Page 37 of Rule (Marked Men 1)


Rule told me to pack up and then went about cleaning up his station and shutting the shop down for the night. It took us another hour to finally leave and by then I was yawing and getting sleepy. My car was close enough that I decided to just leave it and not try for a spot closer to their apartment and Rule promised to get up early in the morning and take me to it if I wanted. The walk was fast because it was cold, it helped that he pulled me close the entire way. We said hi to Nash, I thought maybe he wanted to sit for a second and chat but he dropped my stuff on the coffee table, grabbed a couple beers out of the fridge and hauled me into his room.

We didn’t talk, didn’t seem to need to. By now I was getting the hang of how the whole sex thing, or rather the whole sex with Rule thing worked. He was very tactile, very hands on and I benefited from all of it. After rolling around not once but twice I was quite happily sprawled across his naked chest randomly tracing the scales of the snake on the arm next to my face. He was propped up on a pillow and drinking one of the beers and messing around on his phone while drawing some kind of pattern on my back with his finger. I was sated and almost asleep when his voice rattled through my head.

“Want to come to another show with me on Saturday? I tattoo one of the guys in Artifice and I got backstage passes.”

I let my eyes snap open and I went stiff which he was bound to feel since I was using him as a body pillow. I pushed my hair out of my face and looked up at him. His eyes were droopy and sleepy as well but I saw that he really wanted to know what my answer was. I gulped a little and bit down on my lip like I did when I was nervous.

“I have to go to my mother’s for the weekend. I’m leaving on Saturday and won’t be back until sometime Sunday afternoon.”

Now he was the one that went stiff underneath me. “You going alone?”

“No.” My voice was barely a whisper. “I told Gabe I would drop him off at his parents on the way.”

“You told the guy that has been stalking you and harassing you that you would give him a ride?” The incredulous tone made me nervous.

“Yes I did.”


“Because it was easier than dealing with the guilt trip and endless amounts of disappointment my mom would throw at me if I didn’t. You don’t understand.”

“Oh I understand perfectly. Your mom says jump and you do it right into that nut job’s arms. I can’t believe this Shaw, I barely get to see you as it is, I go freaking insane half the time because I wake up in the middle of the night to reach for you and you aren’t there and you’re off planning a weekend getaway with your psycho exboyfriend. Unbelievable.”

I rolled off of him and pulled the sheet up around myself feeling exposed and vulnerable, neither having to do with the fact I was naked. “It isn’t like that and you know it. I don’t want to go, don’t want to spend time with Gabe but letting my mother have her way is easier than trying to defy her.”

“How would you know? Have you ever even tried to defy her?”

I sucked a cold breath in through my teeth. “She’s my mom Rule.”

“Whatever. We can talk about it tomorrow.” He rolled onto his side away from me and I knew Rule well enough to know that there would be no talking about it tomorrow. In fact as he dropped me off at my car the next morning there was zero talking, zero kissing, zero eye contact, zero anything from him to indicate that a conversation could fix what I had somehow done.

I texted him after work on the next day that I was sorry and wanted to see him but got no response. I called him on Tuesday to see if he wanted to get lunch and talk about things and got sent right to voicemail By Wednesday I was practically frantic and ready to show up at the shop or at his apartment and demand that he talk to me only Rome was back in town and commandeered me for dinner Wednesday and let it slip that he was crashing at Rule’s for a few days because his other buddy had family in town for the week. My heart nearly devoured itself when I realized Rule hadn’t even bothered to let me know Rome was in town. I very well could have shown up and made a complete ass out of myself in front of his brother and he didn’t even care. I spent Thursday and Friday sobbing onto Ayden’s mostly unsympathetic shoulder and trying to get through my shifts at work. I was a mess and on Saturday morning when I stopped at the bakery to get Gabe all I wanted to do was run his smug, smiling face over with my BMW.

He tried to lean in to kiss me on the cheek and I pulled away so violently I smacked my head on the driver’s side window.

“Don’t.” I could almost see the icicles hanging on my voice but I didn’t care. I missed Rule, I was mad that I was having to pick between him and another family and I was pissed that he couldn’t see why I had to do what I did. All week long I had been plagued with visions of his room turning back into a revolving door of sexual conquests and it made me hyperventilate. I could see why he was angry at me, but I hated that he was just shutting me out.

“Come on Shaw can’t you at least try and make this weekend pleasant? Our parents would be thrilled if we could just work things out between us.”

I turned the radio on and let Georgia rock of the Drive by Truckers fill in the void where my conversation should go. I slapped Gabe’s hand away when he reached for the volume control. “Don’t even think about it.”

“Come on Shaw we need to talk.”


“Stop being so stubborn.”

“Gabe I’m involved with someone else, there is nothing we need to talk about. The only reason I’m going this weekend is to get my mom off my back.”

“That tattooed punk? You can’t think you have anything serious with him Shaw, seriously what are you thinking? You’re going to come home after a seventy-two hour shift at a hospital and he’s just going to be sitting around waiting for you like some kind of house husband? You really think that’s an accurate description of how your future looks with someone like that? More like you start your residency and as soon as he sees how much you’re gone and how much time he has to spend alone he starts bringing all those girls that were there before you back around. Get real, guys like that are not in it for the long haul, they’re only there until the shine wears off.”

I bristled because it was hitting a little too close to home for me right now so I just turned the music up louder and did my best to ignore him for the rest of the ride. I made great time, driving faster than I should have but desperate to get out of the confined space with Gabe. He had tried several times to pull me into conversation but each time I upped the volume on the radio until the Truckers were at an ear splitting level making it ridiculous to try and talk. He finally got the point and zipped his mouth shut. I practically shoved him out the door without stopping when I got to his house in Brookside. He motioned for me to roll the window down so he could talk to me but I just gritted my teeth and pulled away with squealing tires.