Their virgin captive, p.14
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       Their Virgin Captive, p.14
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         Part #1 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
Page 14


  Cold filled Gavin’s gut. He’d known most of that, but it didn’t change anything. What right did his younger brother have to throw this shit in his face? He might have started the relationship with Nikki with the best of intentions, but the most they had ever had together was good sex.

  He’d never intended to marry her, never been in love with her. He hadn’t even cared when she’d threatened to kill herself.

  Do what you have to, Nikki.

  His own cold words echoed in his brain. All he needed to keep him away from Hannah was to think about the past. He didn’t deserve another chance after Nikki’s demise. And especially not after what had happened to…

  Gavin didn’t dare finish the thought. Instead, he turned to his brother, eager to strike back. It was the only way to end his constant beating at Gavin’s well-built defenses. “Hannah is a lovely girl, Slade. I am very happy that you and Dex have finally gotten between her legs. If you want to marry her, hell, I’ll pay for the wedding, but she’s not for me. I need someone with more style, more polish. Can you imagine me inviting investors over? She’s a sweet thing, but she wouldn’t last a minute with society matrons. They would eat her alive. Sure, I’d enjoy fucking Hannah, but marriage and kids?” He scoffed. “I can’t possibly build a life with her. ” A little gasp from the doorway froze Gavin’s heart. He turned, and Hannah stood in the hallway, Dex by her side. She was wearing a robe that couldn’t quite conceal the gorgeous bounty of her breasts. Dex’s arm came around her middle, pulling her to him. Even in the low light, Gavin couldn’t mistake his hard eyes and furious snarl.

  But Gavin couldn’t take it back, no matter how much it hurt to cause Hannah pain. It was better this way. They were all better off without him. He could plainly see that if he didn’t end their hope now, they would never stop hounding him to get over Nikki and build a family with Hannah. And it might be cowardly, but he much preferred that they hate him for maligning Hannah than know the truth. Perhaps one day, when they were older, they’d forgive him for a few cruel words. They’d never forgive what he’d done to Nikki.

  “I am sorry, Hannah,” Gavin managed to say in an even tone, though his heart wrenched. “I didn’t intend to hurt you. ”

  Her lips trembled as though she was holding in some strong emotion. Pride obviously won because her chin came up. “What you just said tore my heart out. And you’re wrong. I can hold my own with anyone. I would have made a great wife. You won’t find a woman who would have been a better mother to your children. But if all you’re looking for is someone to keep your social calendar and look pretty at company parties, then I don’t want you. I suggest you find another admin, Mr. James. ”

  God, he’d planted the knife in his own chest, but with her words, she’d just turned it. But that was for the best, too.

  She turned her face up to Dex’s. “I think I lost my appetite. I just want to go to bed. Could we do that?”

  Dex didn’t hesitate. He pulled her closer, his big arms cradling her, protecting her from the world. “Of course, darlin’. You go on. Slade and I will be down in a minute. ” He kissed her forehead, and she walked down the hall, as regal as any princess. She was right. She would make a hell of a wife. Now, he would never marry because the only woman he wanted was one he could never have.

  The instant Hannah walked around the corner, Dex turned on him. His fists were balls of fury. Slade stepped between them, but Gavin almost wished he hadn’t. Letting Dex beat him might provide some small atonement. It would sure as hell be better than living with Hannah’s face haunting his dreams.

  “You’re a despicable son of a bitch,” Dex snarled his way.

  “You’re surprised?” Gavin tossed back. He felt like burning down everything. Something nasty had ahold of his gut. If he destroyed everything, maybe he could finally be alone with his guilt.

  “Shut up,” Slade snapped at him, bracing both hands against their youngest brother’s chest to prevent a pending assault. “Dex, he didn’t mean a fucking word of that. ”

  “Stop talking for me. ” Slade’s insistence on his innate goodness was starting to grate on Gavin. No matter what he did or said, Slade simply wouldn’t let him be. “I meant everything I said. Hannah is fine, but my position is all about image, and I can’t take a little country girl as my bride. If the two of you want to saddle yourself with a girl who has a community college education and no real manners, then good for you. ”

  Dex paused. His arms came down, unwilling to continue the fight. That disappointed Gavin.

  “Slade’s right. You’re full of shit. I know you love that woman. What the hell are you hiding?” Dex demanded.

  Gavin’s stomach turned. The last thing he wanted was Dex checking into the past. Slade would wait, never imagining that his brother would keep something from him. For Dex, trust came hard. He’d dig up everything.

  “I’m not hiding anything. I’ve stated plainly that I don’t want a relationship with Hannah. ” Dex glared at him. “You don’t want to marry Hannah. You’re far too interested in your corporate image, right? Well then explain this to me, Gavin. As Black Oak’s CEO, there isn’t a woman more involved in your life or your business than your secretary. You’ve allowed Hannah to plan your parties, act as your hostess. She’s always handled herself perfectly. You’ve said it yourself. So don’t give me this crap. She’s practically been your wife in every way but one. Now you find fault with her? There’s something else going on, and I intend to find out what it is. Do you want to save me the trouble?”

  “Fuck off, Dex. And stay out of my business. ” He charged.

  Slade slapped a hand to Gavin’s chest to ward him off. His eyes narrowed as he pushed back, then glanced Dex’s way. “Let’s go and take care of Hannah, brother. Gavin has some serious thinking to do about coming clean because I think he’s definitely hiding something. If he is, we’ll find it. And there will be hell to pay. ”

  In silent unison, Dex and Slade strode toward the bedroom, where Hannah was probably crying.

  Gavin flipped off the lights again and slumped down into the nearest chair, completely weary. He had to find a way to distract them from digging into Nikki’s death. He could handle rehashing it; he did that nearly every day in his head. But he couldn’t handle their censure, their disgust, when they learned the truth. Fuck, no matter what he did, he was going to lose his brothers. He’d already lost Hannah. He wouldn’t have her cheery smile to look forward to any more. No longer could he fool himself into thinking that someday he’d find a way to be with her.

  That dream was over.

  It was always over. It was over the minute you hung up the phone and left Nikki to die.

  He sat for the longest time and finally managed to fall asleep. His dreams were filled with visions of Hannah and her teary eyes.

  It seemed like an instant later when he felt his phone vibrate, and came awake. There was a horrible pain in his neck. He’d slept at an odd angle, but he hadn’t been able to make his feet move to his bedroom. It had been one thing to listen to Hannah’s cries of pleasure. He wouldn’t have been able to handle her tears.

  The phone chirped again. It was, as always, close to him, tucked into the pocket of his pants.

  Work was the only place where he hadn’t heinously fucked up, and he meant to keep it that way.

  With a heavy sigh, he pulled out the device to find a text. He looked at the clock. It was almost eight in the morning. Light flooded the room, and Gavin wished he’d closed the curtains.

  He could smell coffee percolating somewhere in the kitchen.

  When he pulled up the text, he didn’t recognize the number.

  Stay away from Hannah. I know everything, Mr. Hot Shot. You can’t bury it. If you don’t let Hannah go, I’ll release all the documents related to your girlfriend’s death and take you down.

  Gavin stared at the words, reading them again, dread drumming through him. After the longest time, he stood and wal
ked toward his study. He didn’t need coffee. He needed a lot of mind-numbing alcohol because his fucking past was finally going to catch up with him.

  No way would he turn Hannah loose so this creep could get his hands on her. He would never give up her future to protect his past.

  He loved her, and she’d never know how much. She’d never know that he’d willingly sacrificed everything for her.

  Chapter Eight

  Slade walked into Black Oak Oil’s Alaska offices feeling like a new man. He’d left Hannah at the breakfast table, spooning a bit of sugar into her coffee. He’d kissed her forehead and told her he’d be back soon. It had been the perfect picture of intimacy. A man and his wife parting ways for the day.

  Of course, Dex had kissed her, too. Maybe not totally conventional, but it worked for Slade.

  “Do you want to kill Ward, or do I get the honors?” Dex asked.

  He smiled at the threat from his hotheaded brother. Slade could always count on Dex to offer up a good, old-fashioned ass kicking to anyone who deserved it. “How about we figure out if he’s the one who’s been stalking Hannah before we bury him somewhere?” Dex sighed in disappointment. “I hate it when you’re logical. ” The site office was small and underwhelming compared to the corporate offices. The place was utilitarian with white walls and concrete floors. Somehow, Slade felt more at home here than he ever did at corporate. He loved fieldwork and had been behind a desk far too long. He preferred roughnecks and spending time on platforms. He felt perfectly comfortable with the employees at River Run, but it was obvious, even from a distance, that Preston Ward III didn’t feel the same.

  “This is not protocol. ” Preston’s voice rang through the small building. It was worse than nails on a chalkboard.

  Dex’s eyes rolled. “Be sure to call me if you change your mind and need someone to kill the son of a bitch. I’m going to get an update from Burke and Cole. Then I’ll do a little snooping of my own. ”

  Slade nodded. He would handle Preston better than Dex, and they had both agreed it was past time they figured out what was eating at Gavin.

  After Dex walked toward the main office, Slade wound his way to the small group of IT

  cubicles. Preston Ward stood in the middle of the room, incongruous in his thousand dollar suit, staring down his Harvard nose at the squatty man with the mop of black hair and a face that proudly proclaimed his Inuit heritage. Ben Kunayak ran this place. He was shorter than Preston, but given the mulish set of his mouth, he was also meaner. Slade thought seriously about just stepping back and letting Ben do their dirty work, but then he wouldn’t get the necessary information—or the satisfaction.

  Two young men had joined Preston from corporate, both obviously IT employees. Slade thought he recognized the thin, sad-looking, brown-haired man as Lyle Franklin, the head of the help desk. Lyle stood with Preston, but the other twenty-something man, a pencil pusher dressed in a checked shirt with pale hair and fingers flying over his keyboard, sat behind his laptop. Crap, Scott Kirkwood. The little punk who’d tried to have an “important” lunch with Hannah. Bullshit.

  With a sigh, Slade let his presence be known.

  “Slade, thank god you’re here. You need to fire this man this instant. ” Preston pointed at Ben. “He’s rude to his superiors and obviously has no understanding of Black Oak protocol or regulations. I believe the men up here have been using company computers to access pornography. ”

  That’s what had Preston’s panties in a twist? Slade snorted. Of course. These were a group of roughnecks in a city where men outnumbered women five to one and reliable Internet was tough to come by. He would have been shocked if they weren’t accessing online porn.

  “This employee has been allowing it to happen. ” Preston’s fingers tapped against Ben’s desk in a rapid, irritating accusation. “In fact, he’s all but defended the practice. ”

  “I’ve found at least four machines with restricted IP addresses in their browsing histories. ” Lyle Franklin had a thin face and obviously believed in sunscreen. “I don’t think bugs caught from porn sites are the actual reason for our shutdown, but they could certainly cause problems in the future. It shouldn’t be allowed. ”

  So now the corporate IT department had become the morality police. Great. Slade had the urge to fire all three of them. If he got rid of them, he’d almost certainly be cutting off whatever access this stalker had to Hannah. But that wasn’t going to make the son of a bitch go away, and Slade wanted to nail this bastard for good.

  “If Internet porn isn’t the problem now, let’s focus on what is. ” Slade turned to the IT

  executive. “Preston, I’m sure that Lyle and Scott can figure it out. ” He might not trust any of them with Hannah, but he knew from experience that they were more than competent at writing code and keeping a system safe. They’d do their jobs. And if either of them was Hannah’s stalker, they’d want to do whatever necessary to maintain professional ties to her.

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