by Sarah Castille
“You don’t go out without me. You do not go to see male strippers. You don’t see other men. No clubs. No dates. No drinking. No Benson.” Cade barked out each rule as he mounted the stairs leading up to his room. The chandelier overhead rattled with each step he took, but upside down, over his shoulder, the only thing Dawn was in a position to appreciate was the worn wooden floor, and Cade’s very fine, tight ass.
He pushed open the door to his room, and then slammed it closed and dropped her lightly to the ground. “You answer the phone when I call or text. You don’t hang with the brothers dressed in the kind of dress a man wants to tear off you.”
Dawn gripped the door handle to regain her balance as Cade stalked across the floor to the window. The room pulsated with the intensity of his emotion, or maybe something was alive beneath the piles of clothes, pizza boxes, bike gear, and magazines. At least it didn’t smell as bad as it looked, just a tad . . . fetid, but laced with the fragrance of his cologne.
“Don’t you think you’re taking this too far? I mean, Jimmy’s not about to grab me from a bar or a club. At heart he’s a coward. That’s why he’s always approached me in the dark or from a distance.”
“This isn’t about him.” His puzzled frown almost made her laugh. “You’re mine.”
“I’m not yours.” Dawn folded her arms. “But since we’re laying it on the line, and if you’re wanting me to stick around, I have terms, too. You don’t go to strip clubs, even for a drink. Nor do you let sweet butts wriggle in your lap. You don’t flirt with women or bring them back to the clubhouse. You’re a one-woman man unless you want a woman who isn’t me, and then I walk out this door.”
Tension coiled in the room between them. He stared at her for so long she was afraid she’d crossed some hidden line and nothing would ever be the same again.
“I guess now that we have that straight, I’ll take care of those cuts and bruises,” she said to fill the silence. “You got a first-aid kit in here?” Her gaze swept over the room, bare of any decoration save for the detritus, a gritty contrast with the huge four-poster king-sized bed and heavy dark wood furniture, remnants from the days before the country house had become the Sinner clubhouse.
Cade scowled. “I’m not finished saying my piece.”
Dawn wasn’t sure she wanted to hear the rest of his “piece” if it involved any more one-sided rules and restrictions. She studied the room again for any sign of first-aid equipment, trying not to look at all the empty condom boxes or the shiny wrappers strewn across the floor or think about what they meant.
“I got something else to say.” Cade’s voice held an uncharacteristically sharp edge. “What are you looking at?”
Her cheeks heated and she scrambled for words. “Lots of . . . pizza boxes. What kind of pizza do you like?”
“I don’t know that much about you. What kind of pizza do you like?”
She let out an exasperated sigh. “Can you be more specific? Pepperoni, sausage, ham, bacon—?”
“Just meat. Lots of it.” His brow creased. “You?”
“I’m kinda into veggies. Not that I don’t occasionally indulge in a Slim Fred’s Meat Feast when I’m hanging with Banks at his place watching the fights, but usually I like to keep it healthy.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “What else you want to know?”
Hmmm. A rare insight into Cade and what made him tick. She wanted to know everything, but from the way he was looking at her—focused, intent, like a predator sizing up its prey—she would have to be judicious with her questions. “Music.”
“Mostly ’seventies legends like Bob Seger, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and the Allman Brothers and hard-rock bands like W.A.S.P. and Great White.”
“Typical of a biker and not very revealing.” Dawn sighed. “I don’t suppose you harbor a secret love for Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift?”
Cade’s nose wrinkled. “Girl crap. Don’t listen to it.”
“I like ‘girl crap,’ as you call it. I also like jazz.”
“That’s ’cause you’re a girl.”
“I’m a woman.” She lifted an eyebrow in censure and he gave her a smoldering, sensual look that made her instantly wet.
“That I fucking know. And ’cause of that, there’s no hanging out with Banks, ’cause he knows that, too.” He crossed the floor toward her, eating up the distance between them with easy strides of his long legs. “You want to listen to girl crap and hang out and eat pizza, you do it with me. And forget the veg. How are you gonna keep those curves if you’re just eating green shit?”
He was so close now she could feel the heat radiating off his body, breathe in his scent of leather, crisp spring air, and the sharp odor of blood. “You like my curves?”
“Love your curves, babe. Couldn’t have made it through that fucking ambush if I didn’t have these curves to think about.”