Authors: Madison Stevens
Tags: #Romantic Suspense
This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, locations, and incidents depicted in this work are of the author’s imagination or have been used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, locations, or events is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2016 Madison Stevens
No portion of this book may be transmitted or reproduced in any form, or by any means, without the prior written permission of the author.
Cover designed by Najla Qamber Designs
Mason (Allen Securities #6)
Security contractor Mason thought his life was over when his wife left him. He’s thrown himself into work and raising his children, desperate to shield them from any suffering. Fortunately, the beautiful and kind Victoria has stepped in to help.
Victoria is attracted to the dutiful father, and his firm muscles don’t hurt the eyes. As much as she loves his kids and craves something more, she’s not sure of what Mason feels. It doesn’t help that she’s still recovering from a near-crippling injury.
When Mason’s ex-wife asks for the kids for a month, he thinks that’s the worst thing that could happen. In a town filled with criminals and old scores to settle, he and Victoria quickly find out it’s not.
Happy fucking anniversary.
Mason stared down at the papers in front of him. He knew they were coming. He’d talked to his lawyer nearly every day since Sarah had called and said she wanted a divorce.
That final move shouldn’t have been a surprise considering it had been nearly a year since she’d left. It was only a miracle she didn’t ask for one straight away, though he knew it had nothing to do with residual feelings. She probably just didn’t want to go through the trouble. It’d be inconvenient. And she did so hate inconvenience.
On his end, he’d trudged through a year of trying to juggle work and being a single dad of twin four year olds, both still very confused about their absent mother. Even if she’d not exactly been the most caring woman, she’d still been a part of their lives.
For a good couple of months, he’d been a mess, not sure which way was up and feeling sorry for himself. He hated to think of the man he’d let himself become because of her.
No. She wasn’t worth it, and he needed to pull his head out of his ass and man up for his kids.
Mason shook his head.
“You know it’s a good deal,” his lawyer said, drawing him back to the present. “It’s a fairly clean break. No trouble. She’s not even asking for any alimony.”
The nicely dressed older man leaned back in the chair and stood out like a sore thumb in the work office of the security firm. Everyone associated with the firm had been using the lawyer for ages, and however fancy he looked, he got the job done.
Besides, it wasn’t like the building was some hole in the wall, but no one working there saw a reason to have fancy shit around. Security contractors didn’t impress people by looking nice. They impressed them by getting the job done.
Anyway, most of the money in the place got invested in equipment and high-tech tools. Mason barely understood what half of them did.
“You get full custody,” the lawyer said. “All she’s asking is for one month in the summer and every other holiday.” The old man sighed, likely tired of having the same conversation.
Mason had to agree. It wasn’t a bad deal. Even though he hated the idea of sending the kids off to her for a whole month, he doubted it would last long.
Sarah was selfish and would likely only want them for as long as they were cute or made her look good. She certainly hadn’t seemed to care all that much about her children for years now.
He wasn’t even totally sure why he’d been so resistant. Maybe he didn’t want to face the fact that it was finally over, that he’d loved a woman who never really loved him the same way.
He scrubbed a hand down his face and leaned forward. His elbows rested on the desk as he looked over the paper once again, a date catching his eye.
“This weekend?” Mason said. He looked up to the lawyer, who seemed unsurprised by his irritation. “She wants her month to start this weekend?”
“Look, Mason, it’s been almost a year since she’s seen them. It was the one thing her lawyer was harping on. She has a job starting soon and wants to make sure she gets in her time. If you fight this, they are going to interpret it as you being petty.”
Mason opened his mouth to protest.
“Look,” the lawyer said and leaned forward. “You could fight her on this, but if you go to court, it’s not going to be as neat. You want my opinion, sign, unless you’re really dying for a painful battle. We both know you need this to be over, and she’s letting you off without much pain right now.”
Mason sighed loudly. The lawyer was right. Sarah was vindictive, and the last thing he wanted was to risk losing the kids to her. Though she might not want them now or even seem to care much, she’d certainly go after them to hurt Mason if he pissed her off. He couldn’t risk his children over inconveniences.
The lawyer waved a hand. “Play nice when she comes to pick up the kids. That way you have all the cards in this if she tries to pull something like messing with the custody agreement. Judges do look at patterns of behavior, Mason, and you need to keep the upper hand if you want to protect your kids.”
Mason let out a quiet grunt as he scrawled his name on the papers.
The lawyer stood and snatched the papers off the desk. Mason half wondered if the other man thought he’d change his mind and rip them up.
“I’ll get this sent off. You’re a free man.” He gave a funny little smile. “Well, of sorts.”
They shook hands. The lawyer nodded to Reed Allen on his way out as he stepped into the office.
“Done?” Reed asked, glancing over his shoulder at the departing lawyer.
Reed was technically Mason’s boss, but formality wasn’t big at the security firm, especially since his boss was also his cousin. Everyone knew what Mason had been going through and had his back. He wasn’t sure if he could have kept his shit together without their support.
He plopped back down in his seat, suddenly drained from the event.
“She wants the kids for a month.”
Reed took a seat across from him with a shrug.
“She is their mom.” He held up his hands. “Not saying it’s the best situation, but still…”
“She wants them this weekend.”
Reed frowned. “That’s a little sudden,” he said. “Wouldn’t it be best if she came for a visit and talked with them again? Kids like structure. This is all confusing enough for them as is.”
Mason gave a small smile. Since Reed and his wife Olivia had their daughter, he’d been reading all sorts of books about raising kids. With their second on the way, Reed was becoming quite the expert on the whole thing.
“Come on, Reed, this is Sarah we’re talking about,” Mason said and frowned. “It’s always been about what is best for her and her needs. I don’t even know if she put five seconds of thought into how her plans might affect our kids. From what my lawyer said, this is mostly about her getting in her time before her new job starts. She can’t compromise for the world. The world has to compromise for her.”
Reed shook his head but stayed silent. They all knew the type of person Sarah was. Hell, Mason had even known it when he married her. Passion and attraction blinded him somewhat, but all the seeds of his current situation were there from the beginning.
Sure, she had her sweet moments, and she was a wildcat in bed, but if things weren’t going her way, there was hell to pay, and it was everyone’s fault but hers.
More importantly, she always seemed to resent the idea of family on some level, the opposite of him.
There had just been him and his brother, Ryan, after his parents died. He didn’t see his brother much after he joined the Marines. Mason had been so glad his aunt and uncle had taken him in as one of their own.
Family was so important. And Sarah wanted to push it away because it didn’t fit in with her little plan.
If he were being honest, that was the beginning of the end. Sarah had the twins, Tommy and Lucy, but she never really cared much for them. As soon as they were born, she’d made sure no more would ever come. Sure it was her choice, but it didn’t stop him from wishing for something more.
“Why don’t you head home early?” Reed said and stood from the desk. He was looking more worn out than Mason had ever seen him. “You should spend some time with your kids.”
Reed looked sad for a moment. They had all been torn recently. So many new babies on the way should have been a joyous occasion, but it was hard to be truly happy when one of the family was suffering.
Mason had his problems, but there were other people who’d really been hit hard, and no amount of talking or negotiation would solve their problems.
“You going to see Jett?” Mason said.
Reed nodded. “Mama’s worried. It’s been two months since Heather passed, and his kids need him.”
“He needs time,” Mason said.
“And they need to know they aren’t losing their father as well.”
It sucked. There was no good solution. Reed wasn’t wrong, but Jett and Heather had been the real deal.
Mason nodded. “Good luck.”
Reed sighed, and Mason knew it wasn’t a job he wanted.
Everything had been going so well until she’d suddenly gotten ill. The doctors didn’t know what was causing it at first. She’d been dropping weight, and when she lost the baby, everyone just assumed that grief was the cause. Still the weight kept dropping. Her skin became gray and hollow before she went in to see the doctor.
By then it was too late. The diagnosis was blunt: terminal cancer.
The cancer had been fast. It consumed her body so quickly she had only been in the hospital for a month before she died.
Being around death can make a person consider what was really important in life. For months Mason had been walking around feeling sorry for himself, making everyone near him pay for Sarah leaving. It took a real tragedy to make him see how small his problems were.
He had his children. He needed to be there for them. That was all that mattered.
Victoria strolled happily around the kitchen cleaning up the mess she’d made while rolling out the dough for the dinner biscuits. There was nothing like a homemade biscuit with a good roast.
She turned on the light in the oven to check on the roast. The meat sizzled nicely in the pan as the vegetables around it roasted. Another twenty minutes and the meal would be perfection. The house certainly smelled like perfection.
She brushed a few rogue strands of her dark black hair out of her eyes just as the phone in her pocket buzzed.
Victoria dusted the flour off her hands over the sink and pulled her phone out. She smiled at the name on the screen.
“You always have such good timing,” Victoria said. She propped it on her shoulder and rinsed out the washcloth she’d been using to clean.
“Of course I do,” Taylor, her long-time best friend, chirped through the line. “So what are you making tonight?”
Victoria nibbled her lip.
Taylor sighed. “And?”
A loud whine cut through the line.
“Wasted,” Taylor groaned. “Your love is wasted on him, Vic. This whole May-December thing you’ve got going is real cute, but he doesn’t even know you’re his May.”
Victoria frowned. “Come on. He’s only thirty-four. That’s only ten years older than me. Besides…” She huffed loudly. “It’s not like I’m running off to a new state just to be with some dirty biker.”
Taylor gave a low throaty laugh that only she seemed to get away with.
“Lord, I hope so,” she said.
Victoria sighed. There was no talking her out of it. Taylor was determined to get her hands on the biker Havoc, who had helped save them all when they were trapped on the mountain with the crazy Los Malos biker Paco.
She glared bitterly at her foot and leg. The darn things had never healed right since the mountain. It really was only a slight limp, but it hurt from time to time, enough that she noticed, and that was all that mattered in her eyes.