Bought for Christmas(3)

By: Doris O Connor

“You heard your brother. Coffee.”

“Please don’t trouble yourself on my account, Emilia.” Hunter gave her a grim smile, and the almost growl in his voice had every feminine cell in her body sigh in submission. She could listen to him talk all day.

“And you, pup, don’t talk to her like that in front of me. Not if you’re fond of your own teeth, that is.” Hunter took a step toward Leo, and Emilia knew her mouth had fallen open in astonishment at hearing Hunter come to her rescue.

“I talk about her any which way I fucking want, beast. She ain’t yours yet. Fail to see why you’d want her anyway.”

“Leo, enough. Let me handle this.” Papa’s stern words brought Leo’s head up, and he stuck his bottom lip out in a sulk so reminiscent of the brother she used to adore as a child that emotion clogged up Emilia’s throat. She swallowed past the lump and focused on what her brother had actually said.

“What do you mean, I’m not his yet?” The earlier snatched bits of conversation she’d heard came back to haunt her, and she looked among the three men in dawning terror.

“What did you do, Leo?” she asked.

Her brother stuck his hands in his pockets, and that sulk grew. Right now he looked like a petulant child who hadn’t gotten the toy he wanted for Christmas.

“He cheated, I’m sure.”

Again that menacing growl rumbled from Hunter, and Emilia clenched her thighs together, as he stepped close enough to her that his scent drew her in again. Waves of heat seemed to come off him, and chased away the goosebumps that had broken out on her own flesh at the underlying tension in the room.

“Watch who you’re calling a cheat, pup. I’m not the one who cannot hold his drink and threw his own sister to the wolves.”

Leo gave a humorless laugh and shrugged his shoulders.

“Says the guy who can’t get a woman to fuck unless he buys her. Have you looked in the mirror lately, beast? You … umph.”

Hunter moved so fast that Leo couldn’t even raise his fists. One well aimed punch to his solar plexus had her brother doubled over and gasping for breath, and then Hunter pinned him against the wall. Hand around Leo’s throat, he had the younger man dangling several feet off the floor, and Emilia dropped the coat she was still clutching and pulled at Hunter’s arm to get him off her brother.

“Let go, please. You’re going to kill him.”

Hunter paid her no heed. Over the rushing of blood in her ears, and the outraged shouts of her father, Leo turned blue. His legs made futile attempts at kicking Hunter, and with both hands on a death grip on Hunter’s wrist, Emilia still couldn’t shake the much taller man off. In a last act of desperation, Emilia ducked under Hunter’s arm, earning herself a painful kick in the ribs from her brother in the process, and reaching up framed Hunter’s face in her hands.

Her breath stalled at the different textures under her fingertips. One side had smooth even skin, covered by his stubble; the other was a mass of corded, scarred, raised flesh, which felt rough and tight under her hand.

A shudder went through Hunter at her touch, and he turned his head to look at her. Emilia gasped at the inhuman eyes staring back at her until he blinked, and they were once again the deep chestnut brown she was used to.

“Please, let him go. He’s my brother, please.”

Hunter shook his head and then let go of Leo. Her brother fell to the floor, and Emilia let go of Hunter and scrambled to Leo’s side to help him up. Dazed as he was, he still pushed her help away and let their father pull him up instead. The rejection stung, and Emilia was dimly aware of Hunter’s deep sigh behind her. He bent to pick up his abandoned coat, brushed the dust off it, and stepping closer to her, nudged her chin up with his knuckles.

“They don’t deserve your concern, kitten.” The ghost of a smile kicked up his mouth, and then he stepped away from her and looked the men in her family up and down.

“I’ll be outside. Let me know what your decision will be, and I’ll have my lawyers draw up the contract one way or the other, though I fear I know what it will be. Know this, however. I need to hear it from her, or the deal is off.”

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