Season 2, Episode 7
Opening the app for the tenth time that night, Brennan stared at Danika’s announcement again, blinked a few times, and sighed. I failed her. Even if I have a month before the wedding, there’s fuck all I can do from here. He slammed his phone down on the front desk of the police station just as the front door chimed. His eyes widened as the dark-haired beauty herself approached.
‘The place short-staffed or something?’ Danika asked. ‘I don’t usually see you manning reception.’
He shrugged, not willing to admit his folly and the predicament it had landed him in. ‘Seems that way. What’s up, Danni?’ His eyes drifted to the obnoxiously large diamond on her finger. ‘I see congratulations are in order,’ he deadpanned.
‘Don’t pull that shit with me, Brennan.’ Drawing closer, she lowered her voice, ‘You know better than most how much of a farce this arrangement is. Speaking of which, I thought of a way you can make it up to me.’
Sitting up, he felt the clouds above his head parting, letting a sliver of sunshine through the fog of depression. ‘You need a favour?’ he asked, a little too eager.
‘Yeah, I do. Find Taylor for me and I’ll forgive you. God knows, I could use a friend who Hayden won’t scare away.’
The resignation in her tone pierced his heart and with it, he noticed her slumped posture and blotchy complexion. Fuck! How had I not seen it earlier? The Danni he knew and loved had always stood tall and proud, never leaving the house without caking on a tonne of makeup. ‘I’m sorry, Danni. I never meant for things to go this far.’
She narrowed her eyes; a cute little crease forming between her brows. ‘What do you mean?’
‘You know the old saying about keeping enemies close? I’ve only ever pretended to be Hayden’s friend,’ he whispered.
Her mouth gaped for a full five seconds. ‘Why?’
‘I guess you could say I went deep undercover, for professional and personal reasons. After all the shit you told me about him, I knew I needed to put that motherfucker behind bars. Problem is, I haven’t been able to build up a solid case against him.’
‘Well tie me up and fuck me blind! That’s genius. Why didn’t you tell me about your plan before? You could have saved yourself a royal reaming.’
He chuckled, loving how the town’s princess would put most sailors to shame. ‘I needed your reaction to be believable. I couldn’t risk Hayden uncovering my deceit, especially at such a critical time. I gotta say though, I didn’t expect him to move so fucking fast, and now I’m stuck on desk duty thanks to Malik.’
‘What the hell did Malik do?’
‘He’s become quite chummy with Officer Matthews who lodged a formal complaint against me. The bitch got me grounded.’
‘Well, that’s shitty luck.’ She clenched and released her fists, inhaling deeply in the process. ‘Dammit, Malik! Why must you make things difficult for us?’ she muttered under her breath.
‘One of these days, you’ll have to fill me in on this strange development with Malik. I thought the pair of you hated each other. That night at the quarry….’ He gulped back the bitter taste climbing his throat and gritted his teeth. ‘The passion you shared didn’t look like it was leading to hate sex.’
Danika nodded. ‘I have history with Malik that goes way back to our childhood. We used to be best friends. Then in early high school, I… I fell in love with him. On the day when I intended to confess my feelings, everything went to hell.’
‘Was that the day Hayden…?’
Again, she nodded. ‘I thought Malik knew what Hayden was doing, but from where he stood, he saw his so-called friends having a good time to spite him.’
‘Fuck, that’s rough. Do you… love Malik now?’
She shrugged. ‘I dunno, maybe. Everything is so much more complicated now. It no longer matters how much I want Malik; I can never have him. Hayden made sure of that.’
Reaching across the desk, he grasped her hands and stroked her knuckles with his thumbs. ‘Don’t lose hope, princess. I’ll keep digging till I bury that bastard, even if it kills me.’
Tears pooled in her eyes. ‘Thank you. And what about Taylor?’
‘I’ll do my best. There are limits to my reach at the moment.’ He gestured to the desk between them.
‘My dad and Hayden are both good friends with the Chief. I’ll see if they can put in a good word for you at their next golf game.’
‘Good plan. Thank you.’
She forced the slightest hint of a smile. ‘It’s the least I could do. I’m sorry I jumped to conclusions and didn’t give you a chance to explain. I’d make it up to you in other ways if I didn’t fear Hayden’s wrath.’
The mere thought of forcing her to her knees and making her beg for forgiveness stirred some very primal urges. He adjusted the bulge between his legs and grinned. ‘Who knows, maybe he’ll make an exception for me, like he did before.’
With a shake of her head, she scoffed. ‘I doubt it. It’s not in Hayden’s nature to share, not even with his most trusted friends. We only got the time we did with each other because he wanted someone to “train” me,’ she emphasised using air quotes.
‘And spy on you, don’t forget. But don’t worry—I didn’t tell him anything too personal.’
Her eyes widened. ‘Shit! Really?’
Scratching the back of his head, he simpered sheepishly. ‘Yeah, sorry. I needed to prove my loyalty.’
‘I’m not sure I want to know what you told him.’ She glanced over her shoulder as the door opened and two beefy guys in black suits entered. ‘I gotta go. Let me know as soon as you get any leads.’ She hurried over to join the wall of muscle.
Must be Hayden’s new security detail. He watched as they escorted her outside as if she really were royalty. The princess soon to be locked in the tower.
‘Good morning, angel. I have a surprise for you.’
Danika looked up from her work and met Hayden’s smug grin with a schooled smile. ‘And what is it, my love?’
‘I’m giving you the rest of the day off so you can go dress shopping in the city with your mum.’
Glimpsing the annoyance on her supervisor’s visage across the lab, she prayed Hayden wouldn’t make a habit of disrupting her work. ‘That’s very kind, thank you. Will you be joining us?’
He shook his head. ‘As much as I’d love to watch you model an assortment of beautiful gowns, I think you need this time alone with your mother.’ Leaning across her desk, he pressed a kiss to her forehead.
She rose and returned the gesture with a peck on his cheek. ‘Is it okay if I spend the night in the city? It is a long drive, after all.’
‘Of course. Take your time and spoil yourselves. Here,’ he handed her his credit card. ‘My treat; the dresses, day spa, food, and accommodation. Spare no expense.’
She stared at the plastic card, recognising it for the tracking device he intended it to be. ‘That’s very generous, thank you.’
‘Think nothing of it. You will soon be my wife, and what’s mine is yours and all that.’ Rounding the desk, he pulled her into his arms and whispered in her ear. ‘Get yourself some nice lingerie for our honeymoon while you’re at it.’
A shiver shimmied down her spine at his suggestion, and not the good kind.
His hand followed the chill and settle on her backside. ‘How was my old mate, Brennan, last night?’
‘Frustrated,’ she replied honestly. ‘Malik got the poor guy grounded on desk duty.’
The skin between his brows creased ever so slightly; the extent of his tells. ‘Well, that won’t do, not at all. I’ll have a word with the Chief and make sure he returns to the work he does best.’
‘Which is?’ she asked with genuine curiosity.
He chuckled. ‘Don’t worry your pretty little head about it.’
A rage hotter than any blue star simmered in her blood and it took every ounce of her willpower to keep a lid on it. ‘Of course, my love. Whatever you think is best.’
The corner of his mouth curled up with wicked delight and he lowered his voice to add, ‘Brennan has taught you well. Perhaps I’ll show him my gratitude by inviting him to our marital bed from time-to-time.’
The first hint of a genuine smile warmed her cheeks. ‘Sounds like fun.’
‘You’d like that, wouldn’t you, my filthy angel?’
Imagining Malik in Hayden’s place, sandwiching her against Brennan’s body; pleasure throbbed between her legs. She agreed with a breathless ‘Yes.’
‘Keep up this good behaviour and I’ll reward with all the fun times you want.’
Such a loaded statement. Still, she had found a strategy for making the most of her shitty situation. Substitute Hayden with Malik in her mind and she might just survive this marriage.
His snicker bought her back to the present. ‘If you can get your mind out of the gutter for a moment, you have a shopping date to get to.’ He slapped her arse. ‘Go on.’
She walked out of the observatory with a little bounce in her step. It wasn’t much of a holiday, but she intended to take full advantage of this brief reprieve from the oppression of Moonlake.
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