Ashe Barker has a new release out! She's one of my favorite writers, you should give yourself a treat and download her book! Thanks for stopping by my blog today, Ashe.
I’m really excited about Hardened. I’ve written quite a few M/f stories, and they mostly tend to start out with the male hero in a position of power or influence. Hardened is different. When we meet Jared and Molly he is a prisoner serving time for armed robbery and she’s a prison officer. The chemistry between them is off the scale sexy though, and even though it spells trouble for them both, but especially for her, they can’t keep their hands off each other. For a while I’ve been thinking about a story that starts out a bit different and this is it.
Jared is a bad lad (don’t we all just love one of those?) but he’s bright too, and talented, and can see where he’s gone wrong. He’s made some bad choices when he was younger but he’s determined to forge a different life for himself, though it’s not always that simple. I suspect the same is true for most ex-offenders – it can be hard to completely walk away from your old associates and as Jared discovers, the past has a habit of never being that far behind you.
“Pearson, you’re going to be late.” He has plenty of time, but I want to talk to North alone.
“No, miss. I’m fine for a bit yet.” Pearson seems quite content to continue shoving clothes into the steam press and slamming down the lid. I watch him for a couple of minutes before I try again.
“We’re short-staffed today, everything takes longer. Better get a move on, Pearson.”
“Is someone else coming, then?” Pearson switches off his laundry press and ambles over to where I’m stationed by the door. The regulations require at least two people to be present when the laundry is in use in case of accidents.
“Soon. I’ll let you out then I’ll stay with North until Jackson arrives.”
It’ll be at least half an hour before the next prisoner is detailed to come down and take over from Pearson, which should be ample time to ask Jared North about the camera. I precede the prisoner down to the gates at the end of the utility wing corridor and let him through. From there another officer will let Pearson back onto the wing, and onto the visitors’ suite. I relock the security gate and return to the laundry room.
North is still occupied with his task, though he does glance at me over his shoulder as I re-enter the huge room, then he switches his attention back to his work.
“I want my property back.” His curt remark is delivered without even looking at me. He straightens, flexes his muscles, and drags another wheeled bin of dirty laundry in the direction of an empty washing machine.
“You’re not supposed to have a camera in here. You know that.”
“Neither are you, Miss MacBride.” Now he does turn to regard me fully, one hip propped on the edge of the bin, his expression inscrutable. “Care to explain?”
I don’t. I don’t care to explain at all. I have nothing even vaguely resembling an explanation to offer, either to North or to myself.
“Where did you get it?” I try to inject a note of authority into my question.
He simply shakes his head.
I try again, piling on the officiousness as best I can. “Someone brought it in for you. I want to know who that was.”
“I could put you on report, you do realise that?”
Now he just chuckles. “But you won’t. You can’t.”
He continues as though I hadn’t spoken. “Because if you do, you’ll have to also explain why you didn’t report it yesterday. Why you hid it, and I assume took it home with you. And why you brought it back. I hope you did bring my camera back, Miss MacBride.”
“Why did you take pictures of me?” I blurt out the question, homing in on the one aspect of all this that makes me most uncomfortable. And most exhilarated.
He smiles and meets my gaze, though he appears rather calmer than I am right now.
“Because I like looking at you.”
“What do you mean? That’s, that’s…”
“You’re prettier than Mr. Drummond.”
“That’s not saying much.” Our wing supervisor is certainly no oil painting, I’m not sure I appreciate the comparison.
“Perhaps not. So, are you going to give it back to me?” He holds out his hand, one eyebrow raised in what could only be described as a direct challenge.
I tilt up my chin; assertiveness is everything in these confrontational situations between officers and prisoners. “No, North, I’m not. It’s a contraband item and it’s been confiscated.”
He appears quite unruffled. “I see. Very well, I’ll apply to the governor for it to be returned.”
“No! No, you can’t.” I take a step toward him, then pause, uncertain how best to proceed.
“Can I not? Oh, I understand, because then you’ll have to explain how it found its way into your pocket during the cell search. Yes, I can see that might be awkward. Still, that isn’t really my problem.” He starts to load the laundry into the machine. “Could you close the door as you leave, Miss MacBride?”
I stand, glaring at his muscled back, intensely aware of the camera nestling in my pocket. He has me, it’s as simple as that. I have no choice.
“Okay, you can have it back. But you have to delete the pictures of me.”
He turns to face me again. “Are you still here, Miss MacBride?”
About Ashe Barker
USA Today Bestselling author Ashe Barker writes erotic romance and spanking romance in a variety of genres including contemporary, BDSM, paranormal, historical. ménage, gay romance and time travel. She is a #1 Amazon Bestseller and all her stories feature hot alpha males and sassy submissives, often with a lot to learn. Kink abounds, and there’s enough dirty talk to satisfy the most demanding smut lover. However dark and dirty the setting, love always emerges triumphant, and her stories never fail to deliver a satisfying happy ever after.
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