I burst into laughter. “Fifty shades of cray?”

Boo takes in the sun with her eyes closed; she purses her lips and nods. “And then some.”

Another thing that’s changed in the house is that I get to go outside whenever I like. Whether it’s supervised or unsupervised. And that makes me happy. Although I’m not a big fan of the sun (Irish, remember? I get sunburnt from fireworks), I like knowing I can see it when I want.

Boo and I have been coming outside for our daily vitamin D for weeks now. She said it helps with training because vitamin D helps you absorb calcium, which the body needs for a number of reasons. She also informed me that ten percent of people in the US are vitamin D deficient, and that a huge portion of those are women, which means that a lot of those women are also calcium deficient.

So here I am, getting my ass some vitamin D.

The hot afternoon sun blisters down to a mellow warmth as sunset approaches and I ask, “Have you ever been drunk before, Boo?”

Making a choked sound through her nose, she utters, “Uh, yeah. A few times, actually. More than enough for my adolescence. My ma had a hard time controlling me when I was a teen.” She pauses a moment before she asks, “Why?”

Shrugging, I explain, “I was just curious. I never got to do any of that stuff and now I feel like I never had a complete childhood. I’m twenty three and I have a long list of ‘never have I ever’s. ” Scoffing at myself, I say, “That’s messed up. I’m upset about never having been drunk before. Who does that?”

Boo defends me immediately. “You do. Because you’re Delilah fucking Flynn, bad mamma-jamma and woman with a soul too old for her age. And if Delilah Flynn wants to get drunk, Delilah Flynn is gonna get drunk.”

By God! That was the best damn pep talk I’ve ever had!

That settles it.

Tonight, I’m getting drunk.

As soon as I step into the kitchen, the smell of frying bacon assaults my nostrils. Normally, the smell of such deliciousness would cause me to do a little jig where I stand, but today…it makes me want to barf.

Nox stands at the stove wearing a black pair of cargo pants and a navy skin-tight tee with bare feet, his hair is still wet from this morning’s shower. When he turns to look at me, he bursts into laughter at the poor sight of me.

He laughs so hard that my ears ring.

I don’t want him to tell me I told you so, so I walk over to the counter and sit as normally as possible, making out that nothing ails me. He smirks and speaks in loud tones. “I’d bet you’re hungry, princess.”

I fight the urge to swallow hard and hold my breath from the smell of the bacon and eggs.

I thought bacon was meant to make everything better?

Nox grins, “Mmmm. Bacon. I love bacon. Fried, greasy bacon. The fat melts to nothing. So crisp you can crunch it. Oh, and eggs. Let’s not forget how great eggs are. Packed full of protein. Fried in bacon grease. I just love to scoop out the gooey, slimy yolk.” He shudders at the word slimy. “I know some people don’t like it, but as far as I’m concerned, the slimier the better. Hell, I eat eggs raw.” He acts out cracking an egg on the counter. “Just crack and…” He lifts his imaginary egg above his open mouth. “…just drop that fucker in. Oozing, raw goodness. Feels a bit like eating a whole handful of boogers. I mean,” A cruel smile appears on his face. He leans forward and into my face, “imagine eating a whole handful of phlegm.”

Oh, shit. I’m gonna ralph.

Bolting out of the kitchen on shaking legs, I just make it to the bathroom before I gag and retch. I puke up next to nothing, just green, foul-smelling bile. My stomach is empty but I still gag. A cold sweat has broken out over my entire body and I shake.

Oh shit. This sucks so bad. Why the hell do people drink that shit?

Clearing his throat at the door, I feel something cool on the back of my neck. It’s like immediate relief. My stomach calms. “Oh, thank you. I’m never drinking again. As in ever.” I say hoarsely. I rest my cheek on the toilet seat, unable to give a damn that someone probably took a shit on it this morning. Nothing matters more right now than giving my tired body a little breather.

Nox squeezes the back of my neck and shakes it lightly. He says quietly, “Take some aspirin, and when you think you can eat, I’ll make you a nice bowl of oatmeal. It’ll settle you stomach.”

I hear him make his way back into the kitchen and I’m surprised. He didn’t gloat. He didn’t say I told you so. He was actually nice.

What a dick!

He did that on purpose. Now I can’t be mean to him or I’ll look like a jerk.

After resting my head on my toilet bowl for a few more minutes, I stand on shaky legs and walk back up to our room. Lifting my arm, I take a whiff of myself and almost pass out.

Body odor mixed with deodorant must make chloroform.

Stripping off last night’s clothes, I make my way over to the shower. For some reason, the hot water sluicing over my belly makes me want to vomit again. Quickly, I turn it off and let the icy cold water wash away the embarrassment and stupidity I feel.

It doesn’t work.

Not even a little.

I’m clean but still mortified. I can’t avoid facing him today, so dressing in black sweats and his loose grey tee that has ARMY written on it, I make my way back into the kitchen.

The smell of bacon is no longer there. Nox sits at the table eating a bowl of oatmeal and fruit while reading the newspaper.

Oh God. He didn’t even eat the bacon.

He is an ass. It was all for my benefit.

You deserved it.

Yeah, I did. I’ll let him have that one. I slide into the seat across from him and he lowers the paper. Smiling a devilish grin, he asks a hushed, “Feeling better, princess?”

Not trusting myself to speak without throwing up, I cringe and nod. For a moment, he looks concerned. He frowns. “Not speaking to me or still feeling ill?”

I motion with my finger that it’s the last one and he relaxes. Walking past me over to the microwave, he says, “Nothing a little aspirin and oatmeal won’t fix.”

Surprised at the nice gesture, I watch as he makes my breakfast.

I pick at it for a while. Halfway through it, my appetite returns with a vengeance and I wolf down the rest of it. I take the two aspirin he’s brought me and ask, “Where is everyone?”

Nox grins, “Working. Well, Rock is looking after Boo.”

Immediately concerned, I demand a little too loudly, “What happened to Boo?”

He chuckles, “Shit. You don’t even remember.” Then he explains, “Well, you drank about five or six shots of tequila all on your own.” I cringe at the word tequila and cover my mouth. “Then you said it was no fun drinking alone and begged Boo to drink with you. She decided she would because she has the morning off. So you and Boo had yourselves a private party. Drinking, dancing on tables, and coming onto every single one of my men that was in the house.”

I gasp loudly, “No. No way! You’re lying.”

He raises his eyebrows, pushes his phone towards me and dares me to take it.

I shrink into myself. “You recorded me, didn’t you?” He nods. “I made an ass of myself, didn’t I?” He nods again, his expression strangely soft. “Okay, I believe you. Delete the video…please.”

Taking his phone, he plays around with it for a while. “Sure you don’t wanna see the part where you told me I was cooler than the Hoff?”

I gasp again, disgusted at myself. “What? That’s ridiculous! I’m sorry, Nox, that was just mean.” Nox’s smile spreads wide. “No one’s cooler than David Hasselhoff! I mean, c’mon, it’s the Hoff!” Shaking my head, I widen my eyes to show him just how crazy that thought was.

Nox blinks. Once, twice, then leans his head back and roars with laughter. And even though it hurts my ears and rattles my brain, I smile. That laugh…I think it could be described as fallen angel song. As well as panty wetting.

Rough, raw laughter.


Playing with my spoon in my empty bowl, I don’t dare look at him when I ask, “So I came onto all your guys?”

Nox is suddenly quiet. I look up to find him glaring holes into my skull. He nods. “Yep. Don’t need that distraction with my men, Lily.”

Seriously apologetic, I cringe once more. I think that makes forty-seven just this morning. “I’m sorry, Nox. Seems I get a bit friendly when I’m hammered.”

He snorts, “Friendly? You stuck your tongue into Matthew’s ear like you were licking a sucker!”

My face flushes crimson and I squeak, “You’re shitting me!”

He shakes his head forlornly. “Nope. ’Fraid not, little one. Friendly? No. Frisky. Yeah. A whole lotta frisky.”

Fuck my life!

Crossing my arms onto the table, I lower my head onto them and say a muffled, “What else did I do?”

Nox chuckles. Something about that chuckle I don’t like. I know I’m not going to like what I hear. “Well, you- uh- you sort of kissed me. Twice.” He says quietly.

Oh my fu-. This just gets better and better.

My face flushes brighter than red and I lift my face. Nox wiggles his brows at me looking all too pleased with himself, and I can’t help but laugh at my own stupidity. “Well, that sucks. My first kiss and I can’t even remember it. Figures. Was I bad?”

Nox’s smile falls right off his face. He looks stunned. Leaning forward over the table, he stares at me wide-eyed. “Never been kissed? What do you mean never been kissed?”

Oh man. Me and my big mouth.

Trying to shake it off, I shrug. “No big deal. I didn’t exactly have a lot of opportunities to meet people, namely guys living under the lock and key of my father now, did I? Just one of those things. So I guess I sucked at it, huh?”

Nox frowns, leans back and away from me. He looks up as if in thought. “No. Not bad. A little sloppy. But I couldn’t really judge because I stopped you both times after a few seconds. And I was tempted to take a photo of you molesting me as blackmail material, but I didn’t…because I’m a gentleman.”

At the gentleman part of his mini rant, I burst into laughter and it hurts my entire dehydrated and hungover body. “You are so not a gentleman, Nox! Whatever made you think that? You’re like anti-gentleman. You’re rough and scary and downright mean sometimes. You’re jaggedman not gentleman!” I guffaw.

He scowls at me but doesn’t say a thing. Immediately, I feel like an ass and try to soften the blow that I didn’t expect would strike him. “Look, it’s probably just because of the job you do. I’m sure you can be a gentleman if you tried, Nox. Really.”

Someone stumbles into the kitchen. We both look over at Boo who looks worse than I did this morning. Nox opens his mouth to say something, but she cuts him off with a swipe of her hand. “No.”

Boo glares at me. “God, you suck. Remind me never to drink with you again. You’re like a freakin’ bottomless pit. You just kept guzzling.”

I shrug. “I’m Irish.” I say that as if that should explain my drinking ability.

Boo cringes and hisses, “Ssshhhhhh!”

I chuckle quietly. I hadn’t even spoken loudly. Nox grins at her. “You better get your shit together today, Boo. I won’t let you sleep in tomorrow. You’re lucky I let Rock look after you today. He should be on ground patrol.”

Boo snorts. “Look after me? The ass is asleep, Nox. Didn’t lift a finger when I rushed myself to the bathroom to throw up, just snored and turned over.”

Nox scowls, “That fucker. He’s pulling a double this afternoon.”

Boo grins in victory. I love the relationship she and Rock have. It’s unlike any relationship I’ve seen or read about. It’s almost like they’re in constant competition with each other but never drastically, only playfully. It’s a sweet rivalry. I smile wistfully.

They must have a lot of fun together. Lucky them.

I’ll be lucky if I ever get a boyfriend. Knowing my luck, it’ll never happen. I’ll be the old, plump, spinster that knits covers for everything I own. Throw in a few cats for companionship and that will be my life. I mean, I can’t even remember my first kiss and it only happened last night.

Nox and Boo chat while she pours herself a cup of Joe. Unintentionally, I find myself looking over at Nox’s full lips and my brain wanders.

What would they have felt like? Rough or soft? Maybe he uses chap-stick.

I fight the urge to scoff out loud. Nox does not use freakin’ chap-stick, brain!

Okay, scratch the chap-stick. Did he kiss me back? Would his kisses have been sweet and gentle, or demanding and possessive?

Holy shit, I’m making myself antsy.

Well, he did say he stopped you after a few seconds. Why didn’t he stop you immediately?

Well…because…that…that is actually a good point. Why didn’t he stop me immediately?

Because he wanted you to lay one on him, of course!

No way, brain. You’re crazy. Which means I’m crazy.

Well, I am having a conversation with my brain. I’ve officially lost it. Bravo, Nox. You win. I need to stop reading erotic romance. It obviously fills my head with sexual thoughts…all the freakin’ time.


I shake my head and look up to see Nox and Boo both staring at me and looking concerned. “How long was I out of it?”

Boo grins. “A while. Been callin’ you for a solid minute, hon.”

Nox’s lip twitches and I glare at him as if this is all his fault. I tell him pointedly. “I am never drinking again,” then throw my head down on the table with a bang.

Chapter Thirteen

Your knife. My back.


It’s been weeks since I slept in my own bed, but every day I stop in at my old room to get a change of clothes. And today is no exception. Walking into my room, I stop dead in my tracks when I see a small white box on my bed. It’s pretty damn small, so I’m ninety-nine percent sure it’s not a bomb.

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