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Never Again

By RJ Heaton All Rights Reserved ©

Erotica / Romance

Blurb

It’s been years since Treva’s horrific ordeal. Now it’s just work and school, normal frustrations are almost welcome, but even she knows when a vacation is in order. A trip to visit her brother leads to an encounter with a sexy stranger. Figuring there would be no harm in employing her feminine guile, Treva flirts with him, believing she’ll never see him again. But as life proved to her time and time again, there are no guarantees in this world and a new challenge arrives in the form of a sinfully, seductive Ronin Hollister. The only issue is, he’s not the only surprise in store for her. Dark secrets from her past soon surface, threatening to shake her resolve. Will the demons from her past prove to be the breaking point for Treva?

Chapter 1

 

Never Again


Chapter 1

“TREVA.” He breathes my name softly while holding me close. I feel his breath against my cheek, and I can sense the warmth between us, even in the cold night air. He knows that I’m ready; I can’t control myself. Short shallow breaths make my chest heave … in and out, up and down—oh how I want him. Anticipation is killing me and he knows it. The way he is looking at me, I know that he wants me just as much as I want him.

My throbbing body twists and turns while my tongue explores the inside of his mouth. I’ve never felt this way before—like a bitch in heat. He feels the excitement in me, and he knows what I want, but he makes my aching body beg … it’s almost more than I can stand, but I don’t want it to end. The strong, arrogant, prick pushes me backwards into the shadows of nearby buildings. It’s too late for the streets to be crowded. Still, I can see people moving about—not near us, but just down the way. He has both hands gripping my ass—his fingers digging into my flesh like an animal.

With his arms around me, we stumble backwards to the railing along the edge of the walkway overlooking the bay area—it’s as far as we can go without going over the edge. I feel helpless as his strong arms push me against the railing … him standing between my legs, one arm wrapped around me and the other hand between my legs.

I hear footsteps coming toward us. Ronin puts both arms around me and we kiss as they walk past … just two lovers sharing a passionate moment alone in the dark. His cold hand eases its’ way under my shirt until it finds my breast. Suddenly, it’s not cold anymore. He rolls my nipples between his fingers while pinching them too hard, but the pain makes me want him more.

Gently, he raises my short skirt up until it’s around my waist. He puts his hand between my legs and says, “You’re so wet.” I close my eyes and look up toward the heavens—I want to cry out. Still pinching my nipples with one hand, he rubs my pussy with the other, teasing me now and then by massaging my sensitive bump. He has his fingers in me, at first it was just one, but now it’s two or three … I don’t know for sure, and actually right now I don’t care. I just want him to make me come, but he won’t let me … he stops.

I’m holding onto his shoulders. He takes my hand and places it between my legs. “I want you to make that wet pussy of yours come for me right here on the sidewalk,” he says. Standing in the shadows I hope to God that no one walks in our direction … I don’t want to have to stop. He tells me, “You look so sexy.” I know that I look sexy to him with my feet apart and my long shapely legs accentuated by the three inch heels. With his eyes fixed on me, I can feel what he feels. With a rhythm, I keep pushing my fingers in and out … stopping intermittently to rub my enlarged bump. My uncontrollable moans are too loud, but I can’t help it. He gently bites my tongue to keep me quiet.

Ronin leans forward and nips at my neck sending me into a lust-induced stupor. I push my fingers deeper. I buck and thrust my hips onto him; then he says, “Stop, I’m not ready for you to finish.” Leaning against him, I feel so helpless, like I would fall if he takes his arms from around me. “Do you feel good,” he asks. I don’t have the strength to talk; I just nod my head to say yes. Now, his fingers are deep inside me … in and out with a perfect rhythm. I beg him, “Please make me come, please, I’m ready.” With my legs apart, bent over, weak and trembling, almost ready to erupt, he stops me. I beg, “Please, I can’t hold it back anymore.”

Ronin sternly demands, “Look at me Treva, I want you to look at me while you come.” He steps back so that he can see my full length body. “Finger yourself,” he tells me, “make yourself feel good.” Bumping and grinding, I feel like a cheap slut. I suppose I am at the moment, but there’s just the two of us, and he loves it as much as I do.

His demanding voice makes me work harder. “Grind it out good,” he groans. I start coming and crying out while he watches me. I want him to hold me so that I don’t fall, but he steps back even further and tells me how sexy I am. I finish and I’m almost down to the pavement; he puts his arms around me, because I can’t stand up alone. My legs are too weak. I still have my fingers in my cunt; now, I feel his fingers next to mine … gently stroking me. I finger fucked myself in the shadows on Harbor Boulevard.

Finally, I come to my senses. “Ronin, holy hell, what are you doing to me?”

“You’re welcome.”

I shake my head knowing very well how proud he is of my knotted-up thoughts and the exhibition that I just put on. My face blushing like I’ve been in the sun all day and my body still tingling from the intense orgasm. I try to make my wobbly legs be still. Another couple is walking our way. My skirt is still up around my waist. I get myself straight just before they see us.

“How did we get here?” I ask shyly. Slightly shaken and now feeling a little embarrassed by what bordered on being a public sexual display. He holds my hand as we walk along. “How did we get here,” I ask again. He gives me that devious, devilish, smile like nothing had happened. “That’s not what I mean. I mean holy cow, how did we get here? I just met you. It’s only been a week and you’re giving me orgasms on the sidewalk in downtown San Diego.”

I close my eyes and think back.

٭٭٭

“Come on sis, Montana has to be sucking the life out of you by now. Come to San Diego and visit your big brother.”

It’s been a long cold winter, maybe a trip out of the snow and cold will help pull me out of this slump; it’s been ages since the last time I saw Seth.

“I’m telling you Treva, leaving Montana was one of the best decisions I ever made. Now pack a bag … shake a leg and get your butt on a plane. I’ll show you everything you’ve been missing.” He chuckles softly in my ear.

“Seth, you always know how to cheer me up. It’s been so stressful with school, especially now that I’m getting so close to the end. To cap it off, I’m working as hard as possible and hardly have any free time. Oh yeah, and did I mention my creepy boss? He’s constantly making passes at me. He is so gross and disgusting. I would kick him between the legs and bust his nuts, but I need the job. Seth, I think my head’s about to explode.” Filling my lungs with a deep breath of air, I exhale hard and loud, frustrated as hell.

“You need me to come to Helena and shove my foot up his ass?”

It’s good to know that Seth can turn my frustrations into laughter and put me in an upbeat mood in just a couple of minutes. “Nah, you know me I won’t stand by much longer taking his shit. And as far as coming to San Diego, that sounds amazing. I’ll see what I can do, but I’m not making any promises. So don’t do any flips, not yet anyway!”

“Alright, alright, I’ll settle for a maybe.”

I sit quietly on my rundown couch after hanging up the phone … listening to the sounds of quietness outside. Time goes by so fast. It’s been four years since Seth moved away from Helena. I hate to be so far away from my best friend.

Staring at the fluffy snowflakes falling outside from my window, I make the decision. I’m getting my ass up off of this couch before I wear another hole in it, pack my bags, grab my laptop and find a cheap flight to San Diego.

Chapter 2

“Hey big brother, are you busy right now?” I ask with a wide smirk across my lips.

“Not terribly, I’m just at work trying to get a pitch sorted out for a perspective new client, what’s up?”

I lift out my arms to soak in the warmth of the sun beaming down on my skin, damn I could get used to this weather. I had to get out of the heavy sweatshirt that I was wearing. The unbearable two below zero temperature in Helena this morning, and now the warm California sun is making me feel so good. “Well, I sort of need a ride …”

“Huh?” It takes Seth a minute to reply but then … “Wait, are you here? Really—you came? Are you at the airport?” Seth spouts, barely taking a breath.

“Yup,” I answer and then I hear a loud thud in the background assuming he was shocked and dropped something, it makes me giggle.

“Awesome, don’t leave; I’ll be there in a flash.”

It makes me so happy that I gave in and pushed myself to come on this much needed vacation. I haven’t seen Seth for so long, and now that I’m here, I feel like I might crawl out of my skin with excitement. I can’t wait to see him.

Skimming over the crowd before Seth gets here; I remember my roommate, Becca’s demand— “to notify her as soon as the plane hits the ground.” Quickly, I send her a text to let her know that I arrived safely and that the plane hadn’t been hi-jacked like she had feared. I slip my phone back into my pocket and return to my people gawking. The air swirls and I try to recognize the foreign scents. Smells of the ocean and city mingle in my nose as I watch a mother drag her screaming child across the sidewalk. I probably shouldn’t, but it makes me laugh. I am so glad it’s her and not me.

The glass entrance doors slide open again, but this time the most beautiful man I have ever seen, casually walks out into the light. My gaze is riveted by his good looks and I am physically unable to make myself look away. His magnetism is so strong he can probably pull any object to him, including me. His head turns from side to side like he is searching for something and I stare at every movement. That’s when his eyes meet mine. I’m embarrassed that I am caught staring at him and try to quickly look away. A sleek shiny black limo pulls up outside—I shift my eyes to watch the wheels trying to look distracted and nonchalant. After stopping, the driver walks around the car and opens the door, I stop breathing. The handsome face I was trying to avoid staring at stops at the limo’s door and looks up at me ... nervously, I try not to make eye contact. I can sense that he is still looking at me. Taking the chance to look at him again with my best unassuming pretense, I gasp when I see that wide smile. Of course I can only see his face and his brown, wind blown, looked hair now, since the door is partially blocking my view— arrogantly looking at me, he’s hot as hell and he knows it.

I feel a bit self-conscious; I know my hair is a mess from traveling all day. I have no makeup on, I am wearing old frumpy jeans with a plain pink T-shirt and I have an oversized sweatshirt wrapped around my waist. This guy cannot be seriously checking me out. He winks at me with a wide grin. I’m absolutely positive that he’s way out of my league, but something ignites and my spunky dark side twitters—I decide to play too. I wink back, and use my finger to slowly trace my full bottom lip before placing it into my mouth … sucking on it hollowing my cheeks before inserting it deeper. I maintain eye contact, as I slowly remove my finger while flicking it with my tongue. The beautiful man’s smirk leaves his face and he just stares at me blankly, while shaking his head. He looks away briefly and then glances back at me. I see him smile—no doubt in disbelief at my bold behavior as he climbs into the oversized car. My stomach twists from the brief encounter.

Welcome to San Diego, if my trip is starting out this good, I should have one hell of a good time. Looking down at my now tangled fingers, I notice the mustard on my pants, probably from the sandwich I had earlier. Crap, if the hottie had seen how messed up I really am, he would have never even given me a quick glance, let alone a second look. I am utterly doomed to ever have a regular relationship, especially with a guy like that.

Thank god Seth hadn’t been lying when he said he’d be here in a flash. It seemed like only moments ago when we hung up, but here he is pulling up in his flashy silver sports car.

Our eyes connect and I wave crazily … bouncing all around excited. God I am so happy to see him. He double parks next to a taxi, without any care of what the other drivers think, he jumps out and grabs me twirling me around like I’m a little kid in the air. “Man I missed you,” we both laugh loudly, and after he puts me down I grab him and hug him for what seems like an eternity.

“Let me look at you.” I hold him at arms length, which isn’t very far for me, “Wow California must be treating you well. Suit and tie, huh?” I’ve always been biased, but looking at Seth in his black suit, I see how stunning he really is. His hair is sandy blonde with highlights, and the tan from the California sun definitely does him justice.

“Oh Treva, I’m so happy you came! How long do I get to keep you around?” I melt seeing the longing in his eyes. I know he misses me, and I can tell he’s hoping this little trip won’t be a short visit.

“Well, I hope I’m not imposing, but I was thinking until after Christmas. I’m on winter break from school and I really need a good, long, vacation.”

“Really? You’re going to hang with me for three weeks ... for Real?”

“Well yeah, if you don’t get sick of me, that is.” I respond, curling the corners of my lips up into a devious smile.

“HELL NO … Christmas will be awesome now.”

His face lights up and it makes me feel so at home. As Seth takes my bags and puts them in the trunk, I slide into the front seat and get buckled in. The leather seats smell intoxicating, and I scan the little car for an emblem to see what model it is. “What kind of car is this anyway?” I say to Seth as he slides into the soft leather next to me. I’m usually pretty good with guessing car makes, but I see nothing that gives me a clue this time.

“It’s a Nissan 370Z Roadster.”

“Well aren’t you Mr. Fancy pants, running in high circles now?”

Seth quirks his eyebrows, “You have no idea sis.”

I squirm in my seat thinking about the way he said that, and the limo carrying the super god I had just seen, I didn’t know what Seth was really insinuating. I’m sure staying with him for a few weeks will enlighten me. I close my mouth and say no more and begin to check out the view. The airport is very close to downtown, and the skyscrapers curving along the water line is a magnificent site.

The little car speeds up and Seth gets on to the freeway. He easily weaves in and out between cars while interrupting my daydream. “So what do you want to do while you’re here, Trev?”

“I guess I hadn’t really thought about it too much. Mostly I wanted to hang out with you and do some way overdue R and R.” My face heats up as I think about my mystery man from the airport. My brain twirls around the thoughts of possibly doing more than just Rest and Relaxation. I quickly rivet my attention to my window trying to cover my reddening cheeks.

It’s hard to shy away from Seth for too long. I peek back at my handsome brother and grin seeing the wide tooth smile he flashes at me. “Well, we’ll just wine and dine and rest and relax as much as we can.” He says, and then winks.

“Seth I missed you so much!” I burst. “And I am jealous as all hell. Look how tan you are.”

He gives me his big-handsome-million-dollar smile and then turns his head back to watch the road. “So, I flew out of work kind of rapidly would you mind if we swing by my office real quick, so I can close down my computer? I can introduce you to a couple of my comrades too.”

“Sure no problem … I’ve always wanted to see what yanked my big shot brother away, causing him to abandon me anyway.” I lay on the guilt trip heavily. In truth, I am so happy for my brother and how much he has accomplished, and maybe a bit envious that he was able to get out of Montana and start his life.

Seth frowns, “Hey now … you’ll be done with med-school soon and you’ll be able to escape that place too.”

I nod thinking to myself how far away I actually am to becoming a Doctor. Right now it feels like I’ll never see the light at the end of the tunnel. I snap out of it. “Well hey don’t let me stop you from doing what you need to do. Don’t forget that I threw myself into your world unannounced, remember. So lead the way bro.”

Seth continues driving on Interstate-5 as we chat about our non-existent dating lives. Before I know it, he’s exiting off the interstate towards the city center. He makes a few turns while I twist and turn to stare out of my window—watching the stunning high rise buildings fly by. The building he pulls up in front of is not the tallest building, but not something I would call small either. The glass on the outside reflects like dark mirrors all the entire way up, shining brightly next to the steel holding it all in place. “This is it. This is the building I work in.” Seth shrugs slightly as he tells me so matter-of-factly.

“Wow.” I mumble awestruck. “The tallest building in Helena wouldn’t even come close to matching up against the shortest one here.” I can’t help but smile goofily, so eager for the change.

“You need to get out more, baby girl.” He says jokingly.

He presses on the accelerator a little harder than I had anticipated, making the tires squeal as he pulls into a parking garage underneath the magnificent building. Quickly, he finds a spot to squeeze his compact shiny sports car into. “Boys,” I mumble rolling my eyes at his display. I grope around for the door handle before I’m able to find it. When I’m finally able to get free of the car, Seth and I cross the concrete parking garage and my hyped up feelings buzz—being in a new city is so exhilarating, and I basically hop alongside my brother towards the elevators. A big yellow sign is posted on the door that reads:

Mandatory State Elevator Inspection

In progress

Proceed to front entrance

“Damn it, now we have to walk around.” Seth huffs agitated.

“It’s alright; I don’t mind stretching my legs.” The flight wasn’t that long, but it feels good to walk a little, so the walk around the building sounds rather refreshing.

We get to the front of the building where I see giant palm trees lining the sidewalk near the entrance, “YAY! Palm trees. NO MORE SNOW!” I yell, not able to hold back my excitement. Seth’s eyebrows rise up, and his lips twist into an ill shaped grimace. I shoot him a warning look. “Oh shut up, all I got is snow.” I say while running my hand over the prickly bark of the massive palm.

He lets out a deep pitted laugh, “come on you redneck.”

Walking through the turnstile entryway glowing from ear to ear, I take in the wide bare space of the foyer. There is a security counter located directly in the middle of the lobby entrance which immediately catches my attention—the only other furnishings are a couple of leather chairs, and the many elevator doors lining the left and right walls. It almost feels lonely and uninviting—the shiny stone floors that glisten under our feet, and the few pieces of metal art work on the walls make it feel like at least the decorator at least tried to warm it up a little. I feel the security man looking at me impatiently, and Seth nudges me forward toward the desk.

“Badge?” The man wearing a brown conventional looking security uniform asks.

Seth flashes his lapel card, “I have a guest too,” he tells the security guard and points at me.

“Can I see your ID Miss?”

I fumble to pull out my wallet and then hand him my driver’s license. “Montana?” he questions. I give him a friendly nod while he hands back my license along with a visitor badge.

“Have a nice visit.” The security guard starts to say, but is interrupted in mid- sentence when the doors behind us open. We’re no longer the focus of his attention, “Good day sir.”

I blow it off. Obviously it’s someone of importance, but I’m too busy to look up as I shove my license back into my terribly disheveled wallet. “I can’t believe you work in a place like this, Seth.” I breathe while taking in all of my surroundings as we make our way to the elevators.

“Yeah pretty cool huh, but when you get to be that big shot Doctor, I’m sure you’ll have some pretty awesome digs too!”

In so many ways, Seth has always shown me how proud he is of me wanting to be a Doctor, even though he thought I was slightly a little crazy for pursuing it. I couldn’t be more grateful for his support, although I wish the rest of our family felt the same as he.

“By the way, have you decided which field of medicine you plan to specialize in?” He asks as we slide into the packed elevator. He looks over his shoulder and says, “Twenty-one please.”

I see someone’s hand poke out and light up the requested button. “Well, I’m still leaning towards Orthopedics, I dig bones! All that Osteo stuff seems to beckon to me. I have other interests as well, but I’m pretty sure that’s my calling. Guess we’ll see when I start med-school, if I get in.” I sigh heavily, “That seems to be so far away right now.”

Seth puts his arm around my shoulder … squeezing, “don’t cut yourself short, soon you’ll be done, and it will be well worth the effort Trev—you’ll be the one rolling in the big bucks.” I grin haphazardly.

We take the elevator ride up, making several stops as people get on and off. It’s almost empty now; only three other people stand in the small box for the next five floors. I wait patiently for it to arrive on our floor. From the corner of my eye, I see a man standing in the back off to my left wearing a rich grey three-piece suit. He has tousled brown hair with flecks of golden hues. He’s tall with nice wide, square shoulders, and he is staring right at me. Immediately, I feel the need to crawl into a hole. No way! It’s him … from the airport … the one I teased thinking I would never see him again.

My face heats up instantly, and I’m sure that it’s glowing with a brighter red than Rudolph’s nose. I try to scoot behind Seth’s body a little to hide from the beautiful man—hoping that I wasn’t caught eyeing him, and please, I pray under my breath, “I don’t want to be recognized.” My edgy nerves get the better of me and the urge to look at him slowly pulls on me—nonchalantly, I try to peek around Seth’s broad shoulder. The man is smirking at me. Reactively, I look at the elevator door, wanting them to open.

Oh my gods of gods I have never seen such a beautiful creature in my life

I have been blessed to see the most gorgeous man EVER.

It is so sexy seeing a man in a suit. Seth is wearing one, but seeing my brother in a suit just looks nice. Seeing a man like the one in the back corner of the elevator is just plain hot. Montana has business men, but we’re more likely to see a pair of Carhartts and a flannel shirt, or in my line of business, scrubs. Somehow, it makes a man look like he’s important, and I bet that hottie is someone very important.

Seth must notice my anxiety and he quietly asks me, “Hey sis, are you ok?”

Thank heavens the elevator dings at that moment—I don’t have to explain anything. Seth and I shift a bit so that two more passengers can exit on the twentieth floor. When I move for the people exiting, I chance a quick look to the back corner. The beautiful man still stands there. He isn’t a figment of my imagination, and just like before, he’s watching me. I turn around, not feeling as brave as I had earlier, and look up at the numbers on the elevator, “one more floor, only one more floor.” I hum to myself.

“Hey Seth, How’s it going?”

The sound reverberates through my body and I inhale deeply. Hearing his voice makes my knees buckle and almost give way. It is so masculine and yet so harmonious. It’s a symphony to my ears.

Seth turns abruptly, “Whoa dude, I didn’t even see you back there. I’m sorry I must be totally zoned. I’m great! Hey Treva,” he turns back around and faces me, “this is my friend Ronin.” The doors slide open right as Seth is trying to introduce us. “Oh shit, this is us … wait. Ronin this is my sister, Treva.” Seth quickly grabs the edge of the door to stop it from closing.

Ronin lifts an eyebrow in my direction, “sister?” he says with a menacing tone.

Oh he must have thought I was with Seth. I can’t help but smile when I see the realization on his face. I twist and politely hold out my hand as I see the stunning man stepping forward with his already in position.

“Nice to meet you Treva,” his voice vibrates through my body causing goose bumps to erupt over every inch of my skin, as I imagine him saying my name under different circumstances. “Ronin Hollister.” Hidden undertones send my libido soaring through the sky and when our hands meet, electricity shoots piercing waves of heat through my body causing my pussy to instantly become soaked.

“Nice to meet you too, Ronin,” My voice shaky and barely audible, even to me.

Ronin’s gaze freezes me in place. His beauty is so unbelievably captivating. Every chiseled line in his cheekbones, his strong masculine square jaw, and his firm chin is absolutely perfect. His eyes are beautiful, sea foam green with a hint of yellowish gold circling his pupils. Damn even his eyebrows are perfect. Whoever made him didn’t take any shortcuts—he’s perfect in every way.

This has to be the longest elevator ride in my life. The tension of sensual arousal is growing, and it’s eating away at me. I’m not sure if my legs are going to keep me standing much longer. Never in my life has anyone ever made me feel so flustered sexually. Reluctantly, I pull my hand away— realizing how long he’s been holding it.

Thank God, Seth speaks breaking the intense moment. “So I was thinking about taking my little sis out for some cocktails and some high quality Italian cuisine tonight, you free to join us?”

My mouth drops open, and I’m not sure if I just heard him right. I can hear Seth speaking, but it all seems a little mumbled. Did he really just ask this sexy man to meet them for dinner? I know Seth is still talking, but I’m having a hard time keeping it together. I am totally lost and absorbed staring at Ronin wondering if he’s real or just someone that—I want to be real. There is no way that a man so astonishing could possibly be anything other than my imagination.

I watch the two of them shake hands, and I hear that amazing voice again, “seven will work good for me. I’ll swing by after my last meeting and we can all go together.”

“Perfect.” Seth responds.

“I’m looking forward to our dinner, Treva.” I nod in silence—dumfounded while Seth pushes me forward through the doors. After the doors close in my face, my lungs start to function again after being deprived of oxygen for so long.

“It is so awesome that you’re here. I’m so stoked. We’re going to have a great time sis.” Seth reaches his arm around me and gives me a tight squeeze.

Struggling, I give him a weak smile; I’m still lost in my thoughts, thinking about the beautiful man I just encountered ... again.

Seth directs me into the advertising firm, Schilling’s, where he works and introduces me to the receptionist. I try to remember my manners and smile politely, but I’m pretty much hopelessly lost thinking about Ronin Hollister. I follow Seth down a hall like a zombie, completely oblivious to our surroundings when he steps into an office. I look around while he digs through a desk I assume is his. It’s not a huge office, but it has a stunning view from a large window overlooking San Diego. He has filing cabinets lined up behind his desk, and all of the furnishings are made of oak—stained in a light shade not to hide its natural color. There are two beige overstuffed chairs on the opposite side of the desk. “Are these for your clients?” I ask while taking a seat. He nods. A glass picture frame setting on his desk catches my eye, and I notice that the photograph is the two of us, playing together when we were younger. It warms my heart. Seth also has a bright colorful painting with paint splashes and no real rhyme or rhythm to it, hanging on one of the walls.

“That’s pretty.” I say pointing at the painting. Seth turns to see where my finger is pointing.

“Oh yeah, well uh … I got it at a flea market. Don’t tell anyone.”

“Don’t worry Mr. Art Connoisseur; your secret is safe with me.” I giggle.

Seth shuts down his computer and grabs a black, soft, briefcase. “Alright, all ready to go. I wish my buddy Matt was here. I’d introduce you to him, but he had to take off, so just one more person to introduce you to.” He winks as he walks out of the office.

Seth heads across the hall to another office, and knocks on the shut door. A man’s voice from the other side yells, “Come in.” Seth opens the door and motions for me to follow.

“Hey boss. I wanted to introduce you to my little sister. She showed up out of the blue today and shocked the hell out of me.” He smiles over his shoulder with a warm heartfelt welcoming. “John this is Treva, Treva my hard ass boss, John.”

“Hah … I’m only a hard ass on you, Seth. I need to make sure you’re not being a slacker.” He has a nice boisterous laugh and it makes me smile.

John gets up from his chair and walks around his desk to come shake my hand. “It’s a pleasure to meet you my dear.” He grabs both of my hands and cups them with his own big calloused hands and I wonder how he uses them to type. They remind me of my father’s hands, scratchy, rough, and huge.

“Well I see beauty runs deep in your family. You are a stunning young lady, and this stud muffin you call your brother is too.” He nods towards Seth, “I have to bat away all the women I hire, because no one will work. Instead, they all have awestruck eyes glued to him all day like he’s a damn celebrity or something.”

A loud laugh bursts from my throat, “yeah I always thought he was pretty hot too, and all my girlfriends never wanted me to come to their houses; they wanted to come to mine and gawk at my brother.”

“Alright, enough of this! Unhand my sister.” Seth laughs, “No more reminiscing about me in front of me. Come on Treva”. Seth starts for the door and turns back around suddenly, “Oh yeah, I’m going to leave for the rest of the day John, I’m going to take my sis around and show her some sites.

“Yeah, yeah sure no problem, go have fun with your sister.” John says.

Seth leads the way back to the elevators to take us down. I had forgotten about the brief encounter on the elevator earlier and the mega god that I made a fool of myself with on the sidewalk at the airport; then by chance, we had met again in this very building on the way up to my brother’s office. Now it’s all rushing back to me as we wait for the elevator again.

“Hey Trev, I plan on inviting a few more friends to come out with us tonight if you don’t mind.” His eyes filled with sincerity.

“Sure, I want to meet your friends, and see who you hang out with while I’m stuck in Montana,” I say, adding an exaggerated pout. I don’t mean to make him feel guilty. I guess I’m just feeling highly unbalanced and unsure right now and I need to snap out of it. I need this vacation, and I’m going to take full advantage of these three weeks away from school. No more pouty, Treva, I resolve.

That familiar ding of the elevator and the sliding doors catch my attention. It was the exact same elevator that had brought us up; now it waits with its doors wide open, waiting for us to clamber on. I inhale sharply and step in. Anxiously, I peer in to find it empty. A sigh of relief floods through me. Phew, I won’t have to hold my breath the entire trip down. Yet, I feel disappointed that I won’t be sharing the elevator with him, the wonderful meat candy named Ronin Hollister.

Oh my god, what is my problem? Why am I acting so ridiculous? It was just a hot guy. Get it together you’re going to Pre-med … be professional, and quit acting like a stupid, lost, little school girl.

“Hey … what’s got into you?” Seth asks me concerned.

I wish Ronin Hollister had gotten into me, but I keep that thought to myself. “I’m sorry Seth. I’m just overwhelmed from the flight and seeing you. I am so excited to be here. I’ll pull it together. I promise.” Seth looks down at me seriously for a moment, but then nods his head in satisfaction.

We get to Seth’s apartment, after driving around the bay for a little bit, and of course I have to give it a once over to give him approval. “Well, well Mr. Big shot look at this place, this all for you, or wait are you trying to impress some girl?” I spin around and give him a twisted grin trying to get a reaction out of him.

“What? You say some girl. How about all the girls?”

I can’t help it and chuckle. “You man whore!”

“You know it.” Seth retorts while shrugging off his suit jacket.

I walk around the apartment to snoop at all of my brother’s things. The living room is sleek and modern with black leather couches. A black retro coffee table is in front of the couch, and matching end tables at either end with silver lamps sitting on top of them. Hanging on the wall opposite of the couches is a massive flat screen TV that takes up the better half of the wall. On an adjacent wall is an ornate fireplace with a familiar family portrait hanging above it. I don’t want to, but I can’t help myself and I step closer and look up at the picture of our family, all smiling happily. Those smiles are long gone now— even through the picture, I feel their burning gazes scorching me to the very core. My parents and my sister—they blamed me for splitting up our family. A lump forms in my throat and I have to look away before the tears pool in my eyes.

Directly on the right side of the fireplace, two glass French doors open out onto a balcony. Grabbing the handles, I pull them open briskly, needing to get away. The fresh salt water brims over me, and I embrace the cool air as it hits me in the face. It’s invigorating and feels revitalizing, washing the memories of my estranged family out of my mind. It isn’t cold; in fact, it’s quite warm, coming from the major climate difference between here and Montana. I step out further onto the deck and see the flickering lights on the streets below.

“Wow, Seth this is breathtaking.” I holler at him over my shoulder. The smell of the ocean air is so amazingly refreshing and a surge of calmness comes over me, even though there are multitudes of people right below me. I have a strange feeling of peace standing way up here above them. Hesitantly, I turn from the balcony, and walk back into the apartment with a new found edge to see more of the city.

“You can stay in this bedroom.” I follow Seth down the hallway to the guest bedroom. “This bathroom is yours to take over while you’re here too. I have my own connected to my room.” He points at the bathroom to our right before heading into the spare room.

“Seth, this is just what I needed.” I jump into his arms and hang to him tightly in a hug. Tears well up in my eyes as my loneliness consumes me, making me realize how much I have missed him. When I come back to reality, and stand back up, I wipe away the couple wet droplets that slide down my face. “I hate being so far away from you. Let’s have the best few weeks we possibly can.”

“So, do you have any Christmas plans?”

“Nah, not really?” he shrugs his shoulders with not much concern.

“Well, first off we need to get a tree and a few decorations. This place is far from festive!”

Seth shuffles his feet and looks down, purposely trying to avoid my gaze. I let my arms slide away from him, and I try to contain my reprimands.

“Well honestly, it really hasn’t mattered to me. I hadn’t planned on sharing Christmas with anyone, but we can go get a tree now that you’ll be here.”

Seth is growing more excited about the holidays; I can see it in his eyes. I can’t really blame him for not wanting to celebrate if he was lonely and had no one to share the festive times with. If I didn’t have Becca back at home, I probably wouldn’t worry about the holidays either. But here we are together, and this holiday season will be wonderful.

“Perfect.” I reassure him. “While you’re working I can decorate a little.”

Seth smirks. “Not that your boisterous attitude about the holidays isn’t wonderful, but to interrupt for a minute, we’re going out tonight. I wasn’t sure if you just wanted to wear what you’re wearing. We’re leaving in about an hour so if you need some time … GET TO IT!” He emphasizes the last part.

“Oh.” I look down at my ensemble and see that I am wearing my purple baggy college sweatshirt, and sloppy jeans that have a residue on the thigh from dropping mustard on them earlier. “Yeah, I can’t go like this.” Remembering we will be having another dinner companion … a very hot dinner companion, panic starts kicking in. “What should I wear?”

“We’re going to an upper scale Italian restaurant, so something other than jeans would be good.”

I hurry into the bedroom and pull open the suitcases. I didn’t bring much for dress-up clothes, but I find a simple black little dress and pull it out. Of course it’s all rumpled. “Hey do you have an iron?” I yell down the hall.

“Yeah, it’s in my bathroom.”

I hurry to his bathroom and turn on the iron to heat it up. A quick shower sure would be nice. I iron my dress quickly and fly back to the guest bathroom to take a shower. The water feels incredible running over my skin, but I choose not to wash my hair since I’m in a rush.

After the shower I peel on the little black dress and then slip on some silver stilettos—something that I rarely wear. I don’t want to kill myself in them. I add a long silver necklace and huge silver dangling earrings to class up my outfit. It doesn’t take, but only a few minutes to apply my makeup and only a few more to run a flattening iron through my light brown hair that is highlighted with golden hints.

I make a quick pucker and then I smack my lips together, making a smooching noise while checking my pale lip gloss. Hmm looks good to me. Happy with my reflection, I decide that I’m ready to go.

Chapter 3

“Woo hoo … look at you, redneck girl. You clean up pretty nice.” Seth whistles at me as I walk down the hallway toward him.

I take that as a queue to do an extra little spin to add to the moment. When I do a complete circle and I’m facing Seth again, a second face peers at me from around the corner. Ronin is staring down the hall directly at me. Crap, it completely catches me off guard seeing that marvelous face again and one of my high heels catches. Thank heavens I’m able to recover my balance gracefully, before I fall sprawling out in front of the two men watching me. Holy, sweet, mother of gods. I am not going to be an unbalanced fool in front of this guy, pull it together. I straighten up and pull my shoulders back. I slide my hands down my body to make sure my little black dress is still in place, and I push my breasts together making sure everything is rightly situated. Out of the corner of my eye, it is just a flicker, but I see Ronin lick his lips, or maybe I was hoping he had.

“Would you care for a glass of wine before we leave?” Ronin twists his lips into a half smile as he offers me a glass of wine.

“Thank you,” I reply trying to sound confident. I politely raise my arm to take the wine glass and as I cup the glass, my fingers touch Ronin. Bursts of heat emanate from the slight exchange sending the whole room swirling around like I’m on a Tilt-A-Whirl. The floor feels like it’s about to give out from underneath me. All the while, the electricity humming through my veins causes every inch of my body to tingle. It feels like I swallowed a soft ball and it’s sliding down my throat—closing off my airway—making it extremely hard to breathe. A heated sensation begins to build deep between my legs. Instinctively, I clench my muscles tight, pressing my thighs together from the unexpected reaction. I take a large pull from the glass to try to calm my overactive sensual urges, but it only slightly distracts me.

Ronin is no longer in his three-piece grey suit. He has changed into a faded pair of loose blue jeans and a green button down shirt with the sleeves rolled slightly. The shirt makes his green eyes stand out even more, and his nicely tanned—trim forearms gives me a glimpse of his body build hiding under his clothing. His feet are covered with black loafer shoes completing his relaxed, yet utterly sexy ensemble. I have to force myself to pull my eyes away from the meat candy standing so intimately close to me as I look at Seth. He too has on a pair of jeans with a button down shirt—his is blue.

“I feel kind of over dressed now since you both are wearing jeans,” I announce, looking over their comfortable clothing. Ronin starts coughing hard on his wine, and I’m afraid he might cough up a lung.

“No sis you look great!”

“If I my say …” Ronin begins speaking after he clears his throat. “You look absolutely ravishing.” Ronin watches me too intently and I have to turn my flushing face.

Oh, my inner goddess, control yourself. He gave you an exquisite compliment. That’s it, but how is that possible? There’s no way that this beautiful man could be possibly interested in this plain, Montana girl. This man radiates of hotness and power and must have women eating out of his hands, and Treva you do not eat out of men’s hands. Just cool your jets.

“Not to rush your wine, but we do have reservations.”

“Oh, of course.” I drink my wine a little too fast and put the wine glass in the kitchen sink. “I should grab a jacket.” I tell them and then I turn from the men and go to fetch one from my things. As I turn to go into the bedroom, I glance back down the hallway and watch as Ronin reaches down to adjust himself. A grin slips across my face.

The three of us leave the apartment and wait in the corridor for the elevator. It arrives promptly and we all step into the little box. My nerves are in hyper mode from being so close to Ronin; I try to relax and calm myself down. I take a deep breath in, but instantly regret it when the scent Ronin is wearing looms throughout the air causing me to become dizzy. He smells intoxicatingly delicious; a mix between spicy, woodsy, soap and one hundred percent male. I could become drunk off his unadulterated primal scent. I know he’s watching me and I look down trying to keep my eyes from meeting his. I fidget with my fingers feeling his searing eyes watching me.

The elevator doors open and I quickly step off, free for the moment. If Seth is going to keep insisting on hanging out with Ronin, I’m really going to have to learn how to breathe around him. Just a reminder to myself, breathe Treva, breathe.

The front door man see’s us as we exit the elevator; quickly he opens the main door, “Good evening Mr. Stone.”

“Good evening Oscar.” Seth replies politely.

He holds the door open for us, and he gapes a little too long in my direction making me feel a little uneasy. I brush it off as soon as we are out in the open air. The smell of the city and the ocean mixes in a strange unison way. I definitely think I could get used to this.

A black limo is waiting just outside near the curb. I notice the huge eccentric car and watch as a man reaches out and opens the rear door as we approach. “This is for us?” I ask, and look at Seth quizzically.

The man holding the door nods, “Mr. Hollister, Mr. Stone.”

“Please, ladies first,” Ronin says to me as he directs me to the car. “Malcolm this is Miss Stone.” Ronin is introducing the man to me and I have to keep my mouth from falling wide open.

“I’m pleased to make your acquaintance, Miss Stone.”

“Yes, thank you. You too,” I nod.

I have never been in a limo before. A giant grin pulls up my lips and I feel like a teenage girl getting introduced to a pop star. I bend forward to climb into the car, very aware of my short dress, and acutely aware of Ronin standing right behind me. It isn’t like me to flaunt myself at men, but I am so attracted to Ronin that I decide to tease him a bit. I’m also highly curious. After watching him readjust himself, I wonder if I’m the only one feeling this overwhelming sexual sensation. I test the waters; as I bend forward I allow the hem of my dress to ride up my thigh just stopping at the curve of my ass where it cups under. I can feel the cool breeze on my bare skin and it prickles at me. I know that the length of my little black dress is just right to show off without being too ostentatious. My inner goddess is questioning all my motives and I can hear her screaming at me to behave. However, in that split second of arguing with myself, I feel a light brush against my thigh. I stiffen and the hurdles my stomach starts jumping, makes me forget all of the questioning I might have had. I can’t believe it; he is actually reaching out and touching me as I flaunt my ass so provocatively in front of him. An overwhelming feeling of triumph rushes over me, and I pat myself on the back for my boldness. I beam as I continue to slide onto the seat of the limo.

I slide across the soft leather and enjoy the feel of it as it rubs on my exposed skin. The smell of the material has a hint of the leather and a strong hint of Ronin. The aroma is so delectable that my lust induced haze causes me to become extremely wet. I inhale his masculine woodsy smell.

Ronin slides in right next to me, and I see aggravation written all over his face. I wonder why he has become so grumpy suddenly. I wish I knew what he was thinking. I don’t want to look too obvious, but my eyes watch him intensely, he is so beautiful. The weight on the bench shifts and in a swift movement, I see him nonchalantly adjust the bulge that is forming in his pants. My pulse increases … feeling victorious. He wants me right here, right now. I can feel it. Too bad Seth is sliding in with us.

“Where’s the good stuff?” Seth pipes up.

“Lift that cover right there on the left. There should be ice and a few bottles of bourbon, scotch, whiskey …”

“… Oh yeah, here we go.” He pours glasses for everyone— interrupting Ronin before he could finish what he was saying. “Lift your glasses. Here’s to my baby sister.”

We all clink our glasses and take large swigs.

Ronin is sitting so very close and I can feel every hair extended out like I’m about to be struck by lightening. My entire body is responding to his closeness. His arm is draped over the back of our seat and his leg is brushing up against mine with just the slightest touch. He doesn’t need to sit so close since Seth is sitting directly across from us. Yet, if he was to move further away I’d probably be devastated.

I see his dark purposeful eyes when I look up at him. I feel so lost, like he’s hypnotizing me right here on the spot. He lets his hand that is cascading over the seat fall onto my shoulder. My insides flit with summersaults when he braises his thumb across the exposed skin on my neck. This truly can’t be happening. I see Seth drinking from his glass, and he seems to be completely oblivious to Ronin and I. Ronin follows my eyes and smirks when he sees Seth.

“I want you Miss Stone.” His lips are so close to my ear that as he whispers, the soft wind of his breath tickles my skin seductively.

My breath hitches and when I inhale, the smell of Ronin overpowers all of my senses. I nervously look at Seth, hoping that he isn’t aware of what’s happening right in front of him.

I boldly untwine my fingers from my lap, and I let my hand ease over his leg. I feel him shutter when I touch him and I beam. His leg muscles are so taut. I can feel every muscle striation in his quads under my fingertips. It’s so sexy. My head is buzzing like a swarm of bees, and my stomach flutters with butterflies along with every other part of my body. The sudden urge to skip dinner and head right for dessert skims my mind.

“I have to say Miss Stone.”

Oh my sweet heavens his voice is so enthralling.

When I woke this morning and went to work, just like almost every other normal day, I hadn’t expected to see a gorgeous woman tease me at the airport and then see the same beautiful woman walk into my elevator disrupting my whole day.”

I disrupted his whole day? “How did I disrupt your day? And umm … why were you at the airport if you were heading to work?” I ask confused.

“Hmm … well for your first question: this stunning woman wearing a pink T-shirt and a sweatshirt wrapped around her waist, a ponytail slightly missed-strewed, no make up and a totally care free spirit, and not to forget bold, just magically appeared. My car ride to work, well, let’s just say it was hard.”

The innuendo burning into every single one of my crevices, my lips go dry and I have to lick them with my tongue.

“MMM, delicious. Would you mind if I did that?”

His request makes me squirm. “And the second question?” I say barely getting it past my lips.

“I had an important meeting in L.A. earlier so I was just getting back.”

The conversation feels so intense, but maybe that’s just because he intimidates me so much. Now I see Seth watching us with a grim line on his lips. “So … how do you two know each other?” I distractingly ask as I slowly move my hand away from Ronin’s lap so that Seth doesn’t notice. I’m not quite sure what Seth would think of me and his friend shacking up. I chance a glance at those enticing beautiful green eyes and then quickly have to look away.

Ronin takes a swig of his scotch and winks at me, “Well I found this fool lost wandering around in the building one evening.”

“I WASN’T LOST. I was SNOOPING.” Seth arrogantly shoots out. “How about I tell the story? The right story.” He laughs.

“It was about a week after I started and I decided I needed to know what was on the top floor. So after work one night, instead of going down, I pushed up on the elevator button. When I got off the elevator it was fairly dark in the massive sitting area and I thought it was all clear. No one seemed to be around, so I crept down the posh hallway to peek through some offices. It just happened that it wasn’t quiet.”

“Yeah, you opened the wrong door,” Ronin cut in. “I heard someone in the hall knowing everyone was supposed to be gone, I stood off to the side of my door in a shadow, and when this idiot opened my door, I took a step forward and without hesitation, he got introduced to my fist—right in his face.”

I gasp. “What? You were poking around in other people’s offices? Seth, I’m appalled. You could have been fired.”

Seth looks at me sheepishly embarrassed. “Yeah and this dude can punch. I fell flat on my ass and looked at him and without a beat I said, ‘hey you’re not Anita.’ I didn’t know what to say. I was trying to cover my ass. Ronin here appreciated me trying to sneak to meet up with a woman so he helped me back to my feet and we’ve been friends ever since. Eventually though, I did tell him what I was really doing.”

“Wow Seth, I can’t believe you would risk so much over your curiosity.” I’m still shocked as I reprimand him. “Wait, so that whole stunt helped you guys become friends?”

Seth just nods as he kicks back the rest of his drink.

“But Ronin, you don’t know what a trouble maker my brother is. You might get caught up into some of his shenanigans.”

“HAH! You see Ronin; this little girl is little Miss Goody-two shoes. She’s the one who mommy and daddy always thought would be the perfect one. Treva never wanted to disappoint anyone, hence med-school, and whatever else she thought that was expected of her …”

“That worked real well now didn’t it?” I snap. I know my voice is edgy, but I hate talking about our childhood and our family. I already live with the constant reminder of the monster who took two years of my life away; when I finally escaped his torment, he drove a wedge so thick between my family and me that I felt like I stepped onto the set of a horror movie. Instinctively, I disengage from the conversation and peer out my window, mesmerized by the flickering Christmas lights. It feels almost magical as they wink at me—too bad I don’t buy into all of that make believe stuff.

“… Or maybe she just never got caught.” Seth adds, pulling me out of my daze.

I know he’s trying to lighten the mood knowing exactly what he just said to aggravate me, and I am the one who started the whole teasing thing in the first place. In a more joking mood, I speak up, “Nah, it was you big brother always pulling me over on to the dark side, getting me into all sorts of predicaments.” I say the last word in a little higher octave as Ronin pushes his leg a little tighter next to mine.

“Oh, but Treva we had such a good time getting into trouble together.” We both laugh; and if the hottest guy in the world wasn’t sitting right next to me, I would be as content as ever being with Seth.

I make a few mental notes and compare the two gorgeous men in the car; Seth is laid back and completely relaxed, and Ronin sits taller and tighter with a great deal more staid to him. I don’t know Ronin at all, but I sense power behind him; I’m pretty sure he is a man who people listen to, and get out of the way for when he is moving forward.

“Doctor Stone.” Ronin says with his voice vibrating through my highly sensitive body.

“Yep, my baby sis is going to be a doctor someday.” Seth proudly boasts sitting a little taller as he says it.

The car comes to a stop and it reminds me that we’ve been riding. A rush of relief comes over me. I’m glad the ride is over, well maybe not the ride, but I don’t necessarily like talking about myself, or my goals of wanting to be a doctor.

The door fly’s open, and in moments we are all standing on the sidewalk. This time Ronin exited the vehicle first. I wasn’t so eager to flash my skin like I did when we entered the lavish car the first time.

“Is that where we are going?” The long line curving around the block to the restaurant is ridiculous. “Wow, this place must be popular. We won’t be able to eat until next week.” I groan under my breath.

Ronin chuckles at my comment and then places his hand very gently on my lower back; he sends shivers up my spine; having his warm hand touching me in such a sensitive zone. With the twisted grin he gives me, I’m most positive he can feel the strong electrical current shooting between us, but without hesitation, he directs me forward to the door— bypassing the long line.

I knew it! He is a man of power and authority.

The man at the door reaches down and opens up a white gate that blocks the hordes of people and ushers the three of us in. “Mr. Hollister.” He acknowledges.

When the three of us are in the door, a hostess is immediately showing us to a table. She winds around the restaurant with us following, and takes us to a more secluded part of the restaurant. The décor is vibrant Mediterranean colors in shades of blues and yellows. There’s an eclectic modern look intermixed with old time Italy. It’s a classy restaurant and its obvious not from just the deco, but from all of the exceptionally well dressed patrons.

When we get to our table, Ronin—like a gentleman—holds the chair for me. I feel my cheeks heat up and gladly accept the gesture as I sit down. Ronin takes the seat right next to me while Seth chooses the one opposite from us. Our hostess stares wide eyed and longingly at Ronin, before she turns away hesitantly; I think that I’m the only one that notices her. It makes me feel better knowing that I am not the only one Ronin seems to bring to her knees. A waiter is already at our table, it takes me aback a little at how fast we get service.

“It’s nice to see you sir, what may I get you started with this evening?”

“Bring us a bottle of one of the signature Cabernet Sauvignons.”

“Yes sir.”

All of this is overwhelming. I have never had a chance to attend many up-scale restaurants—and never one like this. The man I am sitting next to, the man whom I know nothing about, is obviously someone of importance, otherwise we surely wouldn’t be attended to so well.

The waiter is back and pours wine for Ronin, in a stunning long stemmed glass, waiting for his approval. Ronin swirls it around, smells the aroma, and takes a sip. I watch him carefully … bewildered by the whole scene. He is so mesmerizing. Watching him close his eyes and swish the wine around in his mouth assessing its’ quality is so sexy. He opens his eyes nods his head in approval and the waiter fills Ronin’s glass and then continues to ours.

I am definitely not a wine connoisseur. Most of my friends in Helena pretty much just stick with beer, or sometime we buy a case of cheap wine.

I take a sip, “MMM”, I find myself mumbling. “This is really smooth.”

Ronin flashes his dashing smile with his perfect lips, and his bright white teeth. His smile makes me blush. How does he always manage to catch me at such an awkward moment?

“I’ll be right back.” Seth says, as he gets up and leaves.

“Are you seeing anyone?” Ronin says nonchalantly like this conversation is between two longtime friends.

“Why?” I furrow my brows confused at the abrupt question.

“I want to know if anyone’s standing in my way to fuck you, Treva.”

Swallowing my wine hard, I’m fixated on his blazing eyes.

“You haven’t answered my question, Treva.”

“And what if … I don’t want to fuck you, Ronin?”

Ronin’s smug look tells me he knows just what an open book I am. “Now, now … we both know differently, Miss Stone, so why don’t you tell me what I want to know. Are. You. Seeing. Anyone?” He enunciates every word carefully, so that there is no mistake in what he is asking.

I shake my head no slowly. “No I’m not with anyone at the moment, Ronin.” I say as calmly as I can.

“Good.” Is all that he says, as Seth slides back into his chair.

If I wasn’t going stir crazy before, I certainly am now. It’s almost impossible to relax with Mr. Hottie sitting right next to me, especially now that I am fully aware that he wants to take me to bed with him. I glare at Seth envious of his ability to stay so cool and calm, while I’m a bottled up hurricane. Ronin’s masculine scent wafts through the air and it’s the only thing I can smell at the moment. I’m not sure how it’s possible, but the heat coming from his body is fanning out and circling me like a heavy fog closing in. The air is so thick it’s hard to breathe. I look between Seth and Ronin, both of them peering down at their menus. Crap I haven’t even looked at mine. I’m not sure if I can even eat while my stomach twirls around with twitterpation.

“Mr. Hollister.” A deep voice calls out. We both look up and a bright flash momentarily blinds me. I blink my eyes and realize whoever it was just took our picture.

“What the hell!” Ronin grumbles loudly. He stands so abruptly, it causes our table to wobble—making our glasses tumble, sending wine splashing across the white table cloth, soaking everything in its path. I jump from my seat as fast as I can, trying to avoid the waterfall of liquid heading for my lap. “I’m having dinner here.” His stern voice, edgy and full of malice sends shivers down my spine. I peek at the dark-handsome-stranger and realize I have absolutely no clue as to who he is. The vein in his forehead throbs violently. If the table wasn’t between them, I’m fairly certain that Ronin would be going for the guy’s throat.

Everything seems to happen so fast, as more commotion breaks out on the other side of the room. Two large men charge toward our table and grab the man with the camera by his arms. They roughly spin him around and escort him out. Who knows from where, but another short squat man rushes over to Ronin, “I am so sorry sir. I don’t know how he got in.”

“Maybe I need to hire a more competent manager.” Ronin’s harsh venomous words come pouring out so aggressively; I can barely believe that they are coming from the same man’s mouth that I had enjoyed teasing in the limo on the way here.

I glance at Seth trying to get a feel for what’s going on, but he just gives me a little shrug like this is an everyday occurrence.

The short squat man keeps up his insistent apologies, but Ronin plainly ignores him and sits back down— scooting his chair in nonchalantly like nothing had happened. Me on the other hand, I can’t seem to shake off the tense interaction; I look around, so embarrassed and very conscious of all the commotion at our table. Very quickly, waiters and waitresses clean things up.

Dinner goes by in a blur, and I eat my penne without much conviction. I hadn’t really paid much attention before, but after the incident, I am a lot more aware now of how everyone is gawking at us. Every time Ronin shifts or slides a mussel into his mouth people just watch. It’s a wee bit creepy how he has captivated everyone’s attention. And here I sit, not really knowing who our dinner companion is. However, I do have a clear mental note of how every woman in the restaurant has her eyes glued to Ronin.

Thank god we are out of that restaurant. The three of us are back in the limo on our way to some club the boys said they wanted to introduce me to. I’m almost worried to see what else might happen before the evening is over. “Don’t worry sis, you’re going to love this. It is … let’s just say, a much different night life from the non-existent one in Helena.” Seth winks at me and looks at Ronin. “So Ronin, What are your plans for the holidays?” Seth easily changes the subject and asks, as he pours himself a drink from the chic alcohol bar in the car.

“I’ll be with my brother, his wife and my two nephews.” A smile so deep, warm, and truly sincere brightens up his whole face when he mentions the two children.

I catch him in his private moment reminiscing about the kids; for some reason it amuses me watching his heart glow with warmth; I almost feel like I’ve invaded his personal space—his smile tells me that there is a whole lot more to him than he lets on or what I can see.

“How about you two?” He returns the question quickly.

“I thought I was going to have a quiet lonely Christmas, but since I was so blessed with my angel sister’s presence, I guess Christmas will be much better now.” Seth warmly says. “I guess I’ll have to go buy her a gift now though.” Despite the fact that the car is dark, it is still light enough for me to see Seth cast a wink my way.

“That goes both ways big brother. I guess I’ll have to pull something out of my ass for you too. First, we need to get that Scrooged apartment of yours up to par for the festivities.”

Our conversation seems so light and superficial to me, not that I’m not enjoying the company, but I can’t get Ronin’s behavior at the restaurant out of my mind. Who is this guy that my brother has made friends with? Suddenly, I want to know as much about him as I can find out—hopefully sooner than later—since his euphoric sin pouring from his body has me entranced like a powerful drug.

Chapter 4

The limo comes to a stop and the door flies open again. I can tell that Seth is already feeling pretty good from all of the drinks he’s had; he stumbles getting out of the car. “Light weight.” I tease laughing at him. After Seth finds his footing we turn towards the club and again I notice the line leading up to the club door, but this time it’s much longer.

We walk straight to the door bypassing the line. My eyes skim over and examine the people in line giving us dirty looks, and then I hear someone shouting, “Hey how come you’re letting them in? We’ve been waiting an hour?” They growl at the doorman.

The doorman nods at us, or should I say … Ronin, “Mr. Hollister,” the burley guy greets, completely ignoring the raging people lined against the wall.

When we pass the gorilla like door man and enter through the doors, the euphoric swirling lights and booming music quickly wipes the complaining people from my mind.

Ronin leads the way by pushing his way through the crowd to a staircase leading to a private balcony. His stride is so confident and overpowering that people move eagerly out of his way. The women turn to gawk and whisper hastily to their companions as we walk past— even the men stare with envy.

There are a few empty tables, and we sit at one right next to the railing—we can see the crowd below. “What would you two like to drink?” Ronin shouts over the thumping music.

“I’d like a beer.” I answer.

“Make that two.” Seth adds.

Seth and I sit down and I twist my body to turn and look over the edge to watch the people on the dance floor below. “This is amazing.” I say loudly so Seth can hear me. “I have never been to a club like this.” I grin wide with excitement.

Seth rolls his eyes at me. “My poor little sister, never been given the opportunity to see the world.”

Ronin startles me when he leans forward and whispers in my ear, I thought he had left, “I could introduce you to many exciting things, Treva.” I get goose pimples erupting from head to toe just from the mere idea of him showing me anything.

“There you guys are.” A woman’s highly pitched voice pulls my eyes away from the bopping dancers. I immediately notice bright red nail polish on long tan fingers wrapped around Ronin’s waist. A surge of warmth runs through my gut instantly. Crap, what am I jealous for? He’s not mine. Ronin looks down at me and I get embarrassed, because I am caught staring at the woman’s hands.

He smirks at me a little, probably recognizing the green ghastly color of jealousy written all over my face, and then does something that surprises me; he grabs the woman’s arms and wriggles his way loose.

I try to blow it off and look away like nothing concerning is going on, or that I’m not bothered by the other woman.

“Hey Amy,” Seth says. “This is my little sister, Treva.” He points across the table in my direction. “Treva this is one of our friends, Amy.”

I stand slightly and reach out my hand to shake Amy’s hand. She limply accepts the gesture and scans me up and down with a look of dissatisfaction. “Nice to meet you,” I force myself to say politely, even though I know I’m getting laser beamed from her eyes.

“So where’s Travis?” Seth gratefully interrupts.

“He’s getting us some drinks at the bar.” She replies with a snigger.

“Speaking of, I took orders and haven’t produced yet.” Ronin says.

“You’re going to the bar?” Amy asks hopefully.

“Yes.” He groans and looks at me with a strange straight faced gaze that almost looks like a plea.

“Well, I’ll join you then.” She says, not waiting for an invitation. The two of them walk off together, and I watch as Amy tries to wedge her arm into Ronin’s creased elbow.

I try to hide my curiosity, but I want to know. As soon as Ronin is far away from ear shot, “So is Amy, Ronin’s girlfriend?” I blurt out, asking Seth.

“HUH? What?” He starts to laugh. “No … Amy only wishes. Ronin likes women enough, but it’s usually for only a night. So if he and Amy have anything going on, it’s not a ‘relationship’” He winks at me. “His longest relationship was probably seventy-two hours.”

“Don’t exaggerate Seth that’s not very polite.” I point out.

“Who’s exaggerating?”

I watch Ronin at the bar listening to what Seth is telling me. You’re not so different yourself Treva. You don’t let people in either. I’m not quite sure why I am letting myself fantasize over a stranger that I just met, but he has captivated my attention and I can’t seem to think of anything else.

“Treva, Seth … your beers.” Ronin puts our beers down on the table. I had been so preoccupied in my thoughts that I hadn’t even seen him come back to the table.

I grab mine and swig half of it down with big gulps before I take in a lungful of air. I slam it onto the table. “Let’s go dance big bro.” I demand.

Before Amy or Ronin can even sit, Seth and I stand to go join the large group below to bump and grind.

We make it to the dance floor and we’re dancing when two women ease their way in next to Seth. Seth glows with delight. He is now sandwiched between the two of them—grabbing the hips of the one in front of him and grinding against her very aggressively. I smile at him and give him that head shake of you’re trouble. He raises his eyebrows and glances back down at the girl in front of him, and to my horror he does a very provocative gesture with his tongue. I have to look away.

A man with dark brown hair and brown eyes scoots in front of me and starts dancing with me … edging in closer and closer. I don’t mind I’m having a blast. The sweat beads up on my forehead and neck from the exertion and all of the heat coming off the dance floor.

I’m in a groove when I see a hand on the man’s shoulder in front of me. When I look up it shocks me to see that it’s Ronin; he’s talking in the man’s ear. The guy looks at me and shrugs, “Thanks for the dance,” he shouts and then he scurries away.

Ronin is now standing in the place of my previous dance partner. He is moving to the beat of the music making his way closer to me. “Wow, he can dance,” I say to myself.

Ronin reaches out without faltering and grabs my waist, aggressively pulling me closer to him. Our hips grind back and forth as we push harder into one another. I reach my arms up and circle them around his neck as I become wrapped up, melting in the moment of the sensual grinding of our hot sweaty bodies. His hair just barely touches above his shoulders and I run my fingers through it, weaving in and out—pulling and tugging at the strands while we dance.

Ronin hovers over me staring down. I can feel his intense stare and look up into his mesmerizing eyes getting lost in them. His groin hardens against my abdomen and I twist my small petite hands more tempestuously in his hair. Ronin thrusts his rock solid arousal harder against me as we rub our hips aggressively, moving back and forth into each other swaying to the beat. Ronin pushes his leg between mine and spreads me more open as he moves more insistently to the music. I fantasize that he is taking me right here, right now. I know that I want him, and I need him to be inside me. Nowhere but inside me will feed this desire.

Ronin slides his arm down between us, and I push into him when I realize what he is doing. His hand slides under the material of my dress and scoots upward meeting my drenched sex. I hum to the feeling of his fingers softly massaging me over the thin piece of material that creates a thin barrier between my soft flesh and his fingers. I throw my head back enjoying every second of his touch—all trepidations about his dangerous demeanor from earlier in the evening disappear like a puff of smoke.

“I am going to fuck you, Treva,” his voice so full of promise, “and before I’m done with you, you’ll be screaming my name and begging me for release.”

My head pops up and I have to remember to breathe. His words sending vibrating heat waves over my skin, “many have tried Mr. Hollister and I was always left wanting,” I pant.

Ronin stiffens slightly and I look up thinking my words were what caused him to pause, but then I see him turn his head around. My eyes follow the movement and I see Amy rubbing herself on him. I had been so absorbed by the moment and totally consumed by Ronin’s deft fingers moving slowly between my legs that when I see Amy moving behind Ronin, I become instantly peeved … more than peeved. My blood boils; I’m enraged. I instinctively drop my arms and stutter trying to get away from both my feelings of rage and the new swelling sensation growing around my heart, growing for a man I don’t even know, “Umm … umm … I’m thirsty I’m going to go get a drink.” I turn pulling Ronin’s hand free from my crouch and push my way through the massive group of people.

I sense Ronin is trying to follow me when that sickening sweet voice says, “NO don’t go … Let’s dance.” She’s persisting.

“I need a drink.” His stern and powerful voice, I witnessed earlier, says as it echoes over all the other sounds.

I get back to my chair and fall into it. Thankfully, my half glass of beer is still sitting on the table; I grab it and drink the remainder in two quick swallows.

“That was not a threat, Treva. That was a promise.”

His voice frightens me and causes me to jump not realizing he had come up behind me. I turn around to face him, “and like I said… many have tried.” My lips involuntarily turn into a twisted smirk.

“Is that a challenge?”

“Take it how you want,” I say pulling the beer glass to my mouth not remembering that it’s empty.

“Do you need another?” My head falls forward in a slight nod.

“I’ll be right back. Don’t go anywhere.” He demands.

The only thing that I can do is give him a weak smile.

Ronin is back in only a matter of minutes. “Thanks!” I say, and with gratitude take the beer and quickly down a couple of swigs.

“Wow it’s sure hot in here.” I’m not quite sure why I just said that, but for some reason I am feeling slightly uncomfortable and just blurt it out. I suddenly feel super self-conscious and I quickly turn my head to look over the edge. I scoop my hair up fanning the back of my neck with my hand as I search for Seth.

“You’re very beautiful.” He says in a tantalizing low voice.

His words completely catch me off guard. “Uh, thanks.” The beer he just brought me is now my savior and I don’t put down the glass—determined to finish it as quickly as possible.

“Look at that fool brother of mine.” I point in his direction.

Ronin sits down next to me and puts his arm over the back of my chair. He leans over me to see where I am pointing, but my gut tells me it is more of a tactic to get closer to me than to see what Seth is doing. My body reacts against my will and a shiver of ecstasy travels over my skin. How the hell does he make me feel so knotted up?

I continue to watch Seth as a group of women continue to dance around him, and then my eye catches her. Amy is dancing with another man now and very provocatively.

“That’s our friend Travis.” Ronin says.

I’m not sure how he knew I was looking at Amy, but my face warms with embarrassment. I hate that I am so easy to read. “Awe, I see.” I turn my eyes from the dance floor and risk looking at Ronin, and of course I immediately regret it. His eyes are staring down into mine. It is so mind melting. No it’s hypnotic. A sudden rush of the conversation that Seth and I were having, earlier, pops in my brain. No don’t do it. He never does relationships. He just uses women. I hear my subconscious yelling at me.

I’m having a hard time keeping my head on straight. Ronin is absolutely gorgeous. His eyes are magnetic—pulling on me, bringing every sexual urge to the surface. I blink and shake my head breaking the intense moment between us.

“There you are!” Seth leans over and kisses the top of my head. Amy and Travis are behind him, and I can feel the ice spikes shooting from Amy’s eyes in my direction when she see’s Ronin’s arm across the back of my chair.

“Travis this is my sister, Treva.”

“Hey, it’s nice to finally meet you. I’ve heard tons about you.”

I throw a nasty glare at Seth. “Yep, all the good stories,” Seth winks back at me. I roll my eyes at him.

“I need another drink.” Seth proclaims. He turns to go back to the bar and Travis slides onto a chair across from me while Amy takes the one open next to Ronin. “Are you having a good night Ronin?” Amy asks trying to get his attention.

He looks at me and without looking at Amy he answers, “Yes, for a matter of fact a magnificent night.”

Amy’s face is contorted and the irritation is very apparent that her ploy to get his attention isn’t working out exactly how she had planned.

A guy I haven’t seen before comes up to our table, “Hey guys! Sorry I’m late. I had a meeting with a potential client. There was no way I could blow them off. They could work into a huge account for the company.”

“No worries.” Ronin says.

The new comer finally notices me sitting in the corner by the balcony. “And who is this?”

“This is Treva, Seth’s sister.” Travis introduces me without trepidation.

“I’m Matt,” He leans over with his hand stretched out, but when I hold out mine to him, instead of shaking it, he grabs my fingers, and brings them up to his mouth, and he kisses the top of my hand. “It’s extremely nice to meet you.” He says.

I flash a brilliant smile at Matt feeling flattered by his introduction, and slightly taken aback. It takes only a millisecond to see how dashing Matt is. He has blonde hair hanging loosely to his shoulders whipping freely, I shouldn’t stereo type, but I bet he surfs, and he has the most dazzling Sapphire blue eyes. His skin is nice and tan with a bronze hue. The tight short sleeved white T-shirt shows off every bulging muscle in his arms.

All of these men have to have women swooning over them non-stop. Seth, Matt, Travis, they all are super-hot. No wonder Amy pushed her way into this little company of men … to be amongst the beautiful testosterone. I look down at my beer bottle as I feel another blush coming on. I also realize that I was just checking out Matt—only five minutes ago Ronin had his fingers caressing my tenacious sex. After briefly thinking about it, I come to the conclusion that I’m doing the same thing that she is.

Matt sits down next to Travis, but not once diverts his attention from me in the slightest. “How long are you visiting for?”

“I’m on winter break from classes. I don’t have to be back until the second week of January. I figured I would hang out here at least until after Christmas. I need a serious vacation from studying.” I’m surprised how easily the words just fly out of my mouth.

“Great maybe we could meet up one night this week for dinner.” Matt bluntly says with excitement.

I feel Ronin’s arm snake back onto my shoulder and gently squeeze in a possessive manner. I watch Matt’s eyes as they follow the movement of Ronin’s arm as it finds the spot on top of my shoulder— his face changes into a brief scowl.

“Come dance with me Ronin, please? ... Pretty please! I really need to stretch out my legs.” Amy is relentless. Since I don’t know her at all, I’m not sure if this is her normal behavior or if she is putting on a special show because I’m here.

“Let’s all dance!” Matt suggests.

I’m starting to get tired and the overall feeling in the air is shifting from euphoric to hazardous. I hesitate for a minute, watching the movement of all the bodies shifting and standing from our table. Some nagging feeling is warning me that we should end this night, but Seth stands up.

“Come on sis” Seth slurs and holds out his hand to me. “We’re celebrating.”

Ronin also seems to hesitate, “Okay.” He finally agrees, and then slowly slides his hand away from my shoulder, all the while continuing to watch me as I pull my small black dress down as I stand.

Amy clings to Ronin as if she’s afraid he’ll vanish if she lets him go … we all walk back to the dance floor. When we get to the bottom of the stairs Seth misses the last step and falls to his knees. “Hey Seth, are you ok?” I ask worrying. He jumps back up and acts as if nothing happened. “I’m good, no worries.”

“Alright come on.” Matt says as he wiggles in closer to me. Before we even get to the dance floor I’m swaying to the music. “You like to dance?” Matt asks me loudly.

“YES! I love it. We don’t have anything like this back home!” Matt smiles at me and shimmies his way even closer—shortening the distance between us. We move together smoothly to the rhythm. Getting to the dance floor, I put my hands in the air and wave them above my head … loving the beat.

I am highly aware of Ronin’s deep burning gaze watching everything I am doing … like he’s my protector. Yet, he’s dancing with Amy. I don’t know him at all, but after seeing his demeanor flip so rapidly on more than one occasion tonight, I’m pretty sure that the look in his eyes right now is smoldering fury. A fluttering in my abdomen tells me he is not happy, and I don’t understand how he could possibly be upset with me. I haven’t done anything wrong. I think to myself.

I hadn’t noticed that Matt had found his way behind me until I feel his hands grabbing my hips pulling me tighter to him. The bulge that I feel tightening through his pants makes me very aware of his intentions. All of this attention is new to me, I never get this much interest from guys, but I can’t deny that I’m not enjoying it. I push back into Matt–very flattered and I dance against him … enjoying his company.

I’m moving rhythmically to the music, rocking against Matt when I see Ronin’s steel hard face. He steps forward rather quickly, and now he is only inches from my nose. I gasp, seeing his hands tear Matt’s grip away from my hips.

“I don’t think that’s what Treva really wants,” Ronin says in a steely tone, giving Matt an icy cold death stare.

“Ronin, dude chill we’re just dancing and I don’t think Treva is complaining.”

The confusion is overwhelming, and the room starts spinning. Matt is still up against me, but now his hands are by his side and not touching me. Ronin is just inches from my face. I look around searching for Seth. When I see him, I give him a pleading look, hoping that he catches on.

Thankfully I get Seth’s attention, and he stumbles over to us, “Hey sis I think I’m pretty drunk you think we can get out of this place and go home?”

I let out a deep sigh of relief. I am so thankful for Seth’s way of getting out of sticky situations and am more than happy with his new ploy. “Yeah big brother, we should get you home.”

Ronin continues to stare down Matt as he loudly says, “I’ll have the driver meet us out front.”

The fresh air is very welcoming. The alcohol that I’ve consumed is very evident now—reeling and rocking and seeing double.

“Did you have a good time tonight?” Matt’s smile is so warm and infectious. When he gets closer, my lips turn upward with a wide grin mirroring his.

“Very much,” I think so anyway.

This would be the perfect scenario for my fun loving, carefree roommate, Becca—a twisted ménage a trios with two hot and very ready males salivating and ready to pounce. I on the other hand, have a different view. My background with relationships stems from something extremely dark, and I tend to keep it to only one man at a time. I inhale deeply, how am I going to handle this?

The wind starts blowing slightly, causing me to shiver. “Oh, are you cold?” Matt steps closer and swings his long arm around my shoulder and pulls me up against him to keep me warm. I wish I hadn’t left my coat in the car. His cologne smells delicious even through the sweat from dancing so much. A moan of acceptance of his amazing scent accidently escapes my lips.

I hear Seth ask Ronin where the car is—they’re some distance away, not knowing that I’m warmly wrapped in Matt’s arm. Then a shove sends me flying backwards. Thankfully, I don’t fall on my butt, but when I look up to see what happened, I see Matt and Ronin going at it—head to head—both with clenched fists.

I can’t handle this shit. I walk past both of them as they growl at each other like two wild animals. I grab Seth’s arm, “Can we just get a cab, and get the hell out of here?”

Seth looks at me and then back to where his two friends are inches from brawling. “I can’t leave them here like this. They’ll kill each other.”

Just briefly, I look back at them—yelling and making complete asses of themselves. “They’ll figure it out.” I say, shrugging my shoulders, “let’s go.”

Seth isn’t quite as anxious to leave as I am. He walks over to his friends and tries to settle them down, but neither of them gives him an ounce of attention.

“Ugh,” I roll my eyes and then lift my shoulders high and walk directly over to Ronin. In a sweet voice I say, “I guess it’s you who will be left wanting, Mr. Hollister. I’m pretty sure that with everything I’ve seen tonight, there isn’t the slightest bit of want left in me.”

Ronin’s head flies up in my direction and seeing the realization of what I am saying, washes over his face solemnly. He steps back from Matt and keeps his eyes glued to me.

“My brother and I are leaving. I hope you all have a good rest of your night.” I spin on my heel and grab Seth by the arm. Seth’s mouth drops open, stunned by my blatant behavior.

Chapter 5

It feels like I just fell asleep when strange noises shake me awake. Terrible scenarios buzz through my overactive mind … burglars breaking in mostly. My heart thumps heavily in my chest; fear stiffens my legs, making it almost impossible to move them; there’s no way I will ever become someone’s prisoner again. I need to find a safe place to hide. I search the room and see all the obvious places where a person would look … in the closet, under the bed, no good hiding spots. The door knob jiggles and my heart skips a beat. Fuck! Someone’s at my door. I dive into the darkness behind the door just in the nick of time.

If the person that just broke in pays any attention at all, they will be able to hear my heart pounding in my chest. I hold my breath and try to keep as quiet as I possibly can; I hope and pray that he doesn’t hear the throbbing heartbeats that I hear. Dear god, please don’t let him find me.

“Treva … Treva … are you in here?”

The light whispering voice sounds familiar, but I can’t quite put my finger on who’s standing in my doorway at 4 o’clock in the morning. I try to contain myself. My chest feels like its going to burst.

“Please Treva, hear me out.”

“Ronin?” I ask breathlessly.

He pulls back on the door revealing me hidden behind it in the shadows. “I didn’t mean to frighten you; I just want to apologize.” It’s dark in the room, but the movement of his hands running through his hair makes it evident that he seems perplexed about something, “I’m sorry about what happened on the dance floor.” He breathes out a heavy sigh, “I don’t know what came over me. I just umm … didn’t like Matt man handling you.”

I just nod at him, because I’m not sure what to say. I just feel overwhelmed that he had reacted so strangely tonight, and I’m definitely still in shock he snuck in on me. He is apologizing to me, but I’m still not sure why he had reacted that way in the first place. And why the hell does he find it necessary to do his apologizing in the middle of the night?

“To be perfectly honest … I don’t want any man—besides myself—to touch you anywhere on your flawless body.” The confession takes me off guard, especially when he reaches his arm out and runs his thumb across my face. The electricity hums from his fingers all the way through my blood, and then Ronin leans forward and presses his lips gently on my cheek. He keeps on by placing small kisses on my cheeks and on my nose.

I feel lost and speechless by the simple actions. My breath hitches and a knot so huge forms in my gut … I almost feel like I need to vomit. I would never have imagined meeting the hottest man on the planet, let alone find him sneaking into my brother’s house in the middle of the night to see me. I close my eyes and focus on him kissing me with his perfect lips. His touch is so amazingly soft, as he makes his way from the tip of my nose down to the corner of my mouth. A light groan slips from my lips.

“MMM, you smell so good.” He whispers.

“I thought you were an intruder coming to kill us.” I say exasperated.

“Oh baby I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to scare you; I couldn’t wait until tomorrow. I had to come see you. It was driving me nuts sitting at home. All I could think about was you.” His soft whispers flow so heavenly from his mouth, causing my heart beat to quicken … just as I had started to calm down, “every time I closed my eyes, I remembered seeing your beautiful eyes filled with desire as you rode my hand on the dance floor. I needed to see that look again. It was tantalizing seeing you that way; when you took off tonight it was one of the sexiest things I have ever witnessed. No one ever walks away from me, but you … you just turned your nose up to me and strummed down the street without missing a beat. Treva, you are absolutely the most magnificent creature I have ever met.”

I can’t control myself, his words are my undoing, and I still have alcohol burning in my system which gives me a much needed boost of confidence. I feel the energy surging in the air, and when Ronin meets the corner of my mouth with his soft lips, I turn my head and push into him with deep hunger.

Ronin’s soft kisses start to transform into something more aggressive. Both of our lips part welcoming each other to explore. Our tongues collide and dance around in each other’s mouth. I press into Ronin harder and force my tongue deeper— wrapping it with his. My lips catch his tongue and I begin to suck on it, hard, not wanting to let go. When I finally start to slow down and release my hold, I pull his bottom lip in and bite on it gently with my teeth. Ronin growls into my mouth hungrily. The sound creates another surge deep inside of me. The burning between my legs aches for him. I want him to touch me. I need it.

“So let me get this straight? I turn you down and it makes you want me more?”

Ronin gives a slight nod as his mouth traces kisses down my neck, “No one has ever told me no, Treva. Well, not until you that is.”

Ronin slides his warm hand over my thigh and slowly slides up my smooth skin pushing my pajama shorts up. Cupping my hot soaked sex with his firm hand, “Oh my god Treva, you are so wet for me. Feel this.” He grabs my hand and guides it over his jeans where I can feel him bulging hard.

“Baby I don’t think I could possibly get any harder.”

Hearing his utterly sexy voice telling me how hard he is for me is such a turn on. I writhe under his hand rubbing and pulling on me. My lungs take in long deep breaths of oxygen—which the room seems to be lacking— trying to keep myself from passing out. I’m not telling him no, now.

I have been down the road of heartbreak and complete disasters before, and I should tell this arrogant bastard no. I am probably going to regret this later, but his persistence is endless and I don’t think my body can defy what it wants, or craves. I want Ronin Hollister right now. I want to feel every last inch of him, in some places more than others. There’s no turning back now. Even if I had the will power, I don’t think I could deny myself … I know he wants me too.

Ronin wraps my arms around his neck and lifts me up off the floor; then he takes me to the bed. The soft mattress bumps a little when the back of my knees reaches it and he gently pushes me over. I touch down on the bed with a light bounce.

He takes a step backward, and even in the darkened room his eyes scan my body. I can almost see the heat rise from his skin. “Damn Treva you are so fucking sexy. I don’t think you realize how gorgeous you are.” He takes a step forward closing the gap between us, and then kneels down at the end of the bed. “These,” he lightly grazes my legs, “are so beautiful.” I squirm breathlessly as he glides his fingers over my legs. “And these,” his hands meticulously edge up further running over my thighs and hips, “have the perfect amount of curve. I can’t wait to grab onto these hips and slam into you.”

Breathing is becoming harder and harder by the second, “What are you waiting for then?” I pant heavily.

“Hmm, Miss Stone … you’re so eager. I am not promising I’ll behave myself.”

“I hope not, Mr. Hollister!” I shift slightly and lift my finger to gesture for him to move closer.

Ronin stands right in front of me; slowly, he unbuttons his shirt, and then slides it off—giving me a very pleasant strip tease. Oh my god, he’s even hotter under his shirt than I had imagined him being. I can’t deny myself touching him any longer. I reach out to run my fingers over his perfectly molded abs. My fingers glide over his washboard abdomen, and trace the v shape that leads down to just where his pants hang on his hips. I have never in my life seen anything as sexy as him. My pussy tingles with excitement every time I look at this man.

Ronin stands high above me by the edge of the bed, but then leans forward and lets his hands softly touch both of my thighs. Using my legs as leverage, he leans farther down to plant kisses on my forehead. I let out a moan from his touch. “You’re so beautiful,” I say softly to him. He smiles and finds my lips with his, urgently pushing them into me. Passionately, he slides his tongue into my mouth, letting it slowly search the inside while pushing it deeper and deeper. He grabs my tongue and sucks on it, and then catches my lip to nibble … over and over, he repeats the process. I groan and moan louder into his sweet delectable mouth. He slips his hands under the waist band of my pajamas, and tugs them down over my legs until they drop to the floor.

“Damn, Treva,” Ronin leans back and lets his hands move slowly down my body like a serpent. He stops somewhere near my bellybutton, and stares at my half-naked body.

My patience is waning and I don’t want to wait any longer, I reach around his neck and grab his head, pulling it back down over my mouth. I hum into Ronin’s mouth while he skates his hand between my thighs and slides up ever so slowly until he reaches my very damp pink satin thong.

“Damn girl, feeling how wet you are makes my cock throb.”

I lay back on my elbows when Ronin lifts himself up off of me. It takes me a minute to realize what he is doing, but he pulls tight on my pink thong pulling the material tight against my sex and he starts tracing my outline against the taut soaked panties. Aside from my panties, I’m completely exposed, and my almost naked body is now there for him to see. With his thumb, he makes slow circular motions over the thin cloth. He finds right where my lips split and rubs over my hyper sensitive clitoris. I thrust upwards pushing into his hand … urging him not to stop.

“This is a most beautiful picture. I think I could stare at you like this for all eternity.”

His voice hums through my body. And of course I know the words are just sensual in the moment coaxes, but it makes me wish and hope there was more to this one night romp. I slightly shake my head getting back to the now, as Ronin slides his fingers just under the edge of the band and then roughly pulls them to the side.

“MMM, nicely groomed, my favorite.” He says in his husky voice.

I tremble under his touch, and I lift my hips encouraging him to continue. I can feel my slickness as I lift and make slow motions pushing onto his fingers. Finally, after the tormented teasing, he slides two fingers inside of me with full force, eagerly, and incessantly sliding them in and out. Ronin edges his way down my body and pushes his face down to where his fingers dance along my very-hot-aroused-sex.

“Deliciously sweet, your pussy is like sweet nectar drawing me to it. Fuck Treva, you taste so good.” He murmurs, while lapping at me, as he slides his fingers in and out. He pulls on my folds—a little roughly, but not rough enough for me to say stop—with his teeth causing me to growl. My back arches and he pushes into me harder. My legs tremble on his shoulders. He licks more fervently and then he uses his thumb to rub my clit around in nice slow circles. Ronin closes his lips around me and creates suction on my cleft that is mind blowing.

The rhythmic strokes and the light suction pulling at every nerve ending, elevates a tight burning sensation deep inside my core. I quiver to depths I have never felt before. The ecstasy is so intense I feel like I could explode at any moment. There’s no more, I can’t build anymore, I have reached my threshold, and I can no longer control myself. I have to let go; I scream in pleasure, “OH MY GOD Ronin.” I yell as pleasure pours out of me. “What the hell was that? That was so intense.” I pant and slowly let my back relax down to the bed after a long, torturous orgasm.

“MMM, you taste so good.” He blows off my odd question obviously lost in the moment or maybe perhaps he didn’t hear it in my uproar. Ronin slides his fingers from me and places them in his mouth sucking my taste from them. He eyes me intently. “I could enjoy that look for eternity.” He says.

“That word again.” I groan quietly.

Ronin lifts to his elbow and slides his finger across my wet slit once more. He pulls his finger up to me, “here taste.” He puts his finger into my mouth, and I suck hard on it. I can taste myself on him, and it makes me tingle all over again. “You’re right, I do taste good,” I mumble with his finger still in my mouth.

“I’m not done with you yet.” He says in a very deep throaty tone. He pulls a condom out of his pocket and pushes his pants down. The wrapper crinkles a little as he opens the foil wrapper and spits the ripped top to the floor. I watch as he slides it over his hard erection without taking his eyes from mine. He doesn’t even bother taking his pants off his ankles. There is no time, he needs me now. I can see it in his face. He pushes against my knees, bringing them up so that he can squeeze between them. Slowly he lowers himself down guiding his rock hard cock into me.

“Oh my God,” I yell. I quicken, my impulse is to tighten with his thickness stretching me to a point I’ve never been before.

Gently, he reaches up and cups my neck from underneath and puts his lips down on mine hard. We both pull at each other and pant heavily as he pushes his very hard thick erection deeply in and out of my very responsive pussy. My muscles tighten around his erection, pumping him each time he pulls out of me. Ronin keeps his hips thrusting right through my tightening muscles as they constrict more and more around him. My back muscles are all firing, and I feel my sex tighten and quiver—I know that I’m on the verge of another orgasm. Holy cow, already … again? He pushes into me and holds his thickness there for a second; making sure that he is giving all of himself to me. It’s too much. I can’t hold back any longer. Again I explode, and then, I feel him let go jerking deep inside of me as he climaxes. My pussy feels like it’s flooded. It has to be—it was wet before Ronin fucked me, now it has to be flowing like a river.

We’re both breathing heavy. In spite of the pleasure that I just had, I am feeling confused. I have never experienced such a powerful surge in my body like the one I felt a few moments ago, let alone twice. Of course I have had many sexual partners, but nothing has ever happened to me like that, or felt like that, or made me feel like that. Hmm, maybe that’s what an orgasm is. I wonder to myself, but why now?

Ronin disperses his weight on his elbows, and lays his body fully over mine as he breathes heavily trying to regain his composure. His head falls face first into the comforter, but he makes no attempt to pull himself up from me. I find myself staring at the ceiling, and hoping he will never get up. He shifts and turns his head to face me. My hair is messily strewn on the bed by his face and, he inhales deeply, “Coconuts, yummy.” He hums.

Ronin begins to lift and I wrap my arms around him tightly, indicating playfully that I am protesting and don’t want him to leave. He grins down at me and kisses my forehead. “Not satisfied, Miss Stone?”

I lift my legs and pull them over Ronin’s waist entwining my ankles in a tight hold. “On the contrary, Mr. Hollister, I have never been so satisfied. It’s just that now that I was introduced to how amazing you are, I am afraid that I hunger for much, much more.”

Ronin rumbles deep in his throat like an animal growling. “GOOD, because I have many plans for you Miss Stone, many plans”.

After hours of hard core, sweat drenching sex, both of us lay lifeless on the bed in the guest bedroom. “I usually don’t do that.” I reveal.

“What’s that?”

“I usually don’t sleep with people I haven’t gotten to know a little bit first. I like to know them before I expose myself so openly to them.” I watch Ronin for a minute, and then he nods in understanding.

“I guess what I am saying is, I’m sorry if you think that I’m just a crazy sex craved chick. Actually it’s been quite sometime since …” I trail off. I’m not sure why I am telling him my personal sex story, but I just sort of felt compelled to explain myself to him.

“Don’t feel bad Treva, but I do need to tell you, I don’t date.”

Before I start hyperventilating, I remind myself that I knew this—Seth had told me this already. This is not new information. It was just hot casual sex while vacationing, so why do I now feel weird and slightly uncomfortable with the situation and most of all—a bit dirty. “I think I need a shower.” I stand and cover my body with my arms trying to hide my nakedness.

I flee from the bedroom and cross the hall to the spare bathroom. I shut the door and lean against it for a second trying to pull myself together. After I catch my breath, I’m able to stand upright and head to the faucet to turn on the shower. I turn it scolding hot and let the bathroom fill with steam before stepping into the cascading water, of course, adjusting the temperature a little so that I don’t boil myself to death. My mind relaxes, and it’s so comforting as the warm water sprays over my body.

Treva, how the hell do you get yourself into these predicaments? You have been here for one day and you’re already jumping into the sack with someone. What would Dr. Evry say? Oh yeah she would tell me, ‘I am lashing out from my traumatic experience in a negative manor.’ Oh, but was it negative? Holy hell Ronin is hot as hell. And so what if I like to have a little fun. Life is too short to be an ole’ fuddy-duddy. Ugh, I just want to scream.

The water is starting to get cool and I turn the knob to warm it back up. Well one thing’s for certain, he can not stay here tonight. I need to send him packing. I’m here on vacation and I don’t need some guy getting all swoony over me.

I start putting the bricks back in place on my figurative wall of defense—obviously they’ve been severely cracked. I crawl out of the shower to tell Ronin to leave so that I can get my butt in bed.

I enter the spare bedroom with a towel wrapped around my body and see Ronin sitting on the edge of the bed with only his pants on. He slowly lifts his head from his cupped hands as I walk in. A look of turmoil is evident in his eyes, like he too is fighting some internal battle.

“Well it’s umm … been a fun night.” I stutter. “So I suppose you’re pretty tired and all.” I’m trying to sound smooth, but it’s not coming out quite like I had mantra’d in my mind. “Well … you can go now.” I tell him.

A look of shock crosses Ronin’s face. He stands up and looks at me—rather confused. “Yeah this is usually where I split anyway.” He sounds hard and cold. I watch him grab his green button up shirt and slide it over his strong arms. I try not to pay attention to the ripped, toned, muscles across his abdomen. He bends for his shoes and looks at me from the corner of his eyes. “Look Treva, it’s just complicated; I don’t have time for a serious relationship. I find it a lot easier if I just don’t date.” He says in a softer and more soothing tone.

“Hey, don’t worry about it. I don’t date either. Have a good night.” I say more calmly than I really feel.

His hard lines deepen across his forehead, “Guess I’ll see yea around—maybe.”

I watch Ronin leave without even turning back around to look at me. I hear the front door close rather hard, and then that’s when a full blown panic attack sets in. My heart starts pounding hard and my chest begins burning with sharp pains like someone just plunged a knife into me—twisting the blade deep into my lungs. It’s excruciating to take a breath. What am I doing? I just kicked the hottest guy that has ever paid two seconds of attention to me out on his ass. Not to mention the one and only that has ever given me an orgasm.

I kick myself feeling lost. I grab a pair of sweatpants from my suitcase and pull on a T-shirt. I need a cigarette! Maybe it will settle me down a bit. I haven’t smoked for two years now, but I don’t care—the craving is raging through me. Seth isn’t a heavy smoker, but he usually keeps some hidden around for emergencies like this.

I find myself digging through the drawers in the kitchen determined to find a cigarette. It doesn’t take long; one of the drawers I open has a couple of packs lying inside along with a lighter. I grab one of the packs and head for the balcony just beyond the French doors.

The crisp night air makes me shiver; I try to tuck my wet hair to one side to keep it off my neck, but I still welcome the cold like an old friend—Montana. Slowly inhaling the refreshing cool city scents, I step to the ledge and pull out a single cigarette and put it in my lips. My thumb flicks the lighter to life and I hesitate for a moment to watch the flame before lighting up. I inhale, filling my lungs with the smoke and nicotine. It instantly gives me a tingling sensation and a bit of a rush after I exhale. I try to get rid of the memories of the evening … let them drift away with the smoke.

Chapter 6

Why does Seth have to have a spare bedroom with windows? Why not a dungeon or something dark and gloomy like that? The odd sounds from the city and the new and strange smells made it hard to sleep; now with the light shining so brightly pouring through the window, it’s impossible to try to sleep any longer. I roll and groan into the pillow while I kick my legs like a small child throwing a fit. When I get it all out of my system, I find the stamina to make my body finally meander to the living room where I can hear Seth talking. I hesitate and listen, my heart beat quickening, but all I hear is one voice, so he must be on the phone—phew for a second there I thought maybe Mr. Hot and dangerous had come back.

Seth lay sprawled on the couch with one arm slung over the back and the other holding up the phone to his ear. Slowly making my way into the kitchen, trying hard to be as quiet as possible to not interrupt his conversation, I continue my desperate search for coffee.

“Oh hey sis,” He says looking over his shoulder at me. “Coffee’s made, cups are in the cupboard on the right above the stove, and sugar is in the bowl on the counter.”

“Thanks,” I grumble.

I find a cup and pour the thick black heavenly goodness to the brim, and I find that I’m eavesdropping on Seth’s conversation.

“Who knows? Whoever knows with him?” He says to the other person on the line.

I wonder who he is talking to and who they might be talking about, I think, as I sip on the lightly sweetened black coffee.

“Well, I was pretty drunk last night and when I got home I just passed out, but my sister is up. I’ll ask her, maybe she can shed some light.”

I hear Seth speaking about me and my eyes pop up right in time for him to look at me and ask, “This is Travis, he says Ronin is like on DEFCON 1—in major rage and war mode, more so than often—and he is tormenting everyone today. You got any idea what crawled up his ass?”

I shrug my shoulders. A quick flash back of the previous night floods my memories, maybe because I kept him up until six o’clock this morning. “I don’t know.” I say, and then quickly look down into my coffee like it will give me some sort of reprieve. “Maybe it was that fight between him and Matt.” I add quickly. I see Seth speculatively look at me from the corner of my eye; crap did he hear us last night? I thought we had been relatively quiet, but then again Ronin did have me in a sex coma, who knows what could have happened—Seth turns back around not giving any indication either way ... Phew

“Oh yeah, I had forgotten about the brawl, or maybe he lost a few million dollars on the stock market or something.” Seth says into his phone.

I figure Seth is being sarcastic, but then I realize he probably isn’t joking. Ronin probably has more money than I would ever know what to do with. I shudder at the thought … we’re worlds apart.

I walk to the living room and sit down next to Seth, I flinch slightly when I sit—my body remembering the large cock spreading me so far open last night and now leaving me quite tender, The couch on the other hand is so comfy, and it sucks me in as I sit down.

“Yeah, sure hang in there man. We’ll talk later.” Seth turns toward me, “and how about you? What would you like to do today?” Seth asks me after he hangs up. I take a slow sip and eye my brother.

“Well for starters, I have to find a cure for this headache.”

“Lightweight,” he teases.

“WHAT? Bull pucky… Who’s the lightweight? Our friends from back home would have been ashamed of you last night.” I retort.

“I guess some of us have to grow up and work for a living. We can’t all just party non-stop.”

I roll my eyes at him. “You grow up? Ha now that’s funny.” I lean over—being careful not to spill my scolding hot coffee before punching him on the shoulder.

“It’s so nice to be here with you Seth.” I smile at him.

“Um, what to show you?” Seth mutters out loud. “One thing is for certain, I should probably keep you away from my friends. What the hell was that fight about last night anyway?”

I usually can’t lie to Seth, but in truth, I’m not even really sure why the events last night erupted into full out war—I’m not really lying when I tell him I’m not sure. I let him take it in for a second, and then I scoot right around that uncomfortable memory and change the subject, “Well … I do have an urge to do a few tourist things. I was looking online when I decided to book my flight; and I saw a few things like Old Town, Little Italy, The pirate ship, zoo, some museums, oh and definitely the ocean, maybe a whale watching tour…”

“WOW hold on.” Seth starts laughing at me. I try to keep a straight face, as I gaze at him with the heaviest pouty eyes I can muster up. I’m going for the big eyed animals you see on the front of a Hallmark card, but I’m sure that on me it doesn’t have quite the same effect.

“Don’t worry; we’ll do all that stuff—just not in one day. Stop looking at me like that.”

“And Seth,” I say in a slightly whiny voice, “Do you think you could take me to Disneyland while I’m here too?”

“Really? Disneyland?”

“YUP!”

“Sure sis, whatever you would like to do.”

Setting my coffee cup on the side table, I jump with excitement landing in his lap. Giggling uncontrollably, I lean down and kiss his forehead. “You’re the best big brother in the whole world.”

Seth shakes his head back and forth, “I forgot how crazy you are.”

“First things first …” I climb off his lap, “I need a shower. I took one last night, but I can still smell the alcohol oozing from my pores.” Seth nods in agreement, and we both head to our own bathrooms to start our day.

The day seemed to flash by in a blur; it was absolutely wonderful to spend the day with Seth … just the two of us wandering around in downtown San Diego. It was a nice way to clear my head of Ronin. I had secretly been wishing he would call or text Seth, but in the back of my mind his “I don’t date, or have time for relationships,” comment reiterated that it was only a one night stand. Goddamn it! My head is way too wrapped into this already, but thinking about his beautiful sexy as hell body keeps popping into my brain. I shake my head while trying not to let my thoughts stray too far. I hear the sound of a can top opening and look up from the kitchen—Seth is plopped on the couch cracking open a beer and flipping through channels.

“I love palm trees, and sand.” I blurt out of nowhere.

Seth turns around from the couch and looks at me, “You’re such a dufus.” He taunts.

“Hey, give me a break; all we have is pine trees. It’s nice to see different foliage. I bet our dad, the logger, would even appreciate them in his own kind of way. He’d probably tell us how they can make some special plank out of it or something.” I laugh and then wink at him.

“Treva, Treva, Treva, I think all of our walking around in the ocean air made you loopy, maybe you should just grab a beer and come watch TV with me.” I can’t argue with that, so I nod in agreement.

I finish up putting the groceries away that we had bought, and I hear my phone ring. I run to my purse and see a Montana number that I don’t recognize, but I answer it.

“Hello?”

On the other end of the phone there is nothing but silence. I must have missed the call, however, when I look at my screen, it’s showing that the line is still connected. Lifting it back up to my ear, I try again, “Hello is anyone there?” Still nothing.

Seth gives me a quizzical look and I shrug my shoulders.

“Hello, hello?” I say one last time before I give up and hang up the phone.

“Who was that?”

“I have no idea. It was a Montana number, but not one I’ve seen before. Probably some stupid kid trying to play a joke,” I toss my phone on the counter.

Glancing out the glass French doors, the darkness fills me with an awkward emptiness out of nowhere. I realize that I had really been hoping it would have been Ronin calling. I know there is no chance of he and I ever being a permanent couple, but for the first time ever, my heart is compelled by a man—a very dark mysterious man. I sigh heavily feeling lost and confused. Seth is staring at me, and I give him a weak smile. I need to just try to sit back and relax for a while.

٭٭٭

“NO, NO PLEASE DON’T. DON”T TOUCH ME!!!”

“Sis it’s ok, it’s just a dream … Treva! Come on, snap out of it.” I feel light pressure from someone’s touch on my arm, and I hear the tone of Seth’s voice … sounds like he’s a million miles away. I sit straight up in bed, gasping for air as my chest heaves with sharp pains. My shirt is clinging to my body—all soaked with sweat and my heart is racing. Seth puts his arms around me … holding me tightly. Everything is still fuzzy, but when things start to come into focus and I realize where I am, it hits me that it was just another nightmare. I’m not in the captivity of that ass hole. I’m here in Seth’s house, in San Diego, safe and sound. My fears start to go away—slowing down my pulse rate—but I can’t keep from crying … tears flowing down my cheeks.

“I’m sorry Seth.”

“What for? You didn’t do anything wrong; you’re fine baby girl, I’ve got you.”

“He ... he was holding me down.” I hiccup while sobbing uncontrollably.

“Don’t worry, he’s gone … long gone. If he ever takes a single step back into Helena again, I’ll kill him.”

I lie in Seth’s arms out of harm’s way, and I grip my fingers around his strong forearms feeling slightly calmer. “I’m sorry Seth,” I mumble again.

“SSHH you’re ok.”

We sit like that for quite a while, and I am thankful that Seth doesn’t push and ask me what my nightmare was about. “What time is it?”

“Umm,” Seth looks around to look at the clock on the night stand, “6:20”.

“Urgh, well it’s early, but I don’t think I can fall asleep again. I’ll go make some coffee.” I crawl over Seth who had worked himself up onto the bed, and then head for the kitchen.

Before I am even out of the doorway, Seth interrupts. “Hey, so usually I try to fit in a daily work out before I start my day. Got to keep up my boyish figure you know. I have a membership around the corner at a club. You want to go with me and maybe get rid of some tension?”

“That sounds like exactly what I need. Great idea! I don’t have much for workout clothes, but I think I have some shorts.”

At the club, I have already run thirty minutes on the treadmill, and I’m working on thirty more on a state-of-the art elliptical machine. I can see Seth lifting weights on a contraption I have never seen before.

“You must be new around here.” A deep voice startles me. I turn my head to the machine on my right and a nicely trimmed guy is pushing buttons to start the elliptical.

“Uh … yeah, kind of, I’m just visiting.” I answer politely … a little out of breath.

“Well that’s too bad, maybe we could have hooked up.”

Holy cow! I think to myself, what a blunt asshole.

“Hey Vance, are you trying to pick up another chick … one that’s obviously too good for you?”

I can’t help but smile when I see Matt walking up to us.

“Oh, and I suppose you think you’re good enough for her Matt?” he shoots back.

“Hi Treva.”

“Hi Matt,” I nod at him with a huge cheesy grin on my face.

“You … you two know each other?”

“Of course we know each other, don’t we baby?”

“MMM HMMM we sure do baby.” I follow queue. Silently I am laughing when the guy gives up and walks away from his machine. Matt takes his place, and he’s up to my speed in no time.

“How do you like San Diego so far?” He asks.

“It’s beautiful. I love the palm trees.”

He gives me a twisted grin. “Yeah the view is amazing.”

His indirect comment makes my cheeks flush even more than they already are from working out. I hesitate for a second, but speak up anyways, “Speaking of views, I couldn’t help but notice how well you guys are in shape when we were out the other night. Do all of you share a membership here?” Really, I’m more interested in one of the guys in particular. I haven’t seen Ronin since the night before when I kicked him out —something that I still regret —and now I want to see him again.

“Just Seth, Travis, and I—actually Travis is right over there,” Matt points towards a weight machine and I see the other guy, that I vaguely remember dancing with Amy the other night. I wave and he kindly waves back. “Ronin has his own club he goes to. I guess he feels obligated to work out there since he owns it.”

“Oh,” I gasp, being pulled from my catty thoughts about Amy.

“Hey Matt!” Seth walks up right then and joins us. I’m thankful for his timing. I hope he caught Matt off guard before he notices the longing on my face.

“You coming into work today?” Matt asks Seth heaving through breaths.

Seth looks at me, “Probably not today; I have some Christmas decorations to buy. I need to get some things to keep Treva busy and out of trouble so that I can work tomorrow.”

“Yeah, if I’m not kept busy I chew up furniture.” I snort.

“At least she’s house broke.” Seth says before bursting out in laughter.

I just shake my head at my brother’s horrible sense of humor.

“Hi Matt, Hi Seth.” An obnoxious over friendly voice rings out. I lean to the side to see two blonde women—girls, hoochie-mama’s, or whatever—standing behind my brother. They are openly eyeballing Matt and Seth. “Liz and I were talking about going to Ray’s tonight; maybe we’ll see you there.”

“Yeah,” Seth replies with his tongue half hanging out. The girls walk by me and give me a heavy look up and down, “Nice flannel shorts.”

I feel my blood boiling, but decide to just move my legs faster, and think better of speaking.

“I wonder how flexible those legs are. “ Seth drools as the girls walk off.

“You pig!” I spat. Seth just shrugs his shoulders.

“I’m going to go hit the showers.” I abruptly stop and climb off the machine.

I turn the locker room shower fairly hot, and let the steaming water wash away the sweat. After I feel clean, the hot water almost feels like it’s too much. I turn the handle to make it cooler, letting it spray me all over … a brisk awakening. When I finish and leave the locker room, Matt and Seth are outside waiting for me. I had slipped on a halter top dress that has green, brown, and orange stripes in a diagonal pattern. It is a very fun springy dress that I am very happy to wear. In Montana I’d be covered up in a heavy winter coat. I tried to dry my hair with the makeshift hairdryer the club has hanging on the wall, but with my natural curls it just makes them almost untamable. I leave it slightly damp, hoping that it won’t get too frizzy.

Matt notices me instantly, “you look beautiful Treva.”

“Thanks I can’t wear this at home right now. I love this weather,” I exclaim.

“It’s been pretty warm this winter; you timed your visit perfectly.” Matt replies with a wink of his eye. He checks the time on his watch and seems disappointed. “Well, hey guys, I got to scoot, but if you’re in the neighborhood later let me know; and we’ll grab some lunch together.” Matt reaches out and grabs my hand and brings it up to his mouth to kiss my knuckles.

His gesture is so sweet, and being on the more sober side, I realize that my rose colored alcohol induced glasses weren’t lying about how hot he is … wow, he is sexy. This makes a mucho bad combo for me, hot and sensitive, I might be doomed.

“NOT you too!” Seth huffs.

“Me too? What do you mean me too?” Matt asks.

“I’m going to have to beat you and Ronin off my sister. That’s what I mean.”

I smack Seth’s arm and tell him to “shut up.” At the same time , Matt mumbles, “Ronin,” not really asking or stating.

I’m a little shocked by Seth’s comment, because I thought the intensity between Ronin and I had been a little more hidden than it obviously was. Yet, I had been pretty comfortable with Matt too, but maybe Seth was too drunk to remember all the details of our night out.

“By the way, sorry about that the other night. I think we all had too much to drink.” Matt says apologetically.

The concern etched on his face is strongly apparent, “no worries,” I say.

Seth looks between Matt and I, “Alright we’ll catch you later,” and Seth opens the door … trying to push me away from Matt. “I think I’m going to have to keep you in the house. All the wolves have come out to prey.”

Chapter 7

Shopping for Christmas decorations is fun for me, but Seth doesn’t look quite as excited. He’s quiet as I grab a few things, which leaves me to my own thoughts which are extremely dangerous. Ronin’s gruff voice asking me if I was seeing anyone pops in my head, and I realize he never mentioned if he is or not. Crap, what if he’s in a relationship and I was just a quick piece of ass. I know Seth said he isn’t into dating, but maybe not all of Ronin’s life is an open book for everyone to see, and how the hell did he break into Seth’s apartment? At the time, it seemed sort of romantic, but now it’s downright creepy. I shake my head, trying to get the whirling thoughts to fly away, or to settle down into some reasonable sense of order. You’re reading into this too much Treva, calm down.

When we finally get done shopping for Christmas décor, it’s about one o’clock in the afternoon and Seth declares that beer is a much needed necessity. I just wanted to go to an inexpensive shopping mall to buy a few decorations which put us a ways from downtown. Now he hurries me along so that we can go to a pub and have lunch.

We get to the pub and I’m a bit surprised at the non-awe, or allure it has. Actually it’s great. It’s a little dingy and dirty with mismatched chairs, nuts are scattered all over the floor, and men are speaking too loud making it obvious they have already had too much to drink. This is closer to my realm than the restaurant that we had all went to the other night. It makes me feel like home.

“I sent Matt a text. He’ll be here in a minute.”

“OK, but I thought you were trying to keep him away from me?” I laugh.

“Oh, shush.”

We find a booth that is clean and slide in. The waitress gave us a quick wave when she saw us walk in. In a matter of moments after we sit down, she’s at our table. “Is it just the two of you today, Seth?”

“Nope, Matt will be here soon too. Diane, this is my sister, Treva.”

“Hello Treva, nice to meet you.” She politely shakes my hand. “I guess I’ll have to get another silverware setting and menu for Matt. What can I get for you guys to drink?

“I’ll take the Hefeweizen that you have on tap with a lemon, Diane”. Seth answers.

“I think I’ll do the same.”

“Ok sugar, but do you have an ID?” I dig in my wallet and pass her the ID. “Montana aye? And twenty six, alright you’re good.” She hands back my drivers license. I cringe when the waitress says my age out loud—it reminds me of how much longer I have to go to get done with school.

“You come here often, Seth? Seeming how the waitress knows you by your first name.”

“Yeah, I like to come here on an occasion or two.” Seth shrugs his shoulders at me, “Wiseass,” he adds.

Diane is back in a flash with two beers in her hand. “So, are you guys going to wait until Matt gets here to order?”

“Nah, we’ll order now.” Seth says.

“I’d like to try your fish ’n chips” I say. “With a side of ranch for the fries, please.”

“No problem. And you Seth?”

“Make that two.”

“NO, make that three.”

“Actually, why don’t you make that four?”

The second deep male voice catches me completely off guard and I look up to see both Matt, and to my astonishment, Ronin—standing behind the waitress. Diane spins around just as surprised as me by the new voices. She says, “Alright boys, anything to drink with that?”

“I’ll have a jack and coke,” Matt tells her.

“I’ll have whatever they’re having,” Ronin points to the glasses on the table.

I’m excited to see Ronin, but also stunned. I’m not sure what he thinks of me after the other night. I feel a little foolish now, and I look down at my fingers and pick at them nervously. I can’t believe he is here. Ronin looks like the red focal point in a black and white painting—appearing out of place in this dingy tavern in his thousand dollar suit. Damn he is sexy. No matter where he is.

The intense sexual need for him instantly makes me hot. I really haven’t been able to get that volcano like eruption from the other night out of my head, and neither has he based on the way he’s reacting to the site of me. My body wants more, a lot more. Thinking about it makes me perspire a little. Shit how does he do this? Only an hour ago, I doubted everything that happened between us, and here he is causing my insides to get all queasy. Damn, I wish I could figure this mystery man out that’s such a puzzle to me.

“Here, I’ll sit next to Seth, you two can slide in here.” I’m not sure why I did that, but I slide from the booth and scoot in next to Seth. Both Ronin and Matt glare each other down, and I wonder if my idea to leave them sitting next to each other was a safe choice. Finally, they reluctantly sit down next to each other.

Lunch is amazing. The boys tell me stupid stories of crazy things they have all done together and they laugh carefree about it. I try, but I can’t force my eyes to look anywhere else but at Ronin. Every time our eyes meet, I have to squeeze my thighs tightly together to try to calm the tingling sensation. I’m more than grateful that he doesn’t mention the marvelous sexual encounter that we shared the night before last.

“Seth you have to come with me tomorrow. I’m pretty sure I’ve got Global Glass landed. They want to meet tomorrow at eleven o’clock. I need my business partner to help me seal the deal.” Matt pleads.

“Sure no problem, I’m sure Treva can get along without me for a little bit while I’m out making money.”

“Oh Seth, I’m sure I’ll be just fine. I made it this far without you hovering over me day in and day out.” I’m very aware of Ronin’s eyes watching me from across the table. It’s hard for me to keep my words steady as I speak.

Matt is hot, but he has nothing on Ronin. Ronin is a beautiful piece of heaven sent to earth. He even seems to have a glow about him. I should have checked to see if he has wings the other night. I smile to myself and Ronin is amused by my out of the place delight, because I see him smile wickedly when I do. He never releases his eyes from me and I feel them burning into me with desire. I hope he doesn’t hate me for my reactions I portrayed the other night. I slide one of my last French fries into my mouth slowly and provocatively and I see Ronin twist in his seat. A shimmer of hope shifts the current in the air when he squirms from my bold behavior.

Seth interrupts the luncheon, and my day dreaming, by announcing we have more things to do.

“What a cock block.” Ronin says under his breath.

I heard him mutter, but I wasn’t sure if I had heard him right. When I look at him he gives me a wink and I know that I had heard him right.

We all stand from the table and I feel the heat from the light hitting my bare shoulders. Ronin makes an unswerving comment. “Wow Treva you look absolutely stunning. You look like a nice tasty piece of candy, absolutely scrumptious.”

I flush a little and feel that warm tingling sensation between my legs again. How the hell does he do that to me with just a few words?

“Yes Treva, you are beautiful. That dress accents you wonderfully.” Matt has to get a compliment in too.

Ronin’s face twists into a grimace and the saying, “if looks could kill” pops into my mind.

“Lunch is on me.” Ronin reaches down and picks up the ticket with vexation. All of us immediately protest, but Ronin wins. If I had to bet on it, I am sure that when it comes to Ronin as a participant, he always wins. We all walk towards the exit to leave the pub, and Ronin leans into Matt’s ear and whispers, “Not a chance in hell dude … this one’s mine.”

Matt retorts back, “We’ll see about that.”

“You touch her Matt, and I like you as a friend, so it’ll suck to have to kill you.” Ronin isn’t joking around; he has an unnatural calm voice. They don’t know that I can hear them, and I shudder slightly from the eerie deadly tone.

“How about we let her decide, and what the fuck man, you don’t date anyway.”

“Thank you for lunch,” I turn around and break up the testosterone, to thank the beautiful man standing behind me.

“My pleasure, Miss Stone.” I smile at Ronin getting lost in his gaze for a moment. I turn back toward the door and Ronin steps up behind me close enough to extend his arm to touch the small of my back. Electric shocks buzz through me from my back all the way to my finger tips. I stiffen to his touch. He edges even closer, and my hair is right in his face. He inhales deeply. “I think coconut is becoming my new favorite scent,” he says in a low growl.

“I have missed you quite some bit Miss Stone. I need to see you again.” I don’t move away. I just stand completely still feeling Ronin’s breath on my hair.

“Even after the other night?” I ask in almost a whisper.

“Especially after the other night.” Ronin’s phone buzzes, and he pulls it out of his jacket—looking at the screen, he takes a step back from me, “What Charles?” His tone does a 360 and instead of a soft sensitive tone, his words are cold and clear as ice water … chilling me.

“NO! Just because I’m Ronin Hollister, they don’t get to demand a price. Look into this matter further; I’m sure there is a lot more to the story.” Ronin hangs up the phone without saying goodbye.

I know I haven’t yet seen the full power or nature of the man standing in front of me; and right now, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t want to be on his bad side judging his character at this moment.

“And now the true Ronin comes out.” Matt says pushing past Ronin.

Seth interrupts my quiet, personal, inception, probably just at the right time. “Come on sis let’s be tourists.”

Seth tells me he thinks it would be a good time to show me Harbor Boulevard, a perfect tourist spot. Harbor Boulevard is maybe a two mile boardwalk full of tourist attractions; it includes the museum, pirate ship, submarines, a massive aircraft carrier and the inevitable shops I had mentioned—I wanted him to take me to spend money on frivolous touristy things.

We drive from the little pub and I sit in silence thinking about Ronin. Today is my third day in San Diego, and from day one he has been constantly on my mind. I took this trip to get away and relax, and here I am getting all twisted up by a man. I close me eyes and draw the best picture of him that I can in my mind. The light reflects specs of bronze hues in his brown hair, and I imagine running my hands through it feeling each strand brushing against my fingers softly. His beautiful green eyes search my face as I rhythmically pull on tufts of his hair. Oh my … he is so beautiful. Yet, I know there is something very dark about him, the way his tone was so sharp and cold. A shiver prickles my skin. The car stops and I open my eyes.

“Whoa, is that a cruise ship?” I ask.

Seth looks at me and smirks. “This is where cruise liners dock while they gather the next group to drag out to sea,” he tells me.

“That is amazing. I never realized how huge they are.” I stare up at the cruise ship in awe.

I feel like a little kid seeing everything from a new point of view on the harbor. It is a little too late to go tour the museum and ships tonight, but walking around staring at the people and out over the bay is thrilling enough. We walk until the sidewalk comes to an end—at a docking center for trading ships—and then we turn back around. The sun has set and we wander in the evening light. The yachts docked on the water right next to the boardwalk are stunning to look at. We both joke around pretending that we own one of our own … pointing at which one we take out on a regular basis.

“It’s great to see you like this sis. I’ve been worried about you. The last few times I talked to you … well, to be honest you sounded horrible.”

I lean over the railing watching the water hit the sides of the boats and then spray upwards. “You’re right Seth. It’s been awful, school is so straining, my boss has been slyly making passes at me, but I don’t want to say anything because I need my job … mom and dad you know, they still don’t talk to me. I’m so lonely without you.” Tears begin welling up in my eyes while I grab Seth and clinch onto him. “I’m so happy you’re doing so well. Me coming here seeing you like this gives me some renewed strength, I love you so much.”

“Not much longer and you’ll get out of that hell hole too sis’.” We both look back out over the boats letting out a deep sigh. “I think Ronin has a ship out there docked somewhere.”

“What? Are you kidding me?” I glance at Seth, but I can tell he isn’t joking. Even before he said it, I knew or figured that Seth was probably very right … hell, he probably has more than one yacht parked somewhere. “It’s weird that you two are friends. We didn’t exactly come from that life style you know. Some would probably call us trailer trash.”

Seth squeezes his eyebrows together and gives me an accusatory look.

“Oh come on, you know I’m not saying you’re not good enough it’s just that mansions and yachts don’t quite seem to be our material.” I say bluntly.

“Nope, but you know maybe it’s time for our stars to change, and maybe our kids won’t have to grow up like we did. Stop worrying, they say opposites attract so maybe being his friend is right where I am supposed to be. Treva, we’re just good friends. To be perfectly honest, I am more worried about you.”

“Me? Why?” I look at him confused.

“I’m not blind Treva. I’m sure he has eyes for you. Shit he looks at you like you’re some delicious dessert, and he’s not really the man you should umm … try to have a relationship with. He treats women pretty shitty from what I’ve seen. To him they’re only good for one thing, and I don’t want some rich bastard friend of mine to hurt my favorite person in the world … all because he wanted a piece of ass.”

“Thanks Seth, but you should really know me better than that. You know I don’t date either. It might be him that would end up hurt.”

Seth laughs a burly deep laugh, “My hard ass sister. Come on, there is an awesome little Mexican restaurant up here that mixes up a great margarita.”

We walk towards the restaurant in silence, and of course my mind wanders to Ronin Hollister. One second the man is giving me unbelievable orgasms, and the next he’s clipped and guarded with an extremely sharp edge.

I’m vaguely aware when Seth pulls on my arm as he turns to walk between two dark shops. An eerie tingling sensation travels up my spine. Instinctively, I spin my head around and see a man wearing a baseball cap—his head is leaning forward like he’s looking at the ground. He has on a dark jacket, and a pair of jeans. I’m unable to see his face, but something triggers a deep pitted recollection. The way he moves and the scent in the air … panic kicks in and my fight or flight mode hits me like a swift punch in the gut. I stop mid-stride; the guy turns and gets lost in the shadows.

Chapter 8

I’m stunned, and completely immobile.

“Treva, what is it?”

“I … I think maybe I was hallucinating.”

“Hallucinating? What are you talking about?” The worry in Seth’s tone doesn’t comfort my fear, but I know I should be strong. There is no way that he could be here. He’s still in prison. The stress from Ronin and Matt fighting over me must have my brain going in wild circles, and now I’m imagining Eric is here in San Diego … following me.

“Umm … well, I just thought we were being followed.” I incoherently mutter. I don’t mention to Seth who I thought was following us, thinking it might be better to keep that to myself.

Seth grabs my arm and takes off down the sidewalk leading between the buildings. When we get out into the open, I don’t see the man that was behind us, “Do you see the person?”

I shake my head indicating no. It was probably all in my head and seeing no evidence of anyone lurking in the corners just affirms my first thought—stress is making me delusional.

I begin to doze. My eyes are swimming between heavy lids, but I know that tonight I will be uneasy and restless.

My dream morphs from a beautiful man pleasing me in extreme depths to a blackness that tears at my very being. Ronin’s beautiful, perfect face starts to become distorted into the nightmarish evil bastard Eric. Ronin can be so domineering—like the few times I had witnessed when his darker side popped out—yelling at the photographer and the restaurant manager or whoever the man Charles is, but now it’s somehow different. I wasn’t scared then, now I feel terrified. My heart rate quickens, and with each breath it becomes harder to inhale. Every time I breathe in, my lungs fill with a heavy liquid. Am I drowning? No I can’t be. He’s yelling at me to bend over and spread my legs. I’m mortified by his aggressiveness, and not to mention his melodic voice is now coming from a face that fills every corner of my life with lurid atrocities. Why is Ronin treating me like this? And why does he have Eric’s face?

I stand naked in an unfamiliar room that is encircled by windows. Blinding light streams across my body, warming me. I have to squint through the brightness to see the morphed man situated in the center of the stark white room. If he didn’t have the face of a deranged psychopath, I would think of him as otherworldly. His white gossamer shirt and pants hang loosely over his tan skin and the contrast of the stark whiteness of the room makes his chocolate colored hair and other features stand out.

I know in my mind that it’s Ronin. His beauty and that stern voice, but even with the blinding light, I can see Eric’s face. The one person I have fought for years to push back into the darkest corner of my mind. The one person I absolutely fear to ever see again.

“What are you?” I find myself asking.

His low laugh causes goose bumps to erupt over my skin. “I am your deepest want and the answer to all of your dreams. I am your personal angel; I’ll glide along with you through your passage of life. But I am also your deepest fears, your dark angel, weaving angst and turmoil in the mist.”

I wake with a start, my heart hammering against my chest. What the hell was that? Not wanting to lay in bed, in fear of my mind wandering longer, I push myself out of bed and shuffle my feet slowly meandering to the shower … confused and dazed by my bizarre dream. Things seem to be just getting stranger by the day. The shower is very welcoming as I try to lose myself in the warm water spilling over my shoulders. But even the hot water isn’t enough to push the thought of Ronin and his deep secrets out of my mind. I know that I need to get things under wrap because it is literally making me insane. It’s unfathomable how my wild imagination has created nightmares so strong and vivid, that they are actually physically starting to appear right before my eyes. I shiver thinking about the man I thought was following us last night. Yes, I definitely need to get things straightened out. I’m just not quite sure about how to go about it … not after seeing the multiple mood swings of Ronin flipping out as fast as a switch turning on a light. I’m not exactly sure how I am supposed to get him straightened out. Like me, there seems to be many layers to that beautiful man.

I duck out of the shower, wrap a towel around my damp hair, slip on a plain white tank top, and my favorite pair of loose jeans. I make my way to the kitchen to start my day with a morning cup of coffee. It seems oddly quiet, and when I look around, I realize Seth must be gone—I do see the already made coffee, hmm, I smile … wow I’m so lucky to have someone like Seth who cares about me. I grab a cup and fill it, then I read the note that I see on the counter:

Off to work sis

If you need me give me a call

Otherwise; be back around 2:00

Seth

I don’t mind Seth being gone. It gives me the opportunity to do some hardcore soul searching and get the Christmas decorating done. Sometimes the best therapy is mindlessly working on a project. I sip on my coffee while I ponder what kind of cereal to have for breakfast. Slowly, I eat my Cheerios and enjoy my coffee while I try to come up with a game plan for the decorations that we had bought. After I rinse my bowl out, I send a quick text to my BFF Becca to tell her I miss her, and then find my IPod and ear phones and turn up my music. My thumb strums over the different playlists I have set up, and I opt for a more upbeat set. My favorite tunes always motivate me.

The song Stereo Love starts strumming in my ears and I start my project by dragging out all of the decorations and get to work … dancing, spinning and hanging the festive décor. The faux tree we chose fits perfectly in the corner of the living room; carefully I hang the elegant ornaments on it. When the tree is done, I hang a greenery garland around the living room and kitchen; I hang two stockings on the mantle of the fireplace, for Seth and me.

I glance up and regret it; the picture hanging over the fireplace haunts me as I look at the faces of my parents and my sister judging me. “Stupid tears,” I yell. “Why the hell do you guys still make me cry? I’m good enough damn it—look at me now … none of you ever believed me or believed in me, but I’m making it on my own. I’m going to finish school without any of your support, physically, financially or mentally. I didn’t lie about what happened. Why wouldn’t you believe me?” What the Fuck, I’m talking to pictures now—that can’t be good. I wipe a tear from my eye and take a step back—turning my eyes away from the portrait to look over my work, “PERFECT,” I mumble pulling my thoughts back to my decorations.

I’m finished. My music is still blasting, when the front door flies open—startling the hell out of me. I pull out the earphones, ready to bolt when I see Seth walk in.

“Wow, this looks great Treva.” He walks over and gives me a kiss on the forehead.

I slap his chest, “You almost gave me a heart attack. I was about to try a round house out.” My pulse is still pounding to the point of my chest hurting, but my breath is slowing. Then I realize what he had said, “You really think so?” I ask looking around the room to have a look at the decorations.

“Hell yeah, this will be a great Christmas, you’re making this the best sis. Oh, and sorry about the scare, I didn’t mean to freak you out.”

I twist up my lips into a huge smile and begin walking around the room gathering the scraps of torn wrappers and unused decorations. I bend over and pick up all the garbage and my towel falls to the floor. I had forgotten it was still on my head.

“We need to celebrate tonight!” Seth loudly proclaims while grabbing a cold water bottle out of the fridge.

“What are we celebrating?”

“Matt and I closed a big deal today and I’m talking big bucks.”

“Awesome, Seth. Way to go big brother. So will I need to dress up for this celebration or can I go like this?”

Seth looks me over once, “You’re clothes are fine I just want you to be comfortable, but um you might want to brush your hair.” I stick my tongue out at him and chuck a leftover ornament at him. “How childish, I’m appalled.” He snorts. “Oh yeah, speaking of dressing up, I almost forgot, Schilling’s is having their annual Christmas party and we’ll be attending. Did you bring any dress up clothes?”

“Schilling’s?” I have no idea what Schilling’s is, and I furrow my eyebrows looking at him confused.

“You know the company I work for?” He answers my un-asked question.

“Oh yeah … right, sorry I forgot the name, and about that dress … Ha, you’re so funny. When the hell … do I ever have a chance or reason to dress up in Helena, Montana? Of course I have no dress up clothes.”

Seth quirks at me in acknowledgement, “I guess you’ll have to go shopping then.”

“Alright,” I say feeling slightly embarrassed, “but I don’t have tons of cash, so we’ll have to hit somewhere I can afford.”

Seth looks at me dejectedly, “Treva, Treva, Treva, no baby girl, it’s on me. You’re my guest, and I just landed a huge deal remember?”

“Seth, you don’t have to do that.”

“I know, but I want to.”

I look at my hands and fiddle with the wrappers. I’m not one of those who don’t accept gifts; I try to take care of myself. “So when’s the party?”

“Saturday night.” Seth answers.

“Alright, well at least I have a few days to look for something. Today is Thursday right?”

“ALL DAY” he winks at me.

Seth’s phone rings, “Seth.” There is a pause and his eyes watch me before speaking again. “Yeah, we did. I know it’s a pretty big deal. Hell yeah! Yup Treva and I were just saying that. Ok sounds good.” And he clicks his phone off.

“Go get ready we are going to celebrate.”

I look at him strangely, not sure about who he was just talking to; if I needed to know he would have told me.

I’m not a very primpy type of person, so I spend little time fussing. I pull my hair into two pig tail braids and apply a little mascara. “This ok?” I ask when I walk back into the living room.

“Oh, look how cute and innocent you look.”

“That’s me alright,” I roll my eyes.

“I’ll give you this much though—at least you don’t take forever fussing about yourself … come on, get some shoes on.”

I slide into my well broke-in flip flops and grab my favorite comfy oversized college sweatshirt.

“Uh sis’, its like 77 degrees out right now.”

“I know it’s for later … just in case.”

The two of us cruise in Seth’s sporty silver car with the windows rolled down. “Wow, this bridge is awesome.” I squeal. I try to look over the edge as we drive over the bridge high above the water, but a car next to us obstructs my view.

“This is the bridge that will take us over to Coronado.”

When we reach the other side of the massive bridge, I turn around to look at the city across the water. Staring at the surrounding landscape makes it hard to concentrate on everything. I do notice though that the environment is slightly changing. As we drive a little further, it seems a little nicer around this neighborhood, actually a lot nicer. “Seth I’m starting to feel slightly underdressed now.”

“Quit worrying you’re fine.”

I fidget with my hands a little bit as I stare out the window and see well-dressed people on the sidewalks. “It’s buzzing down here. Are we going to be able to find a parking spot?” With perfect timing a car pulls out and Seth scoots his little car into the spot.

“This is a pretty cool place. They have some great shops it looks like; maybe we could go shopping here.” I point out.

“Awe, it’s not too bad I guess.” Seth grabs my hand and drags me across the street. “There it is right up there.” Seth points up the street to a building, but I’m not exactly sure to which one. When we get to a brick building the door is kind of blackened out, and we walk in. It dawns on me that we’re in a pool hall.

“Seth you brought me to a pool hall? I don’t want to have to embarrass you in front all of your fellow men.”

Seth’s lips twist into a half grin. “I’ve been practicing.”

We’re well into a few games when Ronin walks in. I instantaneously feel his presence and look up over the pool table before I make my shot. I stand straight up and look directly at him. He tilts his head and his eyes gleam. My body warms, and I can feel myself glowing. Without any trepidation he walks straight for me and grabs me by the waist. He pulls me close, and then gives me a long hot wet kiss on my lips. I’m engulfed in the moment and I wrap my arms around his neck—holding on to him tightly— obviously needing him just as much as he needs me. The kiss is passionate and desperate as we search each others mouths. Crap this is it. I am totally and completely lost in Ronin Hollister, hopefully my heart understands that this is just a temporary fling.

“Hem, hem”. The little gesture doesn’t pull us apart, so Seth steps closer and does a fake cough in Ronin’s ear.

Ronin slows his eager mouth and pulls away to see who is boldly interrupting. I’m instantly feeling left wanting for more. The sensation of his mouth is still lingering, on my now swollen lips … fresh in my mind. Slowly Ronin pulls up the corner of his mouth, “Hello Seth”.

“We celebrating for me, or do you and my sister have another party intended?”

“’Both,” Ronin says matter-of-factly.

I flush crimson with embarrassment and can’t look into Seth’s eyes. I had gotten so wrapped up in Ronin that I completely blanked out everyone else in the room—for a second; it was like we were the only two people left in the universe.

Ronin grabs my hand like he’s been doing it for years and holds onto it firmly. My hand is incredibly comfortable nestled into his, which shocks me a little. I’m not used to any sort of affection, but right now … at this very moment, with my hand in his, it feels completely right—it’s something that I could easily get used to.

Seth gives a glaring death stare at where Ronin has decided to place his hand; he then gives me a look of disgust. Seth mumbles, “There’s no point. Ronin always gets what he wants and I guess you’re that prize right now”.

I look up at Ronin and melt into his beautiful sea green eyes. I missed him; only now do I realize how much—his perfect smile and bright white teeth beaming at me. He is so beautiful and it must look like black and white with us standing together like this. Complete opposites in every way.

“What are you thinking about?” I can’t help but ask.

“You … isn’t that obvious?”

“What about me?”

“Right now I’m thinking about how your tank top shows off your perfect robust tits and how it hugs your body closely all the way down to your petite waist. Those jeans you’re wearing are faded and loose, but they still show enough for everybody to know that underneath you have a nice tight ass and a beautiful body. And oh my god, pigtails. I would love to pull on those and make you squeal.”

The confession he just whispered into my ear makes me so sizzling hot. I squeeze my thighs together, and I feel my wetness. If Seth wasn’t here I would drag Ronin to the bathroom and make him take me over the sink.

“Are you a glutton? Don’t you remember our abrupt ending the other night?” I ask.

“I must be. To be honest, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing, but no one has ever thrown me out before.” His lips are in a straight line and I can’t read his emotions.

“I’m sorry about that,” I say. I lean up on my tip toes and give him a quick peck on his soft lips.

“You guys want a beer?” Ronin asks suddenly evading the direction in which our conversation is leading to.

“I think I need a shot,” Seth says defeated.

“I’ll take another beer.” I agree. Ronin brings my hand up to his mouth and kisses my hand tenderly. Then he makes a show of an exaggerated lingering as if he never wants to let me go. He slips out of my hand and leaves to get our drinks.

“WHAT THE FUCK SIS?”

“I don’t’ know … what?” I hiss at him. “I’m here on vacation Seth. I’m just having a good time. It’s been a long time coming, and don’t forget I’m more immune to broken hearts than you … REMEMBER?”

Seth throws his arms up in defeat, “ALRIGHT, ALRIGHT, calm down. I know you’re a big girl. I just worry about you. I know your past… no one else does. I don’t need my hit list any longer because some other asshole moves in on you and hurts you.”

I hug Seth and cool down. I know he isn’t purposely trying to piss me off; he is just trying to keep me safe and I can’t be mad at him for that. “How come you get to pick people up for random fucking’s all the time? I want to have fun too!” I whisper in his ear.

Ronin is already back from the bar with his hands full of drinks, “What’s up?”

“Nothing much just a sibling hash out.” I admit.

Ronin hands me a beer and gives Seth his drink. “Who’s up?” Ronin points to the pool table.

I sense Ronin is trying to break up whatever might be going on between Seth and I. It does seem to disrupt Seth, at least for now.

“How about you play Treva, and I’ll sit this one out.”

After I beat Ronin at multiple games of pool, he finally decides he has had enough of being beaten. “How about we go get something to eat? I don’t want this night to end yet.” Ronin insists.

“Well before we go anywhere, I have to run to the little girl’s room.” I announce and stand from our table. The bathroom is on the opposite wall in the corner, and I find it easily. I hesitantly look at myself in the mirror, knowing that I hadn’t dolled myself up much—I did want a quick glance, wondering how or what Ronin is seeing before I leave.

Just outside the door, a couple of men are standing by the corner of the bar and they immediately start making comments when they see me come out.

“Hey sugar. What are you doin’ tonight?” One of the men slurs out.

I figure it best to just keep walking and ignore them, but they were offended by my attitude.

“I was talking to you.” The man steps forward and I feel his grimy hands as he grabs me around the waist pulling me backwards. A yelp of surprise escapes my lips, not expecting the grip.

“Let go of me ASSHOLE.” I yell, and I look over to the corner searching for Ronin. I see him from across the room. I don’t want to wait and decide to take matters into my own hands … feeling sickened by the strangers hands wrapped around me. I throw my head back hard into his nose, and then when his grip is lost, I spin around lifting my knee to meet his groin. I see Ronin appear next to me just in time for him to see me take my knee and nut the guy as hard as I can … I finish it by smacking him in the face. “Next time a girl doesn’t want your attention LEAVE HER THE FUCK ALONE!” I spit in his face.

Ronin swings his arm around my waist. “Do you have any idea how much you just turned me on right now?” He says in a low voice. A devious little smile passes my lips, and I kiss him lightly on his cheek.

Seth isn’t far behind Ronin. He is watching us as we come wandering back to him, “I forgot how feisty you are and I should stop doubting you so much. Come on guys let’s get the hell out of here.” He says.

“Great idea! Seth maybe you should leave your car here and I’ll have Taylor come and grab it.” He looks at Seth with a straight face, “Friends don’t let friends drink and drive.”

It still is fairly light outside as Ronin directs me to a black SUV; I’m surprised that he even has such a thing. I notice that it’s not some over the top special ordered vehicle. Actually, it’s just a really nice GMC Yukon Denali. Not that I wouldn’t dream to have one, they are very nice trucks. I just guess I’m stereo typing and expect a rich gazillionaire to have cars and trucks that I know nothing about.

When we all climb into the back, I notice a man sitting in the driver’s seat. “Malcolm, I think we would like to go to Leon’s.” Malcolm doesn’t even say anything he just nods his head, and we start rolling down the street.

Ronin starts in on Seth, giving him a hard time, and I have to holdback to keep from laughing. “I can’t believe your sister can out drink and out shoot you Seth. Actually, I can’t believe she smeared the both of us with her billiard abilities.”

“I told you guys not to put any money down. I had warned you, but now I have money to go shopping.” The giggles escape my lips, and I jump around like a little school girl.

“Shopping, and what are we shopping for?” Ronin looks at me quizzically.

“Well, I was told that I need a formal dress for the company’s Christmas party.”

“Schillings?” he asks.

“Yep.”

“Do you also need a date?” Ronin hums in my ears.

“Hmm - Ronin are you asking if you can accompany me to a dinner party?”

“Why, yes I think I am Miss Stone.”

I melt when I see his bigger than-life perfect smile and those beautiful green eyes searching my face. “Well … if my brother doesn’t mind me ditching him as his date, then I would be much obliged.” I half bow.

“I do think though—my little peanut—you might be needing, two dresses.” Ronin reaches down and grabs my hand. He must see my confusion and quickly adds, “Two, because I too have a dinner party I’d like you to attend.”

I smile trying to remain calm. The god sitting next to me holding my hand wants me, and there is absolutely no sense to it. “I’m not sure that I can handle all of this excitement. I’m just a redneck girl from a little town remember?”

Ronin throws his head back and laughs. It is so sexy seeing him so carefree and laughing. I wish we were alone so I could throw myself into his lap and soak all of him up—melding with him in every way possible. While he continues laughing in a low voice I say, “But I’d love to accommodate you Mr. Ronin.”

“THAT’S MR. HOLLISTER to you!”

My hazel eyes pop open and I giggle yet again. “Okay then, MR. Hollister, it’s a date.”

“Hey Seth, I forgot to ask, is there a descent computer store around here? Maybe while shopping for my dresses,” I flash a look at Ronin as I emphasize the es’, “we could maybe look for a new lap top. Mine finally gave up.”

“Sure no problem, we can go look tomorrow.”

Good … I have some much needed research to get done. I think, as I nudge in closer to Ronin.

The rest of the evening was just as much fun. Ronin took us to an extravagant steak house where we all pigged out and had way too much to drink. On the ride home, I’m glued to Ronin. He feels so good wrapped around me. I snuggle in as close as I possibly can—getting tucked under his arm and into his side.

“Stay with me tonight!” He whispers into my ear.

I look at Seth and see that he is passed out. My nerves twinge and I think about all of my reservations, but when I look up into his eyes, the words cross my lips and softly say, “Yes”.

Chapter 9

The building we pull up to is about the same size as the one where Seth works, but it looks more apartment-like than the extravagant mirrored sky rise. The SUV stops right at the front doors to let us out. Ronin helps me to the sidewalk, and I watch the black Yukon drive off and turn the corner at the end of the building. The glass door is being held open by an older man in a black suit.

“Good Evening, Mr. Hollister.” He says.

Ronin nods and softly directs me forward. My breath hitches as I look around. The foyer is stunning. Giant pillars are wrapped with beautiful green garland and red Christmas bulbs that seem to be holding up a balcony. Plush furniture in red with gold accents is arranged comfortably with end tables and light glowing lamps. It reminds me of a posh Hotel lobby. Off to the side, I notice a lounge with a faint sound of music lofting through the air. But what really catches my attention, is an intricate staircase with white banisters—fanning wide at the bottom and winding up to the balconies which overlook the lobby—making it the main focal point. I picture that as a perfect setting for a bride to stand while being photographed. I picture her standing there with her dress splayed out over the beautiful staircase. Just to the left of the magnificent staircase is the largest Christmas tree I have ever seen. It’s the perfect setting for a winter wedding. I must have stopped, because Ronin pulls on my arm, “Come on baby”, thankfully, shaking wedding thoughts out of my head.

We get on an elevator and he pushes some numbers on a key pad. “What’s that?” I ask, feeling sort of dumb for even having to ask.

“That’s a code to get on to my floor.”

“Oh.”

The elevator doors close and the little box immediately starts to heat up. I have had some intimate moments with this man, yet, here I am still feeling like it’s the first time. He is so damn sexy, and to be honest with myself, he scares the hell out of me. His arm reaches out and scoops around my waist. I close my eyes and bite my lip taking in his warm touch. I love it when he puts his hands on me. He pulls on me and spins me around until we are facing each other. My head just comes to his shoulders and I look at his chest instead of looking up into his eyes. I see a glint of movement from his hand coming up to my face and his thumb tugs right below my lip pulling it free from my teeth; he lifts my chin so that my eyes are forced to meet his gaze.

“You are so stunning Treva. I can’t seem to get enough of you.” He leans forward and closes his mouth over mine. The kiss is slow and very intimate. The pressure of his lips causes me to moan into his mouth as his hand slips from my lower back pushing under the hem of my tank. His warm caressing hand touches my bare skin, and I feel like my internal organs are going to burn up from the heat growing inside of me. He pulls me closer, and the strength of his arms wrapped around me feels so safe and comforting.

The elevator dings and it’s hard to pull myself away from him. He leaves his hand tucked in my shirt as we walk out into the hall. I don’t really pay attention to the surroundings. I am just completely lost in Ronin. I hear the door click open and before I even have a chance to step forward he sweeps me off my feet. He carries me in his arms, and puts his lips to mine as he takes me through his home. I feel a soft plush comforter underneath me as he lays me down.

Ronin hovers over my body and slowly unbuttons my favorite worn jeans. His fingers are agile and move with smooth dexterity all while he presses light kisses against my neck. He sits up, and I feel my jeans being tugged down my legs. My flip flops had fallen off somewhere on our way into his room. When my pants are gone he pulls up one of my legs and begins kissing the tips of my toes.

Holy cow, who knew him kissing my toes, could be so erotic. I have never felt anything so amazing. His lips kiss every single one of my toes and then he starts to kiss my ankles. My skin tingles and I feel that familiar burning between my thighs. I know he’s working his way up, but I writhe from him moving too slow. I want him to touch me now. I want him to ease that almost painful burn growing into flames in between my legs.

“FUCK RONIN! I WANT YOU! FUCKING TAKE ME NOW, PLEASE.”

He lifts his head and his lips twist deviously, “so eager.” He pauses and kisses my knee, and then lifts his lips, “I think I would like to make this last for a while Miss. Stone.”

I throw my head back in frustration. What he is doing feels amazing, but it’s so torturous. When he gets to my hips he kisses the edge of my panties and then slides his finger underneath the waistband—removing them from my body. I think he will now give himself to me, but I am so wrong. When his face comes back to my hips, he kisses my hip bones very slowly and then he spreads my legs open. My bare skin is so ready for him to caress me. His head hovering inches above me; he starts to let his warm breath flow over my skin, blowing lightly on my sensitive clit and then very softly he lets his breath escape over my slit allowing the heat to spill over me. Instantly, my folds become wet. I lift my hips up to meet him, but he lifts his head. He is staying meticulously close, yet he is seems so far away.

“You smell so delicious. I can smell your cunt getting wet for me.”

He blows against my smooth skin again and again. I long for his touch. Every part of my body hyper alert to what he is doing to me. I try to relax as the breeze flows through my folds. It’s so intense. I grab the comforter into a tight grip, and then, with his last breath I come undone.

I pant heavily. Holy hell, he didn’t even touch me and he brought me to my knees. I lay with my eyes closed unraveling from my orgasm when I feel his fingers lightly touching me.

“Yes baby, that’s it you should always be this wet for me.”

I want him. I sit up and start unbuttoning his dark jeans. I get the button undone and his pants unzipped, and he scoots off the bed to slide them free. He lifts his plain white T-shirt off and I stare. I should pinch myself to see if I have fallen asleep … in some crazy long ass dream. If it was a dream, what would I do when I wake up? He’s on top of me, and quickly, he slides a condom onto his thick hard erection. My folds stretch for his well-endowed rock hard cock as he glides deeply into me. I hold my breath from the slight pinch from his size.

“Are you ok?” he softly asks me.

“Oh yes, I’m quite ok.” I assure him.

I am happy that he is slow to begin, and as I start to relax and open up to him, he must feel it. He pushes into me, slightly harder and a little deeper. I find my grip on his back urging him to push faster as my body spreads further for him. It amazes me how he responds to my needs on demand, and he thrusts himself into me. Damn, he is a sinful sex god, and I love every bit of it. I groan loudly when his lips find my hard nipples. He tugs on them and sucks playfully. His mouth is magical as his tongue flicks my erect nipples. Every surface of my body is responding to his touch. He pushes my right leg up onto his shoulder leaving my left leg free to the side. The new position lets him get so deep and I can’t control my orgasm, it releases with no warning. I scream in pleasure as it flows free.

He doesn’t slow down. He takes no mercy on me as he plunges repeatedly in and out. Suddenly, he stops—grabs me by my hips and flips me over on to my stomach like I’m a ragdoll. His aggression is sexy as hell. My face smothered into his soft down comforter I inhale the masculine scent of Ronin before he tugs up on my hips. I’m on my knees, my head on the pillow and my ass sticking up. I push up so I’m leaning on my elbows, and now I can meet his movements as he pushes into my very aroused pussy. One of his hands pulls on my hip, while rubbing my ass with the other as he pumps into me. He is so deep this way, and I pant breathlessly as he keeps plunging into me. Sweat runs down my forehead, but I don’t care. I let it drip while Ronin relentlessly dives himself deeper and harder pushing me along the silk sheets. The sound of our flesh smacking together reverberates through his bedroom. When Ronin grabs both of my braids, it causes my head to pull back and my body to arch backward. “Fuck, Ronin,” I groan with intensity. I feel that unfathomable fiery sensation building again. I tighten my muscles, gripping around him even tighter. I can’t hold back, and I start to scream, “RONIN!” And I feel him plunge and slow down as he grunts behind me.

We both stare at the ceiling as we catch our breath. The room is spinning, but I think it’s just me trying to figure out what’s going on between us. I live twelve hundred some miles away. I’m trying to get through with school so that I can start my own career. That skeleton in my closet that reminds me to never to get close or trust a man again keeps staring me in the face—this whole thing is a jumbled up fairytale. I was never one to believe in fairytales … not even when I was a kid. Most of us realists expect that shooting star to fall to the earth in a huge flaming ball of fire, and then destroy everything in its place instead of it holding some possible magical trait twittering behind. In other words, what the hell am I doing?

A whirlwind of thoughts rush through my brain. I’m not sure why this seems so complicated when in reality, it’s pretty uncomplicated—this is just for fun, nothing will come out of this. In two weeks, I’ll be nestled in my home laughing with Becca about all of this. Ronin’s soft snores tell me that he is fast asleep, and I’m mesmerized just lying here looking at him. His features are so relaxed and peaceful. How on earth did I get myself in this spot? He is so stunning. A marvelous creature that even while he sleeps, has my stomach twisted up in knots.

Ugh … My bladder irritatingly interrupts and urges me to get up. I reluctantly pull out from under Ronin, trying not to wake him. When I get free, I come to the realization, that when we arrived, we were so wrapped up in each other that I hadn’t looked around. I stand in the dark looking at the bedroom trying to figure out which way I should go to get to the bathroom. There are a few closed doors in the bedroom, so I decide to peek in them to see if one of them will lead me to my destination. The first door I open is definitely not the bathroom—it actually opens up into a massive walk in closet that houses rows and rows of expensive suits. The back wall has multiple pairs of shoes neatly organized on their own shelves. Dressers line a wall with beautifully crafted wood work. It’s the most beautiful closet I have ever seen. A light chuckle escapes my throat as I think about his wardrobe. I only thought women had this many clothes, not to mention that many shoes. I close the door to the closet and go for the next door.

“Bingo.” The next door I open leads into an enormous master bathroom. Everything looks to be a light colored, grey-flecked marble material. From what I know so far about Ronin—I’m sure it’s a high end marble. This is like a fairytale; my entire apartment would fit into this bathroom. Of course there are two sinks and a full size mirror that covers the wall above them. The shower is a walk-in with two shower heads—one on either end and a large disk that hangs above. Two fluffy towels hang on silver hooks by the shower. The bath tub could easily be mistaken as a pool. It is absolutely stunning. I find the toilet and sit down looking at my surroundings. This is all so out of my realm. My parents have a manufactured home which is very nice, but not even in my wildest imagination could I have conjured up anything like this.

Scoping out the beautiful marble shower, I decide to jump in real quick. I lean into the shower and realize there are multiple knobs. I turn an odd looking knob not knowing if it is the right one. The knob after turned, lets out water from the floating disk from above my head. I quickly turn it off and try another and water begins shooting out from the sides. I hadn’t even noticed the little holes in the corner of the shower until I am sprayed with water from all directions. A squeal sneaks past my lips, and I start to laugh. Finally, the last knob I turn lets the water flow from the faucet on the end of the shower near me. The steaming hot, water pouring over my skin feels so good. I shut my eyes and lift my face to let the water run down over me, that’s when I feel arms wrap around my waist.

I don’t even turn around, I just smile to myself. “Good morning beautiful.” He says softly in my ear.

“I’m sorry did I wake you?” I spin around to look at his angelic face.

“My bed was cold without you. I had to come find where you ran off to.” He pulls me into him like it might be the last day on earth, and then presses against me until I feel the cool marble tiles on my back. Aggressively, he grabs the hair at my nape, yanking my head back bringing my chin up for him to kiss my lips deeply. Releasing his hold on my hair he slowly slides his hands down my arms until he grabs my wrists and pins them against the wall. He has me trapped tightly, kissing me urgently while pressing into my wrists forcefully. I’m not sure why, but instincts kick in and my whole body tightens and I gasp for air as my lungs constrict. I am trapped, and instead of reveling in the flavor of Ronin, the urge to push and fight overwhelms me. My lips stop moving to his rhythm and my body becomes rigid. All I want to do is run and get as far away as I possibly can.

Ronin stiffens and stops his perpetual tongue motion. I can’t look at his face right now, remembering my odd dream of his morphed face, fearing that’s what I’ll see if I look up, but I can sense his deep gaze as he mentally examines me. And now feeling extremely exposed.

“What is it precious? Did I hurt you?” Ronin loosens his grip and steps back a little.

Multiple alarms are flying off in my head. Come on Treva relax. I tell myself. He’s not Eric, he’s not Eric, he won’t hurt you. My subconscious must not agree with my reasoning and yells back at me, how do you know? You don’t know this man!

“STOP”, I yell out loud. It startles Ronin and he lets his hands fall to his sides. I have to pry my eyes open and regret it when I see the look of absolute terror across the face staring back at me.

“Treva, did I hurt you?” he pleads softly, shifting uncomfortably.

I know I need to answer him, but it seems that my vocals have seized and stopped working. I pull myself upright and wipe away a tear that escapes my wet eyes. I know that I need to keep it together and after a couple deep breaths; I summon my body to take back control. The invisible shell, I have created and kept strong for so long, starts to rebuild and cover over me again. “Yeah umm- sorry I was just taken back for a moment.” I step forward, trying to pretend what just happened was actually a figment of our imaginations, and lean up on my tip toes to kiss his sexy lips, but when my lips touch his I can feel his hesitation.

“Treva, look at me.” I obey instinctively, and meet his eyes. The way Ronin is staring into mine, I am pretty sure he sees through the coated cover I wear, hiding something. This isn’t the fun, witty me looking back at him. This is the dark, cold, and scarred blank girl that’s looking up at him.

“Let’s wash your hair.” He slowly reaches around me with slow-long-purposeful-gestures and grabs the shampoo. He lathers it into his hands and then massages it gently into my scalp. “MMM that feels so good.” I hum, but his silence doesn’t get by me. I can tell he is pondering heavily what just happened. He seems miles away as he absentmindedly washes my hair and the continued silence as he gently massages my scalp makes me nervous. I know I should tell him a little bit about my past so he knows it wasn’t him, but I am not ready to share that part of my past with anyone. Only a few really know what happened—some of those closer to me don’t believe it, not the entire story. I’m not ready and I don’t know if I’ll ever be in a relationship where I’ll be ready to open up.

“I think it’s clean,” I giggle. “Here let me do yours”. I return the favor including washing over his entire body with his lightly scented body wash. Ronin is still off from my behavior I presented at the beginning of the shower, but I can tell he is enjoying my hands on him. I try to take extra time to make sure I give him a very good rub down. When we are all done and toweling off, Ronin looks at me in a concerned way. “I hope you don’t mind, but I had my house keeper pick up a couple of things for you. I figured you didn’t want to put your dirty clothes back on.”

“You got me clothes?”

“Well my house keeper, Mrs. Hunter did.”

Walking back into Ronin’s bedroom, I see some women’s clothes on his four poster bed. Upon further inspection, I find a sexy pair of light pink panties and a bra to match. I realize they are my size when I examine the tags. Along with the panties is a fun flowing blue and yellow sun dress. “This is perfect.” I hold it up and spin around. The tag flashes and the numbers about give me a heart attack. “HUH— nine hundred dollars for a dress?” I say loudly. “That’s way too much Ronin.”

Ronin is pulling a T-shirt over his head, “hush … you’re worth every penny and more.”

“But … but I can’t repay you.” I let my head fall down.

“It’s a gift Treva.”

Lost and dazed I watch Ronin walk into his closet and stare at the many suits hanging. “Damn it!’ I hear him say and I’m not sure what brought on the outburst.

He turns for the dresser and pulls out a pair of jeans. He is all dressed when he walks out of his closet. I feel shy that I watched the sexy man get dressed.

“No suit?” I ask.

“I’m going to skip work today. I’d like to hang out with you, if that’s alright with you of course.”

“I’d enjoy that very much Mr. Hollister.” I flash a sincere smile at him before bending over to pull the pale pink panties over my feet. I secure the bra and then put on the fun springy dress. Ronin never takes his eyes off of me.

“What did you have in mind for the day?” I ask innocently.

Ronin perks up, “It’s a surprise! But I think first you should call your brother, he might be worried.”

“Oh crap, Seth.” I find my purse and dig out my phone. I look at it first to see what time it is because I haven’t slept at all. I’m sure it will hit me soon enough and I’ll just pass out wherever I am. Ok its seven a.m. and then I look at my phone and gasp. “Holy smokes my phone is loaded with messages.”

After hearing my roommate leave message after message and then listening to the message left by Seth asking “Where the hell are you?” I hang up from my voicemail and begin typing quick messages.

Sorry Becca, been awesomely wicked

Last few days I’ll call you later

-T-

Send

Seth, I’m with Ronin we’re hanging

Out today I’ll call you when I

Know what we’re doing!

-T-

Send

“Everything okay?” Ronin asks

“Yep, so what’s this surprise?”

“To begin with … I need to smother that goofy grin off your face.” Ronin grabs me and pushes into my lips tugging and pulling on my lips as he slides his tongue deep into my warm minty mouth. I decide to do something to hopefully loosen the tension between us, and I slide my hand to the front of Ronin’s jeans and search for the button. I pop it open and pull the zipper down. Ronin growls in approval into my mouth. I slide my hand between his boxers and his skin. His hard erection bulges against his pants. I feel his hard cock and wrap my fingers around it to pull it from his pants pulling and massaging as it springs free.

I stop our passionate kiss abruptly and fall to my knees. When Ronin’s hard cock is in my face I slowly tease the tip of it with my tongue … licking it softly. He moans in pleasure causing me to heat up and eagerly feed on him. I lick all around his aroused cock feeling every pulsing vein in his hard, long, thick erection. Ronin widens his step to try to keep his balance as I pull the tip of his cock into my hot-wet-mouth, sucking just on the end harder and harder to drive him wild.

“HOLY FUCK!” he bellows.

When I am positive the tip of his cock is magnified to the point of complete sensitivity, I slowly slide my mouth over his extremely large throbbing shaft. I moan as I take him all the way in to the back of my throat. I am stretching every muscle in my jaw to the max to take him all in. From past experience, I remember to make sure to curl my lip around my teeth as I start sliding up and down over his cock rhythmically.

Every vein is popped to the surface as I run my tongue across them feeling his pulse as I slide his cock repeatedly into my mouth. I need him raw and hard. I need to touch him. I reach up and circle my hand around the base of his hard erection and massage it with my fingers while directing it into my mouth.

Ronin groans louder with every pump. “Oh god Treva the way you touch me…”

I reposition slightly on my knees and bring up my other hand grabbing his nicely endowed balls. I massage them between my fingers and tug on them gently. I want them slick to rub them easier, so I let my saliva drip down on them making it wet and slick to manipulate them.

“FUCK TREVA, FUCK, FUCK!”

I feel him jerk in my mouth and I speed up a little taking him in deeply and pulling out repeatedly. That was it … no more holding back. He explodes in my mouth. I keep my mouth wrapped tightly sealed around him making sure he is finished. The warm salty arousal slides down the back of my throat. When I am sure he is done, I slide my lips over his length and when he is free from my mouth, I swallow. Leaning back on my knees I tilt my head up to look at him, licking my lips in approval.

“My god woman, that was over the top. I have never experienced anything so intense.” I try to gracefully stand back up and I give him a little wink. Internally, I am patting myself on the back, proud that I was able to successfully satisfy him, and now its time to throw away some of my earlier emotions. It’s actually a bit bizarre, but I feel that it’s fairly easy to let my guard down when I am around Ronin, which frightens the hell out of me. Today marks the fifth day of stepping into that elevator with Seth, and seeing that luscious, sexy as hell, man in the three piece suit, not knowing then that I would be intimately sharing much more than I have done with anyone for a long time.

“Treva everyday you amaze me in some new way, and I’m not easily amused.

“Hmm, I find that statement to be false Ronin. I’m a pretty normal, boring, college student, and I don’t seem to be having any problems with entertaining you.” I wink. Ronin reaches forward for me and grabs me, pulling me closer. I lose my breath, and when Ronin let’s me go, I have to inhale deeply like I had just ran a marathon.

“Are you ready pudding?”

“Yup,” I turn and grab my college sweatshirt I had brought with me from the night before. We walk out of the penthouse suite and wait for the elevator.

“Treva you are absolutely dazzling in that dress!”

“Why thank you Mr. Hollister … It was a gift from some rich business guru.”

A quirky smile lifts on Ronin’s lips, “some rich business guru huh?”

I notice how bright his eyes are when I see them sparkling at me. “Yes sir,” I answer back.

Ronin’s phone buzzes and his smile disappears. He looks down at the screen and his face contorts into a scowl.

“Ronin,” he answers.

The voice on the line pipes up, but I’m unable to hear who it is, or what they are saying. Ronin just listens with a straight face while someone speaks into his ear. “MMM HMM, yes I understand, duly noted.”

The elevator doors slide open and we both step on while Ronin nods his head to the speaker on the phone.

“You don’t have to worry. I’ll make sure everything is taken care of and it will all be wrapped up carefully and kept safe.”

I figure the call must be a business call so I try to ignore the conversation.”

Ronin’s quip reply stuns me, “YES SIR, like I said … NOTED. I’ll make sure we finish this call later when I’m in my office.” Ronin looks at me fervently, and gives me a peculiar smile.

Whoever Ronin is listening to, he doesn’t let it his eyes waiver from me the whole time. I’m still trying not to eaves drop on the conversation as I watch the numbers on the elevator growing smaller.

“Miss Stone, you are a perfectly edible looking morsel.” He says as he shoves the phone back into his pocket.

“I’d have to say the same about you MR. Hollister.”

Chapter 10

I immediately recognize the marina when we walk up to it. Remembering how Seth and I were pretending that one of the oversized yachts were our own. Ronin strolls up to the metal gate that blocks the way down to the docks, and pushes in a sequence of numbers on the digital pad to unlock the gate. I can’t fight back the smile, recollecting the conversation between Seth and me about Ronin owning a boat, and now here it is. Before walking through the gate, I watch as a few passersby—probably tourists like myself—look at me with envy. I smirk, because I know they are wondering which boat is ours, and in my mind I’m wondering the same thing.

“What are you smiling about peanut?”

“Oh—nothing.” I answer, following Ronin down the wood path to the docks where the massive boats float lazily tethered in place.

Ronin stops abruptly and turns to look at me giving me a toothy grin. Before turning back around, he presses his lips firmly to the top of my head. “Come on, this way.” He continues to walk down the floating path and turns left and when we are almost to the end, he stops in front of a mid-sized white sailboat.

I’m shocked seeing the small craft, “It’s a sailboat?” I say more as a question not as a statement.

“Umm, yeah … did you expect a dingy?”

I flush two shades of crimson with embarrassment, “Well … no, I guess I didn’t know what to expect.”

Ronin grabs me by my hand and helps me onboard while the boat sways gently to and fro. “I’ll take you on my dingy another day, but for now I guess you’ll have to settle for sailing.” He lifts his brows, cocking his head to the side trying to conceal a laugh. I give him a playful punch on the shoulder. “Ouch,” he rubs his arm dramatically, “But really, I love sailing. There is nothing like it. The exhilaration I get with the wind blowing in my hair takes me to a different level.”

His gusto is riveting, and to be honest, I find his exhilaration … exhilarating. Ronin rumbles off the name of the boat—something like Urchant Rose, but I’m more captivated watching him—prancing around like a kid on Christmas morning. “Is your dingy as pretty as this?” I ask teasingly.

He gives me a subtle nod and that beautiful perfect smile that lights up his whole face, “how about we focus on one boat at a time darling, unless you’re talking about a different dingy?” … he tops it off with a quick eyebrow lift.

One thing is for sure, I am enjoying this. I love watching him filled with such passion for life, his carefree sexual banter and his charismatic style. This man that looks like a god is actually human; a fun, quirky human. I could easily fall in love with him I realize, and just as fast as that thought enters my head, I shove it back into a dark corner.

“You know anything about sailing?” Thank god he interrupts my silent reverie.

“Me? No! I do have some friends in Montana with boats, but that usually consists of motorized power, tubing and beer. Nothing extravagant like this or …” I look around at the beautiful sailboat, “complicated.”

Ronin rephrases his question and asks me again, “Have you ever been on a sailboat?”

I shrug, “Nope, this is a first for me.”

“Me too,” he quietly responds.

“What? We’re going sailing and you’ve never sailed before.” I blurt out contumeliously.

“No, no, no, crazy woman,” he winks, “and I thought you were some kind of genius going to med-school and such, but anyway it’s my first as in … I’ve never brought a woman onto my sailboat.”

“Oh.”

“To be perfectly blunt and honest, I have never really cared to keep a woman’s company outside of …” he trails off, not finishing what he was about to say.

“Sex,” I finish it for him. Ronin nods looking down somberly.

“So, are you going to teach me how to do this?” I say as I pat the boat. Ronin’s face jolts back to that carefree and spirited sexy guy and he jumps to.

I cringe watching him shimmy the boat through the marina, expecting to scrape something along the way. Amazingly, he manages his way through the tight marina unscathed … like driving a car. It seemed impossible to me to get through, but we make it past the marina and out around the bay. “Wow this is amazing.” It’s breathtaking to see how vast the water is in front of us. WOW, even on the largest lake in Montana, you can still see the shore line on the other side. It’s all a bit intimidating … being so vulnerable to the elements. The waves had been sloshing us around a bit, but now the boat seems to just roll over them gently. It’s a much different feeling, something I have never experienced before. I have a firm grip on the side, in fear of falling overboard.

It’s such a beautiful December day, slightly brisk, the water spraying gently on us. I’m so thankful that I have my sweatshirt with. I pull it out from underneath my purse and slide it on over my head. The phone in my purse buzzes after I pop my head through the collar. I chance a quick glance at it and notice it’s a message from Becca:

Holy shit … yeah you’ve been too busy

To call me! You’re all over the internet.

Chick, you better call me and fill me in!!!!

-B-

A little confused, I decide to type a quick message:

Huh? Internet? What are you

Talking about?

-T-

Send

Bing

Like you don’t know …

Ronin Hollister!!!

In the top five for most eligible (RICH)

Bachelors in the world

-B-

Now, I’m even more confused. I try typing in Ronin Hollister into my web search, but a no signal symbol comes up.

“Hey, are you ok? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” Ronin asks.

I drop the phone back on top of my purse, and walk over to the hottest guy on earth—the man that I’m with. I stand on my toes and lean against him … kissing his cheek. “I’m great! This is amazing.” The wind whips at my face and blows my hair around. “I’m wondering … this sailboat seems kind of small.”

Ronin laughs, “Do you think that I just like big and expensive things?” He lifts his eyebrows … testing or teasing me I suppose.

“Well no, I guess not.” Now I feel stupid for asking.

“I enjoy sailing. It’s a stress reliever for me, and having a smaller sailboat like this allows me to go out whenever I want without having to have a big crew doing all of the work. I admit that it’s very peaceful coming out here all alone. I can forget about some of the chaos that I deal with ever day.”

I know what that’s like and I give him a knowing smile. I too enjoy the freedom to get out and enjoy personal passions. “It’s priceless.” I agree.

“Look.” I follow his finger to try to see what he is pointing at. It takes me a minute to see a massive tail fly out of the water and slam back down. Suddenly my excitement soars, realizing that I had just seen a whale. Quickly, I find myself at the side rail of the boat … hoping to see another.

“Those are Gray whales. They migrate from the Bering Sea down to Baja California and then back again.” He explains.

Giant spouts of water fly into the air just twenty feet or so away from the boat. “Ronin, this is amazing. They are absolutely magnificent. I think I could do this everyday.”

“I was thinking the same thing, but I’m not quite sure if our ideas are exactly the same.”

I turn to look at him quizzically, not understanding his comment, but he doesn’t fill in the blanks for me.

I carefully walk back to where he is keeping a tight grip on the wheel. Standing near his side, I touch his arm, “Thank you. Oh, you have goose bumps are you chilled?” I ask with concern.

“Nope, I’m good.”

I don’t believe him, but I don’t argue about it. I turn back to watch the whales … still filled with awe. “I love the ocean.” I inhale deeply taking in the brisk salty water.

“I’m happy that you’re excited to be out here.”

“Of course I’m excited to be out here.”

“Treva, I love that there is no fakeness about you, and that you’re not worried about what you’re doing to get my attention.”

I laugh, but it’s not that it’s funny… I’m just not sure what to say.

“I’m sure that you have no idea about my financial status, but for some reason I’m pretty sure it’s not money that drives you anyway. No… it has to be something other than that. It’s a delight from the usual entourage of women I normally have groveling at my feet, and at this moment Treva my eyes are glued to you like an awestruck spectator.”

I glance up at him completely taken aback by everything he said. Some of it is true; money doesn’t lead me, I have no clue how much he is worth and I don’t care. I have never and will never act like a fool trying too hard to get some man’s attention.

“So I’m just another part of your entourage?” I nudge him with my shoulder.

“No, no that’s not what I mean.” He back pedals stammering.

“I’m kidding.”

He looks down at me and I happen to see a devious smile twist his lips. “Mr. Hollister, I think you might not want to look at me like that. I’m afraid I might have to strip you to your bare beautiful skin and take advantage of you on the open sea.” I look around exaggerated, “and I don’t think we have another captain to steer while I devour you.”

“Well, I guess maybe we should head to shore. I think I would like to know what it’s like to be devoured.”

We arrive back at the marina too soon. I could have stayed on the water for days. Ever since I could walk, I was drawn to the water, but I also wanted to follow through with my dares. The idea of Ronin above me, under me, or in me would outweigh the pull I have to be on the water. Actually, I’m pretty sure that there isn’t much that could match the power that this man has over me.

We walk from the dock hand in hand to a private parking lot. I search for the limo or the SUV, when I see Ronin pull out a set of keys. He presses a button causing a car to beep. “Oh, we’re not being picked up?”

“Nah, I want to drive.” He leads the way to a small, two door, black, sporty looking car. He goes to the passenger side and opens the door for me. “Here you go babe.” I’m taken away by my new title that easily slides off his tongue. He must have noticed it just as quickly as he said it, “Oops … I mean …” He stutters trying to recover.

…”It’s ok babe,” I tease. I slide into the car as Ronin shuts the door. The car is immaculate. The leather is so soft against my skin, and without thinking, I close my eyes and rub my hands against the seat and purr. Ronin is in the driver’s seat pushing a button to start the engine. The car vibrates beneath me, but we aren’t moving. I open my eyes and look to my left … Ronin just sits there staring at me.

“I think I have just found my Achilles heel,” he says.

I am now pulled away from my daydreaming; the only thing that I can do is sit here staring at him.

“I am a very sure footed, hard, arrogant man, Treva. Nothing intimidates me, and if I have a weakness, I don’t know what it is.” He takes in a deep breath, “… until now.”

Ronin’s phone rings and interrupts his thoughts. Damn phone is always interrupting us, I think. He looks at the screen and I can see him become irritated. “Ronin,” he answers … lifeless as if having no emotions.

“Yes, I’ll be there in a minute.” He throws his phone down on the seat, and spins out of the parking lot without another word.

Chapter 11

Ronin pulls up in front of an apartment complex … the wrong apartment complex. This is where my brother lives. Right or wrong, it’s the last place that I had been expecting us to go. “Oh!” is all I am able to say. I unhook my seatbelt feeling deflated, hurt, and completely confused. I reach for the door handle trying not to look at Ronin. I have no idea what had happened in the last twenty minutes, but it’s very clear that all of a sudden he wants to get rid of me. Thoughts start running through my head, and the most logical one is that he has another woman … he has to ditch me and go to her. I don’t know why I’m getting upset: I’ve always known that I wasn’t even close to being in his league. Still, the idea of another woman stings more than I thought that it would.

Ronin grabs my arm before I can get out of his fancy Ferrari. “I am so sorry beautiful, I really don’t want our day to end so abruptly. I wanted to taste your beautiful lips, but I have something that’s very important to deal with. And … I do believe that if I don’t get you back to your brother in time for him to take you shopping, he will have a few choice words for both of us.”

Ronin is trying to console me, but it’s too late—the damage has been done—I am already hurt. “Whatever Ronin.” I say trying to pull my arm free from his grasp.

“Believe me Treva, the last thing that I want to do is to hurt you.” His voice sounds pained, but I don’t want to fall victim to his web. He is such a womanizer, and I can’t believe he is giving me these lines of bullshit. Like … he expects me to believe it. He leans over to kiss me, but I keep my head straight. I don’t want to take the chance that my desire for him might make me give in to his whims.

“I’m not hurt … I’m fine.” I retort, before his lips can meet mine. I reach for the door handle again, but Ronin grabs my chin and turns my face so that I am facing him. Then his mouth crashes with mine. When they make contact, my lips melt into his. Damn it, why does my body have to defy me. Before I know it, I’m meeting his tongue movements just as fervently as his meet mine. I don’t want him to pull away from me and, with that, I begin searching his mouth more desperately—twisting my tongue around his, pressing in tighter like I’m running out of time. I want him, and I don’t want to be left alone … not even for a little while.

I moan into his mouth and reach my hand into his lap, rubbing and massaging his hardening groin through his pants. The last thing I wanted was to be thrown to the curbside like my inner-conscious kept warning. I feel a little better when he still responds to my hands touching him, but he is a man— they pretty much respond to anything. Slowly, I push myself away from the deep passionate kiss. Searching the door without looking, I’m able to find the handle. Hurriedly, I push it open.

“I will see you tomorrow?” He tells me, but it comes out more like a question than a true statement. “We do have a dinner party to attend.”

“Umm”… I stammer, not sure if I want to see him tomorrow, Duh you want to see him tomorrow, my more rational self kicks in. A more appropriate question would be, should you see him tomorrow. It takes me a few seconds to answer, “Of course Mr. Hollister, I’ll see you tomorrow.” I step from the car and the doorman to the apartment complex is already holding the door for me. Without glancing over my shoulder—I walk straight in and I never look back.

When the elevator door closes, I want to cry but I don’t. I hate that this stupid man has me so twisted up. I don’t want a relationship! I can’t have a relationship! Hell, why am I even using the word relationship? I know better, Ronin Hollister isn’t interested in having anything other than a sex fling. He probably just rushed off to meet up with some other woman. I am such a stupid fool.

I’m knocking on Seth’s door rather hard hoping he is here. I let out a sigh of relief when I hear the lock click from behind.

“HMM, he sure was cutting it close now wasn’t he?” Seth blurts out.

“What the hell are you talking about, Seth?”

“I asked Ronin to have you here by two o’clock so we could go shopping and looky here … its one. fifty. nine.”

“Oh My God, I’m surrounded by a bunch of over bearing control freaks.” My temper is flailing, and it takes a lot of control not to scream at the top of my lungs.

Seth looks at me sheepishly, interpreting my behavior, and then he hugs me … just out of the blue. “I’m sorry sis, you know … I’m just an over protective big brother; I remembered that I promised to take you shopping.”

“Alright, alright, I forgive you. Let’s go shopping!” I snap, far from in the mood to go shopping, but needing to do something to settle my pissy mood.

Seth drags me to some boutiques even in my foul mood. I’m trying to push the thought of getting dumped on the curb out of my mind and focus on shopping, but I still find myself preoccupied by the whole thing. Why would he say such nice things to me like calling me his Achilles heal? I don’t understand, especially with my brain not firing on all of its cylinders … I need to focus, get myself together!

I try to pay more attention to my surroundings, hoping that my foggy mind will slowly clear up. I wouldn’t have guessed in a million years that I would ever find myself browsing in the fancy boutiques … thanks to Seth. A few dresses catch my eye, so I decide to try them on. I sort of feel like Cinderella with all of the women helping me try on clothes in the dressing room.

After a dozen shops and five dozen gowns later, I settle on a silver sequined cocktail dress. It is tight and very form fitting with the hem hitting me mid-thigh. It has only one strap crossing over my left shoulder, leaving my right completely exposed. It is tastefully revealing and extremely sexy. It’s definitely something that I would never wear in public, but tomorrow I will.

“Now shoes.” Seth announces.

Shoe shopping is one of the more fun parts of our shopping day. Seth buys a pair of bright red shoes to go with his black tux to add a bit of spunk, so I follow his bodacious style, and pick out a pair of bright red, five inch, strappy stilettos.

“We are going to be HAWT, H … A … W … T.” He enunciates each letter.

“Hell yeah,” I agree.

“Do you have any jewelry to go with that?” Seth points down to the bag I am carrying that holds my new dress.

“Oh … yes, you know me. I always carry my diamonds everywhere I go.” I roll my eyes and laugh at him.

“Well, hmm. I think we might have a Dollar store around here somewhere.” He winks at me.

“That would go perfect with my six hundred dollar dress you just bought me.”

I put my arm around Seth’s as we stroll out of the shoe shop and hit the streets … The gas lamp district. “Ooh … an antique shop, can we go look?” Seth extends his arm in a gesture for me to lead the way, but just before we get to the door, a plummeting sickness fills my stomach and all the hairs on the back of my neck stand straight up. I spin searching the faces of the people on the sidewalk, but I don’t see anyone or anything that could put my tranquil senses on high alert. It is the most awful feeling to have a gnawing sensation that something is off—very off. When Seth looks at me quizzically, no words will come to my mind so that I can explain it to him. I shrug my shoulders, “Sorry just had some weird Déjà Vu.” That was my best explanation, but I still glance back over my shoulder before we walk into the shop.

I have always loved antiques. We meander through the store and I gawk at beautiful ornate marble tables and old wood head boards. Keeping a clear view of the front door to see if anyone I recognize walks in, “This place is amazing.” I say softly under my breath. A glass case in the middle of the store gets my attention, and I leave Seth to wander. When I lean over to peer through the glass at all of the costume jewelry, a set of grey, and who knows what other kind of stone glitters at me.

“Miss … Excuse me Miss, could I please look at that?” The clerk looks irritated like I just interrupted her whole day and she rolls her eyes at me, but she walks over to the counter and pulls the pieces out that I am pointing to. It only takes me a nano-second of looking at it to say, “I’ll take it.”

Seth comes over just in time to peek at the jewelry, “ooh, look at the pretty old junk.” I smack his arm.

“Ok, I get the earrings, but what are you going to do with the broach?”

I turn and flint a brilliant smile at my brother, “you have no imagination. I’m going to turn it into a beautiful decorative hair piece. This stuff will go great with my dress.”

Seth couldn’t disagree with me that it wouldn’t go well with my new ensemble, so he didn’t say anymore.

There was no way that I was going to let Seth pay for my awesome find in the antique store, and he is still throwing a tantrum after we leave the store when my phone Bings.

I pull out my phone and see that I have one new message, but I don’t recognize the number. Nervously, I click the icon to display the message:

I can’t get you out of my mind.

I’m missing you tons pudding

R-

The message completely takes me off guard. I’m relieved after all the strange calls and my over-active imagination—thinking someone has been following us. When I reread the text, jolting tingles shoot over my skin. I am still overly pissed, frustrated, and hurt that he had dropped me off so suddenly this afternoon—like he was dumping me without any notice, and pissed that he has my body doing flip flops every time I think of him. I decide to respond:

How do you know my number?

-T-

Send

Bing

I have my ways

R-

I think for a second, hmm I can play too…

STALKER

-T-

Send

Bing

I’m sorry I didn’t mean to upset you

You were on my mind and I wanted you to know

R-

I reread the message thinking the ‘sorry’ probably has a double meaning, not just about him texting, but for his behavior earlier. Then I wonder if maybe I am just seeing more in this than there really is.

Bing

Are you doing ok?

And are you enjoying shopping with Seth?

R-

I pause for a long time before I decide to answer:

No and yes

Thanks for asking

-T-

Send

And with that I leave him hanging. The afternoon speeds by, and now we’re wandering the streets in the dark. Of course it is winter and the sun sets extremely early, but it makes the time seem to go even faster when the day light seems to last for such a short time.

“What sounds good to eat?” Seth asks me.

“How about some seafood? I have to take advantage of the fresh stuff while I’m here and then sleep. I feel like a walking zombie.”

“Perfect. I know a great place for wonderful seafood, and then I’ll get my baby sister home so that she can go to bed.”

After my stomach has been filled with as much as I could stuff into it, we leave and go back to Seth’s apartment. When we get to his place a beautiful bouquet of white roses and a wrapped gift sits on the floor right in front of his door. “Ooh, Seth you got a secret admirer?”

Seth leans down and grabs the envelope that has been placed on the roses. “Nope, not me, but looks like you do.”

I’m stunned, “ME?” Seth hands me the card and I see the elegant hand writing on the front of it boldly saying ‘TREVA’. I rip the envelope open, pull out the card and begin to read:

My Achilles’ heel

I will think about you until we are together again.

Lost and incomplete

Ronin

I don’t want to, but I can’t seem to help but smile. The roses are beautiful, but the box has my curiosity. I pick it up off the floor and wait for Seth to open the door. When we get in, I place my items from shopping earlier down on the counter, so that I can focus my attention to the shiny wrapped box. I rip open the paper and notice that the box has a Mac logo on the side. “NO -WAY!” I say out loud. I hurry to open the box and pull out a brand new lap top. I would never call myself a computer geek, I’m more the science nerd, but I’m pretty sure Ronin wouldn’t just send me a bottom line generic cheap thing. This laptop probably has all the bells and whistles.

I feel Seth looking over my shoulder as I pull out the lap top. “Holy shit, nothing like buying his way into a pair of pants.”

I gasp and punch his arm.

“Just saying,” he mumbles rubbing his arm dramatically. “Well … turn it on; let’s see what it’s got.”

I fire it up, which takes no time at all. The homepage wall paper shocks me; it’s a picture of me, leaning over the side of the sailboat with a spout of water shooting in the air. “I didn’t even know he was taking pictures.” I say softly.

Seeing the picture reminded me of Becca’s text—probing me to see what my best friend was babbling about. The search engine hums to life when I type in, Ronin Hollister.

Page after page pops up after I type in his name;

RONIN HOLLISTER young billionaire …

RONIN HOLLISTER playing all angles …

RONIN HOLLISTER who’s the next bimbo …

I click on one of the many sites that pop up and I’m surprised when I see myself in a picture sitting with Ronin at the restaurant we had all gone to. Under the photo, comments piled up;

“Another gold digger?”

“How long will this one last?”

“Surprised her feet are on the ground and not in the air.”

This is appalling, but I continue to read all the terrible misjudgments’ the paparazzi had written about me. I can feel Seth breathing over my shoulder and when I look up at him, the set line on his face tells me that he isn’t quite as surprised as I am. He has been friends with Ronin for about four years now, and he’s probably accustomed to the paparazzi around Ronin and his female friends around.

“I AM NONE OF THESE THINGS!” I yell as I click another page. I look over my shoulder again feeling short of breath. In a low soft whisper, I can barely even ask the question, “Seth, is Ronin really that horrible to women?

“Well … sorry to say it, Treva, but … yeah.” My assumptions of him being a womanizer are confirmed.

Another photo of Ronin at a fund raiser covers the screen of the computer, and my eyes immediately fall to the girl holding his hand, AMY.

“Is that Amy?”

“Yep, she’s kind of been Ronin’s fill in. When he wants company and can’t find someone else, he drags her along. He often finds a hot chick, bags her and then dumps her. He burns a lot of bridges, but god knows the women still line up thinking they will be the one that can finally change him. Amy’s just handy, because for some reason she never leaves or gives up. I’m pretty sure she’s holding on, hoping Ronin will change his mind about her … but she’s a dumb ass.”

I can hear Seth talking, but my ears are just getting hotter. I feel like my internal temperature gauge is about to burst. The more he talks about Ronin and his inhibitions with women, the harder it becomes to concentrate on his words.

I can’t take any more. I slam the lid of the laptop closed, startling Seth. I need to compose myself. “I think I need a shower.”

After the water steams up the entire bathroom so I can barely see what’s in front of me, I step into the shower. Trying to clear my mind enough so that I can focus again, I sing at the top of my lungs— Heaven, nor Hell, from one of my favorite bands Volbeat— until my voice crackles a little. It feels good to just let some tension out. I need to get my head back in the right place. Everything I had hoped this vacation would be has been the complete opposite. I think that I am more stressed now, than when I left Montana. I don’t know how the hell that could possibly be, because I was at my breaking point. Why does Ronin have to spin me around in circles like this? And hell … is it even his fault? Wasn’t I the one who had pursued him from the very start at the airport? I need to stop this nonsense. It can’t lead to anything—not anything that’s good for me. I’m not about to let myself be used by some manipulative, rich, hot guy that thinks he can just get into any one’s panties whenever he wants to … not me.

I climb out of the shower and pull on my PJ’s. I feel better as I walk out in the living room, but then I notice the laptop sitting on the counter like a bold, red, blinking reminder. It disgusts me, and I let it stay right there. “Hey big brother, I’m going to call it a night.” I lean over the back of the couch and kiss Seth on the top of the head, “Love you. Goodnight.”

“Night sis.”

٭٭٭

“TREVA! TREVA! Wake up baby sis. You’re having a nightmare. It’s ok you’re alright, I’m right here.” Seth heard my screams again and came to comfort me like always.

I wake with a jolt and am surprised that tears are pouring down my face. “I’m sorry Seth,” I sob.

“Oh Treva, don’t be sorry, you’re ok.” He cradles me like a small lost child and rocks me back and forth while I cry. “It’s ok, it was just a nightmare.” Seth hums softly trying to console me.

I look at him through puffy red eyes, “Seth I don’t think it was a nightmare … it, it was more like a memory.” I breathe heavy and lie still in his arms remembering the memories tormenting me in my sleep. “Seth, I was in that dark room where he held me. It was so cold,” I involuntarily shiver thinking about how cold my dank prison was. “He had me chained to the concrete wall like normal, but this time when the door opened, he wasn’t alone,” I pause, “he had someone with him. Both of them reeked of booze and sweat. I wanted to puke from the smell, but I don’t think I had eaten in a few days, so I probably couldn’t have—even if I had wanted to. And … and when that other nasty man touched me, Eric just egged him on, laughing the whole time.”

Seth stiffens his fists around me and squeezes harder.

“I’m sorry Seth. I know that you know most of the terrible things that I had to go through; you don’t know all of the details, and I don’t mean to tell you like this.”

“Fuck Treva, I’m the one who’s sorry. I don’t mean to react like this, but every time a new piece of information comes up about that asshole and how he tormented you, my blood boils. I want a much deeper justice for your terrible living nightmare that you had to endure. I’d like to rip that fucker apart with my bare hands.” He looks down at me and his distorted face softens, “I’m so sorry Treva I swear if I could have …” he trails off.

I snuggle my head into Seth’s chest as he soothingly whispers, “You’re safe … you’re safe.” He kisses me on the top of my head. “How about a nice cup of tea?”

“Yeah, that sounds good.” I’m able to say.

Seth pulls me into the living room and finds a blanket and pillow for me, and throws them on the couch. I curl up and get comfortable, while he heads to the kitchen. After he brings me a hot cup of tea, he sits close to me on the couch—flipping through the channels to try to find something mindless to look at so that we don’t have to think about anything.

Chapter 12

The cupboard door in the kitchen closes and the aroma of coffee drifts into the living room. “MMM, smells good.”

“I’m sorry did I wake you?”

“I don’t know … maybe, but it’s ok.” I answer groggily.

Seth sits down next to me on the couch. He lifts my head gently and scoots and shimmies underneath me. Gently laying my head back down onto his lap, he begins tracing his finger tip softly around my face. First, he circles around my eyes, and then over the bridge of my nose, and then back to my forehead. I hum, “do you remember when mom used to do that to us when we were sick?” I ask.

“Yeah, she always had such a soothing touch. I remember that time I had mono and she sat with me for days.” Seth shakes his head and closes his eyes. “You know Treva, she’s not that bad and mom and dad do love you a lot.”

“Humph, they have an odd way of showing it.”

He’s silent again as he keeps tracing the outline of my face. “Are you ok?”

I look up at him and smile, “Yes, and thanks. Sorry I kept you up so late last night.” I know by the look on his face that he can tell that I am lying; the truth is that I hate thinking about the past ... it bothers me. Talking about it bothers me even more, especially to my brother. The last thing that I want is for him to have to live with those unpleasant memories of yesteryear.

“Nah, sleep is over-rated anyway. Want me to get you a cup of coffee?” He asks.

“Oh yes, that sounds heavenly.”

I sip on my hot morning eye opener—still wrapped up on the couch—while Seth paces around his kitchen. “I was thinking,” he says, “my Christmas party is tonight, and since you have to get all dolled up anyway, why not spend the day at the spa; Massage, hair, nails, toes and whatever other stuff you girls do.”

“OOH, a spa? I have never done that before.” I sit up all excited. “But if I go and get all relaxed I might not make the party,” I say jokingly.

“I think maybe it will be just the thing … so you’re ready for the party.”

“Well, you don’t see me kicking and screaming—sign me up.”

Seth takes me to an upscale salon called ’LE’ SPA. I’m sure he is hoping that it will help me redefine myself, and get that asshole Eric out of my mind. Seth’s kindness is priceless.

It’s three o’clock when Seth shows back up to the salon to pick me up. I am just getting done; I see him as I walk up to the counter. A big smile is plastered across my face … can’t hide my feelings.

“Enjoy your day Sis?” He looks at me and smiles.

“Oh Seth … you are the devil.”

He winces at my comment. So I throw him a quirky look, “Yes … that’s right, you are the devil. You introduced me to something that I could get addicted to. This day has been over the top.” I run over and give him a big hug. “Thanks.”

When we get outside, my eyes squint from the blinding sun. I dig around in my purse to find my sunglasses and I notice my phone is flashing … a voice mail. I put my sunglasses on and decide the message can wait.

“Are you hungry?” Seth asks concerned. “I know the party will have loads of food, but if you need a snack, we can grab something.”

“Actually, I’m good. The spa package you selected offered a gourmet salad that was great.”

“Well, is there anything else you would like to do before we put on our monkey suits?”

“Well, I’m afraid it will only be you putting on a monkey suit, I’ll be the Barbie in platinum.” I joke. “What time is dinner?”

“Seven.” Seth answers.

I look at him pondering, “Hmm, what to do … Well, I can’t mess up my beautiful hair style, and I would hate to break one of these fantastic nails. Can we do something easy like … tour the pirate ship?” I say with exaggerated enthusiasm.

Seth laughs, “sure sis’, whatever you’d like.”

We get back to his apartment after our tour; it’s twenty minutes after five … plenty of time to get dressed. All I have to do is slip on my dress. My hair, nails, and make-up were all done at the salon. I feel absolutely beautiful, and it’s been a long time since I felt this good about myself. My skin feels wonderful from the salt scrub, and the oily massage. The hair stylist and make-up artist did an amazing job. My hair is in soft large curls, and pinned up in just a few places—tendrils cascade over my shoulders. My make-up is perfect—accentuating my full pouty lips and hazel eyes.

I had forgotten that there is a message I need to check; I grab my phone to check voice mail before I start to change. A masculine voice creates a deep desire in my belly … an apologetic tone to it: “Treva, my beautiful princess, I am so sorry, but something major has come up, and I have to cancel on you tonight. I was hoping so much to spend the evening with you. Please don’t be angry with me; there is no other place that I would rather be than with you tonight. I promise I will make it up to you.” Then the message dies off.

My heart sinks, as I listen to the message again. He does sound truly upset though, it must be very important.

I sit on the bed looking at my phone. Do I still want to go? I got all fancied up, and Seth bought me the most beautiful dress. I look back at my phone, and decide that him dumping me again, isn’t going to ruin my night. I am here to spend time with Seth, not to run off with some billionaire that’s into one night flings. Maybe this is for the best anyway. I’m not going to let myself get walked all over by some man who thinks he can get whatever he wants just because he has money. I don’t care if he is the most handsome stud I’ve ever seen. I sigh.

I put on my dress and my extremely dangerous five inch heeled red shoes. It takes a minute for me to get my balance in them, and I tread very carefully down the hall to the kitchen. Feeling pretty accustomed to Seth’s kitchen now, I grab a glass and pour myself a glass of wine. When I’m half way done with it, Seth walks out.

I whistle loudly, “hot damn, you clean up nice.” Seth twirls around and I burst out in laughter.

“You’re not so bad yourself.” He looks me over, “Nice shoes.” He puts his foot out and I put mine out to meet his. “Fucking sweet!” He says.

“Yeah, I’m sure we’ll be the talk of the party.”

I drink the rest of the wine in my glass, “I hope you don’t mind me being your date? Mine bailed out.” I say.

The Christmas party is at a fancy hotel downtown San Diego ... in a large conference room. Whoever was in charge of decorating knew what they were doing. I’m amazed by the layout when we walk in; large tables placed at the side of the room indicate that it will be set up as a buffet style banquet. The tables are covered with fine white linens and decorated with hurricane glasses filled with ornamental Christmas balls. The chairs are draped with white slip covers with red ribbon sashes—everything seems to be perfect. A large space is bare in the front of the room. I assume that it will be for dancing, because I see an elaborate audio sound system set up next to a table. Elegant chandeliers hang from the ceiling creating slivers of diamond shapes on the floor.

I have never been to an upscale event like this before, and I’m not quite sure what to expect. I notice there are only a few other people, but I am sure that they are just beginning to arrive.

“Seth!” A voice echoes through the room. Both Seth and I turn to see John, Seth’s boss heading toward us. “I’m glad to see your choice for a date.” He reaches out, takes my hand and kisses it. “I’m very happy to see you again my dear.” He says politely.

“Thank you, it’s nice to see you too.” I give him a big smile.

“Seth you sly dog … what a brilliant idea to invite Thompson Security Company tonight.” John nudges him with his elbow.

“They came?” Seth looks around the room searching for the potential client.

“Joe Thompson and his wife Brenda are here.” John clarifies with a greedy grin crossing his face.

“Wow, I didn’t think they would come. I know its bad form to invite clients to a firm Christmas party, but this is a party right up their alley; I figured it might let them see what we’re all about.”

“Don’t worry about it. If it helps bring in a company like that, I’ll play whatever games we need to get their business.” John smacks Seth on his back. “You should go talk them up a bit though.”

John turns to me, “do you need a drink my dear?”

“Oh yes, I would love one.”

“Good I’ll take you, and you can let your brother go do that boring work stuff.”

I giggle as he puts his arm out for me. I tuck my arm around his elbow and smile at Seth, “go get um’ tiger.”

I stand about two inches taller than John with these stilettos on. He is not a very tall man, and his height is more apparent with me towering over him. I feel very comfortable with him though as he struts his portly body proudly with me on his arm. He is just so easy going. John quickly finds a waitress wandering around with a serving tray …red wine, white wine, champagne. “What’s your poison, Treva?”

“I think I would like to try some champagne.” I sip on it while keeping a light conversation with him.

I had been right about people starting to show up. After just one drink, I turn around and see the room buzzing with chatter and people standing everywhere. The women are all dressed very classy and quite a few men are wearing tuxedos. The excitement in the air tells me that this is just where I want to be. It is such a new and fun experience to be a part of something like this. I try to remember if Helena even has a banquet room that could resemble this. Probably, I just was never on the invitation list. I think to myself.

“Hey beautiful!” A familiar voice catches my attention.

“Why hello, Matt,” I smile at him.

Matt leans in and kisses my cheek. “Holy hell woman, you are absolutely stunning.”

I watch him swallow hard with his Adams apple bobbing up and down in his neck.

“Oh good, I see you’ve already met Matt,” John says.

“Yes, I had the pleasure the other day.” I tell John, winking at Matt.

“Well, I’ll leave you two together, but you better save me a dance for later,” says John before walking off to talk to someone else.

“How’s your stay going?” He asks while we both watch his boss wander off.

“I can’t say it’s been boring. Actually, I hate thinking about the idea of going home. I thought Helena was dull before, but now it’ll be in snail mode.” I joke.

“I’m sure Seth would let you stay if you really like it that much here.” Matt pulls on his cuff nervously, trying to pretend to straighten something that is already straight.

“That might be so, but I think my advisor at school would kill me since I’m almost done.”

He shrugs, “yeah probably”.

“Do you need another drink?” He points down to my now empty glass. I look at my drink, shocked that it had gone down so smoothly.

“That would be great. I’ll have another glass of champagne.”

Matt seems more than eager to please. He quickly leaves to find a waiter, and my eyes scan the room to see if I can spot Seth. Before I can find him, Matt returns with our drinks.

“Thank you.” I take a sip and the soft bubbles tickle my mouth.

Seth finds both of us after doing some schmoozing with the Thompsons. “Are you enjoying the party?” He asks me.

“Seth it’s wonderful.”

“GREAT! We better find a table though, the announcements will be starting soon.”

The three of us find a table with a couple sitting down already. “Jim, Anita.” Seth acknowledges. “This is my sister, Treva.” They both stand slightly and lean over to shake my hand.

“Pleasure to meet you,” I say politely.

John is tapping on the microphone trying to get everyone’s attention. The room quiets and people scoot into their seats. “First off I would like to wish everyone ‘Happy holidays’, and second I would like to thank everyone at Schillings for another wonderful and prosperous year.”

The whole room perks up and gives a cheer. “Yes, yes well onto some business … as you all know every year we give out our company awards and it’s time to begin the ceremonies.”

There was one lone ‘woohoo’ from the crowd and everyone claps. John entertains the crowd for a few minutes and the he gets down to business.

“First off: our top three design teams pulling in the most used presented art designs are;

McMillan, Brown and King.” Everyone claps loudly and I notice 9 people walking up to John. He hands all of them what appears to be some kind of trophy.

“Next up - The top three teams bringing in the most new clients are;

Stone, Flaggerty, and Shields.” Again everyone claps and then my brother and Matt are among the others that stand to go to John this time. When they both come back they are gleaming with joy. It makes me smile.

“Let me see.” I take the item and look at it closely; it’s a little Trophy shaped like a silver cup with etchings that read, ‘Top sales team’. I nod at Seth with approval.

Matt sits back down and scoots his chair even closer to me. There is something so comforting about him and I don’t mind him being so close. I feel his arm brush against my shoulder as he places it over the back of my chair. My skin tingles from his touch and I can feel my cheeks heating up. Damn all these California men, driving my senses into overload.

“And as we all know, we do appreciate those individuals that really stand out on their own … So with that, our top three sales associates for this year are;

In third place, Matt Long” Matt stands looking shocked, and he gently squeezes my shoulder before he leaves to go to the podium. Seth hoots and hollers as Matt walks to John. I notice an envelope is handed to Matt instead of another trophy. Matt returns back to his seat while John announces another name.

“And in Second place, Frank Webb.” I see a dark haired man with glasses stand and head to the front. I lean over to Matt and whisper my congratulations to him. He stares into my eyes and for an instant we both seem completely lost in each other. When the speaker talks again, I blink breaking the heated moment between us.

“And drum roll please—number one in sales with new clients and keeping the old satisfied,” John says with a quirk. “Is, Seth Stone.” Everyone whistles and hollers. Seth stands and does a bow to all the spectators and adds a little jump as he approaches John. I laugh as I watch my goofball brother bounce around. Seth walks up to John and gives him a big bear hug.

“Ok, Seth,” John pushes him away and Seth scampers back to our table. “Congratulations to our winners this year, and please all of you keep up the good work. Now, enjoy the food and be sure to drink your share of libations.”

“Let’s get in line,” Matt says to me with a whisper. We get up to join the people that are already getting in line, and Seth follows us.

“What’s in the envelope bro’?” I ask while I edge further into the line.

Seth leans down closer so only I can hear, “A nice big hefty bonus.” He winks at me.

“Oh,” I hadn’t expected that.

The line of people in front of us seems to be moving in slow motion. Matt has his hand gently placed at the small of my back, and the soft pressure is like hot liquid smoldering through the thin material clinging to my body. I’m not sure why I feel this way. I am so attracted to Ronin it’s almost maddening. Yet, Matt is superhot and so easy to get along with. He’s so straight forward without all of the hidden mysteries.

“Here you go, Treva.”

I look up and realize that we have made it to the tables lined with food. Matt is handing me a plate; when I glance up, I see him smiling at me. My body never responds in accordance with my brain. I lean up and give him a soft kiss on his cheek. I turn away embarrassed and start placing food on my plate.

Back at our table, Matt boldly places his hand on my exposed thigh, sending shock waves that make my body tingle. I don’t protest the gesture. I just quickly chance a glance over—watching him struggle to eat one handed. Maybe it’s wrong, but I feel very relaxed with him touching me.

After a while, some of the guests finish eating and start to mingle, I hear music coming from the front of the room. I didn’t even see the band setting up their equipment while we were eating. “Wow, your company thought of everything didn’t they?” I point out to Matt. “Yep, the Shillings group knows how to party.”

The band plays a few songs while waiters and waitresses bustle around cleaning off the tables. The energy in the room is humming, and I watch as more and more people get up to hit the dance floor. I recognize most of the music the band is playing—songs that I really like. After a few drinks, it doesn’t take long for me to join Matt on the dance floor. It isn’t easy trying to dance with these stilettos on, but I feel very sexy in my get up. I enjoy the feel of the material sliding against my skin as I move, and the way the shoes elongate my legs as I sway back and forth … putting on a show for everyone to see.

Matt’s hands gently caress me while we dance. It seems as though he’s placed an invisible boundary between us … maybe keeping himself in check. His hand on my lower back is sending all the wrong signals to my libido. Cautiously, I am sending him the signal to let him know that he can place his hand even lower—swaying into him so that my body rubs against his. With my eyes, I tell him to fuck me now. I have no idea what I am doing. I am so lost and confused. I want Ronin so bad, yet he seems so far out of reach. To be honest, I shouldn’t want anyone. I don’t live here, and I have a career ahead of me to concentrate on. So let it go and just have fun for god sake, Treva. I push my body into Matt tighter, and reach down and grip his ass pulling him into me. Matt isn’t so quick to follow my boldness, but he finally lets his hand move down so that he can feel my ass.

“You are so fucking sexy, Treva.” He whispers into my ear.

I feel like butterflies are flapping their wings in my stomach. I keep moving rhythmically to the music. My head resting on his hard chest, I inhale his masculine scent. “MMM, you smell good,” I mumble. Being with him is so easy and uncomplicated … fun to be with.

We dance a lot, but we stop now and then to have another drink. The night seems blurred with the constant mingling of sweaty bodies … and the alcohol. I danced with John and a couple of other guys, but I don’t remember their names. However, it’s been just me and Matt most of the night. Moving and twisting against each other. It’s disappointing when the band announces that this is their last song. Everyone around us, including Matt and I boo at them. Seth had been dancing with a red head most of the evening, but makes his way over to where Matt and I are. “Misty wants to grab some coffee after this. Are you up for it?” he yells over the pounding music.

“Sure why not,” I look at Matt and give him a questioning look.

“Sure I’ll go,” he says.

The party is over—we walk outside into the brisk night air. I can’t believe the look of the parking lot and along the streets … cars everywhere.

“The Boss knows that we’re in no shape to be driving a car –Free Transportation,” Seth announces.

“Wow, what a guy.” I’m thinking to myself.

Chapter 13

Holy cow am I hot. I wake up feeling like I’m in a sauna. I try to kick the blanket off of my legs. Damn, it seams so heavy. I use my right leg to try to untangle things. A deep moan startles the hell out of me. Suddenly, I sit up in bed and see tawny hair lying on the pillow next to me. It dawns on me … it wasn’t a blanket wrapped around me, it was Matt’s leg. Instinctively, I look down at myself and see I’m still wearing my tank top. Phew, I’m not naked.

“Good morning beautiful.” That smile could melt any woman’s heart.

“Good morning, Matt.” I don’t want him to see my blush, so I turn my head to pretend like I’m checking the time. “Umm … did you sleep well?” I say softly just to break the silence.

“I slept amazing,” he says while scooting himself up on the bed. The blanket falls from his chest, and I stare at his tightened abs as he moves. Why doesn’t he have a shirt on? His body is beautiful. Damn it, awkward silence again. “I’m famished would you like some breakfast?” I stammer.

A giant smirk crosses his lips. Now I know he’s aware of the fact that he’s making me nervous. “Just stay right here with me and I’ll be completely satisfied.” Before I can get out of bed, he wraps his strong arms around me … pulling me on top of his chest. “I feel like I’m in heaven.” He whispers into my hair as I struggle to try and get some space between us.

“And why is that?” I ask.

“Waking up in bed with you, of course. It’s like being in heaven.” He nuzzles his face into my hair.

“Umm—Matt, did we … you know, umm, have sex?” I feel so humiliated by having to ask, but I can’t remember. I wouldn’t have had to ask if I had thought to feel between my legs, but I didn’t. “Was it that bad?” he looks at me like he’s disappointed.

Crap … crap … crap, why the hell am I jumping in the sack with everybody? “I—uh, crap Matt …”

Before I can finish, Matt starts laughing, “Man you’re so gullible. No Treva, we didn’t do anything last night—we were too drunk.”

“Thank god,” the words slip out.

“Hey now. It wouldn’t have been that bad would it?”

“Shit, no … crap, I just need to keep my mouth closed. I’m digging myself into a huge hole.” Feeling mortified, I give up trying to explain myself. “How about that breakfast?”

“Sounds great,” he answers enthusiastically and then presses his lips to my forehead.”

I try to push myself up and realize my hand is using his rock hard abs for my leverage. I let my fingers move over his hard muscles. I stare at his sexy body, and I see him staring at me. When our eyes meet, I quickly pull my hand away and get out of bed.

“Definitely the closest thing to heaven.” He says. I look down and see that I am wearing nothing but my top and a lacey pair of panties that reveal my entire ass. I spin around so that my butt is facing the opposite wall—walking backwards to try to get to my suitcase, so that I can put something on. “AAAh what cha’ do that for. I had a great view.” He teases.

On my way to the living room, I try to remember the events from last night, and how the hell Matt ended up sleeping in my bed. The night had obviously been a blast from the size of my pounding headache. I rub my head trying to ease the pain while pouring an oversized cup full of coffee.

I do remember dancing with Matt all night, going to coffee with him and then kissing him heavily in the car, but everything else is a bit fuzzy.

“Good morning sunshine.” Seth says with a grin.

“How the hell do you do that?”

“Do what?” he pulls his eyebrows together and gives me a damning look.

“Get up after an all-nighter and have coffee done and a big smile on your face.”

“Ooh did someone get up on the wrong side of the bed this morning? Sour puss.” He shoots at me.

Being careful not to spill my coffee, I walk over and find my favorite spot on the couch and curl up. “No, I’m not, and no I didn’t. I am just shocked how alive you are.” I snap.

“Well, maybe I had something to put a little perk in my step.” Seth winks at me and then looks over his shoulder—something catches his attention. “Speaking of …” his voice trails off and I look up to see what Seth is babbling about.

I see the redhead walking out to join us in an oversized shirt … no doubt one of Seth’s.

“Good morning,” Seth and I say at the same time. The redhead gives us both a runway model smile before asking for coffee.

“Sure here, I’ll help you.” Seth jumps up eagerly to help the beautiful woman get some coffee.

It makes me smile to see that my brother can at least pretend to be a gentleman.

A thud hits the front door and I look at Seth suspiciously. “Oh, it’s probably the newspaper.”

I nod and stand, “I’ll get it. I’m curious to see how thick your paper is here compared to Helena’s.” I open the door and look down and see that Seth was right; a thick newspaper is on the floor. I take it back to the living room and open it up to see the front page. The paper lay open on the coffee table, and the image staring at me makes my insides quiver, and I want to puke.

I get up from the couch and run to the bathroom trying to keep the bile from coming up. The door slams harder than I had intended, but I am furious and can’t control myself. I sit on top of the toilet and my eyes fill with tears. “Stupid fool, you should have known better. And why the hell are you crying?” I say out loud to myself.

A soft knock startles me, and I wipe away the tears. “Everything ok sis?” Seth is always so caring and compassionate with me. The thought of him caring so much just makes the tears come harder. “Yeah”… I sniffle, “I’m fine.”

Seth isn’t convinced, “Treva come on baby sis’ it’s me you’re talking to, what’s up?”

Seth steps back when I slowly open the door. His features instantly change when he sees that my face is red and puffy from crying and he puts his arms around me. “What happened, Treva?” He is stern and his voice is very demanding. The spare bedroom opens and I see Matt stroll out gracefully, but his face hardens when he sees me.

“Treva, are you okay? Did I do something wrong?” The worry lines on his young face deepen and I feel bad that I am crying over another man.

“No Matt, it’s not you.” I try to assure him. “I just need to talk to Seth alone for a minute.” It doesn’t look like he will leave us be, but he eventually turns down the hall toward the kitchen.

“I’ll be right out here, ok?” He says back over his shoulder.

I smile weakly, “Thank you’.

Seth and I go into the bathroom for privacy and before the door is closed, I’m blurting, “You were right. He is an asshole and I let myself be taken by him. I am stronger than that Seth. I’m pissed, because I let my guard down, and that’s something that I don’t usually do.”

He steps closer and hugs me. “What are you talking about? Did Matt do something to you?”

“Oh, god no.”

“So what are you talking about?” He asks again even though I’m pretty sure that he knows by now who I am talking about.

“Go look at the front page of the paper. You will see exactly what I am talking about.” Seth hesitantly lets me go and heads for the living room. Reluctantly, I follow him and watch as he picks up the newspaper from the coffee table. He looks down and on the front page he see’s the photo of Ronin with Amy holding onto his arm. His lips move as he reads the caption under the photo out loud; I am kind of listening and all I get out of it is, that it had to do with a charity fund event for Ronin’s Biology Research team.

I feel so guilty when Matt’s face falls listening to Seth. Now he knows exactly what made me upset. I don’t want to hurt anyone, but I can see it all over his face. Matt sips on his coffee and walks past me not saying anything. “Matt,” I plead trying to get his attention, but he walks into the room that we shared last night. I barely catch up to him before he can shut the door.

“It’s okay, Treva, you don’t have to explain anything to me.” Instead of insisting to talk, I walk into him and wrap my arms firmly around his waist. Thankfully, he returns the gesture and holds me in his arms. We stand close together, holding each other in complete silence. Seth knocks on the door and then opens it to peek inside. “Hey I don’t mean to interrupt, but do you guys feel like going out to get something to eat?” I lean my head back to look up at Matt, “Will you come with us please?” He nods, causing me to smile warmly at him.

“Treva, I don’t want to be a bother, but do you have something that I can borrow to wear?” Another voice softly says. Misty looks at me impishly … probably embarrassed for having to ask.

“Yeah, of course, let’s dig something up.” I peer at Seth and flash him a wicked smile … hiding the hidden you owe me, underneath it.

“Hey bro, is it ok if I jump in the shower real quick?” Matt asks Seth. The thought of jumping in with him flutters rapidly in my mind—thinking about seeing Ronin with Amy, hanging onto his arm on the front page of the newspaper.

I find some clothes for Misty, and she and Seth head to his bedroom. I watch Matt cross the hallway and duck into the bathroom—I wonder if I should follow him. Conflict warring in my head I decide to contact my best friend Becca. Maybe she’ll have the right answer for me. I push the programmed button for Becca and wait as it rings.

“Hello?”

“Hello!”

“It’s about time you called me … so, out with it … spill the beans.”

“Holy hell Becca, there’s nothing to spill.”

“ … Hell there isn’t.” she pauses, “You know … Ronin Hollister.”

“Aargh,” I groan into the phone hearing his name. “To be perfectly honest, nothing’s going on … now.”

“Now?” Becca asks.

“Okay,” I give in, “so he’s Seth’s friend and he’s nothing but a major player. Yes an absolutely gorgeous, mouth dropping, beautiful man and probably the hottest thing I have ever seen on the face of the planet,”

“ … I know, right?” Becca interrupts.

“But Becca, after you told me about the stuff you saw I looked him up on the internet and saw pictures of him with this girl,” I take in a deep breath remembering the latest photo of him and Amy making the front page of the newspaper, “Becca, I met her, she’s one of Seth and Ronin’s comrades—they’re all friends. Everyone said that they’re not an item, but I’m pretty sure they are. He used me and the worst part of it is ...”

Becca interrupts again, “Treva sweetie pie, are you jealous?” Becca pokes fun at me.

“Huh, Me, NO! Why would I be jealous? I’m not with him or anything like that, but can I finish what I was saying?”

“Well yeah, but it just seems to me like you’re really upset over this other woman. But I wont judge just tell me what you were going to say before you forget.”

I hear the concern in my friend’s voice, but I needed to tell her about this. She is the only one I could ever tell. Becca and I are always there for each other, and I know I can tell her anything. If I didn’t, she would pull it out of me one way or another anyway. So, it was easier being forthright from the get-go. “Becca … I had sex with him.”

“Well of course you did …”

“Oh shut up. Becca I think I had my first orgasm.” Nothingness looms in the air for what seems like forever before she responds.

“Oh … holy shit Treva. This is big.”

“I know.” I whisper.

“So how did it feel?”

“It was something I’ve never felt before. I know that you’ve told me what they are supposed to feel like, but until now I had no idea what you were talking about. All those times of faking for the sake of whomever was lying on top of me made me realize—I hadn’t faked it good enough. It was so intense … I couldn’t control myself. It was … I thought I was going to pass out.”

“Yup! You had an orgasm.” Becca yells a little too enthusiastically.

“Becca, why did I have to share that with such a douche bag?”

“Well, at least he was a hot douche bag.”

I sigh deeply into the phone.

“So what are you going to do, Trev?”

“I don’t know.” I answer feeling lost. “There’s more.”

“More? How can there possibly be more than Ronin Hollister?”

I strum off everything going on between Matt and me making sure to fill in every detail, “and did I mention he is naked in the shower across from me as we speak?”

“Ok chick, this is what you’re going to do for starters, you’re Treva fucking Stone. You are a strong, beautiful, and smart woman. Treva is the one that does not get used. She does not get dragged around, paraded in front of people like a dumb bimbo. SHE DOES NOT GET USED, she does the using.”

“Right!” I agree.

“So you get out there; go jump in the shower with hot sexy Matt. Use the hell out of Ronin, take whatever you need and then get your butt home in a couple of weeks. GOT IT?”

I gulp. “He bought me a lap top and took me sailing.”

“Who did Matt or Ronin?”

“Ronin.”

“See! Take whatever you want honey. Hell, we all know he has enough money to go around. Treva baby, just have a good time, and keep your heart tucked away in your safe place. Don’t let the rich hot stud muffin bog you down, and don’t let Mr. Sensitive in the shower get too attached”

“Thanks Becca, you’re right. I don’t know what’s gotten into me.”

“I do … Ronin Hollister.”

“Ha, ha, ha.”

“So is he big?”

“BECCA,” I yell at her and then continue, “He’s freaking huge!”

“Holy shit Treva, I have a solution to your problem; I’ll go stay with Seth and you come home.”

I laugh and roll my eyes, even though I know Becca wouldn’t be able see the gesture, “Yeah whatever you whore. I’m going now.”

“Fine … keep, me posted, oh yeah before you go, I forgot to tell you a package came for you.”

“Really!. Who’s it from?”

“Doesn’t say.”

I try to remember if I ordered anything, but nothing comes to mind and a weird feeling comes over me. “Well, just put it on my bed I guess. I’ll open it when I get home.”

“Alright sweetie, love you and maybe you should take some pics for me.”

“Bye Becca! I love you too and no way in hell.” Then I turn off my phone.

I’m sitting on the edge of the bed thinking about the conversation with my best friend trying to think … what should I do? At this point, my ego is bruised and I’m not sure if I ever want to see Ronin Hollister again. And then Matt walks in, his skin glistening from the shower.

Chapter 14

It is extremely hard to keep myself restrained while I watch Matt get dressed. He’s putting on his tux pants and his white oxford shirt. He doesn’t seem to mind me watching or the fact that he’s putting on the same clothes from last night. He keeps smiling at me as he rolls the sleeves of his shirt up and then buttoning the front of it … leaving the last few undone. I’m pretty sure him getting dressed is just as sexy as him getting un-dressed, “I should maybe go get in the shower real quick,” I stutter.

“You know you could have come and joined me,” he winks. “It’s more energy efficient that way,” he adds.

“Not if we stay in the shower for a long time.” I say boldly.

My comment must take him aback slightly by the way his eyebrows furrow, “Well, I can join you and we can see how well Seth’s water heater can keep up with a steady stream.” He steps ahead closing the gap between us, and my lungs struggle with each shallow breath that I take. His cologne not quite as strong, but I can still smell it on his shirt.

“What kind of cologne do you wear?” I murmur in a daze.

“Gio Armani.” His breathe escaping over my face as he softly speaks.

“Mmm it smells so good.”

“I’m glad you like it.” Very, very slowly Matt leans forward and presses his lips to mine. His kiss is gentle. I give way like an ice cube melting on hot pavement. Somehow it is perfect, yet something feels off. His minty mouth tastes delicious and his smooth movements are so tender and caring. The thought of where he had got the toothpaste flickers in the back of my mind; it quickly dissolves as he moves his tongue passionately.

The complexity of the situation hits me; like I am traveling two hundred miles an hour on a motorcycle and suddenly hit a concrete wall. I push back and gasp for air—taking long deep breaths of oxygen to bring life back into my seemingly lifeless body. “Matt,” his name slipping off my tongue between my gasps.

“It’s ok, Treva.” He says as he pulls me closer. I’m so relieved that he doesn’t push, and he seems to completely understand the unspoken words that I’m unable to say. I wish I had no conscience and could find the will to do this, even if it’s just to use him to push my thoughts of Ronin away. I want to be free of him, but this isn’t the way to do it.

I watch the buildings as we pass by—sitting crammed next to Matt in the back seat of Seth’s small Toyota truck. I suppose we were all lucky that Seth has the pickup, since we all wouldn’t have fit in his Nissan sports car. Misty is in the front seat and I notice the light smiles exchanging between her and Seth. It gives me hope that maybe something will come out of this for my brother. From what I have seen so far … I like Misty. I can feel Matt watching me, and I turn to look at him. I smile at him to let him know that his not prying is much appreciated, and he returns a carefree look. I don’t contest him grabbing my hand, and we continue to grasp onto each other until Seth pulls into a parking lot.

I giggle watching Matt trying to wiggle out of the tight backseat, since he’s not exactly what I would call small. When he’s free, I twirl around to see a beach maybe only fifty yards away. I haven’t had the pleasure to get to the actual ocean yet; all of the worries that have been on my mind are forgotten as the waves push up onto the beach. The weather is perfect—warm sun rays beaming down on us, and the fresh ocean scent is so crisp. I could get totally lost for hours just staring out at the waves swirling and crashing. It’s like they have their own dance, pushing and pulling at each other in what seems like perfect harmony. I’m pulled from my daydreaming when a light touch at the small of my back reminds me that I’m not alone. I turn around and look up at Matt, the man that has comforted me since last night.

“We’re going up there.” He says as he points to a pier stretching out over the water. All of us hike up the wood stairs that lead up to the top; Seth talks about the breakfast that the restaurant serves on the pier.

“There’s a restaurant out there?” I ask in disbelief—looking out at the small square building that seems to be hanging five hundred feet in the air. I know that I do tend to over exaggerate, but worse case scenarios fill my imagination … tsunamis, earthquakes, wind. What would we do if something like that happened? It’s a bit frightening. I try to calm my nerves so that I can have a good time. This place is awesome—it will be something to remember. I keep up with everyone else, but still try to watch all of the bobbing surfers below trying to catch a good wave. At the restaurant, I make sure that I get a window seat. I want to keep the horizon in view. It keeps me form getting motion sickness when I can see out. I can already feel the movement swaying back and forth as the wave’s crash against the pylons.

Seth was right to boast about the food, it’s delicious and no one can complain about the view. We’re all having a good time when Seth’s phone rings. His eyes flash up to me when he looks at his caller ID. I can tell by the way he looks down at his phone that he doesn’t want us to know who called … but he’s not sly enough. I’m sure it’s Ronin by the concern etched on his face. I appreciate how much Seth worries about me, and I appreciate it more when he silences his phone and tucks it into his pocket. I’m not ready to face that drama yet. For now, I just want to enjoy the day with the people I’m with.

Misty and Seth walk in front of me and Matt, as the four of us walk down the sidewalk near the beach. The overall feeling I get from the people on the busy street is one of fun and good times. The area is filled with unique gift shops, and nooks and crannies filled with all sorts of things. I notice that there are a few people carrying surf boards heading toward the beach. When I peer through the windows, I can see that many of the shops are filled with surfing paraphernalia. A man with no shirt on and a towel wrapped around his waist brushes past me. He has the longest, and thickest dreadlocks I have ever seen. I don’t feel out of place at all here. This would be a fun place to live. I think to myself. “I think I must have been a hippy in my past life.” I blurt out, loud enough for Seth to hear. He stops and turns back around to look at me … rolling his eyes.

“What?” I laugh.

The day in the sun was a blast and just the right amount of busy to keep my mind off of that one guy … Ronin Hollister. We drop Misty and Matt off before we head back to Seth’s apartment. “I like her.” I say once Misty is gone.

“Oh I’m glad you approve,” he winks at me, “but who knows if it will ever go anywhere.” Seth chuckles nervously.

“You know that you don’t have to be a bachelor for the rest of your life, right?” I pat his shoulder as he shifts his truck.

“I know, but if I got married and had kids and all that stuff, then who’d take care of you? I’m not sure that my wife would be too fond of the sister–in-law living with us forever.”

No more playing nice, I punch him in the arm. “Oh don’t you dare use me as an excuse, Seth.” I pause, “Seth,” I cut through the silence in the car, “can we just maybe get some pizza delivered and grab a few movies and hang together tonight?”

Seth looks at me and gives me a warm deep smile that lights up his whole face. “Of course sis”

٭٭٭

I slide into my comfy sweat shorts and a T-shirt—getting ready for a relaxing night with movies and carbohydrates. After getting back to the apartment, Seth ordered our pizza and now he’s sprawled out on the couch with a beer in his hand. I find my favorite place to perch. “Hey I want one of those.” I pipe up eyeing the beer.

“In the fridge, and if you want a frosty cold glass they’re in the freezer.” Seth says.

I opt just for a cold beer, because I don’t want to wash a glass later. I notice the new laptop, and try to get it out of my mind. I don’t want any reminders of where it came from. I hadn’t thought about it until now, but I hadn’t even checked to see if he had tried to call or message me. I had purposely left my phone here all day. A fierce burning in my gut wants to fight against my emotions to see if he had, and of course my stupid emotions win. I go back to my room to grab my phone.

Instantly, I recognize the icons across the screen telling me that I have missed calls, voice messages and texts. My thumb lingers on the screen for a moment before I push open the unread texts.

I missed you last night I hope

You had a wonderful time

-R-

I tried calling, is everything alright?

-R-

Treva I hope your brother is keeping you

Tied up from your phone

I am not doing well with not knowing

Where you are

-R-

Treva I am going to send out a search

Party for you if I don’t hear

From you very, very soon

-R-

This is getting serious where are you?

Are you ignoring me?

Treva contact me ASAP

Ronin

He sent multiple messages, each one getting more frantic. Serves him right … arrogant, prideful, bastard thinking he can play me. I’m not his. He can’t demand to know where I am. A devious smirk pulls at my lips as an idea pops in my head, Well, I can play too.

I type a quick message back to Ronin:

No need for a search party

I’m fine–actually great!

I had a delightful time last night

Matt and I danced so much my feet hurt

My phone was dead I wasn’t able to charge it

Today we all went and hung out by the beach

It was beautiful

We can talk later hanging with Seth

Treva

Send

I figure that will make his brain work a little—not knowing what I was up to. I want to make him sweat and see how it feels to be tossed aside for someone else. Instead of waiting for a response, I drop the phone on the night stand and go to join Seth … feeling liberated and for the first time today, I have a real smile.

The credits are still playing when the pizza arrives. “Awesome, Hawaiian and Taco … perfect my two favorites.” I exclaim.

The movie is about over when a knock comes from the door. The two of us are so engrossed in the suspense of the scary horror film we are watching it makes us jump. I look at Seth and laugh as he gets up to answer the door, but I’m not about to move—I’m glued to the TV watching a crucial, nail-biting scene in the movie, not caring who is knocking.

“Hey, what’s up guys? Come in, Treva and I are just watching that new Wolf movie.”

“Oh, sorry we interrupted.” A male voice says.

“Nah, don’t worry about it. Want a beer?” Seth offers as he swings the door open for his new visitors.

I take a second to glance up and see Matt, Travis and her walk in. “Oh great, just who I wanted to see”, I say mumbling to myself as I roll my eyes.

Matt slips past Seth and heads straight for the couch after he see’s me sitting on it. He sits down very close to me and reaches out and grabs a beer from the coffee table.

“Hey sexy girl, how you doing?” Matt asks as he pulls the tab open and sits back making himself comfortable.

I smile at his relaxed style around me, “Not too bad. What are you guys up to?” Matt is so hot, but he doesn’t act arrogant about it. I remember our interactions from last night and this morning—it makes me blush a little. I really do enjoy his company.

“Well, we’re going out and we thought we’d swing by and ask you two if you’d like to come along,” he leans in closer “… and personally, I missed seeing your beautiful face. I needed to see you again.” He says quietly.

I roll my eyes at him, “are you trying to flatter me, Matt?”

“Is it working?” he furrows his brows.

“Hmm, how about you keep trying and I’ll let you know later.”

Matt’s grin tells me that he welcomes the challenge and is all ready to lay it on thick. Out of the corner of my eye I notice Amy’s evil eyes throwing daggers in my direction. It makes me smile simply knowing I can get under her skin so easily. “Stupid bitch … she doesn’t even know me and she already hates me.” I hum under my breath.

“So you want to hit the town with them sis?”

It feels good hanging on the couch with Seth. Besides that, the lack of sleep last night has me exhausted. I glimpse at Matt and see his hopeful eyes; then I look at Seth with his apologetic eyes, but the daggers from Amy, is all the push I need … “SURE”! Amy’s face looks as if it might explode with fury right in Seth’s living room, and it gives me a twinge of enjoyment.

I look down at my wardrobe, “I need to change real quick.”

“I think you look great just the way you are.” Matt says laying it on deep.

“Yeah right.” I laugh.

I jump up and Matt surprises the hell out of me by giving me a light slap on my ass. I squeal and run into my room. Quickly, I take a few things from my suitcase. I throw on a jean skirt and put on a black and silver cotton shirt with sparkly sequins over my tank top … letting the over shirt fall off my shoulder. I put on a little eye shadow, mascara, blush, and lip gloss. And then I pull a few pieces of my hair free from my ponytail and grab a pair of earrings. It takes me exactly seven minutes to get myself together. I grab my phone and toss it in my purse without even looking at it.

“Alright, all ready to go.”

“Holy shit, I didn’t know a woman could get ready that fast.” Travis teases. I give a bow and Seth shakes his head.

Chapter 15

Three clubs and several drinks later; I am grinding against Matt on a dance floor to some hip hop song. I found my second wind and I’m having a great time, and to be honest—feeling utterly pleased with myself for pissing off Amy in every possible way.

“I need another drink,” I yell to Matt out of breath. He nods and grabs my hand to lead me to the bar. Matt must be about 6’ 2” tall. He towers over me and even though he isn’t real bulky, he seems to push his way through the tight dance floor with no problems. I watch his wide shoulders as he tugs me along. Holding on to him with one hand and wrapping my other around his hard forearm to make sure I don’t lose him. We make it to the bar and he asks for two beers while holding on to me tightly … no indications of letting go.

The two of us walk back to our table laughing, talking and hand in hand. I stop dead in my tracks when I see Ronin sitting in the corner at our table watching me. His eyes drop from my eyes down to my hand that’s clearly tangled up in Matt’s.

“Hi,” I say.

“Treva, Matt,” he nods at us.

I don’t know why I care, but I rapidly pull my hand from Matt’s and sit down. Amy is sitting on the opposite side almost in Ronin’s lap—snarling like a mad dog.

I wonder if Amy called him to start some shit, but I pull my shoulders back remembering the conversation I had with my roommate Becca, You’re in control. This man is nothing to you. The two of you are from different worlds, and you will take what you want from this— if you want too. What did you expect from him any way, Treva, for him to fall in love with you?” I think to myself nervously.

“What brings you out tonight?” I ask loudly trying to compose myself from the heat of his stare. And oh that stare … those glimmering gorgeous green eyes meeting my hazel ones, that perfect face and that smooth line across his lips giving no sign of any emotions.

“Amy called me and said you guys were all out.”

Just as I thought, Amy is trying to get in his pants thinking he’d get mad that I was hanging with Matt.

“So did you like my gift?” Ronin asks me out of the blue. Both Matt and Amy look at Ronin then to me in surprise.

“Umm … yes it’s wonderful, a little over the top and I shouldn’t accept it; if I had known you would be out tonight, I would have brought it with me so that I can return it to you.”

“I wanted to give it to you.” He half smiles.

I can tell that he isn’t happy about my response. It perplexes me that I even care that I might have hurt his feelings after he dumps me two times, and one of the times he was with her. I glance in Amy’s direction and see Ronin jump slightly. I can see that Amy’s arm is at an odd angle; obviously, she placed her hand in his crotch. She edges closer to him trying to close the gap between them.

“Excuse me, I’ll be right back.” I stand up needing to get away and I walk to the easiest out … toward the restrooms. I look at myself in the mirror and rub the smeared mascara, from sweating, out from under my eyes.

“What am I doing? I should find Seth and go back to his place. I can’t get my head on straight.” And now I am talking to the mirror. Seriously what is wrong with me? I’m jealous … this is bullshit! I have no claims on him at all. The thoughts buzz through my mind. I’m not sure what I should do. I turn and enter a stall and use the bathroom. I hear the door open to the bathroom and hear a clickety clack of shoes tapping against the tiled floor, but I pay no attention to it. When I leave the stall, Amy is leaning up against the counter with an evil grin planted on her large red stained lips. I compose myself from the shock of her belligerent stare. I wash my hands without even looking at her. I turn to leave, but she steps directly in front of me. “Excuse me.” I say.

“You are not worthy of his time! Do you even think you have a chance with him?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Now please excuse me.” I try to step to the side, but again she just steps into my path.

“Don’t play coy with me. You know exactly what I am talking about, Ronin will never want you. I will always be the one by his side. Didn’t you see the front page of the paper this morning?”

That was a low blow, I had seen the paper and it’s still making me sick to my stomach to think about. “Yes Amy I did, and it was a lovely picture, now if you don’t mind I am going to go find my brother so we can leave.”

“That’s right tuck your tail and run little girl, and be advised to stay away from my man.”

I push past her and quickly leave the bathroom, determined to find Seth so that we can leave. I swing the door open hard as I fight back my tears.

“Hello beautiful.” The words catch me completely off guard.

“Hi, Mr. umm … Hollister.”

He approaches me one step at a time, and when he reaches me, he grabs me and pulls me tightly to him. I try to push away feeling confused and totally lost. I give up and look up at him. He is peering down into my eyes and the look is so intense that I forget to breathe. Ronin pulls up on my chin, so that he can close his mouth over mine. The kiss is deep and with purpose, his tongue slowly gliding over my lips and tongue. He’s already holding me so tight, but he clenches his arms harder and holds me even closer. I feel him slowly rubbing his groin against my body. When he finally loosens his hold a little, I gasp for air.

The door to the bathroom flings open and Amy’s eyes almost pop out of her head … damned bitch. She looks at Ronin pleading without speaking. I look at Ronin, and I notice that he doesn’t even acknowledge her. Amy stomps off down the hall and when I’m unable to see her, I decide I need to make my stand.

“Ronin, I can’t be one of those girls you drag around on an invisible leash. I can’t and won’t be one of those girls.” I say blatantly.

“Treva,” he breathes my name heavily. “You’re not one of those girls.”

I let out a deep sigh. I’m still not quite sure who I am to him. Without having control of my mouth I cry out, “What about Amy?”

“Amy?” Ronin looks at me confused.

“YES AMY! You two have something going, I saw the pictures of you and her in the newspaper, and you even ditched me last night for HER.” My brain is beginning to boil. “I’m not going to play games with the two of you … And with the threats I just got from her, it’s very obvious you two are together.”

Ronin bursts out laughing, just pissing me off more.

“Treva, I am not playing games with you. I apologize I ditched you last night, but I assure you, Amy and I are not together. She wishes that we were. And last night at the Gala, I was there with my brother and his wife at a last minute request for my company. Amy just happened to show up with her family and the press got a picture right after she decided to hold onto me. I will admit that I have used Amy on more than one occasion, and now I wish that I hadn’t. I assure you it will never happen again.”

“Yeah right, Ronin.” I blurt out

Ronin looks down and shakes his head back and forth before he continues. “Treva, I swear to you there is nothing going on between Amy and me. Is that why you’re here with Matt tonight?”

“It’s none of your god damn business why I’m here with Matt tonight.”

“Damn it, Treva. Everything you do is my business.”

“Excuse me?” I try to push away from him, but his hold clamps down tighter on me—making it impossible to get free. “Let go of me. You don’t get to dictate what I can and can’t do,” again, I try to wiggle free from his hold.

“Fuck Treva, please stop trying to get away and listen to me. I can’t quite figure out what you have done to me, but I have been lost the last two days. First, when I was unable to get a hold of you, and then when you sent me that message about being with Matt, I felt a feeling I have never had before. I was outraged. I wanted to go over to Matt’s place and rip his heart out with my bare hands.” He takes a deep breath in. “When Amy asked me to meet up with her tonight along with Travis, Seth,” he hesitates, “and then she said that you were accompanying Matt. I had to come see you. When I get here, I see Matt grinding against you like you’re some piece of meat to him, and then he starts dragging you around by the hand. The rage came again—along with a new feeling—I felt crushed.”

I feel speechless. I don’t know for sure if I am hearing him right. From the sound of it though, I’m pretty sure he is telling me he’s jealous of Matt. – Good, I think to myself.

.“I almost stood up and decked him when you guys came back to the table. I’d hate to have to hit a friend, but if he wants to mess with my woman, I’m going to have to jump in … friend or not.” Ronin grumbles.

“Your woman?” I ask softly.

Ronin looks at me like he’s afraid that he might have just sealed his fate and scared me off by expressing his feelings. I know that he never backs down when there’s something that he wants, and right now he wants me, Treva Stone. He is staking his claim.

“YES. MINE!” He leans forward and kisses me again.

“Let’s go home.” Ronin takes me by the hand and leads me out of the hall and back to the table. “Tell Seth I’m taking Treva home.” Ronin says in a stern voice to the group sitting at the table.

Matt looks up at me confused. I try hard to give him that I’m sorry look, but I’m not sure that he catches on.

“Dude, she came out with us, and I think she’s having fun ...” He looks back at me again, “Aren’t you?” Matt asks sincerely. He stands from his chair, and gets closer to me waiting for my response.

“… I ...” I try to answer, but Ronin butts in, “Matt, I’m not asking permission. Now get the hell out of my face!” Ronin’s forceful behavior catches me by surprise.

Matt pushes his fingers through his long blonde, hair in frustration and then throws his arms up in defeat. “Whatever man, we were just hanging out having a good time.” Matt steps back and reaches for his amber colored drink and throws it back in one swallow. “See ya later Treva.”

I try to plead with him with my eyes, but he turns his back on me. I feel deflated. I hurt someone else’s feelings again, and I’m sorry that it was Matt.

Amy of course stands up as we are turning to leave and grabs Ronin’s face and plants a kiss right on his lips. “Call me after you drop her off.” She winks at him and walks in the direction that we had just come from. Ronin never responded.

Ronin pulls on me and as soon as we get out into the fresh air, I can no longer hold back, “What the fuck was that?” I stare angrily at Ronin and quiver from head to toe.

“For god’s sake, you get into a pissing match with Matt and then let Amy seduce you while you’re holding my hand!”

“Treva.”

“Fuck Ronin! I’m not just a shiny new toy for you to fight over and pull around however you want. I’m a god damn human being …with feelings.”

“I’m sorry, Treva … I, uh.”

“Maybe you should take me home, but to Seth’s, not yours.” I rip my hand free from Ronin’s grip and massage my forehead—trying to rub some sense into my numb brain. “I’m here for R&R; I have enough stress at home.” I’m able to say in a slightly calmer tone.

Ronin gently touches my hand and wraps his long, strong, fingers around it. He pulls my hand from my face while drawing soothing circles with his thumb over the top of my hand. “I really am sorry. I’m not used to having to consider or for that matter care about other people’s feelings … just my own. I know you’re only here for a short time and I shouldn’t be piling on stress. I want you to have a wonderful, memorable, vacation.” Ronin sighs.

I don’t want to look at him, but I feel the movement of my hand being brought to his lips and then bathed in kisses, “Would you mind just walking with me for a bit?”

Truthfully, I just want to be as far away from all of this as I can get, but I feel his sincerity, “yeah, okay. The fresh air does feel nice.” And with that I go against what I thought was logical and let my heart lead me in another direction …maybe down the wrong road again.

The air is crisp and my skin shivers from a breeze that blows across my bare legs. I’m wearing a very short skirt and a pair of heels that are very impractical for walking around in. My outfit leaves a lot of skin exposed to the elements; earlier the skirt seemed like a good idea, but now I’m questioning that decision.

I try to enjoy the Christmas lights. I love Christmas time; it’s so beautiful and seeing it with no snow is actually refreshing in a strange way. San Diego is really starting to grow on me, which is surprising since I’ve only been here for a week, but maybe it’s more than just San Diego. Ronin and I hold hands while we walk quietly and watch the Christmas lights of many colors flicker along the streets.

“What are you thinking about?” Ronin asks breaking the silence.

I smile to myself, “I was just thinking about how much I like San Diego, and I was wondering where I will end up for med- school.”

“Where is your first choice?”

“Well, I’d like to go to Seattle. They have a great medical program, but I sent applications to Texas, Arkansas, Arizona … umm, where else …” I rattle on, trying to remember all the long applications I had filled out.

“Anywhere in California?”

“Uh - huh,” I shake my head indicating no.

“What? Our schools not good enough,” Ronin bites out.

“To be perfectly honest, I just never thought about it.” Now I’m feeling a bit sheepish not knowing the best way to explain.

“Although, Seth’s here?”

“Don’t get me wrong I would love to be closer to Seth. I just never wanted to be the little sister having to bum and mooch off her older brother.”

“Tsk, Tsk, Tsk, I’m sure Seth would never see it that way.”

“But I would.” I reply.

“Well, think about it. We do have some great schools and some of the internships at the hospitals around here are great.”

I look up at him and give him the best smile I can, “thank you, I will.”

“Where are your parents?” Ronin asks nonchalantly.

My smile instantly vanishes when I hear the new topic of discussion Ronin changed to. “They’re in Montana.” I snap.

“Oh, Seth never really mentions them, so I wasn’t sure.”

“They don’t speak to me, so I’m not sure how well they are, or what they’re doing with their lives.”

Ronin can tell by the way that I’m acting that he hit a nerve asking about my parents. I don’t mean to come across so harsh, but it’s a sore subject for me.

He clears his throat, “I’ve never told anyone this before, but my brother and I were adopted.”

I’m not sure why he decides to pipe up and talk so randomly, but I sense maybe he thinks by telling me something private it might help me open up more, but I have no desire to open up about my past … not now. I reply a little too harshly, “I think people already know that Ronin.” I roll my eyes expecting that he was going to let me in on some deep dark secret. “I’m not trying to be mean. I’m just saying.”

“Yes that’s true, but no one knows why we were adopted.”

Ronin inhales deeply and I watch his chest fill, but he doesn’t exhale. His hand tightens around mine and I believe I just felt him shudder, and then he lets out his breath slowly. I see a worried line take shape on his forehead before he looks away from me. I don’t know why it takes so long, but a light bulb clicks on in my head, “Oh … umm Ronin you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to.” I stiffen.

“I know I don’t Treva, but I want you to know me. I want you to know who I am and where I come from … good and bad.”

All of this is so overwhelming. I have wanted to know as much as possible about this beautiful man since he walked through the airport doors, but now I’m not sure if I am ready for him to let me in—I am definitely not ready to let him in. I squeeze his hand in reassurance, but it’s more of a reflex to want to soothe his pain.

“Treva, my mom was murdered.”

I gasp, trying to process what he had just said … wondering if I had heard him right. “OH MY GOD! Ronin I am so sorry.” I stop walking abruptly and turn to look at him. This was the last thing I thought he was going to say to me. I reach up and gently touch his face. The urge to kiss him and console him is pulling deeply at my heart. I stand on my toes and lean forward to meet his lips, thinking that kissing him could maybe take the place of words—words I don’t know how to say. He stops me before I can kiss his lips.

“Stop! I don’t need your pity. It was a long time ago.”

Talk about whiplash. He tells me he wants me to know him and where he comes from, but the second he says one sentence … he’s shutting down and closing me off. Maybe he thought he was ready to talk about it, but saying the words out loud was a deeper slice into him than he was prepared for. I keep my words to myself while watching his emotions change. I can’t imagine what is going on in this man’s mind. It’s unfathomable to think of a loved one being murdered, and I don’t even know the details.

I watch in silence as he fights a battle with himself. I squeeze his hand to remind him that I am still there. He’s been silent for a long time and I’m anxious, but at the same time I’m being patient … letting him have some time with his thoughts.

Ronin finally clears his throat and begins to speak again. I hear the rasp in his voice, “Let’s get out of here.”

I can see the tears flooding his eyes, but I don’t pry. I reach forward and run my fingers through Ronin’s thick hair, reassuring him with my touch—hoping that it will somehow bring us back together. It breaks my heart to feel him tremble when I touch him. Why is it that I feel so connected to him, even with the stupid crap he has put me through the last couple of days? I slowly step closer; and like a mother would comfort a child, I wrap my arms around him and pull myself close to his body … humming a song that might not even be a song.

“Treva, you are so beautiful. My very own angel.”

I stop humming and look up into his sad jaded eyes. “We’re quite the messed up pair,” I say without elaborating anymore. “Let’s get you home.”

I stumble dizzily as I let him go, remembering how much I had to drink. “OOPS.” I giggle while I grab the front of Ronin’s shirt to steady myself.

Ronin just shakes his head at me. We start walking back toward the club where Ronin’s driver is still waiting. We are passing a dark lot and I gasp loudly as I pull away from Ronin and run off into an almost abandoned parking lot. Ronin must think I see something terrible happening, so he starts to run after me, “Treva, what is it?”

“This is the truck I want.” I run my hands next to the truck without actually touching it … it could have an alarm system.

Ronin grabs his knees bending over gasping for air. “Are you serious? I thought something was wrong.”

I flash him a wide smile. “No, No, No, this Mr. Hollister is my dream truck. A Ford, F350, Power Stroke, Super Duty, with an eight inch lift kit and 37inch tires. MMM … very sexy,” I walk around the truck lusting over the beautiful black machine.

“Someday, after I get done with school and have my student loans paid off. This baby will be mine.”

“And Miss Stone, what on earth will you do with a truck like that?”

I shake my head in shame, “Silly man, I’d drive it of course.”

We both start laughing, which is something we both need to do.

“Again Miss Stone, you amaze me, and I do have to say it’s pretty hot when a woman really goes bonkers over a toy. I like a woman who knows what she wants.”

Ronin grabs me by the waist and kisses each of my eyebrows intimately. “Come on lets walk this way.”

I am beginning to recognize the area downtown fairly well, and when we start walking, I realize we are on the tourist path next to the bay off of Harbor Boulevard. I have been here a few times. Now it’s so relaxing and quiet, but that’s because it’s 1:00 in the morning. Not much is stirring around us as we slow our pace. We walk pass the enormous yachts tied off in the marina and Ronin pushes up against me … backing me up to the railing.

“TREVA!” He breathes my name softly while holding me close.

Chapter 16

My legs still shaky and my breathing pattern erratic, I try to calm myself down. I can’t believe he just made me come on the sidewalk so publicly. I inhale a large lung full of ocean air and exhale slowly. I need to start getting it into my brain; when it comes to Ronin Hollister … nothing should come as a surprise to me. I mean really, I have only known him for 6 days and he never stops amazing me. I look up at him and see the trace of a smile pulling at his lips. It’s weird, but I feel like we have already spent an eternity with each other. There seems to be an odd connection tugging us together. Now, what scares me the most is that I only have two more weeks here and then I’ll be heading back home … back to my world.

We get to his penthouse apartment around 3:30 in the morning. I can tell that the alcohol is starting to wear off, and my stomach rumbles loudly when we walk in the door.

Ronin hears it and lifts his brows eyeing me suspiciously. “Are we hungry?”

I flush a little, “Why yes I am,” I lick my lips suggestively and run my hands over his chest. Even through his shirt I can feel his perfectly toned pecs. “I’m Starving for you, Mr. Hollister.”

Ronin presses his lips to mine fervently and mumbles in my mouth, “My precious treasure.”

I push back a little and quirk my eyebrows at him, “If I’m your treasure, does that make you my king? Would you like me to call you your Highness, or maybe master?”

“Tease!”

“You haven’t seen nothing yet, Master.” I slowly begin unbuttoning Ronin’s blue dress shirt. After all of the buttons are undone, I slide the sleeves off his bulging muscular arms. Touching his defined biceps makes my pussy tingle with desire. I don’t know how I lucked out, but holy hell he’s hot. I want to be touched, now. I squeeze my legs together trying to appease the need; feeling my panties rubbing against my clit just makes the urge stronger. I drop Ronin’s shirt on the floor and reach for his black slacks. The bulge in his pants is obvious—indicative of how much he wants me. I need to free him—now. I draw the button through the hole and unzip his pants. I skate my hand underneath his boxers and pull his rock hard erection out from under the waist band.

“Damn, woman.” He mumbles, when my flesh touches his sensitive cock. It makes me beam hearing his pleasure, and knowing that I’m the one pleasing him. I grip his thick fullness tighter and rub him in long gentle strokes. His bare bronze chest in my face, I have to lean my head forward and lope my tongue along every chiseled facet of him. I kiss and lick his chest until I find his nipples—pulling them in between my teeth and lightly biting them.

He takes a deep breath—wincing from the painful sensation. My teeth grinding carefully on his nipple, causes his cock to throb in my hand. It turns me on so much— biting at him and massaging his swollen cock.

“I have to have you now. I need to feel your pussy wrapped around my cock. I need to feel your tight muscles pumping me,” he growls.

I gasp, as Ronin scoops me up, unexpectedly, and carries me to his bed. Our lips meet, and our tongues explore each other’s mouth. I can tell that he wants to be gentle with me, but his needs are so strong that he frantically finds the button to my skirt and rips it open. He pushes my skirt down—not getting it out of the way fast enough for either of us. When my skirt is free of my feet, he tosses it across the floor. I lift my arms, and he aggressively rips off both of my shirts. He finds my breasts and sucks on my hardened-perky nipples. I scream with pleasure.

I grind my hips into Ronin trying to feel his skin against my hot aroused sex. I moan when I feel his hand slide down to rub my soft folds while he lavishes my nipples—sending pulses of pleasure soaring through my veins. My pussy is so slick with desire for him. He doesn’t hesitate; he pushes two fingers into me—my breath hitches from the sensation. Damn, it feels so good, as he drives into me hard—moving his fingers perfectly … making me writhe underneath him.

“Please, Ronin.” I shout.

I arch my back, lifting way up off of his bed—giving in to the pleasures of his movements. His thumb makes small circles over my nub while he rhythmically pushes and pulls his fingers in and out of me. Beads of sweat form between my breasts … everything is smoldering hot.

“You are so sexy Treva, come for me baby.”

Just those couple of words, send me soaring over the edge. I feel my climax building to a raging peek and then it lets go—escaping around his fingers. I am so sopping wet that I can feel it running down the cheeks of my ass.

“Holy fuck, Treva. I have never had anyone so wet with pleasure.”

He slides his fingers from me and grabs his bulging cock. Hovering over me, he guides it to my soaked entrance and slams it into me. I yell so loud—his cock stretching my tight pussy. Ronin almost loses it, he has to stop moving while his cock jerks in my wet cunt. After his cock stops jerking, he pushes it into me deeper, and he’s pounding the hell out of me. My muscles tighten around his cock … trying to hold on to him.

I reach my arms up around him and I dig my fingers into his taught ass cheeks—I’m urging him to move faster and go deeper. Our body movements are synchronized … working together in perfect harmony. Somehow he reaches every sensitive area—places I didn’t know that I had. The deep burning in my gut is so intense, I can feel that incredible tingling building again, and I know that I am going to have another cosmic explosion.

“RONIN!” I scream, as the tension erupts.

When I yell out his name, there is no holding back for Ronin. He shoots off so deep and for so long—I can feel each gush that comes from his cock … hitting the inside of my pussy. He falls forward out of breath sprawling over me. “You feel so god damn good, Treva.”

I wake sleepily and stretch my arms out to find the bed empty. My eyes slowly scan the room, and I see that I’m alone. Noises from the kitchen get my attention, hmm sounds like pots and pans. I pull the blankets aside and get out of bed. My clothes are lying ruffled on the floor, but instead of putting my dirty clothes back on, I decide to wander into the gigantic walk-in closet that houses Ronin’s clothes. I find a shirt and slide it on. Before heading to the kitchen, to see where the noises are coming from, I look at my phone to see if I have any missed calls. I’m not sure why I can never hear my phone when I’m with Ronin, but I have eight missed calls. Hmm, I check out the numbers to see who called me and it’s that Montana number—I had tried answering it before, but no one was on the line. I don’t know why a missed call would give me the eebie geebies, but when I see that all eight of the missed calls are from the same number, chills run over my arms. Instinctively, I rub my arms trying to rub the goose bumps away. I’m getting all worked up … this is out of control and needs to stop. I pick up my phone and press send waiting to see if someone answers.

Ring … ring … ring …

The phone clicks like someone picked it up, but there’s no hello … nothing. It’s completely silent.

“Hello,” I say. “Now come on, this is getting to be ridiculous. Whoever this is needs to stop it.” I’m agitated and almost screaming into my phone, but no one answers. I hear a faint breath on the other end, and I quickly hang up. “Creep,” I say out loud, trying to calm my nerves.

I storm out of the room, but I stop dead in my tracks when I round the corner. Ronin has his back to me watching something cook on the stove. The aroma of sweet onions caramelizing smells delicious, but staring at Ronin with only a pair of pajama bottoms overpowers the onions. I can’t think of another man that could top Ronin Hollister.

Not knowing that I am watching him, he links his fingers behind his neck accentuating his tight toned muscles in his back. His lats flare out from his ribs and go up under his arms winging out … so sexy looking—perfection …

Ronin hears me whisper the last word and spins around. His fingers still intertwined behind his head. This time I am blessed with a frontal view of his magnificent body. His pectorals are hard just like his abs. Every muscle in his body is ripped. I’m not looking at a six pack, because he has an eight pack. He has the most perfect body that I’ve ever seen. He’s what I have always dreamed about having … “My own angel,” I whisper softly.

Even though I only whispered, Ronin must have heard me, “So you like what you see Miss Stone?” Ronin’s seductive voice makes my body shiver.

“Yes I do, as a matter of fact.” I step closer so that I am standing right in front of him. I’m unable to hold back any longer, the need to touch him is overwhelming. I trace my fingers along every line softly. “Were you sent from heaven?”

Ronin laughs, “Maybe I’m actually the devil in disguise.”

“No you’re too perfect.”

My words send shivers through Ronin, “Look Peanut, you gave me goose bumps. Do you think if I was some higher power, I would be so weak to you? Actually … I think I would.” He finishes.

I touch the raised bumps on his arm, “arrector pili.” I say softly.

“Huh?”

“Oh,” I pull myself from my little trance, “arrector pili are the tiny muscles on your skin that causes goose bumps.”

“I never knew they had a technical name.” he laughs.

“I’m sorry. I’m a walking book on human anatomy. I usually try to use layman’s terms so I don’t sound like such a super geek.”

“Well, to be honest, I think it’s pretty hot. And you Treva are a HOT super geek. And please, pretty please, don’t take this wrong, but I was beginning to think you were getting into the wrong field.”

I furrow my brows together. “What do you mean?” I ask.

Ronin lets out a sigh, “Well, the people I have on my biology team are glued to science books. They seem impersonal, no social skills at all. I think those are the stereotypical types that get into the medical field. They are way too smart for their own good and they seem to lose some of the social aspects people of lower IQ’s have … they are kind of boring.”

I can’t help it, I look at him and raise my curvy lips into a very twisted smile, “Stereotyping are we?”

“Wait, don’t take that wrong … you are just so full of spirit and life. I can’t believe you’re not a hairdresser or something like that, using your creative spunky attitude to help people in that way.”

“YOU THINK I SHOULD BE A HAIRDRESSER? Standing around gossiping and listening to everyone’s miserable stories? Just keep opening your mouth Ronin, because you’re seriously digging yourself into a huge hole you might not be able to find your way out of.”

“Shit, well … when you say it that way.” Ronin tries to back pedal. He grabs me by the waist, “I’m an idiot, don’t listen to me”

“Speaking of smarts … your breakfast is burning.”

“Oh shit.” Ronin spins around and tries to salvage the vegetables he is cooking for omelets. “There’s a mimosa on the counter if you’d like.” He points backward without looking … paying attention to what he’s cooking.

I climb onto a barstool and sip on my orange juice concoction while watching him. “You’re not the first to have said that … maybe that’s why I get so edgy when people don’t believe that I can be a Doctor.” A tone of rejection flows from my voice—if a man can be a medical doctor, then so can a woman. “My brother Seth is the only one who backs me one hundred percent. Just because I like to have fun doesn’t mean that I’m not smart enough to go to med-school. The biggest roadblock is being able to afford it.” I let out a deep sigh and shake my head dejectedly.

“I love the human body and I know how it works; the bones, the muscles, their functions … you name it. Like I said, I’m a walking-talking text book. But Ronin, I appreciate life, and I appreciate the emotions of people—there’s more to it than just human anatomy. You have to know the individual in the body—the person wearing the shell—you have to know them. I love the idea of being a medical doctor, but I want to enjoy life while I’m doing what I love.”

“You’re wrong you know.” I see him let out a deep breath.

I look at him. He’s puzzled … short on words. Then he says, “I support you one hundred percent too.”

I smile and enjoy the feeling that I get whenever he says something so warm and tender. “Thank you, Ronin.”

He places two plates on the breakfast bar, “voil`a, ala gourmet veggie omelet.”

Before I am even able to take my first bite, Ronin leans over and presses those perfectly succulent soft lips over mine. He pulls away and I see him reach down and adjust the bulge in his pants. He lays his head on my shoulder unexpectedly, “Damn what you do to me, Treva, and you wearing nothing but one of my T-shirts is the hottest things I’ve ever seen.”

Ronin’s phone buzzes and he straightens back up and pulls it from his pocket. I watch his face as he skims the screen. His eyes are reading something and then I watch him type quickly. When his fingers stop moving he looks at me; then he quickly shoves his phone back in his pocket. I become suspicious of his strange behavior, and then his phone buzzes again.

I try to ignore him and I take a bite of my omelet. “This is delicious.” I mumble the compliment with my mouth stuffed full.

“I’m glad you like it.” He says as he stares at me with an unfamiliar gaze. “Christmas is this week … I can’t believe it—can you?”

I shake my head. Something isn’t right. I can tell that he is trying to make small talk, but I don’t know why the change of atmosphere. I try to brush it off, but it nags at me in the back of my mind. Again my brain thinks of worse case scenarios, Maybe he has some other chick he is hooking up with.

“Nope, my time is flying by. I can’t believe today is Monday the 23rd and I still haven’t gotten Seth a Christmas gift.”

“I can take you. We can find him something. Is he the only one you need to get something for?”

“Actually, I really need to find my crazy-hair-brained roommate a gift too.” I smile thinking about Becca.

“Of course, we can go shopping for your friend too. Do you have any other siblings besides Seth?”

“Huh?” Now I feel like he is digging for something. The question is off the wall and I get a deep gut feeling he is fishing for some sort of personal information that I am not about to tell anyone. I stop chewing and look at him surprised.

“… Uh …” I stutter. “Yeah, um … Seth and I have an older sister. She is eleven years older than me, so we don’t have a lot in common. Her name is Denise. She still lives in Montana.”

I look at my plate and absently push my food around hoping—hoping that I’ve given him enough information that he won’t push or pry anymore. I am wrong though—it’s not enough for him, and he continues.

“Is she married? Have any kids?”

Like a robot with no emotions I answer, “yes, and I have one niece that’s fourteen now.” Thinking about Ally makes me sick to my stomach. I love that girl so much, and it hurts me knowing that I’m unable to see her as she grows up.

“Maybe we can get a gift for your niece too.” He reaches over with one arm and squeezes my waist, but every muscle in my body has stiffened. Thinking about my family has turned me cold. “My sister would send it back.”

Ronin looks at me almost like he’s agitated, because I haven’t told him more. “Well, you can help me find my brothers’ kids something!” I look up at him and try to plaster a fake smile on my face, but I am afraid it probably comes across more like a grimace.

“Wait, its Monday! Don’t you have a universe to run or something? I’m keeping you from work.” I say trying to push our conversation somewhere else.

Ronin laughs, “… a universe huh? Well, I think it will keep turning without me for the day. Besides that, I don’t think that it’s right when people have to work during the Christmas holidays. I closed the office for the week—they need to be with their families. The only thing I have going on this week is my Christmas party tonight which I hope you’re still planning on attending with me.”

“That’s tonight?” I feel panicked not having anything to wear. I remember him briefly mentioning what day it was on the night we had gone to play pool, but I had forgotten after he had ditched me for some ‘Gala’. “Ronin I have nothing to wear.”

“We can find a dress for you too, while we do a little Christmas shopping.”

“Wait did you say you give everyone the week off?” Most bosses work everyone at least until Christmas Eve day. “I’m beginning to think that you are not the super human, tuff-as-nails, hard-ball, everyone thinks you are.”

“Oh I am sure if you were to spend some time around me you’d think differently. I like things done my way, and I want it done as quickly as possible. I don’t play games, especially if it’s something I want.” Ronin lifts his left hand and brushes it against my cheek. Then he has a slight smile on his face. I am sure he is enjoying some personal revelation, but he doesn’t share it with me.

The light touch excites me. He leaves his fingers on my face for a few seconds before moving them.

“I wanted this week off, so I let my employees take a mini-vacation also. It’s not something I do every year. They probably think I’ve lost my marbles. I do know business though, and if I play fair and let them hang with their families or whatever else they do, that they won’t resent me as much—and they’ll work harder for me. It makes for a more effective workplace.”

I can’t disagree with that and I nod in agreement. “How did you get so rich?” I blurt out without thinking. “And what does your company actually do?”

“Come on let’s take a shower and I’ll explain a little.”

Ronin pulls me off the stool and carries me to the master bathroom. He sets me down on a bench in the bathroom and the memory of pulling and twisting on all the levers to try to get the shower on floods through my mind. A giggle escapes my lips.

“What are you thinking about Miss Stone?” He is staring over his shoulder at me. “MMM, that smile is so beautiful. It should be there all the time. I hope I can make you this happy all of the time Treva, because that’s how you make me feel.”

My face starts to heat up,” I was just thinking about your knobs.” I lift my hazel eyes wide peering at his beautiful, glory.

“My knobs?”

The innuendo and the sensual way I said it brings his groin to life and I see his cock growing hard.

“I guess my intentions for you are pretty obvious. I don’t think I can hide it with this thing.”

“I think it would be hard to miss.” I joke, but not too seriously. I’m too distracted by his long thick cock standing at attention. It is sexy as hell. I motion him closer with my finger. He obliges by standing directly in front of me, but still a foot away. I reach for him and grab him by his nut sack and tug on it … pulling him closer. I lick my lips as I tilt my head back to look at his perfect body.

“Oh my god, Treva.” Ronin runs his fingers through his hair tousling it even more.

I don’t release the grip I have on his nuts. Instead, I begin massaging them gently with one hand. Tugging slightly and squeezing with pure primal need. I want to tease him and make him beg for more. It makes me feel whole to make him feel good.

He lets out a deep moan while I continue massaging methodically, pulling on one nut and the then the other rubbing my finger between his balls towards his scrotum—pushing against the bulbous sensitive spot under his ball sack. With my other hand, I dip my finger into my mouth making it slick to rub over the tip of his cock. I never take hold of it; I just slightly brush the tip—rubbing in circles. His cock keeps springing forward out of control under my teasing fingers.

This is my favorite part—teasing to the point where Ronin can’t handle it anymore and begs me to finish him off. I keep teasing him by just touching the tip of his very hard erection with my lips. I open my lips wide and let my warm breath flow over the tip.

Ronin growls loudly “Please.”

I flick him with my tongue and circle the thickness of his head slowly.

“Oh my god woman, I want to feel your mouth.”

I smile to myself, but I want to hear him beg more than that. I pull down on his ball sack and run my tongue over the tip of his cock—over and over, never going over the lip of his hard throbbing cock.

“God damn it, Treva. Please, please, please SUCK ME!” He wraps his fingers in my hair urging me forward.

I know I hit his breaking point and I’m satisfied with his pleads. I stretch my mouth open and let him slowly slide his cock in. I stop at the hilt of his erection when I can feel him at the back of my throat. I wait for a moment and feel his cock jerk against my tongue. I gradually pull my mouth back up—catching my lip on his tip—sucking hard. I feel Ronin’s grip tighten in my hair. I stop sucking and let my mouth glide back down him all the way back to his base. I don’t stop until I have him all the way in my mouth. I pull down tightly on his balls while I have my mouth wrapped completely around him.

“STOP!” he yells startling me.

I feel him push down on my head so I can’t move. I can feel the violent jerking again and I know that he was about to come.

“Fuck woman. Two pushes and you almost had me shooting down your throat! God that feels so damn good, but I’m not ready yet!”

I can feel him pulling on me trying to free his throbbing cock from my mouth, but I suck on it as hard as I can—I don’t want him to take it away from me.

“You are a bad girl Treva. I think you need to be punished.”

Instantly, hearing the word punishment, my body shuts off. I know he is just playing around, but the idea of punishment floods in my memories and it scares me to death. I want those horrible recollections that haunt me to be washed away forever, but they seemed to be etched in stone. No matter how hard I try to erase them, they won’t go away.

Ronin must catch the sudden change too as he tries to cover his blunder.

“I want to punish you by licking you until you can’t contain yourself” He says softly. “Come here.”

Ronin steps back and reaches out to me. With my hand in his, he leads me to the shower. When we step in, Ronin gets down on his knees and spreads my legs apart. Gently, he begins to massage my folds. His thumb rubs my sensitive nub while caressing me softly.

I let my stance loosen and he responds to the invitation. He leans forward and kisses my bare sensitive clit. My insides are about ready to explode. He touches me so gracefully. He inserts a finger and pushes it in slowly. Pushing it upward, I squirm as he rotates it deep inside of me. He shifts his head around and awkwardly licks me as he rhythmically slides his finger in and out of my soft wet tissue.

“You taste so sweet.” He purrs between my legs.

My pussy is so slick, and he easily glides another finger in with the first. His movements change and I pant heavily as he explores the inside of me.

“Faster!” I urge.

He obeys and pushes into me harder and faster. I’m afraid I might fall over, so I grab onto his shoulders to steady myself against his welcomed assault. “RONIN!”

“Yeah that’s it baby, scream my name while you come. I want to know that I am the one who made you come … I am the one that controls your sexual gratification. No one else! Scream my name baby, scream it!”

Ronin flicks his tongue over my clit and then pulls it into his mouth sucking hard on the over-sensitive bump. I lose it.

“RONIN,” I scream out his name loudly as my cum shoots all over his fingers and tongue.

“MMM, very good girl, but don’t get comfy yet, I am a long ways from being done with you.”

He stands and spins me around—pushing me against the shower with a primal need. He spreads my feet apart with his own and then pushes me forward. I feel his thickness when he slides his cock into me. My pussy is so full … he has a huge cock. My skin so sensitive—I can feel every detail while he trails kisses over my shoulders. The water sloshes between us as he pushes himself in as deep as possible. After I get used to his huge cock, I push my ass back so that he can pound into me. He repeatedly thrusts deeply and my sensitive pussy builds with an intense fiery feeling to the point of combustion. I need to release the building tension. I need to let it go and detonate this loaded cannon.

I can hear our heavy panted breaths. I don’t know how, but I feel Ronin’s cock get harder and bigger—I thought that I had all that I could take—but now he’s about to send me over the edge. “FUCK RONIN!”

He pushes hard and grunts while he reaches his climax, and I can feel forceful gushes that he shoots into my pussy. He lets his head fall limply on my shoulder as we both catch our breath.

“I could never get enough of this,” he says softly to me.

“Me either,” I agree. “You’re going to have to come to Helena to give me a booty call.” I say jokingly, but Ronin stiffens and I realize that I should have never said that.

He spins me around, so I am looking straight into his emerald eyes, still lost from the amazing orgasm we just shared. It was orgasms for me, I lost count of mine. “Sorry, I should have asked, but are you on birth control? I should have never been so careless. I just couldn’t stop myself.” Ronin says with out an ounce of warmth to his voice.

“Oh, um yea, I am, don’t worry.” I say flatly.

“Good. Let’s get washed up. We have things to do.” And with that the fun playful Ronin disappears.

“I had my housekeeper get you a few items in case you came over again, so you don’t have to put your dirty clothes back on.”

I am towel drying my hair and I see him out of the corner of my eye running his fingers through his hair, like he is nervous about something. I could stare at his gorgeous body all day. The muscles in his abs flex just a little while his hands tousle his hair even more.

“Ronin you can’t keep buying me clothes. I have my own clothes and I don’t mind if I have to slip them back on until I get back to Seth’s.”

“I know. I just enjoy doing nice things for you. Come on I’ll show you where they are.” Ronin leads me into his gigantic, over sized, walk-in closet and opens up a dresser. “This dresser is full of items for you. Everything in it is yours, and this stuff hanging right here,” he shows me a large section of the closet that is now filled with women’s clothing, “is yours also.”

“Holy hell, how many times do you think I will be changing here? I don’t need all of this, Ronin.”

“I just thought it would give you some options and I hope you’ll stay with me as much as possible. I’m only trying to help accommodate for moments you might need some clothes.”

I can tell by the tone of his voice I pissed him off, but this is crazy. I’ve only been here a couple of times and now I have a dresser. Ugh. I need some breathing room.

“Thank you Ronin it’s very kind of you to think of me like that. I am very appreciative.” I open the top drawer of the dresser trying to act thankful. The drawer is filled with beautiful lacey bras and panties. Wow, maybe I could get used to this. I pull out a few different sets and hold them up. I can feel Ronin’s gaze burning through me and I try to act as sincere as possible, but I don’t have to pretend too much … this stuff is exquisite. I pick out a soft pink set and slide the panties on. I slip the bra on and open the rest of the drawers. The next drawer is dedicated to just stockings. I open the next and it’s full of T-shirts, and the next is jeans. I want to see what the other items are hanging up and I find a few skirts, with cute dress tops, and a few fun flirty dresses, a couple of dresses for super dressy attire, some dress slacks and sweaters. My closet at home isn’t even close to being as nice as this.

I turn and look at Ronin, “thank you again, these things are all beautiful.”

Ronin edges forward and grabs me around the waist. “Not as beautiful as you. Actually, I have never seen anything come even close to your beauty.” His mouth is over mine before I’m able to say anything. Every time he kisses me I melt into him. I wish I could meld into him and be as close to him as possible. My mind has been in complete turmoil trying to figure out what is going on between us, but somehow I know when he touches me and holds me close—I’m exactly where I want to be.

Chapter 17

Ronin is typing rapidly on his laptop, working on something that looks like a spreadsheet. He just told his driver to take us to a shopping center. I could stare at him all day and never get tired of the view. He is just so stunning it’s hard not to look. I watch his jaw twitch and the vein on his forehead pump … something is frustrating him. “What is it love?” I ask the question and my mouth almost drops to the floor of the truck. Why the hell did I just call him love? He’s going to push me out of the vehicle right here. Ronin looks up at me with his face completely smooth. I am unable to interpret his emotions right now.

“Miss Stone, did you just refer to me as your, ‘love’?”

“… Uhh …” I stammer, “It just kinda came out, I’m sorry I didn’t mean …”

“Are you trying to take it back now?” Ronin closes his lap top and tucks it into the flap of the seat in front of him. Then he slides over closer to me.

My breath hitches from the intense look he gives me. His hand grazes my leg and he squeezes my thigh. “Tell me Treva, are you trying to take it back?” Ronin is turned towards me and I feel like a mere shadow in his wake. He moves even closer—so close that I can feel his warm breath. His masculine scent engulfs all of my cognitive thinking.

“Are you ignoring me, Treva?”

My eyes flash to the rearview mirror to see if his driver is paying any attention to us, feeling embarrassed by the intimate closeness.

“He won’t save you, Treva. I pay his salary.”

“It … it was just an endearment, you know like, honey, sugar, babe.” I say.

“I don’t believe you. I think it was more than just an endearment.”

Before he can say anymore, I grab the front of his shirt, pull him toward me as I lean against him and plant a kiss to his glorious lips. I lick my tongue over his smooth lips and then push it into his mouth. I let out a sigh or probably more like a moan.

“Just what I thought,” he says with his mouth on mine.

I let go of his shirt and breathe deeply as I sit back in my seat. My head is spinning. The vibrations in my head pound against my temples. I want this fairy tale to be real, but my body knows better. My phone rings … interfering with my thoughts. I dig it out of my purse and notice it’s that Montana number. I answer it, maybe this time this creeper will reply, but there is nothing—nobody says anything. I wait for a moment to see if anyone responds to my hellos, but the only sound I hear is a long sigh.

“Who was that?” Ronin asks eyeing me suspiciously.

“I don’t know, it’s a Montana number but, I don’t recognize it. They have been calling me for the past week, and when I answer they don’t say anything … just breathing and sighs. It’s probably just a wrong number or some kid screwing around, but it’s starting to irritate me.”

“Here, let me see.” Ronin reaches for my phone and I look at him confused.

“Really it’s no big deal.” I say. “I’ll figure it out, or block the number.”

“Hmmm.”

Thank god we pull up to our destination, because Ronin is adding to my already freaked out mood over the odd phone call.

We are dropped off on a street that is lined with all kinds of shops. People are bustling all over, probably rushing to get their last minute shopping done, just like Ronin and I.

I try to push the memories of the phone call out, climbing onto the sidewalk. I haven’t given too much thought about what I want to get Seth. I think I should get him something nice, but I better throw in a gag gift just to keep it real. And Becca, who knows? I guess I’ll just keep my eyes open and hopefully something will present itself.

Ronin and I wander down the sidewalk looking into the different shops, but nothing has really popped out. Suddenly, a dimly lit shop with strangely clothed mannequins gets my attention.

“Let’s go in here.” I point out the store to Ronin.

Ronin looks at me and then asks, “Are you sure?”

“Yes I’m sure. Come on pussy.”

I push open the tinted doors and walk up a little ramp in the entry way into a large room filled with racks of clothing and all sorts of interesting gadgets and thingamabobs. A sales clerk sees us walk in and comes over to greet us.

“Hello welcome to ‘Miss Kitties’. We are having a sale on most of our items; our dildos are thirty percent off and the racks along that wall,” she points behind us, “are seventy percent off on all apparel. My name is Kat, if you have any questions, just give me a shout.”

“Thanks Kat.” I say with a smile.

“And who exactly are we shopping for in here?” Ronin menacingly asks in my ear.

“Maybe me.” I walk by a rack of clothing and grab a metallic blue skirt that probably should be worn as a belt. I hold it up to my waist swaying my hips back and forth. “What you think?”

I smile when I see Ronin swallow hard.

“Well Miss Stone, I wont disagree … that little skirt would look good on your sweet sexy ass, but it will have to be worn only in the privacy of you and me.”

I giggle and put the skirt back on the rack. I gawk at some of the clothes and some of the odd sexual tools that I have never seen before. I joke with Ronin about how some of them might be used, but am surprised at his knowledge on some of the weird contraptions as he explains them to me.

In the back right corner of the shop, I see a few large boxes filled with blow up companions and I make a decision—that is exactly what I need to get Seth. I pick out a lovely brunette that is anatomically correct, and take it up to the checkout counter.

Ronin has some items in his arms that he decides to purchase, but he won’t show them to me. “This is for later,” He takes the shopping bag and winks at me. “And what about your purchase? Will she be joining us later?”

I crinkle my nose and punch him in the arm, “No, this is for Seth, but I still need to find something more serious for him.”

“I’m not sure if this helps or not, but he was coveting my wine cooler. Maybe he would like one of his own.”

“Yeah that sounds nice; maybe I could put a bottle in it for him too.”

“Come on, I know a place.”

Ronin opens the door to the appliance store for me like a gentleman. We meander around the refrigerators until we find what we are looking for. They have a large variety of coolers to choose from—small, medium, large and larger … looking like a refrigerator, “holy hell, you’d really have to like wine to have something this big.” I mumble.

I catch Ronin shrugging his shoulders and I immediately regret what I said, because knowing him, he has the type you walk into.

“May I help you find something?” A woman says as she walks up to us from behind.

I spin around and I see a nicely dressed brunette wearing a grey pencil skirt and a white lacey shirt. She doesn’t even look at me. Instead, she stares at Ronin. Her eyes almost seem to sparkle while eyeballing him. Ronin tells her what we’re searching for and she makes several gestures with her hand to touch his arm.

“Will you and your wife want a simple on the countertop type, or something for more of a collection?”

I can tell she’s fishing to know if Ronin and I are married, are we a couple or whatever. I tell her straight out, “Oh no, we’re not married. We’re just friends. I’m looking for a gift for my brother.”

I see her eyes flit with hope.

“Oh, darling now you know there is more to our relationship than just friendship. Truthfully, I see many long, happy days in our future.” Ronin wraps his arm tightly around my waist as I am taken aback by his words. My heart almost skips a beat. I look up at him … lost in his green eyes. I am drawn to his lips, and I stand on my toes so that I can reach my mouth to his. He’s like a candy store; every thing about him is a treat to me. My heart melts as our lips meet. His strong arms holding me so tightly; I couldn’t fall if I wanted to.

We’re wrapped up and into each other for a while, and then I realize where we are. I slowly pull away from him and look at the clerk whose trying to stare off into space like she’s paying no attention.

I smile at Ronin and am rewarded with his million dollar smile. I turn to the clerk, “I’d like to find a countertop wine chiller.”

“Of course, right this way.”

I find one that isn’t the smallest, but in my price range. The tag says its $299.00. I am far from rolling in the dough, but I still have a little cash left from the boys losing their money to me when we were playing pool the other night. The clerk gets a guy to wrap the wine chiller while I pay for it … Ronin carries it to the car.

Bending over to get into the car, Ronin slaps me hard across the ass. “HEY!” I yell. Then I get and sit down. “You’re in trouble.” I hiss.

“GOOD, I look forward to you punishing me.” Ronin says as he scoots in next to me and covers my scowl with kisses. I hear a faint buzz and Ronin is still laughing when he lifts his hips up to dig into his pocket to get out his phone. I see his face transform instantly. The color leaves his face, and his muscles seem to tighten up … something has him upset.

“Work?” I ask, wondering what could cause such a change in his attitude ... again. “I thought you took the week off?”

“I did,” he says through gritted teeth, “But sometimes it never ends.” He exhales rather sharply.

I just nod, not wanting to pry. “I’m sure that when I start my residence, I’ll be pulled in and doing the same thing.” I smile warmly, trying to bring back the soft less-edgy side of him.

“What got you interested in medicine anyway?”

Again, he suddenly changes the conversation which I am very grateful for, but a deep seeded apprehension starts to build in my chest. I’m beginning to feel like I am missing a very important clue to some mystery that I’m not sure if I want to know about.

“Now hold up just a minute,” I quickly back flash to avoid discussing my personal life with Ronin. I’m still not sure how much I want to tell him; talking about my reasons for medical school might give him too much information and send our conversation on a downward spiral. “If I remember correctly, we were going to discuss you and your business endeavors before I was interrupted by a giant penis in the shower.”

Ronin’s mouth twists into that wicked smile that I’ve come to love. “Hmm, how about we play a little game; I’ll say one thing about me and then you’ll say one thing about you, and so on.” He explains, and then watches me as I ponder his suggestion.

“Okay,” I say, “That sounds fair.” The next look that he gives me causes goose bumps to rise all over my skin. My body gravitates to him in a supernatural way. I want to touch every inch of him … inside and out. I stare at him in awe, and he tilts his head in amusement as he keeps his eyes fixed on me. The car hits a bump and pulls me from my trance, “But you first.” I mumble.

He half laughs, “Alright … well as you know, my brother and I were adopted. Our adoptive parents are both Dr’s, my dad is a Neurologist and my mom is a Rheumatologist. They are the best parents. We could have never asked for a better family to be put into, but me being a jerk …”

I watch him intently as he pauses before speaking … searching for the right words. “I think I wanted to rebel against the whole world after what my father had done to my mother.”

“I stiffen, not having a single clue what he is saying. I knew that he and his brother had been adopted, but what in the hell did his father do to his mother?”

Ronin stops, probably realizing he said something that he hadn’t intended to. “Well, yeah … anyway, I was suffering more than I ever wanted to admit to anyone, so let’s just say these wonderful people who were trying so hard to help me in any way they could, got a nasty piece of me. I made their lives more than tough.” He shakes his head as the memories pour out of him.

“I skipped school, didn’t do any homework, got terrible grades, and that’s the lesser of the evils I put them through.”

He doesn’t elaborate on the more evil things—probably ashamed of the choices he had made. I can understand that though, because I am ashamed of many things in my past, and like him, I’m not ready to share that part of me with anybody.

“So, as I got closer to being done with high school I got a whim to go to culinary school.”

I shoot my eyes up at him surprised, “Culinary school?” that’s the last thing I expected him to say.

“Yeah, Yeah, Yeah don’t be hating on a guy that likes to cook.”

“On the contrary MR. Hollister, a man who can cook is HOT!” Ronin smiles at me … happy that I approve.

“Well, so I went to culinary school, but of course I have a few minor issues with authority. I didn’t work very well when I was working for someone else. I went to my parents and asked them for a loan to start-up my own restaurant. My parents were ecstatic that I had found something that interested me.”

“You opened up a restaurant?” I ask in complete shock.

Ronin shifts toward me closing the small gap between us, “I still have it too.” He winks at me. “Remember our first dinner we had together, when you arrived in San Diego?”

“The Italian one?”

He smiles so warmly at me “Ghiotto, yes the very one, and let me mention that I will never forget that evening. Watching you eat the prosciutto penne and that little black dress with those long beautiful legs. Absolutely delicious.” He hums.

My insides start doing flips from the sensual tones he is using. “You remember that night? What I was wearing and what I ate?” I ask in disbelief that this amazing god even paid a fraction of attention to me. Ronin just nods his head and pierces through me with his hypnotic eyes.

My panties dampen and before I realize what I am doing I have my seatbelt unbuckled and I am climbing onto Ronin’s lap. I squeeze him between my thighs and he digs his face into my neck. After kissing me neck, he slides his lips up to my chin.

“I also heard that I missed out on a very stunning dress at Seth’s firm’s Christmas party. If I remember correctly, it was a shimmery silver dress with only one strap and a knock out pair of bright red stilettos. I am very upset that I missed that night with you, and the thought of another man moving in on my woman really pisses me off. Don’t worry, I plan on making up for it the next time.”

My face blushes as Ronin caresses my cheeks and puts his mouth on mine. He kisses me so deeply and passionately that when he does pull back a little, I am left breathless.

Our conversation trying to learn more about each other is halted again by our heated emotions. I hadn’t even noticed that the car had come to a stop; feeling the bulge in his pants has my full attention. All I want right now is to feel him inside me. I reach down to unbutton his pants, but Ronin grabs my arm—stopping me.

“Not right now precious.” He says sounding a bit muffled because he has his mouth on mine.

I sigh heavily feeling dejected. When I look up, I remember where we are. Ronin’s driver sits in the front seat quietly, while acting like nothing fazes him. I’m instantly embarrassed, and I slide off of Ronin’s lap. I look out the window trying to find some composure. I see a huge toy store taking up at least a full-city block … probably five-stories tall.

I eye Ronin suspiciously and he gives me a warm smile, one that brightens up his entire face, “My brother’s kids.”

The toy store is a blast. We mess around with gidgets and gadgets and piss off a clerk by running through the isles playing tag. Ronin ran right into a huge display of Lego’s and knocked it down … stuff flying all over the floor. I laugh so hard, that I thought I was going to wet my pants.

“GO, GO, GO!” He yells, running past me and laughing.

We fly up the escalator and find a display of stuffed animals and hide behind a huge Teddy Bear.

“Sshhh” he puts his finger over my lips.

Instead of behaving, I move my mouth quickly and slip his finger into it and suck on it real hard. I watch his eyes become heated and instantly change into a I want to fuck you now stare.

“You are a very bad girl!”

“Mmm, hmm,” I hum in agreement.

“Come on, help me pick something out for the kids, and then I’m going to get you out of here!”

I know exactly what he is saying, so I am eager to help … or eager to get him alone somewhere. “How old are the kids anyway?”

“Jacob is 8 and Trystan is 5.”

“And what does Jacob and Trystan like?” I ask.

“I know my brother has gotten them their own computers and many other electronic devices, so to be honest I’m not quite sure what’s left.” I can see the bewilderment in his face, lost trying to find these two kids that he obviously cares for a lot, something that they would adore.

I roll my eyes, “Rich people,” I nudge him with my elbow playfully. “I got an idea.” I tell him. I grab his arm and drag him up to another level.

“Yeah this would be good.” I point down to some monstrous trucks that when sitting on the floor almost come up to our knees. “These are remote control trucks, top of the line remote control trucks,” I add, “and they should last a while.”

Ronin looks at me like I am some kind of bizarre science project, “These are genius.”

“They probably have all of the lazy sit down on their butt devices already. Let’s get them a few things that will let them be boys.” I kneel down and look at the different models on display. “I like this one.” I pull one up that’s painted a bright lime green. “Now you pick one.”

Ronin joins me on the floor as we look them over before settling on one that is black with bright orange accent colors.

“I’m sure the boys are expecting more from ‘Uncle Ronin’, so let’s go find some more stuff.” I wink at him and he leans down and gives me a soft kiss.

I find scooters, skateboards and bikes and laugh while Ronin just looks at me in wonder. “Do you want children someday?” He asks. I’m startled.

I forget the scooter that I’ve been looking at, and I turn around to look at him. “Yeah … well, someday. I just want to get my career started before I think about it … you?” I say quickly, diverting the question back to him.

“Yeah, I think I do. I just am scared that I will turn out to be a shitty father like my biological dad.”

“You won’t Ronin. You are a kind, caring person. You could never be like your biological father. For a matter-of-fact, I think you will make a wonderful father.” I feel empathy for him. I have had the same doubt in my mind about being a mother. I have had so many terrible things happen to me—I am not sure I know how to love and be a mom.

“Is he … you know … umm, is your dad still around?” I’m trying to find out as much as possible without prying.

Ronin flinches from my abrupt question, and I regret asking. Instead of ignoring me, he answers coldly, “He’s in prison.”

I nod in silence, not wanting to add any more fuel to the flame that is burning inside of him.

“I think the boys would like these,” I pick up a scooter one that’s nontraditional. The platform is different. “This is a Ripstik.” I tell him, trying to distract him. “You put your feet on it like this.” The Ripstik actually has two platforms one for each foot, and it doesn’t have a handlebar. It resembles a skateboard, but it’s not as wide. I begin to move the platforms … twisting the joint between the platforms letting it oscillate. I get some good momentum going and lose my balance and fall to the floor—banging my elbow hard against the tile.

Ronin leans over me trying to conceal his smile, “Are you ok?” He asks, sounding genuine even though, I know he wants to laugh.

I roll over rubbing my soar elbows glowering at him.

“I think the boys would love these, but I think we should get some protective gear too.” He extends his arm out to pull me up from the floor. I get up feeling silly by my not so talented Ripstick riding ability.

“Well of course silly,” I bend over and pick up the scooter that betrayed me. My phone rings distracting me from the toy. “Hey Seth, What’s up? I answer.

“Treva, where are you?” his voice sounds panicked and extremely edgy.

“I’m at some toy store with Ronin. Why, what’s wrong, Seth?” I wait listening while Seth is silent for a long time, just breathing heavily.

“Sis we need to talk … now … it’s important.”

Seth has me worried. He usually never acts this bizarre. My overactive imagination kicks in. All kinds of possibilities go through my head. Maybe Ronin is seeing someone else and Seth wants to tell me, or maybe someone in our family was hurt. Oh god No! “Please Seth what is it?” I plead.

“Treva, I just need to talk to you face to face. I’m at work right now, but I am making arrangements to take off. Let me talk to Ronin for a second.”

I look at Ronin and see his confusion mirroring my own. I hand him the phone as Seth requested. “Seth wants to talk to you.” He reaches out and takes the phone from my hand, his eyes never leaving me.

“This is Ronin.” He says sternly.

I can’t hear Seth on the other end. I have no clue what he is telling Ronin, and Ronin’s face gives nothing away. He just keeps his face in that cool non-effected manner.

“Alright we will meet you there. See you in twenty minutes.” Ronin turns my phone off and gives it back to me. “Let’s get this stuff paid for and then we’re going to meet your brother.”

Chapter 18

The coffee shop Seth had told Ronin we could meet him at, ends up not being that far away. The driver drops us off out front while he leaves to go find a place to park. I notice that Seth isn’t here as soon as we walk in. My nerves are a bundled up mess.

“Would you like some coffee, love?” Ronin asks me using the endearment I had used not that long ago. It makes butterflies flutter in my stomach hearing that word.

“Yes please.” I say in a very small voice. Ronin walks to the counter and orders two medium iced caramel coffees.

I spin around looking for a seat and notice that we are in luck. I spot a table in the far corner. Ronin and I weave through the people and take our seats. I scoot closer to him as I anxiously wait for Seth to arrive. It isn’t long before he walks in. He sees us sitting in the corner and motions to us that he is going to get a coffee first.

Seth gets his coffee and sits next to us, I can’t hold back … too anxious to know what has him so worked up for this unexpected get together. “Is everything ok Seth? You look horrible.” I notice that he looks almost green in color.

Seth looks at me and then back at Ronin—then he looks back at me again. I realize that he isn’t sure that if what he has to say should be said in front of Ronin.

“It’s ok, Ronin can stay.” I say not even knowing what Seth is about to tell me.

Seth takes a deep breath in, “Treva, I have some terrible news.”

Instinctively, I grab Ronin’s hand and squeeze it hard … needing someone to comfort me. “What happened Seth … mom … dad … Denise?” I’m about to lose my mind.

Seth shakes his head and looks away; he’s unable to look directly at me. “TELL ME SETH.” I say sternly as my stomach ties up in knots.

“He’s out Treva.” He pauses briefly.

I’m more confused. My brain doesn’t register what he is saying.

“Eric got out of prison, the same day you got here.”

My body stiffens, and I fly into panic mode hearing the awful news. Seth was right; the news was terrible.

“WHAT? … NO! … THAAT’S IMPOSSIBLE! ... BUUUT … BUT … HOW? NO SETH!” My head is buzzing as I stammer and yell to Seth. I can’t focus on anything and I feel like things are spinning out of control. If I don’t grab onto something soon, I’m going to hit the floor. I get a glimpse of Ronin and freeze. He knows nothing of my past and now it’s all being laid out for him. Tears well up in my eyes, and I cup my hands over my face not wanting him to see me like this. “I need to get out of here!” I quickly get up from my chair, almost knocking the table over. My coffee cup ends up on the floor as I head for the door.

I think I hear my name being called from somewhere behind me, but my instincts just tell me to run. I need to get as far away as possible. My heart pounds like a hammer in my chest. I’m having a hard time breathing through my sobs. The only sounds I recognize are the soles of my feet slapping against the concrete sidewalk and the hollowly echoing sound of my staggered breaths. I have no idea where I am going—I realize I have run to a part of town that I have never seen before. My pace slows and I try to calm myself … so out of breath.

My chest burns with a dull pain over my heart, but I ignore it. I stare around at the upscale neighborhood that I have stumbled into. I wish I could be in one of those homes safe from the crazy world around me. I think to myself. My heartbeat has slowed, but a deep pain is still burning inside. I rub at my chest and now my left arm feels oddly numb with a weird tingling sensation. I panic a little at the new burning sensation in my chest and arm. I have had panic attacks before—brought on by thoughts of that evil bastard, Eric—but this is unusual. I walk aimlessly towards nothing—clutching at my arm.

I hear the motor of a vehicle approaching from behind and watch as it drives by slowly. Not registering that the brake lights are on … I just keep walking.

“Treva?” A soft spoken voice says as the door of the unrecognizable vehicle opens.

“Matt,” I say through tight lips barely audible.

“What are you doing way over here?” he asks me.

“I–I … dunno,” I stammer.

I see him jump out of the red vehicle and walk up to me. “Are you ok?”

I can’t find any words to answer him. I let my head fall as the tears pour down my cheeks … shaking my head no.

“Come on, lets get you off the street sweetheart.” Matt wraps his arm around me and guides me gently to his car. He opens the door and helps me get inside.

His door slams shut, and it makes me jump in my seat. I try really hard to keep from looking at him, but I can feel him looking at me to see if there are any physical signs of me being hurt. I see all the questions in his eyes, but he doesn’t ask me anything.

“How about a drive.” He says, and I nod my head in agreement.

We sit in silence while riding. I am somewhat aware that we drive over the Coronado Bridge, and I see the bar where Seth, Ronin and I had played pool. When we go past the hotel in Coronado, everything seems to open up.

Matt pulls into a parking lot lined with white sandy beaches. I can see the waves, and they seem comforting. I rub my arm and chest absent-mindedly, and Matt notices my movement.

“Are you ok? You have been tugging and pulling at your arm the entire way here?

“I was?” I asked shocked. “To be honest I’m not sure. My chest is on fire and my arm feels kind of numb.”

“Does your family have history of heart attacks?” he asks concerned. I don’t know why I hadn’t even thought about my pain being something as serious as a heart attack. I try to rack my brain thinking about our family history, but I can’t recall anyone having heart problems. I shake my head no.

“Here try one of these.” He says while getting a pill bottle from his center console. He hands me a tiny yellow pill.

“What is it?” not wanting to take some drug without knowing what it is.

“It’s a Zanax. It helps with panic attacks and anxiety.” He shoves the pill toward me. “Trust me Treva, it will help. I’m pretty sure you’re having a panic attack.” He sounds confident. “My sister is kind of a mess. Large crowds stress her out, so my entire family keeps a stash of these just in case.”

I pop the pill in my mouth and he hands me a bottle of water. I see the relief in his face as he seems to become more relaxed. He runs his fingers though his long blonde hair and opens the door. Before I can even blink, he is at my door opening it up for me. “Come on,” he says, reaching his hand out for me.

I get out of the car, and he sweeps me up and puts me on the hood of his car. I can’t stop the squeal that escapes my lips. His eyebrows quirk up and he gives me a handsome grin. I’m not sure what he is doing until he is pulling at me shoes. I watch as he slides one of my sandals off slowly and then the other. I rest my hand on his shoulder to keep my balance, until he slowly stands up. His strong arms reach around my waist and he pulls me off the car.

“You can’t get the full experience of walking on the beach unless you are barefoot.” He says in a seductive tone.

“And what about you?” I point down to his shoes. He smiles at me again and leans down to remove his loafers.

We walk from the parking lot to the sandy beach. It’s not particularly warm out today, and the cold sand sends shivers over my arms.

“Are you cold?” He asks concerned.

“Not bad.” But before I can say another word, he takes his suit jacket off, and wraps it around my shoulders. I had been so out of it I hadn’t even noticed how Matt is dressed. He is wearing a white button down shirt with the top button undone. His bright green tie hangs undone under the collar. He’s wearing black slacks, and his jacket is the perfect match. I nuzzle into the oversized jacket feeling very comfortable. I can smell his masculine scent now nestling around me.

In a quick flick, I see his eyes gleam at my behavior. He holds my hand and we walk along the cold beach … making deep footprints in the sand.

“I’m sorry Matt.” I say apologetically.

I see his head turn towards me in confusion. “For what, Treva?”

“You’re so kind to me, and I know that I have done some hurtful things to you.” I remember when I left him hanging at the bar as Ronin ripped me away from him. “You should probably stay as far away from me as you can.” I whisper.

“And why the hell would I want to do that?”

I shake my head in shame, “I’m not a very good person, and the things from my past will push anyone away that gets too near.”

“Treva, I’m not sure about your past, but you are a strong, independent woman … and beautiful,” he trails off.

“Matt I push everyone away who tries to get close. I don’t want to ever feel the pain again that I’ve gone through; it was excruciating. Never again! I will never do it again.”

Matt stops and stands in front of me. Tears fill my eyes, because I know he has no clue about what I am talking about. I don’t know if I should let him in on my secret.

“Treva.” Matt says softly to me tucking a strand of my wavy hair behind my ear, “You don’t have to take on everything all by yourself. There are a lot of people around you who are more than willing to help.”

Tears pool up in my eyes, and I am unable to hold them back any longer. Matt leans down and kisses my forehead gently, “it’s ok to cry, I’m here.”

I’m comforted by his words, and I believe what he said—not only him, but everyone else that has been telling me that I have others that I can lean on in times like this.

I tug on his hand and twist around to start walking again. After a while, I start to tell him about my horrible, nightmare—kidnapping without sugar coating anything. I feel his hand tense up during some of the terrible things that I tell him about. Actually, I can’t believe how easy it is for me to tell him everything. I notice him glance at his phone a couple of times, but he doesn’t interrupt me as I let go of all my pent up feelings … telling him everything.

I stop talking and look around. The beach is desolate and the sunlight that we had is gone. “OH,” I say surprised. “It’s dark.”

“That Zanax must have helped.” He teases. “Come on doll, lets head back to the car. There are a lot of people wondering where you are.”

My heart aches remembering how I took off from Seth and Ronin. “They must be sick with worry,” I say feeling horrible.

“They’ll be fine, once I tell them that you’re with me and that you’re safe.” He adds.

Once we are back in Matt’s car, he leans over and gently touches my cheek. He seems to be bothered by something as he takes his phone from his pocket.

“I found her,” I hear him say. “Yes, she’s ok.” He nods at me and gives me a sexy wink.

A smile pulls at the corners of my lips, knowing at that moment that my secret is safe with him … he will protect me.

“Did I mention that Mustangs are my favorite car?” I say shyly while I rub the dash of his car.

“Really?” Matt looks at me surprised and then grins widely. “Mine too!”

He pulls out of the parking lot at the beach, and I turn the radio on. The song that blares out of the radio makes me smile and I lift my eyebrows toward Matt.

“What, you don’t like, Tool?”

“On the contrary, I love them! I saw them in concert in Billings one time. It was awesome.”

My confession makes him smile, and he reaches for the stereo to turn it up louder. When he is done fiddling with the volume, he lets his hand rest on mine … rubbing my fingers gently.

We arrive at Seth’s apartment. Again, I think about Eric, my nightmare released from prison. My whole body shifts and contorts in displeasure at the thought of that monster being free. Matt squeezes my hand in silence giving me a reassuring sign that he’s still there. Ronin’s eyes burst wide open when he recognizes Matt’s car pull up to the curb, and he runs to my door. The door flings open and Ronin has me pulled up into his arms in a breathtaking hug.

“Treva, I have been so worried about you!” He pulls away from me for a second, and frowns when he sees the jacket that I have draped across my shoulders. He takes his jacket off, and then takes mine off and replaces it with his. Matt stands as he gets out of his car, and Ronin tosses his jacket to him. “Thanks man, I got this now.”

“Treva, are you ok?” Matt asks me without looking at Ronin.

“Thank you Matt, you helped a lot!” I smile warmly at him having a twinkle of longing in my gut for him as Ronin tries to pull me away.

“If you need me, just let me know, ok.”

“Thanks Matt … I mean it,” I say while Ronin grumbles under his breath protectively.

Seth is now by my other side wrapping his arm around my waist consolingly. “Are you ok Sis?” His warm breath seeps over my neck and I feel guilty for making him worry.

“I’m good Seth. I just needed to figure out what you said to me. I needed to breathe.”

“How did you find her?” Seth asks Matt over my shoulder.

“I was on my way home and this angel somehow had wandered to my neighborhood. I just happened to drive by at the right time.”

I feel Ronin’s arms tighten around me when Matt calls me an angel. I let a smile creep out without showing my response to Mr. Overprotective and over bearing. It’s funny, but I hadn’t even thought about how Matt came upon me until now. He had come along just at the right time.

“Thank god. Thank you, bro.” Seth sighs heavily with relief.

I inhale deeply, as the aroma of Ronin fills my senses. “I’d love a shower.” I mumble numbly.

“Hey wait! Treva your shoes.” Matt runs around the car dangling my sandals from his fingers.

Seth reaches out and grabs them for me, and I sneak a grin to Matt. He winks back at me and then with a smug look he looks at Ronin.

“Get out of my way Matt,” Ronin growls.

Matt laughs and turns back towards his car, sprinting with amazing ease.

Seth, Ronin and I go up to Seth’s apartment and they bathe me with comfort.

“I’ll go start your shower.” Seth announces as he heads down the hallway.

“Do you need a glass of wine?” Ronin asks me while I sit on the couch.

I nod my head yes, “mmm, that sounds good.”

Ronin presses his lips to mine with a fierceness I have never felt before. I respond by pushing my hands through his thick russet hair. Reluctantly, he frees himself from our spellbinding kiss and goes to the kitchen.

“Red or white?” he yells over his shoulder.

“Red.”

He comes back with a glass filled to the brim with a dark burgundy colored wine and I sip on it as he kneels before me on the floor. “Treva, I have been worried sick about you. I thought I was going to have to call the police if Matt hadn’t called Seth.”

I see the worry lines on his forehead and my gut churns with guilt. My whole intentions were not to make them worry. I just needed some space. I needed to collect my thoughts. I’m not sure how my life will be now, knowing that a deranged psychopath is on the loose. My body starts trembling with a deep fear as I remember why I ran from the coffee shop in the first place.

“It’s alright. You’re going to be alright.” Ronin says soothingly trying to get my body to stop shaking.

“The shower is on.” Seth says as he comes down the hall.

Ronin doesn’t give me the chance to get to my feet he scoops me up into his arms and carries me down the hall. I lay my head on his chest feeling comforted by his warmth … so safe and secure when I’m with him. Seth must have opened the door, because Ronin doesn’t move his hands from me. The room is steamy when we step in, and I feel the movement of Ronin’s leg lifting back to push the door closed behind him. Ronin kicks off his shoes, and I expect him to put me down to undress me. Instead, he just steps into the shower with us both fully clothed. “Ronin you’re going to ruin your clothes.”

“Shh, I just need to hold you NOW. Taking off clothes would take too long,” he says letting the warm water run over us.

My eyes meet his and the way he looks soaking wet with his hair hanging soaked in his eyes is so hot. I grab him around his neck and pull his face down to meet my lips. My mouth moves eagerly against his, needing his comfort, needing his touch. Ronin lets my legs go gently, so I am able to stand. My hands find the hem of his T-shirt and I rip it over his head. His bare chest drizzling with water is the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I trace my tongue along his chest where the water runs over him, feeling every contour with purpose, and making sure to taste every inch. I want to get him etched in my mind forever.

I keep kissing his chest … licking and savoring every bit of him. I can’t stop the pull of my instincts to move lower as I slowly work my way down to his ribs and his rock hard abs. I go down even further—circling around his solar plexus, but stopping to let my tongue roam over his belly button—seductively licking it before sliding it in. Ronin grabs my hair tightly and moans. I can feel the vibrations through his abdomen, and it sends impulses of fervent passion soaring through my core. My fingers find the button on his jeans, and pull it through the opening. I look up at Ronin’s mesmerizing eyes as I find the zipper. Slowly I slide it down. His gaze his so intense, and I can feel the heat searing through me. I feel like a fire is burning deep in my belly … getting hotter by the minute. My desire is overwhelming, and I need him now. I pull at his water-drenched pants that hang heavily around his waist, eventually letting them fall to the shower floor. I tease the rim of his boxers with my tongue … slowly gliding across the elastic waist band before pulling them off.

Ronin’s amazing manhood twitches in anticipation as I grab his thickness with my hands. Slowly, I massage his huge cock with my hands. I watch it pulsate as it gets bigger and bigger. His head rocks back, and he spreads his legs farther apart trying to keep his balance while I grope him. I don’t notice if my knees are sore from the hard bathtub floor, but at the moment nothing else matters to me. The only thing that I care about right now is the man standing in front of me. I lean my face forward brushing my tongue against the tip of him—tasting the pre-cum beading on the head. I want to taste more, so I slide my lips around him and put it in my mouth. I pull and tease, letting my lips just past his sensitive head before I glide my mouth back up and over him. I flick him with my tongue, and then let my mouth glide back down over his ridges stopping just below the head of his throbbing erection. I pull back again, and hear his loud moans echoing through the steam filled shower. He places his hand to the back of my head urging me forward, but I fight back—I don’t want all of him in my mouth, “not yet,” I mumble.

His heavy sigh makes me giggle knowing how bad I am teasing him right now. I gently slide my mouth over him again repeating the torture of not letting him feel my whole mouth. I feel a deep tingling sensation between my legs while teasing him. It drives me wild knowing what I am doing to him, but I don’t know how long I can hold out. I want him to take me. I want him to numb the pain I have experienced today. I let my mouth take him all in, and I gag when he pushes it to the back of my throat. The gagging impulse turns us both on. When Ronin hears me gag, he pushes it further into my mouth. I can hardly breathe, but I want all of it. I reach my hands around to his bare ass and dig my fingernails into it … letting him push it deeper. I feel his cock jerk, I pull away—I don’t want him to shoot off yet. I inhale deeply when I back off. Ronin is breathing heavy as I watch his cock twitch violently in my face.

“Na- huh, I’m not ready for you to be done yet.” I say with a devilish stare.

“Oh my god woman you are going to be the death of me,” he says through heavy breaths.

I smile at him before I grip his thick shaft again and pull him deeply back into my mouth. I push down hard onto him and then pull back … keeping just the tip of his cock in my mouth before I go down him again, and again. Once more, I feel his cock jerking against my tongue, and I pull myself from him before he is able to finish.

“DEVIL” he yells.

Ronin grabs me under my arms and pulls me to my feet. He removes the sundress that I’ve been since leaving his house this morning. He pulls at my pink panties and tears them away from my body. He pulls my bra down allowing my breasts to burst out over the cloth pushing them up fully. Then, he cups one in his hand and leans down closing his mouth over my nipple. He sucks on it while twisting and flicking it with his tongue. I feel it harden and pucker to his touch. It’s so sensitive, and I squeal in pleasure. Ronin lets go of my breast, leaving it feeling lonely and wanton. He finds my other nipple and gives it the same treatment. He stands up looking down at me massaging both breasts with his deft hands, and making every inch of my body pulsate with sexual desire. His mouth closes over mine while my small voice hums into him. Our mouths fit together like they were custom made for each other.

“Ronin,” I pant.

The water is starting to cool off, and I feel Ronin shift around to turn it off. When he brings his hand back, he places his palm flat to my belly and then gently slides it down finding its way between my legs. He is methodically massaging my folds—feeling how slick and wet I am, and then he slides two fingers into me. The pleasure is driving me crazy. Ronin has a way to make me feel absolutely euphoric. I kiss him fervently as he pushes deeper inside, and causing a deep burning sensation to grow in my lower abdomen. I can feel that I am so close to that wonderful release. I tighten my grip on Ronin, and I pant heavily into his mouth.

“Na, huh,” he says, “I’m not ready for you to be done yet.” He stops leaving me feeling suspended with no relief.

“Ugh,” I say as I pound against his chest with my fist.

His beautiful smile lightens up his entire face, even reaching to his eyes. Ronin grips my waist and pulls my legs around his hips. I tighten my grip by locking my ankles together and he balances me by grabbing under my ass cheeks. He slowly pulls me onto him. My head falls back and I gasp from the unfathomable fullness that now replaces his fingers. Ronin lifts me, rocking me upwards and then downwards onto his swollen cock, pulling and pushing more aggressively with each thrust. My body responds to him—letting his vastness extend to the very depths of me. Not one of my overly-sensitive tissues remains untouched. A rumbling force is unleashed as Ronin penetrates so deeply that I’m unable to contain it. He reacts to my tightening muscles. I can feel how easy it is for him to push into me with how slick I am between my legs.

“Treva, holy shit woman, you drive me absolutely insane.”

Ronin nuzzles his face into my neck and leaves a trail of kisses down to my collar, making me pant even heavier than I already am. I grip my hands tighter against his strong muscular back, and tighten the squeeze of my legs to keep me from slipping from him. Ronin never slows his thrusts, and he just pushes harder when he feels my legs wrap tighter around him. His breathing is so heavy. Every time he breathes, I feel the muscles in his back tighten.

The building force is back … tenfold in my lower abdomen, and making me strain. I try to hold onto the feeling, but it wants freed, “RONIN!” I yell with extreme pleasure—when my eyes meet his, he growls loudly thrusting harder and slower as he vigorously releases his built up tension.

He relaxes his taught muscles in his arms and let’s go of my legs so that I can straighten and stand. I feel so wobbly. I grab onto the edge of the shower to keep my balance.

“Treva, what are you doing to me?” Ronin asks quietly shaking his head in defeat.

“Good sex will do that to you.” I tease.

Ronin kisses the top of my head and graces me with his drop-dead-gorgeous smile. Then, he turns the shower back on. I savior the hot water pouring over us—trying to enjoy this moment before the reality of Eric starts to creep back into my mind.

After our shower Ronin wraps a towel around his waist, making it almost impossible for me to concentrate on anything, but his remarkable sexy body. He follows closely behind me as I dart to the spare bedroom. I find a pair of yoga pants and a tank top to put on. The comfort clothes will help me relax. Ronin hops onto the bed, letting his towel slide from his finely trimmed hips. I stare in disbelief as he lies on his side with one hand tucked under his head watching me. My breaths increase, and I find myself unable to move. I just stare at his well sculpted body.

“Come here Treva,” he demands.

I just nod in compliance and climb onto the bed next to him. I curl up next to his warm body and find it compellingly comforting.

“Crap!” I yell.

“What is it?” Ronin grabs me and turns me toward him.

“I forgot about your Christmas party tonight. We missed it.” I sigh dismally.

“It’s ok. I was much too worried about you to worry about a Christmas party. Besides, there will be plenty of those to attend in the future.”

“But … I feel bad. And I wrecked it for you.” I say feeling completely trounced.

“It’s really not a problem, Treva. Now stop worrying and just relax.”

I try to let everything go as I snuggle up tightly against his hard, yet extremely comforting chest. I feel overwhelmed by everything, and I just want it all to go away. I let the heat from Ronin permeate through my skin and I feel my body relaxing. After a while, I doze off.

Chapter 19

I stretch my arms out and realize that I’m all alone in the spare bedroom. I turn to look at the clock, not having any idea what time it is, 7:45. Wow, I can’t believe I’ve slept so long. It seems like only a matter of minutes since I snuggled up to Ronin. I kick the blankets off that I don’t remember having ever pulled up, and free my legs to swing off the bed. I need to use the bathroom. When I’m about to open the door of the bedroom, I stop when I hear men’s voices coming from down the hallway.

“Seth, how can I help? I feel so drawn to her, and I want to help her through this.“”

“Did she ever tell you what happened?” I hear Seth ask.

“No, not yet.” I can hear the strain in Ronin’s voice as he answers Seth’s question.

“Like I said before dude, it’s her story to share. Once she trusts you enough to tell you about it, then you will know you’ve won her heart.”

“Then Seth, how do I help, not knowing what I’m helping with? How can I do anything to help her when I don’t know what she needs? Throw me a bone here.”

“Ronin, I honestly don’t know how to help. All I can tell you is, Treva’s worst nightmare was released from prison a week ago … we all might lose her, now.”

“Over my dead body!” I hear the anger in Ronin’s voice, and a deep pain inside starts to ignite because I’ve hurt everybody.

I can’t bring myself to open the door to the bedroom, tears start pouring down my face, a gazillion thoughts push into my brain, remembering Eric. Will he come looking for me? Will I be safe in Helena? How could this have happened? He was supposed to be in prison for twenty-three more years. My phone bings and I’m scared to look at it. What if he knows my number? What if he knows I’m in California and he saw the pictures the paparazzi took of me and Ronin together? I edge closer to the end table to grab my phone. I fumble with it before I look at my screen. I take a deep breath in, and tell myself I’m being ridiculously paranoid before I look at the caller information.

Hey T I miss you tons

Come home soon!!!

-B-

Eric’s face flashes in the back of my mind, and the thought of him being on the loose twists at my guts. I lean forward and vomit in the small trash can Seth has in the room. He is looking for me. I know he is. What if he goes to the house and Becca is there alone? What would he do to her? I try to pull myself together thinking about Becca being all alone.

Don’t ask questions

GET THE HELL OUT OF THERE

Find a safe place to stay

Love you

-T-

Send

I compose myself and go back to the door to join the men in the living room, when I hear Ronin’s strong authoritative voice—right beyond the door.

“Yes, Eric Manchester. No, I’m not sure yet … I might want to take care of this personally.” I hear a brief pause before he speaks again. “JUST FIND HIM, I DON’T CARE. Take the jet, drive, fly by flapping your arms. I don’t give a fuck just get it done, and contact me as soon as you have any leads.”

He must have hung up because I don’t hear him talking anymore. I’m not sure if it’s safe to open the door and I don’t want him to know I was listening in on his conversation. I hesitate when I hear something right at the bedroom door.

In a soft tone Ronin says, “Honey, what did that creep do to you?”

His soft voice brings more tears to my eyes. Finally, making me realize how much he cares about me. I hear soft foot steps walking away. I listen carefully to make sure the way is clear. I poke my head out of the hall and dart straight for the bathroom.

I look at myself through puffy red eyes and pinch my arm. Damn it, I’m not dreaming. This whole thing would make me laugh if it had all been just another one of my nightmares. It just doesn’t seem quite fair that certain people, no matter what they do, always seem to get the short end of the stick. Seriously … how the hell does someone like Eric; get out of prison after kidnapping and raping someone for two years repeatedly? I feel like I’m visiting hell again, and I’m not sure that I can survive another trip.

I pat my eyes with cool water to try to calm the inflammation and stiffen my shoulders. I don’t want Ronin to think I’m weak. I leave the bathroom and head for the kitchen. Before I’m even down the hallway, Ronin is collapsing into me—squeezing me tightly. “How did you sleep?”

“I think pretty well, until I woke up alone.” I pout at him with an exaggerated extended lip.

“You were sleeping so sound this morning, and I didn’t want to wake you. I wanted you to get as much sleep as possible.”

“Thanks,” I say.

“Are you hungry?”

I shake my head no, “Not yet, but I do need some coffee.”

The three of us sit on the couch comfortably all sipping on coffee. Neither of the guys are returning to the subject I had eavesdropped on earlier. I can feel the tension in the room though, and I am very sure they are well aware of it.

“Can you believe today is Christmas Eve? What do you think Seth, Santa going to bring you what you want? Or have you been a bad boy?” Ronin asks trying to lift our spirit.

“Actually, I got it. My favorite person in the whole world came to see me.” Seth smiles at me and warms my cold broken soul. “And you, Treva?” Seth nudges me softly with his elbow, “do you think Santa will bring you what you want?”

“I doubt it,” I say roughly. “I want that fuckers head on a platter.”

Ronin and Seth glance quickly back and forth between each other. Then I feel Ronin lean down and his warm lips kiss the top of my head.

“What do you guys have planned for this evening?”

Seth looks at Ronin and shrugs his shoulders and then looks at me curiously, “Any plans sis?”

I hadn’t thought too much about doing dinner on Christmas Eve, and I realize we didn’t or haven’t bought anything to fix a Christmas dinner. I just shake my head at Seth. “I’m sorry I didn’t make preparations for dinner.” I say ashamed for not thinking of it.

“You both are coming with me to my brother’s for dinner.”

“Oh, no we can’t impose like that.” I argue.

“You won’t be imposing my love. My family will love you. I wanted to introduce you to my brother anyway, he’s an orthopedic surgeon.”

“What? Really?” I ask in disbelief, hearing that his brother is in the exact field I want to get into.

I watch as Ronin pulls his phone from his pocket and pushes a few buttons. “Hey Brock, I’m bringing two guest for dinner tonight. One of them is very important to me and I want you and Mel and the boys to meet her.” His mouth curves into the sexiest smile as he stares down at me while rubbing his hand over my cheek soothingly. “Hope I’m not imposing.” Ronin lifts the receiver out so I am able to hear the other voice respond, “No problem; the more the merrier. Mel wants to do dinner about five o’clock so maybe if you want to show up about four.”

“Sounds perfect, we’ll be there.”

Ronin gives both Seth and I a smug look like he is saying … see I told you so, but he doesn’t need to say the words. He just wraps his arm around me pulling me for a big hug. “I might need some help wrapping those awesome gifts we bought the boys. I suck at wrapping presents.”

٭٭٭

I have no idea what Ronin is doing, but I see that spark in his eyes indicating he is up to something mischievous. Most likely, it has to do with some sort of erotic sensual fantasies. Leave it to him to come up with some kind of side tracker.

“Bend over facing the wall and put your palms flat on the bed.”

Heat ascends in my face by his demanding manner. The silver dress I am wearing is so short, and it’s even shorter with the extra height from my five inch, bright red stilettos. The added height makes me have to bend over further to reach the bed, and when I do, the hemline of my dress rises revealing the cheeks of my ass.

“Spread your legs.”

His voice is even more commanding than before with just those three words. My legs quiver in anticipation not knowing what he has planned.

“MMM, you’re absolutely delicious Treva. I can’t take my eyes off you.”

My stomach flips from Ronin’s words. I feel like I’ve been bent over forever waiting, and my patience is growing thin. I feel Ronin push my overly short dress up and over the curve of my ass.

“SHIT TREVA, NO PANTIES?”

A devilish grin pulls at the corners of my lips remembering. I hadn’t put any on in case I had the opportunity to tease Ronin.

I groan when Ronin cups my very hot and ready sex. His fingers rub my hard nub and I reflexively push my hips back to meet his hand.

“Always so eager, Miss Stone.”

“MMM HMM,” is all I am able to get out.

I hear Ronin chuckle deeply and then he thrusts two fingers between my folds making my knees tremble from the pleasure. Instead of pulling them out, I feel his fingers twist and turn deep inside of me.

“I love your tight pussy, Treva. This …” He squeezes me, “pleases me so much. Don’t forget who it belongs to.” He says the last part aggressively, and pushes his fingers even deeper … possessing and claiming me.

“Who does this belong to?” Ronin asks predatorily.

“You,” I whimper.

“That’s right baby, Mine.”

Ronin’s magical fingers have me on the brink of a heavenly orgasm. He must realize it because he quickens his motion and rubs his thumb over my highly sensitive clit. “Does that feel good baby?”

“Yes Ronin, yes!” I think I’m agreeing with him, but I might be just saying yes because the pure pleasure is taking over all of my senses. “I am so close. RONIN!” I scream his name as my orgasm reaches its threshold, and explodes like firecrackers with residual sparks showering down.

I try to stand, but Ronin presses his hand to my back pinning me to my position. “Stay there,” he demands.

My legs are weak and wobbly from standing in this position and not to mention the mind blowing orgasm I just had … still leaking down the inside of my thighs. Ronin rustles with something while I continue to splay myself wide open, bent over the bed. I feel his warm hand touch my sensitive sex, and then I feel something cold pressing against my vulva. As quickly as I feel the cool hard object, it’s just as quickly inserted between my folds. Ronin’s warm hand leaves my wanting pussy and then again I feel it between my legs and another cold hard object pushes into me. Ronin abruptly smacks my wet pussy and I gasp from the erotic sting.

“Stand up.”

I try to push myself back from the bed—curious and hyper aware of my now very full pussy. Ronin grabs my waist and helps me up. I am very grateful, because every limb on my body feels numb. When I feel steady, I turn and look at Ronin waiting for an explanation, but he just smirks at me.

“Are you ready to go? We have a dinner we need to get to.” His smile widens even more as he announces our need to go.

Now, I am even more curious. I know that he slipped something into my ultra tenacious sex, but he is hiding something from me. I am pretty sure he is not going to give me an explanation. Unaware of some deep down secret he’s hiding, I turn to walk to the door. “OH,” I moan.

The second I begin to walk, a sensation I have never felt in my life tingles every nerve leading to my erotica zone, stimulating me to the very core. I take another step and feel whatever it is inside me gliding over every piece of soft tissue. I want to scream out … so loud. It’s almost too much to handle. Ronin must sense my apprehension and steps up behind me.

“You’re going to wear those all night,” he whispers into my ear.

“But Ronin, we’re having dinner …” I move slightly, and squirm against the amazing sensation buried deep inside of me … I am able to finish what I am saying. I see the amusement in his eyes. “You’re EVIL.” I hiss. “Maybe I should put panties on now. These things might plop out at dinner and then I’d be mortified.”

Ronin bursts out laughing, “It makes it more fun knowing you don’t have anything on under that lovely garment.”

“And what happens if I sneeze and something happens to fly out?”

“Treva, don’t be ridiculous those tight muscles you have will keep them nice and tightly stored.”

I can’t help myself, and I roll my eyes at him. I feel him behind me as I go into the living room, but I don’t want to let him know how much these things are affecting me. Walking just to the living room is a feat in itself. This is going to be a long night.

I can’t seem to make my body stop shaking from my hyped up nerves as we all sit in the back of the limo on our way to Ronin’s family’s home. All the presents for his nephews are wrapped and in the trunk, and Ronin seems to be on some super extreme high smiling broadly, obviously ecstatic to be on our way to see the kids.

I had decided to wear the silver sequined dress I had worn for Seth’s Christmas party, since Ronin hadn’t got to see it. We had been interrupted before I had the opportunity to find something else to wear for the second party we never attended. I’m starting to feel like my choice of clothing might have been the wrong one, however, as I sit here with the hem line ebbing up to almost indecency, and the material barely hiding a secret tucked deep between my folds.

“Just to let you know, that dress will only be worn again under my supervision. No wonder why Matt couldn’t keep away from you that night.”

My nerves are shot right now, probably due to these things bumping together in my sex keeping me on the verge of orgasm, but not quite bringing it all the way to head. The last thing I need is some over bearing man thinking he can control my wardrobe. I glare at him, “Weird I was just thinking I might have to add this to my weekly attire at school. I think some of my fellow students would highly appreciate it.” Ronin’s happy go lucky smile that he has been wearing all day quickly evaporates when he hears the words escape my lips. On the contrary, my smile widens.

“I bet they would,” he grumbles.

Ronin sits back and diverts his attention from me, looking out his window, and that stupid feeling of remorse slides down my throat like a thick black sludge making it hard to swallow. I shouldn’t be so harsh, I just hate being told what I can and can’t do. I know … I don’t know Ronin that well, but I do know well enough that he didn’t become Mr. Richie rich and all powerful by sitting back letting it come to him. No he took control. I should clarify … he takes control, and that’s not going to change with me either. I let out a deep sigh and slide my hand over his thigh. The warmth of his leg radiating through his trousers is comforting. “I’m sorry,” I whisper to him, “I won’t wear this outside your supervision.” I say complying with his wishes.

“Treva,” he says my name quietly and seductively causing goose bumps to jump to life. “You’re mine, and I don’t want any other creep to think he has the rights to gaze upon your perfect body. If anyone even thinks about looking at you, I’ll tear his eyes out.”

The way he says the last part sends a shiver of ice up my spine, knowing that he means every word he is saying.

“Yours huh?” I ask.

“Yes, MINE.”

“We’re going to have to discuss this possessiveness at some point.” I say through a fake plastered smile trying to give the illusion that I am in a joking mood, but I’m not. I am dead serious about his controlling demeanor.

“There’s nothing to talk about. It’s all pretty cut and dry. You’re mine and no one else can have you … period.”

Not wanting to talk about this right now in front of Seth, or on the way to Ronin’s family’s house for a Christmas party, I let it go.

“WAIT!” It suddenly hits me that we are going to someone’s personal home for a meal, and I haven’t brought anything with. I was raised much better than that.

Both Ronin and Seth look at me—startled by my abrupt exclaim.

“We need to stop at a store so I can grab some flowers or wine for your sister-in-law.”

Ronin lifts his eyebrows at me and twists his lips into a half grin/ half grimace.

“It’s rude not to bring something as a guest.” I say.

“Fine, Malcolm will you please stop at Philippe’s Market?”

“Of course sir,” he responds.

The privacy barrier between the driver and us is down, and even though we are sitting on the farthest seat from him, I catch a glimpse of Malcolm winking at me in the rearview mirror.

The car comes to a stop and when Malcolm gets out and opens up the door, I see an older brick building maybe four stories high. It has an awning covering a door that’s cattycorner towards the streets. It’s just a little market, but it should be just fine to find something to take to dinner. I slide out of the car and Ronin starts to scoot across the bench seat to follow me. “I’ll be right back, no need for all of us to go in.” Ronin lets out a growl and I let out a laugh, “I promise I’ll be fine. It’ll only take me two seconds.”

I fly into the market, alone, as fast as I can with the five inch red stilettos hindering my fluid movement, and not to forget those objects pushing against me with every slight movement I make. The store surprisingly has a huge wine selection for it being so small. It dawns on me, and that’s probably why Ronin suggested this market. I look over all the bottles feeling less confident now. I thought I would only have to choose between a few selections, and now I’m flabbergasted by all of my choices. I don’t even know what I am looking for. I am the farthest away of ever being a wine connoisseur. I notice a nice looking older gentleman with a nice suit also browsing the wines.

I clear my throat with a less than attractive sound, “uh huh umm … sir.” I say bumbling with my words, “You look like a man that knows wine. Would you, or could you possibly recommend something for a girl who has to meet strangers that probably know a lot more about wine than she does?”

His eyes illuminate, and a brilliant smile shows his teeth. “Of course, anything to help an attractive lady.”

His compliment makes me blush, but I don’t turn away.

“Well, let’s see. Hmm.”

I watch him intently looking over the bottles and I see the flecks of grey hair lightly entwined near his temples. He is a very handsome man even though he is slightly older.

“Yeah, here we go. I would probably go with this,” he says.

The gentleman turns around and hands me a pale blush bottle with a gold label reading; Pinot Noir. I eye it not knowing the difference between this bottle now in my hand or a White zinfandel, Merlot or whatever else kind there is.

“Thank you so very much.”

“My pleasure Miss. I hope you have a wonderful holiday.” He adds.

I take the bottle and find a rack of fresh flowers where I am able to pick up a lovely bouquet with an assortment of flowers in green and red holiday colors. I wait patiently as another patron gets their items rung up, and I notice the novelty key chains displayed. I laugh when I see the whole collection is zombie themed; brains, bones, a full zombie body, and a heart that lights up and beats when you squeeze it. When I see the heart, it gives me an idea and I grab it. After I pay, I shove the keychain in my purse, before I get back into the car.

“That took you forever.” Ronin makes sure to say.

“Oh don’t exaggerate I’m sure you and Seth were just fine.”

Seth laughs and nods while lifting a glass of an amber colored drink at me.

“Already?” I mouth to him.

“So what did you get?” Ronin asks. I hand him the bottle and he lifts it to look at the label. He nods his head in approval, “Good choice.”

“To be honest I wish I could say I picked it out all on my own, but …” I look at Ronin’s searing eyes, “I had a little help.” Ronin’s eyebrows lift and he tilts his head to the side waiting for me to continue. “Yes a very kind gentleman was more than willing to give me his opinion.”

“You’re not allowed to go anywhere by yourself anymore.” He shifts, looking uncomfortable and then elbows me playfully, but I know he’s being dead serious.

“It’s not very becoming when you distort your face like that.” I point out.

Seth starts laughing and Ronin’s tense grimace lightens up. I like this Ronin, the playful relaxed Ronin. He is way too young to be so serious all of the time. I know that the life he was handed, when he was younger, wasn’t the kindest, and some deal with their demons in their own ways. Hell, look at me! I am far from the perfect trail of life. I jumped off and started forging ahead in my own direction; cutting, slashing and pushing anything down that stood or stands in my way. When are you ever going to learn to trust someone, Treva? I ask myself.

The light pressure of Ronin squeezing my hand it almost seems like he can read my mind, and that he knows exactly how I am feeling, giving me a silent reassurance of hope. My eyes trace every inch of his face. I want to remember every line, every minute marking; the way his nose flares lightly when he is relaxed—the perfect indent under his nose, those beautiful lips, the stubble growing over his perfectly chiseled cheeks, jaw and chin, and his eyes! I can’t forget those eyes. I have only a little over a week left here, and I make a mental drawing to imprint his beauty into my memory forever. I reach my hand out and touch his ear. His skin is so unbelievably soft. Ronin closes his eyes and leans into my touch, moaning softly.

“Whoa, now! I’m in the car, you know.”

I giggle, “I’m sorry Seth.”

“It just suddenly got real hot in here and I’d rather not see you guys losing any of your clothing to … cool off.”

I roll my eyes at him, and shift on the seat, immediately regretting it. I feel a twinge of heat boil up deep in my groin. My skin feels heated and I want to roll down the window to reprieve the burning skimming over my entire body.

“Just saying.” He says throwing his hands in the air.

I don’t make any quick come back, trying to focus my breathing from my arousal. I see Seth give me a bizarre look from his seat directly across from me. I try to sit still and not move, but every bump in the road is accentuated, and it makes me want to scream out in pleasure.

Ronin stays quiet as Seth and I banter back and forth. He just looks amused in his sexy black slacks and his white button down dress shirt. Of course, the top two buttons are undone. It’s making me come undone. I want to rip the rest of the buttons open and feel his gorgeously tight muscles flinch while I run my fingers over them. I have to pry my eyes away before clothes are flying. Looking out the window trying to find a distraction, I see that the scenery has changed. There is a lot more open space and the homes don’t seem to be right on top of each other. I see a few signs indicating Winery’s in various directions and see the fields of vineyards along the hillsides.

“That’s my brother’s house up there.” Ronin points to a beige stucco house that looks very moderate in size from our current location. The driveway we turn onto reminds me of Anne of Green Gables with huge trees lining both sides of the road giving the illusion of a gateway to heaven. Once through ‘The gateway’, it opens up revealing a beautiful home with the bottom half artfully done with stone and the top with the beige stucco I saw from the road below. Large picture windows look out over the valley we had just come from, and I imagine the view from inside is breath-taking. Malcolm drives around in the circular driveway coming to a stop just in front of the grand entrance. Two massive pillars are placed on either side of the doorway holding up a balcony that is probably extending from someone’s bedroom. I’m in complete awe from the home’s exquisiteness.

“Do you like their home?” Ronin chuckles in my ear.

“Is it that obvious?”

He nods his head with the stupidest grin on his face.

“Yeah, I guess its okay.” I say jokingly, when in fact I have never been to a house so magnificent.

“Come on.” Malcolm opens the back door and Ronin slides out and offers me his hand.

When I get out, I pull on my dress nervously and grab my stomach trying to calm the overactive butterflies making me nauseous from amped up anxiety. I’m not sure why I am so nervous to meet Ronin’s family, but I could bolt and run if I wasn’t wearing these death trap shoes.

“What’s the matter peanut?” Ronin is way too attuned and notices my fidgeting.

“What if they don’t like me?” I say, realizing my fear as I say it out loud.

“Treva, they will love you, now stop worrying.” I look at him not convinced or feeling any better. “All that really matters,” he continues, “is the fact that I like you.”

His arrogance makes me smile. He’s right though. I don’t need these people to like me. I don’t even live here. I live in Helena, Montana twelve hundred miles away, and I shouldn’t have to fear ever running into them again, since there is no chance in hell that we travel the same circles. I let my hands fall to my side, straighten my back so I am standing taller, and ready to face the family behind the door.

“Hey Trev, check that out.” I’m not sure what Seth is pointing at until I see a small frog figurine on the steps. I look at Seth and bust out laughing.

“No way! Do you remember how that old woman thought she was going crazy?”

“Hell yeah, that was hilarious. I would make sure to move it in the morning before school. Brian would move it somewhere else in the afternoon, and you and I would move it again in the evening.”

Seth is bent over laughing hysterically, and tears are almost ready to spill over my eyes when I notice Ronin staring at us like we are the ones who are crazy.

“Dude, this crazy old cantankerous woman lived down the street from us. She was obsessed with her frog figurine that looks identical to that one.” Seth points at the frog again, “and Treva and I made it our mission to make her crazy over the damn thing. We moved it all over her yard. One time I put it in her huge women undies she had hanging on the clothes line to dry. It was a blast. We did it until Treva was kidn …” Seth stops mid-sentence and looks at me with apologies written all over his face.

My face distorts and I know he didn’t mean to bring that up. I had endured terrible things with Eric, but it hadn’t just affected me when he kidnapped me. That bastard had taken something from Seth too. I place my hand on his shoulder lovingly, “its ok big brother. I wonder if the old bat still has that thing,” sweeping in with a comment to divert the awkwardness.

“The last time I was at mom’s I had thought about doing a little recon, but I forgot by the time I left.” Seth says menacingly.

“Ok next time you’re in Helena we have a mission to undertake.” I assure him.

The door flings open taking us by surprise, “I thought I heard voices out here.” A nice looking man with very similar features to Ronin opens the door.

“Brock!” Ronin reaches out and shakes his brother’s hand, “This is Treva, and I believe you have met Seth.”

Brock shakes Seth’s hand because he is closer and then he steps over the threshold and comes and gives me a very open armed hug. “Oh, hi,” I say.

“Welcome to our home, come on, come inside.” Ronin places his hand at the small of my back pushing me in the door behind his brother.

Chapter 20

The inside of the house is so warm and inviting. An amazing metal art piece hangs in the large foyer and when I step a little closer, I notice that it’s a water fountain trickling water softly over the multicolored layered metal pieces. “This is beautiful,” I say reaching out and running my fingers gently through the water.

“Don’t look at me. My wife does all of the decorating.”

I turn and grin widely at Brock. His demeanor is so much more relaxed than Ronin. Ronin must be the older of the two—his uptight-control-the-world personality screams older sibling. Even though both of them had a horrible incident when they were younger, it seems that Ronin took the brunt of it. Ronin smiles at me and grabs my hand leading me into the foyer. I’m not sure if I should take my shoes off, but I notice Ronin keeps his on. That makes me feel a little more comfortable leaving mine on too.

I don’t want to be creepy and peek at other people’s things, but I can’t help myself. I sneak a quick peek in one of the first rooms we come to. I notice the large dark wood desk and books lining the walls—all the way to the ceiling on dark bookshelves built into the walls—and I’m guessing the ceiling is probably at least 13 feet high. There has to be thousands of books in there. I love to read, and I pause briefly at the door yearning with jealousy.

“Do you like libraries?” Ronin asks me quietly.

I nod my head and look at his face studying me. His smile is so full and it warms my heart. He tugs on my hand and I start to move slowly. Following him, I realize that Seth and Brock are already gone.

The pressure against my extremely wet pussy from the movement causes my breath to hitch and a light moan escapes my lips. Ronin knows all too well, why the change of my breathing, but he is an evil sexual predator and moves me along the hall smirking to himself along the way.

“Paybacks are a bitch,” I almost whisper.

“I’d be intrigued to see how you would punish me,” he says back ruefully.

The alluring smell of food waifs through the hallways reminding me why we’re here, you can do this, I coax myself. We round the corner and walk into a most absolute beautiful kitchen. The cabinets are a deep cherry color, smooth with no design, the countertops are granite in a light tan shade flecked with black and white shimmering pieces sparkling like stars, all the appliances are stainless steel, an island in the middle of the floor has a six burner gas stove with a flat grill and a giant hood vent hanging over the island. The counters are spacious and off to the left, one counter extends making a breakfast bar that could fit six people comfortably overlooking the casual dining area.

A small petite blonde woman in a black fitted dress is standing at the sink with her back to us. “Hey sis, it smells absolutely delicious in here.”

Ronin pulls me forward by the hand and walks over to the woman. He gives her a quick embrace and then turns back in my direction, “Mel, this is Treva Stone,” he introduces me so formally.

Mel looks at me and beams with delight, “welcome, Treva, we’re so happy to meet you!” Her smile is genuine and very reassuring. I wasn’t quite sure what kind of reception to be expecting.

“It’s nice to meet you too.” I try to calmly reply. Ronin sidles back beside me, and his warm strong arm reassures me as it wraps around my waist. I’m still carrying the flowers and the wine so I hand her the two objects, “I brought this to say thank you for the invitation. Thank you for having Seth and I over for dinner tonight.”

She takes the flowers and the wine from me, “Thanks! That’s very kind of you. Let me just get this on ice and get these flowers in some water.”

“Dinner smells delicious sis,” Ronin tells Mel and then leans forward, kissing me on the cheek.

I hadn’t noticed before that his facial hair has gotten longer than he normally wears it, scratching my face a little with the stubble. I detect his rugged and maybe slightly dangerous physique. Damn he is every bit man. Ronin has stopped time again for me and then I remember my manners. “Yes. The aroma is mouthwatering.” I say agreeing with Ronin.

“Well I hope everyone has brought their appetites because I have made a ton of food.”

“Uncle Ronin,” two boys buzz into the kitchen grabbing Ronin’s legs almost making me lose my balance. The kids are exploding with excitement. Ronin un-loops his arm from me and kneels down to the kids’ level and brings them both into his large strong arms squeezing them firmly.

They both are rambling on so excitedly it is hard to understand what they’re trying to say. I decipher. “You have to see this.” And then Ronin is upright again and being dragged off into a different direction. I smile after them until there is no line of sight left.

Noises behind me bring me back to reality and upon spinning around. I see Mel trying to pull out a large turkey from the oven. I rush to the stove to try to help, but when I get there, she has the large bird already out of the oven. I close the oven. “Is there anything I can help with?” I ask trying to busy myself with even a frivolous task, so I don’t feel useless.

“Most of it’s done, but you could take the rolls off the cookie sheet and put them in the basket. There’s a basket right over there on the counter.” She points to a basket on the counter lined with a red silk cloth.

“Of course,” I say without hesitation. I set off to the kitchen sink and wash my hands before I start peeling fresh made dinner rolls, which smell absolutely divine. “Your home is very beautiful.” I’ve only seen a miniscule amount of the large home, but I’m sure everything is top notch all the way through.

“Thank you, so, Treva. It is Treva right?”

“Yes, it’s Treva.”

“Do you live here in San Diego, and what kind of work do you do?”

“No, I don’t live here. I’m actually from Montana. I’m going to school there.”

“Oh ...” She says in a tone of surprise. “A student … and what are you studying?”

“Right now I’m in pre-med. I’m hoping when I get done with med-school I’ll be able to focus my studies towards orthopedics.”

“That’s very ambitious. Did Ronin mention that Brock is an orthopedic surgeon?” She raises her eyebrow at me suspiciously.

“Yeah he told me today. I was shocked to hear that. It must be amazing to be married to a surgeon.” I say with a glint of stardust euphoria in my daze.

“I guess I can’t complain too much. Some of the long hours can be grueling on me and the boys at times, but we make do.”

I have all of the dinner roles stacked neatly in the basket and rinse the sheet pan off. “Is there anything else I can help with?”

“I think we are pretty much set. I’m just finishing the gravy, so I guess you can help me with getting all of this to the table.” Mel has numerous silver platters laid out on the counter that all need to be transferred to the dining table. I’m a bit shocked she doesn’t have staff to help with dinner. I’m sure they can afford it. I look at my surroundings and as if on cue, “sorry we let our staff have Christmas off to spend with their families.”

Just as I suspected.

“I like to cook once in a while; I don’t want to forget how,” she gives me a huge bright smile.

I nod my head to let her know I understand. I reach down and pick up a tray of hors d’oeuvres that look like small pieces of lobster wrapped in prosciutto with some sort of cheese tucked between the lobster and prosciutto. It looks absolutely delicious. “Where would you like everything to go?”

“Walk straight past the refrigerator through those doors to the dining room, anywhere on the table should be just fine.” She says.

I follow her directions and find myself in a room with two entrances, the one I came through and another on an adjacent wall. A long large dark wood table with a beautiful red gold table runner extends the entire length of the table. A breakfast buffet is at the far wall that matches the wood dining table perfectly. A holiday infused centerpiece with four tapered candlesticks has been placed on the buffet. A painting of a basket of fruit and flowers hang just above the bar. Dangling from the center of the vaulted ceiling, directly over the dining table, is a crystal chandelier casting fragmented rays of light across the room … it’s breathtaking.

I place the tray of lobster rolls at the end of the table and notice a large throne like chair. Both ends are adorned with one of these massive chairs. It makes me think of a Renaissance fair that I had been fortunate enough to be dragged to by one of my friends—one who had decided she wanted to live in another time.

I quickly set the tray down to return to get the others. There’s broccoli with bacon bits, a unique twist on green bean casserole, cranberry stuffing, mashed potatoes, crab legs, gravy bowls, butter cut into intricate flower patterns and of course, the dinner roles. We pretty much have everything on the table … it looks so formal.

Seth and, Brock come into the kitchen just in time to carry the turkey and wine to the table. “Holy hell look at this spread,” Seth says, just loud enough so that no one hears but me.

“My stomach is just on the threshold of jumping out of my mouth and devouring it all.” He says.

“I know. This stuff looks amazing. We’re going to be eating like kings tonight. I think I could get used to this.” I say grinning.

I thought Seth and I were alone, but a feint voice behind me snidely says,” I bet you could.”

I turn around quickly and see Mel walking in with two more bottles of wine, one in each hand. She has a smile on her face, but I quickly see that it’s rather fake. A cold current shifts the atmosphere and catches me off guard. The smile I had been gleaming with is gone. I try to shake the bemused look on my face and push aside the insult, maybe I misheard her.

Ronin comes through the adjoining entrance and stops just inside the door with the two boys. In each of his large hands I see little fingers wrapped up in his. His beaming smile makes my heart skip a beat, and then it flutters rapidly. All memories of Mel’s odd comment disappear from my thoughts.

“Everything is all done; we can sit down now.” Mel says in a very kind sincere tone, a complete 360 from the comment a few minutes ago.

Bi-Polar is the only word that comes to my mind, which I quickly smack myself for even thinking, because that’s not something I should use in such a derogatory way.

Brock takes the massive throne like chair at the head of the table, and Seth reaches for the chair right in front of him.

“Uncle Ronin, sit by me.”

“No sit by me, Uncle Ronin.”

Ronin winks at me and kneels down to the boys, “see that pretty lady over there?” Both of the boys look in my direction at the same time, “she is very special to me and I would appreciate it if you would give me permission to sit next to her.” He hesitates for a minute, “Do you think that would be ok?”

The boys eye me suspiciously before the younger one says, “Is she your girlfriend uncle Ronin?”

I’m now staring at Ronin, along with everyone else, curious as to how he’ll answer that question knowing that our relationship is what I would call—just a casual fling—with no real chance of anything going any further or getting at all serious.

The corners of his lips turn up into a grin, “Yes Trystan, she is my girlfriend.”

My stomach instantly fills with the light fluttering feeling of velvety soft painted lady butterflies tickling the lining.

“Are you going to marry her?”

All those butterflies swarm up to my throat and I feel like I might choke. Leave it to children to say something so uncharacteristic. Thank god Mel interrupts before Ronin has to be thrown under the bus with such an on-the-spot question.

“Come on boys sit right here.” Mel pulls out two chairs and then she sits down next to Brock on his left.

Ronin walks around the table and sits in the chair on Brocks right hand side and I take the seat next to him and Seth sits to my right in the chair he had originally pulled out. Weird that he had figured out the seating arrangement before everyone else.

“I want to thank you guys for coming and joining us for our Christmas dinner. Our friends Antonio and Audrea are coming too, but they are running late; they said for us to start without them. I don’t think we should let this stuff spoil so lets dig in.” Brock’s easy going, uplifting attitude could be super addictive.

“Thank you for having us. I don’t think I can remember the last time I had a home cooked meal like this,” Seth says while reaching for the tray that contains the lobster rolls. He grabs the tongs and gets two for himself, and then puts two on my plate, before passing the tongs to Ronin.

“So Ronin, what happened with that deal you had in LA? Last time we were talking, you said you had some big corporation falling apart and they were begging you to consider merging with them, or something like that.”

I look at Ronin curious, because he never has talked about his business dealings with me. Ronin grabs lobster rolls and is reaching for some of the sliced turkey, “Oh yes, I remember that day very clearly.” Ronin slips his hand under the table and squeezes my thigh,” I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day. The business trip was a flop, but another merger developed from that little trip.”

I know that Ronin is referring to that first day I was here and when I saw him at the airport. I still can’t believe I was able to gather up my confidence to tease him, the way I did. I didn’t even know him. I hear the clanking of plates and forks rattling in the background, but the only thing I notice is the tingling sensation in the shape of Ronin’s hand against my bare skin.

I lean up as close as I can, so only he can hear me whisper,” I want to slide under the table and wedge myself between your legs so I can taste the meat in your pants.” Ronin shifts in his seat and lets out a very low growl.

Ronin doesn’t take me up on my offer, thank god, but to distract myself from my growing need of the powerful attractive man next to me, I shove my face with delicious food … that’ll do for now.

“Treva, I heard about your interests in orthopedics; maybe you should stop by the hospital where I work and I’ll sneak you into a surgery.”

“Really?” is all I’m able to say. The idea of watching a procedure by a skilled orthopedic surgeon blows my mind. “That would be great!”

“How long will you be in town?” Someone, probably Seth, had told him I’m only here visiting.

“My classes start back up the second week of January, but I will need a week to re-coop from my vacation. I think after New Year’s I’ll need to head home.” Glancing out of the corner of my eye, I see the death grip Ronin has on his fork causing his knuckles to go white. I feel a little sickened by the thought of our irrevocable parting. Not only am I leaving a man I have found myself getting way too attached to, but I’m also walking into a scenario of a crazed man lurking and waiting for me at home. Who knows what that crazy ass son of a bitch might do to me? I get goose bumps just thinking about him.

“Is there a better day?” I struggle to say.

“Hmm … well, I do have a hip replacement on Thursday at seven in the morning, if you don’t mind getting up that early.”

“I’ll be there.” A hip replacement how absolutely amazing, I think to myself. I can’t hide my excitement with my cheesy grin plastered to my face.

A music chime begins playing throughout the house when we are about half-way through dinner.

“That must be our other guests. Please excuse me.” Mel pats her perfect pouty lips with her silk napkin and leaves the table. Moments later, I hear voices coming closer, getting louder as they approach.

Chapter 21

A woman with luscious ebony hair and exotic features enters the dining room—she’s followed by a very handsome man. As they come in, Brock introduces everyone. I can’t stop staring at Audrea … she is so beautiful. I’m a teensy bit uncomfortable—feeling inadequate, next to her. To my astonishment though, Ronin doesn’t seem to even look in her direction.

“So Treva, Ronin had mentioned to us that you’re Seth’s sister, but how did you and Ronin meet?” Mel sits up straighter, turning all of her attention to me as she asks.

Ronin flashes me that million dollar smile. “We all went out together the first night I got here.” I didn’t feel the need to tell her anymore that, and she didn’t need to know anymore. I offered a simple response to her question and left it alone.

Ronin doesn’t interject so he must agree.

“How about you two?” I ask gesturing towards Mel and Brock.

Mel glances at Ronin and Brock before looking at me … widening her grin before she says a single word. “I went to the Art Institute of San Diego for culinary classes, and Ronin and I were in the same class.”

“I don’t think she needs to hear all the small details Mel. I think that she just wants to know how you and Brock got together.” Ronin sits up stiffly in his chair and his lips are set in a more firm line. He sets off my alarm bells with his response.

“But Ronin, all the small details are what makes the story more interesting. I have to set it up to get to the best part.”

Mel bats her eyes, and a faker than fake grin lifts the corners of her mouth causing her eyes to squint and wrinkle a bit. “As I was saying, we were attending school, and what girl wouldn’t notice the hottest man in her class. I couldn’t keep my eyes off of him.” She takes a deep breath in and reaches for Brock’s much larger hand in comparison to hers—rubbing the top of it and circling her thumb absent mindedly. “I flirted a few weeks before mustering up the courage to ask him out.”

My breath hitches hearing that Mel had asked Ronin out, and I instantly feel my cheeks heat up with jealousy.

“Ronin of course being hard headed, stubborn and arrogant, just smirked at me and said, ‘We’ll see.’ I was livid and humiliated.”

I hear a low chuckle escape from under the breath of the sexy man next to me, but I don’t look at him I still have my eyes fixed on to the woman directly in front of Ronin … the one that wanted him a long time ago.

“So finally, Ronin came up to me after I had worked really hard on keeping my soufflé from falling and said, ‘Why not. Where should I pick you up?’ I told him the details and then later that night after shopping for the perfect dress and primping all afternoon, I heard that knock on the door. It was him.”

“MELANIE!” Ronin rumbles … agitated, causing me to jump.

The name Melanie slithering off Ronin’s tongue sends shivers down my spine. Probably due to the danger it offers, but it also confirms what I had suspected … that Mel was short for something.

Mel doesn’t seem to notice or maybe she doesn’t care that Ronin is asking her to halt her story. Consequently, she continues, “I wanted to make the perfect entrance so I yelled at my roommate to answer the door—low and behold—it was love at first site.” She sighs heavily, “Being the gentleman that he is, Ronin took out his phone and invited his brother along, which in my case made me the luckiest woman ever.” Mel grabs her glass of wine and takes a big swig.

I’m thankful watching the tense jaw loosen and relax a little bit. He’s obviously relieved that Mel’s story is done. I wonder who her roommate was and why Ronin is so stressed out about the story. I’m sure the look of bewilderment distorts my face. When we all first got here, I felt extremely welcomed, and I felt like Melanie’s manners towards me were true and sincere. The brash cold behavior that she has emanating towards me now seems out of character to me. Is she jealous? Had she really wanted Ronin?

When Mel places her wine glass back down on the table, she lightly licks her lips, “I still can’t quite figure out why you ended the engagement with her. You two were perfect together.”

BANG … The sound echoing through the dining area makes my heart jump into my throat. I turn my head and see everyone looking just as shocked. When my neck turns back around, I see Ronin’s fists balled up and resting on the table. He had hit the table so hard with his fist that it made my fork jump from my plate and land right in my lap, and not to mention the food splattering all over my dress from my flying fork—I’m shocked. I look at Ronin’s sexy, yet intimidating jaw, twitching fiercely. It’s obvious that he’s mad as hell … a ferocious lion on the loose.

Seth’s arm softly grazes my shoulder as he lets it rest on the back of my chair. The movement brings me back to reality, “umm, please excuse me.” I stand up from the table and realize I have no idea where a bathroom is. “Where is your nearest bathroom?” I ask, not really asking the scorned woman pining over my date for the evening, or Brock.

It’s Brock, who answers me, “go through those doors and down the Hall and the restroom is the second door on your left.”

I nod my head. “Thank you.”

Hastily, I make my way down the hall to the bathroom. I get through the door and before I even try to find a switch, I lean against the cool door in the dark trying to catch my breath. My feet are killing me, and I want to take my shoes off. I know if I do, I’ll never be able to squeeze back into them.

Sliding my hand against the wall in the dark, I’m able to feel the switch to turn the light on. My eyes squint from the bright light, and when they adjust, I find myself in a pretty plain Jane bathroom. It’s not too large. There is a marble counter top with a his/her sink set up, and a commode. No shower or bath, just a simple washroom.

I walk to the counter and look myself over in the mirror. I appear flushed, ugh, if I didn’t have all of this make-up on I would splash some cool water on my face. I hadn’t expected this evening to get so discombobulated. What was that anyway? Peering at myself in the mirror again, I hardly recognize myself. I’m not a girl who wakes up and thrives on getting all dolled up and catered to. This isn’t my world. Come to think of it, getting a glimpse of this fairy tale reminds me … all fairy tales have evil monsters.

A light knock on the door startles me, and before I can go over to open it, the door knob is wiggling and I remember I hadn’t locked it. The door opens gradually and Ronin’s perfect face appears in the small space between the door and the door frame. I’m unable to find any words to say to him, I just stare at him as he walks in.

He puts his arms around me and pulls me close. His warm breath heating the top of my head as he nestles his face into my hair, “I’m sorry, I should have told you,” he says deeply with a bit of sorrow in his tone.

He is squeezing me so tight it makes it hard to speak, “ sooo, yooou were engaged,” I squeak out in a forced voice, sounding like a toy with a dying battery.

“I’m sorry,” he says again heavily.

“No biggie,” I say shrugging my shoulders the best I can while being held so tightly.

“God Treva, you are so amazing. You’re too good to be true.” Ronin runs his hands up to the back of my head and I feel his grip tighten around my thick hair at the base of my nape. Then he pulls my head back so that he can close his sweet mouth over mine. He holds his lips to mine barely moving like he’s savoring every second. I feel like time has stopped. Then his movements quicken and become more desperate. He moans as he pushes his tongue deeply into my mouth. I do too, because I’m just as desperate as he is.

Ronin breaks free from me, leaving me almost breathless. He spins me around so that I am facing the mirror. I see the need burning in his eyes. Pushing me over the counter, I feel his warm strong hands on the outside of my thighs and he pushes the hem of my dress up over my ass. Both of his hands slide across my bare skin. The smooth touch of his skin against my bare ass is tantalizing. I briefly close my eyes embracing the moment. When I look at him, I can see the desire in his face.

Soft touches wedge between my legs causing every nerve ending to scream with the need of being caressed. I jump a little when his thumb presses against my oversensitive clit—circling it and applying just the right amount of pressure. My knees buckle. His finger massages my sopping wet pussy. I gasp when he slides into me. Between his finger and the two balls nestled deep inside me, I feel very full and on the verge of an explosion of orgasmic pleasure. I moan loudly. With just one little flick of his finger and with the next push, he goes deeper—I’m exploding around him, drenching him with all the pent up pressure that has been building all afternoon.

Ronin has his pants unzipped by the time my orgasmic crashing waves of pleasure eases, but I’m heightened again when he plunges his oversized cock deep inside of me. I have never felt so full in my life. After getting used to the sensation, I relax letting him plummet deeper. Ronin doesn’t hold back … nothing, but hard fucking. His hands grip my hip bones firmly, and he thrusts his large cock against my tender walls until he reaches so deep there’s nowhere else to go accept back out. Repeatedly, Ronin rhythmically pushes in aggressively and pulls back out. I sense his strong need by the way he’s taking me.

“Fuck Treva, you feel so good,” he groans gruffly panting heavier and heavier. “You know there is no one for me, but you.” He leans over and grabs the counter and nuzzles my neck.

I feel his cock thicken deep inside me and his musical words make me come undone. I have to bite my lip to keep from screaming as my orgasm boils out of me. I look in the mirror and see the muscles tighten around his neck as he pumps me filling me with his arousal.

It terrifies me looking at us and realizing how much I care for him. I feel perplexed. Ronin pulls himself free of me and uses some toilet paper to wipe himself off. I stand up straight and pull my dress down. Not that it goes much lower than where it had been hiked up to … but most of me is covered again.

Ronin steps back towards me in the small confined space and embraces me, “you are so incredible, Treva stone.”

“Not nearly as incredible as you are, Mr. Hollister.”

Ronin smirks at me and kisses me tenderly, “how about we take those things out of you now?”

“Thank God,” I whisper.

“Then bend back over-the-counter.” He says, demandingly. I don’t hesitate and follow his directions. I bend back over the counter and he gracefully places his fingers softly on my tender tissues and he pulls on something. The sensation of the balls sliding from me makes me gasp.

I watch as he slips them into his pants pocket, and it makes me blush. “Are you coming?” He nods towards the door.

“Umm, yeah, I’ll be just a minute.”

“Don’t be too long!”

I watch him leave the bathroom and this time I lock the door. Holy Treva, you just had sex with Ronin in his brother’s bathroom. I get some tissue and blot between my legs. I don’t want to walk back to the dining room with cum dripping from my pussy. When I’ve finished, I go to join the others.

I pass the dining room, but no one seems to be in there any longer, but I hear voices coming from the area back towards the front of the house.

I find an entrance into a cavernous room … probably the living room. Everyone is milling around, chatting with each other, but my eyes instantly fall upon the sexiest man I have ever seen. Ronin’s eyes meet mine making me feel warm, everything seems to vanish when he’s around. My entire focus is trained in on Ronin. I’m in big trouble. My body seems to just float to where he is and when his arm circles around me, I melt into him like we’re the perfect fit. When I’m comfortable in his arms, nothing else seems to matter.

Two presidential looking chairs face the fireplace built into the wall. In the middle are two large couches facing each other and separated by a large wooden coffee table. I figure that this is a place where people can sit and visit, and maybe have a drink or snack. It’s not like any living room I’ve ever been in. The ones I have all seen have a couch and maybe a coffee table or some end tables, but almost all of them have a TV as well and—they look lived in. This looks more like an exquisite waiting room or a doctor’s office. I can’t say it’s not beautiful though. Everything in this house is tastefully decorated and the focal point in this room—excluding Ronin—is a gianormous Christmas tree. It has to be 15 to 18 feet tall, and it’s decorated in nothing but cream-colored ornaments. Nothing is out of place. It looks like Melanie just cut it right out of the Christmas catalog, it’s magnificent.

Ronin is talking to Brock and I see Seth sitting with Antonio, Audrea and Mel. It seems like they’re engaged in a deep conversation. Seth eyes me suspiciously, and I know he’s wondering if I’m okay. It must be a sibling thing to have the inherent ability to know what each other is thinking. I give him a thumbs up, and then he nods back to me. I see him talking to his little group … keeping himself in their conversation. Yet, at the same time he’s worrying about me.

The boys run out and excitedly hassle Brock and Ronin, “can we open a present can we, can we?”

Brock laughs at their enthusiasm. “Brock, if you wouldn’t mind. I would like the boys to open the gifts we brought them since I think I’ll be missing opening gifts tomorrow morning.”

“Yeah daddy, can we?”

Melanie pipes in, “you’re not going to be here tomorrow after Santa comes, you’re always here.” She says it more as a statement than a question.

“I know, I’m so terribly sorry, but I’m planning something else.”

Mel gives me a slightly dirty look, but she doesn’t let it linger too long. “Well were going to miss you.” She looks at the boys loitering around Ronin’s feet, “yes, boys you can open up uncle Ronin’s gifts.”

“Babe can you please help me get them?” The endearment causes the butterflies in my stomach to jump to life.

“Of course,” I answer him.

“The boys’ gifts are under the tree which I’m assuming Malcolm must have placed them there. We get them from under the tree and separate them into two piles, Trystan and Jacob.

“OOH … OOH … I’m opening up the biggest one first!”

Ronin’s face says it all. Beaming down at the boys, he seems to be just as excited as they are. He lets go of my waist and gets on his knees to help with the unwrapping frenzy.

“A monster truck! Awesome! Can I drive it?”

“Yeah, but how about you unwrap your other presents, and I’ll get the truck out of the box,” Ronin tells the younger of the two boys.

Seeing the family so filled with love and joy causes a strong longing in my heart. I wish so badly that my family could be close like this. It hurts and my heart is bleeding. Immediately, my eyes drift over to Seth. I see him sitting so comfortably on the dark brown couch and before I know it, I feel my feet moving--seemingly on their own accord toward him.

I sit on the couch cozying into my wonderful big brother and my best friend. His large brawny arm wraps around my shoulders and he squeezes me. “I love you Seth. I’m so happy to be here with you. Thank you for talking me into coming to see you.”

“I’m glad you came too.” His warm smile eases every ache and worry that I have. “Except I wish I didn’t have such a hot sister, so maybe I could actually spend some time with her. Why can’t you be homely?” I elbow him in the ribs and he starts laughing.

“Are you guys up for dessert?” Mel raises her voice so everyone can hear her.

Antonio and Audrea give a nod and Seth gives a ‘sounds good’, and I’m not sure about Ronin and Brock. I think that Mel got enough of a response that she heads off toward the kitchen.

A musical chime rings through the house and Seth and I look at each other skeptically not knowing what the sound is or where it’s coming from.

“I’ll get it,” Mel yells out.

“I sure wish I didn’t have to leave, Seth. This has been an amazing trip.” I feel so happy since I haven’t had to stress about work or school. It’s been wonderful, but that awful dread bubbles up. I remember the monster that got released from prison, and an ice cold tremor shakes my body. What am I going to do?

“Maybe you should move to California sis.”

“I would love ...” I was just trying to tell Seth that I’d love to when Mel walks in and interrupts me.

" ... Look who happened to come by.”

My eyes gaze up and see a very stunning woman. She has dark hair curled in luscious soft ways that flow down almost to her waist. She’s thin with dark long legs stretching from her to yonder … perfectly toned. The dress she is wearing is a white silk material making her appear rather saintly in contrast with her beautiful brown skin.

I feel completely inferior to her. I couldn’t feel more blah, than I do right now. Look at me—my skin pale, no-glow-whatsoever, my dishwater, plain, mousy colored hair, my short, curvy stature.

“Ronin,” the beautiful goddess says while rolling the R in Ronin’s name. Everything seems to be moving in slow motion as I see the dust motes flying in the air as I turn to look at Ronin after hearing her address him.

His entire body turns rigid when he looks at the beautiful brunette. He stands abruptly and every ounce of his bliss, he had minutes ago, is shattered instantaneously. The transformation is apparent to all of us.

“Naomi, what are you doing here?” His clipped tone sends shivers down my spine. She doesn’t even flinch … unaffected by his brash tone.

“Ronin, darling, I just flew in from Paris, and I had to come see my dearest friend.” Naomi turns to look at Mel and slides her arm into the crook of Mel’s arm like they are high school best buddies.

“Vous look so good, Ronin,” her free arm reaches out and touches Ronin’s stiff forearm.

“You have to be kidding me,” I whisper under my breath.

Seth tightens his arm around me. I know that he’s trying to console me with his squeeze. I chance a glance back at him and he rolls his eyes at me.

“Of course, Ronin’s ex-fiancé has to be a super goddess with an exquisite accent.” Seth hears my complaint and tries to hold back a laugh, but I still hear a little bit of his rumble. Honestly, I must be in my own personal hell. I can tick off the numeral things playing against me in life. I must’ve done something horrible in a past life and Karma is coming back in full force to kick my ass.

I don’t want to, but my eyes turn back to the completely deranged scene unfolding by the Christmas tree. I can tell that Ronin’s rigid stance has relaxed a bit, probably from the familiarity of Naomi’s touch—damn, she’s still touching him … get your damn hands off of him. I retort, only to myself.

Sight seems to be the only sense that I have that’s working. I can’t hear a thing that they are saying, and my whole body feels numb.

Why would Mel do that? Is Naomi such a close friend that she thinks she can play matchmaker and get them hooked back up again?

It’s probably better this way, anyway .It’s not like Ronin and I even live on the same planet. Seth must realize I am boiling up inside. He stands up, grabs my hand and pulls me down the hall and out the front door. The brisk air is refreshing and it forces me to breathe again.

“Well, that was bizarre wasn’t it?” Seth looks at me.

“Why can’t anything be normal Seth?”

“I don’t know sis. Want to walk a little with your bro?”

I smile at him,” I can’t walk real well in these,” I lift my foot up so he can see my bright red shoes with heels that are too damn high.

“Oh yeah,” Seth walks over to the limo that had brought us here and knocks on the driver’s side window. He mumbles something to Malcolm. I’m surprised that he’s still sitting in the car. Seth motions me over and Malcolm opens the back door. I look at Seth quizzically, “want to get out of here?”

I look back at the house, “what about, Ronin” I ask.

“Malcolm will come back and pick him up,” he pauses, waiting for me to get in, “do you really want to go back in there.”

I shake my head no, because I really don’t want to be in the mix of all that crap. At the same time, I feel bad that I’m not even saying goodbye. As if reading my mind, Seth says, “I’ll call Ronin and tell him that we left.”

“Okay,” I agree.

Sinking into the soft leather of the limo, I reach down and take my shoes off to relieve my aching feet. Seth stays right next to me during the ride home.

Chapter 22

I groggily remember us pulling up to Seth’s apartment and him helping me inside. I find the comfy shorts and tank top that I’ve been wearing for my PJ’s since I’ve been here. Then, I climb into the soft bed falling deeply into slumber.

I wake up not feeling completely rested due to evil women trying to take Ronin from me. Deep down I know he’s not mine, but … don’t tell my heart that. Remembering that it’s Christmas morning, I bounce out of bed. Seth is still sleeping, so I tuck his presents under the tree to the best of my ability, and make a pot of coffee. Too anxious to let him sleep, I sneak into his room and pounce on his bed.

“Seth, Seth, Santa Clause came!” I say acting like a little kid again. Seth grabs his blankets and somehow throws it over my head. Then he pushes me onto the bed and holds me down. I’m trapped by the blanket. Evilly, he takes one of his hands and starts pounding on my chest.

He says, “typewriter-typewriter.”

I try to kick him off, but he is sitting on me and I am trapped. I start laughing hysterically, “Seth, stop ...” I gasp, “Seth,” I yell and start laughing again.

“Mercy ... Mercy,” Seth backs off, laughing out loud at me.

“Seth, Santa came! We need to get up!”

“How about we make breakfast together and then we can open our presents as we eat,” he says as his stomach rumbles hungrily.

“Perfect," I maneuver myself free from the tangled up comforter, and leave Seth in his room to get put together. I pour two cups of coffee, and I see Seth as he rounds the corner and into the kitchen.

Opening the fridge, he looks over his shoulder, “bacon, sausage, eggs, French toast, hash browns, pancakes?” He rattles a number of things.

“All of those? Well, damn I guess you are hungry,” I tease.

Seth rolls his eyes at me.

How about French toast, I haven’t had French toast in forever.

We both get busy making breakfast—working in sync with each other. It’s the most fun I’ve had in years. A knock from the door makes both of us pause. I’m working on eggs while Seth is making French toast.

He shrugs his shoulders, “Seth ...” I say, but I know he understands that I’m not ready to see Ronin yet, not after leaving last night.

“I’ll go see who it is,” he says quietly creeping over to the door. He peeks through the peek hole and I have to hold back from laughing, because he looks completely ridiculous. He turns around and mouths, “it’s Santa.”

I look at him puzzled and he grins widely. He opens the door and all I can see is a big red suit, standing in the door.

“Ho, Ho, Ho, Merry Christmas.”

I smile seeing a man dressed from head to toe in a perfect Santa suit. “Santa, I think you may have come to the wrong house,” Matt looks at me confused. “We haven’t been very good this year. I’m sure we are very high on the naughty list.”

Matt walks into the kitchen and gives me a big bear hug. He must have a pillow in his suit, because there is much more cushion to him than normal. “I tend to like the naughty ones,” he whispers in my ear. “They’re more fun.”

I feel my face heat up and I turn a little so he won’t see my blush when he puts me down.

“So, does Santa want some breakfast, or is he too busy with more deliveries,” I ask.

“Hell no, I’m not too busy for breakfast, you’re my only stop. Besides, Santa got all of his deliveries done last night. If I hadn’t … there would have been a lot of pissed off kids this morning.”

I love his humor, it makes me laugh. “Well great, maybe some French toast will earn us some brownie points to work our way up on the nice list.”

Matt winks at me. “Just you being you, will get points on my list.” He says and then turns back to the living room. “I’m sweating to death in this damn thing,” he says.

“I thought you were doing something with your family today,” Seth requisitions.

“Yeah we were going to, but we all got together last night. If I had listened to one more of my Uncle George’s stupid stories about how to get rich and how to be a good businessman, I think I would have shot myself.”

“Can’t be that bad man?”

“Yes, it was bad!”

Seth came back into the kitchen to help me finish with breakfast. Afterwards, we wander into the living room with heaping plates of hot food.

“Present time.” I shout.

I crawl on my knees and get the gag gift for Seth first. He lifts the large box and shakes it. Both Matt and I watch as he rips the wrapping paper off the box. The description is pretty vivid and I can’t contain myself, I burst out laughing.

“That’s your new friend to keep you company on those cold lonely nights.” I tease.

Matt is looking at the box. Expressionless and then when Seth pries open the box, a floppy balloon pops out with what looks like real human hair. Matt starts chuckling deeply, “dude … your sister has you nailed, you always have preferred brunettes.”

I stiffen hearing the brunette comment—wondering if Ronin and the goddess got reacquainted last night.

“I got something for you,” Matt says to me, pulling me out of my self-pity moment.

“Matt, you didn’t have to do that.”

“I know, but I wanted to.” He slips a square, flat box into my hand wrapped in silver paper with a beautiful translucent bow on top.

I’m very careful as I pull on the bow, trying not to tear the ribbon, and I gently unfold the wrapping paper from where it is held down by tape. After removing the paper, a white box with a snug lid lays in my hand. I open the lid and see a silver charm bracelet resting on white fluffy tissue paper. I pick up the bracelet and look at the small dangling pieces: one is a seashell, “a reminder of our walk,” he says softly.

Another pendant is a Mustang and I smile realizing he’s reminiscing about our time together. “The car ride,” I say holding the small reminder in my fingers. Another is a wineglass, “from the night we went drinking.” I whisper quietly.

“And this one?”

“It’s a shoe, dancing at our Christmas party,” he answers.

I nod in acknowledgement.

The last one is a pair of lips, and I lift my eyebrows to question the meaning.

“You might not remember it so well, but I do,” he says and then lifts his hand to my cheek and softly strokes my bottom lip with his thumb.

The sensual motion does amazing things to my gut. I feel myself leaning forward responding to the intimate touch, wanting him to remind me just how that kiss went.

His eyes flicker to above my head and I remember Seth sitting behind me on the couch. “I didn’t get you anything though,” feeling embarrassed now that he has given me such a lovely gift, and I have nothing for him in return.

“That’s okay. If you’ll notice, this bracelet has a lot more room on it. I’m just hoping we get to add more memories to it. The thought itself makes me happy.”

I know exactly what he’s hoping for. I’m just not sure I’m ready for any commitment. He leans forward and presses his lips to my forehead, and takes his hand from my face to rest in my hand. I welcome his hand in mine and wrap my fingers around his.

Seth is blowing up his present and pretending to ignore us. Man I love him.

“That other box is yours too,” I say pointing at the larger box still under the tree. “It’s a little heavier, so you’ll have to pick it up.”

I don’t really want to get up and leave the comfort of Matt’s warm hand. Seth stops blowing up his doll and plugs his progress.

“Don’t even think about it man, she’s mine! I don’t share.” He says sternly while placing the doll on the floor. Seth is giving Matt a stare down, and he’s keeping a completely straight face, until Matt and I bust a gut.

“Don’t worry dude. Someone else is in my sight … she’s all yours.” Matt squeezes my hand while teasing Seth.

Seth lifts the box, and before he tries to shake it. I blurt out “no way don’t shake that one.”

A twisted grin lights Seth’s face …“Fine” he rips off the paper and when he realizes what it is, his eyes widen. “No. Way. Sis. This is awesome.”

He leaves the wine cooler on the floor and comes over and gives me a huge hug. “It’s perfect.” Seth lets me go so I can breathe again. “Let me go get yours.” Seth leaves Matt and me in the living room, while he heads towards his bedroom down the hall.

“Treva, I want to kiss you so badly right now,” Matt confesses to me. My stomach starts flipping around like a chaotic circus act is in full motion … deep down in my torso.

He is so sexy, and now that he’s lost his Santa suit, he’s wearing a black ribbed shirt that stretches over his built chest, and his ripping biceps protrude with definition. The pair of dark denim jeans are tight against his thighs … well, they are when he sits down at least, I hadn’t noticed, when he was standing. His dazzling glacial blue eyes and those sexy blonde wavy tendrils are almost impossible to neglect. I can’t deny the attraction I have toward him. The heat in the room must’ve risen at least five degrees just from the heated stare between us. Seth thankfully comes back in, interrupting the intense, yet very perplexing moment. He has two boxes in his hands. One is about the size of a book, and the other is just slightly smaller.

Seth hands me the boxes and I and unwrap the larger one first … about to have a heart attack, “you got me an IPad? This is way too expensive!” I retort.

“You’re worth every penny sis’, and it should come in very helpful when you’re back at school.” Tears start to well up in my eyes at the extraordinary gift. I am almost scared to open the next one. Slowly, I rip off the paper and start laughing when I hold the deck of cards, “great minds think alike.”

“Yup,” he says.

The cards have half naked men modeling on the front of them. I got him a woman and he got me some men.

“Merry Christmas, Seth.”

“Merry Christmas, Treva.”

“Is it too early for a glass of wine?” I ask.

“How about a mimosa?”

“Perfect.” I agree.

Seth jumps up and I follow him into the kitchen for a celebratory drink. Seth’s phone vibrates in his pocket while we are filling our glasses with champagne and orange juice. He lifts it out to see whose calling. He looks at me, “it’s the twentieth call.” He says. Sadly, I shake my head and Seth ends the call and then turns his phone off.

If his phone has gone off that many times, I’m sure mine has been lit up just as much.

And we all toast, “to friends and family”

Seth, Matt and I hang out most of the day. I’m still in my PJ’s and Seth is wearing pajama bottoms, we munch mindlessly on candy that I had stuffed in our stockings and watch how the Grinch stole Christmas and then a Christmas story … My most favorite Christmas movie.

I snuggle into Matt comfortably—enveloped in his warm strong arms as he mindlessly traces my outer ear. The effect is mind boggling. I close my eyes trying to keep my breathing under control while my brain races to make order of the frenzied sensations his finger leaves behind. We must stay like this until about three o’clock in the afternoon when a loud bang hits the door.

Seth must’ve been dozing off a little because the knock makes him jump about two feet off the couch. He looks at Matt and me accusingly, to see if we were the ones responsible for the noise, but we both shake our heads no and point at the door.

“Who the fuck …” Seth trails off, but he and I both have a good idea as to who it is on the other side. “Want me to tell him you’re not here?”

“I’ll tell him to take a hike if you want me to,” Matt says conspiratorially.

Matt has no idea why I am avoiding Ronin, but he seems eager to help in any case. “How about Seth just opens the door and Ronin can see you wrapped up in my arms—maybe then he’ll just leave.”

“Yeah right, that would go over like a hurricane at a beach party. No, I need to talk to him.” I stretch out my stiff legs from having them bent weird underneath me. I take a hesitant step and look at Matt. His face has turned hard and I hate knowing that I’m the one causing his turmoil.

He grabs my arm, “Treva, you don’t have to do this.”

“I need to,” is all I’m able to say.

The pounding continues to assail the front door and I cringe when I grab the silver knob to twist it open. I pull on the door, but I am stopped by the dead lock in place. Duh Treva, he probably would have barged in here if it hadn’t been locked. I flip the lock slowly to unlock the door and I pull the door open.

Registering the man in front of me bites at my soul. I don’t think I could even imagine Ronin looking so upset; his white dress shirt, rolled up at the sleeves, is wrinkled and hanging out of his jeans, his hair is tousled in the messy sexy way I like, but it’s even more strewn around than normal. The worry lines creasing his face makes him look like he aged fifteen years in one night. I doubt that he has slept at all. Of course he hasn’t slept, he was probably up all night with the goddess tiring him out since they’ve been separated for so long. I bite my tongue trying to hold my lashing remarks to myself.

I initially intended to take this conversation to the hall, but before I walk out, he walks in. Ronin quickly scans the room, and then his eyes stop searching, landing on Matt and I see the scowl deepen.

“Matt, Seth.” He says coldly. “Treva ...” He says it like he’s searching for hope in my name, his hands nervously run through his hair and he looks pained.

I turn around and walk back to the spare bedroom wanting privacy for this conversation. All day, I had been trying to figure what I was going to tell him, more—the way—I can tell him … that we can’t be together. I know it’s just a fantasy thinking it would ever go any further between us. I’d be a fool to think there’s anything more.

Ronin picks up on what I’m doing, and I can feel him walking behind me when we go into the bedroom. He closes the door and rushes me grabbing me and hugging onto me so tightly.

“Treva, baby ... I’m so sorry. I had no idea Mel had planned on sabotaging Christmas dinner. I freaked out on both of them.” He inhales deeply and I know he’s taking in my scent, like I often do to him.

“I almost fired Malcolm for taking you home.”

I gasp, “Ronin you didn’t.”

“No, he told me to be reasonable and give you some space. He made me look at it from a different spectrum.” He lets out another deep breath and I feel it penetrating my neck through my hair. “Why did you leave?” He asks exasperated.

“Are you serious? How the hell am I supposed to even come close to comparing to that beauty that walked in last night. I’m like a grotesque mole next her. I know that I can’t measure up. Everything about her screams luxury.” I try to push back from him, but his arms don’t budge, if anything, they become tighter.

“Treva, what are you talking about?”

“Naomi. That’s what Ronin. She fits right into your world; money, luxury beauty. How do I match up to that? I can’t! All of you are like BMWs, Lexus’, Audi’s, Mercedes and me—me, I’m like a Gremlin or a Pinto, I’ll never be anything more.” I feel mentally exhausted. I have been trying to fit into the role of the Princess, but I’m not a princess. I’d be lucky to scrub the floors of the palace.

“Treva you’re wrong. You couldn’t be more wrong. You fit perfectly in my world. You’re like a piece to a puzzle—a piece that I had lost and didn’t know it. Now I’ve found you and you’re right where you belong, ” he pauses, “I found where I belong. I don’t think anything will ever be right again if the missing piece of me disappears again.”

His words melt me. I so want to believe we could be together, but that unrelenting nag at the back of my brain tells me it won’t ever happen. “Ronin I don’t even live here.”

“You could stay. You can stay here with me. I’ll take care of you.”

“I need … I need to take care of myself, Ronin. I can’t expect to be taken care of or being carried by someone else.”

“That’s what you deserve.”

“Ronin, this has been great! You’re an amazing man, and actually, wait … I have something for you.” I go to the bedside table and get the little box I had wrapped for him.

He looks at it deeply, “what is it?”

“Open it!”

He unwraps the small box and pulls out the keychain that I had bought at the little market. I giggle seeing his confusion as he squeezes it and it lights up and then goes thump, thump … thump, thump, mimicking the sound of a heart beat.

I wrap my hands around his and close down on him. “This represents my heart, and I’m giving it to you. I want you to know that a piece of me will always be with you. I’m not whole unless we are together.”

“Treva …” he lets out a deep sigh, “I’ll keep it close to me at all times, but I don’t want just a piece I want the whole thing.” Ronin pulls his hand free and then caresses my cheek softly. The longing in his eyes is burning fiercely inside me. He slowly leans forward to kiss me, but I lean backwards … the first time.

“Wait ... I need to know,” the question sticks in my throat like a clump of thick peanut butter. “Did you?”

“Did I what love?”

“Did you reconnect with Naomi?”

He understands exactly what I mean by the question. “Treva. Oh God! It’s not what you think.”

“Well,” I look down at my hands and fiddle with them idly, “she’s so perfect ... and ... the two of you were going to get married at one point in your lives. It makes sense that you would want her over me.”

Ronin presses his forehead to mine and I feel his warm breath on my skin. I close my eyes, trying to absorb the moment … being so close to him.

“I’ve always been monogamous in my relationships before, but now I know with out a doubt in my mind, that there’s no one else for me. I never realized what loving someone meant until I met you, Treva.”

Holy hell is Ronin Hollister telling me he loves me?

“Ronin,” I whisper, but before I even finish his name, his mouth is covering mine. His kiss is desperate and yet so passionate. I hum glorified as he holds me in his arms. The air shifts, and the fire builds as our tongues dance together. I reach my hands up circling around his neck and I grab a tuft of his hair. I tug on the strand while pulling his head forward urging him to get deeper. Ronin moans so sexy into my mouth and the vehement sensation pulsing through my insides grow. I can’t help it … I want him.

A light knock on the door interrupts us. It takes all of my willpower to pull myself from him.

“Treva, are you all right” a voice comes through the door and I’m surprised that the voice is from Matt and not Seth.

Ronin stiffens, “she’s fine.”

“I want to hear it from Treva, Treva kitten are you okay?” His voice is resonating with concern.

“Yes Matt, I’m okay.” I answer softly, feeling torn, hearing the strain in his voice.

“Alright, but if you need anything or just need me, I’m right out here. Okay,”

“Thanks, Matt.”

I hear a low grumble coming from Ronin “did you just growl.” I ask.

“He needs to learn his place. He obviously doesn’t know that you’re mine. You’re not … what did he call you, oh yes, his kitten,” the undertone in his voice tells me just how serious he is.

“HOLD UP,” I say, “for starters, I’m not anyone’s! I’m not just someone that people can carry around. FUCK … I’m here on vacation. We live twelve hundred miles apart.” I shake my head … I’m exasperated. The wild heated up moment when I was so full of anticipation and all worked up has turned bitter cold … UGH he’s so overbearing, sexy as hell, but overbearing.

Ronin pushes his hands through his rich coffee colored hair in frustration. “I’m throwing myself at you and you’re still blind to see how much I care about you.”

“Ronin this is ... so ... overwhelming, I just ... I don’t ... I’m scared.”

“Oh baby, please ... What did that asshole do to you?”

My eyes shoot up immediately, I want to scream. I hate how everything is so complicated. “You don’t want to know Ronin.”

Ronin reaches for my fumbling fingers, but I pull back taking a step backward so he can’t connect with me physically. His eyes are lost, probably mirroring exactly how I feel.

“Fuck … Fuck … Fuck Ronin. He tortured me ... He ... He hurt me ... He held me prisoner for two years” First, tears start to well up, and then I start bawling with my hands over my face.

“Please baby let me in ... Let me wipe those memories away.”

“I … please I just need some time,” I hiccup between sobs. “Please just leave me. Just leave me alone.”

“I’m not leaving you like this.” He steps forward and wraps his arms around me.

“No! I protest. “Please just give me some time alone.”

Ronin softly kisses my forehead. “I’ll give you as much time as you need, but I’m not leaving you … you need to know that I’m not going anywhere.”

I sob harder. “Please just go.”

Ronin reluctantly unfolds his arms and I can feel his intense stare boring through me. “I won’t be far. Call me and I’ll be right over, and Treva, tomorrow, after the hospital with my brother, you and I have plans.”

Before I can object he steps through the door closing it behind him … leaving me alone to cry.

Chapter 23

I’m curled up on the bed in a fetal position, crying so hard the tears have soaked the blanket underneath me. I cry until my eyes finally give up, swollen and sore, and I fall asleep. I vaguely recollect Matt and Seth coming in a few times to check on me, but it’s all pretty hazy.

I wake up sluggishly and rollover noticing there is no light streaming into the room. I glance at the clock and see the bright green light, 8:23. Crap, I’ve been in here for like five hours. My stomach rumbles and my hand flies to cover its insisting roar.

I climb out of the bed and meander to the kitchen. There is no sign of Matt or Seth which I think is rather strange, but instead of looking for them. I go to the fridge—scavenging for something to eat. The pizza box catches my eye and I pull it out … two slices of Canadian bacon with pineapple are left. Instead of heating it up, I just eat it cold, right out of the box. After scoffing down the first slice, I get a beer out of the fridge and take a few chugs before starting on the second slice.

I don’t see any notes, so I walk down the hallway to check Seth’s room. No one’s in here, hmm. They must’ve stepped out for a minute.

Maybe Seth texted me, I go to try to find my phone. A guilty feeling comes over me, thinking about how I haven’t checked it for days. Becca has to be going crazy. I sent her that message to leave the house and then I haven’t said anything since. Where the hell is my head?

Dread creeps over me, when I pick up my phone. I remember the cryptic phone calls I have been receiving. The screen lights up, and I see that I’ve had 25 missed calls 32 text messages.

Holy Crap! That’s insane.

I scroll up to see all the messages from Becca mainly saying hey ... WTH ... WTF ... and ooh, one that says “Merry Christmas”. Now I feel really bad I never even said Merry Christmas to her. What kind of friend am I? And then I see the message sent fifteen minutes ago ...

Hey love, I’m sorry, can we just talk??

How about nine o’clock at the bar in the Lux Hotel

It’s just around the corner.

I still need to give you your present.

-R-

I know I need to be mad at him but I can’t seem to hold onto my anger. Ronin keeps pulling at all my heartstrings. I remind myself that it’s not how the fairytale ends but how it’s written.

I text back:

Of course, nine o’clock, it is.

-T-

A reply instantly makes my phone ding.

Can’t wait to see you.

-R-

Just those simple words make me smile. I shove the rest of the pizza in my mouth and try to find something appropriate to wear. I decide that the sundress Ronin’s house keeper had bought for me, that first night I stayed with him, would be fitting. I slip on the same soft lacy panties and matching bra as well. I apply a light amount of makeup and look at the clock, 8:49. I grab my purse and head out of Seth’s apartment, still wondering where Seth and Matt might have gone.

I find the hotel easy enough and push the revolving door forward and step into the lobby. It is breathtakingly beautiful with marble pillars placed sporadically, large sofas and wide chairs that could fit two full-size adults comfortably, elegant round tables with huge bouquets of flowers making the hotel look expensive and elegant, an exquisite water fountain shooting plumes of water into the sky between the lobby and the front desk. I must look lost spinning around taking everything in, and I remember to focus. A beautiful dark wood door with a glass front is to the left of the front desk. The words ‘TAVERN’’ are scribed on the glass. I walk into the bar and my eyes take a minute to focus. The lighting is a little darker in here than the bright hotel foyer. I scan the room the best I can with my eyes squinting slightly, but I don’t see Ronin. I walk to the bar a little nervous since I’m alone. I pull out a stool and the bartender puts down a coaster.

“What will it be Miss?”

“Can I have a margarita on the rocks, please?”

“Of course. With salt?” He asks.

“Yes, please.”

I watch him pour the tequila and I take a look back around the room. Now that my eyes are completely attuned to the lighting, I can see better. I don’t see him … maybe I missed him. I spin back around and the bartender is placing my drink in front of me.

“Anything else?”

“No, not right now. Thank you.”

“Treva? Treva is that you?” I look up hearing my name, and see Amy grinning down at me.

“Oh, hi Amy,” I say feeling awkward that she’s here.

“What are you doing here tonight?” Amy grins even wider.

“I was … or … umm, I’m supposed to be meeting Ronin,” I finally blurt out of my fumbling mouth.

“I haven’t seen him. I come here a lot, so I know most everyone here.” She turns her head to the bartender. “Gin and tonic please, Rob.”

“Coming right up, Amy,” he winks at her.

I feel uncomfortable. Of all places, why would Ronin have to pick a place where Amy might possibly hang out? I turn around the room again and there’s still no sign of him. I sip on my margarita, agitated that Amy is sitting on a bar stool next to me. Why the hell is she just hanging out there? I try to keep my composure watching the clock and checking the door for any sign of Ronin. Pretty soon, my glass is empty. Amy still hasn’t moved; she just keeps watching me, making me aware of every time I squirm. I dig out my phone—again—to see what time it is. Damn, it’s been more than a half-hour, where is he? He’s late. I put my empty glass on the counter and the bar tender attentively make me another drink.

I take a sip, and then my head begins to get really dizzy. The room starts to sway awkwardly. Whoa, how much tequila did he put in this? I lift my glass and stare at it, but instead of a glass in my hand it looks to be some odd contorted shaped object. I start to giggle at the misshapen glass, “ha, ha—now I’m losing my mind”.

Amy looks at me …“are you okay.” Her smile is twisted and extremely distorted and her one eye looks like it’s sliding down her face. I try to speak, but my tongue feels oddly swollen and numb. “What’s wrong with me?” I mumble.

Chapter 24

I can hear strange faint noises coming from somewhere off in the distance. I try to force myself awake, but I feel extremely sluggish and my eyes protest when I try to open them. I try to roll over but, a sharp pinch cuts at my wrists sending pain down my arms. Becoming a little more alert, I try to stretch out again and pull my arms away from whatever they may be tangled up in, but the movement burns, making me wince. My eyelids are super heavy, more heavy than normal, and it takes all of my effort to make them open.

When I’m finally able to get them to open, and the film coating my soar eyeballs sheds away, I’m able to turn my head to see what keeps biting at my wrists. I’m not sure if it hits me right away, but when I look at one arm and then the next, it kicks in. Fear shoots through my entire body when I realize my arms are tethered to opposite bed posts. No one knows what real fear is until they wake up like this.

My neck aches as I try to lift my head to try to assess my surroundings. It becomes very apparent instantly, that I have no clue where I am. I can’t help but panic and begin to hyperventilate as the memories from those painful years trapped by Eric fill my head. I start pulling at my restraints and yelling loudly, but the harder I pull trying to free my arms the tighter the straps wrapped around my wrists seem to get. Now my wrists are burning.

How did he find me? This can’t be happening again. I know I need to calm down and try to get my bearings, but being put back into this situation is horrifying, and I don’t think I’ll be able to survive this again. I try to kick my legs just out of pure panic, but I realize they are tied off too. I writhe and squirm at any slight chance or possibility that I might be able to free one of my hands, but it’s no use. I’m trapped. I breathe in deeply and watch as the ceiling and walls grow smaller and smaller … moving in on me. Everything goes black, and my body goes limp.

I’m so exhausted when I wake again. I feel like I’ve done a thirty-six hour shift with every muscle in my body protesting in agony. My mind is so groggy and fuzzy and the burning pain in my arms and legs from trying to pull myself free is throbbing like hell. I know that I can’t just give up though, so I start thrashing around again, trying to free at least one of my arms. The pain is unbearable. The rope cuts and pulls at my wrists and ankles every time I move. I’m not sure how much flesh I have peeled away, but I know in the back of my mind I can’t quit trying to get loose.

It seems to be useless, at least for the moment. My body is just too tired. I finally just let go, and stop trying to fight, my arms hang from each bed post loosely, stretching and pulling at my shoulders, If I move my shoulders any more, I fear they’ll be pulled right out of the socket –dislocating them, and my hips feel the same tension, being pulled across the massive bed.

My head spins trying to remember … How the hell did I get here? My first instincts tell me that Eric is behind this. He is out roaming around free and he has found out I’m here visiting Seth, in San Diego. Now he’s come here with a vengeance to finish off what he started.

I’ll never forget his threats from that day in the court room as they echoed through the room, “WHEN I GET OUT OF PRISON TREVA, I’LL COME FOR YOU! I’LL HUNT YOU DOWN, AND THE TIME I HAD YOU CAGED UP, WILL HAVE BEEN LIKE A VACATION RETREAT COMPARED TO WHAT I’LL DO TO YOU!”

The tears start pouring over from my eyes, flowing down my cheeks in a steady stream. The really fucked up part of it all is that I thought I was in love with him. How that twisted man was able to make me think that what he was doing to me was love makes me sick.

Footsteps catch my attention and I try to hold back my tears. Whoever is behind that door, I don’t want to show them any weakness. I try to turn my head into the pillow and wipe the stray tears from my cheeks. I watch the handle of the door across the room, but it doesn’t twist. I hold my breath trying to alleviate any sounds so I can listen to what might be outside the door. Still nothing, I can’t hear anything and the door is not opening. I know I had heard footsteps. Is my captor just tormenting me? Minutes go by without any sounds. Maybe I was imagining what I had heard before.

I let my eyes wander from the door knob and really start to look at the room where I am now trapped in. I guess I was in too much of a panic before that I hadn’t noticed how soft the room is. It’s extremely feminine. The dresser directly at the end of the bed has a mirror with scarves of different colors hanging on it. There is one of those fancy jewelry boxes that stand on the floor next to the dresser, and the walls are a mute almond with the exception of one, an accent wall that is a dark mauve. The curtains are brown and mauve, way too much girly stuff to be a man’s room. It appears to be a regular room too, not a hotel room. Why would Eric bring me to a residential area where a woman obviously lives?

Now I am even more confused. I am tied up to a woman’s bed though, that I am sure of. Maybe he has a partner now. My mind is considering all sorts of scenarios when I hear the door knob jiggle. My heart thuds as my eyes pop up to the door, waiting to see who has captured me.

I’m holding my breath in fear. I’m so afraid that it makes me tremble as I watch the door slowly open. I’m not sure if this will be my last day alive and I am beyond terrified. I say a little prayer under my breath hoping maybe there is a god out there that might help rescue me, or give me mercy and have my life end quickly. The door widens and the last person on the face of the earth I had expected stands in the opening of the doorway. She stands there, her perfect body with every black hair in place—her white linen top, and her bright red pencil skirt without a single wrinkle. She has a makeshift smile that shows her perfectly straight white teeth.

“Amy,” her name slips from my mouth.

Her heels click on the floor as she walks toward the bed. I can’t see what color they are because I can’t lift my head high enough to see, but I figure they are black just like her soul.

“And how is my guest-of-honor doing this morning? Well more like afternoon …”

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I yell at her.

“Oh come on, now that’s not very good behavior. You should treat your host a little nicer.”

Her snide voice sends goose bumps over my skin. Whatever Amy has planned can’t be good. I close my eyes and something prickles at the back of my brain like I should remember. A vague dark room with a bar and metal barstools comes to mind, but nothing else.

“Fine … What do you want, Amy?” I say through gritted teeth much quieter.

“See, you can be civilized. I wasn’t quite sure if it was in you or not since you were probably raised in a barn.” She stares down at me with her brown eyes and grabs a hold of one of the restraints checking to see if it is still tight. I wince from the burn.

It takes everything to hold my tongue at the ridiculous barn comment. She leans over me and I get a whiff of her overpowering old lady perfume and almost gag as she tugs on the other restraint.

“You’re not going to get away with this, Amy.”

“Tsk, Tsk, Tsk Treva, you are being a rude guest again. From the look of things I would guess that you are probably not in the best position to be threatening me.”

“I’m not threatening you, just stating a fact.”

Before I even see it coming, she slaps me hard across my face leaving a stinging pain in its wake.

“Ever since the first time I saw you, I knew you would be trouble. Well … I’m not going to let a stupid little redneck girl come into my world and disrupt everything! I’m tired of things getting in the way of my goals; I’ve been taking some lessons and I know how to get what I want.”’

“Lessons? Here’s one for you … GET A CLUE. This is not going to end the way you think it is.” I spit. And again she slaps my face. I feel my lip split when her hand connects with my face, but she has no clue that I’ve endured much worse.

“We’ll see!” she says. Then I see her turn, and my ears ring listening to the clickety clack of her shoes as she leaves the room.

Why on earth would Amy want to kidnap me? This whole thing is not what I had expected in a million years. I know women can be dangerous creatures, even more so than men, so I need to have my guard up. Obviously, I have over stepped some boundary with her. OH SHIT! … DUH … Ronin Hollister … that was her boundary.

Only about ten minutes pass by when the door flings open startling me.

“Now to see what is so special about you. Why does he want you? What do you have that I don’t? You must have a delectable pussy to have Ronin Hollister begging for more.”

Amy walks to the side of the bed and takes a pair of scissors out from behind her back. I start to shake not knowing what her intentions are with the scissors. She dramatically holds them above my face, circling them around my lips. She presses the blades so the cold metal touches my lip, and it sends shivers down my spine. My worst fears are coming to a head; she’s going to mutilate me. The sick twisted witch is going to cut me up. I close my eyes and gasp for air, not sure if I can handle that sort of pain or not. I wish she would just kill me and get it over.

I hear her laugh, and then I feel her tugging at my sundress. I open my eyes and watch as she slides the sharp metal scissors, starting at my sternum and gliding down my sundress cutting the material with ease. Once she has cut all the way down the soft cotton, slicing it into two pieces, she comes back up to the head of the bed and cuts the two small straps over my shoulders. She rips my mangled dress out from underneath me and throws it on the floor. I’m now only in my bra and panties tied to Amy’s bed.

My bra is strapless and has a clasp in the front and she unsnaps it releasing my breasts. She takes one of her claws and pushes on my round breast. “Are these real?”

“DON’T TOUCH ME!”I yell.

She squeezes my breast while ignoring what I say, “they have to be fake they’re too perfect.” She grabs my nipple between her finger and her thumb and rolls it a little too aggressively.

I start humming to myself, “Mary had a Little Lamb” a technique I used a lot when Eric was torturing me, trying to take myself away from the horrid tortures he put me through—anything to put my mind in some faraway place.

I hum louder when I feel the cold metal gliding over my stomach near my belly button, getting lower and lower toward my pelvic bone. The scissors slip under my panties and I hear snip, snip against the cloth. I feel my panties slide off of my hips and then a tug between my ass cheeks as Amy rips them away.

“Look at those hips! Who would ever find those attractive? And have you ever heard the term ‘thunder thighs’ before?” I open my eyes and see her shaking her head in disapproval to my curvy hips and thighs.

I know that I’m curvy, and I also know that I am not fat. Based on the way she is judging me, you’d think I am as fat as a whale. I’m a little put out by her comment—having a lesser opinion of myself than I have in the past. My confidence is so low, and being attacked verbally by a very attractive woman—one that’s attractive and crazy—makes me feel a little puny. I take a deep breath in and try to remind myself that I don’t care what she says, and I shouldn’t let what she says bother me. I am not on this earth to please Amy.

I’m sprawled out wide and naked displayed on the bed. I watch her closely, afraid of what she is planning to do to me. Her heels click along the floor as she paces around the bed like a predator eying its’ prey. My breath quickens and my heart feels like it’s beating a thousand times per minute. I don’t want to show her any fear, or that I am terrified. A scorned woman is probably the loosest cannon ball possible.

Amy stops at the end of the bed and smiles a wicked grin. I can’t see very well being tied down, but I notice her hands are behind her back like she’s hiding something. She leans over and I see a flash of black before I hear a snap. My eyes brim with tears when the pain registers in my brain. She just hit my tits, what the fuck. I try to raise my head and I see her raise her arm to smack down again. The black thing that flashes, I notice is a little hard whip that has leather strands hanging from the handle. It stings and sends ripples of pain over my breasts as she smacks me again. Amy brings up the little hand whip and with another hard thrust … she smacks me again. I scream as loud as I possibly can which is probably a mistake.

“That’s it, Treva scream! I want to hear you scream over and over again!” She says wickedly.

When she smacks me again, I push my lips together trying not to let out a single sound … refusing to give her any satisfaction.

She seems to get aggravated that I’m squeezing my lips tightly—trying not to make any sounds. She changes her tactics. The next time the black whip like thing with the little leather strands comes down to hit me, it strikes my clit. I buck and let out an, “Aah.” Her eyebrows raise, and her once sexy thin lips twist into the most distorted wicked grin I have ever seen. Amy raises her hand with a new found aggression and she is relentless … blow after blow between my legs. My throbbing clit hurts like hell. I want to close my legs and stop the brutal attack, but being tethered down keeps me positioned right where she wants me. I can’t do anything; she’s in complete control. Yet, I refuse to let her break my spirit. Tears fill my eyes, and I try desperately to hold them back.

“MMM-good girl, Treva!”

Damn you – “Fuck off. Amy!”

I see her stroll over and open a dresser drawer. She grabs a long stick that looks like ... Yep, a riding crop, and wait, what is that other thing? Amy comes alongside the bed and leans over me. I try to raise my head, to bite her arm, but she is just out of reach.

“Uh, uh, uh. Naughty, naughty.”

“What the hell are you doing?” I yell.

Amy reaches down, and I feel her hand on my breast—cupping it and massaging it. Her fingers glide to my nipples, and she rolls them between her thumb and her forefinger. Again, I try to resist, but the restraints dig into my arms. My movement is limited, and I can’t get loose.

“The more you squirm about, the more you turn me on Treva, so please give me a fight!”

“You’re fucking sick!” I spit in her face.

She uses her hand to wipe away my saliva, and then grabs my breasts more aggressively. A sharp pain goes through both nipples, and I almost pass out. She stands up straight and slowly walks to the foot of the bed. I look down at my breasts. She has two metal clamps attached to my nipples. The pain is almost unbearable. When I feel like the clamps are going to bite the end of my nipples off, she strikes me again between my legs … right on my clit.

Amy is now hitting me with the leather crop. Thwap … I hear the thud as she hits me again, and the sensation sends sharp, tingling spikes up my belly. I hear the crop go swish every time she strikes me. I clench my teeth, waiting for the next blow. SMACK.

I feel my pussy getting wetter with every blow and I want to scream from the defiance. My body is acting like my enemy. I don’t want her to get anything out of torturing me like this. Amy’s hand is between my legs and I feel her finger slide slowly across my folds.

“Why, Treva, you’re so wet. Is that for me?”

I try to buck up, but I think she takes it as an invitation rather than to get the fuck away.

Amy presses her mouth against my stimulated cunt, and there is nothing I can do but scream. The more I scream, the louder Amy’s groans … sticking her tongue in and out of my pussy. I try so hard to take my mind to a far off place—anywhere to get away from here—but I can still feel her hot wet mouth against me.

She circles her thumb over my clit and sucks on my swollen lips, pulling them into her mouth and grazing me with her teeth. My body hums at the pleasurable feeling, but I hope that my feelings are false. I don’t want her to know that what she’s doing makes me feel good.

I try to focus and take a deep breath in. I can’t give this psycho woman any ideas. I have to fight my urge to moan. I am not her plaything. I seal my lips tighter and try to remember the wonderful days I had spent here with Ronin. Clearing my head and picturing his beautiful body. Thinking about him helps me relax a little, and for a few moments, I forget about what Amy is doing to me.

Thank god it seems to work. I have calmed down and I’m completely still lying on the bed … the room is quiet. Amy gets up and stands near the side of the bed glowering down at me.

“This isn’t over.” She hisses.

Once I am alone. I start to cry. I’m not sure how long I’ve been lying here … I cry so hard that my body shakes. I lay splayed out naked in this cold room feeling absolutely broken. I hate Helena, but all I want is to be back there with my best friend—I would feel safe in the comfort of my home.

Eric had me locked up like an animal for two years before I was able to escape. I’m not sure I’ll be able to last another day going through this again. The uncontrollable tears stream down my cheeks, and I feel like I’m back where I used to be … that hell hole that Eric had me in.

My bladder aches with pressure and I’m not sure I even have it in me to yell to warn Amy. I’m so beyond broken, no strength, or energy to fight, but I don’t know if I want to lie in my own urine. I think I still have enough dignity deep inside somewhere to not get that far ... again.

“AMY!” I yell. “Unless you want me to piss your expensive bed you better get in here.”

I listen quietly for a moment and I hear the sound of footsteps. Amy swings the bedroom door open hard. “My guest needs to use the restroom does she? Well, I wouldn’t want to be inhospitable—let me help you.”

Before Amy reaches for the restraints, she puts a strange looking collar with a square box on it around my neck. When I hear a click, I see her grin. First, she unhooks my left wrist, not letting it go. She grabs a very firm hold on me and brings my arm over to my other arm twisting my body. Somehow she clamps my left restraint to the right one before she unhooks me from the bedpost. My arms are now linked together like handcuffs. I try to use my stomach muscles to pull myself up into a sitting position, but I am so weak. I just lay back on the bed as she releases my holds on my ankles.

My right leg falls limply to the bed and my body relaxes, now that it’s free.

“Why are you doing this to me?” I shakily say.

“Why? You ask.” She cackles an awful high-pitched noise. “I’ve been in love with Ronin for nine years. I’ve done everything and anything for him. He is supposed to be with me … it all makes sense.” She shakes her head in confusion. “And then you! You come along all naïve. I mean, come on. Look at you! No class, plain, obviously poor, you’re not worth taking a second look at. Yet he keeps giving it to you. So, what the hell do you have that I don’t?”

“I don’t know, Amy.” I’ve had that same question bouncing around in my head. Why would Ronin Hollister be interested in me? I’m not rich. I don’t travel those circles. I’m not classy. I’d rather wear jeans and a T-shirt over a dress any day. I’m so plain.” I let out a deep sigh.

“None of it makes sense. Amy, I am exactly all of those things you said and Ronin shouldn’t want me.” Another tear escapes from my eye and slides down my cheek.

“Please, Amy just let me go?” I try to plead.

“LET YOU GO? HAH! Treva you’re my test subject. I have a lot more tests that need to be done. I need to know why.” Her voice is growing louder and edgier and I know I shouldn’t push her anymore.

“COME ON, GET UP!”

She brings me to my feet and my knees buckle. Amy has a tight grip on my elbow trying to hold me up and a split-second decision races through me. I find my strength in my legs. I push up and lock my knees in place as I stand straight and pull my elbow free and spin around. I lift my arm and hit her smack in the jaw with my elbow, her head flies back and I bolt for the door. I round the corner as fast as I can, hearing her shoes beat across her wood floor behind me. I can see the front door and I reach my hand up when a jolt of electricity cripples me in the most excruciating pain I have ever felt. I drop to the floor flopping around like a fish out of water.

The burning pain eases and I see Amy hovering above me with her bright red pencil skirt and her button up white blouse … and yes, with a grin on her face like Satan. She holds up a little remote for me to see, “shock collar”. She leans back down and extends her hand. I don’t grab it right away—I’m afraid because she just shocked the hell out of me. I’m still trying to catch my breath when I notice a pair of men’s shoes behind her. My eyes snake up from the brown shoes over a pair of blue jeans and a green T-shirt. My heart stops when I see the evil smirk on Eric’s face.

###

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tyleroakleyfan: thank you for writing this story I loved it. it was great I enjoyed every minute of it I couldn't stop reading you did a fantastic job. Thanks for killing ron he was starting to piss me off. he was being a dick. I love that you made it a gay love story its about time someone did. love it great job.

PurpleInkling: Hippocrite is spelt hypocrite.Also it is an awesome story! A good one after so long. I was hoping someone would write a good fanficiton playing off what Ron said at the station. You are doing a remarkable job. It would have been interesting if Albus had also ended up in Ravenclaw though that mig...

Ruby0h: Overall I thought your story was really good! It drew me in right away and kept me interested as the story progressed. I loved the character of Kayla being inserted into this story, and the way she affected and shaped the life of the original story into something totally new and interesting. I lo...

Animeviewer: It is one of the best stories I've ever read. This story will have you riding a roller coaster of emotions and nearly dying to know what happens next.You will get very attached to the characters and in my case I relate well with some of their very traumatic or emotional experiences, Just Juliet f...

Jenn Deering: This is a go-to story for when you're needing a little happiness in your life. It's well-crafted, and characters are true to their show-selves. The pace is right, there are minimal grammatical errors, and the plot is fresh.

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FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"

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Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."

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Ro-Ange Olson: "Loved it and couldn't put it down. I really hope there is a sequel. Well written and the plot really moves forward."