Secrets to tell. Love to conquer. Lives to save.
Danger. Domination. Destruction.

The Jackals
An elite team of smokejumpers nestled in the heard of Missoula, Montana.
By day they indulge in their penchant for danger.
By night they exude passion.
Are you ready for their brand of domination?

Prevent. Protect. Preserve. This is their motto.
Missoula Smokejumpers is the series name. Standing by the River’s Edge Prequel Volume Two is another sneak peek at four of the men, heroes seeking solace, and the beginning of their journey. The journey continues with four:
Riker. Boone. Sawyer. Antonio.

Publisher’s Note: This second prequel to the Missoula Smokejumpers series is intended for adults only and contains elements of romance, power exchange, action, adventure, and explicit scenes. If any of these offend you, please do not purchase.

Excerpt

Riker

 

Baltimore, 2017, Patapsco Valley State Park

 

Life is precious. Never forget…

The words lingered, the sentiment one he’d come to understand, yet rage remained hiding just below the surface. As he stood at the banks of the Patapsco River, Riker Sheffield studied the gorge, the way the lapping water trickled over the craggy rocks, heading for the waterfall. This had once been a magical location, a beautiful reminder of Mother Nature. Now, he could barely tolerate the scenic park or stand to hear the laughter of families sharing a special day.

At least today was quiet, allowing him a serene and last glimpse of a once special spot. Sighing, he brushed his hand through his short-cropped hair, one of many recent changes. Today was the first day of a new life, one devoid of every aspect of his former day to day environment. The upcoming move was needed, friends and what few family members he maintained contact with had encouraged a change of venue dozens of times. Finally, he was ready. This was one last look. A timeless reflection.

He eyed his beloved Harley and walked with heavy feet to the small satchel attached to the back. When he reached out, he realized his hand was shaking, matching the way his heart was thumping, sending echoes into his ears. Swallowing hard, he unbuckled and opened the flap, pulling out an aged, white photo album. As he rubbed his hand across the coffee splattered cover, he couldn’t help but smile. The moment Rose had spilled her cup of freshly brewed coffee across the book, she’d screamed, her eyes flashing fury. He would never forget the flurry of cuss words she’d spewed as she’d grabbed a towel. His wife had always been particular, exact in every detail of how she handled their marriage.

Chuckling, he pulled the album against his chest, the usual sadness creeping in, but today was meant for remembering the special moments they’d shared. She would be furious to know his eyes were filled with tears. He wiped them away and sat down on the grassy knoll, determined to do this. He’d planned for over two weeks, preparing to say goodbye. Then again, how could one truly prepare for a rush of images and thoughts, sayings and photographs? He looked up toward the crystalline blue sky, white fluffy clouds rolling by as the wind seemed to carry them straight to the heavens.

Riker had fought his rages, bouts of bitter anger that had taken him down a very dark path for far too long. Time to forgive and find more out of life. Yes, this was a promise he’d made to both of them. Inhaling, he allowed the sweet smell of late summer flowers to filter into the depths of his being as he opened to the first page. Reading the inscription, seeing her terrible handwriting brought a smile.

Rose, Riker and Grace

Sharing love, life and good times

Yes, they had. His hand not completely steady, he turned to the first page, their wedding pictures a vivid reminder of time past. What a glorious event the day had been, the ceremony held on the shore of her favorite beach. The setting sun, the ocean waves and the amazing color splashing across the sky had been the perfect backdrop. She’d been so beautiful, especially in her bare feet and tousled hair. “Oh, baby.” Refusing to allow any additional tears to fall, he flipped to another and another page, savoring the exquisite photographs. A strangled sound escaped his lips as he fingered his baby’s gorgeous face. Then there was Grace, born two months early and fighting for life, but the sweet baby had turned into an incredible little girl. Daddy’s little girl.

Riker blinked and looked away, his hand gripping his jeans. This was far too difficult. He fisted his mouth, willing the haunting moments into a darkened pool. This was important. Rose would want this, a special send off. He looked down and turned to the middle of the book. Bursting out laughing, this was exactly the memory he needed. Rose’s face, her goofy expression as she played up to the camera. The love of his life had always found a way to find fun and a touch of her usual wickedness no matter what they were doing or experiencing. He realized he was sitting on the exact spot as the day the picture was taken. Karma? Ridding ghosts from the past? No, this was Rose’s doing. He’d bet all he owned.

Leaning back, he traced her face as thoughts and images from the amazing day entered his mind. This time, he allowed them to flow.

 

2010

 

“Oh, husband of mine. No dallying. I need your muscles,” Rose purred as she gave him a heated look.

“I thought you were independent,” Riker said as he folded his arms and watched the way she struggled with the tent. The few days they’d managed to snag away from work, stress, life and what she perceived as his constant danger had been planned for almost a month. Time alone together was precious indeed.

Lifting her middle finger, she giggled then slapped one hand over her mouth, swaying back and forth as the tent flowed in the light breeze, the entire contraption getting away from her. “Oops.”

Sweeping in, he wrapped his massive arms around her, lifting her off the ground. “One bad girl and I see you do need a strong hand.”

“You made me this way,” she squealed, as she dropped the material then brushed the tips of her fingers across the healing gash in his cheek. “Especially since you make me worry all the time.”

“Stop. I’m fine.”

“So, you’ve told me a half-dozen times. Just another scar to add to the mix, right?” Lowering her head, she pressed her lips across the injury, the move gentle and loving. “You need to be more careful. I don’t want anything to happen to you, husband of mine.”

He issued a slight growl, refusing to get into the same argument. “I love what I do. I’m damn good at what I do.”

“Uh-huh. Big he-man firefighter. Saving lives while risking your own. Just one reason I love you, even though I could beat your ass for constantly making me worry,” Rose teased then nipped his lower lip.

“By the way, I’m the one doing the beating, remember?” He swung her around in a full circle before allowing her feet to touch the ground. “Come on, baby. We are wasting this incredible day. Let’s get the tent up.”

“Then you’ll go for a swim with me?”

“In this water?” Feigning horror, he nodded toward the shoreline. The river was typical for the area, beautiful yet the water often brackish. At this moment, the water was clear, inviting. The day was perfect for a swim, light breezes and warm temperatures.

“Such a baby. Christ.” Her eyes full of heat and mischief, she took several strides backward, her stance authoritative. Giving an exaggerated sigh, she pointed toward the tent before planting her hands on her hips. “Get to work, buster or no nookie for you later.”

He closed the distance, his six-foot-five-inch frame towering over her, and pushed a strand of her long hair behind her ear. Rose was formidable and at this moment, the scent of her perfume intoxicating. “Any more sass and I’ll turn you over my knee.”

“Let me think,” she murmured as she shook her head. “I’ll take that chance.” Laughing, she scampered away, skipping toward the back of their truck.

Unable to take his eyes off her, Riker knelt down, fiddling with the metal bars of the recently purchased tent, his cock swelling. She had no idea what effect she had on him. Attempting to concentrate, he worked on the frame, shoving various parts together. When he heard her begin to sing, her lilting voice floating toward the brilliant sky, he shuddered. This was going to be a moment of shared ecstasy.

Rose grabbed a huge picnic basket and another bag, struggling to drag both near the red and white checkered blanket. As she carefully laid out a feast, French bread, prepared salads and smoked meat, she continued singing. Every other second, she gave him a look full of lust and purposely licked her lips.

“Such a vixen. Whew.” Looking away, he willed his libido back into hiding until he finished his chore. Within a few minutes the tent was built, the rickety looking covering worth only the limited dollars they’d paid. At least they’d have some level of protection against the elements and other aspects. The thought gave him another smile. Against what? Mother Nature? Bears and wolves? Or beasts of the human kind? Well, truth be told, against prying eyes as they made love for endless hours.

“Done yet?” Her voice held a teasing tone.

“Slave driver and yes.”

“Then come here. I have goodies and treats, since you’re such a good boy.” Rose winked as she crouched down on the blanket, fluffing out her summer dress as she tugged a bottle of wine from the basket. “And not just wine either, firefighting man.”

“Wine, huh?” He sauntered closer, a grin on his face. Her pet names were filtered with aspects of his career. The concept was bittersweet. His wife of five years would rather he’d become a used car salesman than fight fires for a living. She was less than thrilled with the fact he was a firefighter. “What’s the special occasion?” They almost never shared a bottle of wine, given his drink of choice was bourbon.

“I have my reasons and yes, you are going to enjoy at least a glass with me,” she quipped as she opened the bottle and poured two glasses, hers decidedly less.

Riker eased down onto his knees. “Not a vintage you prefer?”

“Oh no. This is my favorite wine. Take notes, hunky man. Very expensive but nothing but the best for this trip.”

He didn’t question why she was only drinking a half glass, nor did he care. This was far too special to be concerned about any details, including the fact he was going to have to tell her about his promotion. To try and explain to her that being the lead, in charge of every fireman at his engine company and each horrific event would certainly put a damper on the festive occasion. No, he’d decided to tell her after they’d returned home.

“What’s wrong, big man?”

“Nothing.” He heard the angst in his own voice and grimaced.

“Liar, liar, pants on fire.” Her eyes twinkling, she handed him a glass before picking up her own.

“What are we celebrating?”

Shaking her head, she issued an exaggerated sigh. “If I honestly have to tell you then you and I will have an intense discussion.”

He leaned over, kissing her lips before touching his plastic glass to hers. “To our little vacation.”

“To the future.”

As they both took a sip, he thought about where they were going to go from here. They’d been struggling for money for so long, especially given the fact she was this close to getting her Master’s Degree. Her limited work schedule over the past few years had created difficulty in their ability to keep ahead, but he wouldn’t change a thing. Obtaining her degree was all she’d ever talked about and he respected her needs. Then again, fighting fires was all he’d ever wanted to do, but Rose grew more unhappy and fearful every day. Yes, he’d had his share of close calls, but he was well-trained, and his fire station considered the best in Baltimore. Still, her concerns were palpable, creating nightmares as well as tough discussions. “To your graduation.”

“December. If all goes well,” she half whispered, a look of worry crossing her face. “The final exam is…” She groaned and shook her head. “I hate tests.”

“You’re going to do just fine.”

“I hope so.”

“You’re brilliant, babe.” Riker positioned his legs around hers, rubbing the tips of his fingers across her arm. He noticed a series of goose bumps and grinned. At least he still had an effect on his beloved wife. As his dick pressed against the tight confines of his pants, he held back a moan.

“I don’t know. Granted, if I can get a good job then maybe we can get a little house with a lovely back yard and a swing on the front porch. We can have a dog, no, maybe two. The future. I can see the rooms, purple and red. Yes, red in the kitchen.”

“Red?” He issued a groan, yet he held a smile. He could care less about colors.

“Yes, red. You have limited tastes my darling husband.”

“You chose me. Didn’t you?”

“Hmm… There is that,” Rose huffed as she swirled the wine and glanced over at the water, her face serene.

The tone of her voice was so hopeful. As he watched the way her eyes flashed, her expression reflecting everything she’d accomplished, so many amazing changes, he vowed to give her all she wanted. “Baby, you find the house you love, and we’ll lock in a contract.”

“Are you serious?” Rose scooted forward. She gripped his hand, her thumb brushing back and forth across his knuckles. “Really?”

“Absolutely. I want nothing more than to please you.”

She lifted her wine before taking a sip. “Then take a swim with me.”

“Oh, you drive a hard bargain.”

Giving him a naughty smile, she licked around the rim of her glass, her eyes darting up and down, settling on his crotch.

“Be careful or we won’t make it for a swim.”

“I’ll take that chance.”

As her laughter sparkled into the air, he resisted grabbing her by the wrists and taking her into the tent. There’d be plenty of time for romance. “What good eats did you bring?”

“Hold your horses while I fix our plates.” She eased her glass down on the blanket and fixed him a plate, being selective about her choices.

Riker sat back and crossed his legs, more content that he’d been in months. As they ate, they talked about houses, Rose’s version of the perfect setting, trees and flowers surrounding a cozy cape cod. Through her eyes, he could see just how perfect their home could be. A family. God, the thought was so enticing. So perfect. He wanted nothing more than to give her exactly what she’d been talking about since they’d gotten married. Given his promotion, they could afford a house, even before she’d secured a job.

“Did you enjoy?” she asked quietly as she nuzzled closer, fingering the buttons on his shirt.

“Delicious. You’re an amazing cook.” He wrapped his arms around her, holding her against his chest. This was a perfect day.

They remained quiet, simply listening to the sounds of nature.

After putting everything away, she stood over him, her long hair dangling past her waist. “Time for that swim you promised me.” She darted looks all around before tugging off her dress and easing out of her panties. Standing naked, she took a giant stride away from him before holding out her hand. “Come with me, if you dare.”

In his mind, she was the most beautiful woman on earth. Daring and adventurous, she certainly didn’t seem to care if anyone just happened upon their secluded spot.

Refusing to wait, she winked before turning and walking toward the river’s edge, dipping her toe into the calm water. “Chilly. You might have to warm me up.”

He watched her walk into the water before rising to his feet and removing his clothes. “I see I have my hands full this weekend.” Taking long strides, he slapped his arms as he hit the water, creating a wave of water splashing toward her.

“We shall see.” She swam backwards and out of his reach. “Catch me if you can!” She took off swimming, kicking her legs out as she used her muscular arms to push through the water.

Howling, he dove into the water, catching her within seconds. Twisting and pulling her into an embrace, he cupped both sides of her face. “You’re going to have to learn to obey me.”

“Obey? I didn’t hear that word in our vows.” Licking across the seam of his mouth, she rubbed both hands down his back to his ass.

“Oh, it was there. You’re just incorrigible. Women should always obey their men. I am your man. I think we need to develop a set of rules.” While he was teasing, the idea had been the subject of heated conversations over glasses of wine and quiet afternoons. Riker smirked. The concept was enticing, yet one he doubted she could truly tolerate.

“My man, huh? We shall see.”

He pulled her close until her breasts were crushing against his chest. Sliding one hand down, he massaged her ass cheek as she wrapped her legs around his thighs. “You’re not wet enough yet.”

“That’s where you’re wrong,” she whispered and allowed her fingers to rub up and down the length of his back. “I’m very wet.”

“Mmm…” Capturing her mouth, he pressed his hand against the back of her head as he thrust his tongue past her lips. The taste of her had always been sweet, driving him into a frenzied state every single time. He kneaded her skin as his entire body began to shake, desire creating a wave of electrifying energy. His actions became almost savage, the embrace full of bottled up longing.

Moaning into the kiss, she tugged at his hair, intertwining her fingers in his long strands. Her tongue gnashed with his as the kiss became an intense moment.

Riker grunted and turned them around and around as the water lapped up over their shoulders. His heart racing, he pulled them both under the water, the kiss never breaking. When he rocketed up, breaching the surface, she pushed back against his shoulders and panted.

“I think you’re still hungry.” The sound of her voice was one full of raging desire.

“You know I am.”

Rose undulated her hips until she was sitting just above his cock. Wiggling back and forth, she maintained a wicked grin as she toyed with him. She shifted back and forth, bumping the tip of his dick.

“God, woman. You know I’m going to fuck you right here,” he stated, the tone full of domination.

“You better. I can’t wait.” She licked around his mouth then tossed her head back, exposing her long neck.

Biting down on her soft skin, he lifted her then thrust the entire length of his shaft deep inside.

“Oh!” The sharp sound permeated the noises of nature, birds and other animals alive in the forest. Her body shaking, she opened her mouth as another strangled sound floated past her lips.

He held her, his cock throbbing, his balls aching for release. Exhaling, the hoarse sound permeated the air. He blinked in an effort to focus, his entire body tingling. A splash of colorful yet subdued light interfered with his eyesight. Leaning over, he nipped her earlobe and nuzzled against her neck before licking down.

She pushed out, digging her nails into his shoulders as he dragged the tip of his tongue down to her nipple. “Oh… What you do to me.”

“You haven’t seen anything yet.” He took the hardened tip into his mouth, sucking as she made soft mewling noises. When he bit down, she whimpered, her entire body quivering.

“God!”

His body on fire, he eased her back and licked in between her breasts as he cupped her breast, pinching her nipple between his thumb and forefinger. “You taste so damn good.” When he eased her up, he crushed her mouth, grunting, the sound savage. The kiss became a wild moment of passion, current jetting through every cell in his body.

She pushed back and whimpered, blinking as if trying to focus. “What you do to me, big man.” Dropping her head, she gave him a playful smile and held his shoulders as she moved up and down, riding him as her eyes never left his.

“There’s more, baby. Much more.” Jutting his hips forward, the force splashed water up and over. He repeated the move over and over again, thrusting harder and faster.

Rose tossed her head back and forth, her mouth slack as she moaned.

“Come for me,” he managed, his voice nothing more than a ragged whisper.

“Not yet.” She nipped his chin and purred.

When she clenched her pussy muscles around the thick invasion, he tumbled forward, almost losing his balance. “Careful or I’ll come.”

“Mmm…” She dropped her head onto his shoulder as he continued, every hard slap pushing a shower of water between them.

He spun them around as he continued plunging in and out. Breathless, he slipped his arm around her hips and flexed his fingers, the move allowing him to rub the tip of his finger between the crack of her ass.

Her eyes opening wide, she licked around her lips then allowed a slow hiss to push past her lips. “Bad. So bad.”

“So good.” The moment he pushed his finger into her asshole, she jerked up.

“Fuck!”

“That’s it. Come for me.” He wasn’t going to be able to hold back much longer. With every hard thrust, he could see stars, floating across his periphery of vision. “Baby. Come.”

“Not yet,” she managed.

He grunted, allowing the sound to become guttural as he continued his actions. “I said, come.” The command was clear and her reaction surprising. She gripped his arms and tensed, her lower lip quivering.

Pushing up, she arched her back and yelped. “Yes!”

The moment he felt her pussy climaxing, he let go, spewing hot cum deep inside. “God…”

She clung to him, her face pressed against his neck, her tongue licking away beads of water. Her head lolled, her expression one of utter satisfaction. A burst of laughter pushed past her lips and she gave him a sexy smile as she continued to pant. “Oh my God.”

“You enjoyed?”

Rose wrinkled her nose. “More than you know.”

“Good.” How could anything be more perfect? Every part of him electrified, he carried her to the shore, climbing out of the water and toward their tent. “Perfect.”

“Yes.”

Easing down onto the blanket, he cradled her in his arms, inhaling the scent of her feminine wiles. When her breathing eased, he brushed water off her face and looked down. “So beautiful.”

“You make me feel beautiful.”

Riker held her close, his fingers dancing across her heated skin. He was more content than he’d been in so long. As he studied the way the water lapped across the jagged rocks, he could envision the future, every detail and the thought was riveting.

She looked up, her eyes remaining full of hunger, then settled into the crook of his arm.

This was the day he wanted her to understand that he would protect and care for her, no matter the circumstances. She would never have to be afraid or want for anything. Taking control was exactly what they both needed. So many months of discussions, so many articles and blogs read together. Domestic discipline. No one in their family would understand their needs, but right now, he didn’t care. This was the moment that could change everything. “I love you. I hope you know that.”

“Mmm… You know I do. I love you, my husband, my big, he man.”

The words gave him a smile.

After resting, he chuckled more to himself before breaking her hold, turning and plopping her across his lap.

“What are you doing?”

“Giving you exactly what you deserve, one hard spanking.”

“Now? Here?” she squealed as she shoved up from the blanket, her eyes beseeching.

“We’ve talked about this.” He hesitated, waiting to see if she’d object.

“Yes, but I…” She bit her bottom lip and glanced from right to left. “What if anyone sees?”

“Maybe, just maybe they need a lesson in life.” Riker tapped her ass and stole a look around at their surroundings. No one was close. Then again. Did he care if they were? “You need a spanking and you know this.”

Crack! Pop!

“Oh! Why?” Squirming, she kicked out, beads of perspiration trickling down from her forehead.

“Because you sass me constantly,” he stated. “You are very disobedient.”

Slap! Smack!

“You refuse to follow my directions.”

“I’m a good girl,” she whined, her mouth twisting.

“Not always,” he whispered yet the tone was commanding, the very way she’d expressed she needed. They both did. As he continued the spanking, he realized this was exactly the way she needed him to be.

Whoosh! Pop!

“And you tease me mercilessly.” His voice was almost inaudible.

Crack! Smack! Pop!

Rose squealed and flailed her arm back, trying to cover her ass.

“None of that or I’ll have to grab my belt.” He heard the guttural sound in his voice and was surprised. While he’d spanked her many times, some playful and some for actual discipline, this was far too arousing.

“No!” Rose’s entire body was shaking.

“We’re going to develop a regular schedule of spankings, just to keep in in line.” Had he actually said the words?

“Yes, sir.”

He hesitated, the shock of her words rushing into his system. “Good girl.”

Crack! Whap!

Smacking her hands down on the blanket, she dropped her head as if in acquiescence.

“Better.”

Pop! Smack! Whap!

“Oh, yes, sir. I…” Her words trailing off, she sniffed.

Crack!

When her ass cheeks were both reddened sufficiently, he stopped and pulled her back into a cuddle, shocked to hear her subtle sobs. His thoughts racing, he pressed his fingers against the side of her cheek. “Baby, did I hurt you?”

She palmed his chest and shook her head. “No, well, yes, well…” The words trailing off, she offered a waning smile. “Spankings are supposed to hurt. I’ve been disobedient.”

“True.” Riker could tell there was much more to her anguished sounds. What was bothering her so much? “Baby, tell me what’s going on. Please. You’ve been down for a few days.”

She didn’t answer for a full two minutes. When she did, she gave him a sly smile. “Not down, just thinking. Planning.”

“The house. You really want to try and buy one now?” Shit. He had to tell her.

“We need the room.”

Yes, they’d certainly outgrown their apartment. “Okay. I think we can afford to do this.”

Easing back, she studied his eyes. “Really? I didn’t mean right away. Maybe after the holidays.”

“No, we can now.” Looking away, he held his breath. Now or never.

“Okay. How? Did you play the lottery or something?”

Riker took her hand. “No, baby. I have something to tell you.” When she said nothing, he bolstered his courage. “I was given a promotion at work. Means a hefty increase. Yes, the workload is more, but this is good for me. For us.” When she said nothing, he almost wished he’d said no immediately to the captain. “Look, I—”

Rose placed two fingers across his mouth. “Don’t. I know how much you love your career and while I worry, there’s nothing more that I want than you happy. Okay?”

Relief flooding through him, he kissed her hand. “I promise to be careful, baby. I swear to God.”

Her eyes were dancing then she darted them toward the water.

Uncertain of her feelings, he tipped her head in his direction, using his index finger. “Talk to me. What’s wrong? You can ask me anything.”

She positioned her legs around his waist and took both of his hands into hers. “I know. I believe you and you have to be more careful than ever.”

“Why?” What wasn’t she telling him?

A single tear slipping past her lashes, she intertwined their fingers before placing both their hands on top of her stomach. “Because, we have a family to consider.”

***

The memory of the past created a rush of emotions. Riker clenched his fists and threw his head back, howling. Their baby, their beloved, Grace. As his beleaguered yelp seemed to echo in the light breeze, he made his peace with the past and the future. He’d never forget the love of his life or forgive whatever entity had destroyed their happiness, but he was determined to make Rose proud for their memories and for the future.

He walked back toward his Harley, grabbing his helmet. Time was supposed to heal all wounds. For him, these were just fleeting thoughts, ideas based on what he considered bullshit experience.

But he had to try. He had to move on.

Straddling the bike, he kicked up the stand and started the engine. While he’d never visit this place again, he’d hold the sacred grounds in a special place in his heart. Deciding on a new place to live, to begin again had been easy. The calling was there, the offer as if coming from the Gods.

Riker roared away from the edge of the river, his determination keeping him in check. Next stop? Missoula, Montana, God’s country.

He only hoped he could find peace among a wave of utter despair.

I will always love you…

Her words would forever be the energy keeping him going. Her love, the pinnacle of his life.

Time for tomorrow.