Colters woman, p.14
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       Colters Woman, p.14
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         Part #1 of Colters Legacy series by Maya Banks
Page 14


  She heard the door open behind her, and she squeezed her eyes harder shut.

  “Holly. ”

  Adam walked to stand beside her. She opened one eye to see him rest his hands on the railing beside her.

  “I’m a complete idiot,” she choked out.

  He sighed and gently pulled her into his arms. “You’re not an idiot, baby. I’d say you’re an amazing woman. ”

  She shook her head in denial. “I’m pathetic. Pathetic!”

  She clenched his coat lapels in her hands and buried her face in his chest. Then she laughed. It sounded harsh even to her.

  Adam’s strong arms wrapped around her and held her tightly against him.

  A tear leaked down her cheek, quickly absorbed by Adam’s shirt.

  “I wanted to belong to someone,” she whispered. “I wanted someone to care about me and not my money or who my parents were. I was so very lonely. ”

  Adam rubbed a hand up and down her back. “You do belong to someone, baby. And we don’t give a damn about your money. ”

  For some reason, his declaration opened the floodgate of tears she’d been holding at bay.

  She hadn’t realized how truly lonely she’d been or how desperate she was for someone to love her. Desperate. That about summed her up in a nutshell. And now she’d latched onto the brothers. Maybe they weren’t the same caliber as Mason but she hadn’t given her commitment to them any more thought than she had given her marriage to Mason. And that scared the hell out of her.

  They wanted forever. She wanted forever. But. There was always a but. If only she hadn’t made so many bad decisions. Then she might be able to trust the decision to stay with Adam, Ethan and Ryan.

  Adam continued to hold her, stroking her hair. The sound of a ringing cell phone jarred her senses. Adam cursed softly, and she felt him fumble for his pocket. She drew away to give him easier access, and he pulled his phone out to answer it.

  “Adam here,” he said shortly.

  There was a long pause then he turned away. Holly stood shivering lightly. She wanted back into the warmth of his arms.

  “All right, I’ll be right there,” he said as he turned back around.

  He clicked the phone shut and shoved it back into his jacket. “I’ve got to run into town. Lacey needs my help. ”

  A sharp pang twisted in Holly’s chest. She was surprised at its ferocity.

  “Come back inside where it’s warm,” he said. He took her arm and led her back in the door.

  In the living room, Ryan and Ethan both looked up.

  “I’ve got to run into town. Lacey’s got a problem, and her deputies are out on calls. ”

  “Do you need us to go with you?” Ethan asked.

  Ryan snorted in disgust.

  “No. At least I don’t think so. Looks to be a runaway. If I need trackers, I’ll call you. I’d rather you stay here and look after Holly. ”

  Holly gritted her teeth. She didn’t need looking after, damn it, and she sure as hell didn’t want Adam off with a woman who very clearly wanted him.

  Jealous? Oh, hell yeah, she was jealous. And it pissed her off. She hadn’t thought she could feel more miserable than before, but she was wrong.

  “There isn’t anyone else she could call?” Holly asked.

  Adam looked strangely at her for a moment. “We’ve helped track missing persons before for her. ”

  Holly bit her lip to keep from saying anything further. There was nothing more unattractive than a shrew.

  “I’ll call if I’m going to be too late. ”

  Adam bent and gave her a quick kiss then turned to the door. He put his Stetson on and walked outside.

  Holly watched him go, hating the way it made her feel. She glanced at Ryan and Ethan and winced. It was obvious they could see right through her. She seemed to have a knack for humiliation lately.

  Her shoulders sagged, and she turned to head down the hallway toward the bedrooms. She stopped in the middle. Hysterical laughter bubbled from her. Whose room would she take refuge in?

  She opted for the bathroom instead. She ran cool water in the sink and splashed her face. When she raised her head up, she saw Ryan’s reflection in the mirror. He stood in the doorway, leaning against the frame.

  “Wanna play Monopoly with me and Ethan?”

  She managed a shaky smile and nodded. At least he wasn’t trying to dissect her emotions.

  She waited a second then headed back to the living room. Ethan was setting up the Monopoly board on the coffee table, and Ryan was carrying in three mugs from the kitchen.

  “Want some hot chocolate?” Ryan asked.

  “Sounds yummy,” she replied.

  She took position on the couch while Ethan and Ryan both sat on the floor at either ends of the coffee table. She cupped the mug in her palms and sipped at the cocoa. Anything not to think of where Adam was and who he was with.

  “I hate to see you so upset,” Ethan said in a low voice.

  She jerked her glance sideways, startled from her own thoughts. Her jealous thoughts.

  She sighed and set her mug down. She rubbed tiredly at her temple. “I’m being unreasonable. ”

  Ryan muttered something under his breath.

  She turned to him, sensing an ally. “Why don’t you like her?”

  “She’s a manipulative bitch. ”

  Holly laughed. “Thanks. I needed that, I think. She doesn’t seem to like me, that’s for sure. ”

  Ryan grunted. “She’s pissed because she set her sights on Adam, and he never took the bait. ”

  “Never?” she asked softly. “It seemed to me that you and Ethan were all that stood between Adam seeking a deeper relationship with her. ”

  Ethan fixed Ryan with a hard stare.

  “Is he sleeping with her?”

  She meant the question to sound casual, but instead it came across as fearful.

  Ethan swore. “Look, sweetheart, I don’t know if he ever slept with her. I know that he isn’t now. Not after you. ”

  Somehow the idea that Adam had slept with Lacey didn’t make her feel any better. It wasn’t as though Holly had been here any length of time.

  “We’re not saints, Holly. We’ve had our share of women, but we’re not faithless jerks. Adam wouldn’t screw around with another woman. Not after committing himself to you. ”

  Ryan nodded in agreement.

  “Then why is he going to her?” Holly strained out.

  “He can’t stand the idea of not helping a woman in need,” Ryan said. “He has a weakness for damsels in distress. ”

  Holly felt the blood drain from her face. Was that what she was? God, she certainly fit the mold. Tears swam in her vision, and she blinked hard to keep them back. She didn’t want to make an ass of herself. More than she already had.

  Ethan threw one of the dice at Ryan, hitting him in the head. “You’re not the brightest bulb are you?”

  Holly got up. She wasn’t going to bother keeping the pretense up any longer. She was far too upset to act like nothing was wrong.

  “I’d like to go to bed,” she said. “Is there a room I can use?” She hoped her meaning came across. She wanted a room to herself.

  “Use Adam’s,” Ethan said. “He can take the couch when he comes in. ”

  “Thanks,” she mumbled as she headed toward the hall.

  As soon as she was out of sight, she bolted toward Adam’s bedroom. When she was inside, she locked the door and leaned against it.

  The tears she’d tried so hard to hold back spilled down her cheeks. All the pent-up emotion from the last several years came roaring to the surface. The disappointment and the sense of betrayal, her humiliation over the horrible lack of judgment she’d demonstrated. It was enough to make her cringe.

  She didn’t bother undressing. She jerked back the covers and crawled underneath, pulling them tightly around her as she curled into a ball.


  Adam stepped inside the cabin and hung his Stetson and his coat on the hook by the door. He glanced around but only saw the dying embers of the fire. Everyone else must have gone to bed already.

  His groin tightened. Would he find Holly in bed with his brothers? He knew Ethan and Ryan had both fucked her separately, and the truth of the matter was, he looked forward to doing the same.

  He walked quietly down the hall and frowned when he saw his door closed. None of them ever slept with a closed door. He tried the knob and found it locked. What the hell? Locked out of his own bedroom?

  He spun around and walked a door down to Ethan’s room to see if he was there. The door was ajar. Adam nudged it further open and peered inside. Ethan was asleep amidst rumpled sheets. Alone.

  He walked over and shook Ethan’s shoulder. Ethan came awake instantly.

  “What the hell time is it?” Ethan demanded in a groggy voice.

  “Three A. M. ”

  Ethan sat up and rubbed his eyes. “Where the fuck you been?”

  “Helping Lacey find the Turner boy. Where’s Holly?”

  “In your room,” Ethan replied.

  “Why’s the door locked?”

  Ethan reached over and flipped on the lamp beside the bed. He pinned Adam with a disgusted stare. “She’s hurting, Adam. ”

  Adam’s heart lurched. He didn’t like to think of Holly hurting. She’d been upset before he left, but he’d hoped Ethan and Ryan would have soothed any worries she had.

  “Why didn’t you and Ryan solve the problem?” Adam demanded.

  “You’re hurting her, Adam. Not us. ”

  “Me? What the fuck did I do?”

  Adam felt his anger rising. He wasn’t into playing stupid mind games, and Ethan was fast pissing him off.

  Ethan sighed and slid his legs over the side of the bed. “Look, Adam, she’s having a rough time, and you running off at Lacey’s calling isn’t helping matters. She’s insecure and who can blame her with what that fuckhead of a husband did to her?”

  “She’s upset because I went to help Lacey?”

  “Maybe if you had explained the nature of your relationship with Lacey, Holly wouldn’t feel as she does, but she knows something is between you two, and she knows Lacey doesn’t like her one bit. Lacey’s acted like a jealous bitch at every turn. Much like a woman scorned. Holly isn’t stupid, Adam. Neither am I. Something went on between you two. ”

  The muscles in Adam’s face twitched, and he pressed his lips together. “What did or didn’t happen between us isn’t any of your business. ”

  “That’s where you’re wrong,” Ethan said evenly. “Dead wrong. It is very much my business. I love Holly. And I think you do too, Adam. I think Ryan probably does as well although he may have a hell of a time admitting it to himself. Anything you do that hurts Holly is my business. She’s as much mine as she is yours and Ryan’s. If this relationship is going to work, you’re going to have to pull your head out of your ass. ”

  Adam blew out his breath in one long sigh. “Christ. Nothing happened between me and Lacey tonight, Ethan. I wouldn’t do that to Holly. ”

  “I know,” Ethan said quietly. “But she doesn’t know that. Not yet. We haven’t earned her trust. She’s not going to offer that lightly after what she’s gone through. ”

  “And in the meantime, I’m locked out of my fucking bedroom. ”

  Ethan chuckled. “I guess you get the couch. I wonder if we’ll have a steady rotation when one of us pisses her off. ”

  “Good night. Sorry I woke you,” Adam said as he turned to leave.

  He eased the door shut behind him and stared down the hall at his locked door. It was nothing a screwdriver wouldn’t fix. Maybe it was time he and Holly had a little time alone.

  A few minutes later, he quietly slipped into his bedroom. Holly had left the lamp by the bed on and the soft glow poured over the bed. He set the screwdriver down on the dresser and shrugged out of his clothing.

  He walked to the bed and looked down at Holly’s curled up body. Only her face peeked out from underneath the covers. A face that was red and blotchy. His chest tightened at the evidence of her tears.

  He gently pulled back the covers and climbed in beside her. He pulled her tightly into his arms, liking the way her soft curves melted into his hard body.

  She stirred and opened bleary eyes. They flared in surprise when she saw him.

  “How did you get in here?”

  “Quite easily actually. Why did you lock me out?”

  She looked away. He trailed a finger over a lock of her hair that rested on her neck.

  “I just needed some time alone,” she said softly.

  “That’s understandable, but you don’t have to lock the door to get your point across. ”

  She looked back at him again, her eyes troubled, uncertainty lurking in their depths.

  He sighed. Ethan was right. He should have just explained his involvement with Lacey from the get-go. Then maybe he’d be sliding his dick into Holly’s pussy instead of lying here with a raging hard-on about to become embroiled in sensitive talk.

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