Badd to the bone, p.9
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       Badd to the Bone, p.9

         Part #3 of Badd Brothers series by Jasinda Wilder
 
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  "What if I change into someone you don't like?"

  "Impossible."

  "You don't know that."

  "I mean, unless you turn into some simpering, useless airhead, yeah I do know."

  "Like, ohmygod, as if." She said this in a scarily accurate Clueless impression, and then laughed. "Okay, no, there's literally no chance of me turning into that."

  "Then we'll be fine. You'll just have to trust me."

  "Easier said than done." She twisted in place and put her chin on my chest, staring up at me. "But I'll try."

  "That's all I'm asking, honey."

  Chapter 6

  Claire

  It was late afternoon and we'd spent the day in the room, ordered up a fortune in room service, and fucked. I was hormonal and needy--this whole week was the part of my cycle where I was one giant ball of sex-crazed hormones, which I affectionately referred to as "fuck me stupid week."

  Brock got it, I think, and never called me on it. Never said a damn word about the fact that I hadn't shown even a hint of sorrow over my dad's death. He just went with it, because I think--I hope like hell--he understands that I don't know what I'm thinking or feeling right now, and that I'm going to need serious time to figure it out. I also hope he understands that when I do finally to come to grips with the fact that Dad died and how I feel about it, it's going to get messy.

  So we lazed about and avoided heavy conversation.

  By late afternoon I was getting antsy, because I can't stay cooped up for long, even with Brock.

  The TV was on, playing a trailer for a movie, and Brock was dozing, lying on his back, arm over his eyes, cock flaccid against his hip, completely spent from having just bent me over the side of the bed and fucking me until I saw stars. I was sitting next to Brock, toying with the remote, and trying to decide what I wanted to do.

  "You're fidgety," Brock mumbled.

  I laughed. "I'm always fidgety, haven't you noticed?"

  "Yeah, but you're extra fidgety at the moment. What's up?" He slid his arm up so he could look at me.

  "I'm just antsy. I need to do something."

  "Okay. What sounds good?"

  I shrugged. "I don't know. I know I'm supposed to be in mourning or whatever, but...I can't cope with everything right now. I need time to process things, and it's all on hold until I talk to Mom anyway. I just know the way I feel right now is crazy and inappropriate for the day my dad died, but I just want to go have fun. Play pool in a dive bar somewhere, or go to a club, something. Anything."

  Brock laughed. "Somehow, that doesn't seem any more inappropriate than how we've spent the rest of the day."

  "You have a point, sir." I went into the bathroom to freshen up, deodorant, makeup, a little scrubby-scrub to my hoo-ha. "So we're gonna get dressed and go get in trouble, then?"

  "Sounds good, babe," Brock said, sliding gracefully off the bed.

  I put on my favorite pair of teeny-tiny khaki booty shorts, wearing them commando, and then tugged a forest-green camisole over my bare breasts, slipped my feet into my TOMs, and grabbed my purse. "Well, I'm ready."

  He had watched the whole thing. "Damn babe, commando and no bra? What are you trying to do to me?"

  I wiggled my hips side to side. "Drive you crazy, of course."

  He got a washcloth wet and cleaned himself, applied some deodorant, and then dressed in what I would call golf shorts, pastel green and white in a plaid pattern, hemmed knee-length, the kind of thing that are so ugly they're almost cool, pairing it with a white Izod polo. He looked preppy and cute and ridiculous. Brock normally wore jeans and polos, or jeans and a tee, or maybe a button-down for a nicer date, and for the rarest of rare dress-up dates, he wore dress slacks and a dress shirt. I'd never seen him in shorts, and didn't know he owned anything like...that.

  I couldn't help a giggle. "What are you wearing, Brock?"

  He frowned at me, and then down at his outfit. "What's wrong with it? Thought I'd try a new style."

  I eyed him, laughing. "I mean, babe. You look adorable. You could wear JNCO jeans and a shirt with wolves and flames on it and look hot, but this...I don't know. Gel your hair up and put on a pair of loafers without socks, and you'd be a straight up country club douche-bag."

  He frowned at me again, dug in his bag, and tossed a pair of brown loafers onto the floor in front of me.

  I bust out laughing even harder. "Brock, honey. No."

  "No?"

  I shook my head. "No. Nope. No way."

  He looked...puzzled. "I thought it looked kinda cool."

  I laughed again, this time softly and affectionately, sidling up to pat his chest. "It does look cool. You totally pull it off. That's not the problem."

  "You're gonna have to enlighten me then."

  "It's not you. I mean, with a name like Brock, you wear that outfit...you could walk into any country club and get in without a membership. You just look...I don't know. With your looks, it's just too much. It works too well. You look too much like you'd absolutely fit in in Bloomfield Hills. And that's not you. You're from Alaska. You're a stunt pilot. You own a bar. You're a Judo expert. You're tough and masculine and manly, and if you wear that, you wouldn't be you. It's fine for other guys, just not you."

  He chewed on his lip, staring down at me. "Well, okay, if you think so." Another beat of silence, and then he gestured at his bag. "You pick."

  I sorted through his bag, found my favorite pair of his jeans, old and faded light-wash denim, soft and worn, the pair that cupped his ass like a glove, and then a plain, stretchy gray V-neck with his thick black leather belt. I handed it all to him. "Wear that. But go commando."

  "Why? I never go commando. It's weird."

  I grinned. "It'll be fun. Neither of us will be wearing underwear, and we'll both be super aware of it. You never know when I might get a hankerin' for a little somethin'."

  Brock laughed, snickering at me as he shucked his clothes, and pulled on the outfit I'd chosen. Except he tucked in the shirt all the way around.

  "No, no, no." I untucked it except for right behind his belt buckle. "Like this. Casual, but still sort of dressy. Now put on your boots and we'll go check out the town."

  We took the elevator to the lobby and then had the valet bring the car around.

  "Brock, you are so hot it should be illegal," I said, as we waited. "Just thought you should know."

  He grinned at me. "No longer a country club douche-bag?"

  "No, but even then you're so sexy it's sinful."

  "You're pretty damn fetching yourself, Claire."

  I tossed my hair. "Fetching, huh?"

  "And gorgeous. Sexy. Adorable. Lovely. Stunning. Breathtaking--"

  "Okay, okay," I broke in, laughing--and also blushing, truth be told. "I get it. Thank you."

  "You sure? I got more."

  "One more, then."

  He tapped his chin. "Hmmm. Only one more? I'll have to make it a good one." The car came, and we got in, Brock tipping the valet. "Where to, local girl?"

  "How about Ferndale? I heard it's gotten nice since I left. Just head south on Woodward. It's close to the Dream Cruise, so we might see some cool hot rods, too." I eyed him. "So, one more compliment. Think of a good one, yet?"

  His smirk was arrogant and pleased. "Yes, I believe I have."

  "Hit me with it, hot stuff."

  "My fantasy."

  I hadn't meant for it to actually hit me like it did; my heart twisted and my tummy lurched. "Your fantasy, huh?" I barely choked out the words, whispering them.

  "Yes ma'am." He heard it, saw it, how his compliment had hit me, but he didn't call me on it. He also didn't let up, either. "If I fantasize, it's about you. When I think of the perfect woman for me, what she looks like, sounds like, fucks like, kisses like...it's you. You're my fantasy, Claire."

  I blinked hard. "Damn. That is a good one."

  "I mean every word."

  "Okay, you can stop now."

  "Why should I? You like the truth, don
't you? Not all truths have to be unpleasant. Some can be good truths. Like this one." He reached out and took my hand.

  "You're ridiculous."

  "Yeah, probably. That's irrelevant, though."

  "Pretty sure I'm no one's fantasy, Brock, but it's sweet of you to say so."

  Oops, wrong response.

  He jerked the wheel, pulling off Woodward into the parking lot of a small strip mall. "You think I'm lying, Claire?" Brock's gaze was hot and furious.

  "No, I just--" I cut off, shrugging. "I'm just not...that."

  "Yes, you are."

  "That's stupid."

  He flinched, literally, physically flinched. "Why? Why is stupid of me to have you as my fantasy?"

  I blinked hard, but salt threatened hot at the corners of my eyes anyway. "Just is," I whispered.

  I crossed my arms over my chest and stared hard out the window, trying to breathe, and trying not to figure out why I was reacting so strongly to this, which even I knew was idiotic.

  A long tense silence, broken eventually by Brock.

  "Claire--"

  "Ignore me. I'm being dumb." I smiled brightly at him, flicked the radio dial so the latest Bruno Mars song blasted loud. "Let's go have fun, okay?"

  Brock stared at me, unblinking, his expression hard to read. Eventually, he softened, and took my hand. He didn't say anything, just pulled back out into traffic. Then, when we hit a red light, he lifted my hand to his lips and kissed the back, slowly and softly, with a genuinely soft and affectionate and loving look in his eyes, saying more with that look than he could with words.

  Whatever you need, is what that look said.

  I see through your bullshit, but I'm letting you off the hook, that look said.

  We hit Ferndale and walked around, stopping for a coffee and then checking out a local bar to see how it compared to Badd's Bar and Grill back in Ketchikan. We had a few beers there and agreed it was good, but not as good as the Badd brothers' place. We shot a few games of pool and then asked the friendly bartender for a recommendation for dinner.

  By the time we finished our steaks at Ruth's Chris in Troy, it was still kinda early so we left the car with the hotel valet and caught a movie at the Palladium in Birmingham, finishing off the night with too much to drink at an authentic Irish pub, which had a live band playing. We got plastered together, is what we did, absolutely shitfaced. At least, I did. Brock was pretty drunk too, but stayed sober enough that he could take care of me, making sure we found our way back to the Townsend and into bed.

  The room was spinning so bad I had to put one foot on the floor to make sure I didn't fall off the world, and my brain was shooting out all sorts of crazy nonsense, and I just knew at some point before I passed out that I was going to say something stupid.

  Brock lay beside me, just looking at me, dozing off.

  "Brock?" I slurred.

  Oh, yep, here came the drunk-Claire verbal diarrhea.

  "Yeah, babe."

  "You're aware a shit-storm is coming, right? I'm going to completely fall apart sometime soon."

  "Yes, Claire. I know."

  "It's gonna be bad."

  "I know."

  "I'm gonna do something really stupid. I'm gonna be a horrible, horrible, terrible, stupid person."

  "No, you'll be a person who's grieving and hurting and confused, that's all."

  "No no no. You don' understand." I rolled to face him. "I'm unpredictable. I'm crazy."

  "Yes, and I love those things about you."

  I put a hand over his mouth. "Sssshhh! Don't use that word yet. It's too soon. You don't know what I'm capable of."

  "I won't let you do anything too crazy, and I'll be there through whatever you have to go through."

  I shook my head, because he was making promises I wasn't sure he could keep. "Just...just make me one promise, okay?" I peered at Brock, at the three of him that were currently rotating in front of me; I closed one eye so there were fewer of him.

  "Anything I'm capable of."

  "Don't let me break up with you."

  "Why would you want to do that?"

  "I'm not saying I'm going to, just that I might try. For stupid reasons, because I'm stupid."

  "You're not stupid."

  "I'd be stupid to break up with you."

  "I agree."

  I tried to make sense of the barrage of thoughts in my head. "Right, and when the hit shits the fan--I mean, I mean--shit, you know what I mean. Just...I mean--I might try."

  He tugged me to himself, cradled me in his arms, on his chest. "Get some sleep, Claire."

  "You didn't promise."

  He kissed my temple. "I promise I won't let you break up with me, Claire."

  I snuggled closer to him, feeling a bit better. "Okay. Good. I just wanted you to be warned."

  He laughed, although I wasn't quite sure why. "It's going to be fine."

  "You're crazy."

  "Yep. Crazy about you."

  "Cheese-ball."

  He patted my ass. "Sleep, Claire."

  "I'm trying. My brain won't let me."

  "Maybe you're not tired out enough."

  I snickered. "Gonna tire me out, Mr. Badd?"

  "Why yes, Miss Collins, I think I will."

  I wasn't expecting him to actually do it, but he slid out from under me, tugged my shorts off, stuffed a pillow under my back, and kissed his way from belly to hip to thigh to thigh to hip to belly, and finally, god finally to my clit, flicking, circling, and his tongue was holy JESUS--whoa...what the fuck? I came so hard I cried out, the orgasm hitting me like a ton of bricks out of nowhere, and he didn't relent, only slowed a tiny bit in his assault on my clit, sliding fingers into me. I had to close my eyes and arch off the bed and clutch the pillow behind my head, and then I reached down and found Brock, and his hair was much more satisfying to hold on to than some stupid pillow.

  A second, followed a few minutes later by a third, and then it was too much, his fingers inside me and his tongue on me, so drunk I couldn't think, the room still spinning even though my eyes were closed, holding on to Brock for dear life, half-terrified I might let go of him and be thrown off the world by the spinning, like a kid on a merry-go-round whirling too fast who can't hold on and lets go and is tossed like a doll.

  And then, oh...and then the dirty beautiful man added a finger, but this one didn't go in the pink, oh no, this finger, his pinkie, went right into my ass and goddamn it was glorious, the slow dirty slide in and out of his fingers, three in my pussy and one in my asshole and his tongue on my clit and more fingers on my nipples, and fuck man, how many fingers did he have? Jesus.

  The next time I came it was a maelstrom of heat and pressure flooding through my pussy and my belly, seizing me, and I heard myself screaming so loud someone banged on the floor or ceiling or walls, I wasn't sure which and didn't care, because Brock whipped me through the orgasm into a place of sobbing paroxysms.

  I finally pushed him away from my overloaded pussy and tugged him up to me, kissed him sloppily so I could taste myself on him, and then shoved him into place: under me, draping his arm around me.

  Now I was done, totally done. Darkness rose up to meet me.

  "I don't know how to be your fantasy," I mumbled.

  "It's easy--you just have to be you."

  "What if that's not so easy?"

  "Then we figure it out together."

  "Okay."

  "Now, sleep, Claire."

  I nuzzled against him. "Okay."

  Brock and I spent the last couple of days exploring the area a little more, and I met with my sisters to go over the funeral plans. I hadn't planned on doing that, but Tab called and suggested we sisters meet for coffee. Since I had nothing but love for them, I figured I should probably go hang out with them at least once; and actually, we ended up having a good time, even though it was shadowed by the knowledge of Dad's--Connor's--death.

  The day of the funeral was a bright, beautiful, sunny day.

  The ceremo
ny was solemn, held at the church where Dad had worked for twenty years. His friends and colleagues said warm, genuine, wonderful things about him. My sisters said loving, wonderful things about him. Mom tried, but couldn't get anything out without sobbing, so her best friend Mrs. Shaughnessy helped her off the stage, and then it was my turn to say something.

  Except, I couldn't.

  I couldn't go up there.

  Tab and Hayley tried to push me up, Mom gestured at me, but I just burrowed into Brock and shook my head.

  But my reasons for not saying a few words were not what I hoped people assumed: I didn't go up because I wasn't crying; my eyes were dry, and I didn't have anything warm and wonderful and kind and loving to say about him. He really did seem like he had been a wonderful man...to everyone except me. And I just couldn't go up there and talk a bunch of bullshit about a man I didn't love. So I remained seated.

  He was buried in Rosewood Cemetery, near a huge spreading oak tree. A priest who had known Dad read appropriate Bible verses and rambled the appropriate platitudes, and then Dad's coffin was interred and everyone tossed a rose onto the casket.

  I did not throw a rose.

  I did not throw a fistful of dirt.

  I watched it all but I did not cry. I held myself straight and clung to Brock's arm, staring in stony silence as Mom and Tab and Hayley had one last moment over the coffin of the man they had loved. They held hands, shoulders shaking.

  "Do you want to go over there, Claire?" Brock asked, nudging me.

  I shook my head. "That's for them."

  He didn't push it.

  After a while it was only Mom and the girls and Brock and I left at the graveside.

  Mom took careful, tentative steps across the grass toward me, stopping in front of me. "You couldn't spare a single word for your father at his funeral?"

  I fought for the right words, but failed to find them. "No, Mom. I couldn't." I bit down on the questions whirling through my head. "I didn't have anything nice to say, so I didn't say anything at all."

  Mom closed her eyes as if my words physically hurt her. "I see." She opened her eyes, searching me. "You're going back to Seattle right away, I assume?"

  I shook my head. "Not Seattle, and not right away, no."

  "You don't live in Seattle anymore?"

  "No, I do. But now I'm splitting my time between Seattle and Ketchikan, Alaska...where Brock lives."

  "Oh."

  I hesitated a moment. "I have a few things I'd like to talk to you about before I go home, but I know today is probably not the day."

 
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