Read Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2) Online

Authors: Vivienne Savage

Tags: #bbw, #paranormal romance, #military romance, #curvy, #shapeshifters, #shifter, #eagle shifter, #interracial

Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2) (9 page)

BOOK: Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2)
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“Do you mind if I make coffee,” I asked.

“Coffee sounds great. There should be some ground beans left in the fridge, and the maker is at the end of the counter in the bottom cabinet.”

Leftovers made up the bulk of his food stock, as well as a near empty gallon of milk, bottled beer, and a sack of apples. I found the coffee beans behind an unopened ketchup bottle in the door compartment.

“What is going on with this kitchen?” I finally demanded.

“Huh?”

I don’t know what came over me, but I began removing things from cabinets and setting them on the counter. The man’s kitchen was a disorganized mess of misplaced goods I began tidying on a whim.

“Needs a spice rack.”

My confused new roomie turned to look at me. His brows raised.

“I mean, nothing in here makes sense. There’s no flow,” I said.

All of his pots and pans were at the opposite end of the kitchen away from the stove, and cooking utensils were scattered across several drawers, as if he tossed them in whichever was closest to hand at the time. I discovered pantry items in cabinets with the bowls or tucked away wherever there was room.

“Peanut butter with the plates,” I muttered in disbelief.

“That bad, huh?”

My hand froze on the offensive sandwich spread jar. “I’m sorry,” I blurted out right away. “I didn’t mean to be bitchy or seem like I don’t appreciate what you’re doing for me, ‘cause I do. I just thought—”

“Nah, it’s okay. It’s your kitchen too, now.” Grinning the whole while, Ian gave me this boyish, heart-melting shrug like I’d embarrassed him. It was the one time when his crow’s feet showed, and even then, they were only a few faint lines at the corners of his eyes.

He served me a breakfast of chocolate chip pancakes and maple syrup, but the irregular size of the chocolate pieces led me to think he’d broken up a candy bar. A glance at the wrapper in the trash confirmed my theory.

“You went out of your way for me,” I said in a conversational tone once my plate was clean. He moved to rise, so I leapt from the chair to beat him to the punch, collecting the empty plates from the table. He chuckled and offered me the last sausage link from his plate. I was too ravenous to turn it down.

“I want you to feel comfortable here,” he pointed out as he helped load the dishwasher, or at least tried to. My competitive spirit forced me to hip bump him out of my way. “Feel free to change anything else you’d like if it’ll make you feel comfortable. There’s going to be social workers in and out of this place for a while, I guess, so.” He leaned against the counter, fixing his pale eyes on me. “It needs to feel like a home and not a bachelor pigsty.”

“It’s not a pigsty,” I blurted, quickly jumping to his defense.

“It’s not exactly a place for a baby either. We can remedy that after the weekend when you’re up for it. I’ll withdraw some cash for now, but Monday I’ll call my banker up and get a monthly allowance deposited into an extra account for you.”

With the dishwasher filled, I returned to rearranging the clean plates and plastic cups. I’d expected a rich bachelor like him to live like a movie star inside his home not a frat boy in his first apartment. “Allowance?”

“I’ll start you off with a couple grand to spend on this place. After that we need... you need to get some more clothes. Appropriate clothes,” he muttered, seeming to speak to himself more than he was talking to me.

“What’s wrong with my clothes?”

“You wear them till they’re worn thin, sweetie,” he pointed out, gentle as ever and aware of my embarrassment. “Look, your sleeve has a hole at the elbow.”

Heat crept up my neck and into my cheeks, but I wasn’t sure if it was caused by his words or because he’d moved in close. His hands smoothed up my arms, over the threadbare sleeves of my shirt.

I wanted to kiss him. I wanted him to grab me like he did in front of the judge and prove our marriage wasn’t a mere convenience or act of benevolence. Most of all, I wanted to forget my ex-boyfriend and the father of my child would be put to rest in the town cemetery, closing the worst chapter of my life for good.

“You should pick Sophia out some pretty new clothes, too. Monday, we’ll stop by Social Security to get your name changed then the DMV for your driver’s license update.”

“Ian?”

“Hm?”

One step forward placed me in his personal space, allowing me to loop one arm around his shoulders. I didn’t need to stand on tiptoe since we were almost the same height.

“Thank you.”

Before my nerves failed me, I leaned in and slanted my mouth over his. Ian’s firm lips parted at the questing sweep from my tongue, and the next moments were dedicated to shared exploration rather than a forceful invasion. Our kiss was unbridled passion and longing, a hunger nurtured by weeks of mutual attraction rather than a sudden flash of lust. Orange juice flavored his tongue, the perfect accompaniment to the sweetness of feeling his mouth against mine.

I learned more about Ian MacArthur in the thirty seconds of our embrace than I did since our meeting on my doorstep. He became more frenzied, desperate, dragging me in by a hand molded to my ass. The close quarters exposed me to his erection, stiff and unyielding where we trapped it between our bodies, prompting me to wiggle just enough to stir a moan out of him. It was an empowering change of pace from the way I usually felt about myself.

Ian did find me attractive. He did want me, and maybe I wasn’t fooling myself if I dreamed of a future with him beyond our agreement.

His sigh clenched my belly as he squeezed my ass one last time. “We better get ready for the funeral. I told the Jameses we’d be there early to help out at the wake.”

Are we not going to talk about sucking face in your kitchen?
His cavalier attitude sort of peeved me until I looked down and saw a hard-on tenting his pants.

“Right. I’ll just go get ready then.” And take care of the ache between my thighs while I was at it. Living with a sexy man was going to be its own sort of trial until we figured out where to take our marriage.

Chapter Eight

~Ian~

I
don’t know what came over Leigh, but I liked it and wished I’d handled the aftermath with more dignity. We dressed in our funeral attire and made the drive to the James residence before noon, where the bustling household had filled with mourners. Cars filled the street, parked up and down the block on both sides of the road. We had to park at the corner and walk back.

“What if everyone looks at me crazy?” Leigh asked.

“We’ll do it back to them. I’ll have you know my experience as a military officer grants me the ability to pull off insane very well.”

Her giggle warmed my spirit, and in return, I tried to give her the strength to make it through her day. We ascended the walking path to the front door hand in hand, putting on a front as a happy, newlywed couple. Leigh squeezed my fingers until my hand tingled from the loss of circulation.

The entire house silenced, save for Sophia’s fussy squalling. I felt like a character in an awkward romantic comedy, waiting for the punch line to the joke or for the audience to laugh. All eyes turned to us and while a pervading sense of tension made me regret the offer to arrive early to provide support.

“Leigh! Ian, thank you for coming.” Gloria limped to us with Sophia cradled on her right side, only to pass the infant to me and throw her arms around Leigh. She was the very model of acceptance and love, startling me as much as my wife.

My wife. The strange reality of it hadn’t yet sunk in until I held her child against me. Sophia had ceased fussing almost immediately. Held securely in my arms, she looked up at me with curiosity and waved her chubby little fists.

I offered to drive to the cemetery and the Jameses accepted with grace and gratitude. To my surprise, the small and tasteful service was well attended as if Dennis James hadn’t been a petty thug and drug dealer. Maybe he had been more at one point in his life, but I had trouble seeing beyond the mess he left behind.

Thank you,
I thought.
Thank you for leaving me this wonderful woman and beautiful child.

With Sophia in her lap, Leigh sat beside Gloria and held the woman’s hand while I stood behind them resting my hands on Leigh’s shoulders. When the coffin was lowered and the service was over, we returned to the James residence for a repast with the close friends and family.

“Hold Sophia for me, Ian?” Leigh asked me.

“Sure. Pass her over.”

While Leigh helped in the kitchen, I walked Sophia around and tried to socialize with mourners.

“Hello, Mr. MacArthur. I guess the new marriage means you’ll be in town for a time, eh?”

I turned around to face a graying man ten years my senior. I smiled at the old war veteran. “I told you last time we talked, Ian’s fine. And yeah, I suppose I’ll be around for a good while now. I usually only take a few government contracts a year, if I can help it.”

I knew Henry Banks from taking my grandmother to bingo at the VFW Hall a few times a month. When I wasn’t around, he often did it.

“How’s Betty?”

“She’s doing well. Why don’t you stop by and see her?” I encouraged him.

As we lapsed into talk about my grandmother, a crowd of ladies surrounded me to see the deceased’s daughter. She was passed from arm to arm and loved by many.

“She’s going to have his eyes,” one woman said with admiration as she passed the baby back to me. I had no idea where she drew that conclusion. Sophia had Leigh’s eyes without a chance of them being brown.

“I suppose we’ll see soon enough,” I replied, neutral and cordial all at once.

We blew off church the next day since Gram was feeling under the weather. Leigh and I checked in on her for a time, and then on Monday, I coerced my wife to take my Escalade to town for a shopping trip and to fetch groceries for Gram. While she was gone, I walked the half mile to Russ’ house at the end of the dirt road. A long time ago, when I was barely an adult, I’d built the cabin to be close to Gram when she denied my request to move in with her after boot camp.

A young man needed his space, she’d said. Years later, when loneliness drove her to move closer to town to be in the community, she gave my childhood home to me and told me to do as I pleased.

So I rented it out to Daniela Reyes, and in doing so, introduced her to the love of her life and my best friend.

Russ passed me off another bottle of Shiner while Dani tended the grill for a reversal of roles. Watching my pal’s mate flounder as he called out suggestions was better than most television shows.

“So, what’s the latest news? I’ve missed a lot between the wedding and the funeral.”

“Well, Dani was down at the feed store fetching some oats for Daisy when she overheard a couple of the guys gossiping on the sidewalk over a game of checkers. They’re saying drug problems out in town are worse than ever.”

“It’s true. I had a flight over town a month ago and saw all kinds of crap. Mostly weed and small time dealing. What did she hear?” I brought the cool beer to my lips for a swig and listened. As a consistent resident for the past three years, Russ knew more about the local community than I did.

“Crack. Methamphetamine. Apparently drug dealers are cooking meth out in the boondocks. I’m pretty sure I caught a whiff of something the other day, too.”

“Out here?” I jerked up straight in my seat and stared at him. “Aw shit. Here I thought it was limited to a bunch of kids dealing weed or prescription pharm they stole from their grandparents.”

“Well, they’ve graduated to making meth labs in shacks,” Russ said bluntly.

I grimaced. His news robbed me of the taste for my beer.

“Are the police doing anything about it?”

“They’re a five-man police force, Ian. What do you think?”

“Six if you include Chief Montgomery. Not enough to take down a drug ring on their own.” Ideas manifested in my head.

“Oh no. No, no, no, man. I know that look on your face. I know when you’re up to no good. We’re not a two-man SWAT team. We’re not police investigators or whatever you’d call the drug folk—”

“The DEA,” I chipped in to be helpful. Russell growled and shot a dirty look at me.

“Either way, we’re not them. We’re military operatives currently enjoying some relaxation from our last job fighting insurgents.”

“You live here too, Russ. You think Dani wants to pick up and leave?”

“I really don’t,” Dani called from the grill.

Russ’ consternation failed to wipe the smug look off my face. I knew I had him from the moment his girlfriend stepped over to join us and turned her brown eyes his way.

“Russ, I love living out here. Remember the murder in town we heard about a month ago? It was drug related. Safety and security is the whole reason people move to small towns like this. We leave the cities like Houston behind to be
safe
.” Dani shivered. She kept a couple guns of her own in their house, and boy did she know how to use them, but it didn’t change that our peaceful community had transformed.

“Fine. I’ll do some sniffing around when I’m in town too,” the disgruntled bear shifter agreed.

“Why don’t you do something about it, Ian? You’re skilled. You have decades of leadership under your belt,” Dani suggested.

“I’m skilled at military command, sweetheart. What are you suggesting for me to do with it?”

“Well, I heard that Sheriff Vasco doesn’t plan to run again. He’s going to retire.”

I stared at her. “Why didn’t I think of that?” Russ had invited me to join the volunteer fire department weeks ago, and I’d told him I would consider it. Becoming Sheriff MacArthur would allow me to help even more people.

Dani grinned and lingered near Russ to tousle his hair. “Give it some serious thought at least. So how’s Leigh? I thought she could use a friend and maybe I’d stop over to talk to her some.”

I shook my head. “She’s handling it all okay, but you’ll have to wait. I sent her out to go shopping since the social worker plans to officially return Sophia to us today.”

“You’re letting her drive
your
vehicle?” Russ stared as if the shocking news was on par with letting her run free with my bank account.

BOOK: Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2)
4.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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