Their virgin princess, p.9
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       Their Virgin Princess, p.9

         Part #4 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
Page 9


  They had all conspired against her, even Landon. He’d known about the investigation. It was the only explanation for how he’d known where and when that meeting about her life had been taking place. All three of them had been complicit.

  Broken and ugly. That was all she was.

  “Alea, I’m just about ready to put you over my knee and smack that ass until you’re in your right head again. ”

  “Nice. Well, go ahead. It’s nothing I haven’t been through before. You think you’re so big and bad? Go ahead, abuse the stupid, weak princess. Maybe that will make you feel like a man. ” She spewed bile his way because she wasn’t about to let him know that she needed them to hold her, to surround her until she was sure no harm could reach her. Eventually, they’d find out she was broken. Then they would leave. She had to erect some really high walls that would protect them all, so their rejection wouldn’t hurt so much. “Men only see women as punching bags anyway, right?”

  Dane’s face went a bright red, his jaw tightening to the point she was sure it would break. He was so righteously pissed that she thought surely he would beat her and prove who was stronger.

  Instead, he jerked away from her, then pivoted, giving her his back. He didn’t look at her again, merely reached out and grabbed Cooper’s shirt, where Lan’s hand had been previously. He twisted his fist in the garment and started dragging his friend out behind him.

  “Goddamn it, Dane. ” Cooper struggled, but nothing seemed to faze Dane. “Let me go. We can’t leave her like this. ”

  Dane merely stalked out of the room, hauling his partner along.

  Alea’s hands shook as she felt warm, soft fabric cover her shoulders suddenly. She looked up. Landon. He was settling her robe around her body, covering her nakedness. His face was a careful blank.

  “I’ll admit that I knew you were all kinds of fucked up, Princess,” Lan began in that down-home Texas drawl of his.

  She laughed, but there was no humor to the sound. She pulled the robe around her like a coat of armor. “Good for you, Lan. You just proved you have eyes and a brain that halfway works. ”

  He flinched, and his face closed up. Alea fought tears. What was wrong with her? Why did she keep saying such horrible things? Why was she hurting them?

  Because they terrified her. Because if she hurt them first, they might not be able to hurt her back.

  “Wow. That’s a good one, Princess. You know how to go for the throat. You definitely kicked Dane where it hurts the most. Did you know his ex-wife thought that BDSM was abuse? Did you know that even though he never touched her like that, when he asked her to experiment she called him a wife beater?”

  She gasped. How horrible. And how terrible she felt now. Dane would never hurt a woman.

  Alea closed her eyes for a moment. Sometimes, she didn’t recognize herself anymore. When she lashed out like she just had, the fear and hurt talked, not her. “No. Oh, Lan, I didn’t know. He wouldn’t have abused her. ”

  “Well, you have great instincts, Princess. Dane feels like he failed everyone, his whole family, definitely his ex-wife. I’m pretty sure I’m the dumbest idiot ever born, so reinforcing that is a surefire way to hurt me. Let me give you some advice on how to hurt Coop because I’m not sure you figured him out yet. He hides his insecurities really well. ”

  “Don’t. ” Alea felt hot tears scalding her face.

  Lan thumbed away the tears, but his voice didn’t change. It remained a deep, polite monotone. “Coop came from a big ranching family. When he was a little kid, the ranch hit real hard times. His family almost lost everything. Every dime they made went back into the land or to pay the mortgage, so he grew up poor. He was the youngest of seven boys so by the time the hand-me-downs got to him, they were patched up and worn and he was so skinny that the kids in his school called him Scarecrow. Call him that a couple of times and it’ll cut him to the quick. Since you’re not only fucked up but cruel, that should give you some ammunition. Enjoy it. ” He shook his head. “The way I see it, either you were always mean or you let them make you mean. Either way, it’s a goddamn shame. ”

  Lan brushed away another tear and turned, following after Dane and Coop. They were all leaving, and she’d been the one to shove them away, hurting them and lashing out because she wasn’t brave enough to be kind, welcoming. That required a strong heart, and hers was shattered.

  More tears fell, but the scream that was always in her throat stuck. “Landon. ”

  He stopped but didn’t turn. “What do you need, Your Highness?”

  So many things. Nothing she could ask for. “Tell Dane I’m sorry. And Cooper and… I’m very sorry that I hurt you too. ”

  He nodded and left, and she was alone again.

  Alea crumbled to the floor. The gorgeous gown she’d picked out in hopes that they would notice her was lying on the tile, trampled by boot prints, ruined. What had she been thinking? She could dress up all she liked, but she was still that girl chained to a bed, waiting to die.

  The only trouble now was she seemed determined to take everyone to hell with her.

  * * * *

  Dane let Cooper drop as soon as he’d hauled him out of the princess’s quarters. He didn’t trust Coop not to run back in and try to get on top of her again.

  And he didn’t trust himself not to walk back and have a throw down with her that would very likely end with him getting his ass arrested for laying hands on Her Royal Highness.

  “You asshole. ” Coop was on his feet in a heartbeat. “What the fuck was that about?”

  The hallway around them was quiet. He’d been afraid Tal would follow them, but it appeared he had gone back to the ball. He was fine with that because he was just about ready to start throwing punches. Caving in Coop’s face might take the edge off the nasty anger building inside him.

  Alea had scored a direct hit. He could still hear Kelly screaming at him that he was a pervert, a freak for what he needed. He could still remember the day his father had told him what an embarrassment he was to the family and that he was no longer welcome in the house he’d grown up in.

  He hadn’t been invited to his brother’s wedding. Of course, that wasn’t such a huge surprise since his very vanilla brother had been marrying his ex-wife.

  He felt Coop shove at his arm, goading him. “What? Now you can’t talk?”

  Dane narrowed his eyes, flexed his hands. He’d thought he was going to beat the shit out of Lan for bringing Alea to the meeting, but Cooper had done something much worse. “I can talk, man. I just don’t think you’re going to like what I have to say. ”

  Cooper pulled back slightly, frowning. “I didn’t mean for it to happen. ”

  “Oh, it was an accident then? You tripped and fell on top of her pussy? Did your tongue fall out and land on her clit?”

  “She was responding, damn it. ”

  Dane had seen just how she’d responded. “Yeah, you must have done a hell of a job with her, buddy. She was screaming and kicking and fighting you as if she was struggling for her very survival.

  He’d heard her from down the hall. He’d been lighting into Lan when they both heard Alea’s shout. They’d run, terrified that someone was trying to kill her. Lan had his gun out and he’d just about taken off Coop’s head when Dane realized who it was.

  Coop’s whole body sagged. “It didn’t start out like that. I was trying to check up on her. I wanted to make sure her BP was okay. She nearly fainted. When she took a while in the bathroom, I went in to make sure she hadn’t fallen or stumbled and hit her head. And I saw her. She was…”

  “Beautiful. ” Yeah, he’d gotten that, too. He’d seen every inch of her golden body, every curve and valley. Even though she’d been screaming, he was just enough of a bastard to get a hard-on because she was so fucking sexy. Shame filled him. She didn’t want him and she was probably right. No man with real morals would have gotten an erection when the woman he adored was terrified.
  And they damn straight wouldn’t have threatened to spank her. The trouble was, she responded to dominance. It was only when he’d used his Dom voice that she’d calmed and come out of her episode. She needed someone to take control when she couldn’t, to make sure she didn’t hurt herself. To stand by her and give her the safe boundaries and structure she needed.

  “Yes, she was so beautiful, and we had this connection, Dane,” Coop continued. “She thinks she’s frigid, but she’s not. She was pressing her pussy against my mouth and wriggling around. That’s why I tried to hold her down, so I could finish her off. Damn, I don’t think that girl’s ever had an orgasm. If I hadn’t wrapped my arms around her, we would be in a totally different place. ”

  “Yeah, you would be fucking her, and Dane would be rearranging my face,” a laconic voice said from the doorway. Landon stared at Cooper.

  Coop rolled his eyes. “God, don’t give me that. I wasn’t trying to steal her. I was trying to show her how good it can be. And you’re a fine one to talk. What the fuck was that move you pulled? Did you sell her on how awful Dane and I are to cut her out of that meeting?”

  “Fuck you, Coop. ” Lan squared off, facing the other man down. They started to circle each other like two pit bulls waiting to take a chunk out. “She deserved to be in that meeting. It was about her. She’s not a child. ”

  “She sure knows how to throw a temper tantrum,” Dane said, frowning. “That shit she just pulled is exactly why I left her out. Alea isn’t ready for that much reality. We all agreed on this plan, and you took it into your own hands to reverse our decision. ”

  He’d been trying so hard to get them all on the same page. Alea needed all three of them. She’d grown up in a country where she was practically expected to marry two or three men, maybe more. Being kidnapped had torn her world apart, but eventually she would find comfort in her custom of plural marriage. But in order to offer her what she needed, they had to stick together, and his asshole, idiot partners were being selfish pricks.

  Lan’s face flushed an angry red. “Look, I talked to Cole. He’s been in this place before. ”

  “Oh, Cole Lennox is now your best friend?” Coop shot at Lan, rounding on him. “Or is he the guy giving you advice on how to get her all to yourself?”

  “What are you talking about? He shares his wife with his brother. ” Lan growled a little, a sure sign that this situation was about to get ugly. “And you’re a fine fucking one to talk, Coop. I made a decision to bring her into something that involved us all. I thought we’d sit down and hash this out with her. I thought that maybe if she understood the situation, she would be a little easier on us. Let us closer. What’s your excuse? Are you going to try to convince me that you were just warming her up so Dane and I could come in behind you and show her a good time? I didn’t see you leaving a whole lot of room in her pussy for us. ”

  Coop’s right fist flew out, catching Lan’s jaw. There was a thud, and a nasty, happy little smile crept across Lan’s face because he was a man who appreciated violence, and Coop had just made the enormous mistake of giving it to him.

  Lan’s fist popped up almost faster than Dane could see it, and a nice splash of blood came from Coop’s face. His lip, it looked like. He’d shifted just enough that Lan hadn’t broken his nose.

  They started to wail on each other, but Dane had lost the desire to fight.

  Because he was pretty sure they had just lost Alea. Or maybe she’d already been lost, and tonight had simply forced him to face facts. The woman spitting the cruel barbs just wasn’t his princess.

  He heaved a long sigh. She needed him, but she would never acknowledge it, never give him the chance to prove it to her. And, hell, maybe he was wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time. Maybe he should just join a fucking club and spend his time with the subs there who came out for a good time. He’d wrecked his marriage. He’d fucked up his career.

  “I should have expected this. ” Tal stood beside him, watching the fight and shaking his head.

  Dane turned, and it looked like Tal had brought out the whole fucking gang. Rafe and Kade were with him, along with the three James brothers—Gavin, Slade, and Dex—as well as the Lennox twins, Cole and Burke.

  “Brothers shouldn’t fight like that, man,” Dex said, shaking his head.

  Gavin James sent his youngest brother a scorching look. “Really? My nose is crooked because of you two fuckers. ”

  Slade shook his head. “That was all on you, brother. Ouch, that’s going to hurt. They’re not big believers in rules, are they?”

  Dane winced because Coop had just landed a kidney shot. “He was my team’s medic. I don’t think he takes the Hippocratic Oath very seriously. And we’re not really brothers. ”

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