[Siren Ménage Everlasting: Erotic Contemporary Cowboy Ménage a Trois Romantic Suspense, M/F/M, HEA]
Jessica Bright came to Divine, Texas seeking refuge for her and her unborn child from the man who had held her captive. With time she’s overcome the trauma, but in her eyes she isn’t just a hot mess, she’s the hot mess.
Tank Drummond and Troy Burnett have watched patiently as Jessica has gotten her life on track—perhaps too patiently. When a bit of innocent online matchmaking help from Tank’s mother goes viral, they’re pushed into pursuing Jessica even though they risk scaring her off completely.
Enter one scary dude doing the bidding of her original captor from his permanent prison cell. Four Bits owes Trevor Dornan a big favor and he always pays his debts.
Right or wrong, the ladies of Divine and Lusty, Tank’s mother, and even little Bella take matters into their own hands and pull off an adventure that will go down in Divine history as…Operation Ginger Avenger.
They sat on the couch listening to her chat softly with Bella while she bathed her and then later when she crooned to her while she rocked her and put her to bed. She was a tenderhearted woman, and she didn’t deserve to still be suffering from that trauma.
Jessica came down the hallway from the rear of the house and found them in the living room. She perched on the ottoman between their outstretched legs. “I thought y’all would’ve gone home by now,” she murmured, her accented syllables telling them how tired she was.
She glanced down at the smartphone sitting on the couch between them but didn’t reach for it. Tilting her chin at the phone, she shifted so that she was sitting on her hands and said, “That was Trevor Dornan’s brother, Brian, calling earlier. The first time he contacted me I didn’t know who it was until he identified himself. I-I freaked and hung up on him. I’ve got nothing to say to that man, and he has no rights to me or Bella. I marked the contact ‘Do Not Answer’ so that I’d know when he was calling but I didn’t need to pick up. It’s been a while since the last time.”
“Has he threatened you before?” Troy asked, recalling the man’s furtive manner in the courtroom at Trevor Dornan’s second hearing after his escape from state custody. They’d never been able to pin Brian Dornan with any charges that stuck. Friends had backed up his alibi for the night Trevor had taken his truck to use in his planned abduction of Jessica and attempted abduction of Grace Warner. Brian had sworn under oath that the keys to that vehicle were kept above the visor and everyone who knew him knew this. His friends had been interviewed separately and had backed up his story. Both Dornan brothers had been raised by their father and had obviously had a rather hard, backwoods upbringing, not that Troy would’ve held that fact against the man. You couldn’t help where you came from, only how you turned out. Trevor had turned out rotten to the core. But in the end, a guy couldn’t be held in a jail cell just for looking squirrely and suspicious, so Brian had gone free.“No, he’s never threatened me. Like I said, I didn’t listen to anything he had to say, once he identified himself to me in his first call. His voice is very much like…his brother’s…and, well…” “You had a panic attack?” She nodded as she pulled her hands from under her to rub her arms. “It was a good thing Bella was already asleep. I hadn’t fallen to pieces like that in a while.” She clasped her fingers together so tightly her knuckles shown white through her skin, and she frowned. “I’m so tired of others having the upper hand on me.” Her voice faltered, and her lips quivered as she looked out the window, her unfocused gaze fastened on a memory from the past that he could only guess at. “Just when I think I’m taking more than a few steps forward, something happens that takes me back to that…place.” Troy slid to the edge of the couch and cupped her knees with his palms. “We’re not going to let anyone get close enough to hurt you, honey.”
Judging by her expression, she fully believed that, and it troubled Troy. He knew she’d taken Hank’s self-defense course. She lived on the ranch where intruders were unlikely to reach her. Yet she still felt at Dornan’s mercy
Her smile didn’t reach her eyes, and she shook her head. “That’s very chivalrous of you to say, Troy, but you both have your lives and your work. You can’t babysit me twenty-four-seven. Anyone determined enough can get to me, or to Bella. And there’s not a thing I could do about it.”
“What were you talking about?” Jessica asked.
Before Troy could say something about the weather, Tank blurted out, “Keeping you warm when it’s cold.”
Her half-smile disappeared, and she wrapped her arms around herself. The way she turned to the doorframe and hunched her shoulders was the last straw for him. In a gentle but firm tone, he said, “Come here, Jessica.”Hesitating, she met his gaze and held it as she inched into the room, her arms still tight around herself. When she drew close enough he could touch her, he could see the goosebumps on her arms.
Careful to not make her feel trapped, Tank unclenched one of her hands from where it gripped her upper arm. “You were somewhere else for a few seconds there. Tell us where you went.” The bones and tendons in her hand felt delicate between his fingers as he stroked her and then enclosed her hand between his.Troy sat on the other end of the couch, and they drew her down between them. Her breathing slowed to a more natural rhythm as she watched his hands, and Tank felt her fingers twitch within his grasp. “Your hands are so warm. Gentle. Feels good.”
Tank admired her brave attempt to make light of her reaction, but he shook his head. “Are we trustworthy?”Troy inched closer, and she looked over her shoulder at him when he brushed her long dark hair behind her. “Can you tell us?” “There was a draft in the hallway.” With a light shrug, she attempted to make light of her earlier reaction. She lifted her eyes to his. With a tilt of her head and a sudden sweet smile, she nodded. “Of course.”
Her throat bobbed a little as she swallowed her fear, and the gulp was audible. “I-uh...It was winter when he took me. The house was old, poorly insulated if at all. He would leave me chained up for hours at a time while he was gone. When he left, he would shut off the power to the house...and the heat. I think he did it to wear me down, to be mean. The cold was damp, and it got into me so deep there were times I was sure I’d never feel warm again. I never heard any road noise or signs of civilization, so I had no reason to hope I’d be found. I used to love the winter...” She shivered as some distant memory darkened her gaze.“You can trust us with the bad stuff, too. Tell us. This is not therapy. It’s building an honest relationship based on the truth. We don’t want you to gloss over the parts of your life that you think are ugly.” With a slowness that belied the eagerness Tank knew he felt, Troy wrapped his arms around her shoulders and leaned in enough to share his heat against her back. She stilled and locked gazes with Tank as she took in a shaky breath, on the verge of either shrugging out of Troy’s hesitant embrace or...
“You don’t scare me,” she muttered as she looked away.She lifted her hands to Troy’s forearms and rested them there. “He took so much from me. Even though he’s rotting in prison, he’s still taking from me.” “Only if you let him, Jess. Don’t let what happened in the past keep you from your future. Bella’s future. Does what Troy is doing right now hurt?” She shook her head. “What if he tightened his arms?” Uncertainty stiffened her grip on Troy’s arms, but Troy remained relaxed, loose in his hold on her as he said, “I’d love to hold you tight, Jess, but not if it scares you.” “Damn it. I hate what he did, what he took from me.”
It hurt to see her so torn, wanting to move on but unable to take the first step without her approval. It needed to be her that made the first move. Tank enclosed her other chilled hand and said, “Can you kiss me?” He was determined to overcome this first hurdle tonight.“Let us take care of you,” Tank murmured as he lifted a hand and stroked her hair back behind her ear. “How can you stand the constant seesaw, though? I want to be held. I want to try with you. But then I freeze up from a simple touch.” “Your fight-or-flight response kicks in. You can’t help it. You can only overcome it,” Troy whispered before kissing the side of her head. “Can Tank kiss you?” “I...”