When I had her safely inside, I closed the door and locked it.

“You okay?” I asked her.

She nodded and stood there and stared at me. I wasn’t sure what she was thinking but I could tell she was battling something.

I took a step toward her and she threw herself into my arms. I hadn’t expected that but I caught her and held her. I realized this was the first time in her life someone had made her the priority. The relief in her body as she pressed against me told me everything I needed to know. My overprotected Harlow had never been protected for her sake, but for the secrets in her family and a woman she didn’t know was alive.

“From now on, you have me,” I told her, and she nodded against my chest.


It took them only three hours to find us. Grant closed the blinds and curtains over the windows and glass doors leading out to the balcony. Cop cars were out there, too, and I knew Rush was using every ounce of power he had to get the vultures off me, but it wouldn’t do any good.

Grant was locked in his apartment like an animal because of me. I hated that. I watched him as he peeked outside, and I started to hate myself. I had done this to him. I was selfish and I let him stay with me. I should have run. I should have forced him to leave me. I should have told him that his fear of caring about someone whom he could lose was very real with me. I wasn’t sure how long I’d live. He could never get me pregnant. I’d seen him looking at Rush with Nate, and I knew he wanted that.

But he could never have it with me.

I was defective.

And now I was ruining his life.


Grant turned back around and saw me staring at him. He frowned and made his way over to me in a few long strides.

“I don’t like the look I see on your face. Ignore that shit out there.”

“I can’t. You’re locked in your apartment because of me.”

Grant raised his eyebrows. “You think I care about that? The only problem I would have with that is if you weren’t with me. But you are. And that makes this a damn nice setup.”

I couldn’t help but smile at the teasing look on his face. He never ceased to make me smile. “You’re gonna want out soon,” I told him, trying to remind him of a very real problem.

Grant didn’t argue with me. Instead, he crooked his finger at me. “Get up,” he demanded.

I did as I was told.

He reached out and caressed my cheek with the back of his hand. “Good girl,” he cooed. “Now, take off your clothes,” he said in a stern voice. It should have made me angry, but the dark, sexy undertones only got my attention in a very different way.

“What?” I asked, starting to breathe harder.

“I said to take off your clothes. I know you heard me correctly,” he said slowly.

I thought about arguing but the way he was watching me changed my mind. I reached for the zipper on my skirt and pulled it down, letting the skirt pool at my feet. I grabbed the hem of my shirt with both hands and pulled it up and over my head slowly. If he wanted to play games, I decided I would, too. When I dropped my shirt to the floor, his gaze burned into me. I could almost feel the heat searing my skin. I reached behind and unhooked my bra before letting it fall forward. I let it dangle from one of my hands then dropped it in front of him.

“Panties,” he said in a husky voice.

I took extra effort in shimmying out of them, then stood there while his heated gaze warmed my body and made it tingle in all the right areas.

“No man would regret being locked away with you,” he said in a low voice and reached out to cup one of my swollen, needy br**sts in his hands. “Such responsive nipples. They don’t even need me to touch them. Hard as candy from just my gaze,” he murmured. I thought I should point out that any woman’s ni**les would get hard if he looked at them like that. But I didn’t want to think about that. I just wanted to think about us. No one else. Just us.

“Waxing that pu**y should be f**king illegal. It’s unfair. A pu**y already that damn perfect shouldn’t be made even more irresistible. A man can only handle so much.” His hand slipped down to cup my bare mound, and I whimpered. I wasn’t sure what game we were playing now, but I liked it.

“Wet. Always so wet. You get wet so easily. What makes you wet? What is it I do to you that makes you wet?” he asked as his fingers slid over my moist heat.

“It doesn’t take much. Just a look from you and I get wet,” I told him.

A pleased smirk touched his mouth and he closed the space between us. “Just a look, really? That’s gonna make it hard for me to keep my hand out of your panties. I already think about kissing you and tasting you all damn day long. Knowing your pu**y is wet is gonna get you f**ked in some dangerous places,” he whispered as he kissed my neck.

I shivered and grabbed his arms to keep my legs from giving out under me. His hand was still working its magic over me, and I was close to having an orgasm between his naughty words and his fingers.

“You were made for me,” he said, causing me to pause. What did he mean by that? It was awfully close to something else. He couldn’t love me. He didn’t know. He wouldn’t love me when he found out.

I wanted to forget. I didn’t want him to say more. I lifted my left leg and wrapped it around his hips, opening myself to him. His fingers sank inside and he groaned.

“Fucking flexible,” he said, kissing me everywhere his mouth touched. My ear, my jaw, my neck. “Turn around and grab the back of the couch. Stick this sweet ass up for me,” he demanded.

I didn’t ask, I just did it. I wanted to do it. His hands cupped my bottom and he slapped at it gently. I cried out and he slapped it harder. “I like watching my handprint forming on your skin,” he said, caressing the spot he had spanked. I squirmed, wanting the orgasm I was so close to reaching.

“My girl is wiggling. She likes it.” He spanked me again, this time harder, and I cried out. “Fuck, that’s pretty,” Grant growled, and then his lips brushed the stinging skin. His warm tongue came out and licked the tender spot. Knowing his mouth was that close to other areas made me greedy.

“What is it you want, sweet girl? You need something else spanked?” he asked. I didn’t know how to respond. I just wanted that orgasm he was causing to build. It was going to be different from the others. I felt it.

A loud hard slap hit my clitoris, and I screamed out as the release slammed through me and I began to fall onto the couch, unable to stand as my body was racked with tremors.

Grant grabbed my h*ps and held me up as he entered me in one smooth stroke. “I got a f**king naughty girl that likes being spanked,” he panted as he controlled me, as he moved in and out of me.

I never imagined that I would like being spanked, but the way Grant had done it was wonderful. My body was still humming from the orgasm when I felt another building on top of the aftershocks. I wasn’t sure I could handle another. Not like that one. He would have to hold up more than just my hips.

“My pussy. Knowing no one else has touched this pu**y and it’s all f**king mine drives me crazy,” he growled in satisfaction, and I began moving with him, needing what he was about to give me.

Grant’s hand slipped around and began rubbing my cl*tin a circular motion as he praised me and my body. “Come for me, baby,” he said, sending me off once again. He jerked out, and I started to beg him not to stop as he roared his release.

We hadn’t used a condom again, but he’d pulled out. The warmth on my back was proof. We couldn’t keep doing this. I couldn’t get pregnant. It was not an option for me. Ever.

“Stay still. I’ll clean you up,” Grant said, and he walked away, leaving me there. I just wanted to sink into the sofa, but I knew he wouldn’t want his come all over his furniture.

My legs felt like Jell-O. He was back in less than a minute with a warm washcloth, gently wiping away his release. I smiled, knowing he had watched himself as he shot his come onto my body. His roar of release had been louder than the others. I knew he liked watching it.

“Guess I marked you again,” he said with an amused grin as I turned to sink down onto the sofa.

“Yes, you did,” I replied.

Grant’s eyes ran over my body. Then he picked up his shirt and threw it at me. “I can’t look at you like that or we’ll be going at it again in about five minutes.”

I loved knowing he wanted me that much. I tugged his shirt down over me then pulled my legs up under me.

“If you were trying to distract me, you did a wonderful job,” I told him.

“Good. Glad I distracted you, but baby, sex with you is never about anything but the fact that I love being inside you.”

I liked that. It made me feel as if he needed me as much as I needed him.

“I would say let’s take a shower, but I like knowing you smell like me and sex. It makes me feel like a f**king caveman. If I start beating on my chest, just ignore me.” He winked and pulled his jeans up, leaving them unsnapped and showing off his sexy stomach, then sat down beside me.

“Remind me to send those stupid fuckers a thank-you note for giving me a reason to lock you up and keep you in my shirt.”

I laughed and leaned against him. This was right. Everything about Grant felt right. Maybe God had made him for me. There had to be someone out there who wanted me, even if I was broken. Surely God hadn’t meant for me to live my life alone.


Harlow sat curled up in my arms with her hands in my hair, playing with it. I had considered cutting it because I’d kept it long for a while. But the way she ran her fingers through it made me decide I would keep it like this. She obviously liked it.

I wasn’t sure why I’d decided to play rough with her earlier, but I’d wanted to. She always seemed so fragile, and I treated her like something precious and cherished. Because she was. I had wanted to see how far she’d go, though. I had pushed and waited for her to balk, and I would’ve quit. She hadn’t. Sexy little ass stuck up in the air, and she’d been squirming for more. Fuck, that was hot.

I hadn’t checked outside lately. Rush had called and asked if they were here yet, and I told him they were. He said they had some paparazzi camped out at his place, too. I knew I couldn’t keep using sex as a way to distract Harlow. I was going to have to go out there and face those nosey shits soon.

“I think I need to go out there and talk to them,” Harlow said as she wrapped my hair around her fingers.

“No,” I replied, closing my eyes so I wouldn’t see her eyes if she decided to beg.

“They won’t go away until they talk to me,” Harlow told me.

“Good, because if you keep playing with my hair, I’m flipping you over and going for round two,” I warned.

Harlow tugged at my hair. “Grant. You can’t use sex to keep me under control.”

I smirked. “Yes, baby, I can,” I replied.

A small giggle only made me smile bigger. I peeked at her through half-closed eyes. She was looking at the door with her bottom lip between her teeth. She was thinking hard about something. I wished I could read her mind. I hated not knowing what she was thinking. I was always scared that she might be planning to leave me.

“Dad said this won’t go away until they have their story. I should just answer their questions. Maybe they’ll leave him alone if I do. He has Emily to worry about.”

She wasn’t referring to Emily as her mother. I didn’t understand that but I figured it was like finding out you were adopted. That biological parent didn’t raise you. Emily wasn’t a part of Harlow’s life. Just hearing that she was alive didn’t make Emily Harlow’s mom.

Hell, I knew my mom and didn’t even call her Mom.

“His problem, not yours,” I said.

“Dad will do something stupid if he feels like she’s being threatened in any way.”

Her dad was Kiro Manning. He made it his life goal to do stupid shit. Did she not watch the news?

“Not your problem,” I repeated.

“Yes, it is. He spent his life protecting her and me.”

I didn’t see it the same way. I felt as if Kiro had protected Emily because he didn’t want the world to know he had a weakness. I didn’t believe he was protecting Harlow. He just didn’t have time for a kid. He saw Harlow’s grandmother as a perfect solution and ditched her onto the woman. Granted, it turned out better for Harlow; but it was because she was lucky to have such a good grandmother—not because of anything Kiro did. The dude was a selfish dick. He ignored Nan her entire life. And then there was Mase. The dude didn’t give a shit about his dad. That said a lot.

Mase, however, cared about Harlow. He had called three times already, and she had sent his calls to voice mail. He was gonna come barreling into Rosemary with his cowboy boots and his damn gun if she didn’t talk to him soon.

“You need to call Mase back,” I told her.

She sighed. “Yeah. I better before he does something stupid.”

She started to sit up and I held her to me. “Call him from right here. I don’t want to let you go,” I said.

I could tell by her little frown she didn’t like that. Did she want privacy? Why? What the f**k did she have to tell Mase that she couldn’t tell me?

“Okay,” she said and reached for her phone and dialed her brother’s number.

I was somewhat mollified, but I sure as hell was going to listen to this conversation closely now. If she intended to get the cowboy to come ride in and take her off to Texas, I’d take on the whole damn state. I didn’t give a fuck. She wasn’t leaving me.

“Hey, yeah, I’m fine. I’m locked up in Grant’s apartment,” she said.

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