Authors: Holley Trent
Tags: #workplace romance, #enemies to lovers, #male submissive, #athlete, #sports hero, #baseball
Quinn’s words came out reflexively, but he knew she couldn’t get all that far. There was a crowd waiting for elevators, and he didn’t think she was so desperate to get away that she’d sprint up the stairs. He wouldn’t even attempt that many flights, and he’d been an elite athlete.
He hooked his arm around hers and held on, in spite of the watery glare she cast at him, in spite of the people watching with undisguised curiosity.
None of their fucking business.
Marina moved toward an open elevator. It was tight, and she barely fit, but Quinn squeezed himself in, too, and turned his bag vertically so the doors had room to close.
He had to keep moving out of the way for folks to get off, but eventually the load lightened. Marina was still on, and the elevator kept climbing. She either had a room way up at the top or she was gaming him. Knowing his luck, she’d ride back to the ground floor, get off, and hop into another cab.
He didn’t want that to happen. They needed to talk, and he needed to apologize—grovel if he had to. She’d thrown too much information at him all at once and he was having a hard damn time processing it, but talking would help.
It had to.
They were the last ones on, and the elevator kept climbing.
“I don’t want to talk to you. Go away.”
“I’m not going away. We’ve gotta talk. You can’t just…tell me things like that and expect me to be okay.”
“I don’t expect anything from you.”
He ground his teeth and followed her out of the elevator.
The room doors were farther apart on that floor. Suites, probably. Quinn had been in a few for work-related things, but had never had the funds to be able to rent one himself. Probably never would. Since leaving Montana, he’d gotten used to dwelling in tight spaces.
Marina slipped her key into the slot, and didn’t hold the door open for him when she walked into the room. Since she hadn’t expressly shut him out, he followed her in and left his bag by the door.
“Far enough, Marina. Right there. Wait.”
She stopped in the middle of the living area and let out a ragged breath. Her shoulders slumped and head drooped.
He went right to her and put his arms around her. “All right. Let’s fix this. I fucked up, so let me fix it. Tell me how. I never want to upset you like that, and it breaks me up that I did. I just don’t know what to
about what you did, baby. Nobody does shit like that.”
“If it had happened the other way around, no one would have batted an eyelash. If a man had given a woman money, that would have been acceptable, right?”
He furrowed his brow and tucked his chin atop her head. Then he closed his eyes and drew in a long inhalation of the essence of her. He’d missed her scent, her softness. Missed being touched by her. She’d said she’d wanted him because he didn’t scare her, and it worked the same way with him. She hadn’t done anything to make him feel uncomfortable about who he was or what he had. That’d all been on him—his insecurities.
“Touch me,” he said.
“I don’t want to.”
Quinn of a year ago might have unhanded her and stormed away, but he’d had to grow up. His feelings were bruised, sure, but he understood that hers probably were, too, and it was because of him.
“Because I hurt you?” he asked. Had to ask, or they wouldn’t be able to get past it.
“So you’re not gonna touch me until you’re not hurting anymore?”
She nodded again.
“I wish I could tell you all the right things, then. So you won’t hurt.”
“Don’t say them if you don’t mean them.”
“I’ll mean every one, baby. I…” He felt stupid talking to the top of her head, so he took her hand and led her to the sofa.
She was still wiping tears away, and with each passing second he felt like more of an asshole. Maybe he was one, but with her, he wanted to try to be decent. He always managed to trip himself up, though.
He pulled her close to his side, and she was stiff, but she didn’t lean away or swat at his hands.
That would have to be good enough.
“I…guess you know I’m not in a great place right now,” he said. “I can’t do anything for you that you can’t do for yourself. Financially, I mean. That makes me feel a certain kind of way.”
She entwined her fingers atop her lap and let one of her knees bob.
Nervous, but that was okay because he was, too.
“I’ll figure something out, Marina. Whatever you need me to do, I’ll find a way to contribute. You’ve got to let me contribute. I’m used to working for things, and you tell me you’re having a baby, and I feel like I’ve got to come up with some cash, you know.”
She peeked up at him through wet lashes.
“I know you don’t need my money. You probably don’t need me at all, but…that doesn’t stop me from wanting to chip in.”
“That’s the conflict, I guess. You’re right. I don’t need your money, and I like that you don’t want any of mine, but I’m pissed at you, Quinn. All I wanted to do was make things easy for you. I help people get fresh starts all the time, and I thought maybe you could use one, too. Better you than some stranger, right?”
He dragged the pads of his thumbs beneath her eyes and wiped away the tear tracks. “Maybe I feel like I don’t deserve it.”
“Stop punishing yourself. We all make mistakes. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share of them, but you deserve kindness, and love, and that’s what I was trying to give to you. Do you understand?”
“Think so. Or at least, I’m understanding a little better now.” Even if he didn’t feel like he deserved her.
She leaned in and tapped her lips against his. Not a kiss, really, but a touch all the same, and he needed it.
He pulled her onto his lap and held her tight with her face tucked into the hollow of his neck and her knees clenching his hips. “I love you so much. I just don’t know what to do with you, I guess.”
“Why do you sound so surprised? You know I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t feel so bad about taking stuff from you.”
“I love you, too.”
She nodded against his neck and whispered, “Just consider it a lucky break, Quinn. It’s not a handout. Maybe I’m selfish, but I want you around more. If you’re out there hustling, you’re not with me, and I can’t do this by myself.”
“Do what? I’m going to be there for the baby.”
“I don’t doubt that you plan to be, but that’s not what I mean.” She leaned back. Meeting his gaze, she pushed his hair away from his face and let out a slow breath. “I guess I’m like you in a way, and I want to work for some things. I’ve got to make my own way.” She let out a choked sob. “I bought a rundown building in Pittsburg last week. What am I supposed to do with that?”
Quinn cringed and tucked her face against his neck again. “We’ll figure it out.”
“You’ll help me?”
“Of course. If that’s what you want. If you don’t want to be onsite, then I’ll be there instead, and you can come scoop me up for lunch everyday. Gotta promise to share the potato salad, though.”
She sighed and worked her hands up the back of his untucked shirt.
That’s right, baby. Touch me.
“I’m hormonal as hell. I’m sorry. I’m usually better at pretending that I’m holding it all together.”
“Don’t worry about it. I’m sure I’m doing more than my fair share of contributing to the madness.” He slipped his hands up her dress and managed to work one to her belly. He stroked it, in awe of what they’d done without even trying, and didn’t let himself freak out.
He was going to be someone’s daddy. That was certainly worth freaking out over, but one of them had to hold themselves together. Maybe he’d fall apart next and she could pat him on the head and tell him “there, there.”
“I’m probably the cause of half your problems,” he said.
“More than half.”
“I want you to grovel some more.”
“Okay. Tell me what you want me to say.”
“Tell me that you love me in spite of my money and that you’d do anything for me.”
He thought he had already, but he’d gladly repeat it. He chuckled. “I love you in spite of your money, and I will do
“Now tell me that you won’t let contractors screw me over and that I can stay behind the scenes of my investments.”
let anyone screw you over, baby.”
“Tell me that you’re not going to make a big deal out of me not wanting an engagement ring.”
This time, he was the one who leaned back so he could see her. “You don’t want to marry me? Well, of course you don’t. Stupid question. Your father would probably disown you.”
“He already did, if not in actions, then certainly in intent.” She shrugged and did that dry laugh again. “Long time coming, I guess. I don’t want to talk about that, though. This is about you and me, and you’re not doing a good job with the groveling.”
“Maybe not, but I can’t lie to you, Marina.”
“I don’t want a ring because I don’t want an engagement. I
want to marry you. No wedding. No fuss. Just us.”
“Just us, huh?” He kneaded her belly and let out a breath. “Not gonna tell your pop? You gonna hide me?”
“I’ve got nothing to hide. He already knows where we stand. I don’t want to wait for ceremonies and parties. I just want to move forward. To get ready for this baby. Maybe go away for a while after I—
—finish up a couple of projects.” She sucked in some air. “Maybe three. I might have…bought another thing.”
He chuckled. “Hey, I’d like that. To go away, just me and you. It’d be a hell of a lot better than riding the bench for the Roosters.”
Marina rolled her eyes. “That was tacky of my father to get Wallace to offer you that.”
Quinn shrugged. “Maybe it was, but at least we’re on the same accord. He didn’t want some no-account loser burning you, and I don’t want that, either. I know I’m lucky, honey, and I’m going to act like it. I’m going to do right by you.”
“I know you will. Especially since you’ll be working for free. You know how project budgets are. So unyielding.”
He didn’t know what else to do, but laugh. “Will you at least buy me a sandwich?”
“Of course, but I’m keeping half.”
“As long as you keep me, too, I’ll gladly make that deal.”
If you followed the Roosters over from the Den of Sin series, you’ve probably guessed by now that Reedsville crew has a problem keeping players. Well…I probably won’t be spoiling much if I say that’s not going to change anytime soon.
Coming later in 2016, look for the return of Olivia, Ken, and Clint from the Den of Sin story
O for Two
—but in Clint’s
romance! You’ll learn why Gary Morstad got booted from the team…and whether or not he wants a second shot like Quinn.
In the meantime, catch up on other Reedsville Roosters stories, because singles in the stories don’t stay single for long. Even players have to settle down sometime, right?
Suggested Reedsville Roosters Reading Order:
One in Waiting
Out of Bounds
– coming June 2016 (m/m/f)
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Holley Trent is an award-winning author of more than forty works of contemporary, paranormal, and erotic romance. Raised in rural, coastal North Carolina, she currently makes the Colorado Front Range her home.
In addition to her independently published works, she has books available through Crimson Romance and Kensington Publishing. See her full backlist of stories
at her website
Want to chat about
the hunks on the Reedsville Roosters team, or other topics? Catch her online on Twitter where she tweets under the handle @
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See her full backlist of titles
at her website
Copyright © 2016 by Holley Trent
First published in 2016 in the
AT HER SERVICE
All rights reserved. Except for use in review, no part of this work may be reproduced in any format without permission of the author.
is a work of fiction. Names, places, entities, and scenarios in this book are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Cover art credits:
Model stock: ©Christopher Correia - CJC Photography
Background: ©FotoMak via Dollar Photo Club
Rooster stock: ©inga via Dollar Photo Club
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