Ana has trained most of her life to achieve one goal: to prove that anything men can do, she can do better. Now she’s Sector One’s first female Rider, and being the best is the only way to ensure she won’t be its last. Distractions aren’t allowed–especially not her painful attraction to the reserved but demanding leader whose stern, grumpy demeanor has already gotten into her head.
Deacon has spent the last twenty years trying to atone for his past, but the blood he spilled as a mercenary and assassin will never wash away entirely. If his Riders knew the extent of his sins, he’d lose their trust and respect. It’s easier to keep them all at arm’s length, especially Ana. But his newest recruit’s stubbornness is starting to crack his defenses.
And their sparring matches are driving him wild.
The passion sparking between them can’t be denied, but neither can the vengeance barreling toward Deacon. When his old squad comes back to punish him for his betrayal, Ana and the Riders are squarely in the line of fire. The only way to save his people may be to make the ultimate sacrifice.
But first, he has to convince Ana not to follow him straight into hell.
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With just a week to go, enjoy one more excerpt from Deacon!
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Ana spent an afternoon and evening being frustrated with Deacon. When he skipped the training session she’d arranged with Ashwin, the confusing tangle of emotions churning in her middle boiled into hot anger. But when he didn’t appear the next day—not for breakfast, not during their afternoon debriefing, not even for dinner—her anger twisted with infuriating shards of sympathy and performed some sort of sinister magic.
By the time Ana was sprawled on top of her brightly colored quilt, still clad in her sweatpants and sports bra, guilt had wiggled its way deep into her heart and planted hooks that left her bleeding.
She knew what she’d put on Deacon. She knew it like no one else but Gideon could know. It was the truth that drove her out of bed before dawn and settled in her bones as a soft ache when she’d trained too hard. It was the weight that kept her up some nights, staring at the stucco ceiling by the light of a single flickering candle, her restless mind refighting sparring matches she’d lost.
Being worshipped was a double-edged sword.
She still remembered the first time it had happened to her. Every detail of the moment was carved into memory. Ivan’s gray T-shirt with the rip along the hem. The faint smell of paint from her newly detailed motorcycle. The vague throb of the fresh ink on her shoulder, and the way the breeze tickled over the bare skin of her arms—she’d worn a tank top that day deliberately, proudly.
Showing off her Rider tattoo.
The little girl had been nine or ten. Brown skin a few shades lighter than Ana’s, with silky black hair as curly as Ana’s own. She’d shaken free of her mother’s hand and bolted across the parking lot as Ana kicked down the stand on her bike, her big eyes going impossibly wide.
“Girls can be Riders?”
With that sweet, innocent question, Ana’s life had changed forever.
She’d loved it, that first time. And the second, and the third. Even the tenth time still made her heart leap. But after three short months, she’d been swallowed whole by the hopes of dozens upon dozens of little girls—
And she hadn’t seen it coming.
She should have. The other Riders always attracted excited young boys and swaggering teens. Kids didn’t understand the more serious implications of a Rider’s duties. They didn’t understand death. They just saw heroes, larger than life and celebrated by the sector—and they wanted to be heroes, too.
The boys had never doubted they could achieve that goal. But the girls… The intensity of their newborn excitement clung to Ana like invisible threads wrapping her tighter and tighter. Their dreams weighed ten thousand pounds.
Ana had to carry them alone.
No wonder she’d lashed out at Deacon. Even when he scraped her nerves raw, he’d always been a solid, unshakable foundation. The hero of heroes, uncompromising and unchanging. The wall she threw herself against in order to toughen up. She needed him to be something more than human so she could believe it was possible. Because a human couldn’t hold up under the pressure Ana felt every time a little girl’s eyes lit up at the sight of her. A human would falter. Fall. Eventually, it had to happen.
Deacon’s fall had wounded a dozen people. Ana’s would break the hearts of thousands.
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