interracial romance

Blackwater Hostage | Dex & Nina | Teaser Tuesday

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lightly edited and subject to change.

Dex smiled wider as she reared back, her face deepening in color with embarrassment. He’d needed this, someone to banter with, because his mood had shifted from dark to outright black. The men he’d been chasing were nowhere in sight by the time he got the call from his President of the Blackwater Renegades asking about the status of his job. The curses and threats Ace had offered his enforcer didn’t bode well for him if he didn’t help bring in the two men wanted for assault and robbery. Instead, his job had changed to keeping an eye on the blubbering, sick woman in front of him. At least his words had put color back in her face.

Her fists tightened on the table. “You—”

It was then that Jo sauntered over with a sly smile on her face and placed Hollywood’s usual down in front of him.

“Grandma’s special with extra gravy for you, Dexter.” She winked at him as she walked away, no doubt saying his legal name to give her friend something to rib him on. He glanced over to the woman who was no longer red with embarrassment but fighting a smile. Ah hell, his name was the bane of his existence and the source of provocation.

Dex, as most people called him, lifted his lip in a snarl he hoped would scare the smile right off of her face. “Don’t even start it.” He lifted the fork and shoveled a huge spoonful of biscuits and gravy into his mouth. With a narrowed gaze, he added, “What’s your name?”

She opened her mouth to speak; instead, he lifted a hand, in an attempt to halt her words.

Her eyes widened and she crossed her arms over her chest. “That’s how you do an introduction? Typical rude ass biker.”

Gasping in feigned horror, he placed a hand over his heart. “Language, little lady.”

Again, her face reddened, but not in embarrassment. A bright smile lit her face as she burst into soft laughter. “Nina, Nina James, not little lady,” she corrected, adding another sunburst of a smile.

And … his day just got brighter. He’d entered the diner with a blade in his back sheath and a gun at his side, hoping to find the two men who’d robbed Moe’s gun and ammo store. Unfortunately, he'd lost them in the woods not even a mile from here, and gotten his ass chewed out by his pres, only to end up a babysitter to a sick chick. Or at least that’s what he thought of her until he sat down in front of her and indeed laid eyes on her. She was sick; the pallor of her skin, while had slightly returned to a creamy dark brown, still had traces of sickness, and her brow was slickened with sweat even as forced air cooled the entire diner. He wanted to ask her what was wrong with her, but he knew better. Not only did he want to keep her mind off of the fact he was here while she was close to perhaps her worse, but he also didn’t want to change the atmosphere between them. He didn’t want to be her keeper any more than he wanted her to feel as if that were the case.

She sat across from him her long, delicate fingers no longer balled in fists, but toying with the condensation as it slid down her glass to pool into the table. His objective was to sit with a woman while she was on her lunch break until Spooky got to her with her insulin, so why the hell wasn’t she eating? He did a glance over her body and determined that she was not overfed, but well fed. Her toned body revealed that of a woman who worked out, but at the same time, he’d say the youthful chubbiness in her cheeks and the slight double chin there had possibly been caused by recent stress or even her sickness. He liked the weight on her. Earlier, he’d gotten a good glimpse of her body and liked what he’d seen. The thicknesses of her thighs sent thoughts of lust racing through his head, and her plump ass had his fingers aching to spread them apart as he thrust deep into her. He could definitely imagine her cradling his waist as he thrust deep into her welcoming body, or wrapped tight around his head as she came on his tongue her sweet, fragrant scent surrounding him. Shit, his cock hardened in his jeans at the thought. However, his lust sobered as he watched her eyeing his food with hunger.

He lowered the spoon from his lips, throwing himself back into the present. “Why aren’t you eating? I thought they said you were on a lunch break?” He wanted to comment of the decadent glint in her eyes as her gaze lingered on his lips, but then Dex noticed as the smile fell from her luscious lips and her hands once again clenched into fists. Anger radiated from her, but nestled deep beneath her anger existed insecurity. He could see it in the way she broke eye contact with him. Did her sickness relate to food? And if so, what the hell kind of—

“I have diabetes,” she blurted, watchful eyes meeting his as she visibly swallowed hard. And then, he took her in again, the dots suddenly falling into place. He’d known people in his time to suffer from diabetes, and he’d also understood that if the person took care of themselves, they’d live a very long and healthy life. The stubborn glint in her eyes dared him to admonish her for forgetting her insulin, but even if he hadn't sensed the insecurity in her, he wouldn’t have offered reproach at something any human was capable of doing.

He took a long drink of water before asking, “Type one or two?”

She eyed him uneasily. “One.”

He nodded. “Okay then.” He didn’t know too much about diabetes, but he did know that shit could be dangerous if not deadly left untreated. He pulled his cell from his pocket and sent a text to Spooky. He didn’t care what the man was doing, he needed to get here ASAP. The longer he and Nina waited, the shittier she would feel, and that was just something he couldn’t allow.

“What are you doing?” As she leaned over, he tilted the phone so she could read the text.

You’re wasting my woman’s lunch break. Get your ass over here with her insulin so she can eat, fucker.

A shocked gasp left her lips, but before she was able to utter a word he’d pressed send. No, she wasn’t his woman—he didn’t even know her—but that was how shit started. You met an interesting, sexy ass woman like Nina and you went after her with the veracity of wolf a chasing its prey.

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Blackwater Hostage | Dex & Nina

Lightly edited and subject to change

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Nina could have kicked her own ass all the way into next year, she thought as she entered Ollies' diner only to remember her purse, including her medicine, was still back at the clinic. In Blackwater, the summers, ordinarily warm and humid—had at some point taken a turn into an inferno.  After a ten-minute walk in that draining heat vortex, the thought of going back made her feel dizzy and light-headed, or was it that her diabetes was talking to her?

As she opened the front door, a stale breeze of chilled air billowed through her hair, refreshing her just a little. The need to take her blood sugar before she ate, crossed her mind once again. Though, she didn't let the concern upset her. Unconcerned, as this had happened plenty of times before, Nina decided; first, she’d rest her legs, enjoy the cold air, order her food, and then walk it back to work and test there. Nina scanned the well-lit room taking in the pleasant scent of fattening fried food as it sizzled on the griddle, and the quiet laughter of diners as they conversed over their lunches. With a friendly smile on her face, she found an empty booth and seated herself. After capturing her attention, Jo, the single day-shift server affably winked at her then held up a finger letting her know it’d be a second before she made it over to take her order.

         Nina nodded, then slid into the boot with a comforted sigh. Pulling her cell and the dreaded ring box from her pocket, she placed the offending box on the table and shot a quick text to Hope with a quick explanation Nina set the phone down next to the velvet box. The dreaded velvet ring box. What had once been a symbol of a commitment had quickly morphed into a representation of failure.

         Two years ago, or maybe it’d been a lifetime ago, Nina made the decision to leave her husband. No, he hadn't cheated, beaten or treated her wrong. While his idea of one's wife seemed comparable to her idea of a one's mother, it hadn't really been a surprise when he’d wanted her to drop out of college to start a family. It had been the way of his father and his father’s father before him.

A tremor wracked her hand as she reached out for the box. She flipped it open to reveal a small folded piece of paper atop her wedding set. Leaning back on the plush cushion in the booth, a moment of shock took over her as she recalled the price tag attached to the ring. When they'd shopped for a wedding set, she had passed the ring over several times thinking it out of Javi’s budget. Just like her mother and friends, Nina hadn't believed the leather wearing, cursing like a sailor Javi hadn't come from money—they’d all been wrong.

 “Hey Nina,” Jo placed the menu down on the table. “Olly added a few new items for you—” her shocked gasp had Nina glancing up sharply. Jo’s eyes were riveted on the wedding set. “Jesus, Nina. Who proposed?” Nina’s Afro-Latin heritage may have offered her a darker skin complexion, but at this moment, Nina was sure as hell that her cheeks became red as they flushed from embarrassment. Her eyes darted around the diner hoping no one she was acquainted with was in the diner. A soft hand landed over hers as Jo sat down across from her. “Hell, honey. Did you see a ghost or is it this ring that’s got you so upset?” Jo’s dark eyes met hers and held strong and steady. “Wait,” concern lit her gaze. “You got that upper lip sweat going on, and your hands are a bit shaky.” Before Nina could remind Jo that it was indeed summer and in the high nineties out, Jo stood. “Test your blood and let me know what you need to eat.” The look of contrition on Nina’s face must have said it all. “Oh, no.” Jo’s shoulders dropped. “You left it back at the clinic?”

         Nina opened her mouth to speak, but it was then the chimes over the front doors pealed announcing the presence of a patron entering the diner. Heavy black boots hit the laminate floor, and with each of his steps, a loud thundering echoed throughout the room demanding that attention be paid. Dark washed jeans pulled tight over massive legs and firm thighs, a tight black t-shirt melded over taut muscles capped by a leather cut that held the words, Blackwater Renegades. Her eyes moved up his body taking in the strength behind the brutally cut muscle until she got to his face. She then blinked, several times.

         "Hmm...That's not at all what I expected." Her words were a mumbled whisper as she sat mesmerized by the giant. Golden blonde hair, baby blue eyes and that Hollywood heartthrob square chin all complemented by those same Hollywood good looks. She took in his body again, hard lines, scars on his arms and a biker cut. His angelic face was at odds with that ruthlessness of his hardened body and disdainful sneer. The man took in the room with each step, eyeing every customer as if committing each face to memory until his cold gaze met her. His brow dipped, and a quizzical, yet relaxed look colored his face. Nina took in a deep shuddering breath slightly calming her nerves as his gaze moved past her and onto the next diner as if she’d never even existed.

         Swallowing hard she asked, “Jo, who is that?” She attempted and failed to keep the breathiness from her voice. Sheer panic laced her spine. She’d never seen this man at the clinic with the Renegades and wasn’t under any delusion that because a few of the men in the MC were respectable, that all of them were law-abiding citizens that she could trust. However, from the look in Jo’s face as she answered, this guy was friendly.

         “Oh, Hollywood.” She waved a dismissive hand. Perhaps Nina’s uncertainty had come across in her tone. “He’s nothing to worry about. His job is to make sure no one is acting up.” Jo’s face wrinkled in thought.

         “Well, if he’s here then maybe something is up.” After another moment of thought, she shrugged. “Or maybe he’s just hungry. Now, back to you.” At that moment, Nina’s phone beeped with a text message from Hope. With a smile, she relayed the message.

         “Don’t worry, Spooky is just about done getting stitched up. Hope will send him this way with my kit.” The relief on Jo’s face mirrored that in Nina’s chest because she was starting to feel the effects of missing her medicine.

         “Good, honey. Let me bring you an ice-cold glass of water.” She hurried off behind the counter and seconds later, an ice-cold glass of water and unsweetened tea sat before her.

         Jo smiled and added, “Call me over the second he gets here, okay?” Nina nodded. As soon as Jo walked away, Nina surreptitiously searched out the biker who’d entered moments earlier. She was painfully single and with good reason, but it didn’t hurt to look. Her eyes roved over the small diner searching for the dynamic presence of the large man and was dismayed when she didn’t see him. Where the hell had he gone? At this point, she no longer tried to hide her search for him but realized that he’d probably left the diner while she checked her phone. An inexplicable feeling of loss swept over her as she sank back into her booth. That man was not her type. There was no room in her life for a leather wearing caveman, no matter how perilously sexy he seemed. That was what got her in trouble a few years ago, and at that thought, her eyes went back to the ring set on the table. With quaking hands, Nina pulled the white slip from the box and unfolded

the letter.

 

 

 

Nina,

I hope this letter finds you well. Your mother told me you were back in school doing what you once loved. I understand the cost of schooling is high, please, sell these and follow whatever path leads you to happiness.

 

 

Nina let the letter fall from her fingers. The white sheet billowed to the table to rest beside the wedding set that had set her ex-husband back nearly eight grand. What was he playing at? No, that wasn't the right question because Javi didn’t play games, not even during their divorce. It had been agreed that they would leave with what they’d brought to the table and Nina had only brought naïve love, yet, Javi had asked her if she wanted anything else. She hadn't. She had just wanted her freedom.

A shadow cast over her table causing Nina to look up and up into the crystalline blue eyes of the biker who’d entered earlier. His sharp gaze and tilted lips gave her the impression he was anywhere but where he wanted to be, and his next words proved her right. Nina snatched the letter up and shoved it into her pocket.

“Apparently, I am here to babysit you. Spooky got held up, it’ll only be a bit until he gets here.” His apathetic tone grated her nerves, and without waiting for an invitation, he squeezed his big body into the booth nearly knocking over her water and sweet tea. Two large tanned hands shot out, righting the cups before they spilled. And then, the big brute dared to lift her water to his sensual lips and drink until the water was half gone.

         "How damned dare he?" She thought.

         She needed her water, she was damned thirsty. Opening her mouth to say just that, her eyes widened as he cut her off.

         His eyes took her in. “Jesus, you look like hell. What medicine is he bringing over for you?”

         Nina swallowed, not once, but several times, holding back the retort she’d planned to throw at him. Instead, she said, “Of course I look like shit. I just walked in this unnatural inferno for ten minutes, missed my meds so I’m feeling shaky dizzy and a bit irritable, and I’ve just been assaulted with memories of a past I’d welled hoped to forget. Who wouldn’t look like hell in this situation? Oh, well I know who.” She gestured to the man before her. “The Norse God of Sexiness and ego that’s who!” The moment the words were out of her mouth the sexiest grin she’d ever seen laced his lips. Slouching back into the booth and prayed for a way to disappear. Of course, when she opened her mouth, she’d take a second to place her foot directly between both lips.

         Hollywood, as Jo called him leaned closer a roguish shimmer in his eyes as he said, “Sexiness, eh? Would you by chance care for a demonstration?”

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Blackwater Savior is a SHORT story, the beginning of Spooky and Mia. 

Two years ago, Mia Sheridan’s face lay plastered on missing person flyers, CNN, and other various news outlets. She was one among six other missing women from the Clearwater area, neither a trace nor a hair left behind. Abducted, beaten and sold, Mia has finally come to terms with the certainty that she will die her only concern is when that time will come.

Road Captain and eight-year vet with the Blackwater Renegades, Spooky is tasked with convincing a monster to sign divorce papers. He expected blood and mayhem, but what he found instead was Mia Sheridan, whose eyes held an innocence, unlike anyone he'd seen before. SpookyHe never bought the notion of love at first sight―lust at first taste was more like it―but the honey-eyed woman with a subtle glint of defiance in her eyes is a fighter, and that he can respect. When Spooky takes a solemn vow to protect her, he finds himself in over his head, but right where he belongs.
Blackwater Savior is a SHORT story, the beginning of Spooky and Mia. 

 
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Just one piece of information could help Maxine mend a past mistake and let go of her broken past. That name she needs? Her father's murderer. Not because she harbors any tender feelings toward the bastard who beat her mother into a coma. She's desperate to know his last words.

She's steadily clawing down obstacles one lie, one trap at a time … until she encounters a brick wall without a single chink in it. Blu, the enforcer guarding the Blackwater Renegades MC's front door. A tattooed, mohawked mountain of muscle whose ice-blue gaze sets her belly on fire.

Blu's past shadows his future.

After fighting for his freedom in an underground fighting pit, Blu traded wrapped knuckles for a Blackwater Renegades cut. Now he puts his bruised fists to good use against rival gangs.

When he's tasked with seducing Maxine, the enigmatic newcomer, to uncover her motives, Blu discovers there's more to this dagger-glaring, snark-spewing beauty than meets the eye. They share a deep well of unresolved pain that could make him drop his guard … and question his loyalties to the only people he's ever known as family.

P.S. If you are a member of my Insiders Club you can get these short stories FREE.

Inevitable: Deleted Scene

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You asked for it! I get emails every now and then with questions from readers. One question asked in particular is about Trent and Harper and how they met and their time together`. So, here it is. Check out the deleted scene of Inevitable!


unedited deleted scene


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         “Where are you taking me?” Harper asked in a whisper. For as long as Trent had been alive he’d been a leper. In his own home with his stepfather and even in the school he attended. That never bothered him though. He’d become comfortable in his isolation and had even found spots around the county that he could visit without interruption.

            “Just come on.” She sighed and grabbed his hand. Trent and Harper were at Hanatier Park located between the old Jessing Farm and the Miller farm. In the middle of the summer most nobody came out there because of the smell of horse crap and the old one-eyed man who ran the farm. Ill-tempered and likely to threaten you off the property with his shotgun, no one ever braved the land—no one other than Trent. He’d learned the old man had been paid and paid well to keep trespassers off the property and away from the horses. He and the man had struck a deal, Trent wouldn’t fuck with anything or bring his friends and the man would turn a blind eye to Trent climbing the hill and hanging out. Along with leaving Trent be, the old man also taught him a thing or two about tending to the horses.

            The grass was slickened with dew from the day’s earlier rain. It’d cooled the night air along with an even cooler breeze. Unseasonably cool whether normally meant a storm was on the way, but Trent didn’t mind. He’d spend rainy days working in the shop and his nights nestled between Harper’s thighs. Trent helped Harper up the hill, as she struggled to find purchase on the wet ground. Her little white sandals were caked with dirt and grass. Trent pulled Harper’s body to his and reached under her legs.

          “Let me carry you,” He said as he lifted her up.

           She laughed and kicked her feet and then settled in his arms. “Thank God I’m not fat.”

He looked her over as he continued walking. “No, you aren’t but I like you thighs and ass just as they are, so don’t think about going on some silly ass diet.” She wiggled her thick hips against him.

        “Good, I won’t.” She kissed his cheek and he walked a few more paces before he was able to put her back on her feet.

        Now that they were on high ground where the horses didn’t graze he didn’t have to worry about avoiding horseshit in the dark. A loud boom exploded over Trent and Teal causing her to jump and look up at the sky.

            “Holy shit, babe, look.” She pointed up as the first firecracker exploded above them in green, gold and red. Colors lit up the night and Trent pulled Harper further up the hill to where the ground finally leveled out.

            “It’s better from over there, come one.” He softly pulled her again forcing her to follow.

           “The horses aren’t scared?” She asked. He looked over to see her pointing to the two mares Gracie and Maci. The old man had stabled up the horses that weren’t desensitized to the noise. Trent saw a few others roaming below the hill.

            “No,” He said as they reached the top. “The old man desensitized them to noises and the ones that aren’t are in the stables with horse ear plugs in.” Trent led her over to the place he’d created earlier that day.

            “Shut up, horse ear plugs?” She asked skeptically.

            “I’m not sure what they are really called.” Trent and Harper sat down on the blanket weighted down by the bag of food.

            She looked around and laughed. “Well, navigating through horse poop aside, this is really nice and romantic.” Harper tucked her legs under herself and leaned into Trent as the night sky was lit up with color.

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Up Close and Personal with Trent Reed

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Hey readers! I have a surprise for you. How would you like to meet Trent Reed? Joc from The Audio Flow had the pleasure of interviewing Trent and you get to listen. 

If you liked this interview you can listen to The Audio Flows podcast featuring some amazing voice talents, author interviews, and more. 

Listen to her channel on iTunes, iHeartRadio, and her website.

Call my wife again and I’ll place a fucking bomb in the clubhouse and piss on the fire as you all burn.
— Trent Reed
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18 and up due to language and content


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Teal’s phone pinged on the dresser. The message notification lit up the phone, pulling his attention to the words illuminating the screen. Teal hadn’t noticed, she’d apparently been wrapped up in his words.

Trent reached past her and read the words. The threat. How Mutt had gotten her number was beyond him. It wasn’t a cell though . . . cells weren’t listed, were they?

“Oh shit. Are they canceling?” She reached for the phone and Trent moved it out of her reach.

“No.” He moved to the bed, watching Emma Mae as she used her chubby little fingers to grip the side of the bed and pull up with all her little strength. He smiled at her efforts, but didn’t reach out a helping hand. She was stronger than she looked and given time, she’d excel in every endeavor she attempted. He and Teal would make sure of it.

Little fingers gripped the cover, and her pink face scrunched in concentration. Clenching tight, she pulled until her little legs and the side of the bed supported her weight. Teal gasped, but Trent didn’t break his stare with Emma Mae. Baby blue eyes bore into him as she made her way over.

One hand lifted from her tight grip, and reached out for him. “Da-da,” Emma Mae’s soft voice called to him.

Trent’s eyes watered and his heart opened so wide from the love that filled him to bursting. He reached out a hand, just a few inches from her.

Quickly, Emma released the side of the bed, her little feet working faster than she’d expected, causing her to stumble after only two steps. He caught her in his arms and swooped her up. Teal ran to him and threw her arms around him, the sound of her happiness surrounding him, along with the giggles of his baby girl.

He closed his eyes for a brief instant, taking in and enjoying this moment with his family. And if the decision hadn’t already been made to kill the congressmen, this exact moment would have done it. He would fight and he would kill to keep his family.

“Oh my goodness, Trent. I’ve been waiting for this moment!” She squealed. He kissed Emma and placed her in Teal’s arms. She raised their daughter in the air and cooed to her.

Trent picked up her cell and moved to the door.

Her eyes widened. “Where you going?”

He lifted the phone, screen facing away from her and waggled it. “Logan texted. I need to talk to him about something right quick.” He forced a smile.

“About my surprise?” she asked, offering him an out.

He snatched it without even thinking. “Yup.” Her smile lit up the room, turning the dark deed he was about to commit into ash. “It’ll be a minute. And next time,” he motioned to Emma Mae, “we have to get that on video.”

“I agree,” she said as Trent exited the room.

Out in the hallway, he paced as he reread the text.

 

Tell your man this is his last chance before things get ugly, beautiful.

–Mutt

 

Trent growled at the endearment as he pressed the call button.

Mutt picked up on the first ring. “Hello, darling.”

Trent hated the smooth and soulful timbre he offered his wife. “Fuck you, asshole.” His growl was followed by Mutt’s laughter. “Tell Ace I’ll be there the day after tomorrow to do the job. Call my wife again and I’ll place a fucking bomb in the clubhouse and piss on the fire as you all burn.”

Trent disconnected the call and deleted all traces of Mutt’s presence on Teal’s phone. He glanced back at the closed door and could see right through it in his mind.

Fine, if his past wanted to rear its ugly head, he’d cut its throat and rip its head clean the fuck off.

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Take a peek at Teal and Trent

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SUGGESTED READING ORDER:

The Love Against the Odds books are written as standalone, bwwm/interracial romances. However, your enjoyment may be enhanced if you follow this order:

Incarcerated: Letters from Inmate 92510 Katie & Logan 1
Inevitable: Love and War Teal & Trent 1
Indelible: Beneath His Ink Teal & Trent 2
Rogue in Love: Lex and Thea | standalone novella
Open Wounds: Abel and Hope | standalone novella
Indebted: Til' Death Do Us Part Teal & Trent 3


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“If you do this . . .” Taking in a deep breath she paused, as if needing strength to continue. Trent remained silent, waiting as she gathered the nerve to tell him to go and fuck himself. “If you do this, I can’t be here when you come back. Emma and I—we can’t be a part of this life.”

Her fatalistic tone scared the hell out of him, and Trent knew this wasn’t some exaggerated threat. He made to speak, to remind her that he was doing this for his family, but Ace, who’d been unusually quiet, grunted from behind him.

“Looks like you got a choice to make, Marine.” He stepped out of the house, eyes narrowing as he took in the scene. “Walk away from her . . .” The sound of his boots hitting the porch grew louder, and one of the men lit a cigarette, while the other cocked his weapon. “Or you can walk away from me.”

The not-so-veiled threat reminded Trent that when this was over, Ace would pay. He swallowed hard before he looked back to Teal.

But Ace wasn’t done. “Don’t make the wrong choice, because if you think I’ve been an asshole to her before, well then Marine, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Trent glanced around, taking in Mutt’s restless movements, and Gator’s gun, cocked and loaded.

            He closed the little distance between him and Teal, and leaned down and kissed her lips. The taste of her so familiar and sweet, his body yearned for more.

Holding back, he moved away and side stepped, making room for her to go back in the house. “You may want to pack some shit up for you and Emma Mae.”

Teal closed her eyes for the briefest of moments and swayed, before opening them and turning away. The cold hollow sound of her voice punched Trent in the gut. “There’s nothing left for us in that house; nothing that can’t be replaced.”

Those words wounded him more than any bullet ever had, pained him more than the sight of her walking away, because she was right. There wasn’t anything in that home she couldn’t replace, including him.

He watched the taillights as they disappeared into the night, his gut churning until finally, his body went numb.

            Mutt slapped Trent on the back, then draped an arm over his shoulder. “She’ll come back. They always do.”

Trent turned and eyed the man. He hadn’t expected the candor of his voice, nor the look of understanding in his eyes when his gaze met his. But just as fast as it been there, it was gone, along with the weight of his arm.

            “Fuck yeah, even when you tell them bitches to stay gone.” Gator shoved his gun back in his pants and clapped his hands together. “Let’s get this shit on the road, shall we?” He shoulder-bumped Trent as he pushed past him.

            Trent growled. “You motherfuckers want to act like you didn’t cost me the one thing—”

            “No, no.” Ace’s voice was low and menacing. “Dipping your dick in that blonde chick when you knew she wasn’t worth more than a one-time fuck. That’s what cost you.” Ace pointed to the direction Teal had driven off in. “You want that woman back? You shore up your past and get your fucking shit in order.”

Trent felt his hand grip his gun, and before he knew it, his gun was drawn and pointed in Ace’s mean-looking mug. The reason Ace had a gun in his face wasn’t because he’d called in his boon, it was because Trent knew he was right. Shayla had been trouble from the second she’d sauntered her ass up to him. The problem was, he hadn’t cared. He’d had an image to uphold, and a blonde bombshell on his arm added to the picture, no matter how much of a pain in the ass she’d been.

            “Shit, man,” Gator’s slow southern drawl held a warning Trent wasn’t sure he’d heed. “Calm down, Marine.”

He heard the boots moving to attention, and the guns being pulled from leathers. Though his mind told him that even with his three weapons, he was outgunned and outnumbered, he couldn’t find the fucking sense to lower the gun.

Ace’s lips curved into a knowing smile. He knew—hell, everyone knew—that Trent was fucked six ways till Sunday if he pulled the trigger.

Trent moved the gun what seemed to be a millimeter away from his mark, his aim somewhere off in the distance, and pulled the trigger. The sound of the bullet exploding from the muzzle shocked him out of his rage, and reminded him of what he had to lose had he shot Ace.

            Ace smiled and strode to Trent, gun in hand. Though his gait flowed like water, slow, sure, and steady, a tumultuous storm raged behind his eyes. “Marine, I’m gonna give you that one, seeing as how your lady friend broke your heart and all.”

Trent felt his temper boiling up again, his aversion to this man and infuriation at his own situation, pulled bile from his gut and pushed it up his throat. Still, the only fear Trent felt was at the loss of his wife and child.

 He closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths to calm his raging nerves. He couldn’t allow himself to get killed, whether he was coming back to an empty home or not.

“But the next time you aim that mother fucker at me . . .” Ace eyed Trent with the devious smile of a man who feared nothing—a man with nothing to lose. “You better pull that goddamned trigger.”

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Forever is waiting...Rogue in Love: Lex and Thea

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Inger Iversen presents a standalone contemporary BWWM Romance NOVELLA in her best-selling Love Against the Odds world. 

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Well, be still my fucking heart. The organ nearly halted and sprang from his chest. Theodora Lee Scott was a sight for sore eyes, but why the hell wasn’t she in New York? The shotgun in her hand was completely another story. She held it level and steadier than he’d ever seen her hold the thing, aimed straight at his chest just like he’d taught her. One twitch of the finger and Lex was a dead man. He could only imagine what Thea saw in front of her. A man or creature from the lagoon had crawled inside what looked to be her bedroom window and ended up in her kitchen fixing a fucking sandwich. He hadn’t shaved or properly bathed in so long he was sure he looked just as rank as he smelled. Lake water would only go so far.

Shoving the shotgun closer, Thea moved her aim. “I said put your hands up.” Thea’s voice held a slight tremble of fear. No doubt, she’d shoot his ass if she had to, but Lex heard the small quiver and confusion laced within that melodic voice. It’d been damned near ten years since he’d heard it and even longer since he’d had the pleasure of hearing her laughter. Slowly, Lex raised his hands up and over his head. He watched as Thea released a breath and calmed ever so slightly. A smart man would speak up now because she’d at least recognize his voice—remind her of who he was, who he had been … and then tan her hide for having the balls to fall in love with someone else and leave him in her past.

Her eyes darted around, taking in the room and the food on the counter.

 “What the hell are you doing here, you damned thief?” Bold words from the woman who’d stolen his ability to breathe every time she so much as looked at him. However, he wasn’t a thief—okay … well, if life gave you lemons—but he’d never steal from family. And that was what Thea and Earl had always been for him. Earl had always been there for him when his father was locked up and his mother out with whatever man was paying for her coke at the time. Old Earl, steady and dependable; sure and strong. Lex knew his mistake the second he’d hopped through the window, anticipation eating him up from the inside out. His first stop once he’d made it back into town should have been Earl’s place—home, but even then, he hadn't expected to see Thea. She had left for college   ago with big plans for city living as a journalist or a reporter, a new man at her side and a fat ass rock on her finger. He’d learned her plans had changed and she’d fast tracked her way through medical school.

So, what the hell is she doing here now? At the thought, Lex glanced at her left hand—bare. Oh, shit, what happened to Mr. Three Piece Suit and his diamond? Lex made to reach for the pink and purple treasure Thea had gifted him some fifteen years ago, but the barrel of the shotgun in his face stayed his hand.

Lex cleared his throat, neglect and liquor roughing it up. “Thea … Thea-bear—” Her gasp gave him pause. He caught the slight tremor in her hand and the shotgun wavered and lowered a fraction. He almost smiled at her deepening frown from the use of her nickname. Of course, she was pissed at his ass. He left without a proper good-bye, and after she offered him her virginity, too. She’d run away, red-faced and teary-eyed at his refusal. No man would ever be worthy of lil Thea-bear, especially not uneducated, poor, white trash such as himself. Even so, she’d been a child. Too young to understand the gift she was offering or the fool she was offering it to. Lex took her in from her delectable head to her plum red painted toes. Just as he’d remembered her, she possessed her mother’s striking features. Soft golden eyes the color of amber in sunlight, smooth milk chocolate skin, and a riot of jet black unruly curls atop her head.

Fuck, has she always been this beautiful? He recalled the young child she’d been all those years ago and the young woman she’d grown into as he watched from a distance. Now, in front of him stood a beautiful, mature adult poised with a shotgun aimed to kill. And still, all he could see was her beautiful hour glass figure with a bit more weight on the bottom than top, just as he liked it, the spark of intelligence in her eyes, and the perfect way she held that damned gun just like he’d taught her. She’d protect herself, she’d stay safe even if it meant taking a life.

Lex lowered his arms and shuffled as she in turn took him in. What did she see? He glanced past her at himself in the mirror hanging in the wall. His blond mountain man beard tinted brown from lake water, his tanned, dirt smudged skin, and he for damned sure smelled. His once blue eyes were bloodshot with enough bags beneath them to carry the burdens he supported on his shoulders. Peering down at his clothes, he recoiled at the sight of a moth-eaten T-shirt, muck-crusted pants, and mud caked boots.

Lex glanced up to speak, to come up with some semblance of an apology, but Thea beat him to it.

Wide, golden eyes met his. “Lex? You crazy son of a—”

He chuckled, but the noise from his chest sounded more like a growl. “Watch that sweet little mouth now, Thea-bear. Good girls don’t cuss.” His voice lowered, his body laxer now that he no longer faced death by way of shotgun. Though Thea’s tense posture told him that she was not having it, Lex continued. “What have you been up to, girl? Don’t you have some man waiting for you in a church at the end of an isle?” He smiled, enjoying the slight wrinkle of her lightly freckled nose as she grimaced.

Holding the shotgun with one hand on her hip, she drawled, “Well, look what the dogs dragged in.” Tilting her head forward, she sniffed the air. “Ugh, what the hell? Have you actually been out rolling with dogs?”

He grinned, white teeth gleaming in the night. “Yup.” The sound of sirens blared in the background interrupted anything else he would say. Still, he noticed that she didn’t confirm or deny his questions about her fiancé.

Thea cocked a brow. “That your doing, too?”

“Them sirens? Last I heard rolling with dogs wasn’t illegal?” He shrugged. “But, maybe.” Silence ensued for a moment before she placed the shotgun down on the table beside her.

“Why in the hell are you here stinking to high hell?” He grinned again. “And why did you take care of your teeth and nothing else?” Disdain lit her eyes as she took him in again.

“Aw, Thea-bear,” Lex turned and picked up his abandoned food, “don’t look at me like that.” He hated when she was livid with him and though it was more times than not, Lex had honestly tried to keep Thea happy. Her crush on him in her youth had swayed quite a few of his choices, keeping him on a better path than what was expected of him. What was that saying about a good woman?

“How should I look at you?” With his back to her, he couldn’t read her expressions, but her voice said all—disappointment. “You’ve been gone so long, Lex. I didn’t even recognize you.”

At that he turned.

“Well,” he said around a mouth of turkey and white bread, “how could you?” He gestured to his unkempt body. Lex strolled to a barstool and plopped down. Stuffing more food in his face, he swallowed fast and watched as Thea cleaned up his mess.

Thea closed the jar of mayo and picked up the bag of bread. “And what’s that all about?”

“What’s what all about?” Lex admired her backside as she cleaned. She sure had grown into a beautiful woman, but he’d always expected her to.

She opened the fridge and shoved his mess back inside. Turning around, she crossed her arms over her chest and sighed. “I’m surprised you even remember me it’s been so damned long.”

“Oh,” Lex let his eyes roam her body, “I remember you all right.”

Heat flared to life in her eyes and she fidgeted under his intense perusal. With a spark of anger, she declared, “You don’t recall shit about me.”

“Shit, I remember. I remember you almost got fired for giving me free Colas.” Lex grinned. He'd been poor as hell back then, unable to afford a seventy-five-cent soda with his boys before they'd head up to the lake. Thea had always smiled, a sweet pink blush spreading across her face as he dug through his empty jeans pocket pretending to look for money he knew wasn't there. She'd always push the soda toward him, a conspiratorial smile on her soft lips. She'd been a little beauty back then as well—a mass of dark, springy curls, eyes the color of fresh honey, a slim figure he’d attributed to her tomboy ways, and the sweetest smile a boy had ever seen. But she’d been too young, too unexperienced; she was only twelve to his sixteen. Of course, he’d never looked at her in a sexual way back then, but now as she stood in front of him—tall, voluptuous, and, earlier, ready to blow a hole in his chest with that shotgun—his dick ached.

“A lot of good it did me.” She scowled and propped her hip on the table beside her. Crossing arms over her chest, she glared at him. “Abbot cussed me out nine ways to Sunday. And what happened to you? Not a damn thing. Paw Paw grounded me for two weeks behind that. Yet, you,” she motioned to him, “kept running with the boys, fishing down by the lake while I was stuck in my room the last two weeks of the damn summer.” Lex felt her ire. Those beautiful honey-colored eyes narrowed at him as if they could launch a missile. “After that, you never set foot in the place again.” She didn't know the shit he'd taken from Abbott or even Earl. No one believed that he'd gotten the cola past hawk-eyed Thea. He'd swore up and down he'd stolen the cola, but they all knew better. Thea had been punished and Lex banned from the store.

“Hell, I saw Abbott at the bar earlier.” Lex growled. “That Blackwater bastard is still calling me a thief. Shit, everyone in town knew me and my family were dirt poor. The second Abbot saw me with that soda, he’d come gunning for me, calling me all sorts of names and shit.” He wouldn’t tell her the same thing happened earlier tonight and that that name was pimp.

Thea grunted. “Then they should’ve believed you. They should believe that you would steal it since you didn’t have the fucking money to buy it.”

He had lied to Abbott, telling him he’d stolen the soda to keep Thea out of trouble, but no one got anything past her in that store, and Abbot had known the truth. He’d even sensed there was a crush brewing for Lex in little Thea back then and he aimed to nip it in the bud.

Once Abbott got it in his mind that Thea was showing any favor to Lex, there’d been nothing Lex could do. And admitting he was a coward, he'd been glad Abbott had banned him from the store. He hadn't had the courage to face her again. He'd never take a thing other than food to eat when he'd had nothing.

 “You are a damned thief.”

Lex eyed her; her words no doubt had their intended effect. Anger flared to life in his blue gaze.

“I ain't never stolen a thing from you, Thea.” His intense stare bore through her, heating the space between them. “Not now. Not ever.” He slashed a hand through the air.

He watched, confounded as tears formed in her gem-colored eyes. He craved to reach out to her, to hold and soothe her. He loathed her tears; his fear of hurting her was part of the reason he'd left in the middle of the night.

“But you did, Lex. You stole my heart and then left town with it. I haven't been whole since the day you ran away.”

Lex’s head spun. What the hell had she just admitted to him? He always knew she had a little crush on him in the past, but had her feelings grown over time? Was it even possible that his little Thea-bear still loved him? She'd confessed her love for him on a small, pink, heart-shaped piece of paper complete with a check yes if you like me. Lex had found the letter endearing. At that time, he'd been staying with Earl and Thea for two weeks and feared he'd fuck up a good thing if he responded; a warm home and food in his belly caused him to pretend he never received the note. For weeks, Earl tried to figure out Thea's sudden depression, all while Lex feigned ignorance. There was no way he'd ever been or would ever be deserving of her love.

Thea shook her head, tears tracking down her face. “Of course you didn't know. You never noticed me for anything other than Earl’s granddaughter and a free soda dispenser.” He opened his mouth to speak, but was greeted with a towel thrown in his face. “You stink of dirt and liquor. Take a shower and sleep on the couch tonight. I'm sure Earl will be happy to see you in the morning.” Swiping at her eyes, she turned and headed away from him.

He stood, and moved toward her. “Thea, wait—” Thea’s retreating form stopped, yet Lex still felt at a loss for words. “I didn't just leave.” She turned back, the look in her eyes conveying her disbelief. “I mean, I did, but it's more than just that. There was so much more going on, and—”

Holding up a hand to stop him, Thea spoke. “You don't owe me anything, Lex. And you never did.”

She walked away from him, leaving him alone in the dark house. Moonlight streaked the now empty hallway, her lingering sweet scent the only evidence left of her presence.

Dropping the towel, Lex used the wall to keep him upright. Thea admitted her feelings to him again, and now after ten years would he turn her away? Lifting his head, he thumped it into the wall. Again and again he did this until the image of her tear-streaked face vacated his brain. He never meant to hurt her … on the contrary, he meant to protect her from the rumors that would spread if anyone ever got wind that poor white trash such as himself had taken advantage of the beautiful, smart Theodora Lee Scott.

Smart. Pushing away from the wall, Lex made his way down the hallway into the door she disappeared into. Only after he twisted the door knob and pushed the door open did he wonder if there was a man on the other side of that door with her. The absence of a ring on her finger didn’t mean she was single, just that she was no longer engaged. The thought of Thea no longer attached caused his heart to pitter patter like a fucking teen about to get his first damned kiss. Mine! his heart demanded. The stupid thing always wanted what Lex couldn’t have. Calm down, man, that wasn’t a warm and fuzzy greeting she gave you back there. Damned his head for always making sense.  

Lex smiled at the sight before him. She sat on her bed, an e-reader in front of her face, a grim line on her lips, and her body encased in a cute pink puffy robe.

Thea lowered the e-reader, and eyes blazing she demanded, “What do you think you are doing?”

Lex couldn’t help but to chuckle at her words. As commanding as they sounded, her bright eyes and gloss-slicked lips called to him. Earlier in the day he'd thought to hire a hooker, his need outweighing common sense. But now as he stood before Thea in her ridiculously pink robe, fuzzy socks, and unruly hair, he'd never been happier to have been celibate for the last two years. While emotions ran amuck in his head, his heart thrummed to life at the sight. 

Thea growled. “You trying to stink up the whole place? What? You gonna mark your territory by rubbing your scent everywhere?” She stood, the pink monstrosity of a robe gaping open a little, giving him a small hint of her milk chocolate skin.

His desire flared to life. Lex imagined himself atop her, thrusting deep into her hot, slick channel and licking that sexy spot just above her collarbone, the taste of her passion driving him wild as he pumped into her. Shit, his mind had taken a turn. In the past, he'd turned her down for sex—her age coupled with his station in life a perfect excuse to let her go, trying to do the right thing—but tonight, the lines blurred between the right thing and the thing he wanted most: Thea.

“Yeah, I'm gonna mark my territory.” Entering the room, Lex eyed her as if she were his prey. His gaze leisurely made its way down a delectable body she couldn't hide behind that robe, and plus, he'd already seen her form hugged tight in yoga pants and a T-shirt. She'd no doubt covered up just in case he found his way into her bedroom. As his eyes met hers a spark of long forgone attraction came to life. Even in his disheveled state, his Thea found him attractive. She licked her lips, a nervous habit she'd expressed in the past. Though he sensed her apprehension, he also sensed the underlying current of lust and longing. How long had it been for her? How tight would that sweet little pussy be and how good would it taste? How wet did she get and did she squirt when she came? He’d have to find out. Lex took a step back. Thea’s disappointed frown brought a smile to his lips. She still wanted him, but he couldn't touch her with such dirty hands. Before she was able to speak, whether it was to tell him to fuck off or fuck her, Lex spoke. 

“All those years ago when you asked me to make love to you I said no, I knew it hurt you. But not as much as stealing your precious virginity would have. I’ve always had your best interest at heart, even when I was too stupid to know what that meant. But, let me tell you something …” He enjoyed the sight of her breasts rising as she took in each breath. “I’m gonna go in that bathroom, and I’m gonna take a shower, and when I come out I’m going to give you what you asked for all those years ago and more. So, I need you to be on that bed and ready for me when I get back.”

Without waiting for her response or even gauging her reaction, Lex turned and walked out of the room. Shutting the door behind him, he took a deep breath. He knew she wanted this and he damn sure wanted it. Desired it more than a dying man yearned for life. For years, he'd denied her, decided what was best for her without her input, but no longer.

Lex headed to the shower on edge. Tonight, he'd give in to her needs, and his as well. 

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Meet Ace, Gator, and Mutt from the First Sons of the Revolution MC, and enjoy the first chapter and first look at the spin-off featuring the badass, no-shit-taking men from Blackwater Rising!

And then there were three...Indelible

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A buzzing noise consumed Trent’s ears. The more he tried to wake himself from his dark state, the more a burning sensation flared in his chest. Unfamiliar voices rose and fell, his name called over and over. Trent searched for one sound, one name, one person, but instead found darkness.

On his second attempt to rise, Trent caught the familiar scent of blood. A light touch on his arm, and a soft, unfamiliar voice, coaxed him to open his eyes. This time, it was much easier. Bright lights blurred his vision, and the burning sensation came back in full force.

      “There you are,” a soft voice sounded from the left.

Trent slowly turned his head to gaze into the eyes of a pale woman. Her tender smile and bright gaze filled his vision, blocking the bright light that’d nearly blinded him before.

“Nice to finally see those beautiful eyes of yours.”

Trent heard a beeping sound, and realized it was a heart monitor.

“What’s your pain level?” the woman asked as she lifted the sheets covering him.

Trent looked down as best he could, then tried to lift the arm that didn’t burn to touch the one that felt as if it’d been set on fire. He tried to speak, but the sounds his mouth made were far from words. A gruff grunt, then a coughing whine fell from his lips.

      “Okay, I’ll take that as an eight?” The woman covered him up and picked up a white object. A thin tube ran from the white object in her hand to the bag on a pole beside him. Trent knew what it was called, he knew what was about to happen, but his brain wouldn’t let him form the right words to object. He didn’t want to sleep again. He wanted Teal.

The woman clicked the button, and Trent went flying. The warm sensation started in his arm and made its way throughout his whole body. He fought to stay awake, as he struggled to remember what’d happened. He opened his mouth to speak, to ask the woman to find Teal, but the black depths took him before he had a chance.

      The third time Trent woke, his mind quickly filled him in—Shayla, Jake, Teal . . . and a gunshot. In seconds, Trent remembered everything. Eyes still closed, he replayed the memory of that night. The wild look in Jake’s eyes, and the horror in Teal’s as he fell to the ground.

His eyes opened as soft skin met his, moving comfortingly back and forth across his arm. Once again blinded by the light, Trent spoke the first thing his brain thought to say.

      “T—teal?”

A gasp sounded before his baby’s dark eyes and beautiful face filled his vision.        Teal covered his mouth with her lips, stifling a sob. “Oh my God, baby?”        

      He winced when he tried to move. “Where?”

      “Do you need meds?” She lifted up the white object that’d put him out before.

      “No,” he gasped out through pain. He didn’t want to sleep again. He only wanted to hear her voice and know that she was okay.

Her wailing sobs grew so loud that Trent barely heard the door fly open. Seconds later, Logan stood above him. He took Teal in his arms and held her. Trent’s eyes furrowed at the idea of Logan soothing her.

      “Mother fucker. You scared the piss out of us.” Logan pulled Teal closer as her wailing grew louder. Trent loved his best friend, but he should be the one comforting his woman. The pain in his arm and chest was nothing compared to the ache shredding his heart.

      “Ple—please, baby,” Trent could barely think through the pain, “come here.”

Teal slowly turned to meet his eyes, the pain in her gaze breaking him. Her eyes narrowed as she observed him. “You lied. You do hurt.” She left Logan’s embrace and picked up a white object and pressed the button.

This time, Trent didn’t fall into a blissful sleep, but his pain did ebb, and his mind sharpened a bit.

      “Feel better?” Her words sounded louder now that the buzzing in his head was gone.

He tapped the spot beside him and waited as Teal cautiously, minding his tubes and wires, sat beside him. Logan moved closer as well, his stress-muddled face a sight for sore eyes.

      Glancing around the bed, Teal adjusted herself. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

      “I don’t give a fuck. Get over here.” He had to touch her, to feel her skin against his. Though he was wrapped in bandages and covered from shoulder to feet in a thin hospital blanket, Trent felt the moment her warm body made contact with his.

Through the haze of drugs and the confusion saddling his brain, Trent pulled his woman close. His left arm was so swollen and heavy it wouldn’t move, but he managed to grip her with his right arm. He took in her scent, noting the mild hospital soap and his laundry detergent. How long had he been here that she had time to shower and come back?

Trent searched for Logan in the room, his questioning gaze was all his friend needed.

      “You slipped into a coma after you first arrived,” he explained.

Trent could feel Teal shaking in his arms. He rubbed her back as best he could, as her tears soaked his hospital gown. He closed his eyes, hot tears scalding his eyelids, fighting for escape.

“You lost a lot of blood, and they weren’t sure if you’d keep your arm below your elbow.”

Trent couldn’t see what Logan was talking about, but he could feel it. The burning sensation was gone, but Trent couldn’t move any part of it. He couldn’t even wiggle his fingers. Panic welled in his chest, as he thought about what his life would amount to if he couldn’t use his dominant hand.

      “Calm, brother,” Logan soothed. “They fixed you right up. You’ll just have to hit up some physical therapy and shit.” He stepped forward and reached out. Placing a hand on Teal’s back, he rubbed, surprising the fuck out of Trent.

      Logan then knelt down in front of her and gently pulled her chin up. “You promised me when he woke up you would eat.”

Trent had never heard his friend’s voice take on such a tender tone with anyone but Katie and the babies.

      Teal lifted her head, her gaze fully on Trent. “I’m not leaving you.”

      “You made me a deal after I lied for you, Teal.” Logan’s tone was firm, but still held a soothing quality.

Teal rested her forehead on Trent’s chest. Her fatigue and stress so evident, Trent ached for her. He glanced around the room in search of a cot. Instead, he found a meal had been brought into the room while he was out cold.

“Baby,” he mumbled, hating how reedy and thin his voice sounded. “Go eat that food over there.” He didn’t want to let her go, but if Logan was insisting, it was because Teal had been denying herself.

Logan pulled the tray around and placed it in front of the bed. Neither man spoke until Teal had opened the tray and taken her first bite.

      Trent tried to get comfortable by moving, but pain stayed his body. “Shit, where’s Katie?”

Logan groaned and rubbed a hand down his face and Teal answered.

      “He wouldn’t let her come.” 

      “Not right away,” Logan jumped in, looking ashamed when Trent glared at him. “Fuck, man. I get a call in the middle of the night. Teal is screaming and crying about you getting shot and Jake trying to rape her.” Logan thrust his hands through his hair. His skin had gone milk white, and his eyes held such sorrow, Trent had to look away. “Man, you don’t know what it felt like to get that call, yet be so damn far away. I couldn’t help, and I just knew if anything happened to her, your ass wouldn’t survive it. I couldn’t bring Katie into that.”

Trent watched Teal as her fork froze in mid-air.

“And then when I got here, I couldn’t get her to eat or drink for two days. She passed out twice and had to be hooked up to get fluids in her.”

He growled. “       Teal.” Her name was all he needed to say.

She glanced sheepishly back at him as she shoved chocolate pudding into her mouth. Trent reached up and placed a hand on her side. She leaned into his touch before pulling back and continuing to eat.

      “So, why isn’t she here now?” Trent asked.

      Logan released a long breath. “She’s on the way. Jan-Erik has the girls.” Logan made his way to Trent’s tray and picked up the water pitcher. “I couldn’t have her here. Not until I was able to figure out what was happening.” Filling a plastic cup, he brought it to Trent.

      “What is this lie you told for her?”

Logan placed the cup to his lips, and sniggered. “That this is Mrs. Teal Lofton-Reed.”

Trent nearly choked on his water, causing Teal to eye him warily.

      A thought slapped him in the face a second later. “Where are my pants?”

      Teal’s gaze narrowed. “Screw the pants. Why did being my husband make you choke on water?”

Logan’s soft laughter had Trent wanting to bust his lip open. “Nothing, baby, but why’d you have to lie?” He eyed Logan as he made his way to a pile of clothes on a chair in the corner.

      “They wouldn’t let me in.” Taking a sip of her water, she turned to face him. “When I first got here, I was so out of it I was having a hard time speaking.”

      “She was in shock,” Logan added, coming back after pocketing the ring box.

      “They wouldn’t let me near you, and kept asking about next of kin. Logan was still on the phone with me, telling me to hand the phone off to a doctor.” Teal rubbed her face, a lethargic glaze filling her eyes. “He told them we’d just gotten married and that I was to make all the decisions for your health if I were able.”

      “But she wasn’t,” Logan muttered.

      “No, so Logan did. He was the one who made the call for the surgery to save your arm, and he also got in touch with a plastic surgeon to make sure your dick hand stayed pretty.”

Trent and Logan both burst into laughter at the inside joke Logan had revealed to Teal.

      A nurse walked in just as Trent yawned. She gave a disapproving glare at Teal on the bed. Fuck that, Trent thought. He tangled his hand in hers and held her tight.

      “Mr. Reed, look at you, wide awake.” Her chipper voice sounded familiar, but Trent was having a hard time placing it; and the longer he fought to grab the memory, the foggier his head became.

      Clearing his throat several times, Trent waited until the nurse was no longer fussing with the machines. “How long have I been here?”

      “I am about to call the doctor in.” The nurse offered Teal what he thought was a warm smile. “May I?” She gestured to Trent’s side, where Teal sat. “I need to check his IV.”

Teal released Trent’s hand and shifted from the bed. The nurse picked up Trent’s hand and inspected the line leading to the IV drip.

      “You’ve been here for three days,” Teal answered. “After your first surgery, you didn’t wake up for a while, and then you had a seizure.” Her thin and solemn voice caused his heart to quake in his chest.

      “That is normal, and the doctor warned them it could happen.” The nurse placed Trent’s hand back down on the bed. “You also woke up rather fast after surgery. And you spoke one name and one name only.” The nurse’s gaze turned to Teal. “I find it quite amazing the way a love for a person can make a person fight through pain and fear to come out of it calling for their loved one.” She straightened Trent’s covers. “I’ve seen it quite a few times, and I’m still astonished at the fact that sometimes love cures faster than modern medicine.”

Trent watched as Teal’s eyes watered, and she held onto Logan as if he’d been her lifeline while Trent was unable. She leaned into his friend, her shallow breathing and glazed eyes revealing the fact she was about to have a panic attack.

      “Baby, come to me.” His voice still sounded weak, but Trent knew all too well the signs of an attack.

Logan led her to the bed and placed her hand in his right. He yanked her down and rocked her as best he could, murmuring loving words in her ear. He waited until her shaking subsided and breathing evened out before he spoke.            “Give me the box.”

      Reaching into his back pocket, Logan pulled out the velvet box. He leaned forward and handed it over. “Here you go.”

      Trent took it in his hand. “Teal, baby, lift up.” She didn’t make any moves to sit up.

      The nurse’s eyes widened when she saw the box. “I’m going to grab Dr. Pyzalski and bring him in to see you.” She headed out of the room quickly, no doubt knowing where the conversation was headed.

      “Lift up, baby.”

      Slowly, Teal lifted her fatigued eyes. She needed sleep, food, and Trent by her side.

Trent tapped her back with the box and waited as she turned around. When she froze in his arms, Trent knew she understood what was happening.                 “I thought I was going to wait and let you get settled in . . .”

      Teal’s head whipped around so fast, Trent had to reach out to steady her.           “Are you serious right now?” She turned back and took the box from his hand.

Trent wished he could open it and get on one knee, but his ass was going to be glued to the bed for a few more days.

As if reading his mind, Logan came around and pulled the box from her hand. Getting on one knee, he opened the box, presented it to her and waited. The sight was hilarious, as his best friend was on bended knee with Trent’s ring in hand.

      “Teal,” Trent called. Her bright eyes filled with tears as she looked to him. “I thought to wait. But why?” He lifted his hand until it made contact with her soft face. “Will you fucking marry me?”

She burst into tears. She’d been through so much over the past few days. Trent wanted to make sure she knew this had been his plan long before today. It wasn’t his fear of death that had him proposing, but his love for her. “What is the point in waiting when you already know the only person you’ve ever truly loved is right in front of you?”

      “Yes.” Her single word stopped all of his thoughts from spiraling. “Yes, I will fucking marry you.”

Logan stood and pulled the ring from the box. Trent watched as his friend pushed the ring onto her finger. He couldn’t have asked for a better friend.

      “I was told you were already his wife.” A tall, slender man in a white coat entered the room. With a stern smile on his lips, he lifted Trent’s chart and spoke about blood clots, comas, and all things unimportant to Trent.

All he could do was stare into his fiancée’s eyes; her beautiful face plastered with a sappy smile.

      “Teal Lofton-Reed,” she spoke in a joking tone.

Trent wanted to slap her big ass bottom, but only had one hand free. He wrapped his fingers in her hair and yanked her down.   “Fuck that, woman. Just Reed—Teal motherfuckin’ Reed,” he said just before he kissed her deeply.

 

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Where Teal and Trent began...

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If that redneck, trailer trash, piece of shit didn’t get his ass to this rehearsal dinner on time, Teal was liable to drive to the cabin and force him there by gun point. Those were her thoughts two hours ago while everyone sat around waiting for the best man to show up.

Trent was so late, they’d eventually replaced him with a waiter and gone through the wedding ceremony, twice without Trent. Granted, walking down the aisle didn’t take much practice, but Teal wanted things to run smoothly and that only happened with practice. The minor hiccups so far were nothing and if the wedding continued to go this smoothly, Teal planned to send Katie a large ass bill for putting up with the headache.

Now that the rehearsal dinner was coming to a close, the drinks and hors d’oeuvres were served and Teal was ready to get a drink in hand and out of her heels. “I wonder if we even need Trent. The waiter did just fine,” she muttered under her breath.

“What was that?” Didi asked as she sidled up next to her. She was fumbling through her clipboard, checking off things from the list Teal had given her.

Suddenly, the room quieted enough to hear heavy footfalls entering the room. Teal turned around in her chair to see Trent appear. His massive body demanded attention she refused to give. While everyone else stared and women fawned, Teal stood and made her way to the drink cart. Snatching up a glass of wine, Teal took a long sip and went looking for Katie. When she found her in the corner, the bride seemed worse for wear.

“Damn girl, what’s wrong with you?”

“Nothing, just nauseated.”

Teal called over a waiter with a tray of food and searched for something to help settle Katie’s stomach. She’d already ordered the food before she found out about the baby and Teal wasn’t sure Katie’s stomach could handle any of it. Instead, she asked the waiter to grab her a Ginger Ale and a cup of ice.

“I’m fine, really,” Katie insisted as Teal led her to a chair. “I wonder what kept him?” She motioned to the corner where Logan and Trent stood.

Trent seemed to be explaining why he was late and the look on Logan’s face made Teal believe that whatever story he was spinning, Logan was buying. As they sat and watched, waiting to hear his excuse for themselves, Jayden, one of Katie’s bridesmaids came over and plopped down beside them.

Fanning herself, she asked, “Who is that tall, thick, yummy glass of milk?” The sly smile on her face made Teal roll her eyes.

“Girl, you’re married.” Katie admonished.

With a smack of the lips, Teal added her two cents, “While I don’t condone calling that wildebeest a tall glass of milk, I have to say that being married doesn’t make you blind.”

She chanced an appraising glance at him and hated herself for liking what she saw. His black thermal hugged his thick chest tight enough to reveal muscles that Teal would pretend she didn’t find attractive. His distressed washed jeans pulled taut over thick legs and as she made her way up those powerful legs her eyes stopped at the package nestled between his legs. Hell no.

Jayden threw a hand up. “Preach! I’m just saying, being married doesn’t make you asexual. And Logan’s brother over there—”

“Childhood friend,” Katie corrected, just as Teal had opened her mouth.

“Well, whatever.” Jayden pointed in the direction of Logan and Trent. The women followed her finger to where the men stood. “Both of them look like big ass treats. Just plain yummy!”

Katie laughed and Teal took a swig of her wine. It would make sense that Teal was attracted to Trent. She always attracted the emotionally unavailable, unmotivated assholes—assholes being the main word there. Hence the reason she was attending Katie’s wedding alone. Another gulp of wine passed her lips.

“The dark haired one, as you know, is mine. And the blond . . .” Katie’s voice trailed off when Logan looked over to the table with narrowed eyes. “What the hell are they talking about?” Concern laced her voice.

Teal looked over again and she saw it too. Logan’s face was red and his fists were balled at his sides, his shoulders bunched and he was radiating anger.

“No. God, no.” As Katie jolted up and out of her chair, confusion swept over Teal. “Dammit. I haven’t told him yet! He came back to the room last night and started kissing on me and I got swept up.” Katie raced over to Logan.

When Teal finally understood what Katie meant, she stood ready to follow Katie as she sprinted across the room, but as she propelled past the table her red wine glass spilled and tumbled off the table nearly hitting the floor.

“Shit.” Teal cursed fiercely as she made the catch.

Jayden stood. Reaching for a few napkins she handed them to Teal. “What is going on over there?” she asked, but Teal ignored her not willing to tell Katie’s business.

Grabbing the napkins from her, she blotted up the spilled wine. Thank God she’d convinced Katie away from white tablecloths, but white tablecloths were the least of her concerns right now. Glancing around the room, Teal found and signaled a waiter. Pointing to the mess, she mouthed, “Get this,” and then added a “please” for good measure. Let him get it.

Turning around, she saw that Logan’s anger didn’t seem to be directed at Trent, but at Katie who was holding her stomach in the most telling way.

Damn, that Trent. “Fuck!” Teal struggled to keep her anger at bay. Normally, she’d have exploded in a flurry of curses and threats, but it was taking all of her to hold it back. She was sure that Trent had told Logan what he’d heard in the car from the smirk on his face to the devastation on Katie’s.

Teal made a B-line straight to Katie. By the time she’d gotten over to them, the damage was done. She placed a soothing hand on Katie’s back. Her friend was shaking, but silent. As a matter of fact, everyone was silent.

Hesitantly, Teal spoke. “What’s going on?” She looked to Katie and then Logan, keenly ignoring Trent, who appeared satisfied by the friction he’d started.

Logan took a deep breath. The ire Teal had seen from the other side of the room had faded somewhat. “Katie, can I talk to you, alone?” His voice hard and unyielding, causing alarm for even Teal. He was mad and maybe even let down, but Teal was positive that the wedding was still on. Katie’s reasons for worry were sound, but in Logan’s defense, in a marriage, secrets could be a deal breaker.

Katie’s shoulders dropped and she nodded. Logan may have been upset, but Teal believed that he and Katie would work it out.

“This is what I was talking about.” Trent’s voice broke the silence.

Teal scanned the room hoping that the drama had gone unnoticed, but no such luck. She turned to Trent. Taking a breath she calmed her nerves and in the nicest voice she asked, “Can I talk to you in the lobby?”

She wasn’t sure if there were guests out there or not, but she knew for damned sure that most of them were in the main hall staring at them as she spoke. What Teal had to say needed minimal attention from innocent bystanders.

Like the smart ass he was, Trent motioned for Teal to go first. “Ladies and liars first.” He chuckled when she growled at him.

The lobby wasn’t empty, but it also wasn’t filled to the brim with wedding guests either. Teal turned to watch as Trent exited the main hall and stood in front of her. She assumed he meant to be imposing and impossibly large to the point that she would back down, but screw that. Teal had kept quiet long enough, she’d handled every issue with grace and sophistication, but ignoring it and letting it build up, caused a meltdown in her brain. Trent’s sideways smirk just added fuel to the already fever pitched fire.

“You redneck, inbred, cousin kissing piece of shit!” There, the smirk was gone and replaced by a scowl, but oh, Teal was far from finished. “Let me guess, did daddy touch you inappropriately? Did your last girl take your balls and lock ‘em up in a jar until Trent was a good boy and earned them back?”

Teal knew men like this. They were just like the miserable bitches she’d had to deal with her whole life. Daddy touched them so they used that as an excuse to fuck every man out there including hers. There was always some fucking excuse for misery to love company, but Teal wasn’t having that shit and if she had to boot Trent out of this wedding and play best man and maid of honor, that was just how that shit would have to go down.

“Why? What was it that made you come here and try to ruin your best friend’s wedding?” She threw up her air quote gesture as she said “best friend”. This was not how shit was supposed to go.

Trent’s scowl had faded, but Teal could see that her words had reached him, but not in the way she’d hoped.

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