Strength from Loyalty (Lost Kings MC #3)

The thought of Hope wearing my property patch gets me harder than a motherfucker.

It’s time for me to announce my intent at church. Technically, I don’t need the club’s approval. I can claim whoever I want. But if I’m going to give her the Lost Kings property patch, I need the votes of my officers. Even though she doesn’t yet realize it, being my old lady gives Hope a lot of power. She knows, or will learn, shit law enforcement would love to know. Giving her this patch is more than decorative. It’s more than my caveman need for everyone to know she belongs to me. It means not only am I taking one hundred percent responsibility for Hope, but so are my brothers. I trust her completely, and my brothers know I don’t trust lightly.

The clubhouse is quiet. All our guests from last night have departed.

Wrath looks downright exhausted as he hobbles in on his crutches and drops into the chair on my right.

“You feelin’ all right?”

For once, he’s not smirking. “Yeah. Fuckin’ cast is bullshit.”

“Slowin’ your game?” Z asks helpfully from my left.

“Brother’s got no game. Trinity’s been carrying his balls around in her back pocket for weeks,” Dex snarks. Everyone chuckles, even Wrath.

Instead of some pissed-off retort, my friend laughs and shakes his head.

Interesting.

The rest of the guys seem to be having some sort of contest to see who can get their ass in their chair the slowest. Sparky is naturally the last one in. He’s jittery from being away from his plants for more than five seconds.

We go through regular club business and get it out of the way. Teller reports to us that earnings are good. All club accounts are flush and balanced. He reads the numbers off a sheet of paper, passes it around for everyone to review, then shreds it.

Sparky reports a fresh crop is almost ready. We have an increased demand from Green Street Crew, but we’ll be able to meet it along with the new pipeline I lined up. Sparky is excited about his newest strain. Stash asks for extra help with packaging.

Z and Dex report Crystal Ball is doing well and they’ve secured a few new feature dancers to replace the void left by Inga.

Wrath informs everyone he’s decided on a trainer to teach his classes at the gym. He asks the brothers to help him keep an eye on things while he’s laid up, and we work out a schedule.

Murphy brings up a run that’s been scheduled for months. With Wrath unable to ride, someone needs to take his place. We still have a little time to deal with that, so I table it for later discussion.

Wrath offers to turn in his cut since he can’t ride. His offer is voted down with a “fuck no” from all members.

“There’s an exception in the bylaws for injuries, you fuckhead, so stop offering,” Z grouches at Wrath. Wrath flips him off, and that discussion is over.

Once general club business is out of the way, I excuse everyone except my officers: Wrath, Z, Teller, and Murphy.

Expectation is written all over each face.

No reason for a speech. “I want to give Hope a property patch.”

It shouldn’t really be a surprise, but they act like I dropped a fucking live nuke in the middle of the table.

After a few beats, Z asks, “You asking for our votes, prez?”

“Yes.”

Z nods slowly. I meet every one of their gazes head on, settling on my enforcer last.

“You lay it out for her?” he asks.

“Yes.”

“Everything?” Wrath pushes.

Through clenched teeth, I spit out, “Not quite.”

Wrath’s eyes widen in a “what the fuck you waitin’ for” face that I want to punch.

“She knows enough. I trust her. You heard her the night of the party. It ain’t gonna rattle her.”

Wrath nods slowly and turns to the rest of the guys.

Teller is the first one to raise his hand. “She’s been real good to Heidi. Trinity too. She’s got love for the club. Prez is happy. She gets my vote.”

Wrath’s shrewd gaze focuses on Teller as he takes that all in. That’s fuckin’ right, brother. She jumped in to help one of us out.

Murphy raises his hand next. “She’s a classy girl. Doesn’t give anyone grief. She was ready to rip those cops’ heads off after Heidi’s party. Abso-fucking-lutely.”

Yeah, my girl got herself pretty worked up that night. The memory of her standing in my front yard, hands on her hips, giving those pigs hell still makes me smile.

Z has been good to my girl. He’s taken on more of a friendly, brotherly role to counteract Wrath’s dickishness. He’s enthusiastic with his praise. “She keeps her shit locked down. Took that bullshit the club girls heaped on her with class. Treats Trinity with respect. Never cops an attitude in public, even though I know she gives prez hell when they’re alone. Fuck yes.”

His little endorsement makes me chuckle, because even when she’s pissed at me, I still want to stick my dick in her so bad I ache.

Wrath can make or break this. He’s been my best friend for a long damn time, but I also know he’s got a lot of reservations about Hope’s innocence when it comes to the MC. The club comes first, but if he kills this for me, I’m gonna have a hard time looking at his face for a while.

He levels his cool enforcer stare on me. “You trust her?”

“You know I do.”

“You trust her with your life? Our lives?” He points to everyone at the table.

“Yes, she’d never spill club business.”

Wrath nods, and my tension level ratchets down a notch. “How much club business you gonna let her in on?” he asks.

“She understands but said she doesn’t want details in case she ever ends up having to represent one of us in court.”

Wrath seems surprised by my answer. “Okay. You got my yes.”

Thank fuck.

I point to Z. “Order it up.”

I’ve just stepped out of the shower when I hear a thump-thump on my front door. Dripping water and muttering a bunch of curses, I grab my robe and scurry down the hallway. By the sound of the fist against my door, it can only be Rock. My mouth turns up and my belly flutters with excitement, imagining him on the other side.

Flinging open the door, I greet him with, “Why haven’t I just given you a key?”

The hardened expression he’s wearing breaks with a smile. “‘Cause we’re never here, baby doll.”

Wrapping his arms around me, he picks me up and plants a hungry kiss on my lips. I take in his crisp outdoor scent and savor the sensation of our bodies pressed together, his arms holding me tight. Every time we touch, I swear it’s as exciting as the first time.

As he sets me down, his gaze skims over me, from wet hair to bare feet. His grip on my hips tightens. “Do you realize when I see you fresh from the shower, it makes me want to get you all filthy again?”

His words, combined with the lascivious gleam in his smoky eyes, cause my breath to catch. I wish I were wearing something sexier than my ratty old terrycloth robe.

Not that he seems to mind.

Before I can come up with an appropriate response, he pounces, picking me up and scanning the area. By some silent agreement, we’ve never really ventured into my bedroom together. Like Rock said, we’re rarely here. And there’s a whole lot of other surfaces he enjoys defiling.

At the moment, he’s eying my dining room table with less-than-noble plans. Since I usually eat alone when I’m here, the only thing my dining room table is doing right now is supporting a pile of mail I’ve yet to go through and a basket of laundry I was planning to sort after my shower.

I never know how long Rock will be when he has “church,” and I never ask what the club discusses at the table. I trust if he wants me to know, he’ll tell me.

Let’s face it. I probably don’t want to know.

He kicks out one of the chairs and sits down, setting me on my feet. His hands immediately go to my robe, working the knot loose in no time. A shiver works through me when the material parts. His hands cup my hips, his thumbs stroking my belly. He nudges me in small increments until my butt is resting against the edge of the table.

“I’m starving, baby.”

I open my mouth to answer, to tell him I’ll make him something for dinner. But the white-hot scrutiny of his gaze tells me he’s not talking about food. His hands travel up, smoothing my robe off my shoulders. He flicks the material over the table and stands. Tipping my head back, his serious face comes into view, storm-gray eyes darting from my lips to my breasts and lower. My heart thuds in my chest as he leans in, his lips finding mine.

No matter how many times we kiss, each time is electrifying. Full, firm lips press hard against mine. One of my hands dives into his thick hair, pulling him closer. He responds by tugging me against him tighter. A lick against my bottom lip, and I respond with one of my own. Rock groans, and the sound sends shivers through me. I’m very aware of my nakedness and the fact that he’s still fully dressed. My beaded nipples rubbing against the soft fabric of his shirt sets me on fire.

Big, rough hands skate up my sides, cupping my breasts, thumbs rubbing my nipples. My hips shoot forward, grinding against him, and I gasp for breath, breaking our kiss.

“Lie back for me,” he commands, voice low and rumbling with need.

My mouth opens to protest, but I decide I’d rather see what he has in mind first.

Because I know whatever it is, it’ll be good.

Before I do what he asked, my hand reaches out and brushes against him. He’s hard, erection straining against his jeans.

I can’t fucking wait.

He helps me lie back on the table, pushing mail and stuff out of his way. I flinch at the soft flapping of fabric and envelopes hitting the floor, and he presses a finger to my lips.

“Stop. We’ll take care of it later.”

I nod. Who can think about mail when a man like Rock wants to do all sorts of delicious things to you?

He slides one finger down the length of my body as he walks to the end of the table and sits back down. One of his hands wraps around one of my ankles and lifts my foot to the table. Feeling much too exposed, I hesitate when he goes to lift the other one.

“Hope,” he warns.

“Rock, don’t,” I plead. I haven’t been to the waxer or anything in too long.

He sighs. “When will you learn?” Then he picks up my other foot, placing my heel on the edge of the table.

My knees slam together, and he traces a hand down my calf, his mouth following the same path. “Open,” he murmurs against my skin.

I can’t resist. His voice, his touch, his hot breath tickling over me. My legs part, but he doesn’t dive right for me. His hands slide up the inside of my thighs—hard enough not to tickle, soft enough to send pleasurable tingles through me. My legs part a little more.

“That’s better.”

I can’t speak, so I respond with, “Mmm.”

His thumbs rub over my quivering outer lips, massaging and kneading my warm flesh. The first touch of his fingertip over my clit makes me hiss and bump up my hips.

“So sensitive and ready for me.”

I nod my head but can’t get out any words as I fall into the sensation. His thumb teases over the tip of my clit again. My back arches with ripples of pleasure, offering myself to him. He lets out a satisfied grunt and pushes closer. Suddenly, his tongue laps at me, and my hips shoot off the table.

“Easy, baby.”

But, oh, that feels good. Hot caresses with his tongue subtly pressing down. Wave after wave of heat crashes through me as he keeps applying soft pressure, stroking in a steady pattern. So close. My body is so close. I strain, needing a little more. The lapping stops. Sealing his mouth over my clit, he sucks, and I scream out.

He keeps going, growling as I squirm and wriggle, pushing my pussy harder against his face. His hands hold my hips where he wants them as he keeps kissing and licking me. Hooking his arms under my legs, he hoists me higher, burying his face, sucking and licking at me harder.

“Shit!”

I can’t. The sensations are too much. I’m climbing higher and higher, about to shatter. Sweet pleasure unfurls from my core through my body. I’m still yelling and thrashing around, but he keeps me where he wants me. Over and over, his tongue sweeps over my pussy.

Gently, he eases me back onto the table. Slipping two fingers inside me, he curls them against that special spot while flattening his hand on my belly and pressing me into the table.

“Rock, what—” I try to lift my head, but his mouth latches onto my clit again. His fingers keep rubbing and stroking, slow at first, then more insistent. My legs are trembling so hard they fall to the sides.

Briefly, he lifts his head from between my thighs. “Come for me.”

“I did. I don’t think…”

He growls against me, sending shocking vibrations through my core.

I’m done. Shattered. Flying through time and space.

I barely have a chance to come down when Rock slides me off the table, grips my hips, and flips me over. My legs are like jelly, so I curl my fingers over the edge of the table and hang on.

An excited tingle races through me at the clink of his belt. The lazy ticking sound of his zipper lowering. The reaction in me is automatic—I rise on tiptoes, arching my back, offering myself.

And he takes me.

Rough hands cup my hips, holding me in place while he pounds into me from behind. My breasts are squished, trapped between me and the table. Planting my elbows, I lift up and push myself back.

“Don’t stop,” I chant breathlessly, over and over. I’ll die if he stops.

“No chance,” he grunts out, barely out of breath. “You comin’ for me again, doll?”

I open my mouth to answer, but pleasure grabs me and I let out a wailing moan instead. His furious thrusting doesn’t let up as I scream through my orgasm.

“That’s it, baby doll. Give me everything.”

He lets out a deep, satisfied groan and warm wetness sizzles over my back. I turn my head and quirk up my mouth at him. It takes him a second to come back to himself. When he does, he meets my gaze, a flicker of worry passing over his face.

“You mad?”

I hold down my grin as long as possible. “No, I’m not mad.”

I get a playful slap on my ass. “Stay there. I’ll be right back.”

When he’s done cleaning me up, I get soft kisses along my neck and shoulder.

“Come on, my sticky little girl, let’s go wash you up,” Rock says as he hoists me into his arms.

Looping my arms around his neck, I burrow my face against his shoulder, running my mouth over his skin. I love the salty taste of my man.

He growls, moving us faster to the bathroom. Inside, he sets me down gently next to the tub and gets the shower going. Feeling suddenly overwhelmed, I trace my finger down his arm. He turns and gives me a questioning look.

“Did you… Have you always done that?”

I don’t have to be more specific. Another flicker of concern. “No, baby. I don’t know why.” His dark-gray stare roams over my face. “I’ve never done that before. Before you. Does it bother you?”

A smile tugs at the corners of my mouth. “No.”

A relieved smile spreads across his face. “Go on. Get in.”

As soon as he steps in behind me, I turn and wrap my arms around his waist. I don’t know why, but I’m suddenly overwhelmed with emotion and the need to be close. It’s on the tip of my tongue to ask him to spend the night here—something we haven’t done yet.

I open my mouth, but a strangled sob comes out instead.

“What’s wrong?” Rock asks, leaning over to swipe my bangs out of my eyes.

I force up the corners of my mouth. “Nothing, baby. You just overwhelm me.”

“Did I hurt you? Before?” he asks, his face darkening.

“No. Not at all. I love everything we do. Always.”

He still doesn’t look convinced.

“I think I just missed you a lot today.”

His face softens, and he runs his hands over my arms. “Missed you too. Thought about you all day,” he says with a secret smile.

After we’re squeaky clean and wrapped in towels, Rock turns to me. “Mind if I shave?”

“Not at all. Although, I’m kind of digging the scruff on you.”

He gives me a lopsided grin.

Reaching up, I run my fingers through his hair. “I like that you’re wearing your hair a little longer, too.”

His eyelids close briefly. Almost as if he’s embarrassed. “Haven’t had time to get it cut.”

I’ve never thought of Rock doing something so mundane. It’s difficult to picture him sitting still in a barber’s chair for a simple haircut.

An easier scenario to imagine is Trinity sitting all the guys down once a month and sheering them like reluctant sheep. It’s an amusing image.

“Hang on. I’ll grab you a razor. There’s none in here anymore.”

When I return, Rock’s facing the door, patiently waiting.

“I’m sorry. All I have are girly pink ones.”

“Babe, I’m more than man enough to shave with a pink razor,” he says while holding out his hand.

“Well, manly man, the only shaving cream I have is also pink and strawberry-scented.”

He chuckles, then eyes me up and down. Suddenly, I’m self-conscious about how I’ve been running around the house in such a skimpy towel.

“What?”

Rock rubs his hand over his chin and down his neck while his gaze roams over my body. “I was just thinkin’ maybe my scruff can wait.” He picks up the razor, twirling it between his fingers. “Instead, maybe I should use this pretty pink razor to shave my pussy, so next time I want it, you’re not pulling away from me.”

I’m struck dumb by his words. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me,” he says, setting down the razor. His strong arms band around me, lifting me in the air so he can kiss my forehead. “That pussy is mine, baby. I don’t like you hesitating when I want to see it.”

My skin is so hot and tight. I’m sure I’m blushing like crazy. “You’re so dirty.”

“You just realized this now?”

Soft smacks rain down over my ass, and I squeal and wriggle out of his hold. “Aren’t you satisfied yet, caveman?”

He grins and plants another kiss on the top of my head. “I can’t ever get enough of you, baby.”

“Shave. Worry about my bush later.”

With a smirk, Rock ducks back into the bathroom, and I run down the hall to get dressed.

While waiting for him to finish shaving, I bend over to pick up the mail and other things we tossed on the floor earlier.

One envelope stops me cold. Unfolding myself from the floor, I turn it over in my hands. The New York State Attorney Grievance Committee. Mailed over a week ago. Of course, I haven’t been home much to check the mail, so it’s probably been sitting here like a career-ending bomb. My heart drops to my stomach. My fingers tremble so hard I can barely rip open the seal and get the letter out.

I’ve never been in trouble in my life. In fact, I’ve always been teased for being the “good girl.” The oath I took to become a lawyer is important to me. I take it seriously. Mentally running through all the cases I’ve handled in my career, I can’t think of anything I’ve ever done that could be construed as malpractice. Hell, I’ve only had two clients in the last year and a half.

Both connected to Rock.

Both cases he practically forced on me.

Dammit!

Since complaints cannot be made anonymously, I see it’s Winter’s ex who filed the grievance. He’s claiming, first, it was a conflict of interest for me to represent Winter when I had previously represented her boyfriend. That one is bullshit, and I’m surprised the committee is even investigating it.

It’s the next one that makes my chest constrict and my fingers go numb.

He claims I am involved in a criminal enterprise. That my representation of members of the Lost Kings, a known criminal organization, is personal, and I’m bending the law to cover up their crimes.

This is why they’re investigating me.

From what I understand about the process, normally I would be given an opportunity to submit a response in writing. But they’re actually calling me in for a face-to-face interview.

“Hope, what’s wrong?”

Freshly shaved and too handsome for my sanity, Rock strolls into the dining room with nothing but a towel wrapped around his hips. With a shaky hand, I pass the letter to him.

“What’s this?”

“I’m being investigated by the disciplinary committee for ethics violations.”

“What the fuck for?”

My jaw tightens. “Winter’s ex. The case you forced me to take.”

As soon as I drop the words in the air, I have a twinge of regret. But I thrust up my chin and glare at him.

“Babe, I’ll take care of this. That motherfuck—”

My rage boils over. He doesn’t get it. “Don’t you fucking dare! If anything happens to him, it will be so much worse for me. It will look like everything in his complaint is true!”

He moves to put his arms around me, and I flinch.

“Don’t touch me.”

“Hope—”

“No. I’m so fucking mad at you right now. You pushed me into taking that case when I wasn’t ready. Do you know what this kind of thing will do to my career?” The years I spent in law school, suffering through the bar exam, all the struggling I did to stay afloat before Clay died—all of it for nothing now if I lose my license to practice law.

“None of it is true.”

“It doesn’t matter! They’re actually calling me in before the committee. So someone thinks it’s got merit. Most complaints go unfounded, and the attorney never even knows about them. They should have given me a chance to answer it in writing. You don’t understand how bad this is, Rock.” This is so humiliating. How will I ever explain this to my friends? If I get disbarred, it will be made public. Even if I manage to skate out of this with a suspension or warning, it still gets published. Everyone will know.

Rock runs a hand through his hair.

“Hope, let me fix this. The club—”

I can’t believe he still isn’t getting it. His “fixing it” will make things worse. Without thinking through my words, I explode. “Fuck the fucking club! You and your stupid club are what got me in trouble!”

Oh no.

I want to yank back the words the second they leave my lips. The shock and anger they bring to Rock’s face is a gut punch I can’t handle.

His eyes go cold, and he storms down the hall. When he comes back, he’s fully dressed. He tosses the letter on the counter.

I’m frantically trying to wipe tears off my cheeks. I’m humiliated enough. I don’t need him to see me crying too.

But he barely throws a glance at me as he marches out the door.