“Let me f**k you, Sophie,” Ruger gasped, his voice full of pain. I shook my head, closing my eyes because I didn’t want him to see how close I was to giving in.

“No,” I said, almost crying because it hurt so bad to say it. “I’m not going to screw you and then watch you with other women. I can’t do it. I know myself, Ruger. Unless you can tell me right here, right now that you want to seriously try to make something together, I can’t sleep with you. Let me finish this and then it’s over.”


He caught my hand, squeezing it tight around his c**k and closed his eyes, shuddering. Then he pulled my hand away with visible pain and twisted it behind my back, jerking my body forward into his, transforming me from lover to prisoner so casually it terrified me.

“There’s no lie here,” Ruger said, voice grating. His face flushed dark red and his chest heaved, eyes burning. Every part of him was rock hard, from his chest crushing my br**sts to the naked c**k pressed into my belly. “No manipulation between us. It is what it is. But I’ll give you the ride of your life, Soph. That I guarantee.”

“The ride of my life?” I asked, the words hitting me like cold water, breaking through my fog of stupidity.

Holy hell. What was I doing?

I’d lost my f**king mind.

Ruger might be a great uncle, but I couldn’t trust him for shit with my body, let alone my heart.

“Zach already gave me the ride of my life, Ruger,” I said, making every word count. “I learned my lesson from him. Sex is short and it changes everything. That’s something men like you can’t begin to understand.”

He jerked away from me, mouth tight and eyes hard, glaring at me.

“Jesus Christ, you’re a bitch.”

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“I’m not a bitch,” I replied, and it took everything I had to keep my voice steady. “I’m a mother. I can’t afford to play games with you, Ruger. You’ll break me, and that will break Noah.”

“Un-fucking-believable,” he muttered, slamming his hand next to me on the counter. I jumped, almost scared as he reached down to tuck himself back into his pants, visibly pained. He refused to step away or allow me any kind of escape, taking my shoulders in his big hands with a jerk.

“Nothin’ is changed,” he said, eyes burning with anger and frustrated need. My breath caught—Ruger had always been scary … But because there’s something wrong with me, seeing him this angry turned me on, too. He leached the common sense right out of my body. “You go to that party, you keep your hands off. That’s a f**kin’ order. No flirtin’, no makin’ out, no touchin’, nothin’. These aren’t Boy Scouts, and they won’t be happy if you start something you don’t plan to finish. You’re off bounds. We clear?”

“Crystal,” I whispered. “I understand you completely.”

“Thank f**k for that,” he muttered, letting me go and stepping back. Finally. I took a deep breath, dizzy with relief. He ran a hand across his hair, glaring a hole through me. “Now get your ass out of my house. Go for a car ride, go shopping, whatever the f**k you want, but don’t come back until you’ve picked Noah up from school. I’ll be gone by then.”

“Where are you going?”

“You seriously think that’s any of your business?” he asked, raising his brows. “Because we aren’t f**k buddies, you aren’t my old lady, and I sure as f**k don’t remember puttin’ you in charge of my life.”

“You don’t owe me anything,” I said. But you don’t get to control me, either, I thought, way too chicken to say it out loud. “And I’m sorry. You aren’t anything like Zach. I know that. But this isn’t just about us, it’s about Noah. He’s not losing another home because we can’t keep our pants on, Ruger.”

“Have I ever done anything—anything—to hurt that child?” he asked.

“I don’t think you’d do it on purpose.”

“Get the f**k out before I change my mind, Sophie. Jesus.”

I got the f**k out.

KIMBER: No f**king way!!!!! Ur f**king with me!!!!!! His dick in ur hand and u still said NO?!??

ME: I wish it was a joke. It happened, tho

KIMBER: Part of me thinks u made a lucky escape … Rest of me thinkgs u shud have f**ked him

ME: That would make it all worse. You told me to stay awy from him, rmemember?

KIMBER: Um, it’s worse already, dumbass, u blew it. Ur screwed and there’s no out. Sex is just the symptom. This is about u guys being all twisted up with each other. He wants u way more than I thought

ME: No shit

KIMBER: U are so dens. This morning was gamechanger. Remember—I kno him. He’s not like this with other women. I take back what I said about it being a bad idea. U should have sex. Mite as well get the fun if ur paying the price—it’s already f**ked up past the point of no return

ME: Thats the truth. Weirder every day. Harder every time I see him

KIMBER: HARDER!!!!! Love it <-;

ME: Perv

KIMBER: Ur just jealous of my pervy deliciousness. So I think maybe he WANTS u. Like, to keep

ME: Like a pet? I’m not a kitten

KIMBER: I WILL make pu**y jokes if u don’t pull your head out of ur ass. Serosly. Think about it

ME: Hate you. Even if he wnats me, he’s stil gonna f**k around. Deal breaker

KIMBER: I know … We need a plan. We also need margaritas. Cures everythng. Come over tonight?

ME: Um, Im meeitng the girls from the club tonite. My place

KIMBER: What time

ME: 7

KIMBER: I’ll bring mix and booze. Make sure u have ice

ME: Um …

KIMBER: Easier if u just give in now Soph. I’m coming over to figure this out. Rugers gonna f**k u sooner or later, so it’s time to decide how to make him play nice. We can talk and then I’ll tell u what to do

ME: I think he’s got dibs on telling me what to do! Bossy ass**le


ME: Bitch

KIMBER: You love me. See you tonight <3

My eyeballs were going to explode.

Or maybe just pop out of my head?

I’d never tasted anything quite like the flaming shot prepared by my new best friend, Em. I nearly snorted it out my nose, but managed to hold on to token dignity as my throat ignited and my eyes watered. The circle of women around the deck table burst out cackling like a bunch of witches, so I flipped all of them off.

They laughed louder.

My morning encounter with Ruger might’ve been bizarre and tense and frustrating as all hell, but the evening had shaped up nicely. Four lady Reapers had arrived a little after seven—Maggs, Em, Marie, and Dancer. They brought pizza, beer, and a bunch of those tiny bottles of hard liquor, the kind you get on airplanes. I’d been a little overwhelmed at first, trying to keep everyone straight, but by now I’d figured them out.

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