Authors: Lacey Thorn
Tags: #Multiple Partner Contemporary Erotic Romance
“What did he do to you?” Dasan asked. She flicked her eyes to his and saw the anger and hatred she felt reflected there.
“He continued to pinch, slap and torment. He bit me in several places. And he kept talking, questioning, threatening. I clenched my tongue between my teeth until I tasted blood, but I said nothing. I’d already screamed several times, and no one came to help. He planned to rape me. I knew it. I couldn’t do anything to stop him.”
She shifted away from them, stood from the bed and paced to the door and back. She tugged her towel tighter, almost laughing at the absurdity of having this conversation like this. She in a towel and the three of them in nothing but unfastened jeans, as she spoke of the night she was almost raped. Even as the terror of that moment tried to seep in, she fought it with memories more recent. She thought of earlier visions of them and the pleasure they’d shared with her. It gave her both strength and courage.
“He told me he was going to rape me. Put his hand between my legs… And that was when the door burst open. My neighbor had heard my screams and called the police and Kat, as well. That was when Raymond’s façade crumbled for good. There was no attempt to hide his madness. Everyone could see it.” Even the blindfolded woman, she thought. “I don’t know how long I lay there with them staring at me. It seemed like forever. Then I heard Kat.” Tara laughed dryly. “She was screaming at everyone and anyone. She threw the comforter over me then demanded something to cut the rope he’d used to tie me up with.”
“That’s what your nightmares are about?” Dasan questioned.
She nodded her head. “Every time I close my eyes, I seem to be back there, alone and helpless.”
“You’re neither alone or helpless. You have all of us, plus Kat and River,” Sam stated.
Tara smiled, but it was tinged with sadness. “It must have been amazing growing up with her.”
“More like exhausting,” Charlie argued, and both Sam and Dasan nodded in agreement.
“She feels like she failed me that night. But she didn’t. She couldn’t. She might not have been the first one through the door, but she saved me in every way that mattered.”
Tara could feel the tears coursing down her cheeks, and new sobs shook her chest. Charlie stood and pulled her into his chest. She closed her eyes and burrowed deep, giving free reign to all the emotions that fought for release. She felt Dasan and Sam caressing her skin with their hands. She wanted the distraction, craved just to drop her towel and let them wash everything away with their touches. But she couldn’t, not until they knew everything.
“The reason Kat is gone?”
She lifted her head, looking up at Charlie’s question, and nodded. “I’ve been getting pictures since…since I shot and killed Detective Marino.”
“What sort of pictures?” Dasan asked.
“They’re still on my phone, all of them. You’ll see the album immediately. I’ll let the three of you look through them while I get dressed. We need to talk.” Her stomach growled. “And as you can hear, eat. I’ll tell you all I know and what Kat has learned since landing and heading to our offices. Then I need to get my laptop and do a little work.”
“You don’t have to get dressed to do that,” Sam stated with a twinkle in his eyes.
Tara laughed, as she was sure he intended. “Yes, I do. But I’m sure there’ll be time to play again later.”
She grabbed the clothes she’d laid out earlier to wear to bed and headed to the bathroom, but she still heard Charlie’s whispered promise.
“We’ll play, but it’ll be for keeps.”
The room was quiet when she walked out of the bathroom. Empty. They’d left as silently as they’d arrived. One glance at the dresser and she could tell her phone was with them. She grabbed her laptop case and followed them.
Sam was cooking when she entered the kitchen.
“Where are Charlie and Dasan?”
“Dasan’s on the phone, arranging for some friends to keep an eye on Kat. Charlie’s out talking to the hands. He wants everyone on alert for any strangers snooping around the ranch. Those pictures are no joke, Tara.”
“I got that message loud and clear.”
Sam sighed, turned the burner off under something that smelled divine and turned to face her. His hands were shaking as he pulled her into him and just held her tight.
“Sam?” she questioned.
“You have no idea what you mean to me, to us.”
“Sam,” she tried to interrupt him, but he silenced her.
“No, Tara. Just no. You may not remember all the times we’ve met, but I can tell you every one of them. The first time was when we went to Kat’s graduation from the academy. We’d seen pictures of you before then. Ones Kat sent on her phone or on the computer. The ones she posted online.”
“I don’t even want to know what she posted,” Tara said in an attempt to bring levity, but Sam wouldn’t let her.
“I was drawn to you at first look. I think we all were. Then we met you. You look sexy as hell in a uniform, Tara. Sexy as hell. I can’t remember much about Kat that day. I should feel disgusted with myself for that. She’s always been like a sister. But I couldn’t take my eyes off you. When you changed into that little dress with those black heels… My God, I wanted to lick you from head to toe.”
“Sam…” Tara remembered the day. She, Kat, and River had worked so hard to get to that point. Graduation from the police academy. That night, they’d brainstormed their future at Angel Investigations. She remembered the men being there, but only vaguely. It had been a different time in her life.
“What I’m trying to say is that we’ve wanted you for a long time now. Not just sex. You’re more than a one-night stand or a casual fling. You’re important. You matter.”
“Shhhh.” He put his finger against her lips. “I know this seems sudden to you. Our interest… Our desire… But it’s not. It’s been building for a long time, and it won’t go away now that we’ve tasted you. It will only grow stronger.”
“I don’t know how to do this.”
“How to do what?”
“Be with you. And Charlie. And Dasan. I don’t know how it works.”
“It works however we decide. That’s the great thing about relationships. Only the people involved get to decide the rules. People can judge. They can comment. But they have no say. None at all.”
He was right.
“I…It was one time. I don’t know what I want. There’s so much going on right now. I just…I can’t…”
Sam smiled a little sadly. “I’m not rushing you or pressuring you. I’m just letting you know that when all this is said and done… Well, you have another option.”
Tara nodded her head. She had feelings for them, but they were all jumbled up. She’d never been one to keep emotions out of sex, and the sex they’d shared had been phenomenal. But there was so much going on right now. She didn’t want to confuse the two. That would serve no purpose.
The outside door opened and shut, drawing both of their attention. Charlie walked in. She was sad to see he was fully dressed again. She liked the way he’d looked in just his jeans.
“Dasan still on the phone?”
Sam nodded and with a kiss to the top of her head stepped back to the stove. “I was just getting ready to dish up the chili.”
Charlie crossed to her and pulled her close. She heard him sigh against her head before he placed a kiss there too. “Sounds good. I’ll check with Dasan and be back.”
“No need,” Dasan said as he stepped in from the hall. “They’ll be there by nightfall. I called in someone I knew wouldn’t be able to say no. Kat won’t be able to shake them.”
“You have someone watching after Kat?” Tara asked as Charlie held a chair out for her at the table then sat on her right. “You have no idea how relieved I am to hear that. She has a way of throwing caution to the wind.”
Dasan snorted. “Something you share in common.”
Tara sighed. She’d like to argue with him, but it was hard to dispute the truth. So she just plunged into what they needed to discuss.
“You’ve seen the pictures. Someone is bound and determined I don’t forget I killed a man. And I don’t know what lengths they’re prepared to go to reach that purpose.”
“So Kat went to see if she could find anything in the place it all started,” Dasan stated.
“I should have never let her go to Greenville,” Charlie swore. “She went to visit some friend of hers who’d moved there and fell in love with the cursed place. I should have put my foot down. I should have…” He shook his head.
“You can’t blame yourself,” Tara told him.
“If you’d put your foot down with that one, you’d likely pull back a stub,” Sam muttered.
Tara laughed. “Very true,” she agreed. “Kat does what she wants and to hell with what anyone else thinks.”
Dasan lifted his brow at her, but she refused to rise to the bait. Was he right though? Did she share that same attitude?
“The last picture I was sent came earlier today. Kat was the first one to notice it was newer.”
“She recognized when it was taken? Where?” Charlie asked.
Tara shook her head. “She noticed the watch, the grain of the photo, little things I hadn’t been focused on.”
“What did she find?” Sam asked as he passed her a bowl of the chili he’d heated up.
Charlie stood and grabbed the other bowls Sam had filled. He carried them to the table and handed them around.
“Someone broke into our offices. Kat said they scattered everything. She has no idea if they took anything or not. I need to contact all of our clients, past and present. We don’t know if this is connected to the photos I’ve been receiving or one of our cases.”
“This just gets better and better,” Charlie grunted. “So you might just have more than one psycho after you.”
“We didn’t ask for this, Charlie,” she reminded him softly.
He sighed. “I know.”
“I know you’re worried. I’d be stupid if I wasn’t too.”
“Promise me something, Tara,” he begged. “Don’t go anywhere without letting one of us know. I’d prefer it if you kept one of us with you at all times, but I know how good you are with a gun. If it comes down to it, I know you can take care of yourself. Keep it on you at all times.”
“I will,” she promised. “I have been anyway.” She nodded to her laptop case.
“No, I mean on you,” Charlie admonished. “Strap it on. I know you have several holsters. I want it easy for you to get to.”
She nodded. He was right. Better to be prepared.
“I just want this to be over,” she said. “I want my life back. We all deserve to have our lives back. When is it enough? How does one choice wreak so much havoc?”
“One choice?” Dasan queried.
“Raymond Marino!” Tara yelled. “I wish we’d never met that bastard. I wish Kat had kicked his ass to the curb when he showed interest. I wish River would have sent him running with his tail between his legs. I wish he would have been hit by a car, eaten by a dog, stillborn. And I hate myself for wishing those things on another human being. It kills me, tears at my soul to hate someone so much. And it hurts even more that I can’t make myself stop feeling this way.”
“Tara,” Charlie reached for her, but she shook her head, denying them both the touch she needed.
“I know you care for me,” she said. “I know you want to help me, comfort me. But, I just can’t right now. I need a little space.”
“We understand,” Dasan answered for them.
She felt Charlie pull away from her, though, he didn’t move from where he sat so close beside her. Sam ate quietly, making a point of not looking at her while Dasan made no attempts to hide his probing stares. The food that had smelled so good was sitting like bile in her stomach. She owed them an apology.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered. “I’m lashing out. I don’t mean to.”
“We all lash out from time to time,” Sam said with a shrug of his shoulders.
She felt for them. She was a mess, confused as hell. She’d have them pulling their hair out before it all ended. If this didn’t convince them she wasn’t worthy of them, nothing would. She glanced around. They didn’t look upset, didn’t seem angry in the least by her outburst. And her heart was doing that crazy thumping again. She wanted them and was afraid at the same time. Funny how it was easier to deal with the possibility of someone wanting her dead then it was to think of falling in love.
“We’ll leave you to it,” Dasan said.
She looked up and noticed Sam and Charlie had left while she was lost in thought. She rose from the table to grab her case and found herself pinned between Dasan and the wall. He covered her mouth with his and insinuated one hard thigh between her legs. She was panting and rubbing against him by the time he pulled away from their kiss.
“You’ve got a lot going on inside you,” he said softly. “We know that. I know we’re adding to it with what we’re asking of you.”
“What are you asking?”
“You know what we want. You. Here with us. Period. We’ll do our best to make you want it too. We’ve wanted it for a long time now. This isn’t about you being in danger. Though, I’ll admit it might have sped things up a bit. We all wanted you before. We want you now. And we’ll still want you after. The only question is, do you want us?”
“You know I do,” she whispered.
“I know your body does,” he answered. “I want to know if you do. In here.” He tapped her just above her left breast. “And in here.” He tapped her softly on the head. “It’s all in your hands.” With those parting words, he walked away, leaving her alone in the kitchen.
She had work to do. Client lists to pull up in preparation of making calls in the morning. She needed to look into the crime scene photos, see if she could find out more about the victims. She needed to work, needed to lose herself in the mundane, the ordinary.
Instead, she walked to the window and looked outside. Her choice, but what did she want? She’d been attracted, but never once thought about this, about having all of them inside her at the same time. Now, those thoughts filled her head constantly.
She could remember each of their touches, individually and together. She closed her eyes and licked her lips. She wanted to soak up all they had to give her. She wanted to let them rope her and keep her. Yet, she was afraid at the same time. It was one thing to agree to something when no one else really knew about it. Kat didn’t really count. She’d known about Charlie, Sam and Dasan for a long time. Helped to explain how easily she accepted River’s relationship with three men.