“I had to do something, Ruger. I couldn’t let my son grow up that way. And then you came over to help out with the water heater. I kept watching you and I died just a little bit inside, because I knew I was stuck with the wrong brother. Then you looked back at me and it all came together in my head.”

“Fuck me,” Ruger muttered, leaning his forehead down against mine. I was still wrapped around him, back against the van, enclosed in his arms and his scent. “You’re just full of surprises, now aren’t you?”


“Do you want me to move out of your basement?”

Ruger pulled back, frowning.

“I just told you I’ll kill any man who touches you and you think I want you to leave?”

“That was before I told you what I did. I used you.”

“Answer one question for me—total truth,” he said slowly. I nodded. “Was it real? Yesterday, when I kissed you, when I sucked on your tits and f**ked you with my hand? How about when I went down on you four years ago and you screamed my name? Before Zach found us and it all fell to shit. Was that fake?”

“No,” I whispered. “Aside from Noah, that’s the only part of those years I want to remember, because it was beautiful, Ruger. Whatever else happened, you gave me beautiful.”

“Well, f**k me,” he muttered. I felt his hands tightening on my butt, his hips tilting more firmly into mine, sending twinges of desire washing through me. I’d felt safe in his arms back then and I felt safe in them now.

That’s when it hit me. I didn’t just lust after Ruger.

I loved him. I had for years.

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I tightened my arms around his neck, raising myself up to brush my lips across his. He didn’t respond, so I brushed his lips again, sucking the lower one into my mouth and nibbling on it.

That set him off.

One of his hands came up, fingers twisting in my hair as he took my mouth in a long, hard kiss, tongue punishing me in a mixture of anger and desire. I couldn’t blame him for whatever he might be thinking, because I’d used him and it was wrong. My arms tightened around his neck and I tried wiggling my hips, desperate for the friction of his c**k against my clit. He stilled suddenly, pulling back and looking down at me, eyes burning intensely.

“Serious mistake, babe.”

My eyes widened. My body ached for him, the rough leather of his cut torturing my ni**les. Every part of me yearned for his touch, which explained why my brain wasn’t working so well.

“There’s a lot of ways I could interpret that,” I said softly.

“You just admitted you’re mine,” he replied slowly. “I’ve been wonderin’ if I could take you—whether I should take you. I keep thinkin’ about Noah and whether it’s right for him, but now I get none of it matters, because you’re mine already. You’ve been mine for a hell of a long time and I just didn’t realize it.”

“I’ve worked hard to make my own life. I don’t belong to anyone.”

“How many men have you f**ked?” he asked bluntly.

“Excuse me?”

“Answer the question,” he demanded. “How many men have you f**ked? How many dicks have been in your cunt?”

“That’s none of—”

“Now would be a real good time to answer, babe,” he said, grinding into me deliberately. “Seein’ as I’m the one with the power here. This is my club. Whatever the f**k I do to you, they’ll cover my ass. Don’t push.”

I caught my breath.

“You won’t hurt me.”

“No, I won’t hurt you. Answer the f**kin’ question.”

“I’ve slept with three men,” I said. “Zach, a guy in Olympia, and another guy in Seattle.”

“And how was it?”

“What do you mean?”

“They make you come? You dump them or the other way around?”

“I dumped them,” I said slowly.

“That’s because you belonged to me,” Ruger said, satisfaction filling his eyes. “We f**ked around, wasted time, and you’ll never know how sorry I am about Zach. But I’m done now. You’re mine, Soph, and it’s about time we figured that out. I’ll let the club know and we’ll be finished with this bullshit.”

“Are you asking me to be your girlfriend?” I asked. “Because I don’t think anything’s changed. We can’t afford to get involved and then have it go sour. Noah deserves better than that.”

“I’m not askin’ you anything,” he said, deliberately grinding his hips against mine. I groaned out loud. What the hell was it about this man that tied me up in knots? Maybe I had some sort of primitive hardwiring running the show, attracting me to a man strong enough to care for my child …

“I’m tellin’ you,” he continued. “You’re my property, babe. I’ll take damned good care of you and Noah. You’ll take care of me. But only one c**k goes into that pu**y of yours—mine—and that’s the end of it. Got me?”

I blinked at him, confused.

“I thought you weren’t looking to settle down?”

“I’m lookin’ to take care of you and Noah,” he said. “Neither of us wants to f**k up Noah’s life. But you know what? I’m good for Noah. It’s a fact. Boys need men in their lives and I love the crap out of him. We’ve been all twisted up in each other forever and now it’s all out in the open anyway.”

“I won’t be your whore,” I muttered. Ruger grunted, a touch of humor entering his eyes.

“Trust me, I don’t put this much time and effort into whores,” he said, his voice rueful. “Whores are nothing. You’ll be my old lady, my property. I know this is all new to you, but it’s a big f**kin’ deal in my world.”

I turned that over in my head, which was difficult, because he leaned down and started kissing my neck, boosting me higher so he could reach. Not his usual hard and brutal invasion … No, this was slow and seductive, and then he started sucking gently and I wanted to cry, it felt so good. I squirmed against him, my hips desperate for more stimulation, but he wouldn’t give it to me. Instead he nibbled along my chin before finding new places on my neck to suck and nip.

I heard the music from the party in the background, the sounds of people laughing and talking, but here in the cool darkness of the shop it felt like our own separate world. Ruger surrounded me with his smell and strength and the sheer, vibrant energy that defined him as a man overwhelming my senses.

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