“And I won’t trade you. Not for all the fucking money in the world.” He rested his hand on her knee. She flinched. “Your father’s an asshole. Don’t pretend he’s anything else. You don’t have to protect him anymore. He has no power over you.” Forge remembered the look in Beth’s eyes when her father ordered her robe removed yesterday. She’d been humiliated, a pawn in her father’s twisted business dealings. He knew what it felt like to be alone in the world, not a single person to lean on. That shit had made him strong.

It was destroying Beth.

“Can I ask you a question?” she nearly whispered.

He nodded.

“Do you buy a lot of women?”

Forge smirked before standing up. “No, sweetheart. You’re the first. And I’m hoping you’ll be the last.”

She had the worst poker face, so he knew she liked his answer. Was she already staking her claim? Her jealousy made his cock hard.

“My father said you’re the leader of the Hell’s Slaves MC. I’m completely out of my element. I don’t think I’ll ever fit into your world. I’m not like the women here.”

“And that’s the only reason I bought you.” He held his arms out to the sides, putting himself on full display. “Judge me all you want because of my title, but if I wanted whores, my bed would never be cold.”

“That’s not what I meant…”

He grinned. “You don’t think there’s good in everyone? In me? I thought you vanilla girls were always looking for the silver lining.”

“You don’t know me.” Her chest heaved, signaling her growing frustration. He liked her spunk.

“I know a lot more than you think.” His mind spiraled into the gutter. It was impossible not to when she looked so damn delicious. The shirt he’d given her was pulled tight over her tits. He could envision her naked and begging. “And I look forward to testing the theory that good girls like it dirty.”

Her mouth dropped open, showcasing her innocence.

“Just teasing.” He winked.

He was starting to believe she was the best purchase he’d ever made.

****

Beth tried not to stare at the bulge in Forge’s sweatpants or the hard, ripped muscles covering his arms and torso. He was huge. Instead of feeling intimidated by all those tattoos and the fierce expression on his face, she was undeniably drawn to him. She loved these new feelings of being wanted, chosen, claimed. He wasn’t the type of man she expected to spend her life with. She’d only been around her father’s business associates—highly educated and clean-cut men from good families.

Forge was the polar opposite.

And he made her body thrum in anticipation. She knew a man like him took what he wanted, no holds barred. His reputation preceded him. When would he take her virginity? Was that what he’d paid for, or did he want more? She secretly hoped and prayed he wanted her, the woman. Not just her body. Being a pariah her whole life turned her into the shell of a person. A shadow.

Being bought by Forge wasn’t an insult. It meant everything. For some reason, she didn’t believe he was the monster her father made him out to be, and she hoped she wasn’t wrong.

He walked about the room, put on socks and then some cologne. His scent was already branded on her, and she breathed it in as he passed. “If he tries to get you back, it’ll be a mistake.”

“He won’t,” she said. She almost laughed at the thought. Beth had been a thorn in her father’s side since her conception. She was the bastard child he never wanted.

Forge stopped in his tracks. “How do you know that?”

She bit her lip. Beth knew her father didn’t love her, and it didn’t bother her—or so she thought. The serious tone in Forge’s voice made her throat feel tight, and she tried to keep her eyes from watering as emotion bubbled up. “I was a mistake. He groomed me for this, and now his problem is gone. You don’t take back garbage once you throw it out.”

A look of pure evil passed over his eyes. His jaw clenched. “Don’t you cry for him,” he said, his voice commanding like yesterday at dinner. “He doesn’t deserve your tears.”

She had nothing to say, too mesmerized by his intensity.

“I don’t know what he’s told you about me, but if it scares the shit out of you, it’s probably true. One thing I want to be clear about … once I claim you, I won’t be fucking around with other women.” He ran a hand through his thick, dark hair. God, she could stare at him forever. He was a lot older than her, but it only pulled her in. Those crinkles at the corners of his eyes and thick scruff along his jawline screamed experience and masculinity. She needed to be protected, loved, wanted—by him. “You’ll give me the heirs I need, and I’ll take care of you. That’s a fair trade, no?”

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