Authors: Allyson Young
Jace McEachern and Max Brewster had been considering a couple of the female barflies when the door had opened and the sound of female laughter filled the bar. They’d been drawn like bees to honey. Probably ten women, all in their midtwenties, were gathered around the big table in the middle, enjoying appetizers and fruity drinks, teasing one another and spreading mirth and joy. It was like looking at a group of colorful butterflies, but Greg had laid eyes on Lacey and the others simply faded into the background.
She was just a little scrap of a woman, all curves and daintiness, feisty in the way that some small women are. Greg suspected that her demeanor hid a woman desperate to be taken care of, if only she could trust herself. The little black dress she wore with matching stilettos showcased her lovely body, the color setting her apart from the reds, blues, greens, and yellows of the clothing her friends wore. Her creamy skin glowed with health and enthusiasm, and her dark eyes sparkled above a short little nose and full, cupid’s bow mouth. She wore her hair in some kind of intricate style on top of her head, and Greg didn’t know the silk and heft of it until some weeks later. But he was smitten at the sight of her, and nothing and nobody deterred him in his pursuit from that moment onward.
Lacey hadn’t fallen at his feet or into his bed. She dismissed him that night, clearly disgruntled by the way he and his buddies had tried to invite themselves into the all-girl party. The birthday girl, Julie somebody, had found Max irresistible, and Jace and Greg had been accepted by default, which had been a good thing, because Greg had been going to follow his goddess at the end of the evening until he could figure out enough information to get a name and an address, if they hadn’t been included in the celebrations. He had decided that he was going to pursue this woman and find out if she was his One. The chase had been met with spirited resistance.
Lacey hadn’t wanted to date a cop, worried about the risks of his profession. He had reassured her about that, seeing as he had detective status and was far less likely to encounter anything really dangerous, unlike in his patrol days as a first responder, and then she resisted him because he was so “bossy.” Lacey was quite independent, and had moved out of her parents’ home and to the city so that no one would be continually telling her what to do. She read him quite well, right from the beginning. She knew that Greg was a control freak, and he was, especially in the bedroom. His profession made him dominant even as he presented being calm and laid-back, but dominance had always been his main personality trait. Being a cop had just honed it. Greg knew what he wanted and didn’t hesitate in going after it with quiet, implacable confidence. He scared his little woman, and once he came to understand that fact, he set out to convince her that he would never harm her, would always have her best interests at heart, and she came to accept it and him, in small increments.
And then he had failed to live up to his promise.
She had lived her public and work life pretty much as she had always done, although when they moved in together, bought their house together, she deferred to his opinions more often than not. She had considerably more skill with all things financial than he did but never made a big deal about it. There were some lines he knew better than to cross, like telling her what to wear, or who to hang out with. They had gone to the mat a couple of times over the latter, when Greg had had the temerity to suggest that one of her friends wasn’t a good influence. He smiled a little at the remembrance. Lacey might be little, but she wouldn’t lie down for anybody. Well, maybe that wasn’t an exact analogy. She had finally laid down for him, and he had thought he would have burst if she hadn’t. And as he had suspected, she did indeed long for someone to take care of her. Learning to trust herself to let go had taken more time, and Greg had no doubt that she now questioned her own judgment because of what he had done.
* * * *
The nursing night shift had come on close to eleven, and his nemesis, Sheila, had gone home, but not before alerting the new head nurse to the little scene she had witnessed earlier. Margaret was a bit more sympathetic to him, allowing him to drag a chair and sit outside Lacey’s door with the promise that he wouldn’t enter the room without permission. Greg was going to wait until an opportunity presented itself. His captain had granted him leave upon hearing about all the changes of late, and his buddies had rallied to take his cases and share them out, as well as organizing their assorted wives and girlfriends to head over to clean and tidy his house. Their house, his and Lacey’s house, their
. He planned to take Lacey home when she was discharged and take care of her. He drifted back into his memories, the hard chair no longer uncomfortable, as his mind opened and his body remembered.
Lacey lay in his arms, the silken length of her like liquid heat against his chest. She had finally accompanied him to his bedroom after a night of dancing, and willingly let him seduce her. Greg had stripped her slowly, unveiling every inch of her creamy flesh to his view with the anticipation of a child in a candy store. He had felt her sense of awkwardness when she was totally nude and he was still fully dressed, but he had decided to define the boundaries during their first sexual encounter. He had lifted her and laid her out on his bed, thrilled that she was finally there, looking just like she belonged. He had paid homage to her full breasts, the tips of which were like black cherries, and the taste of her had burst upon his tongue. She had been fairly passive at his request that she let him please her, and it allowed him time to gauge her responses, determine where her sweet spots were and what she liked the best. Oral sex had seemed less familiar to her, and her body had tensed and resisted him, but only for a few moments, and he’d been able to tongue her to a climax in even less time. She was incredibly responsive, and, he believed, submissive, just what he craved in a woman. The sex itself had been nearly everything he had hoped for, and could only be made better when Lacey came to relinquish total control over her pleasure to him, as he was certain she would. As it was, it felt like she completed him.
Greg had kissed her forehead and watched her big brown eyes open and focus on him. “Enjoy yourself, baby?” he had asked.
“Did you?” Lacey had stretched languidly in postcoital stupor, clearly aware that she had pleased him, and Greg had watched the way her breasts lifted with the movement. His cock had begun to harden again, so soon after just fucking them both senseless.
The weeks of just spending time together had entranced him. He rarely got to know the women he fucked personally, although he treated their bodies well. He simply hadn’t been interested enough, but Lacey fascinated him. They had even made the trip to meet her parents, even if Edward and Leticia had not been pleased to meet him, considering his profession and religious background. But it had been an important move to make, and Lacey had appreciated it. He had done it for her. Greg regretted the fact that her family didn’t care for him, especially since his parents had passed away and neither he nor Lacey had any siblings. But his colleagues were his family, and now he had Lacey, and she had him.
Lacey also had a lot of different people who claimed her as friend, primarily because she was so honest and trustworthy, although she spent less and less time with them because of her focus on him, the focus he demanded. He could always count on Lacey, which had been part of the problem after KarLynn had been stabbed and the little kid murdered. She had been so accepting, so undemanding, that Greg hadn’t had to make any effort to include her in his angst or seek out professional help because there had been no expectation from her that he do so. She had trusted that he would come to it on his own and deal with it just as he had trained her to expect he would. Not that it was an excuse. He should have wanted to get it together for her and not become so twistedly complacent in his reaction. He again wondered at his stupidity and who he had driven away. He recalled how he had taken the first step at opening up to Lacey their first full night together.
“I totally enjoyed myself, Lacey. But more than that, it meant something to me.”
Lacey had melted at his statement, and Greg remembered how easy it had been to make it, and how truthful. She knew that Greg and many of his friends had engaged in lots of recreational sex, and knew a little about the club he belonged to, and several of their conversations had been about intimacy and how sex should be the icing on the cake and not the foundation. Greg had initially been less than honest in his opinion. He liked sex. He liked it often and liked to control every aspect of it. He particularly liked to bind his women and sensually torture them until their release was an amazing thing to experience and witness. But Lacey had been right to make him wait until they made sure they were compatible in other areas and liked one another, cared about one another. Their physical joining had been worth waiting for, and he knew that it could only get better when she came to enjoy and accept submission.
“Hey, buddy. You awake?” Greg was jerked out of his thoughts and looked up at Jeff Staples, one of his best cop friends. Jeff had a small duffle bag in his hand, and for a moment, Greg was disoriented enough to wonder if his friend had brought a bunch of sex toys to the hospital.
“I thought you could use a change of clothes, Greg,” Jeff said. “It was actually Alex’s idea, and she put some things in for Lacey, too. I mean, going into emergency and all, she figured Lacey…”
Greg read between the lines. He was still off his game. He should have known that Lacey would have needed some clothes and other stuff. Before the night when things went to hell, he would have been prepared for everything, anticipated everything. He felt his face stiffen, and Jeff interjected.
“Don’t be too proud to accept help, Greg. We would never have gotten Alex back if all of you guys hadn’t pulled together and helped. If we had listened to you in the first place, we might have avoided what happened, period! You and Lacey both doubted what we accepted as evidence, and it nearly cost us Alex. You’ve been through a shitty time, and you can’t expect to have it all under control yet. Save your energy for taking care of Lacey and know that we’re all here for you. Well, most of us,” Jeff amended with a curious grimace. Greg decided not to expend energy on what appeared to be yet another secret he was yet to be made privy to. It was enough that Jeff’s pep talk had given him the impetus he needed to stay the course. Friends needed to support one another. Greg remembered that talk with Jeff and Devon when, quite out of the blue, their Alex had apparently wanted to do a scene at the Club with a “seasoned” Dom. Lacey hadn’t understood it and had insisted it had to be wrong, that there was a problem with communication. Greg had tried to challenge Jeff and Devon on their assumption, but the information and evidence they had compiled refuted Lacey’s lonely assertion and he had backed off, unlike a cop, ignoring intuition. Greg still regretted not pushing harder, or maybe having a personal chat with Melissa, the bitch who had woven that particular web of malicious deceit. It was her Dom, Stephan, who was given the “honors” to give Alex what her men had apparently been unable to provide, all so that Melissa could give Stephan what
wanted and not lose him. That entire dark comedy of errors had driven Alex away to live a bare subsistence, alone. Devon and Jeff had very nearly been driven mad until they found her and brought her home.
“Lacey isn’t real interested in having me anywhere near her at the moment,” he confided ruefully. “I plan to take care of her, but she might have something to say about it.”
Jeff shrugged. “Man up, Greg. I was shit scared that Alex wouldn’t come home, but Devon wouldn’t take no for an answer. You might want to learn from that. Hell, he even helped Kyle find his sub Tabitha that time when she left him. We let Kyle talk to Alex to gain some insight, and Alex knew that Kyle was a righteous guy who wanted to fix things as soon as she met him. She told him to do the same thing, go after her and don’t take no for an answer. She’s in your corner on this, too.”
“That could be perceived as stalking, Jeff,” Greg said quietly.
“Not when it’s in their best interest. You know that. Lacey’ll need time to hear you out, and you’ll need to grovel, probably a whole lot, but I have faith in you. We all do, and so does she. She’s hurting, and she needs you.” Jeff thumped Greg on the upper arm and headed out.
Greg hefted the duffle and ran his hand over his jaw. The morning shift would soon be coming on, and he thought he had better take the opportunity to find somewhere to clean up and then grab a bite before they did. He wanted to make a good impression on the new keeper of the gates. Fortunately he knew his way around, and there was a shower on the next floor he was certain he could use.
* * * *
The clatter of the blinds and the light flooding into the room pulled Lacey from her early-morning slumber. Why was it that a person slept so much better right before they woke up, or were
and that it then felt so damn intrusive? As she had feared, it had been a night of discomfort and fragmented dreams, and she felt like she hadn’t gotten any rest at all. The comings and goings of people in the dark hadn’t helped either, although having the IV removed at some ungodly hour maybe wasn’t the worst thing. It meant she was hydrated and could probably go home soon. The white-uniformed figure busy at the window turned and saw she was awake.
“Good morning! I’m Marie, your day nurse. And how are we feeling today?”
Lacey bitchily wondered if the nurse meant the royal “we.” She pushed away her unusual attitude and forced a smile. “I’m okay. I’d like to get ready and leave if I may.”
“The doctor makes his rounds right after breakfast, and if your blood work comes back satisfactorily, then I’m sure you’ll be discharged before lunch. You’ll be able to eat something far tastier than what we serve! The lab tech is in the room beside this one and you’re next on the list.”