(Bones MC, #9)
Publication date: September 14th 2020
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance
Suzie — College isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Rather, the other grad students aren’t. I’m the youngest grad student at MIT and to say other students resent me for it is an understatement. To top it all off, I miss my Stunner. He’s been with me after the darkest moments of my life, helping me pull myself back together. He’s seen me at my worst, now I want him to see me at my best. Now, if he’d just return my calls, I might be able to get myself around the mean girls (and boys) at school.
Stunner– To say I’ve got ghosts in my past and skeletons in my closet is the understatement of the century. Suzie deserves a man more suited to her station than me, and she definitely deserves a man who’s not a stone cold killer. I have my uses. Protecting her body, heart, and soul is one of those. I just never expected to fall for the woman after the girl grew up.
Now, not only has she run into a foul and vindictive f*cktard, my past has caught up to me in a huge way. My past associations rise up and there may be no way to keep from being swept back up into the madness. All I truly know is that I won’t let any of it touch Suzie. Even if it means giving her up. Forever.
WARNING: Explicit violence which could be triggers for some readers. Explicit sex that might offend some readers. As always, you can expect a HEA with no cheating.
Romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of. Now, she breathes life into faeries, space hunters, werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters, and a few just plane ole ordinary people. She loves to see the awkward, self-conscious band geek get the captain of the football team and make him beg for it.
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“Don’t touch me,” she hissed.
He sighed, but didn’t reach for her hand again. The second the doors opened, she shot out and hurried down the hall to her room. She unlocked the door and entered. It was small but neat. The only thing out of place was the quilt on the couch which lay in a heap at one end where she’d left it after her nap. The one where she’d cried herself to sleep because Stunner refused to talk to her.
“What are you doing here?” She approached him, reaching out to pick up the crisp lapel of his suit jacket. “And what the hell is this? Since when do you dress like this? Where’s your colors?”
“I was trying to fit in on campus with you,” he said. His voice was no longer smooth. He was back fully to the Stunner she knew. Well, except for the get-up. “Didn’t want to embarrass you.”
That melted her heart just a little. But she wasn’t ready to let him off the hook. “Three days, Stunner. Three days since I last heard from you. Now you just waltz in here, pretending to be my boyfriend and… what? What was supposed to happen next?”
“No! You think?” Even the sarcasm wasn’t enough to keep the shaking at bay. Whether it was from anger over Stunner cutting her off, or fear because of the confrontation with Jake, or just pure relief to have him back, she had no idea. But she was doing her level best to hold on to her anger because she had a feeling she was going to need it.
“I can explain, if you’ll let me.” Coming from Stunner, that was huge. Explaining meant he’d have to use more than a couple of words at a time, possibly big words, and he was fond of neither. Not because he wasn’t smart — the man had a wickedly keen mind — but because he had an aversion to talking for some reason. She always figured he’d tell her someday. Maybe this was it.
“Believe me, I’d love nothing more,” she said, crossing her arms over her chest. “But not in that ridiculous outfit. Put on some jeans and a T-shirt. Then I’ll see if I’m ready to listen to what you have to say.”
He sighed. “I thought… I’d hoped you’d be pleased with my clothes and appearance.”
“This isn’t you, Stunner. At least, not the Stunner I know. Some blonde bimbo in Florida change all that?” Could she be any snippier? “Did the women of Salvation’s Bane prove to be more than you had at home? More sophisticated and sexy? Did they take care of those manly needs all men seem to have?” She knew this was more than she had a right to throw at him. Given her past, it was downright cruel, but she couldn’t stop the words and hurt and anger. She’d kept everything bottled up so tightly, only letting a little of it out when she realized he wasn’t going to call her back, there was simply no stopping the emotional explosion now.
“No, Suzie,” he said, scrubbing a hand over his face like he was tired beyond description. “I’m sorry.”
She sighed, a little deflated once the initial explosion was out. “No reason to be sorry. I’m in a bad mood and taking it out on you.” She took the two steps separating them and wrapped her arms around his middle. “I’ve missed you so much.” His arms came around her, holding her as tightly as she held him. “Don’t mean I ain’t kickin’ your ass later though.” She sniffed, aware she was crying and probably ruining his expensive suit.
He pulled away, sliding his hands up her arms and over her shoulders to cradle her face in his hands. He held her gaze for long moments, as if he was searching for something. Suzie simply stared back at him, knowing he’d get what he needed eventually. No amount of rushing him would help. In truth, she didn’t want to rush him. The closer he was to her, the more he touched her and held her, the better she felt. Like a weight being lifted from her entire body. Finally, he nodded once, brushed a kiss over her forehead, then headed for the door.
“Where’re you going?” Suzie’s heart hammered. All the tension that had drained from her while he’d been near. Now that crushing weight once again descended on her. He gave her a puzzled look, looking down at his clothes and picking at the crisp black button-up shirt. Hell, the man even had expensive-looking cufflinks. He’d gone all out, and she’d been less than impressed. Way to go, Suzie. “Oh.” A flush of embarrassment flooded her. “Guess I did demand you change clothes.” He raised an eyebrow. “I mean, if you didn’t get more you’d be running around here naked. And you couldn’t do that. Right?” Jesus! Did she sound like she wanted him naked in her apartment? “I didn’t mean you should be naked.” She twisted her fingers together, wringing her hands in her nerves. “I mean, unless you want to or something.”
He barked out a laugh then. Without his beard, his smile was devastating. “I think you like the idea of me naked in here with you. But I’ll only get naked if you will. Ain’t barin’ my soul unless you do.”
Suzie sat down on the couch abruptly, her knees giving out so they were unable to hold her trembling body. Stunner shrugged out of his jacket, those piercing blue eyes seeming to penetrate her very soul. He stalked toward her as if she were his prey. In a way, she guessed she was. He’d obviously come here for her, but to what end? Was he serious about this fiancé business? Because she wasn’t sure how she felt about it. Or, rather, how she should feel about it.
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