“You’re nothing but a killer, a monster. You’re going to burn in hell.”
The words had remained with me for months, the statement made by an asshole Marine who’d made the mistake of getting in my face.
He’d paid the price with a smashed nose and a broken arm.
And I’d enjoyed every second of his pain.
I’d never claimed I was a good man, nor had I performed my duties without knowledge that insurgents would die by my hands. I just hadn’t anticipated that one of our own would lose his life.
Especially not someone I cared about.
Sighing, I took a deep whiff of the cold mountain air, grateful I’d had the forethought to purchase the cabin a few years before. Maybe I’d had some kind of fucking premonition that I needed a place to retreat to in order to get my shit together.
Like that was going to happen.
It had once been home long before several grueling albeit amazing years. Years spent protecting our country as well as freedom. Years spent protecting those who didn’t have a chance of doing so themselves.
And several years working and serving alongside five men I’d known since junior high.
Hell, I missed the old days living in ugly barracks, enduring the strict regimen and seriously bad food.
I actually allowed myself to smile as the memories rushed in, something I’d been trying to avoid since returning to Missoula.
After taking another deep breath, I swung the ax, smashing the blade down on the solid piece of oak. The cracking sound was the only music I wanted to hear at this point. After splitting several pieces, I rubbed my arm across my forehead. I could tell by the clouds that a snowstorm was rolling in, the Montana mountains due for a doozy. I chuckled at the thought. I had everything I needed to survive the rest of the winter. Then I’d likely be forced to face society.
I hadn’t even told my buddies that I’d arrived a little over a week before. In truth, I didn’t really have anything to say to them. I knew what they’d tell me. It was time to move on, something our fallen buddy would have wanted. But I didn’t have the same drive I once had. Still, I had to believe they weren’t faring any better than I was. We’d been through a hell of an ordeal and I doubted anyone wanted to relive the horrible experience anytime soon.
I sure as shit didn’t.
All I wanted was to be alone. Period.
After splitting several additional pieces of wood, I yanked them into my arms, moving toward the woodshed. What I’d managed to cut should keep me warm for a few nights anyway. That is, if the bourbon or scotch didn’t do the trick.
Rounding the corner, I stopped short, slowly lowering the wood to the ground and reaching for my weapon. It didn’t matter I was in the middle of the freaking mountains, a solid fifteen miles from anyone else, there was always a chance that assholes could attempt to take what belonged to me. That shit wasn’t going to happen.
I bent down, studying the solid footprints in the snow. While the impressions were definitely from a pair of boots, the size was somewhat smaller than a typical beast of a male. Then again, maybe I was used to seeing my size thirteen boot. I cocked my head, eyeing exactly where the asshole had gone. When I inched closer to the door to the woodshed, I released the safety on the Glock, holding it in front of me with two hands.
Now I was pissed.
“You have exactly five seconds to come out with your hands up or I will shoot and trust me, I’m damn good at what I do.”
I waited for what I considered an obligatory ten before starting to count.
There were no sounds, no sudden movement.
Now I heard some kind of shuffling.
I was almost positive I caught the sound of a groan.
I’d singlehandedly taken out several men at once, including killing the bastards who’d attempted to break into our compound. I’d crawled through mud ten inches deep, holding that position for a full two hours before getting the perfect shot. Hell, I’d even tangled with a damn alligator before blasting his brains out.
It was all about my training. I wasn’t known as the Reaper for nothing.
What I hadn’t anticipated was the intruder charging the door, bursting through at full speed then managing to race around me. What. The. Fuck?
The force used on the door tossed me backwards. I hit the snow with a hard thud, my gun knocked out of my hand. Stunned, I saw a flash as whoever the asshole was took off running toward the bank of trees. It was obvious the idiot had no freaking clue where they were going. I picked myself up, taking my time to brush the snow off my ass before trudging in their direction.
Whoever was responsible was going to find themselves hurting something fierce. No one bested me on any level. Period. I took long strides, used to the thick snow and crackle of ice beneath my feet. Whoever had been hiding in the woodshed obviously wasn’t. I was able to catch a glimpse as the person fell to the ground several times, even though I was shocked to see the asshole had made pretty good time in his attempt to get away from me.
The poor bastard didn’t know that he was nearing a dead end.
Either that or his jumping skills were legendary.
I grinned as I continued on, taking my time until I heard a solid bellow. Sniffing, I thought about the sound and bristled. “You have to be kidding me.” The asshole refused to stop. What the fuck did he think he was doing?
Within a minute, I moved to within a few yards of the jerk, the poor chump tumbling back from the precipice, falling not once but twice in the snow.
“I don’t think you’re going anywhere, and I don’t suggest jumping unless you’re ready to die. The impact will bury you several feet into the ground.”
The asshole dared take two long strides away from me.
“You might as well give up, my friend. I’m a reasonable man, at least to a point. If you put your hands up and turn around, we can talk about this nicely. If not, my original promise still stands.”
The gruff voice ignited the fuel burning deep within.
Okay, I was finished with playing games.
When the asshole took off running again, attempting to backtrack in order to head back toward the cabin, I lunged forward, managing to catch the jerk by the scruff of his neck. “You ain’t going anywhere, buddy.”
“Let go of me, you worthless prick.” The intruder flailed, actually managing to jerk out of my arms.
And face down into the snow.
I took a deep breath and shifted my gaze toward the sky as the first few flakes of snow began to fall. I had a feeling the idiot was pretending to be hurt, which pissed me off even more. “Get up.” When there was no movement, I crouched down, turning him over.
Only he was a she. I’ll be damned.
“I said, get up.”
When she opened her eyes, staring into mine, I had a flash of visions rush into my mind that were entirely too filthy, especially for the situation at hand.
However, even with snow covering a portion of her porcelain skin, I could tell she was absolutely gorgeous.
Yet her blue-eyed stare was ice cold, her gaze full of venom and hatred. What the hell had I done to this girl?
“Are you all right?” I finally asked, offering a hand.
That’s the very moment she punched me square in the face, the force just enough to pummel me backwards and into the snow.
She scrambled to her feet, once again taking off.
I eased onto my elbows, staring after her, both amused as well as shocked at her behavior. I still didn’t know what to think given the fact I was miles away from anyone else. I hadn’t seen or heard a vehicle, the road leading to my place likely treacherous given the recent snows. What the fuck could she be doing here?
After shaking my head, I rose to my feet, watching as she swerved through the trees, darting her head over her shoulder only once. She really didn’t think I’d be able to catch her? I retrieved my gun, surprised that she hadn’t taken it with her, then proceeded to follow. I was able to catch up with her easily, only I had no intention of shooting her.
However, she was going to talk.
After she faced my wrath.
She finally slowed, bending over and taking several deep breaths, jumping when I came within a couple of yards. After she stuck her hand into her pocket, she gave me a defiant look. “Stay the hell away from me. I have a gun.”
“Uh-huh. Then why didn’t you use it before?”
“Because I didn’t know who you were.”
“And you do now?”
Her jaw clenched, her lips pursing. I finally took the opportunity to get a good look at her. She definitely wasn’t dressed for the elements, at least other than the boots. The jacket was thin and she wasn’t wearing any gloves.
“You’re a bad man,” she said without reservation.
I slipped the weapon into my jacket and folded my arms, my amusement turning to curiosity. Maybe she’d heard about me from down in the valley. No, that wasn’t possible. “Yeah, you’re right on that point. I’m a very bad man with an even worse demeanor. That doesn’t give you the right to trespass on my property.”
“I wasn’t trespassing!” She shifted from foot to foot, darting glances to her right.
“Oh, yeah? Then what were you doing hiding in my woodshed?”
She opened her mouth then snapped it shut as she glanced down the length of me, contempt remaining in her eyes.
“Cat got your tongue? Who are you?”
Her silence was yanking my last amount of patience. I didn’t need this shit.
“I’m going to count to five one last time. If you don’t answer, I’m going to be forced to punish you.” While I wasn’t entirely certain where the statement had come from, I meant what I said. I didn’t need a foul-mouthed woman to act as if I was in the wrong.
“Over my dead body,” she snapped, backing away another few feet. “No man will ever touch me again.”
“One. Two. Three. Four.” I hesitated, amazed at her rebellious bullshit. I also had the feeling she was running away from something or somebody. Either that or she was some kind of reporter sent to find a scoop on a story. Montana Bad Boy Returns Home After Near Scandal. I could see the headlines now. “Well, that’s it. Time’s up.”
“I’m nobody important. Just let me go,” she demanded, spouting off the words in an abrasive tone. I couldn’t believe her arrogance.
“In case you haven’t figured out, a storm is rolling in. You ain’t going anywhere for a while. I suggest you confide who you are and what you’re doing here.”
“Not a chance in hell.”
That was it. I was cranky as fuck, hungry, and needed to tend to the fire.
“Well, you’re coming with me.” I didn’t give her another chance to object, storming toward her. The second I was within a few inches, she reached out to smack me. “Nice try, sweetheart, but that’s going to cost you. Punishment it is.”
“And there’s your mouth. I think you need a hard lesson in following the rules.”
“Whose rules?” she snarked, her entire face pinched.
I laughed softly and lifted her easily off her feet, tossing her over my shoulder. “Mine.”
The three words summed the stranger up pretty nicely. What the hell had I gotten myself into? I’d been such a fool. Now I would pay the price. He had to be one of them. Then why hadn’t he killed me yet? I shivered from the intense breeze as the snow continued to fall, struggling to get out of his powerful arms.
“Let me go!” I challenged, although I knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“Not a chance, sweetheart. We need to have a long talk but only after I give you a nice, hard spanking.”
The man was huge, rugged as hell, and looked the part of a mountain man with his long, scruffy beard and hair reaching his shoulders. When he stormed toward his cabin, my anger at being caught turned into fear.
Wait a freaking minute. The asshole actually thought he was going to spank me? I would find a knife and carve out his insides. I would rip out his eyeballs one at a time. I was floored by his words, uncertain I could even respond.
He stormed inside, kicking the door shut with his boots then stomping further into the room. After putting me on my feet, he snatched the woolen cap from my head, his eyes opening wide as my long hair tumbled down over my shoulders. I’d done everything I could to hide my identity, including disguising my voice. A lot of good that had done me.
We stared at each other at least a full minute until a sneer curled on his lip. There was a crackle of electricity between us, an attraction that was both ridiculous as it was maddening. However, the vibrations were difficult to deny. I cut through the crap by giving him a defiant look.
His chest rose and fell, his eyes drifting slowly down the front of me then back to my eyes.
My God. The asshole was actually undressing me, thinking about what I’d be like in bed.
I bit back a whimper, uncertain whether it was at my filthy thoughts or the way he continued to stare at me.
“Take off your jacket,” he barked as he pulled his from his massive shoulders, tossing the thick parka across the back of the sofa.
I crossed my arms, pursing my lips as I glared at him.
“Have it your way.” He yanked me around to face the other way, wrangling my coat off.
“Damn you.” Struggling proved to be useless.
“I assure you, sweetheart. I’m already damned. You might as well take a number.”
I almost stumbled over the table when I swung around to face him, fisting both hands and holding my arms in front of me.
“A little fighter, are ya?”
“Hell, yes. Don’t you dare think about touching me or I’ll kill you.”
“Uh-huh. It’s time to make good on my promise.” His words were little more than a dark and dangerous whisper, but his chocolate brown eyes were just as enigmatic as before. He was one powerful man, the kind who was used to getting what he wanted.
When he thumped down on the couch, I let out a screech as he drew me over his lap, proceeding to swat me on the bottom.
“What do you think you’re doing?” Wiggling, I clawed at the arm of the couch, my heart racing from the shock that he’d followed through on one of his promises. I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t fathom this kind of thing happened any longer.
At least not to a grown woman.
One who was ready to break into a man’s house.
The truth was almost as bad as what he was doing.
“Giving you what you deserve. I warned you. Then I promised you. I’m the kind of man who makes good on his promises.”
As he brought his hand down again, I took several gasping breaths, trying to regain my strength. A big bully of a stranger was spanking me. Me! I didn’t deserve this kind of treatment, no matter what I’d done. He had no idea what kind of crap I’d been forced to endure.
“Ouch! That hurts.” The words slipped out of my mouth before I could stop them.
“Last time I checked spankings are supposed to hurt.”
I struggled and kicked out, cursing under my breath.
“If you aren’t a good girl, I won’t mind hogtying you. And I’ll keep you that way for hours. Maybe days.”
Hogtying? Now I knew the mysterious, sexy stranger was out of his mind. Was he serious? I took a deep breath, ceasing to fight him as he smacked me several additional times.
Then I waited for the right time before pushing up from the couch, able to smash my elbow into his face. I heard the cracking sound, as if bones were breaking, but as I attempted to scamper out of his reach, he managed to snag me by one of my belt loops, yanking me back with ease. I felt like some freaking ragdoll.
“Wow. That’s really going to cost you. As a matter of fact, I think we need to do this bare-assed. The lesson will be easier to learn.”
“Bare-assed?” I repeated as he snaked his hand around my hip, tugging at the button on my jeans.
“You bet. Like every naughty girl gets.”
He had to be kidding me.
Heat shot up from my neck to my jaw, finally creeping up like crawling fingers on both cheeks from the utter humiliation. I refused to stop fighting him, even as he jerked the dense, wet material down my hips. No. No. This wasn’t happening.
I batted at his hands, like I was some bad little girl being punished for her disobedience.
He simply yanked at my panties in response, dragging them over my rounded bottom and all the way to my knees. All I could think was thank God I’d worn clean underwear, although they were baby pink in color. Pink of all freaking colors. The thought was silly, a knee jerk reaction to the actions of a real asshole.
“That’s more like it,” he said gruffly before tossing me over his massive lap, my belly pressing against his solid thighs.
I wasn’t going to allow this to happen. Once again, I threw my arm back, only to have him pin it behind my back, also dragging one leg over mine. There was no way I was getting out of my predicament. “You’re a horrible man. Disgusting. I will hurt you for this.”
“Hurt me?” His chuckle only further fueled my anger. “We’ve already been through this,” he stated in the kind of husky voice that would make most women drool.
Only I wasn’t most women.
I was a fighter, at least I’d been forced to turn into one. “I hate you.” Oh, yeah. The statement was ridiculous.
“Do yourself a favor, little brat, and stop struggling. If you don’t, I’ll pull off my belt.”
His belt? I almost panicked, my entire body trembling.
“Stop. Please just stop.” Now I was begging. Great. I’d lowered myself to a brand new level of humiliation.
I could tell he had no intention of stopping, his hand coming down in thunderous actions, the sound of his palm slapping against my naked skin jarring.
The pain blinding.
The embarrassment off the charts.
I remained stunned for a full five seconds if not longer, stars floating in front of my eyes. The harshness of his solid cracks coming fast and furious forced butterflies into my stomach, a little singsong voice floating in my mind.
Bad girl. Bad girl.
I was the victim here, goddamn it!
“Not until you apologize,” he said as he rested his hand on my bottom. The heat from his fingers matched the explosive ignition of flames dancing along my skin.
When I didn’t answer quickly enough, he growled under his breath.
I was sick to my stomach as the spanking continued, all the fight dissipating from my body. My arms and legs continued to shake as I rolled my hips, trying desperately to get away.
Then I felt the lump between his legs. Jesus. His cock was rock hard. Throbbing. For a few seconds, the images cascading through my mind stole my breath.
His naked body, solid carved stone perfection.
His thick, long cock, the tip slickened with pre-cum.
Oh, now I’d entered into the kind of filthy forbidden zone I hadn’t allowed myself to fall into for months. Hell, years.
He was actually getting turned on by this. Another wave of shock and anger flushed through me until I realized I was just as aroused, my nipples aching.
That wasn’t possible.
There was no way I could be turned on by this barbaric activity. None.
Yet as the spanking continued, I closed my eyes, remembering that if he hadn’t killed me yet, then he might not be one of them.
He was whipping my bare ass.
Tell him what he wants to hear. Just do it!
“I’m sorry. Okay? Really, truly sorry.” The words tumbling from my mouth sounded more like a whining and very weak girl instead of a strong woman. Maybe the exhaustion and hunger were finally getting to me. I’d been such a fool, but I’d had no other choice and no chance to find any supplies. I hadn’t been able to risk it.
I’d fled the city, borrowing a friend’s truck in order to get away quickly. At least I knew my bestie would have my back, but was there a chance the monster and his goons would find out about Jessica? Would they come after her? The horror remained furrowing in the back of my mind.
The hard smacks from one side to the other brought me back to reality, the ugliness I’d been forced to face because of my trust in the system. Now this. He delivered four more smacks in rapid succession then rested his hand on my bruised bottom. The heat was building on my ass as well as my face. I’d never been so humiliated.
I shifted back and forth, the friction creating another sickening wave of desire. He was so hard, so thick. All I could think about was having his cock in my mouth, taking every inch of him.
I was a good girl. I couldn’t think this way.
As he caressed me, trying to soothe my reddened skin, I couldn’t stop a moan from escaping my lips. The sound was far too sensuous.
As if I wanted him to… touch me.
A few seconds later, the wafting scent of my hunger became more evident. I was mortified at how wet I was, but I was unable to stop grinding against him. The sound of his ragged breathing matched my own, pushing me into another round of fantasyland. I hadn’t realized I’d parted my legs until a cold draft tickled the insides of my thighs. I was one very sick girl.
“I think you’ve learned your lesson for now,” he stated with an air of utter dominance in his voice.
I wasn’t certain what troubled me more, the fact I had difficulty breathing from the tingling between my legs or the fact his cock continued to throb. Either way, I was eager to get the hell away from him. His breathing was heavy and ragged, his fingers shifting dangerously close to my pussy lips.
“However, as I said, there are rules to follow as long as you’re in my house.” He eased me onto my feet, even taking the time to slide hair out of my eyes. The next few seconds were tense, but only because of the savage look in his eyes, brutal desire that told me in no uncertain terms what he wanted to do to me.
Devour every inch, fucking every hole.
For a few seconds, I wouldn’t have cared. Then another dose of reality settled in.
I was mortified that some stranger was touching me in such a gentle manner. Jerking back, I almost tumbled over the coffee table in my effort to get away from him. I turned away in continued embarrassment as I struggled to yank my panties and jeans back into place. Tears of anger and frustration, fear and the horror of what I’d experienced over the past two days came rushing into my mind.
Within seconds, I was sobbing as quietly as possible. I hadn’t broken down even once until now. I’d tried so hard to remain strong in order to find a way out of the mess I’d put myself in, but it seemed like the weight of the world was on my shoulders.
Or maybe I just needed a hero.
Not that this savage man was going to fit the bill.
I heard his heavy exhale from a few feet away and continued fighting, but my fingers were entirely too numb from the cold as well as paralyzing fear. When I heard his boots thumping behind me, another wave of embarrassment rushed into my system. I was standing half naked in front of a mysterious mountain man of a stranger, bawling my eyes out. This wasn’t my finest moment.
I wasn’t certain what to expect, but when he gently and very slowly pulled my panties into place then my jeans, I realized I was holding my breath.
“You can relax now,” he said in such a reserved manner, totally unlike the brute who’d just had me over his lap.
He walked away, as if giving me a moment of privacy was the only thing that would help my raw emotions. In truth, I was grateful, managing to button and zip after two failed attempts. By that point, I sensed his return, shivering as I heard those same boots slapping down on the hardwood floor. Then I heard a slight thud and my throat almost closed. If he was going to kill me, I didn’t want to know.
However, I’d seen a truck outside before barricading myself in his woodshed. If I could get ahold of the keys, snowstorm or not, I might be able to find a way out of here. My truck certainly wasn’t in any shape to go anywhere. At least I reserved the thought in the back of my mind. I certainly couldn’t trust him, and I definitely wasn’t going to stay here.
He reached around me, a glass in his hand, forcing me to jump. “Take this. I think you need it.”
“What is it?” I managed to ask.
“It’s bourbon, not some poison. The liquor will help warm you up. Come by the fire. You’re freezing.” Exhaling, he forced my arm to lift and placed the glass in my hand, making certain my fingers were able to hold the dense weight.
His voice was just as commanding as before but there was an air of concern in the tone as well, lulling me into a hint of trust. I was crazy to think such a thing, but right now I had no other choice. I did as he suggested, moving closer to the fire as he tossed in two more large chunks of wood on top, sparks flying almost immediately.
After he pushed and prodded the wood for a few seconds, he moved toward the couch. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed his concerned gaze continuing as he sat down. After a few seconds, he tugged his weapon from his coat, obviously placing the gun where I could see it. I took his actions as nothing more than a threat. A look of amusement crossing his face, he pulled a glass of his own into his hand. “If I’d wanted to hurt you, sweetheart, I could have done so with my bare hands.”
I opened my mouth to utter a harsh retort then thought otherwise, closing my eyes for a few seconds.
He continued to chuckle, as if my predicament was the funniest thing in the entire world. I hated him. Then again, I hated the world right now.
Stop acting like a child. You need to get out of here.
My inner voice was correct.
A sharp exhale rushed up from my chest as fear and adrenaline mixed together. Was it possible he’d poisoned the drink? I swirled the liquid, taking a deep whiff before finally bringing the rim to my lips and darting my tongue inside. The taste of the liquor was refreshing, and I relished in the almost immediate burn as the bourbon slid down the back of my throat.
He remained quiet, although I knew he was watching everything I did. At least within a couple of minutes, the warmth of the fire began to thaw out my hands. I rubbed one against my jeans, shuddering as I remembered the events of the past few days.
The horrible men had almost managed to catch me, their scarred faces something I would never forget. Then the single shot had echoed in my ears, the bullet barely missing the cab of the truck. How I’d gotten away from them was nothing short of a miracle, but I knew they would never stop looking for me. I closed my eyes, biting back a cry. How had my entire world been turned upside down in such a short period of time?
Because you were stupid.
Yeah, there was that realization.
The only sound in the room was the crackling of the fire, the flames licking around the wood in a dazzling display of orange tinged with a slight hue of blue. I was mesmerized for a few seconds, pretending I had my life back, one where I’d made entirely different decisions. I was such a fool, a stupid girl who’d fallen into one trap after another. As exhaustion mixed with absolute terror, I rubbed my eyes, my body swaying.
“You should sit down,” he said with utter authority.
“I’m fine. The fire feels good.” I knew my words were little more than whispers. I didn’t have the strength to talk at this point.
“I said. Sit. Down.”
I shot him a hateful look before moving toward the single chair, easing onto the edge and darting a glance toward the door. I kept my eyes on him as he rolled his, taking several gulps of his drink.
“Do you hear the howling wind?” he asked after a few seconds.
“That means you don’t have a chance in hell of surviving the storm. That is, if you’re thinking about attempting to escape.” The mystery man said the words so casually, as if he could read my mind.
The awkward silence settling between us created a lump in my throat as well as goosebumps cresting on my arms.
“Why did you feel you had to spank me?” I blurted out.
“Because you deserved it. And that’s the cowboy way.”
I studied his face as he took a gulp of his drink, noticing the scar on the side of his face for the first time. The mark gave him the aura of a fighter or maybe…
“The cowboy way? You’re a cowboy?”
He chuckled and leaned forward, studying the fire. “I was once a long time ago.”
“Now you’re just some murderous mountain man?” I could tell my words startled him. He bristled, his nostrils flaring. I had no idea why I’d said something so harsh, especially when he could pull out his gun and shoot me.
“This is my cabin. A place of refuge and you are the intruder.”
He was right, although I wasn’t ready to admit it yet. I remained quiet, nursing the drink. I had nothing to say to him.
“What’s your name?” he asked a few seconds later.
“Are you always this combative, sweetheart?”
“I’m not your sweetheart. I’m not anybody’s sweetheart. Okay?” I heard the exasperation in my voice and shook my head. What the hell did it matter if he knew my name? If he was one of Dante’s soldiers, he already knew everything about me anyway. “My name is Mitch. Okay?”
“Mitch. That’s a guy’s name.”
“Yeah, well, it would appear my father really wanted to have a boy instead of being stuck with a lowly girl, so Mitch is what he called me since I was little. It stuck. Now, what’s yours?” I could tell he was a man of few words, what little I’d seen of his cabin indicating he was out here all alone.
He swallowed another gulp of his drink before shifting his gaze in my direction. Even in the shadowed light, I could see such animosity in his dark brown eyes, the kind of anger that hadn’t accumulated from a single incident but from years of being pushed. “Reaper.”
I could have sworn the single word echoed. After a few seconds, I swallowed hard then managed to gulp down half the glass, coughing until several drops spewed from both sides of my mouth. “You are kidding me?”
“Not kidding you. Nope. Not something I’d kid about.”
“But you have a real name. Please tell me your parents wouldn’t do that to you.”
“Doesn’t everyone, sweetheart? I mean Mitch?”
“Fine. Reaper. It suits you.”
“So ya want to tell me why I found you in my woodshed or are we going to have to go through that same shit all over again?”
I calculated my answer, chewing on my bottom lip before managing to say the words. “I was trying to get to a friend’s cabin, and I guess I missed the turn.”
“Nice try, but there are very few cabins this far up the mountain. The majority are still shut down for the winter.”
“Well, I’m not lying to you. I don’t know the area. Okay? Satisfied, Reaper?”
He chuckled then got off the couch, sauntering into another room. When he returned, he carried the bottle of liquor with him, walking closer until he was able to fill my glass then refresh his. “All right. We’ll go with that for now. I assume you weren’t walking.” When I remained quiet, he gave me another authoritative look.
“No, okay? I had a truck. I ran off the road. I think I bent an axle.” Why was I telling him any of this? I should have made up some crazy story. Yeah, as if he’d believe me.
“A woman who knows cars?”
“You’d be surprised what I know,” I huffed, trying to be just as arrogant as he was being, even though he certainly didn’t deserve my nasty side.
“Fair enough. Nothing I can do about that at this point,” he said quietly, turning his attention toward the fire.
“Is there really a storm coming in?” I could hear the howling wind as well as something hitting the side of the house. Evening was rolling in, the light waning outside the frosted window.
“Yep. There is. You’re hunkered in with me for the time being. And I assure you, Mitch, I don’t like visitors. As a matter of fact, I don’t like people. So, you are going to follow my rules. It’s my house and I rule with absolute authority.”
“What the hell does that mean?”
“That means, sweetheart, that if you cross the line, I have no problem spanking that pretty little ass of yours again. And I have plenty of rope to help me keep you in line. If that doesn’t work, then I’ll resort to other measures. You got it?”
Other measures. My blood boiled from his audacity. I would find his keys and get the fuck out of here, storm or no storm. I smiled sweetly. “Why, yes. Sir.”