black eyes be described? The only thing I know for sure is I am not getting involved with another man like that.

Jessalyn thinks I'm overreacting. She thinks that Brad Moore, her new brother-in-law, is harmless. I snort. Jessalyn is out of her ever lovin' mind. But I can't blame my old friend. Earlier tonight she married the man she's been in love with for years, stayed one hour at her own reception, and then left with her new husband to catch a flight to Jamaica. She’d left the remainder of the reception in the hands of the maid of honor—me—and best man Brad Moore, her husband’s recently returned brother.

Brad is a mystery I don’t want to delve into. I know more than I want to already. He went to college before going into the Army. He’s been gone sixteen years, not long enough to get retirement, I think, but the rumor is he’d been badly injured in Iraq. Bad enough to justify an early retirement in the Army’s eyes, I wonder? That makes him what? Thirty-eight? Something like that. Five years older than me. I've done the older man thing before too, though I have to concede five years isn’t a difference worth noting. It just gives me another handy excuse to ignore him.

He's still watching me, and I can't stand it. My skin feels hot. Tight. The satin bodice of my dress should be cool and soft against my nipples. Instead the fabric rasps over me the way I imagine his calloused hands would. The rings aren’t helping. When he looks at me, my nipples harden into painful points, and the metal that pierces and circles them seems tighter each time. He's making me crazy and he hasn’t done a damned thing.

I feel like I'm going to