The edge of dominance, p.47
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       The Edge of Dominance, p.47
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         Part #4 of The Doms of Her Life series by Shayla Black

  “It’s perfect. I can’t thank you two enough for everything, especially my new car.” Macen looked up at Liam. “I’d been eyeing that one. It’s extravagant.”

  “But well deserved.”

  “And to think, when you hit me up to buy you a new car, I told you to fuck off.” Hammer laughed.

  Raine wriggled between them. “If anyone needs a new car, it’s me. I don’t think schlepping the baby around in a two-seater is a good idea.”

  “Good point. I’ll take care of that, precious.” He nuzzled her neck. “Did I mention how beautiful you look tonight? Hmm. Completely fuckable and good enough to eat.”

  “I saw you coming down the stairs earlier. You broke my heart with your loveliness.” Liam sighed in her ear, drinking in the moment. “I wish I could make time stop, hold on to tonight for a bit longer than a heartbeat. I’d like to remember you just as you are now with the light catching your hair, your eyes alive with love and laughter, and the life in your womb making you glow.”

  “Aww, Liam…” she breathed, craning her head to smile up at him.

  “Show-off.” Hammer laughed as he pressed a tender kiss to her lips.

  She turned back to Macen and cocked a brow expectantly.

  “What?” He shrugged in mock helplessness. “I said you look completely fuckable and good enough to eat. That’s romantic, isn’t it?”

  She rolled her eyes. “Coming from you, I suppose it is.”

  “Wait,” he commanded softly. “Let me try again.”

  Raine waited with a placid patience she almost never had.

  He cupped her cheek. “You take my breath away, precious. You always have. I love you and I intend to spend the rest of my life proving it every day. How’s that?”

  She gave Hammer a radiant smile and drew him down for a kiss.

  “Now who’s showing off?” Liam smirked.

  They all laughed. Both men kissed her soundly, then each offered her an arm. They got cozy in a shadowy corner of the living room, away from the guests, noise, and revelry.

  Raine plopped down on the sofa. “I’m so excited. Our first real party in our new house, surrounded by family and friends. And finally, all our troubles are behind us. I have the two best guys in the world. I’m lucky.”

  “We have the most amazing woman.” Hammer belted his arm around her waist and leaned her back against his chest. “You put up with me when I was a womanizing ass.” He looked Liam’s way. “You stood by me when I wasn’t anyone’s definition of a good friend. You both hung around, even when I was an uncommunicative prick. If anyone is lucky, it’s me. You two have always done your best to be loyal, genuine, and honest. From now on, I’ll do the same. Yes…” He nodded, his teasing expression saying he must be insane. “Even if it kills me.”

  “With that attitude, it probably will.” She slapped at his thigh playfully.

  Liam watched their byplay with a big smile and a grateful heart. They weren’t perfect people, but they were perfect for him. “You never have to worry about me, lovely. I’m a saint.”

  Raine rolled her eyes. “Not even close. The very first time you got me alone behind closed doors? You had me naked in two minutes with your lips all over me and your hand up my hoo-ha.”

  “After that terrible public punishment I gave you with Beck?” Hammer winced. “That’s something else I should apologize for. He really was supposed to just scare the shit out of you, along with giving you a mild paddling.”

  “I know,” she assured. “But that’s not what I mean. I’m talking about the morning I threw that huge tantrum.” She buried her face in her hands. “Sorry. That was terrible of me.”

  “Waking up to a blow job was fantastic. Only time I’m going to object, by the way.” Macen glanced over at Liam. “You fooled around with her right after that?”

  “I did. Couldn’t keep my hands off her, mate.”

  God, that morning seemed like a lifetime ago. So much had happened since then, yet he clearly remembered luring Raine to his bedroom, knowing he needed to keep her at Shadows to make Hammer happy…then realizing as he kissed her and felt her shatter for him that he wanted her for himself.

  Liam stared at Raine, sat back. Blinked. Couldn’t breathe.

  Dear god, she didn’t know any of that.

  She bounded off Hammer’s lap instantly. Liam tried to wipe the guilt off his face, but Raine had already seen that something troubled him.

  “Liam?” She dropped a hand to his shoulder, bent to peer into his eyes. “What…?”

  What was wrong? Something he should have confessed long ago. He frowned, cut a stare to Hammer. His friend had obviously followed the conversation and seemed to have grasped Liam’s dilemma. If he confessed now, would Raine feel totally betrayed? Would it even matter that everything in his heart had changed?

  Macen sent him a nod. Keeping her in the dark about the man’s suicidal thoughts was for Raine’s own good. Hiding this truth from her now would mostly save his own skin.

  Liam rubbed at the back of his neck. “Well…I’ve got something to confess, love. I should have come clean about this a long time ago, and I’ve no excuse.”

  “What?” she demanded, the joy draining from her face. Wariness took its place.

  “I offered to train you because I wanted to help Hammer. My best friend was lost, and I thought the only way to help him at the time would be to give him a wee nudge toward the woman he loved. Trouble was, I didn’t see the danger until it was too late. One taste of you, and I was hooked. Hammer knew it, too.”

  She inched back from him, a furrow of confusion settling between her brows. It soon turned to anger. Her lips pursed. Hurt flared in her eyes. “You…” She shook her head. “You only wanted me so Hammer would be jealous enough to do something?”

  “For the first…thirty seconds. Then I kissed you. In the kitchen. That’s when it started.”

  “I remember.”

  But she didn’t look inclined to accept his words or forgive him just now. Liam looked over at Hammer, who winced like maybe they’d screwed the pooch after all. Bloody fine time to have second thoughts, mate…

  “I told you that morning where my heart was.” She nodded slowly, then peered at him, eyes going wide. “I said it would always be with Hammer.”

  “I tried not to let it bother me. Hell, I remember telling you that I needed your trust, not your love. I’ve never before wished I could take something I said back so badly. God, I tried not to want you, did my best not to feel anything…but when I claimed you in the dungeon, I fell hard. Before I knew what hit me, I was in love. In my eyes, you were mine as much you were his, and I was ready to fight for you. I still am.”

  She blinked at him, her eyes swimming with pooling tears. “I don’t know why. I fought you. I slept with your best friend the night we got together. I didn’t give you everything I promised when you collared me. I wouldn’t tell you I was pregnant. I ran away.” She winced. “I almost chose a woman over you two. I haven’t always been easy or trusting. And through it all, you’ve stayed.” Raine lowered her head, shook it. “I’ll bet you had no idea what you were getting yourself into that morning you sauntered into the kitchen, determined to make Hammer see me.”

  “None.”

  Suddenly, her entire body shook. Liam put his arms around his wee wench, slightly panicked. He didn’t want her sobbing. “It’s water under the bridge, love. It doesn’t matter how or why we got here, just that we made it. Don’t be angry—”

  She tossed her head back. Tears streamed down her face—and she was laughing hysterically. “You poor man… Try to do a favor for a friend, and you wind up roped for life.” She leaned in and hooked a hand behind his head. “I guess you need to spend the next fifty years making it up to me. And I need to spend the next fifty years making you glad you did.”

  She laid her lips over his, and he sank into her mouth, so fucking glad—and relieved—that she felt secure enough in their love to understand.

  “What am
I supposed to do for the next fifty years?” Hammer groused. “Watch?”

  “Prove you love us just as much.” She beamed at him. “Get in here and kiss me.”

  Chapter 20

  Liam had left thirty minutes ago to take his parents to the airport. The house seemed quiet, and surprisingly, Hammer missed the scent of Bryn’s steeping tea. But their absence gave them back some much-needed privacy. He couldn’t wait to exercise it.

  As afternoon sun slanted through the windows, he leaned against the counter, admiring Raine’s fluid movements as she finished the remaining dishes from last night’s party and started a few sandwiches for their lunch. Pushing away from the surface, he turned her into his arms, gripping her supple hip and feeling her flesh give and mold around his fingers.

  “Macen?”

  He sent her a lazy grin with a hint of mock apology. “I just can’t seem to resist.”

  And he didn’t want to. He’d taken Raine in that hot August night so many years ago to save her, but Liam was right. She’d been the one to save him. With her help, Hammer had laid his ghosts to rest. They hadn’t been the spirits of those he’d wronged, like Juliet, but simply a strangling guilt, thick with self-loathing and fear. They’d held him hostage for so many wasted years because he’d allowed it. He’d denied himself Raine’s comfort and touch, steering clear of her because she tested his self-control in ways that terrified him. Never again. Now that he’d shed the specters of his past, Hammer committed himself completely to forging a deeper bond with the two people who owned his heart. Now that he had Raine and Liam at his side, he’d found peace, contentment, and an unconditional love he’d never known existed.

  Macen felt like a new man because he was one.

  Caressing her baby bump, he slid her shirt up and teased her breast through her delicate bra with a swipe of his thumb over her nipple. When it drew up hard beneath his touch, Hammer smiled and lifted her flesh from its lacy cup, dipping his head to close his mouth around the erect bud and draw her deep. When Raine’s little gasp, followed by her throaty, feminine moan, filled the air, his pride wasn’t the only thing that swelled.

  “Mmm…” Raine fell limp in his arms as the butter knife she’d been holding clattered to the floor. “I can’t think when you do that to me.”

  “That’s why I do it, precious.” He claimed her mouth, feasting on her sweet softness, falling under her spell.

  “Bloody hell, I can’t leave you two alone for five minutes,” Liam mockingly chided as he sauntered in from the garage.

  “I tried to start lunch,” Raine protested breathlessly as Hammer tugged at her lobe with his teeth and teased her nipple with his thumb again.

  To his relief, Liam joined in, pressing his mouth against Raine’s neck. “Who cares about bloody food? Watching you two eat at each other is far more tempting.”

  Raine wriggled and gently nudged at them, managing a bit of distance. “You’ll care very much about ‘bloody food’ when your stomach is rumbling in an hour or two. Your parents at the airport all right?”

  Liam gave a long-suffering sigh that Hammer related to. “Of course. They’re fine.”

  “Let me finish making you two sandwiches. And, oh, let’s figure out where we’re taking the birthday boy for dinner. Then…anything goes,” she promised with a smile.

  “That sounds promising. Any particular restaurant you’ve had a yen for?” Liam asked.

  Hammer arched a brow. “First, you two threw me an amazing surprise party last night. That’s plenty.” Then he turned to Raine with a warning. “Second, did I give you permission to end our kiss?”

  He pinched her nipples with just enough force to remind her who was in charge. Hammer felt his Dominance expand as Raine sucked in a sharp gasp.

  “Maybe we should forego dinner and spend some time in the dungeon.” He slid Liam a questioning glance. “What do you think?”

  “I’m always in favor of that, but it’s not every day you turn thirty-five, Macen. And after the upheaval we’ve been through, I think a private celebration—just the three of us—would be perfect. We can always torment her afterward.”

  “Please?” Raine sent him an imploring gaze.

  How could he say no? They’d been through the wringer because he’d chosen to waste his years with meaningless whores like Marlie instead of giving into his need for Raine. For that, Karma had come back around, chewing him up and nearly spitting him out.

  “All right.” Making them happy made him happy, too. “How about The Penthouse?”

  “In Santa Monica? Love it.” Raine grinned, visibly excited. “Great view!”

  “It’s almost as beautiful as you are.”

  “Flattery will get you everywhere,” she promised with batting lashes.

  Liam laughed. “I’ll ring for a reservation. After dinner, we’ll come home and remind our girl who’s boss.”

  After sandwiches and a lazy afternoon, they piled into Macen’s new car and headed down Coast Highway. He caressed the sleek steering wheel, loving the power of the ride, and smiled. They’d chosen well.

  The sun dipped toward the horizon as they arrived. High above the city, their private dining alcove overlooked the glorious view of the indigo mountains and sapphire waters. Raine sat between him and Liam on a padded sectional. Hammer felt as if they’d shifted into a sublime world all their own.

  After sipping sparkling cider from a delicate crystal flute, Raine set the glass down and stared at the endless ocean with a contented smile. Hammer couldn’t keep his eyes—or his hands—off her, but then neither could Liam.

  As their appetizers arrived, she slid a palm to her belly and gently caressed their little bump.

  “You all right?” Liam pressed his hand over hers.

  Macen settled his on top of them both.

  “Yeah. Just thinking. We’ll be welcoming a new life into this world soon.”

  The weight of her words lumped emotion in Hammer’s throat. He was actually going to be with them—and not in some fucking jail—when their child came. He’d be there through the years to guide and raise their son or daughter. Unlike his own sire, he’d be a real father.

  “If someone had told me six months ago we’d be in a committed relationship with Raine and preparing to become parents, I would have pissed myself laughing.” He looked at Liam. “You?”

  It seemed almost impossible. Last Thanksgiving, he and Liam had been surrounded by broken dishes, accusations, and anger in Raine’s kitchen. Not long after, they’d had a debacle of a fistfight in the bitter snow at the lodge. The discord they’d provoked all faded away when he remembered the sublime perfection of the night they’d first held Raine between them.

  Liam patted Hammer on the shoulder. “That would have bowled me over with a feather, mate.”

  Now the possibility of all their sparkling tomorrows spread out endlessly in front of them. All they needed to do was ask her one little question…

  Hammer cleared his throat. “Raine, if you didn’t have to choose one of us over the other, would you say yes to marriage?”

  “Of course, but that’s not possible.” She sounded dejected by that fact.

  “What if it was, in a sense?” Liam took her hand. “What would you say then?”

  Tears filled her eyes and her chin quivered. “I’d be thrilled. But—”

  “No buts. Just… You’d say yes,” Hammer grilled her. “Right?”

  Confusion furrowed her brows but she nodded. “If there was any way to marry you both without leaving either out, then of course I would.”

  “All fucking right,” Hammer growled.

  “Finally,” Liam laughed as they high-fived over her head.

  “What just happened?” She raised her brows, shooting both of them insistent glances. “What did I agree to?”

  Liam and Hammer explained their plan.

  Her smile took his breath away. “Then…yes. Yes! But not until after the baby is born. I want a real wedding dress, not something that could pa
ss for a maternity special.”

 
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