Theirs to cherish, p.26
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       Theirs to Cherish, p.26

         Part #8 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
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Page 26


  “You want to take this one?” Sean looked at his new “pal” in the rearview mirror. “I need to make sure we’re not being followed and try to decide where we can go from here. ”

  “With pleasure. ”

  “Good. I have a feeling our time is short. Did you already pack up everything in your room and put your belongings in the car?”

  “I did. ”

  “That makes two of us. Carry on. ”

  Thorpe nodded at him, then turned to her with a Dom glower so menacing she found herself inching back until the car door ensured that she had nowhere else to go.

  Callie gulped. “What? I-I took care of myself. I couldn’t very well expect the two of you to—”

  “Be reasonably concerned human beings who wanted to keep you happy and safe? Talk to the two men who will always put your welfare above everything else?”

  Damn it, he was determined to make her feel somewhere between stupid and irresponsible. “Sean was a liar. How was I supposed to know he wouldn’t turn me in?”

  “I’m sorry for the subterfuge, lovely. But I had to create a cover to get into the club and keep everyone from getting suspicious, especially you. ”

  And didn’t she feel like an idiot for falling for it—and him? “Great job, Mr. Kirkpatrick. You had me fooled. ”

  “Mackenzie,” he corrected. “Sean Mackenzie is my real name. Here. ” He passed her a little leather case. She flipped it over as he turned on the interior light.

  Callie clutched the document in her hand and read it with a sense of something between OMG and holy shit. It was true. Sean Mackenzie truly was a Special Agent for the FBI. She passed his credentials back with numb fingers. He grabbed it and killed the interior light.

  Then darkness settled around her, leaving her to battle her thoughts again. Holy shit finally beat out OMG as her final reaction. And anger that she’d been duped. Apparently he’d done it without much difficulty and probably even less regret.

  “I guess that’s why you were able to give Axel a black eye. ” What else was there to say?

  “I taught hand-to-hand combat for the bureau for two years. ”

  Which meant that he was damn good at it. And here she’d thought he didn’t have a violent bone in his body. Callie snorted. That proved she had almost no clue about him. In fact, there were probably a thousand other facts about Sean Kirkpatrick—or Mackenzie, rather—that she didn’t know. “Who are you? Obviously, I don’t know. ”

  “You do. ” His voice was so soft, compelling her to believe him. “Everything except my name and occupation was the real me. I never lied about how I felt. ”

  She wanted to believe him. But the truth was, she’d fallen for a charming smile, a fake brogue, and a whole lot of smooth lines. If his tenderness and caring had seemed like more, well . . . wasn’t that the point of winning her trust and breaking her barriers down? “Whatever. ”

  “It’s a lot more than ‘whatever,’ Callie. I swear to you. ”

  “Even if finding out that Sean wasn’t who he claimed, that doesn’t excuse you for running off without talking to me, pet,” Thorpe jumped in. “What’s your justification there?”

  “I didn’t think you knew who I was, so I tried to keep you from this mess. Was I supposed to guess that you cared about me?”

  She hadn’t thought it possible, but his face became even more forbidding. “Don’t you ever say that to me again. I sheltered you for four years, Callie. I tried to teach you, help you, comfort you. What part of that indicated to you that I didn’t give a shit?”

  “I knew you cared as a friend, but I didn’t think you—” She tried to untangle her thoughts as he leaned across the seat toward her. “The night you . . . that it seemed like we were going to . . . you know. ” She still hated thinking about that humiliating event. “Then you just walked away and never explained, never touched me again, so—”

  “Because I didn’t fuck you, you imagined that I didn’t care anymore?”

  “Pretty much, yeah. ” She shrugged. “I might have believed that a lover would go out on a limb for me, but not merely a boss or a friend. ”

  “There are so many things wrong with that statement. ” Thorpe cursed, shaking his head.

  “Being your lover clearly didn’t give me any extra perks in the trust department,” Sean piped up from the front seat. “In fact, I think you gave me even less than Thorpe. ”

  “Well, yeah,” Callie defended hotly. “Everything between us was pretense and bullshit. Don’t try to convince me that I’ve wronged you. ”

  “He’s not telling his superiors that you’ve run or that his cover is blown because he’s trying to minimize the chances that the FBI will suddenly want you brought in. ”

  Maybe that was true. Even if it was, she wasn’t ready to be less angry. No, hurt. Damn it. “So I’m supposed to thank you for your kind lies? Was it difficult to get hard on command? Was fucking me a chore?”

  Sean slapped his palm against the steering wheel. “That’s it. I’ve had enough. Thorpe . . . ”

  “On it,” he assured the other man. “We’re done with your lack of trust. ”

  “And your bratty mouth,” Sean added. “Don’t forget that. ”

  “Absolutely,” Thorpe agreed. “You will apologize this instant to both of us. ”

  “Like hell! You two don’t like the way I communicate. Guess what? Your style sucks, too. You lie. ” She pointed at Sean, then turned her stare on Thorpe. “And you clam up. ”

  Thorpe grabbed her by the arm. “You’ve refused to rely on the men determined to help you. ”

  “I didn’t ask for help,” she pointed out.

  “You’ve refused to apologize, and you’ve insulted us. ”

  “You insulted me, too. Because I’m going to defend myself, I’m bratty?” She rolled her eyes. “I’m not the only one slinging words around here. ”

  “I might have lied, lovely, but I didn’t drug you,” Sean reminded darkly.

  “Neither of us stripped for a room full of scum. And it was your third shift in two days?” Thorpe raised an intimidating brow at her.

  A gong of foreboding resounded in her gut. Shit, they’d done their legwork. Sometimes, she lost her temper and forgot important details . . . like being at the mercy of two pissed off Doms. Of course, Thorpe probably wouldn’t punish her. In fact, he’d probably never touch her again. But he’d sure give Sean lots of craptastic ideas about how to do it effectively.

  “I wasn’t enjoying myself. I was making money. ”

  “To skip town, right?” Thorpe’s question was sharp as a blade.

  “It’s what I do. ”

  “Along with driving us out of our fucking minds,” Sean growled.

  “It wasn’t intended to be a personal affront!” she insisted.

  “So we were supposed to shrug that you’d left and move on with our lives. Do you know how worried we’ve been?” her former boss asked.

  “Oh my gawd, you both sound like overprotective hens. ”

  Callie braced for Thorpe’s explosion. Instead, he drew in a bracing breath, nostrils flaring, then with a taut profile and rigidly controlled body, he directed his gaze to the front seat. “Sean, reasoning with her isn’t going to work. ”

  “Agreed. Go ahead. I need to focus here, but I’ve had more than enough. ”

  “Excellent. Minus the gloves?”

  He sighed. “I doubt anything less will register. ”

  “I couldn’t agree more. It’s bound to get noisy. ”

  Sean smiled faintly. “I’ll enjoy that. ”

  He glanced at her in the mirror at the same time Thorpe regarded her with a frightening smile. Callie felt like an actress who’d forgotten her lines, pinned by a spotlight.

  “Apologize, pet. ”

  It wasn’t a suggestion. But there was no way she was going to say “sorry” for doing what she thought necessary. “I’m sorry if whatever I did upset you. ”

sp; “And?” Thorpe’s grip on her arm tightened.

  “I’m sorry if I misinterpreted your actions. ”

  “Anything else?” His voice dropped to a silky baritone that served as its own warning. “Anything you’d like to say to Sean?”

  Callie’s belly tightened, but she refused to lie. “No, I think that’s it. ”

  “Then it’s obvious we need to lay down a few rules and expectations. ” Thorpe settled against the backseat, legs braced wide, then grabbed her shoulders and gave a mighty jerk until she tumbled face down across his lap.

  “Oh hell, no!” She writhed, trying to twist upright again.

  Like that was going to help. He’d dealt with a thousand squirming submissives. There would be no escape. She already knew that from experience.

  Expertly, he splayed a hand in the middle of her back, pinning her to his lap. “Hell, yes. It’s past due, pet. You’ve more than earned it. Your attitude needs serious adjusting. ”

  Thorpe punctuated his assertion by lifting her little skirt, yanking the bills out of her thong and throwing them on the floorboard, then giving her right cheek a quick, blistering swat. Before she’d even finished gasping, he spanked the left. Ouch! Her ass stung. Heat flared. And not for one second did she think that he was done.

  “From now on,” he began, “you will keep uppermost in your mind that anything that affects you concerns us. We care. Is that clear?”

  Even if she was a little thrilled at the conviction in his words and more than a bit excited at the way he restrained and handled her, Callie wanted to tell him to jump off a bridge. She was about to say something satisfyingly dismissive when he smacked the flat of his hand against each of her cheeks again. A yelp slipped from her mouth.

  “I’ll take that as a yes. ” A smirk resonated in his voice

  Damn him!

  “You will never leave our sight without proper permission. If you ever run away again without doing the courtesy of talking to us both, your ass will be a glowing shade of red for a month, I promise. ”

  Was he serious? “I don’t need babysitters. ”

  “Since you could have gotten yourself molested in that terrible club or in the fucking alley behind it, if not for us, I’m going to disagree. ”

  “But I didn’t. ”

  “I didn’t give you permission to speak. ” Thorpe’s voice dropped another octave.

  Another few swats to her backside had her flesh stinging again . . . and her pussy weeping. Why did Thorpe’s discipline always turn her on? Why couldn’t she hate him for it and tell him to go to hell?

  “And lovely? There will be no drugging anyone, no taking your clothes off for strangers, and absolutely no lying,” Sean insisted from the front seat. His voice held a harsh, authoritarian edge she’d never heard from him before.

  “If you remove so much as a shoe in front of another man without our permission, you will feel my wrath. ”

  And to prove his point, Thorpe rained a series of short, sharp blows down on her backside, one after the other. Callie couldn’t stop the gasps, the moans. Her blood felt like it had caught fire. Her skin burned. Still, Thorpe kept at her ass, pounding one wallop after another on her vulnerable backside until she thought she would melt all over him. She barely reined in the urge to cry out in pleasure.

  “Mine, too,” Sean vowed. “You’re likely to feel it as soon as I don’t need to focus on the road, in fact. ”

  Well, wasn’t that something to look forward to?

  “I didn’t give either of you permission to touch me,” she pointed out.

  “Lousy attempt, pet,” he tsked at her. “You just keep digging a deeper hole. ”

  “I gave him permission,” Sean clarified. “And I don’t care if you think you removed your collar. We didn’t talk about it. You decided without consulting me. Last time I checked, you weren’t the Dominant in this relationship. ”

  “This is ridiculous. I’m not a possession. ”

  “No, but you’re a submissive in need of a great deal of discipline. I have no problem giving it to you, pet. ”

  “I have no problem either, Callie. I was too easy on you before. That’s going to change,” Sean promised.

  Her heart lurched. They absolutely meant business, and a bit of her really wanted to let them take her under their wing and rely on them for her safety. If she wasn’t Callindra Howe, she might dip her toe in the water. Okay, so she’d probably dive in. But that wasn’t her reality.

  “The hell it is! I only managed to stay free for nine years because I never got sentimental. I leave everything and everyone behind and sever all ties once I’m gone. Thorpe, it’s not that I don’t believe you’d do everything possible to keep me safe. But I can’t let you ruin your life. I left because I’m trying to do the right thing so you can get back to normalcy. ”

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