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Viper (Hell’s Handlers MC #9)
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I loved you yesterday, I love you today, and I’ll love you tomorrow whether you’re here with me or waiting for me among the stars.
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PRESENT DAY – TENNESSEE
“Listen up, old man. I’ll take a nap if and when I want to take a nap, not because you tell me to.” Cassie’s huff came through the phone, loud and clear.
Viper chuckled as his wife of more than thirty years groused at him. She always got prickly when he bossed her around—her words, not his. So sue him if he occasionally issued orders just to get her all hot under the collar. Still, after all these years, her temper revved his engine. Those green eyes flashed and shot sparks that ignited his flame every single time. Back when her hair still had its fiery red color, he swore it deepened from the roots outward as her ire grew.
“Gorgeous, I’m just looking out for you, you know that. I need you to have some energy for when I get home. Plus, if you’re already in bed, it saves the time of having to get you there. We can go straight to the good stuff if you know what I mean.” He dropped his voice to a pitch that never failed to get his wife in the mood.
She snorted, but he’d bet money she was grinning into her phone. “You’re nothing but a horny old goat, you know that?”
He snickered again. “Yes, ma’am, I do. But don’t blame me. You’re the sexy thing who’s been making me hard for more than three decades.”
A hum followed by a sigh came through the line. “Pretty sure I’m nothing but a wrinkly bag of bones right now. Can’t imagine how you find me remotely attractive. And with the hair loss…you must be going blind, old man. Either that or senile.”
Christ, it broke his heart to hear the dejected tone and worry in her voice. “Woman, you’re crazy if you think I’ve ever looked at you and seen anything less than pure beauty.” Cancer, actually the treatment for cancer, had been rough as hell on her body, stealing her energy, weight, and much of her hair. Still, he meant every word. Nothing in the world could make her less than stunning in his eyes.
“Viper…” She said in an awed whisper.
“I ain’t foolin’, baby. You’re as gorgeous to me today as you were the first day I saw you.”
That had her letting out a small laugh. “You mean when dirt and bruises covered my entire body? Well, that explains it.”
He grinned. There was the sass and attitude she tossed out like nobody’s business. “That’s right. Gorgeous that day and gorgeous now. You think I care about a little weight loss or missing hair?” He snorted. “Fuck, I don’t even notice that shit. All I see are those witchy green eyes casting a fucking spell on me. You own me, woman. Heart and soul. Always have.”
“Always so romantic,” she said with a sigh.
“That’s right. Don’t you forget it. Especially with that new prospect, Monty, looking after you.” The young future Handler had been keeping an eye on Cassie whenever Viper couldn’t be home. A conflict with a rival club had the men keeping guards on all their ol’ ladies, just in case.
“Ohhh, that’s right. He’s out there by the street, isn’t he? Maybe I should invite him in for some coffee, so he doesn’t freeze,” she said, humor lacing the words.
Viper growled. “Don’t you dare.” He’d flay that prospect from scalp to dick if he so much as winked at Cassie.
“What did I tell you about giving me orders?”
There we go.
Back on solid ground. Cassie’s voice lost all sadness and returned to full spitfire. Mission accomplished.
“Listen, baby,” he said as he pulled his truck into Toni’s Diner’s parking lot right next to Thunder’s pickup. “I’m popping by the diner to drop something off with Thunder. Be home in forty-five, tops.”
“Guess that means I’ll be waiting for you…in our big bed. All by myself.” A sultry hum followed her words.
Goddamn, now he had to climb out of his truck with a boner. “Woman,” he growled as Cassie broke out in a fit of giggles that warmed his heart as much as they stroked his dick.
“You started it.”
“That’s what you think.” He gave her a moment to giggle again before moving the conversation in a much more serious direction. “Hey, baby?”
“I loved you yesterday, I love you today, and I’ll love you tomorrow, whether you’re here with me or waiting for me among the stars.”
Her breath caught before she repeated the words back to him, and there wasn’t a doubt in his mind as to the veracity of her statement. She’d been the best goddammed thing to happen to a young idiot like him all those years ago, and she was still the best thing in his world. Sure, their life together hadn’t been without trials, and he’d spent his fair share of nights on the too-small and hard-as-a-rock couch, but when the temporary glitches passed, the bones of their relationship were not only intact but strong as fucking steel.