Badd motherf cker, p.19
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       Badd Motherf*cker, p.19

         Part #1 of Badd Brothers series by Jasinda Wilder
 
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  The game was cleared away and fresh beers were poured all around, even for Xavier and the twins since, as Brock--the only other brother with college experience--pointed out, even though they were underage here in Alaska it was obvious Xavier was going to drink at Stanford, and the twins would have constant access to booze while on tour, so pretending they didn't drink was kind of dumb.

  We dug into our late dinner; it was well after ten by this point, but we'd always been a family to eat late. When I was the one in charge, I usually didn't get a chance to fix dinner for the boys until after nine or ten most weeknights, having been too busy cooking and waiting tables to take time for it until after the rush ended. Dad was always behind the bar then, and usually fairly well into a bottle of Jack by then anyway. He'd never gotten so drunk on shift that he stopped being a whirlwind wizard of a bartender, but it meant he was focused on the drinks and the customers rather than the rest of us. His way of coping, I guess. Easier to bury himself in booze and customers than to let himself give in to grief.

  We finished eating and were working on a keg of beer and the bottle of Jameson, catching up, playing poker, just basically shooting the shit and reacquainting ourselves with each other.

  Then there was a fist pounding on the front door, which we'd locked so people didn't mistake the glow of lights for us being open, just in case the neon closed sign wasn't enough of an indicator.

  Brock jumped up. "That's probably Lucian," he said, striding for the door.

  We all stood up, ready to crush our weirdest and most wayward brother under an avalanche of hugs.

  Brock stiffened when he got the door open, though. "Sorry, man. We're closed for a private party."

  A male voice came from the other side of the door. "I'm not here to drink."

  Baxter was right behind Brock, as usual. "Good, since we're closed. Come back tomorrow."

  "I just said I'm not here to drink. I'm looking for someone."

  Brock turned to glance at me over his shoulder, obviously unsure how to proceed. I slugged the last of my beer and joined Brock and Bax by the door. The guy on the other side was probably a couple years older than me, maybe thirty or so. Medium height, fine blond hair slicked back. Not ugly, but not good-looking either. Just...average. Something about him made my instincts sit up and take note. He made me...uncomfortable, but for no reason I could pinpoint.

  "How can I help you?" I asked.

  "My name is Michael Morrison, and I'm looking for someone," the guy repeated. "A woman. About five-eight, reddish-brown hair. Her name is Dru Connolly."

  Everything inside me went cold and hard and all sorts of pissed off. Brock noticed my reaction, and his arms went across his chest, and he shifted to block the door more completely. Baxter, always ready to throw down, cracked his knuckles and rolled his head on his thick neck. I heard chairs scraping across the wood floor behind me, and knew the rest of my brothers were there to back me up--not that I needed it, since I was fairly certain I could break this twerp in half without breaking a sweat. He was wearing pressed khakis and a pink polo, for fuck's sake, and the creases in his pants were as fresh at midnight as they would have been at noon. He even had a pair of Wayfarers hanging from the V of his polo. Jesus, what a dweeb.

  "Get lost, motherfucker," I growled. "You ain't gonna find anything here but trouble."

  "I'm not looking for trouble," he said, his voice calm despite the fact that I had a lot of inches and pounds on him--not to mention Bax and Brock standing there looking on. "I'm looking for Dru."

  I actually snorted. "If you gotta go lookin', then maybe she don't wanna be found."

  His brows lowered. "You know where she is, don't you?" He stepped forward, pushing to within a couple inches of me; ballsy sonofabitch, I'll give him that. "I spoke to the pilot who flew the airplane she arrived on, and he indicated that this bar was within walking distance of the dock where he'd tied up. I'd like to see Dru, please."

  I crossed my arms over my bare chest; I'd never bothered putting on a shirt or shoes, so my build and tats were on full display. Most people tend to find me pretty intimidating, especially if I'm putting out the I can bash your skull in without flinching vibe, which I was doing right then. "All right, I'll say this as clearly as I know how: you have exactly thirty seconds to clear the fuck out, or you'll be eating your meals through a straw. You pickin' up what I'm puttin' down, shitstick?"

  He paled a little, but held his ground. "No need for violence. I just want to speak with her."

  "She don't wanna talk to you," I growled. "Twenty seconds."

  "You're out of your depth, I'm afraid," he responded. "You've threatened me without provocation, and if you do physically harm me, my lawyers will sue you into the next century. Now. I will only say this once more. I want...to speak...to Dru."

  I saw red then, and started forward, ready to blast in his veneered fucking teeth.

  Bax, however, got there first. His fist closed around Michael's throat, then Baxter's seventeen-inch biceps flexed and Michael left the ground. "You must be fuckin' stupid, yo," Baxter growled. "Get lost. Last chance. I squeeze just a little harder..." his fist tightened, and Michael's face went redder, nearing blue, "...and you won't be suing anyone. Got me, bub?"

  A small, pale hand touched Baxter's biceps. "Bax...put him down. He's not worth it."

  Baxter's head swiveled, and he stared at Dru carefully. "You sure? 'Cuz I can pop his neck like a pretzel."

  Dru patted his biceps. "I'm sure. Let him go, please."

  Baxter released Michael, who hit the ground like a bag of potatoes, gasping like a fish out of water. "If it ain't worth it for me to break him, then it ain't worth it for you to spend another second talking to his ass, yeah?"

  Dru only smiled up at Baxter softly. "I spent four years with him, Bax. I deserve an explanation from him. I'll be fine."

  "Yeah, well, we won't be going far." Baxter pivoted in place and whirled his hand in a circle by his head. "Let's go upstairs, boys. Hundred bucks says I can kick all of y'all's asses in HALO."

  Canaan and Corin took the bet volubly, as did Xavier, but Brock and Zane were slower to respond. Eventually, Brock joined the younger three guys upstairs, leaving only Zane in the bar with me and Dru and her piece of shit ex-fiance.

  Zane, I noticed, had a nine millimeter in his fist held low next to his thigh, and an icy expression on his face. Dru hadn't missed that, either.

  "Zane, it's fine. Really," she said.

  Zane tucked the gun into the small of his back and went upstairs without a word.

  Then it was just me, Dru, and Michael.

  Dru pressed up against me, her hands on my chest. "Let me talk to him, okay?"

  I noticed she was wearing my Badd's T-shirt...and probably nothing else. Fact was, I could see her nipples outlined by the T-shirt, and I was reasonably sure she wasn't wearing any panties either.

  "So talk," I growled.

  She backed away from me, her expression shuttering. "Alone, please?"

  "Not fuckin' happening."

  She shook her head. "Sebastian, it's fine, I promise. He's a cheating asshole, sure, but he's never hurt me. I'll be fine, I swear."

  Not that he could, I realized. But even knowing she could handle herself if he got physical didn't make this any easier.

  "Look me in the eyes and tell me you wanna talk to this douchebag."

  She stared up at me. "I need to know why, Sebastian. So I can be done with him forever. It's just...closure, okay?"

  My chest ached. This guy spelled money and he'd had four years with her. In that instant, seeing his dweeb ass gasping on the floor in his thousand-dollar outfit, I felt all the hope I'd just started to nurture begin to fade. What did I have to offer a woman like Dru Connolly? I was a better man, sure, but did she see that? She wanted to talk to him? She wanted closure? She wanted to take him back, that's what she wanted.

  I stepped back from her, feeling coldness wash through me. "Fine. Whatever you want." I pivoted and stalked towar
d the stairs.

  But I only made it three steps when I felt her hands on my arms, felt her spin me around, and then she was pressed flush against me so I could feel every sweet perfect curve of her body against mine.

  "Bast, wait."

  Bast? Why would she call me that if she wanted this dickhead?

  "What?" I snarled.

  She smiled up at me. "You think I'm walking out of here with him, don't you?"

  "Well? Aren't you?"

  A flash of irritation shot through her features. "Really? Do I seem that wishy-washy to you?"

  I let out a breath. "Guess not."

  "No, I'm not. Not even a little. I'm going to give him a chance to explain himself, because I need that for myself, and because even though it ended the way it did, I still spent four years with him and that's not a small amount of time to invest in someone. I did care for him at the very least, and I'm going to give him a few minutes of my time. I'm not taking him back, I'm just hearing him out. Then I'm going upstairs." She rubbed my chest with her palms, and her eyes took on a hint of lust. "And after you feed me and get me drunk, you're taking me to bed and I'm going to show you a few more tricks I know."

  "I like your tricks," I grumbled, feeling a bit reassured. "Sorry for my reaction. I just--"

  She put her fingers over my lips. "Shush, you big macho fuckstick. I get it. We can talk about it later. Now go upstairs and play HALO with your brothers. I'll be up soon."

  I nodded. "All right, but if he--"

  She clapped her hand over my mouth, this time. "You forget who you're dealing with, Sebastian?"

  "Yeah, yeah," I sighed. "Have your conversation. But I know a few tricks too, don't forget."

  She grinned at me. "Oh really?" She drawled the last word, making it a lewd insinuation.

  "I don't read much," I said, "But I have seen picture-book copies of the Kama Sutra ..."

  She giggled. "Oh my. This sounds promising."

  "Got this one position I've been wanting to try out with you..."

  She pushed me away. "Go, before I jump you right here."

  Michael was on his feet at this point, massaging his throat and watching Dru and me with hate and confusion in his eyes.

  "Got one thing I gotta do first, though, yeah?" I met Dru's eyes, and she saw the anger there. "Gotta prove a point real quick."

  She stepped aside, and her jaw clenched, her eyes going hard. "Only one point, yes?"

  I took two long strides across the floor, swung my fist, once, as hard as I could. People on the receiving end of my right hook have compared it to being hit by a twenty-pound sledgehammer...and those people are usually my brothers who I'm not really trying to hurt, so I'm always holding back. I didn't hold back, this time.

  If his jaw wasn't broken, then he'd be missing a few teeth at the least. I didn't stop to check, though, just shook the sting out of my fist, kissed Dru as I brushed past her toward the stairs.

  15

  Dru

  Holy shit--Sebastian hit Michael so hard he went back down to the floor like a log. Michael just...dropped. Contrary to what TV and movies show, you have to hit someone very hard to drop them with a single shot to the jaw.

  It was several long moments before Michael stirred again, and when he did it was with a lot of agonized groaning. More groaning and writhing, and he finally sat up, gingerly, slowly...and spat out a molar.

  "Jesus," Michael slurred. "What a barbarian."

  "Keep talking like that and I'll call him back down here, Michael," I said. "That was Sebastian restraining himself for my sake, so I'd watch what you say if I were you."

  I circled around behind the bar and poured myself a scotch on the rocks, leaned against the counter and waited for Michael to gather himself. He stood up, collected his tooth, examined it, and then tossed it in the trashcan standing beneath the service bar.

  He indicated the bar. "Can I sit?"

  I shrugged. "Go ahead. You won't be sitting for long, though."

  Pulling out one of the high-backed bar chairs, he sat down and massaged his jaw. "How'd you get involved with that guy, anyway?" He frowned at me. "Or are you involved with all of them?"

  I set my scotch down and leaned forward to get in Michael's face. "Have you forgotten who you're talking to, Michael? Keep talking shit, see where you get yourself. I don't need them to wreck your world."

  He rubbed his temples with his index and middle fingers. "Goddammit, this isn't how I envisioned things going."

  "I don't know what you expected, but you'd better get any ideas about me forgiving you out of your head."

  He peered at me, brow furrowed, sorrow in his eyes. "I had hoped, yes."

  "Well, that's not happening. Not in a million years." I felt my eyes prickle, but refused to let it show. "It was our wedding day, Michael."

  He hung his head backward on his neck. "I know, I know. I just..." He trailed off.

  "You just what? This is what I'm waiting to hear. You what? And why?"

  A shrug. "I don't know. I don't know, Dru. I fucked up."

  "Nooooooo," I drawled, "you fucked Tawny Howard."

  "I know, but--"

  "On our wedding day. Less than ten minutes before I was going to walk down the aisle." I felt my rage and hurt boiling back up with each word. "A wedding I paid for--" That got my brain going, and I halted mid-sentence. "Wait a second. I thought you took Tawny to Hawaii with you...on my honeymoon, which I paid for, by the way."

  "Actually, I paid for that, remember? That was the deal: you paid for the venue and catering, and I paid for the honeymoon. The airfare was included in the package." He waved a hand. "And I did. I mean, she's there now, but I hopped a flight here. I had to find you. I couldn't leave things like that."

  "How did you find me, anyway?"

  "Wasn't hard to narrow down which flight you stowed away on, and once I had the tail number, it was a simple matter of getting the pilot's number and asking a few questions. Wasn't hard."

  "Whatever, I don't really care. So you left Tawny in Hawaii to come here and...what? Nothing about this makes sense." I picked up my scotch and took a drink to fortify my nerves. "Like, I really, really don't get it. Four years. Four years, Michael. You proposed to me, and it wasn't like I was dropping hints about it. I wasn't even sure I was ready to get engaged, but you--you went to so much trouble making it romantic, and everyone in the restaurant was watching, and I...I didn't feel like I had a choice but to say yes."

  Michel indicated my drink. "Can I get one of those?"

  I shook my head. "No, you can't." I rolled my hand. "Explain, Michael."

  He took a deep breath, let it out. "It's hard to explain. I did care for you. I do, I mean."

  "Bullshit, but continue."

  "I did, I swear. Like you said, we spent four years together. It just...I don't know. I wasn't happy." He wiped his face with both hands. "I thought if I asked you to marry me, it'd make us happier. I kind of felt like you were never happy with me either, and I hoped getting married would solve whatever the problem was, and that--that wasn't something I've ever been able to figure out, why you weren't happy."

  "But you went through with the wedding anyway. Up until I caught you with your dick in Tawny, at least. And that begs the question...if I hadn't caught you, would you have married me? Would you have taken me to Hawaii and fucked me with Tawny still all over you?"

  "I don't know--god, I don't know!"

  "Stop saying you don't know, you fucking bastard!" I shouted. "You do know, you're just too much of a pussy to say what you really mean."

  "Fine! I never loved you!" he shouted back. "I wanted to love you, I tried to love you, but I never did. And you were...you were always...I don't know how to say it. It felt like you were playing a role. Like you were trying to be someone else, or...like you were trying to fit into the persona of someone you weren't. Like an ill-fitting mask, perhaps. Sex with you was...never bad, per se, but...not enough. When I met you, you were this wild person with all these crazy sto
ries, and the first few times we slept together you were...fierce, I guess. But then you changed. You got...boring. And I didn't know how to get you back to who you were, who you used to be. I thought, if we got engaged, you'd open up. You'd...that we'd--that something would change, I guess."

  "I got boring?!" I shrieked, outraged. "It was always the same old thing with you. You never showed the slightest interest in anything but the same thing every time! And I was trying to be what you wanted, to fit into your life, to fit into the box you put me in!"

  "How the fuck did I ever put you into a box? I never once told you what to wear or how to act or that I wanted you to change. You did that on your own. I thought you'd...outgrown your wild ways, maybe. Like you'd settled down." He was standing up, now, visibly upset, more animated than I'd ever seen him about anything; he rarely swore, too, maintaining that cursing was the sign of a weak mind. "I always felt like I was missing out, like by getting the watered-down Dru Connolly I was missing out on the fun version you used to be. But I never put you in that box."

  I staggered backward, hands shaking.

  Holy fuck--he was right.

  My eyes watered with tears I didn't dare shed. I turned away, set the rocks glass down on the back counter of the bar, struggling to get myself under control. I gripped the edge of the counter and leaned against it as if it alone was keeping me upright. And maybe, in that moment, it was.

  I'd changed myself for him...but he hadn't wanted me to change. He'd wanted the person he'd met, and I'd put myself into a pigeonhole in some kind of effort to make myself into what I'd thought he wanted in his life.

  Oh, the irony.

  "Dru?" Michael's voice was soft, concerned.

  I wavered, for a moment. I remembered when I'd first met him, how much fun we'd had together, how easy things had seemed. He'd been a little average, sure, and he'd never made my pulse thunder or my legs shake, but he'd been stable, easy to be around, decent in bed, and most of all...normal. I'd been so sick of feeling out of place and alone that I'd settled for someone I'd never loved, and in the process I'd changed myself, forced myself into being some kind of pathetic attempt at "normal", when I'd never be that; I couldn't be. I could never be in love with someone like Michael Morrison. And I should never have tried.

 
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