Releasing March 10
I have been lied to.
And now, threatened.
With Angelina, it was quick. Sudden.
I was a moth and she was the flame. I had to touch her. I needed a taste. By doing so, my life has completely spiraled.
And then there’s Colette, and her slew of bullshit.
She’s lied to me to over and over again. Sadly, because of that, I no longer crave her love.
Who am I to trust when the world and the people I love seem to be turning against me?
Who is there to fall back on when none of them seem safe enough?
Betrayal no more.
Give a man like me flames, and I will torch anything that stands in my way.
I will burn it right down to the ground.
And yes, that includes the women I care about.
I’ve been sitting in the same spot all day—, on the recliner with my feet perched on the edge of the ottoman, my body motionless.
God, I really need to get out. Move—do something other than keep sipping on this stupid bottle of wine I ordered via room service.
I drop my head, focusing on the iPhone on my lap.
Griffin is busy, I know, but I thought he would have contacted me by now. Doubt has settled in, and my fingernails dig into my palms from pure anxiety.
Maybe he read the contract in its entirety.
Maybe I didn’t get him to trust me enough to simply sign it without much thought.
Sex is the only way of getting a man of Griffin’s power to feel anything for—or trust—a woman. Hopefully, I did my job. Hopefully, it was a hook, line, and sinker.
But, shit, if I didn’t get him to trust me and he did read over it, taking note of the small one- and two-liners I tossed in between every other page, ones that only a certified lawyer would notice, I’m screwed.
I hope I’m not. I paid the lawyer who wrote it up with me a lot of damn money.
If this fails, I will have let everyone down: the lawyer, Scott, my father, and my sister.
With frazzled nerves, I settle on going down to the bar for a drink. I can’t deal with the wine. It makes me drowsy and blue.
I need something that’ll hit hard…carry me through the night with high hopes.
So, I get dressed in simple attire: leather leggings, Nikes, a thin white T-shirt, and a New York Yankees baseball cap.
I don’t want to be noticed tonight. I just want to be left alone; unbothered until Griffin contacts me, hopefully telling me what I’ve been waiting to hear.
I collect my wallet, cellphone, and room key, and then I’m out of the door.
There aren’t many people at the bar. Most are probably up in their rooms with bottles of expensive wine or one of the fifty-year-old scotches lined up on the wall behind the bar.
That’s the good thing about this place. You get what you pay for.
I maneuver my way to the empty spot at the end of the counter, ordering a neat Bacardi rum when the young, blonde bartender asks what I’m having.
As my lips seal around the rim and the cold, white, furious liquid swims down my throat, I can feel my muscles relaxing, my mind easing up a bit.
See, that’s all I needed. Yes, there is a lot of work to do, but I won’t be able to get shit done until I calm my tits.
The bartender wipes the spot in front of me, asking me if I’d like another when I drop my empty glass to the counter. I try not to nod too eagerly, but she whisks it away, obviously knowing I need it.
I accept my drink, and she collects my used napkin, tossing it in the nearest trash bin and replacing it with a new one. It’s not until she hears the same footsteps I do that she whips her head up to look at the person coming in the direction of the bar.
She smiles instantly, broad and cheesy, and my brows dip out of curiosity. She asks for the person’s order as their large, well-groomed hand grips the back of the barstool.
I don’t bother looking at whom she’s so pleased to see. Probably some guy she’s banging… or someone who also works here.
I couldn’t care less… until the mystery customer says, “I assume you have Russell’s? Neat, then, if you do.”
“Coming right up,” the bartender chimes, purposely swinging her hips in a large circle to get to the counter.
The barstool beside me screeches across the floor, but that’s the least of my worries right now. This person beside me isn’t just anyone… he’s important.
He’s the last person I expected to see tonight.
Griffin fucking Boyd.
Suddenly, I don’t feel so relaxed anymore.
He sighs as he takes the seat, adjusting himself to get comfortable on the plush black leather. His torso presses against the back rail of his chair, and when I look up, those brown eyes immediately lock on mine.
I don’t like that look.
Serious and determined.
I do my best not to look away too much or seem too surprised to see him… or maybe I should be surprised and really happy to see him because that was the plan all along.
Like him a little bit, even though I’m sure I like him a little too much. My heart knows it, but my brain is too stubborn to accept it.
“Griffin,” I breathe, lips spreading to form a smile. I adjust a bit to face him. “What are you doing here? I thought you said you were busy?” I act so surprised. I guess I’m good at that. Pretending.
“I was… for a few hours.” His eyes roam my body, hard. Cold. Not as warm as they were when he left this morning.
I blink rapidly, nodding. “Ohh. Okay.” Then I grab my drink, taking a quick swig.
I start to put the short tumbler back down on the counter, until he says, “You should probably keep drinking, Miss Clark. You have a lot of answering to do tonight, and I need honesty.”
I narrow my brows at him, like I don’t know what the hell he means. “What are you talking about—”
My response is short-lived. “Oh, cut the bullshit, Angelina. Just fucking cut it,” he hisses at me. His voice is different. I can sense the rage, the frustration. He’s trying so hard to remain casual, to keep his cool while he’s so exposed, so public.
As he looks me over, I pull my lips in and press down, the pain not enough to cover up how stupid I feel. To my luck, the bartender returns with Griffin’s drink, sliding it across the counter and lingering a bit.
When Griffin thanks her but doesn’t look up, she takes it as a sign. She looks my way and frowns a bit, but I keep my face impassive, my eyes steady. I must be ruining her game.
I’m somewhat relieved and upset when she’s gone. Relieved because she needs to stop eyeballing my Griffin, but upset because she’s the only witness I have if Griffin drags me out of this place and
I never return.
Not that I think he’d hurt me or anything, but I’m sure he won’t let me off with a slap on the wrist, either.
“I’ll take what you said into consideration.” I flag the helpless bartender down before she can get too far, asking her to top me off. She supplies me in a jiffy.
With his glass in hand, he watches me guzzle down my alcohol like I’m in a college beer pong contest, and when I slam my glass down on the counter, he slams his as well, pushing out of his chair and standing. “Let’s go to your room. Now.”
“I think we should stay here.”
“You want me to sign that fucking contract, you do as I say.”
My head whips up rapidly. “Wait… what?”
“You want me to sign it, let’s go.” He reaches for my arm, twisting me around on my stool and pulling me off. “Walk with me.” He turns, his large body rigid as he walks with my arm in his hand towards the elevator.
When he jabs a thumb at the button, almost damaging the ceramic, I sigh.
“How could you do this to me, Angelina?”
“How can you still sign it if you know?”
For some reason, I can’t help but feel relief that he hasn’t yet. My conscience has been fucked with all day, and now that I’ve had those drinks, which have ironically cleared my mind, I know damn well I would have regretted this decision, no matter how much money the Clarks were to make in the future.
“I need the truth.” The elevator doors shoot open and he marches in, his hand sliding down and entwining with my fingers. He does this for show, and so I won’t escape.
There are other people coming onto the elevator with us. It feels nice to hold hands. Sweet and safe. But they get off at the third floor and he snatches his hand back right away, glaring down at me the rest of the ride up.
“How did you find out?” I ask, stepping out of the elevator and walking to my door.
I hesitantly pull my room key out. I shouldn’t let him in. I don’t know what he’ll do, what he’ll say. What if his deal is to promise not to sue me? Promise not to hire someone to kill me? Kill me himself out of anger…?
Would he even do something like that?
Come to think of it, I don’t even know. I don’t know much about Griffin at all.
I stop in front of my room door, staring down at the tips of my sneakers. The sound of my throat swallowing is all I can hear, the whooshing in my brain from the alcohol in my veins, and the deep, heavy breathing belonging to Griffin… who is now standing right behind me.
He’s so close I can feel his body heat, right along my back, seeping through my thin clothing. I can smell his cologne—manly but still sweet.
I can almost feel him touching me.
“Open the door, Angelina. Now.”
Lips pressed, I lift a hand and stick the key into the slot, pushing the door open and walking ahead casually.
Let me stop acting like I’m in some damn Lifetime Channel movie. Griffin Boyd isn’t foolish enough to do something to me, not when I have people that know where I am and who’s with me.
Not when his DNA is all over this hotel room and all over me. Not when he has so much on the line.
When I make it to the bed, pulling off my baseball cap, the door slams behind me and I spin around. Griffin is still standing by the door, hands in his front pockets, jaw locked, shoulders squared.
A shadow is cast across the top half of his face, but I can see everything below it.
He. Is. Pissed.
That strong, defined jaw gives it all away.
“Griffin, if you would just let me explain…” I trail off, expecting him to say something—maybe cut me off for even talking. But he doesn’t.
Instead, he carelessly shrugs one shoulder and says, “Go ahead. Explain.”
I watch him for a few seconds, and then sit on the edge of the mattress. The thought of snitching on Scott moves me—it rocks me so hard—but I don’t.
I can’t rat out my own brother. Besides, I’m an adult. I agreed to it. I agreed to do the dirty work. He just pitched the idea and, like a fool, I ran with it.
“I wasn’t expecting you to be the way you are,” I confess.
He steps forward, eyes thinned. “The way I am? What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“I… I don’t know. I thought, when I met you, that you’d be this arrogant, super- uptight jackass that wouldn’t mind cheating on his wife for the hell of it.” He frowns. I don’t think I’m making an impression on him, so I continue. “Then I saw that you accepted your flaws, and I saw how hurt you were… but I still tried. I still tried to tear you down. God, Scott made you seem like such a dick, but now I see it was only envy.”
“Scott?” he growls, grimacing. “He set this up?”
“No,” I respond rapidly, head shaking. “No, I went through with this. I helped write up the contract. I set the years, the timeframes, created the wording. It was me.”
Furious, Griffin storms in my direction, grips my upper arms, and pulls me up to face him. My heart slams hard in my chest, beating a mile a minute.
The sight of his flared nostrils, livid eyes, and tight lip, break my fucking heart. I should feel threatened, wanting to call the fucking cops for having him hold me like this, but who am I kidding? I kind of deserve whatever his wrath may be.
I mean, I was about to tear his entire business down, rip it to shreds. “I would have made sure you were taken care of, I swear,” I whisper, voice cracking. “Since I got to know you, I would have made sure.”
“Fuck that, Angelina. All you’re saying to me is words. How can I believe any of the shit that comes out of your mouth? All this time I thought you were someone who cared— someone who fucking liked me for who I am.”
His head shakes, the rage clear. But, not only do I see rage, I see disappointment.
I see weakness.
Hurt. I know he’s probably thinking something along the lines of that makes two women that have broken me.
God, I hurt him.
“Griffin, just calm down. Okay? Just… breathe. We can work something out. We can set a plan. I only did this because I need this for my family… for my Dad. You don’t know the full story. You don’t know what your boss did to my father.”
“My boss?” His brows draw together again. “What the fuck are you talking about?”
“Your boss… Mr. Jenkins. He’s the reason we’re doing all of this. He’s the reason we have to go through you, but I swear if I would have known how you are—what kind of person you are—I wouldn’t have agreed to any of this at all.”
“Yeah, what the fuck ever, Angelina.” His eyes drop, face tight and distraught.
The look he passes is like a child being punished after being disobedient. It breaks my heart because it’s so innocent, pure, and raw, and yet… so full of emotion and brokenness.
Since the beginning, I have wanted to mend this man. I have wanted to make things better for him, even though I had an ulterior motive. He never knew, but there was one.
Through my tipsy stupor, I start to wrap my arms around him to comfort him, but he shoves me away and I land on top of the mattress. A gasp spills through my lips, and before I can respond, he pounces on top of me, trapping me between his thick arms. I hear the ripping of fabric, my shirt being pulled apart, my black bra and stomach revealed.
His fingers curl around the edge of my leggings and he yanks them down, causing another loud, ripping noise. My mouth moves in protest, but I can’t speak when my eyes lock with his.
He grips my wrists in one hand, shoving them above my head, and the other goes down to my pubic bone. For a split second, his eyes soften, and he looks down, watching as his fingers lightly tread the clean V between my legs. He stops just at my clit, sinking his middle finger between the folds. Then he presses down, and I buck, gasping from the sudden pressure.
His eyes move up to mine again, eyebrows strung together, mouth pinched tight. His middle finger continues gliding down, and I squirm, but he forces me still, nostrils flaring, his finger now running in and out of my pussy.
He fucks me with his long, middle finger— in and out, faster and faster. Within a minute, he’s slamming, and by the third minute, there are two fingers deep inside me, forcing their way in and out.
He places mild bites on my shoulder, still finger-fucking me, still going.
“Oh, God, Griffin…. Please,” I beg.
“Please, what, Angelina? What exactly are you begging for?”
“For you to… forgive… me.” My voice breaks. He doesn’t want me to speak. Every time a word gets out he’s driving his fingers harder, his thumb working magic circles on my clit, eliciting heat.
Fire. He has me cupped in his hand, at his mercy.
“Keep begging me. Beg me to fucking stop,” he growls in my ear, right before his teeth capture my earlobe and graze it. I moan when he pulls his mouth away, the warmth of them an unbearable mix with those magical fingers. “You want me to forgive you, you fucking beg, Angel.”
Angel… oh, God. So maybe he isn’t as angry as he seems. He only calls me that when he means it… from what I know of our experience so far. My back arches, and I clutch the sheets above my head. He still has my wrists gridlocked in his hands. I don’t know how he’s doing this, bringing me so high, but it’s happening. It’s real, and it can’t be denied.
“Beg,” he demands.
“Please, Griffin… please,” I whimper.
“Please? Please what, baby? Huh?”
“Please forgive me…”
“Forgive you for what?”
“Trying to… betray you—oh God! Lying! OHH! GOD!” He’s going faster now, slamming, massaging, all at once. Shooting stars fly, fireworks behind my eyelids, almost reaching high enough… and then it happens.
A great boom.
A massive explosion.
I shatter beneath Griffin’s frustrations and his rough embrace. I cry out—I’m not sure to whom—but it feels so fucking amazing and so very, very intense. Wave after wave hits me; I tremble and quake, my thighs locking around his hand as he slows down, still rubbing my clit, still drawing out my bliss.
When my body finally dies down, my hips and back drop, my head rolling to the side, and I look in his direction. He pulls his fingers from between my thighs, brings them up, and slides them between my parted lips.
“Taste yourself. Your betrayal. Your fucking lies,” he growls. “You fucking lied to me, stabbed me right in the fucking back, Angel, and yet, you still make my dick as hard as a fucking rock.” He moves his hips forward, rubbing his cock across my thigh. I feel it, it’s familiar, and I can’t deny the fact that I’m craving it.
Because that’s where the ultimate pleasure lies.
That’s really where the magic happens. Don’t get me wrong, those fingers were wonderful, but that cock of his? That thing is like a jar of notes that contains every woman’s greatest desires.
“Why are you still willing to sign the contract?” I ask when he forces himself away from me, adjusting the hard-on in his pants.
He holds up an impatient finger in my face, head shaking, eyes shutting briefly as he plants his other hand on his hip. “Don’t fucking speak… I can’t listen to you talk right now.”
I frown. “What—”
“ANGELINA! Just shut the fuck up for a second!” My mouth clamps shut as he turns his back to me, breathing unevenly. I’m so fucking confused for several seconds, until I realize what he’s doing.
Breathing deep, his back facing me, ignoring me in my vulnerable state—shirt ripped wide open, no panties, or pants for that matter. I am basically his for the taking, and he knows that, but he doesn’t want to fall for it again.
I huff a laugh, climbing off the bed just as he turns in my direction. “You don’t have to pretend you don’t want me… you can’t take back your attraction.”
“Hush,” he mutters, but he knows it’s true.
“Why?” I ask.
“The contract? Why still sign it? How did you even find out? Did you read it yourself?”
“No. I went to my lawyer… who I just found out, has been fucking my wife for the past two years behind my fucking back.”
I gasp sharply. I was not expecting that. “What!?”
His mouth twitches.
“How did you find that out?”
“She told me… right after she tried to trap me.”
I’m confused now. “Trap you how?”
He blinks at me, his head shaking. “It’s… a long story. I’m not here to talk about that right now. Right now, all I have is my business. See, what I was going to do was have my fucker of a lawyer write up a bullshit contract similar to yours, sign it, and then have you sign it, and then own your ass, but then I thought about it… and I realized for a person like you to do something like this, things must have to be really bad back at home.” He steps towards me and my stomach sinks with the heavy knots now formed. “Is that why you won’t stay home for long? Why you don’t mind joining me for trips? Don’t you have people to get home to? Family? Friends?”
“I’m a busy woman,” I retort.
“Yes, and you’re busy for a reason.”
“I enjoy my job. It’s what I do.”
“It’s not just that.” He’s close now, his warm breath drifting through my cleavage and down the skin on my belly. “No, Angelina, even though we haven’t been around each other too long, I know something is up. You wouldn’t have done something like that, not even to the filthiest, most ignorant man in the world, because I know where your heart stands. You’re not that low. It’s why you were drinking tonight. Because of your regret. That guilt is eating you alive right now. I can see it.”
I narrow my eyes.
“Yeah,” he breathes. “I watched you for a few minutes before I came over to the bar. You’re feeling wrong about all of this. Why now? What triggered it?”
The room is silent for several seconds. Still. I inhale before exhaling deeply, dropping my gaze, pointing it anywhere but at Griffin. “What triggered it was you walking out of my hotel room, kissing me goodbye, and smiling at me with absolute trust and security in your eyes. You had no doubts about me whatsoever. None, Griffin, and I felt so fucking horrible about it. I tried keeping my A-game on, to remember what I was doing it for, but I just couldn’t. When you went to get the coffee this morning, Scott called… I wasn’t even going to do it today, but I let him get into my head again. Like he always does.”
He frowns. “So Scott is a part of this?”
“He’s not after you, I swear. It’s Jenkins.”
He swallows thickly, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he leans back and looks me over. He sighs agitatedly, and then walks around me, meeting at the end of the square table.
Pulling the chair out, he sits, and then gestures towards the one across from me. “You have a hell of a lot of explaining to do for me, Angelina. Normally, I would have this squashed and you trashed by now, but since I despise my father-in-law just a tad bit more than my wife, I will grant you this opportunity. So sit and explain this situation to me. Don’t leave a single detail out, otherwise I won’t be able to help you as best as I can.”
I nod, glad he’s offering me this chance. Maybe he will trust me again—with time, of course. It’s foolish to tell him this, knowing how often he speaks with Jenkins, but I know he’s only close because he has to be. He works for him, so there aren’t many choices when it comes to that. He can’t just drop out. We’ve done our research. He’s married to his boss’ daughter. That’s no coincidence at all and I know it.
Hell, there aren’t any choices at all when it comes to Jenkins and his loot. “Okay… I will. But let me change first,” I say, turning for my suitcase in the corner. “I feel absolutely ridiculous right now.”
“Good. Hope you learned your lesson.”
I scoff. “Yeah, I don’t think I quite got the message. I came. That’s always a win in my book.” I shuffle through my clothes, pulling out a long black T-shirt that comes to the knee, and some pajama shorts. I have never dressed so flatly around Griffin, but this, I know, is about to be a long night. I don’t see why I shouldn’t get comfortable for it.
“Oh, you got the message. Be glad it was my fingers punishing you instead of my dick.”
I roll my eyes and smile, but my back is to him so he can’t see it.
I pull my hair up into a bun and then walk across the room to the mini fridge, pulling out a bottle of water. “I don’t normally buy the overpriced hotel bottled water, but something tells me I’m not allowed to go out and grab a cheaper one, so this will do.” I take the seat across from him, cracking open the bottle as he gives me an I’m glad you know kind of look.
He folds his fingers on top of the table, watching me as I take a sip and then sigh from the refreshing, crisp taste.
“About your wife,” I start, but he cuts me off, lifting a stern hand
“No… just no. Not right now.”
“But how could she tell you that to your face? She has to have no conscience at all—no heart whatsoever.”
I can tell he doesn’t want to answer, but after giving it some thought, he says, “She found out about you and used her affair against me like a weapon. One thing about Colette is, she hates feeling played. She hates not being one step ahead. It’s what I used to love about her—her ambition, her drive, her efforts to always remain on top—until—” His mouth immediately stops moving, eyes shifting down to the tabletop. “Never mind. Doesn’t matter. She’s beside the point tonight. I need to know everything, Angelina. So start, from the beginning. What does Jenkins have to do with your father?”
I hate speaking of Jenkins and the relationship he had with my father, but if this will help bring him down, then so be it. I can tell Griffin is starting to warm up to me after our icy reunion.
And something also tells me that out of everyone he could have run to for comfort, he came to me.
Yes, he finger fucked the shit out of me, but that’s okay. Luckily, I like it rough. And I’m fucking lucky to have the honor of Griffin Boyd pleasing me until Fourth of July fireworks explode above me.
So, I start from the beginning, right when my Dad formally introduced me to Mr. Jenkins.
Huge mistake on Dad’s part.
Had he never met that man, he never would have lost his way.
Shanora Williams is a twenty-something that creates authentic romantic stories that, may or may not, make you question what a “Happily Ever After” truly is. After hitting the New York Times and USA Today bestsellers list at the mere age of nineteen, Shanora ventured further into the creative writing world, working even harder to create unique and memorable romances for all to enjoy.
She currently resides in Waxhaw, North Carolina and is the mother of one amazing boy, in love with her devoted man, and a sister to eleven.
When she isn’t writing, she’s spending time with her family, binge reading, or running marathons on Netflix while scarfing down anything sweet and salty. She also writes under the pen name S. Q. Williams.
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