Jagged | Chapter 17 of 33

Author: Kristen Ashley | Submitted by: Maria Garcia | 23661 Views | Add a Review

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Chapter Twelve

Vaulted

Two days later…

“Let me get this straight,” Maybelline, sitting with Wanda at a table in my section at The Dog, started. “Five days ago, you wandered down the hall and gave your boss-slash-roommate a booty call. A booty call that was so hot that he got pissed off and then for some reason, you went to apologize to him and he yanked you into his bed again. You did the nasty again, freaked, and ran away. The next night he tells you, belatedly, mind, that he came back to town to commit to you. You accepted that and all is hunky-dory for a few hours. You have a scene at The Rooster, of all places, before settling down to sleep with your boss, roommate, hot guy, brand-new but old boyfriend. Then you find out your sister died, and girl, you know I’m sorry about that…”

She waited for my nod, I gave it to her, and she launched back in.

“And you find you got a long-lost nephew so you and your boss, hot guy, new-old boyfriend decide to sue for custody. You throw down with your Dad at a gravesite and now you’re livin’ the dream but with an impending nasty custody battle hangin’ over your head.” She paused before she asked, “Do I have all that right?”

Suffice it to say, I’d just filled them in on all that had gone down with Ham and Dad.

I looked to Wanda. She was smiling down at her drink so I looked back to Maybelle.

“Yes,” I answered.

Her eyes went to the ceiling.

“Okay, just gonna say,” Wanda began and I looked to her to see her looking at Maybelle. “You need to give him a good once-over ’cause it’s clear you’re not seein’ what I’m seein’. If that man right there”—she jerked her head to the bar, in other words, Ham’s way—“told me he came to town ready to commit and then went gung ho with gettin’ my long-lost nephew away from some serious nasties, I’m not sure I would fight him.”

Maybelle pinned Wanda with a stare and declared, “We need to get you a man.”

“No argument here,” Wanda shot back.

Wanda was Maybelle except white, and without the husband and three daughters. Wanda had two ex-husbands and a son who was so wild, he did her head in.

She was currently giving her son tough love by grounding his ass every three days, which meant he was out getting in trouble even if grounded so he earned more groundings. Thus this was not working.

She was also looking for husband number three and Wanda pretty much had only two things she was looking for in her new man. One, that he had no problem taking a firm hand with a wayward teenage boy. And two, he just had firm hands that he knew how to use.

On that thought, a piercing whistle filled the air, and all heads, including mine, turned toward the bar and I saw Ham taking his fingers out of his mouth only to crook one at me.

“Seriously, I don’t care if feminists hunt me down and burn me at the stake, that man crooked his finger and me, I’d follow him into a bank and rob it at his side,” Wanda muttered.

I smiled at my boots before I gave them a glance and said, “I’ll be back.”

Then I walked to the bar.

Ham met me there and leaned into his forearms toward me.

God, I loved that.

“Did you just whistle for me?” I asked.

“Yeah,” he answered.

“It was loud,” I noted.

“Yeah,” he agreed.

“You gotta teach me how to do that,” I told him.

His eyes dropped to my mouth and he murmured, “Easy.”

“Ham, no fair. Whenever you say that, my nipples get hard. I gotta work. I don’t need chafing.”

His gaze shot to my breasts, then to my eyes, and he smiled.

I smiled back before I asked, “You whistled, mein herr?”

His smiling lips twitched before he informed me, “I prefer Bruiser.”

“Bruiser Ham drags me into his bed and shows me an alternate universe I want to move to forever. Mein herr whistles at me to get my ass to the bar,” I explained, then went on. “So, you whistled?”

“Right, cookie,” he said through his still-present smile. “I’m your man but I’m also your boss and you been standin’ at that table fifteen minutes. Don’t mind that but you got empties on other tables, I get a bonus if I sell a shitload of booze, and the women you’re talkin’ to, one threatened me a few weeks back and is givin’ me looks I don’t much like. The other one is givin’ me looks I don’t much like that say she’s thinkin’ of drugging me, taking off my clothes, and tying me to a bed. She isn’t ugly but she’s not my type and, I think you know, I already got a woman.”

I burst out laughing and found Ham still smiling at me when I was done.

“I’m afraid you’re gonna have to win Maybelle over. She’s feelin’ we’re goin’ a bit too fast,” I shared.

“She’ll learn otherwise,” Ham replied.

It was firm and I thought that was sweet.

I carried on.

“And Wanda’s overdue for gettin’ her some. Though, we’d just swung around to the topic of findin’ her a man, and if we manage that, you’re off the hook for the drugging and tying to a bed threat.”

“Good news,” he muttered.

“Do you really get a bonus if you sell a shitload of booze?” I asked.

“Last manager was lackadaisical. If the waitresses don’t work the floor, remindin’ them when their drinks are low, they don’t sell a lot of booze. I up the bar’s take, which I’ve done, keep it there six months, which I’m gonna do, they give me a bonus.”

I felt a smile curve my lips, leaned into him, and stated, “We are so on that.”

He gave me another smile in return and replied, “Then get that sweet ass on it, cookie. And, just sayin’, the way to do that is not leanin’ into me bein’ all cute so I want you to take a break so I can take you to my office and make you moan. It’s gettin’ on the floor and not yammerin’ with your girls.”

I kind of wanted him to take me to his office and make me moan but I was getting the sense Ham wanted me to sell booze now and make me moan later. Further, talking about it would make me want it more so I ignored that and focused on something else.

“I have to yammer with them. A lot is happening and it’s my sworn duty to the sisterhood, even if I’m workin’,” I shared.

“Well, sell some booze in between,” he shot back.

“That I can do,” I told him.

“So do it,” he returned.

I moved back, gave him a salute, and turned away. I lifted a one-minute finger to Maybelle and Wanda to share with them I’d be back and I got my sweet ass on selling booze.

My section included the left side of the bar, which included the recessed area that held the pool tables, the pool paraphernalia on the walls, and a few high tables and stools scattered around for people to rest their drinks and their asses during the taxing activity of playing pool.

I’d swung around to the dimly lit back corner when I stopped dead.

My mother, looking uncomfortable and even panicked, sat alone at the farthest table, her modestly expensive but classic handbag on the table in front of her, her hands resting on it like she was terrified someone was going to snatch it away.

My first thought was to hightail my ass back to the bar and ask Ham to make this go away.

My second thought was that would make me a sissy, and if Ham knew my mother was there, there was a possibility he’d blow his stack. I tried to tell myself I felt nothing for my mother, but even so, I didn’t think she could handle Ham blowing his stack. She could barely handle putting one foot in front of the other, so scared she’d do it wrong, Dad would lay into her.

So I kept my eyes on hers and she kept hers on mine as I walked to her table, taking her in.

She, too, was blonde but her blonde was lighter than Dad’s and mine.

Xenia got her hair.

She was also petite and had blue eyes.

Xenia got those, too.

In fact, if Xenia had had another twenty years or so, I figured she’d look a lot like Mom.

I made it to her table and asked, “Get you a drink?”

“Zara—” she started, but I pinned her to the stool with my eyes and she abruptly stopped.

I knew my face was hard and my eyes unfriendly.

I also didn’t care.

“Get you a drink?” I repeated.

She leaned into her hands on her purse and kept hold of my eyes. “Honey, please. I came here to talk to you and it’s real important you hear what I have to say.”

“Not to be a bitch,” I began, intending to be just that, “but, lookin’ back, I’m not sure you ever had anything to say that was real important.”

She closed her eyes through her flinch and I felt something I didn’t want to feel flow through me.

Guilt.

Guilt at hurting my mother and more guilt for doing it intentionally.

But she kept my nephew from me and I didn’t have it in me to let that slide.

Still, I hated doing it, so I needed to get out of there.

“Now, Mom, can I get you a drink?” I asked yet again.

She opened her eyes and I saw the effort it took her to straighten her shoulders before she announced, “Your father isn’t real happy you’re back together with that man.”

That man.

Dad had called Ham that back in the day, time and again, even though I’d corrected him dozens of times, telling him Ham’s name.

I hated it then and I hated it no less now.

“Lucky for me, just like back then, I’m of the age of consent and can choose who I spend my time with,” I told Mom. “Now, if you want to stay, you really need to order a drink. Ham’s the manager. His job is to sell booze and he frowns on people hanging out, taking up tables, and not spending money.”

“I… well, you know I don’t imbibe,” Mom told me and I did know that. I also never understood it. She wasn’t militant antibooze but I’d never seen her even take a sip of wine. And that was even before Xenia went off the rails. Truthfully, even knowing it was wrong to think, what with my sister being a junkie alcoholic, with the life Mom led with Dad, I figured she could use a drink or two to get her through.

“We have soft drinks,” I shared then I suggested, “Or the other option is you can leave.”

She leaned farther into me, taking a hand from her purse and stretching it across the table toward me, palm flat. I looked down at it like it was a snake about to strike but held my ground.

“Your father’s real worried about what you and that man have planned in regards to Zander,” she informed me, and I looked back to her. “Zander’s in a good place. He doesn’t need any upheaval.”

I felt my throat start burning with the effort to hold back the torrent of words that were getting caught in it.

“Are you kidding me?” I hissed and she leaned back, her hand sliding with her.

“Wilona never had kids,” Mom stated. “Couldn’t. She was over-the-moon happy she had her chance to raise a baby even if she did it later in life.”

“Aunt Wilona is a nasty bitch only one step down on the nasty level from Aunt Dahlia and you know that because she’s had not one nice thing to say about you in nearly forty years,” I reminded her. “You were never good enough for Dad and she let you know it every chance she got.”

And this was true. I’d heard it. Neither Aunt Wilona nor Aunt Dahlia had made even a vague attempt to hide these comments from Xenia, me, or Mom.

Even in the light of the bar I saw her face get pale, acknowledging this as truth before she said, “She may be a bit hard, Zara, but I promise, she’s good with Zander.”

At that, it was my turn to lean in. “If she was, then why has his aunt been livin’ a county away and he has no clue I exist?” I locked eyes with her. “And he doesn’t, does he, Mom? He has no idea his aunt has been as close as I am. Happy to spend time with him. Happy to tell him, when he was old enough to hear, which would be about now, how his Mom had a beautiful laugh. How everyone liked her. How she had a way with tellin’ a scary story and she knew a million jokes and she had a way of tellin’ those, too. How she had soft hair and shining eyes and she was lookin’ forward to bringin’ him into this world. And how tragic that the one thing in her life she looked forward to was the most important thing she ever had a shot at and she didn’t get it.”

“Please don’t,” Mom whispered. “You know all this is hard on me.”

Was she crazy?

“Hard on you?” I asked, my voice pitching higher and louder. “I lost my sister.”

“I lost my daughter,” she replied, her voice trembling, her eyes getting bright.

I leaned in farther.

“Well, I win because I lost my nephew, too,” I spat.

“Zara—”

“And something else I lost, not that I had much of it in the first place, was any minute amount of respect I still had for you. You knew the deal that was struck. You knew Xenia and I were close. You know what Dad’s like. You knew I wanted to be a part of my nephew’s life. You also knew he was livin’ not far away from me for the last nine years and you never told me.”

“Your father—” she began.

“Yeah,” I snapped. “My father would lose his mind if you went against his wishes and that might put you in a world of hurt.” I leaned back and threw out an arm, my tone turning sarcastic. “And we wouldn’t want that, would we? No way Amy Cinders would put anything on the line for her girls, or apparently her firstborn daughter’s son.”

Another flinch, this one I did not give one shit about, before she rallied with, “You knew how it was.”

“Yeah, I did. I knew exactly how it was for eighteen years because no one shielded me from any of that shit except my sister,” I shot back.

“Get out.”

Mom’s eyes flew over my shoulder and I turned to look, even though from that low, incensed rumble I knew what I would see and I was right. Ham was positioning himself close to my back but his infuriated eyes were locked on Mom.

“I got a right to refuse service,” he stated. “And I’m exerting that right. Get out.”

“Please, um… Mr. Reece?” Mom started and I looked back to her to see she’d slid off her stool and was looking beseechingly up at Ham. “I was trying to have a word with Zara and it’s good you’re here because you should know, too, that Xavier isn’t very happy about what you two might be—”

Ham interrupted her, repeating, “Get out.”

“Really, I need you to listen to me,” Mom begged.

“And, ma’am, I really need you to get the fuck out before I’m forced to eject you myself, and do not test me. I got enough years in bars, I won’t hurt you while I do it but that doesn’t mean you won’t be set out,” Ham returned.

Mom looked at Ham and then looked at me and saw she’d get no help from me so she reached for her purse.

Ham wasn’t done, however.

“Also, a warning, and you take this to your husband. Things are about to get ugly and I mean that legally. You do yourself no favors, and I’d share it with him, if you harass Zara anywhere, but especially at work. You do, we’ll be keepin’ track of that shit startin’ now and you might wanna think of what a judge will think of you keepin’ a boy from his aunt and then hasslin’ her when she decides she doesn’t like that much and does somethin’ about it.”

“So you are. You are gonna fight for Zander,” Mom breathed, eyes wide, face pale, terror written all over her features.

“Know the concept is foreign to you,” Ham replied cuttingly. “But yeah, we’re gonna fight for that boy. We’re gonna do everything we can to get him in a safe place where he’s got love that isn’t fucked up and twisted.”

“Wilona does right by him,” Mom squeaked, terrified but weirdly holding her own.

“She did, she wouldn’t keep him from his aunt,” Ham said, much the same as me. “Now, you best be on your way, but one last nugget you get to share with that asshole you live with. Had a word with Dr. Kreiger.”

Man, oh man. Ham was pissed if he was laying this particular nugget on Mom now.

And she knew what that nugget meant because her eyes went so huge, they had to hurt.

Ham didn’t even take a breath before he kept going.

“He still works at County Hospital. He remembers Xenia. He remembers standin’ right there with me, you, that asshole, and Zara when your husband agreed to put the baby up for adoption. He also remembers bein’ surprised when he approached your man about seein’ to that and your man reneged on that deal. He’s pretty pissed to learn that your man lied to him at the time, sayin’ Zara knew all about the change. And last, he’s all fired up to tell a judge about this, seein’ as he also thought that was a fuckwit move. So another piece of info you can suck up enough courage to tell him that might be useful is, what comes around goes around and I’m gonna make certain he gets his. Now, you got all that?”

This was all true.

Ham wasted no time the day after the funeral in finding Dr. Kreiger, who was the only witness to the deal I made with Dad. Ham didn’t let me come, worried about my state of mind, seeing as my sister had just passed. However, he did fill me in when he got back from the hospital.

And during our meeting with Nina the day before that we had to officially get the ball rolling, Nina filled us in on the fact that Dr. Kreiger wasted no time e-mailing her a scanned letter to the effect that he had, indeed, witnessed the discussion, detailed all that came after, and he was willing to do whatever was necessary to help.

Mom nodded to Ham’s words even as she whispered, “Please don’t do this.”

“It’s gonna happen,” Ham vowed on a growl, then finished, “Now, you best get on.”

Mom looked to me. “Zara—”

But suddenly I couldn’t see Mom any longer because Ham was not behind me. He was standing in front of me but I heard his voice rumble, “Mizz Cinders, I’m bein’ very serious. This is the last time I’m gonna say it. You best get on…” He paused. “Now.”

Not surprisingly, since Ham’s scary tone degenerated to his very scary tone, I saw Mom scurrying to the door.

I also heard Ham murmur, “Be back,” and watched him follow her.

No sooner had Ham hit the door when Maybelle and Wanda hit me, creating an instant huddle.

“What on earth was that?” Wanda asked, getting close as Maybelle did the same and studied my face.

I looked to Wanda. “That was my Mom.”

Wanda’s eyes shot to Maybelle as Maybelle leaned back but her eyes were on the door where Ham had followed Mom.

“You need a drink, sweetie?” Wanda asked and I did. I totally did. I needed seven of them.

“I’m workin’. Ham has a policy, no boozin’ it up while you’re sellin’ booze,” I told her.

“He vaulted over the bar.”

This weird comment came from Maybelle and I looked to her.

“What?” I asked.

Her gaze was still at the door, but it slowly slid to me.

“He watches you, you know,” she stated, and I felt my insides begin to warm. “It’s not boss keepin’ an eye on his employee type of watchin’ either. He likes what he sees. But it’s more. Like he’s makin’ sure you’re good, no drunk guys do anything stupid, stuff like that. You were outta sight for a while and I saw him do the scan he does a lot. He couldn’t locate you. He didn’t like that. Saw that plain as day. He moved to the front part of the bar, at the edge, looked around, and the minute he saw you with your momma, his face got scary, he put his hands to the bar, and vaulted right over it.”

Ham vaulted over the bar.

For me.

How awesome was that?

That warmth spread through my chest.

“He did,” Wanda affirmed. “He did do that. It was amazing. Seriously, after seeing that, I’d so totally rob a bank with that guy.”

I didn’t have a chance to smile at Wanda, Maybelline kept talking.

“I’ve never seen anything like it, man that big movin’ like that,” Maybelle declared. “He was lucky there was no one sittin’ on the stools there because I don’t think if there was that would have stopped him.”

The warmth spread all around.

“I had an ex-boyfriend who was not such a great guy and didn’t want us to be done,” Maybelle went on. “Used to mess with me. I’d be at the same burger joint as him, he’d call out nasty stuff. So bad I’d have to run out, not even gettin’ my burger. If he drove by while I was walking down the street, he’d do the same. I started seein’ Latrell and that happened”—she lifted a finger—“once. Latrell took off after him and chased him fifteen blocks, caught him, bloodied his nose and then some. We were on our second date and I remembered, by the time he got back to me and word was already spreading what he did, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with that man. I knew he’d never let anything harm me. And now, for near on twenty years, I was right. He hasn’t.”

I loved that story. Then again, I loved Latrell. Maybelline’s husband was the bomb.

“Are you saying that you think Ham is like Latrell?” I asked, and her eyes, which were kind of dreamy with reminiscing, grew sharp on me.

“Heck no,” she stated and I stared. Then she went on. “But he’s one step closer to me not thinkin’ he’s all wrong for you and you’re making the biggest mistake in your life.”

Well, that was something.

“Can I have my girl?”

This was rumbled from behind us. We all jumped and I turned and looked up at Ham.

He didn’t wait for a response. His big hand engulfed mine and he dragged me through the bar to the back hall, down it, and right into the office.

He closed the door and backed me into it, one of his hands going to the door by my head. He slid his other arm around me, pulling my hips into contact with his.

“You know I like it anytime and wouldn’t mind christening the office, babe, but I just had a drama with my mom, story time with Maybelle, and we’ve got a bonus to earn so maybe we can give each other orgasms after we close,” I quipped, knowing full well I wasn’t there because Ham wanted to ravish me.

I was there because he wanted to make sure I was all right.

“Brave face, baby, I love that you got it in you to do that but you don’t have to put that shit on for me,” he replied.

I took in a breath, then dropped my head forward so it landed on his chest.

“She still has the power to hurt me,” I said there.

“I get that,” Ham replied, moving his hand from the door so he could wrap it around the back of my neck.

And he would get that, since I’d explained all about it back when Xenia got hurt and Ham, I was finding, didn’t forget anything.

“I don’t understand her,” I shared.

“Means you’re gonna make a great mom,” he stated and I pulled back to look up at him.

“What?” I asked.

“My guess, you spent a lot of time thinkin’ on it. My guess, if by now you still don’t get it, there wasn’t somethin’ in your history with her that explained it. So my guess is, she was just shit at bein’ a mom and if you don’t get how she could do that, then you know how to be a good mom. Reckon that’s the hardest job in the world just as it’s the easiest.”

I felt my brows draw together as I informed him, “That’s a contradiction, Ham.”

“Nope,” he returned immediately. “You love a job, no matter how hard it is, it’s still easy. Not sure, never studied up on the guy, could be wrong, but I reckon Michelangelo didn’t wake up and think, ‘Fuck, I gotta drag my ass outta bed. More painting at the Sistine Chapel. Wish that shit was done so I could get to a fuckin’ beach.’”

His words made me laugh and move into him, pressing my hands against his chest and pressing everything else close.

When I quit laughing, I told him, “Okay, that makes sense. And it’s very wise, Mr. Reece.”

His brows shot up. “Now I’m Mr. Reece?”

“Bruiser drags me to bed. Mein herr bosses me around. And Mr. Reece is like a life professor, smart and generous with his wisdom.”

His eyes got dark in a way I felt all through my body and he pressed me into the door.

“Right, we were in here for me to take your pulse. Now we’re in here so I can fuck you against the door,” he stated, his voice jagged, and I felt that all through my body, too, but I shook my head.

“I’ve got booze to sell,” I reminded him.

“You can sell it in fifteen minutes,” he muttered, his face disappearing in my neck as his hand slid over my ass.

“Fifteen minutes? Is that all I get?” I asked.

His teeth nipped my earlobe, his hand squeezed my ass, and his other hand, which I’d lost track of, was at the side of my breast and his thumb slid out, grazing the underside.

I shivered.

“All it’ll take,” he whispered into my skin as his lips slid up my jaw.

I wanted that, but I needed more.

“I’m thinkin’ about giving Bruiser whatever he wants later, however he wants it, however long it takes him to get it. If he takes it now, that might not work out that great.”

His head came up and his eyes burned into mine. “Whatever I want, however I want it, as long as it takes me to get it?” he asked.

“You got it.”

His lips dropped to mine and I could feel them smiling as I saw his eyes doing the same. “You need to sell booze now.”

“Right,” I replied and I knew he saw my eyes smiling because my lips were doing the same.

He pulled me into him and kissed me, wet, hard, a promise of good things to come before he lifted his head an inch and looked in my eyes.

“You sure you’re good?” he asked gently.

Every day in what seemed like a thousand ways, I fell deeper in love with this man.

I didn’t share that.

I nodded. “Yeah, darlin’. I’m fine. Thanks for comin’ to my rescue.”

“Anytime, baby.”

I grinned at him.

Ham grinned back.

Then we got to work and I kicked ass selling drinks to earn Ham his bonus, which was double good since it earned me more tips.

But I did it taking time while they were still there to gab with my girls and noticing that, when I wasn’t at their table and I caught her studying him, Maybelle was looking at Ham a little bit differently.

Then again, he’d vaulted over a bar for me.

It wasn’t chasing a guy fifteen blocks and beating the crap out of him.

But it was nothing to sneeze at either.

* * *

“No,” I breathed my denial, pressing back against Ham.

I was on my knees, Ham on his behind me, his body pressed the length of mine. Ham had one of my breasts in his hand, his fingers doing amazing things with my nipple. I had my fingers linked behind my head and my knees were spread wide.

Ham had my toy.

He’d just taken me almost there with my toy, only to not let me go there by taking the toy away.

“I need it back, baby,” I begged and his thumb dragged against my nipple, pulling at it hard. My hips jerked and I whimpered, “Ham.”

“Not yet,” he denied.

I tried another tactic.

“Okay, then I need your cock.”

“Not yet,” he repeated and I wriggled back into him but stopped when his finger met his thumb at my nipple and he pulled sharply.

Oh God, that felt good.

My head fell back and I moaned.

“Fuck me, so goddamned hot,” he growled, pressing his groin into my back so I could feel just how hard he was.

“Okay, now I really need your cock,” I pleaded.

“Hang tight, Zara,” he returned.

“Honey,” I implored as he kept torturing my nipple magnificently.

I could hear my vibrator going. I could feel his hard cock pressed against me and both were driving me mad.

I could take no more.

“Ham.”

He positioned under me. I got the toy back just as his cock rammed up inside me. My head flew back, and my hands automatically went to where his were on me and I came, so primed by our play, the orgasm burned through me and I again cried out his name.

His hand at my breast went between my shoulder blades and he pushed gently as he ordered, “Down. I want that sweet ass.”

I didn’t hesitate. Even though it meant losing my toy, I went face to the bed and gave him my ass.

He turned off the toy, tossed it aside, and his fingertips glided over my ass as he pounded deep.

“Fuck, baby, love this ass.”

“Take it,” I gasped, rearing into his thrusts.

“Fuck,” he grunted, slamming into me. He clamped one hand on my hip, yanking me back, the other hand flattened on my ass, the pad of his thumb pressing against the sensitive spot exposed for him.

“Yes,” I breathed, jerking up to my hands, my thighs quivering. I slid my fingers between my legs and rubbed my clit.

Ham pressed the tip of his thumb inside me.

My head shot back and I cried out again as orgasm two seared through me.

“Fuck, my girl takes anything I got to give,” he growled, still ramming hard and deep.

“Yes,” I panted, still coming, still rearing back into him, wild, beautiful. “Ham, baby, I’m coming apart.”

“I got you, Zara,” he grunted.

I lost his thumb as his hand clamped on my other hip. He jerked me back, kept me there, and ground into me as he groaned.

I knew he was coming down, or close to it, when his fingers in my flesh relaxed and he started moving in and out slowly.

I dropped my torso back down, cheek to the mattress, and let him fuck me tender after fucking me hard.

Finally, he pulled out but I didn’t lose him. His fingertips roamed my back and ass as the bed moved. Then I felt his lips at my ass, gliding, soft, one of his fingers slid along the cleft and down before it slid through the wetness between my legs and up inside me, filling me.

I made a contented mew and closed my eyes as he kept fucking me tender, this time with his finger, and I thrilled at it before he slid his finger out, gently glided it over my clit, sweet, light, but my hips still moved with the thrill of it and I made another low noise in my throat.

He kissed the curve of my ass before he muttered, “Relax, baby.”

I fell to my side, curling my legs up to my chest.

Ham exited the bed.

I smiled into the covers.

He seemed gone for only a second before he was back, gathering me in his arms, my back to his front, his legs curling up with mine.

“I hope to fuck you liked that as much as you seemed to ’cause we’re gonna do that again and we’re gonna do it a lot,” he said into the back of my hair.

“For a man who vaults over a bar for me, I’ll do that again and I’ll do it a lot but even if you didn’t vault over a bar for me, I’d still do it again because it was fuckin’ awesome,” I replied.

“Vaults over the bar?” he asked and I twisted my neck to look at him.

“Maybelle and Wanda saw you when you vaulted over the bar to get to me,” I informed him. “Wish I’d witnessed that display of athleticism, darlin’. But how did you vault over a bar?”

“Babe, there’s a reason I do one-arm pushups and a shitload of pull-ups,” was his simple reply.

“I thought it was just so you can be hotter than hot and fuck people up when the occasion arises,” I remarked and watched him grin.

“That, and bein’ able to get over a bar when my cookie needs me,” he returned.

Oh man. I really liked that.

“Well, hopefully your cookie won’t need that kind of physical heroics again, but that said, if you get in the mood, you can give me a demonstration,” I stated.

His mouth was still grinning even as my words reminded him that he’d needed to protect me, so his eyes went thoughtful before he cleared his expression and tightened his arms around me.

“You give me you, naked on your knees with your hands behind your head, I’ll vault over the bar for you.”

It was my turn to grin at him before I declared my stipulation. “I’m up for that, though no toy. That nearly undid me.”

He pulled back a few inches in order to roll me to him, then he tangled us up, front to front.

Through this, he said, “Payback.”

I felt my brows rise. “Payback for what?”

“Payback for takin’ yourself there with your toy and makin’ me listen.”

That was when I felt my brows knit over narrowed eyes. “I didn’t even know you were in the apartment, so I didn’t make you listen.”

“Still heard you. It did a number on me and you made me wait until I got in there again, so I get to play with you with your toy,” he shot back.

“That doesn’t seem fair,” I retorted, and I felt his big body start to shake with laughter.

“Baby, you just came twice, hard, told me you were comin’ apart the second time, and you’re bitchin’?”

That did seem ridiculous.

“Whatever,” I muttered.

At that, his body shook harder as his laughter filled the room.

My minor pique dissolved as I melted into him, smiling at him as he laughed.

When he was done, I noted, “All the awesomer you are got even more awesome, you vaulting over a bar for me.”

Ham turned his focus and smile back to me. “You really liked that, didn’t you?”

My smile faded and I pressed closer as I replied quietly, “Yes. I really liked it. I didn’t see it but just knowin’ you did it is beyond cool. But it’s knowin’ why that’s what I really liked. Got a lot of good people in my life, people who were there always but who kicked in when it mattered. But when it really mattered, when the hurt could get extreme, only two people put themselves between me and it. One, two days ago, got laid in the ground. The other is lyin’ in this bed with me right now.”

When I was done talking, Ham was no longer smiling. His arms were also no longer holding me. One had clinched tight. He brought his other hand to cup my cheek as his eyes went dark and bored into mine.

“Fuck, shit,” he whispered, his tone so jagged, if it wasn’t so beautiful, it would have shredded me.

His face, his voice, his eyes, his fierce hold, it all did a number on me, making my throat itch and my eyes sting.

But the moment was too beautiful to mess up by dissolving into tears.

So I said, “I just want you to know I understand that, but I need you to know how much I appreciate it.”

“Stop talking,” he ordered gruffly.

“Okay,” I whispered.

Ham’s eyes moved over my face as his thumb glided over my cheek. I let him do this for a bit before I dipped my chin and shoved my face in his throat.

“What you said about your ex-wife, those women,” I said softly there, “I get it. I get why you’d protect yourself from gettin’ hurt. Still sucks you had all this to give and no one to give it to. But that doesn’t mean I’m not grateful it got stored up over the years so you could give it all to me.”

“Zara, I said, stop talking,” he growled.

I shut up.

He slid his hand at my cheek, through my hair, and down my back where both hands started roaming.

I snuggled closer.

Eventually, Ham wrapped his arms around me to turn us so he could reach out and turn out the light. He kept hold of me as he located my toy and threw it on the nightstand and pulled the covers over us.

Then he settled on his back, me tucked close to his side, his fingers roaming the skin of my ass, my fingers sifting through the hair on his chest.

The air in the room was warm and heavy in a good way. I liked it. It didn’t feel suffocating. I felt safe. But no way either of us could sleep in that air. I knew it by the tension I could feel in Ham’s body and the same in mine.

So I moved to lighten the air.

“Any chance I’ll get you naked on your knees with your hands clasped behind your head?” I asked.

“No fuckin’ way,” Ham answered and I smiled into his skin.

I knew it before I asked. Ham was sweet, kind, affectionate, and generous. But in bed, he was definitely in charge.

Still, I offered, “I’ll vault over a bar for you.”

“That’s not gonna happen. You got the upper-body strength of a girl,” he replied.

I lifted my head to look down at him through the shadows. “News just in, I am a girl, babe.”

“Thank fuck,” he muttered.

It was at that, I burst out laughing.

And that was the last sound either of us made before I settled back into my man and we both fell asleep.

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Alice
Great book, nicely written and thank you BooksVooks for uploading

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