Authors: S. M. Shade
Alex warns, laying a hand on his arm.
let him talk. Because that’s what I do, right, Mason? I can’t count the bruised
up battered women I’ve fucked and chucked.”
accusation pisses me off, mainly because it hits too close to home. I do want
her, but not like he thinks. I want to be with her, spend time with her, not
just in bed. I know I don’t have a great track record, but he has no reason to
doubt me when it comes to our residents. I’ve never been inappropriate with any
sighs. “I didn’t mean for it to come out like that. Just…be careful, okay?
Don’t let her get the wrong idea.”
get it,” I grumble, taking another pull from my beer.
to Hype tomorrow night. Cooper and Ian are going,” Alex offers.
about you?” I ask Mason.
whipped now.” Mason grins at Everly, and she winks at him. He’s head over heels,
and I don’t blame him. Ev’s a great girl.
get Jensen and Devon to stay with Macy,” Mason says. “You need a break.”
they’re right. I’ve enjoyed spending time with Macy, but I need to get out.
Pick up a willing body and fuck this confusion out of my system. Mason is right
about one thing. I’m always quick to move on, and a nice pair of legs wrapped
around me should set my head straight and stop me obsessing over Macy. “Sure.
I’ll meet you there.”
and hanging out with Ev and Amy feels like coming home after a long miserable
trip. Watching Parker get shot down by Amy when he hits on her is funny, and I
laugh along with everyone else, but I also feel relieved. Jealousy. That’s what
it is, when I have no right to be jealous.
been so sweet to me this week, so caring, but I need to remember it’s his job.
My brain knows he doesn’t think of me that way, but my heart doesn’t give a
shit. When I’m wrapped in his strong arms, I feel safe and cared for. I have to
remember this is what he does. He done the same for countless women before me
and will continue long after I’m gone.
jumps into the pool, all big boobs and flowing blonde locks. “Mace,” Ev says,
when a frown appears on my face as Parker nearly drools on himself.
can be a sweetheart, but he’s not the dating type.” Damn, I guess I wasn’t
being very subtle.
know he’s not interested in me.”
softens her face. “That’s not what I meant. He looks at you like he wants to
eat you for breakfast or I wouldn’t be warning you. Parker’s a good guy, but he
has a different woman every week. Never the same one twice.”
course he’s a player. Look at him. I never stood a chance. Why the hell am I
thinking about him anyway when a relationship should be the last thing on my
mind? “Don’t worry, my last relationship was a catastrophe. The last thing I
need is another asshole telling me what to do. I just want to see Al locked up
and go back to my life.”
we’re going to go out and party until we drop.”
approaches us with a mischievous smile, and Ev scrambles to her feet, giggling.
even think about it!”
you’re all sweaty.” Before she can run, he scoops her up and jumps into the
pool with her in his arms. She plants a kiss on his lips when they emerge, then
smacks his chest.
you, too, Panda.”
bitch. His eyes nearly glow with love and admiration for her. I’d give anything
for someone to look at me like that. Yeah, okay, I’m jealous again, but I’m
also thrilled for my friend. Everly’s never had a family and she deserves a
great guy like Mason.
unrolls a net, stringing it across the center of the pool and tosses a
volleyball to Amy. “Girls against boys!” Ev calls and serves the ball before they’re
ready. It splashes down on the far side of the net. “One point!”
Parker scoffs, turning to Mason. “Your girl’s a cheater!”
down the wah-burger and serve,” Amy orders. It really is the funniest
volleyball game ever. I watch for a while, then lie back with my eyes closed,
soaking in the sun and listening.
should’ve caught that,” Parker scolds.
deep voice booms, “With my go-go gadget arms? It was closer to you!”
if you stop staring at my tits, you won’t miss,” Amy taunts Parker.
your nipples to stop staring at my eyes!” Cries of “Ooohhh!” and “Eat that!”
echo through the yard until finally Parker cries, “That’s game. We win. You
know the rules, ladies. Losers have to strip.”
dunks him before swimming over to Ev and pinning her to the side of the pool.
When Ev grabs his hand and leads him inside the house, there’s little doubt
what they’re off to do.
grins. “I’m going to catch up with Ian. Sounds like he’s getting his ass kicked
at pool by Cooper and Alex.” Throwing me a meaningful look, she heads to the
garage, leaving me alone with Parker. She seems to be the only one not
concerned if I fuck him.
flops down on the chair beside me, water still dripping from his body. I watch
as a drop slips across his full lower lip to run down his stubble. “You’re
sweating,” he says, interrupting my blatant ogle.
hot.” Genius answer, Macy. Genius.
cool hand settles above my knee as his other unfastens my boot. “What are you
can remove it to bathe, right? Then we can take it off for a few minutes for a
dip in the pool.”
I argue, trying to refasten it. “I can’t stand on it unsupported.”
someone knock the little devil off my shoulder because I don’t have the
willpower. Let him wrap me in those cool muscular arms? A no-brainer. There are
no more arguments as he scoops me up and leaps into the pool. “Shit!” I gasp,
cold water forcing the breath from my lungs. Deep laughter rattles his chest,
and I swat his arm. “You could’ve eased me into it.”
that’s the pussy way.” Oh god. Don’t say pussy. “See, you’re already used to
it.” He shifts me around to face him. “Can you wrap your legs around my waist?”
help me. Trying not to react to his request, I comply, consciously resisting
the urge to grind against him or hump him like a horny beagle. His eyes glow,
matching the blue of the water. He walks over so I can lean against the side
while he holds me. “Feel better?” he asks.
good.” That’s an understatement. “Thanks for bringing me. It’s great to get
outside again. Fourth of July and Labor Day were my favorite holidays when I
was a kid.”
brow furrows. “That’s an odd preference.”
fireworks,” I explain, dipping my head back into the water. His eyes sweep down
my neck as I continue. “It’s the two times a year they shoot off the big
fireworks at the river. I lived right down the street when I was a kid and I
could watch them from my front yard.”
was my favorite. Candy and scaring the shit out of people. Awesome.” A smile
lights up his face like he has a secret. “Let’s get dried off.”
and Mason return, looking more than satisfied, and the party breaks up.
Everyone says their goodbyes and within minutes, I’m in Parker’s car, zooming
down the highway. Huh. We’re traveling the wrong direction to go to the safe
house. “Am I being kidnapped?”
but I thought we’d stop by my gym. It’s closed today and I can show you around.
If you’re up to it.”
love to see your gym. Does it have a name?”
Brothers. It belongs to me, Alex and Mason, but Alex spends more time there
than us.” After parking the car, he reaches into the console and retrieves a
contact case and a pair of glasses. “Give me a sec. That pool water irritated
my eyes,” he explains, removing and storing his contacts before sliding the
thick black framed glasses on his face. Nerd glasses.
looks so different in them. Too damn adorable. The man could wear googly eyes
and fake wax lips and still be attractive. Stars are just becoming visible in
the sky as I’m led to the door. Lights race across the ceiling at the flip of a
switch, illuminating a floor of bright blue mats. My disheveled hair is
revealed in a floor to ceiling mirror which runs the length of the room, and I
quickly pull it back into a messy ponytail.
is where we spar and practice. Classes are held here a few days per week.” His
hand folds around mine and he leads me to another large room. Treadmills,
steppers, and ellipticals line the walls, surrounding a bunch of weight lifting
take it this is where you spend most of your time?” I tease.
almost sorry when a conceited smile tilts his lips. “Does a body good.”
body good. I don’t know what the hell is wrong with me lately. I’ve
never been so sexually…charged. Of course, I haven’t had the luxury of my
battery operated boyfriend in weeks or even taken care of myself. As soon as he
leaves me alone tonight, I’m taking care of business so I’ll stop lusting over
him. “Do you give self-defense classes for women?”
train women, but it’s more for competitions. I’ve been thinking of talking to
Mason about converting the second level into another sparring area, but it
would be ideal for a women’s basic self-defense class. Martial Arts takes years
of study and practice. Not everyone has the time, discipline, or endurance to
become adept. We could use a program that teaches women how to escape dangerous
his back to me, he squats and says, “Hop on for a piggyback ride.”
the stairs aren’t wide enough for your crutches. Hang on tight,” he warns,
sliding his hands beneath my legs.
did you and your brothers get into this line of work? Protecting women from
domestic violence?” I ask as I’m carried up a narrow staircase into a room
cluttered with dusty furniture and workout paraphernalia.
lights are dim on the second floor, but it’s bright enough to see pain flash
across his face when he sets me down. “Our father killed our mother when I was
eight. The system failed her as it does so many. When Mason, Alex, and I came
of age we inherited enough money to start the shelter. Try to catch those who
fall through the cracks.”
hand is in mine, and I give it a squeeze. “Well, thank you. From me and on
behalf of everyone else you’ve helped.”
a hand through his hair, his voice softens as he says, “If Al isn’t caught
soon, you should consider letting us move you to another state. You’d still
have security, but you wouldn’t be trapped inside.”
don’t want to leave. I love Indy, and a small stubborn part of me thinks I have
a chance with Parker in the long run. When I’m back on my feet and strong
again, he won’t see me as this weak pathetic person. A burden. I’ve always been
strong and independent. I need to be that woman again. “I’ll think about it. At
least my job can travel with me. Nowhere cold though.”
deep chuckle returns a smile to my face. “Indy winters are freezing.”
if I have to uproot, it may as well be an improvement.” A sudden boom rattles
the windows, making me jump.
don’t have to talk about it now,” he says, grabbing a folded blanket from the
sofa. “Follow me.”
rusty metal door leads us to the roof of the building. Long and flat, it still
holds the heat of the day. Parker drags two mats from a pile in the corner and
motions for me to sit. “You aren’t afraid of getting dirty are you?” he teases.
Why does everything out of his mouth sound dirty?
Another boom vibrates my ribs and I realize why he brought me here. We’re near
the river, and the fireworks explode right above our heads. I barely notice
when he sits beside me, draping the blanket around our shoulders, blocking us
from the chilly wind. I’m too busy grinning like a fool at the sky, now filled
with bursts of color.
beautiful,” I breathe, turning my head to smile at him. His eyes fall to my
mouth and my heartbeat triples. A moment of tension hangs between us, like the
silent pause between an intense lightning strike and the inevitable clap of
thunder you know is coming, but still aren’t prepared for.
first kiss doesn’t feel like our decision, but as if some outside force is
drawing our lips together. My soft moan is drowned out by his throaty growl as
his tongue slips in to slowly explore my mouth. His hair is fisted in my hand
while I press his mouth to mine harder, diving in and kissing him like I need
his air to breathe.
Macy,” he murmurs, and we lie back on the mat. The weight of all that firm
muscle spread over me, his soft mouth leaving little licking kisses down my
neck has me gasping his name when I want to be screaming it.
fireworks in the sky are nothing to the ones behind my eyelids when he slides
my shirt and bikini top up and sucks a nipple into his warm mouth. His fingers
barely touch the waistband of my shorts when a door slams below, followed by
Alex yelling, “Where the fuck are you, Park?”
no, no, we were so close. “Shit,” Parker groans. “My car’s out front so he
knows I’m here.” With a slightly guilty grin, he straightens my clothes and helps
me up. “We’d better go downstairs.”
climb on his back like a chimp when he bends down. “I hate this frickin boot,”
I grumble, and he laughs.
getting accustomed to carrying you around.”
eyes widen when Parker lets me down at the bottom of the stairs and hands me my
crutches. “Hey, what are you guys up to?” he asks, his expression revealing
what he thinks we’ve been doing.
fireworks on the roof. The hell are you doing here?”
and Cooper are in the car. We were headed to grab a few beers, and I saw your
truck, thought you might want to come.”
but I’m working.” Alex smirks at the word working. “We’re leaving for the safe
still on for tomorrow night?” Parker nods and Alex adds, “Ten o’clock at Hype.”
smiles at me. I swear these brothers were born with more testosterone than
normal. “Take care of that ankle, Macy. It was good to see you.”