Theirs to cherish, p.29
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       Theirs to Cherish, p.29
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         Part #8 of Wicked Lovers series by Shayla Black
Page 29

 

  Relief flooded Sean’s system. They both agreed that Callie had to come first. They might not have a lot in common, but they shared that belief. Now the conversation got tricky . . .

  “Good. I’ve been thinking about this. I need your help with Callie. Sometimes you’re the only person who can reach her. ” Sean sighed and tried to figure out how to say all the other things crowding his head. He should probably have a bit of sleep and a stiff cup of coffee before he even tried, but time wasn’t on their side. Once Callie woke, they’d have a fight on their hands. The dust between he and Thorpe had to be settled now.

  “I’m here for her, whatever she needs. ”

  “Even if that’s both of us?”

  Thorpe hesitated. “What do you mean?”

  “She’ll probably need us both to protect her from whoever is searching for her,” Sean began. “I think it’s safe to assume that if they killed her family and took a shot at her, they want her dead, too. The more people she has watching her back, the safer she’ll be. ”

  “Agreed. ”

  “And you know how secretive she’s always been—for good reason. But if we’re going to pry her open so she’ll tell us about her past, we’re going to have to earn her trust. I’ll need your steady hand. ”

  Thorpe sat up and peered across the darkness at him. “Meaning?”

  “After months of giving her my cover story, her trust in me is shaky at best right now. We can’t wait to grow it again before we find out what she knows. We need that info now. ” Thorpe didn’t answer, but Sean could see the man’s mind turning. “You know I’m right. ”

  “Yeah. ” Thorpe swallowed.

  “Just like you know where I’m going with this, man. This woman has never had what she needs. As a little girl, she needed a mother, but hers died of cancer. As a teenager, she needed the support of her family, but her father was too distant, while her sister probably stabbed her in the back. She needed to finish growing up in a safe environment . . . and you know how that story goes. Now Callie needs us for more than protection. She needs us to finally make her whole. ”

  “Jesus . . . ” Thorpe blew out a breath and raked a hand through his hair.

  Sean pressed on. “You said yourself that I lacked the knowledge to properly guide her. But you don’t. She trusts you. And she loves you, too. ”

  Thorpe didn’t say a word at first, just held out his hand for the bottle. Sean passed it back, watching the other man guzzle down more tequila as he, no doubt, turned over all the possibilities in his head.

  “I’d ask if you’re fucking serious, but you obviously are. ” He shook his head of mussed hair. “I don’t recommend inviting me inside your picket fence, Mackenzie. I’m not good for her. ”

  That assertion was ridiculous. He and Callie fit together perfectly.

  “Right now, I’m just trying to keep her alive,” Sean hedged. “If you want to go your separate way once the danger is done, I’ll help you find the door. ”

  He had mixed feelings about making that offer. Thorpe walking out on Callie would crush her. But if that happened, he’d just have to find some way to help her deal. Regardless, that was another problem for another day. He had enough to juggle now. He just had to trust that once Thorpe got close to her, he wouldn’t be able to walk away.

  “But I want you to think about this. The only place where your age difference means a thing is in your head. And your worry about giving her enough tenderness? It’s bullshit. ”

  Even if it wasn’t, Sean would be happy to supply Callie plenty of affection. After all, if he couldn’t give her something, Thorpe might well edge him out of her heart. Or maybe that was his own fear talking because then he closed his eyes and remembered her trembling surrender, her cries that she loved him. He might have started out with Callie as a substitute for the needs Thorpe wasn’t fulfilling, but their relationship had progressed into something far deeper than he’d ever imagined when she’d been just a name on a file folder and a picture of a pretty girl.

  “Cut to the chase and tell me what you’re saying,” Thorpe chomped impatiently. “Spell it out. I don’t want any gray between us. ”

  “We share her one hundred percent—at least for as long as she’s in danger. Everything we do for her, we do together. But you can’t half-ass this. You have to give her your all. ”

  Thorpe stilled. “So . . . you want me to discipline her?”

  “When she needs it, yes. ”

  A deep breath. A pensive stare. A gulp. “Are you me giving a green light to sex?”

  There was the question he’d known would surface sooner or later. How much of Callie was he willing to grant the other man . . .

  Now it was Sean’s turn to hesitate. Honestly, he didn’t know how he was going to feel seeing Thorpe’s hands on her, his cock tunneling inside her. He might feel like slashing the Dom’s throat. But he also might take comfort in doing the right thing for Callie and watching her bloom. Either way, he had to put her first. If they didn’t force pertinent information about the past out of her, she might not live through this ordeal. His jealousy would be awfully moot then.

  “Tell me something,” Sean finally said. “Would you top another pretty submissive and dismiss the possibility of sex before you’ve even started the relationship? Would Callie believe you were committed to her if you refused to give yourself in return?”

  “Shit. ” Thorpe took several long drags from the bottle, looking floored. “So that’s a yes to sex. ”

  Despite the gravity of the conversation, Sean was almost amused by the man’s tension. “Is that a problem?”

  “Oh, fuck no. Not at all. ” Thorpe shot him a dirty glare. “But you knew that. ”

  “Just checking. ” He grinned.

  “She may think she’s taken her collar off, but I respect the fact that she’s still owned. ”

  And Thorpe sounded like he’d rather spit nails than admit that.

  “So what are my limits?” the other man asked.

  With a shrug, Sean rolled through the possibilities. “Only one: Everything we do with Callie, we do as a team. No Lone Ranger acts. ”

  Thorpe paused, frowned for a moment, then nodded. “I’m in. We need to make Callie feel safe enough to open up to us. It’s important that we establish our control and get whatever information she’s got in her head out soon. You’re absolutely right about that. It’s our only chance of her listening to us if danger follows her here. Beyond that . . . I’ve been hungry for her for years. ”

  So it was settled. They would share in Callie’s care. They would both Dominate her. They would both partake of her. And they would do it all together.

  “You ever had a ménage?”

  “Sure. Just for fun. ” Thorpe tapped his thumb against the bottle. “This is different. ”

  Sean was glad he saw the distinction. “Completely. I don’t know how complicated it will be. But we’ll figure it out. ”

  “For her, we have to. ”

  “Exactly. The sun’s coming up. ” Sean gestured to the graying sky outside the bedroom window as a mixed cocktail of relief and anxiety flowed through his veins. “First, we need some sleep before Hurricane Callie wakes and figures out where she is. ”

  “Sure. Yeah. ” Thorpe braced himself on the mattress and pushed upright. “Do you want me to get out of your way and let you bunk down with your girl?”

  Sean shook his head. Apparently, it was going to take Thorpe more than a few seconds to adjust to the idea of sharing her completely. “We both take care of her. This is our bed now. You need to stay with Callie in case she wakes up. She’ll be disoriented at best and furious at worst. Get her under the sheets, make sure she’s comfortable. Now that I’ve got some sunlight and I won’t run this boat into the shore, I need to anchor it someplace as secluded as possible. ” He grabbed his shoes and thrust them on. “Back in ten. ”

  Sean didn’t wait for Thorpe to reply before he darted out the be
droom door. He picked up anchor and cruised the lake until he found a wide inlet with tall, craggy rocks on either side. He navigated to the middle, still away from shore, then dropped anchor again. It wouldn’t hide them from someone in a helicopter, but anyone else on the lake would be hard-pressed to find them.

  Nearly forty minutes had passed. Exhaustion weighed his every limb, and nothing sounded better than tumbling into the bed with Callie and sleeping for long, uninterrupted hours before waking to make love to her.

  When he hit the bedroom again, he stopped short in the doorway. Thorpe had fallen asleep on the right side of the bed with Callie spooned against his chest. They both looked peaceful, exhaling together in harmony.

  The worry Sean had been trying to restrain jabbed at him. Naturally, he had concerns about letting Thorpe too close to his woman. Would she ultimately choose the other man instead? Or would Callie always need them both? Nearly three sleepless days hadn’t equipped him to answer that question now.

  With a weary sigh, he shut the drapes, then shed everything except his boxer-briefs. He slid under the sheets, rolling over to kiss Callie’s forehead. She moaned quietly, then scooted closer to him as if seeking warmth . . . while Thorpe’s arm remained snug around her, his legs tangled in hers, his breath ruffling her long, loose hair. Sean drifted in the peace and slept.

  ***

  COCOONED in warmth, Callie woke and squinted against the filtered light making its way through the curtains. The little bit she could see around her didn’t look at all familiar. It certainly wasn’t Dominion. No, wait. She’d left there and she wouldn’t rehash all the reasons that had been necessary. It damn well wasn’t her skuzzy dump of a Vegas motel either. And why did the ground seem like it was swaying slightly?

  She forced one eye open—and the sights just kept getting weirder. A shirtless Sean slept on one side of her, his hard chest pressed to her own. His powerful torso rose above a soft, faded blanket. He looked damn good for a liar.

  Behind her, hot breath spread unexpectedly across her neck. With a little jerk, she stared over her shoulder. Thorpe. Asleep in a rumpled white dress shirt and dark trousers. The five-o’clock shadow darkened his sharp jaw more than usual.

  The men she loved surrounded her. It was like a fantasy. It had to be a dream. They hated one another . . . or they had back at Dominion. The time since her departure from the club rushed back to her, her memories lingering on the ride in the silver Jeep last night, on Thorpe smacking her ass and Sean approving every gesture with his stare in the rearview mirror.

  Last night, they’d been a team, united by their determination to capture her and bring her back to safety. Or so they claimed. Thorpe, she believed. Sean? She really didn’t know him or have any idea how much of what had passed between them was a lie. It had felt so very real. He’d sworn it was. And she had to admit that if he’d simply wanted to bring her in for the bounty or prestige, he probably would have done it in Dallas. He certainly wouldn’t be letting Thorpe tag along, either.

  But even if he actually loved her, as he claimed, and even if every word Sean and Thorpe said was true, she couldn’t stay. Her life was too dangerous, and she wasn’t going to drag them into her muck. They had some foolish notion in their heads to be noble, heroic. By all appearances, they cared. Whatever their motives, Callie couldn’t let them.

  Carefully, she inched to the end of the bed and crept off the mattress, shivering and steadying herself. Crap, it was cold this morning. She reached for the first garment she encountered, Sean’s shirt. It even smelled like him. Where were her shoes?

  Inhaling his musk as she slipped it on, she glanced at them both, regret nearly bringing her to tears. They’d worked hard to track her down and “rescue” her, not really understanding that the job of saving her was bigger than them both, even with their forces combined. Their effort humbled Callie, and the guilt for leaving them again nearly took her to her knees. But she wouldn’t be able to live with herself if she was the reason they found themselves behind bars.

  The floor beneath her dipped again, a gentle rocking that confused her. Where the hell had they brought her? Tiptoeing to the window, she eased the dull white drape aside and peeked out. Water—and a lot of it.

  Callie sucked in a stunned breath and tried to shove down her panic. Shit! Okay, keep it together. If they were on a boat, maybe they were docked. There had to be a way off, right? In her head, though, she heard Sean ask again if she liked to swim . . .

  On silent feet, she dashed out of the room, down the little passageway, then found a door leading out to the expansive deck. Water everywhere, at the front of the boat, either side . . . Callie sprinted to the back of the vessel, heart pounding three times for every step she took. But all she found was more water. The nearest land, formidable rock formations that would be a terrifyingly steep climb, looked a hundred feet away—at least.

 
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