Endurance, Page 2Georgia Cates
I lightly brush against him as I pass. “So gentlemanly. Are all the brothers so well mannered?”
His chuckle is enough to answer my question. “Definitely not, but they will be when it comes to you. Sin will have their balls if they don’t treat you well.”
“I suppose that should be reassuring, but I tend to be attracted to naughty bad boys. Nice guys bore the shit out of me.” True story. I’ve always gone after the guy who was all wrong for me. Guess that’s why I’ve never been in love.
Jamie laughs again. “Trust me. You won’t have a boredom problem with a Fellowship brother. We aren’t . . . nice.”
“Sin is nice.”
“Bleu would kill him if he weren’t. Never mistake him for anything other than what he truly is: a ruthless motherfucker.”
“I assumed as much.” I’ve heard him on the phone and walked in on a few conversations with the brothers. They weren’t discussing world peace.
“Sin has to be a beast. Weak leaders don’t survive this kind of life for long.” Kill or be killed. Survival of the fittest. King of the jungle. Sin doesn’t have a choice.
“I knew he must be tough for my sister to find him attractive. She’s not exactly a delicate flower.”
“Bleu’s a total badass. They’re a perfect match for one another.”
“She’s always been that way, even when she wore a tutu. And now she’s someone’s mom. Three little someones.”
I drop my purse on the table in the foyer and hold on to it for balance as I kick out of my heels. “I’m glad to get those off. They were killing my feet.”
I’m a good four inches shorter now, so Jamie towers over me nearly a foot. I love tall men. Especially when they look and smell like him.
“Want to come in for a whisky? I have Johnnie Walker Black Label.” The bottle was left behind when Sin and Bleu moved. I’m never going to sit around drinking it alone. Might as well use it as a way to get Jamie to stick around for a while.
“I appreciate the offer, but I have somewhere to be.”
He has somewhere to be. With someone who isn’t me. More proof the guy’s really not into me.
I’ve been sending all the right signals for months and Jamie hasn’t shown any interest. What I did tonight in the car borders on pathetic. It’s time to take no for an answer. I’m done trying. Adios, amigo.
“Sure.” I step around him to open the door. “I appreciate the ride. And the sweep of the flat. Makes me feel a little better about being here alone tonight.”
He stands unmoving while looking at me. There’s the open door, pal. Your escape route. Bolt for freedom.
“Lock the door behind me and set the alarm.”
He continues standing there, his expression unreadable, and I feel the need to fill the silence with something. “Will do.”
“The windows. Didn’t secure them.”
“It’s fine, Jamie. I know you’re ready to get going. I can check them.” There’s only eight. Not like it’s that big of a deal.
“No. I have to do it.”
Jamie inspects the four across the kitchen and living room, and then I follow him into my bedroom. There’s no telling what he may see in there. I was slinging shit everywhere in my mad dash to get out the door on time for my first Fellowship event.
My cheeks heat when I see my black lace panties next to my bed. Shit. I never leave stuff like that on the floor but I took them off at the last minute because of a visible panty line. And that’s where they landed when I kicked out of them.
He stills when he spots them on the floor. “Geez. Sorry ’bout that. Wasn’t expecting anyone in my bedroom tonight.” Or any other night, unfortunately.
I quickly bend down, fetch the pile of lace, and ball them in my fist behind my back.
His eyes meet mine and my body tingles. I’m pretty sure my temperature just spiked, judging by the heat in my cheeks.
We stand in the center of my bedroom, eyes locked, the awkwardness growing with every passing second. I hate awkward silence.
“Last-minute decision to go commando so I wouldn’t have a panty line.” Fuck, Ellison. That was such a dumb thing to say.
The words are barely out of my mouth when Jamie stalks toward me, shoving me against the wall, his mouth coming down hard against mine. He pins me with his hips and I’m trapped. There’s no escape—not that I would try.
My lips immediately pulsate from the sudden assault as I moan against his mouth. Nothing about his kiss is gentle. It’s fierce. Frantic. Frenzied. He went from nothing to all-consuming in a split second. Holy shit, the man can kiss.
His hand grasps my lower back and he pulls me against his body, ensuring I remain a prisoner within his embrace. He presses himself against me and I can easily feel how hard he is. For me.
Jamie’s hand grips my hip tightly as his mouth leaves mine and drags across my face to cover my ear. “An alpha who takes what he wants and is unapologetic about it? Sure that’s what you really want, Ellison?”
There’s an obvious catch in my breath as the reaction of his words—pure liquid seduction—pools between my thighs. He has the ability to weaken my knees, and my body is no longer mine to control. It belongs to him, to do with as he wishes.
“Yesss.” I don’t know whose voice I hear, but it sounds nothing like mine—it’s that of a desperate woman.
I sense what’s coming next. I feel it in my bones. And my groin. I’m engulfed from the inside out. He’s going to touch me there.
I want it.
I will it.
I silently beg for it.
Jamie’s hand abandons my hip and glides down the front of my thighs, inching toward the spot where I crave his touch most. Yes. Please. There. Don’t stop.
“Jamie.” The whispered word escapes my mouth softly. Faintly. Delicately. But his reaction to hearing his name on my lips isn’t.
His hands go for the backs of my thighs, and he lifts me so my legs wrap around him. I squeeze his shoulders tightly as he carries me across the room toward the bed.
“So fucking sexy.” His voice is gravelly. Masculine. Aroused.
He lowers me to the bed and together we fall with my legs locked around him. He pushes my hair off one shoulder, presses his lips to the exposed skin on my neck, and trails warm, wet kisses down my shoulder. “I can’t hold back. I’ve tried so fucking hard, but I can’t do it anymore.”
Can’t do it anymore? Does that mean he’s been fighting an attraction for me? Feelings? Maybe the same ones I’ve been having for him?
I want to say that I never wanted him to hold back. That I’ve been wanting this—him—so much. But I’m afraid to take that leap.
Jamie fists the hem of my dress and yanks it up so I’m exposed from the waist down. “Fuck, Ellison. I’d have lost my damn mind had I known you weren’t wearing knickers tonight.”
His palm glides over one of my cheeks and the tips of his fingers dig into my flesh. “Fuck. I shouldn’t be here. Shouldn’t be doing this.”
I’ve been fantasizing about Jamie and me—together this way—for months. Now that I’ve had a taste, there’s no way in hell I’ll let him talk himself out of it.
I grasp him tightly and hold on as though I’m on the edge of a cliff and could tumble off at any second. “You should one hundred percent be doing this.”
He presses our foreheads together. “I don’t have the right to touch you. You aren’t mine.”
He rolls away from me and I move with him. “Maybe not, but I can be.” I want to be.
He pries my arms off his shoulders and moves to sit on the edge of the bed. “No, Ellison, you can’t.”
What the fuck? “I don’t understand.”
“Putting my hands on you is wrong. It could hurt your chances for a good match if I taint you.”
Sin took Bleu’s virginity. I’m certain he gloated to his best friends about being the first and only man to ever have her. I hope that didn’t put unrealistic expectations ab
out me in Jamie’s head. He will be sadly disappointed if he believes my purity remains intact.
“Jamie . . . I’m not a virgin and I haven’t been for a long time.”
“That’s not what I mean.”
His head drops and he laces his fingers together in a clasp over the back of his head. “You’re going to belong to one of my brothers.”
No. That’s not what I want.
“Fellowship men are possessive fuckers when it comes to their women. And females fall into three categories: fuck-worthy, claim-worthy, marriage-worthy. If we’re together—and anyone finds out—you’ll be tainted in his eyes.”
So the men can fuck around as much as they like but the women must remain pure? “That’s completely sexist.”
“It may be but it’s how things work. No one will come forward and make an offer for you if they know I’ve had you. I won’t seal your fate that way.” If only he understood how much I want my fate sealed that way. With him.
“Then make an offer for me.” I swallow hard before reaching for the hem of my dress and pulling it over my head. “Claim me, Jamie. Do it right now. Make me yours.”
I can’t. I’m stunned by how much those two words sting.
I scoot away and use my dress to cover my near-naked body.
He twists and reaches for my arm but I jerk away from him as though I’ve been burned. Because I have been.
“I’m not saying no because I don’t want you.”
He knew he wasn’t going to claim me when he walked into my bedroom. He knew when he pushed me against the wall and kissed me the way every woman dreams of being kissed. He knew when he carried me to the bed.
He. Already. Knew.
“I don’t want to hear it. Just get out.”
“Please, Ellison. Don’t be that way.”
Is he kidding me? Don’t be what way? Pissed off? Damn right, I’m pissed off. “You knew you had no intention of claiming me, yet you kissed and touched me as if you did. I guess I should say thanks for not fucking me and then breaking the news.”
“At least let me explain.”
“What’s the point in explaining? Don’t want me? Can’t have me? No matter the reason, the outcome is still the same. I end up with someone who isn’t you.”
“You think it’s not going to kill me to see you with someone else? One of my own Fellowship brothers? To know he’s touching you . . . and more? Agony, Ellison. It’s going to be agony.”
Nothing is etched in stone. Not yet. “Do something about it before it’s too late.”
“You don’t understand how The Fellowship works. It isn’t that simple. You’re the sister-in-law of the Fellowship leader. You’re going to be new to the brotherhood and also high profile, making you a huge target. That means you have to be claimed by someone who can protect you.”
“You can protect me.” I have complete faith in his ability. A man who handled a gun like he was born with it in his hand raised me. I see that same second nature in Jamie.
“Medical school takes me away from home a lot. I wouldn’t be there to keep you safe.”
Temporary problem. He’s almost finished with his training. He could claim me now, and we could get married after he graduates.
I know it’s crazy to want to marry a man I’ve only known for nine months, and not even dated during that time, but I feel I know him. I’ve seen his kind heart. His gentle hands. The love he has for friends and family. He is a good man. I’ve never known anyone like him, except for my dad.
I’m in love with him. I would want him even if the circumstances were different.
“Once I take my place as the full-time Fellowship physician, I’m going to be called away in the middle of the night for hours at a time. I won’t always be home to protect you. You need someone who will be around to make sure you’re safe.” Does this mean he has thought about us?
This can’t be happening. He finally admits he wants this—us—after all this time and then immediately pulls away from me.
“I can protect myself when you’re called out on emergency. My dad was an FBI agent. He taught me well how to use a gun.” Maybe I can’t wrestle someone to the ground and choke the life out of them like Bleu, but I can handle any gun you put in my hand. Bleu’s not the only badass in the family.
“You’re going to need a man who will be with you at all times.”
It isn’t possible for any man to be with me constantly, especially a man in The Fellowship. “Sin doesn’t stay by Bleu’s side all the time.”
“Sin is our superior. Bleu and the babies have round-the-clock armed guards willing to give up their lives in place of their leader’s family.”
“It’s a firm no? You won’t even consider the possibility of being together?”
“I would never forgive myself if anything happened to you . . . so it’s a firm no.”
A dagger to the heart would be less painful that hearing him tell me we’ll never be together.
I understand Jamie wanting to keep me safe, but it doesn’t stop the ache in my chest.
Or this feeling of rejection.
The tears pooling in my eyes threaten to spill down my cheeks so I turn my head. I don’t want him to see me cry.
“Shite. Don’t do that, Ellison. I can’t bear it.”
“Then you should probably leave.” Because there’s about to be some ugly-cry face.
He moves toward me—to do what, I’m not sure—but I’m the one pushing him away this time. “Don’t.”
“I wouldn’t hurt you for anything in the world. I swear I’m doing this for your own good.”
“You’ll never convince me anything about this is good.”
Five minutes ago I thought I was getting everything I wanted. I thought my future was no longer bleak. I thought I was finally going to be happy. And now . . . my heart is breaking in two.
I know because the ache in my chest is excruciating.
I knock against the open door of Sin’s home office when he doesn’t take notice of me standing in the entryway. “Working on the weekend, aye?”
“Hell, yeah. Henderson’s case goes to court Monday and the prick has worked me into a corner with his fuck-ups. Evidence is solid. It’s going to be impossible to get him out of this shite. He’ll do time.”
“That’s too bad.” Douglas Henderson has a wife and two young children at home, one a bairn less than a year old.
“Fucking hardhead. He was told exactly what to do and how to do it, but he thought his way would be better. When are these wankers going to learn there’s a reason they’re given specific instructions?”
Sin motions with his hand for me to enter. “I need some good news. Come in and tell me about this epiphany.”
I’m not sure it’s fair to call it an epiphany. A scheme is probably a more fitting label.
“The siege has been on my mind a lot lately.” Almost constantly the last six weeks. But not for the reason it should be. I can’t stop thinking about the event that’s going to take place when it’s over.
Thane hasn’t been well, so our takeover of The Order has been postponed. Can’t go to war when your leader isn’t in top shape. I’m not happy my uncle has been ill but I’m grateful for the delay. The siege brings us closer to a final victory over our enemy, which is excellent for The Fellowship, but not good for the thing I want most in this world.
Time to set my plan into motion.
“No matter how well The Fellowship prepares, there are going to be gunshot wounds and lacerations to treat during the siege. It’s crucial I have a safe and suitable location away from the public eye to triage and treat our brothers. I’m going to need plenty of supplies, medication, and equipment. I think it’s time we consider setting up a place for me to practice. Not just for the takeover. A permanent location where I can treat the brothers. A Fellowship infirmary.”
Sin chuckles. “Already tired of suturing and digging for bullets by flashlig
ht? I thought you liked the challenge, mate.”
I’ve stitched more patients on my sofa than any doctor should have to. Even a Fellowship physician. “It’s been a real joy but I’ve had my fair share. It would be good to perform medical procedures like I’m living in the twenty-first century.”
“Fair enough. Do you have a place in mind?” He didn’t shoot me down. So far, so good.
“I was thinking a detached house would be ideal. I could live there full-time, so I’d be available when needed.” I hope Sin doesn’t suggest a warehouse or commercial building.
“Makes sense. I like it.” Sin fetches his phone from his pocket. “Can you look at properties in the morning if Ani can work you in?”
Thank fuck he’s going along with my idea. “The morning will be fine as long as you make it after ten. I have plans.”
“Like sneaking out the door before some Fellowship lass wakes and wants you to stay and spoon?”
I wish. Except the woman I’d love to hold all morning isn’t a Fellowship lass. At least not yet. “I bet you do your fair share of spooning.”
“Believe me. I try. But one of the bairns puts an end to it every time. Never fails.”
Sinclair Breckenridge is getting cockblocked. Fucking hilarious. “What do you expect out of a six-month-old and three-month-old twins?”
I still can’t believe Sin let Bleu talk him into adopting an orphaned newborn when she was only a couple months away from giving birth to their twins. Three babies. Their life is crazy but I guess they somehow make it work.
“I knew it was going to be hard with three wee ones, but I thought the gods of shagging might have mercy on me from time to time.” Sin smiles as he points to the photo of his children on the desk. “See those three? They’re cute little buggers, but damn, they don’t sleep. At least not at the same time.”
“The gods of shagging aren’t treating me any better. My plans don’t include spooning with a lass in the morning. I’m having breakfast with Mum, Evanna, and Westlyn.”
“Not the kind of female company you prefer in the morning, aye?”
“Hell, no. Mum is driving me insane.”
My mum has been clingy since Dad died. I knew he was dictator of the family, but I had no idea how much he controlled my mother’s behavior until he was no longer around to bark orders.