Because You Love Me
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by Mari Carr
Category: Erotica/Erotic Romance/Suspense/Thriller
Description: Safety in numbers? Depends on what you mean by safe? Bridget Wilder's life is shot to hell--literally--when she witnesses the murder of her best friend, Lyle. Protective custody? What a joke. Time after time, someone has leaked her whereabouts, forcing her to run from one safe house to the next. Tired of cold, lonely beds and living in fear, Bridget convinces her guardian cop she's safer off the grid, following Lyle's trail of clues to a missing flash drive that could put the killer behind bars. It doesn't take twins Mark and Matt James long to figure out two things. Bridget's not only in trouble, she is trouble--they both want her. When things get a little hot and heavy one night, though, they're stunned to discover that they don't mind sharing. And she loves being shared. Between the James brothers' hot, hard bodies, Bridget finally feels safe--and loved. When a hit man tracks her down, the last thing she wants is for them to place those bodies between her and danger. But those cowboys have other ideas. Like keeping her alive long enough to convince her she belongs with them. Forever. Warning: Scary times ahead! An evil judge, a car chase, a hit man and more! Luckily, the rough times are soothed by lots and lots of ménage sex with two red-hot alpha cowboys.
eBook Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd., 2012 2012
eBookwise Release Date: February 2012
5 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [235 KB]
Reading time: 149-208 min.
"Goin' somewhere, darlin'?" Mark drawled.
She was well and truly stuck. "Doesn't look like it."
"That's right," Matt agreed. "You made a bet, so it looks like you'll just have to stick around a couple more days to make good on it."
"I wasn't aware that I was working with a handicap taking on Todd and Steven as my partners. You cheated."
Mark chuckled. "Didn't peg you as the type to renege on a bet."
"I'm not going back on my word. I'm simply saying you knew the cards were stacked against me and you still pressed for the wager."
Rodney turned to look at her. "Wager?"
Mark saved her from answering. "Deal was if we won, she'd let us teach her how to ride a horse."
Matt pulled her closer. "We'll start first thing in the morning. Takes a while to get the hang of it though, so y'all might have to put off leaving for a couple days."
She expected Rodney to lose his temper over her foolishness. What she did not expect was for him to shrug as if he didn't have a care in the world. "That's fine. No rush." He glanced at Jacob. "Want some help making that coffee?"
She grinned at her friend's transparent new attitude, especially when he checked out Jacob's ass as they followed Steven and Todd to the kitchen.
She turned around to gloat about the hookup, but Mark held up his hand. "Don't even say it. You were right. A man would have to be blind to miss the sparks flying between those two."
"And you guys are okay with that?" She was surprised to discover two hardcore alpha cowboys living in the heart of the West who weren't squicked out about their brother's homosexuality.
Matt shook his head. "We've known about our brother's sexual preference for a very long time. Had plenty of time to get used to the idea. It's not a life I'd choose for myself--I like boobies too much--but if he's happy, I'm happy."
Bridget laughed. "You like boobies, huh?"
He nodded. "I like your boobies."
She swatted playfully at Matt's arm. "You need to keep your eyes pointed at regions directly north of my boobies." She indicated her face. "There's nothing down here for you," she teased as she pointed at her chest.
Matt let his gaze linger on her chest. "That's where you're wrong, sweetheart. There's plenty down there for me."
Mark rolled his eyes. Taking Bridget's arm, he led her to the sofa, where they sat down together. "Ignore my brother. He's missing a filter or two and usually says completely inappropriate things as a result."
She moved closer to Mark on the sofa, enjoying the jealous glare from his twin. "So I wouldn't have to worry about that with you?"
Mark hopped on board the flirting train, putting his arm along the top of the cushion at her back, gathering her closer. "Absolutely not. I can assure you I'm a complete gentleman."
Matt plopped down on the couch on her other side, grasping her hand. She was ultrasensitive to every touch, every glance from these men. She wasn't sure she'd ever been so hot for a man. Unfortunately, this wasn't one man, but two.
"Get away from my girl."
"Your girl?" Mark asked.
Though she could tell they were teasing, Bridget decided she'd be wise not to let the game go too far. "Oh no, you don't. I'm not getting in the middle of a pissing contest. Something tells me the two of you take too much pleasure in it."
Matt shrugged. "We're brothers. It's in the sibling rivalry codebook."
She laughed. "Find something else to fight over. I'm only here for a few days more and I'd like to spend them in relative peace and quiet. I've had enough violence to last me a--"
She froze as both men's faces turned from smiling to scowling in an instant.
Shit. Way to go, big mouth.
"Violence?" Mark asked.
She struggled to find a way out of the mess she'd just made. "I just meant fighting amongst siblings."
Matt looked toward the kitchen. "Siblings? Do you and Rodney fight? Does he hit you?"
"Dear God, no. He's the mildest, kindest, most compassionate man on the planet. How could you ask such a thing?"
Mark turned her face toward his with gentle fingers on her chin. "Violence is sort of strong word for simple arguments between a brother and a sister. You know you could tell us if something's wrong, Bridget. We'd keep you safe."
She'd never received a more welcome invitation. For the second time in one day, her heart ached to share her painful secret. Common sense reared its ugly head. "Help me? You don't even know me."
"We know enough to see you're in some sort of trouble," Matt said. "Rodney's constantly running odd errands around town without you, while you're supposedly on vacation. You've yet to leave this inn and, well, you're a tad bit jumpy. What's up with you two?"
How could anyone be that observant? Maybe Rodney had been right about them hiding somewhere more secluded. They obviously had shitty poker faces. "Nothing's up with us. Everything is as we said. We're just here on vacation."
Matt looked like he wanted to press the subject further, but Mark's heavy sigh cut him off. "Okay. We'll go with that. For now. If you change your mind and want to talk, the door's open."
She forced a lighthearted grin to her face. "Nothing to talk about. I'm downright dull."
Mark shook his head. "I seriously doubt that. So, about these riding lessons--"
While Rodney had given her the go-ahead, it didn't change one very simple truth. "I was stupid to make that bet. I wasn't kidding when I said I'm afraid of horses."
Matt squeezed the hand she'd forgotten he was holding. "We'll take it nice and slow, sweetheart."
"In other words, you're not letting me out of the bet."
Matt grinned at her. "Not on your life. You're going to spend the next three days--"
"You said it would take two days."
The mischievous rogue winked at her. "You said you wanted to learn to be a cowgirl. That takes time. Trust me, at the end of four days, you'll be--"
"Four days?" As much as Bridget hated to make the break, she forced herself to stand and walk away from the incredible heat of their strapping bodies. Facing them where they still sat, she put her hands on her hips. "You are a shyster and a con man. I agreed to riding lessons. I'm fairly certain that can be achieved in one day."
Mark stood slowly. "Three days."
"Two," she countered.
Matt jumped up and shook her hand as if sealing the deal. "Two days plus one date."
Matt retained the hand he held, using it to pull her closer. "You just shook on it. We teach you how to ride, and you let me take you out dancing one night."
"You get to take her dancing?" Mark interjected. "I don't think so. The whole idea behind this wager was mine to begin with. If anyone's taking Bridget out on a date, it's me."
Bridget threw her hands up. "Enough. I'll agree to three days of riding lessons if you two agree that we're just going to remain friends. No more fighting."
Matt looked like he wanted to argue about the friends idea, and Bridget tried to suppress the part of her that hoped he'd press the issue.
"Fine," Mark said, though his tone indicated he wasn't happy about her demands.
She grinned. "It's better this way. Trust me."
Matt shrugged. "Maybe. Maybe not."
"I'm going to head into the kitchen for some dessert. Do you guys want some?"
Mark shook his head. "No. I think I'd better head back. One of the horses was acting strangely this morning and I'm worried she's getting sick. I want to check on her before I go to bed."
"I'll walk back with you," Matt said. They'd told Bridget earlier in the evening there was a small path toward the rear of the house that led straight to the James Ranch. "Jacob can ride back in the truck with Caleb and Jessie or on his own if the two love birds don't make it back from the guest house. You mind letting them know we left?"
Bridget shook her head. "No, not at all."
Mark tapped her nose playfully. "We'll expect to see you at the ranch bright and early tomorrow morning."
She narrowed her eyes. "What's bright and early? Nine? Ten?"
Matt laughed. "I was going to say six. Maybe another compromise? How's seven thirty sound?"
"Painful," she groaned. "But I'll be there."
Mark reached for her hand and lifted it to his lips. She suppressed a slight shiver when he pressed a quick, hot kiss on her palm.
Never one to be outdone by his brother, Matt upped the ante, placing a friendly kiss on her cheek. "Night, sweetheart," he drawled, his hot breath tickling her sensitive skin.