A ‘BULLY ME’ Companion Novella
Bully Me #0.5
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This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. Lacey Heart holds exclusive rights to this work.
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Copyright © Lacey Heart 2019
Formatted by Bookaholic Formatting
BOOKS BY LACEY HEART
DAMAGED & DESTROYED
Reckless: Damaged & Destroyed #1
Ruthless: Damaged & Destroyed #2
ONE NIGHT ONLY: Bully Me #0.5
BULLY ME THIS: Bully Me #1
Licking my dry lips, I position myself in the booth furthest away from the bar. This way I get to keep my distance and still watch him from the shadows.
I sit back and take in his brooding expression and laugh. His intense black eyes framed by his long dark lashes, mixed with the heavy set of his brows always make him look so murderous. Damn, knowing Ryder the way I do, he probably is murderous. I can’t even remember the last time he cracked a smile.
I continue to stay hidden in the shadows and I silently relish in the beauty of his broad, muscular shoulders. I’m forced to bite down on my lower lip and clamp my thighs together as a dull ache begins to build in my core. I love to sit here and imagine what his skin would feel like as I dig my perfectly manicured nails into his flesh, making sure I leave my mark as he consumes himself in my body and all it can offer him. I’d bet it would be more than a smile too.
Ryder’s athletic. He’s built and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t look good on him. Not that I’d ever dream of admitting my wild, crazy thoughts out loud. Anyhow, Ryder doesn’t know I get off on playing secret assassin, hidden away watching his every move—stalking; my prey. If he does then I think it’s fair to say he has zero fucks to give, which is absolutely fine with me. I mean, it’s not like the guy doesn’t get heaps of attention and then some from the chicks who stop by Sinner’s.
But there’s also no love lost between us, and there never has been. Whenever the two of us are within close proximity of one another it’s toxic. You can cut the tension with a knife.
I guess it’s fair to say we’re just two people who love to hate each other. We both thrive on tearing each other in our own sick and twisted way. For me, it’s foreplay. But for Ryder it seems to stem much deeper.
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t often wondered what it would be like to give in and cross our invisible line of no return. Hate sex is the best sex, after all and there’s no doubt in my mind that hate sex with Ryder would be dynamite—totally out of this world.
For fucks sake, Jett. Pull yourself together. I scold myself while shaking my head in disbelief, while the wild images run frantically in my mind.
I know it’s pointless fantasizing because Ryder and I will never happen—period.
For one, I’m not that desperate but it sure passes the time. I don’t need a man, least of all an arrogant son of a bitch. Ryder Mellor is only interested in himself and his glorified cock. No, I can tell you pretty boy has enough ego for the both of us.
“Fuck. Can’t I catch a break around here?” I mutter and bite down on my bottom lip to stifle the groan which is ready to fall out of my mouth. Obviously, I’m not as inconspicuous as I initially thought. I must remember to try harder next time.
“Fuck off, Miley.” My mood is black, and it colors my voice. I couldn’t stop it even if I wanted to. She doesn’t listen to me though and when I can still feel her watching me, I tilt my face up to hers and I wish I hadn’t bothered. I don’t know what this chick is on but she’s always fucking smiling. Why is she so damn happy all the time? I don’t care what anyone says. No one can be that high on life, it just isn’t healthy.
“Jeez, aren’t you a delight tonight?” Miley whistles before shimmying her booty into the seat opposite me, and in doing so she blocks the view of Ryder from my peripheral.
“What do you want?” I ask as calmly as I can manage but my words still hang heavily in the air. I wish she’d hurry up and leave already.
“Nothing.” She pouts unapologetically. “I just thought I’d come and say hi.”
“Okay, hi,” I smile and wave, “bye.”
“Are you not lonely over here all by yourself?”
“Did you not stop and think, ‘oh, maybe she wants to be alone.’?”
“No one wants to be alone, Jett.” With a flick of her wavy brown hair, she looks at me like she knows it all. Like she’s lived every experience in the world and survived to share her wisdom. However, I know Miley and I happen to know this chick knows shit. She’s spent all of her life with a goddamn silver spoon in her mouth. “Plus, I couldn’t help noticing that you’ve been dropping in more than usual too. Guess you just can’t stay away, huh?”
“And that concerns you, how?” I demand and with each second that passes I can feel my patience wearing thinner. Why does she have to be so damn nosy? She acts like it’s her right to know everything. Maybe she should start concentrating on her own perfect life instead of trying to interfere with other peoples. Miley doesn’t answer me right away, so I tap my nails on the table and glare at her, hopefully making her unwelcome presence known.
I don’t hold back as my savage black eyes burn into vivid green ones. I expect her to back down and look away, but she doesn’t even flinch.
“Hey, I’m just checking you’re okay, that’s all.” Miley’s face remains soft and caring but my mood doesn’t change at all. I swear this chick needs to back the hell up out of my personal space before it’s too late. I’ve had enough bullshit for one day and the last thing I need is ‘little miss perfect’ adding to my list of never-ending problems.
“We’re not friends, Miley, so how about you quit with the act? We’re nothing more than two people busting our asses to keep ourselves above water, to get by in life.” Well, at least that used to be me, and now Miley has no choice but to work her ass off to keep up with the life she’s grown accustomed to, since mommy and daddy decided to cut her allowance to show her what the real world is like. “And, if I need a shrink then don’t worry your pretty little head because I’ve got it covered—that bitch is always on speed dial.”
“Fine.” She shrugs her designer clad shoulders. Stupid little rich bitch. “Suit yourself. “Miley smiles sweetly which only makes my need to slap her stronger, but I know it won’t work in my favor if I cause a scene.
I choose to ignore her because I can be the bigger person here and when she stands her small curvaceous frame stands out in the lights and she says, “well, if you need anything you know where I am.”
The only thing I need is for this hideous day to end. How the hell is smiley Miley gonna do that? Oh, wait a minute—she can’t.
“Actually,” I call after her and she turns around so fast she almost falls. Unfortunately for me she finds her balance just in time which is a real shame. Watching Miley fall flat on her ass would have eased my black mood for sure, if only for a little while. “You could grab me a drink. Make sure it’s a strong one.”
Miley doesn’t answer me. Instead she offers me a small nod and then turns toward the bar. Hopefully Bryson can drag his ass out of the office before she comes scurrying back. If not, then at least I’ll have something stiff to drink while I wait.
Miley makes her way toward my booth just as Bryson’s huge frame steps into my peripheral vision.
“Jett.” His voice is far from welcoming. It’s stern and my hard-faced persona vanishes and leaves a nervous little girl in its place. I start to think twice about my decision when he stands in front of me, feet wide, shoulders set and then he folds his big, strong arms over his chest as he takes me in.
Man, he’s pissed.
I know he hates being disturbed when he’s hard at work, but this has to be done. As much as I’d like it to, it can’t wait. I’m beyond desperate and Bryson is my last chance for survival.
“You wanted to see me?”
“I did.” The words fall from my lips and they hold a hell of a lot more conviction than I really feel, but I still can’t bring myself to look him square in the eye.
I slowly raise my eyes and he tilts his head toward the booth, and I sense Miley watching us with interest. “Thanks for the drink, Miley.” I say and she slides my neat whiskey across the table. “We’re done here.”
“Are you sure?” Her eyes flick between me and Bryson and I know she’s desperate to stick around and listen to what’s about to go down. The chick has no fucking shame.
“I just said so, didn’t I?” Of course I’m fucking sure. She drives me insane. She’s always trying to be such a people pleaser and I really want to slap that out of her.
“Go.” Bryson growls and his voice echoes around the booth and when Miley doesn’t move he turns to look at her and her smile slides from her face. It doesn’t take her long to change her mind and she scurries off with her tail firmly between her legs.
Damn, I never knew she could move so fast.
As soon as she’s out of earshot, Bryson lowers his bulky frame into the seat opposite me, the one Miley vacated only a few minutes before and he looks fierce.
For people who know Bryson, or know him as well as I do, they certainly like to keep their distance. No one likes to provoke the beast around these parts.
Bryson Carter looks like a scary son of a bitch, and he is too. Believe me when I tell you Bryson isn’t someone you want to mess with. Your life wouldn’t be worth living if you end up on the wrong side of him that’s for sure.
I know a lot of people around here love to gossip and I often hear them ask each other if the rumors are true. Now, I’d never admit it out loud because I’m not stupid and I have far too much respect for Bryson to just go and out him like that, but I can personally confirm that all the rumors are true.
Every single one of them. After all, there’s no smoke without fire.
Bryson wouldn’t think twice about putting a bullet in someone’s head—but then that’s a story for another time.
Fortunately for me, Bryson and I go way back. Back to a time where he held the joyous and challenging role of playing my stepdad, and even though things didn’t work out with my mom he still continues to look out for me to this very day. And that’s one of the main reasons I’m here. No matter what it is, Bryson has always held the power to make everything right again, and man do I need him to fix my life right now.
“What’s up, kiddo?” He asks me and his hard eyes soften a little around the edges—a look he only reserves for the special people in his life, but then his expression turns to concern. Bryson knows me better than I know myself and he also knows I wouldn’t show up and interrupt his business unless it was important.
“I hate to tell you, but I’m in the shit again.” I struggle to hold his gaze. I never give a damn what anyone thinks about me, but I know the disappointment as it swims in his eyes will be too much bear. I’m an emotional wreck already.
“Fuck, Jett.” He sighs and there’s a small trace of pain in his voice. “How the hell do you keep falling down the same black hole time and time again?”
“Trust me, pops, it’s not my choice.” That much is true. The last thing I want to do is come to him begging for him to fix my life once again. These days it feels like that’s all I do. Bryson has tried to keep my life on the straight and narrow over the years, but maybe there’s nothing he can do. Maybe it all boils down to genetics. I guess it makes sense because my inability to stay out of trouble is practically non-existent.
I really wouldn’t be here unless I had another option, and I don’t. I ran out of other options a long time ago. “Do you really think I enjoy asking you to bail my ass out all the time?”
“Hey, calm down. I don’t want to argue with you.” I feel bad. He looks stressed as he runs a heavily tattooed hand through his scruffy brown hair. “I’m just trying to understand what’s happening with you kid, that’s all.”
I decide to be honest with him. Or as honest as I can be without getting myself dragged into more bullshit. After all, this is Bryson we’re talking about. If I try to pacify him and tell him a load of bull, he’ll only find out eventually and he’ll want to know why I wasn’t up front with him to begin with. Don’t get me wrong; he’s a reasonable man, but he has his limits too. Plus, Bryson has always been super good to me. I owe him everything—even if he’ll never admit it.
Oh, well. I guess here goes nothing. I bite down on my lower lip again and run my finger over the rim of my glass before saying, “I know you’ll say no, but hear me out please. I know we’ve been here plenty of times before, but I really need you to give me a job, pops.”
The question hangs heavy in the air like a dead weight. It’s a question I’ve asked him a load of times and it’s always resulted in the same answer. “Over my fucking dead body, kid.”
Bry has always been quick to shoot me down but I’m hoping and praying this time will turn out different. It’s no secret that he’ll do almost anything for me—more than most would, but he’s always said the day he allows me to work at Sinner’s is the day his body is nothing but a cold, rotting carcass six-foot in the ground.
“Are you shittin’ me? You came all this way to try and pull some jokes?” He might be laughing now but he won’t be for long. Not when he realizes I’m being deadly serious. “Whatever happened to giving your old man a quick call? You didn’t need to drag me out here just to make conversation, kid.”
Nervous energy swirls through my body as he calms himself and then his eyes fix on mine. “Pops, I’m not joking around.” I lift up my glass and down the amber liquid, relishing the burn as a welcome distraction from his heated glare before slamming it back down on the table. “I wouldn’t ask but I’m desperate.”
“Jett, what the hell do you need with another job. Don’t you already have one?”
Now it’s my turn to laugh. “I think the word you’re looking for is did because I just lost that one. If I don’t have a job then I can’t make rent and if I don’t make rent, well…” I pause and gulp for added affect. “I’m sure you know where this is going?”
“If you’ve lost your job then you should have said.”
“Hello… I just did.” For a big ass man, he sure can act dumb at times.
“Problem solved. You can move in with me.” Bryson finally smiles a little. “It’ll be just like old times. Jett, you know I’d never stand by and watch you land on the streets.” Bryson’s hand shoots out and he holds my wrist gently, but it still forces my sad eyes to meet his worried ones. “I made a promise to your momma and I’m sure as hell gonna keep it.”
“I know.” Guilt floods through me and I feel so bad, but I also know I can use this to my advantage—no matter how selfish it may be. Plus, it’s not like I have any other choice. “Thanks, but I’m good. You know how much I love my place. It holds so many good memories for me, you know. There’s no way I’m prepared to lose it, and what’s better is you can help me keep it.”
I already know I’m going to hell for this, but I continue to smile sweetly at him hoping my words will hit the right spot, just like they used to do when I was younger. Only now his face doesn’t relent. He looks fierce as ever and every fiber in my body is telling me to get up and get the hell out of here. Fortunately for me, I’ve never been one to listen to my gut. I’ve always loved to dangle on the edge of caution; the adrenaline fueling my need to survive.
“You know you mean a hell of a lot me, kid. You know that right? But I can’t and won’t allow you to be involved at Sinner’s.” He shoots me down for the second time and my whole body deflates. My last lifeline has just been ripped out from underneath me and now I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
“Pops.” I beg.
“You’re not working here—period.”
“Don’t talk to me like I’m some stupid kid.” I hurl back at him and my voice is a hell of a lot louder than I expected. Out of the corner of my eye I catch Ryder looking over to see what’s happening, which only intensifies my anger. “You hired Willow, so why not me?” What does she have that I don’t? Except some fucked-up history with his nephew? I doubt childhood stories will play a huge part in Bryson’s decision making.
“Willow is different.” He snaps and I can tell he’s trying his damned hardest to keep his temper under control and believe me that’s no easy feat for Bryson. “I have my reasons kid, and those reasons don’t concern you.”
Reasons, my ass.
Willow and I aren’t different at all. Sure, she might be his niece’s best friend but I’m his family too. I’m his beloved stepdaughter, or so he likes to make out. If he really gave a damn about me and my welfare, then we wouldn’t be here now having this conversation. It would be as easy as me asking him for a job and he’d give me one with no questions asked or petty issues raised.
“Come on, pops. Please?” I beg. “It’s not like it will be forever. Plus, you’d be helping me out just like you promised mom.”
Boom. There it is. The motherfucking ace card. I told myself I wouldn’t use my mom as leverage, but he’s not really left me with much choice. Desperate times call for desperate measures and this right now is beyond desperate. If he really cared about my mom the way he says he did then this would be a good time to prove it. There’s no way he’d argue with me on this. “Just until I find my feet.”
I hold a shaky breath as he runs his hands down his tired and weary face, and after what feels like a lifetime, he finally looks at me. “Have I not taught you anything? Emotional blackmail is work of the devil, Jett.”
“What can I say? I guess I learned from the best.” I try to humor him and stroke his ego a little but he’s not playing. “Does that mean you’re saying yes?” I question and hope sparks to life in my body.
Please say yes. I need this job so fucking bad, but I can’t tell him how bad because then a whole other bunch of issues will swim to the surface.
“So, this is what’s gonna happen.” His hard eyes narrow and I know this is where I need to listen and mind my p’s and q’s. “You’ll work the bar, not the poles.” When I try to protest, he shoots me down some more with a wave of his hand. “No arguments. I’m trying to do you a favor here, kid so don’t make me regret it.”
“Okay.” I reply weakly and I try so hard to hide the disappointment in my voice. I was kind of hoping he’d give me free rein of the place. Everyone knows working the poles in the VIP section is where the big money is at, and I so desperately need a piece of that. I need money—so much money to get me out of this big black hole I’ve found myself in.
“Any guys try their luck you make sure to tell me about it and if I’m not around then Ryder’s your man.”
I nod in agreement, but I know that won’t be happening. Is he fucking crazy? Yes, he is, but I’m not. If I tell Bry about anyone trying their luck with me, even if it’s something as small as a friendly slap on the ass, they’ll be dead men walking. I’d be practically signing their death warrant and there’s no way in hell I’m prepared to carry that kind of guilt around with me.
“Things are about to change around here, kiddo. If I feel for a second that your safety will be compromised, then you’re out; no questions. Do you understand?”
“Yes, sir.” I smile and raise my hand up in a salute.
I can finally breathe and the relief courses through my body like wildfire.
Good old Bryson. No matter what, he’s always on hand to drag my sorry ass out of a deep hole. My mom sure picked one of the good guys, that’s for sure.
“Right, back to business.” Bry slaps his palms down on the table and I jump. “You can start tomorrow night. Now, get the fuck out of here before I change my mind.”
“Just don’t make me regret this. I’m giving you plenty of rope here, kid. Just don’t go hanging yourself.”
I lean over and drag him into a hug and his woody scent calms my worried soul. I inhale him deeper because he smells like home. The place my childhood memories were made—my one and only safe place. A place where no one could hurt me or try to bring me down.
“Tomorrow sounds perfect.” I pull back and look at him, my lips pouting, and he rolls his eyes because he knows this look only too well and he knows there’s another question brewing. “Can I ask one last thing?”
“You’re gonna ask me anyways, so shoot…”
“Any chance you could give me an advance on my paycheck?”
“I need a word. Now.”
Bryson bangs his hands down on the bar and tilts his head toward his office.
I don’t argue. I know better than to rile the beast. I’ve seen far too many people pull that shit before and there’s no way I’m going the same way they did. Instead, I throw the towel at Miley and follow his retreating form in silence.
“We’ve got a problem. A big fucking problem.”
These are words which rarely fall from Bryson’s mouth and when I step closer to him, I can see he’s stressed to the max. I saw him talking to Jett earlier and it’s no surprise he’s pissed. Every time she’s on the scene something seems to go wrong. She’s fucking trouble and she sure as hell knows it too.
If I’m being totally honest, I don’t know why he still gives her the time of day. It’s not like he’s still fucking her mom. Yet, she still follows him around like a lost fucking puppy. It’s ridiculous. Serious daddy issues if you ask me but seeing as no one has I’ll continue to keep my mouth shut.
“What’s going on?”
“Where to fucking start.” Bryson sighs a heavy sigh of defeat as he leans back in his big black leather chair. “I was kind of hoping this could wait a while, but Jett’s just threw the mother of all wrenches into the works.”
I knew it. I fucking knew Jett would have something to do with his sudden change in mood. That bitch of darkness always has some form of negative effect on him—he just can’t see it. Unfortunately for her, I can. “What’s she done now?”
“Who, Jett?” He looks up at me, a startled expression on his face. “She hasn’t done anything.” I don’t know why but he’s always covering for her sorry ass. If she didn’t have him to run to then her life would truly be screwed—no doubt about it. She’s a grown ass woman now, surely she can fight her own battles.
“Hey, don’t look so surprised.” He laughs when I raise my brows in disbelief. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t fool me. I’ve been here long enough to notice a pattern, and whether Bryson wants to believe it or not, Jett is always up to something. She lives for the drama. The higher the impact—the better.
“Aw, come on, man. Jett comes walking in and has a quick conversation with you and the next thing, you’re walking around with a face of thunder. Do you really expect me to believe she doesn’t play a part in that?”
“Ryder, quit bitching. I don’t know what your issue is with Jett and frankly right now I really don’t give a damn, but I can assure you she isn’t the problem here.” I watch as Bryson opens a drawer in his desk, and he pulls out a bottle of jack along with two glasses. “Sit.” It’s not a question and I do as I’m told. If you work for Bryson Carter, when he tells you to jump, you don’t hesitate to ask how fucking high. “The poor kid’s having a hard time right now. She just needs some guidance and someone to talk to and let me tell you—I will always be that guy. Let’s face it, I’m all she has left and if I don’t look out for her, tell me, who will?”
I roll my neck from side to side as I try to understand what he’s saying but no matter how hard I try, I just don’t get it.
“Jett’s not your problem anymore. She hasn’t been for a long ass time, yet you still bend over backwards for her.” I’ve started so I may as well finish as this will probably be the last chance I get. Bryson slides my glass over and watches me with curious eyes and I down my drink in one gulp before continuing with my speech. “Hey man, I swear I’m not trying to be a jerk but I’m telling you now, if you’re not careful she’ll put you in an early grave.” Just like her mom. I’m wise enough to finish the end of my sentence in my head, but it still doesn’t make it any less true.
Bry watches me for a couple of seconds and then he drops his head into his hands. When he finally lifts his head again, he looks weary, but then the look vanishes as though it was never there. Now in its place is his usual poker-face—hard, ruthless and sharp.
“Let me worry about Jett. Like I said, right now we’ve got much bigger problems to deal with.”
I look around my empty apartment and my unshed tears of frustration begin to fall heavily down my face.
I let them fall.
Damn, I couldn’t stop them even if I tried.
This is it.
This is all I’m left with. A bare floor and a brown box full of worthless crap.
I know I could have prevented this from happening. I could have pulled up my big girl panties and spoken to Bryson sooner, but I really thought I’d be able to fix my problems without his intervention.
Damn, how wrong was I? I wasn’t ready to openly admit how bad it was. How bad it still is.
Would he have helped me if I’d have gone to him sooner? Damn straight he would. There’s no doubt in my mind he wouldn’t have thought twice about it. Come hell or high water, Bryson will bail my ass out time and time again because he promised my mom he’d always look out for me. But that doesn’t make me feel any better about these fucked-up situations I keep landing myself in.
Bryson would have been able to make things right with the click of his fingers, or the pull of a trigger. There’s no denying he can fix many things, but he’d never be able to fix my pride.
I’m so fucking stupid. I should never have let it get this far. But then, I’ve always been a glutton for punishment. It’s probably my biggest downfall.
I’d like to think maybe one day I’ll learn from my mistakes, but I know I’d only be fooling myself. That kind of crazy isn’t ever going to happen.
Disaster follows me around like a goddamn hurricane. Destroying everyone and everything in its path. Willow calls me Storm Jett and I’m slowly beginning to see why. That chick doesn’t miss a thing.
I wipe my tears, refusing to let this little mishap break me. I need to get a grip and pull myself together. Step one is complete. I finally have a job which will bring me a steady income. It might not be the high paying one I so desperately needed, but it’s a step in the right direction for sure.
I should have known Bryson would never allow me to dance on his watch. But at least he’ll let me work the bar and I’ll finally get some much-needed cash in my hands. And who knows, maybe when Bryson’s out of town I’ll be able to show those chicks how to work a pole properly.
I’m feeling a hell of a lot more positive than I did twelve hours ago, and maybe now I’ll slowly be able to pick up the pieces and get my disastrous life back on track.
I guess the only real downside right now is I’ll be forced to work alongside Ryder and that thought fills me with a mixture of emotions. Me and Ryder working side by side is a disaster just waiting to happen. Oh, man. I’m so glad I’m not around when Bryson drops that bombshell on him. Ryder will have the mother of all bitch fits, that’s for sure, because when something happens that he doesn’t like, or when things don’t go his own way that’s exactly what he does. He throws a tantrum like the pussy he really is. I swear he grew the wrong genitalia. Ryder should have been a chick because he sure bitches like one.
But tough shit.
His problems aren’t my problems and that’s the way it’s going to stay. I’ve got my own demons to tackle. Hopefully he’ll find a way to man up and deal with it.
He’s always been weird with me, and I still don’t know what his problem is. He’s not afraid to make it known he doesn’t like me. Even when we were younger, he’d always take the time to single me out and make me feel like I wasn’t worth the same air he breathed, but I never let him affect me. The feeling has always been mutual.
Now I can be as civil as the next person, or so I like to think but if he decides to go out of his way to try to make my life miserable then he better be prepared to face my wrath. I’m older now—much older than I was when he used to pick me apart piece by piece.
He needs to be prepared. He needs to realize that times have changed and I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I used to be. There’s no way I’ll stand there and take it.
I don’t give a damn who he is, or who he thinks he is. I’m done with guys thinking they can use me as a target and tear me down like they have some kind of hold over me just because I have a vagina.
Ryder has no idea what I’ve been through—what I’m still going through, and as far as I’m concerned, he doesn’t need to know either.
So long as he leaves me alone and stays out of my way I’ll happily sit back and watch him from the shadows. A safe distance while my sick and twisted fantasies of him run wild in my head.
Friday soon rolls around and a mixture of excitement laced with anxiety courses through my body.
I don’t know why I’m worried. It’s not like I haven’t worked a bar before. Damn, I’ve done it plenty of times before and I don’t doubt I could I could run Sinner’s with my eyes closed and then some.
No, I’m worried about the man who’s going to be behind there with me. Me, Ryder and close proximity don’t mix. But, what’s a girl to do?
The only reason why I dug my heels in and went to see Bryson yesterday is because I was desperate. That’s the bottom line. I had no other option. He was my final chance at survival.
I need cash, and fast. So, no matter how hard it might be, I’ll keep my head held high and get on with it. I’m hoping that Ryder will be grown enough to do the same.
I stare at my reflection in the mirror and smile. I may have nothing left in my apartment, but I still look hot as fuck. All evidence of my black eye is concealed with flawless make-up. No one would ever guess what’s hiding underneath my mask of beauty, and I need it to stay that way because if Bryson sees or hears about this then he’ll be on the warpath and someone won’t be getting out of his grasp alive.
I shrug off my thoughts. I won’t allow them to ruin this. I made the decision to walk away and I refuse to allow them to control or ruin my life anymore. I wasted far too much time already.
They may be able to come into my home and take all my worldly possessions. They can threaten me at every turn, but I’ll be damned if I’ll ever let them break me.
No matter how hard they try, they’ll never take away my wildfire spirit. Yes, it may be a little wilted and damaged right now, but with time I know it will heal. Until then, on the exterior I’ll still be the fierce, defiant bitch who everyone loves to hate. That is something that will never change. I know I’ll come back stronger than ever. I’ll be the phoenix who rises from the ashes.
I rest my hands on the marble counter and breathe in deep, shallow bursts of air hoping to ease the deadly thud of my hammering heart as it tries to break free from within my chest.
Sinner’s is bursting at the seams, packed with sweaty, gyrating bodies moving to the beat of the music as I walk through the doors. I nod toward Jarod, Bry’s head of security and I know Bryson would have given him some stern orders about me. Don’t get me wrong. Bryson is all kinds of awesome, but he can be a little overbearing at times. I don’t think he got the memo that I’m now a grown-ass adult. He still acts like I’m a kid, but then I practically begged for this job so I’m just going to have to bite my tongue and get on with it.
A couple of guys push their luck and grab a feel of my ass as I head toward the bar. I don’t rise to their antics and ignore them, just like I always do. And for good reason. Not a single one of these guys can afford me—period.
I’m not vain, far from it. My self-confidence has been crushed, but it’s nothing but the truth.
I look around me, seeking Bryson out while hoping he’s already occupied in his office. If he catches these jerks around me, he’ll have their legs snapped in a nano-second. He wouldn’t bother to stop and ask questions first—he’s too hot headed for that. Bryson would rather get the deed done. Teach the motherfuckers a lesson so they don’t take their chances again.
Even though Bryson doesn’t have any blood ties to me, he still takes his role of stepdad seriously. He always takes care of me. No matter what’s gone down in the past, he’s always cared for me like I was his own flesh and blood.
I’m pretty sure he’d forget all that sentimental bullshit and disown me if he really knew what was happening and I can’t allow that to happen. Not now—not ever.
Bryson’s the only family I have and I’m not about to throw that away for anything. So long as I focus and keep my head above water while I’m here I should be fine, and Bry will never know my hidden dirty secrets.
I hear Willow call over to me as I finally push through the crowd and reach the bar, and after a quick glance around I’m pleased to see Ryder is nowhere is sight. Hopefully he isn’t scheduled to work tonight. I also know I’m not that lucky. The universe owes me zero favors, and one way or another it always finds a way to show me who’s boss and fuck everything up for me.
“Bry said you were joining the ranks. I’m a little surprised but welcome to the mad house.”
“It’s only for a little while.” I tell her truthfully. Just until I’m in a position to get my life together and then I’ll find somewhere else to earn my money.
I feel somewhat lighter now I know Bryson has told them. That should save for any awkward conversations and it’s one less thing for me to do.
A cold chill runs down my spine when I stop to think how Ryder would have reacted. Maybe that’s why he isn’t here? Would he really just up and leave because I’m here?
The short answer to that stupid question is yes. Yes, he would.
“Do you need me to show you around? Willow asks while she restocks the refrigerator. Now, I’ve always liked Willow but she’s another one who’s always too nice for her own good. She’s not annoyingly nice or too much in your face like smiley Miley. Willow seems genuine enough. I guess she likes to take on the momma role of the troops, always checking in and making sure everyone’s okay. Nothing major, but she likes to put way too many people first.
I’ve never been super close to Willow but from what I’ve witnessed over the years, she’s definitely holding herself back. I know there’s a firecracker inside her somewhere, desperate to find it’s spark and burst out of her. She used to be unstoppable. One of those fierce girls all the other kids used to look up to, but since she darted dating Seb or whatever he’s called, she mellowed and started to keep herself to herself. Maybe one of these days her spark will re-ignite, and she’ll show us all what she’s capable of.
I remember Willow from back in high school. Then again, I think everyone remembers Willow from high school. She wasn’t the type of girl you could miss. All flawless skin, shiny auburn hair and wild green eyes. Everyone knew who Willow was, and every guy in town knew to stay the hell away from her. I remember her and Hadley Carter being totally inseparable, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t fill my dark soul with jealousy.
I was totally envious of their friendship.
The two of them were unstoppable. They were like a goddamn powerhouse and I so wanted a piece of that, but as with everything in my life, it never came. We spoke and hung out from time to time but nothing more than that developed. I was always the lone wolf, desperate to be loved by anyone who would have me. And people wonder why I turned into the savage, unpredictable bitch I am today.
You know, if it wasn’t for Bryson I sure as hell would have headed down the merry trail to drugs. There’s no doubt about it. I was always open to finding a new escape, but the idea of putting some unknown substance in my body was a hard no for me, and always kept me at bay. I’ve seen how people can ruin their lives with drugs. Just one single hit can end them and knowing my luck I would have ended up with a dodgy concoction and landed myself in the ground.
I may hate my life at times, but that didn’t mean I didn’t want to live it. After all, hard times pass—destruction haunts people forever.
I pull myself out of my morbid thoughts and focus my attention back on Willow, her eyes sparkling with curiosity and I realize I didn’t answer her question.
“Oh, no. I’m good.” I smile sweetly. “I’ve got this. But if I’m gonna do this right, I’ll need a drink first. Ease myself in gently, you know?”
I step behind the bar and reach for a nice, chilled beer straight from the refrigerator. Technically my shift doesn’t start for another twenty minutes so Bryson can’t say shit to me. Plus, it’s not like I won’t pay for it.
“Okay, well if you need me, just shout.”
I nod my head at Willow before skipping out from behind the bar and make my way toward my favorite secluded booth. I always manage to sneak in and hide away here for a short while.
I enjoy people watching. It’s amazing what people will do under the influence and I bet half of these guys have a wife and family back home. No doubt telling them they’re super busy working late when in reality their spending their hard-earned cash in a swanky strip joint. I see them sneaking to the back after a few drinks. The second the curtains are unveiled they all disappear.
I love sitting back here in my own little bubble as it’s a welcome distraction from my own shit storm.
I manage all of five minutes of my own glorious company when a dark shadow crosses my vision and when I focus my eyes, a cocky smile dances on my blood red lips.
I knew it would only be a matter of time.
“Ryder…” I say on a drawl before licking the rim of my bottle, and then I tip it back and take a long, deliberate pull.
“What the fuck are you doing here?” I demand.
Rage bubbles deep within my chest as her black demon eyes burn into mine. I don’t know why I let her get to me, but she riles me like nothing ever has before. I’ve tried to ignore her, to act like she doesn’t exist, but I just can’t do it.
“It’s always such a pleasure to see you too.” She smirks back at me, totally unfazed by my anger and her eyes dance with excitement. My eyes fall and land on her chest and I can see she’s breathing a little faster than usual.
Obviously, I’m not the only one affected here, but none of that matters right now.
“Quit with your games, Jett.” I snap, unable to hold back. “Why don’t you go and find somewhere else to waste your time?” Her face falters and her playful smirk vanishes. Now she looks serious, her black eyes narrow and her nostrils flare, warning me to back off. My only problem is, I’ve always loved playing with fire.
“Tell me, pretty boy. Why the hell would I want to go and do something like that?”
I’m growing tired of her bullshit already and she’s only been her five goddamn minutes. I slam my hand down on the table. I just can’t stop myself. She purses her lips and her eyes never leave mine as I lean forward and look her square in the eye. “Because you’re not welcome here. I mean, who are you apart from a sad little cling on? Bryson isn’t your daddy, Jett, so quit acting like he is. He’s just someone who used to fuck your mom, and even she ran out of uses.”
“Watch your fucking mouth.” Jett hurls back at me and I know I’ve hit her sweet spot. Well, the truth fucking hurts baby, and it’s time someone started telling her exactly how it is instead of Bry pussy-footing around her all the damn time.
“Oh, yeah?” I retaliate, and I know I should drop it. The only problem is now I’ve started I can’t back down. “And what are you gonna do if I don’t?”
“Look, Ryder,” she sighs heavily. “I’m gonna give you a rare act of kindness here and it’s not because I like you. It’s because I can’t help but feel sorry for you. Everyone knows the only thing you’re good at is thinking with your cock. So, how about you stick to your talents. You do your thing and I’ll do mine? Oh, and maybe keep your head out of grown-ass conversations too. I’m sure that’s what Bry pays you to do, no?”
My own nostrils flare and I can feel my jaw tighten. How dare this bitch talk to me like that. Who the fuck does she think she is?
She’s a fucking nobody, that’s who.
I ball my fists and I’m really struggling to keep a handle on my anger. “Don’t sit there and act like you know shit about grown-ass conversations.” I laugh now. “Damn, you can’t even get on with your own sorry excuse of a life without Bryson having to bail your ass out every five minutes.” Jett watches me with zero emotion. Her eyes are like two empty black holes. This chick is so fucked-up it’s crazy. “How about you do yourself a favor? Pack up all your shit and get the hell out of here. Go somewhere new, where no one knows you and start again. Your mom’s not here anymore, Jett, and there’s nothing left for you now. I thought you would have realized that by now?”
Jett’s silent for some time while she nurses her beer. Maybe, just maybe I’ve finally got inside that thick skull of hers and made her see some sense. Here’s to fucking hoping.
“All right…” Jett finally turns her attention back to me and lifts both of her hands in surrender and then she laughs. An evil, high pitched cackle which would put the best witches to shame. I hate to admit it, but she looks totally different when she isn’t on the defensive. She looks fuckable when she smiles. Her dimples weakening my own defensives and I feel my cock stir to life in agreement.
Whoa. What the fuck. Hold up—I need to get that crazy ass thought out of my head as fast as it arrived. Jett and I, we ain’t ever gonna happen—period.
I’ll be the first to admit I fuck a lot of chicks. Variety is the spice of life, and I love chicks in all shapes and sizes. I’m not one to be fussy, but Jett? She’s definitely my no-go zone.
“Ryder, you know I’d love nothing more than to give you what you want. Really, I would, but I couldn’t leave even if I wanted to. My hands are tied.”
There she goes again with her childish little mind games. “Who are you trying to Kid, Jett? Your hands aren’t tied to shit unless there’s cock involved and everyone sure as hell knows it too.”
“You think so, huh?” her black eyes narrow once more in warning, fierce like the ocean sky during a storm, letting me know I need to back the hell up before it’s too late. I know I’m pushing her too far, but I don’t give a damn. Her feelings don’t concern me. With a bit of luck, I’ll keep pushing until I don’t have to look at her ever again. Jett gets under my skin like no one else and she drives me insane. I’d much rather her disappear and I won’t need to worry about her coming and going, causing trouble all the damn time.
“And we finally reach the root of the problem. Is that what this is all about, pretty boy?”
“Are you jealous it’s not your cock in my hand? Is that why you’re so angry all the time?”
“You fucking wish.” I scoff back at her. It’s not true. I know it’s not, but I hate the way her words penetrate me like they mean something. And now all I can visualize is my cock in her motherfucking hands. Once again, my cocks stirs to life in my pants and my anger intensifies. This is why she needs to go. She’s no good for my health and one of these days I’ll end up doing something I’ll regret. “Just do everyone a favor and fuck off.”
“Oh, would you look at the time…”
Jett whistles and tilts her head to the old vintage clock above the doors before lifting her beer to her lips. Lips that would look so good wrapped around my cock as I ram it to the back of her throat. She takes her sweet ass time finishing her drink and the she turns back to me. “It’s been fun, but I guess I’ll have to love you and leave you.”
“Finally…” I push my arms up and stand, eager to ger her out of my hair and that this stupid and pointless conversation is over, and I almost fall back down in my seat when she speaks again.
“Looks like my shift is about to start.”
The look on Ryder’s face was fucking priceless.
Anyone would have thought I’d just delivered the mother of all blows to his balls. Oh, how I wish that were true. I don’t know why he has to be such a douche, but he really needs to get a move on and grow the fuck up.
“What was that about?”
Willow comes up behind me, all kindness and light as I step behind the bar. I turn to face her as soon as I’ve plastered on my best fake smile—one I perfected a long time ago.
“Nothing I can’t handle.” I assure her and I’m surprised when my voice remains light and calm because I feel anything but light and calm. I knew Ryder would go out of his way to tear me down because that’s what Ryder does. It’s perfectly clear to see he doesn’t like me much, but I really thought he’d grow tired of pulling me apart by now. “Just Ryder being Ryder, I guess.”
“Ignore him. It’s what I used to do and look at us now. We’ve come a long way since our hate days.”
Ryder and Willow hated each other too when they were kids. It’s no secret and I’m sure they laugh about it now, but it still doesn’t make it any easier for me. It seems Ryder hasn’t grown out of his hatred for me. I guess Willow was different as Ryder saw her as a threat. Ryder was Colby’s homeboy and he hated the thought of Willow coming between them. Both Willow and Colby were super close before Ryder came on the scene, and since then Colby and Willow grew apart, much to Ryder’s delight. But as soon as Colby was out of the picture, Willow didn’t seem to be a problem anymore. Convenient much?
“I’m not worried about it. I’m a big girl.” I can look after myself, and I’ve dealt with far worse than pretty boy. “He’s just got his panties in a twist because Bryson’s given me a job.” Not that it has anything to with him anyways.
“Don’t worry about it. Ryder isn’t a fan of change but I’m sure he’ll get over it soon.” Willow tells me as she presses a soft hand to my shoulder to reassure me, but she doesn’t sound too convinced. I’m not all too convinced either. Something tells me Ryder won’t be happy as long as I’m around, but again that isn’t my problem. It’s his and he’s going to have to grow a set of balls and deal with it.
“I guess we’ll see about that.”
“Look, I know he can be a jerk, but do you really think he’ll waste his time making your life hell, especially on Bryson’s watch?”
Of course he will. He might be crazy, but he isn’t stupid. Ryder will be smart enough to hound me when Bryson isn’t around, and Ryder also knows I’m not the type of chick to go running off telling tales. Least of all running back to daddy.
I don’t need any man to fight my battles. Never have and I most certainly never will.
The evening goes fast thanks to the endless number of thirsty customers.
I’m pleased to say Ryder has stayed out of my way too. Now, don’t get me wrong, there have been times when I’ve felt the heat of his eyes burning into my back, but I refused to rise to it. Instead, I’ve held my head high blew him a cheeky kiss here and there. I know I shouldn’t, but I couldn’t help it because I knew the more I did the more it affected him. He’s a moody son of a bitch and the look on his face was priceless.
The sadistic side of me is starting to think working alongside him could be fun. Maybe not for him, but I could sure use the entertainment and knowing how badly I affect him, I know that’s what I’ll be getting.
If I didn’t know him, I’d say he really needs to get laid, but I do know him, and I know he definitely doesn’t need to get laid. Ryder is never shy of offers and he isn’t the type to refuse those offers either.
“Have you seen Bry?”
I jump from the sound of his deep, rustic voice and the hairs on the back of my neck stand tall. I didn’t even hear him come into the office, and I hate the way my body easily responds to him. I don’t want to, but eventually I turn to face him, the magnetic pull, the danger pulling me toward him and my breathing catches when I take in the dangerously beautiful sight before me.
Ryder’s dark eyes search mine and root me to the spot as he waits for my reply, yet all I do is stand looking at him with my mouth hanging open.
“Well?” he barks, quickly showing his irritation.
He may look like a damaged God, but he’s still an ass. I try to clear my throat and I just about manage a small “no.” and I feel like kicking myself. I thought I was stronger than this.
“If you see him, tell him I need to see him as it seems we have a little situation.”
Ryder’s tone is sharp, and it snaps me out of my comatose state. I know the situation he’s referring to is me, and any magnetic hold he had over me instantly vanishes. I don’t answer him right away, instead I just narrow my eyes at him as I try to figure him out, and he continues to look me up and down like I’m a piece of trash.
“Why don’t you wait until you see him yourself. I’m sure he’ll love to hear all about your little situation.” I’m surprised my voice holds strong. “But don’t for a second think you can come back here and start demanding, Ryder, because let me enlighten you—I’m not here to be your bitch.”
At that he laughs, a fully hearty chuckle and I have to admit it’s a beautiful sight to see—one people don’t get to witness all too often.
This doesn’t feel right. Ryder acting this way feels all kinds of good, yet all kinds of wrong and I need to get out of this office. I need to get away from him while I still can. This room is too small for the both of us and a wild, savage sexual energy sizzles between us. I know Ryder feels it too because when my eyes lock on his they darken and hood over with each step he takes toward me. He stops and towers over me, and he’s so close I can feel the heat of his muscular body before he aligns himself against me and I know I shouldn’t, but I secretly relish in the feeling of his body pressed against me. I try to back up, but I stumble into Bryson’s desk and Ryder knows he has me cornered and my eyes grow wide when a fierce, predatorial glare appears on Ryders face. One which says, ‘I want to own every inch of your body and there’s not a damn thing you can do about it.’
I’m stupid enough to notice how his body molds perfectly into mine, and from his erratic breathing and the heat in his eyes, I know he’s thinking exactly the same thing as me.
“I’m not happy about you being here, Jett.” He growls as he brings his face down closer to mine, and I struggle to breathe.
“Oh, no?” I say a little too breathlessly and then I smirk as my bravado returns full speed and I thrust my hips into him. “It sure feels like you’re a little too happy from where I’m standing.”
I bite down on my lips as my body turns all fuzzy and his mouth falls open allowing a small growl to emanate from his throat. “That’s right, pretty boy. I can feel the hardness of your cock pressing into me.” I thrust some more because I can, and I don’t care if I’m taking this dangerous game too far. Ryder is an ass, but if Bryson was to walk in on us like this it would be game over for the both of us. But another part of me, the more reckless side is loving every second. Truthfully, I’m getting off on Ryder’s hard, manly body pressed against mine and for the first time in my life I’m angry at the clothes coming between us.
“What the fuck am I doing?”
I’m in Bryson’s fucking office with Jett backed up against his desk, and whether she wants to admit it or not, she’s at my fucking mercy.
Sure, she might act all feisty and like she calls the shots, but I can see her vulnerability reflecting back in my eyes as she looks at me with frantic eyes.
She’s in too deep. She’s tried to play the game and she’s lost. I don’t think she ever expected me to play her at her own game, but guess what? I’ve been here many times before. I know how this goes, only I never wanted to be in this situation with Jett. Bryson would have my fucking balls delivered to my mom, zero fucks given, but right now, in the heat of the moment that’s something I’m willing to risk.
I look down at her with interest and when her red lips open, I know if I wanted to, I could lean down some more and claim them. I know right now I could take Jett anyway I wanted, and she’d have no choice but to succumb to me. These chicks are all the same.
“Don’t act like you don’t want this,” she’s practically dry-fucking my leg. Jett wants me all right, and maybe this is one way to get rid of her. I could fuck her out of my system. One night, and then the two of us could start over.
Before I really have a chance to think about it, Jett presses against me again and all common sense leaves me. Every last piece as I lean forward and press my lips to hers.
I know I shouldn’t be doing this, but I can’t stop. I’m drawn to her, even though I don’t want to be, and the consequences of this stupid move isn’t worth thinking about.
Surprisingly Jett doesn’t pull away or slap me. Instead, her mouth connects with mine. Her lips are soft and cautious at first, but as the heat begins to take over her kisses grow deeper, like she’s desperate for more. Her hands slide into my hair as she pulls me in closer to her and the touch of her is electric.
“We shouldn’t be doing this.” She whispers around my mouth, yet she makes no attempt to pull away from me.
“We shouldn’t. But we are.” My voice is firm, and I smile as her lips curve around mine. In one quick movement I cup my hands behind her legs and lift her, before placing her ass down on Bryson’s desk. Man, this is all kinds of wrong, but that only makes my dick harder.
“You like to live dangerously?”
“It’s been known.” I tell her truthfully, but now isn’t the time to be getting into it. I look down at Jett, her eyes wide and hopeful, and she lifts both legs up and spreads them wide. “No panties?”
“Less is more…”
I think that’s the one and only thing Jett and I will ever agree on, but I’m sure as hell not ruining the moment and telling her. Instead, I pop the button on my pants and my cock springs free, thick, hard and ready for action.
“I’ll give you one night only, then after this we start over. You do you, and I’ll do me? Deal?” I ask her while positioning my cock at her wet entrance. She doesn’t answer me, which is fine. I know we both understand each other, and when she finally nods in agreement, I slam my cock into her pussy and she cries out with pleasure, her wall tightening around my solid shaft and I almost explode from how tight she is.
Tonight is going to be fun. I’ll worry about the consequences tomorrow.
I hope you enjoyed the start of Ryder and Jett’s story. You can read more about them as they are regular secondary characters in my BULLY ME series.
Look out for BULLY ME THIS—coming October 31st.
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2YEAl2h
Amazon UK: https://amzon.to/2YpcmbS
Hate is a strong word, but it doesn’t even come close to how I feel about him.
Colby Carter was a monster.
Savage, brutal and evil to the core.
He wasn’t always that way. There was a brief time when he was polite, caring and kind.
But something dark and twisted crept in and took over, and he claimed me as his victim.
When he skipped town I could finally breathe again. I tried to make something of my life, to find happiness, but Colby obviously didn’t want me getting too comfortable.
Five years have passed and now he’s back in town, a little too close to home, and I have no doubts in my mind that my personal hell is about to unfold once again.
Only this time I don’t know if I’m strong enough to survive it.
DAMAGED & DESTROYED
HOLD ON TO YOUR PANTIES BECAUSE THERE’S A NEW BAD BOY IN TOWN.
GET READY TO MEET RIXON SMITH IN RECKLESS: DAMAGED & DESTROYED.
Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2DZzAd8
Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2HZNCPX
about THE AUTHOR
Lacey Heart is a book lover at heart.
Both reading and writing are her passion. Latte's are her source of life.
Offer her either of the above and you'll be friends for life.
Lacey was born and raised in Manchester, UK and she still resides there today with her family.
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