Get flowers. That’s all I was supposed to do. Seemed easy enough, but as I would soon see, nothing involving Nora would be easy.
Within five minutes of meeting her, we run for our lives. She’s not overly informative, but I know she’s in danger. Keeping her safe would be easier if she would tell me the whole truth, tell me exactly what we’re running from.
But I know how to get her to be honest. I know how to show her who’s in charge. She’s more willingly than she knows, and in the end I’ll get what I want. And she’ll have what she needs.
The danger is right on our heels, but we’ll keep each other safe. And while we’re fighting off the bad guys, she’s changing, she’s learning. She’s becoming my pet.
The heavy scent of cigarette smoke dragged Greg Turner from his uncomfortable sleep. Sniffing, he bolted out of bed, ready to battle the fire.
His bravery was rewarded with a high-pitched feminine giggle.
Greg wiped his hand across his eyes and let the woman come into focus. Tall, bottle blonde, had the freshly fucked look. The previous evening came back to him, and he groaned. He must have fallen asleep before escorting her back to her apartment.
“Cherry, put that damn thing out,” he groused and reached for his boxers hanging from the bedframe.
“Sorry, but I couldn’t get the window opened,” she said, walking past him to the bathroom attached to his bedroom. He unlatched the window and slid it open, giving her an exasperated look when she returned after flushing her cigarette.
“I told you no smoking in my place,” he reminded her and sat back on the bed, rubbing his temples. The smoke made his head hurt, or maybe it was her presence. He needed to cut the ties, and quick.
“I know,” she said, snuggling up to him and pressing his head to her chest. If she thought her tits were magical enough to make his mood change, she really had a shock coming to her. “What are you going to do? You want to spank me again?” she asked in a forced heavy voice.
“I don’t think that would work for you, Cherry.” He gently shoved her away and got back to his feet. Cherry wasn’t a real submissive. She only played spanking games with him because she wanted him. But he didn’t want fake, and that’s all she had to offer. From her chemically induced hair coloring down to her acrylic toenails. Nothing about her was genuine, but she’d been fun to party with. Now, the party was over.
“Sure, it would. It was fun,” she said with her soft giggle. He’d been attracted to it at first, the innocence, but after spending more time with her, he knew it was as manufactured as the rest of her.
“Cherry,” he sighed, rubbing the back of his neck. Breaking up with someone had never been his strong suit—luckily most women who didn’t fit what he wanted figured it out easily enough for themselves and dropped him hard before running for the hills. But he hadn’t shown Cherry all of him yet, so she couldn’t know what he was really wanting. What sort of depraved games he actually wanted to play.
“Greg, really. I liked it.” She forced a smile across her red lips. How long had she been awake? She already had on her face paint for the day.
“That wasn’t a real spanking, sweetheart. You wouldn’t like a real one. Not like I give them.” He shook his head and went in search of his jeans.
“Why? Do you think I’m too weak?” The little pout in her tone made his skin crawl. Innocence turned him on to a point, but what she displayed bordered on whining. And he didn’t have a thing for that.
Give him a woman who could stand on her own two feet, had a good head on her shoulders, and eagerly sank to her knees when commanded. That was the woman for him. Cherry. Well, Cherry would probably cry if he gave her an order to drop to her knees, and she’d probably have a mini stroke if he snapped a leash onto her and took her for a walk.
“No.” He found his jeans and shoved his legs inside, zipping up his fly and running his fingers through his hair. “Cherry. We’ve had a great time, but we just don’t have anything in common.” Other than their passion for fucking. That they saw eye to eye on.
Cherry swept her hair behind her ears and put her hands on her hips. He didn’t say anything else, just waited for her response. After a long, awkward moment stretched between them, she dropped her hands to her sides and shrugged.
“So? We’ll just keep things casual.”
“You mean you want a fuck buddy.” He pointed a finger at her. As much as the idea tempted him, he shook his head. She’d play games. It’s who she was. Game playing wasn’t his thing.
“Why not?” she pushed when he didn’t give in.
“Because the things that turn me on, the things I’d want to do with you wouldn’t be appealing to you,” he said, hoping she’d just accept it and move on. They’d had a great few days together, but it was done with.
She wouldn’t budge. “Like what? Anal? I can do anal.”
He paused in putting on his socks to stare up at her with a slacked jaw. He hadn’t thought of anal sex with her, not that she didn’t seem that type, but he didn’t want to put the effort into it with her.
“How many fuck buddies have you had?” he asked, sounding more incredulous than he had any right to be. He wasn’t exactly close to virginal status either.
Her eyes narrowed and those hands of hers were back on her hips. “Fuck you, Greg.”
“See. Now, if we were together, really together, I’d have to punish you for saying something like that.” He finished dressing and walked over to her. The idea of being punished either turned a girl on or repulsed them.
Cherry was repulsed.
He walked over to her and gently grabbed her arms. “I told you, the things I like aren’t what you like. It goes way beyond anal. I don’t want to waste your time, is what I’m saying.”
She ran her tongue over her over-whitened teeth and shoved his hands away. “Fine.” In a huff, she marched out of the bedroom and into the living room.
Not being a total asshole, but feeling one hundred percent like one, he followed her.
“You know, Greg. If you don’t want to be with a girl, maybe you shouldn’t fuck her like you do,” she snapped at him, while working her foot into her shoe.
What did that mean?
“I’m sorry if I gave you the wrong impression—”
“No!” She sliced her hand through the air. “I don’t want your apologies. Just forget the last few days. Delete my number from your phone, and don’t bother coming to my place for dinner tomorrow night.”
Had they made plans? He worked nights at The Bar; why would he have dinner plans with her?
“Are you sure you’re thinking of me?” he asked, unable to stop himself.
She huffed again, her face reddening, but then realization swept over her face. She hadn’t meant him.
He managed to stifle a laugh, but the grin couldn’t be contained.
“It’s fine. I’m sure he’s a better match for you.” He opened the door to the apartment. She didn’t respond, just gave a little yelp when she stumbled on the edge of the rug and headed out the door.
Greg followed her down the narrow stairway to help unbolt the bottom door that led out into the parking lot of the building. She remained stoic and silent, staring up at the ceiling to avoid looking at him, and once the door was opened, she shoved past him and disappeared into the morning sun.
“Well, she didn’t last long, did she?” Aubree’s sweet voice startled him. He whipped around and found her standing at the end of the hall carrying a large box.
He put himself into motion and snagged the box of toilet paper from her.
“It’s a little early for you to be working,” he said and carried the supplies down the hall to the closet.
Living in the apartment over the bar he ran with his brother meant he ran into his brother and his sister-in-law at all hours of the day.
“Bella woke me up, and I couldn’t get back to sleep, so I decided to get a jump on a few things,” she explained as she walked behind him.
“Where is my niece? You put her back to bed?”
“She’s in the office coloring,” Aubree said.
The three-year-old didn’t like sleeping in late on Saturdays, no matter how much her parents begged her.
“Hey.” Blake appeared through the back door. “Here you are.” He narrowed his gaze at his wife.
“Where else would I be?” she asked with a bit of a huff. Greg recognized that tone and turned to head toward the office. Some time with his niece would give them enough time to work out their issue.
“You didn’t leave a note, and I texted you.” He heard his brother chastising his wife. “Greg, wait, don’t go anywhere yet.”
“I didn’t get your text,” Aubree stated with annoyance. “And I did leave a note, right—” She paused mid-sentence then cursed. “I’m sorry. I think I wrote it and stuffed it in the diaper bag when I left.” She leaned against the wall.
Blake’s mouth pinched together in a straight line. “You’ve been working too much and keeping up with Bella is getting harder now that she’s into everything. Greg and I will handle the inventory this morning. Bella can hang with us, you go home and get some sleep.” Blake’s no-nonsense tone would have frightened some females; they would have seen his tone as angry. But he was in protective mode, and once Blake shifted to that gear there was no talking him down.
But Aubree was no ordinary woman.
“I’m not tired,” she argued.
“I didn’t ask if you were. Now go home and get back to bed. Lie there and count sheep, repeat the alphabet backwards, whatever you gotta do, but you don’t get up again until I call you.”
Aubree sighed. “Fine.”
“We’ll take care of Bella, just get some sleep,” Greg interjected. Playing with dolls didn’t exactly ring his bell, but spending time with his niece was always full of adventure. She had her mother’s magnetism for trouble.
“Okay, okay.” Aubree threw up her hands. “I’ll just give her a kiss and head out. Don’t forget she has playschool at eleven. Are you sure you can get her there?”
Blake nodded and pressed a kiss to his wife’s forehead. “Not a problem. Just rest up—because if your attitude gets much worse you’re going to have bigger problems.”
A sweet blush bloomed. No matter how many times Blake made the same threat, her reaction was the same.
“Your brother’s here,” she said and gave Blake a playful shove.
“And always willing to lend a hand.” Greg smiled broadly, crossing his arms over his chest. Years ago, he’d have given his right hand to have Aubree draped across his lap. But seeing how she was with Blake, he couldn’t imagine anything between them ever being anything more than platonic.
“You’re as bad as him.” Aubree shot him a punch in the arm as she passed and headed to the office.
“Actually, he’s worse,” Blake offered. Aubree’s face reddened another notch, and she disappeared into the office.
“You should keep that woman locked up. It’s too early for her to be up working,” Greg said to his brother.
“Well, since Bella came along it’s gotten a little harder to keep her in her cage,” Blake sighed. “I’m working on it though. Between her part-time hours at the veterinary clinic and here, she works too hard, too much, and still tries to be the perfect mother. Nothing a long session with my belt can’t fix.”
“Take a night off and handle it.” Greg leaned against the wall and ran his hand over his chin. He needed to shave. After spending four years in the marines, he’d gotten used to having a clean look.
“Don’t worry about her. I have it handled.” Blake nodded. “I’ll check in on Bella and make sure she’s not tearing up my office. I have a list of errands for you.”
“Great.” Greg forced a smile. He should have stayed upstairs and let Cherry find her own way out.
“That woman I saw stomping her way across the lot when I pulled in, she yours?” Blake asked, walking down the hall to the bar.
“No. She won’t be around anymore.” Greg settled onto a stool and waited for his honey-do list.
Blake shook his head. “You’ve been home six months. And you’ve gone through at least a dozen girls.”
“Don’t go all big brother on me,” Greg warned. It had taken enlisting in the marines to get his brother to back off, and he wasn’t looking to get back into old habits.
“Fine. Fine. What’s up with the security thing? I thought you were going to start looking into getting into personal security?”
“Why? You don’t like having me working here?” Greg asked.
“Fuck, Greg. Of course I do, just—I don’t know.” Blake’s brow wrinkled with concern.
“Don’t worry about it. Where’s that list?” Greg held out his hand. Better to jump into the day, then work out what his brother was worrying about.
Greg came home different than he’d left, that he knew. And it worried Blake, he knew that too.
But analyzing the situation wasn’t going to change it. He was home now and had to get his life back to some form of normalcy.
Blake handed over the short list of errands and Greg hopped off the stool.
“I’ll get these done and be back by lunch. You’ll need help feeding that kid of yours. I’ve seen Aubree battle her, and she’s better at it than you. You’ll need reinforcements.”
Blake laughed. “You’re probably right.”
Greg headed out with a strict plan. Run errands. Pick up lunch. Get home to eat and nap before his night shift at the bar.
Planning and lists. It all helped keep things in perspective. Don’t stray, and he’d be able to handle the entire day without incident.