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Craving Rose (The Aces’ Sons #5)
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I, Rose Hawthorne, have crap taste in men.
But, who could blame me, really?
When the stories of how your dad and uncles raised hell before settling down are legendary, it was all too easy to see Prince Charming everywhere, believing that if a man loved me enough, he’d change.
What a load of garbage.
I was tired of the game, almost as tired as I was of being the only single adult at every family barbecue.
But you know what they say, the moment you stop looking, the right one finds you.
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I didn’t let my eyes stray from the men across the room, as if somehow, by refusing to look away, I could take some of his pain and pull it into me. I wanted to yell that I was right here, that I was more important than they knew, that it was my turn. Jesus, wasn’t it my turn yet? What were they waiting for? Dropping my head back against the wall, I grit my teeth against the scream building in my throat. That’s when he looked up and met my eyes as they used a pair of pliers to rip another nail off his right hand. I opened my mouth to say something, anything.
Don’t do it. I could read the warning in his eyes louder and clearer than I’d ever heard his voice. The message was both firm and pleading, a mixture that I’d never thought I’d see. His blue eyes were dry as they held mine. I’d cried enough for both of us, but he’d barely made a sound all day, no matter what they did.
I gave the slightest nod, my lips trembling. I’d follow his silent order. I’d stay still and quiet in my corner. It was the only thing I could do for him.
My gaze roamed his face, taking in the fine lines around his eyes that I’d seen crinkle every time he smiled. The thick eyebrows and suntanned forehead that had the slightest line from where his helmet rested. His hollow cheeks that never rounded no matter how much gas station food he snuck for lunch, and the strong jaw that was so tense it had to ache. My gaze lingered on his lips, the ones I’d seen kiss his daughter tenderly and open wide in laughter on more occasions than I could count.
When our eyes met again, I could barely see him through my tears. I choked back a sob and he blinked slowly, his nostrils flaring.
I lost sight of him as the man who I’d see in my nightmares casually stood between us. “Don’t think anyone’s comin’ for ya,” our captor said in disgust, tilting his head to the side.
My stomach sunk, even though I knew he was wrong.
“We don’t hear somethin’ soon…” the other asshole shrugged.
Tossing the bloody pliers onto the dusty pool table, they strode through the basement and up the stairs. They didn’t bother shutting the door behind them. Where would we go? Both of us were tied up and hadn’t moved in what seemed like forever.
“He call yet?” one of the men said, his voice drifting from upstairs. “We don’t get our money soon, I’m outta here.”
I closed my eyes and swallowed back a sob as the voices drifted away.
“It’s okay, Rosie,” he rasped. His neck strained as he leaned toward me as far as he could. “It’s going to be okay, baby. This is nothin’.”
“Your hand,” I sobbed. “Your poor fingers.”
“They’ll be fine,” he said, his shoulders bunching as he jerked at his restraints. “God, baby, you gotta stop crying like that. You’re gonna make yourself sick.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, hiccupping. I could barely catch my breath.
We’d been there for days. In the beginning, I’d been so confident I was almost cocky. They’d knocked us around and tied us up, and the entire time I’d been thinking, just wait until my dad gets ahold of you. When they’d separated us, I’d panicked for a second, but assumed that it would be over soon enough. But as time went by and the men who’d kidnapped us grew angrier and angrier, I started to worry. It wasn’t until the torture began that I lost hope that I’d ever see the outside of that basement again.
“You don’t have to be sorry,” he said painfully, jerking at the duct tape binding his forearms to the arms of the chair. “I fuckin’ hate that I can’t hold you.”
“Do you think they’re coming?” I whispered, searching his eyes. “Why aren’t they here yet?”
“I don’t know,” he said with a sigh, wincing as he shifted in the chair. His hand looked like raw hamburger and the front of his shirt was stiff with dried blood. I hadn’t been able to see where they’d cut him, but it had to be bad if he’d bled that much. I bit the inside of my cheek as I felt hysteria rise within me. “Casper and Hulk are down south,” he said, so low I had to read his lips. “Maybe they’re waitin’ on reinforcements.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” I breathed in confusion. “They’re only two men down. That’s nothing.”
His eyes grew soft as he watched me. “We don’t know what this is, Rose,” he murmured. “These freaks could be part of somethin’ much bigger than we can see from this fuckin’ basement.”
“I can’t just sit here anymore,” I said, my misery turning to frustration. “I can’t watch them hurt you.”