Kill Without Shame

By: Alexandra Ivy

Prologue


The worst part of being held in a Taliban prison was the recurring nightmares. At least as far as Lucas St. Clair was concerned.

No matter how many years passed, his nights were still plagued with memories of being trapped in the smothering darkness of the caves. He could smell the stench of unwashed bodies and undiluted fear. He could hear the muffled sounds of men praying for death.

He knew his parents assumed that his biggest regret was the derailment of his political aspirations. After all, his military career was intended to be the first step in his climb to a position as a diplomat.

From there . . . well, his family was nothing if not ambitious. They’d no doubt seen the White House in his future.

But there were few things that could make a man view his life with the stark clarity of five weeks of brutal torture.

By the time he’d managed to escape the caves, he’d known he was done living his life to please the precious St. Clair clan.

Instead he’d banded together with his friends—Rafe Vargas, a covert ops specialist; Max Grayson, who was trained in forensics; Hauk Laurensen, a sniper; and Teagan Moore, a computer wizard—to create ARES Security.

He’d wasted too much of his life.

He intended to leave the past behind and concentrate on his future.

Of course, there was an old saying about “the best laid plans of mice and men. . . .”





Chapter One


The Saloon was the sort of bar that catered to the locals in the quiet Houston neighborhood.

It was small, with lots of wood and polished brass. Overhead there was an open beam ceiling, with muted lights that provided a cozy atmosphere, and on the weekends a jazz band was invited to play quietly on the narrow stage.

Lucas spent most Friday evenings at the table tucked in a back corner. It was unofficially reserved for the five men who ran ARES Security.

The men liked the peaceful ambiance, the communal agreement that everyone should mind their own business, and the fact that the table was situated so no one could sneak up from behind.

Trained soldiers didn’t want surprises.

At the moment, the bar was nearly empty. Not only was it a gray, wet Wednesday evening, but it was the first week of December. That meant Christmas madness was in full swing.

Perfectly normal people were now in crazy mode as they scurried from store to store, battling one another for the latest have-to-have gift. It was like Thunderdome without Tina Turner.

Currently Lucas and Teagan shared the place with a young couple seated near the bay window at the front of the bar. Those two were oblivious to everything but each other. And closer to the empty stage was a table of college girls. Already at the giggly stage of drunk, they were all blatantly checking Lucas out. At least when they weren’t gawking at Teagan.

No biggie.

Both men were accustomed to female attention.

Teagan was a large, heavily muscled man with dark caramel skin, and golden eyes that he’d inherited from his Polynesian mother. He kept his hair shaved close to his skull, and as usual was dressed in a pair of camo pants and shit-kickers. He had an aggressive vibe that was only emphasized by the tight T-shirt that left his arms bare to reveal numerous tattoos.

Lucas St. Clair, on the other hand, was wearing a thousand-dollar suit that was tailored to perfectly fit his lean body. His glossy black hair was smoothed away from his chiseled face, which he’d been told could easily grace the covers of fashion magazines. As if he gave a shit.

His eyes were so dark they looked black. It wasn’t until he was in the sunlight that it became obvious they were a deep, indigo blue.

Most assumed he was the less dangerous of the two men.

They’d be wrong.

But while the girls became increasingly more obvious in their attempts to attract their attention, neither man glanced in their direction.

Teagan because he already had a flock of women that included supermodels and two famous actresses.

And Lucas because . . . He grimaced.

To be honest, he wasn’t sure why. He only knew that his interest in women hadn’t been the same since he’d crawled out of that hellhole in Afghanistan. Not unless he counted the hours he spent brooding on one woman in particular.

The one who got away.

Lucas gave a sharp shake of his head, reaching for his shot of tequila. It slid down his throat like liquid fire, burning away the past.

Nothing like a twelve-year-old vintage to ease the pain.

Lucas glanced toward his companion’s empty glass. “Another round?” he asked.

“Sure.” Teagan waited for Lucas to nod toward the bartender, who was washing glasses, at the same time keeping a sharp eye on his few customers. “I assume you’re picking up the tab?”

Lucas cocked a brow. “Why do I always have to pick up the tab?”