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He’s an Invincibles contractor on the fast track to partner.
She’s a cult captive looking for answers.
Together, they’re INVINCIBLE.
I ’m on my way up—up the Invincibles ladder, ready and willing to be named partner. But first, I need to take down the Aryan Brotherhood of Texas, a brainwashed cult that will stop at nothing to get ahead, even hurt their own kin. And that doesn’t sit well with me. When I meet her, the daughter of the brotherhood, I know something is wrong, and dangerous. She’s in trouble and has nobody to turn to—until now.
Conflicting feelings. Emotions that have me reeling. My father is dead. The grief is real, but the relief is paramount. I’m free. I’ve escaped the clutches of him and his vile men. With nowhere to go, I have to trust the Invincibles, especially the one who’s trying to help me. But something tells me, if I get too close, he’ll RIP my heart out.
Vex and Scottie (McKenna Walsh) have been working undercover in Aryan Brother of Texas (ABT) compound. They heard some chatter that the woman they took under their wing, Pearl Fischer, was in danger. In order to prevent anything happening to her, Vex and Scottie manage to get her out of the compound on the pretext of a meeting of the Aryan Nation in Idaho.
Since Vex and Scottie had more to do, they call in Rip to take Pearl to a safe house. Instead Rip takes her to his home on Hammer’s ranch. He felt it would offer the best security for her. There was only one little problem, and that was her ‘father’ John Fischer had kidnapped Hammer’s wife, Maeve. Rip hoped that wouldn’t be an issue.
His goal is to keep Pearl safe from the Aryan’s and figure out why they want her.
Pearl had always lived on the compound, she has no recollection of her mother, only her father. She shared a cabin with her father so she wasn’t with the rest of the single women on the compound in a barracks. Vex and Scottie had taken her in after her father died so she still was with the others. She wasn’t treated well by the other women even though she worked with them. They all had jobs to do. Only Ms. Opal treated her well and taught her to cook.
Rip first researches information on ‘cult survivors’ so he can help Pearl transition to the real world. She has no identification at all since that was all controlled by the men of the ABT. He is slowly introducing Pearl to the freedom she now has. Taking her riding and fishing, while also letting her feel useful by cooking and some cleaning.
A favorite scene is when they go fishing and after.
I couldn’t help but breathe in the scent of her. It was fresh and pure, like a meadow in springtime, when the sun has been shining down on it. I stepped around her and held the fish up once she’d reeled it in far enough. “You got a big one too! Look at that.”
“What do we do with it now?”
“This here is catch-and-release fishing,” I said as I removed the lure and tossed the largemouth bass back in the water.
“What’s the point if you just let them go?”
She raised both eyebrows and cast her line again. After an hour, Pearl had caught and released six to my zero.
“Are you sure we can’t keep any?” she asked when she caught number seven, which looked bigger than the others.
I shook my head. “Why do you want to?”
“Fishing made me hungry.”
I chuckled. “Me too.”
“I don’t think I like fish, though.”
“No? I love a good fried catfish.”
“I’ve never had it.”
“Catfish or any fish?” I asked.
“Then, I know just the place for us to get some.” It would take some finagling on my part, but I thought I could make it work.
We were about fifteen minutes from the ranch when I pulled over and placed a call.
“Hey, Rebel,” I said when the woman who helped out behind the bar and in the kitchen at the Long Branch when needed answered. With both Maeve and Hammer taking some time off before the baby was born, my guess was Rebel and her husband, Edge, who was one of the Invincibles partners, were there pretty much every day.
“Hey, Rip. What can I do for you, sugar?”
“You don’t happen to have two orders of catfish you could package up for me as take out do you?”
“Sure do. You want coleslaw and potato salad with those?”
I looked at Pearl, who could easily hear everything Rebel had said. She nodded her head enthusiastically.
“That’ll be perfect.”
“Give me about fifteen minutes, and I’ll have ’em ready.”
“I’ll swing by the family entrance and grab them.”
I ended the call and was about to put the SUV in gear when I noticed a group of motorcycles headed our way. Rather than pull out, I waited a couple of minutes to give them time to pass. I wasn’t worried about any of them seeing into my vehicle since the windows were tinted pretty dark, but I wanted to get a good look at them, as much as I could see by the light of the moon anyway.
“Let me know if you recognize any of these bikes,” I said when they were almost to us. “Or anyone riding them.”
“All of them,” she said as they drove by in groups.
Rather than follow, I spun the SUV around and went in the opposite direction. Once I turned off the main road, I called Rebel back. “ABT headed your way,” I said when she answered. “You want me to call the sheriff?”
“A couple of them passed Tres on his way in, so he’s way ahead of you, Rip, but thanks for the heads-up.”
“I’m gonna have to take a pass on the catfish, darlin’. I’m really sorry about that.”
“Hammer is headed out with a couple of T-bones. You want me to have him bring your dinners to the ranch with him?”
“If he wouldn’t mind.”
Rebel laughed and ended the call.
I looked over at Pearl, who was wide-eyed and white as a sheet.
“It’s okay. You’re safe with me. You know that right?”
“They’re out looking for me. I can feel it.”
“Well, they aren’t going to find you.” Seconds later, we pulled through the gates of the Hammered Dubliner— a place we wouldn’t be leaving again anytime soon.
Rather than going to my house, I pulled up in front of Hammer’s and called to say I was here, waiting.
“You heard we had company at the Branch,” he said.
“Saw them myself.”
“We’ll talk more when I get there. Go on inside. I’ll let Maeve know you and Pearl will be having dinner with us. We might need to rethink the plan.”
“This is all my fault,” said Pearl. “He doesn’t want me here anymore.”
“I don’t know what you think is your fault, and unless you’re some kind of mind reader, you don’t know what Hammer is thinking either. We need to head inside in just a minute, but first, there’s something I want to talk to you about.”
I knew she didn’t want to go in. I also knew she would anyway. Either way, I was about to reveal to her exactly who I was. I had to, because even though I couldn’t read minds either, I still knew Hammer was going to suggest we relocate.
She turned her body so she was facing me. “Go ahead.”
“Before this goes any further, I need you to know I’m not exactly who you think I am.”
She folded her arms. “Who are you?”
“My name is Rip, or Zane, like I told you. I just never was a part of the Nazi Freedom Riders.
“I knew that inside of five minutes of meeting you.”
I smiled too. “Yeah? How? Do I look too soft to have been one of them?”
“You’re too nice.” I could see the wheels turning in her head. “Mr. Robinson and Ms. Shay aren’t who they said they were either.”
“I think deep down I knew that too. Why are you telling me now?”
“So it’s easier for Hammer and me to talk freely about our next course of action.”
“What about Maeve?”
“You might not believe this, but… Maeve’s brother is actually the head of the CIA.
Again, her eyes opened wide. “She’s Irish.”
“He isn’t. He’s actually her half brother.”
“Is that who you work for?”
“Indirectly. I work for a company called the Invincibles.”
“Your woman said that name.”
I raised a brow. “She’s not my woman.”
“She wants to be.”
“You saw her for thirty seconds. What makes you say something like that?”
She turned her head away so I couldn’t see her face. “Any woman would want to be.”
“Pearl—” Before I could say another word, she got out of the SUV. I did too and headed her off before she got up the steps to the front door. “Don’t run away from me,” I said when she tried to skirt past me.
I put my hands on her arms. “Pearl?”
“Look at me.”
She sure as hell didn’t want to, but eventually, she did anyway.
“Any man would want you to be his too.”
“You’re just saying that because I said it first.”
“Am I? Are you reading my mind now too?”
“You don’t mean it.”
“You’re wrong.” Before I could do something stupid, like show her exactly how wrong she was, Hammer’s vehicle pulled up next to mine. “You head on inside, and I’ll help him bring the food in.”
She took off as soon as I released her.
She looked over her shoulder at me.
“We’re going to finish this conversation later.”
Heather Slade. Ripped (Kindle Locations 854-918). The Invincibles Book Ten.
Knowing the ABT is searching for her leads to them traveling to an even more secure location. Buck’s ranch, The Roaring Fork in Colorado.
I really liked that Pearl took the first step towards furthering the relationship with Rip and I respected him a lot for turning her down. Not because he doesn’t want her, but he wants answers to her situation and for her to heal more first.
Plenty of ups and downs in this one and more than one surprise.
I really can’t wait for the new series with Rip at the head.
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
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My books are filled with things that bring me joy: music, wine, skiing, families, artists, and cowboys. Not always in that order.
I’m an Amazon best-selling author, and a PAN member of Romance Writers of America. I speak, teach, blog, am an executive sommelier, and all-around entrepreneur.
I grew up an east coast girl, and then spent half my life on the west coast. Now my husband, our two boys, and I happily call Colorado home.