You are on page 1of 227

HIS

MAKE-BELIEVE BRIDE
FRANKIE LOVE
JOIN FRANKIE LOVES
MAILING LIST
AND NEVER MISS A RELEASE!

Join here: http://eepurl.com/bMGtFv

Copyright 2017 by Frankie Love


Edited By:
Teresa Banschbach
ICanEdit4U
and
Peppermint Editing

All rights reserved.


No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical
means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written
permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
THE ENTIRE FRANKIE LOVE COLLECTION:

NEW RELEASE: HIS KINKY VIRGIN

Our Virgin:
Protecting Our Virgin

F*ck Club:
A-List F*ck Club
Small Town F*ck Club

From the HIS Collection:


HIS Everything
The Mountain Mans Babies:
TIMBER
BUCKED
WILDER
HONORED
CHERISHED

The Modern-Mail Order Brides:


CLAIMED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
ORDERED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
WIFED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
EXPLORED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN

An Arranged Marriage Romance:


COURTED BY THE MOUNTAIN PRINCE
CHARMED BY THE MOUNTAIN PRINCE
CROWNED BY THE MOUNTAIN PRINCE

Las Vegas Bad Boys:


ACE
KING
MCQUEEN
JACK

Los Angeles Bad Boys:


COLD HARD CASH
HOLLYWOOD HOLDEN
SAINT JUDE
THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

Stand-Alone Romance:
HIS KINKY VIRGIN
WILD AND TRUE

Stand-Alone Bad Boy:


BIG BAD WOLF

Stand-Alone Mountain Men:


MISTLETOE MOUNTAIN: A MOUNTAIN MANS CHRISTMAS
HEART OF GOLD: A MOUNTAIN MANS VALENTINE
HIS LUCKY CHARM: AN IRISH MOUNTAIN MAN


CONTENTS

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Epilogue
Claimed By The Mountain Man
Prologue
Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
Chapter 6
Chapter 7
Chapter 8
Chapter 9
Chapter 10
Chapter 11
Chapter 12
Chapter 13
Chapter 14
Chapter 15
Chapter 16
Chapter 17
Chapter 18
Chapter 19
Chapter 20
Chapter 21
Chapter 22
Chapter 23
Chapter 24
Chapter 25
Chapter 26
Chapter 27
Also by Frankie Love
About the Author
CHAPTER ONE

I make no apologies for the kind of man I am.


And why the hell should I?
I was born and raised in Gods country. Not everyone
understands what it means to be an Alaskan mountain man, but
I sure as fuck would expect any woman who married me to get
the concept.
Of course, when Sheila fooled me into thinking she was my
kind of woman, I figured she understood that I lived and
breathed the wild mountain air, the ice-cold ocean, the skies so
blue you could get swallowed up in them.
But all she was after was a ring on her finger. After a weekend
of knowing one another I ended up in Vegas, so fucking far from
home I feared I would never get back where I belonged.
I learned from that mistake. A mistake like that? I sure as hell
will never make it again.
Out in my fishing boat this summer morning, trolling for King
salmon in the open waters, I push away the uncomfortable
memories of the past and try to clear my headfocus on the
good things in my life. Like my family who has my back, this
town that feels like home, and my mutt Chum whos barking up
a shit storm below deck.
I hear ya, buddy, I say, setting down my thermos of coffee
and opening the below deck cabin door. You sure you wanna
come up? The water is choppy this morning. I grab a doggy
biscuit laced with an herbal motion sickness remedy. A lady in
town bakes them for Chum, and they seem to help somewhat.
Tossing it to him, he follows me up, wagging his tail, ready for
the day.
I leave him below deck as much as possible because watching
him get nauseous is painful. Chums the only dog Ive ever
known who gets seasick, and he doesnt seem to have his sea-
legs yet. Through four years out here with me, Id thought hed
have grown them by now.
Still, he insists on staying by my side. This dog has been with
me through thick and thin. The fact that one encounter with
Sheila caused him to go into beast mode on her should have been
red flag enough. He tossed her boots overboard, ripped her
purses to shreds, and insisted on sleeping between her and me
on the bed. Chum may not be able to hold his own on the open
water, but hes good at looking out for me.
The marriage to Sheila didnt last long anyways, and Chum
called it straight away. Still, that woman is hell-bent on making
sure she gets as much money from me as possible before she
agrees to sign on the dotted line.
Weve been in divorce court for two fucking years, and Im
over it. She cheated on me. Hell, she was sleeping with anyone
who had deep pockets before we eloped, she had no intention of
stopping after.
Its bullshit, thats what it is. I was faithful to her, but all
thats done now. Our sham of a marriage is nothing more than a
memory Id like to forget so long as our lawyers come to an
agreement.
And Ill fight her tooth and nail before I give her any more
money than necessary. Im sure as hell not gonna hand my
familys fortune over without a fight to a woman whos already
planning on buying a condo in Maui.
Shit, I hate getting bent out of shape over Sheila. I check my
downrigger where its set in the icy water and am pleased to see
Chum and I have caught some salmon.
This time of year I live on my boat, I go out on week-long
fishing trips, and when Im home, I spend my days with my lines
in the water. My nights are spent at the bar at the end of the
marina, before I come back here, below deck, and sleep it off.
Sleep alone, mostly. Damn, its been a fucking long time since
I wet my whistle. And sitting out here, all by myself, I have
plenty of time fantasizing about my dream woman. The silver
lining to the Sheila mistake is that I learned what I really want in
a partner--and what I sure as hell dont.
And damn, the woman I want... Im about ready to lose my
load just thinking about her.
Not that she exists. If she does, I sure as hell havent met her
yet. And how could I in a fishing town like this?
My girl, shed be tender and innocent. Not a jaded bitch whos
looking for something only found in a bank account.
Hell, if I ever commit to a woman again, shes gonna be the
exact opposite of my ex.
Not that I can find a girl like that here. The local ladies are
tough as nails, and I guess you need to be that way if you live out
here in the wild. But when I think about my dream woman--the
kind of woman who really gets me hard, she isnt like the girls I
grew up with.
I picture myself with the woman who speaks softly, who fits
in my arms, who needs a real man to take care of her--and who
doesnt judge a person on his 401k.
I shake my head, checking out the size of the King salmon.
Chum is right by my side, his tongue hanging outthe smell of
the morning catch is apparently making him feel better.
You hungry? He yips at me, and I grab some chum from a
bucket and fill his dish. He goes to town on the scraps and I pat
his back, telling him how well weve done with our morning
catch.
Im guessing salmon is the only thing Im gonna be catching
anytime soon so long as I stay up here in Alaska. I wonder, like I
so often do, if its about time I cast my net a little wider.
Ready to call it a morning, I turn my rig around and head
toward the cannery to drop off my catch. As I drive my boat
toward the pier, I see Max, an old friend from town wave at me
from his boat. I nod my head at him; glad he was able to get out
on the water today. I know he was sick the last few weeks, and
when a fisherman isnt on his boat--he doesnt get paid.
Pulling up at the pier, Thomas greets me with a hearty, Top
of the morning. How an old Irishman made it to middle-of-
nowhere Alaska is beyond me, but his toothy grin never fails to
make me smile. Which is a fucking miracle considering my
reputation for being stoic and reserved.
After hes gutted and weighed my fish, he asks how Im
holding up. He seems to think the fact that Im flying solo is a
bad thing.
You need a wife, someone to keep you warm at night.
Alaskas too lonely to fare without a woman by your side.
I give him a sidelong glance, having heard this all before. My
family founded this town, and everyone knows my name. Seem
to think they can give me their opinions too.
Doing fine, thanks though, Thomas. Chum is pretty good at
keeping me company.
Thomas claps me on the back. Oh, son, you just havent
found the right woman. Maybe you need to look a little farther.
Ive heard about matchmakers sending mail order brides to
remote areas in Alaska.
I spend most of my time on this boat. Not sure its big
enough for two people.
And if my marriage to Sheila has taught me anything, its that
I dont really have the personality to go through the bullshit of
online dating, or even meeting with the matchmaker. Lets just
say, Im not exactly oozing charm. But I wont say all that to
Thomas. He means well.
But you have that gorgeous cabin out on the mountain. My
wife Leanna would faint if I had something like that for her.
I raise an eyebrow, laughing as the morning sun shines down
on us. But youre a nice guy, Thomas. Me? Not so much.
Im not the guy you take home to meet your daddy, Ive got a
beard so fierce that it would make most guys dicks limp with
shame, and eyes that have been called smoldering a time or
twenty. I dont put on a damn show, I got nothing to prove, and
my eyes tell you exactly what I mean.
Thomas, though, just shakes his head and laughs. All us
fisherman, were hard to reel in when we were young. Age will
slow you down a bit, and a good woman will do her part in
helping with that.
I tell him Ill see him in a week and a half-- Im headed out
on a ten-day fishing trip tomorrow--and board my boat.
Driving my boat back to the marina to find some breakfast, I
pull my beanie down over my ears. Its cold, even though its
June. Were on the coast, and the water always brings in a chill
on the Inland Passage. And today its much windier than usual.
As I pull into my slip at the marina, I see a woman on
the dock.
This fishermans marina is not where the fancy ass yachts go,
and the tourists from the cruise ships that come this way have to
take a water taxi to get to our village. When someone that isnt
from around here shows up, people take notice.
One glance at this woman and its clear she doesnt belong.
The people that belong here, at this marina, wear overalls and
chew tobacco. Theyve got bushy beards and eat jerky they made
from their own kill.
Well, I guess I could say most guys.
Not me. I may have a beard, and I may eat jerky, but I clean up
all right.
I know how to take a damn shower and always keep my boat
clean for that matter. Hell, I figure if I spend as much time as I
do on this ship I might as well keep it nice.
The woman wears a light blue raincoat that looks too thin to
keep her warm. And on her feet are bright yellow rain boots, she
has on leggings covered in flowers, and her nearly white hair
blows in the wind.
As I pull into my slip, I see the girl using her hand to keep her
hair away. She may be several yards away, but I can see she is
staring at me.
Chum notices her too and starts barking up a storm, jumping
off the boat and running toward her. In her surprise to see a big
old mutt racing toward her, she loses her balance. Her hands
whip out, as she tries to steady herself, but its no use. Chum has
completely blindsided her and she cant steady herself.
She falls in, head over heels, into the ice cold water.
Holy fuck, I scream, running off my boat and toward the
end of the dock where she fell.
Chum, I shout. Back on the boat. Now. Goddammit, this
water is frigid, but shes splashing like a wild animal in that
water, and I sure as hell hope a sea lion doesnt see her and think
shes something good to eat.
Shes screaming from the shock, but then her head dips
under the water, the current strong and choppy water
unforgiving.
I jump in after her, pulling at her waist, dragging her up the
dock before flinging her onto the wooden planks.
Are you breathing, you okay? I shout, half terrified and half
out of breath, as I lift myself up from the water, my muscles
pulling at my soaking wet clothes.
I look down at her, shes a shivering mess, sopping wet,
huddled over and sobbing, shaking from the shock.
Holy shit balls. Im furious. At what, Im not sure. Chum
didnt mean any harm, but hell, the water took my breath away.
And when I look down at this woman, she does too.
When she looks up, my heart warmswhich is saying
something considering that water is so cold we could have
fucking frozen.
Okay, its a lie to say my heart warmed. The ignition turns the
fuck on and surges into overdrive. Her eyes are icy blue like the
frigid ocean and they pierce me. Im staring at her when I should
be yelling at her for being a fool-- but instead, my heart is
melting like the North Pole.
I pull her into my arms, lifting her from the dock. I know one
thing this woman needs and that is to warm up hella quick. I
look around. Someone with you? I ask.
Shes in my arms, light as a feather, even though her clothing
is soaked through and weighs a shit ton. I hold her in my arms
and I wont let go. I ask again. Are you alone?
She manages to speak this time. No ones here with me.
Her teeth chatter, she looks so lost, those bright blue eyes of
hers bluer than the water she just fell into and her hair so white
its like the foam on a cresting wave.
Im taking you to my boat, I tell her. Not asking for
permission. She needs to warm up. I need to rip off her soaked
clothes and wrap blankets around her until her body heat begins
to recirculate. Otherwise, shell get hypothermia, and thats not
happening on my watch.
I get her back to my boat, carry her below deck, and I slam the
door behind me, locking it. Not sure why, maybe I intrinsically
know my job right now is to make sure shes safe, that no one
sees her. That no one gets close to her.
Because when I saw her on my bed, I see a woman who
belongs here. I pull off her raincoat coat and can now see that
she is slight and young and fucking beautiful.
She reaches for her boots, and I see how slender her fingers
are. Its too hard for her to pull them off when she is so wet and
cold, so I kneel before her and help. She looks at me with a flash
of fear in her eyes, but then she licks her lips; lips so pink I swear
theyve never been kissed. She oozes innocence, her eyelashes
flutter, and Im done for.
I need to get out of these soaking wet clothes, and so
does she.
Im going to warm her up and then Im going to make
her mine.
CHAPTER TWO

W
been rough.
hen I tell people my dad is my music coach they
think its cute but they dont understand that its

I graduated college a year early, and since then, my almost-


made-it-big father is intent on vicariously living through me.
Living with my parents is hard enough but constantly being
under their scrutiny is making it hell on earth.
To say my dad is stealing all the joy from my music would be
an understatement, to say the least.
Im in Alaska, on a family cruise, and yet Ive still been on a
practice schedule every day while my family is off exploring.
I want a break... but he doesnt think Ive earned one.
If you really want to earn a spot in the symphony you would
understand this sacrifice.
And I do want a spot. Its all Ive ever wanted.
But since I graduated, and Ive become regimented in my
playing, my music has only suffered.
Which is only getting me further from my dream. I feel so
stuck on how to unstick myself.
And my family only wants to stick me some more. Its not just
my dad whos trying to dictate my life.
Now my mom and sister are dead set on doing the exact same
thing.
As I get ready for the day, I replay the conversation from the
night before in my mind... when they explained that my date for
my sisters wedding later this month was Peter Gunheight.
A man they have pushed me to fall in love with many times.
Its never worked. It never will work.
No matter how many times were paired off together, theres
no way Id ever be with a man like him.
Peter believes that money makes a man, and the fact that Im
not impressed by his wealth infuriates him.
Which makes him want me all the more.
And makes me want to run for the hills.
I want a man who does something he loves--just because he
loves it. The same way I play my music because its a part of
my soul.
That man would need to be the total opposite of someone my
parents would set me up with. I want a man who values honor
above material possessions; respect above validation from his
peers; stoicism and honesty over falseness.
Ive just never found a man like that before but if I did? I
wouldnt hold back. Id give him all of me.
Last night, my parents and sister wouldnt let Peters name
drop and it was the end of the line.
I think their insistence is the straw that broke this exhausted
cellists back. I need some breathing room. What that means
exactly, I dont know.
Before as I leave the cabin for breakfast, I see a slip of paper
under my door.
It lists the available excursions for todays port visit. Were
near Juneau, Alaska: a breathtaking place from what I saw last
night when we pulled in. I had stood out on the deck, bundled up
in my jacket, watching the mountainous landscape come
into view.
I want to see more of this place.
And I want to get away from my family for the day.
And ever since I boarded the ship, Ive been denied any
opportunity to do anything or go anywhere. It may be a vacation,
but there is no rest for me. Not if I finally want a seat in the
Seattle Symphony.
You have your audition coming up, my father has told me
every time I suggest something other than practice, practice,
practice.
But today, as I look at the itinerary, I see a fishing excursion
and its suddenly the very thing I have to do. Wide open waters,
wind in my hair--it sounds like freedom.
Ive never been fishing. Ive never even thought about
fishing. But here I was in Alaska, in a beautiful city, a place I may
never return. And for the price of $259 I could go on a four-hour
fishing expedition.
Without my family.
However, when I mention this opportunity at breakfast my
parents look at me as if I were a fool.
Thats not possible, my father says. You have to practice
today.
Exactly. Dont be ridiculous, Alice, Mom adds. I
immediately feel my shoulders tighten and heat rise to my
cheeks.
This is why I need to get away for a day. They are
suffocating me.
Before I can even protest, my sister Anna pipes in, Besides,
were going to a glass-blowing workshop today. Not fishing.
I didnt say I was going with you. Im going by myself, I say.
My parents exchange a look that says no way, and I know
theyre as invested in my music as I am--probably more so--but
Ive had enough.
I set down my napkin and tell them that Ill see them this
evening.
My mother stands up from the table. Sit back down, Alice.
Who do you think you are, ordering us around like that?
Mother, I say coolly, having no interest in fighting. Im
letting you know that today, I will not be following the practice
schedule. Today I want to take a break. All this hovering is
stressing me out, and I dont need that right now. I need a day
off or my audition in two weeks will end just like the last two. I
wont get a spot in the symphony.
My parents stare at me in shock. Apparently, Ive never
spoken up like this before.
And why? Why havent I?
I love playing the cello. I want this dream as badly as they do.
But instead of becoming better... the older I get, the less
spectacular my performances have become.
Playing the cello professionally might not happen. Did you
ever think about that? I ask, grabbing my purse and jacket from
the breakfast table. And then what?
Practicing is the only way youll get what you want. My
fathers eyes narrow. This is your entire life. We only push you
because youve asked us to.
The pressure is getting to me. I feel like I cant breathe.
Truth is, Im scared I am going to fail this next audition too.
Eventually, Im going to have to let this dream die.
And when that happens, the sad truth is... Ill have nothing.
Ive spent my life so focused, so reliant on my mom and dad,
that without the cello, Ive got nothing going for me.
I need to step away from everything for a day and think about
what I want.
Think about who I want to be.
Because cello or not, it doesnt feel like enough anymore.
Taking a deep breath, I know I need to get away from all this
noise and clear my head.
Im going on a fishing excursion today. Alone.
Annas fianc Donavan smirks at what he probably considers
a tantrum.
Alice, you dont know the first thing about fishing,
Donavan states.
Wow. Real rocket scientist that one.
And Peter is a good guy, he adds. You dont even give him
a chance.
My eyes widen. I have so given Peter plenty of chances. The
fact that he ruins them every time he opens mouth isnt my
problem.
Speaking each syllable as clearly as possible, I am not
interested in Peter.
I dont wait for a reply. I just walk out of the breakfast hall
and sign up for the excursion.
Apparently, the boat taking guests to the fishing marina has
already left, but they get me a water taxi, telling me I still might
make it in time.
I dont. The boat pulled out fifteen minutes before I arrived at
the marina. My hair is windswept from the taxi ride, the salt air
filling my lungs and giving me the perspective I need. It can be
so easy to get stuck in my own little bubble--but here in this
wide open space--Im reminded that the world is so big. So
beautiful.
So full of possibility.
Its okay that the trip already left. Standing on this dock in
the middle of nowhere, I realize I dont need an excursion, not
really. None of this is about fishing--its about getting a breath
of fresh air.
And so at this random marina, I find myself free for the first
time in recent memory.
In fact, maybe this is better that the fishing trip. I dont need
to return to the ship until 8 tonight. That means I have an entire
day where I can do and be anything I want.
And this is a beautiful marina. There are so many fishing
boats, birds sweeping low into the water to get their morning
catch, and even seals flipping themselves around playfully.
Sighting a pair of seals, I lean over to get a better look.
As I stand, I see a sleek fishing boat pulling into a slip. The
driver has a thick beard and piercing eyes. His dog starts
barking, and he calls for him to quiet down, reaching across the
boat and grabbing a rope to secure it in the slip. As he moves, his
shirt rides up and I see a sliver of skin that makes me lose focus.
You can tell hes chiseled, broad-shouldered and all man.
Nothing like the Peter Gunheight-accountants of the world or
the rail-thin musicians in Seattle Im usually around.
Suddenly his dog jumps overboard and starts barreling toward
me on the wooden dock. So caught off guard, I lose my footing in
these stupid yellow rain boots I wore. I try to gain back my
balancebut its too late.
Into the ice cold ocean, I go.
The dog barks loudly, and I flap my arms, trying to keep my
head up, but the shock of the fall takes my breath away. My
chest seizes. The water is so cold Im terrified to blinkthis
entire life could be gone in an instant and Im scared to close my
eyes and miss my last moments on earth. Its as if a boa
constrictor is tightening around my chest and every muscle
hurts.
Then, as if by miracle, a man twice the size of Peter jumps in
and grabs hold of my waist, pulling me up.
He literally saves me from drowning. He flings me onto the
dock as if I dont weigh a thing. I sit down in a puddle, shaking
and shivering; then I look up at him.
This burly man has a thick beard, muscles outlined fiercely
through his soaked clothing, but his eyes look just like mine.
Full of longing.
They are crystal-clear, with a gaze that shoots straight to my
heart.
Without asking much, he picks me up, insisting I dry off, and
carries me below deck on his boat. I try to absorb the shock of
whats happening, but I have to focuse on breathing and cant
exactly think this through.
Im alone with this man, a man who could potentially hurt
me, kill me. Who knows what with me.
I try to think straight, but I cant. Its like my head went
below the surface of the water and all the intensity of my
upcoming audition and the demands of my family just...
slipped away.
He kneels before me and slips off my boots because Im too
cold and shaking to do it myself.
He holds my ankle so tenderly that when he gently rolls off
my sock, I know he would never hurt me.
No. This man would never put me in harms way.
And Im not saying he wouldnt hurt a fly. With eyes like that
and a body like his, Im sure hes hurt a lot of people and broken
even more hearts,
But I know without him saying it, that he would never do that
to me.
The cruise ship and the rocky morning with my family feel a
million miles away.
Right now, I am here. With him. A stranger.
He is what I need.
I said I needed a chance to clear my head... to decide what I
really want.
And within minutes he is clearing everything up for me.
Everything is as clear as the Alaskan sky.
Let me help you out of this, okay? I cant have you catching a
cold, he says gently.
I trust him, knowing he is right about these drenched clothes.
And dont hesitate when he finds the hem of my sweater and
lifts it over my head. He sucks in a deep breath of air at the sight
of me half undressed on his bed.
I forget to breathe too but then am forced to inhale sharply
for fear of passing out.
I need to get you out of the rest of these clothes or youll
freeze to death. His voice is low and gravelly. He doesnt mince
his words ... and he doesnt need to.
Right now, for the first time in my life, I want to be stripped
of my clothes too.
I nod ever so slowly because I dont trust myself to speak.
What would I say to him anyways? Everything I might say
would feel foolish and inconsequential. He is such a man and I
am still such a little girl.
He reaches for my hand and helps me stand, and then pulls
down my pants, tossing them next to my sweater.
I know he is just trying to keep me from getting hypothermia,
but when his hand gripped mine... I think I felt something more
from him.
Something electric.
I want this to turn into something more. Ive waited my entire
life for a moment like this.
I dont want to wait anymore.
Im in my panties and bra, my wet hair dripping on my skin.
He reaches for a thick wool blanket and wraps it around my
shoulders. I look around the cabin of his boat. It is simple but
well cared for, and I can see from this mans face that he lives
outdoors, his face is ruddy with the sky and the sea. There is a
passion in his eyes; the kind of passion I have always been
looking for in another person.
The kind of passion I feel when I play.
Here you go, he says. This will warm you up. His hands
are firm against me as he pulls the blanket tight against my still
wet skin, drying me off. Once Im wrapped in the blanket he tells
me to sit back down on the bed.
I do as Im told.
I watch as he removes his own soaking wet clothing. First a
flannel shirt, one button at a time. When he leans over and
tosses it aside, next to my wet clothing, I see more than tattoos
and muscles; I see a man ripped, chiseled. A man carved from
stone.
He pulls down the zipper of his pants and strips himself from
his soaked jeans.
Before me is a man in nothing but a pair of boxer briefs. A
deep V leads to his groin, a thin line of hair reaching his belly
button. He turns around, and his rear end is as defined as any
Ive ever seen. Not that Ive ever been this close and personal to
anyones backside.
With his butt to me, he pulls off his boxers, and I am bearing
witness to the first naked ass I seen in my life. Im shivering and
cold, yet somehow my pussy is wet. This man is rock hard and
naked.
I blink, squeeze my eyes shut, not wanting to see what isnt
mine to have.
But Ive imagined.
Ive seen pictures.
And he didnt ask me to look away...
I open my eyes, needing to see more. I whimper, ever so
quietly.
Nothing compares to real life.
Whats your name? he asks. Reaching for a towel, he wraps
it around his waist. As he turns back to me I cant help but feel a
flutter in my chest.
This man wears nothing but a towel.
This man who is a stranger.
This man saved my life.
This man is looking at me and asking me a question. I force
myself to speak.
Im Alice, I tell him.
He smiles. Oh, that smile. It could slay dragons. It could stop
traffic. It could get a girl like me in a lot of trouble.
In Wonderland, though, he says. I think you fall into a
hole, not into the ocean. He surprises me with his reference to
a childhood storybook. He looks much too tough to know
anything about Mad Hatters.
In the book, I tell him, Alice has a happily ever after: shes
saved by the Cheshire cat. Just like me. I guess I got a happily
ever after, too. My parents wanted to take me on a really
expensive excursion today, but Im tired of that commercial
stuff. I wanted to just catch some fish and see the ocean for a
while. I smile at him. Looks like I got what I wanted.
He looks at me thoughtfully. I get that, so many people only
care about material bullshit.
But not you? I ask.
The stranger shakes his head. Not me.
Me either. I think people who throw caution to the wind and
chase their own dreams, no matter how big or small those are
the people I understand.
Youre a dreamer? he asks.
I nod. Id call myself romanticist like I said, happily-ever-
afters and all that, I say smiling wider now, feeling so safe in
this cabin.
His dog bounds through the doggy door. Immediately he
comes over to me, where I sit nearly naked and he nuzzles
against my legs.
The warm welcome from the dog seems to melt the heart of
this rugged man before me. Chum likes you, Alice.
I like him too, I say, rubbing Chums back. Even though
he almost drowned me.
He focuses on his dog before telling him to get out and leave
us alone. You know Alice; I dont think your happily ever after
is ending up on this dock.
It isnt? I ask.
He looks at me with an intensity I cant help but match. I
suddenly want to stay below deck with him all day long. I want
him to prove that I am not a little girl. I want him to make me a
woman.
At least, he says with a smile, it doesnt have to be.
I bite my bottom lip knowing how I want this story to end. I
want to get everything I ever dreamed of having.
How do you suggest we change the ending? I ask, lowering
my chin and raising my eyes.
Depends on how much of an adventure youre looking for,
Alice.
A smile spreads across my face. If I really want this I need to
let him know what I have in mind.
I want a big adventure.
He cocks an eyebrow, his fingers on the towel. We both know
what is underneath.
How big? He looks down at his groin. Because this
adventure is pretty damn huge.
Hes flirting with me. This sexy, wild, untamed man is flirting
with me. Alice. Alice the cellist who has never had anything
between her legs but an instrument.
And not like at band camp.
Nothing kinky nothing even scandalous.
Nothing like this.
Show me.
He steps toward me. The cabin is suddenly as hot as a furnace,
my body no longer shivering.
Now I am trembling.
Ill give you an ending, Alice, but first we need a beginning.
His eyes shine in desire and it makes me feel beautiful and
wanted. Feelings I have never experienced before.
Then lets start the story, I tell him, taking hold of my life
just like I wanted.
He drops his towel, looking down at his cock... and my eyes
follow his.
Oh, my holy hotness.
This, Alice, wont be a story. This will be a fucking
fairy tale.
CHAPTER THREE

T he blanket is pulled tight around her, the only thing


bared to me is her neck and beautiful
heart-shaped face.
But I already saw the rest, most of it anyways. When I took off
her shirt and pants, I saw her creamy skin, perfect and
untouched. Theres something about her petite figure, her big
eyes--deep pools of unfulfilled wishes--that drew me to her
instantly. And then when she speaks about not caring about
material possessions, I know shes someone special. But when
Chum gave her a hearty hello, I know Im fucking falling.
Ive heard her speak only a handful of words, but they were
enough for me to know she isnt fiery spitball who is hell bent on
getting her way.
No, she needs someone to help guide her to where she wants
to go.
For today at least, I can be that someone.
With my towel dropped to the floor, my stiff cock is eager. All
it took was one look at her beautiful face to warm up to the idea
of a day-long sex marathon.
Its been a hell of a long time since I had a perfect pussy. And
Im not going to waste this opportunity.
I reach over and crank up the thermostat. That will make this
place a sauna, a fucking hot box with one purpose. Well get
fucking high on one another. Well be so high well float right
out of here.
Her eyes are wide her now, looking at my bare body, but I
know she likes what she sees. She bites her bottom lip, and
when she adjusts her legs that are tucked up under her, she loses
her grip on the blanket that covers her shoulders.
Im not sure if that was intentional or not, but she doesnt
reach for it, doesnt attempt to pull it back over herself, and I
dont help.
No, this is just how I want her. In the warming room, she sits
in her wet panties and bra, looking like a mermaid just washed
up on shore. And shes looking at me with a hunger. The hunger
that a woman has when shes never tasted what she craves.
Whats your name? she asks. I feel like before we... She
shakes her head, her words trailing off. I just wondered what
your name was us all.
I cant help but grin again, loving the hints shes giving me,
but I can tell shes too shy to say it outright.
I have a few ideas of how I can finish her sentence.
Before we fuck.
Before I fill her with all Ive got to give.
Before I take her hard and slow and nice and easy.
Im Aiden, I tell her, not wanting to scare her away with my
dirty ideas. Would you like to shake my hand? I raise an
eyebrow, the grin unable to wash itself away.
She doesnt answer, but she does offer me her hand, and
when I take it, what I feel is electric. Her hand is so small in
mine, but size doesnt matter in this case.
I like the idea of being with a woman fragile like this, a
woman who needs me to keep her in one piece.
You like what you see? I ask her.
I do. I just never... She shakes her head, heat rising to her
cheeks and I love getting her worked up.
Youve never been face-to-face with a cock?
She shakes her head. Never.
That means ?
Yes. Im a virgin, which means I havent had a lot of
experience with men. Any, really. But Ive thought about it,
plenty. Her eyes arent on mine. Theyre on my steel rod.
I run my hand up and down my shaft, wanting it to grow,
wanting to tempt her even more. Even though the mere idea that
this nearly drowned woman is half naked in my bed, and a virgin
no less, is gonna make me come so fucking fast.
Thats good, I tell her. Its a good thing youre a virgin,
and its a good thing I was the one who saved your life. It would
be a fucking tragedy if youd been saved by some asshole who
thinks he knows what it means to be a man.
And you know. You know what it means.
Shes not asking a question.
Shes making a statement.
Damn straight, I tell her, pulling her close, close enough so
my cock touches her bare belly, close enough so her eyes are
forced to meet mine when she decides what she wants to have
happen next.
I want you, she says, her voice small. I want you to make a
woman out of me.
I growl, realizing my fantasy is coming fucking true. An
innocent woman needing me.
Ill make her need me all right.
Ill make her moan for me, come for me.
Ill make her cunt beg for more.
Im twenty-one. I can make my own decisions. Her words
are strong, I can tell from her inflection that she doubts her
ability to make her own choices.
But I dont doubt her at all. A woman like this, she knows
what she wants. Shes just never had the opportunity to take it.
Because shes never met me.
Im thirty, I say stepping toward her. And this is the best
decision Ive made in a long time.
She smiles... and its a smile washed in relief. Her shoulders
drop and she lets out a sigh as if shes been waiting her whole
life for someone to take her seriously. To validate her.
Well, Ill validate her all right. Ill validate her brains out.
Hell, Ill validate her pussy all day long.
Because something as pure and untouched as her can only be
right.
I reach my hands around her back and unclasp her bra,
dropping it on the floor. Her breasts are perfect, small just like
she is. She has the kind of tits you can put in your mouth and
suck on. The kind of tits that are begging to be coated in come.
The kind of tits that were made to be held.
I run my thumbs over her nipples. They are hard from the icy
water.
And they are hard in anticipation of whats to take place next.
She closes her eyes, whimpering as my thumbs roll over
her tits.
She doesnt reach for me, she is hesitant and I can tell shes
going to need a lot of guidance when it comes to that part.
Thankfully, we have plenty of time. Im sure as fuck not going
anywhere.
I pull her mouth to mine, holding the base of her neck, and
kiss her like the dream she is.
She moans into my mouth as if the kiss both shocks and
surprises her. Her hands press against my bare chest, leaning
into me with excitement. Her lips are so fucking tender that I
kiss them hard, wanting them swollen and devoured.
Our mouths open, my tongue slides against hers, and she
sighs, her body language telling me that my girl has never been
properly kissed.
Hell, with her greedy mouth, pressing deeper against mine, I
cant help but think shes never been kissed at all.
I kiss her until she is out of breath, then I whisper in her ear,
Im gonna need to see your pussy soon.
Her eyes open, full of wonder.
Okay, she says slowly. I want you to take anything
you like.
I groan in pleasure over her decadent offering. Damn, its like
Ive died and gone to heaven.
Like the angel she is, she stands up, on my bed. Even though
were below deck, her head doesnt touch the ceiling because she
is so petite.
Im a big man, tall and broad, and I can hardly fit down here.
She stands and rests her arms on my shoulders for balance; I
use the opportunity to take a good long look at her.
With one hand she pulls down her panties and they fall to her
ankles. She steps back and we both look down.
Her cunt is fucking beautiful. But I need to spread her pussy, I
want to see how tight she is, I want to look at her with her knees
dropped, imagining myself buried deep inside of her.
Do I look okay? she asks shyly.
I exhale. Does she look okay? Alice, you have no idea how
perfect you are.
She shakes her head. Im not perfect. Its as if self-doubt
has plagued her entire life. My family expects me to be, but I
know Im not. Theres a lot of things that arent perfect
about me.
I dont believe you, I tell her.
Its true. You wouldnt think I was perfect either if you knew
all the things I am imagining right now.
Oh, baby. I run my hand over her round ass, squeezing her
perfect cheeks. Your imagination is not going to be a problem.
Now tell me, I say wrapping my arms around her waist and
pulling her to me. Tell me things that youre thinking.
She licks her lips, our mouths so close to touching. But I need
her to tell me her thoughts. I need to know where shes coming
from because I want to take those ideas and turn them into
reality.
The ideas running through her head are leaving her
breathless. She bites her bottom lip, then ekes out her desire. I
think about you crammed inside of me until Im so full that I
might break. I think about you, about your cock, in my mouth
gagging me. I think about you tying my arms to this bedpost,
pressing your cock against my ass.
She covers her face with her hands. Shaking her head. I
cant believe I just said that to you. You must think Im a sex
maniac.
Oh baby, that does not make you a maniac, that just makes
you mine.
CHAPTER FOUR

T he fact that I just told Aiden the erotic fantasies that


float through my mind causes my face to flush. A
part of me is embarrassed for telling him the absolute truth.
But when Aiden looks at me, I know I said the exact right
thing.
There is no denying that this is what I want and Im not
asking anyone else for permission. Im not waiting for someone
else to give me the go-ahead. I want this. I want him.
Hes big and knows what hes doing and Im small and need
his guidance. And when he leans me back, my head resting on
pillows as he hovers over me, I think he just might be the
missing piece to the puzzle of my heart.
It doesnt matter that he is a stranger.
He doesnt feel like a stranger.
And now that Ive revealed my fantasies with him... he is no
stranger at all.
Maybe the people I live with, the people who make all the
decisions for me are the real strangers. Id never trust them with
my deepest truth. They didnt even trust me to even make a good
decision when it comes to fishing.
Though, considering that only one hour into my excursions
Im already naked in Aidens arms... maybe they were right to
keep me confined.
Out in the wild, Im not exactly a good little girl.
But I want to be an unbridled woman.
Free to give my body to whom I want, when I want.
Even if my family would consider this a mistake, I dont. Peter
is the one theyve chosen for me and I know this will ruin that.
Thank God. Right now, I want to be ruined.
My life has been orchestrated by other people.
I may be a musician trying for a spot in a symphony, but this
time I dont care what my family thinks about my performance.
This is my song.
And I choose to play it with Aiden.
As he leans lower against me, his rigid cock overwhelms my
senses. I forget about the probability of a mistake and let myself
fall into the possibility of the moment.
And right now, the possibilities feel limitless.
He leans over me, pressing himself so hard against my pussy
that I ache with desire. He runs the length of his tip up and down
my wet slit, teasing me. You like that, dont you baby?
I whimper a yes because I do. I reach to feel him, hes so
thick, so long... and so velvety smooth. I didnt expect that. His
cock is looking for where it belongs.
And I have the key.
I want to do this with you, now, I tell him, pressing his top
against my hood.
We can take our time, Alice, we dont need to rush this.
I know, I sigh, knowing this is the man Ive always
imagined being with. Different than any man Ive ever met. The
kind of man who is free and alive and comfortable in his own
skin. But Ive waited my whole life for a moment like this. And
now I have it... I dont want to waste it.
When I speak, Aiden looks at me with intention, he stops
moving his cock against me and instead smooths the hair around
my face, tucking a still-wet strand behind my ear.
I dont want to waste this moment either. In life, even if it
seems like you have all the time in the world, you never know.
I relax under him; grateful he isnt going to take away the one
thing Im finally choosing on my own.
Him.
He runs his hand between my legs, my skin prickling under
his touch. I inhale, trying to stay still but he tickles me,
fluttering his forefinger against my opening.
I know you want to dive in, just like you did back there on
the dock, but I dont want to hurt you, Alice. And your sweet
pussy is so fucking tight.
I moan as he spreads my thighs apart, as his finger begins
running up and down me, then pressing inside, entering me and
causing a high pitch whine to escape my mouth.
I knew his touch would make me feel hot... but right now I am
on fire.
He moves his finger deeper inside me and flicks it back and
forth as if knowing what I need.
And oh, do I need it.
I feel myself melting into the bed, the comforter soft under
me and my toes curl into it. My hips move along with his
rhythm, and hes kneeling now, at the end of the bed, his body
so ripped and his hands so capable. I look up at him, his hand
reaching behind my ass, tilting my pelvis higher as if he wants to
see my pussy as he fingers me.
Girl, youre so fucking wet, he groans, and I know he likes
that, because his face is no longer filled with grins and cocked
brows--now it is cloaked in desire. His eyes darker, and his hand
reaches to a drawer. He grabs a condom and rips it open.
I watch him roll it on expertly and a part of me is sad to watch
his hard cock become contained. It wants to be free just like me,
but I respect Aiden all the more for knowing what it means to
take care of me.
Is my pussy ready? I ask, my core tightening at the idea of
him filling me all the way up.
So ready, baby. Still, it might hurt, you gonna be okay?
I think about all the times my fingers ached from practicing
the cello, wanting to stop, but never giving in. I think about the
exhaustion of perfection. The never ending stream of recitals
and performances growing up. Always on stage, on point. Never
being allowed to complain even if I wanted to.
I know about pain, about suppressing emotion and forcing a
smile.
Its okay. I know what its like to work through unpleasant
feelings.
He shakes his head, his fingers rubbing my clit, tight little
circles I never knew I needed. My hands grab hold of the
bedspread as he touches me so softly.
Thats not what Im talking about. Its gonna hurt, but itll
feel so nice. I promise.
I like the sound of that.
I watch as he guides himself inside me, and I know there is no
going back.
But I dont want to return to being the person I was yesterday.
I want to lean into this possibility.
You okay, baby? he asks.
Yes, I sigh. This is what I need. What I want. I want to get
lost with you.
When he has just begun to fill me, he rests his elbow on one
side of me, cupping my shoulder, and his other hand guides his
cock home.
Good, he tells me. Because I swear with you in my arms I
lose all sense of direction.
I whimper. I moan. I bite my lip. He caresses my cheek,
whispering sweet nothings, pressing his massive cock inside,
deeper, and deeper, until I am full.
Oh God, my pussy is on fire, ripped open, my heart bare, but
he is exactly right. Its a kind of hurt that feels sinfully right. The
kind of hurt that a person could start to crave.
I give into him, into this. I wrap my legs around him, and his
hand takes hold of my ass. He squeezes it as if making sure I am
real, that this is real.
Nothing has ever been more real in my life.
My arms wrap around his neck, and my breasts are pressed
against his chest. He lifts me up in one fell swoop, and then Im
against a wall, wrapped around him still, bouncing on his
hard cock.
And then the orgasm begins reaching deep inside me, pulling
at me. Begging to be released.
Oh, Aiden, I moan, clawing at his skin as he thrusts deep
inside me.
Is this what you needed, baby? he asks, his voice gruff, his
arms effortlessly holding me up. I feel so sexy and beautiful as I
ride his cock.
My breasts bounce as he fills me, and I gasp at the sensation
of coming against him. The walls of my pussy shudder and I
tremble against him.
Yes, yes, yes, I moan. This is exactly what I needed. What I
wanted.
My head falls against his chest and he groans out his release.
Even with a condom on, I feel his warm come in my pussy, and
something inside me stirs. I want his come inside of me, I want
to feel all he has to give.
Youre fucking amazing, he tells me, carrying me back to
the bed. He sits on the edge of it, and I pull his cock out but stay
sitting in his lap. I love the idea that his hardness is between us.
Youre pretty amazing yourself.
We stare at one another for a minute, and I know he
understands how badly I needed to just lose control.
Where are you from, Alice? he asks, kissing my collarbone.
Seattle.
Why are you here?
Im on a cruise. We came to this port last night. I came out
this way for a fishing trip this morning but I missed it.
When does the boat leave?
Not until 8 oclock.
He looks at the clock on the wall.
We have nine hours then. Thats what youre saying? He
raises a brow, making a decision. No one is going to wonder
where you are?
Not today. Today I get to do what I want.
With who you want.
I smile. Exactly.
So, what are your plans for the rest of the day? he asks.
You.
With that, he rolls me to my back, takes off his condom and
tells me its time we get to work on my fantasies.
CHAPTER FIVE

S he says shes from Seattle, but damn, it seems like shes


from another world.
I ask her if shes ready to touch my cock, and she tells me
she is.
When you came in me, she says, I imagined tasting your
come. I want to suck you; I want you in my mouth.
Her words alone could get me off.
And a few minutes later, when Im on my back and she
straddles me, her head bent down, her mouth wide open, her
throat fucking full, I know Im a lucky bastard.
When she sits down on me, I grab her hips and still her. And
then I start licking her perfect pussy, tasting how fucking sweet
she is.
It doesnt take her long to start dripping, shes so fucking
wet; her cunt a waterfall. I lick her slit up and down, my tongue
fucking her like theres no tomorrow. And she sucks me off too,
my cock so hard against her. She tentatively begins to massage
my shaft as she sucks; to fondle my balls as she moves her head
up and down.
Im gonna come so fast, and so is she--and I dont want this
blow job to end. I could lick her cunt all day long. When my
tongue flicks against her, over and over again, she cant contain
her excitement.
Her entire body trembles as she comes hard against me. I kiss
her pussy lips as she climaxes and after she does, like the good
girl she is, she keeps sucking me until my come spurts into her
mouth, until my seed is sliding down her throat, until were both
fucked out of our minds.
And then we go for seconds.
Then thirds.
Eventually, though, we work ourselves to exhaustion.
Come here, I tell her, pulling her close to me in the bed.
Were both completely naked, and I savor the way her flesh feels
against mine. I pull her on top of me, wanting to memorize the
way she feels against me, her tits pressed against my chest, her
swollen pussy against my groin. I wrap my arms around her,
running my hands over her ass.
We can sleep for a bit while our clothes dry, I tell her.
Then we can get some food before you have to go. Sound good?
She purrs a yes, then curls up against me and closes her eyes.
Its like shes a little kitten who had her milk, licked the cream
from her lips, and now needs a cat nap.

A few hours later were sitting in the bar that all the locals
frequent. Chum is at my feet, and the bartender, Grady comes
around the bar and pats his back like hes as much a regular as
I am.
When Grady grabs a stainless steel bowl and fills it halfway up
with beer, Alices eyes get wide but she doesnt say anything.
When Chum starts lapping it up, I cant help but laugh.
Thanks, Grady. But Im not sure he deserves a treat today.
He knocked Alice here in the water. Almost drowned the poor
thing.
Grady frowns worriedly. Glad youre okay.
Alice thanks him. Im just glad Aiden was here to rescue me.
It was terrifying.
Grady raps his knuckles on the bar, Thats the kind of man
Aiden is. Always having someone elses back.
Alice looks at me with surprise.
What? I ask, pulling back with a smirk. Surprised Im
known around here as a nice guy?
She shakes her head as if embarrassed.
No, any man who has a dog following him around like Chum
follows you cant be all bad.
Grady leaves to serve another customer and I ask Alice what
shed like to drink.
Umm, Pinot Grigio? Her voice is tentative and I see her
tense her shoulders up, out of place. I shake my head no.
Why not? she asks as if not realizing a place like this
doesnt serve fancy-ass white wine.
Thats when I get a better look at her. When we met, she was
soaking wet and half-drowned, but now that her clothes are dry
and shes attempted to put herself back together, I see the
diamond earrings she wears and the fine cashmere sweater she
has under her raincoat. She has on rain boots, but the label says,
HUNTER. Even I know that her waterproof footwear is high-end.
Shes rich, I can see that. And I guess it makes sense, she is a
sweet, innocent girl on a fancy-ass cruise, probably sheltered
as hell.
You cant drink white wine at a bar like this. You need some
beer. Something light? Dark? I dont want to assume I know
what kind of beer Alice likes-- and Im not one of those fuckers
who tells a woman what to do outside of the bedroom.
She shrugs. Light?
I nod. Two Rainiers, I tell Grady. I place an order for a
couple burgers and fries as well, and she sits with her hands
folded, suddenly prim and proper, not at all like she was below
deck... where she shed her fears and her clothes within minutes
of meeting me.
In this environment, shes been brought back to reality. As if
our time in my boat was just a little dream.
Now, with her clothes back on, were faced with a different
sort of truth.
We already know that our bodies understand one another, and
I swear her eyes tell me a story that I understand too... but that
isnt enough.
I learned my lesson with Sheila. People arent always what
you think. And I need to understand what kind of girl Alice is
when she puts on her clothes. As much as I like the idea of
spending more time fucking her below deck, I know thats not
realistic before I at least know a little more about her.
So, Im pretty sure you figured out I am a fisherman,
considering my rig. But I want to know about you.
Alaska and Seattle arent that far considering she could have
been from fucking Florida. What do you do in Seattle? I ask.
She purses her lips together, and I can tell she isnt a girl who
likes to talk about herself. Guess Ill have to ease her out of her
shell.
I just want to get to know you. I mean, we certainly learned a
lot already, I start, running my hand over her back. But I want
to know everything.
She looks in my eyes, and when she does, I see her shoulders
immediately drop, her breathing returns to normal. Its like
when she looks at me shes more comfortable in her own skin.
And it makes me hard as hell.
Damn, this woman is doing things to me she doesnt even
realize.
I am a cellist. Right now I still live with my parents, but Im
auditioning in a few weeks for a spot in the Seattle Symphony. If
I get it, Ill finally have some independence. If Im earning a
salary, they cant exactly hold me hostage any longer.
Hostage? I say that word that struck me the most, even
though the rest of it does too. Damn, Alice is a cellist.
It doesnt take much to imagine her with her legs spread
apart and a big cello between them. Her hand running her bow
back and forth, fingering the strings, creating melodies that stir
a crowd.
Hell, shes stirring me just thinking about it.
I can see it. I can see that softer, yet dramatic side of her.
Alice is a musician.
Maybe hostage is a tad strong, she says. I just think
theyve gotten used to the idea of bossing me around.
They?
Alice looks into my eyes. They meaning my parents and
sister. They make the decisions for me, and I never fight back,
but Id be lying if I told you I havent resented them for a long
time. Today, though, I had enough. Thats why Im out alone
now, away from their watchful eye.
I nod trying to piece this version of Alice with the one I just
experienced for the last several hours. The Alice who knew what
she wanted and took it. She had desires and made them known.
The idea that her family would ever squash her personal
choices kills me.
I dont want to upset her, though, so I attempt a more
lighthearted approach.
I see, so you fucked me to get back at your daddy?
Color rises to Alices cheeks. She shakes her head, flustered.
Im not trying to get back at anybody. Besides, my parents will
never know about this. They can never know about you. Never.
Theyd be furious. They have a guy all picked out for me. Her
voice is so adamant, that I raise my hands in defense.
Understood, I say, even though I dont understand at all.
So you wanted this to be a one-time thing?
Wasnt that what you wanted? Alice asks, reaching for her
napkin and unfolding it in her lap. I watch as she carefully cuts
her hamburger in two and brings one-half to her mouth. I dont
know what it is about those lips of hers, but I could watch them
all day long.
It sounds like you want a one-night stand, I say, finishing
my beer and ordering another round. This conversation suddenly
became personal. Truth is, hearing her talk about another man
has gotten me unnerved. I dont want her with anyone else. I
only want her with me.
Still, shes her own woman. And she can make her own
decisions.
The last thing I want to do is start telling you what you
should or shouldnt do. Sounds like youve had enough of that
already.
Thats not what I was meaning, she says shaking her head,
her face written in worry. I mean, Aiden, really? A man like you
would never be like with a girl like me. I mean Im glad we had
the day we had--
I scoff. Glad?
Dont get upset. I just mean, in the real world, you and me?
She shakes her head.
Why wouldnt a guy like me be with you? Because Im a
fisherman; because I live and work in a small town off the
Alaskan coast? Is that not enough for you? I know Im
defensive, but hell, Ive been down this road with women before.
They make assumptions about me.
I had really hoped Alice was different.
And when she leans in, her shoulder bumping against mine,
talking softly but firmly, I see what kind of woman she really is.
I dont care if youre a fisherman, Aiden. If you love what
you do, thats all that matters. What I meant was, a man like
you--a man so strong and in charge? Youre nothing like me.
She looks down at her food as if shes thinking she said
too much.
Baby, I tell her, leaning into her ear. A man like me may
be strong and in charge. Maybe what I really want is to take care
of you.
I hear her whimper, the faintest of moans escaping her lips.
She shakes her head again, and dammit, I dont know what
she means.
You dont really mean that. You dont even know me.
I know enough, I tell her firmly. I can decide who I want
and when I want them. And Ive already made up my decision. I
want you.
My words must have finally struck a nerve because Alice loses
inhibition and wraps her arms around my neck.
Really Aiden? You could see yourself with someone
like me?
Not someone. You. I can see myself with you. I pull her into
a kiss, sealing my words to her heart. I fucking mean what I say.
Theres something about this woman that I find irresistible.
When our lips part, she smiles broadly, her confidence at
being with me having returned, and she laughs as if being here
with me is unbelievable.
And then, a ghost from my not-distant-enough past sweeps
into the bar.
Sheila.
Theres nothing I can do but groan.
CHAPTER SIX

W hat is it? Alice asks. She rests her hand on my


forearm, and just having her in here next to me
makes this conversation better.
Its my ex. Shes a fucking bitch, and I dont say that lightly.
I dont talk shit about women, in general. Just Sheila.
Oh. Should we go?
I shake my head, noticing the stares from the other regulars
in the bar. I hate their pitying looks, but everyone in this village
knows about my drama with Sheila, and Ive heard from plenty
of people that they are as sick of her as I am.
This woman is my before I can say anymore Sheila has
sauntered over to us.
On the surface, Sheila appears to be my type. Blue jeans and a
flannel shirt, a down vest and her long hair in a braid down her
back. Shes the quintessential Alaskan womancan hold a rifle
and catch a fish. And she looks like she stepped off of the cover
of Outdoor Women Magazine--shes beautiful on the outside.
But that is what got me roped into being her husband in the
first place. On the inside, Sheila is nothing I want.
I see Alice take her in, but to Alices credit, she just smiles,
letting her hand stay rested on my knee. Damn, I like that Alice
isnt pulling away and I cant help but think telling her my
intentions helped embolden her.
Oh, my God, what are you doing here? she asks, raising an
eyebrow.
I smirk. You know damn well I keep my boat docked at this
marina.
Oh, she says, irritated. Right. Its hard to keep track of
these things. I have a really busy life right now.
Alice bites her bottom lip, but she says nothing.
Thats fucking great, Sheila, I say flatly. Im really happy
for you.
Dont you even want to know why Im so busy?
Not really. I pick up my beer and chug it. I dont have time
for Sheilas bullshit. Im sitting next to the most beautiful
woman Ive ever met, the sweetest most gentle, fucking insane-
in-bed woman Ive ever known and my time with her is
interrupted by this witch?
Well, I have good news! Im engaged. She places her hand
between Alice and me, grinning like the fool she is.
Id say something but I choke on my beer instead.
Are you surprised? she asks.
This woman has some gall.
You have the balls to show up here and say that. I shake my
head, royally pissed.
She cant sign the divorce papers, but she can get fucking
engaged to another man?
Yeah, its really fantastic, she boasts. Im so close to
getting everything I want in my life. Finally able to move on
from you and whatever that was about.
Its like shes taunting me, tempting me to say more. But I
refuse. Im not gonna play this game with her, not in a public
place when half the town can hear. Not gonna talk fucking
money without my lawyer present. Hell, I dont want to talk to
her at all.
And we both know what our marriage was about. Sheilas a
gold-digger and she got wind that my family has a fucking
fortune.
Alice squeezes my arm. I look up and see a twinkle in her eye.
Congratulations, she tells Sheila.
Sheila looks down as if just noticing Alice, which is a lie. I
know Sheilashes been checking out my date since she walked
into this dive bar.
And you are? Sheila asks accusatorially.
Alice, she bites her bottom lip and I can see the wheels
turning in her head.
Im Aidens ...
Aidens what? Sheila pounces. Because between you and
me, you should run while you have the chance. A man like Aiden
wouldnt know what to do with a girl like you.
That gets Alice on edge. Sounds like shes had enough of
people telling her what kind of girl she is. A girl like me?
Yeah, hes from the middle of nowhere and never learned
what it means to have manners. He has no idea how to treat a
woman.
Alice's eyes get wide but then they narrow. I just met her
today, but I can tell shes annoyed.
I think back to what she said earlier. That people have been
making decisions for her, her entire life.
Actually, I dont think you know Aiden like I do. He treats
me very well.
Sheila smirks. Is that right? And what do you know
about him?
I know a lot. In fact, Aiden is my fianc.
Sheilas eyes shoot up.
And I cough to hide my laugh. Damn, Alice just found her
balls and shes kicking Sheila where it hurts.
Sheilas eyes rake Alice from head-to-toe. Truth is, my ex
cant really compete with the woman currently by my side. They
couldnt look more different.
Oh, you have got to be kidding me, Sheila says dryly before
storming away from us not asking any follow-up questions.
I wish shed stayed, I like this catty version of Alice ... I like
seeing her fierce.
What was that all about? Alice says. Talk about an ex with
an attitude problem.
Thats Sheila for you. I shake my head, then smile. Looks
like my ex just met my fiance.
Alice grins. I cant believe I said that. Was it totally
inappropriate?
Its cute when you get worked up. And the fact that you
wanted to defend me to that bitch? Alice, youre too good
to me.
She beams. I dont know whats gotten into me today. Im
all kinds of emboldened.
Feels good, doesnt it? To stop giving a fuck about
everybody else?
Alice smiles softly, then takes my hand and laces her fingers
with mine, our hands resting on the worn bar.
Its about time I start taking what I want. Saying what
I want.
I raise an eyebrow. Oh, and what you want is to be my make-
believe bride?
She laughs. Its not the worst idea Ive ever heard.
I refuse to say more about that, it would freak her out.
To tell her that I can see her as more than my make-believe
anything.
Truth is, Alice is the real fucking deal.
Thanks for sticking up for me with her. I cock my head
toward the exit that Sheila stormed out of.
And thanks for giving me something to remember when I
get back home.
The words give finality to the discussion on what we may
potentially be. We finish our meal laughing and kissing and
flirting. Shes easy to be around and I am already imagining
bringing her to my parents house, freaking them the fuck out
with such a beautiful, refined, and genuine woman.
Last they heard, after Sheila, I swore off marriage forever. My
mom would love Alice.
When were finished with dinner, I tell Alice Im taking her
back to the cruise ship in my boat.
With Chum by our side, we head to the marina.
You really love it up here? she asks as we climb aboard.
The smell of diesel and the rocking boat tell her plenty about
my life and Im glad she can be up here with me, see my isolated
life for what it is. Decide if she wants anything to do with it.
Lived here all my life. But I dont need this particular place
to be happy. All I need is a boat and a place to drop a
fishing line.
So, youve fished all your life?
I nod, pulling out of the slip and heading out on the open
water. My boats lights are on, and they cast a bright glow across
the ocean. Its peaceful out on the water. Im not in it for the
money, its for the love.
I get that. Ive always loved playing the cello, and it isnt for
the fame--I mean, Im one person in an orchestra, a part of a
whole. But when I play I feel like I could float away. Well, at least
I used to.
I look over at her, frowning. Used to?
She sits in the chair next to me. I keep one hand on the wheel
as I steer the boat, but my other hand finds hers. Chum is
sleeping at her feet, and I appreciate that she hasnt sneered at
him at all day. God knows she could, considering he nearly
killed her.
But the truth is, I think Chum just wanted to make sure I went
after her.
He knew something about Alice before I did.
That I needed her in my life.
Yeah, I dont know whats happened. I used to play so
effortlessly, but ever since I graduated from music school and
started auditioning for the symphony, Ive been blocked. Stuck.
Lost the passion I used to have when I played.
I hold up her hand and kiss it. I notice that her nails are short,
filed to the quick, and I imagine these hands creating music. The
fact that I have the privilege of holding her hand at all feels like a
gift. I know how important my hands are for fishing, I can only
imagine how important hers are for creating music.
When you talk about playing music, your voice doesnt
sound flat. It sounds like you still love it, I tell her.
I do. Im just scared Im not cut out for it.
You said you have an audition soon? In the distance, I see
the cruise boat and I know our time together is coming to an end.
Yeah. She looks over at me and I see the emotion written
on her face. If I could harness the way I feel right now when I
audition, I know Id get a spot.
I pull the boat to a stop at the dock and look in her eyes. And
how do you feel right now?
Her eyelids close, she takes a deep breath. I dont know if
its you or Alaska or the ocean airbut I feel alive. I feel like I
can breathe.
Hold on to that feeling, Alice, when you get home. Next time
you play.
She looks at me wistfully. I wish I could bottle this feeling up
and have it at the ready when I need it.
I pull her to me, our foreheads touching. Meeting her was no
coincidence.
I guess we will have to make plans to meet again. Call me,
email, whatever. Ill be out of town on a fishing trip for the next
ten days, and I wont have cell service--but afterward, I will.
Do you go on fishing trips a lot?
I nod. This time of year? Yeah, every few days I leave on
one. I see her eyes fall; as if shes already trying to decide if Im
the kind of guy she can count on. Seriously, Alice. It feels like
this is way too good to be true to let it be a one-day stand.
I know; I wish I could stay. But the boats leaving. And I have
this audition in a few weeks and you live here and... She shakes
her head.
Of course, nothing is easy in life, you see the one thing you
want and cant have it.
Thats why youre gonna call me, I tell her. Hell, Ill come
down to Seattle and visit.
Youd do that?
Youre my make-believe bride, arent you?
She shakes her head. My life is so different than yours
though...,
I know, I know. I run my hands over her cheeks, cupping
her face and pulling her to me. I know youre a woman who
minds her manners and is so damn sweet, and Im a burly
Alaskan mountain man, but Im not through with you, Alice.
Will you kiss me goodbye? she asks.
Ill kiss you, but only if you promise to call.
She nods her head. I will. I promise, Aiden.
So I give her what we both want.
A deep kiss full of expectation. Full of hope.
Full of desire.
I kiss Alice until my cock is hard and shes left wet and
wanting.
Good.
That is how I need her.
Longing for more.
That will guarantee shell call me. Which I need her to do.
Because Im not through with Alice yet.
CHAPTER SEVEN

T he moment I get on the boat, I make a beeline to my


cabin. I need to take a shower and use the chance to
think about what happened today.
My body had no desire to walk out of Aidens truck.
But I knew I had to. As much as I wanted to miss the ship and
just stay in his arms forever, I know that wasnt realistic.
Not because he feels like a stranger he doesnt. Not
anymore. We made love all day, I slept in his arms, and even had
a proper date at a bar. Not to mention the fact that I came face-
to-face with his ex. We did a lot in less than twelve hours.
So, no, Aiden doesnt feel like a stranger. I said as much to
him earlier, in a lot of ways he feels more real to me than my
family does.
I could be myself with him. I laughed and was vulnerable. We
were honest with one another. And with him, I was a braver,
stronger version of myself.
A version I wish I were more often.
And I like that a strong man like him made me feel safe
enough to shed the skin I usually wear.
I havent even stepped in the shower--Ive only been inside
the cabin for about twelve secondswhen my mom is already
knocking on the door.
Alice, let me in. I have a few things I need to say to you. You
didnt answer your phone all day and we were worried sick.
I pull open the door. Mom, I get it. We fought. I left. But Im
back now. Okay? And right now, Im tired. I had a long day and
really dont need your flak right now.
Mom scoffs. You dont have time for my flak? Who do you
think you are?
I rest a hand on the doorframe, suddenly completely spent. I
think Im a woman who is finally figuring out what it means to
stick up for herself. So, excuse me, but Im done with this
conversation. Ill see you tomorrow at breakfast.
With that, I shut the door not waiting for her response.
Then I take that shower I was dreaming about. I run soap over
my body, washing my skin, and luxuriate in the thought of my
lips touching Aidens.
My minds a roller coaster of emotion... already second
guessing my choice to walk away even though I know I had to.
When I crawl into bed all I can think about is the way his body
felt against mine. The way his cock felt inside my pussy. The way
his tongue rolled over
Oh, boy. I need to stop this line of thinking because its only
going to get me horny.
And this cruise ship is leaving the port. Within the hour Aiden
and his fishing boat will be far, far away.
Despite my attempt to resist, my hand travels past my belly
button and moves between my thighs.
I may not have Aiden with me, but I certainly have my
memories of him.

A week later my family is back home. Were sitting on the back


deck and enjoying a BBQ dinner, my sister in full-on wedding
mode. The big day is only two weeks away and now that the
family vacation is behind us, its time to focus on centerpieces,
dresses, and the list just goes on and on.
But I cant seem to focus on her pending nuptials.
Ive been thinking about Aiden constantly. I know he said he
was leaving on a ten-day fishing expedition, and wouldnt have
any cell service while he was gone, but hell be home tomorrow.
And I plan on calling him.
Hes really all Ive been thinking about this week. That, and of
course Ive been practicing my cello religiously, and for the first
time in ages, my music feels inspired. Ever since my night with
Aiden, my music has held a new kind of excitement.
When I play, I find myself filled with sensual emotions and
its forcing me to put a new spin on my piece. Its like giving
myself to Aiden has opened me up.
My parents have noticed. Dad constantly tells me how
amazed he is with my sudden turn-around. He mentions that on
the cruise he wondered if I was a quitter for the first time in
his life.
Everyone is sure my audition next week is going to be a
roaring success--but of course, Im not that confident. Ive
failed to secure a spot in this symphony twice already.
To say I believe in my ability to nail it on the third try, would
be more than a stretch.
But since meeting Aiden, Im not as anxious over the whole
thing. Ive been picking up my cello every day, not because its
on my schedule--but because when I play, my heart expands.
Im able to get lost in the music and the memory of my time with
Aiden.
So, as we sit at the BBQ, I eat my grilled chicken in silence not
wanting to bring attention to myself. Of course, that is when all
eyes seem to land on me.
Are you and Dad ready to play at the ceremony? Anna asks.
Dad smiles tightly. The truth is I havent given much
attention to the request my sister made that Dad and I play a
duet at the wedding. Dad picked out the piece a few months ago,
and weve run through it a few times, but theres been so much
tension brewing between us that we have avoided talking about
our performance.
It will be perfect, Anna, Dad says, patting his eldest
daughters hand with a sure smile. Alice and I will not
disappoint you.
Dads right. The piece will be nothing but the best, I tell
her, wishing I could make an inroad with my dad before Annas
big day.
So now that that is settled, I wanted to remind you, Alice,
that Peter is going to be your date. Hell be at the rehearsal
dinner too, Anna says, getting my attention.
I raise an eyebrow. No way. Im not going with Peter.
Remember last year when we had Thanksgiving dinner with his
family? It was so creepy.
Anna immediately purses her lips. You always say it was
creepy, but you are the only person who thought it was.
I snort. Anna, he literally kept asking if I wanted more
gravy.
Whats wrong with that? Mom asks.
I look at them incredulously. He meant baby-gravy. Meaning
he wanted to sleep with me.
Thats the last straw for my dad, who finally interjects. Hes
the man everyone expects youll marry--
Dad, I dont care about that, I say plainly, not even feeling
the need to argue. It is just flat-out not happening. Im not
going with him.
After meeting with Aiden, everyone gave me a lot of heat for
the rest of the cruise. My foray into the Alaskan wild upset
everyone and they had no qualms with letting me know.
By the end of breakfast the day after I lost my virginity, I was
so tired of their pushback that I just went along with their
regularly scheduled program for the rest of the trip. Since I got
home, Ive barely had a second to get out of line. This audition
really does mean so much to me that I wouldnt dream of
sabotaging it by getting distracted with an argument.
But telling me Peter is my date?
No. This deserves a conversation.
Its not happening, I tell them. Isnt it better that
everyone knows my intention now instead of later?
Intention? Mom asked eyebrow raised.
Yes. My intention. I dont intend to have a future with Peter.
I never have.
Mom narrows her eyes. This isnt a discussion. He has
agreed to go with you. Youd be a fool to think he isnt enough,
and it isnt like there are any other offers on the table.
I hate that they think they know me better than I know
myself.
And I do have offers.
Well, not exactly offers, but experience.
Im fuming, my hands are clenched in my lap, and I swear my
knuckles are white. There is no way Im going to a family
wedding with Peter Gunheight. I loathe the man. Talk about a
control freak. Talk about a man who sees a woman as an object,
not as a person. Hes only interested in getting me in bed.
Ive been out with him plenty of times over the years, weve
so often been forced together at events that mean nothing to me
and he is always the same. An uptight asshole. He thinks
because hes as rich as I am, that were the same.
But were not cut from the same cloth.
Im not going with Peter, I say with finality.
My sister and Donovan glare at me. And I remember that
Peter and Donovan were college buddies. Of course, they were.
Yes, you are, Anna says. You have to come with someone
and you have no other option. Youll ruin the seating
arrangement otherwise.
Theyre more concerned with a dinner than they are about my
feelings. I cant even.
Actually, I say, pursing my lips in a fashion that is uniquely
me. I have a date.
You have a what? Anna asks.
A date. As in a man taking me to your wedding in two weeks.
A date.
Mom laughs. Dont be ridiculous, Alice. Even if you did have
a date, you cant just go with anyone. We would have to pre-
approve
No, actually you dont have to pre-approve anything. Im
twenty-one years old. I live here because you wont give me
access to my trust fund until I get a spot in the symphony. But I
can go to my sisters wedding with whomever I please.
And who is this date of yours anyways? Dad asks.
For your information, I tell them, hands clasped tight in
my lap. Hes my friend Aiden. My very good friend.
And where is this Aiden person from?
From Alaska. We met on the cruise.
And we never met him? Anna asks. Disbelief is written on
her face. We were on that boat for seven days.
Right, well, we met on the fishing excursion.
My sister laughs sharply. But why didnt we meet him?
He wasnt exactly on the cruise. He was the guide.
Dont be ridiculous, Alice, Dad cuts in. A fishing guide you
met for one day is going to fly down here for your sisters
wedding?
I cant believe you guys. I cant believe this conversation.
Why is it so impossible to believe that someone would want to be
with me?
Mom shakes her head ever so slightly. Alice, frankly, its
hard to imagine anyone bringing you out of your shell. Let alone
a fisherman. She says the last part with such disdain I hear my
teeth grind.
Ive had enough.
Im only in this shell because youre refusing to let me crack
it open. I toss my napkin on the table, hating that Im getting
angry and walking away, but I cant stay any longer and listen to
them talk like this about me.
They dont seem to understand that they are the problem.
I feel stuck and Im tired of it. Im only having a breakthrough
with my music because of Aiden.
Now I have to prove them wrong.
Now, I just have to tell my make-believe fianc that hes
going to be my date to my sisters wedding.
CHAPTER EIGHT

I have been waiting to get off my fishing trip for the last
ten days. All I want to do is get back home, get cell
service, and talk to Alice.
Of course, Im terrified she forgot about me.
But Im not plagued with that doubt too often.
Truth is, I dont think she could have forgotten about me.
What we shared was too real. It was one perfect fucking day.
One perfect day fucking.
I know shell call.
And she does. Im in my truck driving to my parents house
for family dinner when she calls. I pull over on the side of the
road to answer the call.
Hello?
Hello, she answers breathlessly. Her voice is so soft over
the phone that I can barely hear it.
You sound surprised to hear me.
Part of me wondered if that whole day was a dream.
More like a fucking fantasy, I tell her, looking at Chum
whos suddenly jumped closer to me, and barking. I put the
phone on speaker to appease him.
That Chum? she asks warmly.
The sound of her voice settles him, and he curls back in
his seat.
Her voice doesnt calm me though.
It gives me a shock.
My body is immediately electrified. Pulsing with energy.
Yeah. Its Chum and me. Were going to my parents for
dinner. But, Alice, are you doing okay? I ask. Ive missed you
so fucking much.
She pauses. A pause so long that I get scared somethings
changed.
But when she speaks, I know nothing has. Ive been
counting down the days until you got back from your trip, she
tells me. Ive been so anxious to hear your voice. I miss you,
Aiden.
I cant go to sleep at night without thinking about our time
together, I tell her. About how fucking sweet you are.
The same is true for me, she says. Honestly, I cant go to
bed without...
Touching yourself when you think about me? I tease.
I swear to God I can see her blushing through the phone.
You cant talk like that when Chum is present, she jokes.
But I know she means it too. Shes the same girl I met a few
weeks ago. Innocent.
Okay, so a safer topic, is that what youre asking for?
She laughs. Yes, exactly. Tell me about this family dinner.
Do your parents still live in the house you grew up in?
Yeah, same place. Its on the water, gorgeous property.
Wow, waterfront? Sounds fancy, she says.
Well, Alaska fancy isnt the same as mainland fancy, I say
this, but it isnt really true. My parents have a beautiful estate,
and its the largest home for hundreds of miles. But we make
up for it with my moms cooking. She knows her way around a
kitchen.
Thats awesome. I dont think I can make a grilled cheese
sandwich without burning it.
I love this womans honesty. She isnt trying to prove
anything to me, she is herself, through and through. Thatll
work out fine, Im a pretty good cook myself.
So, youre planning on cooking for me?
Sounds nice, doesnt it? The two of us out on my boat deck,
watching the sunset, eating whatever I caught that day.
I hear her sigh through the phone. That sounds so relaxing. I
would give my left eye to do that with you right now.
Dont need to poke out your eye to see me, Alice. I want to
make plans to see you again, properly.
Well, she says, her voice catching. I was hoping we could
make plans too.
Relief floods over me. Good. I wasnt just imaging that our
connection is real. Alice is confirming it.
Great. I know you have your audition, and I have some
fishing trips lined up, but I can rearrange them. Did you have a
certain time in mind you could get away?
Actually, I need you to come here. I have a big favor to ask.
You dont have to feel pressure to say yes or anything, I swear.
I just...
Just what, baby?
I was wondering if...you would be my date. To my sisters
wedding.
A grin spreads across my face.
Really? You want to show me off to your family? Youre not
scared of what theyll think of me? Remember, Im a big ass
Alaskan man. Can they handle that?
Alice laughs. Honestly, I dont care what they can handle
right now. Im furious with them.
I swallow, trying not to get jumping to conclusions. So,
youre mad at your parents and you want me to show up there to
piss them off?
No, its nothing like that, she says adamantly.
But thats exactly how it sounds. When she slept with me,
sticking it to her controlling parents was on the forefront of her
mind and I cant help but wonder if bringing me around for the
wedding is the exact same thing.
Damn, I dont want it to be. I want her to bring me around
because she cant help herself.
Because she cant stand the idea of not being with me.
I know it sounds bad, but, Aiden, I want you to be my date.
And what do they want?
They want me to go with Peter Gunheight. Hes a complete
dick. I refused, and then I told them I was gonna go with...
With me.
Yeah. I know, it sounds bad when I say like that. But I just
cant imagine getting through that day without you.
I run my hand over my beard. Truth is, I dont really care
about her reasons. I just want to be with her. And I think if I had
another day with her, shed realize that I mean more to her than
daddy-payback.
I think she would realize Im the real fucking thing.
Will you at least think about it? she asks.
I dont need to think about shit.
Oh. I swear there are tears in her voice.
Dammit, I dont need to think because of course, Ill come.
Ive been dreaming of your creamy cunt for ten days, woman.
Im gonna show up and make sure you know Im going fucking
crazy here without you.
Aiden. Her voice cracks.
Dont Aiden me, our night together was real. It was the real
fucking thing. And I think you just need to spend more time with
me to realize that for yourself.
Thank you, she says. Thank you for doing this for me.
Anytime, baby, I tell her, meaning it. She tells me the
details of the wedding in a few weeks and I promise to buy a
ticket after dinner at my parents.
Will your brothers be at the family dinner?
I smile, patting Chums back, appreciating that she
remembers the conversations we had after we made love on my
boat, where we shared more of our history. It tells me this is all
as real for her as it is for me.
Hell yeah, everyone will be there. Family dinner is a fucking
non-negotiable according to my mom. All the grandkids come
over along with my brothers and their spouses. Its a good time.
Thats so great. We dont have any little kids in our
family yet.
Youd fall in love with my nieces, somehow I always get
wrangled into giving pony rides.
Alice laughs, her voice filling my truck with the best fucking
sound. I can imagine that. And see, youre all talk. You may say
youre this burly man, but I think deep down youre a softie.
Well, I dont know about that. I still like to give my brothers
a hard time. But Id love for you to meet them someday, Alice.
Id like that.
Now tell me, I say practically growling in the phone. You
mentioned something about having a hard time going to sleep at
night?
Yeah... she laughs into the phone and I have to adjust
myself. Damn this woman lights a fire under me.
So, how would you get yourself to sleep?
She giggles, but then indulges.
I let my head falls back into the seat, picturing her sweet,
sweet ass.
Then she tells me exactly what she did to her pussy to get off.
I beg her to stop or Ill fucking lose my load in the car like a
horny-ass teenager.
Okay, sorry, she titters. Its fun getting you so excited
though.
Well, hold onto that thought. Two weeks from now you can
have more where that came from.
I suppose I should let you go if youre headed to family
dinner, she says.
Yeah. Im already late. But once they hear all about you
maybe theyll let me off the hook.
Youll tell them about me?
How could I not? You mean something to me, Alice.
You mean something to me too, Aiden. She sighs. So,
does your family live close to the marina where you live?
Oh, I have a house too, beside the boat, I explain, realizing
she might think my only residence is the little fishing boat. My
parents live on the water not too far from the marina though, in
a beautiful log cabin.
That sounds pretty nice.
Its the most beautiful place in the world, the only problem
is you.
And why exactly am I a problem?
Because youre so damn far away. I shake my head,
remembering how right she felt in my arms. What are we
gonna do about that, Alice?
Lets just get to the wedding first.
So at this wedding, what are you gonna be wearing?
An ugly bridesmaid dress. I think my sisters determined to
make everyone look horrible so she looks perfect.
That sounds about right, but thats not gonna work for me.
Oh yeah? And what do you suggest I do about that?
I suggest you make sure youre wearing something lacy and
delicious underneath.
I can do that for you, Aiden. After all, you are coming all
this way.
Good. Because that night, after I take that dress off you, and
strip you down to panties, I promise Ill do things for you too.
I get off the phone, my cock fucking hard, my heart
fucking hers.
Two weeks.
Two weeks until I see her again.
CHAPTER NINE

T he weeks leading up to my sisters wedding are a


whirlwind.
Of course, I do my part to help with the wedding preparations,
but people have been hired to do most of the work.
And my focus is on the audition.
The timing isnt exactly perfect, but its not like my sister is
going to rearrange her wedding based on a job interview I have.
And I would never expect her to. In a lot of ways, the timing
works well for me personally. My mom is so busy focusing on
Anna that I have one less person on my back leading up to
audition.
My parents have put so much time and money into my
playing over the years, that I want this to work. I want this part
so bad. I want to make them proud.
Also, I want independence.
If I get the gig, so many doors will open for me. Ill be able to
get my own apartment, be on my own and spread my wings.
And Id have money to visit Aiden.
The day of the audition Im a nervous wreck.
Aiden and I have just talked a few times. Hes been away on
another fishing trip.
And as much as I wish I could spend all day and night talking
to him, realistically its not in the cards until we get through the
audition and the wedding.
Keep your head on straight, Dad says as we wait for the
audition. We are sitting in a large foyer in the Benaroya Hall,
waiting to be called in.
I know. Dad, I wont mess this up.
I know you wont, but you dont get a lot of shots like this,
either. Its not every day a spot opens up in a world-class
symphony. And the fact youve had two other chances...
Dad, I know. Im just going in there and will do my best. I
cant have you stressing me out right before I go in to audition. I
already feel like crap that we havent been practicing for Annas
wedding.
My dad is a really talented cellist. But after my sister and I
were born, he took a position at his fathers investment group
and stopped playing.
Hes the only reason I started playing. I remember when I was
little he would tell me he would never let me quit my dreams, no
matter how life got in the way.
We will focus on the wedding later, he says. Today is about
you. We can play that piece for her ceremony half-asleep and
drunk.
I raise an eyebrow at Dad. He listens to me practice every
single day, and he never, ever messes around.
Was that a joke, Dad?
He shrugs, adjusting his tie. He left the office to come here
with me today, and I see worry lines on his face. If we were going
to share a deeper moment, now is not the time because I am
called into the theater.
My hands are shaky, Im unnerved. If I fail again, I dont know
if Ill have the strength to pick myself back up.
Then I close my eyes for a moment and remember Aiden. His
hands on my hands, his mouth on my mouth. His heart in my
heart.
Im no longer scared; Ive worked my entire life for this. I
walk onstage, a smile spreading over my face.
I can do this.
Before I begin, the panel asks me a few questions about
myself and I try my best to answer them politely and
professionally.
Then I pick up my bow and place it on the strings.
Then I begin to play my heart out.
I think about Aiden caressing me. About his eyes searching
my eyes. About his arms reaching around my waist, holding me
tight, refusing to let go.
I play like I have never played before.
My father may have pressured me in the past, but this
audition isnt about anything of that.
This is about me.
What I want.
When I finish, tears that I didnt expect fill my eyes.
Today I did my best.
I wont hear about the audition for a week, so now all I can do
is hope that my best was enough.
And get ready for the family wedding of the year.

Aiden said he was going to fly in tonight. But then he texted and
let me know his flight was canceled and that he wouldnt be here
until tomorrow.
I understand that. Hes coming all the way from Alaska, on a
last minute trip. And I want to believe that its as simple as that.
But of course, my mom and sister assume the worst.
They assume that Aiden isnt real. To make matters worse
theyve seated Peter next to me at the dinner anyway.
I cant believe they did that, its as if they assumed my
make-believe date wouldnt show.
Having come to the wedding is one thing, after all, hes a
family and went to college with Donovan. But having him here
tonight? What if Aiden had arrived?
Mom, this is a new low, I tell her stiffly as I realize where
she has seated me.
Well, I cant have my daughter sitting by herself can I?
I will myself not to roll eyes.
So, is your date actually going to come tomorrow? Mom
chides me. Because it is going to mess up the headcount if he
doesnt.
Yes, Mom, he is.
My sister comes over to us at the posh restaurant in
downtown Seattle. What are you guys talking about over here in
the corner? She frowns, grabbing my hand. Come, be social.
You missed the bachelorette party last week, the least you could
do is try to be friendly now.
I clench my jaw and adjust the belt on my dress. I missed the
party because it was the night before my audition. Of course, she
has forgotten that now and only seems to remember what I
didnt do.
Lead the way, Anna, I tell my sister, not wanting to argue
the night before her big day.
I spend the next thirty minutes smiling at my sisters sorority
sisters.
Where are you going to school? a girl named Courtney asks.
I finished last year.
Courtney tilts her head. How old are you?
Twenty-one. I finished early.
My sister scoffs. She actually finished high school early,
took classes every summer, never took a break, and--
Can we not? I say. Yes, I finished early, but going to music
school was a dream. It never felt like work.
Your dads a musician too, isnt he? Courtney asks.
Yup. I smile tightly, knowing my Dad retired from his
music career earlier than he should have. Wishing I had been
around to encourage him. Wondering why my mom hadnt.
And youre playing a duet tomorrow? she adds. That is so
sweet.
Before I can say anymore, dinner is announced and I take my
seat next to Peter. I must be frowning because the moment I
slide into my chair hes ready to pounce.
Whats your problem, baby? Peter asks leaning in. Looks
like you need to relax. I have a few ideas about what we could do.
Maybe find an empty closet? What do you say, Alice? Weve been
tiptoeing around what is already in the cards for far too long.
Are you suggesting we have sex at my sisters rehearsal
dinner? I ask flatly.
Alice, he purrs. Ive never heard you speak so bluntly.
Really? Probably because you never ask me anything. Weve
been set up on how many dates over the years? I dont think you
know a single thing about me besides the fact that I play the
cello and have a trust fund. A real man would know what
questions to ask to open me up.
Open you up? His eyes darken. I think I can do that.
Yeah, right, I laugh into my wine glass.
Meow, Ive never seen this feisty side of you before, Alice,
Peter says. I like what I see.
I drop my napkin on my plate, having no appetite.
Look, sweetheart, weve been playing cat and mouse long
enough. Look at them, he says, pointing to my sister and
Donavan. Dont you want what they have?
I frown, because yes I want what they have at least a version
of it. But not with Peter.
With Aiden.
You know youve been saving yourself for me, he says,
leaning close. Why dont we surprise everyone and get engaged
tomorrow? I can pop your sweet cherry after I put a ring on your
finger.
Im so fed up I turn to him, hissing, Too late, Peter. There is
no more cherry to pop.
He looks dumbfounded, but it quickly turns to anger. His face
reddens, and he takes a deep breath as if trying to steady
himself.
Good, I sincerely dont want to make a scene tonight and
already regret telling him that Im not a virgin.
Who did this to you?
I scoff. No one did anything to me. I chose something for
myself. I wanted it.
Who is he? Peters brows furrow, concentrating on what, I
dont know; its like he doesnt know what his next move
should be.
Hell be here tomorrow,
Good, because I have a few things Id like to tell him.
I was never going to be yours, Peter, so drop it.
He just laughs sharply, shaking his head. I can feel him
planning his revenge. Great, just what I need.
Attempting to control my emotions, I pick up my glass of
wine, knowing Im going to need lot more Pinot Grigio to get
through the night next to this guy.
I pull out my phone, rereading Aidens text.

So sorry, Alice. Flight got canceled. Ill be there tomorrow. Promise.

His words are formal and brief, and I was sad he didnt call.
But I just typed back a brief reply.

No problem. Cant wait until tomorrow. Headed to the rehearsal now.

His response?

Have fun.

I want to hear his voice. See his face.


Ive got no reason to assume the worst but I cant help fear he
missed the plane on purpose...that he may not come at all.
Just when I need him more than ever.
CHAPTER TEN

O f course, my flight is fucking delayed.


I tried to get a private plane out, but everything was
booked, and since the weather was bad, I had no choice but to
bide my time, knowing Alice was out at a rehearsal dinner,
probably looking fucking hot as hell, and having a blast.
I didnt call her, even though I wanted to so fucking badly.
The last thing she needs is me to get all clingy.
But damn, tomorrow I wont let her out of my sight.
The next morning, Im more than anxious to get on the plane,
and when I finally unbuckle my seat after we take off, I take a
deep sigh of relief. I will see Alice in a matter of hours.
When I land in Seattle, I take an Uber to a ferry dock.
I get on a boat to a place called Bainbridge Island to the fancy-
ass resort where her sister is getting married.
On the ferry, I go into a bathroom and change for the
wedding. I dont do suit coats or ties, but my mom told me I
should wear a suit.
The wedding is outside, and the last thing I want is some
fucking tie around my neck. Theres a reason I need the great
outdoors around me, instead of the suffocating feel of the city.
But you should show her that you are a man of means,
Mom had said, but I just scoffed.
If thats what she wants, I dont want her.
I may have a fuck-ton of cash, but money doesnt mean very
much to me, especially after Sheila. Still, I listened to my moms
advice and got an Armani suit that she approved of.
But only because Alice means something to me and I know
this wedding means something to her
When the ferry docks, I get a car, knowing Im already cutting
it close with getting to the wedding on time. I dont want to be
late, but this was out of my control.
When I show up at the Bainbridge resort, Im led inside a
massive lodge that looks a hell of a lot like my parents place.
In the lobby, I get a room key and I hand over my bags. The
concierge tells me that theyll deliver my bags to my room.
I go through a set of doors, realizing the wedding is starting in
just a few minutes.
When I got off the plane, I texted Alice, letting her know Id
be here soon, but I never heard back. I assume shes busy with
wedding preparations, probably taking family photos and shit.
When my brother and sister got married, I went through the
circus, so I understand how busy this day is when you are a
family member.
Still, I feel bad realizing Im just cutting it so damn close. I
hate that I cant see her before the wedding starts, but an usher
shows me to my seat and hands me a program and thats that.
I refuse to pull out my phone like an asshole, instead, I hold
my breath waiting for the wedding party to enter.
Waiting until I see my girl.
The groom and his groomsmen walk to the front. The
ceremony has a gorgeous backdrop and the Puget Sound glistens
in the July sun. All around us are thick cedar trees and lilac
bushes. Its a beautiful venue, and I can see why someone would
want to get married here. In a lot of ways, its reminiscent of
Alaska. In the distance, I see a mountain range with white peaks.
I appreciate that even though its a fancy wedding, I dont feel
entirely out of place.
But as I look around, and run my hand over my beard, that
plenty of people are looking in my direction.
Music starts and bridesmaids begin walking down the aisle,
theres four of them, none of them Alice.
Then the maid of honor makes her entrance. Alice. Her eyes
dart around the rows of people, looking for someone. I see her lip
tremble, fear in her eyes.
Shit, she was scared I wouldnt be here. I hate that missing
my flight caused her any worry.
Knowing I need to ease her anxiety, I stand.
Okay, maybe youre only supposed to stand up when the bride
enters, but Alice is the one who takes my breath away.
A few people in the audience snicker, but I just shrug. The
faux pas is worth it when Alice sees me, her face lighting up
when her eyes land on mine. Relief washes over her and I give
her a grin that is full of promise.
She takes her place at the front, and I smile, grateful to have
such a perfect fucking view. Fuck the mountains and the ocean
and everyone else here.
My eyes, they are on Alice alone.
The ceremony begins... and that is when I fall deeper into my
desire for her.
Before the vows, Alice makes her way to a stool center stage,
her father next to her, and they both take hold of cellos.
And then they begin to play.
I dont know all of the history between these two, but as they
play, I swear to God something moves inside of them. Shifts.
I dont recognize the piece they play--but its beautiful. Alice
is breathtaking, the music is moving.
And seeing her up there shows me how incredibly talented
she is. Im in awe, and when they finish everyone around me is
crying--its that amazing.
I dont know everything that has gone down between Alice
and her father, but when they stand after playing, its clear
something has changed between them. They embrace and he
whispers something in her ear. She wipes her eyes as she steps
away, and returns to stand next to her sister for the rest of the
ceremony.
I remember Alice saying her sister wanted her to wear an
ugly, boring dress so that no one would upstage her-- but she
should never have asked Alice to play if that was what she was
worried about.
Because there is no wedding dress in the world that would be
more beautiful than what we just witnessed.

After the ceremony, I find Alice at the reception. She rushes over
and wraps her arms around me.
I admit to loving the way she so unabashedly greets me. I
honestly didnt know if she would be timid and shy.
She presses her face against my chest and whispers, I was
scared you werent gonna come. Im just so glad to see you,
Aiden.
Its like were real friends, old lovers. Because with her in my
arms, it feels like no time has passed. It feels like the future is
ours for the taking.
Youll never believe it, but my parents invited Peter after all.
He sat next to me at the rehearsal dinner. Im only telling you as
a warning hes jealous and territorial.
Should I be worried?
She shakes her head. Not even a little.
I grin, taking Alices hand and planting a kiss on her cheek.
Baby, no one is gonna give me any hassle. Ill stare down any
that try.
A waiter walks by and hands us glasses of champagne. We
clink our flutes together, and I down mine quickly.
Do you need a stiffer drink? she asks.
What do you think? I ask, raising my eyebrows. How hard
is this crowd?
Very. Just be ready. I think people were taking bets on if
youd show. And now that you have... looking like a mountain
man model, she says circling her finger around my suit,
everyones going to have questions.
Alice, you are trouble, I say, shaking my head, unable to
resist pulling her in for a kiss.
The kiss is hot, and the past few weeks evaporate as our lips
collide. Its like were back on my boat, in one anothers arms.
The world around us disappears and all I see and feel and need
is her.
Alice.
She leans in, and I pull her waist to me, needing her body on
my body. Shes warm and soft and the woman I want to keep on
holding forever. She is more than a fling, or make-believe
anything--our kiss tells me everything we share is fucking real.
When she pulls back, her lips are full and her eyes are
wanting.
Youre the person whos trouble, she whispers. Everyone
here thinks Im a good girl.
But they dont know you like I do, do they? I say.
Id say more, but were swept into the reception, introduced
to people making small talk for the next two hours. Alices
mother looks me up and down scowling, I dont get a chance to
meet her father beyond a brief exchange of hellos, and her
sister has a fake smile plastered on her face when I tell her
congratulations.
So youre real, she says, pursing her lips together. She
looks me over with a fine tooth comb, and then I see her glance
over at her new husband. I see her give a little humph, and I
know she realizes her man cant compare to the likes of a
mountain man like me.
Well, its nice you came all this way, but Alice already has a
date. She smiles smugly, trying to hit me where it hurts. I
follow her eyes over to a douchebag at the bar I immediately
know is Peter Gunheight. He has slicked back blond hair, a smile
as fake as a politician and I know in a flash he is all wrong for
Alice.
I run my hand over my beard, smirking at Anna. You think
Im intimidated by that boy?
Anna swallows, red-faced, and without another word, turns
away from me. She acts like she can say whatever the hell she
wants because shes the one in a white dress.
I clench my jaw, not liking the attitude. Thats the sister Alice
has to put up with?
Alice, her mother says, tugging on her elbow. We have
more family photos, on the veranda. She sweeps Alice away,
and Im left to my own devices.
I have no problem holding my own. Hell, if more people try to
make snarky comments about Alice, about saying they are
surprised she has a date, and that shes always been so quiet and
shy, and that they didnt believe I was real--I have no problem
setting those fuckers straight.
Ive just gotten another drink when that asshole, Peter starts
strutting toward me. I dont want to give this fucker the time of
day, but hes insistent, wanting to question me like Alice said he
would.
Alice told me you took advantage of her. Just who the hell do
you think you are? Peter asks. His voice isnt loud, it is a
whisper-yell fit for a junior high girl. This guy needs to grow
some motherfucking balls.
It would seem so.
Youre all wrong for her, everyone can see that.
Everyone? I wasnt aware everyone here knew me.
You just arrived. You dont know Alice, Peter scoffs.
I smirk. Oh, I know her pretty well.
She was saving herself for me.
I shrug, taking a drink of my whiskey. Thats not what she
said when I showed her what a real man is made of.
Ive known Alice for years. Im in a better position to know
what kind of man she really needs.
Oh, you do? You know what kind of man she needs? I ask,
barely containing a laugh. The fact that this guy thinks hes what
Alice needs is a goddamn joke.
I know that she needs a man of sizable means. Shes used to
a lifestyle of a certain caliber. And I dont know what you do in
Alaska...
Im a fisherman.
Peter croons. Exactly. I dont think a guy who catches fish
for a living can give Alice what shes used to. She grew up in a
mansion, her parents have houses in Europe and Hawaii. They
own a yacht. They have a household staff. And just because you
went to Rent-A-Suit for this wedding doesnt mean you can give
her what she needs.
I look down at my suit, knowing the four-figure cost. Not
needing to prove a fucking thing to this twat.
Shes used to a certain lifestyle, and I hate to break it to you,
fisherman, but theres no way you can give her what she needs.
Oh, hell no. I can let a lot of what he says slide off my back,
but I take offense to this. Ill give my girl whatever the fuck the
wants.
Hell, if Alice needs a gorgeous home, Ill give that to her.
Hell, if she wants a chef and a private masseuse? Great, Ill
make sure she has those too.
I dont have any problem spending my money on her,
spending a fortune on her.
I just take offense to the idea of a gold digger spending my
fortune.
But thats not Alice. She has no idea that I have enough
money that I never need to fish again. That I go trawling for King
salmon because I love being on the open water.
I know what Alice needs, I tell him gruffly, my good-
natured approach to this asshole long gone.
Yeah right, just because you slept with her once doesnt
mean you know her, Peter asks, adjusting the Rolex on his wrist
as if a timepiece makes him a man.
Youre wrong, I do know. Im her fianc.
Okay, that might be a slight exaggeration, but its the same
line Alice used on Sheila to shut her up. And I need to get Peter
out of my line of sight before I punch the fucker in the face.
Seems like the quickest way to get him away from me is by
telling him the one thing I wish were the goddamn truth.
Youre her what? Peter says.
You heard me, buddy. Shes my woman. Were getting
married. With that, I turn my back, not having time for this
bullshit. I wont let fucking Peter Gunheight derail me.
I go to the bar order myself a whiskey and look for my make-
believe bride.
I cant wait to tell her the joke I played. I know shell
appreciate it as much as I did.
CHAPTER ELEVEN

W hen I saw Aiden, standing up and watching me as I


walked down the aisle of the wedding, my heart
unfurled. Id been so anxious that he wasnt going to show. That
what I thought was something real was, in fact, a dream.
But when I walked down the aisle, he stood and looked at me
like I was the most delicious thing hed ever seen.
I havent forgotten his eyes all afternoon. As Im dragged
around the reception, hugging great aunts and distant cousins, I
keep sneaking looks at Aiden, whos been talking to Peter for
way too long. It might have been a bad idea to leave him alone,
but Im trying to keep him from the line of fire that is my family.
But every time I see him, my panties get wet and my nipples
get hard. I need that man alone.
And soon.
I keep imagining him stripping me of this hideous dress and
letting him rake his hands over my skin, and this sexy lingerie I
have underneath.
During dinner, hes left alone again, as I sit with the wedding
party up front. After, though, I cut through the reception to
where Aiden stands. Hes at the bar, holding a whiskey, and
looking so damn sexy.
My dads on my heels. Are you going to introduce me?
Yeah, just go easy on him. He means a lot to me.
I bite my lip, and as we approach Aiden, I shoot him an
apologetic look. He just brushes it off as if he has been expecting
this moment.
Aiden, this is my father James. Dad, this is Aiden.
They shake hands, and my dad looks him over critically. My
dad came from a family with means, and he has a certain idea of
what my future spouse should be. A man like Donovan, Annas
husband, would be ideal. Or, more specifically, a man like Peter.
Executive offices downtown, secretaries, and three-piece suits.
Not blue jeans and fishing poles and no cell service.
Still, I like the sort of man Aiden is. Everyone in the bar we
went to together knew his name.
Heck, they knew his dogs name.
And I dont need much. Besides, Aiden said he didnt live on a
boat year round, he said he has a house too.
Which, I know doesnt even matter.
Aiden came here as a favor--not because he wanted me
for more.
Still, I cant help wonder what more with him would look
like... The idea of giving up on my dream of playing the cello
professionally seems impossible... Ive worked for that my
entire life.
And Aidens life is in Alaska.
I didnt know the pair of you were performing a duet today,
Aiden says, bringing me back to the moment.
What did you think of it? Dad asks, crossing his arms and
looking intently at my date.
Aiden runs his hand over beard as if really considering the
question. It took my breath away. I knew Alice took her music
seriously, but I had no idea music was in her bones or that you
were so accomplished yourself.
Dad smiles, and I feel a flash of tenderness for him.
But for all that tenderness, I still know my father likes things
to go his way. And Aiden is not his way.
So you live in Alaska and came all the way down here for the
wedding? Seems like a big leap for someone you hardly know.
Hell no. Alice asked me to come and of course, I wanted to.
Id do anything for her.
I just about choke on the drink Im not even drinking. Those
are some bold words to say to my father. When I see a waiter
pass, I reach for a glass of champagne, guzzle it, and retrieve a
second.
This is a conversation that deserves slight intoxication.
What, Alice? Aiden says as if sensing my discomfort. But
apparently not that interested in softening his stance. You
know its true.
My dad narrows his eyes. What do you do up in Alaska,
anyway?
Im a fisherman. King salmon, mostly. What about you,
James?
I press my lips together, amazed that Aiden isnt playing at
anything besides himself. Also a little nervous that this could
escalate quickly.
Me? My dad leans over the bar and gets himself a
Manhattan. Once its in his hands he looks back at Aiden with a
smirk. Im in investment real estate. I play with the big boys.
Dad, I say, scowling.
Dad just shrugs. Look, I know weve had a hard few months,
and you thought bringing Aiden would sting. He squeezes
Aidens shoulder, ready to step away. You seem like a good
enough guy, just not good enough for my little girl.
My dad is entirely out of line. Aiden doesnt deserve this.
Dad, I say, wanting to stop him. This isnt about you.
Dad looks at me sympathetically, but I dont want his
sympathy.
Look, Alice, this has nothing to do with your music. We all
know that this fling isnt anything more than that. So have a few
dances and drinks with this fisherman, and--
Sir, Aiden says cutting him off. With all due respect, Alice
means more to me than that. She means--
Listen, Im not trying to be heavy-handed, but theres no
point in beating around the bush. The truth is, her life is meant
for so much more than yours.
Then he steps away without another word and my eyes fill
with tears. I hate that my father spoke that way to Aiden.
Aiden has been nothing short of amazing and he certainly
doesnt deserve that.
Im so sorry, Aiden, I start, but as I do, Aiden reaches his
hand to my cheek, brushing away my tears.
Shhh, love, dont cry.
I breathe him in, his hand on my skin soothing me, smelling
like saltwater and pine trees and clean air. He smells like a man
who is comfortable in his own skin and doesnt need to be
anything other than who he already is.
I need to be closer to him. To feel his hands all over me.
Because when he holds me, I feel safe.
I feel seen.
And mostly, I feel known.
Why are you being so good to me? I ask in a whisper.
Because you are good, Alice. And you deserve a man who
understands that.
Im not good. I dragged you to a stupid wedding because I
was mad that they tried to set me up with an asshole.
Aiden looks me in the eyes. You mean that? Because Alice, I
dont think thats it at all. I dont think thats why you brought
me here.
No?
No.
I want you. I want this. But I just dont know what that
might mean. I hardly know you.
Aidens eyes dont leave mine for a second. They penetrate
me to my very core and I believe everything he says.
You know enough.
I swallow hard, absorbing his words. Knowing they are true. I
do feel like I know enough. Aiden is a man who knows what he
wants and isnt scared of taking a leap of faith. Aiden likes my
innocence, but also in my passion, Aiden sees me as a woman,
not a little girl. He takes me seriously, and I take him at
his word.
I dont know everything about him, but right now, it feels like
I know enough.
Youre right, I manage.
Your dads the only person wrong here, he says.
I smile softly, stepping closer to him, needing him near me,
not caring who sees.
Well, Peters wrong too. He thinks he is going to end up
with me.
Aiden laughs. Well, maybe he thought that before.
My eyes crinkle. What do you mean?
Aiden grins. I may have told him we were engaged.
I snorted, unable to resist. You did not.
Funny right? You thought of it first, with Sheila. Truth is, it
was the easiest way to get him off my back.
I shake my head incredulously. And the easiest way to get
my family fired up. Donovan and Peter are buddies; you do
realize that?
So? Aidens eyes practically reach inside me and pull me
away from any hesitation I may have. Is it the worst thing in
the world for people to think youre my woman?
I swallow, heat rising to my cheeks. Suddenly the reception
seems a thousand miles away. The only people left on earth are
Aiden and me.
Not even close to being the worst thing.
Aiden smiles, then leans in, and kisses me. He cups my face
with both his hands and I whimper under his hold. I dont ever
want him to let go.
The kiss is unrestrained; Aiden doesnt care who sees. In fact,
maybe he wants everyone to see. To know that he has put his
claim on me.
And I let him. I let him kiss me with abandon as if there is no
tomorrow. I dont care that my entire extended family is
witnessing our lips crashing together.
The only thing that matters is that Aiden and I are together.
When the kiss ends, and we step back, I swear were both
dazed and confused. Lost in a fog of desire.
The band is queued up for the first dance, and the lights are
low. I take a moment to close my eyes and savor this moment for
what it is. Ours.
When I open them, I see Aiden still staring at me. I raise my
eyebrows playfully. There is no tension here, between Aiden and
me. There is only anticipation.
So, I say slowly. Are you hanging around the bar looking
for hot bridesmaids to bang? My words are a little bit more
liberal than usual, and I think the champagne is getting to my
head. But Im not editing myself.
Tonight I am giving in.
Did you just say bang? Aiden tilts his head toward me,
grinning. Because, baby, I need to hear you talk filthy
some more.
You didnt answer my question, I tease, pressing my hand
to my hip.
Oh, I found a hot bridesmaid to bang. I most certainly did.
I take his hand, ready to take the lead with this, and I drag
him out of the reception and down the hall.
Wheres your room? I ask with a smile.
Seconds later weve climbed the staircase and are standing
outside the door to his room. So did you just want to check out
the room? he asks.
No, I want to check out what Ive been missing. Who Ive
been missing. I exhale, wanting to see Aiden with his clothes
off. Needing to feel Aiden inside me. I reach for his belt. He
reaches for the zipper on my dress.
We are hungry and in no mood to wait for our meal.
We step into his room, locking the door and seconds later our
clothes have been dropped to the floor, and Im standing before
him in the teeny, tiny lingerie I purchased for this exact
moment.
Hot damn, woman, he says. You certainly outdid
yourself.
You like what you see? I ask coyly.
He steps toward me, wearing nothing but his boxer briefs,
and runs his hands over my bare skin.
No. I love what I see.
His words cause my breath to stop, my heart to catch, my
mind to forget everything but this moment.
He takes both my hands, laces our fingers together, wraps
them behind my back. I swear to God, Alice. Ive fallen for you.
Fallen in love with you.
And before I can respond, his lips are pressed against mine.
CHAPTER TWELVE

I tell her I love her because I motherfucking mean it.


Some people dont believe in love at first sight or
that you can fall head over heels for someone in the space of
the day.
But those people havent met Alice yet. She makes me drop
my guard and believe in the possibility of love, which is a feat in
and of itself. The fact that Im falling for another person after
everything Sheila did to me? Id swear it wasnt possible.
But Alice? She makes everything seem possible.
I kiss her hard, and even though weve been apart the last few
weeks, my body has seemingly memorized hers. The moment
our lips collide; I cant imagine ever leaving her side again. And
considering were half naked in my hotel room, why would we?
Aiden, she moans into my mouth, her tongue finding mine,
entwining instantly. Its as if she needs me as badly as I
need her.
Her hands run over my chest, and then lower to my waist. She
pulls down my boxers and then her hand cradles my balls as she
strokes my shaft, getting me harder than fuck. Ready to fuck too.
Baby, its just too damn much, I tell her, looking deeply
into her eyes. They glisten with tears.
She didnt say she loved me back, but Im not pushing this
girl into anything. She will give me everything she wants in her
own sweet time.
Besides, this is just the start of something that is gonna last
forever.
She moves her hand up and down my cock and I push back
her hair, kissing her ear.
Oh, baby, that feels so damn good, I tell her.
She smiles, nuzzling against me. Then she pushes me back to
the bed. I sit on the edge, staring at her beautiful body. She
stands before me in this teeny tiny white lace thong and this
gorgeous lace bra that push her tits high, they look gorgeous on
display like this.
You look so beautiful, Alice, I tell her as she lowers herself
to her knees.
You look pretty good yourself. That makes me laugh, but
then she looks at me with a more serious gaze. I missed you
too, Aiden, she tells me, rubbing my length gently. But I think
I may have missed your cock even more.
I laugh again. Are you telling me you miss my cock more
than you missed my personality? I hold her face in my hands,
sitting at the edge of the bed. She spreads my legs apart and slips
between them. My cock her focus.
Hmmm, well, maybe thats not true. I missed your cock and
I missed sleeping against your chest and I missed laughing with
you. Oh, and Chum! I missed Chum. Where is he now? Did you
leave him home all alone?
You want to talk about my damn dog when youre about to
suck my cock? I shake my head. Woman, that is not gonna
happen.
She holds my cock in her hands, moving up and down, and it
gets more stiff with each caress. I swear to God Im gonna come
before shes even licked me. But that would be okay because
damn, this feels so good.
Come on, Aiden, be nice. If you dont tell me where Chum is
Ill be worried.
All right, my brother has him. Now, enough about that. Lets
focus on something a little more urgent. I give her a sly smile
and she nods obediently.
Okay, we cant stay up here too long anyway, we have to get
back to the reception eventually.
Well see about that, baby.
Youre so bad, she tells me.
I nod. And you are so damn good.
With that, Alice opens her mouth and takes my cock like she
has been chomping at the bit to do so. Her head bobs up and
down, and just like that, her warm, sweet mouth gets me close to
release. I press my hands on her head, helping her move faster
and faster.
Oh God, Alice, I feel ready to explode.
Aiden, she says, popping me from her mouth. You taste so
good. Her tongue swirls over my tip and then she moves me
back in her mouth, taking all of me, and I can tell Im hitting her
throat, and she gags on me, not easing up at all. Its like she
loves my cock in her mouth, my hardness filling her.
She takes it all, sucking me off until I fill her mouth with
my come.
Oh, fuck, yeah, I groan.
She keeps sucking until every last drop is swallowed, letting it
slide down her throat like a creamy waterfall.
When she finishes, she wipes her mouth and looks up at me
with dreamy, hazy eyes. Thats what I was waiting for, she
sighs. Thats what Ive been missing.
Then she pushes me back on the bed, straddling me. But
now I need you in me, Aiden.
I shake my head at her uninhibited desire. I fucking love this
side of her. Damn, baby. When did you get so demanding?
I think it was right about the time you told me you
loved me.
Then she crawls into my lap, ready to fuck.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN

I
unknowns.
m not ready to tell him I love him back, I want to. But
Im scared to give in because there are so many

He lives in Alaska.
Im trying my hardest to get my dream job in Seattle.
I dont know how our lives can mesh. Where we can meet in
the middle.
But as I straddle him, watching him roll on a condom, and
preparing to fill me with himself, I know I would move
mountains to be with him.
And holding back the words that I feel, gets me no closer to
the life I want.
The man I want.
Aiden, I need you, I tell him.
He closes his eyes for a fraction of a second, then takes my
face in his hands. Good. Thats really good to hear, he
whispers. I sink onto his hardness, my pussy aching, dripping
with anticipation.
God, Aiden that feels so right.. Everything about this is so
right, I moan, filled with him now, my pussy stretched open as
his cock presses against my core.
Oh, yeah, girl, he says as he unclasps my bra, tossing aside,
rolling his hand over my breasts. I love the way he looks at me
like Im the most beautiful thing hes ever seen. If it were any
other man, I wouldnt believe it.
But Aiden makes me believe.
He makes me believe in the impossible.
He runs his hand over my back, down to my waist, settling
them on my hips as I rock around in circles as he thrusts deep
inside me.
Our eyes are never off one another as we take in the of the
intensity of this moment.
God, Alice, I love you.
I blink, feeling hot tears fill my eyes, not wanting to cry at
this moment, but its impossible to contain my emotions. And
then I realize Aiden isnt asking me to.
Its okay, baby, he tells me as he wipes away my tears, as
we rock together in unity.
Theyre happy tears, I swear.
Happy?
The happiest. With my pussy filled with him, and my heart
filled with him, and my future filled with visions of him, I open
myself up to what we could become.
Aiden, I say. I love you. As the words leave my lips, they
feel so natural. My heart tightens at the realization that Im
giving myself over to this man.
This man I know so little about.
This man who loves me.
The man I love.
We have a lot to talk about, he tells me, as he pulls to his
chest, my pussy walls brimming with pleasure. But right now, I
want to make you come, baby.
His words both fill me with comfort and passion. I feel so safe
with him, and as he rolls me over onto my back, my legs
wrapped around his waist, its as if we are securing ourselves to
one another. We wont let go. He fills me up faster and faster,
harder and harder.
Entirely.
My fingers dig into his shoulders, so entirely ready to burst
from within. The orgasm building inside me is fierce and
wanting.
I know, theres a lot you dont know about me, he says.
Im, about to say more, but I cant. The orgasm that is
released is relentless.
Aiden covers my mouth as I let out a cry that could only come
from sex. I come so hard as the orgasm rushes through my
blood, meeting at my core, and splitting me in half in the most
sensational way.
Oh, my God, dont stop, dont stop, I tell him. My body
shaking as he thrusts deeper and deeper inside of me. My legs
squeeze tighter and tighter around his waist.
Oh, yes, I say screaming again, muffling my cry by burying
my face in his chest. I let out a long moan as the orgasm washes
over me, leaving me spent.
Im coming, baby, he tells me, thrusting again and again
until I feel the condom fill with warmth, and I know hes given
me his everything.
I laugh as the pleasure sends shivers all over my skin,
knowing Ive got to get on some sort of birth control, wanting to
come together with nothing between us. I only want his
hardness inside of me. I want to feel his come in my pussy, I
want to feel his seed drip inside of me.
I will be filled with him in a delicious, all-consuming way.
Aiden holds me tight, wrapping his arms around me and
cradling me as if Im the most precious thing hes ever held.
I love you, I tell him again, my forehead resting on his
chest.
I love you more.
He presses his lips to my hair. I close my eyes, enveloped in
this moment.
And as if our love is music, I sink into our melody.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN

A n hour later, we begrudgingly put ourselves back


together and return to the reception. This night is not
just about Alice and me, its her sisters wedding.
When we get downstairs the party is in full swing, everyones
outside on the dance floor, laughing and drinking in the warm
summer night. I look up and see beautiful stars dotting the sky,
and I take a moment to appreciate that this place is far from the
city, far enough to know what it means to appreciate green grass
and mountain views.
This region is similar to Alaska in so many ways. I did my
research before I flew down here, and I know theres plenty of
towns where I could dock my boat. There are marinas up and
down this sound. I could bring my boat down here, and still troll
for salmon. But the icing on the cake is that Alice would be by
my side.
I havent told her about any of that. Hell, we have a lot of shit
to figure out. We have plenty of time to figure out details. And
the truth is, Ill move mountains to be with her.
After our confession of love, Alice seems less reluctant to
showing me off.
She laces our hands together, and I lead her to the dance
floor.
Im not a great dancer, she tells me. I may know how to
keep rhythm, but my hands do all the magic. My feet? Not
so good.
Lucky for you, my mother forced my brothers and me into
dancing lessons.
Thats so sweet, she laughs. I just cant really picture it.
Burly Alaskan boys learning the two-step.
My moms old school like that.
You think she would like me? Alice asks. Because my
parents arent exactly the type to give out warm and fuzzies.
I figured as much after your dads comments. Not wanting
to hit a sore spot, I tell Alice the truth. My mom would love you.
My dad would too. Theyre salt of the earth people. Not too
caught up in anything besides family and the town weve always
lived in. My dads still working, though hell retire soon. And
these days my moms usually watching the grandkids. Simple
life, but a really good one.
Do you want kids? Alice asks as I wrap an arm around her
waist and take her hand in mine, waltzing her around the dance
floor as an old jazz standard plays.
Yeah, of course, I admit, knowing how my nieces and
nephews make every family get together better. Im not too
concerned about the particulars though. Two, three, five, six
kids? Im open-minded.
Six? Alice laughs as if Im crazy. Two, maybe. Kids are a lot
of work. And I really care about my career. At least, Im not ready
to give it all up yet.
I nod, expecting that. You were so amazing up there today. I
know you told me you were a cellist, and I assumed you were
really talented if you were auditioning for the symphony, but,
Alice, you were incredible.
Heat rises to Alices cheeks and I love to see her blush. To
make her blush.
Thank you. Its strange. My dad and I never get along, but we
shared a moment after the ceremony, and honestly, for the first
time in forever, it felt like we understood one another. I think I
see where hes coming from and hopefully, he sees me too, but
after what he said to you in the bar, Im not so sure.
You mean to say all this time hes had good intentions?
She nods slowly. I think so. Im choosing to believe he wants
the best for me, and getting to play with him at Annas wedding
him was really special. He gave up his music when we girls were
born nod I know hes always regretted that.
Sometimes, the sacrifice is worth it.
I know, but Im not ready to sacrifice it yet, she tells me.
The last few weeks Ive been reminded how much I love
to play.
Youre still young, Alice. Youll have time to figure
everything out.
Do you? she asks, as I guide her around the dance floor. She
was right, she has two left feet, which I happen to find adorable
as hell. It just means I have a reason to hold her closer, to show
her where we might go. I mean, youre older than me, Aiden. I
dont want to be holding you back
I kiss her. Needing to shut her up. The idea of her ever
holding me back is insane. When I pull away, I shake my head
and tell her the truth. Alice, I cant imagine you ever holding
me back. Youve opened me up, youve made me believe in love
again. Im in no rush for anything, except getting a ring on your
finger.
Her eyes widen. I thought I was just your make-believe
bride?
For now, but well see about that. You know I love you, and
being your make-believe anything isnt gonna be enough for
very long.
Alice bites her bottom lip shaking your head in disbelief.
How did I get so lucky to find you?
If I remember correctly, it took you nearly drowning for us
to meet.
This gets her laughing again, and then someone comes on
stage with a microphone, telling everyone to head outside so we
can wish the bride and groom off.
Alice and I follow the crowd, and everyone is given sparklers,
and they light up the night with hundreds of glittering wands.
The crowd parts for Alices sister and her husband. The pair
rush through us, toward a white limousine. Everyone claps and
smiles, and for a family wedding, Im surprised at how
undramatic this one has turned out to be.
Anna stops and gives Alice a kiss and tells her she loves her.
I watch, knowing that in a good moment, a lot can be swept
under the carpet.
As they drive away, some guests return to the reception, and
others leave. Alice and I go to the bar to get a drink, and when we
get there, were greeted by her father and Peter Gunheight.
Alice looks at them, clearly annoyed, muttering under her
breath to me, Sorry, baby.
I just shrug it off, I can handle these two men.
Aiden? Alices dad says to me. We need to have a word
with you. His voice is tough, stern.
Dad, can we just wait Alice starts but her dad cuts
her off.
No. This cant wait. Peter here told me you two were
engaged. Dads eyes are fiery and I run my hand over my beard
glancing at Alice who just rolls her eyes.
Peter, that is my business, okay? You dont need to run off
and tell my dad things that are none of your concern.
Peter crosses his arms smugly. Well, it is my concern. I care
about you Alice, I always have. Im going to end up with you.
Im not a prize you can just claim. Im a woman. And I
happen to be in love with Aiden.
So, its true? her father asks, steely-eyed. Youre engaged
to this man?
I step in There was a miss
Aiden, you dont need to justify anything to them, Alice
says. Its none of your business, Peter. So please, leave well
enough alone. Its my sisters wedding, she says. Please dont
make this about anything else.
We waited until she left before we confronted your
supposedly fianc, Peter hisses. His use of air quotes really
pisses me the fuck off.
Alice, you may say youre in love with this man, her father
says, looking me up and down with disdain. But you dont know
anything about him.
I know enough, Dad, Alice says. Her determination makes
me so damn proud of her. She may have seen herself as weak
and small before, but Alice has found her voice and it makes me
swell up with love for her.
No, Alice, I dont think you do, Peter scoffs. He is just
using you. And probably wants your money.
Did your fianc tell you he was married? her father asks.
My face goes white, my heart constricts. No fucking away.
Married? Alice asks confused. She looks over at me. What
is he she shakes her head. Aiden?
Yes, technically, but I swear its not
Peter pulls up his phone. His marriage to Sheila Morgan took
place in Juneau, Alaska two years ago. And they are still married,
according to last years tax turns.
Thats fucking bullshit
Sheila? Alice asks. The Sheila I met?
Yeah, the Sheila you met, Im not keeping anything from
you. Shes my ex.
Your ex what? Alice asks. Her father and Peter are watching
everything we say with concentration.
My ex-wife. At least soon to be
Soon to be? Alices mouth falls open in shock. Aiden,
youre married?
Alice I reach for her but she has already stepped away,
covering her face in shock.
I trusted you. I loved you.
Love. Not loved. This is still me and this is still you. A
fucking certificate doesnt change anything.
Yes, it does. A certificate changes everything. Alice shakes
her head, tears streaming down her face.
Her mom sees that something is happening and rushes over,
but Alice just pushes her away before walking through the
crowd.
And then shes gone out the door.
Dont you dare go after her, you fucking asshole, Peter
warns me.
You dont understand, I try to explain. It isnt like that.
Its a whole legal mess
But her dad raises a hand to cut me off, shaking his head
at me.
I cant stand around and justify anything to these men.
I just need to find Alice.
I need to explain.

The concierge wont tell me what her room number is.


Her family certainly wont either.
She doesnt answer her phone. Doesnt respond to my texts.
I try knocking on random doors at the hotel, but the manager
tells me I have to stop waking up guests or Ill be kicked out.
I dont want that to happen. I figure I can stand in the lobby
until she comes out of her room because eventually, she has to
leave this place.
In the meantime, I pull out my phone and punch in a number.
Hello, Aiden? Lewis, my lawyer, is on the phone.
Thank God he picked up, its certainly not office hours.
Hey, its an emergency.
What kind?
I need to settle with Sheila. Tonight. Tomorrow. Just as soon
as fucking possible. The line is silent for a few minutes too
long. Lewis? You still there?
He coughs. You sure youre thinking straight? Weve been
fighting her on this for two years, Aiden.
Im sure.
Shes asking for 15 million and a monthly stipend for the
next five years.
I know. I dont care. Give her whatever she wants. Fifteen
million isnt even a third of what I own. And I need this done in
the next twelve hours. Less, if its possible. Find her, get her to
sign. Send me the contract.
I get him the hotel information, tell him where he can fax
documents--knowing how essential it is that we get this taken
care of before its too late.
Fearing it already is too late.
He gives a low whistle. Why the change of heart?
I run my hand over my beard. I met someone.
Must be someone pretty special.
More than special. I met the woman who is my soulmate. My
heart. My everything.
No more games.
No more make-believe.
No.
I need Alice as mine, no matter what it costs.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN

I turn off my phone, lock my door, and take a long hot


shower.
This cant be happening.
I fell in love with a married man.
How could he have done this to me? And how could I have
been so blind, so stupid, so nave?
The part that hurts the most is that it was my father and Peter
who told me. Not Aiden. It also means they were right and I was
wrong. Aiden isnt the man for me after all.
Aiden, who had plenty of chances, to be honest with me.
As I wash away the day, the shower masks the tears that
continue to pour from my eyes, I try to make sense of Sheila and
Aiden.
Remembering their conversation at the bar, none of it makes
sense.
She was engaged. Was throwing it in Aidens face. And Aiden
wasnt having any of it.
I wrap myself in a towel, trying to decide how to proceed. I
crawl under the blankets, so exhausted, and I close my eyes,
telling myself it will just be for a few minutes. Ive been taking
family photos, getting hair and makeup done, played a piece,
made love with Aiden... confessed my love to Aiden. Ugh. I roll
to my stomach, burying my face in the pillow. Its all too much
for one day.
I wake up to someone knocking on my door. Shouting at me.
Alice, open the door. Its your mother and father. We mean it,
open up.
Groaning, I roll over, looking at the alarm clock, and Im
shocked to see its eleven am. I must have really been worn out .
I cant remember sleeping in like this.
Alice, my dad calls. Open the door or we will ask the
manager--
Im coming, I call, standing and reaching for a bathrobe.
Cinching the belt at my waist I let down my hair and reach for
the doorknob. My feet hit a manila envelope that has been slid
under the door.
I lean over for it and then open the door for my parents.
They push right in.
Alice, we need to talk, Dad says.
I know, just...give me a second okay?
They sit down in the armchairs in my room, and I sit on the
edge of my bed opening the manila folder.
Oh, you havent read it yet? Mom asks.
Read what?
Mom and Dad exchange a look I dont recognize.
Apology?
Open the envelope, Alice, Dad says.
I do. When I slide out a stack of papers, my lips push forward
as I try to register what Im holding.
Flipping through the stack, my heart stops.
What...? I blink back tears, holding a divorce settlement
dated this morning. A settlement Aiden gave Sheila for fifteen
million dollars.
Holy crap. Aiden is loaded.
Dad... Aiden isnt... married?
Im sorry, Alice, my dad says. I didnt know the details. I
let Peter...
We didnt realize his intentions, Mom adds.
Intentions? I look at her, so confused. Why do you care?
You have acted like Aiden doesnt matter since the moment I
mentioned him. Now you find out he is a millionaire and he is
good enough for me? Good enough for you to come here and
pretend like we have a relationship?
Moms eyes fill with tears. Im sorry, Alice. I know Ive made
a mess of things.
I snort. You have spent the last year acting like I was an
idiot. And now you have a change of heart? Why?
Aiden wrote us a letter. My mom reaches for a paper in her
purse and hands it to me. A letter that changed everything.

Dear Mr. And Mrs. Camry,

As you can see from the contents of this envelope, I married Ms. Sheila
Morgan two years ago. Immediately after which, I discovered her
intention of taking my fortune. We entered a two-year legal battle, which
I decided to end last night after the truth of my marriage was brought to
light.
Yes, in technical terms I am married until this paperwork is filed--
but in my heart, it has been over since the day it began.
The settlement that includes one-third of my fortune is absurd--but
what is even more outrageous is the idea that I might lose your
daughters heart over money.
I love Alice with all that I am. I intend on marrying her, which is why I
need to settle with Sheila now.
I ask not only for your daughters hand in marriage but also for the
chance to get to know you. I know on the surface I may not appear to be
the man you imagined for Alice. I am not Peter Gunheight in any way,
shape, or form--nor do I want to be.
The only thing I want to be right now is your daughters husband. And
I want her to be my bride.

--Aiden

I cover my mouth with my hands, my tears dripping all over


the letter.
I need to see him. Talk to him.
You cant let him give his ex the money, my mom says.
You have to talk him out of it.
I shake my head. Mom, dont you understand it was never
about money for me? It was about love. True love. And I love
Aiden. I reach for my phone. When I turn it on I see Ive missed
his calls and texts.
There are a few voicemails. One from him and one--
Dad, the symphony called.
Before you listen to the message, Dad says. I need to tell
you something.
My forehead creases, confused.
My dad looks uncomfortable, not a word that I ever use on
him. I want to talk about what happened after we played at the
reception.
Oh. Meaning when my dad hugged me like he loved me. Like
he was proud of me.
You did so well at the audition, and then yesterday, it was
a moment Ill never forget. He runs his hands through his hair,
not meeting my eye, and when he does, I see there are tears
in his.
Dad, are you crying?
He brushes his hand over his eyes and shakes his head. I
know Ive been intense ... that Ive pushed you. And Im sorry,
Alice if that has made you hate me.
I dont hate you. I just sometimes wonder if you resent me.
Resent me for still playing when you had to quit.
Dad places a hand on my shoulder. Alice, no one ever fought
for me. For my dream. I never wanted that for you. After you
girls were born, and my career as a cellist hadnt taken off, and I
knew there were bills to pay and a mortgage to cover, I knew I
needed to step up and get a real job. No one suggested I keep at it
until I made it big. No one told me I couldnt quit.
I nod, slowly, seeing my father clearly for the first time in my
life. And thats why you keep pushing me. You dont want the
same thing to happen to me that happened to you.
I messed up, of course. And Im sorry. But I hope you believe
my intentions, at least, were good.
His revelation rocks my world. Ive spent so long been angry
with him. Never once trying to understand him.
You make sense to me, but I wish you and Mom wouldnt be
so controlling. I feel like I cant breathe sometimes, Dad.
I know. But just like me, she has her reasons for being the
person she is.
I scrunch up my face. She wants an in with the Gunheight
family because they get tickets every year to New York
Fashion Week.
Dad laughs. Guess we all have our reasons for acting the way
we do.
I do too, Dad.
What do you mean?
Im terrified of failing again. Of disappointing everyone. So,
I protect myself by keeping everyone in the family at arms
length.
Between you and I, Alice, lets try something new.
With that, my Dad pulls me into a hug. We arent at arms
length anymore, Right now, my dad is embracing me.
With my parents acceptance of me, and of Aiden, I press play
on the voicemail, holding my breath. Hello, Alice Camry, we
know this isnt customary to do over the phone, but we wanted
to call and offer you a spot as fourth chair cellist in the Seattle
Symphony.
My father gasps, my mom reaches for my hand.
I did it.
I cant believe it, I say.
I can, Dad says firmly. I absolutely can.

I try Aidens phone, but he doesnt answer. But I remember


which room he is staying in. The room where we made love
yesterday evening. My body is electric with the memory. My skin
still tingling from his touch.
I knock on the door. Then pound. When it opens, I try to focus
on what I want to say--but then another woman is standing
there.
Can I help you? Its housekeeping.
Is Aiden ... the guest in this room still here?
Yes, he hasnt checked out. But he isnt here now.
I see, thank you, I say backing away. I run down the
staircase brushing past my relatives who also stayed here after
the wedding, only having one goal in mind. Finding Aiden.
I ask at the front desk, look around the lobby. Nothing.
Finally, I head outside, and then, down past the lodge. On the
dock, stands a man.
The only man.
My man.
I run toward him. Barrel, really. I run as fast as my little legs
will carry me.
Aiden, I cry, as I near the dock, my pace not slowing.
Desperate to be in his arms.
He sacrificed so much to be with me.
I should never have doubted him.
Alice, he says, his face brightening when he sees me.
But then my foot catches on a plank of wood. My body flies
toward him, knocking him off balance, throwing us both into the
water with a splash.
Im underwater, my hands waving, my head pushing upward.
Aidens hand is on my waist, pulling me up. We surface, my
chest icy, my body frigid. This water is nowhere near as cold as
the Alaskan Inlet, but it is far too cold for me without a wetsuit.
What the hell, woman? he says, laughing, pushing me out
of the water, helping me get up on a dock for the second time.
The first time, I didnt know who the burly Alaskan man
pulling me from the water was. I didnt know if I should be
terrified of his strength and size but Aiden is the least scary
man Ive ever known. I am his and he is mine and Id fall into the
water every day if it meant my man would rescue me.
I crawl up with his help, and then he pulls himself up after
me, his clothes wet and tight on his body, and his biceps easing
him onto the dock with a swift movement.
Aiden, I gasp, as he pulls off his wet shirt and shoes. Its
too much, what you did. The letter. The divorce. The money. And
I dont care that you were married. Its a technicality. I was upset
because I thought you didnt trust me.
He looks at me like Im the most precious thing in the world.
Like hed do anything in his power to make sure Id never break.
Were both freezing cold, the memory of when we met still
fresh in my mind, and he pulls off my sneakers, my sopping wet
socks.
Alice, I would do anything for you. I should have explained
more, sooner, but we happened so fast. Im so sorry.
Shh, I say, wrapping my arms around his bare chest.
Dont apologize. Just promise me.
Promise what? Because Alice, Ill give you the whole damn
world. You already have my heart.
I want you to promise that youll always save me when I
nearly drown.
Baby, he says, pushing away my wet hair. Ill catch you
when you fall, for the rest of your days. I swear it. I love you.
I love you too, Aiden, I say, pressing my head against his
solid chest.
No more make-believe, he says.
I grin, my heart expanding; my love for Aiden so pure.
Be my bride, Alice, he asks, already knowing that I will
say yes.
EPILOGUE
Ten Years Later

Marrying Alice nine years ago was the best moment of my life.
But seeing her now, walking into baggage claim, where our
five-year-old son Matthew and I are waiting for her, with open
arms, is just as beautiful a moment. Her face is bright and her
smile is big even though she just flew all night after a concert in
Berlin.
I missed my boys, she says, pulling us into a hug. I kiss her,
my desire for her builds and builds whenever she is out of town.
Im done traveling for a while. After playing with the Seattle
Symphony for three years, her music career took off. Since then
shes played at Carnegie Hall, has since traveled the world with
an orchestra, and even recorded an album.
You feeling okay? I ask, taking her bag, and pressing my
hand to her full belly.
Tired, and just so happy to see you both. She leans down
and kisses Matthew. How was fishing with Daddy yesterday?
Great. Grandpa even caught a salmon. Daddy took a
picture.
Thats great, cant wait to see it.
Daddy says I can go again next weekend.
Can I come too?
Course, Matthew says. But will you get sick like Chum?
I smile at Alice and ruffle Matthews hair. Moms five
months pregnant now. Hopefully, shes past the morning
sickness.
Chum never got past it, Matthew laughs, and hes right.
Our mutt is twelve now, and in his old age, he seems to have only
gotten more nauseous on the water. God knows he fights
through it though, wanting to be on the boat every chance he
can get.
Several years ago I bought a fleet of boats and started my own
fishing business near our home in Anacortes, Washington. We
are close enough to Seattle that Alice can get there when she
needs to for work, but Im still close enough to smell the Alaskan
ocean water as it travels through the Sound.
In the car, driving home, I hold tightly to Alices hand. I look
in the rearview mirror and see Matthew sleeping soundly in his
booster seat.
Youre right, you know, she tells me.
About what? I ask.
About being past the morning sickness.
Im so glad. I squeeze her knee, wishing I could pull over
and make love to her on the side of the road. I missed my baby so
damn much.
Yeah, and you know what? Im in a new phase of the
pregnancy now.
I raise an eyebrow. Oh, yeah? And whats that? My cock is
immediately hard, remembering the sex dreams she started
having mid-way through her pregnancy with Matthew. Shed
wake up, horny as hell, and start grinding on me, always wanting
more. It was fucking paradise.
She licks her lips. I spent that entire flight desperate for
you... for your fingers in me... getting me off... She exhales
slowly. See, Im already hot and bothered.
Good thing I got us a sitter tonight then, I say with a grin.
Aiden, you know me so well.
Since the first day we met, Ive always known what you
needed.
Its true, she says shaking her head. There is nothing
make-believe about the way you make me feel. That is real.
I pull her hand to my lips, kissing her soft skin. We
are real.
PROLOGUE

G rabbing the Prosecco from the fridge, Everly finds three


mason jars, pops the cork, and divvies up the bubbly. The
goal tonight is to forget the reality of the situation she
and her two best friends have found themselves in.
Homeless. Jobless. Boy-less.
Champagne will certainly help the cause.
Is that the last bottle? Delta asks, as Everly balances all
three glasses in her hands and walks back into the living room.
Everly moans as she delivers the drinks. Shes wearing her
hair in a messy bun and her nerd-girl glasses contribute to her
low-key appearance. But tonight she isnt acting low-key.
Tonight she is dramatic and drunk.
A dangerous pairing for any twenty-two-year-old woman.
The state of my checking account was so depressing I was
like, eff it, and bought two more bottles, she says.
Thats what I love about you, Everly, Delta snorts. Youre
just so damn responsible. She takes the glass from Everlys
hand and sets it on the coffee table before screwing the cap back
on a bottle of eco-friendly nail polish. Shes just painted daisies
on her big toes, as if declaring herself the ultimate flower child.
Her long hair and boho dress complete the look. Shes a vegan,
through and through, and living in Portland, Oregon makes her
lifestyle easy.
Clinking the rims of their glasses, Everly takes a long sip. I
know, its hard to be such a put-together adult, but somebody
has to do it. She smirks, knowing shes anything but put-
together.
No, but like, for reals, what are we going to do? Amelia,
who is braiding her hair, asks. Shes in ratty sweats and a tank
top, but she gets a pass considering Derrick, her boyfriend of
four years, just broke up with her. I mean, all of us were legit
counting on staying at Derricks summer house for the next
three months. Now were going to get kicked out of here in a
week. Then what?
Calm down. Its all going to work out, Everly tells her, not
believing the words herself, but knowing Amelia needs the
affirmationconsidering shes the one recovering from an
unexpected break-up.
Everly falls onto the couch, squeezing between her two best
friends. They all take drinks of the bubbly, each lamenting their
own personal hell.
They arent exactly on top of the world. And they feel
deceived. The entire universe led them to believe that if they
went to college they would be grown-ups. But here they are, all
three of them a week out of Oregon State College, with no job
prospects, no boyfriends, andapparentlyno housing.
This sucks, Amelia says, her head falling on Everlys
shoulder. Why didnt a career counselor ever mention the fact
that a Fine Arts degree wouldnt help me? All it did was teach me
that Im more of a hobbyist in terms of creating visual
masterpieces. Like, I can legit scrapbook, but that isnt a job.
Um, sweetie, Delta says, my degree is in Hospitality.
There are literally no jobs for me.
You can be a hotel desk clerk, Everly suggests.
Yeah, except I didnt need a degree for that, and it wont
offer me health insurance or pay my student loans. Its not
realistic.
I know, Everly says. Even if I sold a story to some
magazine, Id make whatfifty bucks if I was lucky? And I cant
afford to sit here and write the next great American novel. That
wont pay any of the bills.
Everly thought a degree in English Literature would help her
become a writer, but so far shes only completed a few short
stories about her life as a college student. Not exactly inspiring.
At this point I would do anything to stop feeling so out of
control. I just want a plan, Amelia says. I feel desperate.
Im not desperate, Im just horny as hell. I havent been with
someone in like, three months, Delta moans. I want a
husband, someone to keep me warm at night and fuck me all
day long.
Then we should have gotten MRS degrees, not BAs, Everly
says, sighing into her champagne. Not that Im exactly ready
for marriage.
Delta and Amelia both look at Everly, giving her puppy dog
eyes. Its no secret that shes a virgin, and if anyone needs a
man, its her.
What? Everly shrugs. Im not holding out for Mr. Right.
The problem is, Im just never going to meet a guy who is okay
with taking it slow.
You dont need to take it slow, Amelia says. You need a
man who isnt going to take no for an answer.
I dont need to take it slow, either, Delta says. I just want
to take it, if you know what I mean.
Amelia shoves a pillow in Deltas face. Yes, we get it. You
want to get laid. But on a more serious note, maybe there are
new apartments on Craigslist? Amelia suggests. You know,
since were getting evicted.
Not evicted, Everly reminds her. Its just were in campus
housing. We have to go.
Like, in a week. Delta sighs. This is dumb. Lets do
something bananas. Like, move to a commune. Or become
Amish.
Noticing the now-empty glasses, Everly returns to the
kitchen and brings back some more champagne. I just want a
nice house and a normal life. Nothing crazy, just something
regular.
With good sex, Delta adds, winking. And on that note,
lets look in the Help Wanted section with an open mind. She
opens her laptop. At this point we dont have many
requirements.
I just want to get out of this college town, Amelia says.
Forgoing a glass, she grabs the bottle from Everlys hand and
takes a swig. I cant handle it here, she says, wiping her
mouth. There are way too many memories of Derrick and me in
this town, and I need to move on. Stat.
Delta scrolls through the housing pages, and its more of
what theyve already seen. Tiny studios or massive houses
requiring three months security deposit.
Hmmm. Delta keeps clicking, but there are no new listings.
Eventually she takes the bottle from Amelia and drinks before
passing it to Everly.
Everly follows suit, then sits between them once again,
starting to feel more than a little tipsy.
Theres nothing, Amelia moans.
Even if there were, Everly adds, it doesnt matter. None of
us have jobs. Thats priority number one.
Tell me again why none of us have parents who can
help out?
The three of them were roommates freshman year, and
instantly bonded over the fact theyd all been raised by their
grandparents. It was such a coincidenceit felt like destiny, and
they had to stick together.
And they always did, through thick and thin, for four years.
They put Deltas grandpa in assisted living, attended the funeral
for Everlys grandma and grandpa, and were there when
Amelias grandma moved in with her older sister.
They have family that love them, but not family that can
support them, or even house them.
Its time they figure this out on their own.
Okay, go to the want ads, Everly says, pointing at the tab on
the screen.
Lets see, here. Delta takes another sip as the page loads.
The three of them read the job descriptions, not one of them
remotely appealing.
Dog walker, ten hours a week.
Editor, must be proficient in Dutch.
Smoothie stand, pasties the required uniform.
Well, we could do that, Delta says, laughing. We all have
decent racks.
More than decent, but that doesnt mean I could do it,
Everly says, frowning, knowing her looks have never been her
problem.
The problem is, shes never had a real boyfriend because she
always gets so nervous and shy around guys.
Were all cute enough so the tips would be good, Amelia
says, considering the smoothie stand position. But, it just
seems so cold. She covers her chest with her hands,
cracking up.
Okay, so they are definitely buzzed.
This is stupid. Everly hovers her fingers over Deltas
keyboard. Lets try something totally different.
In the search bar, she types: pretty girls, college degrees,
open-minded, need jobs.
The first hit causes all three girls to tilt their heads to the
side, and reach for the champagne, simultaneously.
Huh.

WANTED:
MODERN MAIL ORDER BRIDES
FOR ALASKAN MOUNTAIN MEN.
CHAPTER ONE

S ILAS

Living in the backwoods of the Alaskan frontier allows me to be


the man Ive always wanted to be. Self-reliant. Independent. Im
my own fucking boss.
I dont need anyone telling me what to do, and I sure as hell
dont need someone giving me orders.
Selling my business two years ago was the best goddamn
decision I ever made. Sold my company on the North Slope and
made my millions.
But shit, I only sold so I could get the fuck away from the
bullshit that came with being responsible for all those
employees. Now, I do what I want, when I want.
The only thing Im missing is a woman.
But Im getting her today.
As Im getting my gear in the floatplane docked at my private
lake, Travis pulls up in his ATV. Hes about my agelate
twentiesbut was born and raised here in the backwoods of the
Denali Forest.
Dude, he calls out, grabbing a duffel bag as he heads my
way. So glad you called. I need to get laid in Anchorage. Bad.
Once winter hits Ill be stuck in that cabin with my ma every
damn day.
I cant bring you back, remember? I cock an eyebrow at
him, before triple checking that the plane is in working order.
Having my own transportation allows me to get where I need to
go, when I need to get there.
Travis doesnt have that luxury.
I remember you saying that on the radio. No worries. Ill
catch a ride with someone flying through.
We get in the plane, and I busy myself with pre-flight check.
Why not, though? he asks. You getting that much
supplies?
No. Im bringing back a girl.
The sky is clear, the snow has long since melted, and the days
are brightas in, the sun doesnt set until after midnight this
time of year.
I planned this well. Late June is the perfect time to bring a
mail order bride to the Alaska wilderness. In the winter, no
woman would want to move to the frozen tundra.
We take off. Ive travelled this route for the last two years,
anytime I needed to show my face in Anchorage to meet with a
lawyer, get cash from my bank account, restock supplies
basically any bullshit I cant do from my off-grid cabinwhich
has become less and less often the longer Ive lived out here.
Still, every time I get in this plane, I forget how cramped it
always feels for my broad shoulders and tall stature.
You really bringing back a girl? Travis asks, once the plane
is in the air. Damn, I need to find some tail. Bad.
I shake my head at Travis. This guy has zero game. He still
lives with his mother and I dont know if hes ever had a
girlfriend in his life. By the looks of him, Im guessing no.
Im not just getting some tail. Im going to pick up my wife.
Shit, man, what? Travis asks, his wide eyes traveling
to mine.
Hes shocked. And Im not surprised. Some people might
think a mail order bride is old school or crazy or whatever, but I
dont give a fuck about what those people might think.
The last thing Im going to do is spend time in Anchorage
trolling for a wife. But damn, I want oneneed one. I need a
woman to cook my food and keep my bed warm. I love living in
the middle of nowhere, but I need a woman by my side.
But no way in hell am I going to waste my time dating some
stupid-ass girl from the city. I dont want a city girl anyway.
I need a woman whos ready to make a life with me in
the wild.
When Monique at The Modern Mail Order Bride Service
contacted me, at first I thought it was a joke. But it wasnt. They
only serve clients with sizable fortuneswhich is how they
knew about me in the first placeand have made a niche market
for themselves in the Alaskan wilderness.
Apparently theyre hooking a few other clients up this
summer, too.
I filled out the paperwork this past winter, and when I didnt
hear anything I thought maybe the whole thing was bullshit
which fucking sucked, because by then I had my heart set on
making a woman mine.
But then a week ago I was in town, which isnt really a town
theres just a post office and a gas station and a tiny roadhouse.
Anyway, I got my mail and, lo and behold, I had a woman coming
for me.
I called Monique while I was there, because of course I dont
have service up at the cabin, only a radio. She said she found me
a bride who she thought was a perfect match.
Did she meet my requirements? On my application?
She did, Silas. Youll be very pleased with the bride chosen
for you.
We made the arrangements, I transferred Monique funds for
the travel and student loan payment that I agreed to, and I got an
appointment with my lawyer in Anchorage for the
following week.
And now Im ready to meet this mystery woman.
What does this girl look like? Travis asks, pulling me back
to the presentwhich is probably a good fucking thing
considering Im piloting a plane.
No fucking clue. I shrug. I have no qualms about the way
Im going about getting my wife. Fuck, Travis has some slim
pickings out here in the wild. I dont want any leftovers. Instead,
I filled out an application specifying exactly what I wanted in
a wife.
Smart. A hard worker. Sexy as fuck.
It may sound simple, but thats a tall order out here, where
the only girl Ive seen out here is a female fucking deer.
You really have no clue what she looks like? Travis laughs.
Thats nuts.
The agency said matches work better when you dont go into
it with expectations. Itd be easy to walk away if I knew what she
looked like. This way, Im taking her home regardless if she has
blonde hair or black.
You can still send her back, though, right? If you dont get
along?
I can do whatever the hell I want, Travis.
That shut him up.
I had my lawyer look into Moniques company, and found
proper documentation that shed been placing brides with well-
off men for the last decade.
She knows what shes doing. There seems to be plenty of men
with money who arent interested in the bullshit of looking for a
wife. Im not alone in that.
Today, Ill meet my bride. Tomorrow Ill marry her.
And then I will bring her home.
CHAPTER TWO

E verly

It didnt feel real when I drunk-applied to the Mail Order Bride


website along with Delta and Amelia. And it sure as hell didnt
feel real when the agency called us the next day and we met with
the director, Monique, over FaceTime.
It probably should have felt real when I signed my name on
the dotted line. But it didnt. The whole thing felt so insane. So
dangerous. So completely not me.
It felt pretend, as stupid as that sounds. Because the required
blood test and background check sure as hell were real. The
intensive interview held by Monique was real. The truckload of
stuff Delta, Amelia, and I dropped off at the Goodwill while
cleaning out our apartment was real. The suitcases I packed with
all my worldly possessions were real.
Still, the idea that I had a man actually waiting to marry me?
Not even close to feeling like reality.
But somehow, stepping off the airplane in Anchorage, Alaska,
with Delta and Amelia beside me, all of a sudden it became
hella real.
It became OMG WTF get me the eff away from baggage
claim real.
Because baggage claim is where my soon-to-be-husband is
waiting for me.
I have to go, I have a connecting flight, Amelia says. So I
think this is good-bye.
Her fianc is in a different part of Alaska than mine or
Deltas. Apparently the state is pretty huge. Maybe we should
have looked at a map more closely.
Why are we doing this again? I ask them frantically as they
pull me into a tight hug.
Because carpe diem and all that, Delta says, laughing as she
pulls away. She readjusts her tote bag higher on her shoulder,
ready for the next leg of her journey. This is the adventure we
were looking for!
Worse case scenario, Amelia says, is we meet the men,
hate them, and tell Monique we want out. No one is forcing us to
get married. We are independent women.
I snort. So independent that were twenty-first century mail
order brides.
Delta smiles, squeezing my shoulders. I have a connecting
flight and I dont want to miss it.
So were really doing this? I ask them. If anyone is looking
for an out, this would be itthe last time all of us will be
together for a bit. Weve all been matched with Alaskan men, but
we arent going to be living in the same towns.
We are doing this. Meaning, tonight you are going to
have. Delta cups her hands around her mouth. S-E-X.
As are you, I toss back, not letting the word penetrate.
Because the whole sex thing is one of the reasons I considered
backing out so often over the last week since we signed our
contracts.
Oh, hell yeah, I am, Delta says. All the sex.
So much sex, Amelia adds, laughing. I havent been with
anyone but Derrick since I turned eighteen.
And now, I say, shaking my head, youll only have one
partner for the rest of your life.
This fact does make me feel slightly better about all of this.
Being shy makes meeting guys impossible; being someones
mail order bride takes away all that insecurity. The fact that well
be committed by marriage makes me feel safe. If Im bad in bed,
it wont be easy for him to leave me.
Hopefully I wont be as bad as Ive been imagining.
And I hope other parts of this insane adventure will make up
for the intimidating parts. Like, maybe Ill finally have
inspiration for the novel Ive always wanted to write. In school I
always felt like I didnt have enough life experience to write a
book but maybe now I can start.
Maybe I can write all day and have sex all night.
Okay. So that fantasy might be a little far-fetched,
considering the whole sex thing scares the bejesus out of me
but maybe if its the right man all my insecurities will vanish and
I can be confident like my friends.
Adjusting my eyeglasses, I look at Delta and Amelia in their
heels and perfectly done hair. I didnt even blow-dry my bob this
morning. Exhaling, I remember to ground myself in reality.
I cant get carried away. First, I need to meet the guy.
Were getting married. This is bananas, Amelia squeals.
Derrick can suck it.
I really hope you arent just having some overboard rebound
reaction, I say, worried for her.
Shes all-in with this marriage thing, and I wonder if thats
the healthiest choice for herfor all of us, actually. Marrying out
of desperation is probably not the best motivator.
However, Moniques clients are millionaires, or more. She
only has clients with fortunes, with legit means to care for their
wives.
It could be worse. I could have had to get a roommate on
Craigslist and a job at Taco Bell. Maybe this is the way of the
future. Maybe my friends and I are actually just the most
brilliant young women on the planet, who realize having a
loaded husband isnt the worst thing ever.
Okay, I really got to go, Amelia says.
Me, too. Delta starts to walk away, blowing us kisses
dramatically. She turns back, smiling, and calls to me loudly as
she walks down the terminal: And Im really glad we waxed
yesterday, Everly. Hes going to love that you went totally bare
down there.
My cheeks burn in embarrassment, and I awkwardly adjust
my glasses. That is so typical Delta. Of course shes confident
and self-assuredshes blonde, with long legs and a huge smile.
She has nothing to be nervous about when she meets her
husband.
Me, on the other hand? Im terrified hell take one look at my
boring clothes and tortoiseshell frames and want to trade me in.
You going to be okay, sweetie? Amelia asks. I nod, wanting
so badly not to be the girl who needs the pep talk. Im usually the
one offering that to Amelia, not this role reversal. Just be
yourself, she says. Its what I love about you, your ability to be
real. And this guy is going to want to meet the real Everly.
Ill try. I smile tightly. I wish I wasnt doing this alone.
Honey, call me the first chance you get. We all have our
phones. And let me know that youre okay. Dont worry,
Monique vetted these men. She matched us with them perfectly.
And we wanted this. We chose to come. If you really dont, no
one is forcing you to stay.
Delta and Amelia have really gone all-in with the concept
since the drunken get-go, maybe because marriage doesnt seem
as binding for them as it does me. Theyre looking at this entire
situation as almost a jokea free place to live and a way out of
dodge. But theyve never really been around people who were
happily married. Delta was raised by her widowed grandpa, and
Amelia by her single grandma.
But my parents were devoted to one another up until they
died in a car crash when I was fourteen. And then my
grandparents took care of me until they passed away, the same
night, in their sleep.
I know what real love looks like and maybe Ive just always
been terrified of losing it. Maybe thats why Ive always hid
behind my shyness. Because what if I lost something I found?
The thing is, I have nowhere else to go. I dont even have
money to get myself a plane ticket back to Oregon. If I really
want to leave, Ill have to call Monique and tell her I changed my
mind before I even tried.
And the truth is, what do I have to lose?
I mean, besides my virginity.
I got this, Amelia. I kiss her cheek and wave good-bye,
before adjusting the green infinity scarf wrapped around
my neck.
Love you. Well talk soon.
As I walk away, I feel a pinprick of tears in the corners of my
eyes. Which is beyond annoying. I need to be confident when I
meet my stranger. I need him to know Im not some innocent
scaredy-cat.
Even if that is exactly who I am.
CHAPTER THREE

S ilas

Standing in baggage claim is torture. Fuck Moniques no picture


rules. I should have forced her to text me a photo of this girl.
But Monique is legit. Her website showed happily married
couples, and none of those women looked sketchy. The guys?
Well, some of them were rough around the edges.
That was never my problem, finding a woman. All through
college, I had plenty of relationships. Well, plenty of sex.
But after my parents died, I just got over the bullshit of
regular life, living in the city, working for the man. If I didnt
have to, why the fuck would I?
The problem is, after I moved to the backwoods, I realized
women are scarce as fucking shopping malls. This service came
at the right time.
I run a hand through my wavy, dirty-blond hair, realizing its
longer than I ever used to wear it. And my beard no longer looks
like stubble; its what some women might call rugged.
I just think shaving is for motherfucking pussies. I have
nothing to provenot to this woman anyway.
If she was approved by Monique, at least I know she doesnt
do drugs, doesnt have any diseases, isnt on any medication, has
a clean police record, and went to college. All I need her for is to
cook and clean, and be something warm to hold onto after a long
day of hunting and fishing.
The departures and arrivals screen tells me shes landed. Im
supposed to look for a woman with a green scarf. I just sure as
hell hope there isnt more than one. Monique suggested I have a
driver pick her up and bring her to the hotel, but I wasnt going
to have some hired guy handle my woman.
I can fucking pick my bride up from the airport.
But hell, I dont even know her nameanother thing
Monique promised wouldnt help us. Apparently even names can
give people ideas in their heads about their new partners.
Escalators full of people arrive. Shes flying in from Portland,
Oregon, but I dont know if thats where shes from. People pass
me, and a handful of women pause an extra second, looking me
over, taking me in, smiling or biting their lips. Sticking out their
tits, wanting me to acknowledge them.
Damn, I hate girls who flaunt it, who are so fucking needy
they need the approval of a stranger.
I really hope this girl isnt like that. Well, shit, even if she is,
a few months in the cabin with just me and my cock for
company, and shell change her ways.
The crowd disperses. People are at the carousel grabbing bags,
and no one with a green scarf is anywhere to be seen.
I rub the back of my neck, realizing for the first time how
much I really want this girl to show up, to come home with me. I
might say Ive been okay all alone in the woods, but damn, I
guess Ive been counting on going back to my cabin with
someone in my arms.
Travis is going to give me hell next time he sees me, if I dont
have my mail order bride. Dammit, whyd I tell him about that
anyway?
Then I see someones feet glide down the escalator. I watch as
the woman comes into view. At first, all I see is a pair of boots to
her knees, tight jeans, a plain blue top, and a forest green scarf.
Shes looking down, so I cant see her face, and shes
clutching a tote bag like her life depends on it. Her light brown
hair is cut above her shoulders, and I can tell shes small enough
to tuck under my arm.
Thats her. My bride.
She doesnt see me. Well, she doesnt see anything. Shes so
focused on the ground that she doesnt even seem to realize she
needs to step off the moving staircase. I can play it out, and
know this is going to end badly.
She stumbles, and I take a few fast strides toward her, not
wanting her to fall and hurt herself. I catch her before she face-
plants, and in the commotion she drops her tote bag, and her
scarf gets tangled in her hands. She tries to stand before shes
found her footing.
Hey, its okay, I tell her, willing her to look at me.
She doesnt. Im sorry. I justIm an idiot. She steadies
herself, grabs her bag, repositions her scarf, and starts walking
away. Not even looking at me.
I dont say anything, but I still didnt get a good look at this
girls face. Damn. Her body was easy to catch; she was light and
warm, and I could fucking get used to holding something
like that.
I watch her eyes dart furtively around the baggage claim, and I
know shes looking for her husbandshe just doesnt know who
he is. Im the one with the clue, not her. In this scenario,
Monique told me Im in the power seat. Knowing shed be in the
green scarf allows me to take her in before I take her home.
And damn, I want to take this girl home.
Shes watching the baggage carousel with an intense gaze,
and I smile, watching her look for her bag.
Now I can really see her. She has a slightly upturned nose and
soft, full lips. She has on glasses that do nothing to hide her
intense green eyes, the same shade as her scarf. And, speaking
of that scarf, Id like to pull it off herbecause its hiding a pair
of perfect tits.
Damn, theyre full and round, and teasing just about every
man that walks past her. She doesnt even seem to have a clue
that she holds an understated beauty that makes every man in
this airport give her a once-over.
Damn, I want to get her out of here so no one else can look at
my woman. My cock twitches as I think about what Im going to
give her so she knows shes mine.
I watch her walk toward a suitcase, and try to lift it off the
carousel. But damn, its a beasthalf the size of her, and by the
way shes struggling to get it off, Im betting it weighs more than
her, too.
Once again, I find myself stepping toward her and helping her
before she falls. Because, hell, shes toppling backwards as she
tries to lift the black suitcase off the conveyor belt.
Girl, youre going to hurt yourself. I take the suitcase from
her hands and set it down. Holding her at the small of her back,
my fingertips graze her waist where her shirt has risen during
her second near-fall.
Im so sorry, she says, her voice soft and timid. Shaking her
head, she keeps her eyes down. Look at you, saving me twice.
Oh, Ill save you as many times as necessary. Youre my
bride.
What? She shakes her head, looking at me, totally
confused.
I raise my head and look around the emptying baggage claim.
Theres no other young woman here in a green scarf. This has to
be her.
I dont think. She bites her pink lip, confused.
Fuck. Did I think the wrong girl is my wife?
Because that is going to be a motherfucking problem. Shes
the girl I want.
CHAPTER FOUR

E verly

Oh, no. No. Like, a hundred times, oh my God, is this for reals,
no. I need Delta. And Amelia. And all those copies of Cosmo I
bought as a teenager, so I can speed-read every advice column
about how to act around men.
Because, hello, I cant even talk to the male library clerk, who
has a honking nose and adult acne. And now this He-man is
claiming to be my husband?
My lifetime sex-buddy, father of my future children, legit
husband?
Oh, God. He is so hot. Like, I dont know what I expected, but
not this. The men on Moniques site looked regular. Average,
healthyand some were rounder than others, but no one was
old or bald or grey.
But they also werent male-model worthy. This man before
mewho, um, still has a hand on the small of my back, and I
swear his fingertips are electric because every square inch of my
flesh is on fireis easily six foot five, and has the broadest
shoulders Ive ever seen, the perfect shaggy hair and beard
combo, and eyes so clear its like looking at Lake Shasta.
Before California had a major draught.
He is a pool of water and I want to drown in him. Or, actually,
scratch that, because right now I think I literally am drowning in
him. Because Im mumbling something about being confused
and that he has the wrong personbecause how the heck did
Monique think giving him to me, was a good plan?
She knows Im a virgin, that Im shy and nervous, and I
mumble, and Im basically not the kind of woman this man
needs.
He needs a Delta, a girl whos confident and tall and dazzling.
There must be a mix up. Yes. Thats it. Delta belongs with him
and I belong to a boring man in a tweed coat who, like, belongs to
a book club. I should be on her connecting flight.
Not this. Not with a man who looks like he invented
Cross-Fit.
Are you sure? I mean He laughs, low and gravelly and so
sexy I think I need to change my underwear, because I cant even
with his voice. I guess youd know if you were looking for your
husband-to-be but I hoped you were my girl.
Hope? Girl? Me? I am officially a moron. Now is not the
time to speak like a robot. I need to speak like human being.
Yeah, he says, shrugging with the kind of confidence you
can only possess when you have literally never been told no in
your life. Im here looking for a woman coming from Portland.
He steps toward me, closing whatever gap there was between us,
and I have a freaky desire to smash my entire body against his.
Okay, maybe not smash. Crush, maybe?
Crush sounds more romantic than smash. But hell, right now
I am willing to pound or thrust or whatever else would cause his
body to press itself on top of mine.
Oh. Well. I swallow, determined that when I next open my
mouth I will be speaking in complete sentences. I think theres
been a mix-up.
No mix up. He moves his hand from my back, and the
moment its gone all I want is for it to be back there. Well, also,
he could lift the hem of my shirt up a tad bit higher. Or maybe
take it completely off.
Okay, now my overactive imagination is working overtime.
See, thats the problem with only having fantasies about
yourself and men. You can imagine it all its just the acting out
that tends to be the issue.
Except his hand really was on my back. This is real.
Really real.
Are you sure? Because I dont know if Im the girl for you. I
think theres been a mix-up.
He smiles with his mouth closed, andI kid you nothe has
dimples. Two of them. And I want to lick them. Badly. Which
sounds weird, except Im the one standing across from him,
looking at those luscious indentions, and all I want is to put my
tongue
OMG, I have got to stop. I blink, look up at him and try to
breathe.
Theres no mix-up. My mail order bride is coming from
Portland, wearing a green scarf. He pulls at the end of the scarf,
unwinding it from my neck. And thats you.
Oh. I nod, feeling my heart pound in my chest. So. You
really were coming for me. Delta was told to wear a pink scarf,
and Amelia has on a blue. There is no mix-up. This man is mine.
Oh, Im coming for you all right.
My cheeks burn at his innuendo. How is this my actual life?
Not knowing how to act in this situation, I stick out my hand.
Im Everly.
His eyes narrow, reacting strangely to my introduction. Your
name is Everly?
Yeah, Everly Matters.
He nods, pausing before shrugging again. Must be his
signature move.
Not for long, he says.
What? My eyes squint in confusion.
Pretty soon youll be Mrs. Silas Sutton.
Youre Silas?
He gives me a curt nod, then looks at my suitcase. Is this
everything?
No, I say, pointing behind us to the carousel where two
more suitcases are rolling by. Those are mine too.
He grabs them both before they pass us. Shit, woman, what
did you pack?
Books, mostly. I sold most of my collection to the used
bookstore before packing. The fact that I narrowed it down to
two suitcases says a lot about my commitment to this marriage.
Granted, he wouldnt understand that. He isnt the one leaving
his entire life to take a chance on love.
Okay. He doesnt ask any questions about the books, or
anything about me. Hes effortless and not at all awkward. Me? I
cant even remember to talk without devoting significant brain
energy to the cause. You got that one? he asks, pointing to the
suitcase next to me.
I nod, lifting the handle so it can roll behind me. Im so
nervous about wherever were going next. I assume it will be his
home here in Anchorage.
Monique only works with extremely wealthy men. I wonder
what sort of place it will be. A state of the art condo or an old
mansion on the water? I have no clue.
Also, Im trying to figure out why Silas would need a mail
order bride at all. He is the handsomest man Ive ever seen and
could surely find a wife on his own.
Then again, we all have our own reasons for thingsand right
now, I just need to remember to speak in complete sentences
and not gawk at Silass sex appeal.
The fact is, leaving this airport is a huge deal. With every step
I take, it will be harder to walk away.
I try to hide my nerves with a smile, but even now Im scared
Im going to fall over again because Silas just walked ahead
of me.
And that butt of his is seriously going to trip me up.
CHAPTER FIVE

S ilas

I cant believe thats her name, out of all the names in the world.
Everly was my mothers maiden name. How freaky is that?
Speaking of freaky, Everly is seriously freaking out. And, in
some ways, I get it. Moving to the middle of the Alaskan
wilderness with a stranger is kind of intense, but she signed up
for this. She knew that I live in the sticks, that I make my home
in a hand-hewn cabin and live off the grid. This life isnt for
everyone, which is why I let Monique get me a wife in the first
place.
And now shes acting all terrified, walking five steps behind
me as we leave the airport, refusing to look me straight in the
eye, as if shes scared Ill bite.
Fuck, I wont bite her herebut later, in the hotel, there are
no guarantees.
Were right here, I tell her, pointing to the Land Cruiser.
My truck has been waiting for me, after I landed my plane at the
lake about twenty minutes away.
I grab her suitcase and put it in the back, along with the two I
carried out. I have no fucking clue where she plans on putting
these books. We dont exactly have shelving for them at the
cabin.
Get in, I tell her. She doesnt speak, just nods and does as I
say. I jump in the driver seat and watch as she hoists herself up
into the rig. I guess I could have helped her, but how hard is it to
get in a car?
You got that? I ask, not wanting her to think Im the
compete asshole I am.
Im fine. She pulls her door closed and sits with her tote
bag in her lap. She folds her hands, eyes closed. Is she praying?
Because I cant handle a super religious girl. I cant have
someone whos trying to change me. I was pretty explicit about
that with Monique.
Everly wont look at me, but I watch her slow inhale and
exhale as I start the car.
You hungry? I ask, pulling out of the airport parking lot.
Um. Sort of. I mean, yeah.
I figure its been a long day for both of us. We could go to the
hotel and just get room service, so we dont have to make small
talk with a bunch of people around.
She tilts her head and adjusts her glasses. Hotel?
Yeah, were staying down at the Hotel Captain Cook.
Oh. I thought wed go to your house.
We have to stay here. The courthouse isnt open now, on a
Sunday. Well go tomorrow, and then head to my place
afterward.
But She frowns, then stops. Shakes her head. As if she
literally cant make up her mind about what she wants to say.
What? Just say it.
Why stay at a hotel, though. Why not your house?
We have to take a plane to my place. But we need to go to the
courthouse here. And meet with my lawyer, too.
Oh. Okay. Ive never been to Alaska, so I guess I have a lot to
learn.
But you want to be here, right? I take a hard look at her. I
have no interest in taking a woman against her will.
I do.
She doesnt offer anything more, so neither do I.
We drive in silence for the fifteen minutes it takes to get to
the hotel, and damn, I thought I was a man of few words. This
girl is clammed up and scared as a mouse.
We check in with the valet, and I grab my bag from the
backseat.
You need all these suitcases for one night?
No, just the small one, she says, and I get it for her.
A few minutes later were in the elevator going to the
penthouse suite. Standing outside the hotel room door, I swipe
the keycard and hold open the door for her.
She doesnt move.
Whats the problem? You dont want to come in here
with me?
I didnt say that.
Then what? I dont like standing outside the hotel room
door as if I have to beg this girl to come inside with me.
Ive never been in a hotel with a man before.
Fuck, Everlyif were doing this you better get used to
having a man around.
I know. She huffs, hoists her bag on her shoulder, and
walks into the room. Not looking up at me, not adding any
relevant facts. Just walks into the suite.
Damn shes never been in a hotel room with a man. Does
that mean shes never been with a man at all?
Because, hellif thats the case, Monique needs a
motherfucking raise.
Everly is already scared and overwhelmed; the last thing I
want to do is chase her away.
I set her suitcase down and toss my bag on the king-sized
bed. I figure I need to get to know this girl. But she stands,
looking out the window, her back to me.
Damn, she has a nice, round ass. She has playful curves, a
strong body. I love a woman like that, with some meat on her
bones, something I can really sink my teeth into. My goddamn
cock twitches again, and my eyes are set on that bed.
Everly? I come up behind her, but stay a few feet away. At
my cabin, I hunt for all my food, and I know when to stay back,
so as not to scare an animal away. Everly is no different. A
sudden movement from me, and she might run out that door,
skittish as a doe. Lets get some food. Im starving.
The penthouse is large. A dining room table for two, a living
room set and television. A bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub, and that
massive bed. Fuck, its bigger than my cabin.
I pick up the room service menu and sit on the couch. My
boots are filthy and I take them off before propping my feet up
on the coffee table.
You going to sit down and pick something to order?
She sits next to me, and I swear shes shaking. Terrified. It
makes me feel like shit. Am I really that scary?
What do you like? I ask. Im having a cheeseburger and
fries. Hell, maybe two burgers. I havent eaten all day. Im
usually a steak and potatoes guy, but damn, when Im in the city
I cant pass up the chance for fried food.
A burger sounds fine.
I nod, then place the order. And a bottle of red wine and a
bucket of beers, I tell the restaurant.
Hanging up, I realize I know nothing about Everly, and that
needs to change. One look at her in the airport, catching her
from a fall, made me want to take care of her.
Right now, she needs some good old-fashioned loving. And
Im the man to give that to her.
Ill feed her, then Ill strip her. Then Ill claim her as mine.
CHAPTER SIX

E verly

After Silas orders the food, I feel the pressure mounting. His
eyes rake over my body as if he sees me as something he wants.
Something he needs.
What if he tries to make a move, tries to kiss me? I know in
theory thats what I am preparing to do with him and a hell of
a lot more. But actually doing it, going all-in with him?
Extracting myself from the couch before I hyperventilate, I go
to the bathroom to call Delta or Amelia. I cant remember how
long their connecting flights were, but maybe in the last ninety
minutes one of them has landed and can talk.
I dial Delta first, but it goes straight to voicemail. As the
phone rings for Amelia, I turn on the faucet and the fan so Silas
cant hear me.
Everly? Is everything okay? Amelia asks.
Its fine. I mean, Im in the bathroom whispering right now,
but he isnt like a freaky murderer or anything. But listen, are
you okay? I may be on the verge of a meltdown, but Im equally
worried about my friends and their husbands-to-be.
Well, I just landed and Im waiting for my guy. Hes late to
meet his wife. Is that a bad sign? she asks. I feel like its a
bad sign.
No. I mean, it could be a million things, I assure her.
Im sure youre right. But Im guessing I wont have cell
service wherever Im going. The guy I sat next to on the flight
literally laughed at me when I asked if there was a Starbucks at
the airport we were flying into.
There isnt one?
Theres nothing. Like, there isnt even a terminal. Which is
sort of terrifying, but I mean, its an adventure. And Derrick
can suck it for screwing me over.
The edge in her voice, and the fact that shes mentioning her
ex the same day shes meeting her husband, doesnt sit well.
Honey, honestly, Ill be fine, she says. I wanted this. But
are you okay, Everly? Is your man nice?
He seems nice. And hes being a gentleman. Were waiting
for room service. Apparently we have to take a plane to get to his
place after we go to the courthouse tomorrow.
I think everyone take planes to get around in Alaska.
Yeah, I think we probably should have done a bit more
Googling before we came. I sigh, sitting on the closed lid of the
toilet. But whether or not hes nice isnt my problem.
Whats the problem then?
Amelia hes so handsome.
I hear her laugh, covering her mouth, and then she gives me a
giant awwwww. Sweetie, just be yourself. Youre the best girl I
know, so helpful, always looking out for Delta and me, and this
guy is lucky to have you.
I dont know. His names Silas, and he looks like a male
model. I feel so fat and dumb, and then I ordered a cheeseburger
for dinner. I should have gotten, like, a side salad.
Girl, shut your face. You are gorgeous. Have fun tonight.
Make it a night youll never forget, not a night you want to erase.
Have a few glasses of champagne and be silly. Dont take it so
seriously.
Its my life, Amelia. This is serious.
You say you cant write a novel because you havent lived
life? Well, heres your first chapter, honey. Do something
insane. Like, take off your clothes and walk out of the bathroom
and ask if he wants dessert before dinner.
I could never do that.
A few weeks ago, did you ever imagine that youd be getting
married tomorrow?
No.
That tells me youre braver than you think.
Do you really think taking off my clothes and just being like,
hey baby, is a good idea?
Is he really as hot as you say?
Hes hotter than Jon Snow and Channing Tatum combined.
Thats a really weird combination, but, um, Ill go with it,
Amelia says. If hes that hot, Everly, than go take what you
want. I mean, youre going to be his wife, might as well show
him what kind of girl you are.
I roll my eyes. It was a bad idea to call her. She doesnt get it,
doesnt get how hard this feels.
Im a virginal book-nerd, Amelia. Thats what kind of girl
I am.
She sighs. Youve read enough romance novels to know guys
love virgins. What else do they love?
They love girls who let them take the reins.
Good. Because, honey, you dont have a plethora of
experience. Let him show you. Hell like that. Oh, shit. I think
my husband is here.
Do you see him?
Just a truck. Okay. I love you. Go have sex. Im going to go
meet my man.
I hang up the phone and turn off the faucet. I hear room
service delivering our meal, and think through my next move.
If I strip now, the food is going to get cold and it seemed like
Silas was really hungry. I mean, he ordered two bacon
cheeseburgers.
Ill get naked after we eat. Yes. Thats what Ill do. Ill have a
glass of wine and relax, and then get silly just like Amelia
suggested.
Stepping out of the bathroom, I feel my eyes widen as I take
Silas in. My mouth goes dry, my core tightens. Hes taken off his
shirt, revealing the firmest set of washboard abs Ive ever seen.
Hes in a pair of low-slung jeans, and the V at his pelvis causes
my eyes to linger on the bulge in his pants.
Oh, lordy. I dont want that cheeseburger in my mouth
anymore.
I want something else entirely.
CHAPTER SEVEN

S ilas

Clearly she went in the bathroom to make a phone call, and I get
it. Shes overwhelmed, and I need to give her time. But I also
want to give her something else.
She stands frozen in the bathroom doorway.
You okay? I ask, raising an eyebrow. Dinners here.
You took off your shirt. After she says it she bites her lip.
Hangs her head. Turns beet red.
I laugh. This girl is sexually repressed or something, and I
need to help ease her out of her comfort zone.
Were going to play a game, I say, walking toward her.
We are? she asks, lifting her head.
Yeah, and maybe when we finish playing you wont be so
scared. I close the gap between us, our bodies inches from
touching. I lean down, exhaling softly in her ear.
She takes a deep breath. Whats the game? she whispers.
I press my mouth against her ear. Twenty Questions.
The rise of her chest makes me hard. I can see the outline of
her nipples through her cotton shirt, and I want to press my
mouth against them, too. But I pull back, knowing a little Q & A
is what Everly needs to feel at ease.
Sit and eat, and well play our game.
She follows my lead and we begin our meal.
Question one: how old are you? I ask.
Twenty-two. You?
Twenty-seven. I pop open a can of beer, and take a swig.
Damn, I realize, there are a lot of questions I want to ask her.
Where are you from?
Portland, Oregon. Just graduated college a few weeks ago.
She dips a fry in some ketchup and I watch her open her mouth
and take a bite. Her lips are full and pouty. I want to devour that
mouth of hers.
But right now Ive got her talking. Easy questions are doing
the trick. You ever been to Alaska?
She shakes her head. Not once.
Favorite movie?
Pride and Prejudice. The BBC version. You?
Figures, since she has all those books, that shed pick a chick-
flick.
The Godfather. I pour her a glass of wine and then hand it
to her. Red or white?
Red. She smiles, taking the glass from me.
Oh, look, shes loosening up.
Who were you talking to in the bathroom?
She chokes on her wine, but quickly recovers. Um. My
friend.
A friend? What the fuck kind of answer was that? Does she
have some guy that Monique didnt know about?
You have a man waiting for you somewhere? I know my
words betray me, but the idea of Everly having anyone else
fucking pisses me off. I never think of myself as a jealous man,
but fuck, my blood boils at the thought of anther mans hands
over her curves, on the small of her back. Of another man
whispering anything in her ear.
What? Her green eyes squint in confusion. Me? Then she
laughs. Um, no. No guy. Nowhere. Never.
I relax. Then who were you talking to?
My friend Amelia. Amelia, my other best friend Delta, and I
all flew into Anchorage together. All three of us signed up to be
mail order brides. Together.
Her words trail off. Maybe she doesnt like the idea of being a
mail order bride, but its interesting that she signed up along
with her friends. It makes me question her sincerity about all
of this.
Did you sign up as a joke or something?
No, Silas. Its not. I mean, I cant answer for Delta and
Amelia, but for me? I.
You what? I prompt her.
She looks away, as if embarrassed. Ive never been with a
man before. And I cant imagine dating and stressing about
whether or not a guy liked me. And besides, I get so nervous
so tongue-tied around men.
You dont seem tongue-tied right now.
Well. She shrugs shyly. Amelia gave me a pep talk.
Oh, yeah? I smile, reaching for her hand, loving this
vulnerable side to Everly. Ever since the airport, she seems to be
hiding behind her glasses, her lack of words, and her insecurity.
But damn, she has nothing to be insecure about. Shes
adorable in those big tortoiseshell frames, and her soft brown
hair is practically begging for me to rake my fingers through it.
So what was this pep talk?
She suppresses a smile, taking another sip of wine. Dont
laugh when I tell you.
I wouldnt laugh at you.
She told me to get over my nerves about being here with you
a guy who is way more handsome than I was expectingby
taking off all my clothes and walking out of the bathroom.
Catching you off guard.
I cant help but crack up. Setting down my beer, I lean back in
my chair. Well, what the hell happened, woman? You look
pretty well covered right now.
She shakes her head, groaning. Its stupid, my logic. I
thought you were hungry, and that you wouldnt want to wait
to eat.
I run my hand over my jaw, my cock hard as hell imagining
her stripping down and walking out here to surprise me.
Standing, I pull her from her chair, brush the hair from her
eyes, and cup her face in my hands.
Then I kiss her. Hard. Her mouth parts and I press my tongue
inside her. She moans as her lips sink into the kiss, and my body
is alive, remembering what it feels like to hold a woman in my
hands.
We pull apart. Shes gasping for breath, her eyes heavy with
desire. With heat. With want.
Girl, I tell her, I dont need a fucking meal when I can
have you instead.
Then I pull her in for another kiss.
CHAPTER EIGHT

E verly

Um. So I dont think were playing Twenty Questions anymore.


His mouth is on mine again, his lips so soft. His hands cradle
my face. His palms are so large Im literally held in his hand.
He kiss deepens, and my body responds by pressing against
him. Clearly his body is responding, too. His cock is against my
belly, and every inch of me tingles, is alive, as his tongue
entwines with mine.
He smells so good, like soil and cedar and fresh air. I inhale
him, shaking as I do, scared Ill lose my balance, because
breathing him in is like an extra dose of oxygen: almost too
much at once and it makes me dizzy.
You okay? He pulls back, his clear eyes darker now, as if
able to take on the color of the changing mood. Weve gone from
zero to fully charged.
Im okay, just a little lightheaded. I take off my glassesI
dont need them all the time anywayand run my hands over
my eyes.
You tired?
Not tired, just whew, Silas. I mean I gesture between
us, waving my hand. This is, like, a lot to take in.
He tilts his head, his naked torso taunting me. His bulging
pants begging me. His concerned eyes piercing me.
Was that your first kiss, Everly?
I see the hint of a smile in the corner of his mouth, but not a
judge-y smile. A hopeful one? Would that make you happy,
Silas? I ask. To know you were your mail order brides
first kiss?
Hell, yeah, it would, he says, taking the hem of my shirt
and lifting it over my head. I instinctively raise my arms and let
him slip it off.
My breasts are covered in a red lacy bra. Delta made me use
the wedding night lingerie stipend from Monique to buy as many
lacy panty and bra sets as possible, even though I wanted to use
it to purchase books from my Amazon wishlist.
But now Im glad I listened to my more experienced friend. I
feel beautiful standing before Silas, and even though my first
inclination is to lower my hands and cover my stomach, I dont.
He kneels down, unbuttons my pants, and tugs them off until
Im in nothing but the red thong. There is no point in hiding my
tummy now, when Im completely exposed before him.
With his face so close to my mound, I cant help but purr
slightly, wanting him to do things to me Ive only dreamt about.
You were my first kiss, I admit, licking my lips, looking in
his eyes.
Ill be your first everything, he says in that deep, rough
voice that makes me forget to breathe. But not tonight. Im
waiting until tomorrow to take you. He grabs my bare ass with
his hand. Youre going to be a virgin on your wedding night.
I look down at him, watching as he plants kisses on my
thighs, his mouth so close to my pussy that the nonexistent
fabric of the thong is soaked with my desire.
So tonight well just go to bed? I ask, knowing I sound
desperate, but at this moment I dont care. Right now, I just
want more.
He looks up at me, smiling. Oh, girl, were not going to
sleep yet.
But?
Im not going to pop your cherry, but Im sure as hell going
to flick your clit.
He stands and lifts me in his arms, places me on the bed.
Then he hooks his thumbs over the waistband of my tiny thong
and slides it over my thighs, over my feet, revealing my freshly
bared pussy.
Part of me wants to bury myself under the covers in
embarrassment, but a bigger part, the part that is awakening to
the idea of being with a man like Silas, wants to be exposed like
this wants Silas to take what he needs.
You are so beautiful, Everly, he says, his voice so low I can
barely hear him.
His palm presses against my mound, and my pussy has never
been touched like this before. Never been covered with a mans
strength, with a mans powerand I know that Silas is that sort
of man. His body is ripped from hard work, and he has the
bearded face of a mountain man.
My head rests against a pillow, and as Silas presses his mouth
to my pussy I think Im going to faint. The dizzy spell returns as
his mouth plants tender kisses at my entrance.
He gently presses my thighs down, and I inhale sharply at the
vulnerable state Im in. My pussy is before him, and nothing is
between us. His face lowers to my opening, his tongue licking
my slit up and down, and up and down. I feel myself dripping
with pleasure.
The tip of his tongue enters my pussy, and his hands open my
folds expertly, as he begins sucking against my throbbing clit.
Ive touched myself, but never well, never able to really
understand how amazing my body could feel if pleasured
correctly.
Silas knows what hes doing. He sucks hard on my pussy, two
fingers rubbing circles on my hood. I feel my thighs clench,
trying to close, but his strength presses them back down, as if he
knows that stopping now is a bad idea.
And hes right, because when he presses two fingers inside
me, gently widening my pussy so he can come hither against my
g-spot, I moan loudly, overwhelmed at the flicking of his fingers
against me, so tight and so good.
Silas, oh my God, I think, I cant ohhh. And then I melt
in an orgasmic puddle, my core rocking as he gets me off, my
pussy soaking his hand with my release as Im washed in
pleasure, intoxicated. As my body is drenched in heat.
When I finally stop shakingwhen my toes unfurl and I catch
my breathI run my fingers though his hair as he hovers above
me. I can feel him watching as my eyes flutter.
Lets not stop, I tell him, suddenly able to imagine him
inside me in a way I couldnt have even a few hours ago.
He shakes his head. Not tonight, Everly. You came here a
virgin, and Im not going to take that away until youre
my wife.
CHAPTER NINE

S ilas

I take care of my raging hard-on in the shower after Everly falls


asleep. It doesnt take long to get off; all I need to think about is
Everlys little pussy and her perfect tits. Tits I really want to
squeeze my cock between and come all over, but of course I
didnt tell her that.
My desires can be kept quiet until later. When shes my wife,
Ill show her how to fuck me, and Ill sure as hell have no
problem licking her pussy nice and good, as often as she likes.
I know I could have slept with hershe was willing and
clearly wantingbut damn, I know the size of my cock. Just one
look at her perfect little pussy, and I knew that was going to be
tight fucking fit.
I dont think I could handle her crying in bed the same day I
met her.
Its better this way. Ill take her to the courthouse and make
things official, and then bring her to my place, on my terms, and
set her on top of my cock and teach her how to ride it nice
and good.
Oh, she was so wet, so fast, that I cant wait to get her going
again. This mail order service is no fucking joke if these are the
types of women Monique offers her clients. A virgin with a
perfect pussy and a double-D rack?
Were going to be at that motherfucking courthouse at the
crack of dawn. Im not letting this girl get away.

The next morning, we shower and dress quietly. Everly isnt


chatty, and we hardly know one another well enough to make
much small talk.
Also, its clear shes not a morning person by the way she
slept through two alarm clocks, gulped two cups of coffee, and
didnt speak over her bacon and eggs.
Thats going to have to change real fast when we get to my
cabin. The days are long and theres always work to be done.
Back in my Land Cruiser, we head to the courthouse at
nine a.m.
I have the marriage license, I explain as I park the car. We
just need to meet with the judge,
She closes the dashboard mirror, which she used to apply
some pale pink lipstick. Do I look okay? she asks. I should
have worn contacts.
You look great. I notice her light pink summer dress and
pale yellow cardigan.
You dont have family who want to be here? she asks,
seeming nervous all of a sudden. Hell, maybe shes been nervous
all morning and I mistook it for being tired.
I dont have family, I answer coolly. What about you?
Dont you have family who want to see you married?
My family is all dead, she says softly.
Oh, shit, Everly. Im sorry.
Why else would a girl be okay moving in with a stranger?
she asks, shaking her head. Obviously, most girls wouldnt
do this.
Clearly youre not most girls.
I dont really know what she wants from me. The whole mail
order arrangement works when people dont spend months
deciding if they want to do this or not. It works when theres no
time to second-guess. It works when both people are willing to
roll the dice and try.
It will fail if we think in terms of most people.
Im sure as fuck not most guys, I continue. I dont want
the bullshit of dating people. I told Monique what I wanted in a
wife, and she sent you to me. The deal is pretty cut and dry. I pay
off your student loans and promise to take care of you, you
promise to be my lawfully wedded wife.
Really romantic, right? she says, a sad smirk playing on her
mouth.
You want romance, Everly? I snort. I think you signed up
for the wrong gig, then.
You were romantic last night soft.
Im still that guy, but shit, Im not playing around here. If
you want to be my wife, were walking in there right now, no
second guesses, and were filing our marriage certificate.
You dont have to be a jerk about it, she says tightly.
Im not being a jerk. I just wonder why youre bringing up
this shit about family and whatever right before we go inside.
I just dont know anything about you. Gosh, Silas. Im sorry
you dont have family, and it sucks that my family died, but
dont you see how this is still a tiny bit scary?
If youre so scared, then you know what, Everly? I say,
nearly losing my shit. Then you need to get out of this car and
take my hand and fucking trust me on this. Ive never had a wife
before, and I sure as hell never imagined having one as goddamn
gorgeous as you.
Everlys eyes go wide. She covers her mouth, and fuck, is
she seriously laughing right now?
What are smiling about? I ask.
You got all cave man on me. All protective and sexy and
well, that was really romantic.
Good, I tell her, not giving in to a smile yet. I want her to
know this isnt a fucking jokethat shes my woman and Im
not messing around with that. Because I bought you a ring.
Really?
What the hell kind of husband do you think I am?
I reach over and get a black box from the glove compartment.
I hand it to her, and she looks at it cautiously.
Its a ring, honey. Its not going to bite you.
I know, Silas, she says, shooting me an annoyed look. But
this is a moment Ill always remember. It matters to me, even if
you bought this not knowing my name.
Her eyes explode in glittering emeralds when she opens it: a
gold band set with an eight-carat colorless solitaire.
She slides it on her finger. A perfect fit.
Its not practical, I know that. And you dont have to wear it
everyday or anything when we get home, but I get that this shit
matters to women. And youre my woman, so that matters
to me.
I dont say anything more, because hell, Im a man, not a
pussy-whipped fool.
Still, I cant help but notice the broad smile on her face, the
fact that she wipes a tear from her eye. I cant help but know I
made her really fucking happy.
She presses her soft, swollen lips against mine, her innocent
pleasure revealed in her light moans. When she pulls away from
the kiss, all I can think is how badly I want to fill her virginal
pussy.
Grinning, I cant help but think that there are worse ways to
spend the day of your wedding.
CHAPTER TEN

E verly

The ceremony at the courthouse is fast and seamless.


I knew from Monique that I would be signing a pre-nup,
which I completely understand. Silas has a fortune, though I
dont know the specifics on how large.
Before the ceremony we sign the paperwork, and thats that. I
could have read it over more closely, but the fact is, I brought
nothing into this marriage except some student loan debt and
two suitcases filled with books.
Then we see the judge and make the marriage official. One
moment Im Miss Everly Matters and the next Im Mrs. Everly
Sutton. We dont even kiss. Its all very stilted and formal, with
Silass lawyer there as a witness.
After the courthouse, we stop at a grocery store and Silas gets
several bags of groceries he previously ordered for pick-up. I
raise my eyebrows at this, because Ive never heard of someone
doing thatbut then again, Ive never lived with a man before.
We dont run any more errands after that, and Im grateful.
My stomach is in knots imagining where Ill be living. Its hard
to know what kind of place Silas owns.
Hes rough and tumble, but also effortless, and has no trouble
navigating any of the encounters weve had with the valet, room
service, the checkout desk, or the courthouse. I picture his house
as a gorgeous cabin nestled in a small townbut not too small
where everyone knows one another.
My ring sparkles as the sunlight hits it. We drive toward the
plane, and I feel more content than I have in years. The wedding
wasnt some magical affair, but that is the crux of this deal.
Choosing to be a mail order bride means Im giving up the idea of
a traditional marriage, a swept-off-my-feet romance but as I
turn my head, looking at Silas, I wonder if true love could grow
between us.
I mean, after last night with Silas I can imagine that
possibility. He treated me well, more than well. And even though
our wedding ceremony wasnt romantic, our argument in the
parking lot allowed us to air a lot of pent-up emotions. The
sexual energy between us is real; even now, as he drives, I see his
eyes run over my legs, and catch him looking at my chest.
And when we get to his house, I know that well consummate
this marriage, no doubt about it. I unroll the window, feeling all
hot and bothered, imagining the night to come.
We park the Land Cruiser at a lake where a handful of
seaplanes are docked.
Does the pilot meet us here? I ask.
What kind of man do you think I am? he scoffs, shaking his
head as he opens his door, then walks over to my side,
unexpectedly opening mine for me. Apparently, now that Im his
wife, hes going to treat me different. Most Alaskans who live
in the backwoods can fly their own planes.
Youre the pilot? I ask, looking at him and then at the tiny
planes behind him. Like, youre going to fly us to your house?
My cabin? Yeah. Now grab some of the groceries and Ill get
the luggage.
Holding the handles on the paper bags, I follow him to a small
yellow plane docked at the edge of the lake. I didnt expect the
plane to be this small which, okay, I can wrap my mind around
that. But to entrust Silas with my life? I mean, I know hes my
husband, but I dont know how I feel about him piloting me.
So how long have you been flying?
All my life.
I walk down the dock in a pair of sandals, and Ive been so
distracted with the events of the last twenty-four hours that Im
just now realizing Silas is in some serious outdoor clothing
Carhartt jeans and heavy leather work boots, a flannel shirt with
the sleeves rolled up. And this was what he chose to wear to his
wedding day.
Looking down at myself, I feel overdressed and
underprepared. My little sundress feels silly, my shoes
impractical. This whole thing feels ridiculous, climbing into a
strangers plane and living as his wife.
Looking at my ring, Im reminded that Im way too far in to
back out now. We are legally husband and wife. We already made
the commitment. And sure, I can always leave, get a divorce or
an annulmentbut not today.
As scared as I am, watching Silas pick up my heavy suitcases
with ease, his biceps flexing as he loads the cargo and checks the
fuel, calms me. He raises his arms to finish packing the plane
and his chiseled stomach comes into view. That bare strip of skin
makes my heart go pitter-patter and my core belly-flop.
There could be worse things than spending a wedding night
with a man like him.
Namely: being homeless, jobless, and friendless in Portland.
Ready to say good-bye to the city? he asks, holding the
plane door open for me, reaching for my hand to help me in.
What do you mean? I climb into the passenger seat and see
a slight frown on his face.
Anchorage. We wont be back here for awhile.
Thats okay. Im excited to get to your place. To start the
whole thing.
He nods, slamming the door shut and triple-checking that
its secure.
He jumps into the cockpit, as if hes done this a thousand
times. He starts the engine, moves around some dials and
adjusts gears, and then were off.
Silas is in command in the pilot seat. His powerful body fills
up so much of the plane that Im no longer questioning his
ability to fly this thing. Everything about him exudes confidence
and skill. I trust him with this.
Its just the other stuff thats starting to overwhelm me.
Namely, that I am actually his wife.
I try to breathe, but its hard. If my heart was pitter-pattering
before, its completely pounding now. My stomach rolls and my
hands grip the door handle so tightly my knuckles turn white.
You okay? he asks loudly, over the sound of the engine. I
dont trust myself to formulate coherent words, so I just nod,
and focus on not getting sick.
Not because Im nauseated, but because as I look out the
window at the majestic lake of water, the massive green trees,
the mountains with their bright snow caps, and the glittering
sun, I cant help but think that this is all so far from home.
Home. Its not like Ive had one since my parents died, since
my grandparents died a few years later. I chose to come here and
make a new home for myself. A new life. But as we fly farther
away from Anchorage, the truth of what Ive done settles into
my chest, and it aches, this realization.
Im flying far from everything Ive ever known, saying good-
bye to a life I never really gave myself a chance to have.
I hope Delta and Amelia are okay. Neither of them answered
their phones this morning, and I left them messages, letting
them know I loved them and hoped everything was okay, but
maybe they dont have reception where their husbands live.
Last night, when Silas spread my legs, I could see the
possibility of opening my heart to him, but now I feel parts of
myself closing up again. Tears stream down my cheeks, and I
turn towards my window as I wipe the tears away, not wanting
Silas to see. I need to be brave, be strong.
But as we fly, it becomes clear that were going somewhere
remote, somewhere isolated. Theres no city, no town. We fly
over dense forests, over enormous lakes.
And then were landing.
Silas maneuvers the plane over the crystal water, and its
similar to the dock in Anchorage, except there are no other
planes here.
I didnt kill you. He smirks.
I raise my eyes. I didnt think you were going to.
You seemed terrified, Everly. That entire flight, you were
pale as a ghost.
Its been a big twenty-four hours. I just want to unpack and
settle in.
Good. His eyes linger on mine, hesitating on something.
What?
Nothing. He helps me out of the plane and we unload on
the dock. He has a large cart at the end of the dock, and we fill it
with our things.
Before he shuts the door to the plane, he grabs a rifle from
the back of the plane.
You carry a gun? I ask, shaking my head. Apparently I was
so overwhelmed by the views as we flew that I didnt notice the
rifle.
Silas gives me a sidelong glance, shaking his head like Im a
fool. course I do, Everly. You never know what sort of
emergency you might encounter out here. Which is why, until I
teach you to shoot, you dont need to be walking around by
yourself. There are a lot of bears up here.
I bristle at his words, not liking to be told what I can or cannot
do. Still, a shiver runs down my spine at the thought of coming
across a bear in the wild.
I follow him off the dock, noting how absolutely quiet it is
here. How completely still. I dont think Ive ever been
somewhere so silent.
The lake is empty. No one is boating or waterskiing or fishing,
and I wonder where his closest neighbor lives.
We make our way down a well-trod path through the forest,
and when he stops, I look up.
Welcome home, Everly.
My eyes go wide as I take in the I dont even know what to
call it. A shack? A hunting cabin? A hovel?
I dont know what to call this place but it certainly is not
a home.
CHAPTER ELEVEN

S ilas

Im at the cabin, reaching to pull open the door, before I realize


she isnt following me anymore.
There a problem? I ask.
I swear Ive been the perfect fucking gentleman all day. Gave
her the goddamn useless ring, opened her door, even made sure I
grabbed a few bottles of wine for her at the grocery store. Im
committed to not pissing her off the first day were married.
But damn, she cried the whole plane ride, though she tried to
hide it. And now shes standing here, frozen. It may be a few
years since Ive had a woman, but shit, I dont remember them
acting like this.
Where are we? Everly asks.
At my place. I try not to sound annoyed, but I know my
words are short. Going for the nice, new husband approach, I
add, Well, our place.
I dont understand, she says. I was told you were.
That I was what? I shake my head, not clear as to what
shes getting at.
Rich? Like with the pre-nup and everything, it seemed
like you were and Monique said her clients had fortunes not
. She points to the cabin, deflated. This.
This is about money? I shake my head, instantly pissed.
Maybe I read sweet, sexy, genuine Everly all wrong. Maybe
shes as bad as those city girls who want spa days and personal
shoppers. I thought she was something else. I thought she was
the woman for me.
Not money, exactly, but Silas, this is a rustic cabin. Not
the home of a millionaire. She waves her hands as if literally
trying to clear the air. Not that I need a millionaire. Or ever
even wanted one. But I did think I just married one.
I walk toward her, wanting her to know exactly who I am and
who Im not. Money doesnt define me, and I sure as hell dont
need a wife who thinks it does.
I dont know what Monique told you, but this is my house. I
live on this land, and I will die on this land. And I need my wife
to understand that.
She swallows, and I use my finger to draw her chin up so she
looks me in the eyes.
If this house isnt going to work for you, you damn well need
to tell me.
Why? she asks. Would you move somewhere else?
I snort. Did you not hear what I just said? I plan to live and
die here. We stayed at a hotel last night because we had too. But
dont expect that to be something you get very often. I go to
Anchorage maybe once a month, tops.
But Monique. Everly bites her lip, seemingly
overwhelmed.
Shit, this girl hasnt even walked inside. I could about kill
Monique right now. I explicitly said I needed a wife who
understood what it meant to live in the backwoods, in a cabin.
Its isolated as fuck, and that isnt changing.
Silas, I cant live here. Its the middle of nowhere.
Thats the point, sweetheart.
I turn away from her. Im not the sort of man whos going to
convince her to stay, but shit Im not taking her back to
Anchorage any time soon. I just left that bullshit city, and I need
to set traps and get some fishing done. Plant a garden
something I expected her to help with.
If she wants to leave, I can take her back in a week, but Im
sure as hell not changing my plans for anyone.
Before stepping into the cabin, I grab some bags of groceries
from the cart. My irritation at Everly grows as I stomp into my
cabin and hang my rifle on the wall, then set the bags of food on
the kitchen counter.
I live off the grid because I want to, not because Im some
hobo. Fuck, theres electricity to warm the water, to run the
refrigerator and stove. Solar panels, inverters, batteries, and a
diesel generator keep me from living like Travis and his mom in
their place three miles away. Now theres a real backwoods
family.
Me? I want to live in the mountains and carve my own path,
but Ill admit its easier to start this life up with a saving
account. Plenty of folks have to work harder and longer to get
enough money saved to move out here to the woods.
But for Everly not to know what she was getting herself into
fucking riles me up. Monique clearly kept some things from her.
The last thing I want is a woman who doesnt want to live this
sort of extreme life.
I finish putting up the food I bought, and Im about to go for a
second load when I turn and see Everly standing in the doorway,
her rolling suitcase beside her, ready to take her first tentative
step inside.
You planning on coming in? I ask. Because no one is
forcing you to be here.
I dont know what Im planning on doing, Silas, she says,
her voice high and put-out.
I dont want some woman here against her will.
Yeah, I heard you. She shakes her head. Even if I asked, I
dont think youd get in that plane and take me anywhere
tonight.
She purses her lips, looking around the one-room cabin, still
not taking a single step inside.
Youre right about one thing, I tell her, stepping toward the
doorway. Im not leaving this property for a solid week.
She smirks, as if realizing she really has nowhere to go right
now. Shaking her head as if she cant believe this is her life.
And I get itif she really had no idea I lived like this, Id be
pretty fucking pissed, too. But it isnt my fault Monique pulled a
fast one on her. Im not changing who I am and where I live for
Everly. But I also have no intention of making her life a living
hell. There are a few things I want too much to consider that.
Namely: her.
Then Im your prisoner? she says. Right?
You can call it what you want, I say, standing right in front
of her, blocking her entrance. But Im pretty damn sure Ill be
calling you my wife.
I know she wants me. She licks her lips, and if I could rip off
her dress Id see her clenching her pretty little pussy as it pants
in desire.
Oh, Ill see that soon enough.
Then right now Ill call you my husband, she gasps, as if
surprising herself at how badly she wants me to take control.
I pick her up. Her arms grab hold of my neck. She doesnt
want to let go any more than I do.
Damn straight you will, I tell her, my voice low as I look in
her deep green eyes. But first, I need to carry my bride over the
fucking threshold.
I bring her inside, not bothering to kick the door closed. The
sun is out and the woods are wild and Everly is mine.
This is my land, and this is my cabin, and I will take my wife
any time I please.
CHAPTER TWELVE

E verly

When he sets me atop his bed, I forget that Monique tricked me


and that he isnt what I wanted or expected, because all I can
think about is the fact that he is exactly what I need.
In this moment. Him. Me.
Yes, we are near-strangers but hes also my husband and
Im also his wife. And I want this to work, because Ive already
committed myself to him.
And if hell carry me in his arms every night, then maybe this
marriage can work out here in the woods. Because right now, his
sheer strength feels like enough to lift me out of the
foulest mood.
And let me tell you, thats saying somethingbecause this
cabin is depressing as hell.
So I dont focus on the fact that he lives in a solitary room,
that this is the worst version of a bachelor pad Ive ever seen.
Instead I focus on his mouth as it leans over me, as it presses
hard on my lips, as he circles his tongue against mine.
Then I get that dizzy feeling again, where all I can do is
remember to breathe. In and out. In and out. This becomes
especially important as he growls my name. Everly, he says.
Im claiming you as mine, right here, right now.
He pulls off his shirt, unbuttons his jeans, kicks off his boots.
I watch, wordlessly, as he undresses. Ive never seen a naked
man before, never seen a cock. Ive only imagined them. Ive
only read about length and girth on my Kindle after downloading
a new romance novel.
But those stories arent real. This is real.
And damn, the real thing is nothing like my imagination.
First off, the real thing is bigger. Much bigger.
I watch as Silas hooks his thumbs in the waistband of his
boxer briefs, as he tugs them off, revealing a cock as hard as
rock, sticking straight out at me, practically begging to be
touched, held. Sucked.
Whew. Okay, Ive never seen one before and Ive already
jumped to my mouth meeting its round tip, its thickness filling
me until it releases against the back of my throat as I
swallow him.
Maybe I should slow down.
Breathe. In and out. In and out.
Delta and Amelia tried to coach me on what to expect my first
time but they did not prepare me for a mountain man and his
solid cock and his rock hard abs and his scruffy hair and his clear
blue eyes and his rough beard.
They did not prepare me for Silas.
Good. I dont want them to know what its like to be with a
man as untamed as Silas. To know what it is to have his
calloused hands slide under my dress, up my thighs, ripping off
my panties. I dont want them to know how much my pussy
drips as his fingers graze over my ass, pulling me toward his
manhood.
I help, throwing my cardigan to the ground and unzipping my
dress. He lifts it over my head, leaving me bare except for my
white bra.
Oh, I say, remember my wedding night teddy packed in
tissue paper in my suitcase. I was going to wear something
special for my first time.
I dont want you in anything, he growls. His hungry eyes
drink me in as he unhooks my bra at the center clasp. I want to
see your tits, in all their glory. His hands run over them,
massaging them and then plucking my tight nipples. I want you
bare and I want you ready. Im going to remember the first time I
took you for the rest off my goddamned life, but I sure as hell
wont remember some nightgown you wore.
Hes right. Im going to remember how he knew what he
wanted and how he took it. Im going to remember that he
wanted me.
Me.
Mrs. Everly Sutton.
He takes my eyeglasses and sets them on the bedside table
and runs his hands through my hair, somehow managing to
make my boring, mousy brown bob seem beautiful. I feel
beautiful.
And damn, thats a feat, considering half the time I cant even
look at a man without losing my voice.
Though, to be fair, Silas is causing me to forget to breathe.
Repeatedly.
You okay? he asks, turning my head up to his. Were both
kneeling on the bed, and his cock presses against my belly.
I dont want it between us. I want it in me.
I just. Keep. Forgetting to breathe. I sigh, my head falling
back. You must know how handsome you are.
He gives me a slow smile. Dont get many compliments out
here, he tells me.
I can imagine. I laugh sharply, once again amazed that this
is my actual life. It is pretty quiet here.
Mhhhmm, Silas says, planting kisses on my neck, trailing
down to my breasts. But its about to get really loud.
Whys that? I ask, losing all inhibition and relishing the
way his mouth covers my skin, the way he pulls me closer to
him, the way his cock taunts me with such close proximity.
Because, Everly, Im about to make you scream.
He spanks my ass playfully, and I let out a squeak, laughing as
he squeezes my ass cheek.
Youre bad, Silas, I tell him with mock seriousness,
pointing a finger at him. He bites at my finger, catching it
between his teeth, then sucking it seductively.
Ive never felt so light and silly and Im behaving just like
Amelia told me to act. Like myself. And here I am, buck-naked,
with a man whos hotter than hell, in a cabin in the absolute
wilderness, and I am more myself than Ive ever been before.
Are you on the pill? he asks.
I nod. Ive been on the pill for years because of cramps, but
for the first time ever Id be using it to avoid pregnancy.
Good, because I hate condoms.
I bite my lip, not having an opinion on the matter, and
grateful that Monique had us tested to make sure we were totally
clean.
He lowers me against the pillows, and spreads my legs, and
runs his wide palms over my belly, down to my entrance.
Looking at me, he loses his smile, he loses the goofy edge that
weve been teetering on.
The mood shifts, and suddenly we fall into something
cavernous. Something that holds a depth Ive never experienced
with a man in my life. And he presses his massive cock inside of
me, slowly filling me, and it hurts like hell. This losing of my
innocence and this freefall into his body.
I hope like hell he catches me.
But the actual de-virginizing that isnt painful. Its
beautiful. I didnt wear white and I didnt carry something blue,
but I do borrow something.
I borrow all the courage I seem to have stored up for the
entirety of my life. I borrow Deltas prowess, and I borrow
Amelias strength, and I give them to Silas.
I give him everything.
I give him all of me.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN

S ilas

I dont want to hurt her. I dont want to make her cry. But no
matter how slow I go, her pussy is tight, and my dick is huge, and
theres no denying that she sheds a tear.
But dammit, I wipe it away and I rock in her gently, my body
hovering over hers as I fill her up. I dont go all the way in. I
know thats way too much for a virgin as small as her.
Instead, I go nice and slowand fuck me now, its the best
pussy Ive ever been in. I dont know why this girl, with her
books and her sexy glasses and her perfect curvy body, ended up
in my bed, but damn, shes warm and tight. I watch her writhe
beneath me as I hit her g-spot, nice and slow. Over and over
again.
Silas, you feel so good its too good, its all too much, she
moans, her fingers digging into my back as she nears her climax.
I smile, loving the way her tits bounce up and down as I fuck her,
loving the way her eyes shut as she feels her center light up with
my cock.
You love it, dont you, girl? I move faster, knowing that
shes so close, so ready.
My cock is on fire, ready to come inside her until she weeps.
Ready to come inside her until her pussy fills with my come,
until her pussy begs for more.
I know it will.
Oh, ohhhhh, Silas, ohhhh, she cries, shaking beneath me
as her orgasm washes over her.
I fill her with my release, loving the fact that shes my wife
and her pussy is filled with my come. I dont want anyone to ever
have the pleasure of her pussy but me.
Catching my breath, I brush back her hair, look into those
jewel-like eyes.
Well, that was fun, she says, a laugh escaping her mouth.
She bites her lip, instinctively pulling back that perfect sound.
So youre not leaving the first chance you get? Maybe its
unfair to ask that of her now, when we just consummated our
marriage and my cock is still in her, but I cant help it.
She swallows, saying a whole fucking lot in her long pause.
Are you kidding me with this shit?
Finally, she says, This isnt what I expected.
Right. I roll off her, not interested in begging her to say
something different.
Silas, dont, she says, grabbing my elbow.
What? I shrug, standing, pulling on my jeans. What do
you want to say?
I dont know. She sits up, pulling the sheet around her, her
legs curling beneath her.
Thats not enough for me, Everly. And I think you do know.
Youre just too fucking scared to say it.
Im not scared. She sits up straighter, her shoulders square
and her eyes focused. I came out here with you, a stranger. I
signed my name and became your wife and I gave you my
virginity. Im not scared.
Then whats the problem? I pull on a tee-shirt, knowing I
have lot of fucking work to do around here after being gone for
twenty-four hours. Im not interested in sitting around
discussing what this girl is or isnt scared of, if shes staying or if
she wants to go.
I didnt sign up for that shit. I signed up for a bride who
wanted to live in the mountains with me. I signed up for a wife
who could make it in the wild.
Not this. Not a girl like Everly.
And damn, its a shame. Because besides the fact her pussy is
the sweetest thing Ive ever tasted, the tightest pussy Ive ever
filled, when I saw her at the airport I swore she would be mine.
But a lot can change in a day.
The problem is, Silasand I know it sounds bratty or
whatever, but come onI didnt think this is where you lived. In
a shack. In the middle of nowhere. This is more than I
bargained for.
Well, this is what I have to fucking offer you, Everly. Take it
or leave it.
She purses her lips, totally pissed. But not until you agree to
fly me out of here, right? She throws up her hands. Were back
to where we were before you scooped me up in your arms and
carried me to your bed. Were right where we started.
I cross to the fridge and grab a beer. Cracking it open, I take a
long swig, then turn back to her. Im not going to sit here and
fight with you for the next week. I have work to do.
I leave the cabin, grab an axe by the back door, and head to
the woods to chop down a motherfucking tree.
I wanted a mail order bride to avoid the bullshit of a city girl
who was high maintenance and not cut out for this. That was the
solitary reason I signed up with Moniques service in the first
place.
But as I walk into the forest, I see how fucked this idea was. I
have a wife I cant make a life with.
So how the hell is this supposed to work?
CHAPTER FOURTEEN

E verly

After pulling on my clothes, I dig in my tote bag for my cell


phone, hoping against stupid hope that, by some miraculous
occurrence, theres a signal.
Theres not.
Obviously.
Silas left pissed. Which, okay, I personally think is a really
unfair move. It isnt my fault Monique led me to believe I was
marrying some loaded Alaskan man. It isnt my fault I thought
Id be living in civilization and not in a shack. Like, this isnt
even a log cabin. This is someones shitty lean-to. This is not
a home.
And that is seriously all I wanted.
Yes, I was out-of-my-mind drunk when I filled out the online
applications with Delta and Amelia. And yes, I was sober when I
spoke with Monique the next day but I was also desperate.
And maybe that makes me sound like a twenty-first century
entitled twat, some money-hungry fool, but the truth is I am an
idiot. I did not think this through. I naively thought what?
That this was romantic? That this was something I could write a
book about? That this was better than a random Craigslist
roommate and a job at Taco Bell?
So now what?
I dont even remotely know. If Id ever had a boyfriend
perhaps Id have a clue as to how to navigate the male species,
but considering two days ago Id never even been able to
properly greet my mail man without muttering incoherent
syllables, Im guessing Im not going to figure it out now, on
my own.
I need Delta and Amelia.
Throwing my phone on the bed I look around the cabin. A
fancy radio on the desk tempts me for a moment, before I realize
hijacking it would require me actually knowing how to work the
damn thing.
The cabin has a small stovetop, a utility sink, a fridge, and a
table with two chairs. A wood stove is the focal point of this
place, and a substantial stack of wood is beside it.
Theres a double bed, a bedside table holding a flashlight.
Standing, I poke my head inside the only door and find a modest
bathroom with a shower, a toilet, and a sink.
Hooks line the wall of the entire cabin. There isnt a single
closet. Instead Silas has his jackets hung, and there are several
empty ones. For me, presumably.
Theres a chest of drawers, and I pull open the top drawer and
find it empty. Inside is a lavender sachet and I press it to my
nose, not knowing if I should cry or laugh at the sincerity of the
gesture.
The top two drawers are empty, the bottom two are filled with
his long johns, jeans, flannels, and socks.
The two empty drawers remind me that Silas knew I was
coming. He prepared for his wife. And maybe he doesnt have
money like I thought but maybe thats okay?
Oh my God, Everly. This is insanity. Am I seriously allowing a
few dried flower buds to sway me so severely? Thats bananas.
Speaking of fruit, Im starving. I walk to the kitchen to try and
figure out what Silas has in terms of food. Opening the
cupboards, I find bags of beans, rice, peanut butter, and quinoa.
There are bouillon cubes and salt and pepper, along with bags of
dried jerky, dehydrated fruit, and nuts.
In the fridge theres a case of Budweiser, a few bottles of
white wine, and a few bags of random veggiesones he must
have just bought today.
The freezer though, is stuffed with frozen fish and meat
mostly labeled moose, but I see a few packages identified as
rabbit.
Oh, heaven help me.
I am way over my head here. I cant even eat without serious
food prep. And Ive never cooked dried beans in my life. I was a
college student. I lived on frozen burritos, pasta, and fast food.
Well, also champagne. And tequila.
Grabbing a bag of carrots from the fridge, I munch on a few,
considering my next move. What I really want is a good old-
fashioned cry. Because the sex Silas and I just had blew my mind.
It made my heart crack open, it made me feel alive but its
terrifying to think what staying here might mean.
I dont think I can hack this but, more importantly, do I
even want to hack it? Sure, Silas is gorgeous, but I know nothing
about him. Nothing substantial. Nothing besides the fact that
his body pressed against mine is delicious.
But insane sex does not equal a relationship. And the truth is,
I came out here under false pretenses.
I grab my suitcase from the porch and drag it inside. I need to
shower and get into clean clothes, but Im not unpacking. Im
staying for one week, tops, until Silas agrees to take me back to
Anchoragewhich I will request at an annoying rateand then
Ill get an annulment, or a divorce.
Because, yes, Silas is the only man who has ever made me
come, but that doesnt mean I have to stay.
CHAPTER FIFTEEN

S ilas

You know what sucks more than not having a wife? Having a wife
whos decided she wants out of the marriage less than one
day in.
Its bullshit, her attitude.
When I come in after chopping down a shit-ton of
unnecessary firewood, I see her sitting at the kitchen table
drinking wine with an open laptop in front of her.
I want to ask her what shes doing on ittheres no WiFi out
here, obviously. And sitting there messing around on a computer
is the least productive way to spend an afternoon in the woods.
She could have at least cooked us a meal.
You planning on eating dinner? I ask.
No, I already ate. Her eyes stay fixed on her computer
screen.
I shake my head, refusing to ask anything else. When I came
in here, she should have been offering me an apology for getting
all snotty with me, not this prissy attitude where she wont even
meet my eyes.
Fuck it. I grab a beer, take a long pull, and then fill a pot with
water. Ill make rice and chop some of those vegetables I got at
the grocery store. Ive been making my own goddamn food long
enoughI can do it tonight, too.
While the food cooks I take a shower, trying to get my head on
straight.
She wants to leave, thats pretty damn clear. Though she
dragged in all three of her suitcases, I see that not a thing is
unpacked. Trying to swallow my ruined pride, I walk to my
dresser and look for some shorts. A towel is wrapped around my
waist and, as I drop it to dress, I feel a set of emerald green eyes
on me.
Looking up, I catch Everly staring, but then she drops her
chin quickly, returning to whatever shes doing on the laptop.
Smirking, I take my time finding a pair of shorts. Knowing
she fucking loves my cock, I make sure to tease her with it, and
instead of dressing I let my hand cover the length of my shaft,
slowly running my hand up and down until its nice and hard.
A sharp intake of breath has me turning to look at my bride.
Shes biting her lip greedily, and thats when I put on the shorts.
Good. I want her needy and horny. I want her to remember
what I have to offer. She might not like this cabin, but I know its
going to be hard for her to walk away from my cock.
But damn, now Im hard as hell and hungry for something
besides dinner.
I eat my food in silence at the kitchen counter. I cant forget
the way she screamed my name when we fucked a few hours ago.
I cant forget how good the sound of my name was on her lips.
Grunting at my misery, I wash my plate and fork, the pan,
then I start a fire in the wood stove. It gets chilly out here late at
night and in the early hours of the morning.
I feel her watching me as I start the fire, as I close the cabin
up for the night, as I take a piss, and then as I get in bed. The
silence is killing me, but dammit, Im not going to beg.
I know what I have to offer her, but I dont want a bride based
on my net worth. I dont want a woman here who thinks my
money might change the way I live. Nothing is going to change
my lifestyle.
Once the garden is planted, which is my main priority this
week, Ill take her back to Anchorage. Fuck, Ill call Monique and
let her know what I really think about her modern mail order
bride service.
Ill tell her she did good finding me a virgin bride whos so
gorgeous she has me jacking off in the shower, has me blowing
my load faster than I ever have in my life. But Ill also tell her
that when comes to finding a wife who meets my most basic
requirements, she did a really shitty job.
I cant sleep, knowing Everly is here, awake, and not beside
me in bed. Eventually I hear her washing her wine glass, using
the bathroom, and then slipping into my bed.
Our backs are to one another, and I dont say a fucking word.
Neither does she.
But dammit, I hear her crying herself to sleepsoft, near-
silent sobs. And shit, I may have asked for a wife, but I dont
fucking know how to deal with a woman.
CHAPTER SIXTEEN

E verly

I dont sleep. Its impossible, when the man who had unnerved
me, fucked me, and undone me is so close. His back is against
mine, and when he rolls over in his sleep his arm wraps around
my waist. Seamlessly, as if it was made to be there.
The problem is, even if I wanted to be here, I have no idea
where I would fit into his life.
I spent yesterday evening on my laptop. I figured I had waited
to be a writer until I had some life experience under my belt, and
I certainly had material to work with at the moment.
But as I sat there at the kitchen table, I kept typing a pros and
cons list. Pros for being Silass wife. Cons for going back to
Portland.
For every pro there was a con. The list was even. I deleted the
entire thing, hating that I even started it. It felt so immature,
and Im an adult. A grown-up.
A wife.
The thing is, as angry as I was last night, we did get married.
And that means something to me. Does it mean anything to
Silas? Because he doesnt seem to really care if I stay.
And I want to mean more than that to my husband. I wanted
to matter, as a person, to him.
But I guess the fact that he was okay with marrying a stranger
answers the question of what I mean to him. He doesnt really
care who I am. He agreed to marry me sight unseen.
But can I hold that against him, when I did the exact same
thing? These questions rattled through my brain all night, and I
wish I could hash it all out with Delta and Amelia but Im out
here alone. If I want to hash anything out with anyone, it will
have to be with my husband.
Which is not going to happen. Hes a man, a species Im too
unfamiliar with.
Especially his kind: a man so sexy, so completely confident. A
man who doesnt really need me here at all.
He makes coffee, dresses, and is out the door without a word.
The entire time, I have my back to him, determined not to speak.
Because Im acting petty and dont know the first thing about
navigating relationships.
But that isnt true, not really. I have my girlfriends; I had my
parents and my grandparents. I know that honesty is the first
step in understanding another person.
The problem is, last night I was honest with Silas. And he
didnt like that. He didnt like me admitting that this was so not
what I signed up for. He wanted me to be accommodating and
willing, and not a person with feelings at all.
Maybe this is why mail order brides went out of fashion at the
same time the West was won. I can vote and I can go to school
and I have a voice. I need to be with a man who
understands that.
Dressing in jeans and a tee shirt, I pour the last of the coffee
into an enamel mug. Realizing that Silas doesnt have half and
half, I moan into the thick black liquid. I take a sip, resigned, and
then pull on my Converse and slip outside.
Its not even seven a.m., but the forest has been awake for
hours, considering the sun rose at three a.m. Trees rustle as
birds move about, and branches crack under my feet as I walk
toward the lake. Maybe the sweet serenity of the glassy water
will calm my nerves. Yesterday, when I gave my body to Silas, I
experienced a free flow of emotions but now they seem to be
bottled up tight once more.
I see Silas fishing at the dock, but I cant bear to go over to
him. I dont know what to say. I feel tricked into being here.
And maybe its not his fault, but it isnt mine, either. I just
need to get through the week, and get out of his woods. Sure, he
was amazing to me in bed last nightand the night beforebut
that isnt a marriage.
Im going to need a project to get through the week.
Yesterday morning, after the courthouse, he mentioned
wanting me to plant a garden. Wanting something to do, I walk
around the perimeter of the cabin to a plot of land where a
rototiller has already broken up the soil.
In a small potting shed I find shovels, seeds, and gardening
gloves. Not wanting to mess up his plans, I decide to start
weeding, until he returns from the lake and can give me more
instructions.
A few hours later, Ive weeded the majority of the area hes
marked out. I take a break, needing some water.
Silas is in the cabin and he gives me a curt nod, clearly not
interested in making amends anytime soon, either.
Can you tell me where you want things planted? I ask him
as I fill up a glass of water for myself. I dont look at him. I cant
bear to.
Sure. I made a drawing of the garden, you can follow that.
Okay. What are you doing this afternoon?
You want to make small talk, Everly? Because Im not really
interested in that.
My emotions rise to the surface. I wish he would be more
gentle with me, more gracious. This is a ridiculous learning
curve, yet he seems annoyed that Im less than thrilled to be so
out of my element.
Then what are you interested in? I ask.
He looks me up and down, and I cant tell what hes thinking
at all.
Im only interested in you if you want to be my wife.
I cross my arms, frustrated that he isnt giving me any wiggle
room to figure out what I want.
Just show me the map for the garden, Silas, I tell him,
walking back outside.
CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

S ilas

For the next five days all we do is cross paths. Everly gets up
after I do, and while Im at the lake, she works in the garden.
Damn, though, every time I walk back to the house, I see her
little ass in the air as she bends over, working the soil.
Id like to work her up and down. Id rake my fingers all over
her skin, and Id show her how I motherfucking plow. Our one
night together was not close to being enough.
I know she wants me, too. In the middle of the night, Ill
wake, and her body will be grinding against my cock
subconsciously. Her arms will fall over my chest while she
dreams.
And dammit, it takes everything within me not to pull down
her panties and take her while she sleeps.
What I really want, though, is to take her while shes awake. I
want to see her gorgeous eyes and her smile. I want to see her
surprise, as I ravish her in a way she cant even comprehend yet.
I walk in from the lake, carrying my tackle box. I have a fish in
my bucket.
Im going to go fry this sucker up, Everly, I tell her as I
pass. Shes pressing seeds into the rich soil, and looks up at me,
smiling. Havent seen that on her face all week. What has you
in a good mood?
I know its quiet up here, but its also sort of magical, isnt
it? she asks. I keep hearing birds calling, and I saw a baby deer
and her mama pass through that way.
I nod, not wanting to reveal the thrill that her small interest
in Alaska gives me. Maybe I can convince her to stay longer than
a few more days. Maybe I can still convince her to stay forever.
I have a guidebook in the cabin, if you want to use it, to
identify the birds.
She stands, peeling off the gardening gloves. You identify
birds, Silas?
Hey, its lonely up here.
She rolls her eyes. You dont have to live here, you know,
she says.
Just as Im about to say something more, a seaplane hovers
above us. We watch as it makes its landing at my lake.
Whos here? she asks.
Probably Travis. My neighbor.
Setting down my fishing gear, I walk toward the dock with
Everly. Once the plane has landed, Travis jumps out.
Thanks again for the ride, man, Travis calls to the pilot. I
recognize him as a guy who lives about twenty miles east of us.
You made it back, I say, clapping him on the back in
greeting.
Sure did, motherfucker, Travis says, before raising his
hands in mock apology. Sorry, maam, this bastard never has
any women out here. I forgot how to talk in the presence of
a lady.
In the presence of my wife, I declare, not quite knowing
why I insisted on saying that considering this wife wants to get
back to Anchorage and call it off as soon as possible.
Silas told me you were coming, but damn, I had no idea
youd be so fine. Travis lets out a low whistle. Hes one lucky
bastard. Im Travis, and you are? He sticks out his hand, and
Everly shakes it.
Im Everly, she says quietly.
You have a good time in the big city? I ask.
Damn straight. Plenty of fine women willing to spend time
with me. I think they find the whole lumberjack thing
appealing.
I laugh. Travis wears suspenders and a flannel shirt, a scruffy
beard and a trucker cap. That or they like guys who buy them
drinks.
He smiles. A free drink is fine by me. Looking at Everly
appraisingly. You going to be able to hack it out here, honey? It
gets mighty lonely come winter. Thats why I gotta sow all my
oats now, in town, before the lake freezes and were stuck here
for months.
I could punch Travis in the gut. The last thing I want is to give
Everly more reasons why living here is a bad idea.
Months? Everly asks, eyes raised.
Hell, yeah, lonely as hell. But you can always come
snowshoe over to my mas place, well make you a rabbit stew,
and we can drink my moonshine. Sound good?
Everly smiles tightly. Nice to meet you, Travis. Im going to
head back to the garden and finish some things up.
She walks off the dock and Travis and I both watch her go. I
exhale, feeling defeated.
She doesnt want to stay, I admit. She says she wants me
to take her back at the end of the week.
Well, damn, Silas. You cant lose that piece of ass that easily.
Shes the hottest woman in Alaska.
What do you suggest? Because I dont want her here against
her will, but all week shes been quiet, working in that garden, or
typing on her damn computer.
Well, fuck, computers and gardens are not the reason we live
out here in the backwoods. Show her the reason you love this
place. Show her your mountain, motherfucker.
CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

E verly

One more day and then Silas will take me home.


Well, not home just back to where I came from. Because I
dont even know what home means anymore. Theres no one
and nothing waiting for me.
I get ready for the day, hoping that before I leave I can come
to some sort of amends with Silas. All week, he and I have
managed to avoid any real conversation, but if were going to get
an annulment, I want him to know Im not a complete bitch.
Not that I dont want him I just want something different
than the life he offers.
I think.
Even with this week under my belt, Im not entirely sure
leaving is the right decision. I have one more day to figure it out.
And I need it.
When I get to the lake, I see Silas casting a line into the water.
He stands on his dock, a tackle box beside him, a thermos at
his feet.
His back is so wide and strong. I see the etching of his
muscles even with a tee-shirt on. He wears a ball cap, and I look
in the sky. The sun is bright, shining down on him. He looks so
natural out here, so at ease.
His arm flexes as he begins to reel his fishing rod at a fast
clip, and he adjusts his footing as he pulls up. A fish flies out of
the clear water, and he whistles unabashedly at his catch.
I have no idea what kind of fish it is, but I do know its easily
eighteen inches long and silvery, and whipping around furiously.
Silas effortlessly uses a knife to slice off the head to kill it,
then guts it swiftly. Then he tosses the mess into the lake and
quickly rinses the fish out.
He sees me then. He nods and turns back to the water, where
he kneels and rinses his hands.
Good morning, I say tentatively. I may be disappointed
with the way this entire relationship has gone, but being cold
now will only make everything worse. Besides, I did the silent
treatment all week and it got me nothing except heartache and
confusion.
Morning.
You catch the same kind of fish every morning?
Nope. He stands, facing me.
I hope its all right that I made a second pot of coffee, I say,
raising my mug.
His eyes narrow at me, but before I can really see him, he
looks across the lake. Its your place as much as mine so long as
youre here.
I dont know what to say to that. Listen. Silas. Im sor
Before I can finish my thought, he raises his hands, telling me
to stop. I dont want your apology. I want a wife who wants this,
and if youre not her, thats your business. Ill take you back
today.
Today? I sputter, caught off guard. I thought you said
tomorrow I didnt think
It doesnt matter what I said when I was pissed. I should
have taken you back the day after we arrived. I heard you crying
that first night and didnt do a damn thing about it. I feel like an
asshole keeping you here when youre not interested.
He takes off his hat, then pulls off his tee-shirt and dries his
hands with it. His pecs shine with sweat and sunand,
regrettably, I lick my lips.
I watch him pull his belt from his pants, drop it on the dock. I
squint, trying to read him. Its impossible. Hes a man. A mans
man. A man who right this minute is my husband, and I thought
Id have another day to decide what I really wanted.
But theres no more wiggle room.
Damn. He kicks off his shoes, unbuttons his jeans, steps out
of them.
Hes in his boxer briefs, right in front of me. What the heck is
this man getting at?
Um what are you doing Silas? Part of meokay, all of me
wants him to strip me of my clothes, too. To take me right
here, right now, on this dock.
To tell me I cant leave, to say Im not just his wife but his to
do with what he likes. I want him to take that body of his and
never let me out of his sight.
Instead, his words empty the hopeful energy surging
through me.
Im going for a swim, Everly.
Oh.
Remember to breathe. In and out. In and out.
Silas grins, like he knows exactly what hes doing. And hes
lucky to know himself so well. To know what he wants, and to
have it, and to not doubt or second-guess. Silas raises his
eyebrows, smirking.
Then he takes off his briefs, and stands before me with his
massive cock and solid body, and all I want to do is touch every
inch of his skin and be held by those strong arms.
He dives into the icy water without saying another word
to me.
I frown at what feels like rejection. But I cant tell whos
rejecting who. I nearly cry. Im such a hormonal mess.
When he surfaces, I expect him to swim in the other
direction. Instead, his bright eyes look right at me; he comes to
the edge of the dock and lifts himself up by his elbows.
Mrs. Sutton. You may think you want to leave, but give me
one day to show you what youre walking away from.
One day with you?
He nods, beads of water dripping down his nose. I kneel on
the edge of the dock, setting down my mug and looking at those
clear blue eyes, reflecting things inside of me I dont even
understand.
What are we doing first? I ask.
He grabs my hand, and swiftly pulls me in. Crashing into the
lake head-first, I wonder how many times Im going to fall for
this man.
The count is getting pretty damn high.
CHAPTER NINETEEN

S ilas

We dont last in the water very long because, damn, its fucking
freezing. She shrieks, adorable when shes drenched like a
drowned rat, and when we run to the cabin, Im a gentleman and
let her in the warm shower first.
But Im going to watch her strip out of those soaked clothes.
Its impossible to take off wet jeans, she laughs, struggling,
and I offer her my hand. She tugs her jeans off while using me
for balance. And I unabashedly watch her as she tears off her
clothes. God, those tits are perfect, her nipples so hard and tight
from the freezing lake.
She steps in the narrow shower, and I watch her from behind
the clear curtain. I didnt expect to give her another day here, but
Travis gave me an idea.
I couldnt for the life of me imagine her leaving without one
last time with her on my cock, without getting another taste of
her pussy.
I cant let her go before I devour her body one more time.
So when I came up from air after my dive, I proposed a final
day here. Monique may not have explained what kind of man I
amwhere I live and how I liveand Everly may never have
considered a life like this, but we are married.
Shes my wife, goddammit, and Im not going to let her walk
away without a fight.

While she showers and changes, I fillet the fish I caught this
morning and set it in the fridge for dinner. Since shes taking her
sweet time in the bathroom, I head to the shed and get a few
planks of well-hewn wood, some nails, and a saw.
When she comes out of the bathroom all fresh and clean, I
feel my cock harden at the sight of her.
What are you doing? she asks, looking at the supplies.
Im building a shelf. You can make yourself useful
and help.
Okay. She presses a finger to her mouth. And how exactly
should I help you?
Here, hold the level; Im going to mark the wall with a pencil
where the shelf will go.
Working together, we mark the wall, and I set to bracing the
shelf with simple wooden brackets. The shelving will run along
the wall, above the row of hooks. Its just dead space anyway.
She holds the nails, and hands them to me one by one,
watching intently as I measure and cut, then hammer the boards
into place.
I run my hand over my beard when I finish. Nothing fancy,
but it will do the job.
Whats it for? Everly asks.
I shrug, looking down. Your books.
Really? She shakes her head. Silas that wasnt
necessary.
I know it wasnt.
But if Im leaving.
Are you? I ask her the hard question shes terrified to
answer. She may say shes not scared of anything, but we both
know thats a lie.
I dont know.
Well, until you decide, put your books on the shelf. This is
your home, Everly, until you leave it. So you should act like it.
Okay, she says. Biting her lip, she reaches for one of her
suitcases. Unzipping it, she begins pulling out stacks of novels,
and hands them to me.
I set them on the shelf and they dont bow the shelf at all. I
built this quickly, but its solid. And it needs to be. She brought
these books all the way up here, they must mean something
to her.
She unloads the second suitcase and soon enough a hundred
books line the shelf.
They all fit, she says.
I watch as she reorganizes them, making sure all the spines
are out and up.
You always been a reader? I ask. I havent read a book
since I graduated college.
Her eyebrows shoot up, as though shes surprised, but Im not
sure at what part. The college or the lack of reading.
I guess we havent really talked much about ourselves, she
says, sitting down on the bed. But yeah, I grew up reading. My
mom and dad always bought me any book I wanted. And then in
college I was an English Major.
An English Major? I shake my head. Shit. Monique really
fucked this up. You probably like culture and art museums and
all that, huh? No wonder youre hell-bent on hating it here.
I dont hate it here, she says quickly.
Oh, yeah? Couldve fooled me. You looked like youd never
seen something so disgusting as a house in the woods.
It wasnt the woods. When I shoot her a disbelieving look,
she adds, Not only that. I was surprised, Silas. But more than
the wilderness, it was this place. Its the ultimate bachelor pad.
Only no X-box. This doesnt feel like a home.
I never played video games.
Did you grow up out here in the Denali forest? she asks.
Nah. I dont like talking about myself and I try to change
the subject by grabbing her hands, knowing there is more to do,
to show her the good stuff about Alaska.
Where did you grow up then?
Knowing women like to ask questions until they get what they
want, I acquiesce, getting to the point as quickly as possible. I
grew up in Anchorage. Went to college in Seattle. Came back
here as fast as I could.
But why the woods?
For a girl who says she doesnt know how to talk to men, you
sure seem like youve got the question asking part down pat.
You know, she says. We quit our game of Twenty
Questions. Maybe we should finish it.
Not now, I tell her. Right now Im taking you out on the
lake. We can have lunch out there.
Im not getting in that water again.
I know. I smile, grabbing beers from the fridge and tossing
them in a cooler. I fill a bag with jerky and trail mix, some
apples, a bag of tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. You ready to
relax, wife?
She gets off the bed, pursing her lips. Okay, husband.
That word looks sexy as hell coming off your lips, I tell her,
reaching for her arm and pulling her close to me. Say it again.
She does, and then I kiss her.
CHAPTER TWENTY

E verly

The lake is as beautiful as Silas promised. Im learning


something about that man: he isnt one to exaggerate. He says it
like it is.
And he says he likes me an awful lot.
Which makes my conflicted feelings impossible to sort.
Because really? If I stayed here it really would be just him and
me, every day forever.
Thats a lot of pressure.
Walking to his fishing boat, Im so distracted by his butt as he
walks a few paces in front of me, I nearly fall into the water.
Silas drives the boat to the center of the lake, then drops
anchor and cracks open a beer, handing it to me. His boat isnt
huge, but I know literally nothing about boats in general. So
whether this one is nice or run of the mill, I havent a clue. But I
do know he has a heck of a lot of gear, and below deck theres
additional storage.
So what are you planning on doing with your English
degree? he asks, catching me off guard again. Hed been
looking at my breasts ever since he kissed me in the cabin, and
Ive been pretty sure whatever was going to happen next would
involve his mouth on other places of mine.
And maybe my mouth on his things.
But clearly he isnt thinking about sex. Since when did I
become the sexed-crazed one?
I always wanted to be a writer, I tell him.
Of what?
I shrug. Thats kind of the issue. I dont know. I always
thought I needed more life experience to have a story to tell. But
then sometimes I just wonder if it was a childish dream that Ive
been carrying around too long.
Your parents, they supported you in wanting to be a writer?
They died when I was a teenager. My grandparents raised me
but they died a few years ago.
His face creases with concern, and I dont want him to feel
sorry for me.
So thats why being a mail order bride wasnt letting anyone
down, he states. You dont have anyone.
Ouch, I say, feeling more than a sting.
He frowns and I cross my legs under me, practically trying to
ball myself up so I can disappear. I dont like the way hes
looking at me. Like he gets me.
Sorry. He shrugs unapologetically. I mean, I get it. My
parents died when I was in college. Car accident.
I swallow, realizing we are actually for reals getting to know
one another. We may be in a boat on the surface of the lake, but
were diving headlong into whatever this is. Husband. Wife.
Marriage.
Life.
So did they know you wanted to be a writer? he asks, not
tiptoeing around my heart.
Yeah. I smile at the memory of my mom buying me
journals and my dad reading the stories I wrote as a ten year old.
They were probably all about princesses and fairy godmothers
granting wishes. None of them were about a girl who became a
mail order bride. They never questioned it. My grandparents,
either. I guess Ive always had people who really supported me.
Im lucky in that.
I did too, Silas says. I dont have some fucked-up
backstory. Just a kid who had nice parents. Until I didnt.
So many people have it way worsenot to minimize losing
my parents and grandparents, but before they died, I knew I was
loved. I always knew I was wanted.
And then what? Silas asks.
Then I couldnt get a job out of college. I dont have any
savings, which I know that was irresponsible of me. Ive always
been able to make ends meet, but not much else. And, without a
family, I didnt have anyone to fall back on.
So you signed up for Moniques service.
Yep. I sigh, looking at the bright blue sky, wishing I felt as
infinite as it. Does that disappoint you? The reason I became
your wife?
Silas smirks, wistful. I feel like shit that Monique led you
here under false pretenses. But hell, Everly, you dont
disappoint me.
But Im not what you want. You want a woman who wants to
live in the woods and be what? Barefoot and pregnant?
Planting a garden and canning green beans?
I never said that you werent what I wanted. Youre the one
who doesnt want to be here. I knew it would be hard to find a
wife whod want this sort of life. But, Everly, if this is roughing it
for you, youd best go. Because, honey, you dont even know the
half of it. Sure, the cabins small, but were sitting here drinking
beer on a lake at the start of summer. Its not fifteen below in
the dead of winter. Its not frozen lakes and nowhere to go, and
canned food and frozen deer for months on end. This is gravy, us
here, not working; this is the good part.
I twist my lips, listening to this bearded mountain man put
everything out there on the table. Hes so easy to talk to, and for
some reason I thought a man as handsome as him would make
me all jittery but Silas makes my worry fade.
You dont get lonely out here, Silas?
Fuck, yeah, I do. He shakes his head. But girl, life is lonely
anywhere.
I swallow, hearing the truth in that.
Silas, I dont know the first thing about gardens and freezing
meat, and I havent started a fire since I was a Girl Scout.
What you dont know isnt the issue here.
Whats the issue, then? I ask.
What youre willing to learn.
We sit in the absolute quiet that the great outdoors offers, the
water smooth as glass. His words run through my mind, and I
dont know the answer to any of it. Not right now. I just know
that even if the lake werent so serene, Silas is the sort of man
who could calm any storm.
Breaking the silence, Silas cracks open another beer. You
can write anywhere, cant you? he asks. On your computer? I
mean, its not like an office job?
Yeah, I could, in theory.
Silas just nods, watching me, and then he hands me his
open beer.
Drink, woman, he says. Were too damn serious.
I take a long pull, wiping my mouth proudly. Now what?
I think you know the answer to that.
CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

S ilas

She sets the beer can in the cup holder next to the captains seat,
and I pull her into my lap. She straddles me effortlessly, and I
love the way she feels in my arms, against my cock, her sweet
breath so close to my mouth.
I wanted to put her at ease today, but I swear every time she
opens her mouth and tells me more about her life, I just want her
with a deeper ferocity.
I just want her completely.
Im sorry about the past, I say, my mouth close to her ear,
close enough to cover her body in goosebumps. And Im sorry
this isnt the life you thought youd find. But Im not sorry
youre here.
Silas, she moans, sinking into my chest, her hands running
through my hair, bringing my face to hers. Her lips are so full,
and she parts them, her desire leaning closer to my willing
mouth.
I kiss her, my hand cupping her cheek. My other hand moves
under her shirt, running my palm over the soft skin of her back.
She presses against me as if she cant come close enough.
I lift her hands, and pull her shirt over her head. I take those
luscious tits in my hands, tugging down the lacy fabric cups of
her bra so I can lick them properly. Her nipples are firm and
tight, and I press my mouth against them as she arches her back,
offering herself to me.
I want to see your cock, Silas, she says, softly. I want to
see it so badly.
You like my cock, do you, girl?
So much.
I kiss her other tit, the fullness filling my hand.
What do you like about it, Everly?
She squirms in my lap, and I know that move means her
pussy is getting nice and hot.
I like how big it is. How it filled me up. How you came
in me.
You like it when I come in you? You like your pussy fucked
by me?
Yes, she moans. I want you to fill me up again.
What else do you want? I ask, unhooking her bra so I can
see those big tits perfectly. I unbutton her jeans, wanting so
badly to see her soaked panties, to see her dripping pussy.
I want to taste you in my mouth. Her cheeks are flushed,
and I know these words have never crossed her lips before. I can
tell shes never played with dirty talk, and I love how hot and
bothered it makes her.
Youre going to taste my cock, all right. Right now.
She tentatively lowers herself to her knees; licking her lips,
she unzips my jeans. I help ease off my pants and boxers, and let
her take my hard cock in her hands.
Ive never done this, she says, holding my cock
apprehensively, looking up at me. I can tell shes intimidated
and hell, I know my cock is a lot to handle even for a more
experienced woman. But, for today at least, Everly is my wife,
and I wont let her get scared away.
You got this, girl. Just open your mouth and take it nice
and slow.
Its just so big, she says.
I put my hand over hers as she holds my shaft. Just stroke
me, and then lick me, I tell her, teaching her how to get me off
nice and good. And then youll put me in your mouth, and suck
me hard.
She listens, moving her hand up and down. Then, lowering
her mouth to my thick hardness, she asks, Do I spit or swallow?
I hear people joke about that but dont know what the right
way is?
Girl, I tell her, easing her head down to my cock. There is
no right or wrong way with me. Well find our own way.
She licks the length of my shaft, and she does it with such
care, not wanting to leave a single inch of my rod out. My balls
are tight and warm, and Im loving the way her tongue runs over
my veiny skin. When she widens her mouth, she relaxes on her
knees, and I can tell shes enjoying this by the way she moans
softly.
My cock fills her mouth, and her fingers run over my balls
instinctively, fondling them. I press my hand on her head,
urging her to take more of me, and she obliges, her head bobbing
up and down, fast, as she sucks me so good.
I feel my release coming, and she must too, because she
reaches a hand up, looking for mine, and I lace my fingers with
hers and I come in her mouth. Ropes of my come fill her, and she
keeps sucking as if she cant get enough.
That feels so good, girl, I tell her. That was the best
fucking blow job of my life.
When she takes my cock from her mouth, she wipes her lips
with the back of her hand.
Honest? A smile spreads over her face.
I swear to God it was, I tell her.
You taste salty. But it wasnt gross. It was.
I grin, never having had a woman describe the taste of my
come beforebut I love that innocence about Everly. She says it
like it is.
It tasted like you, she says simply. And dammit, for some
reason that turns me on so fucking fast.
I feel my cock get hard again, and those tits of hers are still
perky and round right in my face, and I swear they need a good
titty-fucking. But first I need her pussy, and her pussy needs me.
I stand, kicking off my jeans and picking her up so her legs
wrap around my waist.
Im taking you below deck, Everly, and Im going to teach
you something else.
What? she asks, giggling as I squeeze her ass. Her tits are
pressed right up in my face as I carry her under the boat, and
kick open a door to a twin bed.
We dont need something bigger. Because Im getting on my
back and teaching this girl how to sixty-nine. I want her to sit on
my face; I want to suck her clit the same way she sucked
my cock.
This time though, Im not going to come in her mouth. Those
tits of hers are going to be coated by me.
CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

E verly

As I straddle him, Im not at all nervous, mostly because my


pussy is so wet and needy that all I want in the world is for him
to release whatever he has done to me.
Taking him in my mouth and sucking him off turned me on so
completely that all I want is to do it again, to taste him, to have
his come coat me.
I thought Id be able to do that again, as we sixty-nined, but I
cant, because whatever hes doing to my clit is making me lose
all control.
Oh, Silas, I moan, unable to put his thick shaft in my
mouth. I keep writhing on top of him.
Im basically sitting on him and my pussy is over his mouth,
and he seems to know exactly how to tongue me until Im drunk
with desire.
I lean over him, my tits pressed against his cock, as he licks
my slit up and down, then he presses a finger in me and flicks
against my clit so nice and hard that I literally gasp. Oh, my
God, oh, God. And then I fall flat on his cock, unable to do
anything but groan as he bangs me deeper and deeper, pressing
another finger in my tight pussy until I feel like Ill explode.
You taste so good, baby, he says, kissing my folds with his
scratchy beard, and the mixture of his rough fingering with his
soft kisses causes an orgasmic ripple to wash over me. Youre
pouring out all over me, girl, he says, not letting up for a
second.
Hes banging me so hard, so good, that when he smacks my
ass and tells me to turn around I obey without a single thought in
my brain. All Im focused on is the toe-curling finger fuck Ive
just had.
He eases me onto his lap, and the next thing I know my slick
thighs are grinding against him as I sink onto his hard cock.
Ohhhh, Silas, I pant, my hands clawing at his chest. I bite
my lips, unable to even scream properly. The way his cock hits
me so deep inside makes me fall back, and then steadily swivel
my hips. My body seems to know exactly what to do.
Thats it, girl, Silas tells me, his hands running over my
tits, circling my nipples. Ride me just like that.
You feel so good, baby, I moan. Ohhh. I run my hands
over his chest, our bodies coated in sweat, my pussy pounding in
pleasure and my eyes on his.
You are everything, Everly. He grunts as he comes in me,
shooting his manhood into my core. And I come, too,
overwhelmed with the intensity of connection.
I collapse on him, his arms tight around me, my fingers
running through his hair as I close my eyes. Inhaling his sweat
and his strength, Im enveloped by him.
I cant imagine letting him go.

Later, after we wake up from our nap on the middle of the lake,
we bring the boat back to shore. Grabbing jackets from the cabin,
Silas tells me hes taking me on a drive.
He leads me to an ATV parked in the woods, and tells me to
get on.
I settle behind him and he revs the engine. He drives us over a
dirt road, and a canopy of pine trees cover us. He points out that
Travis lives down the dirt path in the other direction.
Do you hang out with him? I ask.
Hang out? Dont know about that. Hes a good guy, but not
much more to me.
Does he need a wife?
Maybe, but he likes Anchorage. Always heads there when he
has a chance. Cant imagine him settling down with a woman.
I smile, holding tight to Silas, liking the idea that he has no
more wild oats to sow. Liking the idea that Im enough for him.
So where are we going? I ask, as we cross a dirt road.
Were in the Denali National Forest now; were driving up to
Black Diamond Peak.
So you live right outside the forest?
Yeah, the stretch of land my cabin is on may look like any
piece of woods to you, but the property is rare. To have a cabin
on the lake with such easy access to the park? Im lucky to
have it.
Its a beautiful ride, and we stop a few times so Silas can point
out vistas. He knows the land well.
You cant hunt here, though, can you?
No, I stay off the park for that, but I dont need it anyway. I
have a hundred acres to hunt on, and the lake is mine.
I didnt realize he owned the lake, and its hard for me to even
grasp the amount of land.
Does Travis live on your property?
Yeah, he and his mom were there before I bought the land.
Im not going to kick them off.
Eventually we stop, so we can take in the Healy Valley. Its
breathtaking; flowers are in bloom, yet the mountains in the
distance are snowcapped and picturesque.
I need to pee, I tell him. Im going to go down there,
behind the tree.
I dont want you out of my sight. He grabs my hand, not
letting me squirm away.
Silas, I may be your mail order bride, but Im not ready to
squat in front of you.
It can be dangerous out here.
Laughing him off, I walk away, shaking my head. Its all
green grass and blue skies, husband. Besides, Im a big girl.
I walk down a small path and find a tree. Unzipping my pants,
I take care of business. I stand, feeling lighter, and not just
because I emptied my bladder. Silas has been so good to me
today. Every new thing Ive learned endears him to me. Maybe
living here isnt as scary as I thought.
Smiling, I turn back to the path where I left him, but what I
see stops me in my tracks.
My eyes go wide; my heart seizes. This is why living in the
backwoods of Alaska is a horrible idea.
A grizzly bear is twenty feet away.
CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

S ilas

I hear her scream, and in an instant I grab my backpack, and Im


running down the path toward her.
I never should have let her leave my line of sight.
On the trail, I see a ten foot tall grizzly bear approaching her.
Everly is terrified, and with reason, her hand is clamped over her
mouth. When she sees me, her terror reaches my core.
Using my hands, I indicate that she should raise her arms
over her head, and I walk slowly, not wanting to give the bear a
chance to charge me, either.
Reaching into the side pocket of my bag, I grab the repellent
spray. Ready to use it, I approach the bear from the side, leaving
plenty of space between him and me. Hes so close to my
woman, and I wont let him attack her.
Hes so focused on Everly that he doesnt register that Im
nearing him until I have my finger pressed down on the nozzle,
spraying him.
Run. I reach for her arm, pulling her up as the bear growls.
Time will only be on our side for seconds.
Propelling ourselves up the path, we get on the ATV in
moments. Were barreling down the mountain before the bear
can retaliate.
Everly clings to my back, her body tight against mine. I drive
as fast as I can manage. She sobs into my shirt, holding on so
tight. Fuck, I never want her to let go.
I feel the sting of tears at my own eyes, knowing how badly
the whole encounter could have gone, how lucky we were to get
out so fast, to get out alive.
When I pull back onto my property, stopping in my own
driveway, I turn off the engine and pull Everly in my arms.
Carrying her into the cabin, I set her on the bed.
Shes hysterical, crying harder than Ive ever seen anyone cry.
Reaching my arms around her shoulders, I hold her close, hating
to see her so terrified.
Silas, I thought I was going to die.
Ive had a handful of encounters with bears myself, and its
always ended well, but I know the surge of adrenaline that comes
with seeing a beast face to face
Shh, its okay, girl, I tell her, kissing her forehead.
I dont know how you live here, if there are bears so close.
Of course there are bears. Its the woods, Everly.
I know, she says, sniffling, her breath ragged and rocky.
But its so scary. I could never feel safe here. What ifwhat if
the bear had attacked me? Or worse, what if hed attacked you?
Id be stuck there, watching you die, all alone. Silas, I cant take
care of you if theres a crisis, an emergency. What if
Baby, there are always what-ifs. But nothing happened. I
try to soothe her worry, but damn, its not working.
Nothing terrible happened today, she says. But next time
it could. Silas, I cant fly a plane or work the damn radio.
Part of me hears her worry and feels shitty; the other part
holds a sliver of hope as I listen to her cry. Shes saying words
that sound like she doesnt want to leave me.
Its about motherfucking time she comes around. No way in
hell am I letting her go. And now it sounds like she doesnt want
to let me go, either.
You can learn how to work a radio, Everly. I can teach you to
shoot a gun.
And what about children? she cries, pulling out of my arms.
Pretend I stayed, and we had a baby. Silas, there are no
doctors here. Who would deliver our children? How would it even
work? There are no schools this far out.
I run my hands over her face. I dont have all the answers,
but people do it. Theyve been doing it since the beginning
of time.
I thought the biggest issue about living here would be the
isolation. But thats not it, Silas, she says, shaking her head
aggressively, as new information dawns on her all at once. The
real issue about being here in the woods with you isnt the fact
that were here all alone; its the fact that its dangerous.
Ill protect you, I tell her, fiercely.
We both know you cant always be there for me. And I know
I cant protect you.
We can protect each other. Its a partnership.
I dont know, Silas. It feels like so much pressure. I dont
want to mess up and lose you.
My jaw is tense as I watch this gorgeous woman think this
through.
Sounds an awful lot like you want to stay.
With you? she asks, wiping her tears. If that was the only
factor, then yes. Im falling for you, so hard. And I know youre
falling for me and thats just icing on the cake considering
were already married.
But?
But it isnt the only thing to think about. That bear could
have killed me.
There are a million ways to die, Everly, I tell her.
But Silas, she whispers, pressing her hand to my heart.
There are also a million ways to live.
Later, we lie in bed, and I hold Everly in my arms. Shes finally
starting to calm down, but the bear encounter rocked her world. I
cant help but pull her closer, not wanting anything bad to
happen to her under my watch.
I dont want to leave, Silas, she whispers, her hands
holding mine at her waist. But Im scared to stay.
I kiss her neck, wanting to erase all her fears, but not
knowing how to do that. Even if I got her a gun and taught her
how to shoot, that wont eliminate some of her concerns. Shes
right about delivering babies out here, raising kids in the woods.
I never thought that far out when I moved here. I only wanted to
take my money and leave the bullshit behind.
But as my cock presses against Everly, growing just from the
nearness of her warm body, I can see how her being here
changes everything.
She pulls down her panties and reaches behind her, taking
hold of my cock.
Youre the only thing that makes sense right now, Silas,
she murmurs. You alone.
She strokes me, and I guide myself into her opening. She
spreads her legs, letting me take her as shes cradled in my
arms. I thrust into her, softly, and her slick pussy welcomes my
hardness.
Girl, you are speaking my mind. My hands take hold of her
round tits, squeezing them as I take her deeper, her ass grinding
against me as I do.
I lower a hand to her bare pussy, circling her soft folds as I
pound into her from behind.
Oh, just like that, Silas, she moans, her body arching as I
hit her deeply, her pussy pouring her sweet juice over my hand
as my cock fills her. I take her harder, realizing that this is the
only way to release our pent-up adrenaline from earlier.
We come, both of us breathless as we rock in unison.
We come, neither of us knowing where we go from here.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

E verly

In the morning, the bed is empty, and a deep chill has settled
over the cabin. Realizing we could use a fire, I kneel before the
wood fireplace and open it.
Its empty, so I take a few small logs and fill it, adding
crumpled paper as kindling to the pile. Striking a match, I try to
light a log. When it extinguishes right away, I try again, and
again, before finally getting smart and focusing on the kindling.
Once the fire is started, I look to see if Silas made any coffee. I
am amazed I slept though him waking this morning, but the long
daylight hours have messed with my internal clock.
I smile, seeing that he did indeed leave me some coffee. I
quickly pour a mug for myself and then step outside to see if he
is close by.
Guessing hes down by the lake, I figure Ill go say hello
before coming back inside and making some breakfast for us.
Hes on the dock, fishing just like yesterday, and I suppress a
grin as I take in his backside, his firm ass, and his broad
shoulders. I remember the way his arms held me last night,
consoled me after the encounter and then claimed me as his own
as we made love.
Love.
Is that whats developing here?
Blinking at the truth, I know it is.
Silas?
He turns, a soft smile playing across his bearded face, and it
makes my heart flutter. He stands beside his boat, and for the
first time I see the name written across the side of it.
Everly.
Your boats name is Everly? I ask.
He shrugs. Damn, hes sexy.
It was my mothers maiden name, which made it all feel a
little bit like destiny when you showed up at the airport.
I step toward him, wondering what Monique knew that I
didnt. Because she may have sent me to a man in the woods, but
she delivered me to the man of my heart.
Silass eyes arent on mine, though. They look past me.
Do you smell that? he asks.
Sniffing the air, I notice a burning smell. Yeah, I do. I turn
in a circle, following his gaze.
What the fuck? he mutters. I think the cabins on fire.
He runs toward it, and I follow him.
Motherfucker, he shouts as we reach the porch. Smoke
billows from the open screen door, and we see orange flames
flickering inside.
Turn on the hose, he shouts.
I jump into action, knowing theres no alternative. The hose
is hooked up to the spigot that runs from the lake, and its a few
dozen feet from the cabin. Turning it on, I run the hose to him,
and see hes busting in the windows, letting the smoke out.
Covering his face with his shirt, he takes the hose and runs
into the cabin.
Silas, be careful, I scream. Feeling helpless, I grab buckets
from his fishing gear on the porch, and run to the lake,
filling them.
I drop them on the porch; Silas comes out, grabs them and
returns to dousing the flames.
I watch, feeling helpless, and my stomach turns, knowing my
fire must have started this.
He comes out, the hose in hand, water spraying everywhere
as he reaches for me. His face is covered in soot and his hands
are rough and his eyes are ablaze. Im scared hes going to
scream, and cast blame where it belongs.
He grabs me hard, pulls me close. His solid body covers me
with his strength, his grip, and his fierce hold not letting me
move a single inch. He looks down at me, his jaw tense.
We need to go, he says. The cabin is ruined. We cant
stay here.
Silas. I start, but my voice fades, because I dont know
what to say.
None of our things are salvageable. Its destroyed. All your
books. Everything.
Silas, Im so sorry. Im so stupid. Its all my fault.
He pulls back, swallowing whatever may have been at the
surface. Holding the hose, he returns to the cabin, and I follow at
his heels, covering my face with my shirt. Its hard to breathe,
the air is thick. And hes right, everything is damaged.
Im such a fucking fool.
There is nothing here that we can save. My books line the
shelves, ruined with smoke and fire and water.
Ruined because I dont know how to hack it here, and I
destroyed everything either of us owned in the process. What
was I thinking? I havent started a fire since I was a preteen. And
then it was around a campsite, with adults taking the lead.
The door to the wood stove was open. Im guessing it was
overstuffed with kindling. Paper or sticks must have fallen out as
the fire grew, caught on kindling left on the floor, and picked up
steam real quick.
I swallow, knowing hes right. I wanted a fire, and then I got
distracted by coffee, and then I just walked out the door. Like an
absolute idiot.
Silas, a man who knows his way around the wilderness, would
never want to tame a foolish girl like me.
We should go when I finish this. Theres no use staying
here. Silas stands in his wrecked home, spraying it down with
the hose.
I walk out of the singed shack, wondering: if we arent
staying, where do we go?
He doesnt look at me with eyes full of longing. All he must
see is a girl who destroyed his life. A mail order bride who
showed up here and set fire to every last thing he loved.
CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

S ilas

Taking off in my plane, Everly by my side, Im drained. This was


not the fucking plan.
Hosing down my home, I felt relief that the fire hadnt
stretched out the front door of the cabin, and reached the woods
but, shit, it did enough damage.
Shes not talking, just crying, and I swear to God Everlys
spent more time shedding tears than anything else since she
arrived in Alaska.
Well, shes shed her panties plenty of times, too.
Still, this isnt funny. The shy, insecure, but funny girl I met a
week ago is long gone. Whats left is this woman, torn up and
broken down, all because she met me.
Fuck it.
I need to get to Anchorage, and I need to speak to my lawyer.
Make a new plan for my goddamn life.

After we land, we go to Target and get a shopping cart full of


necessities: food, and some changes of clothes. Nothing about it
is lighthearted; were both all too aware of what these purchases
represent. What they mean weve lost.
Everything.
We check into a hotel, both looking like train wrecks in dirty
clothes, in need of a shower, and starving. I want to pull Everly
close but I dont know how. Shes finally stopped crying, but she
wont meet my eyes, wont say a word. Were back where we
started.
After showering, I dress and stand at the door, keys in hand. I
tell her Ill be back soon.
Do you want me to come with you? she asks. Shes sitting
on the bed, undressed, with a towel wrapped around her. She
looks small and scared, and she needs to rest.
Just stay here, I got some shit to take care of.
Are you going to get an annulment? she asks, her voice
scratchy and desperate.
What the hell are you talking about?
I dont know if you can forgive me. She shakes her head,
her chin quivering with the threat of tears. I dont know if you
hate me.
Fuck. I take three long strides and pull her to stand. Her towel
drops, and I dont fucking care.
I cant leave this room with my wife thinking Im leaving her.
Listen to me, Everly. My heart sears and my veins course,
filled with passion and filled with pain. I hate seeing her like
this, and I hate that Im the one who pushed her to her breaking
point. The moment she told me she wasnt cut out for the
wilderness, I should have put her on that plane and taken her
somewhere she wanted to be.
Because, dammit, I may love living in the wild, but its
nothing compared to the adrenaline rush of having her next
to me.
Thank God, I tell her, holding her face with my hands.
Thank God nothing happened to you in that fire.
She seems to melt, then and there, in my arms, and Im glad
Im the one holding her, because I swear I will never let her go.
Her eyes are glassy with tears and my heart is spilling over with
love for her.
Silas, Im so sorry. Im so stupid. Its all my fault, she sobs.
I wont lose you, Everly, I say, pulling her lips to mine.
Promising things with my mouthpromises I know, deep in my
core, I will keep. I kiss her hard, and good, and then I tell her my
deepest truth: I love you, Everly.
She pulls away, looking at me with surprise. Without saying
a word.
Ive left her speechless, and thats okay. Shell come around.
I mean it, I tell her. And I have shit to do, but Ill be back.
Ill be back for you.
I leave the hotel, getting in my Land Cruiser, headed straight
for my lawyers office. I dont want an annulment, but shit, I
have some business I need to work out before I return to Everly.
She may not know if she loves me, but Im going to show her
she has no reason to leave.
CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

E verly

I go to the front desk and ask to use the computer in the lobby.
After logging in, I search for Moniques website, Modern Mail
Order Brides, and place a call to her office. It sucks losing my
phone, my computer, my everythingbut I cant complain
about things like that right now.
Right now, Im just grateful that Silas and I are alive.
Theres no answer, and I try to hold myself together as I leave
a voicemail.
Um, Monique, its Everly Matters. Er, I mean, Everly Sutton.
Im calling because theres been a fire. Everything Silas and I
owned was lost. And besides that, I have a few concerns with
what you promised me here. I leave her the details of the hotel
and my room number, and hang up.
I scroll around her website looking for clues as to whether or
not the whole thing was a sham, but every testimonial on the
site talks about CEOs and millionaires, and not one of them
mentions a crappy shack in the middle of the woods.
Not that Silass home is the reason Im hesitating on this
marriage. He has proved himself to be the most amazing man, a
man who commits, and a man who loves and fights and doesnt
give up.
Silas is the sort of man I would have chosen for myself, but I
didnt have to choose him. Monique helped us find one another.
The reason Im hesitating is because his land is so isolated
and that scares me. What if the fire had been worse today and he
needed me to save him? I couldnt have gotten him to safety. I
couldnt have saved his life.
Knowing Amelias phone number by heart, I call it, hoping
shell answer. She doesnt, and neither does Delta.
Trudging back to my hotel room, I fall on the bed, deciding
what I should do.
Silas said he loved me. And, deep down, I know my feelings
for him arent flighty. Theyre real.
The phone rings. I answer it. Hello?
Everly? a womans voice asks. This is Monique. I heard
your message; I cant believe what youve been through, dear.
Well, were alive. We flew into Anchorage, and thankfully
Silas was able to stop the fire from spreading. But his place is
completely charred.
Sounds like your mountain man saved you.
I can feel her warmth though the phone and it annoys me.
Speaking of mountain man Monique, you told me that your
clients were loaded. That was one of the selling points of your
entire offer. But Silas is not that guy. You should see his house.
I understand things can be difficult at first when youre a
mail order bride, but the good news is that I was right to match
you up. Your desire to be a writer somewhere serene, coupled
with your inexperience, compliments Silas and his easy going
attitude. He can talk to just about anyone, sweetie, and you said
you always jumbled up your words.
I suppose. Silas is really easy to
Listen, Im sorry about the fire, and its been good catching
up, but I have a meeting to attend.
Before I can say anything more, she hangs up.
Looking at the phone in my hand, its impossible not to feel
mildly offended. My willingness to play along as her mail order
bride is the reason she has business at all.
I hang up, missing my friends and annoyed with Monique, but
mostly wishing Silas were back here, so I could tell him what
Monique said about our compatibility. I wondered how she
thought he and I would be a good pairbut the way she put it, so
concise, made sense.
Silas and I are a good pair. Sure, I dont have much to offer
him in the way of survival skills, but I can learn. And sure, maybe
he doesnt have the money I originally thought my husband had,
but Ive never cared that much for money anyway. It makes me
proud of Silas, knowing he works the land and provides for
himself, that he wants to provide for me.
I stand up, and look through the Target bags. When I was
getting myself bras and underwear, I grabbed something I
thought he might think was sexy. It felt like a strange, last-ditch
purchase, but in my heart I knew he would like to see me in the
skimpy lingerie.
I want him to see me in it.
And more than that, I know I just plain wanted him. Hes the
man for meheck, hes already my husband. Hes been all of my
firsts.
And hes forgiven me in ways I still need to forgive myself.
I started the fire because I was careless, but Ill learn how to
live in the woodsoff the grid and off the land. Ill be a good
wife, and a good partner, and I need him to get back here so I can
tell him.
I strip out of my clothes and put on the tiny negligee. When
my husband returns, Ill show him that he never needs to leave
my side again.
I need him to get back soon because just looking at this
lingerie is getting me excited. Im going to put on this thong,
only to have him tear it off. His strong arms will part my legs as I
grab hold of his chiseled chest.
I close my eyes, feeling at peaceand pretty dang horny
knowing that I am not going anywhere that Silas isnt.
Realizing that a life with my husband is the only life I want
to lead.
CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

S ilas

With a folder in hand, I make my way back to the hotel room.


The meeting went better than I expected. And I need Everly to
know that Im willing to give up anything to be with herafter
all, she gave up everything to be with me.
I knock on the door to let her know Im coming in, but when I
swing open the door I do not expect to see her like this.
Shes lying on the bed, legs parted, her hand darting out from
where its been buried.
Am I interrupting something? I ask, dropping my coat on a
chair, and setting the folder on the table. Everly sits up, her tits
pushed high on her chest in the bright red, strapless corset. She
looks like a minx, a dirty version of the sweet Everly Ive gotten
to know.
Ive been waiting a long time for you to get back, husband,
she says, licking her lips, and running her hands over her thighs
as she sits up on her knees, on the edge of the bed.
Smiling, I walk toward her. The tears from earlier are gone;
she seems lighter, more relaxed. At peace. Decided.
Also, she looks ready to be fucked. I wrap my arms around her
shoulders, looking down into her eyes.
You okay, Everly? When I left, you were so upset.
She takes one of my hands from around her neck, and presses
it to her pussy. I groan, feeling how wet she is, loving that she
was touching herself before I came in the room.
Ive been thinking a lot, she says, kissing my neck. Ive
been thinking of what I really want.
My hand is on her juicy folds, and I want to fuck her so bad,
but I need to tell her something, too.
I have something to tell you first, Everly, I say.
She shakes her head. No, I want to go first. I need you to
know what I want. What I need from you.
I swallow, withdrawing my hand from her soft pussy.
Put it back there, husband. Thats part of what we need to
talk about.
Doing as she asks, I plunge two fingers into her opening,
causing her to eke out a moan, completely surprised at my force.
Your little pussy likes it hard, Everly.
I know. She lowers the cups on the corset, letting her tits
spill out in their round and voluminous glory.
Fuck, her nipples are hard and tight. I run my free hand over
one of them, my cock straining in my jeans as I touch both her
clit and a nipple.
Silas, she says. I only want one man. Ever. I only want one
man to have known my body, only one man to know my pussy.
Only one man to know what it means to fuck me.
Youre talking so dirty, Everly, I tell her. What has you so
hot and bothered?
Thinking about you. About my life with you, baby. About our
forever. She unbuttons my jeans, tugging them down, so she
can touch my hard, thick cock. My cock is so ready for her, ready
to plow into her. Its a cock ready to take its woman and never let
her go.
You want forever with me? I ask her, knowing I told her I
loved her, but not knowing if shell ever feel the same way.
I want everything with you, she tells me, looking into my
eyes with sincerity and desire and meaning. I love you, Silas. I
love that youre everything Im not, that youre the man I need,
and the man I want. And right now I need you. I need you to
take me.
She strokes my shaft, and dammit, I cant take it anymore.
I need her now. On my cock.
I pick her up, and sit on the bed, her on my lap.
Dont go slow, she begs. Ive been waiting hours for you to
get back. I need to come so bad.
Where do you want to come? I tease her, setting her down
on my massive rod.
I want to come on your cock. I want to be filled with your big,
hard, cock and I want to come all over it.
Oh, Ill make you come so hard youll never forget.
Ill never forget you. She sinks on top of me, her pussy
stretched as she takes me fully. I dont care where we live or
how we live, I just want to live with you. She rocks her hips over
me, moaning as her head falls back in pleasure.
My cock pumps into her, loving the warmth surrounding it.
Even in the middle of nowhere? I ask, fucking her good
and hard.
With you protecting me? She smiles, kissing my lips before
answering. Yes.
Even without neighbors or doctors, or friends?
I would give it all up if it means I can have you.
Damn, woman, youre the best thing thats ever happened
to me.
She swivels her hips as I thrust deep into her core, her pussy
tightening around my length.
Oh, baby, she moans, her thighs shaking as she falls back,
my arms holding her up.
My cock shoots come into her, hot and hard.
Oh, yes, she cries, as the orgasm consumes her.
When she stops coming, she wraps her arms around my neck,
and I hold that girl so fucking tight.
So even if it means I rebuild us a cabin like the one that
burned down, youll still stay with me? I ask.
She runs her hands through my hair. Silas, even if it means
we live in a shitty cabin, yes. Im not leaving you. You gave me a
ring and you made me your wife. I am yours.
I grin, knowing Im going to make that girl come all over
again the moment she sees what I have for her.
Then be a good little wife, and bring me that folder. I point
to the folder I dropped on the table.
She steps away from me, her round ass so creamy and sweet, I
just want to press my face against it. And now I know that Ill get
to forever.
And that was before she knew what I got her.
She hands me the folder. What is it?
A few things. I had to get my wife a new house. Thats where
I was this afternoon, meeting with my lawyer and an agent.
Her eyes narrow in confusion. I thought you were
building one?
I shrug. Open it.
She opens the folder, and starts reading the printouts. There
are half a dozen housing options for her.
Silas, she says, shaking her head, confused. She stands
before me stark naked and so fucking hot, and so completely out
of the loop. These arent cabins.
I built that cabin out in Denali for myself. I was an ass to
ever bring a woman there and expect her to be happy. Pick one of
these places, Everly. You deserve it.
Silas, these listings are for ten-million-dollar homes.
These homes are all still remote enough that well have the
best of both worlds. Plenty of property, but with a real house you
can call your own.
You have the money to do this? she asks.
Monique is no liar. Her clients are legit, and Im one of
them. I just like knowing you love me for who I am, not for what
I have.
She shakes her head, stuffing the listings in the folder and
shoving it back to me. I dont need all this.
I know. But that doesnt mean you cant have it.
I did not see this coming. She walks toward me, wrapping
her arms around my neck.
Im not taking the folder back, wife, I tell her, unwrapping
her arms and putting it in her hands again. And you have to
pick soon. We literally have no place to go.
Because I burned down your house.
Pretty much. I grab her ass, run my hand over her
silky skin.
This is insane, Everly says. I really thought.
That I was broke?
She snorts. Yeah, sort of. She bites her lip, suppressing a
smile. I hope you know I meant what I said earlier. I love you for
you. Shitty cabin or mansion, Im yours.
I know you are, Everly Now look at the last piece of paper in
the folder.
She flips through the listings and comes to the last sheet of
paper. She holds it up, then her eyes meet mine in surprise.
Its a voided pre-nup.
Really, Silas? Her eyes glisten at the realization that I am
completely committed to her. Now and for always.
Damn straight. Im your mountain man, Everly, until the
day I die, I tell her, pulling her face to mine, kissing her lips,
claiming her all over again. The same way I plan to do for the rest
of my life.

AVAILABLE NOW:

The Modern-Mail Order Brides:


CLAIMED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
ORDERED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
WIFED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
EXPLORED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
ORDERED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN!
Delta & Boone
"You're my wife, and I'm planning on taking you every day.
Understood?"
"I understand," I tell him, biting my lip. "You can order me to
do whatever you like."

BOONE

I own the premier hunting and fishing lodge in Alaska. And I


need a woman to help run it.

I don't want an employee; I need a woman who knows how to


take orders in and out of the bedroom.
Delta's not what I expected. She wants an adventure and may
not be up for the challenge of running the lodge. But she's gonna
need to learn if she wants to keep riding my c*ck.

DELTA

I thought it sounded fun. Like a vacation. Not like a real, actual


marriage. But that is exactly what this is. I'm here as Boone's
mail-order bride and he means business.

I'd have left already because heaven knows I am a fish out of


water here ... but he tricked me.

He took me to bed minutes after I arrived, and now I know what


I'd be walking away from if I left.

And while the job is huge, so is his entire package.

But can insta-lust turn into insta-love? I guess I'm going to


find out.

WARNING: Don't one-click if you're offended by a strong


mountain man with an off-the-chart sex drive and an
irresistible urge to take what is his.


JOIN FRANKIE LOVES
MAILING LIST
TO KEEP UP TO DATE ON EACH RELEASE!

ALSO BY FRANKIE LOVE

THE ENTIRE FRANKIE LOVE COLLECTION:

NEW RELEASE: HIS KINKY VIRGIN

Our Virgin:
Protecting Our Virgin

F*ck Club:
A-List F*ck Club
Small Town F*ck Club

From the HIS Collection:


HIS Everything

The Mountain Mans Babies:


TIMBER
BUCKED
WILDER
HONORED
CHERISHED

The Modern-Mail Order Brides:


CLAIMED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
ORDERED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
WIFED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN
EXPLORED BY THE MOUNTAIN MAN

An Arranged Marriage Romance:


COURTED BY THE MOUNTAIN PRINCE
CHARMED BY THE MOUNTAIN PRINCE
CROWNED BY THE MOUNTAIN PRINCE

Las Vegas Bad Boys:


ACE
KING
MCQUEEN
JACK

Los Angeles Bad Boys:


COLD HARD CASH
HOLLYWOOD HOLDEN
SAINT JUDE
THE COMPLETE COLLECTION

Stand-Alone Romance:
HIS KINKY VIRGIN
WILD AND TRUE

Stand-Alone Bad Boy:


BIG BAD WOLF

Stand-Alone Mountain Men:


MISTLETOE MOUNTAIN: A MOUNTAIN MANS CHRISTMAS
HEART OF GOLD: A MOUNTAIN MANS VALENTINE
HIS LUCKY CHARM: AN IRISH MOUNTAIN MAN


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Frankie Love writes sexy stories about bad boys and mountain men.
As a thirty-something mom to six who is ridiculously in love with her own bearded
hottie, she believes in love-at-first-sight and happily-ever-afters.
She also believes in the power of a quickie.

Find Frankie here:


www.frankielove.net
frankieloveromance@gmail.com