Assumption, p.17
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       Assumption, p.17
 

         Part #1 of Underground Kings series by Aurora Rose Reynolds
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  “I fucking love those.”

  I look down at my underwear and feel my eyebrows draw together.

  “When the fuck did cotton panties with flowers become sexier than lace shit? Do not fucking ask me, but those are hot, and you in nothing but them is even hotter.”

  I roll my eyes and pull them up my legs before climbing into bed. “You’re such a guy.”

  “But you love me,” he says, and I smile.

  “I do. I don’t know what that says about me, but I do love you.”

  “It says you’re smart.” He turns off the light and pulls me to him so my head is on his chest and his hand can wrap around my hair like it always does when we sleep. “You gonna be able to sleep?”

  Hearing the concern in his voice has me pressing closer to him. “I’ll be okay. I haven’t had one in a long time,” I tell him quietly, tracing random patterns on his chest.

  “I wonder what triggered it.”

  “I think talking to your mom last night,” I say softly.

  “What did she say?” he growls.

  “She told me about your work.”

  “You already knew about my work,” he says, confused.

  I press closer. “I know, but I guess I never thought you could get into trouble.”

  “Baby, if we were having this conversation a few years ago, I wouldn’t be able to tell you that you have nothing to worry about, but I’m no longer reckless. I take risks, but they are all calculated, and the worst-case scenario is thought of and worked around before every situation.” His hand moves to my cheek. “I don’t want you to worry about any of that. Things can always go wrong, and if they do, we figure it out when it happens. Yeah?”

  “Yeah.” I nod against his chest.

  “Night, baby.”

  “Night,” I whisper, listening to his heartbeat, letting it lull me to sleep.

  Chapter 9

  Shit Hits The Fan

  “Shhhhh,” I whisper to the little ball of fur I just set down on the floor of my old room. He whines at me, and I can’t help but pick him up again to give him a cuddle. “Sorry, baby, but you need to be in here until I can figure out how to tell Kenton about you,” I tell my new puppy before setting him down on the ground.

  I was at the mall when I walked past a pet store. I looked into the window of the shop and a little white fur ball caught my eye. He was tugging a large, red chew toy around the pen that was full of wood chips while all the other puppies fought amongst each other. I went into the store to have a closer look at him, and the minute I stood next to the pen, his head came up, his eyes met mine, and I fell in love. He ran to me, his little puppy body so round that he had a hard time running straight. I picked him up and started laughing. He was so wiggly and loveable, and I knew right then that I was taking him home with me.

  I look around the bedroom, making sure there’s nothing for him to get into while I’m downstairs trying to think of a way to tell Kenton that we got a dog. The last few months have flown by. Not long after I agreed to move in, Kenton and I took a trip out to Vegas, packed up my condo, and put it on the market. When we got home from our trip, Nancy got her nephews to come over to gut the kitchen. It took about a month for them to completely renovate it.

  The counters are now dark granite, the appliances are stainless steel, the cupboards are dark wood, and the floors are slate. Nancy wanted to redo the dining room, but after the kitchen ordeal, I was over renovating for a while. We did get a new set for the deck—a large, metal table and six chairs—and we also got a large, round outdoor bed that has a top that flips over to block out the sun. It’s the perfect place to read a book or make love under the setting sun, which has happened more than once when Kenton’s caught me out there reading.

  I come out of my thoughts when I hear a quiet snore. I look down and see that Tubs is sleeping. I shake my head, laying him on his bed before closing the door carefully behind me, hoping that he doesn’t wake up until I can tell Kenton about him.

  I hear the alarm system sound, letting me know that the front door is open, and I run down the stairs. My feet hit the bottom landing with a loud thud when I jump off the last step.

  “You’re home,” I say breathlessly as soon as his head turns my way.

  “I am,” he says suspiciously.

  I feel myself start to squirm under his gaze, and I dig my nails into my palms to keep from blurting out about Tubs. I need to figure out how to tell him, and I’m thinking a blowjob may ease the blow. A smile twitches my lips at that thought and his eyes start to narrow.

  “What’s going on?” This time, the words are impatient.

  “Nothing,” I reply immediately, and his eyes narrow further.

  “Then why are you over there and not here?” He points to the floor in front of him.

  I go to him like I normally would, lift up on my tiptoes, and tilt my head back, waiting for him to bend to kiss me.

  “Okay, what the fuck is goin’ on?”

  “Um…I… Well, we…um,” I start, trying to tell him about Tubs, when all of a sudden, there’s a loud bang upstairs and both of our heads tilt towards the ceiling for a second before he looks back down at me. When our eyes meet again, I see hurt hit his eyes. Then rage.

  “Stay here,” he growls, setting me away from him before I can explain what’s going on.

  “Wait!” I yell when I see him pull his gun out from behind his back. I run after him up the stairs and yell, “No!” as he pushes open my old bedroom door when he sees all the others are open.

  “What the fuck?” he asks, stopping dead, causing me to run into his back.

  I slide around him into the room, seeing that Tubs has pulled the lamp off the bedside table and onto the ground. Luckily, it didn’t break. I pick him up and pull him into my chest.

  “Bad puppy,” I mutter, kissing his furry little head.

  “What is that?” Kenton asks.

  My eyes go to him and I smile. “This is Tubs.” I hold him out to Kenton and he wiggles in my hands, his tongue coming out, trying to reach Kenton’s face. I look from Tubs to my confused man, who is looking at the dog like he’s some kind of alien.

  “How did it get here?”

  “He got here in my car,” I say, bringing him back to my chest, petting him behind his ears when he whines.

  “Put him back in your car and take him back to where he came from.”

  I lift my eyes and narrow them. “I’m keeping him.”

  “Baby, do you know how much work a puppy is?”

  No, I don’t know, but I talked to a very sweet girl at the pet store and she made sure I had everything we needed—from food to a rhinestone-studded collar.

  “It’s a lot of work,” he says, watching me.

  “But I love him,” I pout, tucking his tiny head back under my chin.

  His eyes drop to my mouth then to Tubs. “Fuck.” He shakes his head then reaches out his hand, petting the top of Tubs’s head. “What kind of dog is he?”

  “American Eskimo,” I whisper as he takes Tubs from my hands and pulls him to his chest. My heart melts at the sight of him cuddling the puppy.

  “Okay, baby.”

  “What?” I ask, thinking, This is way too easy.

  “We can keep him.”

  “Really?” My eyes go wide.

  “I’ll probably regret this after the first time he pisses in the house, but yeah, we can keep him,” he says, bending towards me, kissing the smile off my face. “None of that,” he tells Tubs when he tries to get in on our kiss.

  I laugh and wrap my arms around his waist, looking up into his eyes. “Thank you, honey.” I give him a squeeze.

  “You owe me.”

  “Anything you want.” I smile and his eyes heat.

  “Remember you said that,” he says with a wicked grin, but then I remember the look on his face before he ran up the stairs.

  “Did you think I had someone here?” I ask him, my eyebrows coming together, thinking the look of hurt I caught.
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  “No, but you were acting strange, and then the crash happened, so I didn’t know what to think.”

  “I wouldn’t do that to you,” I tell him softly. The thought alone feels like a lead weight in my gut.

  “I know that”—his hand comes up, cupping my jaw—“but sometimes when you have something that seems too good to be true, you start waiting for it to crumble to pieces around you.” My breath catches in my throat and tears fill my eyes. “You, Autumn Freeman, are the most important thing in my life.”

  “Stop,” I choke out.

  “I love you, baby.”

  “Love you too,” I sob, burying my face in his chest, and Tubs takes the opportunity to start licking me, making my sobs turn into laughter.

  Kenton tilts my head back again, kissing me. “Where’s his kennel?” he asks when his mouth leaves mine.

  “Kennel?” I ask dizzily.

  “Where he sleeps,” he prompts.

  “Oh, I got him a bed.” I point to the large, fluffy dog bed that is now in the middle of the floor, where I’m sure Tubs dragged it.

  Kenton looks at me then the bed and shakes his head. “Get his leash and collar.”

  “Why?” I ask, going over to the bags I put on the bed with all his stuff in them. I dig through until I find his baby-blue collar with rhinestone studs and his leash that matches. I turn around, my head bent as I take the tags off both items.

  “Hell no!”

  I jump at his voice and lift my head. “What?” I ask, looking down at my hands, where his eyes are pointed.

  “He’s a boy.”

  “I know,” I say, feeling my eyebrows draw together. “That’s why I bought blue.” I hold up the collar and leash so he can see them better.

  “It has sparkly shit on it.”

  “The girl at the pet store told me they’re the ‘in’ thing. I even got him a couple of shirts that are blue,” I tell him.

  “Scratch that. We have two stops to make—one to Petco and the next to wherever the hell it is you bought all that crap so we can return it.”

  “We don’t need to return his stuff.”

  “It was one hundred degrees outside today with eighty percent humidity. He’s covered in fur. When the hell would he wear a shirt?”

  That’s a good point, but I don’t want to give in; the things I bought are cute. “He can wear them around the house.” I shrug, walking towards him with the collar undone so I can put it around Tubs’s neck.

  “He’s not wearing shirts around the house.” He shakes his head, pulling the stuff out of my hand and giving me Tubs.

  I turn and watch him go back over to the bags of stuff I bought, look through it, and mutter the whole time. By the time he’s done, all he keeps out is the dog food.

  “Let’s go.” He puts his hand on the small of my back, leading me out of the room then down the stairs to his car.

  When we get home that night, Tubs has a new kennel, a few toys, and a plain, black leash and collar, but I did make it out of the store with a new harness that has blue hearts on it, much to Kenton’s disapproval.

  *

  “Stop him!” I shout, running after Tubs, who is racing away from me with one of my bras hanging from his mouth.

  Kenton blocks his path and bends down, picking up the fur ball, who is still gnawing on my bra, and when Kenton tries to take it from him, he starts acting like it’s a game of tug-of-war.

  “Bad puppy,” I tell him, unlocking his jaw with my fingers and grabbing my bra, which is now covered with dog slobber. “It’s not funny,” I snap at Kenton when his laugher follows me as I go back into the bathroom, tossing my bra into the hamper before going to get a new one out of my underwear drawer.

  “I told you having a puppy is a lot of work,” he says, walking into the bathroom behind me.

  “I know, but he’s so cute,” I say, putting my bra straps over my shoulders and hooking the clasp behind my back.

  He starts to laugh again, but this time, the vibration of his laughter is against me as he slides his hands around my waist. “You sure you gotta go to work?” he asks, kissing the skin of my neck.

  “I wish I didn’t.” I move my head to the side so my neck is more exposed to his mouth.

  “Stay home with me.”

  I hear the plea in his voice and turn in his arms, looking up at his face. I know that, after what happened with Sophie and Nico a few weeks ago, he has been on edge and hasn’t wanted me too far away from him, and it’s not surprising. Having someone you know and care about kidnapped and then having to help rescue them would do that to anyone.

  I’ve tried to reassure him that nothing like that will happen to me the only way I know how. The cops are still looking for the hit man, but the men who hired him gave their word that I’m not on his list, and as stupid as it may be, I believe them. After all, they are the ones who paid him. Kenton and I talked though, and he knows that, if they catch the guy, I will testify against him for what he did. I never made any deals, and there’s no way I could refuse to be the only person to help the families of the five people I watched get murdered in cold blood get justice.

  “I love you,” I say, coming out of my thoughts. I wrap my hands around the back of his neck and press my mouth to his before he has a chance to reply. If I only knew what was going to happen in a few hours, I would have kissed him a little bit harder and held him a little bit tighter, but that’s the thing about life—you never know what’s going to happen, so every moment you have, you need to act like it’s your last.

  *

  “Why are you here?” I stop outside the emergency room doors as soon as I see Sid standing there. My heart starts beating wildly as I scan the parking lot, trying to see if there is anyone else around.

  “I want to apologize.”

  “That’s not necessary.” I shake my head, pulling out my keys as I make my way to my car. I have never been afraid of Sid, but something is off. My insides are twisted into knots. I ended up having to work a double tonight, so the darkness isn’t helping with the fear turning in my gut.

  “I would never hurt you.” the pain in his voice is evident, and I slow down, turning to face him.

  As soon at my eyes meet his, a car squeals around the corner of the building, coming to a halt behind Sid, who looks stunned for a second before his eyes get big as he watches a man jump out of the driver’s side door and pull a gun from behind his back. I’m frozen in place as I watch the scene unfold in front of me.

  “Run!” Sid roars, causing me to come out of my freeze.

  I look around, gauging if I should try and make it into my car. I realize I won’t be able to get there in time and start to take off on foot towards the emergency room entrance. I hear one shot then a grunt, and I know it was Sid getting shot. I don’t even pause. I keep running, but I don’t get far before I’m grabbed around my waist. I start kicking my legs and clawing at the arm wrapped around me, but due to the fabric covering his skin, I can’t do any damage.

  “No!” I yell as my face is shoved into the hard ground. I feel a gun shoved into my cheek so hard that I know I will bruise. I’ve heard stories about people coming back from flatlining, but I’ve never experienced it myself, so I don’t know what it feels like, but I swear I die in this moment. I feel two shots as pain explodes in my body, but after that, all I feel is myself floating away.

  *

  Kenton

  “Man, Kenton. Fuck.” Justin’s distressed voice sounds over the line as soon as I put my phone to my ear.

  “What?” I ask. I’ve been on edge all day; something has felt off since I woke up.

  It took everything in me to let Autumn go to work. I knew that, if I tried to stop her, she would’ve flipped the fuck out, but something isn’t right. I’ve been in contact with her all day. She even joked during the last call that I must really miss her, ’cause I wouldn’t stop phoning.

  “I need you to get to Vanderbilt,” Justin says with forced calmness.

  My gut
tightens, and I know before he even says it that it’s Autumn. “Tell me she’s okay.”

  “I don’t know, man. I’m gonna meet you there,” Justin tells me, and I can feel the pain in his voice as the words leave his mouth.

  “I’m on my way,” I clip, hanging up, and I race out of the office, jump in my car, and head downtown.

  When I pull into the parking lot of the hospital, I see that the news cameras and police cars have settled around the entrance of the emergency room. I spot Finn near the front doors in the crowd. I pull my car into the ambulance parking lot and get out, ignoring the yells from everyone around me. I toss Finn my keys before running into the building.

  The minute I make it around the corner, the nurse’s station comes into view, and unlike most of the times I’ve been here, it’s completely empty. I run down the hall to where they took Finn the night he had been shot and stop dead when I reach the door. My eyes lock on Autumn through the small, glass window.

  Her shirt is off.

  Her skin is covered in blood.

  Doctors and nurses are surrounding her.

  My legs start to get weak and my stomach starts to turn. I swear I feel my life ending as I watch them work on her. I hear, “Code red,” from the other side of the door as someone pulls a set of paddles off the wall.

  “You can’t be here,” someone says as I feel a hand on my shoulder and turn my head. “This is a personnel-only area.”

  “That’s his girlfriend.”

  I look over the nurse’s shoulder and see Justin coming down the hall towards us. Girlfriend? Yes, she’s my girlfriend, but she’s also my future…and she is lying on the other side of that door, covered in blood, and they are calling a code red. FUCK!

  “He’s still not allowed back here. You need to wait in the waiting area.”

  I try to look back in the room, but this time, the nurse blocks the door. “I need to be with her.” My voice is gruff to my own ears. As a man who hasn’t cried since he was young, I’m shocked to feel wetness on my cheeks.

 
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