Read Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2) Online

Authors: Vivienne Savage

Tags: #bbw, #paranormal romance, #military romance, #curvy, #shapeshifters, #shifter, #eagle shifter, #interracial

Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2) (8 page)

BOOK: Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2)
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Some
small fish to go free? It’s become very apparent that Quickdraw has a 100% catch and release program in effect,” I said dryly.

Montgomery silenced. I pictured him fuming in his office and grinned. “I won’t discuss police matters over the line, MacArthur. I can only tell you to take comfort in knowing we’ve got it under control.”

“Thanks for your time.” I ended the call and glanced up to see Leigh in the doorway, frowning.

“Is everything okay, Ian?”

“Oh, everything’s great. Nothing I can’t handle,” I said. She didn’t need to be bothered any more on the matter. “Did you get Petunia settled in yet?”

“Oh yeah. She loves it here. Those puppies ought to be here any day now, too.”

Richard and Gloria James showed up at my home the following afternoon as we were unloading cleaning supplies from our final trip out to her old house. Everything was ready to go on the market.

“I’m going inside,” Leigh murmured to me. As she stepped toward the door, I grabbed her by the wrist and anchored her in place.

“You don’t have to run from anyone, Leigh.”

The elderly couple picked their way down the drive. Gloria walked with a cane these days, following a recent knee replacement surgery. Her husband was a brittle diabetic and just as poor in health. Their son, prior to his arrest for drug crimes, had been their sole caretaker.

I had to wonder how either of them thought they could take care of a child. If not for a crooked judge, they wouldn’t have had a chance.

“Hello, Mr. MacArthur. This isn’t a bad time, is it?”

“No. We’re just finishing up. What can I do for you?”

“We wanted to apologize to Leigh for what’s happened. Your visit gave us a chance to talk and come to our senses. Thank you, young man.”

I was hardly as young as I appeared. The magic flowing through my veins slowed aging. We didn’t live more than a decade or two longer than most humans, but we looked better during our lifetimes. So did our bonded mates.

“We don’t want to take it to court, now that we know you’ll be here to help Leigh. I... we can’t use Sophia to replace Dennis. He’s gone now. There’s no bringing him back, and he made his decisions,” Gloria said.

“Where’s Leigh so we can tell her in person?” Richard asked.

Leigh stepped out from behind my vehicle. “I’m right here.”

“Leigh, we’re sorry. We were so carried away with our pain. And after Dennis died, we just lost sight of what was best for Sophia. He wouldn’t have wanted this. He wouldn’t have wanted all of us fighting this way.”

I glanced at the open backseat and saw a rear-facing child seat. Sophia was with them of course, her wide-eyed features alert and aware of her surroundings.

“Do you mean I can see her now? Right now?”

The older man nodded. Without another word, Leigh dashed for the car and slid in beside Sophia. I watched with a smile on my face.

“You did the right thing,” I told them both as Leigh reconnected with her daughter. Those sporadic, monitored visits to their home hadn’t been enough.

“We made contact with the social worker. We can’t leave her here with Leigh just yet, not legally, but you’re both welcome in our home at any time until we hear back from Mrs. Johnson.”

“Thank you, Mrs. James. Have you set a date and time for Dennis’ funeral?”

The older woman nodded. They only had about a decade on me, but the vast differences in our appearance came as a benefit of my shifter traits and healthier lifestyle. “We plan to put him to rest Saturday afternoon. We’d like it if both of you came.”

“Of course.” I hoped Leigh didn’t disapprove of my agreement.

I invited the couple inside my home for coffee while Leigh bonded with her child in the living room. We gave her complete freedom from our prying eyes and stayed clear. She didn’t need a monitor. She wouldn’t harm Sophia.

“Cream, sugar?” I asked. A little friendly interaction went a long way, and despite the minor difference in our ages, I treated them with the same respect I’d give my gram.

“Yes, please,” Gloria answered.

“If you don’t mind my asking, Mr. MacArthur, how old are you?”

“Ian, please. And no, I don’t mind. I actually get this a lot. I’ll be fifty-four next month.”

Their eyes bugged. I’ve heard every kind of joke, from having great genes to having the same physical fitness trainer as Brad Pitt. I didn’t look my age and I never would.

“Well, you sure don’t show it,” Gloria commented.

A sweet soprano drifted from the living room into the kitchen. The lullaby was a familiar tune, but I’d never found it particularly pretty until now.

“Is that Leigh?”

“It is. You didn’t know she could sing?”

“She never talks about singing. She only told me she likes to hear the choir at church.” We had talked about volleyball, her sports injuries, and her failure to complete college, but singing never made the conversation. She had a beautiful voice.

“Leigh used to be the best in the choir before...” Richard’s voice trailed.

It became crystal for me then, and I was able to understand everything about the sorrow on her face during the service. I finally knew her reasons for attending despite their unwelcoming behavior.

“Would they let her in the choir again now? Look, I know you don’t much like her the way you used to, but even you have to admit she’s paid her dues. What do we have to do to get this town to accept it?”

They looked at each other. “I think everything has to start with us, Ian.”

Chapter Seven

~Leigh~

M
y husband-to-be arrived in jeans. He wore them well, but I couldn’t help but mourn the loss of the classic fairy tale wedding from my childhood fantasies.

In my dreams, I’d wear an exquisite white gown with trailing lace while a half dozen bridesmaids beamed proudly from beside the altar. They wore blue, my favorite color, with wine-colored sashes around their waists. I had flowers in my hair and a piano player skillfully announcing my arrival with the wedding march. His hands would glide over the ivories and I’d emerge to find a captive audience who melted before my beauty on my special day. My father would lead me down the aisle to a handsome man in a flawless tuxedo, join our hands, and give me away with tears in his eyes.

The crushing reality was a Wal-Mart dress from the clearance aisle and two of Ian’s friends in their Sunday best. My dad died two years ago from throat cancer and my friends scattered like cockroaches when the shit hit the fan after Sophia’s birth.

One glance at the man beside me sped my pulse rate to a jackhammer pace. Ian was a good-looking man, a kind man, and there were worse guys to marry. I’d hoped his kindness would soothe the butterflies in my belly, but it didn’t. I nervously smoothed my fingers over the edge of my yellow and white sundress.

“It’s not too late to change your mind,” Ian whispered in my ear.

“I should be telling you that.” It was his crazy idea, after all.

“Nah, I’m good.”

The simple ceremony lacked fanfare. An old tape player running in the background provided our Wedding March and the magistrate stood by a long table where our wedding license waited. He spoke a few solemn words regarding the sanctity of marriage before asking if we each accepted the other. Then he had us sign the papers. Envying Ian’s steady handwriting, I tried to script my own name without my pen shaking all over the line. He was unwavering, steel nerves and perfect composure.

“I now pronounce you husband and wife. You may kiss your bride.”

Instinctively, my eyes shifted from the judge to my new husband and found Ian closely watching me in return. Before I could concoct a phony excuse or claim modesty, Ian’s mouth lowered against mine.

Ian swept me away with his intensity. My fingers threaded through his silvering hair and anchored him in place as surely as the arms around my waist held me to his military-honed physique. Years after his retirement, he was still built like a soldier at the peak of his career.

His tongue darted between my lips, prompting me to open my mouth in acceptance. My nipples tightened beneath my strapless bra and our audience vanished from my memory. Only the tangle of our tongues mattered, along with how much I wanted to guide Ian’s hand from my waist to my breasts, or better yet, to place it between my thighs where my panties dampened.

I came away from the kiss breathless and red-cheeked, the heat spreading all the way to the neckline of my dress like a badge of embarrassment for everyone to see. From the corner of my vision, I caught sight of Ian’s strange champagne-colored eyes with a smirk on his face, watching me.

Seconds after we exited the courtroom, I twisted to whisper in his ear, “Did you really have to kiss me that way in front of everyone?” To keep from meeting his gaze, I smoothed the skirt of my dress and picked at a minute speck of lint.

“We certainly won’t have to worry about anyone questioning the validity of our marriage now, will we?” he countered.

“Point.”

“Photo time,” Dani called out.

I liked Russ and Dani. They were the perfect couple, polar opposites in appearance and completely adorable. I envied her confidence as much as I was jealous of her big breasts. She’d lucked out in the curvaceous figure department with striking, proportionate measurements all around.

“You both look so cute together,” Betty said.

“I—we do?” I asked, startled.

“My dear, you are always beautiful, but even my failing eyes can see you and my grandson look marvelous together.”

Betty remained clueless. I had to wonder if his plan was for her benefit as much as it was to help me. At her age, she didn’t have much longer to see her grandson happily married, and in a way, this made Sophia her great-granddaughter.

Prior to the wedding, I’d signed something drawn up by Ian’s lawyer and faxed to us, forfeiting any and all rights to his pension, properties, and holdings. I didn’t want those, and even if I did, how much of a bitch would I look for trying to steal a veteran’s hard-earned savings?

At the end of the evening, after a restaurant dinner with Russ, Dani, and Betty, we all went our separate ways. I hugged Dani and Russ in the parking lot outside the restaurant then Ian and I drove Betty home.

By the time Ian had pulled into his driveway, I could barely breathe. My vision swam a little as I crossed the threshold into my new home.

“What’s wrong?” Ian asked.

“Nothing. It’s still hard for me to believe your living room is as big as my whole house,” I confessed. The whole floor plan of my former home could be shoved into the room he dedicated to his big screen television and social furnishings. The bedrooms were as generous, providing more space than I even needed.

Ian’s personal bathroom had a shower worthy of my dreams. I’d nearly chosen the downstairs bedroom by the kitchen for its personal bathroom, until Ian coaxed me to check out the entire house. I didn’t regret it. It was worth sharing a restroom with the man for the umbrella shaped shower fixture. I soaked beneath it for a half hour, enjoying the luxurious spray, unrushed and without fear of the water heater crapping out.

I found Ian on the couch with his laptop and a beer in front of a movie. According to Betty, he liked to watch action flicks for background noise while working on government projects.

“Hey, finally settled?”

“I think so,” I replied. Taking the seat beside him, I nestled into the couch corner and brushed out my damp hair while he fetched me a beer and snacks, too.

Some wedding night. Bride and groom retire to their honeymoon to chastely watch Liam Neeson films all night with bowls of popcorn and a goodie bag from their friends.

A wicked part of me wanted to test the boundaries of our new marriage by offering my body. I had trouble reconciling that he came into this deal without expectations of benefitting from our arrangement.

I mulled it over until the credits rolled an hour later.

“Well, I’m going to bed. G’night, Leigh.”

“Night, Ian.”

And then my chance was gone. The whole town probably thought we were wrapped naked around each other by now.

I stole a peek at his retreating shape when he left the room. Ian was an excellent example of a man for his age. I still couldn’t believe he was fifty-three. Hell, I hadn’t wanted to believe he was out of his thirties yet. He must have belonged to the same vampire club as Brad Pitt, Johnny Depp, and Keanu Reeves. In each of his pictures — there were many framed photographs of him receiving some medal or another — he looked exactly the same except touches of silver in his dark hair grew more prominent over the years.

My own personal Dorian Grey, unaging and beautiful.

“If you need anything, you know where to find me,” he called back from the stairs.

“Okay.”

I remained on the sofa long after Ian left, feeling cold and numb all the way to the tips of my toes. The day’s events instilled a surreal sense of disbelief, and I found myself waiting to awaken from the dream.

To prepare myself for the difficult day ahead of me, I set my alarm for an ungodly hour and lay down in my bed to sleep. It wasn’t like the neighborhood where I’d lived, where the gangbangers drove their cars at all hours of the night, bass thumping from their trunks. The silence unnerved me and made it difficult to sleep.

When I awakened in the unfamiliar bedroom, my eyes blinked open to gradually adjust to the shaded interior. There weren’t any water stains or cracks in the ceiling, and no fear of the roaches crawling over me in my sleep. This was home, and I had every reason to be grateful to my savior.

Once I made the bed and parted the blackout curtains, I washed my face and shuffled into the kitchen to find Ian had beat me to the punch. I’d thought I would surprise him with bacon and eggs, but I found the man in his flannel pants with a mixing bowl of pancake batter.

“Well shit,” I muttered. “How are you awake already?”

He twisted around to look at me and grinned. “The early bird gets the worm.”

“Uh huh.”

“How’d you sleep?”

“Lousy,” I answered honestly. I plucked a banana from the fruit bowl and busied myself with peeling it to avoid prolonged eye contact with the sexy soldier at the stove. His navy blue tee clung to him so snugly he may as well have gone without it. I could see every muscle through the tightly stretched cotton. I wanted to
touch
every muscle, too.

BOOK: Let Us Prey: BBW Military Paranormal Romance (Wild Operatives, #2)
12.47Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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