Under His Protection (EXCERPT ONLY)

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Summary

RANDI I've basically run my entire life into the ground. I'm on a first name basis with all cops in this town. The bartenders here know my entire life story, and I'm pretty sure my body count would stack higher than the Eiffel Tower. I'm the resident "bad girl" - have been since I was sixteen. But this man thinks he can fix me . . . I wish him the best of luck. ~ * ~ * ~ SEAN I'm undercover. She's meant to be nothing more than someone for me to use to get closer to the man I'm meant to take in. But she's hell on wheels, and everything about her draws me into her. Before I know it, I'm in deep, and all of my lies are digging me into a deeper hole. Because I can't tell her who I am. I'm not allowed to blow my cover. And I'm terrified that when she does find out who I really am, I'm going to lose her.

Genre:
Romance / Drama
Author:
T.O. Smith
Status:
Excerpt
Chapters:
4
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
18+

CHAPTER ONE

I took another sip from my drink, not even flinching at the burn that the alcohol left behind.

The bartender leaned his hip against the bar. “You want another drink, Randi?”

I honestly didn’t even know his name. But I frequented bars so much in this town that every bartender and bar owner knew my full name, my date of birth, and they also knew just about everything in my life.

I had no job – was living off of my dad’s money. I dropped out of high school when I was sixteen, and I never went back to get my GED.

I had parental issues – had them most of my life. Mom never wanted anything to do with me unless she was enrolling me in some stupid pageant and dressing me up. Otherwise, I may have just been invisible.

And Dad was so damn sick of me most days that he just threw money at me in the hopes that it would at least keep me out of trouble, though every cop in this town knew me like the back of their hands.

Drinking and being rebellious was supposed to have been something I did as a teenager, but I became an alcoholic; I could admit that.

But I wasn’t going to change it. Even at twenty-one years old, I was still craving my parents’ attention like a child.

My phone rang as the bartender set a glass of dark liquor in front of me. I slid him a tip before I grabbed my phone off the bar top, sighing when I saw the caller ID on my screen. “Dad,” I sighed, squeezing my eyes shut and rubbing my temples, “what do you want?” I grumbled.

My parents divorced my sophomore year of high school. I hadn’t handled it well when it had happened. Life was already shit before the divorce. My parents weren’t abusive – just emotionally and mentally neglectful. And the divorce? I think I see my mother once every couple of years even though we still live in the same town. And Dad? He just calls to harass me about drinking and what it does to both mine and his reputation.

If only he knew about my body count – he’d really have a goddamn fit, then.

This shit used to be a way to piss my parents off and force them to pay some kind of attention to me, even if it was negative. My mother has always been a heartless bitch who thought I ruined her reputation when I started drinking and sleeping around. My father hated the way I lived.

They both thought that I needed a rehabilitation center.

Now, I just drank to try to forget the shit my life had become – the shit I had done to myself. I was a class-A fuck-up.

“Randi, you’ve been drinking, haven’t you?” My dad asked, sighing as he picked up on my slurred words.

I dropped my face into my hand. I wasn’t near buzzed enough for this; I was just tired, though he would never believe me. If the bars were open, he assumed I was already drunk.

“Dad, not now,” I muttered, swallowing another shot the bartender set in front of me. I gave him a small smile in thanks.

“Looks like you need it.” He said quietly as he grabbed the tip that I held out to him.

Dad muttered something that I didn’t catch, and I was sure I didn’t want to hear it. I could just picture him pinching the bridge of his nose, trying to reign in his temper so he wouldn’t yell at me.

Some days, I wish he would yell at me. But he was always so damn calm.

“Come to my place when you’re sober.” He snapped down the line.

He hung up the phone without so much as a goodbye. I irritably sighed and placed my phone on the counter, grabbing the rest of my drink and downing it.

Honestly, if I didn’t drink so much, I was sure Dad would never bother calling me, texting me, etc. Was I stupid to still want my parents to actually give a fuck about me? I was grown, so shouldn’t I have moved on from the shit by now?

“Fucking asshole,” I muttered, motioning at the bartender for another shot. If he wanted to believe that I was already wasted, then fuck it. I would show up at his house tomorrow hung over like a mother fucker.

Because that shit pissed him clean the hell off.

After I downed that shot, I got up and started dancing, letting the alcohol liquify my body. I continued downing shots, tipping the bartender and paying for my drinks as I went. It wasn’t long before there weren’t many coherent thoughts running through my head anymore.

All I wanted to do was get laid.

Fucking random people seemed to fill an empty void in me. My counselor in high school told me it was from the lack of my parents’ attention. I just figured I was a fucked-up girl, and my parents just helped me reach the point I was now at.

I walked up to a random guy and tugged on his shirt after I caught him eyeing me from across the room. “Want to have some fun?” I whispered into his ear.

He smirked down at me, his hands gripping my hips, tugging me up against him. I took that as a yes and dragged him out to my car.

~ * ~ * ~

My head began pounding the instant that I woke up. I released a pain-filled groan and slid out of the random hotel room bed, putting on my clothes. I fixed my hair the best that I could and walked out to find my car, not even giving the guy that had been in bed with me a second glance.

I didn’t remember much from last night. I vaguely remembered a phone call from my dad, demanding me to come home this morning, but that was about it. I didn’t know if I ever got the name of the man that I woke up next to or how many shots I actually took last night.

It had to have been a lot, though, because this hangover was a bitch.

I released a quiet whine when the sun met my eyes. Putting my hand up to shield my eyes, I stumbled to my car and got in, desperately searching for my shades once I was sitting down.

This was going to be a shitty day.

I stumbled when I slid out of my car, my headache making my balance go awry. I was still pretty shit-faced, and I knew I was going to get the longest fucking lecture of my life when I stepped inside.

Why the fuck do I do this shit to myself?

My dad opened the front door as I maneuvered the stairs. He rolled his eyes at me almost instantly. I released a tired sigh. I really didn’t want to deal with this. “You’re still drunk.” He stated, sounding tired and just over my shit.

“Tylenol,” I muttered, literally waving my hands at him for him to move out of the way. I felt like vomiting. “And don’t talk so loud,” I grumbled.

I rubbed my temples and brushed past him to walk inside. I stumbled to the bathroom and opened the door, not bothering to knock since no one else should have been in the house with my dad.

But boy, was I wrong.

A guy with a very nice, naked ass turned to face me. My eyebrows shot up to my forehead, my cheeks actually burning red.

Holy fuck. They actually made men this hot?

“Um, hi.” I squeaked, doing my best to keep my eyes on his face, but they had a mind of their own and trailed all over his body.

His muscles flexed in his arms every time he moved, and he had an eight pack that led to a ’V’ that disappeared into the towel he now had wrapped around his waist.

“I’m going to take a wild guess that you’re the famous Randi I’ve been hearing so much about since I got here to town.” He crossed his buff arms across his chest, giving me a once over. My cheeks darkened even further. This shit wasn’t normal. Men normally didn’t affect me like this.

Then again, I’d never been in the presence of a man who was equivalent to a god.

I opened my mouth to say something, but my words died in my throat as my eyes connected back with his face now that he was actually looking at me and not at the mirror.

He had a strong jawline and lips that looked like they could do some pretty damn good magic. His hair was dark and hung in a damp mess across his forehead. And his eyes; oh, man, those gorgeous, baby blue eyes – I was fucked.

“I really need that fucking Tylenol,” I muttered, looking away from him. The desire he was making me feel was only making my head hurt that much worse. It was too much to think about, and right then, thinking was torture.

I reached into the medicine cabinet and grabbed two Tylenol out of the bottle. He just watched me with calculating eyes. Something seemed off about him; he seemed too cautious to be some man just randomly taking a shower in my dad’s house, but I really didn’t want to dwell on it. If dad wanted to let the man use his amenities, I didn’t care.

I walked out of the bathroom and to the kitchen. My dad handed me a glass of water, and quickly swallowed down the pills, my stomach churning as I drank the water. I sat down in a kitchen chair, ready to hear my dad’s normal bitching about my choices and my decisions – how I kept choosing the wrong path.

I looked up when the guy came in wearing a pair of jeans and a t-shirt. Fuck, did he look good in everything? First naked, then a towel, and now, regular clothes. This man was made to perfection by God himself, that was for damn sure.

My dad sighed, drawing my attention to him. “Randi, you’re moving back in here.” He said without beating around the bush.

I raised my eyebrows at him. My head still hurt too much for this conversation. He tried this with me all of the time, and I always refused to do what he wanted. I was grown. Granted, I made really stupid decisions, but I still was grown, and he couldn’t make me do anything I really didn’t want to.

“Um, excuse me?” I snapped, my temper getting the best of me. “I’m twenty-one years old. I’m capable of taking care of myself.” I snapped back at him.

My dad snorted, letting me know exactly how he felt about my capability of taking care of myself. “Right. If there’s one thing your mother and I both agree on, it’s your inability to take care of yourself.”

I snorted at the mention of my mother, but I didn’t comment on that. That was a fight I really couldn’t handle this morning. “Why do you always want me to move back in here?” I muttered as I closed my eyes, swallowing down vomit.

“Because you need to get your life back together, Randi.” He sternly spoke. I released a tired sigh. I could feel the stranger’s eyes boring into the side of my head, but I ignored him. “This has gone on long enough, and you need help. If you don’t move back in here, then you’re moving in with Mr. Johnson.” He said, waving a hand at the sexy God-like being standing in the kitchen watching our exchange with cool, unreadable eyes. “Mr. Johnson has experience with alcoholics, and he can help you.” I wanted to laugh. “I came across him in town, and he offered his services to me. He’s the CEO of a rehabilitation center up north, and he’s putting down roots here for another branch. He wants to help you, Randi. You need it.”

I shot him an incredulous look. He couldn’t be fucking serious. “Dad.” I groaned. He was just going to ship me off to some stranger just because he was rich and owned a fucking rehabilitation center? I didn’t need help. I needed my goddamn parents to love me and not be so fucking worried about their precious reputations. I just wanted my parents to be emotionally available to me.

“You’re fucking kidding me, right?” I snapped at him, suddenly getting angry. “If I wanted my life to be ’on track’ as you fucking call it, I would do it myself. I’m fine with my life the way it is.” I sneered.

“From what I’ve heard, Randi,” Mr. Johnson said, drawing my attention to him, “you’re not capable at all of even beginning to do that.” I glared at him. “You’re a high school dropout with a nasty attitude who’s been to jail multiple times and drinks constantly. I agreed with your dad about your life. You need help.”

I released an outraged scream and picked up the saltshaker from the kitchen table, throwing it at him, my temper rearing its ugly head. I fucking hated it when people – especially strangers – tried to tell me how the fuck to live my life. If I wanted fucking help, I would have gotten it a long time ago.

But I didn’t want help.

He caught the saltshaker in his hand before it could hit him and smirked at my childish antics. It only served to piss me off more. I glared at my dad. “This is fucking ridiculous.” I spit at him.

This was going to whole new lengths, even for him.

He shrugged at me. “Randi, I’m almost to the point of putting you in a rehab facility and making you go to counseling. Go live with Mr. Johnson for a while, and get better, and I won’t be forced to do that.”

I clenched my fists, glaring at him and Mr. Fuck-Face. “I can’t believe this shit,” I muttered as I dropped back into the kitchen chair and dropped my head into my hands. I looked up at my dad. “This is absolute bullshit.”

“Come on.” Mr. Johnson said, holding out his hand for me to take. I just glared at him and stood up by myself. He shoved his hand into his pocket with a shrug, not seeming bothered by my hostility. “We’re going to go get your stuff from your place. You have no choice in this. I’m not giving you one.” He told me, nodding his head towards the door.

“I’ll call the cops.” I snapped at him. I would not be forced into this goddamn situation, and I wasn’t going to fucking rehab.

I was fine.

He chuckled, a smirk twisting his lips. I wanted to punch him. I’d never been so fucking angry in my life. “Babe, from what I’ve seen and heard, the cops don’t like you.”

I glared at him before I turned on my heel and stormed towards the front door, hating that he was right. I could honestly seriously get kidnapped, and the police would probably throw a party.

He held open the passenger side door for me. I glared at him. I stepped up close to him. He only evenly met my gaze. “You can’t save me, Mr. Johnson,” I warned him. “I’m beyond saving.”

With that, I dropped into the passenger seat, allowing him to shut the car door.

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