“Well, yeah,” he said, wrinkling his forehead. “I’ve always cared about you, Soph, no secret there. I mean, I f**kin’ held you on the side of the road while you pushed out a baby. Don’t wanna sound like a dick here, but the fact is not every guy would do that. Somethin’ happened that night. We pretended it didn’t for a long time. Now we’re done pretending.”

“You’re a giant slut,” I said flatly, hating the words even though they needed to be said. “I won’t be with a guy who sleeps around, yet here we are at a party where some random couple f**king in a shed doesn’t even hit the radar. You plan to keep it in your pants?”


His eyes were dark and cool, and I knew my answer before he even opened his mouth.

“I won’t bring anyone home,” he said. “Right now I can’t imagine wanting to f**k anyone but you. But this life, it’s about freedom. I became a Reaper so I could make my own rules. Not looking to put my dick on a chain and hand it off to some woman like it’s a damned puppy or something.”

Pain ripped through me, and I thought about what Maggs had told me.

Lay it out for him. Either he’s on board or he’s not.

Clearly, Ruger wasn’t on board, which meant this was one big, fat dead end. My missing sense of self-preservation finally kicked back in. God, I was such an idiot.

“You gonna untie that belt or what?” I asked, forcing myself to detach. Ruger and Zach might be very different men, but they had one thing in common. They both saw me as a thing to own, a possession. Ruger narrowed his eyes.

“Don’t get all pissy,” he said. “I’m not saying I plan to sleep around, but I don’t think—”

“Let me up, Ruger,” I said, my voice soft. “I need to put on my clothes and get cleaned up. Then I want to go visit with my friends and pretend this didn’t happen.”

“This happened.”

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“Let me up.”

He scowled at me, but he reached over and loosened the belt. The instant my hands came free I sat up, pushing at his big, stupid chest to get him out of my way. I hopped off the counter and grabbed my panties and shorts, sliding them on. Then I started walking away. I needed to find a bathroom, clean myself up. He hadn’t even worn a f**king condom.

Shit. SHIT.

How stupid could I be? At least I was on the pill … No little brothers or sisters for Noah, thank God. Still, I’d need to get tested. Idiot. Thankfully, I knew he usually wore condoms—I’d certainly found enough of them around his house.

I’d talk to him about that later.


I ignored him.

“Sophie, I said to f**kin’ stop,” he said, his voice harder. One of the men across the shed glanced up, speculation in his eyes. Great. I guess giving the locals the first show wasn’t enough. We were still on Ruger’s turf, though, so I’d follow his rules. For now.


“We’re together now, you get that, right?” he asked. “I’m serious, Soph. You’re my property.”

“I’m my own property,” I said slowly and clearly. Time to make a break before things got even worse. “I didn’t plan for this to happen, but I have to give you credit. You’re pretty good at getting a girl off. I enjoyed every second of it. And I think you’re right about Noah, too. He needs a man in his life. But us actually screwing doesn’t really change anything—we’re not working out. That doesn’t mean he needs to suffer. You guys keep doing your thing together. I won’t get in your way.”

“The situation is finally working for the first damned time.”

I shook my head, resolute.

“Let me tell you what’s going to happen in the next few days,” I said. “I’m going to find a job, and then I’m going to find a cheap place to live. Get out of your hair.”

“That’s f**kin’ bullshit.”

“No,” I replied. “That’s reality. You want the freedom to sleep around. I’m not willing to give you that—I want more. Sounds like we have a fundamental difference of opinion here, and I’m not going to try to change you. But I’ll tell you one thing, Ruger—I deserve to be with someone who gives a shit about me, as a person. Someone who values me enough not to f**k other women. I’d rather be alone the rest of my life than settle for what you’re offering. Consider yourself a hell of a booty call, but that’s it. We clear?”

With that I walked away from him, hoping I didn’t look too much like I’d just gotten my brains screwed out.

Not that it really mattered.

As much as I hated to admit it, I probably wasn’t going to be seeing any of these people again anyway. So far as I could tell, women were only part of the club when they were attached to a man, and I considered myself officially detached. I’d be collecting my purse and my keys from the food table and then I’d be getting the hell away from the Reapers MC for good.

Too bad about the girls. I really liked them a lot.

“Holy shit, what happened to you?” Maggs demanded. She looked me over and burst out laughing. “Ladies, check this one out.”

I blushed, wishing I could disappear. So much for nobody guessing what I’d been up to.

“I see you and Ruger had your little discussion,” Dancer said, peering closely at me. “What the hell is he, a damned vampire?”

“What do you mean?”

“You have hickies all over your neck,” Em said, smirking. “Big ones. He did it on purpose—no way a person could do that by accident.”

Fucking ass**le.

“He is such a dick,” I muttered.

“And this is news?” Marie asked. “They’re all dicks. It’s sort of a defining characteristic of men, babe. You know, that dangly thing between their legs?”

“I’m going home,” I said. “I can’t take this.”

Maggs stopped laughing and put her hands on her hips.

“You are so not going home,” she said. “Absolutely not. Wasn’t this the plan? To figure out what he really wanted from you? Looks like he stepped up. Doesn’t mean you can’t stick around and have fun with your girls.”

“Oh, I know what he wants from me,” I muttered, feeling miserable. “He wants me to be his property.”

The women all squealed, and Marie tried to give me a hug.

“That kicks ass!” Em said. I shook my head, and they sobered, confused.