“Don’t look at me like that,” he said, closing his eyes. “Despite what happened this morning, I’m not trying to start something with you, Sophie. You realize how f**ked things would get if we started screwing each other? I’m not looking for a relationship and I’m not a one-woman man. We gotta work together for Noah. You know that.”

I sighed. I did know it. Stupid beer.


“Yeah, you’re right,” I said, turning away from him to look out across the valley. He’d really found a hell of a place. I still couldn’t believe how great our new home was.

Felt great to really relax, too, let it all out.

“Noah has to come first, we can agree on that one. I just want to get laid, though. Do you think any of the guys in your club are available? I don’t want a boyfriend, just a friend with benefits. Someone I can f**k and then ditch, guilt-free, when it gets old.”

Ruger made a choking noise and I glanced over at him, concerned.

“You okay?”

“I thought you didn’t want anything to do with the club,” he said, his voice strained. “How did you go from that to friends with benefits so fast?”

“Actually, I think I might give the club a chance,” I replied. Maybe the Reapers would be all right—and the more I considered the whole friend-with-benefits thing, the more I liked the idea. I never got to have sex. I was twenty-four years old, for God’s sake. I should get to have sex!

“They did some really nice things for me today. Horse left home in the middle of the night to help someone he didn’t even know. And those girls … They must’ve worked for hours, getting everything ready for us. Just the furniture is amazing, let alone leaving dinner ready to go. I think the stencils are still wet.”

“Jesus f**kin’ Christ.”

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I frowned at him.

“What’s that supposed to mean?” I asked. “I thought you wanted me to get to know your friends in the club. And seriously—I deserve to get laid. I’ve earned it!”

Ruger straightened and turned to me, every muscle in his body tense and tightly leashed. His nose flared as he took a deep breath, and my eyes caught on the muscle in his jaw. He’d always been scary, but right now he looked downright lethal. I should’ve been terrified, but I had my buzz wrapped around me like a nice warm blanket of protection.

I wasn’t going to let him bully me anymore.

“I think the girls would be good for you,” he said. “At least, some of them. You stick with the old ladies. Don’t want you around the others. But this friends-with-benefits shit? Not happenin’, Soph. Put that outta your mind, got me?”

“Why not?” I demanded, outraged. “You screw everything that moves. Why can’t I?”

“Because you’re a mother,” he said, his voice almost a growl. “You got no business f**kin’ around like that. I’m serious.”

“I’m a mother, but I’m not dead,” I said, rolling my eyes. “Don’t worry, I won’t let Noah meet someone unless it’s serious. But I’m ready for a little fun. Horse is hot, and if any of the other guys in your club are like him—even a little—they’d be perfect for me. Don’t give me shit about it, either. I know you guys f**k around. Why shouldn’t I?”

“Those are sweetbutts and club whores,” he said, his voice hard. “They’re trash. No f**kin’ way you’re gonna be one of them. Not happening, Soph.”

“You aren’t my boss.”

“You sound like a goddamned fourteen-year-old,” he replied, eyes narrowing.

“At least I don’t sound like an overprotective father,” I snapped. “You’re not my dad, Ruger.”

He reached out and caught me behind the neck, jerking me into his body. Then he dropped his mouth down to my ear, my face so close to his chest I could’ve licked him.

“Trust me, I’m well aware I’m not your father,” he said. His nose traced the curve of my ear, the warmth of his breath sending a shiver through me. “If I was, they’d throw my ass in jail for the shit I think about you.”

I raised my hands, sliding them up along his sides, tracing the line of his muscles before bringing them in to graze his ni**les. I couldn’t help myself—I leaned forward and flicked his piercing with my tongue. Ruger groaned, and his fingers tightened in my hair. His entire body tensed, and then I felt the brush of his c**k against my stomach.

Holy hell.

My ni**les peaked and the flesh between my legs spasmed. I shifted restlessly. One of his hands slid down my back, past my shorts and panties, to cup my bare ass. His fingers tensed as I licked his nipple again, then sucked the ring into my mouth.

“Jesus …” he groaned. “You got two seconds before I lay you over that table and f**k you so hard it breaks. Swear to God, Soph. You wanna tell me how we’re gonna explain that to Noah? ’Cause I got shit. I’m not lookin’ to marry you and I sure as f**k won’t hand you my dick on a leash, so things could get weird fast, babe.”

I froze, shivering, feeling moisture soak my panties. I wanted to hump his leg like a bitch in heat, desperate for anything to fill the emptiness inside me.

Instead I pulled away from him slowly. His hand slid free of my shorts and we stepped apart, eyes boring into each other.

“Fuck,” Ruger muttered, running a hand through his hair. He looked away from me. The front of his pants bulged outward, his c**k so hard I saw the thick head clearly outlined. I wondered what he’d do if I knelt down, pulling his pants low so I could run my tongue around the tip before sucking him deep into my mouth. It actually watered at the thought.

Desire speared me like a weapon. I sighed, licking my lips.

“I’m gonna get another beer,” Ruger said harshly. I looked up from his c**k to his face to find his eyes glued to my chest. Shit. I was still wearing the damned Barbie tank, which left nothing to the imagination. My suitcase sat in his car.

“Grab me one, too,” I replied, my voice shaking.

“Sure that’s a good idea?”

I looked at him and shook my head. His chest rose and fell too fast, his dark eyes almost fully dilated. He swallowed and I rubbed my hand against the top of my thigh, restless and hungry. The steady motion caught his eye and he swallowed again.

“No, but I want one anyway.”

I walked unsteadily across the deck to a lounger and lay back on it, limp and full of need so intense I thought I might die. The sun had set, and the evening stars had started coming out somewhere along the line. I should go back down to my little apartment. I knew that. Instead I closed my eyes and thought about how much I wanted to reach down between my legs and rub my clit until I blew up right in front of him.

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