“You’re mine.” I lean forward, growling, “Mine,” then lean back and catch her gaze again. “Your tits are mine. Your ass is mine. Call me whatever you like.”

Her eyes hold mine for a long time before moving to the left when the guy stutters out, “I… um… I have the phone all set up.”

I give June one more squeeze then take the bag from him and hand it to her. Taking my card, I sign the iPad in his hand before putting my arm around her shoulders and lead her out of the store. The whole time, she is muttering under her breath about annoying alpha men.


“Nope,” I state, stopping at the end of the bed, shaking my head, and crossing my arms over my chest.

“What?” June asks, looking at me from under her dark lashes, trying to appear innocent, but she knows exactly what I’m talking about.

“No way, baby. He’s not sleeping in the bed with us.”

“But he’s gonna be lonely.” She pouts, and I shake my head again then look at Ninja.

“Off.” I snap my fingers, and he looks at June then back to me, lets out an annoyed huff before he hops off the bed, stops at my side so I can give him a pet, and heads out the door.

“The bed is big enough for all of us,” she says, and I step toward her, putting one hand on each side of her in the bed, and force her to lean back.

“Do you want him to watch me eat you?” I ask, and her eyes get big and she whispers, “No,” breathlessly.

“Didn’t think so.” I lean in and kiss her then lean back. “If I’m in the bed with you, he’s not.”

“Do you really think it’s necessary for you to stay?”

“Yes, you may have a security system and a dog now, but I have a gun, and you’re safer with my head on the pillow next to yours.”

“Do you know how to use a gun?” she asks, and I study her face for a moment, trying to decide how much to tell her, how much to let her in. Knowing I want this to work, I climb over, settle myself between her legs, and place my face close to hers.

“I do. I was the best in my class, and when I went overseas, I was one of the best in my unit.”

“Did… did you ever get shot at?” she asks quietly, placing one hand over my heart and the other against my jaw.

“Yeah.” Watching tears fill her eyes, I feel a pain in my chest, because I know those tears are for me, tears I don’t deserve.

“Did…” She pauses, searching my face. “Did you ever shoot at anyone?” Her tone is tentative as she watches my eyes.

“Yeah, baby,” I say just above a whisper.

Her face raises and she tucks it against my neck, where she whispers, “I’m sorry.”

“Me too, beautiful.” I roll us so she’s lying on top of me then bunch up her shirt and run my fingers down her back.

“Why didn’t you come home to me?” she asks after a moment, and my body goes tight. I make myself to relax, forcing myself to be honest.

Running one hand up her back, I hold her face close as I tell her the truth. “I couldn’t look you in the eye. I fucked up so much. I kept so much shit from you. I didn’t want anything to touch you, anything to soil what we were building before that. I didn’t let you see how fucked up my family was, how my mom drank herself to sleep only to wake up and have a beer, how my dad would get pissed and take his anger out on me, just because I was standing there. I thought if I could build a life for us, a life I earned, one where I made it good for you, good for our kids, then none of that would matter. Then I went overseas and…” I stop talking, not wanting her to know how I fucked up.

“What?” she asks, putting pressure on my hand and pulling her face back. “What happened to you?”

I close my eyes. I can still see their lifeless faces in my head, while I relive the notion that I couldn’t bring them back.

“Please talk to me,” she begs gently.

“We were searching for a target. We went into one of the houses he’d been seen in. We did a search and came up empty. I knew we were missing something, so I went back in. We didn’t know that while we were doing our search that someone put a bomb under our Humvee. I lost everyone.”

“You would have died too,” she whispers, covering her mouth with shaky fingers.

“I could have helped them. I would have made sure the check was done.”

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