Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller
Vasha: Being groomed for the man who purchased me is the only life I’ve known. But I want more. I want freedom! My husband-to-be is a cruel, vicious man. I dread the day he claims me. When my bodyguard and friend, Anatoly, arranges my passage to America — as a mail order bride — I hope it means things will be better. I never counted on my husband being so handsome, or so tender. Nor did I know that passion between a man and a woman could be so consuming! He leaves my knees weak and makes my heart race. There’s just one problem… He doesn’t know we’re married! I don’t know how it happened, or how to fix things, but it’s clear Slider is angry. Leaving is the only thing I know to do, but it is also the hardest decision I have ever made.
Slider: I’m not even thirty yet, but I’m already tired of the bullshit that comes with easy women. Maybe seeing my Pres settle down gave me a new perspective. Having the same woman in my bed every night is starting to sound more and more appealing. Or guy. I’m not picky. Love is love. What I didn’t count on was my ex-lover deciding to “help” me with my problem. When he left a naked woman in my bed, I was pissed… until I realized she was in trouble. She needs me, and maybe I need her, too. I always did have a hero complex, but it only takes a few minutes of knowing her before I want to slay her dragons, keep her safe, and show her that not all men are evil.
I didn’t count on her being my wife. F**cking Surge! Always putting his nose where he shouldn’t. When she runs, I realize I seriously screwed up and I have to get her back.
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Copyright ©2019 Harley Wylde
Speak of the devil. I smelled Surge’s cologne before I saw him.
“We good?” he asked.
“Yep. Just tired of the scene inside.”
He shoved a mug of beer toward me. “Here. Drink. Might take the edge off.”
I took it and gulped down half. It was more bitter than what I usually had, but beer was beer. At least, tonight it was. Maybe if I got drunk, I wouldn’t care that I’d be spending the night alone.
He rubbed the back of his neck and cast a look around before reaching for my hand. He twined his fingers with mine. “I know you want more than what I can give you, and you should have it. I’m sorry I’m not ready to settle down, and I hope things don’t get weird between us. I like you, a lot, but I still want to have fun and meet new people. Maybe learn some new things.”
I could understand that. He was younger than me. While I’d been partying hard since high school, Surge was only recently experimenting and opening up more. He’d been a bit reserved when he’d first asked to prospect. I gave his hand a squeeze before letting go.
“It’s fine. I get it. You were clear up front that we were just having fun. Guess I’m just… envious. I see what Spider and Rocket have, and I think I might want that too.”
He looked torn. Before I could react, he pressed his lips against mine in a fast, hard kiss, then took a step back. The way his hand shook belied his agitation, but I hadn’t kicked him out of bed. This was his doing. I didn’t understand what he was thinking or feeling. Had he just been scared of getting too close to someone?
“This might be overstepping, but there’s a gift at your place. All right, so I seriously overstepped, but I think it’s what you need. Before you even said anything, I could tell that you were starting to get that itch. I knew that our time was up or you’d start wanting more from me. You’ve had that look in your eyes almost since the beginning. I’ve been working on this surprise for over a week.”
A week. For a week he’d planning to end things and hadn’t given me a fucking hint? All he’d had to do was say he was bored and we’d have gone our separate ways. No big deal. If he’d just talked to me, been honest about what he was thinking and feeling, then maybe I wouldn’t be so disappointed right now. I’d expected more from him. Not more as in a relationship that was long-lasting, but I’d thought he was man enough to be up front about shit.
“What the fuck does that mean?” I asked.
“You want someone steady in your life, and that’s fine. It’s just not something I want right now,” he said. “Maybe someday. I don’t know. But it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have it. All I want is for you to be happy, Slider. Now go check out your gift.”
I ran a hand down my face, wondering if there was a way to rewind and undo this conversation. It was weird as shit and getting worse by the moment.
“What the fuck kind of gift is supposed to resolve my relationship status? You better not have hired a fucking stripper.” Nothing against those women, or men, but they just didn’t do anything for me. I didn’t like fake. If someone was with me, I wanted it to be genuine, which was probably why I was so fucking tired of the scene in the clubhouse every night.
He smirked. “Why don’t you go home and find out?”
Jesus. I thrust the half empty mug at him, and stepped off the porch. My bike was buried three deep so I decided to walk my ass home. Mostly I didn’t want to stand around waiting for everyone to move their rides when I didn’t know what the fuck was waiting for me at the house. If Surge had wanted to call it quits between us, all he had to do was say so. I’d known he wasn’t in it for the long haul, but this was fucking ridiculous. What the hell kind of gift had he left me?
Swear to Christ if he’d left a woman in my house, some stranger, I might very well kill him. There were times I had to question his reasoning. There was shit in my house I didn’t need someone digging through, and I knew enough about women to know they were fucking curious. If I walked through my door and got shot, with one of my own guns no less, I was going to be fucking pissed. Worse, if whoever he’d left inside had stolen anything, I was going to pound Surge’s ass into the damn ground.
I stomped up my front steps and threw open the door, not caring if I scared the shit out of whoever was inside. The lights were on, but I didn’t see anything out of the ordinary. I went room by room, then closed my eyes and took a calming breath before opening the last door — the one to my bedroom. Curled in the center of my bed, bare as the day she’d been born, was a small female. I blinked a few times, thinking my eyes were playing tricks on me. Then again, the room did spin a little. Just how strong had that beer been?
Glancing around, I spotted a pile of clothes that looked like they would fall apart at any moment. They weren’t the type of worn material that people paid high dollar for, but more the kind you owned when things were really fucking bad. I focused on the woman. I’d seen plenty of beautiful women before, but this one seemed almost otherworldly. She was dainty, and delicate. Her blonde hair was so pale it was nearly white and lay in a wavy tumble across my pillow. Slowly, I entered the room and shut the door behind me.
Any anger I’d felt melted away. It seemed he hadn’t left a stripper in my house. I wasn’t quite certain what he’d done just yet. But the strippers I’d seen around town wouldn’t have been caught in dead in the clothes piled near the bed. I hoped to Christ he hadn’t paid some homeless woman to sleep with me. How was this woman a gift?
I moved closer and reached out to shift a strand of hair that had fallen across her cheek. It was soft, softer than anything I’d felt before. Kneeling next to the bed, I studied her a moment. The sharp blade of her nose, her prominent cheekbones, the way her lashes lay dark against her pale cheeks. It was a little like discovering the fae were real and one had fallen asleep in my bed. I smiled a little, thinking of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, except there was only one grumpy bear in this house, and I was quite content to leave her sleeping in my bed.
What. The Fuck.
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