Saloon owners Big John, a bear shifter, and Cage, a wolf shifter, share everything equally, including their winnings. Annie is no exception -- the little human female softens their rough love play and completes their threesome.
When her pa loses her in a card game, Annie's bound to honor his wager. But will she be willing to bet on forever?
"I have been a fan of Cynthia Sax for a long time and Three Wild Cards is a good example of why. Cage and Big John will do anything to protect their mate and it shows from the moment that Annie opens the door..."
"Annie's vulnerability is heartbreaking but it's lovely to see Big John and Cage show her they value her in ways she only dreamed about before them. The men are sexy and honest with each other and Annie, which I really liked."
"The sex is steamy... Overall, an entertaining read."
-- Donna, You Gotta Read Reviews
Three Wild Cards
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Cynthia Sax
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"His luck will turn. I know it will." Annie's ma perched on the edge of the chair, her delicate face illuminated by their last candle, her hands clutched as though in prayer. Shadows stretched on the bare boarding room walls, the darkness reaching for them.
Annie said nothing, her faith in her pa's gambling abilities extinguished a decade ago -- the same night he had wagered her virginity on a losing poker hand. Undeterred by the lack of response, her ma continued to mumble her fervent pleas, pleas that served no purpose.
My pa will lose and when he does, I'll be asked to honor his wager.
Annie silently and carefully wrapped a strip of dark cotton around her wrist, tucking the ends in neatly. She'd found the fabric while skulking around the saloon, investigating the owners and patrons, men who'd eventually take her body, using her for their own pleasure.
Annie raised the band to her nose and sniffed, the musky male scent comforting her, giving her purpose. She'd meet the man it belonged to. He'd protect her. He might even love her. She smiled, building the fantasy in her mind. He'd be a banker or maybe a ranch hand and they'd have a normal life, never stepping into another saloon. She'd be safe.
A knock on the door interrupted Annie's reverie. Her ma choked back a sob, both of them knowing what that knock meant.
"I'll be fine," Annie said, more for herself than her ma. She stood, smoothed down the skirts of her threadbare calico dress, and walked to the door. "I've done this before." Too many times. She took a deep breath, counted to five, exhaled, and opened the door.
The largest man she'd ever seen in her colorful life stood in the hallway, his hat in his hands. Big John. He worked for the saloon, and some of the townspeople whispered he was part owner of the lucrative establishment. Annie's nipples tightened, her body responding to his size, his girth, his daunting presence.
I wish he'd win me. His short brown hair framed a surprisingly kind face, a face a woman could count on, a face a woman could trust to keep her safe. But he can't win me or he wouldn't be here. He'd be at the tables with my pa. Annie pressed her lips together, containing her unreasonable disappointment.
Big John's gaze dropped to her mouth. He inhaled deeply, his big chest rising, and an almost silly smile spread across his face.
Golly. He's adorable. Fine lines feathered the skin around his eyes, evidence that he smiled often, his blissful expression belying the forbidding black of his cotton shirt and breeches.
He won't hurt me. She raised one eyebrow. Will he? Big John waved his hand, indicating she should leave the room.
"Am I to go with you?" Annie broke the silence, proud of how level her voice was.
Her ma sobbed louder, her slight shoulders shaking. She didn't move from her seat at the table and she didn't protest, never questioning her husband's decisions, no matter how much pain those decisions caused Annie.
Big John nodded his answer, the man not one for words. Some mean-spirited folks claimed he hadn't the smarts to talk, but Annie dismissed those rumors. She saw the keen intelligence in his warm brown eyes.
"Thank you for coming to get me, Big John," she said softly as she stepped into the hallway, feeling small and dainty beside him. "That was right kind of you." Normally the saloons sent a street urchin, as though she wasn't important enough to warrant an employee.
Big John jammed his hat on his head and shrugged his massive shoulders, dismissing her gratitude, the muscles in his chest rippling. He pointed one thick calloused finger at her bare feet, his forehead crinkled with concern.
"My boots were wagered and lost in Carson City." She lifted her chin and gazed directly into his eyes, mentally daring him to say anything. "It's warm. I don't need them."
Big John reached for Annie, and she froze, fear skittering down her spine, memories of rough hands and lost wagers coloring her reaction. He swung her easily into his arms.
"Let me down." She struggled, kicking her feet. "I can walk."
He stood still, holding Annie tightly, securing her without any effort, her food-deprived body no match for his solid muscle.
"This isn't dignified." Annie stilled, glaring at the big man, recognizing the futility of fighting a battle she couldn't win.
Big John grinned, his expression triumphant. Annie laid her head on his chest, and he strode down the steps, past the nosy landlady, and into the street.