Authors: Elle Wylder
Bad Boys of River City Book One
Cover Design by Dayna Hart
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Trace Graham spent ten years in prison for
defending the woman he didn't dare love. The town bad boy from the
wrong side of the tracks, he didn't need or want anything good in
his life, especially when that good came in the form of a cop. One
moment of weakness cost him ten years, and now he plans on making
Lynn Jameson has spent the years atoning for
sin. One night of passionate might-have-been and its consequence
was enough to teach her to distrust sentiment. As a recently
appointed no-nonsense detective dealing with a smuggling ring in
her small Alabama hometown, the last thing she needs is Trace
showing up back in her life.
Holman Correctional Facility, Atmore,
About ten minutes after noon, I step out of
the gate of the prison that has been my personal hell for ten
years. I’m a free man. Excitement surges through me. It’s something
I haven’t felt for years. I spread my arms wide and lift my face to
grin at the weak December sun.
Lowering my hands to my hips, I take a good
look around the outside of the place that swallowed up years of my
life. The prison is an hour north of the Gulf of Mexico, but there
is no sign of the sea here. The place is surrounded on all sides by
tall pines, and the rotten-egg smell of a paper plant drifts
faintly on the wind. I can’t wait to get home and away from this
stink. Paper mill or guards, I’m not sure where it’s coming
A car turns down the row in front of me and
screeches to a stop, the driver throwing it into park and jumping
out. Walker, my younger brother jumps out and catches me up in a
bear hug. I pound his back and laugh. The sound is rusty from
disuse. I haven’t had reason to laugh in years.
We step back and size each other up. Walker
is one of the few people in the world who gives a rat’s ass about
me. He’s not the scrawny kid he was when I got sent away. I knew
that but it seems different without that sheet of Plexiglas between
us. His chest and back are broad, his biceps bulge and are covered
in tattoos. He looks as tough as me. I have to remind myself that
he’s proved himself while I was stuck behind bars. Somehow he’s
managed to stay out of jail over the years, but he’s had a string
of close calls. I don’t ask about that. It’ll be time to talk
business soon enough and bringing it up here feels like bad luck. I
decide to wait until we’re on the road.
Instead, I grin and harass him. “Been hittin’
the iron, kid?”
Walker snorts. “Get in the damned car. I
haven’t been a kid since I was ten.”
I stop and take my first good look at the
vehicle. My car. The wreck I’d in won in a poker game twelve years
ago has been completely restored.
“Looks good, doesn’t she?” Walker asks with
pride and I admit he’s earned it.
Afraid it might be a mirage and disappear on
contact, I reach out cautiously and skim my hand over the surface
of the roof. My fingertips meet midnight black metal and I swallow
the lump in my throat. It’s just a fucking car. Well, as much as a
1968 Camaro could be
just a car
I lift the gleaming door handle to swing the
heavy door open. Removing the pack from my back, I toss it over the
seat and slide in, pulling the door closed behind me. The
reupholstered leather seats are soft and plush, and as we exit the
parking lot I start to relax for the first time in ten long
It’s a three hour drive home to Madison. The
small town on the Chattahoochee River in Alabama is only a stone’s
throw from both Georgia and Florida, just on the outskirts of River
City. It’d never seemed much like home until I couldn’t go to it.
We pull out of the prison and turn east. It really starts to sink
in. I’m free.
I study my little brother. He’s confident.
Assured. I know few details of the last few years. It’s not like we
can speak freely when he visits. He owns the only garage in
Madison. I don’t know where he got the cash to buy it but I’m
guessing it was fights. Walker is a talented mechanic, always has
been, so the move makes sense. Makes him look legit. And the place
will give me gainful employment, too. Of course, there’s also the
gym. Our friend Hunter Wallace inherited the building our last year
of high school. The rest of us--me and Walker, Ryder Malone, and
Lake Palmer-- went in with him on equipment. We were just starting
to make a profit when I got sentenced. I’ll have enough income to
eat while I get my bearings. A man will do desperate things if he’s
hungry and I have no plans on going back to prison.
Since I’ve served every minute of my ten year
sentence, I’m a totally free man, not encumbered by any asinine
rules of parole. I try not to think too much about that. I should
have been out of prison years ago, finishing my sentence on parole.
Unfortunately, the warden is an old school buddy of Judge
Jameson’s, the man who’d presided over my trial and sentenced me to
ten years. Even after the man’s death, the warden made sure I
stayed in prison. Every time I came up for a parole board review
some minor infraction against me was manufactured and presented.
Every time I was turned down. Taking a deep breath, I suppress my
rising anger and concentrate on life as a free man.
I hadn’t been in an all-fired rush to return
to Madison until I heard she was back. Closing my eyes, I call up
Serenity Lynn Jameson.
The woman responsible for
my ten years of hell. The last time I saw her in the flesh she was
sitting across a small table from me in the county jail’s
visitation room, close to tears and wringing her hands. If not for
the guards, I might have reached to comfort her, and that had
fucking pissed me off. It still does.
Serenity was innocent and demure. I’d watched
her grow from a skinny gangly kid to a knockout eighteen year-old.
I knew better, but she was a woman I just had to sample. And sample
I had. Once. Only, once wasn’t nearly enough. She’d been meeting me
for the second go when the trouble started. Billy Thompson started
hitting on her the minute she walked in the door. When she shrugged
him off, the man turned dangerous, aggressive. I defended her, why,
I can’t fathom, and Billy was killed, the simple bar fight ended by
Billy’s knife in my hand. The one righteous thing I have ever done
landed me in prison.
The last time I saw Serenity she asked me to
forgive her and promised I’d be out soon. After all, her daddy was
the judge. Why would he send away a man for defending his
daughter’s virtue? I snort. Yeah, right. I’d seen the writing on
the wall. I’d screwed Judge Jameson’s daughter. One man was dead,
and the other from the wrong side of the tracks was in handcuffs. I
didn’t have a chance in hell.
Serenity went north to college before the
trial started. For some reason I’d expected to see her there
anyway. Her not showing up for it felt like rejection, something I
wasn’t accustomed to, a chink in my armor. I beat the emotion down,
but not before vowing to make her pay. When I’d heard my sentence,
ten years, in my mind I’d doubled her sentence, too. She’s spent
the first ten years in her own kind of exile, on the other side of
And now she is back in Madison as a police
“You’re quiet,” Walker cut into my
I smile, the movement tightening muscles long
unused to such action.
“Just contemplating revenge, brother.”
Walker arches an eyebrow. “Lynn Jameson?”
“I call her Serenity.” I breath her name.
Since her father, the judge, died just weeks
after sending me to prison, Serenity is the only one left to
receive my wrath. The only one left to seek vengeance from. Walker
shakes his head.
“Don’t go there, Trace. She’s a cop now, and
she’s dating Tim Monroe.”
Rage roils through me. That is my pussy and
I’m not done with it yet. I’ve spent years dreaming of my one taste
of her and the things I’d do to her when I was free. Most of them
are illegal in Alabama. I don’t care, and neither will she. I’ll
make her beg. It is a vision that has carried me through the years.
The perfect Serenity Jameson, on her knees before me.
“Monroe can’t have her,” I bite out through
clenched teeth. “Not until I’m done with her.”
“Fuck,” Walker mutters.
This time my smile is for real. “I intend
“No, man,” Walker looks over at me after he
steers the car onto the highway heading home. “She’s not the girl
Of course she isn’t. The woman I remember was
sweet and innocent, and I’d been unable to resist her. I’d held
back, afraid I might hurt her, and I hope life has hardened her as
much as it has me. When I start fucking her this time, I won’t
stop. She better be able to take it.
“She’s a real ball-breaker now,” Walker
I smile. Good. I’ll break her of that. Will
revel in doing so, actually. I’m going to make her need me, crave
me, the way I do her. And when I’ve satisfied my longing for her,
I’ll move on.
Monroe can have her.
Lost in my plans, the hours fly by and I’m
surprised when we pull off the road into the gym’s parking lot. I
should have known Walker would bring me here first. I get out of
the car but I don’t go anywhere for a minute. I stare at the
building. It’s been so long and it doesn’t look any different. It’s
like not one year has passed. Except the cars parked out front. A
lot of new models I’ve never seen, lots of trucks, some bikes. I’m
surprised at how full the lot is actually. Business must be
I move forward and Walker falls into step
beside me. Inside, the place is totally different. It’s still a
huge open space with several rings on one side, but now there are
weight stations and treadmills for crissakes. What the fuck? Walker
takes the lead to the back of the building, where I assume the
office still is. As we walk through the gym I swear I see a couple
cops from the old days sparring in a ring. No fucking way. I know
Hunter is running a legit business here but there’s no way he’s
gone straight enough that cops feel comfortable working out
We reach the office and for a moment that
leaves my mind. I’m engulfed when we enter. Surrounded by Hunter,
Ryder, and Lake. After the back thumping is done, Hunter hands me a
“Welcome home, brother,” he says.
I’d be lying if I say I don’t have a lump in
my throat, but I hide the emotion. They know anyway. They’ve
visited over the years. I know a little about their day to day
lives. Hell, Ryder and Lake have even done some time with me. But
to be with them all again, it’s so different. It’s better than I
“It’s good to be home,” I say.
I look through the one way glass into the
“Are there seriously cops in here?”
I have to ask. Exactly how much has changed?
“Yeah. Don’t worry about them. It’s cool.
We’ll talk business in a couple days. Get your bearings, man. Get
drunk. Get laid.”
There are some snickers at that suggestion
but the pointed looks aren’t at me. They’re at Hunter. He rolls his
“What?” I ask.
“Oh, just a sweet little thing that won’t
give him the time of day,” Ryder drawls. “And get this, her name is
Honor. Apparently she actually has some.”
She doesn’t sound like the kind of woman
who’d get involved with men like us but who am I to cast stones? I
have every intention of having a police detective under me in the
next twenty four hours. I give myself away somehow, or maybe Hunter
just wants to direct attention away from himself. He gives me a
harsh, cold look. The boss’s look. In anything else, I’d follow his