Wound Tight

By: Lorelei James

A Rough Riders_Blacktop Cowboys Crossover


Acknowledgments from the Author



This book is dedicated to my BFF/PA/Cheerleader for team LJ and author whisperer, Kim O’Connor – Happy Birthday!! (and I’m not dedicating this to you just because I haven’t sent your birthday gift yet). There’d be no love story for Callie and Justin if not for your brainstorming help last year when you said…whatever happened to Justin Donohue? Doesn’t he deserve a happily-ever-after? Add in Callie Morgan, a much younger, very feisty character we last saw at age four, and BOOM—this May-December romance was born. Thank you, Kim, not just for helping me with this idea, but for the love and support you give me personally and professionally every single day. I hope I never have to do without it…XOXO



To the always fabulous, amazing, stupendous Liz Berry – thanks for your patience and friendship during what’s been a rough year for me. Your generosity continues to astound me and I’m still blown away that I get to call you a friend and that I’m a beach babe for life!



To the 1001 Dark Nights/Evil Eye team—MJ Rose, Kim G., Jillian Stein—another one in the books! Happy to be part of this amazing project!






One Thousand and One Dark Nights



Once upon a time, in the future…



I was a student fascinated with stories and learning.

I studied philosophy, poetry, history, the occult, and

the art and science of love and magic. I had a vast

library at my father’s home and collected thousands

of volumes of fantastic tales.



I learned all about ancient races and bygone

times. About myths and legends and dreams of all

people through the millennium. And the more I read

the stronger my imagination grew until I discovered

that I was able to travel into the stories... to actually

become part of them.



I wish I could say that I listened to my teacher

and respected my gift, as I ought to have. If I had, I

would not be telling you this tale now.

But I was foolhardy and confused, showing off

with bravery.



One afternoon, curious about the myth of the

Arabian Nights, I traveled back to ancient Persia to

see for myself if it was true that every day Shahryar

(Persian: شهريار, “king”) married a new virgin, and then

sent yesterday's wife to be beheaded. It was written

and I had read, that by the time he met Scheherazade,

the vizier's daughter, he’d killed one thousand

women.



Something went wrong with my efforts. I arrived

in the midst of the story and somehow exchanged

places with Scheherazade – a phenomena that had

never occurred before and that still to this day, I

cannot explain.



Now I am trapped in that ancient past. I have

taken on Scheherazade’s life and the only way I can

protect myself and stay alive is to do what she did to

protect herself and stay alive.



Every night the King calls for me and listens as I spin tales.

And when the evening ends and dawn breaks, I stop at a

point that leaves him breathless and yearning for more.

And so the King spares my life for one more day, so that

he might hear the rest of my dark tale.



As soon as I finish a story... I begin a new

one... like the one that you, dear reader, have before

you now.





Prologue



From that first deep thrust, Justin Donohue knew he was a goner.

A goner.

Totally gone for this girl.

If he kept going…he’d never want to leave the tight, wet heat of her body.

That’s what she wants. She’ll get her hooks in you and never let go.

The warning too soon, too young got louder and louder, drowning out everything else.

A burning sensation squeezed his lungs, expanding until he feared it’d tear him apart.

I can’t breathe. Why the fuck can’t I breathe?

Then he made the mistake of looking into Callie’s eyes.

Something more than lust shone back at him.

Hope.

He blinked, trying to erase the expression he’d seen on her face, praying he’d misread it.

But at second glance, it hadn’t changed.

It’d intensified.

Not that. Give me any look but that one. I’m not the man you think I am.

“Justin,” she said softly. “Don’t.”

“I can’t do this.”

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