T LEE GARLAND
Copyright © 2015
Published by Dark Hollows Press
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Copyright © 2015 T Lee Garland
ISBN 10: 1942176597
ISBN 13: 978-1-942176-59-6
Author: T Lee Garland
Editor: Ashley Kain
Original Publication Date: February 2015
All cover art and logo copyright © 2015 by Dark Hollows Press
Cover Design by 3 Rusted Spoons
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
Because everyone needs a hero sometimes
I dedicate this story to mine
Daddy, Carl and Aunt C
Gone but never forgotten
“You can’t really expect to get away with this!” Catherine screamed as her stepfather, Howard, pushed her into her bedroom.
“Your mother and I feel it’s for the best, just until you come to your senses and agree to marry Douglas. I just don’t understand you, Catherine. Your mother and I have always treated you like our little princess, we have given you everything you have ever wanted and needed, and all we ask in return is for you to make wise choices in life.”
Catherine snorted. “All you’re asking in return is for me to give up
life and marry some old crony that you have personally handpicked for me!”
Howard sighed. “Douglas Washburn is one of the wealthiest and most respected men in this state. He comes from a very influential family. Is it too much to ask that our only child marry well? We only want the best for you, princess. We just want you to live the rest of your life in the custom that your mother and I have always maintained for you. Catherine, you’re a very beautiful girl. Marrying Douglas, who by the way is crazy about you, will ensure your place in society.”
“You mean it will ensure
place in society. I care nothing about all that. I’m young! I just want to have some fun. Marrying someone who is almost thirty years older than me is
going to happen! Besides, he’s creepy. I don’t like the way he looks at me.” Catherine shuddered.
Howard frowned. “Then you leave me no options. You will stay locked in your bedroom until you come to your senses and agree to the wedding.”
“I will never agree to this sham of a wedding! If I were to wed anyone, it would be someone young and handsome and not someone old enough to be my father!” Catherine screamed. She was starting to panic, suspecting she wasn’t going to be able to talk him out of this harebrained scheme of his. And it hurt more than she would ever admit that her mother didn’t care enough to sober up and fight for her only daughter’s happiness.
Howard’s face reddened. “Then you will stay locked inside of your gilded tower until you agree or until that handsome prince you are waiting for swoops in to save you!” With that he gathered up her laptop and phone and slammed and locked her bedroom door. Catherine launched herself at the closed door and beat on it until her hands were bruised. Her screams echoed around the cavernous bedroom. She whirled, storming across the room to fling open the double doors that led to the Juliette balcony overlooking the paved driveway. It would be dangerous, but damned if she wasn’t desperate enough to try to scale it. This was going to take some planning. She would wait a couple of hours, and give them time to settle for the night. Then she could make her move. Catherine stretched out across the bed. She just needed to be patient. Within minutes she had fallen into an exhausted sleep.
Catherine’s green eyes opened and scanned her bedroom. The large room was in shadows now, illuminated only by the small Tiffany lamp on her bedside table. The room had been decorated in teal and snowy white. Her four-poster bed was built up on a pedestal and draped with billowing silk. It was a
bed built for a princess
thought Catherine. “What a joke,” she said out loud as she sat up in the middle of the bed. Her nearby desk sat empty of both her phone and her laptop courtesy of Howard.
“Damn him,” she muttered as she began yanking the bedcovers off and tying them together. She was getting out of here even if it killed her. There was no way in hell she was marrying creepy Douglas Washburn, with his watery blue eyes, fake smile, and wandering hands.
Catherine tilted her head toward the door. Had she heard something? Or was it just wishful thinking on her part?
“Pssst,” the sound came again, and this time it was followed by a scratching at her bedroom door. Catherine walked across the room and pressed her cheek to the smooth wood surface.
“Who’s there?” she whispered.
“Princess, it’s Mary. I’m trying to help you get out.” Mary, her old nanny who now worked as a maid for the family, picked diligently at the lock with a bobby pin.
“Oh, thank God, Mary, please hurry…please,” pleaded Catherine. It seemed to take forever, but finally the lock gave way and the door was opened. Catherine flew into Mary’s arms hugging her former nanny tightly. “Thank you, Mary, thank you so much.”
“It’s okay, child, it’s going to be all okay. It’s a shame what they’re trying to do to my baby girl, and I’ll not stand by and let it happen. I’m helping you out of here right now. Gather up a bag with some clothes in it. My daughter Mia is waiting outside in her car to take you to Maxville County where she lives. She has a job for you if you want it. They won’t be able to find you so easily there, but you can’t take much with you. Now come on and hurry up!”
Catherine grabbed her large Louis Vuitton duffle bag, and quickly began shoving some clothes and toiletries in it. She pulled her hidden cash from a book at the back of her closet and quickly counted it out. A total of six hundred and ninety-four dollars wouldn’t go far, but it would have to do for now. She wouldn’t be able to use her credit cards because they might be traced, so she pitched them on the bed and looped her purse across her body. “I’m ready,” she announced, and Mary nodded her approval.
“Good girl. Now your mama had too much to drink as usual and went to bed hours ago, but your stepdad has only been in bed an hour or two, he was on the phone talking to that Douglas man, I heard him assure him that you would come around eventually. Make sure you’re quiet. If you wake him it will be trouble for both of us.”
Catherine frowned. “I’m worried for you, Mary. What if they find out you helped me?”
“They ain’t going to know, child.” Mary walked across the room, picked up the rope Catherine had fashioned from her bed linens, and tied it to the balcony. “It’s a two-story drop to the ground, but they won’t know you weren’t desperate enough to try it anyway. I’ll lock the door from the outside, just like I found it. Now don’t worry about me. You just go.”
Catherine felt the tears gather in her eyes. “Thank you, Mary, for everything. I love you.”
“I know that, child. Now you go and be quiet,” Mary said, brushing away her own tears.
Catherine tiptoed down the huge spiral staircase that led to the two-story foyer. She had lived in this house for the past ten years when her single mom had lucked out and caught herself a wealthy, but lonely Howard Stanley. He was a man with political ambitions and enough money to gloss over the fact that his new beautiful wife was a single mother, working as a hair stylist when he had met her. Her mother, Virginia White-Stanley, had sold out in order to marry into money and become a politician’s wife. She now drank herself to sleep most nights. Catherine loved her mother, but she was weak and would always follow Howard’s lead. Therefore they would not be able to help each other. Catherine knew she had to save herself.
Catherine winced when she stepped on the ninth step. Past experience from sneaking in and out had taught her it had a squeak. When the squeak came it seemed to echo around the house and Catherine held her breath waiting for the sound of her stepfather’s bedroom door to open. When it didn’t, she raced the rest of the way down the stairs and out the door. A small dark car sat idling with its lights off in the curved, paved drive. Catherine opened the door, pitched her bag in the back and jumped in. The girl driving floored it, keeping her headlights off until she reached the main road.
Catherine breathed a sigh of relief. She had done it. She had escaped from the castle.
A smile touched her lips. Could her prince charming be very far behind?
Catherine glanced sideways at Mia. Of course she had known that her nanny had a daughter just a little older than herself, but she had never met her before tonight. She took a moment to let her gaze slide over Mia. She was beautiful, bi-racial with large, dark almond-shaped eyes and creamy colored skin. Her dark hair fell in curls to her shoulders. Catherine thought she was twenty-three, which would make her three years older than herself.
“Are you done eyeballing me, princess?” Mia asked suddenly, causing Catherine to jump at the unexpected sound of her husky voice.
“You’re very beautiful.”
Mia smiled. “Thank you.”
“I’m Catherine. Thank you for helping me, Mia. Your mom has told me so much about you through the years, and she is so proud of how you’ve been working so hard to put yourself through college.”
“I know who you are. Mom always came home from work talking about her ‘little golden-haired princess.’ For the past ten years, that’s all I’ve heard. I feel like I know you—all about you and your so-called troubles, the troubles of a poor little rich girl.”
Catherine winced. “I’m not rich. My stepfather is. I don’t care how much money you have or don’t have, Mia. Being forced to marry someone you don’t love is wrong. That Douglas Washburn is evil. I can feel it. I won’t marry him. I don’t care if I have to live in a ditch. Am I so wrong for not wanting to marry someone I don’t love? Or for wanting my own life and not one that’s chosen for me?”
Mia shook her head, sending her curls bouncing around her stunning face. “No, you’re not wrong. I’m sorry. I just finished my shift and I’m tired. Mom would never make me marry someone I didn’t love. That’s probably why she called tonight and asked for me to come and get you. No one is going to be sleeping in a ditch, by the way. I just rented a two-bedroom apartment and I could use some help with the rent, roommate.”
“I don’t have much money. I’ll need to find a job. Your mom said you may have one for me? I’m afraid I don’t know how to do much. My parents were so insistent I marry Douglas that they wouldn’t even allow me to attend college this fall. They said I wouldn’t need college or to work once I was Mrs. Washburn. I’m ashamed to say I’ve never worked before.”
“It’s okay. I work at Bubba’s as a bartender-slash-server. There’s a job there as a server, and if you like, I could get you in. You’re pretty, so with some work you should make a lot in tips.” Mia shot a quick glance across to Catherine.
“Really? That would be so awesome! I could serve…tables, right? Is Bubba’s a restaurant?”
Mia smiled. “Not exactly a restaurant, more like a bar that occasionally serves up a burger on the grill. It’s a biker bar, actually, so it can get a little rough and rowdy at times, but Bubba runs a tight ship. He has a couple of hunky bouncers that keep the peace.” Mia shrugged. “You smile and play nice to the customers, you could do real well. I hope you have better clothes in that expensive bag of yours.”
Catherine glanced down at the slim black slacks and pale pink sweater she wore. What exactly had she stuffed into her bag? “I have a couple of pairs of jeans and some tops. I think a dress and a couple of sweaters.”
Mia laughed, shaking her head. “Got any money?”
Catherine hesitated before answering, not trusting Mia enough yet to admit to the amount. “A little, but not much.”
Mia smiled. “We’ll go shopping tomorrow before our shift. You won’t need much money. The less you wear, the more tips you’ll make.”
“Who’s the new girl?” asked Dane “The Dragon” Maldonado as he arrived for his shift at Bubba’s and leveled his intense brown eyes on the pretty blonde in the black leather mini-skirt.
The owner, Bubba Nicks, followed his gaze and shrugged. “She came in with Mia. Said her name is Catherine, but to call her Cat. She’s young and green, but with those looks she should bring in some good money.”
“Cat, huh? Well, here pussy, pussy, pussy,” purred Rick “Cutman” Jackson, Dane’s best friend, fellow bouncer and former “cutman” in his corner when he was a MMA fighter.
“Really, Cutman? I thought you were more of a dog lover,” said Dragon, straight-faced.
“What makes you think that?” asked Cutman, who was still eyeing Catherine with interest.
“I saw your last girlfriend…woof,” Dragon said.
Cutman smirked. “They all look alike in the dark, bro. Besides, that girl sure could lick some balls.”
All three men laughed before Bubba said, “Shit, ya fuckers, get to work. I ain’t paying you for yacking about Cutman’s love life or lack of it.” And he wandered off to join Mia behind the bar. The place was starting to get busy as people got off of work and stopped in for a burger and a drink.
“You interested?” asked Dragon, his voice suddenly serious as he inclined his head toward Cat and crossed his arms over his wide chest.
“Naw, man, I’m just messing with you. You know I’ve had my eyes on Mia for weeks now. One of these days, I’m going to convince her I’m the love of her life,” said Cutman as he watched Mia laugh at something Bubba said.
Dragon grinned. “Well, I will give you this. Your taste in women has definitely improved. Mia is a knock-out.”
“You keep your eyes on the hot little blonde and off
my future wife,” Cutman stated. “Are you seriously considering the blonde? I’ve never known you to mix business and pleasure before.” At Dragon’s nod, Cutman continued. “Good luck with that one. She looks like a handful for sure. I’m going to work the front door.” Cutman made his way through the growing crowd to stand at the entrance. Dragon dropped some coins in the jukebox and hit “Who Let the Dogs Out?” Across the room, Cutman flipped him the bird and Dragon threw his head back and laughed. It had been a long time since he had felt this much excitement about a woman. He honestly couldn’t wait to meet Cat.
Dragon’s gaze fell back on to Cat. She was smiling at a table of men as she took their order, and they looked entranced by her. He couldn’t blame them. He too was having trouble taking his eyes off her. She had beautiful legs, and she was smart enough to show them off in a tiny black leather mini-skirt. She had pulled her long, straight blonde hair up in a high ponytail, and it swayed and moved with her actions. Dragon found it as spellbinding as a swinging pocket watch welded by a hypnotist.
She must have felt his eyes on her because she raised her head and looked at him. They were the greenest eyes he had ever seen. They reminded him of the spring grass in his home state of Tennessee. Cat sent him a dazzling smile before turning her attention back to the table. Dragon grinned. “
Here pussy, pussy, pussy.
Catherine maneuvered her way between the tables. The place had filled up pretty quickly, mostly with rough-looking men who for the most part were behaving. Her feet were killing her in the little half-boots that Mia insisted she buy, but she smiled through the pain. The music was lively, the men were friendly, the food was good, and the beer was cold. Catherine had to admit it she had never felt so alive, so totally free. This was the kind of place her parents would never think to look for her at. They themselves would never frequent such a place, the country club being more their style. Catherine felt like she belonged here, and these were her kind of people. Real, honest and down-to-earth, and so ready to have some fun! And if that hot bouncer kept giving her the eye, she was almost positive she was going to like working at Bubba’s.
Earlier that morning, they had finally arrived at Mia’s apartment in the early light. The apartment was small, but functional after all, it was just the two of them. After they had slept a few hours, Mia had taken her to the local Goodwill store, where she helped her make some clothing purchases, including two pairs of well-worn jeans that Mia had promptly taken a pair of scissors to, making her two new pairs of daisy-dukes. The fake leather skirt had been a total score and they both had done a little happy dance right there in the aisle when Catherine had spotted it. Later that afternoon, a trip to the mall produced a pair of jeans that fit the curve of her ass like they were made for just her. They added a couple of boob-hugging tank tops and a pretty, flirty halter dress. Her new wardrobe was complete.
“How you holding up, hun?” asked Roxie, one of the other servers. Cat had taken an instant liking to her. She was a little older than herself, with bright red hair and a friendly smile.
“My feet are killing me, and I’m pretty sure if that asshole over there sticks his hand up my skirt one more time, I’m going to slug him. But other than that, I’m doing great.” She laughed.
“The feet thing is to be expected on your first night, but it will get better. As for the asshole, that’s Bennett, and he is one mean SOB when he gets to drinking. You just let Dragon handle him.”
“Dragon?” asked Cat.
“That gorgeous, hot, alpha man standing in the corner with his arms crossed over his make-you-drop-your-panties-chest, the one with those hunky muscles bulging, that’s Dragon, our protection. He hasn’t taken his eyes off you all night. Don’t worry he’s got your back. He’s a former MMA fighter and nobody, not even Bennett, is stupid enough to mess with him,” informed Roxie.
“Hey, blondie, bring our table another pitcher of beer!” yelled Bennett.
“Coming right up,” Cat called back as she smiled, rolled her eyes at Roxie, and turned to head back to the bar. “The asshole wants another picture of beer” she told Mia, who just shook her head in disgust and handed a frosted pitcher of cold beer to Cat.
“Here you go, gentlemen,” Cat said as she leaned over to set the pitcher in the center of the table. The next thing she knew she felt a sharp pinch to her ass cheek as Bennett’s hand snaked up her skirt.
“Bitch, get it here a little faster next time,” he chuckled, “and I might leave a bigger tip for you later tonight behind the building.” He turned to the rest of the men at the table and they all laughed as he rubbed his crotch.
Cat didn’t know what came over her. Maybe it was the painful pinch that she was sure would leave a nasty bruise, or the fact that her feet were throbbing. But one thing was for sure— she had had enough of this jerk. She acted on instinct, before she had even thought about the consequences of her actions. Cat snatched the pitcher of beer off the table and dumped it over Bennett’s head.
“Was that fast enough for you, asshole?” she asked sweetly. The whole bar seemed to gasp as one, then become quiet.
“You fuckin’ bitch!” Bennett roared as he came up out of his seat. His chair turned over and loudly hit the floor behind him. It abruptly occurred to Cat that she may have made a serious judgment in error. Bennett was big, ugly, and suddenly mad as hell. He drew his hand back to slap her and Cat cringed as she waited for the blow. But instead a large hand wrapped around Bennett’s wrist and held him in place.
“I know you weren’t getting ready to hit a woman, were you?” asked Dragon, whose eyes seemed to glow with an inner rage. “Do you have any idea what I do to guys that hit on women?” Cat watched as he leaned over and whispered something in Bennett’s ear, something that made the man suddenly go deathly pale. “Now, you’re going to apologize to the little lady and then you’re going to quietly exit the building, aren’t you?”
“But she poured a fuckin’ whole pitcher of beer on me,” Bennett protested loudly.
“Yeah, and it’s your lucky day because we aren’t even going to charge you for the beer. Consider it on the house, a going away present if you will. Now apologize and then get the hell out.” Dragon’s voice was low and deadly. Cat noticed the grip he had on the back of Bennett’s neck tightened.
“I’m sorry,” mumbled Bennett. His mouth said the words but his beady little eyes told a different story. He was far from sorry. He was scared and mad as hell.
Dragon frowned. “Your friends are welcome to stay as long as they behave themselves.” The three other men at the table nodded their understanding. Dragon escorted Bennett to the door. “If you come back in here again, you keep your fuckin’ hands to yourself. Is that clear?”
“Yeah, crystal,” said Bennett as Cutman opened the door and he left begrudgingly.
“Looks like your kitty cat has some claws,” Cutman pointed out with a grin.
“Just enough to get her killed. Bennett left without a fight, but that doesn’t bode well for her later. She embarrassed him in front of his boys. He ain’t going to let that shit go.” Dragon groaned as he ran his hand down his face. “Why do I feel like I got my work cut out for me with this one?”
Cutman chuckled. “You may be right, but it’s been my experience with women that the ones that are the most trouble give the greatest pleasure.”
“Did you just make that shit up?” asked Dragon with a chuckle.
“Hell, yeah. I should write this stuff down,” bragged Cutman. Dragon shook his head and went to find Cat. He needed to talk to her before she got herself into trouble again. He found her apologizing to Bubba.
“I’m really so sorry. I promise it won’t happen again,” said Cat.
“Make sure it doesn’t or you’re out of here. Oh, and that pitcher of beer is coming out of your first check,” muttered Bubba as he stomped back to his office.
“I wouldn’t pay much attention to Bubba. If he didn’t like you, you would already be gone,” Dragon said. She turned those green eyes on him, along with the sweetest smile he had ever seen, and Dragon knew right away that he was lost. The girl was a knock-out, plain and simple. Way out of this Tennessee boy’s league. The thought of that brought back childhood memories of living in a trailer on the wrong side of town. His words came out harsher then he attended. He had promised himself that no one would make him feel inferior again. Yeah, his old man had been a worthless drunk who never worked more than two days a week his entire life. His mother, who had tried so hard to compensate for the lack of a father, had worked herself into an early grave.
Girls like Cat had just wanted to fuck him in high school and college. They never wanted to date or take him home to their parents. Dragon sighed. When would he learn? He was always attracted to the girls who would find him beneath them. What the hell, he was a glutton for punishment.
Catherine smiled. “You’re Dragon, right? Hi, I’m Cat. It’s nice to finally meet you. I wanted to thank you for coming to my rescue. I’m afraid I lost my temper and well…if it hadn’t been for you, I guess I could have been in big trouble.”
Catherine looked up at Dragon, and never had she seen such a gloriously hot man before. He wasn’t handsome in the traditional sense—more like rugged, dark and brooding handsome. He was tall, with a flat stomach and wide shoulders. His black t-shirt hugged every muscle. His tight jeans sat low on his hips and hugged a fine ass. His hair was dark. Dragon’s eyes were milk-chocolate brown, the all-day stubble along his chin and jawline just added to his sex appeal. The man was walking, talking straight-up fine! Sex on a stick to go, please, she thought with a smile he was the corndog version of a sexy man.
“Are you all right?” he asked, his voice a deep rumble of concern that seemed to resonate all the way to her tingling lady parts.
“Yes, I’m okay, thanks to you of course,” Catherine answered.
“That was a damn stupid thing to do. I wouldn’t advise you to try such a stunt again. Someone could get seriously hurt. The men in here are bikers, not Sunday school teachers, and they don’t take to kindly to be made fools of, especially in front of all their friends.” And just like that he turned and walked away, back to his corner where he crossed his arms over his chest and proceeded to glare at her from across the room.
Catherine frowned. “What the hell? Well I guess everyone has their flaws, and his is clearly personality—or should I say a lack thereof? What a waste of a gorgeous man,” she grumbled to Mia who had witnessed the whole exchange.
Mia looked pensive as she watched Dragon walk away. “Believe me, Dragon does not lack personality. He may be a former MMA fighter, but he doesn’t like to fight. He was just afraid you would be hurt, I’m sure. He’s always very protective of all the women. I’ve actually never seen him like this before. He was almost scared for you, I think. It could be he has a thing for you. He has spent the night looking at you like he could just eat you up and then some.”
“A thing for me? Well he has a funny way of showing his
,” snorted Catherine as she made air quotes.
“I’ve worked here two years and he has never dated or even shown any interest in any of the women here, employees or customers,” Mia noted. “Believe me there have been many who have tried, including Janet, over there, who won’t leave the man alone, but he always goes home alone.”
Catherine shrugged her shoulders. “Maybe he doesn’t swing that way.”
Mia’s response was a sharp bark of laughter. “Dragon gay? Oh hell no, no damn way. For one thing, did you not just see how he was looking at you? Gay men do not look at women like that. You might as well be naked, because that man is fucking you with his eyes. You just watch and see if I’m not right.”
Catherine turned and looked at Dragon, who in turn stared her down. If that was being ‘fucked with your eyes,’ she definitely preferred the old-fashioned way, because the whole eye thing didn’t do it for her, even coming from Mr. Fire-Breathing Dragon.
When Bubba’s shut down at two a.m., the employees exited out the back door. Dragon and Cutman stood guard as Mia, Cat, Roxie, and Janet made their way to their vehicles. Catherine noted that Janet lingered, leaning into Dragon, who just shook his head no. He was barely glancing down at Janet as his eyes scanned the dark parking lot. Catherine was exhausted and so ready to get to the apartment and get a quick shower before falling into bed. And damn if these shoes weren’t coming off her feet as soon as she hit the apartment door.
“Do they always watch over us to make sure we get out of the parking lot safely?” asked Catherine as she looked at Dragon and Cutman quietly telling the girls ’bye and standing watch as they went to their cars. Catherine liked how it made her feel safe and protected.
“Yes, every night,” said Mia as she once again tried to start her car, which only made a whiney noise before not starting for the second time. “Damn it!” exclaimed Mia, striking out at the steering wheel. “You piece of sh…”
“Problem, ladies?” The one they called Cutman stood at the driver’s side door, and Dragon stood to his left. Catherine did a quick scan of the dark parking lot and noted that they were the only ones left.
“My car isn’t starting. It’s such a piece of shit!” groaned a frustrated Mia.
Cutman smiled at Mia. “Come on, hun. You’re tired. We’ll give you ladies a ride home and I’ll come back tomorrow in the daylight and have a look at the car.”
Mia hung her head in defeat.
“It will be okay, I promise.” Cutman pulled her door open and helped Mia from the car. Catherine was too drained to protest, so she climbed out from the other side and followed them. She watched as Cutman mounted a motorcycle and started it. Mia joined him on the back and off into the night they went. Dragon threw his long leg over another motorcycle and kick-started it.
“Here, put this on.” He handed her his helmet.
“What about you?” Catherine asked. “You won’t have a helmet.”
“Mia lives close by, so I’ll be fine. Just get on and hold tight,” Dragon said with a smile. It was one of those smiles that invited you to smile back. A smile that made a girl wonder what those lips would feel like on hers. Catherine pulled the helmet on and was engulfed in him. Dragon’s scent was captured in the helmet and it was like having his essence surround her.
Catherine went to throw her leg over the bike, but had a problem. Her skirt wouldn’t let her. When Dragon turned to look back at what was causing her delay, his eyebrow rose in a question. Catherine gave up the modesty fight and pulled the skirt up higher until it was almost indecent, but it was the only way she could mount the bike. There wasn’t much room on the seat and her body rubbed against Dragon’s back as she made a slow slide down his body and onto the seat. Her breasts pressed flat against his back as she wrapped her arms around his waist and the bike surged forward smoothly.
Catherine had never ridden a motorcycle before, but soon found it exhilarating. The cool air against her skin, the rumble of the powerful bike between her legs, and the feeling of being unrestricted and one with the starry night sky left her with such a feeling of freedom that she never wanted it to end.
Too soon they arrived at Mia’s apartment. When they pulled up, Mia was giving Cutman a kiss and the twosome didn’t pull apart when they heard the other bike arrive. When they came to a stop, Catherine climbed from the back of the bike and Dragon followed. He discreetly looked away as she wiggled her skirt back down into place.
“You don’t have to walk me to the door. It’s late and I’m sure you’re tired,” said Catherine.
Dragon ignored her and walked her to the door anyway. “My mama raised me better than that. I’ll walk you to the door. It’s no big deal.” By this time Mia had gone inside of the apartment, leaving the door slightly ajar for Catherine. Cutman was climbing back on his bike as they walked by.
“Good night, Kitty Cat,” he said as they passed. He chuckled and Catherine couldn’t help but smile back at him.
“Good night, Cutman, and thank you,” she replied.
When they reached the door, Dragon turned to face her, and they both glanced at Cutman, who quickly made a great show of studying the straps on his helmet before sliding it over his head, starting his bike, and riding off.
Catherine offered her hand to Dragon. He smiled. “You don’t have a pitcher of beer hidden on you somewhere, do you? I wouldn’t appreciate a beer shower right about now.”
Catherine shrugged. “As long as you don’t pinch my ass hard enough to leave a bruise, that shouldn’t be a problem.”
Dragon frowned as he took her small hand into his own. “I didn’t realize that he had hurt you.” Dragon looked concerned. “I’m sorry I should have gotten to him sooner. Promise me that in the future, you will come to me if you are having a problem. I’ll take care of it. Don’t put yourself in danger Cat. I don’t want to see you get hurt.” He raised her hand to his mouth and kissed the inside of her wrist, where the pulse beat.
Catherine felt the rough touch of his whiskers and the warmth of his moist breath a heartbeat before she felt the softness of his lips as they briefly brushed across her sensitive skin. Goosebumps spread across her flesh and she shivered. She was momentarily breathless. Deep down somewhere in her core, a drumming began it was somewhat tribal and instinctive. It was something she had never experienced before, and it spread to all parts of her body, heating and leaving them throbbing.
“Okay, I promise I will.” She managed to get out. “Will you promise me something too, Dragon?” Cat asked sweetly.
He seemed surprised by her request but answered with a nod. “If I can.”
“Promise me that you won’t be a grouch toward the woman that you saved, especially when she is trying to thank you.”
“Did I do that?” he asked with a wicked grin. That sent her heart into flutter mode.
Catherine nodded. “Yes. I was starting to think you had saved me from Bennett so you could pummel me yourself.”
For a moment Dragon seemed lost in thought as his hand reached out and he captured a lock of her hair as it lay across her shoulder and down around her breast. Cat got the feeling that for a moment he would have brought it up to inhale before he realized what he had done and quickly released it.
“Point well taken,” he whispered his voice husky and warm. “Sweet dreams, Cat.”
Dragon’s lips brushed her cheek. His warmth, his manly, spicy smell shrouded her like a soft quilt. She wanted to wrap herself up in this man, but instead turned to go inside, aware of the fact that he watched her until she was safely locked into the apartment. It was an odd feeling for her, this feeling of being protected …secure… watched over. Dragon was such an enigma. Mia said he didn’t like to fight. A former MMA fighter who didn’t like to fight? He wasn’t all he appeared, meaning that he was keeping secrets too. Dragon was so hard and tough on the outside so seemingly fearless, yet he had just kissed her wrist with so much tenderness. Did he have a soft spot? A place where maybe she could find and make her way into? A chink in his armor protected heart? Dragon was no prince charming. He was too edgy, too dark. No doubt Dragon was a man who made his own way and took no prisoners. He would accept no less from her than her everything. Could she surrender her all to the smoking-hot Dragon and not be burned in the process?
“Gone! What in the hell do you mean she’s gone? I thought I told you to lock her up in her room!” yelled Douglas Washburn. His watery blue eyes narrowed and pinned Howard to the navy winged chair in his opulent office.
Howard squirmed. “We think she may have climbed out the window.”
“Idiot! I’ve been to your house. I know how high her window is! Do you think I’m fucking stupid? The girl would have broken something. She’s not actually Rapunzel. Someone had to have helped her escape. That lush of a wife of yours, maybe?”
Howard shook his head. “No, not Virginia she was…well, indisposed that night.”
Douglas stared him down. “In other words, she was drunk again. Need I remind you we had a deal? I gave you two hundred thousand dollars and my unwavering supports to help you get elected in the last congressional race and in return you promised me the girl for my wife. I have to have time to groom her to stand by my side in two years when I run for the Senate. Now you listen to me. You get your lard ass up out of my chair and you go find the bitch, and when you do, you bring her right to me. I know how to teach a woman her place.”
Howard gulped. “But, how are you planning on making her marry you? Catherine said she doesn’t want to. You aren’t going to hurt her, are you?”
Douglas narrowed his eyes. “You let me worry about that. I know how to teach a woman what is expected of her. Get the fuck out of my office and go find her. You will not renege on our deal! Or have you forgotten your little indiscretion with Lola?”
“Yes, sir. I’ll get right on it.” Howard rushed from the office, sweating profusely through his clothing and thinking he would not want to be Catherine when she was found. He had a brief moment of conscience that she might be hurt, but in light of the fact he had made a deal with the devil himself, he knew better then default on that deal. Douglas Washburn had some very damning pictures of him and a call girl that he had employed on a business trip to Vegas. Douglas had even set him up with her. Releasing those pictures would be the end of him and his political career. He had to find Catherine, and he had to find her fast.
Douglas Washburn’s hand caressed his cock through his expensive Armani suit. Just the thought of how he would make Catherine pay made him hard. He had spotted her at a fundraiser for her worthless stepfather last year. And he knew he needed her by his side. She was stunning and would make the perfect political wife—once he had her trained, of course. He would teach her what he liked, how to please him, and if she could be used to bring him to the top, well so be it. He had no qualms about loaning her out to those who would help him reach his ultimate goal. A much younger, beautiful woman who was from the right kind of family? The old cronies would be falling all over themselves to fuck her.
He looked down at his cock and pulled it from his pants, just thinking of her long silky blonde hair falling all around his balls and those soft full lips wrapped around him made him groan. He would get her on her knees in front of him and watch as those green eyes would grow big as she sucked him off. Catherine would be begging for him to take her before he was done. He had to be careful and not mark the face, but the rest of her luscious body would be his to do with as he pleased. But for now he needed a release. He reached over and pushed the intercom on his office desk. “Ashley, could you come in here?”
“Yes, sir, I’ll be right in,” said the squeaky, disembodied voice. Within seconds his new secretary stood in front of him. He had found her on the streets of D.C., selling her body way too cheap. Douglas had spent a little money on her to train her, sending her to school to learn how to be his assistant. He had then taken her to his special room and taught her how to please him. She had proved to be a wonderful student, always more than willing to please both him and his friends. She was grateful and didn’t even mind when he got a little rough. Douglas liked them young and he liked them blonde. Ashley was paid well and she knew what was expected of her. She had already turned out to be quite the assent to him. His other clients seemed to favor her as well. It was too damn bad her family lived in government housing somewhere in Arkansas. If only she had been from a prominent family he could have taken her to wife instead.
“Lock the door and get on your knees,” he instructed. “Then suck my cock off.”
“Ohh, yes, sir.” She licked her lips, her overly made up eyes lighting up as she approached him. She was already unbuttoning her neatly pressed blouse. Large silicon tits that he himself had paid for bounced free as she lowered herself between his spread legs.
Now that’s how Douglas liked his woman. Willing and able to follow orders! When he found that bitch Catherine she would pay and pay big. But for now…
“Open wide.” Douglas commanded.
Saturday afternoon Cutman showed up at the apartment to pick up Mia. They were going to work on her car and she would be back to pick Catherine up for her shift at work. She had told her to dress sexy, because Saturday nights were their busiest and she would make a lot of money if she “dressed to impress.” So after Mia left Catherine made herself some scrambled eggs and toast, and tidied up the small apartment before jumping in the shower. She then dressed in a pair of cut-offs that, she had to admit, made her legs look long and pretty. Along with the cut-offs, she wore a pretty little T-shirt that had “Open All Night” printed on it. The soft green lettering against the white back ground showed off her green eyes and it was tight enough to hug the curve of her breasts.
She pulled her blonde hair back up into a high ponytail but this time curled the ends so it bounced around and over her left shoulder. Catherine really didn’t think she needed much make-up, but she did add some eyeliner, mascara, and a bright pink lip gloss. Satisfied with the look, she had just put in a pair of hooped earrings when a knock sounded at the door.
Catherine headed to the door, thinking Mia must have forgotten her key, but when she swung it open she saw Dragon standing in the threshold. He was once again dressed in jeans and a black t-shirt. Some spicy man scented cologne wafted in on the breeze and curled around her, and she almost closed her eyes and moaned out loud. Dragon’s eyes scanned her from the top to the bottom, but he didn’t say a word. He didn’t have to, because his eyes darkened, his mouth tightened, and Catherine felt the heat from his body. She wanted him. She wanted to feel him wrapped around her, his cock sliding into her. His lips as they worked their way down her body. Dragon was dangerous, but only dangerous to her heart.