Heedless (The Hellbound Brotherhood #4) - Shannon McKenna


The bell over the door to Demi’s Corner Café tinkled. Elisa turned away from the chalkboard menu she was drawing to announce that the café was closed for wedding prep, and for two weeks afterward, for Demi and Eric’s honeymoon.

The words stuck in her mouth as Nate Murphy walked in, following Fi Garrett. He was acting as Fi’s bodyguard today. She coughed to get her voice working. “Hey.”

Best she could manage. Nate Murphy fried her brain, even when he was just quietly standing there doing nothing in particular.

In her own defense, he was larger than life. Six foot two, at least. Big and lean, taut and built. Broad shoulders, narrow hips, black wind-blown hair grown out long from some long-forgotten haircut. Dark, intense eyes that tracked everything and tucked away all the unconscious info she let drop. He missed nothing.

He had sexy beard stubble on his strong jaw. A hooked nose with a bump on it. He didn’t smile often, but when he did, his sensual mouth stretched into a blinding grin, and sexy lines carved deep into his cheeks. And that deep voice, oh God. Listening to him was like being petted by luscious, silken fur. She wished he’d say something. Except that she’d stammer if she tried to answer. Or, God forbid, giggle.

“Hey, Elisa!” Fi said with a smile as she came over to admire her chalkboard handiwork. “Wow. Is that the menu for the wedding feast?”

“Sure is,” Elisa said. “We decided to live dangerously.”

Fi made an appreciative sound as she studied the chalkboards. She was bright-eyed and rosy and looked surprisingly relaxed, considering everything she’d just gone through. Her color was high from the cold, her long red hair whipped and tangled from the winter wind. “Looks delicious,” she commented. “Sage and sausage tartlets…squash ravioli…stuffed mushrooms…my mouth is watering already.”

“We hope it’ll be good.” Elisa forced herself to look away from Nate. “This is the first time we’ve done something like this without Demi to run it, but she’s trained us well. So knock on wood.”

“I’m sure you’ll all be great,” Fiona said.

Fi Garrett was Anton Trask’s fiancée, soon to be Eric and Demi’s sister-in-law. A couple weeks ago, she and Anton had barely survived a violent run-in with Redd Kimball, the Trask brothers’ vicious long-time enemy, presumed dead for thirteen years. Kimball had survived the encounter and was still at large with bad intentions.

But the Trasks weren’t going to let him get ahead of them another time.

Anton had only recently gotten out of the hospital, and he was going to his brother Eric’s wedding, despite his vociferous disapproval of its timing. With Otis gone, the three brothers had only each other as family, and Nate Murphy, of course. Nate was an honorary brother at this point.

So the party was on for tomorrow, with a vengeance. In spite of the danger. But the Trasks had put all of their considerable resources into securing the event.

Nate had been here for their wild adventures almost from the start. He headed up security for Anton Trask’s chain of infamous Hellbound nightclubs, in addition to being Anton’s close friend. He and Mace Trask had met back in their time in the Marines.

She herself had been hyper-aware of him from the first second she saw him.

He was behind her now, blocking the light from the window and making her self-conscious. She glanced back and saw him looking at the chalkboard she was working on, trying not to smile. She knew what he would say before he opened his mouth.

“Looks great,” he murmured. “Except that the mushrooms are a little, ah…”

“Phallic,” she supplied, grabbing the vinegar and water soaked cloth and wiping her first attempt away. “Yeah. I noticed that. I’ll fix it.”

“Don’t erase them on my account,” he protested. “They’re awesome. And they’d be sure to get a laugh.”

“Not the vibe I’m going for.” Her face was hot. Phallic mushroom art might be good for a raucous bachelorette party, but tomorrow’s wedding was an elegant affair, held up at Bluff House, a beautiful historic mansion on the Heights. She wanted the menus to evoke classy-but-rustic, cheerful country charm. So no mushroom dicks.

But it was hard to concentrate this morning, even with the café closed for business. Elisa and the other five members of Demi’s restaurant staff had taken on the task of cooking and catering tomorrow’s banquet, and there was still tons to do. Elisa couldn’t abandon the restaurant to run upstairs and design those menu chalkboards in peace. She had to stay

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