Authors: Lorie O'Clare
The author and publisher have provided this e-book to you for your personal use only. You may not make this e-book publicly available in any way.
Copyright infringement is against the law. If you believe the copy of this e-book you are reading infringes on the author’s copyright, please notify the publisher at:
Ben Mercy pulled into the complex parking lot and stared at his second-floor apartment. Stacy Hunter sat on the flight of cement stairs that led up to his place. She stood when she saw him.
Ben had decided shortly after meeting Stacy that she would have been who the Beach Boys had sung about, if she’d been born fifty years earlier. Stacy’s long, straight blonde hair fell to the small of her back. She had thin, long, perfectly tanned legs that she drew attention to by always wearing four-inch heels and incredibly short skirts. Her hips were narrow and her waist so small he could wrap his hands around it. Those double Ds were firm, and he swore her nipples were always hard. She was every man’s wet dream, the epitome of a California Girl.
Stacy smoothed her light cotton mini-dress with her thin, long fingers. She watched him tentatively. He wished she weren’t there.
Ben pulled into one of the two stalls assigned to his two-bedroom apartment. Stacy’s convertible was parked in the other stall. She came down the stairs, brushing those long blonde locks over her shoulder. He watched her moisten her lips. Remaining straddled on his motorcycle wouldn’t prevent the inevitable.
Her bright blue eyes made it clear she was ready for round two. Ben just wanted to go upstairs, pop open a beer, and kick back on his couch with the remote. He hadn’t had a bad day. It had been a bad fucking week. Stacy put her hands on her hips and squared back her shoulders. Those double Ds pressed against the thin fabric of her dress. The vine tattoo that started at her shoulder and went down to her elbow also wrapped around one breast. When he’d first met her, he had thought that the hottest thing he’d ever seen. Now, as he glanced at her arm, he wondered how it would look when she got older and gravity did its number on those perfect boobs.
Knowing Stacy, he thought she would pay to keep her breasts perky and tempting for as long as possible.
“Why did you buy this bike?” she asked, putting her weight on one leg and pointing her painted toes upward as she tapped her high heel on the sidewalk. “You wasted all your money on this thing just so you could copycat that boss of yours, didn’t you? You know, Ben, in the real world no one cares about him at all. You need to focus on getting your life straightened out.”
Ben pulled off his helmet and stuck it under his arm, then got off his bike. “What I need is a shower,” he muttered. It was none of her business how much his boss sold this bike to him for. But he’d gotten it for a steal, and with gas prices the way they were, Ben was real glad to have it.
“Although I do admit you look pretty sexy in all that black leather.” She tried touching his fingerless glove with one of her long fingernails.
He moved just in time to avoid her touch. Stacy wouldn’t help any of his problems right now. He doubted fucking her for hours would take away the grief, pain, and, yes, fear. He hated fear. But if the cops came over to talk to him—Ben gave himself a mental shake. Dwelling on all of it wouldn’t make anything better.
Stacy was just over a hundred pounds, and if dieting didn’t keep her at that weight, surgery would. Ben wouldn’t shove her out of his way but stepped around her as he headed for the stairs. Stacy tried reaching them before he did but didn’t succeed. Ben knew her tricks. If she thought her climbing the stairs ahead of him would change his mind about their relationship, she really didn’t know him. He was done with her trying to change everything about him. If she wanted some suave, debonair gentleman, she could go find him. That wasn’t Ben. God, he was no fucking gentleman. He didn’t have a car door to open for a lady, which had been repeatedly pointed out to him. Nor did he feel in the mood for ladies first, in spite of Stacy’s efforts to climb the stairs in front of him. He honestly didn’t care whether she had panties on right now or not.
Her heels clapped against the cement stairs as she hurried up behind him. “I decided we should talk,” she informed him when they reached the top.
Ben slid his key into the lock and turned it. Shit. He really didn’t want to let her into his apartment.
“We talked last night.”
“You talked last night,” she pressed. “And, as always, I was the dutiful girlfriend who listened,” she added, and pursed her lips into a pout. They curved into a temptuous smile a moment later. “I know just how to talk to you, too,” she whispered.
Keep talking, he thought. It would help him remember why he broke up with her the night before. Ben turned the lock with his key and pushed open his apartment door.
“Goddamn,” he blurted out when he looked at her.
Stacy had lowered the thin straps to her dress so they draped over her arms. She revealed a white lace strapless bra that was cut low enough that her round, puckered nipples were in plain sight. His dick didn’t seem to care whether she was a meddling bitch or not. He was instantly hard.
Stacy giggled. She leaned into him and stuck one foot up in the air behind her. “Now see, Ben my love,” she cooed. “I know exactly how to appease that big, bad temper of yours.”
“I really don’t need this right now,” he snapped. They could be watching him, waiting to see if his co-worker, Micah Jones, showed up at his apartment. Ben had no idea whether Micah would or not.
She started pushing her dress farther down her waist. Ben shot a hurried look up and down the cement walkway in front of all the second-floor apartments, then scanned the parking lot. He didn’t see anyone but shoved Stacy into his apartment.
A moment later he realized that was exactly what she’d wanted. Stacy regained her balance easily and turned to face him. She adjusted her dress, but Ben looked away before she covered her breasts. He wasn’t interested. Fucking her would be a big mistake.
“You know I don’t like that rough stuff,” she scolded.
Ben guessed she meant how he had shoved her into his apartment. That was far from what he would consider “rough stuff.”
“And I don’t want to have to kick some man’s ass when he rapes you after catching a glimpse of you half-naked outside my door,” he snapped, and closed his front door, managing not to slam it. “Damn it, Stacy, when will you get some sense in your head?”
“Sweetheart, I have plenty of sense in my head,” she said coolly, not missing a beat. “I already knew no one was out there.” She cupped both of her breasts in her hands which were now once again covered by her dress. “These are for your eyes only, darling,” she purred, smiled, and started closer to him, with a slow, sexy walk. “And your mouth, if you want,” she whispered, and flicked at her nipples. They puckered and pointed through the thin cotton fabric.
Ben caught himself watching how she was fondling her breasts. He wasn’t really listening to her, though. Half of what came out of Stacy’s mouth were lies or persuasive manipulation to accomplish some goal she was after. That realization zapped his brain. He raised his attention to those bright blue eyes of hers.
“What do you want, Stacy?” he asked, then walked around her toward his kitchen and that beer. The remote and couch might have to wait, but damn it, he had earned that beer.
“I want us not to be broken up!” she cried out, and stamped her foot on the floor.
Ben didn’t know many five-year-olds, but he imagined none of them could throw a tantrum as well as Stacy. He opened his refrigerator and bent over, resting his hand on the door as he stared into the refrigerator for a moment.
“Why? Why are you trying to do this? We don’t work well together. I told you this last night. I’m not going to change. I don’t
to change,” he stressed, and reached for the longneck bottle of Budweiser. He screwed off the lid with his hand and tossed the cap into his trash can. “Want one?” he asked, feigning politeness. Stacy believed beer, especially bottled beer, was for the working class and rednecks. Ben was cool with being called either. There were worse names a person could be called.
Stacy wrinkled her nose and made a face. “Eww, you know I hate beer,” she complained. “Now a martini might hit the spot right about now. Do you have olives?”
“I have beer!” he roared. “And I was really looking forward to drinking my beer while sitting on my couch and watching my TV.”
Stacy took a step to the side and gallantly waved her hand toward the couch. “By all means. Be a bum on the couch.”
Ben seethed. He’d been up since 5:00
chasing idiots around Los Angeles who had jumped bail, not gone to court, and pissed off their bondsmen and the family member who had put up the bail for them. He’d been putting money back for months in order to get the felony that never should have been on his record in the first place expunged. Until he did, Ben would never be the one who actually captured and slapped cuffs on any of the jerks they chased around L.A.
On top of that, Micah Jones, the bounty hunter Ben worked with, had been accused of incredibly heinous crimes and had done an amazing disappearing act. Ben had done time, another issue Stacy had with him, and knew how terrible prison was. The crimes Micah, one kick-ass bounty hunter who had worked at KFA with Ben up until two days ago, had the cops hot on his trail for crimes so numerous he might not know life in prison. If they caught Micah and managed to convict him of even a few of the charges against him, it could be a needle in the arm. Ben knew what it was like to do time for a crime he didn’t commit.
Today Ben had finally accepted the truth that Micah had disappeared, taken off and run from the cops. Ben doubted he’d ever see Micah again. Here Ben was, doing his best to live the life of an upstanding citizen and put his life back in order. Then out of the blue Micah might be the notorious assassin who was all over the news right now. Ben hated not being sure whether the charges were legitimate or not. Micah had been that kind of guy. Ben never doubted the man had his back. But there was a darkness inside Micah, something about him that almost made it believable that he could have been a mass assassin.
The cops had shown up at KFA, where Ben worked. They were looking everywhere for Micah. Ben didn’t want them here. The last time cops showed up at Ben’s home he’d been arrested and done time for a crime he didn’t commit. He wished the best for Micah but just wanted to be left alone. None of which he could discuss with Stacy.
“Go home, Stacy. I’m too tired to fight.” He tipped his bottle of beer to his mouth and enjoyed the perfectly chilled brew. He considered burping just to egg her on further. “Go find a nice man who will wine and dine you. You deserve that, darling. I’m just not that man.”
Stacy adjusted her bra, glancing down to make sure her breasts were perfectly situated. Ben made himself look away and stared down at his kitchen table. A long white bulky envelope was placed in the middle of his table. Ben drank more beer and focused on the envelope with mild interest, his thoughts still on the chaos they’d all endured at work since Micah had disappeared. Ben’s first name was printed in block letters on the envelope with a black marker.