The Brink by Shayla Black
December 5, four a.m.
“Hammer. Wake up,” a familiar voice whispered in his ear. “There’s a problem.”
Macen “Hammer” Hammerman jackknifed up, the fog of sleep dissipating. Liam O’Neill stood above him, leaning over the bed.
Why the hell was his best friend waking him up in the middle of the night?
With a frown, Hammer rose on one elbow. “What?”
Liam’s stare fell on Raine Kendall in the rumpled bed they’d all shared last night. Hammer glanced at the woman they both loved. Images of her moaning, melting, and writhing between them flashed through Hammer’s brain like a sensual strobe. Thankfully, she was still asleep, her inky lashes fanning over her rosy cheeks.
But Liam’s face tightened, the man’s tense expression giving him pause. “Tell me.”
“She’s exhausted. Let’s not wake her.” He jerked his head at the open door. “Bathroom.”
Hammer scowled. Had something happened after he’d crashed? Had Liam and Raine fought? No, he wouldn’t have slept through that. Whether she was upset or in the throes of passion, she never held back.
What if Liam had reconsidered their arrangement and refused to share her anymore? That idea whacked Macen with fury. After years of denying himself her touch, he couldn’t wait to have her again. If his Irish pal thought she still belonged exclusively to him simply because she’d once worn his collar, he’d lost his fucking mind. Hammer had rescued the scared runaway from an alley and taken care of her for six years. That damn well counted for something.
Besides, Raine needed them both. She’d only begun to lower those towering walls around her heart in the past two days, when they’d finally started working together. Sharing her might be a new arrangement, but he and Liam had been down this path before, though not with her…and not with success. Still, Raine made them better men—and partners. Hammer knew Liam had sensed the same perfection when they’d held her. Would he really want to mess with that?
Before Hammer could say a word, Liam grabbed his trousers, donned them, and stomped to the bathroom.
Hammer brushed his lips over Raine’s forehead. “I won’t let anything or anyone come between us, precious. I promise.”
Feeling a twinge of pain in his jaw where Liam had punched him the night before, Hammer stood and worked it from side to side. Their fight had been inevitable. Jealousy and resentment had brewed for the past month, ever since Liam had taken an interest in Raine. Hopefully, the brawl had finally cleared the air between them.
Sighing, Hammer yanked his pants up and joined Liam, shutting the door behind them. In the light, Macen noticed his friend’s nose was slightly swollen, but neither of them looked too worse for wear.
“I’m listening. What’s the problem?”
Liam sighed. “Gwyneth just called me.”
What did Liam’s ex-wife want? The British beauty looked like every man’s wet dream, but under the pretty exterior, she was his worst nightmare. “You keep in touch with that bitch?”
“Hell no.” Liam reared back. “You know I changed my number after the divorce. I did it so she couldn’t call me.”
“How did she find you, then?”
“No bloody idea.” But he didn’t look thrilled.
“So…she called you. Why is that a problem?”
Liam hesitated. “She’s at Shadows.”
“What?” That declaration jolted away the vestiges of sleep. He raked a hand through his mussed hair. “I thought Gwyneth lived in London. Why did she drag her skanky ass across the pond and park it in my club?”
“She said she needs to see me.” He rolled his eyes.
If his ex-wife simply wanted to shoot the shit—or even ask for more money—she wouldn’t have flown over five thousand miles to do it. Foreboding gonged through Hammer’s gut.
“Any idea why?”
“She says it’s life or death.” Liam sent him a dry stare. “She bawled it, actually.”
If Gwyneth meant her death, it wouldn’t be a huge tragedy.
Hammer crossed his arms over his chest. “And that concerns you how?”
“She wouldn’t explain, just said she needs to see me right away.”
In other words, Gwyneth was staging more theatrics. Hammer scoffed. “Surely you’re not thinking of meeting her.”
“I’d rather not, but I doubt she’ll leave of her own accord, and I can’t think you want to leave her in your club.”
“Not for five minutes. I’ll call Pike and have him kick her out.”
Liam gritted his teeth. “Fine by me. She’s the last person Raine ever needs to meet.”
“Absolutely.” Gwyneth had a razor blade for a tongue. No way would he let the bitch slice Raine open.
Hammer reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone to call the Dungeon Monitor he’d left in charge. He hoped this would fix their problem, but he knew Gwyneth. She wouldn’t be there if she didn’t intend to stir the shit pot. No one had a bigger spoon.
Gwyneth despised him, so if she’d come to his club and was willing to deal with him to see Liam, she wanted something badly.
“If she’s after more money, she’s got a lot of nerve hitting you up. She cheated, and you still gave her a generous settlement.” Hammer glanced at his phone. Sixteen missed calls and three text messages. “Shit.”
Liam leaned over to read his screen. “Bloody hell. Here we go.”
Pike: Call me ASAP.
Pike: Liam’s wife is here. Help!
Pike: What a cunt! BFP.
“BFP?” Liam asked.
“Big fucking problem,” he explained. “Obviously, he hasn’t thrown her out because he thinks she’s still your wife. I’ll set him straight.”
Pike answered on the first ring. “Thank fuck it’s you, Hammer. What am I supposed to do with this…woman?”
“Show her the door. Gwyneth is Liam’s ex-wife. She’s got no business at my club.”
“I’ve tried to get her to leave, but she’s not budging.”
“Call the cops. She’s trespassing.”
The Dungeon Monitor hesitated. “If I do that, what happens to the baby?”
Hammer froze. “The what?”
He couldn’t possibly have heard that right.
“What is it?” Liam frowned.
He thrust a hand in his friend’s face and focused on Pike. “Say that again.”
“A baby. She’s got a fucking baby. I assumed it was Liam’s, so I put them in your office.”
Oh, holy shit.No. That was impossible…right?
Hammer eyed his friend, his brain whirling like a cyclone. Liam, a father? That would be news to everyone—especially to Liam.
“I’ll call you right back,” Hammer barked and hung up. Then he turned to Liam and pointed to the toilet. “You should probably sit down.”
Liam scowled. “Why? What’s going on?”
Hammer hoped he’d jumped to conclusions. Pike had only assumed. Liam and Gwyneth had separated over two years ago, so it shouldn’t even be possible. In theory.
He pinned Liam with a heavy stare. There was no delicate way to ask this question. “When was the last time you fucked your ex-wife?”
He gaped at Hammer as if he’d lost his mind. “Why the hell would you ask me that?”
“Because Gwyneth arrived at Shadows with a baby. Please tell me there’s no chance that’s your kid.”
Liam paused for a long moment, then turned white as a ghost and stumbled back, sliding onto the toilet seat as if all the air had escaped his body. “Oh, fuck me…”
Hammer gnashed his teeth. “Apparently, she already did.”
* * *
If this kid was his, Hammer was right; Gwyneth had fucked him but good.
Liam rubbed a hand over his face, his thoughts whirling. A baby?
“I last saw her at a benefit about a week after our divorce was final. Because I helped a local children’s hospital with fundraising, I received a community award. Gwyneth walked in, and I couldn’t leave. So I got shitfaced. Next thing I know, it’s morning. I’m naked in her hotel room, and she’s going on about how we’d shared the fuck of the century.”
Hammer cringed. “Did you?”
“No.” He paused, trying to stay calm and logical. “At least I don’t think so.”
“You don’t think so? Either you put your dick in her or you didn’t.”
“I was bloody drunk. I don’t remember.”
“But you don’t know for sure?” When he shook his head, Hammer looked as if he wanted to hit something. “Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck.”
Liam broke out in a cold sweat.
“Exactly how long ago was the benefit?”
He wished he could forget. “A year ago this past October.”
Mentally, Liam counted out the months and watched Hammer do the same on his fingers.
“That would make this baby…what, five or six months old?” Hammer shook his head. “Hang on. Your ex isn’t the kind of woman to endure nine months of pregnancy and a minute of single motherhood in silence.”
“You’re right,” Liam agreed, grateful for Hammer’s common sense.
“If this baby is yours, why did she wait until now to say something?”
“That’s a fine question. Did Pike happen to mention how old the baby was?”
“I was too shocked to ask.”
Liam shook his head. “I won’t believe the kid is mine until Gwyneth proves it because she’s too crafty to have come all this way with some half-baked notion. She’ll have spun a tight timeline, like a fucking spider determined to trap me in her web.” He swallowed the ball of unease lodged in his throat. “Christ, I need a drink.”
“Sounds like you also need a paternity test and a damn good lawyer. But you know…maybe she’s not here to claim this kid is yours. Maybe she’s here for something else.” Hammer didn’t sound like he believed that.
Neither did Liam.
If the child was his, he’d be a good and loving father. Whatever his beefs with its mother, the baby shouldn’t suffer. But if this was another of Gwyneth’s manipulations, she might not survive his wrath.
Hammer clapped him on the back. “Let’s move this downstairs before Raine wakes up and overhears us. We’ll talk in the kitchen. And get you that drink.”
With a nod, Liam staggered to his feet and exited the bathroom, pausing to stare at Raine. She looked beautiful in sleep. Peaceful. She’d had so little of that in her life, and he refused to let Gwyneth destroy it.
Last night, he and Hammer had gotten Raine between them for the first time. He’d never felt such pleasure as he had sharing the woman he loved with his best friend. Finally, they’d managed to open her heart, and she’d unfurled so passionately between them. That nagging jealousy had plagued him again afterward, but he’d shoved it down. He and Macen balanced one another to be exactly what she needed. If they could just drown in Raine’s soft body again, love and protect her, he’d work through that issue.
But his ex-wife’s sudden appearance—only hours after they’d committed to Raine—put all that on hold. Bloody terrible timing… Liam wanted to howl at the injustice.
“Come on, man,” Hammer urged.
With a reluctant nod, Liam turned and followed him downstairs. Once they reached the kitchen, he sat at the table, trying to force a calm he didn’t feel.
Hammer prowled through the liquor cabinet in the adjacent living room, then held up a bottle. “Scotch?”
He’d love some liquid oblivion, but hadn’t that gotten him into trouble in the first place? “I’d better not. I need to keep my wits about me.”
“Especially if you’re going to tangle with that snake.” Hammer stashed the bottle and wandered back into the kitchen, pacing.
“Agreed.” Encroaching rage and panic threatened to overtake him, but he couldn’t succumb. “I’ll head down the mountain and handle this mess Gwyneth is trying to lay in my lap. I’ll be back by nightfall.”
“Are you crazy? If you leave to see your ex now, Raine will be devastated.”
“Why?” Liam reared back. “She knows that Gwyneth cheated on me and that I don’t love her.”
“In her head, yeah. But in her heart?” Hammer shook his head.
“If this baby is mine, it was conceived well before I met Raine. It’s not as though I strayed.”
“The baby won’t upset her. You leaving now to see Gwyneth will. Remember, you uncollared her five days ago. You did it for the right reasons, but it cut her to the bone. If Raine wakes up and you’re gone, what do you imagine she’ll think?”
Liam groaned. “That I mean to dump her again, this time for my ex and our ready-made family.”
“Yep, and all of her abandonment issues will resurface. Besides, I’d rather not leave you to deal with that bitch alone. I may have kept my distance these last few years, but we’re in this together. I won’t fail you again.”
Liam gave a little sigh of relief that Macen had his back once more. “That means a lot to me, but I don’t need you to hold my hand. Gwyneth is my ex-wife. My mess. I’ll clean it up. I don’t want it touching you or Raine.”
“There must be another solution besides you leaving. After we pried her open physically and emotionally last night, she’ll be vulnerable for days. Despite the shit ton of progress we made last night, a few hours of bliss isn’t enough for her to change the way she thinks. She’ll shut down. God knows how hard it will be to open her again.”
Bloody hell, Hammer was right.
He pinched the bridge of his nose to quell the developing ache behind his eyes. “I need to find out if that’s my kid.”
Macen scowled, looking downright ruthless. “Let me go to the club. I’ll sort Gwyneth out and get you an answer.”
“I don’t think that will work any better. If you leave now, what will Raine think of that?”
Hammer paused, then cursed. “That the conquest is over, and I’ve moved on to find another. Damn it.”
“Precisely. That’s why I want to sit her down and explain. I’ll reassure her that I mean to be back by tonight.”
“Explain what? We don’t have any facts except that your ex-wife is in town, she’s brought a kid, and she wants to see you.”
Liam rubbed a palm against his aching forehead. “We have to tell Raine something. Keeping her in the dark is asking for trouble. After two days of drilling the importance of honesty and communication into her head, we promised her the same. Surely you haven’t forgotten how she just handed us our balls because we weren’t walking the walk.”
“How could I?” He snorted. “I don’t want to be dishonest, but it’s our duty as her Doms to protect her. Gwyneth’s sudden appearance will incite Raine’s worst insecurities.”
“You’re right. I want to give her more credit. And give us some. But after only one night together—most of it having sex or sleeping—we haven’t established a solid foundation of trust yet.”
“Exactly. And I’ll be honest. If Gwyneth finds out about Raine, I’m worried your ex will do something devious. We know she’s capable.”
Was she ever…“If Gwyneth came to make a mess of my life, I wish she’d done it a month from now. Hell, even a week from now. By then, our relationship with Raine would be stronger. But Gwyneth has already lit the fuse on this bomb.”
“I don’t like it.”
“I’m determined to keep Raine safe, just as you are, but Juliet’s suicide rattled you. It makes you a mite overprotective at times.”
“Don’t psychoanalyze me,” Macen grumbled. “You used to be easy to deal with. When we shared in the past, you let me make the decisions.”
For eight years, Hammer alone had carried the burden of failing Juliet. Now that Liam knew the circumstances, he realized he’d failed the woman just as much.
“I was barely more than a kid then, and I let you decide with Juliet because she was your wife.” And Liam hadn’t loved her the way he loved Raine. “But her death taught me that if we’re both involved, we should both be responsible.”
Hammer nodded. “You’re right. And that was the hardest fucking lesson to learn.”
Liam stood and stuck out his hand. “I know. I almost lost my best friend because of it.”
Hammer brought him in for a shoulder bump and a manly hug. “Like you could get rid of me that easily.”
With a little smile, he sat back in his chair. “How do we prepare Raine so she isn’t blindsided?”
“I can’t believe you two are finished with that pretty girl already.” Seth Cooper sauntered down the stairs and entered the kitchen. “Pussies. I have more staying power than you both combined.”
“They look like they left Raine alone to start in on each other,” Beck, aka Dr. Kenneth Beckman, said with a smirk, waltzing in behind Seth, surprisingly showered and dressed.
“Piss off, you wanker,” Liam grumbled as he sat once more. “Go back to bed.”
“But before you do, make some coffee,” Macen groused.
With a shake of his head, Beck crossed the room and began brewing a pot of liquid caffeine. “Still haven’t figured out how to work complicated machinery, huh?”
Hammer eyed the coffeemaker gratefully. “We’re a little preoccupied at the moment, trying to sort out a clusterfuck.”
“What mess did you two make this time?” Beck asked.
“Did Raine pack her bags and leave you again?” Seth looked at them as if they were idiots.
“No,” Liam shot back. “She’s upstairs sleeping. My ex-wife is the problem.”
“Newsflash: She’s always been a problem.”
Hammer agreed, then filled the men in on Gwyneth’s unexpected visit and the extra bundle of joy she’d brought with her.
“Holy shit! Is it yours? Did you have ex sex with Gwyneth?” Seth looked as if he might puke at the thought.
“I don’t know.” Liam sounded every bit as miserable as he felt.
“Or maybe you nailed your ex because your palm had a date with some other cock.” Beck chuckled.
Liam flipped him off.
“Is she hot at least?” Beck wagged his brows.
Hammer rolled his eyes. “Oh, she’s hot, all right. A hot mess of toxic waste.”
“I can do toxic.” Beck shrugged. “Does she like pain?”
Liam shook his head. “She’s much better at dishing it out than taking it.”
Seth just laughed. “It’s always a goddamn soap opera with you two.”
“If you’re not going to help, get the fuck out,” Hammer growled.
“Hey! I dropped my life in New York and braved the San Andreas Fault to help,” Seth defended with a scowl, then turned a concerned gaze on Liam. “Do you remember anything?”
“I do. Waking up next to Gwyneth in horror. I leapt out of bed, hit the loo, then got the hell out.”
“Crap.” Seth looked stunned. “How old is this kid?”
“We need to find out.” Hammer scowled and plucked his cell phone from his pocket. He dialed Pike, then engaged the speakerphone.
“That was a little bit longer than ‘right back.’ Just saying,” Pike grumbled.
“What’s happening there?”
“Nothing. Mom and baby are in your office,” Pike answered.
“Who else besides you has seen them?” Liam asked anxiously.
“No one. Since a kid at a BDSM club is bad for business, I stashed them out of sight quickly. Most folks were gone by then, anyway.”
Liam let out a breath of relief. The less anyone knew about Gwyneth, the better chance gossip wouldn’t reach Raine before he’d had a chance to tell her himself.
“Good,” Hammer replied. “But I don’t want her in my office. When we hang up, stash them in one of the rooms we’ve just remodeled. The farther back, the better.”
“You got it.”
“Thanks. Now, how old is this baby?” Hammer demanded.
“Um…” Pike went silent. “I don’t know.”
“Take a wild guess.”
“How small?” Hammer exhaled heavily.
“It’s a baby-sized baby. It’s… I don’t know, wearing little clothes and shit.”
“All babies wear little clothes.” Hammer gnashed his teeth. “Is it a boy or a girl?”
“I haven’t volunteered to change its diaper, but I’m guessing it’s a boy because she calls it Kyle and swears he looks like his daddy.”
Liam’s heart froze. “Does it fucking look like me?”
“How the hell would I know? All babies look the same—drooling, squalling, smelly little monsters,” Pike grumbled.
Hammer muted his phone. “Why did Master Donald and his wife, Vivian, have to be out of town right now?”
Good question. They were getting nowhere with Pike. “When are they due back?”
“Later today, but we need to take action before then.”
“Hammer,” Pike shouted. “Hammer!”
He unmuted the phone. “What?”
“When are you coming back to deal with this? I’m not getting hazard pay here, and I’ve got to tell you, O’Neill, your wife is—”
“Ex-wife,” Liam barked.
“We’re working on it,” Hammer insisted. “But we need to know how old the kid is. Just give me your gut feeling, Pike. Is it a month? A year?”
“I have no goddamn clue,” he screeched. “It’s small and it screams. I’m trying to be helpful, but…shit.”
“God, you two are morons,” Beck cut in, all business now. “Pike, can the kid walk?”
“I don’t know. She held him a lot, but now he’s sitting in a little cage thing, drooling.”
“It’s called a playpen,” Beck snorted. “Tell me how she held him. Was it in her arms or on her hip?”
“Mostly on her hip, but when she fed him, she, like, cradled him.”
“Breast or bottle?”
“Bottle, damn it,” Pike groused. “But I would have liked to have seen her tits. Gorgeous woman. Nice rack.”
Hammer rolled his eyes.
Liam banged his head on the table, wishing he could just get an answer. Or disappear altogether.
“Did he reach up and grab the bottle when he ate?” Beck continued.
“Yeah,” Pike answered.
Liam was damn glad Beck knew what questions to ask. He didn’t have a clue.
Beck nodded. “Okay. Does he have teeth?”
“I saw two on the bottom when he screamed earlier. That kid has a healthy set of lungs.”
“Hang on, Pike.” Hammer darted an expectant glance at Beck. “What do you think?”
The doctor shrugged. “Based on what I’ve heard, my best guess is somewhere between five and seven months.”
That fit perfectly with Gwyneth’s silken-spun timeline. Dread sank into Liam’s belly like a boulder.
“Fuck,” Hammer breathed.
“God, did I really knock her up that night?” Liam groaned, slapping a hand down his face.
“I think we’ve got a better idea now, Pike,” Hammer said. “Thanks. We’ll be in touch.”
“Wait! When the hell are you coming back?” Pike sounded antsy.
Liam and Hammer shared a gaze of silent communication. The answer to that was something they still had to work out.
“Not sure yet. I’ll keep you posted.” Hammer ended the call.
Liam’s head pounded as if a drum line practiced on his skull. “We have to tell Raine something when she gets up.”
The coffee finished brewing, and Hammer pounced on it, nearly shoving Beck aside to pour a steaming mug. He took a sip with a long, satisfied sigh. “Until we’re sure that kid is yours, I think our responsibility is to shield her from Gwyneth.”
“Withholding the truth isn’t the answer,” Liam interjected. “Besides, Raine is clever. She’ll figure it out.”
“She will.” Beck nodded knowingly. “She’s proven herself pretty capable at handling whatever life throws at her, even you two bozos. You just need to sit Raine down and tell her about Gwyneth’s unexpected visit the right way.”
“There is no right way,” Hammer asserted. “Not without facts.”
“I agree,” Seth piped up. “If you tell Raine that Gwyneth is here to pin paternity on you, then it turns out your ex is here for a totally different reason, you’ve upset her for nothing.”
Liam blinked in disbelief. “You’d withhold the truth? Guess that explains why you’ve never managed to keep a sub for much more than a night.”
“Never wanted one for longer than that,” Seth shot back. “I’m not saying lie to the girl.”
“Neither am I,” Hammer insisted.
“If you go mute, Raine will figure out long before you fess up that something’s wrong,” Beck chided. “You want to protect her, Hammer, but how is she supposed to feel secure if she knows you’re not being honest?”
“Exactly.” Liam nodded.
“I’m worried. We’re asking Raine for a lot of trust. I don’t think we’ve given her enough of a foundation yet.” Hammer sent him a sour glare.
“Well, as entertaining as it is to watch you two ladies smack each other with your purses, I don’t have time.” Beck glanced at his watch. “I got a call from the hospital, and I have to get back and assist in an emergency surgery this afternoon. So Liam, I can take that spanking new Escalade of yours and leave, but I won’t be back for at least five or six days.”
Liam blanched. “That long?”
“Transplant patients are high maintenance.”
“We can’t leave Gwyneth and that baby at my club,” Hammer pointed out. “She needs to find a hotel. Or better yet, go back to London.”
Liam’s phone buzzed in his pocket. He glanced at the screen, swore, and shoved it in his pants again. “Damn it, she won’t stop calling. And I don’t want this hanging over my head for days. I’d rather find out what she wants and put it behind me.” Liam stood. “What if I ride down with Beck and hear what Gwyneth is bleating on about, then bring the car back by nightfall?”
“We already talked about this,” Hammer reminded him.
“Not only that, you’ll be giving her exactly what she wants,” Seth pointed out. “You. Alone. Split apart from everyone who could support you, especially Hammer and Raine.”
Liam paused. He hadn’t considered that. Since Gwyneth was at Shadows, she already knew he was with Hammer, whose lifestyle she abhorred. Likely, she suspected Liam was involved in kink again as well. But she also knew they’d shared Juliet and might assume the two of them had found some sub to fill that role once more. Knowing Gwyneth’s spiteful nature, if she’d come for him, she intended to wreak havoc—and would gleefully spread that to others in his life. She would start by dividing and conquering.
To hell with her. Whatever damage Gwyneth thought to incite, it only served to solidify his commitment to Hammer and Raine.
“Over my dead body,” Hammer returned immediately. “I say we all go back. We’ll tell Raine that Beck has an emergency. It’s not a lie.”
Liam shook his head. “It’s also not the whole truth.”
“Well, unless you’re staying here, you need to be ready to pull out in thirty minutes,” Beck said. “If you’re going, you better figure out what to tell Raine as you pack up.”
“Can I just say you two make me glad I lead a boring life?” Seth jabbed.
“Fuck you,” Liam and Hammer shot back in tandem.
After Liam filled a mug of coffee, he followed Hammer upstairs again. Anxiety still gnawed at him. They had to reach some quick decisions. What would they tell Raine about their sudden departure? How would she react?
“Even if we agreed that we should tell her about Gwyneth, Beck’s emergency doesn’t give us long enough to explain everything and reassure her,” Hammer said over his shoulder. “She’ll have more than thirty minutes’ worth of questions. We’ll never get out the door in time.”
As much as he hated it, Liam couldn’t disagree. “And I can’t see telling Raine in the car.”
“With Beck and Seth there? No. She’d be embarrassed if they see her upset, and I’d rather not have them witness her slicing our nuts off with the sharp edge of her tongue.”
“I don’t like it,” Liam rejoined. “As soon as we reach Shadows, we sit Raine down and tell her everything.”
As they approached the bedroom, Hammer turned back with a scowl. “When we reach Shadows, we figure out our next move.”
Before Liam could argue, Hammer pushed the door open and stepped inside. The soft moonlight reflecting off the snow spilled through the curtains. The scent of their shared passion lingered in the room, and Liam slid his gaze over the sheets draping her curves. His cock swelled instantly behind his zipper.
Hammer charged across the room and flipped on the bathroom light, then began tossing clothes into their suitcase. Liam gathered their condoms and personal items from the nightstand and shoved them in a duffel bag. Once he’d finished, he sat on the mattress beside Raine and skated his knuckles over her bare shoulder. Her skin felt like warm velvet.
Visions of all the ways she’d seamlessly taken them both last night, shattering time and again around them, filled his brain. How long would it be until they could lose themselves in that nirvana again? He had to hope that Gwyneth wouldn’t try to drive a wedge between them.
The chances of that… Liam grimaced. Not good.
Macen zipped the luggage shut, then sat down beside him. Liam switched on the bedside lamp. Raine recoiled and frowned. Her eyes flickered open, big pools of blue, before she slammed them shut again, then grabbed the edge of the pillow and folded it over her face. “It’s too early.”
“I know, love,” Liam crooned.
She sighed, then rolled to her back, the pillow falling away. She wore an adorable pout as she brushed her dark hair from her face.
“What time is it?” Raine asked hoarsely.
“Before sunrise.” Hammer dragged the covers down, exposing her to the morning air.
Goose bumps broke out all over her body. Neither could resist touching her. Liam brushed a hand over her cheek. Hammer stroked a soft hand up her calf, fingertips gliding along the back of her knee, before dipping down to her graceful feet.
Her nipples hardened. Her pale skin flushed. Liam bit back the need to strip off and bury himself inside her, to forget everything else. He held back, instead cupping her head and caressing his thumb over her temple. “It’s time to rise and shine.”
She stretched, her back arching, her nipples thrusting up in invitation. Her legs parted slightly. Beside him, Hammer tensed, his gaze fixed on that bare, slick paradise they both wanted again. Oblivious, Raine groaned and reached up, letting out a happy sigh as she melted into the mattress.
When she opened her eyes once more, the come-hither enticement on her face nearly made him decide that Beck’s timetable must have some flexibility.
Unable to stop himself, Liam brushed his palm down her shoulder, lingered on her breast, then splayed over her abdomen. Hammer’s fingertips reached up her thigh. She shivered.
“Can’t we stay in bed?” she breathed.
“No.” Liam wished they could as he cradled her hip. “Get that saucy, wee ass moving.”
She propped herself up on her elbows to glance at them. Her gaze landed just beyond Hammer, on the suitcase all packed by the balcony doors. She zipped her stare over to the empty nightstand. Her pout became a frown, disappointment and confusion crossing her brow. “We’re leaving?”
Hammer sent her a sharp nod. “Unfortunately, we have to head back to the club.”
Raine blinked. “Already? I thought we were going to stay here for a few days.”
“Beck got called into surgery this afternoon,” Liam explained.
“Then let him take the car and go. I’m sure the three of us could find something to do while he’s gone.” She batted her lashes.
“Trust me, precious,” Macen growled. “There’s nothing we’d rather do than come back to bed and make you scream, but Beck won’t be back for days, maybe a week. We can’t stay here that long, no matter how badly we’d like to.”
“And we would.” Liam stroked a hand through her silky mane. “Now up with you. Here. Take a sip of coffee and get dressed.”
As she sat up, Liam handed her the mug. She wrinkled her nose at the scent. “That sucks, but I suppose that’s the life of a surgeon.”
“We’ll make it up to you,” Hammer promised with a sly grin.
“Deal.” She took a sip of the dark brew, then winced and handed the coffee back.
Liam took the mug. “Now stop driving us to distraction. Up with you. We’ve got to get on the road.”
She frowned at them as she climbed out of bed. “Let me brush my teeth and use the bathroom.”
“Ten minutes.” Hammer rose and retrieved the suitcase.
Liam grabbed the duffel. “We’ll be downstairs. Don’t keep us waiting.”