I love cooking but nothing makes me happier than cook for her. I make a bigger serving so that my brothers have something to eat but it’s her I am thinking about. I watch her constantly to know what she likes, what she prefers. She has been held for so long and she was fed whatever shit they cooked or ordered. Every new taste is a discovery, every flavor an adventure and I am her guide.
“You good, brother?” I hear Vince behind me.
“Yeah, Tamie wanted pasta so I am making some. Let the guys know I am making some for all.”
“Sure thing, Mommy!” Vince chuckles and the scar on his face deepens.
“I should let you all starve or die of heart disease eating shit.”
“Nah, you love us, brother.”
Vince pulls closer and he searches my eyes. He may be an older, rougher version of Vik’s clown personality but he is so much more. He is a Rider to the core and a damn good Herre. And probably the Rider I am closest to.
“I am happy for you, man,” is all he says.
I nod. I may have been wearing mask around the Riders since day one but after Tamie agreed to be mine, I can’t hide that stupid smile.
“I guess Rage is cool with that,” Vince says.
“I doubt I would be alive if he wasn’t. Well, if Iris wasn’t.”
“Does Tamie know?”
I look up from the pan I am preparing a sauce over. He is talking of me almost claiming Iris. My body stiffens. There are a lot I haven’t told Tamie. I haven’t revealed the darkness in me, the reason that I am still getting distant, faint echoes of the nightmares that will forever haunt me. And I for sure haven’t told her that I was going to claim Iris as my Valkyrie.
“Tell her, brother,” Vince is serious.
I say nothing.
“Tell her. She will find out at some point,” Vince repeats and then his face turns into his usual playful self. “Would it hurt you to add bacon to that?”
I pretend I am not shaken by his words and I give him a wide smile.
“It wouldn’t hurt me but it will surely hurt you, Vince. You know heart attacks are common for men your age.”
“I know, brother. Women have a heart attack each time I fuck them!” Vince gives me the finger and walks out the kitchen.
I am still thinking of his words while I carry a tray down the hall to my room. I hide so much shit inside. I know Tamie is tough and has been through some shit but I want her happy and smiling. Just for a little while longer.
I turn the knob with one hand and I put on a smile. Though I don’t have to. I smile like an idiot each time I see her. I open the door and step in.
“Handmade pasta for-”
I almost drop the tray. Tamie is sitting on the bed across an open closet. The closet I keep my guns in. My guns and my... My look focuses with dread on the open drawer.
I have never been more afraid in my life. I can’t see her face from here and I am dying to see what she is thinking. She was held and tortured and now she finds that...
She slowly turns to me and I am hit with her look. I am relieved to see that I don’t see hatred or accusation. Or disgust. I am disgusted with myself but it’s something... Something I needed to try. I am not into hurting women but the bondage? It fascinates me, it makes me feel in control. I have tried it with some rotters but something was missing. Still, the idea that a woman was under my control, was pleasing.
But I can’t do that with Tamie. Never. She had men controlling her for good and for so long. She trusts me, she likes being with me. Maybe one day she will love me. I am happy with her and I can make her happy. I should have thrown all that shit out the moment Tamie agreed to be mine.
“Tamie?” I ask, leaving the tray on the table.
Her look is strange. She is surprised, I can see as much. Is she disappointed with me? Surprised to see that the man she thought was her savior hides underneath? That she is deep down like the men that held her?
“You...” Her voice takes me aback with its lightness. “You like that?”
I cross the room, close the drawer and shut the closet. I am not even mad for her looking through my things. She has every right to every inch of me. I am mad at me for being that horrible person, that sick motherfucker that deserves nothing.
I sigh and turn to her.
“No, kitten. I... I am not into that.”
“If you want, we can-”
“NO!” I almost scream.
She jumps up and I press my eyes together. I am making one mistake on top of the other and I am going to lose the one thing I cherish in my worthless life. Maybe it’s better that way. Maybe Tamie should have never agreed to be with me. Another Hunter sister to scorn me because I am not good enough. Not a good enough son, not a good enough soldier, not a good enough Rider.
“Kyle, it’s OK. We could try.”
“Nothing to try, Tamie. Now, let’s eat.”
I hate that I made her feel like she needs to be the doll again, the good girl, the one that needs to please a man to survive. She may think that I will not want her if she doesn’t do that. I will prove to her that I am the one that needs to prove myself to her, not the other way around.
It’s the next day and I don’t know If I hate or prefer it when Magda called me for back-up. I needed the distraction and I needed to put some distance between last night and the things Tamie saw.
“You OK, big bro?” Magda asks.
I am not. I didn’t sleep all night, just watched Tamie sleep in my embrace. I didn’t even attempt to initiate sex with her. I just held her tight. Today, tomorrow one day, she may decide to finally leave me. She has every right to do so. And I will be back to being alone, like I deserve. There is no Valkyrie out there for me. Tyr is a good of valor and I have shamed him. That is his punishment.
“I’m good, lil sis,” I say and focus on our target. “He is on the move. Let’s take him out.”
Hours after, we have booked the man and we are back in Valkyrie Bonds to report in. Ava is getting ready to close up and she is scanning me as I write my report.
“You are not well,” Ava states.
“Just tired, Ava. Drop it.”
“You get to be a lot of things, Wood. Anal, pissy, withdrawn, dangerous. But you don’t do tired.”
“Everyone gets tired,” I hiss to keep her off the scent of the shit that go through my head.
“Not the infamous ex-SEAL of the Riders,” Ava presses.
“Fuck you!” I burst.
Ava takes the attack with a smile. It’s the first time I have spoken my mind to her and she knows that. It’s a victory for her.
“I’ll finish this up tomorrow,” I throw at her, take my phone and gun and go out, heading for the bar.
I check the phone. No calls. Tamie hasn’t called all day. I have sent a thrall to keep an eye on her, follow her to and from the college and I am ready to call him to make sure that Tamie is safely back to Iris’s when I spot her car parked outside Valhalla.
I scowl and I look across the street. The garage is closed for the day so Iris is not here. I don’t see Rage’s bike either. I enter the bar and scan it. Images of that night she came in, determined to seduce a Rider come and I am ready to kill. If not kill, definitely use the taser Ava has made me carry around. But she is not there.
“Did you make me some money?” Tor asks from his usual booth.
I give him the finger and I go down the hall to my room. I hesitate as I grab the knob. What if she is here to end things? A pain like nothing I have felt before rips through me. But I pull myself together. If Tamie wants to end it, I will bow down to her will. I have promised. Whatever Tamie needs, I will provide. I will simply go back to being dead inside.
I turn the knob and step inside and it’s the second time in 24 hours that my jaw drops by simply entering my room. I close the door hastily behind me and I look again at the image before me.
Tamie is on the black rug on the floor. She is on her knees, sitting on her thighs. She is stark naked and around her neck... Around her neck she is wearing a collar with a chain on it. Her look is cast down but when I enter, she takes the chain and offers it to me.
I am flooded with so much, that I stagger back and hit the door. The instinct kicks in first before logic and I get painfully hard in my jeans. To see Tamie like that, surrendering her body to me makes me boil inside. The animal, that filthy animal inside me, demands that I take that chain, force Tamie on all fours and ride her.
But when logic hits, I shake like a leaf. She relapsed. She is back to the girl she was that first night in the motel, when she was so scared for her life, so afraid of me that she offered herself to me, trying to find what is my kink. Now she knows and she feels the need to please me.
I am a good girl, a very good girl, her words from that night I savagely took her come to me. She thinks that she needs to be a good girl for me to keep being with her. That’s what I did to her. That’s what I did to my Tamie!
“Get up and get dressed, Tamie!” I demand and I turn my back to leave the room.
“You heard me, kitten. Get dressed and meet me outside.”
“No, Kyle, hear me out,” she pleads.
My back stiffens at her begging and I take a few breaths before I turn to face her again. Fuck, she is so tempting, so perfect. I groan but I don’t move a muscle.
“I need this too,” she whispers and looks up through her thick eyelashes, her head still low.
“I have told you, Tamie. You don’t need to do this.”
“I know. I want to.”
I am spiraling down to that night, the first night. We had the same conversation. Iris was right. I coerced and pushed Tamie for this. She is not ready. I should have let her discover the world and decide for herself. But I am a selfish asshole and I took what I wanted.
“I do. I didn’t even know I did. I trust you, Kyle. I trust you with my life, with my heart, with my body.”
“I will not hurt you, Tamie. Get dressed.”
“I know you won’t,” she smiles at me and I melt. “But you need control, I see that. And I need to lose control.”
“You are confused, Tamie. You were conditioned to relinquish control to men. But I am not these men, kitten. I want you free and happy and you can’t possibly be happy doing... that.”
“You are wrong, Kyle,” her voice is firm. “They never controlled me. I did what I had to do to survive and get back to Iris. And I won. Freddie is dead and I am here. Years upon years, I had to be in absolute control, never forget who I was, never think for a moment I was just a whore. Never forget Iris and always keep my focus on my goal. I struggled for that control, the one that would keep me going, keep me from tying a noose and...”
The image of that desperate girl back there comes between us. How easy it would have been for Tamie to end her torment. But she didn’t. She endured, she transformed to whatever they wanted to be and she prevailed in the end.
“I never gave control to Daultrey and I never let Freddie control me. Despite the situation I was in, I was in charge, I made the decisions I needed to make to keep Iris safe. But with you, Kyle,” she takes the chain once more, “I want to give you the control. Just in here, in our bed, in our most intimate moments.”
“It’s not right, Tamie. Not... Not normal.”
“We are not normal, Kyle.”
Her hand extends to me once more, holding the end of the chain. I am an unmoving statue as I look into her eyes, trying to read her. My body tingles and it has made its decision. I have never seen a more erotic sight than my kitten in a collar, handing me control over her body.
I don’t move, though. If I do, I will do this. I will take that chain and all that it means. I will bind her, I will make her mine all the way. And if I do, I will never, never let her go again.
“Please,” Tamie begs once more to make me harder in my pants.
I only breathe and I stare at her, trying to tame the animal that stirs so forcefully inside me. I want this. Fuck, I want this. I want this so bad. That’s what was missing. It couldn’t be just any woman. It had to be her.
“Please,” Tamie looks me straight in the eyes. “Please, sir.”