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Her breathing picked up, steaming up my neck, and my breathing just plain stopped. I couldn’t focus on anything other than the feel of her body against mine and the things it could make mine feel.

“Emma,” I groaned as her fingers played with the hem of my boxers. Why hadn’t I chosen tonight to sleep nak*d? “Are you sure?”

“Shut up, Patrick,” she said, making me. Covering my mouth with hers, her lips moved in and over mine like they were trying to possess me.

My hands slid under her tank, skimming over her stomach until they molded beneath the fullness of her br**sts. As my thumbs played with the hardened part of them, her head fell back. She started moving faster against me.

This was it. I was going to lose my lifelong celibacy right here, right now. On my brother and sister-in-law’s couch while they slept one floor above.

Wasn’t exactly how I’d pictured it happening. But damn, losing it however and whenever with Emma Scarlett was the thing male fantasies were made of.

Lowering my arms around her waist, I lifted her and had her on her back below me in one seamless move.

“That’s better,” I said, covering her mouth with mine, lowering my body into hers.

Her fingers found their way back to the hem of my boxers, working them down. I was just lifting my h*ps to give her easier access when something smacked into the back of my head.

Something that felt a lot like a tennis ball thrown with Immortal strength and precision. “Not on my living room couch, you horn dog!” William hissed from the top of the stairs. “Take it to your place if you’re planning on doing this tonight.”

Emma’s face ironed out for one moment before she erupted in laughter. “Sorry, William,” she called out, sliding out from beneath me. “We’ll be on our best behavior the rest of the night.” I perked up to argue that point when she shot me a look. “I promise,” she added, tilting her heat at me.

I groaned, washing my hands over my face. My body was all spun up, in desperate need of some sort of release, and now, thanks to Master of the Universe, it would be getting none. The only “place” I had was a bedroom in Father’s house and the only action I’d get there was outmaneuvering the back of his hand if I even tried to bring Emma into my bedroom.

Emma watched me, her own face looking totally recomposed. Like we hadn’t just been pounding on heaven’s gate moments ago. Grabbing my arms, she tugged me back to her. “Come here,” she said, folding her arms around me. “The night’s not a total waste.”

“Really?” I said, not ready to forfeit my right to pout just yet, but letting her try to soothe me.

“Really,” she replied as we worked into a horizontal position beside one another. A chaste horizontal position.

As Emma’s breathing evened out, her chest rising and falling in a regular pattern beneath my head, I found myself agreeing. Falling asleep with the girl I loved in my arms wasn’t anywhere close to a total waste.


It was prison o’thirty and no matter how much longer I wanted to hold Emma tucked to my chest on my older brother’s living room couch, I had to get back or else I’d be labeled an escaped inmate and anyone with a badge and a gun would have a license to kill me if they meandered upon me.

The guns I wasn’t worried about; the repercussions of those guns failing to penetrate my skin was more what had my boxers in a bunch.

Pressing one last kiss into her temple, I slid the pillow under her sleeping head and, before I could talk myself out of it, teleported into my bedroom closet. After months of this same routine, I still hadn’t gotten used to sliding out of expensive, soft boxers and into 10 count cotton, itchy as hell, ugly as sin prison jumpsuits and undergarments.

Groaning, I closed my eyes and left Montana and everyone I loved behind. One second later, I opened my eyes and took in the lovely cement ceiling above my bunk the California taxpayers had so generously furnished.

Another day down, one day closer to being out and able to be with Emma whenever I wanted. I hadn’t forgotten the reason I’d taken the fall for the Scarlett boys beating the piss out of Ty Steele and I’d do it again, but certain mornings I begrudged this decision more than others.

This was one of those mornings.

“Rise and shine, tweedle-dee and tweedle-dum!” Officer Stick-in-the-Mud fog-horned into our cell later that day, beating his baton against the bars. “Afternoon nap time is all over with.”

“Rising and shining, sir,” I said as Mr. Rogers let out a low growl on the bunk below. Hopping down to the floor, I found Officer High-and-Tight shooting me a crazy grin. I didn’t know whether he was in love with me or loathed me.

“The warden wants to see you,” he said, pointing his baton at me, that smile twisting another loop.

“Super,” I said under my breath, not sure why he needed to see me, but the warden never saw anyone to hand out gold stars or pats on the back. I’d done something to get on his radar, which was exactly what I’d been trying to avoid. I could only hope I wasn’t on his radar due to my little disappearing act every night.

Still smiling like he was straight out of the nut house, he handed me a pair of cuffs and waited. I knew the routine. Snapping them tight one wrist at a time, I couldn’t help but think how fragile the steel cuffs felt. Like a wet noodle I could sever with the lightest of twitches.

After I flashed my cuffed wrists, the officer shouted, “Open nine-three-two!” and swoosh! The door was open and I was free to see the warden.

I’d rather be locked behind the steel bars.

Warden Drumheller was a legend in the world of penitentiaries. His daddy had been a warden, as had his granddaddy before that. Being a warden was in his blood and what he breathed. In his thirty years of overseeing numerous prisons around the country, not one inmate had successfully escaped. The few that tried were shot dead on the scene.

Not only was he one bad mother trucker who put to shame the North Korean wardens I’d come in contact with decades ago after a not-so-pleasant mission went to hell, he was a sixty-five year old man in a twenty-five year old body. The dude was ripped, rumored to bench three-twenty-five, run a six and a half minute mile, and drink a dozen eggs milkshake style every morning. Warden Drumheller was an old fashioned bad ass, the kind of guy I wanted on my side, the kind of guy I dreaded when he wasn’t.

As inmate number one-three-seven-oh, I dreaded a private meeting with Warden Drumheller.

“After you, Dorothy,” the officer said with a wave of his hand.

Clicking my heels together three times, I stepped out of the cell. Turning left, I started down the long row of cells. “We’re off to see the warden. The wonderful warden of Oz,” I sang, lifting my chin at a couple of inmates in passing.

“It was nice knowing ya, Hayward,” one of them called out from their cell. Another one crossed himself silently.

Even these guys with rocks for IQs knew I was as good as in huge trouble if the warden required a personal meeting. Other than my nightly escapes, I’d been an upstanding felon. I could have gotten the Felon of the Month award four months running if they handed that award out.

So that meant one thing. Warden Drumheller was suspicious or had figured out a cell where two inmates resided was only occupied by one every night. If that was the case and he was onto me, I’d have to forgo leaving the prison every night until I was released. I couldn’t risk ruining this, not when my sentence was almost over. If Emma wanted normal, I would give her as much normal as I could. As an Immortal, I could fly off the grid with a snap of my fingers, but as an Immortal tied to a Mortal who craved a normal life in society, flying off the grid wasn’t an option.

“Any idea what Warden Drumheller wants?” I asked, glancing over my shoulder.

The officer kept smiling, keeping his eyes locked on some imaginary point in the distance. “I don’t ask questions. I follow orders,” was his reply. Reminded me a hell of a lot of the way the Nazis had talked decades ago.

“Your strengths are my weaknesses,” I said, pausing at the door at the end of the hall.

Sliding a card key through the card reader, the officer pulled the door open when it beeped. “That’s why you’re in here and I get to go home and screw my girlfriend every night.”

“Lucky you,” I said with a contrived smile, stepping through the door and heading down the next hall.

I’d never been inside the warden’s office, but you couldn’t miss it. At the end of the hall was one door with “Warden Drumheller” stenciled in a rigid, all caps font. In jail, all halls lead to the warden’s office.

Officer Nicks rapped on the door, his brow set.

“Come in,” a voice that commanded respect even through a door called out.

Pushing the door open, Nicks slid in behind me, and before he could open his mouth, Warden Drumheller cut him off with a pointed look.

“That will be all, Officer Nicks,” he said in that Southeast accent of his.

“Sir?” Nicks began before the warden leveled him with another look.

“Wait outside,” Warden Drumheller demanded. “I’ll call you in when we’re done.”

“Yes, sir,” Nicks said before cowering out of the room and closing the door behind him.

This couldn’t be good. Whatever the warden had on today’s agenda for me, he didn’t want to have any witnesses.

Rolling my shoulders back, I approached the warden’s desk. “To what do I owe the honor of obtaining a private appointment with Warden Drumheller?” I asked, leading with smartass because no amount of polite would work me out of whatever situation I’d found myself in, and Drumheller seemed like a guy who could cut through BS almost as efficiently as I could.

Drumheller shoved himself into a stand, leaning across the desk at me. The corners of his mouth twitched up right as his eyelids started to… bat.

What the hell?

“You’re still drenched in sex, you know that?” he said, his voice tugging a little higher. I almost teleported out of there, I was that close, right as Drumheller’s forehead started changing. The change spread, tiles spinning over, until the two hundred pound badass warden had transformed into a familiar brunette.

“Master Hayward,” she said, cocking an eyebrow at me as her eyes drifted up, down, and around me.

“Sasha,” I said. “Nice parlor trick.”

Her eyes lidded as they filled with the short lived memories of the past. “I don’t seem to recall that being your favorite parlor trick of mine,” she said, coming around the front of the desk.

“It wasn’t,” I said, crossing my arms and taking a step back. Sasha was the kind of woman that didn’t only not have a problem throwing herself at men, she lived it like a theme song. “You had this uncanny ability to remind me not to get involved with crazy women.”

“All women are crazy,” she said, sitting on the edge of the desk. “Some are just better at censoring it than others. Me, I like to live a censor free eternity.”

“At least you’re consistent,” I said as she adjusted her knee high stockings so they were more mid-thigh. Even then, there was a solid half foot of bare skin between the cuff of them and the hem of her plaid skirt. “Now that we’ve had a lovely stroll down memory lane, mind telling me what the hell you’re doing here?” I asked, throwing myself down in the chair across from the desk.

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