Claimed by a Stranger (Craved Series #2) (2 page)

3: Jack



As I parked my bike along the side of the road, the car behind
me turned its lights off.

The driver, a rough looking friend of Sammy’s, got out as I
approached. “He’s sleeping,” he said. “You want help carrying him?”

He wasn’t fucking sleeping. Sleeping people can be woken up. He
was passed out, and he better wake up when I take him upstairs cause I wasn’t
going to stay awake all night making sure his sleep apnea didn’t get the better
of him.

“Yeah,” I said. “If you don’t mind.”

Normally, I wouldn’t advertise where my Dad lived to shady
looking strangers since he could be so easily taken advantage of, especially
since he spent half his waking hours pissed out of his brains. But there was no
way I would be able to get him to the first floor without help, and
unfortunately, I didn’t think dropping him on his head on the cement stairs of
his building would knock any sense into him.

Plus, the faster I got this over with, the better.

I opened the door and decided his feet were the less offensive
end so I let the other guy drag him out. Then I grabbed his upper body before
his head hit the side of the car, lifting him by his armpits so I could lead
the way.

I was sweating by the time I got him to his room, thanked my
helper in the best Thai I could manage, and gave him a fistful of baht for his
discretion. Once inside, I dragged my Dad to his couch where he’d have no
choice but to sleep on his side.

I went to the fridge and poured two glasses of water from a large
bottle. Then I placed the first beside my Dad before sitting in a chair across
the room to drink the other myself.

“How did we get here, Dad?” I asked, listening to him wheeze.
His mouth was hanging open and his thinning hair was matted against his

I’d been thinking about cutting him off, letting him get by on
his meager savings alone, if there were even any left. But I knew it wouldn’t
have the desired effect. It wouldn’t make him stop spending all his money on
booze and drinking his life away. If anything, he might just get in bigger

And the fucked up thing was that he wasn’t my Dad anymore. I’d
worked with enough addicts to know this person in front of me had nothing to do
with my Dad. He was a monster, a mutation of the man my Father used to be.

He always had his troubles, of course, but he’d reached a new
low. And every time I bailed him out I couldn’t help but feel that he was
dragging me down with him, that I wasn’t doing either of us any favors.

After all, Dads are supposed to protect their children from the
kind of things, people, and places that he’d gotten involved in, not introduce them
to new levels of seediness.

But he wouldn’t leave. I’d tried to discuss it with him, to
suggest he might be happier somewhere else, but he wouldn’t listen. Frankly, I
was beginning to think he had a death wish, and I didn’t know what to do about
it besides enable him.

But it was one thing when I was woken up in my apartment in the
middle of the night or when I had to sneak out of Jin’s bar to help him out. At
least then I could return to bed or go back to the party, arriving with a snack
so no one would suspect anything.

However, interrupting my date with Audrey was a step too far. And
he wasn’t even coherent enough to care about how badly he’d fucked up my night.

I let my head fall back against the chair and looked through the
cracked blinds at the dark beach in the distance. I should’ve been with her. I
should’ve been watching the way my sheets draped over her body as she slept
peacefully in my bed after a night of filthy fun.

I should’ve been watching how her face looked in the moonlight
as my pillows absorbed her scent. After all, I wanted to experience her with all
of my senses. I wanted to know what turned her on, what made her laugh, and
whether or not she swallowed.

And even if I hadn’t met an amazing woman tonight, I still
should’ve been living my life, doing what I wanted to do. I was a fucking millionaire
for god sakes, and I’d worked hard for everything I had. I shouldn’t have been
limited by anything besides my imagination.

So why was I here with a sloppy old man who didn’t give a shit
about me anymore?

I sighed.

I knew why. It was cause I loved him, even though it had been ages
since he’d done anything to earn my affection or my loyalty. Still, taking care
of him was keeping me from taking care of myself.

Heck, maybe I could love Audrey, too?! It was too soon to tell, of
course, but it was just an example, an example of the way his shenanigans were interfering
with my ability to get close to anybody.

Realistically, though, there was no question that I liked her. A
lot. More than I wanted to considering the fact that she’d be gone in a few
days. But I couldn’t help it.

There was something about her, a spark of something that intrigued
me. Whatever it was, it made it impossible for me to look away when she was

And any man would be attracted to her. She was so curvaceous, so
feminine, and so unapologetically sexy. And the moments she chose to be shy
were so unexpected I was fiending for her like an addict myself.

I could’ve been inside her by now. I could’ve been filling her
mind and body with sensations she’d never forget, making her lose control until
she had no choice but to give herself to me.

She was the one I wanted to be loving- or at least fucking-
right now.

Instead, I was the one getting fucked, and I had a peculiar
feeling that it was all my fault.

I needed to stop giving him the benefit of the doubt. Every time
this happened, I convinced myself like some kind of idiot that it was going to
be a wakeup call for him, that he was going to have a hangover so severe that he
would seek help instead of reaching for another drink.

It was like some sick twisted dream I nurtured even though I had
no reason to believe it would ever come true.

The fact of the matter was that he wasn’t going to change on his
own. At some point, I was going to have to accept that tough love wasn’t going to
save him and do what I could to save myself.

But is that what people did when their family members were in
this state?

Did they just get tired of being mistreated and taken for
granted and wash their hands of the problem? Seriously, if what he really wanted
was to drink himself senseless and get the shit beat out of him every night,
was I just supposed to step aside and let that happen?

It wasn’t in my nature to stand by while people harmed
themselves, but I had to stop babysitting him like this because it was sucking
the joy out of my life.

Plus, I deserved better, even if my Dad was too far gone to see
that. After all, it wasn’t even quality time we were spending. This thing we’d
been reduced to couldn’t even be called a relationship.

It was just bullshit.

And I was starting to wonder how many more chances I could give
him to change before I began to loathe him beyond repair.

I stood up, refilled my glass, and set it down next to him. The
more water he drank the better, and I knew he wouldn’t be getting up anytime

Then I laid a wet washcloth on his forehead and left without
saying goodbye.



4: Audrey



I woke up to
the sound of the key in the door and cracked my eyes open in time to see Megan
sneaking in like a teenager breaking curfew.


“It’s okay,” I
groaned. “I’m awake.”


“So you are,”
Megan said, crawling onto her bed in her full clothes and makeup from the night
before with a smug look on her face. “Well?”


“Well what?” I
asked, rubbing the sleep from my eyes.


“How was your
evening with Dr. Jack?” She bent an elbow and propped her head up on her hand.
“Did he take your pulse? Give you an internal exam?”


I laughed. “No,
none of the above unfortunately.”


“Boooo,” she
said, sticking out her bottom lip. “Did you have a good time at least?”


“Yeah.” I
rolled onto my side and stretched my legs out in time with a yawn. “I had a
great time.”


“That’s good.”


“So tell me
all about your night with Matteo,” I said. “And why you’re just coming home


She sighed.


obviously bursting to tell me about it.”


“Is it that


I rolled my
eyes. “It’s not subtle.”


“Okay.” She
cleared her throat. “First we went to dinner.”




“Then he took
me to a nightclub in the next town.”


“Which one?”


“I haven’t the


“In a tuk-tuk?”
I asked.


“On his




“Then we went
back to his apartment. Or I guess it was his company’s apartment-”


“What’s he


development?” She furrowed her brow. “He told me. I just can’t remember.”


“Go one.”


“Anyway, it was
one of those long stay places, and I get the sense that he spends a lot of time


“Was it nice?”


“Really nice.”


“And then?”


“And then I
gave him lots of reasons to speak dirty Italian to me all night.”


I smiled.
“Glad to hear it.”


soaked through the light pink curtains behind me, casting a soft rosy glow on our
white beds. I didn’t roll over to look at the clock, but I knew it was early
cause I could hear the caged birds in the lobby singing amongst themselves.


“So,” she
asked. “What did you get up to with Jack?”


“Well, first
we went for an amazing seafood dinner, like so amazing I can’t stop thinking
about it.”




“And then we sat
on the pier talking for ages until he had to leave.”


“What?” She lifted
her head like she was sure she’d heard me wrong. “Where did he go?”


I shrugged. “I
don’t know, but he had to leave in a hurry.”




“I know,” I said.
“But at least I got a goodnight kiss before he left.”


Megan smiled. “I’m


“Me, too,” I
said. “It was a good one.”


“Sounds romantic.”


“It was.” I
fluffed my pillow under my head. “And he’s taking me to dinner and a show


Megan raised
her eyebrows. “Is that so?”




“A lady boy


“I doubt it,” I
said, “but he wouldn’t say.”


“If he’s too
into it, run for the hills.”


I rolled my
eyes. “It’s not going to be a lady boy show.”


“I’m not


nothing to judge.” I rolled onto my back. “But I think I might have a teeny


“What?” she
asked, crawling towards my half empty bottle of water on the nightstand.


I squeezed my
eyes shut. “I think I like him.”


She smiled and
unscrewed the cap. “Is that such a bad thing?” 


“Kind of,” I
said, staring at the ceiling.


She drank the
water in big, audible glugs. “Why?” she asked, gasping for breath.


“Cause we’re
on vacation,” I said. “So it can never work out. Why can’t I meet a nice guy in
Seattle? How come when I finally meet a guy I like he happens to live on the
other side of the world?”


Megan made a
buzzer sound. “I know this one. What is
Life’s a Bitch


I groaned. “Life
a bitch.”


“So you might
as well just try to have a good time and not ruin it by wanting what you can’t


I made a pouty
face. “But that’s what I’m best at.”


“Well, maybe
if you decide to want what you
have instead of what you can’t, you’d
be a happier person?”


I rolled my
head towards her. “Are you on drugs?”


“There may
still be some alcohol in my system.” 




“Look, all I’m
saying is that you’re overthinking things again.”


“I know.”


“Just enjoy the
handsome male company and no strings attached affection that’s coming your way before
you start worrying about whether this guy you met less than twenty four hours
ago would get along with your parents.”


“Ugh.” I covered
my face with my hands. “Now that is something I definitely don’t want to think


“No shit.”
Megan sat up. “No skid marks, remember? Just fun. No feelings.”


already,” I said. “Can’t a girl feel sorry for herself for just two seconds in
this beautiful country where everything is cheap and everyone smiles all the
time and the sun shines every day and the food is heavenly?!”


Megan cocked
her head at me. “My point exactly.”


“It’s a good


“Now promise
me you’re going to have a good time and not overthink things?”


“I promise to


“I guess that
will have to do,” she said. “And promise that tomorrow night, you and Jack will
join me and Matteo for dinner so we can celebrate our last night together with
yummy food and strong drinks and plenty of eye candy.”


“Sure,” I
said. “If he’s not busy.”


“Fair enough.”


“On one




“Can you
promise to keep your hands off Matteo long enough for me to enjoy my meal
without causing me to lose my appetite?”


Megan pursed
her lips.


“Oh my god
would that seriously be so hard?”


She shrugged. “I’ll
do my best, but I can’t vouch for him. The guy’s an animal.”


“Thanks for
the warning,” I said, tucking my hands under my head.


“Now if you’ll
excuse me,” she said. “I’m going to take a shower because I’m covered in
Italian slobber.”


I shook my
head. “Jesus.”


Megan laughed.
“Oh yeah. His name definitely came up a few times last night.”


I sighed as she pulled her dress over her head and threw it
across the bed before walking into the bathroom.

I was happy for her. Really I was. She needed a messy, fun
affair to take her mind off Max and remind her that the six years she spent on him
hadn’t decreased her market value or her sex appeal.

Of course, I was a little jealous, too. I wished I had a layer
of filthy sex sweat to wash off my body. After all, with Emmett I’d gotten used
to rushed hook-ups where my skirt would get bunched at my waist and my panties would
stay around my knees.

And while that kind of secret hooking up was probably really sexy
in a normal relationship, when it became the most I could hope for, it started
to feel kind of dirty in a bad way.

On the other hand, I wanted Jack to look at my naked body the
way he looked at my face after we kissed last night, like he couldn’t believe
his luck, like he was desperate to know where I’d been hiding his whole life.

And if that was too much to ask, maybe he could at least fuck my
brains out…

So I wouldn’t have to think so much anymore.


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