Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3) (6 page)

BOOK: Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3)
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Chapter Seven

Victoria

 

Rolling over, I find I’m alone in bed. There is a white piece of typing paper lying in Adrian’s spot. Picking it up, I rub my eyes, so I can wake up enough to focus.

 

Juice Box,

You looked like an angel sleeping, and I kept you up late, so I couldn’t bring myself to wake you. Come have breakfast when you’re ready. Oh, and PLEASE come down COMPLETELY CLOTHED. Remember, TESTOSTERONE DRIVEN males are on the premises.

                        Love,

                               Adrian

 

His words leave me chuckling. He acts like this is
The Bachelor
television show, and I’m going to have to pick between eight men. One male has been challenging enough to dissect. I sure wouldn’t want a new one to figure out. Oh, and not to mention, I’m madly, deeply, solely in love with that one male.

Who are these men, anyway? Boone and Kasper gave little away on the drive here yesterday. Kasper was too busy flirting to divulge information, but I wouldn’t dare tell Adrian.

I plop my suitcase on the bed and sort through it. I’m in trouble. I thought when Theo arranged this trip that it would be Adrian and me alone, so there is not much in here to cover my body to Adrian’s liking. I even brought sundresses for him, which I never wear.

I opt for my white bikini that has a silver ring in the center front of the top. Since it’s itsy bitsy, I put my strapless, black sundress over it. My hair is pulled back into a messy bun, and I settle on the natural look since I might be swimming.

My mind drifts back to the hot sex in the pool, and my face flushes. I sure hope the guys didn’t witness that, and should anyone really swim in there after?

I snicker and dismiss the thought as I head downstairs. Coming off the steps, I listen for voices. I have no clue where most of the rooms are located in this home, so I follow the noise. I round a corner, and eight sets of eyes turn to me. They scan over my body as silence owns the space.

Adrian finally rises from the dining room table and strolls over to me. He’s sexy as hell in a thin, white button up shirt and khaki cargo pants. It’s casual, yet dressy enough to remind me of the man I fell in love with.

He pulls me into his arms and kisses my forehead. My fingers glide through the chest hair sticking out of the collar that is open from the few undone buttons.

“Good morning, and we’ll find a suitable punishment for this outfit later,” he whispers.

“I thought we were going to be alone when I packed.” I give him a wry grin.

“I’m kidding unless you want a punishment.”

“Yes, please,” I say quietly.

“Ace, are you going to introduce us?” a male voice asks. Adrian shifts, and I can see all the guys again as they sit around the table with full plates of food in front of them. All seven are wearing a smile.

“Victoria, this is my spec ops team. You met Boone and Kasper already. This is Paris, Tipton, Chip, Gardiner, and Lamar. Guys, this is my girlfriend, Victoria,” he says after pointing to each of them. In unison, they say their hellos and grant me more smiles.

“Come eat with us,” Adrian says with a warm grin. I think he’s genuinely thrilled I’m here with him in front of his friends.

The men scoot closer, so I can take a seat. Adrian begins filling my plate as the guys pass serving dishes around to me. I have bacon, sausage, eggs, a biscuit and fruit.

“Honey, this is plenty,” I say before he puts anything else on my plate. In an instant, he’s frowning and leaning over to my ear.

“If I’d known you were coming, there would’ve been juice boxes in the fridge.” Pulling back, I smile. He’s sweet, but the juice box was originally a joke, and I don’t believe he wants to catch on to that.

“I’m not five, Adrian. It’s fine.” This only makes him frown further. “Thank you, though. That’s sweet.”

His smile returns, and I’m relieved. I eat quietly while the guys dog on each other. I’m comfortable since it reminds me of hanging out with the guys from the command.

Adrian squeezes my hand under the table and leans over again to my ear. “Keep the FBI info between us.”

I nod at him, assuring him I wouldn’t breathe a word. What do these men do? I hope I’m about to find out.

“Uh, guys, Victoria is a detective. She’s helping in busting a guy we believe is dealing under Ferrera and ultimately Larios.”

The table becomes silent. I clear my throat, feeling uncomfortable for the first time.

“Uh, ma’am, no offense—” Kasper says.

“Please, call me Victoria.”

“Ace, I mean no disrespect, but Larios is a monster. Do you want her anywhere near his kind?”

“Excuse me. I’m a trained officer. I can take care of myself.” My eyes dart to Adrian. He better watch his words.

Adrian

 

Shit. I didn’t expect any of the guys to call Victoria out.

“I’m not saying this because you’re female,” Kasper interjects as he runs a hand over his light brown hair. “I’m saying this because you’re Adrian’s girl. If you were mine, I wouldn’t want you within a thousand miles of those sick bastards.” He stares at Victoria for a little too long.

“Look, I don’t like it, but Victoria is tough and smart.” I squeeze her knee under the table and give her a smirk. “I don’t get a say in it, anyway, nor should I.”

She’s still not smiling. I knew his words were going to piss her off. “Do you have targets on this property?” she asks.

“Yeah, but where are you going with this?”

“Who’s up for some target practice? Or, I should say, ‘Who wants to get their ass kicked by a
girl
?’”

“Oh, Kasper, I think you’re in for it now,” Paris says with a chuckle. The other guys laugh before they’re all getting out of their chairs.

Yeah, they think they’re going to smoke her ass at the range. Something tells me Victoria has a secret up her sleeve, much like the one where she didn’t tell me she’s a poker player.

We clear our plates, and I tell Victoria to follow me. Opening the door to the basement, we all file downstairs. The guys already know where we’re going.

“This is what I refer to as the ‘bunker.’” I put in the combination and hear the click of the lock. I open the door to the armory and step aside for Victoria to enter. “Holy fucking shit,” she says as her eyes roam the walls.

“I find that language offensive, ma’am,” Paris says.

My girl turns and flips him the bird. He chuckles before her eyes return to the room that she’s obviously in awe over. Yeah, she can hold her own with the guys, and I have a feeling she’s about to show their asses up.

She strolls along the wall of firearms while the eager guys begin grabbing their weapons and ammo.

“Anything I want?” she asks.

The broadest grin lifts my mouth. “Take your pick.” My armory is packed full of weaponry and military gear. I imagine it would be a dream room for any gun enthusiast.

While Victoria is perusing my gun collection, it hits me that I still haven’t spoken to Theo. He’s probably eager to hear from me, so I pull out my phone and send him a text.

Me:
Victoria made it, and we’re all good. Thank you. Be home in a few days, and you can take a vacation. Sorry I dumped so much shit on you.

Theo:
I’m relieved. Talk soon.

Shoving my phone into my pocket, I look up and find Kasper too close to Victoria. He has a shit eating grin on his face, and I’d like to wipe it right off. He’s former Delta Force, and out of all the guys, he has the most inflated ego.

“Ready, Victoria?” I ask.

“Uh, yeah, I want this one.”

“Really?”

“What? Do you think I can’t handle it?”

I shake my head no and smile.

“I’m sure you can.” Slipping an arm around her waist, I draw her in close and kiss her temple. I’m fired up and ready to watch this. I can tell the other guys are excited, too, probably to show off.

Victoria

 

I swipe a MP5 from the wall. It’s a sleek, 9mm submachine gun. Perfect size for dainty little me. These pricks can kiss my tight ass. The testosterone swimming in this room is making me seasick. I think they need a can of whoop-ass estrogen to set them straight.

I can bust caps like the best of them, and I’m sure these guys are the best in their respective fields. Game on.

Upon inspecting the weapon, I take a glimpse at Adrian. He’s smirking at me. “Damn, you’re fucking sexy holding that.”

If we were alone, I’d probably turn on the seductress act, but in front of the guys, his comment earns him an eye roll.

“Please, not you, too.” I nod toward the heavenly wall of weaponry before glancing to Adrian. “Come on. Gear up. I want to see whatcha got.”

“Alright, but it’s been a while.”

We look like we’re on a mission as we trek toward the back of the property, far from the pool. I considered changing my clothes, but when this female kicks their asses, I want it to be the ultimate feminine version.

The morning temperatures are comfortable, and the sun is already shining boldly. As we walk, I shield my eyes with my hand and survey my surroundings. I’m curious which mountain ranges I’m spying in the distance.

The colors appear to have drained from the vast peaks, leaving them russet and barren. Instead, the hues of purple, yellow and blue of the wildflowers occupy the desert plain below.

Patches of green vegetation support them, and the aggregate brings life to the solitary terrain. I’m utterly mesmerized from the view until we reach the live fire targets, which abruptly steal my attention. To say I’m impressed with them would be an understatement.

Adrian obviously has the funds and the connections for an extensive setup. The driver, or core device of the system, lifts a target silhouette from the ground. He fills me in on how it has a power source and can detect every shot, keeping score for us.

“How did you get your hands on this?” I ask.

“Connections, baby. Only the best for my guys.”

Damn, I need one of these. It’s a sophisticated mechanism, but the gist of it is that a target appearing to be the bad guy is gonna pop up, and I’m gonna shoot the shit out of it.

“Ladies first,” Tipton says, carrying his country pride in that accent of his. He takes off his ball cap and pulls it back down over his blonde hair.

“Who said I’m a fucking lady?” I hear the snickers. They honestly think I don’t have a clue what I’m doing, and maybe it’s the sundress and flip-flops giving off the façade.

We agree on some practice shots, and my first sails to the side of the target.
Shit.
The second grazes, but the third single shot hits, lowering the target. I switch my weapon to 3-round bursts.

Pop–pop–pop, the target goes down. Pop–pop–pop, down it goes again. Every 3-round burst connects. It’s quiet when Lamar steps up next to fire.

After everyone has gotten a few practice shots in, it’s time to score. The center “X” is worth ten points and the closest ring around it is worth ten points, too.

The score lowers by one for each ring outward you go. Each person fires ten shots. The goal is to score one hundred, so the closer you can get to that number the better.

The guys decide I should go last this time, which I find humorous. Chip steps up to shoot first. The lowest total before me is an eighty-five by Tipton, and I can tell he’s not happy about it.

“Damn, Tipton, I guess you should’ve worn your tactical sundress like Victoria here, and you might’ve shot better,” Paris says with a chuckle. Tipton gives him the finger salute.

It’s now Paris’s turn, and he only gets an eighty-seven.

“And I guess you’re missing your flip-flops, asswipe,” Tipton says. Trash talk continues amongst the men, and I’m loving it.

Gardiner and Kasper score a ninety-eight, which is insanely good, yet they seem disappointed in themselves.

Adrian informed me he seldom gets to shoot, yet he scores a ninety-two. Stepping behind me, he wraps his arms around my waist, so I turn my head back and kiss his cheek. “I’m impressed to say the least.”

“I got lucky,” he says. His teeth nip my ear, lifting the hair on my arms. Hmm … is he attempting to distract me before I shoot?

“Damn, Ace, let her take her turn before you’re the one firing off a round,” Boone says. Everyone laughs, and I think we’re having a pretty fun day.

Kasper gives me a whopping grin and a wink.

“You’re up, Princess Hart.”

“Oh, bite me, Ladies’ Man.” The guys chuckle as I take my position. I fire off my rounds, probably while they hold their breaths, and I score a ninety.

“Damn, you outshot Paris, Tipton and Lamar,” Kasper says as I turn to face all of them. He holds his hand up to high-five me. “Respect.”

Yeah, he needs to show me some respect. They all do, and maybe now they will. We spend the rest of our morning running drills. It’s a blast, and by the time we wrap up, which is well into the afternoon, I’ve gotten the scoop on what their connection is to Adrian. Also, they do seem to have more respect for me now.

I finally feel like one of the guys the way I do back home with my fellow employees. That is until I’m passing by Kasper. He high-fives me again, but as his hand swings down, he swats my ass.

No–he–didn’t. I turn to connect my knee with his balls, but Adrian bolts between us and lays a right hook to his face. “Boone, get him the hell out of here. I don’t care where he fucking goes, but he’s not staying here!”

Kasper straightens his gait and rubs his jaw. “Don’t ever touch Victoria again, or you’ll need to find a new job,” Adrian adds.

My fists go directly to my hips. “When will you learn I can fight my own battles?” I ask with a huff.

Adrian turns to face me. His eyes are cold as he holds his hand up to flex it open and closed. He’s in obvious discomfort from connecting it with Kasper’s face.

“When will you learn that you’re not one of the guys?”

Not letting my gaze leave his, I hold out my weapon, and someone takes it from me. I storm around him and barrel toward the house. Taking the stairs two at a time, I’m soon out on the balcony of Adrian’s bedroom. Air comes in, and I exhale a calming breath out.

Adrian’s right. No matter how much respect they have for me, they’re always going to see me as a female they could be attracted to or should protect. And I guess I asked for it when I’m in a sundress, bikini and flip-flops. Is it such a bad thing they’re protective men?

But I have this need for the world to know I can hold my own. Maybe it’s because a man once took major advantage of me when I was too young to do a thing about it.

I hear the door open behind me. Warm arms wrap around my waist, and Adrian’s chin rests on my shoulder.

“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” he says.

“I’m sorry, too.”

“I’m always going to think of you as mine, and I’ll always want everyone else to know it. I’m also going to want to protect you.”

“I need the world to believe I’m tough.”

Adrian turns me around and frames my face.

“They know. As soon as you stormed off, they were talking about what a badass you are. But, you’re also sexy as hell. No heterosexual male is going to miss that.

“I’m sorry, but after hours of watching them eyeball you and knowing what they were thinking, Kasper’s move pushed me over the edge.”

“I wasn’t flirting with them. I was trying to fit in.”

“Baby, I know that. I’m telling you now, though; I don’t know how I’m going to let you anywhere near Noah Sanders. I already want to kill the man.”

“I don’t want to talk about it while we’re here. I only want time alone with you before we have to go back to the harsh world that won’t cut us a break.”

“I need to have a meeting with the guys, but then I’ll send them home. We’ll take a couple of days to ourselves. You and me, making up for the week we lost.”

I take hold of his forearm and lean my cheek into his hand. “I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

BOOK: Coercion (The Cassano Series Book 3)
5.28Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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