"Now that you know everything there is to know about me," she said, licking
cheesecake off her fork with a little show of tongue simply because she liked
Max watching her do it, "let's talk about you."
His smile wilted a little, much to her disappointment. "My life isn't nearly as
interesting as yours. Definitely nothing worth talking about."
"That's silly," she scolded. "I bet you have a lot of fascinating stuff to talk
about. I mean, for starters, did you grow up in a cop family here in Dallas?"
Max didn't say anything, and for a moment, she wasn't sure he'd heard her.
Instead, he focused on his slice of cheesecake, like he was more interested in
that than her. Finally, he looked up and gave another smile—only this time, it
"No, I didn't grow up in Texas. I was born in Las Vegas and lived there until I
was eighteen," he said quietly. "My family was…well, let's just say it was about
as far as you can get from a cop family. To put things in proper perspective, if
one or two events in my life had gone slightly different, you'd be sitting at
the table with a guy who works at a Gas-and-Go."
With his looks, confidence, and knee-weakening charm, Lana had a hard time
believing Max could ever be anything but amazing. "But growing up in Vegas must
have been cool, with all the lights and excitement?"
Max shook his head, though, turning his attention back to his cheesecake, taking
a small bite. "I didn't grow up on that side of Vegas." He lifted his head to
look at her again. "I lived in what you might call the projects—the low-rent
housing section of North Vegas."
"Rough neighborhood?" she prompted, trying to imagine Max in a place like that.
The image just wouldn't stick. He looked like he could take care of himself in a
fight, but the idea of him dealing with that kind of life as a kid bothered her.
"Sometimes it could be," he admitted. "A lot of my friends ended up in jail or
dead. I always considered myself lucky to have gotten out."
"What about the rest of your family?" she asked, curious despite herself. "Did
they get out, too?"
"Not so much," he murmured.
Lana saw the flash of pain that crossed his face, no matter how hard he tried to
hide it, and was immediately sorry she'd asked the question. She waited,
expecting Max to say more. When he didn't, she was smart enough to know it was
time to back off that particular subject. There was something bad lurking in his
past, something he didn't want to talk about.
"I'm sorry," she said, reaching across the table to rest her hand on his heavily
muscled forearm. "I didn't mean to dredge up bad memories."
He looked at her, a slow smile spreading across his face. Setting down his fork,
he placed his hand on top of hers. "You don't have to be sorry. I had a tough
life growing up, and I did a few stupid things. But while the events in my past
will always be with me, they don't necessarily define me. In a lot of ways,
while some of it really sucked, that life also made me stronger."
Lana gazed at him, lost for a moment in those vivid-blue eyes, wondering if
maybe the past Max was referring to was the reason her father seemed so
resistant to the idea of her hanging out with him. She tried to imagine what he
could have done but stopped herself. If Max had done something that terrible, he
would never have been allowed to become a cop, especially one on the SWAT team.
She was aware enough of her dad's job to know that SWAT only took in the very
They sat there quietly for a while, eating cheesecake and enjoying each other's
company. Just another indication there was something special going on between
them. In her experience, dead air in the middle of a first date was a sure a
sign she wasn't compatible with a guy. But with Max, she felt completely
comfortable with it.
When her dessert plate was clean—short of licking it, of course—she found
herself curious about one thing and hoped it was something Max wouldn't mind
"If you don't mind me asking, how did you get from that bad place in North
Vegas, with the tough life you had and the stupid things you did, and into the
Dallas PD SWAT Team? That's got to be a complicated story."
His mouth quirked mischievously. "Yeah, complicated would be a good word for it.
I'm just not sure I should tell you about it."
"Why not?" she asked, surprised.
"Because, like I said, I did some stupid stuff. Stuff I'm not so proud of. I
don't mind telling you, but I'd hate to give you a bad opinion of me."
"Is my opinion of you that important already?" she asked coyly.
He smiled again. "Actually, it is. As crazy as that may be."
She didn't think it was crazy at all. Probably because the connection between
them was growing stronger by the second. She couldn't imagine anything he told
her that would affect what they had.
"I hereby solemnly promise not to judge," she said. "Lay it on me."
He laughed and reached into the pocket of his jeans. A moment later, he came out
with a poker chip and set it down on the table between them. She picked it up to
read the logo. It was a fancy ten-dollar chip from a casino in Reno that she'd
never heard of. Then again, she didn't know much about casinos in general, much
less those in Reno. She flipped it over, expecting to see something on the
backside that would help her understand what she was looking at, but there was
nothing special there, either.
"What's this?" she asked, bouncing the chip in her hand and feeling the weight
of it before handing it back to him. "Did you win it while you were in Reno?"
He took the chip back and gazed at it, a slight smile curving the corners of his
lips. "No, I didn't win it. I paid for it out of my own pocket. I keep it as a
reminder of the day my entire life changed."
When SWAT Officer Max Lowry meets Lana Mason, he falls fast and hard. He's
positive she's The One. And Max's favorite part? Lana's a wolf shifter too, so
they can skip the awkward reveal and head straight to the happily ever after.
There's just one problem: Lana doesn't know that she's a werewolf.
To make matters worse, hunters with intent to kill have tracked Lana to
Dallas. Max has to figure out how to keep Lana safe, show her who and what she
really is―and just how much she means to him.
Paige Tyler is the USA Today bestselling author of
sexy, romantic fiction. She and her very own military hero (also known as her
husband) live on the beautiful Florida coast with their adorable fur baby (also
known as their dog). Paige graduated with a degree in education, but decided to
pursue her passion and write books about hunky alpha males and the kickbutt
heroines who fall in love with them.
Snickers cheesecake is my favorite, a friend makes it. Crust has peanuts, cheesecake has caramel swirled through, and there is a layer of chocolate topping with crushed peanuts sprinkled over it. (G. Bisbjerg 9:19am December 8)
Strawberry is the best!! I can't wait to read and this series is GREAT!!!! Thanks for writing them. Merry Christmas (Jennifer Beck 11:39am December 8)
Sorry not a fan, but my dad and sister love cheesecake... (Colleen Conklin 11:50am December 8)
Honestly, plain cheesecake is good enough for me lol (Emily DeFour 6:23pm December 8)