curled tightly around her shoulders, and my hips locked into place, I empty myself and pray that this time I won't need her as fiercely as I have for the last few months.
Corps Security #4
by Harper Sloan
Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton What Now by Rihanna
Beam Me Up by P!nk
Slipped Away by Avril Lavigne All of Me by John Legend Kiss Me by Ed Sheeran Small Bump by Ed Sheeran
6'2 by Marie Miller
Breathe You In by Dierks Bentley Hey Brother by Avicii Rude by Magic!
Broken Ones by Jacquie Lee How Long Will I Love You by Ellie Goulding Wherever You Will Go by Charlene Soraia
Follow playlist on spotify here: COOPER
To Angela Druck, Kelly Knott & Katie Benson.
You ladies have been with me from day one - before Axel was even a thought - and I know without a doubt that I wouldn't be here without you.
I love you.
Thank you. For everything.
To Contact Harper Sloan
Other Books by Harper Sloan
This book is not suitable for younger readers. There is strong language, adult situations, and some violence.
Table of Contents
Bonus Scene - Yoga Time
Prologue - Asher
"Come on, Coop," I whisper. It's dark in the closet, but I can still make out his huddled form in the back corner. "Come on, Coop. Please. Mom will be back soon and you know she's gonna be mad if she hears us."
I shift my body so he can see the cracker box I grabbed from the barren kitchen. Mom never brings us food anymore. I'm lucky that my best friend, Joel, lives close and shares his snacks with us or we wouldn't eat.
He doesn't ask questions.
"I'm scared, Ash."
I ball up my fist when I hear his broken and weak voice. My brother is so small. I just turned ten last week, but I'm bigger. I know Coop is small because he is always scared. Too scared to come out of the closet our mom always makes us stay in.
"We gotta hurry. Move over, 'kay?"
"'Kay." His weak voice cracks.
"Are you still cold?" I question.
"Yeah," he replies weakly.
When I get to the back of the closet, closing the door tightly behind me, I reach out and hand Coop the box. It only has seven crackers in it. They're old, and I had to get a few roaches out of the box before I brought it back. Coop doesn't like the bugs that live in the kitchen.
"Don't you want some?" He holds the box my way, and even though my stomach rumbles, I shake my head no. "You need some too, Ash," he tries again.
"I'm okay, Coop. I had some before I brought them back. You gotta hurry before mom gets home, okay?"
He nods his head and starts to eat sluggishly. I grab one of the bottles of water Joel gave me last week and hand it to him. His head falls to rest against my shoulder while he takes turns eating and drinking slowly.
He's getting weaker. He couldn't get up this morning to go to school. He just kept sleeping, so I stayed home. Mom didn't even notice. I could hear her throwing up this morning. She's always throwing up. And drinking the nasty stuff.
I don't know how long we have been sitting here when I hear the front door bang shut and the sounds of feet stomping around the house. Coop drops the crackers and pulls his legs up to his chest.
"Zachariah Cooper! Where in the hell are you, you little shit?!"
Oh crap. This isn't going to be good.
"Ash," he quivers.
"It's okay. It's okay."
I grab some of the old blankets we sleep on and throw them over Coop. I can hear him whimpering when I crawl over to the door and crack it open.
I know she's coming.
She wouldn't miss this chance to show Coop how much she hates him.
But I won't let her. No. I'm a big boy now, and I won't let her hurt my brother anymore.
I hate seeing Coop scared.
I'm already standing in the middle of the bedroom when she rounds the corner, her yucky clothes that don't cover her private parts on and her face smudged with old makeup--I know she's going to be really mean today.
"Where is that little shit? He didn't go to school again today. Both of you little shits decided to stay home, and now I've got the school poking around, asking questions!"
She tries to get around me, but with her tall shoes on, she can't move quick enough. That's all the distraction I need for her to focus her attention on me and not on Coop. Just where I want it.
Right before her hand reaches out and slashes against my face, I promise myself that I will never let anyone hurt my baby brother.
Chapter 1 - Asher
"Oh, God. Harder. Please, harder."
"Quiet," I pant.
"Please, Ash," she begs.
After releasing the tight grip I have on her slim hips, I trail my palms slowly up her back, watching the skin my hands pass over break out in goose bumps. I brace my knees farther part, and when my fingers curl around her shoulders, I finally let myself take her hard.
Take her how she craves.
It's a bruising pace, my balls slapping hard against her wet folds and my hips grinding into her ass. I have to close my eyes when I see her turn her face against the pillow, trying to get a better view, I'm sure.
"Oh, Ash...just like that, I'm going to come so hard."
"Quiet," I remind her.
I need her to keep her mouth shut. I need to be able to take my pleasure and selfishly think about the only person I wish I was driving my cock into. The one person whose touch I crave like nothing else I've ever craved before whenever I'm around her.
"Fuck," I groan.
"Yeah. Give it to me, baby."
"Not your baby," I spit out. Fuck no.
She starts to push up on her knees, meeting me thrust for thrust. I bring one of the hands that I have curled around her shoulder and press down on the small of her back, reminding her of the place she should stay in.
"Please let me touch you, Asher. Just let me touch you this time."
I smack her ass hard. Her pussy clamps down on my cock and she starts to come. Moving my hand back to her shoulders, I thrust a few more times before I feel my balls start to tighten and the warmth--that delicious warmth--travels from the base of my spine, filling my body with the pleasure I've been craving right before I feel myself go.
"Chelcie..." I moan.
With my eyes closed tight, my hands still
"What in the hell did you just call me?"
It takes my fog-filled mind a second to clear before I understand what is being asked.
The warm body I just took roughly starts to buck, pushing against my hips.
I open my eyes and the vision that filled my mind only seconds before is completely different.
The straight, blonde hair is gone, having been replaced with bright-red curls.
The bronze skin, that lickable and silky skin, was replaced with someone much paler.
And when she turns her angry eyes on me, it isn't the deep-brown eyes I'm used to looking back at me with a mix of compassion and kindness. Nope, I've got twin green eyes blazing with unmasked fury.
"What in the HELL did you just call me?" she asks again.
When I don't answer her right away, she starts to fight. And I mean fight. I get an elbow to the eye, a foot to the thigh, and worst of all, her nails clip my cheek when she slaps me across the face.
"I've been warming your sheets for the last two months, Asher Cooper, and you just called me another woman's name? Two months where I thought we were going somewhere and you just did THAT?"
This is probably when I should calm her down. There is nothing worse than a woman who feels used...even if that's exactly what it was. But being that I'm already halfway to wasted and the majority of my brain is still scrambled from just coming hard...I don't think before I open my mouth.
"Now let's calm down, Chrissy."
"It's fucking Clarissa, you idiot!" she screeches and starts to slap me against the chest.
"Jesus Christ, woman. Can you calm the hell down?"
If anything, she gets a little more fuel with her little fists. I can feel her nails scoring my skin every few slaps.
So what do I do? The only thing that makes sense to my liquor-filled mind.
I leap off the bed and run.
I can hear her scrambling to catch me, but she doesn't stand a chance. Even drunk off my ass, she wouldn't catch me.
I pass the dresser, snagging my cell off the top before I leap over our discarded clothes and slam the door to the bathroom, turning the lock right as her fists connect with the wood. She must be kicking as well as banging against the wood because the whole frame is vibrating with her fury.
"You stupid douchebag!"
I lose track of everything she screams through the door. Then I can hear her destroying the room. I can hear thuds of the furniture being overturned and glass shattering against the hardwood.
I grab the towel I used earlier off the floor, giving it a sniff before wrapping it around my waist. Shit. Okay, I probably deserved a little of that. I've been taking Chrissy--no, Clarissa --the bartender at Heavy's, home for the last few months off and on. There was never a promise of a relationship. Hell, every time I've taken her home, I've been drunk off my ass. Maybe I should have explained a little better to her that all this would ever be is sex. I'm in no damn shape to give myself to anyone.
Especially not when the only woman I want is the one who acts like I've got the fucking plague whenever I touch her.
No, I want one woman, and until I can figure out what has her running scared every time I hint at something more than a friendship, I'm better off with my good friends Jack and Jim.
After a few seconds of silence, I take a chance and click the lock, cracking the door open slightly. Peeking around the opening and seeing the room completely trashed is enough of a distraction for the small fist to come flying out of nowhere and smashing right into my already sore eye.
"Son of a bitch!" I roar.
"You got that right, you sorry piece of shit. The next time you want to warm your dick up, why don't you make an effort to actually remember the name of the body you're using!"
She gives me a good shove, and before I can regain my feet, I fall flat on my ass.
And the only thing I can think is, How in the hell did I let my life become this?
Spying a full bottle of Jack, unbroken, in the chaos that used to be Maddox's guest room, I pull myself off the floor and, without bothering to get dressed, fall back on the bed. Then I proceed to drink myself into oblivion.
How do I lose my keys twice in one week?
Ever since I moved into Dee's old apartment, I swear I've been falling apart at the seams. It doesn't help that everything is changing around me so rapidly that I can't seem to hold on tight enough.
A fresh wave of loss washes through me when I think about the father my child will never know.
Shifting my weight, I drop my bags of groceries on the floor, switch my purse to the other arm, and start looking for my phone.
"Come on... Where is the damn thing?" I mutter to myself, checking each pocket before dropping down to kneel on the carpeted floor and dumping the contents of my purse out.
Are you kidding? Gone. My phone is just gone.
Careful to steady my balance, I drop lightly on the floor next to my door.
I want to cry--I really do--but I know it won't change anything. It's insane how quickly everything can change around you. It could be worse. I know that, but right now... Right now, it feels a hell of a lot like rock bottom.
I take a deep breath, resting my hand against my slightly rounded stomach, and blink back the tears that keep threatening to burst through my carefully built wall.
It's only been a few months since I packed up everything I owned and moved to Georgia. It all started when my boss, and good friend, Dee was attacked, leaving me feeling so completely vulnerable and alone that I didn't know what end was up. Seeing her coming so close to death just did something to me that I can't explain. I've always been strong and independent, but seeing that... It just hit me.
I turned to the closest thing I could find to make me feel alive again--the one and only, Zeke Cooper. He was fun, hilarious, and best of all, a distraction to the mess around me. I've never been the type of girl who just hooks up with anyone. I crave stability and love to fall into a man's bed. But I needed something that he was more than willing to give. I knew the score, and I was okay with it. He wasn't the type of man a girl goes into anything with hoping that she'll get the white picket fence and the cookie-cutter house. No, he was the type of man a girl goes to when she needs to escape the world around her.
All it took was one night.
And then... And then he was taken from everyone.
I never imagined that my stalling to tell him that he would be a father meant that he would never know. I just didn't know how to tell the king of hook-ups that his one-night stand was about to turn into a lifetime of commitments.
Now my little one's father is gone.
I never anticipated being a mother. I had a plan. Find a man--a great man, the kind of man who puts you on a pedestal and shows you daily how much he loves you. I wanted the happily ever after that dreams are made of. But more importantly, I knew that I never wanted to raise a child as a single mother. I wanted my children to have the love of both parents.
Sighing deeply, I pull myself off the floor, brushing off the stress of situations I have no control over. What's the point? It's not going to bring my baby's father back.
The second I climb to my feet, I remember who might be able to help me out of this situation.
Last I heard--from Izzy, who'd heard it from Axel when he was talking to Cage--Maddox was back in town for a little while. He's been gone for a few weeks trying to talk Emmy into coming home. The poor girl has been going through so much after Coop's murder that I really don't see how he's going to be successful. I hope he is though. Even though I don't know Emmy that well, she is definitely someone I miss having around.
Luckily for me, he has a key to my place. One thing that can be said about this little 'family' I've come to love: they make sure they have every aspect of each other's lives covered. It should feel weird that a man I don't really know all that well has a key to my place, but right now, when all I can think of is getting back into my bed and sleeping for a year, I'm thankful that he does.
It doesn't take me long to make the trek up to Maddox's top-floor apartment, but by the time I do, my nerves are flying all over the place. I shouldn't be nervous, but let's face it, there isn't anything about Maddox Locke that isn't insanely intimidating.
Could be worse. It could be Asher.
I quickly dismiss the thought. Asher is the one man who makes me insane...with unleashed desire.
And the worst part? He's Zeke Cooper's brother--and the uncle to my unborn child.
We've become close over the last few months. I try to keep my lust to a simmer when I'm around him, but he's just so... God, I don't even know.
He towers over me, probably close to six foot four or so. He isn't huge like Axel, but there is nothing about him I would call small. No, he is built solid with trim hips and the hottest butt I've ever had the pleasure of gawking at.
The part that kills me is that he looks so much like his brother. I know they were close in age, but they could have passed as twins.
Shaking off the thoughts of Asher Cooper, I come to a stop in front of Maddox's apartment door and give my breathing a chance to calm down.
Just the thought of Asher has my heart rate spiking and my skin feeling flush, which is a testament to how badly I need some attention. I have a feeling that, with my raging hormones, I would start humping his leg if he were around.
Jesus, Chelc, get a freaking grip!
Sighing deeply, I bring my hand up to knock on Maddox's door. It takes a second and a few more knocks before the door is swung wide and I'm met with the blue-eyed devil of sex appeal himself, Asher Cooper.
Before I can even open my mouth, he's snarling, "What the hell do you want?"
"Excuse me?" I question, stepping back from the waves of anger that are rolling off of him. My skin starts to tingle, and I just know that I'm missing something here.
Something feels off.
"I said...what the hell do you want?" It takes me a second, but when he moves to come towards me, I'm hit with the unmistakable smell of heavy liquor.
Dammit. Not again.
One thing about Asher is that he's as nice as can be and genuinely a fun guy to be around...until he's drowning his grief in a bottle. Then it's like he doesn't even see anything but his pain.