Abby wanted to laugh at his outrageous proposal and his even funnier justifications. She equally wanted to burst into tears at the mess that had become of her life. Most of all, she wanted to run into Nana’s arms, confide everything. Well, maybe not everything. Then she’d beg for forgiveness and advice that she knew she could count upon to hold the wisdom of the ages. But she could do none of those.
Instead, she sat and watched her hands fidget against her white slip. She bit her lower lip until the pain reminded her that this was neither a dream nor a nightmare but very much her reality. She tried to rifle through Jack’s arguments logically. But her logical brain did not seem to be working worth a damn when that man was towering over her looking like one of the cover heroes on Mercy’s trashy ebooks.
She needed time to think. Away from him. She needed another cup of coffee. She wanted that bath he promised. But most of all, she wanted to wake up to discover that this was just another one of her hot fantasies about the man. If the soreness and stickiness between her thighs were not enough of a reality check, then the brownish-red stains next to her were.
She had slept with the man. Correction, she had had sex with him. Given him virginity that she had saved for twenty-seven years in some alcohol-fueled stupor. She hung her head in shame as tears filled her eyes. Perhaps the whispers of this town were not that far off the mark. Maybe apples did not fall far from the tree.
She supposed she should be thankful that he had not allowed her to drive home in that state. To destroy not only her life but others as well, as her mother had. After a lifetime of being the ‘good girl,’ doing all that she could to live down her mother’s reputation as a wild drunk, one night, one moment had destroyed it all. She feared then that those tears would escape like floodwaters during a spring downpour.
The bed shifted under his weight. He gathered both of her hands in his. “Would it really be that bad, Abby? Being my wife?”
His words almost caused those tears to spill out. How many times had she fantasized about just that thing? She could not even remember a time when it wasn’t her dream. All her old school notebooks had as many ‘Mrs. Andrew Jackson Greywolf,’ ‘Mrs. Jack Greywolf,’ ‘Mrs. Abigail Greywolf’ inside them as they did class notes. As old-fashioned as that sounded, as much as Mercy or her sister might believe she was selling out feminism, she had always thought it stood for choice. And that was her dream, her choice.
So, why the hell was she even arguing with him about it? Especially given the risks they had taken last night. He was right about all that, too. This place was where she wanted to raise her family. It had been another of her differences with John. But as Jack said, this town talked. And she did not want that for her child. If there was one…
But that was no reason to marry him. And that was the problem. Abby knew what it was like to be a ‘mistake’ that ruined her parents’ lives. She could not remember ever hearing the words themselves from her mother before the woman ran off with some lover. But they were always the precursor to every beating her father had given her. Not that she had any reason to believe Jack would… No, that was not it exactly.
The problem was, of all those little girl dreams, this was never it. Marrying Jack because she might or might not be pregnant. Hell, even his chemistry argument fell so fucking far short of the love she had dreamed of. And that was the bottom line. Did she accept his ludicrous plan and hope that one day he came to love her even a fraction as much as she loved him? And what if he never did? How did she get through each day, sleep each night next to the only man she had or ever would love, knowing he did not feel the same way? Could she do it?
His fingers under her chin lifted her head. Their eyes met. And the smoldering inferno lit like fresh kindling thrown onto dying embers. Her nipples hardened painfully against the silken slip. Every inch of her skin flushed and tingled, especially her face and hands where he touched her. She sucked in a deep breath as he slowly lowered his face towards hers.
His lips were soft, teasing as they moved against hers. But she remembered too well the fiery passion they offered. She whimpered like a lost puppy seeking the comfort of its mother’s teat, begging for attention. Still, he toyed with her, his tongue tracing her lower lip slowly from corner to corner as his hand moved up her arms and around to the back of her neck.
He had her virtually imprisoned, and yet still, he only played at the kiss he must have known she wanted most. She whimpered again, louder this time. “Please,” she begged into his mouth.
He drew back so quickly that it left her dizzy. The smile on his face was cocky, arrogant, self-assured. She wanted to slap him, wipe that look from his handsome face. But it only got worse.
“That was completely sober. In broad daylight, Abby Jean. And if I had not stopped, you would be spread eagle on the bed with my cock buried deep inside of you within two minutes. Not only would you not have stopped me, but you would also have loved every single moment of it. You would have come apart at my command just like you did last night,” he gloated.
Abby wanted to deny his claims, but she could not, given how her whole body screamed out for his touch. But hadn’t it always? How often had she touched herself and thought of this man? She tried to look away, but his hand at the back of her neck would not allow it. He forced her to meet his bold gaze as it raked over her half-naked body.
“You are a fucking Stradivarius. Your body makes the most beautiful music,” as if to emphasize his point, his hand cupped her breast. His thumb brushed across her nipple. It ached. Her body answered immediately as her chest arched into his touch, another moan wrenched from her dry throat. “But only a master violinist can release that song. In the hands of anyone else, it is just another fiddle.”
Abby tried to form a logical argument, respond in any way to his assertions. But that thumb kept stroking back and forth against the soft material of her slip. Her breathing was so shallow that she felt the room spin around her. Was it that simple? Had the problem been John all along? Was it possible that she was not frigid as he had accused? She needed to know for certain. Sober. In broad daylight, as he said. She needed to know for sure if she could feel that way again – alive. “Show me, Jack.”
He shook his head, “No, sweetheart. When I make love to you again, it’s going to be in king size bed with loads of pillows.” He pinched her nipple between his thumb and forefinger. She jumped, “You’re going to be wearing that white dress you deserve. And my gold band is going to be on this finger,” he lifted her hand to his mouth. First, he kissed her knuckles like some chivalrous knight of old. Then, he drew her ring finger into his mouth. His tongue toyed with it. His sharp teeth scraped it. He sucked upon it for a long moment. It reminded her of how his mouth had felt on her nipple. It popped loudly from his mouth like a balloon at a party.
His gaze never left her face, “I could tie you to this bed. Make love to you for days. I could train that responsive body to the point that a look from me will set it on fire. I can and will break you if I have to, Abby Jean. Make you really beg. The army gave me special training, baby girl. I can hold out for as long as I must to accomplish my mission.”
He chuckled, “I know you have heard the old saying, ‘why buy the cow if you can get the milk for free.’ Well, that goes for bulls, too, and this one ain’t going cheap. If you want more, it will be as my lawfully wedded wife. So, what do you say about a road trip to Vegas, Miss Monroe?”
Abby swallowed hard, fought back the tears. Shame. Need. Indecision. Insecurity. All swirled like a Texas tornado inside of her, picking up speed as it went. She shook her head, “How can you be so sure?” Her voice cracked as she looked away. One tear managed to escape and cascade down her cheek, “What if it was just a fluke?” She choked on the following words, like vile bile rising in her throat, they ate away at her soul, “What it if was all just the alcohol? What if I am frigid?”
Jack would have laughed if it were not for the pain he heard behind those words. He swore under his breath and promised himself that one day he would have a very long talk with her former fiancée. Making her believe that his failings as a lover were her fault. Men like that should be shot. Then again, that would be too good for him. But he had an idea for an even better punishment – in time.
Right now, he had a dilemma. He meant what he said; she deserved more, better than another quick fuck in a cramped bed. Even if he did know, he could make it good for her. Sometimes good was not good enough. He wanted perfection: rose petals, silk sheets, every girl’s fantasy. As stupid as it sounded.
He had spent a lifetime protecting this country. Other people’s rights. Their families. He had always assumed that all that was beyond his grasp. That the poor little bastard did not deserve such ‘normal’ things as a wife and family. Even when he came back here after the Old Man died, it was just temporary. He would use the time to settle old scores, bury old demons. Then he would give the bar over to the elders. Maybe head back there as a paid mercenary this time. Because deep down, he had never truly believed that he could have his dreams. Not really. Not until he saw her across that churchyard Sunday morning. Even then, when he had found out who she was… It had seemed that Fate indeed did have it in for him.
But all that changed last night. Was it just last night? Maybe he should have never given in to the temptation to taste her lips. But then look at all he would have missed. The sweet way that her tiny arms wrapped around his shoulders. Her soft moans when he touched her just the right way. But most of all, the way that she came apart beneath him, the way his touch could ignite her like lightening on the dry desert shrubs.
The thing was, she did not understand just how special that was. How unique the chemistry they shared could be. She lacked the experience to realize that this was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of magic. Hell, more magic than he had ever thought he would have in his whole lifetime. And he, sure as hell, was not about to let it go. Not about to let the head job that another man did keep him from having what he wanted.
“If it isn’t, Abby? What then? If I can show that the magic was real, are you willing to give this a go?” He forced her to look at him again. He knew it made her uncomfortable, but that was what he wanted right now. “Will you surrender to my terms, baby girl?”
He watched her throat work convulsively. He heard her quick intake of breath on the word ‘surrender.’ He smiled as he thought where those games might lead. She blushed and bit that bottom lip. He wanted to bite it harder until it was swollen and red. He wanted to taste her blood even. Something primal was raging inside his blood. Something that demanded to be unleashed even as he drew back tighter on the reins of his self-control as he practiced patience.
“What do you mean? What are you saying?” she stammered. “Do you mean if we do it again, will I marry you?”
He shook his head, “No, I meant it, Abby Jean. I am not making love to you again in this pink nightmare, in a bed that is barely big enough for one, where I’m afraid we’ll break the damned thing under our combined weight.”
He smiled at the look of disappointment that shone on her face at his words. This woman wore her emotions on her sleeve, as his grandfather would say. After a lifetime of conniving she-wolves, her innocence was refreshing.
“But there are other ways. Things I can show you. Prove to you that last night was no fluke. It was just the beginning.” He met her gaze, full-on, “Put plainly, Abby Jean, I want your word that you will marry me today – when I make you come again.”
Abby did laugh then at his ridiculous proposition. Or was it a bet? Ironic that the casino owner would play such high-stakes games. Although she supposed they were not that high stake for him. What did he have to lose? Why did he really want to marry her anyway? The word was out before she could stop it, “Why, Jack?”
“Why what?” he looked puzzled.
“Why do you want to marry me? Why not just enjoy the free milk as you say?” she boldly squared her shoulders. But it was all a show. Though she feared his answer, she needed to hear it anyway.
He shrugged casually, “I could lie to you, Abigail. I’m sure you’ve heard all about my grandfather’s will. The stipulation that I have to marry. The fact that I only have two days left.” His eyes captured hers in a heated gaze.
“I had decided until last night that I would hand it all over to the elders before I was forced to marry.” He drew in a deep breath before he continued, but he met her stare with firm resolve, “If you want the truth, I am kind of particular about what I want in a wife. I honestly never thought I would find it.” His eyes held hers, dared her to look away, “Until last night.”
Abby’s throat was too tight. So were her nipples. She could see the honest passion in his face as much as hear the practicality. But marriage was way more to her than a chore to be done to appease an old man’s dying wish. It was forever, which she realized now was probably why she kept putting John off for so many years.
She had been such a fool. Hell, she still was for even considering this proposal. If she had half a lick of sense, as Nana would say, she would throw this man out the front door on his gorgeous butt. But this was Jack. Her every fantasy rolled into one. And damned, if last night, the man had not lived up to every last one of those fantasies.
Was she seriously contemplating this? Sure, she had gotten into real trouble in fourth grade for writing Mrs. Andrew Jackson Greywolf all over her desk during boring math class. But was she honestly considering this man’s cold and calculating business deal of a marriage? And more importantly could she live the rest of her life with the consequences? “What do you mean, particular? And what makes you think I’d fit the bill?” It seemed she was.
“Your choice of clothes for one. The flowery fifties dress was feminine and classy.” Abby blushed and dropped her eyes. It was the wrong move considering that her eyes now took in the bulge in the front of his jeans. “But the slip, stockings, and garter belt were a fantasy come true, baby girl. But damn, what was beneath was even better.” He bent down his mouth against her ear, “I’m spending tonight with my face buried there. And you will come until you can’t take anymore. Then you’ll plead with me to fuck my baby into you.”
Abby swore she would suffocate then. She honestly could not breathe as her whole body flamed to life at the sound of authority in his voice. There was no mistaking his words for what they were – a command. One that he expected to be obeyed. If that was not bad enough, her eyes were playing tricks on her as she swore that the bulge in his jeans thickened and moved with his every word.
She was helpless to stop herself as her hand covered the short distance between them. Her fingers traced the hardness. Had that fit inside of her? She wanted it again. Almost needed. She felt him shiver beneath her fingers, heard his sharp intake of air. It was the only warning she got before his large hand covered hers, stilling it but trapping hers at the same time against the throbbing reality of what they had shared.
“And that is the other reason, princess. I want that classy lady to the world. But I want her to be a total whore. For me. Just for me. The way your body responded to mine last night said all I needed to know,” he lifted her hand then and placed it back in her lap.
She shook her head, “So, we are back to that. What if it was just the alcohol? Some fluke?” she was almost in tears.
His hand slowly and lightly caressed the entire length of her arm to her shoulder. He pushed gently there, forcing her back onto the bed. His body rose over hers with a smile as his hands continued their torturous exploration. His fingers brushed the straps of her slip back before tracing along the edge of her pale pink lace bra. He followed it all the way to the deep V in the middle and back up the other side. Then he pushed it aside, and her breast popped free.
Abby bit her lower lip and closed her eyes. “Perfection.” Before she could question his sanity, his hot mouth on her turgid nipple stole hers. He sucked and licked and even nibbled at the peak for several long moments until she was undulating on the bed, arching against him, her body pleading without words for release.
But he would not give it. Instead, he lifted his dark head. His hair shone blue-black in the sunlight drifting through the curtains. “Do you still think it was a fluke, Abby Jean?” He pinched her exposed nipple between his thumb and forefinger and tugged her breast upwards. She moaned at the pleasure/pain. It was a heady combination.
Abby was beyond thinking. Her body was once more a single massive nerve cell that seemed incapable of anything other than responding to this man. “Please, Jack,” she whimpered.
He shook his head and smiled like Satan in the Garden of Eden. “Please what, baby girl?” His fingers brushed the straps on the other shoulder aside, bared that breast for his inspection. His smile said that it, too, met his standards. He pinched the already hard nipple. “Can’t have her feeling left out, can we?” he growled as he once more lowered his dark head and resumed the torture.
Her body was no longer her own. It was as if her soul had been plucked up and transplanted into some foreign one, one that seemed alive as she had never imagined possible. It was almost an out-of-body experience. She could feel and respond to everything this man was doing to her. Yet some part of her mind was watching from above, detached and in awe of what she witnessed. This creature was everything she was not…sexy, desirable, responsive, wanton even.
“Jack, please,” she half whimpered, half growled.
He lifted his head again. That cocky smile annoyed and reassured her. “Please, what, Abby? Tell me what you want. What you need.”
She felt herself redden, knew she was blushing a deep scarlet. Until that moment, Abby would have never thought herself capable of such boldness. Capable of the passion and desire of one of the heroines in her books. But she was – and more. Need could do strange things to a girl.
“Make me come, Jack. I need to come,” she pleaded with her words and her body as it danced against his. She wished away the rough denim, wanted so desperately to feel him buried inside of her again. “Please, Jack!”
Jack swore he was insane. He had the hottest, sexiest woman he had ever been with underneath him, begging for him to fuck her. He knew she would not resist. He could feel that she wanted him almost as badly as he wanted her. And he was going to deny them both what they wanted. He hated himself then. At that moment, he realized that he was that fly caught in a web of his own making. But unlike the Old Man, he was not settling. He would play her, use her need, her innocence, to get what he wanted. Even if it damned his soul to hell.
He probably deserved hell for this anyway. This was Abigail. The little kid he had pushed in that damned swing. The sixteen-year-old that he had saved from… He might have to beat the hell out of Tad Meadows again. Hell, he was her cousin or some such shit, sort of. And if that weren’t bad enough, he had taken advantage of her while drunk. Consent, fuckhead.
But was he any better? He had taken her virginity. Even when he knew she was drunk. Except for his name and those three little words. Wasn’t that more than consent? They called it ‘firewater’ ‘Dutch courage’ for a reason. Sometimes it wasn’t that we did not mean the things we said and did when we were drunk. But that we meant them more than the lies we told the world and ourselves when we were sober.
And hell, even if she did not mean them then, he was buying a whole lifetime to make her love him. Yes, that sounded funny, especially from the little boy whose own mother never did, or at least not enough to get clean. But he would. Somehow, he would make this woman fall in love with him. It was his new mission in life. Beginning with…
“And when I give you what you need, Abby Jean?” He caressed her cheek softly as he spoke. But her body was so aroused that even that simple touch had her moaning and writhing beneath him. “Look at me!” He waited for her eyes to meet his fully, waited until he knew that he had her full attention. “When I make you come, you are MINE. Do you understand me?”
Her sharp intake of breath at that word told him more than the simple nod of her head. “No more arguing. We leave today for Vegas. You will marry me. Be my wife in every way that matters. Have my babies. Fall asleep in my arms every night and wake up in them the next morning. Stand by my side through good and bad, whatever life throws at us, little girl. Just as I will you.”
He knew that his words were harshly real. Perhaps on some level, they were as much for his benefit as hers. But the truth was that he wanted this bit settled. Here and now. He wanted her surrender. Total and complete. He smiled; well, that part he might have to work on a bit more. His games were a bit advanced for virgin schoolmarms, even super-hot ones meant for his loving.
“For better or worse. In sick and in health. Forsaking all others. Until death do us part, Abby Jean. This is no game. It is very much real, and I always play to win. You agree to my terms?”
Jack wondered for a moment as the silence stretched on if he had not overplayed his hand. What if she called his bluff? Could he just walk away? After watching his grandfather’s pain, how could he not? He swallowed convulsively as seconds seemed like days. Damn, why was this so important to him?
And why especially did it have to be her? Why did the perfect woman he had waited a lifetime to find, have to be that woman’s granddaughter? He closed his eyes against the pain as he faced the possibility of walking away or becoming like his grandfather, settling for scraps from her emotional table. There was no real choice. He pulled back, started to lift his weight off her.
Those tiny hands clutched him. Just like they had last night. Like what started it all. “No. Don’t go, Jack,” she pleaded.
“I have to, baby girl. I won’t settle. I can’t,” he wanted to explain, but he couldn’t. “I want it all, and I want it now. Maybe if I were a better man, a less damaged one, I’d give you time. Dinners. Movies. Flowers. Court you proper, Abby Jean. But I can’t take that risk.” He laughed, “You’ve kept one man on the string for five years. I ain’t the type to dance to your tune like that.”
“That was different,” she protested as her hands bit deeper into the knotted muscles of his shoulders.
“Oh, trust me, I get that. The blood on these sheets tells that story. But I won’t stick around to teach you all the tricks that your magnificent body is yearning to learn to have another man reap the benefits one day. If I train you, it is for my pleasure and mine alone,” he punctuated his words by pinching her nipple once more. Her expressive eyes told him more than he needed to know. “And yours, of course too.”
“Yes, damn it, Jack. Yes,” she half pleaded and half cursed him.
“Yes, what, Abby Jean? Tell me.” His thumb strummed back and forth across the turgid peak, reminding them both of the flames that even his harsh words could not bank. She closed those expressive eyes. He had no idea then what she was thinking. He willed them to open again so he could see into her soul – know his fate.
She sighed heavily as she nodded her head slowly. “Yes, Jack. Yes, I’ll marry you.” Her answer was barely a whisper.
But it was enough. His mouth took hers. His tongue invaded the deep recesses as if he could physically meld them into one being, absorb her into his soul. He feared even then, it would not be enough. And at that moment, he felt genuine pity for the Old Man. He finally understood how the greatest man he had ever known could become a pawn to love.
Was this love or obsession? It was not a question Jack was going to take the time to examine at the moment. Lust was more potent at that moment as his hand slowly slid down her flat stomach. His cock hardened at the thought it might not be for much longer. New life growing inside her. A life he gave her was the headiest aphrodisiac he could manage. He wanted to roar. He wanted to strip them both naked and give them what their bodies needed.
But not yet. He had to maintain his self-control. He needed to show her that she would not control him so easily. Or maybe he needed to show himself? It did not matter as his hand pushed the soft slip up her thigh to bunch once more around her hips. His hand moved between her open legs. His fingers sought out her wet heat once more.
He was not in the mood for any more games. They had played long enough. His thumb circled the hard throbbing button that was a miniature of the one bursting his jeans uncomfortably as two fingers sunk deep inside her. He found what he was looking for, that bundle of nerves just inside her tight channel. He pressed up, rubbed, and released.
She arched in his arms, clung to him as she screamed out. He drank in each note of her scream, each spasm of her release. He pushed her body higher, prolonged her orgasm as much for his pleasure as hers. It was not until her screams became hoarse that he gave a final light caress that left her whole body trembling as he withdrew his fingers.