Rock Hard(59)

By: Nalini Singh

A sleepy smile. “I was hoping you’d negotiate that out. You know I like fighting with you.” Tugging her into him, he reached into the bedside drawer on his side and, after taking out the ring, slid it onto her finger. “The black lace underwear clause is nonnegotiable, though I will permit red lace underwear on special occasions.”

Curling her fingers into her hand, the ring warm against her skin—as if it had absorbed his heat, she lay on her back with him leaning over her. “That’s a pity,” she said. “I’ll have to throw out that pretty blush-pink G-string set I bought.”

His eyes gleamed. “Like I said, Ms. Baird, there’s room for negotiation.” A slow, luscious kiss, his hand cupping the side of her face. “Marry me?”

“Yes,” she said, her heart wide-open. “Yes, I’ll marry you.”

When the phone rang in the middle of the night a month later, Charlotte groggily searched for it. The past four weeks had been good and not so good—she still woke some nights in a cold sweat, but those times were getting less and less with each week that passed. Tonight, she’d been in a full, deep sleep, in spite of the fact Gabriel had his hand around her nape as she lay sprawled on his chest.

“I’ve got it.”

Letting Gabriel pick up, she closed her eyes and snuggled back against his neck.

“When?” he said after answering. “It’s confirmed? Can’t say we’ll mourn the fucker.”

“Who was that?” she mumbled once he’d hung up.

“Lee. Turns out Richard couldn’t handle being locked up again. He’s dead.”

The bastard had hanged himself the night after his transfer from the hospital to the jail, a judge having ordered he be held on remand until his trial. The scum had left a note to be passed on to Charlotte, a note she would never see. Detective Lee had made that call, told Gabriel about it, and he fully agreed.

He didn’t think Charlotte would believe a word of it, of how Richard was killing himself because she’d rejected his love, but he didn’t want that creep’s words in her head. “It’s over.”

“Good.” A jaw-cracking yawn. “Now go back to sleep.”

He was dumbfounded for a second at her response until he realized that for Charlotte, it had been over the day she’d decided not to be scared of Richard. Whether he lived or died had made little difference to her stability, but Gabriel was sure as hell glad the bastard wouldn’t be around to threaten her ever again.

Curling his body around hers, he closed his eyes.


Prenuptial Agreement: Charlotte Baird’s Terms

You (Gabriel) are to always wear your wedding ring so no women ever hit on you.

If any woman hits on you regardless, you are to tell your wife so she can kick that woman’s ass.

You have to walk around shirtless at home so your wife can ogle you to her heart’s content.

Under no circumstances are you to ever send your wife red roses. Do it and she will throw far worse than a muffin at your head.

You will not work after seven at night unless it is an emergency situation requiring immediate remediation. Late-night international calls can be negotiated on a per-call basis.