He was enjoying his attempt at trying to make her uncomfortable. She’d bite.
“I wanted to work here, in the Quarry.”
He sat forward, his face creeping out of the shadows like a nightmare. Until he smiled. When he smiled, Nadya almost stopped breathing. No one should look so lethal and refined at the same time. He had sophistication and deadly down to a science.
“So you said.” There was sarcasm in his voice.
Nadya made sure to maintain eye contact as she nodded. Males had it stuck in their heads that females were only good for a handful of things. She may be ignorant when it came to intimate relationships, but if you put a knife in her hand, hell, a piece of wood, she could disembowel a man in thirty seconds or less and not even bat an eye.
“All right, tell me why you want to work at the Quarry.” He held up his hands to stop her from speaking. “No, wait, let me guess, you want a patron? Someone to take care of you because you’re lazy and don’t want to work. Or maybe your man died and left you with a brood of brats?”
He thought she was incapable of caring for herself. She wasn’t without means. What she had to offer would take care of her friends. If not for them, this conversation would have gone differently.
“No, nothing like that. I’d like a patron eventually, but I mostly want to work here because my mother is ill and I don’t want my sister going to work at the salt factory.” Technically, they weren’t family, at least not blood, but he didn’t know that.
“Why don’t you work at the salt factory? Then your problem’s solved.”
Was he serious? Smug bastard. Like he had all the fucking answers to life’s problems.
“No, they’d be compounded. I’d get sick like my mother. It may not happen now, or even five or ten years from now, but if I live long enough it’d happen. After I get ill, my sister would end up there. A never-ending cycle of sickness and death.”
“One less family member you’d have to be concerned with. People are lucky if they get five or ten years.”
He was a bastard, Nadya decided. A cold-hearted, beautiful, fucking bastard she wanted to castrate. Use his balls for punching bags, then. Don’t stop now, not while you’re ahead. The darker part of her rationalized all the ways she could end his life. Nadya checked her voice and tried to appeal to what she hoped was a merciful side of Diamond. Instead of doing that, she said, “Do you get some kind perverse pleasure from making people feel uncomfortable? Or are you waiting for me to beg? Why are you so cruel?”
“Because, little girl, everything is not happy and fun. Shit’s real outside, The Ragers are real, death is real. Hope is a false prophet who will only fuck you in the ass without the courtesy of lubrication or a reach around. It will leave you high and dry every single time, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get off with just being broken or the sublime mercy of death. If you stay the current course, well, I can’t be responsible for the fallout. Which is why I’m a cruel, callous bastard. Don’t look to me as if I’m your savior because I’m not. If your ass comes and works for me, I’m going to use everything you got, to get everything I need, and give you the leftovers I don’t want. Got it?”
All too clearly. But it wasn’t going to stop her. Nikka and Anna had taken her in, shown her divine kindness. She would do the same for them. It was either come work for him, or work for Attia.
“Fine, I understand. Now, does that mean I have the job?”
“You still want to work here, girl?” He sounded surprised. Her nerves were frazzled, and trying to keep her anger in check was weighing her down.
“I told you my reasons, either you’re going to accept me or not.”
Diamond looked her up and down, and she knew what he saw. Weakness. That would be his mistake, not hers. She was far from weak. She was strong, resourceful, and once she told him what she had to offer, he wouldn’t refuse. A girl didn’t live in Inwood Hill Park, she survived it. Everyday. She was the first to admit, she was no beauty, but she had one thing to offer most women her age didn’t.
“I don’t think you’re cut out to work here. You can’t fight, what good are you?” Again, his mistake. “Working the Quarry takes gumption. You know what gumption is, girl. It takes brains as well as beauty. You need to be able to work the floor, use what you have to get what I want.”
Well if that were the case, she should be a shoe-in for the brains part because Iland and that other girl were far from smart.
“Yeah, I know what gumption is.” Asshole.
“All right, show me what you got, then. Disrobe.”
Nadya was startled by his request. It was the last thing she’d expected him to ask of her.
“You deaf or something? Take off your fucking clothes. I always see the merchandise before I put it up for sale.”
“So you’re saying I got the job, then?”
“No, I’m saying it’s a try before you buy type of deal.”
A Slow Burn .99 cents.
+18 IR Contemp
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A Slow Burn
He smiled, and I swear my heart beat a little faster at the sight of his dimples. Joey and Treat were talking quietly amongst themselves leaving Jackson and me alone.
“City life too fast for you? My sister told me you’d moved back from New York.”
“Nah, just home for a while, taking a break. Joey didn’t tell me you were the sheriff. The badge looks good on you.”
Hell anything would look good on him, present company included.
He didn’t respond to my comment, just tipped his head forward again. That was one thing I didn’t really care for about southern boys; they were always so damned polite. However, I’d learned a few things while living in New York, and one of my most valuable lessons, was to live in the moment. Snatch it up and run with it, because who knew when opportunity was going to throw you down on a bed, hell the ground at my feet, and give it to me raw and dirty like I knew Jackson could.
“How long are you going to be in Beauville?”
I wasn’t going to beat around the bush. I know when a man wants me.
“On what Annabelle,” my name was like gravel in his mouth. Like he was having a hard time talking to me, or maybe he was annoyed that I hadn’t given him a flat out answer. But damn his voice was darker, the drawl that all southern men came standard with became slower, affecting that place between my thighs I so badly wanted to introduce him to.
“On you sugar.”
I watched as Jackson’s pupils dilated and his nostrils flared. I could flirt with the best of them and not even bat an eyelash. I knew I wanted him. I wanted him something fierce and had for as long as I could remember.
“You taunting me Annabelle?”
He took a step forward making me look up into his heated gaze. This conversation had taken a different kind of turn. I expected Jackson to be shocked, maybe even a little hesitant. But our harmless flirtation had become something altogether different, something sexy. Dare I call it four play?
Normally I needed to be touched, coaxed into the horizontal mambo, but Jackson Storme could make me come in zero to ten, I was one hundred and fifty percent positive we were eye fucking right out in the open for all to see. The man threw off animal magnetism in large doses. Someone needed to bottle his scent, which had somehow over powered my senses, and sell it at top dollar, he was that intoxicating. It was a combination of virile man and hot summer mornings that slowly heated, until finally by mid-afternoon you were dying of thirst, because it was too hot.
“Jackson Storme,” I smiled sweetly using my own southern drawl and said, “I would never-ever think to do such a thing.” I batted my lashes and turned in the direction of Joey and Treat, thinking I could get away. The plan was to have him eating out of my hand by the end of the day. But he only let me make it five steps before grabbing my arm and turning me around to face him. The skin on skin contact had my breath hitching and my eyes widening in apprehension. Maybe I wasn’t ready for Sheriff Jackson Storme. His face was hard as he peered down at me and frown lines began to form around the corners of his mouth as he pulled me closer to whisper into my ear.
“Ms. Macon do have a care in how you tempt me. I’m not like those little boys in the city. You can’t and won’t control me honey.”
Like I wanted to, I didn’t want to control him, hell I was willing to give up the control if he’d turn down the machismo a notch or two.
“No one said anything about control, Sheriff Jackson,” At least I hadn’t said anything about it. My heart was tripping over itself as we stared each other down. His warm breath fanned my face and I knew I was crazy for blatantly licking my suddenly dry lips when we were so close together. I swear I could taste his skin as my tongue swiped my bottom lip. I was in trouble, but at the last moment self-preservation kicked in and I snatched my arm away walking over to Ms. Mildred’s table for her famous pecan pie. My throat was dry and for no good reason, I was scared. Really scared. Not in a way a woman is scared that a man is out to harm her, but in a way that made me realize, if I wasn’t careful, Jackson Storme was going to break my heart. I’d only been home a day and already I was losing my touch on reality. He didn’t want me as his forever kind of girl. He just wanted me because I was the next available piece on his radar.
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