With her eyes on me, she gets up and she does it in slow motion which makes her look more sultry than innocent and my fist clenches. The look in her eyes switches from careful to curious and she murmurs, “How’d you get so big and broad-shouldered, Rev? I aint never seen anyone like you.”
“Drank a lot of milk as a kid,” I rasp and my eyes can’t help but go to her cleavage, and my mouth waters at the way they spill over the top of her dress. She musters a smile behind her hand, not noticing where my gaze went and she brushes past me. I’m standing too close but I make no effort to take a step back and her clothes stroke mine. Looking over her shoulder, she adds,
“Well come on then, stranger. There’s a meal waiting with your name on.”
Is something else waiting with my name on too? How about her naked body, laid out in bed with her knees on either side of her face?
Groaning under my breath, I follow her and she keeps glancing at me with a mixture of relief and excitement and her shoulders are trembling even if she tries to hide it. And when she looks at me, she bites her lip every time as if she needs to stop herself from letting out a triumphant cry.
Blushing, she mutters, “I know it aint polite of me staring but it’s been a long time since I had a man on this farm.”
“It used to be me and my brother but then he died.”
“How did he die?”
Her brows knot. “Got kicked by a cow in the face,” she says and her shoulders slump. “Poor Irma. She aint mean to, she got startled that’s all.” She wrings her hands. “I found him early in the morning, lying on the barn floor and... it’s been awful ever since.”
Water floods her eyes before she clamps a hand over her mouth and shakes her head. “I’m sorry, I aint goan cry cause Bowen’s doan cry.” Pursing her lips, she adds, “It just that I aint never thought I’d end up alone.”
That’s right. All on herown. And it seems like I’m not a second too late.
Pushing her hair out of her face, she breathes, “My brother always told me I should get married and I’d say,hells bells Beau, aint nobody goan want me.Aint no man in the village looking for a milkmaid. They all just wanna pump and dump some box dyed starlet. It’s what I’ve heard other girls say anyway...”
Her eyes widen and she looks at me with worry. “I aint being inappropriate am I?” I’m the wrong man to ask about appropriateness but I shake my head and she continues, “Manners aint ever been my strong side and you seem like such a fine male despite you being a poor drifter.”
Poor drifter?My teeth grind because what a fucking insult and yet the corners of my mouth twitch. I’ve never been called poor before or a drifter and if the other mobsters heard any of this, they’d be laughing their asses off. As akarl,my rank is right under the underboss and I have my own crew of soldiers that I rule over.
If I snapped my fingers, those soldiers could be here in a minute and do everything this “poor drifter” orders them to. I could tell them to die for Addie and they would, without asking questions. That’s how deep the code goes and that’s how strong it is. We’re a network that mostly operates in the shadows but make no mistake.
We are theunderworld.
There’s nobody above us but there’s plenty below.
“This is my house,” Addie says, proudly gesturing toward the building that in her eyes apparently is something to cheer for. “You can stay for as long as you need.”
“You always invite strange men inside, lamb?” I ask and her gaze lowers with dignity. “I could be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
Redness spreads over her throat before she opens her mouth and bursts out into laughter. "You?” She sniggers so violently, she almost folds in half. “Doan you be silly now, Rev. And doan you pull my leg. I aint the sharpest tool in the shed but I know a good heart when I see one.”
She also knows how to toy with a man’s emotions. Or maybe yanking at them fiercely would be a more fitting description.
Once she finally stops laughing, I slowly walk up to the porch to join her and she lets out a short breath and puts her hand on the doorknob. She’s still facing me and when I don’t move, worry forms between her brows as if she needs me not to turn my back on her and fuck, she should know I’m already wrapped around her little finger.
“Tell me something, Addie,” I rasp and stroke her hair over her shoulder because it’s tickling her face and I needed an excuse to touch her. “Back in the barn, why were you asking for protection?” I lean my head to the side, boring my eyes into hers. “What are you so afraid of, lamb?”
Swallowing, she lowers her chin. “I doan feel comfortable telling you. It aint nice and I doan wanna ruin your morning or give you nightmares.”
I don’t have nightmares. She must think I’m made out of cotton when I’m really made out of lead.
“You can trust me,” I urge and she finally agrees after staying silent for a moment.
“Blackmail,” she breathes with a tremble to her mouth and she pounces down on the porch swing and crosses her arms. “They called the Scarecrow Crew and they aint got anything better to do, than harassing me. They say I need to give up this farm or they goan kill me.”
A muscle clenches in my jaw. Not before I kill them, one by one...