Authors: Laylah Roberts
A Cavan Gang novel
© 2016, Laylah Roberts
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.
This story contains explicit sex scenes and is R18.
Cover Design: Erin Dameron-Hill
Editor: Wizards in Publishing
“Did you hear they’re letting me blow this joint?” Miller curled up in a black leather armchair, her hair tied in a messy bun. She’d dyed it bright red since the last time he saw her. Her baggy clothes dwarfed her tiny frame, not an ounce of makeup on her face.
She was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen.
Rogan worked hard to keep his feelings hidden. He’d had years of practice. But if anyone could erode his hard-won control, it was Miller. Beneath the cool, calm exterior, his blood heated, his heart raced. His cock, so rarely interested in much, stood at attention. All it took to turn him on was catching sight of her, a hint of her scent, or even just hearing her voice.
And her laugh was enough to make him see double.
He’d thought himself too cold and broken to ever react to a woman this way. If it wasn’t a quick fuck and good-bye, then he wasn’t interested.
Except when it came to her. Because, then, he imagined all sorts of things he could never have.
Miller in his arms. Kissing her. Touching her. Fucking her. Damn well owning her.
And having her own him.
“Yes, I talked to your doctor.”
She grimaced. “Of course, you did. Because Lord forbid anything be private around here. Have they never heard of patient-doctor confidentiality?”
He shrugged. He had his methods of getting people to talk.
She ran her gaze around the room. “I guess because you’re paying for all this, you get to listen to every sad little aspect of my recovery.”
He cocked his head. He’d seen her swing between emotions since she’d been at the drug rehab facility. Anger. Sadness. Despair. Fear. But, this time, something was different.
“What’s wrong?” He suppressed the urge to lift her from her seat and pull her onto his lap, to taste her, tease her into a better mood. He could do it. He’d seen the way she watched him when she thought he wasn’t looking. With heat. Hunger. Need.
He couldn’t take advantage of her vulnerability. She was his responsibility.
She scowled. “Wrong? What could possibly be wrong? I have no job, no home. I’m stuck in a fucking rehab center because that asshole, Iker, got me hooked on a highly addictive drug. And it’s my fault because I thought I’d play Nancy Drew and try to figure out who killed my mother. What kind of idiot does that? What did I think would happen? That that the Vipers would welcome me with open arms? That there would be a big arrow with a sign saying ‘
This way to find evidence of who killed your mother’
? I was utterly delusional.”
He didn’t bother to argue with her. Because he agreed. She’d been stupid to think she could infiltrate the Vipers and investigate her mother’s death.
Instead of earning their trust, she’d ended up at their mercy.
So, yeah, she’d been a naïve fool, and he wasn’t going to tell her otherwise. Best she learn from her mistakes and never put herself in such danger again. Although she hadn’t taken the drug voluntarily, Fizz was a highly addictive drug and she’d needed the help of specialists to cope with the withdrawals and cravings. Luckily, she hadn’t been on Fizz long. Longer use resulted in a longer recovery process. She had made good progress. As long as she learned to handle stress and had a support network, her doctor believed she would do well.
Soon she would be released and he wouldn’t see her again.
That wasn’t disappointment he felt but relief. At least that’s what he was going to tell himself.
She bit her lip. “I’m TSTL.”
“What?” he asked, confused.
Her brown eyes filled with misery. “Too stupid to live.”
“Ahh, I wondered what emotional stage you had reached,” he drawled.
How did she manage to look so beautiful even when she scowled?
He was in so much trouble.
“What do you mean?”
“Well, you’ve gone through anger, fear, and despair and I couldn’t work out where you were at now. But, now, I see you’re stuck on pity.”
“Pity?” She sat up, glaring at him in righteous fury. Better.
“You’re feeling sorry for yourself.” Rogan made certain to keep his voice calm. He even brushed some imaginary lint off his pants. His disinterest would fuel her anger. Better anger than self-pity. He knew all too well how destructive self-pity could be.
He’d spent too long feeling sorry for himself for being forced into this life. Forced to step up and become the boss of the Cavans.
But he had to embrace his life. As Miller needed to take charge of hers.
Perhaps he should have been more sympathetic. But he struggled to find the right thing to say.
“Don’t you think I have a right to feel sorry for myself? My life is a fucking mess!”
He frowned. “You’re alive.”
With an impatient sigh, she waved her hand through the air. “Fine, fine. You’re right. I could have died. I should be grateful to be alive.”
He found his lips twitching, and he had to fight hard to keep a smile from curling his lips. “You don’t sound very grateful.”
“Well, I’m not going to start singing about whiskers on kittens while I dance on roof tops.”
“I think you’re mixing your movies up.”
She shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve never watched those movies all the way through.” She crossed her arms over her chest. “I started watching them, but they were too…”
“Farfetched. I mean, it’s not real life. They’re fairy tales.”
“You don’t like fairy tales?”
She shrugged. “Hansel and Gretel made sense.”
A story about two children being abandoned by their family.
“Even though I’m getting out of here, I understand I need a damn babysitter. As though I need someone to watch over me. Tilly will insist I stay with her, and I don’t know how I’m going to tell her I don’t want to.”
She didn’t? He’d been gearing up to say good-bye. Growing attached to her wasn’t smart. Miller wouldn’t be just a fling. And he couldn’t offer anything more.
“Why not?” he asked.
“Because she’s got this—this perfect life. She’s engaged to be married to a wonderful man; she’s happy.”
He failed to see the problem.
“Everywhere I go, I bring trouble. I don’t want to ruin things for her. And, truthfully, I don’t think I can be around all that happiness right now.”
Rogan let out a deep breath. “You’re not a walking plague.”
“Feels like it. But there is no one else I can stay with. I can’t stay here forever. It’ll bankrupt you.”
It would take a lot to bankrupt him, but he didn’t say so. He studied her. He was missing something.
“You hate it here.”
She glanced away, her lip caught between her teeth. What wasn’t he getting?
“You don’t want to leave?” he asked. Her eyes flared.
“You’re scared to leave?”
She picked at loose thread hanging from her T-shirt. He winced, wanting to pull her hand away. The ugly, gray T-shirt was already threadbare—pick the wrong thread and it would all come apart.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Miller,” he bit out, not about to let this go.
“Everybody wants me to talk,” she grouched. “What are you thinking, Miller? What emotion are you experiencing, Miller? How does that make you feel, Miller? I’m sick of talking.”
He ran his finger over his lower lip. “Yeah, I can see how that would be annoying, but they know what they’re doing.”
“You’re trying to dodge my question.”
“God, are you always this persistent?” she grouched.
“Yes. And you’re still avoiding the question. Why don’t you want to leave?”
“Why wouldn’t I want to leave? This place sucks.”
He waited. He could be a patient man when it mattered.
“But it’s safe, isn’t it?” she added.
“And outside these walls isn’t safe.” He could understand her fear. So much had happened to her in such a short space of time, she clung to the one thing she knew.
“I’m a coward. I should put on my big-girl panties and get out there.”
Rogan wondered how many times she’d had to push aside whatever she felt and get on with things. It didn’t seem like anyone in her life had put her needs before their own. Her mother had abandoned her when she was young; her father, who was in and out of prison, had left her to be raised by a strict, religious grandmother.
He grunted. If she wouldn’t live with Tilly, few options remained open to her.
She could live with you
A disastrous thought. Not only because he wanted to fuck her until he found oblivion, but living with him could well put a target on her back.
So what’s the alternative? Leave her here? Let her go off on her own to get into God knows what trouble?
Because although he’d told her off for calling herself a plague, he had the feeling Miller attracted trouble like a magnet.
She needed a goddamned keeper.
It can’t be you. You have no right to have someone like her in your life.
Rogan stood. “I have to go.”
Startled, she gazed up at him, a hint of disappointment in her brown eyes.
“Umm, okay. Thanks for visiting.”
Loneliness surrounded her like a dark cloud, and he had to clench his fists to keep from reaching out to her, from pulling her close, and promising to look after her.
Instead, with a nod, he left.
Rogan stepped out of the rehab center and took a deep breath of air, trying to clear his head. If only he could forget Miller so easily.
“Short visit tonight,” Colm observed.
Rogan glanced over at his bodyguard. The large Scot raised his eyebrows questioningly before falling into step beside him as he walked through the parking lot to his car. Colm kept enough space between them to draw his gun, but stayed close enough to leap into the line of fire if needed.
Rogan hoped Colm would never have to risk his life for Rogan’s.
He knew better than to get close to those around him. As his bodyguard, Colm accepted the risks involved in protecting him.
He lived in a dangerous world. Threats lingered around every corner. He couldn’t afford to let anyone close. The more people he let close, the more people he had to worry over. To protect. Because danger was a part of his life.
Do not care about her.
“Let’s go home.”
He nodded to his other bodyguard, Cillian, who stood next to the car, before climbing into the backseat. The cold leather seats did nothing to cool the fire in his blood. Years of honed control kept him from showing his turmoil. Two devils sat on his shoulders, fighting for dominance.
Take her home with you. Fuck her. Get her out of your system.
Bad idea. You cannot get involved. You’ve done your part. It’s time to wipe your hands of her
He’d never experienced domestic bliss. Any woman who got involved with him would forever be at risk. His one real attempt at a relationship had been a disaster.
Shaking his head, he tried to remove Victoria from his mind. The Vicious Viper as his cousin Aedan had nicknamed her.
Silence filled the car as they sped through the streets of San Antonio.
“Fuck!” Cillian swore, looking in the rearview mirror. “I wasn’t speeding, Boss.”
Rogan glanced behind him. “They were probably lying in wait for us. Pull over.” He grabbed his phone and sent off a quick text.
Cillian pulled over and Rogan waited. This shit was getting old. He pinched the top of his nose. He was getting too old for this…at thirty-three.
As the officer approached, Cillian wound down the window.
“What’s the problem, Detective?” he asked.
“You ran a stop sign. License and registration.”
Rogan rolled his window down. “There must be very little going on in the city if the police department is putting their best detective on traffic duty.”
Detective Maran glared at him as Cillian handed over the paperwork.
“I trust everything is in order.” Rogan smirked up at the man.
Maran sniffed a few times. “Smells like pot in here. I’m going to need you all to step out so I can frisk you.”
Rogan stiffened. There were very few people he let touch him. The detective most certainly was not one.
“So you can plant evidence and arrest us?” Colm drawled from the front passenger seat.
Maran puffed up like a rooster. “Are you suggesting I’m corrupt?”
“Not suggesting anything,” Colm replied.
“Detective, you obviously have very little to do at the moment.” Rogan stared at him. “It’s a shame you’re not out there investigating real crimes instead of following me around.”