“There was a fire in Temperance Calvert’s apartment last night.”
It took every ounce of control Dillon Stokes had learned in his thirty years of life not to physically react to that news. Inside was a different story. His chest tightened, his heart suddenly hammering as if seeking a way out of his body, and his blood went cold as ice.
“And you’re telling me this now because?”
“She was in a wreck a few weeks ago. Single car accident and apparently walked away without a scratch, but word is it could’ve been a hell of a lot worse.” Korbin Blackwell paused as if waiting for a response to that bit of news. When he didn’t get one, he put the icing on the already cooling cake by adding, “A couple of weeks before that, she was almost hit in a drive-by shooting.”
The vise around Dillion’s heart nearly squeezed the damn ticker in two. Christ! How much pain could the organ take in one morning? He figured he should at least help it out by breathing because, shit, he’d apparently stopped doing that as soon as Korbin had started talking.
He drew in a deep breath, let it out slow, and kept his voice bland when he said, “It sounds to me like she’s having a string of bad luck.”
Truthfully, it sounded like more than that. It felt like more than that, too, but damn if he was going to let his tongue say so. Korbin didn’t seem to have the same control over the fleshy, muscular organ in his mouth.
“It sounds to me like someone is trying to hurt her.”
Dillon had to swallow the lump that formed in his throat before he could speak this time. “Is that what the MPD has decided?”
“MPD doesn’t seem to be taking it seriously. They’re treating each as a separate incident and, lumped together, as one big coincidence.”
Dillon finally tore his attention from the coffin being lowered into the ground several yards away. The crowd that had been gathered around the gravesite had already started to disperse. Some had gathered in small groups to talk, while the rest were headed to the line of vehicles parked in the street that wound through the cemetery. So far, he was the only one who hadn’t moved more than his head. He wasn’t sure he could, especially now when his feet felt as if they’d sprouted roots into the ground beneath them.
He angled a sideways look at Korbin. “And, let me guess. You’re wanting to help her.”
“We’ve been asked to help her.”
Korbin’s intentional use of the word “we” wasn’t lost on him. Neither was the implication. “You talked to her?”
The green-eyed, jealous monster that reared its ugly head in his gut came as a shocker. For starters, why in the hell would he ever be jealous because Korbin had talked to a woman? He and Korbin had been sharing women damn near since they’d figured out their dicks had a more exciting purpose in life than taking a piss. Then there was the fact that the female topic of this conversation was Temperance Calvert. Temperance, who had made it clear on two separate occasions in the last fifteen years that the only way she ever wanted to see either of them again was over her dead body.
Except that a day hadn’t gone by since then he hadn’t thought of her and a night hadn’t passed that he hadn’t dreamed of her. And, as far as the over-her-dead-body part went, if Korbin’s instincts were on the mark, as they almost always were, someone was attempting to make that part happen.
Korbin shook his head. “I talked to Josh.”
Well, hell. The man was in possession of some serious blow-Dillon-out-of-his-boots ammo today. He even caught himself glancing down to make sure they were still on his feet. He would’ve been less surprised if Winnie-the-Pooh had come to life and requested their help to rescue Piglet from a cell of terrorist Tiggers.
Fifteen years ago Josh Calvert had been a confused, angry, and devastated teenager who had retaliated against his cheating mother by setting two very impressive and well-orchestrated fires in Pleasure. He might have gotten away with them if he hadn’t told Temperance what he’d done. No. Correction. He might have gotten away with them if Temperance hadn’t told Dillon and Korbin what Josh had done.
“He called before the service started this morning,” Korbin went on. “To use his words, he’s buried the hatchet and, in an effort to see his sister stays safe, is attempting to convince Temperance to do the same.”
“She won’t do it.”
Not unless she’d changed a lot over the years. The Temperance he’d known had been fourteen, fiery, feisty, and quick tempered, all of which he’d contributed to her firecracker red hair that perfectly suited her personality and her name. At fifteen, getting to know a girl like her had showed him precisely what he wanted in a woman and damn if he hadn’t been looking for a replica ever since. When he’d turned eighteen, he’d tracked her down once before leaving for his first enlistment with the Navy. Those three years hadn’t changed her a bit. She’d told him in very blunt, very hot-tempered words exactly where he could shove the phone in his hand and had abruptly ended the call.
That was the last contact he’d had with her. The last contact outside of his thoughts and dreams, in any case.
He’d seen her, though. A simple Google search of her name and, wham, he got a page of links that took him to her business website, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and every other social media site on the internet. And, of course, there were pictures. There had to be pictures. What better way to increase his torment? And, of course, he saved many of those pictures to his hard drive to stare at and fantasize over again and again because, Christ on a pogo stick, the fourteen-year-old girl had turned into one hell of an amazing woman and, for the love of God, he’d still yet to figure out why in the fuck he couldn’t forget about her.
“Josh is hoping we won’t give her a choice.”
The whole not-giving-her-a-choice part brought to mind many of the fantasies he’d had over the years about the one woman he couldn’t shake. “What the hell does he want us to do, kidnap her and keep her hogtied at the ranch until we catch whoever is after her?”
Temperance didn’t say a word as she opened the door to the room and stepped inside. At least not until Korbin and Dillon followed her in and Dillon closed the door behind them. That’s when she turned to face them, one brow arched over a questioning eye, and a mix of weariness and desire in her expression.
“I’m sure I’m safe inside this house, guys. Besides, Thaddeus is well on his way back to Memphis by now with Dirk and Jade eating up his dust.”
“Probably.” Dillon tossed the shopping bags that were just now making it upstairs into a nearby chair against the wall as he walked to her. “But you’re still wound tight, darlin’.”
Korbin saw her glance at him, saw the flames ignite in her eyes, and moved closer. He circled her, stepped in behind her, and framed her hips with his hands. “Why don’t you let me and Dillon help you relax, baby girl?”
Her head fell back to rest on his chest and rolled until her gaze found his and held it. “Both of you?”
Hope, desire, and trepidation skated across her angelic face.
“Both of us,” Dillon answered, and Korbin saw the man lift a hand to the base of her throat, drag it down her chest, and trace the neckline of her blouse. He felt Temperance shiver, too, and saw those flames in her eyes start to burn hotter.
“Is that what you want?” He knew it was, but whether or not she would admit it was the question.
“Or do you want one of us to leave?”
Her eyes widened slightly at that question and her gaze whipped to Dillon. “Oh, no. The two of you are not going to pull that one on me. I’m not about to choose between you.”
“Then both of us it is, darlin’.”
They undressed her together. Korbin bared her torso while Dillon took care of the rest and then, oh, yeah, she was naked between them the way Korbin knew both of them had wanted for half their lives. Everything about her had always drawn out Korbin’s basic instinct to have, to pleasure, and to dominate. He knew she had the same effect on Dillon, too.
Resting his chin on her shoulder, he gazed down her front, watching as her perfect breasts rose and fell in breaths that slightly quivered. When he breathed, he was gifted with the scent of her juices. He hadn’t taken the time to feed his hunger for her in the ETDF building the other night. As he exchanged a quick, wordless glance with Dillon over her shoulder, he knew the man would oblige him now.
“Perch on the edge of the bed and spread your legs wide, darlin’.”
Korbin stepped back as she turned between him and Dillon and moved to sit on the edge of the bed as Dillon had instructed. Her gaze shifted nervously from Dillon to him as she parted her knees until they had a perfect view of her pussy. Her pouty lips were spread and glistening with cream. In sync as they always were, Dillon held back as Korbin closed in, moving between her widespread legs and lowering himself to his knees.
She shivered when he flattened his hands on her inner thighs and softly slid his palms over the fluid coating her flesh.
“I love how wet your pussy gets,” he told her, gazing up at her from beneath his lashes. “It tells me you really want this. That you really want us.”
“I do,” she admitted breathlessly. “I’ve always wanted both of you.”
The feeling hearing that sent through Korbin’s system was indescribable. Unable to wait another moment to taste her sweet cream, he returned his attention to her pussy, flexed his hands on her inner thighs, applying just enough pressure to keep them open, and buried his face in her cunt. She smelled like a delicious, forbidden fruit, sweet and hot, the perfect combination to stroke the animalistic deprivation inside him.
Her quiet whisper awakened the beast inside him. A primitive possession roiled through his mind as he allowed himself that first taste of her hot juices. He angled his chin, thrusting his tongue between her sodden folds at the sensitive flesh just above her anus and swiping it straight to her clit.
He felt her upper body fall back to lie on the bed and grinned as he repeated the move, lapping up the pre-cum like a cat feasting on cream. Then he probed his tongue into her drenched opening and sank into a whirlpool of her arousal.
The walls of her channel contracted around his tongue as he licked, circled, and plunged deeper. Her moans caused his balls to grow heavier and his dick to pulse with the need to be sheathed in the wet confines of her pussy. He would get that pleasure soon, but for now, it was her pleasure he was after, more of those moans, and a few pleading screams that would let him know he had her right there on the edge.
She gave them to him as he found her engorged clit with the pad of his thumb. He worked the bud with a pressured rotation as he jabbed his tongue in and out of her cunt. Struggling to control his own needs, he devoured her pussy until her hand tugged so tightly in his hair that devilish darts of pain shot straight to his cock and her screams of ecstasy split the sexually charged air.
He kept licking her until the convulsing of her muscles slowed around his tongue, and then he eased back to look at her. She was sprawled out on the bed, her eyes closed, and her breasts rising and falling in breaths so quick he knew she was battling to calm herself.
Rising slightly between her legs, he peppered her inner thigh with tender kisses, worked his way to her lower belly, and kept on going until he reached her breasts. He paused there to circle one nipple with the tip of his tongue and felt it pulse as he continued to her neck.
“Get a hold of yourself, baby girl.” He nipped her jaw and then licked her bottom lip. “Dillon and I aren’t done helping you unwind just yet.”