This is a continuation from last weeks posts. The brawl continues with some results.


Fists were flying. Men and quite a few women were mixing it up. A few ducks and dodges, deflections and redirected fists,  she avoided being hit.

She grinned as Lincoln crawled away and started after him. He deserved a bit more punishment. A body barreled into her side and knocked her into the table. The punch bowl tipped and drenched her in a fruity concoction. She didn’t have time to wallow in disgust because Avery had one hand clamped around Lincoln’s skinny throat and the other hand machine gunning his grill.

She grabbed Avery’s fist, thinking she could stop him. He shattered that illusion. His fist kept pistoning. “Enough! He’s not worth ending up in jail. Let’s go.”

Avery stood, dragging Lincoln up with him, then discarded him like the refuse he was. He propelled Emeline forward with a hand on the small of her back. Shoving the foolish out of their way, Avery didn’t stop until she was sitting in the passenger seat of the Range Rover.

“Don’t. Move.” He slammed the door and walked around the front of the SUV.

He really liked those one-word sentences, she noted. The creepy sensation she’d experienced lingered, leaving her nauseated and bewildered. What had happened?

Avery climbed into the driver’s seat.

There’s only one way he’d found her. “So where did you plant the bug?” Probably not where he would’ve liked to plant it, she thought waiting for his answer.

“Keychain.” He started the car and drove sedately down the residential street until a speeding police car had zoomed by.

Emeline pulled her keys out of her pocket. He hadn’t lied. A tiny bug dangled like an accessory. She plucked it off her key chain and tossed it out of the window.

“So anxious to see your ex, you sneak out of the house? All you had to do was tell me and I would’ve dropped you on his damn doorstep.”

“I wasn’t there for Lincoln,” she shouted.

“Then why? Why were you at that house?” he barked and took a sharp curve to fast. The tires squealed and Emeline bounced off the door.

She glanced at the hard cut of his jaw, the white-knuckled grasp of the steering wheel. The man wore the bad-ass visage as if it were a second skin, an impenetrable amor. Yeah, he defended her twice tonight. Did that make him trustworthy or just doing his job?

Emeline bit her lip. She needed him in her corner. Should she tell him everything? Could she trust him with part of the truth? She thought of the drool rolling down Belinda’s chin.

“I needed some information about the drawings. Lincoln’s sister, Belinda, is an authority on Egyptian artifacts.” Not quite true, but would do.

Stone-faced, “And it couldn’t wait until morning?”

She crossed her arms and sunk down in the seat. “No.” If she had waited, the miniscule amount of info she’d received would’ve been lost.

“You don’t need a bodyguard, you need a babysitter,” he sneered and swerved around slower traffic.

She grabbed hold of the ‘oh crap’ bar and fumbled with the seatbelt. “You know damn well they’re one and the same. So stop bitching.” She glared into his slightly surprised eyes. “I did it. I left. I didn’t do it to piss you off. If I had waited, to talk you into letting me go, it would’ve been too late.”

She couldn’t get Belinda’s slack-jawed expression out of her head. Whatever they did to Belinda, they were going to do to her. She just knew it.

An indescribable look crossed his face, then he turned back to the road. “What happened in there?”

Emeline looked out the window. Telling him might involve tears and she wouldn’t cry, not in front of him. The silence stretched and the miles ticked by. She rolled the window down, closed her eyes, and let the cold air beat her.

“So Lincoln just happened to be there. Coincidence, huh?”

She didn’t owe him an explanation, didn’t owe him anything. “They’re siblings and that’s her house. I had no idea there was a party or that he would be there. And even if I did, I still would’ve gone. Not that it is any of your business.” So why did she explain herself? “This conversation is over.” She slouched in the seat and closed her eyes.

The car rolled to a stop, jarring her awake. She stretched and a yawn escaped. How long had she been asleep? The driver’s seat was empty. Her car door opened and there stood Avery, face tight, muscles tense. Anger still radiated from him. She shook off her sleepiness and didn’t fight him when he took her hand and helped her from the car. A deep breath filled her lungs with salty air that tickled her nose.

“Where are we?” She looked around at the deserted street. This wasn’t Harlem.

“Westchester. The river is that way.” He turned her toward the front door of the building where they had parked. His hand slid down her back and propelled her forward.

“And why are we here?” She asked, letting him guide her.

He nudged her ahead of him, into the building. They walked down a hallway to a freight elevator and rode to the fourth floor. The door opened to a single metal door in a 5×8 hall. He stopped at a keypad and pressed his thumb against the illuminated console. A low beep and the door opened.

“Wow. Nice place.” She strolled deeper into the apartment. The loft opened to a large living room decorated in different hues of gray with a bank of floor to ceiling windows that had a view of the river. A chrome and steel central kitchen and formal dining area completed the spacious room. She ran her hand over the ash colored leather sofa. The dark masculine colors suited him.

“I didn’t decorate.” He leaned against the wall to the kitchen, his arms folded across his wide chest, long legs crossed at the ankle.

She wasn’t surprised. He didn’t seem the decorating type. “I said it to be polite.” She shrugged. “So, why are we here?”

“Your house has been compromised twice by Vito and you. Here is a better option.”

He hadn’t moved from his spot, yet he seemed relaxed as if being here eased his tension. “So you bring me here without asking me?”

He pushed off the wall and approached with a loose-limbed gait which accentuated his strength and sensuality. “Bodyguards do that sometimes.”

“That’s kidnapping.” She glared at him.

A careless lifting of his massive shoulders, titillated as much as it annoyed, was his answer. He clasped her chin and angled her head to peer at her bruised cheek. “Did you get hit again?”

“No.” His question annoyed her. She could take care of herself. Though she should be grateful he didn’t see her in action. “I’m not staying here.”

His glaze flickered lower, swept down her entire body. “You will stay here or I will break your legs and make you stay.”

His dark eyes threatened, yet captivated, and heated her skin. Her nipples tightened under the tacky sweater. She wanted to pull her coat closed, but wouldn’t give him the satisfaction of seeing her flustered. Then again, she was tempted to strip off her coat, no—strip everything off and see if his cool nonchalance shattered.

She couldn’t. That’s what Ridley wanted, to use her like a whore, and Emeline wouldn’t give her the satisfaction. Even though she wanted him—badly.

“I’m not fucking you,” she said to herself…then realized the words had actually left her mouth. Horrified, she froze and waited for Avery’s reaction.

His face turned to granite, his eyes flinty. He crowded her with his body so close the heat of him baked her. “I’ve had enough women fuck me.”

Whoa. Her breath left her in a rush, along with anything else she could possibly say.

Avery returned to the front door.

“You’re leaving me here?” Apparently, she did have more to say.

“I’ll be back.” He punched in a code into the security panel. “And yes, I’m locking you in. You’ve blown your trust with me.” The door slammed behind him, clicked twice, and the alarm gave a long beep.

A scream almost tore from her throat when the absurdity of her situation dawned. Avery didn’t trust her. He had every right not to.


Coming in November!

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