The protector, p.29
Larger Font   Reset Font Size   Smaller Font       Night Mode Off   Night Mode

       The Protector, p.29
Download  in MP3 audio

           Jodi Ellen Malpas

  Oh, I’m going to make this as tricky as possible. I turn toward the tree and search for an obvious distinguishable mark, something small and precise. I smile when I find it. “About two meters up from the ground, just to the right. There’s a black circular mark.”

  Jake searches it out. I know when he finds what I’m pointing at because he smiles that beautiful smile. “There?”

  “Exactly there,” I say, standing back.

  “Whatever my angel wants.” He pulls the slide back, raises his arm, aims, and fires with hardly a second to line up his shot.

  The dead wood of the tree bursts, sending scraps of bark flying in every direction. “No way!” I yell, running toward the tree. I reach the base and look up to the exact spot I indicated, finding a perfect bullet hole. He couldn’t have got it more perfect if he was at point-blank range.

  “Jesus, Jake!” I swing around and find him directly behind me, looking up at the tree, too.

  “I think I hit it.” He shrugs nonchalantly.

  I gasp and jab him in his hard stomach, punching a chuckle from him. “That’s unreal!”

  With a smirk, he lifts the barrel toward his mouth and gently blows across the end. The playful move has all kinds of pricks, stabs, and tickles happening all over my naked skin. Oh fuck, he looks unreasonably gorgeous, bare-chested and armed with a gun. I bite my lip and transfer my line of sight from his lush, pouting lips to his sparkling dark eyes. My condition is clear. His awareness to it is clear, too, in the form of a mild, knowing grin.

  “Okay there, angel?” he murmurs, slowly bending and placing his gun on the ground before rising back to his full height. He reaches forward with the tip of his finger and drags it from my shoulder down to my breast. I convulse, backing up into the tree. I try to talk, to match his poise, but it’s in vain. I’m so turned on. He smiles and steps forward, not allowing me to escape him. Then he follows through with the same action, letting his fingertip meet my shoulder again and trail lightly down to my breast. His eyes follow its path carefully. This time, he circles my nipple, and I bang my head against the tree, my eyes closing, a moan breaking free on a puff of wispy air. “Naughty girl,” he whispers, his touch dragging across my stomach, heading to the apex of my thighs. My desire gushes south, leaking from my core. I’m so fucking wet.

  “Jake,” I whimper, running my hands across the rough bark of the dead tree.

  He hums and slips his hand between my thighs, my wetness making his caressing fingers slide with ease. I buck against the tree, hearing Jake expel a burst of breath. His hand is suddenly gone and he’s pressed up against my chest. I open my eyes and find him breathing down on me. He smirks and attacks my mouth with brute force, kissing me punishingly, fisting my hair. His fingers slip between my legs again and rub, slipping and sliding around my swollen clit. I grab him, ravishing his mouth as he growls and works me furiously toward where I need to be. I start to shake, I start to sweat, and then the pressure explodes without much warning, sending my knees bandy. I collapse forward into his body and shudder through my release, my mouth coming to a grinding stop, though Jake makes sure our lips remain connected, slowing the strokes of his fingers when I cry into his mouth. He gives me the time I need to recover, holding me up, breathing in my ear.

  “Time for a bath, angel,” he whispers, victory and satisfaction rampant as he collects my limp body into his arms and carries me out of his enchanted woodland.

  Chapter 27


  I ran the bath, tested the temperature, made sure it was fluffy with bubbles, and then lowered her into the water, melting under the sound of her contented sigh as she slipped beneath the foam. It’s up there at the top of my list of favorite times with Cami. It wasn’t premeditated, but I somehow managed to get the depth of the water just right, so the peaks of her breasts just broke the surface. I could have stayed there all night squeezing the sponge over her shoulders as she hummed happily, her eyes closed.

  But the water started to get cold, and I started to see goose bumps appearing over her exposed skin. After coaxing her from the tepid water, I wrapped her up and put her in bed. Being here, hidden away at my safe haven, I should have had no problem snuggling up to her and sleeping deeply all night.

  But I couldn’t sleep. I did, however, climb in behind her, spooning her deliciously, her body curving perfectly into mine. My mind was too busy to shut down. Still is.

  Once she’d drifted off to sleep, I gently detached myself from her warmth and sat on the edge of the bed. All damn night. My thoughts were so loud in my head, I was convinced they would wake her.

  I hate myself with a vengeance for reacting like I did when Cami gently pressed me on the photograph again. It was my perfect opportunity to spill, but it’s still too soon. I have things I need to do first. Today is the day I fix everything. Find Abbie and put my darkness to rest. And then I’ll tell Cami everything. I’ll give her all the missing pieces. Today I’ll know whether I can have a life with Cami, or whether I’ll be falling over the edge of the dark hole I’ve balanced on for so long.

  I rise from the bed and pull on some boxer shorts, then make my way down to the kitchen, leaving her sleeping. I’ll make her breakfast. Something stodgy and filling.

  I fill the frying pan with bacon and whip up some scrambled eggs, before loading the toaster. The smell is soon permeating the kitchen, and I don’t hold back on noise, knowing it’ll be traveling through the house along with the smell, and hopefully stirring her from her dreams. Flipping the bacon, I look over my shoulder when my phone starts ringing on the counter behind me. I can see from here who it is. I had planned on calling him as soon as I had tended to his daughter. So, he’s beaten me to it.

  “Logan,” I say, resting my arse against the worktop, keeping my eye on the door for any sign of Cami.

  “We need to talk.”

  “You don’t say,” I quip dryly, not exactly building the trust I’d planned on. “Get the charges from Sebastian Peters dropped and I’ll talk to you.”


  How? Did he really just say that? “Just like you do everything else, Logan. Ruthlessly. Pay him. Bribe the cops that are in your pocket. I don’t care how. Just get it done.” I walk over to the pan and poke the sizzling bacon around.

  “What about my girl?”

  Hearing this lowlife refer to my angel as his girl not only makes my skin physically crawl, it makes my blood boil. “Cami isn’t exactly holding you in high esteem right now.”

  “That’s because you’ve brainwashed her! You’ve manipulated her into bed and taken advantage of her. I can see to it that you never work again!”

  “I couldn’t give a fuck if I never worked again. Don’t think I need the cash, Logan. I don’t. I need the focus, that’s all. Your daughter is providing me with that these days.” I didn’t plan on stooping to those levels. Honestly, I didn’t.

  “You sick bastard!”

  “Don’t call me sick when you’re playing Russian roulette with your daughter’s safety.” The metal spatula in my hand is being squeezed to the point it’s bending. I swear, if Logan was in front of me now, it would be wrapped around his fat head.

  “My daughter is perfectly safe.”

  “She is when she’s with me. But I’ve been doing a little digging myself, Logan. You’ve probably guessed. I know there’s an e-mail file you’ve been keeping from me, and I’m guessing it’s part of the reason you want me gone.”

  His silence speaks volumes.

  “Get the charges dropped.” I hang up and drop my phone and the spatula to the counter, bracing my hands on the side and breathing through my fury.

  I’m at fucking war with the father of the woman I love. And worse still, I’m prepared to take him out if he gets in my way. I almost laugh at the irony. Logan brought me in to protect Cami from the enemy. Bet he never thought the tables would turn against him. I bet he never bargained for me. I close my eyes and let my strung muscles work their way down until they’re soft

  I can’t waste time anymore. Grabbing my phone, I do what I should have done a long time ago. I call the number that’s been haunting me for years. It’s time to lay some ghosts to rest. It’s time to make things right.

  Each ring gets my heart racing faster and faster, until it’s shuddering in my chest, making my breathing erratic and sharp.

  “Hello?” Abbie’s voice makes my heart slam to a stop just like that. I open my mouth to speak, but nothing comes. “Hello?” she repeats.

  There’s air, waiting to be expelled with some words, but nothing forms. I can’t speak. The silence stretches, as I search for the capability to talk, to say anything, to tell her it’s me. My determination has been flattened by the sound of her voice. Memories are thundering forward, pounding in my head. Her face. That beautiful, angelic face.

  I can’t do it.

  I go to disconnect.

  “Jake? Jake, is that you?”

  I freeze, my whole body arrested by shock. How did she know?

  “It’s me.” I spit the words out before I can convince myself otherwise, and wait for her reaction.

  It comes instantly. “Oh my God…” she breathes, the words disjointed and threatened by tears. “Jake, talk to me.”

  I search far and wide for anything to say, but there’s nothing to be found.

  “Jake, please.” She’s starting to cry now, her desperation cutting through me like acid. I look up to the ceiling, feeling hopeless and so fucking guilty.

  “I’m here,” I say, gulping down some strength and vehemently denying my hand’s desire to cut the call.

  “Where are you?” she asks, panic rampant.

  I swallow hard. “I need to see you.”

  The brief silence is filled with unspoken words. Need. I need to see her. Not want to or have to. I need to. “Okay,” she agrees. “When?”

  “I don’t know. Tomorrow, maybe.”

  “I’ll be here.” There’s no hesitation whatsoever.


  “How have you been?” She’s trying to keep me on the line, trying to gauge what she might be faced with.

  I can’t feed that need in her. Not now. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” I hang up and throw my phone across the worktop, trembling like a fucking pussy.

  How can a grown man be so terrified of a female? How can she reduce me to this? It’s the exact reason I’ve stayed away. It’s the reason I’m dead to her. I try to stabilize my chaotic breathing, collapsing to a nearby chair. It’s done now. No going back. I can’t have a future if I can’t put my past to rest. I never wanted a future before Camille. I was happy residing in my fucked-up limbo, beating myself up day after day.

  “Hey, you okay?”

  I shoot a look across the kitchen, finding Cami in the doorway, her body concealed by that white T-shirt I just love. I AM NOT TO BE IGNORED.

  I never knew how apt that statement would be. Her hair is a tangled mess atop her head, her eyes sleepy but still bright. And her legs—the most perfect legs I’ve ever seen. Her face, her presence, her voice. They realign my focus and kick me into gear. Standing from the table, I wander over and seize her aggressively, soaking up the startled yelp she sounds off. I can do this. For Cami, I can do anything.

  “I’m just about fucking perfect,” I say, ravaging her neck, growling as I do.

  She giggles, holding onto me as I recline her back in my arms, going to town, getting everything I can from her. I need it. “Jake!”

  “How did you sleep?” I return her to vertical and make a fuss of straightening her out. I don’t need to. She’s flawless.

  She frowns at me, a bit bemused. “Fine. You?”

  “Perfectly,” I lie, taking her hand and leading her to the table. I push her down in the chair before tucking her in and rushing to the pan to take it off the heat. “I made you breakfast.”

  “You did?”

  “Yes. Eggs and bacon.” I throw the eggs in a clean pan and grab some plates.

  “But I’m—”

  I swing around and wave a wooden spoon at her, shutting her up before she goes on to tell me that she’s not up for breakfast beyond spinach. “You’re not leaving the table until it’s gone.”

  She recoils, her head tilting in amusement. “Like I’m a child?”

  “No,” I counter quickly, stirring up the eggs. “Like you’re a woman with healthy eating habits.” So there.

  “Right,” she says from behind me. I can picture her face. It’ll be affronted. She can argue all she likes. She’s eating this breakfast.

  I stir the eggs and get the toast from the toaster. “And guess what?”


  I turn and slap the toast on the chopping board, grabbing a knife. She watches me with interest. “You get real butter.” I hold up the slab of pure fat and grin like an idiot.

  “I prefer dry toast.” She gets up and wanders over to the cupboard, pulling a mug down blindly, keeping scornful eyes on me.

  “No you don’t. Your agent prefers dry toast.” I scoop a huge helping from the tub and hold it up for her to see. Her eyes narrow, and I grin some more. “Yum.” I lick my lips and then slap it on the toast, smearing it liberally.

  “It’s my job, Jake,” she sighs, turning toward the kettle. “You don’t see me taking bullets out of your gun.”

  I consider what she’s said…for a second. “It’s my job to make sure you eat decently.”

  “That’s not decent. It’s a heart attack on a plate.”

  “Doesn’t hurt once in a while.” I serve it all up and slide it onto the table, then sit and wait for her to finish making the tea.

  I’m hungry. I could dive into my breakfast, but watching her putter around my kitchen is far more fulfilling. I sit back in my chair and get comfy, studying her every movement. She reaches up on tippy-toes to get the teapot from the top shelf, making her T-shirt ride up to her pert arse as she does. I smile, and she starts to hum, jiggling her shoulders as she moves around my kitchen, oblivious to the observation she’s under. She opens the door to the fridge and bends to get the milk, and then she’s reaching across the counter to open the drawer and grab a spoon.

  She’s sex on legs, and she isn’t even trying. My arms come up across my chest, my arse slipping down the seat a little as I relax. The smile on my face is glued into position. Always will be if I get the pleasure of this every day. Compelled to touch her, I get up from my chair and walk silently over to her as she waits for the kettle to boil. Her hands are resting on the counter, her fingers strumming as she continues to hum. I’m keeping her forever. Resolution courses through me like an elucidating lightning bolt. Everything falls into perfect place.

  I’m as close to her as I can be without touching her, virtually breathing down her neck. “Angel.”

  Her humming stops and she stills before me.

  “Turn around.”

  She holds her unmoving position for a few seconds, the kettle bubbling in front of her.

  And the moment it clicks off, she slowly turns to me, her profile coming into perfect view, her eyes round and unsure as she searches me out. She holds onto the counter for as long as her turning body will allow, finally releasing it and facing me.

  She looks down at me.

  Down at me?

  I’m six foot four inches fucking tall. How is she looking down at me?

  Then I realize.

  I’m kneeling.

  Her chest expands sharply above me, her hand coming to her mouth.

  “Marry me.” I’ve no idea where that came from, and by the look on Cami’s face, neither does she.

  “Jake?” She says my name as a question, like I might be someone else in disguise.

  “Marry me.” The demand just tumbles right out again, my hand lifting and taking hers. Deep down, I know I shouldn’t be doing this. I shouldn’t be asking her to make a lifetime commitment to a man who is pretty much deceiving her. Keeping her in the dark. But I can’t take it back now, and more than t
hat, I don’t want to. I’m a desperate man, willing to do anything to reinforce how much she means to me. So when I share the horrors of my past with her, I stand the best chance of keeping her. It’s tactical, I realize that, but my devotion to her is all I have. It’s the only weapon I possess that can win me this battle.

  Her round eyes look like they could explode with tears. And then they do, with little notice and not a hint of whether they’re happy or sad tears. “What are you talking about?”

  “Me and you,” I begin, a little panicked by her reaction. I tug her down until she’s kneeling with me, perseverance running through
Turn Navi Off
Turn Navi On
Scroll Up