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Bound by him, p.8
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       Bound by Him, p.8

           Red Garnier
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  “You didn’t do anything, Whitney. All right? You weren’t there. Do you understand me?” Exasperated, he tossed his phone onto the bed and sat down next to her, taking her by the arms. “Do you?”

  “But it’s not true.”

  “It’s the truth I put out to the police when I spoke to them.”

  She fell quiet, loathing the wavering sensations under her feet. She didn’t like feeling helpless again. She had struggled to get control for years, and now she felt undone.

  “Let’s just stop lying. We began with them and then you continued lying just to me.” She shot him a helpless glance and then grabbed his jaw in both her hands. “Andrew, it was an accident. I didn’t do anything wrong.”

  “Did you tell your therapist about this accident?” he asked.

  She hesitated, then dropped her arms and admitted, “Parts of it. I had to tell someone.”

  “What parts?”

  “Only that . . . well, that my uncle died in my home. That he tripped and got killed. I didn’t tell her I was holding the knife.”

  He went up onto his feet and disappeared into his closet, then stormed back out to jump into a pair of jeans. “Who else knows aside from Dr. Lincoln, Whitney? Your friends? Businesspeople?”

  “No! Nobody. I’ve carried this alone. I carried it . . . with you. Only you.”

  He grabbed his phone and punched in another set of numbers.

  “No police, Andy,” Whitney pointedly reminded him.

  As he clutched the phone to his ear, he shook his finger in the air in an emphatic no. “Don’t worry, it’s just Buchanan and Lexington. I need to get a location on you at all times and I’d like to arm you in case . . .” He bent to the floor and immediately brought her the dress she’d worn only hours ago, handing it over, his eyebrows raised in question. “Do you want to wear this or do you want to wear something else? I’m having them come over.”

  She wanted to wear him. His skin. His mouth. The nook in his arms, the only place on earth where she’d ever felt truly cherished and safe.

  “I’d like to wear one of your shirts. If you don’t mind. It’s more comfortable.” She didn’t glance at him when she said this, for she didn’t want him to know that she needed his shirt for emotional comfort. Not physical.

  “Hey, can you come over? I need one of your personal security devices for Whitney.” He spoke into the receiver, then added, “Great, see you in ten, then. He tossed the phone aside and came over to frame her face in dry, large palms. “Why would I mind when my girl wears my shirt?”

  The violent possessiveness in his gaze, coupled with the quiet fervor in his words turned her insides to mush. “Because I’m not your girl anymore. We can’t believe what we say when we have foreplay and sex. It’s just our hormones talking.”

  “This says you’re mine.” He lifted her hand in his, and her breath caught as he brushed his lips across his name, then his tongue flashed out to give her a little lick.

  A shudder ran from the point of contact of his tongue, down her spine, her legs, and directly to her toes. “We just can’t pick up where we left off. We’re different people. We want each other but I’m different, and so are you. You almost broke Conrad’s arm.”

  “Because you’re mine.” He held her firmly by the arms and frowned angrily at her, his voice growing hard with resolve. “I won’t be without you a second longer. I’ve had three fucking years away and that’s enough for me.”

  “You chose to be away. Last I heard, you were a Fairchild. Everyone knows a man like you does whatever the hell he wants, whenever the hell he wants it, and the same goes for all your friends, too!”

  The phone trilled obnoxiously into the ensuing silence, and after a brief battle of glares, Andrew dropped his arms and went to answer at the nightstand landline, a dark scowl on his face the whole time. “Yes, let him in. And Daniel Lexington as well, he’s on his way.”

  He slammed the phone down and looked back at her, sighing heavily.

  “We’ll talk about this later,” he grumbled, moving away and coming back to hand her one of his button-down shirts. “I’ll open up and wait out in the living room. Right now, I need you to call your office and get your security to review the tapes, every second for the past seventy-two hours, particularly the last twenty-four, and alert us of any suspicious conduct. All right? Your cameras could have caught something.”

  She nodded. Feeling vulnerable and excited at the way he always took charge. “I already talked to the head of security, they’re already on it.”

  “It’s going to be all right.” He spoke from the door, his beautiful face tight with determination.

  The look he shot in her direction fairly screamed, I would kill for you and Whitney grew warm in every place on her body, including her heart. “I know.”

  But as he swung around to allow their visitors inside, Whitney wished he not only meant it about the blackmail note, but about them—him and her—as well.

  Quietly slipping into his shirt, she stole a whiff and loved the male scent that clung to the fabric. The dress she’d worn to the benefit seemed to have revealed even more of her bare legs than Andrew’s shirt did, so she decided it would do and padded out barefoot to the living room.

  Graves, large and incredibly gorgeous, and as somber as Andrew, was sitting next to him while dabbling with Andrew’s phone, both their dark heads bent and their broad shoulders straining their shirts. Chloe was watching them with a lovey-dovey expression on her face, one that Whitney feared she’d just been wearing herself as she looked at Andrew. “Hey, you! What’s up with this?” Chloe asked. She was still wearing her glittery green gala minidress.

  Whitney plopped down next to her on the living room couch. “Some stupid blackmail note I don’t even want to get into.”

  Chloe laughed like an angel, all rosy cheeks and singsongy voice. She was especially rosy-cheeked ever since she’d moved in with Graves several months ago. “Seriously? What can anyone blackmail you two about?”

  Whitney shrugged, and Andrew spoke out. “Darling, give your phone to Graves for a second.”

  Whitney jerked her spine straight and found herself scowling at him across the top of Graves’s bent head. He’d sounded all authoritative and calm, like she really was his darling and should probably obey. God, how she hated that he now knew that she needed him. She’d been desperate for him to fight for her and have to woo her, and now she was once again helpless and almost begging for him to save her. Damn it. “We said you wouldn’t call me darling,” she said.

  “My love, will you please just give the damn phone to Graves?”

  Her scowl intensified to a full-blown glower. “If you can’t call me darling you can certainly not call me my—”

  “Okay, you two!” Chloe snatched up the phone and carried it to Graves, whose face was smiling as he watched her approach. “Here, my love,” she whispered sexily as she bent to him, and Graves grabbed the back of her head and pulled her to him for a soft, sweet, dry kiss on the lips.

  Meanwhile, Whitney glared at Andrew.

  Chloe returned to a wide single chair that was angled toward the couch. “What the hell is up?” she demanded with a mixture of concern and amusement.

  “What’s up is that Andrew here seems to think I’m his—”

  “You are,” an emphatic male voice said.

  She glared at him. “You think I’m your idiot eighteenth-century wife or your tossed-away little woman waiting for you, that’s what you think.”

  “I don’t think Andrew believes that, Whit,” Chloe said.

  A new voice broke suddenly into the turmoil, this one calm, low, and gruff. “I suggest you don’t engage in girl therapy here right now, baby,” Graves told Chloe without even lifting his attention from the opened back of Whitney’s cellular phone.

  “Yes, baby, this is obviously not the time. Lunch tomorrow, Whit?” Chloe pressed, a blond eyebrow rising.

  Whitney agreed with a brief nod, and Graves raised his head and
his striking gold eyes, which had a light downward tilt at the corners that made him look sad and “unbearably hot”—this quote was from Chloe—slid from Andrew, to Whitney, and back and forth. “All right, so the way this works is that both your phone and Andrew’s have been equipped with a self-destruct chip that you can activate when receiving a call from the other. Kidnappers frequently use their victim’s phones to communicate with their families when they require a ransom.” He held one of the phones in the air and pantomimed what he said. “If Andrew gets the call on his cell phone, he can press the star and the zero simultaneously for five seconds and activate yours to self-destruct. And vice versa.”

  Whitney was still caught on the phrase “self-destruct.” “You mean you’re putting a bomb in our phones?”

  “Not so you can use it on me,” Andrew emphasized.

  “It’s a very small bomb,” Graves calmly added. “It only has the capacity to injure the one holding it. For kidnapping situations, it has been set up to require two phone calls, one to activate, and as soon as the phone is used the next time, it will go off. Now, in the case of personal attack, you can activate your own phone by pressing star and zero for five seconds, and then slip it into their pockets or toss it in their direction.”

  “Like a grenade.” Whitney stated that last bit, and when Graves calmly nodded like they were talking about pasta, she decided she wasn’t sure whether she loved her new Bond 007 phone, or wanted nothing to do with it. With her luck it would self-destruct in her own damn purse all by itself, and destroy her in the process.

  “Whitney, don’t look so concerned!” Chloe laughingly cried. “Graves does this all the time for the government. Your phone locks on its own. There’s no way both buttons will be pressed accidentally.”

  Whitney was hesitant to grab the phone Graves now held outstretched toward her.

  When three taps on the door sounded, her eyes flicked upward from studying the apparatus. It was a struggle not to notice the fluid way Andrew moved across the living room as he went to open it.

  He returned to the living room with Daniel trailing behind him, and there was just something about that man that was sexy as hell.

  “Hey, baby sis,” he said first, and Chloe instantly stood to smack a kiss noisily on his jaw. Then he turned to her. “Whitney.” His smile was charming as he greeted her.

  “Hey, Danny.”

  She felt a perverse sort of satisfaction seeing how Andrew’s face tightened as Danny came over to embrace her in his big Viking arms.

  Daniel Lexington was one of the most followed non–entertainment industry billionaires in Chicago; the press adored him. His smile. His glinting green eyes. His masculine billboard face. Whitney loved him as the brother she’d never had.

  “All right, so Fairchild tells me he wants you protected?” Easily he settled down next to her. He retrieved a small silver artifact from his jacket pocket, which looked tiny in his long fingers as he turned it around for her inspection. “So this is what Tritech has been working on as far as personal protection gadgets go. It’s still in its testing stages, but you could definitely make good use of it. See this little spider?” He set it in the center of his large palm and showed his a dazzlingly white smile.

  Nodding, Whitney smiled back and enjoyed those sparkling green eyes watching her. Those eyes didn’t make her ache inside like a pair of dark liquid coal ones, and they actually made her feel good for a change instead of betrayed.

  “If you activate this little red button,” Daniel continued, “it’s going to send a signal to headquarters. But if you click the blue button, you need to be sure to keep this little sucker’s belly away from you.”


  “Because it’s a tiny, but very powerful stun gun, and it will immobilize your attacker for a good couple of seconds.”

  Andrew had already brought his big body over and when he spoke, he sounded about as grumpy as a bear recently out of hibernation. “How early in the testing stages are you?” he asked.

  “It’s perfectly safe and it’s not completely untried. Cade tried it on himself only last week at poker night and he’s still an asshole. So, no damage done.”

  “You mean Cade West?” At both Graves’s and Daniel’s chuckles, Andrew tossed his head and burst out laughing. “He must have been disappointed it didn’t kill him.”

  Whitney couldn’t help smiling. Only a man as positively suicidal as Cade West would try a damn Taser on himself. She knew he was among Andrew’s friends who didn’t give a shit about anything, much less his life.

  Turning his charming male attention back to her, Daniel again let her have a look at the spider, and just to pick on Andrew, she leaned so close to inspect it that she could smell Daniel’s manly aftershave. “All right now,” he was saying in his deep voice, “if you hold the spider’s belly against your attacker for three seconds, it will render him unconscious for at least twenty minutes. Even one second will give you time, but three is better. Here. Let me show you how to pin it onto yourself without activating any of the buttons.”

  Andrew snatched it up, then grabbed the shoulder of Daniel’s jacket and yanked him to his feet. “If you don’t mind me pinning it on her before you drown her in your drool?” he growled.

  Daniel straightened. “Fairchild, you almost Tasered yourself. Whitney practically grew up in my house, man! She could be Chloe for all I know.”

  Whitney wanted to agree truthfully that Daniel had always been like a big sexy brother to her, but when Andrew sat next to her, her throat closed with emotion and need and suddenly she couldn’t do anything but be aware of him. Feeling weak with all the things he was doing to protect her, she fell against the back of the couch as he leaned over her, his scent stealing into her nostrils. He drugged her with his smell. His nearness.

  Her thighs went watery as she stared into his face while his tan hands worked the spider into the shirt, her gaze suddenly flicking along his nose, taking in his lips, his square jaw.

  He pinned it down fast, then he left his big proprietary hand there, above her left breast, and her pussy clenched at the way he stroked the silver spider with one finger as he stared into her eyes and murmured, “You’re going to need to be accompanied from now on. I want you safe.”

  She knew she should argue, but suddenly she wanted him to take care of her again. She wanted to let him . . . just a little . . . just this once when she was afraid again.

  “I need you to carry your phone powered at all times.” His voice, so thick and sexy, made her tremble as she sat there, almost lying down so that he could pin the spider more easily onto her. He seized both her wrists and brought them up to his mouth, and his eyes took her in as he laced his fingers through hers. “You should carry the spider, too. Don’t let anyone this close but me.”

  Her voice sounded strangely breathy. “I won’t.”

  He stared in silence, then his eyes traveled down her nose, to her mouth. She trembled.

  And he saw.

  And everyone else in the room saw.

  “So if you two don’t need anything else . . . ?” Daniel said, from the door.

  “Buchanan, are the tracking devices fully installed?” Andrew asked as he headed after them.

  “All done. You can get her location anytime whether or not her phone is powered.”

  “Bye, friend! I’ll see you tomorrow,” Chloe called.

  And then they left.

  Andrew locked up after them and returned to the couch as Whitney forced herself to her feet, and the atmosphere felt heavy with awareness. He glanced at her mouth, and she glanced back at his beautiful lips while a painful wave of love and lust thrummed through her system.

  His eyes looked weighted as he reached out and scraped a heavy hand along the back of her head, then he seized her chin and forced her to look at him, his voice a gentle plea. “I need you to stay here until this is settled.”

  The need to reclaim this man as hers again throbbed through her with such force, she could ha
rdly think straight with him so near.

  But if she spent the night, she’d want his mouth, his hands, his body to remind her that he was hers, and she was his. It sounded marvelous and yet she knew that she couldn’t let him keep physically filling her while the void he’d put in her chest continued to gape wide open. “I don’t know about that, Andy. We each have our own places and I can’t stay here indefinitely—”

  He dropped his arms. “Just don’t fight me on this. Come on!”

  He started circling around the room, dragging his hands down his face in pure frustration.

  “For the love of God, just let. Me. Protect. You.”

  Her heart twisted. “I just don’t want to put you through this again! I wanted to show you that I can take care of myself. If I . . .” She stopped, then dragged in a shaky breath. “If we are ever together again, I want you to know it won’t be because I can’t stand on my own. And if you leave again, then I want to know that I can stand on my own and I won’t be falling apart after you go!”

  “You’re standing on your own, Whitney. How can you tell me about falling apart? Have you seen yourself?” He snatched her hand and dragged her to the mirrored wall near the entry, swiftly positioning her so she could see the full length of her frame, with his big body towering behind.

  “Look at you,” he commanded.

  His eyes blazed with emotion as their gazes caught in the mirror, and his voice dropped to a thick haggard whisper that only made the ache inside her grow bigger.

  “Look at what you’ve become.” He surveyed her in the mirror with eyes that were liquid with love and admiration, and then he lowered his head, his breath spilling into her ear with his deep voice. “I. Am. Wild. About you. Wild.”

  In the mirror, Whitney helplessly noticed how his silken hair shone dark sable in the warm light from above as he drew her earlobe lightly into his mouth, and she could feel the passion rising inside her like the hottest fire, clouding her thoughts. “If I didn’t love you already, right now I’d be . . . unraveled for you,” he said in a hot whisper that caused a shudder to run down her spine.

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