“W-wow. That’s settled. You’ve got skills,” she says breathlessly.

I brush off the compliment in favor of my concern, although I’m gratified as hell to know I pleased her. “Meadow.”

She blinks up at me, so soft and pretty that I can barely hear over the pounding of my heart. “Yeah?” she whispers, searching my eyes.

Before I can respond, there’s a loud knock at the door. “Fuck off,” I snarl over my shoulder, though I fasten my pants just in case someone barges in. Goddamn. It didn’t even occur to me once how vulnerable I was while on my knees, lost in the sweetest pussy on the face of the earth. Anyone could have walked in.

“Sorry, boss.” It’s Richie. “I didn’t want to interrupt, but we’ve got some business you need to hear about. I decided you’d be angrier if I didn’t tell you. There’s some, uh…activity at the den.”

The den refers to my offices, which are legit on the surface, but houses a gambling operation in the back, among other things. If there’s activity there, either my enemies are sniffing around or someone spotted a Fed. I’m betting on the former, since the Feds have tried to come at me before, but can’t make anything stick. Most of what my old man taught me centered on avoiding charges. The McManuses are famous for being Teflon.

So if I had to guess, I’d say my rivals are trying to get a rise out of me.

Draw me out.

Looking down into Meadow’s beautiful face, I realize for the first time what a liability she’s going to be for a man like me. By making her mine, I’m effectively turning her into a target. Some of my panic must be showing on my face, because a crease forms between Meadow’s brows. “What is it?”

“Nothing,” I say hoarsely.

I’ll guard her. I’ll protect her with my life.

Nothing and no one will ever get to her.

Relax.

“Boss?” Richie calls hesitantly through the door.

“I’ll call someone to take you home, Richie.” He lives closer to me near the bay. I never bring him with me when there might be trouble. I sigh my frustration over having to leave Meadow early. “Look, I have to go handle something.”

She stiffens and withdraws immediately, trying to slide off the table and get around me.

“Hey,” I bark, pulling her struggling body up against mine, tipping up her chin until she looks at me. “I’m coming back.”

“Sure.” She tries to break my hold. “Don’t forget to leave a Yelp review.”

“Meadow,” I growl in warning. “I don’t like you doubting me. I said I’m coming back and I will. If God and the devil joined forces, they couldn’t keep me away from you, gorgeous.” Her struggles die down. “You and me. It’s a done deal. Understand? I’m sorry I have to leave like this, but I’d be lying if I said it was the last time it’s going to happen. I’m a busy motherfucker. But I hate…”

“You hate what?” she whispers.

I try to clear the new tightness from my throat. “I hate every second standing in between now and when I see you again. Say you know that.”

Her ball buster attitude slips back into place and she shrugs a dainty shoulder. “Maybe I do. Maybe I don’t.”

I kiss her hard on the mouth. “You’re going to drive me crazy.”

There’s a smile in her eyes. “My last appointment ends at five.”

I frame her jaw and squeeze lightly. “No male clients, right?”

She shakes her head no and I relax.

“Good. I’ll be back before then.” A few moments later, I take my checkbook out of my pants pocket and write her the check while she watches. “This is just paper, Meadow. It ain’t what brought us together, understand? We’ve got something real here. Bigger than money.” Something closes around my windpipe when I hand her the check, because it feels like goodbye. Even if it’s temporary, I don’t like leaving her. “I’m sending someone over to watch this place while I’m gone.”

I drive my tongue into her mouth before she can question me, kissing her long and hard while I palm her incredible tits, memorizing their shape and give, the exact right pressure on her nipples that makes her moan into my mouth.

“Bye, Walker,” she drawls, pushing me toward the door. “Either be good…or be good at being bad.”

I’m laughing as I slide out of the room, drinking in one final look at my future wife while making sure the door blocks her from view.

“How was the massage, boss?” Richie asks.

“You were right, Rich,” I say, slapping him on the shoulder. “Best goddamn massage of my life.”

CHAPTER FOUR

Meadow

I peer out the front window of the spa, not exactly sure how I feel about the black Escalade parked at the curb. Or the muscle man leaning against the driver’s side door with his hands folded in front of his lap, looking lethal as a viper. When Walker was standing in front of me, his dark navy eyes twinkling—and that mouth saying all the right things—the idea of being guarded seemed totally reasonable.

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