Nauti angel, p.1
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       Nauti Angel, p.1

         Part #4 of Nauti Girls series by Lora Leigh
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Nauti Angel


  Praise for the Nauti series

  “The Nauti series is one that absolutely no one should miss. The characters are brilliant, sexy, and real, while the high-octane action and soul-gripping plots have you on the edge of your seat. I loved it!”

  —Fresh Fiction

  “Completely blown away by this surprising story. I could not put [it] down . . . and before I knew it, I had read this entire novel in one sitting . . . A smoldering hot tale of secret passion and erotic deceptions.”

  —Romance Junkies

  “Wild and thrilling.”

  —The Romance Studio

  “The sex scenes are, as always with Leigh’s books, absolutely sizzling.”

  —Errant Dreams Reviews

  “Heated romantic suspense.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  More praise for

  Lora Leigh

  and her novels

  “Leigh draws readers into her stories and takes them on a sensual roller coaster.”

  —Love Romances & More

  “Will have you glued to the edge of your seat.”

  —Fallen Angel Reviews

  “Blistering sexuality and eroticism . . . Bursting with passion and drama . . . Enthralls and excites from beginning to end.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “A scorcher with sex scenes that blister the pages.”

  —A Romance Review

  “A perfect blend of sexual tension and suspense.”

  —Sensual Romance Reviews

  “Hot sex, snappy dialogue, and kick-butt action add up to outstanding entertainment.”

  —RT Book Reviews (Top Pick)

  “The writing of Lora Leigh continues to amaze me . . . Electrically charged, erotic, and just a sinfully good read!”

  —Joyfully Reviewed

  “Wow! . . . The lovemaking is scorching.”

  —Just Erotic Romance Reviews

  Berkley Titles by Lora Leigh

  The Breeds

  WAKE A SLEEPING TIGER

  BENGAL’S QUEST

  RULE BREAKER

  STYGIAN’S HONOR

  LAWE’S JUSTICE

  NAVARRO’S PROMISE

  STYX’S STORM

  LION’S HEAT

  BENGAL’S HEART

  COYOTE’S MATE

  MERCURY’S WAR

  DAWN’S AWAKENING

  TANNER’S SCHEME

  HARMONY’S WAY

  MEGAN’S MARK

  The Nauti Series

  NAUTI ANGEL

  NAUTI SEDUCTRESS

  NAUTI ENCHANTRESS

  NAUTI TEMPTRESS

  NAUTI DECEPTIONS

  NAUTI INTENTIONS

  NAUTI DREAMS

  NAUTI NIGHTS

  NAUTI BOY

  Anthologies

  TOO HOT TO TOUCH

  OVERCOME

  ENTHRALLED

  (with Alyssa Day, Meljean Brook, and Lucy Monroe)

  NAUTIER AND WILDER

  (with Jaci Burton)

  TIED WITH A BOW

  (with Virginia Kantra, Eileen Wilks, and Kimberly Frost)

  PRIMAL

  (with Michelle Rowen, Jory Strong, and Ava Gray)

  NAUTI AND WILD

  (with Jaci Burton)

  HOT FOR THE HOLIDAYS

  (with Angela Knight, Anya Bast, and Allyson James)

  THE MAGICAL CHRISTMAS CAT

  (with Erin McCarthy, Nalini Singh, and Linda Winstead Jones)

  SHIFTER

  (with Angela Knight, Alyssa Day, and Virginia Kantra)

  BEYOND THE DARK

  (with Angela Knight, Emma Holly, and Diane Whiteside)

  HOT SPELL

  (with Emma Holly, Shiloh Walker, and Meljean Brook)

  BERKLEY SENSATION

  Published by Berkley

  An imprint of Penguin Random House LLC

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014

  Copyright © 2017 by Lora Leigh

  Penguin Random House supports copyright. Copyright fuels creativity, encourages diverse voices, promotes free speech, and creates a vibrant culture. Thank you for buying an authorized edition of this book and for complying with copyright laws by not reproducing, scanning, or distributing any part of it in any form without permission. You are supporting writers and allowing Penguin Random House to continue to publish books for every reader.

  BERKLEY and BERKLEY SENSATION are registered trademarks and the B colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

  Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

  Names: Leigh, Lora, author.

  Title: Nauti angel / Lora Leigh.

  Other titles: Naughty Angel

  Description: First edition. | New York : Berkley Sensation, 2017. | Series: Nauti girls ; 4

  Identifiers: LCCN 2017028072 (print) | LCCN 2017030160 (ebook) | ISBN 9780399583865 (ebook) | ISBN 9780399583858 (trade)

  Subjects: | BISAC: FICTION / Romance / Contemporary. | FICTION / Romance / Suspense. | FICTION / Contemporary Women. | GSAFD: Love stories.

  Classification: LCC PS3612.E357 (ebook) | LCC PS3612.E357 N35 2017 (print) | DDC 813/.6—dc23

  LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2017028072

  First Edition: November 2017

  Cover photos: couple © Claudio Marinesco; lake © Leventina; sky © Anthony Heflin

  Cover design by Rita Frangie

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Version_1

  CONTENTS

  Praise for Lora Leigh

  Berkley Titles by Lora Leigh

  Title Page

  Copyright

  PROLOGUE

  ONE

  TWO

  THREE

  FOUR

  FIVE

  SIX

  SEVEN

  EIGHT

  NINE

  TEN

  ELEVEN

  TWELVE

  THIRTEEN

  FOURTEEN

  FIFTEEN

  SIXTEEN

  SEVENTEEN

  EIGHTEEN

  NINETEEN

  TWENTY

  TWENTY-ONE

  TWENTY-TWO

  EPILOGUE

  About the Author

  PROLOGUE

  Iraq

  Twenty years ago

  She was only three years old. She wasn’t supposed to be outside alone without her momma or daddy, or her aunt. Beth knew that. As she stumbled along the dark, deserted street, she knew she was going to get in trouble. Her momma promised to take away all of her cartoons if she ever wandered off alone.

  But her daddy hadn’t woken up after he closed his eyes, just like Jenny. They were so still and white, and she knew they were gone forever like Momma told her Grandma and Grandpa were gone forever.

  The place where she was waiting for Momma was so scary now. It was just big rocks and pipes and it was so hard to breathe in the small space where she’d awakened.

  She needed her momma.

  She was just a little girl. She wasn’t supposed to be by herself, especially in this place where she didn’t understand what people were saying and the sound of cries and angry voices seemed to echo around her.

&n
bsp; The houses didn’t look like the ones at home either. They were little and rough-looking. The road was dirty and uneven and there weren’t any cars moving on it. She hadn’t even seen anyone. She hadn’t heard a single sound that made sense.

  Where was her momma?

  Her arm hurt, and her pretty white dress was so dirty. It was hard to walk. Every step she took made her leg hurt worse and she’d lost one of her little white sandals.

  She still had Binny, though.

  The big teddy bear her momma had put the straps on so he would be easier to carry rode right on her back like he was supposed to. And she knew her momma’s favorite knife was still in the pocket sewn into Binny’s belly.

  The knife would keep her safe. It had always kept her momma safe; now it would keep her safe.

  Stopping in the middle of the street she stared around the night again, wondering why everything was so strange.

  Everything was dirty. The houses had boards on the windows and there were no lights inside. And she’d yelled for her momma so many times her throat hurt, but no one had answered.

  “I don’ know where to go, Binny,” she whispered, sniffing back her tears. “I want Momma.”

  Pushing the hair back from her face she wished she hadn’t lost the bow that had kept it out of her eyes. It was hard to keep pushing her hair back, and she was so tired. She just wanted to lie down. She just wanted everything to stop hurting.

  She wanted her momma.

  As she looked around, she suddenly stilled, blinking at the dark shape that edged from an alley, watching her curiously.

  The dog was big. Probably bigger than any dog she’d ever seen. Black and brown, its dark eyes watching her quietly for long moments before he eased closer, sniffing at her.

  “Don’t bite me,” she whispered, so tired she didn’t have the strength to run away from him as he tilted his head and made a snuffling dog sound.

  He was so big she could probably ride on his back if she wasn’t so tired. As it was, all she could do was shudder when he came closer, sniffed at her hair, then her face. His nose was wet and cold when he nudged her arm, pushing her toward the alley he’d stepped from as he whined at her.

  She wanted to find her momma, not play with a dog that was too big for her to run away from.

  She tried to push him away, but he gripped her dress in his big white teeth, whined again, and tugged at her harder.

  Maybe he knew where her momma was. Maybe her momma had sent him after her.

  The dog whined again, pulling her into the dark, narrow road as the sound of voices could be heard in the distance. They sounded angry, and Beth couldn’t understand them. They frightened her as bad as the dark did.

  The dog whined again and pulled at her dress more firmly, almost making her fall.

  “I’m coming, you big dog,” she muttered, feeling a little angry herself and so scared.

  Where was her momma? Why hadn’t she wanted to come get her?

  She forced herself to follow the dog’s urging, putting one foot in front of the other even though it hurt so bad and her head was feeling funny again.

  The dog kept walking and walking and making her walk with him. When she just wanted to sit down, he growled at her. The sound was a warning and she was so scared he would bite her if she didn’t keep walking.

  Down one narrow street then another until she felt so confused, so tired.

  Head down, following the dog’s nudges and tugs at her dress, she concentrated on just walking, just moving. The dog wouldn’t let her do anything else.

  “Brute, what do you have here?”

  The man’s low, comforting voice had her freezing, fear causing a sob to escape her throat. Hope making her shudder because she could understand what he was saying.

  Beth stopped, still trembling as she forced herself to look up. And up.

  The dog rubbed against the big man’s leg, whining in happiness as the man knelt down to her, and still he was very tall. But she understood him.

  “I want my momma,” she whispered, tears falling from her eyes even though she tried not to cry. “Please, I want my momma. . . .”

  Then, just like at the hotel, everything went completely, silently black.

  • • •

  J. T. Calloway caught the tiny, delicate girl before she hit the ground, shock tearing through him in that single second before he straightened and ducked into the doorway of the hut where he and his family had taken shelter, the overgrown war dog he’d trained himself as a pup, Brutus, following silently behind him. He’d have to remember to get the Rottweiler a steak as reward for what he’d brought back with him. Waiting in the hut were the two men that fought with him, their small force covert and highly lethal. And for the moment, they were stuck in the chaos that was Iraq, unable to fly out for several more hours.

  “J.T.?” His wife, Mara, rushed to him, her expression concerned as she caught sight of his small burden. “Oh my God. J.T.?”

  There was no mistaking the little girl’s blond hair, her bloodstained face, or the fact that her arm was broken.

  “She’s been beaten.” Mara’s voice was flat as J.T. laid the little girl on the cot in the corner of the room. “This world is full of monsters.”

  “She’s a blond child in a war-torn city,” he snorted, moving to put water on the small propane burner they hadn’t yet packed before turning to the two men now standing on alert at the doorway. “I’m surprised she managed to escape whoever had her.”

  “Small group coming this way. Iraqi, chattering about that damned hotel,” one of the men muttered as they stood next to the wood barrier, their automatic rifles held ready.

  That damned hotel.

  It had exploded earlier that day, the rubble creating a mess several blocks over. Thankfully, it seemed to be deserted at the time.

  “The water, J.T.,” Mara demanded. “And I need you over here. She’s in bad shape.”

  He hadn’t completed his medical degree, but his education still served him, even fifteen years after dropping out of college.

  “Did she say anything?” his wife demanded as J.T. placed the metal pan of steaming water next to her.

  “‘I want my momma,’” he answered her. “That was all she said.”

  “Poor little angel,” she whispered, brushing the bloody, tangled hair back from the child’s face as J.T. did a quick examination.

  Her arm was definitely broken, but her leg was likely fractured, too. How the child had actually walked was beyond him.

  The damage to her tiny body was horrifying.

  “We can’t leave her here.” The distress in Mara’s voice was more a demand. A statement of intent.

  “We’re not leaving her,” he promised. “We’ll take her out with us. I have enough contacts here. I’ll hear if anyone’s searching for a missing American girl.”

  That didn’t mean he’d tell Mara if he learned one was actually missing.

  “Wake Tracker and Chance and finish packing,” he told her as he quickly began placing a splint on the kid’s arm. “I’ll make sure she can make the flight, then we’ll pull out. I don’t want anyone to see her when we leave. We’ll figure out who she is later.”

  Mara didn’t question him, didn’t object. She jumped to her feet instead and rushed to get the boys ready to leave. The girl would have to be ready to travel, J.T. decided. They couldn’t stay here any longer; their mission was over. And if he wanted to keep the child Brutus had found wandering in the streets, then no one could know she’d ever been there.

  Whoever had so carelessly lost her would just have to do without her, because she was his and Mara’s now.

  She was their Angel.

  ONE

  Somerset, Kentucky

  Twenty years later

  “Angel. Angel, you’re here!” Bliss Mackay jumped up from the large
towel she was lying on and ran to the young woman making her way along the grassy bank from the marina store.

  She carried a pizza box and a cooler full of drinks toward Bliss and the teenagers. Beyond Angel, through the large glass window of the store, Bliss could see her parents, Chaya and Natches, watching. And Bliss could see the frown on her mother’s face and the confusion on her father’s.

  Behind her, her cousins Annie, Laken, and Erin stood up from their own towels, all of them hurrying to meet the young woman at the wooden picnic table beneath the shade of a large dogwood tree.

  “I have arrived,” Angel agreed, the smile that lit up her face much different than the one she always gave the adults.

  It wasn’t the pizza that caused Bliss and her cousins to greet Angel so enthusiastically, though. It was Angel herself. She liked to talk about girly stuff, even though she wasn’t the least bit girly. But she could talk about fixing cars and motorcycles and show the girls how to protect themselves and fend off the sometimes too-excited boys that decided they wanted more than just a kiss.

  She knew cool stuff. Like what a desert wind felt like, or the scent of a jungle and how the smell of the different blooms would only tease and make a person want to smell it more. She had been places and seen things Bliss only dreamed of going and seeing.

  As Angel placed the food and drinks on the table and turned to them, Bliss threw her arms around her in a tight hug, knowing the pizza must mean Angel would be leaving, if not today then the next morning. And she couldn’t help but hold on tighter for a moment as she made herself hold back all the things she wanted to say.

  “I’m going to miss you so much,” Angel whispered a second before she pulled back. She hugged the other girls and said the same thing.

  Even though she said the same thing to her cousins, Bliss knew Angel meant the words more for her than the others. She knew it and couldn’t say anything because she was never certain why. It was just a truth that was there, like she and Angel were best friends all their lives, despite their eight-year age difference.

  “I’m starting to hate pizza,” the youngest girl, Erin, sighed as they all sat at the table. “It always means you’re going to leave.”

  “Yeah, we hate it when you leave, Angel,” Annie, older than Bliss by a few weeks, agreed as she glanced away for a moment.

 

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