Authors: Megan O'Brien
“Is that what this is about?” he asked,
his tone gentle with sudden understanding, his grip firm on my arm not allowing
me to pass.
I blew out a frustrated breath and met
his gaze. “Of course it is. You think there’s some sort of magic solution to
paying bills aside from working?” I demanded and immediately narrowed my eyes
when I saw his expression. “Oh no. No way.” I shook my head adamantly. “I’ve
been taking care of myself for a long time, Cole. I don’t need any charity,” I added
“Jesus you’re a pain in the ass,” he
sighed while looking up at the ceiling as though for divine providence. “It’s
not charity, babe. I love you. You’re mine to take care of and that’s what I’m
going to do whether you fight me kicking and screaming the whole way or not.”
“You’re not paying my bills,” I demanded.
“Too late.” He seemed to be enjoying
“What do you mean too late?” I cried
shrilly. “You can’t just take over like that!” I ranted. “It’s my decision when
I work and how I pay my bills. Emphasis on
,” I bit out, shaking my arm out of his grip. I couldn’t say for certain
why the fact that he wanted to take care of me financially panicked me to such
a degree. Maybe it was that I was afraid of relying on him. Maybe it was the
testament of what this type of gesture meant. Either way, I was panicking.
“Babe, relax,” he said again.
“I can’t relax,” I gulped. “I can’t
get used to this.”
“Used to what?” he asked gently.
“Used to someone else taking care of
me. The only person who ever did was my dad and then he was just… gone,” I
gulped again, trying hard to swallow the lump in my throat. “It’s hard enough
to know I love you,” I said before I could get the words back. “And now you
want me to unpack and I just can’t think about…”
“What did you say?” he interrupted
“About unpacking?” I asked, feigning
innocence and looking away from him as he pulled me close.
He put his finger under my chin
forcing my gaze to his. “Before that.”
“Oh, you mean the loving you part?” I
“Yes that.” He grinned, his eyes
“Well, yeah,” I admitted lamely. “Of
course I do,” I added quietly. As scary as it was, it felt good to say it out
loud, like a weight was lifted off my shoulders.
’ that anytime soon?” he asked with a raised
“I just did,” I defended.
“A slip of the tongue doesn’t count.” He
chuckled, moving us backward toward the bed.
“What are you doing? I have to get
ready for work,” I protested as his lips found my neck and made my knees quake.
I was quickly losing my will power.
“Already told you, you’re off the
schedule for tonight. Now, you just told me you love me and I’m going to take
you to bed to show my appreciation,” he told me, his voice low and full of
promise against my skin.
“You are so bossy,” I grumbled, though
the fight had clearly gone out of me.
“Yeah, but you love it,” he smiled as
his body landed on top of mine.
He was right of course, but there was
no way I was admitting it.
The next few weeks passed with very
little drama. I wasn’t thrown from any moving vehicles or kidnapped. My bruises
and skin had healed, and I was relieved to look like myself again.
Cole and I found a comfortable rhythm
with our living situation. I had to admit that his place had begun to feel more
like home, despite the fact that I hadn’t unpacked any of my boxes. I knew it
was largely due to my stubbornness, but I also wanted a chance for us to settle
into something that felt like normalcy before I took that plunge. The only
minor flare-ups that erupted involved my work schedule. Cole really didn’t like
when I worked the late shift, but I was adamant. He’d already paid one month’s
worth of my bills and that wasn’t happening again. So one of the guys took me
to work and picked me up when Cole wasn’t available. Other than that, I loved
being under the same roof as Cole. I loved coming home to him and having him
come home to me. It felt natural, and I was happier than I’d ever been in my
life. I was trying not to let that scare the crap out of me.
I heard the garage door and the rumble
of Cole’s Harley as I put the groceries away that I just bought. It was Friday
evening and Wes had been nice enough to take me to the store so I could cook
dinner for Cole and me. I hated relying on someone to take me places, but the guys
had all been so generous and patient about it.
“Hi, babe,” he greeted, kissing my
neck as I put away a six pack in the fridge.
“Hi. I thought I’d cook dinner.” I
smiled up at him.
“Sounds good I’m starved,” he said
while grabbing a beer. I watched his eyes sweep the room, eyeing my unpacked
boxes without comment as he did every evening. I knew it bothered him that I
hadn’t unpacked but he hadn’t brought it up. “Who took you to the store?” he
asked, his eyes returning to me.
“Wes,” I answered as I put a pot of
water on to boil.
He nodded without comment, his gaze
returning to my boxes.
“He’s having some people over later
– want to head over there after dinner?” I asked hopefully. I was in the
mood to let loose after feeling a bit like a caged animal all week.
“Alright,” he agreed.
He sat with me while I whipped up some
pasta, garlic bread, and salad. Nothing fancy, but he seemed to appreciate
every meal I made.
“Pop took another meet with the
Sinners,” he shared after we dug in.
“Oh?” I asked curiously. There hadn’t
been any news on Jake or Victor but that wasn’t for lack of effort. I knew Cole
and the boys were spending a majority of their time hunting. It worried me,
especially when Cole was gone late into the night. But Cole was not the type of
man you could voice concern over. He had his pride and I respected that.
“The only good to come out of this
shit is that it brought the clubs back together. We have the same agenda and
priority, to bring those mother fuckers down. You have our protection and
theirs as well. Not that I’d let any of those boys take direct responsibility
for you,” he shared. “Years back it was far more beneficial for both clubs to
work together so once this storm has passed, I see good things,” he added
taking a swig of beer.
“Did they vote in the new
?” I asked. Cole had gotten word that the Sinners would
be voting any day now.
“Yep, it’s Henry,” he said as he grinned.
I grinned back, they couldn’t have
picked better. “Finally someone deserving of the title,” I sighed, feeling a
relief that surprised me. “My dad would love that,” I added quietly.
Cole reached over and took my hand in
a brief squeeze.
“I wish you could have met him. He
would have loved you,” I said, meeting his gaze.
“Me too, babe,” he agreed while giving
me another squeeze before returning to his meal. That was his way of giving me
a second with my thoughts and I loved him for it.
Later that night Connie,
, Kat, and I were hanging out in Wes’s backyard
drinking beers. I felt utterly content to be with my girlfriends and to watch
my man from across the fire pit. He stood talking with Sal, his gaze sweeping
over to me every few minutes. My stomach pitched every time our gaze met. I
wondered if he’d always have such a powerful effect on me, though I felt pretty
confident that he would. When he looked at me with that blue-eyed, intense
stare, I felt like we were the only two people in the world.
“You have it bad,” Connie said as she giggled
and I tore my eyes from Cole and blushed.
“Yeah, I do,” I admitted shamelessly.
“You’re no better,” I teased, throwing
my bottle cap at her. She and Wes were constantly affectionate—it was almost
“I know, I know,” she said as she laughed.
“I wish Sal was more affectionate in
public,” Kat grumbled. It had been one of the points of contention between
“Have you seen the way he looks at
you?” I asked her with a reassuring smile. “He may not be overly affectionate
around us, but no one would doubt the way he feels,” I assured her.
“True,” Connie backed me up with a
We grinned at each other just as
gunshots rang through the night air. It was as though time stopped when I saw
Cole, Wes, Mack, and Sal rush to us as screams and chaos broke out around us.
Cole’s hard body hit me like a truck as he threw me to the ground and covered
me with his body. I was collected enough to see that the other guys were doing
the same. Even in my panicked state I registered how lucky we were to have such
loyal, protective men. It was seconds after the blasts stopped that Cole heaved
me up and pulled me to the house almost roughly, shielding me with his body the
entire time. He looked me over, his eyes sweeping my body to make sure I was okay
before his eyes turned with fury toward the street.
“Mack’s hit,” Sal informed us harshly
looking nearly as pissed off as Cole did. All the men were seething at the
blatant attack on the club and its women.
“Mother fucker. How bad?” Cole
“Shoulder, not life threatening. Got
. Better him than her. Hank’s
coming to take him to the ER once we give the all clear,” he said, his eyes
glimmering with anger.
“Good,” Cole said, pulling his phone
out and in a few short words delivering the news to his father.
He hung up and turned to me. “You okay?”
he asked, his tone harsh. This was not a time for soft assurances.
I managed to nod.
“Stay here,” he ordered.
“What? You’re leaving?” I asked
you’re with me,” he ordered instead of answering me. “Sal, Axel stay with the
women,” he barked, his anger palpable.
My body was shaking from the shock of
being shot at. The fact that Cole was leaving to head directly into the source
of danger did nothing for my nerves.
Cole turned to me and stooped slightly
to meet my eyes, his hands cupping the sides of my face. “Stay here, listen to
Sal. Once all’s clear someone will take you home if I’m not able to.”
A calm resolve came over me as I
nodded. I knew with crushing clarity that he needed me to be strong and to
accept his directive with no question. If I was going to stand beside him as I
wanted to with all my heart, than at times like this I needed to be a source of
strength for him rather than a drain on his reserves.
Wes stalked over and grabbed the back
of my neck with surprising force. “Take care of Connie, okay?” We both looked
over and it was clear that Connie was falling to pieces. “You’re not even
’,” he muttered. It was obvious that the last thing
he wanted to do was leave. Giving me the responsibility of taking care of her
wasn’t done lightly, and I didn’t take it for granted.
“I promise,” I nodded, meeting his
fierce gaze. Kat looked better than Connie but not by much. It was clear that I
needed to step it up and I fell into my role with ease.
I gave Cole an assuring look to let
him now I had it under control, and I walked off toward my girls offering beers
and a promise of a rom-com marathon.
“She’s got this,” I heard Wes rumble
with confidence as they grabbed their jackets and made a rapid exit.
“She does,” I heard Cole reply as they
strode out the door, his tone filled with fierce adoration and a confidence
that I was determined not to betray.
After two movies and more chocolate
ice cream than beers, the three of us started to drift off. Sal and Axel had
taken their job as protectors extremely seriously and they stayed discretely
armed and took frequent laps of the small property. Sal had shown an unusual
amount of affection toward Kat, clearly worried about her. When he wasn’t
walking the property or talking on the phone outside of hearing range, he had
an arm around his girl. Despite the evening’s events I was glad to see it.
“Scarlet,” a deep voice rumbled waking
me from my uncomfortable slumber on the leather couch. “Time to go home.”
I woke up and groggily peered up to
see Wes hunched down over me. “Where’s Cole?” I asked, my voice raspy with
“He’ll be a little while longer,” he
answered, and I knew he didn’t plan to elaborate. I also knew not to ask any
more questions and I rose silently to follow him to his bike.
“Connie’s okay,” I told him quietly
when we’d parked at the curb in front of Cole’s house.
“Thank you,” he answered gruffly. Despite
his rough demeanor his gratitude was undoubtedly sincere.
I’d grown to really like Wes.
He did a very thorough walk-through of
Cole’s place before gesturing for me to go inside. It occurred to me that I
wished we had a guard dog at times like this so I wouldn’t have to be alone.
But in the end, I was too tired to be worried and I fell into a deep sleep soon
after Wes left the house to park himself out front until Cole got home.
What felt like minutes later, but
could have been hours, I woke up to tingles shooting straight to my toes and an
arch in my back. Cole was settled between my legs and I moaned coming fully
awake as his tongue worked magic at my core. He brought me nearly to the brink
before he moved up and sunk fully inside of me.
“Cole,” I breathed as he pulled out and
glided back in. This wasn’t his typical punishing rhythm. It was slow and
sweet. “Love you, Cole,” I moaned, feeling the momentum build inside of me.
He kissed my neck and brought his lips
to my ear. “Unpack, babe,” his voice was low and full of promise.
“Cole…” my voice trailed off.
“Life’s too short, babe.
he demanded, holding himself
still inside of me when I desperately wanted him to move. “And I’m not talking
about for a few weeks. I’m talking permanently,” he added.
“This is sexual coercion,” I argued
He reared up, his arms braced at
either side of my head. His eyes glimmered with intensity as they stared down
into mine. “Scarlet, I love you. I want us to share a roof. Unpack,” he said
“Okay,” I agreed finally. There just
wasn’t any arguing with him, not that I truly wanted to anyway.
“Okay,” he whispered, pressing his
lips to mine. I didn’t know what happened that night, but something sinister
had transpired. I could see it in his face and in his clear need to keep me
close. He began to move once more, this time faster and with more determination.
It wasn’t long before we were both moaning out our release.
He rolled off of me but pulled me
close into the crook of his arm. “You can’t take it back you know,” he pointed
out, his tone mildly teasing.
I laughed softly. “I don’t want to,” I
said as I shook my head, feeling satiated and relieved he was home safe. “I was
wondering though…” I trailed off.
“What?” he asked.
“Can we maybe get a dog? I was
thinking tonight that it would have been nice to have a guard dog or something,”
I told him while biting my lip. “More for company than anything else,” I
mumbled. Before I could stop myself I continued. “And it would have to be a dog
that would be good with kids too, you know just in case we, you know, someday.”
I was rambling now.
“Yeah, we can do that babe.” He
squeezed me, his tone surprisingly pleasing.
“Is Mack okay?” I asked worriedly.
“He’s fine,” he assured me. “Just a
flesh wound. He’ll be released tomorrow.”
“You okay?” I asked quietly.
“Yeah, babe. But I’m wiped, let’s get
some sleep,” he replied not welcoming further conversation. I’d let him have
that for now. I didn’t want to push him and I trusted him to tell me what I
needed to know, while sparing me the details of what I might not.