Their virgin princess, p.19
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       Their Virgin Princess, p.19
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         Part #4 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
Page 19

 

  She rewarded him with a little laugh, then nodded. “I’d like that. For the most part, it’s been a long time since I let anyone hold me. I want to try. ”

  He eased forward cautiously, letting her observe his every move, giving her plenty of time to object. She was a little like a wild deer he wanted to feed from his hand. One wrong move and he could spook her.

  “My hand is going to touch your waist, Lea,” Dane said before settling in behind her. “You can lean back against me any time. You’re cold. You need to get warm. We’ll settle you by the fire, then have a nice dinner. Relax and know that we’re going to take care of you. ”

  Cooper slowly wrapped his arms around her. She trembled for a moment, then sighed as though she appreciated the heat their bodies generated.

  Once again, he appreciated how soft her skin was and how sweetly she fit against him. “Consider this a break from civilization. You wanted one, right? Here you go. No reporters. No one who needs your attention. Well, besides us. No one is going to ask you to make appearances or to go to balls. ”

  “No curious people who look at me with pity,” Alea continued.

  Coop wanted to take exception to that, but now wasn’t the time to argue with her. Making her laugh seemed to work so much better. “Nope. You just have to worry about us ogling you. All the time. Every day. Every hour. ”

  Sure enough, she laughed. “You guys are crazy. ”

  Dane had his cheek against her hair. “My main goal in life is to convince you that we’re not. At least not completely. ”

  “How can you not be mad at me? I’m the reason you’re here,” she admitted in a whisper.

  “I think I speak for all three of us when I say we wouldn’t want to be anywhere else,” Cooper replied. “If I wasn’t with you here, I’d be going out of my damn mind with worry. But cuddled up with you… It’s all good. Alea, this wasn’t your fault. ”

  “But when we get home, and we will get home, I intend to find out whose fault it is,” Dane said, sending Cooper a dark look. “Someone planned this. ”

  Someone meant to kill her. Cooper knew exactly what Dane’s expression meant. He was asking Coop to join him in hunting and taking down this fucker. He nodded to Dane. Oh, yeah. They would make sure this asshole couldn’t ever hurt her again.

  “I thought the pilot was just crazy and hated my family. ” Alea’s arms slowly wound around his waist. “You’re both so warm. ”

  Cooper cuddled a little closer. “We’ll always keep you warm, safe…whatever you need. We’ll take care of you. We can survive here indefinitely. Landon is scouting the island for more food right now. ”

  “What happens if he doesn’t find any? What happens when the food we took from the plane runs out?” Alea asked, then bit her lip for a moment. “We got all we could, but we can’t survive on crackers, pâté, and peanuts for very long. ”

  Dane chuckled softly. “There’s an ocean of food right out there. This place has bananas and all kinds of fruit. We were all trained to know what kind of plants we can and can’t eat. Lea, we’ve got this. We survived the crash. That was the hard part. The rest is easy, especially now that you’ve convinced Coop to make sure he doesn’t die of gangrene. I won’t say it will be like hanging around the palace, but if we take care of each other, keep the fire going, find a safe place to wait out any storms that might come, we’ll be golden. ”

  She nodded against his chest. “I want to help. Just tell me what to do. ”

  “Really?” Dane asked.

  “Yes. Of course. ”

  “What we need most now is your trust. You have to rely on us. Take this time to get to know us better. Let us have an actual chance to please you and make you happy. ” Dane laid a small kiss on her temple.

  She shivered a little, her head coming up off Cooper’s chest. He wished Dane hadn’t pushed yet, but everything his buddy described…yeah, he wanted that, too. “Just a chance, Lea. You don’t hate this, right?”

  “I’m getting used to it,” she admitted, swallowing hard. She was tense, but not rejecting. It was a step. “Can we agree to go slow? I don’t know what I want and I don’t have any idea what I’ll be able to handle. It’s going to take a while to get used to the idea that you guys could actually want me. That someone touching me isn’t doing it to hurt me. ”

  There was a low shout as Landon marched through the foliage and back into camp. He was carrying Alea’s mesh laundry bag, which he’d appropriated earlier when he’d left on his quest to gather coconuts. But it was dripping wet.

  “Hey, I found a bunch of conches!” Lan held up the bag and looked at it proudly. “That’s some good eating and—holy shit. ”

  Lan had obviously caught sight of Alea’s half-naked state because it put a truly sizzling stare on his face. Then he lost his usual athletic grace as he walked closer, jaw hanging around his knees, stumbling over the log he’d dragged into camp earlier. He tripped in an epic pratfall. That would make some popular shit on YouTube.

  Alea broke free and started running for Landon.

  “I’m okay!” Lan shouted, but Alea was right there, crouching beside him, and there was no mistaking the way Lan took advantage to stare right at her boobs.

  Dane slapped Coop on the back. “Let’s shore up for the night. We’re all tired. We can cook up those conches and talk about making base camp more comfy. Tomorrow we put our plan into action. It’s time to claim our girl. ”

  Coop nodded. “Amen, brother. ”

  Dane strode over to give Landon a hand with the conches, whistling as he walked.

  It was the happiest he’d seen Dane in a long time. As Alea turned to glance at him over her shoulder and shot a smile his way, he had to admit, it might be the happiest any of them had been in a good, long while.

  * * * *

  Alea shivered a little and wished that her clothes had dried during dinner. But they hadn’t yet. The fire Dane had built was roaring, but she still trembled. Even so, the stars awed her. They wove a brilliant canvas across the dark sky. She’d never seen so many twinkling so brightly.

  “Beautiful, huh?” Lan sat beside her, his shoulders rubbing against hers.

  She wasn’t alone. She might be on one of the remotest islands in the world, but these three men had gone out of their way to show her that everything would be all right.

  “It is. ” The fire crackled in front of her. Cooper and Dane were talking quietly on the other side of the fire pit they’d dug. “Do you think someone will find us?”

  “Sure. ” There was no hesitation in his voice. “I think your cousins will move heaven and earth. But it’s a damn big ocean, Lea. It could take some time. Be prepared to settle in and get comfortable waiting. ”

  Her cousins. They would be worried by now. She’d intended to text…and now that wasn’t possible. They would know the plane hadn’t landed in Sydney. Piper would be so worried. They would be forced to call all of Dane, Cooper, and Landon’s relatives to tell them their sons were missing. She knew Dane had a father he didn’t talk to anymore. Cooper had a big family scattered all over southern Colorado. What about Landon? “Is there anyone back in the States who’s going to be upset? You have to know Talib is going to call your parents. ”

  Lan turned to the fire. “Don’t have any. ”

  His parents were gone? “I’m so sorry. ”

  A bitter smile crossed his face. “Don’t be. They aren’t dead, darlin’. At least I don’t think they are. I don’t know. My mom ditched me about five minutes after I was born. As for my dad, I don’t even know who he is. I’m not even sure my mom did. She got around. ”

  She knew he came from a small Texas town. How hard had it been to be abandoned by the woman who should have loved him above all others? “How old was she?”

  “She was all of seventeen when she had me. The way my grandma told it, she tried really hard to get rid of me, but I was dug into that womb. ”

  “Get rid of you?”
>
  Lan turned to her, his face a careful blank. “She tried a homemade abortion. I wasn’t part of her plan. ”

  “Oh, Lan. ” She reached for him, feeling sick, and yet an urge to comfort him all at once.

  Then she stopped her hand in midair as she realized that she’d been about to hug him. The sympathetic gesture had come almost instinctively.

  Lan turned back to the fire as though he couldn’t stand to watch her choose to not touch him. Like other women in his life had rejected him. “It’s no big deal. My grandma raised me. We didn’t have much, but she made sure I got fed and had clothes. ”

  He’d said absolutely nothing about anyone loving him. “Do you miss her? Is that who Tal will call?”

  “She died a couple years back. She wouldn’t have really cared. She was a mean old lady. There was a reason my momma wanted to get the hell out of that trailer. My grandma ran off everyone who ever loved her. She never let a day go by where she didn’t tell me what a whore my momma turned out to be and that I was an embarrassment. She kept me because righteous women take care of their mistakes. ”

  How hard had it been for his sole guardian to consider him a burden? Lan was so competent. In the course of one day, he’d scouted the perimeter of the island, found food, and set up a desalinization station that was gathering water so they could stock up. He was amazing and he’d always been so deeply kind. She didn’t stop this time. If nothing else, he was her friend.

  Alea scooted closer to him and placed a hand on his back, leaning her face against his strong upper arm. His skin was warm and smooth, so much softer than she’d imagined, though it covered rock-hard muscle. “You weren’t a mistake. I can’t imagine any mother not being so proud of you. ”

  He turned slightly, forcing her head up and looking on her with a curious gaze. Slowly, he reached down and brushed away tears she hadn’t known she was shedding. “Are those for me?”

  She shrugged, then nodded. He wrapped a bulky arm around her and hauled her in close. For a moment, she stiffened, then sank against the heat of his body. And the safety. She felt safe with all of them.

  “Don’t you cry for me, Princess. ”

  Sometimes when he called her that she could almost believe it was a term of endearment and not merely a title. “Someone should. And I’m not really crying for you. It’s not pity. You came from so little and you’ve turned into a wonderful man. ”

  “Sometimes,” he began, staring down at her, “bad things happen to good people, and they still find a way to turn it around. They find a way to be brave. I know you’re brave, too. I want you to kiss me, Lea. ”

  So much for his lack of smarts. He was a manipulative bastard. But if she wanted to heal, wanted to move forward and not let the kidnappers beat her, as Piper had pointed out, she had to be willing to take chances. Get out of her comfort zone. Try to be a whole woman. Believe that she could trust them.

  Alea closed her eyes and tilted her head up. She could handle this. Landon would never hurt her.

  She waited, but nothing happened.

  Alea opened her eyes, and found Lan staring down at her. Cooper had moved behind, and she could feel his heat. Dane had edged closer, too. His gaze was fixed on her, smoldering like the nearby fire, as he leaned back against a tree.

  “He said he wanted you to kiss him, baby,” Dane pointed out. “You have to listen to instructions or there might be consequences. ”

  She stiffened a little. “I don’t think I like the sound of that. ”

  Cooper leaned in. “Come on, Lea. Don’t be scared. You know Dane likes to play. It’s just who he is. He needs to feel like he’s in control. ” His voice dropped to a whisper. “If he thinks you’re afraid, he’ll pull away. His ex-wife told him he was a pervert, and I don’t think he can handle it if you feel the same way. ”

  Talib liked to “play,” too. Oh, her cousins had tried to hide that fact from her, but she’d snuck into Tal’s “dungeon” when she was a teenager. The locked door had always intrigued her, and they’d never let her in or explained. Unfortunately when she’d finally figured out how to sneak in, Tal had been playing at the time. She’d hidden, of course, but she’d heard the moans, the slaps of leather on skin, the gasps—the sounds of satisfaction.

  And she’d heard the tenderness he’d shown his submissive afterward. The praise he’d given her. The woman’s sighs of contentment. They had both enjoyed themselves. There hadn’t been anything wrong with it. She’d heard that the dungeon was open again and her cousins played with Piper, teasing her and loving her. Tal needed the control after what had happened to him.

  What had happened to Dane?

 
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