* Mason *
Mason couldn’t recall the last time he’d drank so much he forgot where he was or who he slept next to. What in the hell went on last night? He groaned as he rolled over, sensing Clover’s soft body lying beside him. He nuzzled her red hair, the fog in his head clearing.
This was his bed, not hers. Had he finally gotten up the nerve to invite Clover back to his place? He liked how homey her apartment was. He thought if she saw all the pointless shit decorating his penthouse she wouldn’t feel comfortable.
“Sweetheart, what did we drink? My head hurts, but plan on making you scream anyway,” he spoke against her neck, grabbing her full breasts… only.
A blue-eyed girl turned her face from the pillow and kissed him, “You totally can’t handle your whiskey. You’re lucky I found you adorable before you passed out on me.”
He scrambled from the mattress in confusion and anger, “Who are you? What are you doing here?”
She gave him a withering stare, hitching the sheet up as she went to get out of bed, “Oh, that’s messed up Mason. I sucked your dick, but you can’t remember my name?”
He ran a hand over his face. Then he remembered the bar, Patches. Bentley had introduced this girl… Reese. Where was Clover? What the actual fuck was going on? At least he wore his briefs, and the room didn’t reek of sex.
“Um, look, I’m sorry,” he needed her gone and a hot shower — in that order, “Reese, right?”
She beamed, tucking his three hundred dollar sheet around her naked body. “Yup. I knew you’d remember me, baby. We had a lot of fun before that last drink. A lot of fun.”
He gritted his teeth, searching for his phone, “You have to go.”
She huffed in response, walking into the en-suite bathroom singing a song. What nightmare did he wake to? Mason tossed the bedroom, not locating his keys or phone. He dashed out to the open floor plan of the penthouse and there, by the door, was his stuff along with his clothes.
Had he seriously cheated on Clover with that wisp of a girl now making herself comfortable in his home? He snatched up his cell, not seeing any missed calls from Clover or Bentley.
He dialed Bentley, the one who would know what he’d done while shit faced.
“Yo!” Bentley’s cheerful tone made him cringe.
“What the fuck happened last night?” he yelled, “There’s no way I got so wasted I wouldn’t remember taking home someone who wasn’t Clover.”
The fucker laughed at him. “But you did, Mason. You did. There are all kinds of pictures of you and Reese online. She knows how to make other girls jealous, huh?”
He swallowed the rising panic, “What did you do, Ben?”
“What do you mean? Hey, thanks for the memorable evening, but I’m on my way out of the city. We’ll see each other again soon. Take care.”
He almost threw his phone, “I know you did something! Don’t you fucking hang up on me, asshole!” The line went dead. “Fuck!” he shouted.
Reese padded into the room wearing one of his pale blue dress shirts with a smile, red hair dripping wet, “I should make you breakfast. My mom always said greasy food is best for hangovers. She’s an alcoholic, so obviously an expert!” she snorted.
“Get out!” he snapped, “I don’t appreciate this game you and Bentley are playing and it ends now!”
Her blue eyes widened almost owlishly, “Please, stop yelling at me.”
He took a deep breath, squeezing the phone until the case cracked, “Look, answer some questions for me, yeah?”
She fiddled with the long arms of the shirt which made her appear smaller, “Like what?”
He stomped over to where she stood in front of his leather sectional sofa set. The furniture in the apartment was minimal but comfortable, the only demand he’d given the interior designer when he moved in. He rarely had downtime, but when he did, he wanted to lounge on something that didn’t put his ass to sleep.
She swallowed nervously as he waved for her to sit. He needed to calm down if he planned to get anywhere with this skittish girl.
“How old are you?” he asked, draping his hands between his knees.
“Maybe you should take a shower and dress.”
He gritted his teeth, counting to ten in his head before grinding out, “I will but you’re not staying here and I need answers. So again, how old are you?”
She looked at the floor, “Eighteen.”
Damn, she was just a kid. “How did you meet Bentley?”
Her lower lip trembled, and she covered her face.
“Hey, it’s okay,” he didn’t understand what her problem was but with Bentley, it could be anything, “Talk to me. Come on, you can trust me.”
She let out a disbelieving snort as she raised her head, eyes free of tears. “He said you’d say that. You men are all the same. I may be young, but I see you. You are not a good man, Mason Thistle.”
He straightened, “What’s that supposed to mean?”
Her sweet voice turned accusing, and he gaped in disbelief at the weirdness of her hot and cold demeanor, “Bentley told me you drugged and raped women in college. How you got off of spreading rumors they were dirty whores so they’d drop out.”
He stood, running his fingers through his greasy hair, “What are you talking about? He fed you bullshit lies. Why?”
“Sir doesn’t lie to me!” She jumped to her feet screaming, “He confides in me!”
He stayed still like a dumb fuck as she snatched her purse by the door, swearing up and down Bentley was a saint, and Mason was going to hell for the way he treated her. He quickly got on the phone, demanding security escort Reese out of the building and to never allow her back in. The list was long over the years he’d lived there, but it was usually sneaky reporters, not half-dressed girls.
Bentley had brainwashed that girl.
He stared at his phone, contemplating calling Clover, but the coward in him whispered to hold off. He scrolled through the local online tabloids and scowled at the pictures of Reese with her lips stuck to his at different clubs throughout the city. People’s opinions mattered little to him, but on closer inspection wondered why his eyes were closed in the shots. He counted five where his face remained slack and the crazy redhead appeared to prop him up in seats.
Jesus, Bentley set him up. Roofied him in fucking public where no one noticed he didn’t have control of his faculties!
He sat heavily on the plush sofa, his mind racing. What sort of twisted, perverted game was Bentley playing at making him believe he slept with Reese? Why was he filling her head with shit Bentley himself had done? He’d never drugged or violated anyone in his life!
His phone rang, startling him out of his stupor. “Mason,” he barked.
“Mr. Thistle? I know you planned on sitting down Monday for the finalization of the data for SENSES but Mr. Gill has decided it would be better if you met with him tonight in the lab.” Mila Nest, Peters PA hurriedly said.
He cleared his throat, “It’s not the best night for a meeting, Mila.”
“Would you like me to relate that to Mr. Gill?” If her tone dripped much more disappointment, he’d bow his head shamed.
He held back an agitated sigh, “No. Tell Peter six is fine.”
“Thank you, Mr. Thistle.”
Mason roused himself to shower, wondering if Clover would forgive him for being the worst man she probably ever dated. He didn’t deserve her with the secrets he kept, and now Reese just became another.
* Bentley *
Bentley sat in the back of his town car watching as security followed Reese out of Mason’s building. She waved cutely at the annoyed security guard before making her way barefoot and nearly naked to the vehicle.
“Good morning,” she tried to touch him but he shut that shit down with a stony stare and a threatening grip on her slender neck, “I did what you wanted, sir.” she squeaked.
Bentley knocked on the divider to let his driver, Grant, know they were ready, before releasing her, “You were obedient last night. How did you behave this morning though? Anything you want to explain?”
Reese shook, cupping her small hands beneath her chin, “No! No, I was sweet. Mason wasn’t very nice. Clover will be so much happier with us.”
“With ME!” he growled, then cleared his throat, giving her a doting smile after she shrunk further into herself in fear, “Your conduct pleased me, but don’t forget your manners. Remember why I choose you and Kyrell won’t correct your outspoken behavior by skull fucking you until you pass out.”
She gulped, “I apologize, sir.”
“Better. Now, tell me everything, pet. Leave nothing out.”
As Grant drove, headed out of Tucker City towards the countryside, where he secured a sizable residence for his extended stay, Reese re-capped her time with Mason. He wasn’t surprised he let her go without questioning her more. He was a weak man with no clear picture of what Bentley had planned.
“Is this where we’ll be living?” she grinned at the two-story house on the outskirts of West Wind.
He smirked at her misplaced excitement, “Know your place, pet and get out of the car.”
When Grant parked in the detached outbuilding, he gripped Reese’s arm, bringing her into the foyer where Kyrell and Emmett waited. He motioned for Emmett to take the sniveling woman by his side, then led Kyrell into the makeshift office.
“Is Clover awake yet?” Bentley propped his feet up on the desk, peering at the monitors which showed all six cells in the basement.
“Last I checked, no.”
He shot the man an impatient glance as he brought up the room Clover occupied. He felt he owed the feisty redhead a kindness since he decided to make her his, picking the larger cell with a twin bed and a cubical bathroom with a cramped shower and toilet for her training. It wasn’t much, but nicer conditions than the others endured.
They handcuffed Clover’s right arm to the wall mount above the mattress she laid unconscious on, her breathing falling in a regular pattern under the shirt she wore. Bentley smiled to himself, wondering what mayhem she’d cause once she realized her predicament.
“What did you do to the guy she was with?” he yawned.
Kyrell stood by the window overlooking a quaint little garden, “Made it seem like a robbery. Fenced some of his shit in the city. They won’t discover the body until someone at work or a relative realizes he’s missing.”
“Shame you were as slow as a fucking grandma with a bad hip taking her from the bar,” he scorned the large idiot, “I’m tired of your excuses for how I want things done.” Pausing, he gave the nervous man a thoughtful look, “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you purposely screwed up. But I do know better. Right?”
Kyrell nodded, meeting his calculating stare, “Circumstances happened boss.”
“Sure,” he snorted, returning his gaze to the monitor, “Take Reese in there with instructions if they’re sweet little pets, we’ll have a pleasant dinner tonight. If not… you understand what to do.”
An evil glint lit inside the man’s hazel eyes, “On it.”