“Do I get a vote in how we handle this?”
“You just expect me to do what you say?”
I wanted to argue with him some more, but I couldn’t think of a damn thing to say. I didn’t like him being in charge, but that was the nature of our arrangement. And I didn’t know whether to believe him about Jeff or not. If he was lying, I didn’t get to talk to my brother and that sucked.
But if he told the truth and I called, Jeff might die.
“I won’t contact Jeff,” I said. “But at some point I really want to go see my mom. It’s important.”
“You write your mom that letter, I’ll see that she gets it. Just don’t write anything about your brother. You with me?”
”Yeah.” He looked down at my mouth like he wanted to kiss me, but I turned my head away.
“Breakfast is ready,” I said, pushing at him. He stepped back and I hopped down, grabbing plates. We sat and ate together and I didn’t say anything. I was too busy rolling the situation over in my head and trying to make sense of it. Things had looked simple when Picnic held a gun to Jeff’s head.
Go with Horse, save Jeff.
Now Jeff was in even bigger trouble—assuming Horse wasn’t lying to me. I was his collateral, except sometimes he treated me like a hostage and sometimes he gave me fantastic orgasms. We had our own separate rooms but we’d slept downstairs together. Oh, and he almost killed a guy who almost shot me after definitely having public sex with me at a party. Sex I enjoyed.
Nope, nothing weird going on here at all.
“How would you feel about me going to town for a while, by myself, today?” I asked, tracing the grain in the wooden block with my finger. Might as well test this arrangement a little, see if I actually had the choices he said I did. If I could really leave.
“I guess that depends on what your plans are,” he replied slowly. “I have to go by the armory today. You can ride in with me if you’d like.”
“I’d rather go on my own,” I said, stealing a quick glance at him. He sat back, relaxed, thoughtful. The silence stretched between us and I couldn’t take it any longer. Too much quiet, too much weirdness. “I want to start looking for a job as soon as possible.”
“What do you need a job for?”
“To earn money?” I said. He stared at me. “You know, green stuff to exchange for goods and services?”
“All this shit going down around you and the thing you’re gonna focus on is finding a job?” he asked, raising his brows.
“It’s better than sitting around and thinking about all this shit going down around me,” I snapped. I suddenly wanted something normal, something that I controlled. Wanted to be alone and think somewhere that I wasn’t surrounded by him, his sexy smell or his things.
“You need money, let me know and I’ll give it to you,” he replied. “You need shit to do, take care of the house and cook. No job.”
“Is that because of my brother or because you don’t want me working or what?” I demanded, the words tumbling out so fast he didn’t have a shot at answering before I hit him again. “I thought you said this is all my choice. What are the limits of this little arrangement? You gave me a phone and my car, so why can’t I get a job? How long will this go on? How will I support myself when it’s over? Everything is up in the air and I can’t call Jeff and my mom doesn’t know where I am and—”
Horse stood up and reached across the butcher block and pulled me over to him. He kissed me, hard, shutting me up. A dish fell to the floor and shattered, but he just maintained his assault on my mouth, falling back into his chair, pulling me down onto his lap and arranging my legs on either side of his hips. He kept kissing me as he rubbed his hands up and down my back, soothing me. Finally he stopped, and I stared into his eyes, emotionally exhausted.
“You can’t do this,” he said.
“What?” I whispered.
“Freak out over stuff you can’t control.”
“So I’m just supposed to do nothing and wait for my brother to get killed by these really bad guys? That’s assuming you don’t kill him first, right?”
“No, you’re supposed to take care of yourself and keep safe, so that if your brother pulls his shit together he’ll have a sister alive to celebrate with,” he replied, his voice serious. “And in the meantime you can keep busy taking care of me. Cook, clean, all that crap. I’ll watch your back and maybe we’ll get through this without everything blowing up in our faces, okay?”
“Cook and clean. Are you serious?”
He sighed, shaking his head, sighing.
“Fuck if I know what women do all day,” he said, shrugging. “Figure it out, keep yourself busy doing something else then. You can start by hitting up the clinic today, get on the Pill, get tested. Only a couple of rules. Don’t call your brother, don’t disappear on me, and keep wearing tank tops like this one, because I really like what they do for your boobs.”
He leaned forward, kissing me at the base of my throat, then sliding his nose down the front of that tank, nuzzling my cle**age. I softened against him, hating how easily he could distract me, but my body didn’t care one bit. It liked the idea of going for a ride. He was right, I needed to get on some birth control asap—not to mention get tested for STDs. Thanks again, Gary. If I did have something, I guess Horse’d be out of luck, because we’d swapped a hell of a lot of fluids in the past forty-eight hours.
“Most women work all day, Horse,” I murmured as his hand grabbed my butt, tilting my pelvis into the always-impressive erection he seemed to have permanently installed in his jeans. Was the man even human? “They have jobs or take care of kids, which is a job all by itself. I’d go crazy stuck here alone, and I get the impression that sooner or later you’re going to have to do some work yourself.”
“Today,” he murmured, reaching up and pulling down my tank and bra, freeing my breast. His warm breath teased my nipple and I squirmed, trying to think.
“Today. I need to get back to work today,” he said right before he sucked my nipple deep into his mouth. Oh damn, that felt good. Every tug of his lips shot fire through my body, tightening things between my legs. I felt my hips start to rock against his, thinking there was far too much clothing between us. I wanted to forget about this whole situation—an orgasm or two would go a long way toward making that happen. The world lurched as Horse picked me up, walking me into the living room. Then I was on the couch, sliding out of my pants. About two seconds later he had his c**k out, grabbed my hips and lined the head up with my slit before shoving it straight into me without a word.