Okay. This one is NSFW (not safe for work), and it’s not…. romance? LMAO. My “prompt” was as follows: heat level – sex is the point, her POV, trope – Forced Proximity, setting – Wilderness, prior relationship? – Strangers, genre – Suspense, vibe – Dark
So, hopefully I hit the mark. Time will tell LMAO.
“Last one, sweetheart.”
I eyeballed the shot of bourbon the bartender had slid across the glossy surface to me, then turned my gaze on him, glaring. “Excuse me?”
“I’ve gotta make sure not to over serve anybody,” he explained, with a halfhearted shrug. “That way everybody gets to bed safe.”
My eyes narrowed. “Do I seem drunk?”
“I know how much I’ve served you.”
“I can handle my liquor.”
He grinned at me – a little too lusty, enough to make me shift in my seat. “Everybody can handle it until it all catches up at once. You’ve had enough.”
I propped my elbows on the bar and leaned in, knowing exactly the kinda picture I’d created – tits and big brown eyes and pouty full lips. “What time do you get off?”
Surprise registered on his face, then he moved closer. “Why? Are you trying to be safe in my bed?”
I smiled at him, finally grabbing the glass and knocking it back, letting a little dribble down my chin so I could lick it off. “No. Just want to know when somebody with the balls to let me drink what the fuck I want can serve me.”
Instantly, his expression changed – he was all anger and annoyance and rejection. “Get the fuck outta here,” he said, pointing to the entrance – and exit – of the restaurant. Not my first choice for getting drunk, but really the only option available.
I’d arrived in the sleepy, middle-of-nothing town of Sugar Valley past closing time for everything except a diner downtown and this place, Maple, up at the base of the mountain. The diner didn’t serve liquor – and even if it had, this was much more my vibe.
Not so many bright ass lights.
“I’ve been kicked out of better places,” I told him, winking as I pulled on my ridiculous fur. It wasn’t the most practical thing, but I wasn’t the most practical woman. And when I’d gotten on the road, practicality hadn’t exactly been of much concern.
I just needed to go.
So I had.
“You’re a guest at the lodges?” he called after me, and I flipped him off.
What the hell would he need to know that for? I patted my pockets, feeling for my keys and wallet as I approached the door.
It was time to move on.
Except… a strange feeling crept over me, pulling me to a stop and practically cementing my feet to the floor.
Something… was off. I loved around at the other people in the restaurant and bar, looking around for anything that felt out of place. But if anything, if something or someone didn’t belong there… it was me.
“Hey – you’re not planning on driving, are you?” Suddenly, the bartender was in my face, eyes wide. “You’re not in any shape for that.”
I sucked my teeth. “Duh. I’m just going to my room.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You mean cabin?”
“Whatever.” I turned to leave, and he caught me by the arm.
“Hold up – I’ll walk you.”
I frowned. “You’ll get off me, or I’ll start screaming, fucking creep,” I insisted, shaking him off me. “I don’t need you knowing where I’m staying.”
“I don’t really give a shit where you’re staying – but it would be irresponsible to put you on the road. We’ll comp the room – cause I know your ass doesn’t have one – but you need to dry off. Go through there, it connects to the front desk.”
It… wasn’t a request.
That was the very clear impression I got.
And because the liquor was catching up to me, I really didn’t feel like arguing with this man. I went through the door he’d pointed out, still feeling that odd feeling. He didn’t follow me, but the door did lead to the front desk, where the older woman behind it looked up from her crossword puzzle book with a smile.
“You need a room honey?” she asked, and I shook my head.
Not the right answer.
Immediate concern crossed her face, and I quickly adjusted.
“Well, yes – I just need to grab my purse from my car,” I lied, bringing the pleasantry back to her expression.
“I’ll be right here – you be careful on those steps, that snow is really coming down.”
“Yes ma’am,” I nodded, already out the door as she was speaking.
She wasn’t lying.
What had been a light scattering of flurries when I arrived had evolved into a steady shower of fluffy white powder that likely wasn’t going anywhere any time soon, in the freezing temperature.
Even more reason to get my ass out of here.
It had been stupid to stop in the first place.
Well… not the stop, because I needed gas, but the gas station being closed was what had led me up here – the lodge had a small dedicated fueling station for their customers. Up here, I’d noticed the bar, and blah, blah, blah, but now I was on the verge of getting stuck.
Which was a mistake.
I had to keep moving, at least for now.
The parking lot was well-lit, but empty except the cars of the people tucked into the safety of the cabins and the main lodge – my bright coral Mercedes stuck out amongst a sea of deeper colors, which was a good thing for now.
Later — soon — I’d have to do something about it. I’d gotten rid of any GPS tracking, but it was too recognizable in its current state. I fished my keys from my pocket, cursing myself for thinking to use the push-button start before now, so it could start warming.
Not that it mattered.
I was pushed into the car from behind before I even reached for the door.
I wanted to scream – tried to scream – but there was already a hand over my mouth. I was all off balance, struggling to get away, to at least see my attacker. I wasn’t much of a fighter, but I wasn’t helpless either – I at least managed to turn around. My fingers were going wild, trying to get a good grip on the tiny, illegally powerful taser on my key tin, and I almost had it when a terrifying, unmistakable sound hit my ears.
The cocking of a gun.
“Cut. The. Bullshit.”
I went completely still, swallowing hard as the barrel of the gun pressed into my cheek. Now that the chaos of it all had come to a stop, I blinked, and then I was looking right into obsidian eyes filled with… death.
“Your husband sends his regards,” the man informed me, with a slight shift of the weapon against my skin, making it dig in. The shift brought more of his face into the light.
Copper skin, those black ass eyes, and a jaw line carved from stone.
Not a bad final view.
“He sent you to kill me?” I asked, meeting his gaze. My speech was awkward – with a gun shoved in my face and all – but I had to know. “Or just take me back?”
“Either – but one pays more. Come on,” he said, suddenly removing the cold steel from my skin and grabbing me by the arm. “Don’t do anything stupid. Anything else stupid,” he corrected, practically dragging me across the parking lot.
“You’re a freelancer?” I called, raising my voice over the howling wind. “You know he kills those? Uses his full-time hires to get rid of the loose ends. That’s what he calls y’all – loose ends.”
It was true.
Not that it mattered.
He didn’t falter from his journey, hauling me full speed to wherever we were heading.
In the distance, sirens started up, and the doors of the lodge flung open. I could see emergency lights headed up the winding path from the town of Sugar Valley to the lodge, and wondered what it was about.
But not long.
The flurry of activity had distracted him too, and I took advantage of the moment to snatch away and take off through the woods.
Not that it made much difference.
I didn’t get very far, half drunk and half blind from the snow before I tripped and went hurtling to the ground, ending half buried in a snow bank.
I didn’t bother moving, not for a while. I laid there long enough to wonder if I actually had lost him in the confusion, and then slowly, cautiously, I turned my tender body over in the snow. We weren’t in the parking lot anymore, but between the light reflecting off the snow and a bright moon, visibility was good enough.
There he was.
Standing right at my feet.
I couldn’t see his face, but I could feel his gaze burning into me, hot with annoyance. And I could see the gun peeking from his gloved hand.
“Get your ass up, and let’s go.”
I didn’t move.
“Just kill me.”
“You’re more valuable alive.”
“Then why the fuck should I cooperate?”
He lowered the gun, and crossed his arms. “Because it’s dead or alive. Nobody ever said shit about unharmed.”
Damn my low pain tolerance – the very reason I’d decided I was done with my husband in the first place. I wasn’t the do whatever you want to me, I’ll never fold type.
I got my ass up.
With some difficulty, but still.
“Do I need to tie you up?” he asked, once I was back on my feet, peering at him through the snow.
I smirked. “Do you want to?”
“Don’t fucking tempt me,” he snapped, grabbing my arm to guide me back up toward the parking lot. In just a short time, the flurry of activity had grown to a full-blown crowd, all standing in the cold chattering about something. He and I drifted along the outskirts with his gun pressed into my side, soaking the conversation up enough to piece together what was going on.
A small avalanche high on the mountain had caused enough of a chain reaction to take line of trees down – trees that were now blocking access off the mountain into town, which was the only way to get back to the main road.
At least until morning.
“Fuck,” my captor said, verbalizing my exact sentiments.
If I’d just left a little earlier, I could’ve been on the other side of this – or even better, in the middle of it, buried under too many feet of downed trees and snow.
It had to be better than this.
“Bring your ass on,” he muttered, snatching me back into the woods.
“I’m not dressed for this shit!” I argued, only to get dragged even faster, even further, around what I quickly realized was the back of the property, along the line of cabins until it split off into a set of smaller, scattered ones – one of which bore a sign that said closed for renovations.
That was the one he chose.
“We’re going to freeze to death, you know,” I complained, after he’d made quick work of breaking in with the light from his cell phone.
“I’ll take my chances in here versus the damn woods. Sit down somewhere,” he said, moving around to make sure the thick curtains on all the windows were closed before he started pulling wood from a box by the fireplace.
“You don’t think someone will notice a fire?”
“I don’t think anybody is going to notice it tonight, in the middle of a snowstorm, trapped on a damn mountain,” he countered. “They’re gonna eat and drink and fuck, and then by morning, we’ll be gone – if I have to knock your ass out and carry you down myself.”
He had a point there.
“Is that what you’d rather be doing?” I asked, ignoring his instructions to sit in favor of looking around the cabin – I could see where some of the trim had been pulled down, light fixtures missing, stuff like that. “Drinking? Fucking?”
“I’m here for a job,” he countered, pulling off his hood, jacket, and gloves.
“A shitty one,” I said, propping my hands on my hips. I was in the same sweater dress, heeled boots, and fur I’d left my house in earlier, all of which probably looked a mess by now.
Fucked up package.
The product inside was still good, though.
“Money is money,” he shrugged, still brandishing the gun as he leaned against the wall next to the blazing fireplace.
“That’s all this is about for you? Money?” I asked.
“Oh. I’ve got money. How much is he paying you?”
“More than you can afford.”
“You don’t know what I can afford,” I told him. “You probably think I’m stupid – that I was just some vapid fucking trophy wife, but… you’d be wrong. You have no idea what I am.”
“I know exactly what you are – a kept woman who… shit, didn’t want to be kept anymore,” he shrugged. “I don’t really give a fuck about the details, as long as the check clears.”
“My check will clear just fine – with the bonus of you not ending up with a bullet in your head after.”
“The fact that you think I’m worried at all about that makes it clear to me – you have no idea what I am.”
I smirked. “You’re a hired gun – nothing special, which is why you’re freelancing instead of going into private security,” I guessed, shrugging off my fur. “But more than that – you’re a man, and I know exactly how fucking simple y’all are,” I said, strolling in his direction as I pulled the dress over my head. “So… I’ll make you a deal. Not only will I double what he’s paying you – I’ll show you why he’s so mad I ran away.”
I looked good as fuck.
So it was no surprise that his eyes were glued to my body – it was actually the goal.
But what I didn’t expect was for him to push off the wall, sticking the barrel of the gun to the side of my head as he wrapped a hand around my throat and asked, “Where the fuck did you get that tattoo?”
I frowned, definitely not expecting that question. “What does it matter to you?”
“Just answer the question.”
“Somewhere you wouldn’t know anything about.”
He removed his hand from throat, reaching to hike the sleeve of his thermal up to his shoulder. “Try me.”
My gaze followed the curve of musculature along his arm, the fire light illuminating his skin along the way, all the way down… to the ring of thorns decorating his bicep. Ink that declared him, in the most twisted of ways, my brother.
Which explained why he was so interested in my rose.
“What happened to you?” he asked, lowering the gun. “I shouldn’t have been able to sneak up on you like this – not without a much bigger fight.”
“I’m not that kind of rose,” I informed him, backing away. “I’m… a lover.”
A smirk spread over my face as further understanding dawned on him, and he nodded. “Your rose is a different color…”
“We couldn’t all be trained killers, could we?” I asked, even though… it wasn’t quite true.
I’d done a bit of both.
“You say it like we were given a choice,” he said, crossing his arms.
“Maybe not back then, but you have one now.”
He grunted. “It’s not that simple.”
“It definitely is,” I countered. “My husband is going to fucking kill you. You’re gonna deliver me back to him, and he’ll be so grateful, and he’ll pay you immediately – maybe even a bonus. And then, in a few days – maybe a week… he’s gonna send his guys in for clean up. And I promise you – they ain’t using fabuloso.”
“Why should I believe you?” he asked. “You’ll say anything to save your life.”
“You’re not wrong – but I’m not lying. Think about it – he didn’t even tell you what I was.”
He scoffed. “And you think that makes me want to take your word over his?”
“He bought me off his brother,” I snapped, shaking my head. “Before he got excommunicated from the Collective for being corrupt. Reynard Belrose, Etienne Belrose’s fucking brother. Do you know how fucked up you’ve gotta be for that to happen? Your own brother?”
I could see it in his eyes as he reached into his pocket to pull out his phone.
“Do not tell him you have me,” I pleaded. “Don’t even tell him where you are. But… ask him about what assurances you’ll get when you bring me back. Tell him you want more. Listen for his reaction – listen for the lie – I know they taught you that. How did you even end up wrapped back up in this shit with scum like him?”
When he shrugged, I saw it – all over his face.
When the Garden fell – when Etienne went to prison for his myriad crimes – it was a hard time for most of us. I’d already been pulled away from the Garden – already at the mercy of Reynard – but I saw the disarray all the scattered roses and thorns found themselves in.
And with the way they’d programmed us… it really wasn’t hard to understand how some might end up back in range of the sick ass Belrose brothers.
He wasn’t just brainwashed though – or at least, he wasn’t “under” – he didn’t have that blank look in his eyes that told that story.
“How much did he offer you?” I asked, again.
I nodded. “Reynard paid ten. When I was twelve years old. If that tells you anything about the kind of person he is.”
I knew that number because he’d drilled it in my head like a mantra, making sure I knew. Any time I was disobedient, or bratty, or whatever the fuck, he made sure I knew.
And I was grateful.
Because it kept me lucid.
I wouldn’t lie – aside from the obvious, I’d enjoyed a vastly privileged life – it would have been easy to delude myself into thinking I should be grateful to him, or that any of it was out of kindness.
It was about maintaining a certain presentation, a certain status, for him.
And I never allowed myself to think it was anything more, anything better – staying coherent enough to put aside money, jewelry, other gifts. I paid attention.
If I played my cards right… it would save my life.
“I have eyes on her,” he said into the phone, and I knew Reynard was on the end. I watched him as intently as he watched me, while he listened to whatever was being said.
“What if the price has gone up?”
And I saw the tiny, subtle shift in his expression.
Then he raised a finger to his lips, and lowered the phone, switching it to speaker.
“— another million? That’s not a problem. But I want her alive,” Reynard insisted.
“What if I have to fuck her? Would that be a problem?”
I raised an eyebrow.
“Have to?” Reynard asked.
“If you want her back alive, quietly, I need to get her alone. Get her to trust me. If I fuck her right she’ll do anything I say.”
Reynard coughed – a whole coughing fit that made me cringe, disgusted. “Just get her back to me, Dale. I don’t care about the details.”
I shook my head.
That was a lie.
“Understood. And what assurances do I have that I won’t become a casualty of your quest for some sort of… peace… after I’ve returned your wife to your possession?”
“You heard me.”
There was silence, for a long moment. “Where did you say you were, that you’d found Anaia?”
“But I won’t, until you answer the question – but obviously, you have answered it.”
“Bring me my fucking wife.”
A slow, dangerous smirk spread over Dale’s lips. “Come get her.”
With that, he hit the button on the screen to end the call, then turned the phone off.
“You did,” he nodded.
“So… how long before they find us?”
He shook his head. “They won’t. You did a good job disabling all your tracking – I checked it while you were drinking.”
“Then how did you find me?”
“I watched you disable the tracking, five hundred miles ago,” he answered. “And they could never track me.”
“Why did you ask him if you could fuck me?”
“Because I want to fuck you. And now… I don’t have a reason not to.”
Suddenly, I was very conscious of the fact that I was in just my – skimpy – underwear and boots, and heavy earrings – the only ones in my immediate possession. Everything else was stashed. Not self-conscious… just conscious.
“Do you only want to do that because it would get under his skin if he knew?” I asked, taking a seat on the couch and spreading my legs apart – the barely-there lace wasn’t doing much to hide my pussy anyway. “The last few men I fucked… he had them killed. Couldn’t stand the thought of anyone else having touched me – even though he’d given his permission.”
“I wanted to fuck you five hundred miles ago,” Dale said, sauntering across the room. “But this new information… it’s definitely a bonus. Pussy to kill over…”
I reached between my breasts, unclipping my bra and pulling the cups apart to let them spill free. “He hasn’t been able to get it up in months – even with pills,” I grinned. “It infuriates him – that’s why he’s so pissed, and that’s why he’s been so sloppy. How I finally got my opening… to leave.”
Dale was right in front of me now, and already hard, bulging against the front of his jeans. I reached up, unbelting, unbuttoning, unzipping… letting him free.
The smell of him made my mouth water.
“Do I still have to pay you the bounty?” I asked, cupping his balls in one hand, his shaft in the other. I didn’t wait for an answer before I took him in my mouth, sucking hard. His hands went to the thick coils of my hair, fisting and holding tight as his hips bucked, pushing his dick down my throat, making me move my hand.
I put it between my legs instead, giving my pussy the attention it was begging for as he held his dick in my throat as I swallowed, contracting around him. I gagged but didn’t choke, humming against his flesh as I pulled back, then took him deep like that again. And he wasn’t shy about fucking my mouth – he leaned into it, literally, holding my head in place as my face turned into a mess of saliva and tears, and then, finally, cum.
I swallowed his seed and then licked him off my lips and chin, never tearing my gaze from his. My hand was still between my legs, and I was soaking wet, my useless panties pushed aside. Dale dropped to his knees in front of me, his mouth joining my hand, working with me. My head fell back, eyes closed as he ate my pussy, eventually moving my fingers out of the way so he could do all the work. I gave the attention to my nipples instead, pinching them the point of pain as Dale’s head bobbed between my legs until he made me cum and then licked me clean.
I watched, breathless, as he stripped all the way out of his clothes and then took the seat beside me, motioning for me to climb on.
I didn’t hesitate.
“Don’t kill me, okay?” he teased as I sank onto him, and I wanted to laugh, but you needed breath for that – breath I didn’t have.
His hands and dick were both big, and thick, just like I yearned for, making it easy to put on a real show – it was always easier when the pleasure didn’t have to be faked. His head between my legs had already primed me up, and this was the bonus round.
I learned from Jill Scott to always try to beat the high score.
I rode his dick like my life depended on it, because it just might, for as much as I knew. His fingers dug into my hips as he met me with upward strokes, fucking me just as hard as I was fucking him. He moved a hand to between my legs, pinching my clit between his forefinger and thumb, and the very next thing I knew, I was cumming again.
That didn’t stop him.
He kept on until he found his nut too, surging into me with the kind of stroke you reserved for a place you wanted to get stuck in, cursing the whole time.
I agreed with every word.
Once we’d caught our breath, we separated, using bottled water from a bag labeled for emergency use to clean ourselves up, and hydrate.
“You never answered my question,” I told him, once I was dressed again. “Are you going to fuck me like that and then still make me pay you?”
He stared at me a while, then shook his head. “You know… I remembered something. The roses like you… you don’t get trained for fighting, but… you get defense training. Survival.”
“What about it?”
“Where are the blades?”
“Why would I tell you?”
“Why didn’t you kill me?” he asked, peering at me. “Your earrings… spiked, right? Some kinda toxin?”
I smirked. “You said it yourself. If you fucked me right, I’d do whatever you said.”