Not one of them had on their usual, expensive suit. Instead, they all wore jeans and cotton shirts that proved they were far more rugged and male than the average executive. Slade was long and lean and bulged in all the right places. His face had such beautiful angles, it looked chiseled. Those blue eyes were sharp with intelligence. And under it all, a barely concealed power that pulled at her.
Dex was all dangerous cowboy. He was built more like a linebacker than his brothers. His biceps were huge and that cut torso of his tapered into a lean waist and the finest butt she’d ever had the joy to see on a man.
And Gavin looked like a fallen angel. His face was all kinds of stunning, which matched his body. Those lips of his, so skilled, so demanding, just unraveled Hannah completely. She couldn’t help but think about how it had felt to have those lips on her skin, loving her.
None of them looked very loving now, though. As they stared down the crowd, they looked ready to kill.
All the other men froze.
“Now, Dex,” Gavin said in that smooth-as-silk voice of his, “I don’t think we need to spend the money on a pine box. We’ll just toss his carcass off the mountain or let the bears take care of it.”
Hannah slid off her barstool and faced them. It was time to start putting her dainty foot down.
“You have no right to talk to them that way. You don’t own me, Gavin James.” Slade stepped forward and grabbed her arm. His grasp was gentle but unmistakably firm. “He might not own you. But we damn sure do.”
“Damn straight.” Dex crossed his arms over his massive chest and pinned her with a dark stare.
Hannah narrowed her eyes. “Do you have any idea how arrogant the two of you sound? I’m not a piece of property. No one owns me. Let’s get that straight right now.” Dex shook his head. “You became ours when you gave yourself to us, darlin’. There’s no going back.”
“And you’ve earned some swats from all of us for leaving without explanation, except that little note on your computer,” Slade said, his voice taking on that dark, deep tone that let her know she was in trouble.
Hannah turned to see if any of her admirers planned to back her up. Only Marnie stood behind her.
“They left the minute the James Gang walked in the door,” Marnie murmured. “They ran out the back.”
“Good to know they have survival instincts.” Gavin snorted. “Get ready to feel my hand on your ass, sweetheart.”
He stood in between his brothers, as though he had some sort of right to be there.
Hannah fumed. “I might be willing to hear this from Slade and Dex. Maybe. But why are you here, Gavin? You’re no longer my boss. I quit, remember? You denied being my lover or having any feelings for me, so what I do is none of your business. You certainly can’t threaten to spank me.”
“Oh, I’ll do more than threaten once we get all this settled.” Gavin raised a brow, then his expression gentled. “Hannah, I didn’t mean a word of anything I said this afternoon. I’m willing to do whatever it takes to prove that.”
His words made her pulse jump, but Hannah hesitated. She had to be careful that she didn’t misunderstand him. “If you’re just trying to hire me back, the answer is no.” Gavin smiled, looking supremely amused. “I loved having you as my assistant, and I’d hire you again in a heartbeat. But baby, my interest in you right now isn’t at all professional. I’ll be happy to prove it, starting with that spanking.”
She managed to hold in a gasp—barely. “You don’t touch me. I don’t want you anymore.”
“Yes, you do.”
“Now you think you’re reading my mind?” Hannah thrust her hands on her hips, her expression all but daring him to claim he was psychic.
“No, your nipples are telling me everything I need to know.” Hannah gasped. She glanced down. Sure enough, the little traitors were standing straight up, poking out from behind her shirt. Hastily, she crossed her arms. “It’s an involuntary reaction. It doesn’t mean I want you.”
“I want you, baby. You said that you care about me. I admit, I care about you.” He stepped closer. “Now tell me, do you want me?”
His voice had become a deep, male caress. Hannah actually felt more blood rushing to her nipples…and down between her legs, making it hard to think. Why was Gavin pushing this? Had he truly had a change of heart or was this some new game?
“I don’t know.” A huge lie. Hannah bit her lip. But darn it all, she wasn’t ready to confess everything in her heart again only to have it thrown in her face.
“Boys, do you think she wants me?” Gavin slanted gazes to Dex and Slade, who flanked her in an instant. Dex grabbed her free arm and reached for the hem of her skirt.
“What are you doing?” she screeched as he lifted her skirt to her thighs. “This is a public place!”
“Everyone’s gone, including Marnie. She just slipped out the back.” Of course the woman would choose her “boys” over someone she met less than an hour ago, but still, with Marnie went her last hope for an ally.
A second later, it didn’t matter because Slade had popped the buttons of her blouse open, exposing her hard nipples, and Dex’s fingers skimmed the embarrassingly wet folds of her pussy.
She caught her breath then moaned when he grazed her clit.
Flashing her a wicked smile, Dex withdrew his fingers and held them up for Gavin. “Would you look at that. All pretty and very, very wet.
“I think I’ve made my point,” Gavin drawled.
She smacked Slade’s hands away and folded the edges of her blouse back together as she twisted away from Dex. Her skirt fell to her knees. “That was for your brothers,” she told Gavin.
“They were touching me. My arousal has nothing to do with you.” Gavin paused, shrugged. “Okay, then. I’ll just sidle your way and see if I can make you come. That should prove something.”
It absolutely would. She’d melt quickly into a puddle at his feet. Then he’d know he could play with her anytime he wanted, and her body would respond.
Maybe she should stop fighting him and just ask what the hell he wanted.
“Fine. I want you. I admit it. What’s the point?”
“The point is, things aren’t right between us. We have to talk.”
“Please, just listen.” Slade turned to her and sighed. “Gavin has a few things he wants to say to you.”
Gavin had already said enough. She’d been hauled bodily to Alaska, forced to miss her visit with her grandmother. She’d had her cell phone taken away. She’d lost her virginity and her ability to wear underwear. Gavin had ripped her heart out, forced her to admit that she wanted him, and now he had something to say? Marnie had told her to get mad. Well, she was mad.
Hannah picked up her shot glass and threw it straight at Gavin’s head. “I’m not listening.”
“Fuck,” Gavin cursed as the shot glass whizzed past his head and smashed against the wall behind him, shattering.
Hannah reached for another on the bar nearby. Gavin strode toward her, the promise of punishment ripe in his eyes. She threw the glass in her grip. It pulled left again.
Slade and Dex seemed content to just watch the whole thing play out with barely repressed smiles.
“Hey, Gavin, before you spank her, you did promise to grovel.” Dex leaned against the bar.
Gavin’s eyes narrowed. “I can’t grovel if she’s throwing shit at my head.”
“You, groveling? Ha!” Hannah reached for a nearby glass tumbler and raised it over her head. If she was having trouble with the smaller missiles, she’d go bigger. “That’ll never happen.”
Hannah aimed carefully. She would only get so many chances before Slade or Dex put a stop to her retribution.
“If you’re going to hit him, aim for the face, darlin’,” Dex said. “He’s going to be tender there.
“Absolutely,” Slade agreed. “Dex and I both slugged him earlier today.”
“Why did you hit Gavin?” And now that she thought about it, why had they allowed her to pitch fastballs at their brother’s head. It wasn’t like them. One of them should have had her over their knee before she could let the first one fly. Yet here they stood, watching as she took out her frustrations on the barware.
“For a couple of reasons,” Slade explained. “First, he should never have said the things he said to you.”
“He told you?” Why would he have told them? If he’d really been trying to push her away, he should have used the opportunity to shove a wedge between her and his brothers.
“I told them everything, sweetheart.” Gavin stood up, the look on his face so regretful that Hannah put the glass down. She hadn’t really looked at him before. She’d simply reacted to his presence. His handsome face was slightly swollen on his left jaw, and his right cheek, near his eye, had started to swell.
“Dex hit him for what he said to you. I hit him for not using a condom,” Slade explained.
Dex’s eyebrows climbed up his forehead. “He did what?” Hannah set down the wine glass and held up a hand. “Stop. Back off on the barbarian act.” She turned back to Gavin. “Why did you tell them?”
“I was confessing at the time. Everything.” Gavin stared at her. She could feel his will pounding at her. “I told my brothers all the mistakes I’ve made. Pushing you away was one of the stupidest.”
“Why do you think that?”
“Because I love you, Hannah.”
She was suddenly just tired. “I’m sorry, Gavin, but I don’t know if I can trust you. I believe that you think you mean what you’re saying. I can even believe that you have feelings for me, but I’ll always be a country girl with a community college education. I can’t change that. I won’t ever really care about the stuff those society women do, like fashion designers or what kind of car I drive. I can’t be the kind of wife you need.”
“You’re exactly the kind of wife I need.” Gavin closed the last few steps between them.
“Loving. Kind. Smart. Loyal. Hannah, I can’t imagine loving another woman the way I love you.
I screwed this up. I just hope you’ll give me a second chance.” She wanted to, but he’d battered her heart pretty badly.
Dex’s phone trilled. He cursed under his breath as he pulled it out and answered it. “It’s the site. I’ll be right back.”
Dex stepped away. Slade’s hands came out to cup her shoulders. “Hannah, he’s been scared.
Please give him a chance. He really is crazy about you, just like I know you are about him.” Gavin was willing to admit he cared about her right now, but what happened when people questioned him? And how was the relationship supposed to work? If Gavin was ashamed of her for her background, how was he going to react when people got wind of his ménage relationship?
Dex strode back into the room, his face pale. He clutched the phone tightly. “That was the one of the sheriff’s deputies. They found Preston dead. He apparently hanged himself in one of the conference rooms.”
Slade’s hands dropped. “Dear God. What… I escorted him off the premises. How did he get back inside?”
Hannah hadn’t much liked Preston Ward III, but she certainly hadn’t wanted him dead.
“I don’t know. Maybe he wanted to make a statement.” Dex turned to Hannah. “We fired him earlier today. We think he might have been your stalker. Damn it. I need to go to the site.” Slade stepped close to Dex. “I’ll go with you. I’m the one who fired him. He didn’t take it well, but I never expected this.”
“It wasn’t your fault,” Hannah said, wrapping her arms around him. “His wife had left him recently, too. There could be a lot of reasons he chose this.” She could feel the coiled tension in Slade’s body, but he hugged her close. Dex came around her back and held her. She was surrounded by their warmth.
“We’ll talk about it later,” Slade replied. “I would feel safer if you went home with Gavin.
You don’t have to talk to him. Just don’t beat him to death.”
“Please, Hannah.” Dex’s hand tangled in her hair. He tilted her head up, twisting her slightly, brushing his lips against hers. “Give him a chance.”
She nodded. She couldn’t tell them no. She kissed Slade and they left.
Hannah was left alone with the man who’d broken her heart.
Gavin turned the Jeep onto the road that led home. The gravel crunched beneath the wheels.
His brothers were going to have a fun time coming home in the golf cart on these rustic roads. It was a testament to Hannah’s desire to be away from him that she’d managed to drive to town in the miniature vehicle.
He glanced at the woman beside him. Her beautiful face was set in stubborn lines, her focus firmly on the road ahead. She hadn’t looked at him once since they’d left the Angry Moose.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com