I sit down at the table with the mismatched chairs. I raise my head, determined to not feel so insecure in my own home. I work hard for this and really have no reason to be ashamed.

I dish him out a plate and he digs in heartily. He makes all the sounds that he is enjoying his food and I can’t help but smile over at him.

We talk and he tells me about his twenty years in the army. It makes me wonder if he’s helping me because of the army brotherhood, but then I remember he didn’t know about my brother until we were on the way to my apartment. Maybe he is just one of those men that wants to save a damsel in distress.

I find out he’s 42, 22 years older than me. He didn’t bat an eye when I told him my age.

“So what all did he steal?” he asks me as he helps clean up the dishes, even after I insisted I could do them on my own.

“Uh, this time?… my laptop and my television.”

He doesn’t comment, just nods at me. I am going to be spending a lot of time at the library now to use their computers. Maybe I can find one at a pawn shop in the next few weeks.

After dinner, Ryder gathers up all his stuff and I walk him to the door. He shows me how to set the alarm and makes me promise to arm it, even when I’m in the house. He programs his number into my phone and calls himself so he has my number.

I tell him I will bring him money this Friday and all he does is bends down and kisses me on the forehead before walking out the door, with another reminder to set the alarm.

Ryder

It was hard to leave her, but I knew I had to. I wanted to stay, even if I just held her all night. And truthfully, that scared the fuck out of me. I’ve had relationships in the past, but I’ve never felt this instant pull toward someone. I want to protect her, to possess her and claim her.

Walking out of her apartment, I noted some more things that needed to be worked on. I called Charlie, one of my associates, and had her come and wait outside the apartment so I could go shopping, go home and shower. I trust the security system I installed, but I don’t know exactly what I’m dealing with here. Until the intel on Johnny comes back, I plan on keeping an eye on Sierra.

I stopped by an electronics store and got Sierra a new computer. I wasn’t sure what all software she needed, so I had them install what most college students use. Then I went home and after taking a quick shower, I drove back to Sierra’s. Charlie waved at me as she pulled away and I took her spot. I lie back in my seat and watch the building.

Around eight in the morning, Sierra walks out of her apartment. She’s wearing a black skirt that is a little too short for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, she looks hot, but I don’t want others to see her in it. Her white button-up has the top two buttons undone and even from this far, I can see her cleavage on display. What the fuck? I groan and adjust my cock in my pants.

I jump out of my truck and at the slam of the door she looks my way. “Ryder, uh, what are you doing here?”

“You said you had to be at work early this morning, so I came to take you.” I grab her hand and pull her against me. The scent of lavender and honey fills my nostrils and I inhale deeply, wanting to commit it to memory.

“You’ve already done so much, you didn’t have to do that,” she admonishes me. “I could have just taken the bus.”

“I wanted to. Plus, I got you something.” Opening the door, I help her up into the truck. This time, I do it, I put my hands around her thick waist and lift her up into the cab of my truck. When I get in, I reach into the back seat and lift the bag up to put in her lap.

She smiles at me and looks so excited as she opens the bag. Her mouth drops open as she pulls out the laptop. “It’s a computer. And not just any computer. This is top of the line, Ryder. I know this probably cost you two thousand dollars. I can’t accept this.”

She starts to put it back into the bag, but I put my hand out and stop her.

“It’s not a big deal, honey. You needed a computer for school,” I try to reason with her.

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