Finding Solutions

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"He didn't want to," she said, rising to her feet. Her hands settled on his hips when he passed again. She hated how he flinched, but after a moment, he came to her willingly. His arms wrapped around her in a tight embrace. He was angry, but it didn't seem aimed at her; at least not completely. "The firm didn't give him much of a choice, and once Hong Kong was done, he sent me home. His boss came to see me a few weeks later. He didn't find out about it until I was almost done with my training. He was far from happy and threatened to leave, but in interest of keeping me safe, he stayed."

Edward's whole body radiated tension. His face, however, was neutral. "Then you had your second chance," he said stiffly, holding still but she saw how much he wanted to run. Bella reached for his face and protested when his hands manacled her wrists as if to push her away. He didn't, only grunted as he pulled her closer.

"I didn't want one when I saw him again. I don't know if I ever loved him as a wife should, but as a friend, I did. When I saw him again, not even the old feelings were there, only the memories we had as kids and the anger for him leaving the way he did. He was ashamed of how much he hurt me, and so was I, for letting him. It took time, but we became friends again, but that's it."

"He should've never asked you to help him. He put you in that position at a time when you had just lost your father, when you were vulnerable. Of course you would've latched onto anything that resembled a family."

He understood why she had to do it.

"They were my family. They were very good to me, Edward. For two years, they kept me safe, and they swear they only killed bad guys." She shrugged and looked into his eyes. "If it hadn't been for them and the training, there's no way I would've survived the last few years on the run."

"I get that, and believe me, I'm grateful for it. That doesn't excuse the fact that he put you at risk."

"I don't know where I'd be if he hadn't. I was so lost after my dad died. I was partying too much again, and who knows where I'd be. The discipline, the training, the friends I made, kept me from going down an even darker path, Edward."

"Maybe, but that doesn't mean I have to like him," he said, wrapping his arms around her tightly. "I'm glad you learned to take care of yourself, but I'd feel better knowing you can actually follow through."

She poked his chest. "Hey, I did all right the two times the safe house was raided after I chose to testify." She escaped, didn't she? She could handle it.

He grabbed her shoulders to push away enough to look her in the eyes again. "But since then, you haven't had to, right?" She shook her head. "And there was the incident in the truck that you had a panic attack when I started to ask too many questions."

"I felt cornered." She knew she was pouting, but she had a feeling she wasn't going to like where he was heading with the discussion. "It had been a while since I felt like that."

"Understandable. I was being an asshole, but since your friend hasn't contacted you yet, maybe we need to take a refresher course."


He nodded and led her to the office where he had the computer and equipment set up to scramble his location.

"I won't let anything happen to you, but why take a chance? We can try tomorrow if the rain lets up long enough to set up an area for some target practice." He sat down and pulled her onto his lap. "Is this guy one of your friends from the firm?"

"No. I didn't want to get them involved because of the mob ties. They could find out about them, and anyone on assignment would have their covers blown."

"So, this guy is really a friend of your family?" She nodded in reply and waited as he pulled up the online ad they were looking for. Sure enough, Alec hadn't replied yet. "Let's agree that by tomorrow night we leave if we haven't had received word from him."

"You'd do that for me?" she asked quietly, her gaze on her lap. His hum caught her off guard, so close to her ear, but the feel of his mouth on her shoulder soothed her worries. His hands skimmed up her sides. "I thought you'd act like an asshole after I told you all this."

"You haven't been through the training I'll be putting you through yet." She laughed but moaned when he cupped her breasts underneath her top. His hands were a little rough from the work he did, but felt amazing on her skin. "I'll be your worst nightmare." The words were meant to taunt her, but their delivery only teased her senses.

"Horrible," she gasped at the bite of his teeth on her neck that drove her insane. "Terrifying"

Nimble fingers pulled and pinched at her nipples, already tight beneath his touch. "I'll have you doing a hundred pushups and calling me sir by the end of the day," he said firmly, his hands stilling her undulating hips, only to thrust up against her. "I want you again. Come on, let's grab some food and then I'm taking you to bed."

"Yes," she whispered, turning enough on his lap to take his bottom lip between her teeth. He tensed, waiting for what she'd do next. Her gaze locked with his. "Yes, sir." She felt the pull of his hands on her hips, moving her over his cock in a smooth stroke that had her grasping the desk in front of her.

They were out of the office, adequately fed, and on his bed in record time. He didn't push her away as she expected, the way others before him all had, and she wouldn't have blamed him. Instead, he made love to her all night long.

She loved and hated how much hope it had given her.

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