Their virgin secretary, p.33
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       Their Virgin Secretary, p.33

         Part #6 of Masters of Ménage series by Shayla Black
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  was too important to let go. “I don’t think it’s pleasant at all. I think it’s lonely, but you’ve gotten to a comfortable place. I know because I did the same thing.”

  He huffed, sounding deeply frustrated. “Annabelle, you weren’t wrong to think it couldn’t work. You were just being realistic. Most marriages fail, and they only have two people involved. Putting four people in a relationship, much less any sort of marriage, makes it exponentially more complex.”

  She understood that he was attempting to protect himself, but she had to make Kell see that wouldn’t lead to happiness. “So that means we shouldn’t try? It’s gotten easy for you to not try. I know that’s the way it was for me. After my father died and my mother got lost in her own grief, I decided that I couldn’t win, so I withdrew. That way I couldn’t get hurt anymore. I thought it was better to be numb. It’s not, Kellan.”

  He stood up and grabbed his boxers, shoving his legs into them. “I’ve never been anything but honest with you, Belle. I told you where this is going. I explained what I could give you.”

  The old Belle would have covered up and hidden, accepting that the fight was done. The new Belle could definitely kick the old Belle’s ass.

  She rose on her knees, giving him what she hoped was a spectacular view of her body. She was satisfied when he lost a bit of his normal grace and stumbled while reaching for his slacks. “You never lied to me, Kellan. But I think you’re lying to yourself. I am the woman for you and you know it deep down. If you walk away from me, from this family we could have, you’re going to regret it for the rest of your life. Do you want to know where this is going for me? What I intend to do?”

  He jerked on his slacks, his face flushed, his every movement a testament to his anger. “Please, tell me, Belle. You seem to know absolutely everything. Enlighten me.”

  She ignored the sarcasm. He wasn’t going to go down easy. She’d always known that, but she also didn’t miss the way his stare found her breasts. And she definitely couldn’t ignore the fact that he was already getting hard again. He had to carefully tuck his cock away.

  “Here’s how it will go, Kellan. I’m going to marry Eric and Tate, and we’re going to live right here. You’ll be more than welcome in my bed for as long as my husbands allow it. They’ll never bar you for the same reason I won’t.”

  A bitter laugh choked from his throat as he picked up his shirt. “And what reason is that? Because you like the D/s play, and I’m the only one whose been fully trained? You think they’ll need me to train them for any length of time? Eric’s already a good Dom. Tate can learn from him.”

  He didn’t understand a thing and that made her soften utterly toward him. “No, they’ll never bar you from our bed because they love you, too.”

  That made him stop. He stared at her, obviously at a loss for words.

  Good thing she had plenty for them both. “I love you, Kellan Kent. I want to marry you and your best friends. But if you choose to hold on to what that terrible woman did to you, if you choose her over us, then I think you’ll come and see us for a while. I think you’ll go back to Chicago, but you’ll visit. We’ll come see you, too, and it could work the way you want it to…until we have babies. And we’re going to have them, Kell. I want kids. I want to raise a crazy family, but I know that the minute I have that first child, you’ll be gone. So I’ll have to choose between you and having babies with the men I love.”

  “I’m not asking you to choose.” The words rasped from his throat.

  “Good, because you would lose, my love. I’m going to choose the future, even if it means putting you in the past. It will hurt like hell and I will love you until the day I die. I will always miss you and I will always wish that you wanted our family as much as we want you to be a part of it.”

  There was a suspicious sheen to his eyes as he stared at her. “That’s not fair, Belle.”

  “Life’s not fair, Kellan. And I’m not going to play fair with you. I’m going to fight dirty because this is the fight of my life. I love you. I’m going to tell you every day, all day long. I’m never going to let you forget it. And if you let that bitch win, if you walk away because you can’t get over what she did to you…well, you should know that I’ll still be here loving you. No woman in the world will ever love you the way I do. And you won’t love anyone else the way you love me.”

  His head shook, seemingly interested in the floor suddenly. “I never said I was in love with you, Belle.”

  “Not aloud. But like I said, I think you’re good at lying to yourself. Come back to bed.”

  Those words seem to jolt him, and he practically ran to the door. “I have to think, Belle. I didn’t want to make this decision yet, but you pushed me. I just… I don’t…” He plowed a hand through his hair. “I’m going out. I don’t know when I’ll be back.”

  “Kellan,” she started, lunging closer. She wasn’t sure she could stand to watch him walk away. She needed more time with him.

  “No. You’ve said what you needed to say. Now I need time to figure out what the hell I’m going to do because you’ve put me in a goddamn corner. I don’t need to hear another word right now.” He walked out.

  And Belle was alone. She stared at the door. Logically, she’d known he might get angry and leave, but somehow she hadn’t really expected it to happen. Maybe she’d watched too many romantic movies or believed in too many fairy tales.

  The reality was, she may have just driven him away for good.

  Tears brimmed in her eyes as she climbed from bed. She hadn’t meant to corner him, just let him know that her plans had changed and that she hoped he could be a part of them. Somehow she’d been unable go to Eric and Tate until she talked to Kellan. Her decisions affected him, too. And now, she’d probably ruined everything.

  She forced herself to plod across the floor, dread and anxiety lashing her. She was weary, but resolute. She was going to move toward the future and make the best of it she could.

  She opened the closet door to grab her robe—and she stopped short at the sight inside.

  A small doll swayed from a tiny noose attached to the rod. The doll had pitch black hair and dark buttons for eyes. Someone had sewn it a little outfit that looked suspiciously like something she’d worn a few days ago.

  A chill swept through her as she realized she was looking at a voodoo doll of herself hanging, just like the Peterman girls had.

  Her trouble wasn’t over yet.

  Chapter Seventeen

  Eric hung up the phone and was just reaching for his notes when Kellan stormed by. Frowning, Eric paused and stared for a moment, noting the flushed grimace on Kell’s face.

  Damn it. That couldn’t be good. He’d expected Kellan to take his time with Belle. Hell, he’d half expected to have to pull them off one another when the contractors returned. They’d designated this time for the two of them to be alone and to hopefully work through their issues. So why was Kell walking out?

  Sir trotted in and jumped up on the couch. He was getting used to the mutt. The puppy had two levels of activity: full throttle or dead-ass asleep. Actually, Sir kind of reminded Eric of Tate. Since coming to New Orleans, his brainiac friend was either moody as shit or ridiculously happy.

  Eric definitely preferred ridiculously happy.

  “Hey, what crawled up Kellan’s butt and died?” Tate asked as he walked in carrying two bags from a local electronics store. “I tried to talk to him, and he said he was going to get a drink. It’s barely one o’clock. I thought he was spending the afternoon with Belle.”

  Something had gone very wrong to make Kellan rush out like that. “Maybe we should go check on her.”

  “No need. I’m fine.” Belle stood in the doorway, lips turned down, shoulders slumped. She looked disheveled, delicate, and gutted. She’d thrown a robe on, but there was no way to mistake the sorrow in her eyes.

  Eric’s heart sank. He seriously thought about charging after Kellan and beating some sense into him. Letting K
ellan spend alone time with Belle should have softened him up and helped change his very stubborn mind. Instead, it looked as if Kell had managed to break Belle’s heart. Eric bit back a curse. Would Belle toss up her hands and say she was done with them all?

  Mentally, he prepared the argument of a lifetime. He had to make her understand that whether or not Kellan stayed, he and Tate could form an unbreakable bond—if she let them. He intended to stay with her and make her happy. No fucking way was he going back to Chicago alone.

  “Talk to me, baby.”

  “What do you have in the bags?” Belle asked, changing the subject.

  Eric looked at Tate, who appeared just as tense as he felt.

  With a sigh, Tate set the bags down and spoke carefully, as though trying not to upset her. “Just some new computer stuff. You know how I like to play around with all the new toys.”

  She gave him a sad smile. “I do. I thought you should know I found one of my own.”

  Belle dangled something from her hand. A doll formed of plain fabric with a bit of yarn for hair and two dark buttons sewn where the eyes should be. The doll was damn creepy. Whoever had made the thing obviously didn’t believe in the pretty princess toys.

  “Is that what I think it is?” Tate bit out.

  Belle laid it on the desk, then joined Sir on the couch, scratching his belly when he rolled over. “If you think it’s a voodoo doll, then you’re correct.”

  “Your grandmother has voodoo dolls?” Eric frowned. He thought she’d been a psychic.

  “No.” Belle shook her head. “Someone left this hanging in my closet for me. It’s even wearing a replica of the same clothes I had on the other day. But I didn’t see this when I got dressed this morning. Believe me, I would have noticed.”

  Eric stared, anxiety compressing his chest. His previous fear morphed into lava-filled. Someone was playing with them again, trying to frighten his woman away. “Hanging, you say? Like, by the neck?”

  “Yep. From a noose.” Belle looked every bit as pensive as she sounded. “I guess we should call the police again?”

  Eric didn’t see why. They hadn’t done anything the first time, and based on the news, they were still mired in the madam murder case. “Let’s take another look at Captain Ron and Mike because they’ve both been working in your bedroom and bathroom.”

  “And I took the draper up there so she could get a look,” Belle added.

  Eric shook his head. “She wasn’t here when someone wrote the message on your wall. We need to figure out all the people who had access to the house on both instances.”

  “Or I could just install some hidden cameras and catch the fucker in the act.” Tate pulled a teddy bear out of one of the bags.

  “Am I supposed to cuddle with that?” Belle asked.

  Tate started to fiddle with the bear, his fingers moving a switch. He opened his laptop and typed something into it. Less than a minute later, he turned the computer around and Eric saw himself on screen.

  “A nanny cam?” Eric asked.

  Belle peered over his shoulder. As she leaned in, she balanced her hand on his shoulders, and he was relieved she’d come to him for support. “This will be way more helpful than the voodoo doll. Where are we going to put it?”

  Eric knew exactly where he wanted it. He turned when he felt Belle meander away. “This asshole seems to really like the master bedroom. I think we set up in there and watch who goes in and out. This way you can still have the house remodeled without us having to formally check everyone’s backgrounds or kick them out altogether. We can monitor everyone’s activity in your bedroom via our laptops. We’ll know exactly when this sick creep goes in and what he does.”

  “God, I hope it’s Mike so I can kick his ass,” Tate muttered under his breath.

  “You be careful. Both of you.” She sent them stern glances. “I’ll go along with this idea, but only if you promise not to do anything dangerous.”

  Something inside him eased, some kernel of doubt. She wasn’t pushing them away or telling them to leave. The worst seemed to be over. Kellan had been an ass, but Belle wasn’t letting another man affect her relationship with either him or Tate. He wound his arms around her, embracing her, adoring the warmth and feel of her. He loved how comfortable she’d become with his body and the fact that she no longer hesitated to show affection.

  “Promise me,” she demanded softly. “I couldn’t handle it if anything happened to either one of you. Don’t do anything reckless.”

  That was an easy promise to make. Eric had no doubt Tate believed it would be intensely logical to beat the shit out of the man who was trying to scare their girl. He felt the same. Nothing foolish about doing what made sense. “I promise.”

  Belle cocked her head and looked at Tate expectantly.

  “I promise,” he grumbled.

  Eric elbowed his buddy. “Tell me what happened with Kellan.”

  Tate watched them with narrowed eyes. “Do we need to punch him, too?”

  She softened against him, resting her head on his chest, seeking support and affection. “No. I told Kellan the truth about his future as I see it and explained how this was going to work from now on. I believe he’s weighing his options, but you should know he’s probably going to leave.” She lifted her head, her expression filled with regret. “Maybe I shouldn’t have pushed him.”

  Risking her heart only to have it stomped on was exactly what she’d been afraid of all this time. Eric hated to see Belle facing one of her worst nightmares, especially when one of their own had tossed it in her face.

  He stroked her hair, trying to soothe her. “I’ll talk to him.”

  “Don’t. I knew I was taking a risk and that there was every possibility he would walk away, but I couldn’t keep going the way we were. I need to move forward. We all need resolution. The decision has to be his, but he needed to know that I’m going to do everything I can to make sure my husbands are happy, and that means I’ll only sleep with him when you two say it’s all right.”

  Eric’s heart nearly stopped. Had she said what he thought he’d heard?

  “Belle?” As he moved to stand beside Eric, Tate fastened his incredulous stare on her. “You just said husbands.”

  She pulled back just enough to meet their gazes. “I love you. I was afraid for a long time, but I’ve learned that I can’t live like that. What we share isn’t just sex. We make love, and I want to honor that. I want to spend the rest of my life with you. I told Kellan I want him, too, but I’m going to move forward with you even if he refuses me.”

  No wonder he’d run out of the house like he was on fire. Belle had upended Kellan’s whole world. Eric had no illusions about Kellan’s feelings. The current arrangement suited him. Kell didn’t have to make a commitment or even think about the future. He just had to watch over her and fuck her every night. Belle had changed the game.

  Kellan’s loss…but Eric celebrated his victory. This woman belonged to him and to Tate. It was about time she recognized that. He’d only known her for a year, but he felt as if he’d waited his entire life for her.

  “You told Kellan you were going to marry us.” He spoke the words slowly, savoring each and every one.

  “Yes. If you’ll still have me.” The tremor in her voice told Eric that she was nervous.

  He hauled her close again, pure joy in his heart. “Oh, I’m going to have you, baby. I’m going to have you over and over and over again, for the rest of our lives.”

  He felt her sigh in his arms and wondered how she could possibly have thought they would reject her. She was their whole world. He kissed her firmly, then allowed Tate to sweep her up in a bear hug. The big guy wore a huge grin as he whirled her around and finally planted his mouth on hers.

  Their girl. Finally. Forever.

  “We’re getting married,” Tate said, holding her close.

  “You better marry me,” she teased. “Because you’ve ruined me for all other men.”

  There would be
no other men for Annabelle Wright. If Kellan was a stubborn idiot, then Belle would have to be satisfied with him and Tate. He vowed they’d make it worth her while.

  Belle turned to them with a coquette’s grin when Tate set her down. “We still have a little time, you know.”

  Heat darkened her eyes, and his cock was immediately engaged. “How long?”

  She swayed to the door and lingered at the bottom of the stairs, giving them a sultry smile. “Long enough.”

  He chased her up the stairs, laughing with Tate all the way.

  * * * *

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