Forbidden pleasure, p.44
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       Forbidden Pleasure, p.44

         Part #8 of Bound Hearts series by Lora Leigh
 
Page 44

 

  “Keiley. I won’t let them hurt you like this. ”

  “I said enough!” Her voice rose, firmed. “I made this choice. You and Mac didn’t force me into it. You and Mac didn’t take those pictures and you and Mac are not to blame. And the next time I have to threaten a man with a bat, I’ll use it. ”

  The shower curtain whisked open and Mac stood outside, his brow arched, his naked body relaxed.

  “If you two are going to fight, then let me use some of the hot water. ” He crowded in behind Keiley, pushing her into Jethro’s chest before she bit off a curse and, before he could stop her, stepped from the shower. “I’ve had enough. I want to dress and eat. Then you two need to get things in perspective with this damned fairy crap you keep laying on my head. Any self-respecting fairy would have turned you both into toads by now. ”

  “That’s a witch. ” Mac obviously felt the need to prick her temper, Jethro thought with a wince as he stepped out of the shower stall. “Fairies are so much sweeter. ”

  She stared back at her husband archly. “You live in such a dream world, Mac. You really need to visit reality sometimes. ”

  If the look she shot both of them as they chuckled meant anything, the bat might be coming out sometime soon.

  “I need to get dressed. ” She just shook her head at them, but Jethro saw the joy shining in her eyes.

  She was happy. Hell, she was happy when he came to her home, but he could see that that happiness had increased. His had increased. Increased to the point that he was seriously considering taking Mac up on the offer of the farm. The farm next to Mac’s was coming up for sale as well. Jethro had enough saved to purchase it and add to what Mac already had.

  The horse breeding was the backbone of the property right now, but with some careful management and extra hands, the cattle could become increasingly prosperous. Jethro knew cattle. Mac wasn’t the only one who had a little experience on the land.

  It would be worth considering, he thought as he helped Keiley dry off. Or rather, caressed the water from her as she batted at his hands and laughingly shooed him away.

  “I need my gown and robe,” she told him as she moved into the bedroom with nothing but a towel covering her.

  “Here. See if this will work. ” He tossed her one of his shirts from the drawer before pulling a pair of jersey pants out and pulling them over his legs.

  The shirt did indeed work. It nearly hung to her knees and make her look smaller, more delicate than ever. Hell, all she needed were the wings.

  “It’s not my gown,” she sighed. “But it will work. One of these days you two are going to have to replace the door in my bedroom. I like my bedroom. I like sleeping in my bed, if you don’t mind. ”

  “What’s wrong with my bed?”

  “It’s not mine. ” She rolled her eyes. “Don’t worry, Jethro, I like the middle, as Mac will tell you. You can sleep on the other side. ”

  “There wasn’t a question,” he informed her. “This room is more defensible. ”

  “This is not my room. ” A frown snapped between her brows. “Listen, Jethro, there are a few rules cut in stone in this house. Number one, Keiley sleeps in the room she likes. ” She counted off fingers as she continued. “Number two, Keiley likes her bedroom and her bathroom, and she does not change simply because Jethro now shares it. Do we understand these rules?”

  He stared at the delicate fingers. “Are those all of the rules?”

  “Of course not. I’ll let you know as others crop up though. Mac has adjusted quite well, just as I’m certain you will. ”

  Mac chose that moment to walk out of the bathroom and lay his hand against her rear hard enough to cause her to jump in surprise.

  “Rule three is, if Keiley gets out of hand with the rules, she gets her butt spanked,” he laughed.

  “Since when?” Her eyes narrowed.

  “Since I said. ” He grinned. “And Jethro agreed. ”

  A pout pulled at her lips. “Where’s my bat?”

  “In your car. ” His gaze flicked over her as he pulled his jeans on, a smile tugging at his lips. “Want to go after it again?”

  A blush stole over her cheeks, and Jethro remembered Mac relating that little tale as well. How she had stalked to her car for the bat during a summer rain shower. She had ended up bent over the hood while he took her from behind.

  Anger surged through him at the thought. There would be no taking her outside, on the car, in the hot tub or the pool, or anywhere else until that crazy damned stalker was caught.

  “Let’s go eat. ” Jethro anchored his holstered gun in the back of his pants before pulling a t-shirt on and slipping his feet into leather running shoes. “While we’re at it, we need to figure out how to catch that bastard fast. I want him gone, Mac. ”

  “No more than I do,” Mac sighed, his gaze lingering on Keiley before he moved and pulled her beneath his arm. “No more than I do. ”

  Keiley could feel the tension returning now, and the fear. For a short time she had forgotten about the man determined to destroy their lives.

  Dealing with an addition to her heart was hard enough. She had thought it would never be possible to love anyone but Mac, but she was learning better. The adjustment to it was less than comfortable at times. The knowledge that everyone they knew was going to have explicit proof of it was driving her crazy.

  With Mac in front of her and Jethro behind her they moved downstairs to the kitchen, and a quick meal of canned soup and sandwiches.

  As she ate, Keiley couldn’t help the feeling of impending doom that rose inside her. They weren’t safe and Mac refused to leave the farm, even for a few days.

  She could feel something dark, something smothering gathering in her chest as she cleaned up the dishes and listened to Mac and Jethro talk behind her.

  “I want to know where that picture came from. ” Mac’s voice was too cold, too controlled.

  Keiley turned from the dishwasher to face the table, seeing the anger that lit his gaze.

  “The Playboy always researches his victims well,” Jethro reminded him. “He would have pinpointed Delia first thing as a weakness. I’m betting he sent her the picture. ”

  “Now we have to counter the fact that she’s likely sent it to everyone she knows,” Mac growled.

  “What if we hack her computer?” Jethro questioned. “Target her address book and resend the picture with a virus attached. It shuts down the computer after the e-mail downloads and wipes the hard drive. ”

  Mac shook his head. “It’s gone too far. We would have to use a worm. One that goes into the address books, sends itself to each address that that particular attachment was sent to, and wipes computers out one by one as it’s found. It would take time, a week maybe, but it would take care of the attachment. ”

  “What about the printouts? They can be scanned back in. Or the copies backed up on disc?” Keiley shook her head. “It’s not worth the effort or the worry. So they have a picture of us. So what? You two are buff as hell and made me look damned good between you. Why worry about it?”

  She picked up her wine and sipped from it as she met their brooding looks.

  “Keiley,” Jethro finally answered. “It’s not a matter of how the picture looks. It’s a territorial thing. But even more than that, it’s a matter of the insults that could be directed to you. I’d prefer not to kill over this. But I will. ”

  Keiley stared at Mac, hoping for a little backup.

  “Don’t look at me. ” He shook his head. “I agree with Jethro. Our home was invaded and our privacy violated. Your privacy violated. I won’t let that go. ”

  “This isn’t the Middle Ages,” she snapped back. “And I don’t need either one of you protecting my honor. Would you like to know the sheer number of women who have at some point had some lowlife bastard post pictures of them? And let’s not even get into the women who post the pictures them
selves. Do you really think the fact that our picture is up there is going to be anything but a three-day wonder?”

  “Do you really think I want anyone seeing my bare ass and you sandwiched between me and Mac?” Jethro bit out. “Excuse me here a minute, Keiley, but I can safely say there are no pictures of me buck naked anywhere on the Internet. ”

  Oh boy. This would not be a good time to point out that she knew better. She dropped her head, staring at her bare toes intently rather than at him or Mac. Because it was definitely the first time a picture of her nudity had been displayed anywhere. But these two were another story.

  Geeze, one would think with them being in the FBI, they would have checked these things. Duh! Get a clue. It was one of the first things she had checked for the night she had met Mac. Hell, she still had those pictures on one of her backup discs. She had just forgotten about them. Maybe she should have mentioned it to Mac when she started to, years ago. She just assumed that with him being in the FBI and that being his bare ass and all, he would have checked it out for himself.

  Big mistake there.

  “I don’t like that look on your face, Kei,” Mac suddenly growled.

  “What look?” Her gaze jerked to his, eyes wide, and a hell of an attempt at false innocence.

  “You found pictures of us?” The abject horror in his gaze would have been amusing under the circumstances.

  “Well, in your defense, the pictures are not listed under your names. I promise. ”

  “Names? Pictures?” Jethro snarled. “Not of me. ”

  They were amusing, she had to give them credit. Unfortunately, she might have to wait a while to laugh. She cleared her throat instead.

  “Stag party. Chet Waterson. Really, I had to type in a lot of key words to find those pictures. I swear. ”

  “Where’s Chet now?” Mac asked darkly.

  “Texas. ”

  “When this is over, I’m going to kill him. ”

  She could tell by the look on his face that he knew what was in the pictures.

  “She was really a cute little blonde, Mac. ” Keiley gave him a droll look. “I think she was really proud of that picture, too. It was on her Web site for several months before she took it down. But by then it had spread like a virus. You two were very popular for a while. ”

  “Good Lord, she’s enjoying this. ” Jethro was staring at her as though he had no clue she had a sense of humor.

  “I thought you would have known, to be honest. ” She stared back at them in confusion. “You two were pretty wild back then. Didn’t it occur to you that someone might take pictures? A video? Something?”

  Evidently it hadn’t.

  “Look, I don’t like this any more than you do. My bare butt might not be showing, but someone has a picture of me enjoying the hell out of having my bare butt covered. But let’s be realistic about this. There’s not a damned thing we can do to stop it. That doesn’t mean we have to be ashamed of it. ”

  “You are the girl who cringes at the thought of anyone gossiping about us, right?” Mac snapped as he jerked to his feet and went to the refrigerator. She knew exactly what he was after.

  Two beers. He handed one to Jethro before twisting the cap of his with a furious movement of his wrist.

  “Damaging gossip. Lies. Yes,” she amended. “But do you really think we’re the only ones playing bedroom games in this county?” She snorted. “Or the only ones who will be living openly in a ménage relationship? You know better, Mac. ”

  His pride was smarting, though, and she knew it.

  “That’s not the point,” he retorted furiously.

  “No, the point is that someone stole it and there’s no way we can take it back,” she guessed. “You can’t control it, so you have to fight against it. If you do that, then the gossip will only get worse. We go out, hold our heads up, and show them we don’t give a damn, and it will become old news. ”
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