When self-proclaimed good girl Jessica Knight literally bumps into apparent bad boy Connor O’Brien in a suburban Milwaukee wine bar, she is skeptical—of his intentions and the prospect for real love. A former priest, Saint Con is now a street lawyer for Milwaukee’s homeless. After a night of sizzling romance, Jess begins to thaw, and in the days that follow, she is so charmed by Con that she allows herself to start falling in love. Unfortunately, on their first real date, Con fails to appear. Jess doesn’t know if she’s been ghosted or if Con was unavoidably detained, but she leaves their meeting spot devastated.
Until she discovers that Con is missing. Really missing. The police won’t help because he’s not a vulnerable adult, nor is there proof that he has been harmed. So it falls to Jess and her friends to find him. After surmounting numerous obstacles, Con is finally found, gravely injured and in a coma. Suddenly it appears a promising love match may be over before it really began.
Totally oblivious to her surroundings, Jessica Knight exited the wine bar restroom and slammed into a large, immobile object. Quickly, she stepped back and gazed up at said object. It took everything within her to squelch a gasp. The man blocking her path was the classic bad boy. Tatted arms, wild dark brown hair, a devil-may-care smirk, and intense blue eyes that were so fierce, she was sure he could see into her soul.
Dammit, he was hot.
The man studied her and chuckled. He reached down, removed the tube of lip gloss she still held in her hand, and pocketed it. “I’ve made a mess of your mouth.” He shrugged, then leaned down and kissed her. “Hell, you’re going to have to fix it, anyway.”
Though brief, the kiss sent butterflies ping-ponging through her stomach. Jessica’s hand flew to her lips, and she stared at him dumbly. “Uh huh.” Normally, her response would have been outrage. Seriously, strangers did not just walk up to a woman and steal a kiss. That bordered on sexual assault. Yet this man had struck her dumb.
Jessica was a respectable lawyer. She’d put herself through law school working three jobs and surviving on apples, blue box macaroni, and tomato soup. She had worked hard and continued to do so, never once crossing the line onto the dark side. Until now.
She was the classic good girl. She learned the ways of the world at the feet of nuns at an all-girl’s school. Actually, it was rather surprising she hadn’t joined a convent. When she was fourteen, she had declared that intention. It was more out of fascination with the cafeteria food at her great aunt’s Order than anything. But she discovered boys shortly thereafter and shifted gears. Still, her religious training stuck, and it influenced every decision she made. She didn’t take unnecessary chances. She always played it safe. Especially with men.
She knew to stay away from men who were unbearably handsome, kissed like a seductive rock star, and were a member of some biker gang. Jessica stared at the man. He was all wrong for her. It didn’t matter that a single kiss had her yearning for more or that she wanted to crawl up this man like a monkey. He was just wrong for her. Step back, Jess. This guy is trouble.
Jessica turned to move away, but he stopped her. “You’re not running away after that, doll. You and me? We’ve got business to attend to. I know it. You know it. Capiche?” He grinned and leaned down to kiss her again.
Jessica fought the heat racing through her, the electric current melting her resolve and making her lady bits dance. This man kissed with expertise, igniting a passion previously unknown to her. Again she pulled back and stared at him. Her lips felt as if they had been seared with a branding iron. Slowly, she shook her head. “No. This is not happening. I’m not in the habit of kissing complete strangers.”
The man grinned, his gorgeous blue eyes taking on a twinkle. “When you know, doll, you know. And I know that you and I belong together. When I saw you across the room, my heart lit up, and I knew we had to meet. And now, with a single kiss, I know we belong together. I know you feel it, too, but your brain hasn’t caught up yet. Give it time. It will.”
Jessica pinched her arm. Surely this was some sort of dream. A baffling, mad dream, born of too many romcom flicks and lonely nights spent consuming steamy romance books. This shit didn’t happen in real life. Jessica didn’t have time for a tumble between the sheets with an extremely handsome stud muffin. At least not when she was busting her ass to become professionally and financially solvent. Her rigid path made no allowance for a one-night stand, much less romance.
She stiffened her spine and glared at the Alpha before her. She motioned between the two of them. “You’ve got the wrong girl. I don’t do one-night stands, and I don’t have time for anything else.” She scowled. “You’re nothing more than a horny predator who stepped into my path, assuming I was easy prey.” She tossed her hair over a shoulder and planted her hands on her hips. “Don’t let this angelic façade fool you. I may look like a blonde green-eyed nymph with a body for sin, but inside I’m a lethal paragon of justice with claws that leave scars. So step aside, hot stuff. I want to get back to my drink.”
The biker laughed and cocked an untamed eyebrow. “You did not just call yourself a lethal paragon of justice. My God, I thought I left all of those behind in law school.” He continued to chuckle. “Arrogant much?”
Jessica felt her hackles rise. “You’re a lawyer? No way. You’re just too…too scruffy.” Her eyes swept the man’s muscular body. Oh, my.
The sexy smirk was back. “Let me tell you a secret, doll. Prior to law school, I was on my way to becoming a priest.”
“No way,” she repeated.
“Yeah. After a few years, I was advised that I was too independent and too liberal to serve the church. They also expressed doubt at my ability to live a celibate life.” He shrugged. “That happened after I informed a certain instructor that I didn’t swing that way.”
Jessica gaped. She must be dreaming. Her friends often joked that her perfect mate was a priest. This guy must be a figment of her imagination.
“You need to learn not to judge a book by its cover, doll, as I didn’t judge you.” He fingered her hair. “These blonde curls scream angelic, but your eyes scream warrior princess. And doll, I love a woman who breathes fire.”
Jessica abruptly shook herself. “Now I know I’m dreaming. This is too fucking irrational to be real.” She closed her eyes and mumbled, “Wake up, dammit. This isn’t real. I’m just in a deep sleep caused by too much work and too little downtime.”
The hunk touched her hand, and her eyes flew open. God, his very touch sent a thunderbolt of heat to her core.
“Let me introduce myself, doll. I’m Connor O’Brien, and you are?”