Luke's Absolution (The Colloway Brothers Book 3)

BOOK: Luke's Absolution (The Colloway Brothers Book 3)
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Luke’s Absolution
The Colloway Brothers #3
K.L. Kreig
K.L. Kreig

L
uke’s Absolution

Copyright © 2016 by K.L. Kreig

Published by K.L. Kreig

ePub: ISBN-13: 978-1-943443-07-9 ISBN-10: 1943443076

mobi: ISBN-13: 978-1-943443-06-2 ISBN-10: 1943443068

A
ll rights reserved
. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to the author.

T
his book is
a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author’s imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

C
over Art by Yocla Designs

Editing by Nikki Busch Editing

Published in the United States of America.

Dedication

T
o the wonderful
bloggers who work tirelessly to spread the word about great books simply out their sheer love of them. I’ve gotten to know so many of you personally. I appreciate and thank you for bringing my words and stories to your followers.

Prologue
December 27th

E
njoying
the view of her toned bare thigh with each step she takes, courtesy of that nice high slit in her dress, I watch her sashay over to where I’m leaning against the bar. She orders a Corona Light from the bartender, tapping her perfectly manicured pink nails against the cool granite while she waits.

I’ve been watching her with that jackass photographer for the last hour, getting progressively angrier by the minute, not quite understanding why. She’s smokin’ hot, yes, but I have absolutely no claim on her. Not that I wouldn’t mind a little sample. Or fifty.

Confusingly, it’s the same reaction I had when I saw her in his arms last Friday night. The urge to introduce his face to a cement wall was so great, had she not been drunk off her ass, I may not have been able to resist.

She’d be a handful for any man to juggle, no doubt in bed and out, and picture boy, Cooper Jensen, isn’t even close to enough man for her. It will take a strong hand to control her, make her submit, and God himself help me, that’s all I’ve thought of since I laid eyes on her for the first time months ago. I want to hear her raw voice sobbing my name while I have her pinned helplessly underneath me. Who knew that Eric’s sister was so fucking sexy? Probably why he kept her under wraps all those years ago.

Addy Monroe is like a wild horse. Untamed, full of fire, even feral if you get her riled up enough. I had a small taste of that last weekend after Gray’s bachelor party when we stopped by the bar where the girls were having their own celebration. I saved her from herself by confiscating their almost-empty bottle of Patron. Every heated word she spat tugged straight on my cock, and by the time I left with her passed out in my arms, I was rock hard. Let’s just say it was a long fucking night all around.

I want her. Not that I
deserve
her. She’s untainted, unlike me. I have so many fucking stains, industrial-strength cleaner couldn’t remove them all. But I’m not looking for a relationship; I’m looking for a good fuck. I’m looking for oblivion.

Liar
, my conscience loudly whispers.

Fuck off
, I tell him, even louder.

I discreetly adjust my hardening dick. “No tequila tonight?” I feel the smirk on my face, but don’t know if she sees it or not. I’m trying to refrain from looking at her as I will my own body into submission.

“Unrequited love sucks, doesn’t it?” she replies with a bite before taking a sip of her beer straight from the bottle. I love a woman who isn’t too prissy to drink her alcohol from the actual container it’s served in. More than that, I love a woman with a smart, feisty mouth.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about, sweetheart.”

I flick my eyes over to see hers stray to Gray and Livia across the ballroom and her lips upturn in a sly smirk. “Whatever you say. I’m pretty much the subject matter expert on that shit.”

She turns and leans her back against the bar, mirroring my stance. We’re both silent, watching the happy newly married couple with drinks in our hands. The more I think about what she said, the more it plain pisses me off.

Yes, I care deeply for Livia. I have for years. No one can possibly understand what I watched her go through and what I had to suffer through myself. How that bonds two people on a totally different plane.

But even if Livia could have been mine, I know her heart will always belong to Gray. I could never interfere with that. Wouldn’t. Besides, I’ve done enough to my family without intentionally trying to steal my brother’s girl. I do have a few shreds of decency left that I’m trying desperately to hold on to. They’re wound so tightly around my fingers, they’re cutting off the circulation, but I’ll be damned if I’ll let them go.

Regardless of what Addy may think, I’m genuinely thrilled for them both. After what she’s been through,
no one
deserves happiness more than Livia. But fuck, I won’t deny watching them get married today was hard. Harder than I thought it would be, and it’s not because I still want her. I gave up on that notion years ago, even if my heart didn’t quite get the memo.

No…it was hard because the love that hovers above them like a bright golden halo is sickening. What’s even more sickening is that as I watch them, I’m envious. I want
that
, only the logical part of me knows I’ll never have it. I push those feelings of optimism that keep bubbling to the surface down deep into the muck again. I may have moved past the worst times of my life, but in no way do I kid myself that I’m worthy of a woman’s love or acceptance of who I am and the things I’ve done.

So tonight I need to forget.

About Livia.

About my tainted past.

About all the things I now want but will never get.

And I think Addy Monroe is just the woman to do that, even if it can only be for a few minutes. My dick hardens painfully whenever I set eyes on Livia’s best friend, the little sister of
my
best friend Eric, and I have to be honest…she’s the only one who’s stirred it for quite some time now. I’ve wanted this spitfire since the minute I saw her shaking the tits and ass God so graciously blessed her with at the bar when I first came back to Chicago in September to protect Livia from our sordid past.

“Maybe fifteen minutes in the back will wipe that smirk off your face,” I whisper as I lean sideways toward her. In my peripheral, I see her head turn to me.

“Wow, a whole fifteen minutes, huh? I think I’ll have to take a rain check on that offer, Rico Suave.” She spins on her heels to walk away from me.

Oh, hell no.

Next thing I know, her body is pressed against mine, held in place by a firm palm to her neck and another circled around the trim waist I’ve wanted to squeeze all night.

Sweet Jesus and Mary, she feels fantastic. I have to suppress the groan that wants to escape from somewhere deep inside—it would give her too much power over me and control is what I need to wrestle from her, inch by agonizing inch. My lips are at her ear, grazing the tender flesh with each word I rasp.

“Sweetheart, I can spend the next fifteen
hours
lavishing untold pleasure and blissful pain all over and inside every single inch of your delectable body until you beg for me,
cry
for me, to stop.”

The way her breath hitches has my cock pleading to ram into her over and over. Uncaring who may see, I release her waist and grab her hand, bringing it between our bodies, forcing it to my shaft with my hand on top. Guiding her, I squeeze, moving our twined fingers up and down the length of me. She moans and my eyes close at the image of sinking my cock slowly between her red-glossed clever lips.

Nipping her lobe harshly, I grate, “Let’s start with that smart mouth of yours, shall we?”

Chapter 1
Mid-March, two and a half months later


W
ow
, Cara, that’s really good,” I tell the cutie as she puts the finishing touches on the oval plate she’s painting. This is the third time her dad has brought her into my studio this week where she’s worked painstakingly to create the perfect birthday present for her mom.

“Thank you, Miss Monroe. Do you think my mommy will like it?” Her excited eyes latch onto mine, seeking my approval.

“How could she not, sweetie? You have talent, you know that?”

The ten-year-old beauty beams from ear to ear at my compliment. “You really think so?”

I lean down and whisper in her ear like we have some sort of special secret. “I don’t think so. I
know
so.”

My gaze lifts to find her dad watching me, a smile on his face as he mouths
thank you
. Cara gets back to work on the plate she’s painting and I stand there probably a little longer than appropriate just adoring the spunky little girl.

At twenty-eight, I thought by now I’d be married and have the requisite two kids. Unfortunately, that hasn’t panned out so well for me. I have no boyfriend, no prospects, and right now, no intention to have either. Don’t get me wrong. I believe in the concept of true love. I believe in marriage. I watched my best friend marry the love of her life a few months ago and I know they will be happy until the day they die. I want that. I want true love. I just haven’t found it with the right guy yet.

A pang of sadness, or loneliness, tries to pull me under her doom and gloom hex, so I shove that bitch out the door. I don’t have time for such stupid emotions. I have a great life and good friends. Who cares that they’re all dropping like flies into the wedded pool of bliss and I’m left standing on the sidelines to witness their happiness? Alone.

I sound bitter; I’m truly not, though. I learned a long time ago I don’t need a man to make me happy—that’s all on me. And I’m happy with my life. That’s not to say I wouldn’t mind a guy to keep my bed warm, but I’m not on the prowl to get one to put a ring on it either.

Besides, I have too much on my plate to worry about a relationship. As the owner of All Things Painting,
I have almost two years under my belt as a small business owner and it’s doing surprisingly well. Late last year, I expanded from my basic pottery painting and glass into more of the adult space, adding weekly canvas painting classes called Sip and Dip. It’s true what they say: wine really does go with anything.

And last month, I secured several contracts with local aftercare programs and daycares for summer fun field trips where I’ll have some of my experts onsite for an afternoon of fun. I also have several proposals in to some of the larger Chicago businesses, pushing my studio for team building activities.

Yet, as I gaze at Cara, there’s no denying my favorite part of this job is seeing the kids come in and create their own masterpieces. Masterpieces they will give to their mothers or fathers or grandparents or that they’ll proudly display in their rooms until they’re fourteen and don’t think elementary art is cool anymore. Then it will get packed into a box and stored in the garage or basement or attic because their parents can’t bear to get rid of something made by the hands of their children, and that piece will end up being given back to them twenty years from now as a Christmas present. Or maybe given to
their
own children when Grandma cleans out her closet.

I may sound old, but it’s a sad day when kids are more interested in the next new video game or traveling competitive sports teams than on exercising the creative side of their brains.

“Thanks, Jeff,” I finally tell Cara’s dad before forcing myself away from them. “Just leave it here and I’ll take it to the kiln when it’s dry.” I move along the line of tables to see if other customers are in need of assistance with their various projects.

I stop to help one woman with some detail work, getting her a size zero spotter brush instead of the size six she was trying to use. I assist another with selecting and mixing just the right shades of blue to replicate the choppy waters she’s trying to paint from a Hawaiian vacation picture. After I ensure everyone else is doing fine on their own, I head to the back where Julia is pulling out a fresh batch of glazed pottery from the kiln.

“Everything come out okay?” I ask. Unfortunately, when you fire pottery, sometimes the tiny fissures in the clay cause the piece to break. It doesn’t happen often, and when it does, it’s devastating not only to me but to the person who invested so much time painting the piece. It’s even worse when it’s a child who’s so proud of their accomplishment. It’s a tragedy, at least in the world I live, yet also unavoidable.

“Yep. We’re all good.”

“Great. Did you hear anything about the pottery delivery from Smith’s?”

“Finally. It’s supposed to be here on Thursday.” Only two weeks late. With Easter right around the corner that hasn’t been good for business as I’m completely out of some of the more popular pieces.

“Good. Thanks, Julia. I’m headed to the back to do some paperwork.”

Just as I settle into my comfy, padded desk chair, my cell buzzes. When I catch a glimpse of the caller, I smile. I may have overexaggerated when I said I didn’t have any prospects in the men category. I do…just not the one I
really
want. The one I really want is like most of the others who have come before him. The type of man I’m always drawn to. The type of man who has broken my heart time and again.

An undeniably hot, mouthwateringly sexy, tatted badass with a powerful motorcycle planted between his firm thighs.

And just like my last two relationships, this one is in love with someone else. A ‘someone else’ who happens to be my now-married best friend. He can try to deny it all he wants. I’ve seen the way he looks at her, holds her, and takes care of her like she was his. I wasted almost a year and a half on Aiden, the last man who never got over his previous girlfriend, and within three days of our breakup, he was back with her.

Talk about a giant black eye to a girl’s psyche.

So as much as my body, and possibly even my heart, hasn’t willingly climbed on board the whole ‘forget about Luke Colloway’ train, my mind certainly has. He’s exactly the type I need to steer clear of. The love ’em and leave ’em Harley-riding bad boy who dissolves women’s panties with his wicked words and wolfish smile.

It’s irrelevant anyway—I haven’t heard a peep out of Luke since Livia’s wedding in December when he oh-so-artfully propositioned me for what would have undoubtedly been the best, most carnal night of my entire life. I think the thick length of him is still embedded into the palm of my hand. Every time I remember it, which, okay let’s admit is several agonizing times a day, my body burns hot with want.

I may have stupidly turned down a night of uninhibited sex with a man whose weighty gaze I could feel on me the entire night…a man who’s walked straight out of the mist of my fantasies, but I’m not about to be a man’s second choice ever again, even if only for a night. I want to be someone’s first. Hell, I
deserve
that.

Pushing Luke to the back of my mind where he belongs, I answer my phone before I miss the call. “Hello, Mr. Jensen.”

“Mr. Jensen, huh?” he quips. “Are you always so formal, Ms. Monroe?”

Cooper Jensen has been calling me for nearly the last three months, using every technique under the sun to get me to agree to go out with him. I have to give him credit; he’s almost worn me down. The reason I’ve been begging off is because I don’t want to do the same thing to him that’s been done to me. He’s my second choice, which is foolish. He’s an insanely handsome masculine specimen who should be every woman’s first.

Cooper is a straitlaced, genuinely nice guy who drives a Camry and doesn’t have a single spot of ink on his finely honed body. At least, that’s what he tells me; I don’t know that from my own personal inspection. And while Cooper makes the right girly parts tingle with his chiseled cheeks, sandy hair that curls around the bottom of his ears, and his piercing, soulful green eyes, he’s not my typical type.

Which is exactly why you should say yes, Addy. You need atypical.

“Only when I don’t know a person well enough,” I answer.

“Oh, Addy,” he grates, his voice low and smoky, making those certain parts that are tingling quiver in a bit of angst. “Your lips are very familiar to me.”

I suck in a sharp breath at my vague drunken memory of being in Cooper’s arms the night of Livia’s bachelorette party. “Well they don’t remember you,” I reply saucily and a little more breathlessly than I want.

“They would if you said yes.”

“I don’t know…”

“Addy, just one date. We’re attracted to each other.”

“Speak for yourself.”

“Tsk, tsk, tsk, you’re a terrible liar, Ms. Monroe, even over the phone. Come on, you’ve got nothing to lose and I’ll be a perfect gentleman. You have my solemn vow.”

“What if I don’t want a perfect gentleman,” I tease, having no idea why the hell I just said that.

It takes him a few seconds to respond and when he does, his gravelly voice drops low. “I think that’s exactly what you want, Addy Monroe. A gentleman who will worship you the way you deserve.”

I let his words sink in, testing them out. While he’s right, I want someone to worship me, I’m not at all sure I want it to be a gentleman. Perhaps it is time to branch out into unknown territory and date an
actual
gentleman, so I know for sure. I’m silent for such a long time as I contemplate his offer he calls my name, asking if I’m still on the line.

“Yes,” I finally reply quietly.

“Yes, you’ll go out with me?” he asks, his voice threaded with excitement.

“Yes, I’ll go out with you.”

“Does Saturday night work?” Wow, he’s wasting no time.

“I already have plans this Saturday night.” Kamryn and I have had a girl’s night planned for weeks. I haven’t seen her much and I miss her. I need time with my girl.

“Not another hot date, I hope?”

“What if I said yes?”

“Then I have to be honest, I’d be a little jealous.”

I laugh. “No jealousy needed, Mr. Jensen.”

“Good to know, Ms. Monroe. Then how about next Saturday?”

I mentally check my social calendar. Not that it’s at full capacity lately. Sadly. “That works.”

“Perfect. How about I pick you up at seven? Maybe we can have a predinner cocktail somewhere.”

“That sounds great.”

“Okay then. Text me your address and I’ll see you next Saturday.”

“I’ll see you then. Bye, Mr. Jensen.” I’m just about hang up when I hear my name. “Yeah?”

“I think it’s only fair to tell you up front that I plan on making it impossible for you to say no to a second date.”

I chuckle. “Game on, then.”

“Oh, but this isn’t a game to me, Addy,” he responds in a deep, sultry voice. “Until Saturday.”

“Bye,” I say, completely breathless again.

I hang up and stare at my phone for long minutes, excited to spend an evening with an attractive man who obviously wants to spend it with me. Yet, a small part of me feels a twinge of guilt, as arresting green eyes laden with promises that no doubt can be fulfilled, morph into guileless hazel ones that swirl with heady desire but hold no promises at all.

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