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Protecting His Own Part 14

Not five minutes later, Grant wandered out.

Mornin, Grant.

Dressed in shorts and a Superman T-shirt, the boy hesitated. Worry darkened his brown eyes. Drawing himself up, he advanced.

Brave little squirt, wasnt he? Nolan tucked an arm around him and pulled him in.

After another hesitation, Grant leaned against his knee.

Whats the trouble, tiger?

Nothin.

Grant.

He got puppy-dog eyes. Connor wet the bed. He didnt mean to, he just couldnt Hell, was that all? It happens. Another shit inequity of life. Not only could women have orgasm after orgasm with no recharging period, but they also stopped wetting the bed a fuck-of-a-lot sooner. When hed been in the Army Corp of Engineers, hed known guys whod still had a problem. Good news is we all outgrow it sooner or later.

Grants whole body relaxed.

Nolan tapped the thin cheek. Want to help me make pancakes for breakfast?

Really? Pancakes? His eyes brightened.

I think were due.

During breakfast, Nolan studied the kids. Grants moods were flipping from over-excited to anger to sullen. The little man was trying incredibly hard to be perfect. When hed poured too much pancake batter into the pan, hed almost burst into tears.

Perfectionist behavior wasnt uncommon especially in the abused. Beth still occasionally fell into the trap. But he figured Grant was less afraid of being smacked than of being rejected. Thrown away.

Connor, even more sensitive to moods, was clinging, never more than a foot away from Grant. His speech had regressed, the double consonants like th disappearing again. A couple of pancakes also disappearedright into his pocket. Did he subconsciously feel food might be in short supply in the future?

Hell. As if their life hadnt been a mess before, now the boys were completely cast adrift.

Beth, as sensitive as Connor"and for much the same reasons"soothed them without even realizing she was. Hugs and squeezes and pats were dispensed as freely as her smiles and encouragement. When Grant admired the postcards on the fridge door, shed given him the one with a child standing next to an elephant and handed the lion cub one to Connor, explaining how Nolan had mailed them when he was far away.

Despite the sadness of the day, Nolan enjoyed seeing his little submissive at work. Beth could probably draw the sun out of hiding on an overcast daybecause she cared.

Shed be damned wonderful with a new baby.

Having given the kitchen clock a confused study, Grant turned. Nolanman? Are you gonna work today?

Yep. But I felt like having breakfast with yall. Im going in a tad bit late.

The sweet smiles from both boys made his heart ache. Good kids. Fine boys. Simply needed some care and attention and theyd be wonderful men. Would they get that care and attention? Could he stand to see them passed around like unwanted kittens?

Nolan eyed Beth. When theyd talked about preferences, shed said she wanted to start with a baby. Buthow old could a baby be? Connor would turn five this month. Was that too old?

Chapter Thirteen.

ON SATURDAY, BETH turned the air-conditioning up in her truck. Her last clients home didnt have trees tall enough for shade yet, and all the ice had melted in her cooler. Warm iced tea? Meh. As long as she was so close to home, she might as well restock and grab lunch before beginning the afternoon.

Besides, she wanted to see how the children were doing. Connor had finally relaxed again and wasnt sticking to Grant like glue. After three nights of bed-wetting, hed been dry the last two.

Grant, though His emotions were still pretty volatile. His efforts to be grown up and brave simply broke her heart.

As she walked in the front door, the boys voices came from the great room.

Hey, we gots a cop houseMax can work there.

Yeah. The bridge should have trees. Put trees right here, Connor.

A train set in the great room, hmm? Well, theyd have more space, and the tile flooring would provide a better surface. Amusement tilted her lips up. And Nolan would play with them. It was a kick to see her so-serious Master on the floor, building whatever the guys decided they needed.

Beff! Connor dashed over, followed by Grant. They hit her like small bullets. She couldnt stop smiling. Was there anything nicer than little-boy hugs?

Beff, we gots a town. Connor pulled her to the construction area where train tracks made a graceful, although incomplete, figure eight.

Youve done a wonderful job, she said sincerely. They were amazingly smart. Is that a town? She motioned toward the police station. Next to it, a post office sprouted a tiny flag.

Uh-huh. Grants making a bridge there. Connor pointed to the gap, and Grants tiny chest expanded.

Its going to be a beautiful bridge. She glanced around. Odd that Sir wasnt here. Wheres Nolan?

Hes lying down with the lady, Grant said.

What? What lady? The sharp stab of shock faded when Beth realized the lady was probably Alyssa. Nolan had mentioned the therapist had asked to move the appointment to Saturday"today. You mean the one who helps him with his sore shoulder?

A nod from Grant confirmed.

Can we have a cookie and milk? Connor asked.

Grinning, she bent and patted his leg, tilting her head to listen.

Whatcha doing, Beff?

Trying to see where you put all this food. Is your leg hollow?

The ripple of giggles from both boys made her laugh. Cookies are probably fine, but let me check with the boss first. After a couple of mistakes, she and Nolan had learned to see if the other adult had already told the children no. Ill be right back. She started toward the patio.

The lady said it was too hot outside, so theyre back there. Grant waved at the hallway.

Oh, really. The temperature was cooler today than it had been for a month. Beth turned. They must be in the small living room. The very private living room. Why did the realization set her teeth on edge?

Well, if she were going to interrupt, shed do it the right way, Beth decided. Maybe she wasnt from the south, but Kim and Gabi had taught her it was mandatory to serve food and beverages to guests. Shed hate to break some Southern law of hospitality, right?

A detour to the kitchen provided a tray with cookies and iced tea. In the hallway, she frowned at the living room. The semi-closed door practically begged to be kicked open hard enough to bang on the wall.

Bad Beth. Abrupt entrances werent polite Southern behavior. Bless my fucking heart.

Through the narrow opening, she could see Nolan, shirtless, and lying face down on the couch. Seated on the ottoman, Alyssa was attired in a low-cut, red tank top and exceptionally short shorts. Her gaze held open lust as she massaged oil into his hard-contoured back. I missed you at the club last weekend, she said in a silky voice. I was hoping youd"

Hey, people. Beth shoved the door wide open with her hip. Are you ready for something to drink? Nolan wouldnt cheat on her, not ever. Yet, the sick feeling in her stomach was surely jealousy. Maybe because she could see the desire in Alyssas face.

Why, how nice. Alyssas sugared tone made Beths palm tingle with the need for a good bitch-slap. You even brought cookies.

Beth makes great cookies. Nolan pushed up to sit on the couch and smiled at her. Thank you, sugar.

Yes, thank you, Alyssa echoed.

Youre so very welcome, Beth said in such a sweet voice that Nolans eyes narrowed. Just a little something to show how much I appreciate your efforts to get my husbands shoulder back in shape. Im afraid hes overdoing when playing with the children.

Im sure Master Nolan is excellent with those poor orphans. Alyssa ignored the cookies and picked up a glass.

Beths lips turned up as Nolan took a cookie. He totally is.

Alyssa gave Nolan an intimate smile. When I came here, before, you said you built this huge house for a large family. So when are you having children of your own? I bet you cant wait to have a little boy with your gorgeous black eyes.

The words hit Beth hard, like a heavy ice-filled sleet, crushing brittle emotions to the ground. Her shaky inhalation pulled in air filled with Alyssas musky perfume. We are"

It wont take us long to fill the house with children, Nolan stated firmly.

Of course. Pursing her pillowy lips, Alyssa laid her hand on Nolans forearm and gazed up into his eyes. Someday, I hope to have a Dom so I can give him beautiful babies. So he can see his babies growing inside me. The way her gaze slid to Beth showed she knew Beth wasnt able to carry Nolans children.

Was this what a weed felt like when pulled out of the ground"roots tearing and stem breaking? Alyssa was beautiful. Lush. Fertile. She could give Sir everything Beth couldnt.

Nolan said something that disappeared into the cold fog filling her head. Blinking hard, she took a step back. Enjoy the cookies. I n-need to get back to work. Turning, she bumped into Grant and Connor whod arrived in time to block the doorway. Giving them a wavering smile, she edged past and escaped.

GRANT TURNED AND stared as Beth hurried down the hall. Her voice had been funny, and her eyes were all wet. She was crying.

His hands closed into fists. The therapist lady had hurt Beths feelings. Made her feel bad. He wasnt sure how, but he knew a mean voice when he heard one.

Just like he knew when Nolan was angry.

Were done here. Nolanman was on his feet, and his face was pissed-off as he stared down at the lady.

But, Sir. When she tried to grab Nolanmans hand, he stepped away. You dont understand.

Connor pushed past Grant. You made Beff cry!

The lady glared at him. Why, I did not.

Anger swelled inside Grant, red and thick and hot. She lied. Did, too. Youre mean. Get out of here, and dont come back.

Her eyes went squinty mad. Go play in your room. Im talking to Nolan.

He could still see Beths tears, and his voice came out all shrill and loud. You go. Go away! He picked up the cookie plate and threw it hard. But the dish went over her head and hit the window.

Crash. Glass flew everywhere.

As the roaring in his ears faded, Grant stared at the shattered window. At the glass glinting all over the carpet. His stomach clenched. Hed busted the window. Hed gone crazy-mad and yelled and thrown things just like Mama.

Hed tried to hurt the lady. And Nolan looked really mad.

Fear wrapped around his chest until he couldnt breathe. With a low whine, he darted out of the room and down the hall.

JESUS FUCK. MISSING his grab for Grant, Nolan secured Connor with a hand on his shoulder. What a fucking mess.

Alyssas expression held shock.

He gave her a level stare. The boys told the truth. Your words were fucking cruel.

He-he threw a plate at me!

He was defending the sweetest woman in the world. And you made her cry. Nolan gave Connors shoulder a squeeze. Perhaps the guys went about it the wrong way, but Im proud of them both.

The trembling under his hand stopped. Brown eyes stared up at him in wonder.

I-Im sorry, Sir. Alyssas eyes filled with tears. I guess I was I miss you, Sir. And I remember how good we were together, and"

I appreciate the therapy you did. He kept his voice even. But, as I told you earlier, my shoulder is fine now. I want you to talk with Z about getting help for what we discussed earlier. Let me see you to the door.

She stared at him as if she couldnt believe he was serious. But Yes, Sir.

After he got her out of the house, he asked Connor to play in the great room, sweetening the deal with a couple of cookies. He also had to promise he wouldnt be mean to Grant. Loyal brothers; he liked that.

Finally, he hunted for Grant. He hadnt heard the back door open or shut. The deadbolt on the front was locked. The boy was still in the house.

When in trouble as a kid, Nolan would take refuge in his bedroom. But the boys room was empty. No one in the closet or the bath. Remembering what Beth had said, Nolan checked under the bed.

Grant was curled into a ball in the far corner, tears on his cheeks. Shivers shook his small body.

Hell. And hell was what the kid had lived through with a drug-addicted mother and her abusive boyfriend. Pity twisted Nolans heart as he sat back and leaned against the nightstand. Alyssas gone and wont be back. You and Connor were right. What Alyssa said was mean, and it made Beth cry.

Silence.

He knew exactly why the boys had reacted so angrily. Seeing Beth cryhurt. And he wanted to go after her right now. But he had his work cut out for him here.

Chapter end

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