Captivated by Him

By: Terri E. Laine

Prologue





Sharp pain lanced through my chest, knocking me off my feet. In that moment of absolute weightlessness, I had so many regrets for all the things that I’d left unsaid.

Love.

It had seemed so far out of my grasp.

Now the time to claim it had passed.

The impact with the floor stole all the breath from my lungs. I heard a scream and wondered dully if that was me.

How had things gotten so out of hand?

It was far too late to care as darkness encroached on my vision like an invader.

The warm pool that grew beneath me only confirmed what I already knew.

I closed my eyes, unable to hold them open a second longer.

I managed to say, “I’m sorry.” But I didn’t know if my words had been heard outside of my head.





1





past





Mom shooed me off to bed when a knock came at the door. They didn’t notice that I’d only gotten as far as the top of the stairs before Daddy opened it.

A man as wide as our door came in with another smaller man behind him.

“What’s this about?” Daddy asked.

Mommy looked scared, like how I felt sometimes at night alone in my room, afraid there were monsters under my bed.

The man grinned at my dad like he wanted to eat him. He was the monster.

“Do you want to tell her or should I?”

Brown hair covered his head and face like fur. A bear. That was what the mean man reminded me of as he pointed at my dad. A big, fat, ugly brown bear.

Mom asked Daddy, “Jonah. What did you do?”

The bear laughed as Daddy looked like how I’d felt when I spilled my cereal on the floor this morning. He held out a hand to Mommy and she stepped back.

“You promised,” she cried.

It hurt my insides to see Mommy so sad.

“The guy can’t keep away,” the bear said. “Now either he pays up or he pays the price.”

Daddy held up his hands. “I promise to get the money.”

“The boss has given you a week longer than anyone else on account of your family,” the bear said.

“Jonah,” Mommy cried.

“Please.” Daddy begged like I had when I wanted a puppy. Skippy howled as if he knew I needed him.

The bear pulled something big and shiny out of his pocket and waved at the other guy with it. Mommy put her hands to her mouth when she saw what the bear held. “Go shut up the mutt before someone calls the police.”

The other monster walked away where I couldn’t see him.

The bear pointed the shiny thing at Daddy.

“Now, here is how this is going to go. You owe the boss. And because you’re his godson, he’s extending you this final offer: Clean his money through your wife’s store, and he’ll let you live.”

Mommy moved. “No, I won’t let you do this.”

The bear faced her and a loud noise rang out; I covered my ears.

Mom fell back. Her eyes looked right at me.

Daddy cried and fell to his knees next to Mommy. She didn’t move—she didn’t say another word.

I cried out for her, and the bear heard me. Before I could run and hide, he was heading up the stairs toward me.





2





gavin





The bar was crowded with students and townies. My best friend and roommate, Tade, was eye fucking this blonde, which was so out of character for him.

“Dude, just go talk to her.”

Though he acted like he hadn’t heard me, he strode off in her direction.

That a boy. Whoever she was, she was a smoke show, but too innocent for my taste. Her brunette friend, however, was just my speed. She looked like sex poured into a blue dress. What I wouldn’t give to lock us both in a room for the weekend until we were all fucked out.

“Gavin.”

The sexy voice momentarily stole my attention. The Cruella look-alike was back after the bat woman signal she sent out to Tade hadn’t worked. She had claws I wasn’t interested in.

“Why don’t you and Tade come by later for some fun?”

Don’t get me wrong—she was sexy enough to get the job done, but I wasn’t interested. Tade had dipped his wick and I wasn’t going there.

“No thanks.”

I stole a glance and found the blonde’s friend using napkins to dry off Tade. I pushed off the wall, not giving Cruella time to answer.

The blonde’s friend was slurring something when I reached them.

“Sweetheart, let me help you,” I said.

She turned, and she was even more stunning up close. Her focus shifted again and she swayed on her feet some.

“I’m reeaallyy soorry,” she slurred, teetering. She was on the verge of doing a header into the floor. I caught her around the waist before she did and steadied her.

“Can I do anything to make it up to you?” she said to Tade.

“How about you convince your friend here to dance with me, yeah?” In all the time I’d known him, he hadn’t gone after a girl this hard—especially one he’d just met. When his gaze shifted to me, I raised a brow. We’d known each other long enough for him to figure out my meaning. “And you dance with my friend here.”

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