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Collared(5)
Nicole Williams

I’m suddenly so pissed at Caden that I want to punch that smirk off of his face. Even though he kind of looks like Torrin, except for his eyes being dark brown and his body being more stocky than lean, I can’t help but feel murderous things when I look at him.

“I was going to tell you.” Torrin looks right into my eyes. He doesn’t blink. “I just got kinda . . . distracted.” His cheeks color just a little. He’s lost most of his tan from the summer, so it’s more obvious.

“You two were up in your bedroom for a good two hours, and I can make out the sweet sound of a mattress bouncing from a mile away.” Caden fires off a wink at Torrin. “I bet you were a little distracted, brother.”

Torrin’s hand tightens around mine, his eyes narrowing at Caden.

“You’re a dick, Caden.” I face him and step closer. Caden’s a classic coward, and you don’t back down from a coward when they throw a punch—you throw one right back. “Grow up and own up. Stop letting your little brother do it for you.”

Torrin tries pulling me back to him. When that doesn’t work, he steps up beside me. He knows better than to move in front of me or angle his body in that direction. The last time he tried that, we got into a serious fight. I get that he has this instinct to protect me, but he has to get that I can protect myself. He has to understand that it’s my job, not his, to look after me. He’s getting there. Slowly, but he is.

“Ahh, Jade.” Caden crosses his arms over his big barrel chest. His eyes move down me. “You kiss my brother with that filthy mouth?” He tips his chin at Torrin. “Lucky guy.”

Torrin flinches, but he stays where he is. I can tell it’s almost killing him to let me handle this on my own.

I raise an unimpressed brow at Caden. “Bite me.”

Caden snaps his teeth together a few times. “I’d love to. Right in that nice round ass of yours.” He chomps his teeth together once more. “Are you tapping that yet, Torrin? Or is she still holding out on you?”

Caden drops his hand on Torrin’s shoulder. Torrin shrugs out of it and pulls me back with him. I decide to overlook the manhandling moment.

“That girl’s never going to marry you, little brother, so you might as well take what you can as many times as you can get it.”

An angry shudder rocks Torrin’s body. The muscle running down his jaw looks ready to snap.

“Why don’t you go drink yourself into a coma, Caden?” I pull Torrin back a few steps because I don’t have a lot of faith that this isn’t going to turn into brawl if Caden doesn’t shut his trap before I get Torrin out the front door. “You’d be a lot more useful.”

Something flashes in Caden’s eyes, then he slams his bottle on the counter. I keep pulling Torrin out of the kitchen. From the look on Caden’s face, I know this will drop from ugly to violent in a few more words. Distance is a good thing. Especially when it comes to flailing body parts and compacted fists.

Caden sniffs. “And you’d be a lot more useful if you shut your mouth and opened your legs instead.”

Torrin lunges toward Caden, but I was expecting it. I have just a solid enough hold on him to keep him from getting too far. “Torrin, stop. He’s just trying to get under your skin. Not worth it.”

Torrin stares down Caden, not blinking. “So worth it.”

When Caden crooks his finger at Torrin, I give his arm another yank before he can get very far.

“Come on, brother. Defend your girlfriend’s honor,” Caden says.

“My honor’s just fine, spank you very much, asshole.” I wave my middle finger at Caden while still managing to hold on to Torrin with both hands.

“Not with the dirty things I’m doing to you in my head.” Caden lifts his eyes to the ceiling as he taps his temple. His twisted smile tells the rest of the story.

Torrin makes another lunge, this one strong enough he drags me halfway across the linoleum before I manage to get his attention. “Stop it! Now! This is what he wants. Don’t give it to him.”

Torrin stops, but the muscles banding down his forearm I’m gripping quiver. He takes a few deep breaths, staring down Caden the whole time. I’ve seen these two get into it enough to know it’s a pretty even match, but after the last one had left Torrin with a black eye and so many bruises dotting his chest I was sure he’d broken a few ribs, I swore I’d do anything to keep him from getting into another one. Caden and Torrin aren’t boys duking it out for fun anymore—they’re men out to draw blood.

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