“Welcome back, Ruger,” I said, trying not to sound like a jealous wife, because nothing crazy about that, right? “Have a nice trip? Noah missed you. I was just going downstairs. Have a great morning.”

TBS smirked, taking my attempted retreat as a victory for her. Or that’s what I imagined was behind her smirk. For all I knew, that could have been her thank-God-I’m-not-in-a-three-way-with-this-loser face.


Whatever it was, she could damned well shove it up her ass.

“No,” Ruger said, staring at me intently. His eyes flicked down my figure, and no matter how hot the chick in the kitchen was, I could tell he still wanted me. His eyes were dark and needy like they’d been the other night. And all those years ago, too …

Nope, not going there, I reminded my brain. This situation’s f**ked up enough already.

“We need to talk. It’s important,” he told me. Then he glanced toward TBS. “We’re done, time to go. Don’t call.”

Wow. That was cold.

I liked it.

“You seriously want her over me?” TBS demanded, looking between us, face genuinely confused.

“Sophie’s my nephew’s mom,” Ruger said, voice going hard and flat. “One of her in dirty sweats is worth ten of you naked on your knees, so get the f**k out.”

Oh, that was sooo cold. Maybe I didn’t hate him quite so much, because he might be an ass**le, but he was definitely being a bigger ass**le to her than to me. Justice, for once.

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“You’re kind of a dick,” TBS said, pouting.

“Ya think?” he asked, walking past us to open the fridge. Ruger pulled out a container of orange juice and chugged it without using a glass. He finished, wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and slammed it down on the counter. Juice splashed, reminding me of the brand-new, giant-ass mess everywhere else.

A mess I wouldn’t be cleaning. Enough of this.

I needed to retreat back downstairs, away from this bitch and Ruger, the world’s biggest ass**le. He ranked up there with the biggest pigs, too, based on what he’d accomplished in one night with his friends. I turned to the stairs but his hand caught my arm, tight and unyielding as a handcuff. He tugged me through the kitchen to the bar, pushing me into a seat.

“Stay,” he ordered me, his eyes hard. Then he looked over at Blondie. “Go.”

His tone didn’t leave room for discussion, and she jumped up, scowling. Ruger strode quickly across the living room and up the stairs. Blondie followed him, then ran back down fast, her clothes flying over the balcony from the loft.

Five minutes later she was gone with a massive slam of the front door and Ruger was back in the kitchen making me all nervous. I wasn’t quite sure what to say to him. I hated him for bringing her home. I was jealous of her, because she was hot and she’d felt his c**k inside her last night, when all I’d gotten inside me was my vibrator. Hell, it wasn’t even working right—some sort of loose connection. Half the time it wouldn’t turn on and I didn’t have money to buy a new one. How pathetic was that?

Too broke to buy a damn vibrator.

Maybe I should stand outside the Adam & Eve store holding a sign reading “Single Mom, Anything Helps” and a cup for change.

Ruger narrowed his eyes at me. He still hadn’t buttoned his pants. Holy shit. I sincerely hoped I wasn’t drooling.

“So, tonight the girls from your club are coming over,” I told him, trying to find a safe place for my eyes. They skittered across the tribal tattoo on his pec and caught on his nipple ring. I flushed. Definitely not there. “I guess we’re planning some sort of party for tomorrow at your club’s armory? Do I want to know why your club has an armory?”

“It’s an actual National Guard Armory,” he said. “Club bought it when it got surplussed, years ago. It’s got everything from a big kitchen and bar to rooms upstairs for people who need somewhere to crash for the night.”

So. His clubhouse had beds. Why did this not surprise me?

I wanted to ask him why he hadn’t f**ked TBS there instead of bringing her home to me and Noah, but I couldn’t think of a not-crazy way of doing it. Instead I decided to keep talking about my schedule.

“They had me line up a sleepover for Noah at my friend Kimber’s house for tomorrow night,” I said, eyes darting to his face. Not a flicker of recognition at her name. Good. “Anyway, they invited me and I promised you I’d give it a shot, so … I’ll see you at the party?”

He cocked his head and studied me, utterly impossible to read. Silence stretched between us. I struggled not to start babbling just to fill the void.

“Bigger party than they think,” he finally said, his voice low. It took me a minute to remember what we’d been talking about. Oh, yeah. Party planning. Armory. “Whole bunch of guys from all over coming in tonight and tomorrow. Not sure I want you there.”

He shook his head slowly, tongue flicking out to slide along his lower lip, catching on the ring. I wanted to flick it with my tongue, too. Then I caught a glimpse of something else … Shit. His tongue was pierced. There was a hard, round ball right in the middle.

That hadn’t been there four years ago. I would’ve remembered.

What would it feel like in my mouth … or lower? I’d never kissed a guy with a pierced tongue, let alone had one go down on me. I started tingling between my legs, which was not what I needed in that moment. Assholes this big shouldn’t be so hot.

Hairy ears, I thought. Pretend he has hairy ears.

“You’re a very frustrating person, Ruger,” I said, torn between bitching at him for being such a giant whore and jumping over the counter, ripping off his pants, and riding his cock. Not the best way to handle the situation.

I knew this.


“You say I shouldn’t judge the club,” I added, trying to focus. “You say you want me to get to know everyone, and that Noah’s life would be better if he had the club behind him. If that’s true, why can’t I go to one of their parties?”

“Because this one’s gonna get pretty f**kin’ wild. Not really a starter party,” he said, unfolding his arms to brace them on the counter on either side of his body. I saw his biceps rippling under his full-sleeve tattoos. He had more ink across his shoulders, some kind of rounded slash things in addition to the pattern on his chest. There was another tat curling around his stomach from his hip. A panther disappearing down into his pants on one side.