Seducing the Saint - Melissa Schroeder

Seducing the Saint

Book 1 in the Saints and Sinners Series

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Liberty Wainwright needs a man and not just any man. She needs Brady St. James, otherwise known as the Saint. His skills and knowledge make him the only choice to rescue her father. Now, if she can convince him to help her, she’ll just have to ignore her cravings for the man she’s never forgotten.

Brady is stunned the woman who left him high and dry is back and asking for his help. Their affair had been doomed from the start. Libby liked to live by the rules and Brady lived to break them. He’d sworn she’d be back, but he hadn’t expected it to take over six years for her to return.

The moment he accepts her mission, they discover their passion for each other is still smoldering. Unable to resist each other, their attraction sparks into an inferno that threatens to overpower all rational thinking. Libby and Brady realize they still might have a chance at love and happily ever after. If they don’t get themselves killed first.

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Seducing the Saint

Seducing the Saint

Book 1 in the Saints and Sinners Series

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Seducing the Saint

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It figured she’d find him here. Liberty Wainwright studied some of the worst scum of the Generaltia Sector through the haze of reefer smoke. Just her luck that Brady St. James would spend his time working out of a bar where saying the wrong thing could get your throat slit. She glanced around the room looking for him. At six-foot-four, he was usually easy to find. And knowing him as well as she did, she knew there would be a crowd of admirers surrounding him. Brady loved an audience.

A burst of laughter from the back of the room caught her attention. Instinct told her she’d found him. Carefully, she walked through the room, avoiding eye contact but keeping a close watch on hands, tentacles and other appendages. The dingy interior, which consisted of mismatched furniture from the last century and dirt, offered little lighting, making the trek to her destination all my much more dangerous. Throughout the area, people drank, played kinos and danced. The all-horn band’s  beat had several people out on the floor, but most of them were too hyped up on synthetics to dance. They were here to forget, because most of them lived lives to be forgotten. So they would drink, they would smoke and they would forget the other life forms they’d killed. Or would kill. Even tonight, she thought, as she kept an eye on a group of Awsarians. Short, round and purple, the race was known for their love of killing for pleasure, especially for the right amount of credits.

She ignored the chill running down her spine and willed herself not to sweat. Libby knew just how to handle herself in situations such as these. She came well-equipped with a laser on her hip, handgun in her boot and more than a few knives. Sterling Wainwright hadn’t raised a fool, even if he was one himself.

As she neared the group, she noticed females outnumbered the males. Inwardly she snorted. Nothing much had changed. It figured that some of them would probably see her as a rival. She reached the outer edge of his admirers. From the looks of some of the humans, they had to be mercenaries. Tall, dressed in dark colors, they were heavily armed and had a lean, hungry, cold look in their eyes. There were several species of alien she wanted to avoid. Especially the Banranics who were known to deal in the human slave trade. A redhead with her height would fetch a high price.

Brady’s deep baritone flitted over the crowd and she sighed in aggravation. He was telling the story of the mines on Alcazere. She shook her head. The man needed new material. And he always got the story wrong. Libby was the one who came up with the idea of rappelling into the mines at night. Brady fought the idea, since he had a little problem with dark places. In fact, on one expedition they’d gone three hours out of the way to avoid a cavern, although Brady’d made up some other excuse about Nilikian Bats. Their toxic venom could paralyze a full grown man within sixty seconds. But that time, that  one and only time, her father had listened to her.

Libby eyed the crowd again as she walked around the outer rim. Shoving her way to the front wouldn’t work. Besides, even if she could, she didn’t want to chance touching some of them. Who knew what weapons they hid or what toxins some of them could spurt? There was only one way to get Brady’s attention and that was to steal the audience.

“I think you have that wrong, Brady. You didn’t want to do the jump, remember?”

All conversation stopped around the table and a chorus of curious gazes swung her way. The group parted in front of her and a wave of satisfaction—however snarky—washed through her. Stealing Brady’s thunder was about as easy as controlling her father—something no one, including her mother, had ever been able to do. She ignored the fact that her pulse had jumped and her mouth had suddenly gone dry. Even as anticipation threaded through her blood, she ignored it. This had to do with accomplishing a task and had nothing to do with the man. Long ago, it would have heralded another stuttering fit but she’d gotten over her infatuation with the idiot.

“Well, well, well. If it isn’t little Liberty Wainwright.” Sarcasm laced his tone and she could just imagine the left eyebrow lifted in sardonic amusement.

She gave a yellow-skinned Semian male a nasty look until he stepped out of her way. The irritated look the alien shot her with his blue-green eyes told her Brady had won another admirer.

When she finally made it to the table, she cursed herself for the shiver running down her spine. He watched her approach with a predatory gleam in his eyes that belied his relaxed posture.

He looked mostly the same. His ebony hair, a tad too long and needing a trim, did have a bit of gray threaded through it. A few more laugh lines had appeared around his cobalt eyes. His nose had been broken, again. It just made him even more attractive. He was surrounded by females, of course. Mutants—aliens and humans—it didn’t matter. Brady always liked women of every shape, size and species. Including, she was sure, the human bimbo sitting on his lap.

“I see you’re still holding court in bars, Brady. And that’s Dr. Wainwright to you, dickhead.”

His lips turned up in a mocking smile. She curled her fingers into the palm of her hand. No matter how good it would feel, smacking him would probably land her in hot water. It always had before. Touching him would be a big mistake because it would lead to other things she didn’t need to think about. Not to mention there was a good chance one of his devotees might want to kick her ass.

Not that they would succeed, but a fight would take time she didn’t have to spare. His gaze traveled down her body, taking in her wrinkled shirt and pants, her dusty boots. Slowly, he brought his attention back to her face.

“I thought the last time you saw me, you said you wanted nothing to do with me. In fact, I believe the phrase you used was something about damning me to the seventh hell and hoping I burned alive.”

Yeah, she had said that as she was heading out the door. She meant it at the time. “This has nothing to do with you…or me. It has to do with Sterling.”

His eyes narrowed and he frowned. “I haven’t seen him in months.”

“You or anyone else.”

He studied her for a second. “Did you two have another fight?”

“Sterling and I…we had a disagreement about a year ago.”

His eyebrow rose and that damn smile returned as he toyed with a lock of the bimbo’s hair. “What was it over this time? You thought he was taking too many risks and he thought you had more regulations than a politician.?”

She ignored the snickers and swallowed the retort she really wanted to make. Something that would be anatomically impossible for him to do, although she’d pay money to see him try. It galled her that she needed his help but she did. And to rescue her father, she would do anything. “No. It had to do with my divorce.”

His smile faded and he actually pushed aside the blonde. The woman shot him an angry look and slid out of the booth.

“You’re married?” This time irritation threaded his voice.

“Was. Sterling wanted me to work it out. I didn’t. Hence, we stopped talking.”

He pursed his lips. She knew he was seriously considering it from that gesture. A cautious sense of hope unfurled within her. Brady could speed up the hunt for Sterling, especially with his connections. He knew every weapons agent, assassin and corrupt dealer this side of the Woorley sector. Since she’d moved back on planet, she’d lost contact with most of them. She’d been happy to leave that part of her life behind, until she’d lost track of her father. His next words stopped any idea of help from him.

“What’s in it for me?”

She sighed. She should’ve known. Bitterness that she’d thought she left in the past balled in her stomach.

The man was always out for number one. The so-called Saint did everything for his own notoriety, not because giving his finds to museums and historical societies was the right thing to do. Even now, with Sterling missing, a man who had taken Brady in as one of the family, treated him liked a son, Brady thought of nothing but himself. Knowing she was close to begging—and Liberty Wainwright did not beg—she curled her lips in disgust.

“Tell you what, Brady. I’m staying over at Delorosa’s until tomorrow. You want to hear about it, show up. If not, kiss my ass. I’ll go it alone.”

With that, she turned on her heel and strode out of the bar. She pushed open the door and stepped outside. The cool night air washed over her but it didn’t help her temper. Fighting the tears that threatened to spill over, she drew in a deep breath.

Fatigue. That was all it was. It had been a long ten days since she’d started searching for Brady and now it seemed she’d wasted precious time. Each passing day ratcheted the tension to a level she could barely stand. She might have argued with her father but he was the only family she had and she loved him. She’d sell her soul to make sure he was safe. Brady was a different story.

Damn him for being a fucking mercenary.

“Hey, Saint. What was up with your lady?” Masters asked as he slid into the booth.

“Not my woman.” Not anymore. One time…

“Your loss.”

He shot his friend a deadly look. “We had a thing when we were younger.”

“Ahh. Is she really Wainwright’s daughter?” Brady nodded. After Masters downed the rest of his drink, he said, “Hard to believe that old pain in the ass has a sweet thang like that for a daughter.”

Brady snorted. “Sweet isn’t what she is.”

Masters smacked his lips as if anticipating a rather forbidden treat. Brady used every ounce of control not to punch him. “I bet she’s a bit on the tasty side. I always liked a gal with a little spice.”

He scowled at his friend. They’d never competed for women. Both of them always had plenty to choose from. Robbie Masters was an inch or two shorter but the ladies had a thing for that blond hair and those green eyes.

Brady really didn’t care if he’d lost out any other time. But Libby was a different matter. No one was supposed to even fantasize about her, let alone sleep with her. The fact that she had apparently been married struck him like a jab to his gut.

His mind drifted back to Masters’ comments about Libby. Spice. She definitely had that. Six years had passed and damned if he didn’t have the same reaction the moment he heard that smart-ass comment—an instant hard-on. She’d been an itch under his skin for years, growing up right before his eyes. Two years younger and as horny for outer terrestrial archeology as he was. Not many women with mile-long legs understood a dig or could live out of a pack.

She’d aged well in the last six years. She’d let her dark red hair grow. He wanted to know how long it really was but she’d had it piled on top of her head. And the way those honey brown eyes snapped fire. Hmmm… Brady understood Masters’ attraction all too well.

“She’s out of your league, Masters. And, for once, the woman knows it.”

“What she say about her father?”

Brady watched him suck down his drink before answering. He was still trying to sort it out in his brain.

“Something about him being missing.” Brady shrugged. “Nothing new.”

“Yeah. That old man is constantly disappearing. When was the last time you talked to him?”

“Six months ago. He wanted me to look for some batcrazy legend.” And not once in all the times they had seen each other, including the last time, had he mentioned Libby being married.

Suddenly, Masters wasn’t so laid back. “Legend?”

Brady cut him a derisive look. “The legend of the Snake King.”

“Oh. Well, that is a batcrazy legend. How many people have disappeared looking for that?”

“Not sure but you can add one more to the list.” Knowing he didn’t have a choice, Brady drew out his credit tracker, paid for their drinks and stood to leave.

“Where you going, Saint?”

“To see an old friend.”

He just hoped he didn’t get his balls cut off in the process.

End of Excerpt

Seducing the Saint

by Melissa Schroeder

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