BIND ME CLOSE by Cerise DeLand
The moment Willow arrives in Bravado, Wade sweeps her off her feet. He’s gruff, strong and shockingly appealing. Though Willow is in Bravado on business there’s nothing more appealing—or sexually exciting—than getting naked with Wade.
Wade’s had his fair share of women—in his bed and at the local BDSM club. A confident Dom, he doesn't get involved with the women he indulges with—until Willow catches his eye. An enticing blend of cautious inexperience and wild woman, Willow snares Wade so completely he’s only too happy to break his rules and get deeply, irrevocably involved.
Willow blossoms in Bravado and in Wade’s bed. But her desires, though long dormant, run deep and she craves a ménage—the only thing Wade can’t bring himself to give her. But if Wade wants to keep Willow—for now or forever—he’s going to have to find a way to ensure she gets exactly what she needs. One way or another.
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Willow Turner did surprises very well. Birthday parties for her younger sister Skye, bachelorette bashes for her friends, even one graduation gig for her one long-term boyfriend. She liked occasional trips to the moon for herself, orchestrated by some caring soul or other who really knew how to tickle her funny bone. Most of the time, though, she lived a calm, steady existence as a high school history teacher and the biggest shocks to her system occurred when her electricity went out—along with her Internet access—during a raging Oklahoma tornado.
On the sweltering summer day when she pushed open the door to the parking lot of the tiny Texas convenience store, she saw the lot was empty and halted in her tracks. Blinked. Scanned the lot once more for her white Honda rental.
“No fooling,” she murmured to herself. “It’s gone.”
She fingered the ignition key in her hand and bit her lower lip.
How could the car just disappear?
Willow turned back inside the roadhouse and sought out the teenage clerk who had sold her a bottle of water and a bag of pretzels.
“Hellooo? Hello? Oh, wow. Where did you go?”
The kid was no longer behind the cash register and he wasn’t in the aisles, either. Taller than Abe Lincoln, he would have been noticeable even if he didn’t have a nose piercing and a wild head of purple dreds caught back in a pony tail.
“Hello?” She made her way past the trough of iced beer and sodas toward the back. “Are you there? I need help.”
Had he skipped?
Hand on her hip, she spun to look out the plate-glass window onto the parking spaces in front of the store. Yep. She was right. Not hallucinating in the July heat. That car is gone, baby, gone.
Stolen? Had to be.
Whoever did this was fast and quiet. And all done while I was in the john taking a pee and putting on fresh lipstick. So much for trying to look good as I drive into Bravado and meet my long lost extended family.
The effort had gotten me stranded.
She jumped. “Oh! You scared me.”
“Sorry, lady.” The young clerk grinned at her, his braces shiny and sinister as a cartoon robot. “Need something else?”
She pointed toward the empty lot. “Yeah. My car has been stolen.”
“Wha’?” The kid turned, slow as molasses, and took a gander outside. “You sure?”
“Well, I have no other explanation for it. Do you? I mean, cars just don’t disappear.”
“Right. But I didn’t see anyone take it. Did you?” he asked her.
“Hot-wired it, probably.” He nodded, looking confident he had the explanation.
“Hmm.” Could be. She knew a bunch of eleventh-graders where she taught school grew great weed in a deserted factory outside of town. They supported their families on the profits. Why not a gang who stole cars for giggles and dollars? “Got a lot of that going on in Bravado?”
“Oh, no, ma’am. We got good things in Bravado.” He gave her a toothy metallic grin. “No crooks, ma’am.”
Oh, that fried it. Whenever anyone started doubling up on ‘ma’am” she knew it was because she looked imposing. Teaching teenagers had seeped into her bloodstream, giving her an aura older than her thirty-five years. Five-eleven and a solid size sixteen only supported the impression.
Still, she was dumbstruck over this theft.
“Dunno ‘bout this.” The kid scratched his head, looking a bit too bewildered to her eagle eye. She knew teenagers and this one appeared a little too fishy in his innocence. “What’d you see?”
“Nothing. Didn’t even hear the engine rev. That’s why I’m kind of crazy.” What happened when someone stole a rental car? Am I liable for the cost to replace it? Geez.
Ten or twenty thousand dollars would ruin her financially for years. Just when she had written the last tuition check to Skye for her senior year and thought she was in the black, this happened. She was scraping the bottom of her bank account now, having only enough to cover the rental fee to drive here to interview the MacRaes and the Turners. She had to make her remaining two thousand dollars stretch until her salary started again in September when the new school year began. Plus, she had the B&B to pay for here in Bravado. Would she run out of funds and have to leave town before she got all her research done for Francine Turner’s life story?
“Right. So…um.” The kid looked perplexed. Maybe even nervous. “You gonna call Sheriff Saxon?”
“Sure.” Saxon. A cousin of the Turners and the MacRaes? “The sheriff’s name is Saxon?”
“Yeah. Wade Saxon.” The kid’s left eye twitched. “You know him?”
Was he worried that she had an in with the law?
“Well, you gonna call him?”
“Yes. I am.” I have to find this car. Avoid paying to replace it. Her old nemesis was lack of money. High school history teachers didn’t earn diddly. When this biography of an early Texas settler started earning royalties, she hoped she would finally be in the black. Willow Turner, financially secure, was her vision.
“Okay.” The boy scowled. “You got a cell? If not, ya know, I…ah…might, could let you use the phone in the back.”
“Cell.” Focus on what he’s talking about. “Right.”
“9-1-1,” he told her as if she were a numbskull. He gave her a perfunctory smile and pointed toward the back storeroom. “Got boxes to open. ‘Xcuse me, ma’am.”
Was he too eager to get away from her? Narrowing her gaze on his retreating figure, she tried to recall if he had been able to view the parking lot when she had been in the bathroom. Damn. Her mind was a sieve! Just what she needed. Disaster, right when she neared the mid-point of her story of the life of Francine Turner, Anglo farmer, wife to a Comanche chief and later, wife to a Bravado law man. She silently cursed at her rotten luck.
Fishing her cell from her purse, she hit the three keys and got connected in two rings. When she told the dispatcher what had happened, she was about to ask for a time estimate when a patrolman might arrive, but the sound of a siren blaring in her ears halted her. A big white two-door 4×4 emblazoned with “Bravado County Sheriff” in blue letters on the side zoomed into the drive.
“Thank you,” she told the woman, “he’s here.” Then she hung up.
From the cab, a huge man in a dark brown uniform, a white Stetson and sunglasses ran from the driver’s side, gun drawn.
Willow had just pushed open the door when he got to her, put a hand to her chest and pressed her back against the glass.
She stood, frozen, as he surveyed the store, stalking the end of each aisle, his revolver pointed straight out, ready to unload lead into anyone lurking there.
He spun toward her. Strode over. Put his face down to hers and through his dark lenses looked her over good and hard from her hair escaping its bun to her parted lips, past her t-shirt to her flip-flops. His examination seared her like a solar flare, raging and unavoidable. Plus he was large, very large. Taller than she. Filling her universe with nothing but giant Texas lawman. “I asked, are you okay, miss?”
His voice was thick and warm as molten Macadam.
She was a sucker for big men. Kind men. Only a few fit that double bill. A smile curved the corners of her lips. “I am.”
“Good. Jared?” he bellowed and she flinched at his roar. “Where are you, kid?”
The clerk appeared in the doorway to the storeroom, pale eyes darting from the big man to her. “Here, Sheriff!”
So this really was Sheriff Saxon? Not a mirage of a mountain man. Not an X-rated wish. Wow. Grill me for dinner and serve me up.
“Did you see them?”
“Who?” Jared asked, bug-eyed, as he wiped his hands on a cloth and walked down the chips aisle.
Willow couldn’t believe the kid could be so stupid. Or such a bad actor.
“The red sedan. You had to have seen them.”
“No, sir. I—”
Hunky Lawman spun to Willow. “Were you here?”
She shook her head but concluded that the red sedan and her missing car might be linked. “I—”
“Did you see them or not, miss?”
Impatient cuss. “I didn’t see anyone, no, Sheriff. But—”
He re-holstered his gun and frowned, gazing in the direction of the parking lot. “Where is your car, ma’am?”
“That’s what I was about to tell you, if you give me a chance.”
“Well, hurry up, I’ve got plowing to do and you are keeping me.”
She would have given him her quelling look she saved for unruly ninth graders, but she wanted her car back as much as she wanted to end this conversation. Pushy guys—even if they were sheriffs—were not on her hit parade.
“Someone stole my car. Maybe it was your—”
“What?” he asked her, but then he cocked his ear to his two-way radio that was strapped to the epaulet of his left shoulder. “Say that again, Maureen.”
Static sliced the air for a long minute.
“You, ma’am,” the sheriff said as he pointed at Willow. “Tell me what happened here.”
“I said my car was stolen. Maybe by your red sedan.”
He jammed both hands on his hips and tipped his head to one side. “Now you realize that makes absolutely no sense.”
He scowled at her. “What’s your name?”
“Willow Turner,” he repeated her name like he was in a trance. “Well, I’ll be damned.”
“Sheriff?” a voice on his two-way squawked at him. “Chet Harris spies them on Johns Road, headed for Bandera.”
“Okay, Mo. Ask him if he sees another car behind them.” He looked at Willow and wiggled his fingers so that she knew she was supposed to cough up info for him. “Tell me the make and color of your car, honey.”
She narrowed her eyes at him. Okay, so it was good old Texas boy rhetoric to call a gal sweet things, but didn’t this circumstance demand some distance? In her old hometown of Boston, he’d never dare cozy up to her with such cutesy names. She should cool his jets, even if the looks of him had her revved for wine and roses. “Honda. White. Two door. Coup.”
“License number?” he demanded.
“I don’t know that.”
He lowered his head and beamed at her over the tops of his sunglasses and oh, boy. She could have gone for a skinny dip in the aquamarine depths of his eyes.
“Okay, no plate number,” he told his erstwhile dispatcher, Mo. But he focused on Willow. Hard. “We do know what state though, don’t we?”
Willow had the urge to give him the finger. “Oklahoma.”
He repeated that for his girl. “Where are they now?”
The static cut in and out. But somehow Saxon understood it all.
“All right. I’m headed to Bandera out Route forty-six.” He grabbed Willow by the elbow and jutted his chin toward his truck.
“I’ve got Miz Willow Turner with me. That white Honda is hers. You put me on their asses, Mo. Tell Gil to press ‘em hard. He and I will squeeze them up before they hit town. My guess is they thought they’d try to split up to confuse us. Too bad they found a car with keys in the ignition.”
Taking that for an insult, Willow snorted in indignation and dangled her keys before his eyes.
“Forget that, Mo. They wired the damn thing.” He grabbed her wrist to guide her outside toward the cab of his truck. The man was a brute, his hold on her cutting off her circulation.. She dug in her heels but he jerked her forward against the wall of his chest.
A hand to the wall of his pecs, Willow righted herself. Warm steel felt precisely like his chest. Deep in her tummy, desire stirred and stretched like a drowsy cat. In her throat, she purred.
He blinked, frowning at her. “Come on, Miz Turner. You and I are going to go claim your car.”
Retrieving her rental worked just as well for her as getting to ride with him. No, she hadn’t ever been in a police cruiser. New adventures were not what most men invited her to share with them. More often than not, she served as best pal to her friends. She was Old Reliable with a sturdy shoulder to cry on. She smiled to herself at this change, trotting along, her wrist still tight in his grip. “Cool.”
“You bet.” Outside in the brilliant sun, he led her to the passenger door and opened it for her.
A gentleman, he was too. Most Texan men were, if she gauged them all by the two teachers she was friends with back in Lawton, Oklahoma. Of course, they were also blessed by an overload of testosterone that made them ornery.
“Hop in.” Glaring at her, he nodded to the dim interior of his cab. “I may paddle your behind, lady, if you do not get in this truck now. You want your car back or not?”
She mashed her lips together and climbed in. The air-conditioning thrilled her perspiring body. He had left the engine—and the A/C running, bless his law-enforcing soul.
When he came around and slid in, he shoved the shift into gear and took off like a bat out of hell.
She struggled to snap her seat belt. “God, do all you types drive like the devil is after you?”
“Ride with a lot of cops, do you?”
“I watch TV.”
“You need real life experience.”
“Yeah. Like how much is enough?” She fretted as he sped along the narrow road.
He took a look at her bare legs, then pushed his sunglasses up the long straight bridge of his nose. “What year is your car?”
“That explains why you don’t know the license plate number.”
“I am not a total moron.”
He mashed his very handsome lips together and snorted. “Testy, aren’t you?”
“I give what I get.” She folded her arms. He might be a real dish but that did not mean he could be a prick and insult her.
She saw his eyes slide to one side. His gaze lingered on her thighs and she could have sworn in the fire, her skin burned right off.
He cleared his throat and squinted at the road. “You didn’t see them get in the car?”
“Sad to say, no. I went to the ladies room, took a while, bought my water and pretzels and never looked outside. I mean, who steals a Honda in broad daylight on a country road?”
“They robbed a jewelry store in Boerne.”
“Well, they robbed me too.” She pouted. “They’ve got my laptop. My clothes. Good thing I put my flash drive with all my research and draft of the book in my purse.”
“Don’t worry.” He squeezed her hand so hard that she marveled he hadn’t crushed her bones. “We’ll get ‘em.”
As he skidded around a curve at an alarming speed, Willow shut one eye and braced herself, slapping a hand to the dash. Still, the seat was cool, slick leather and she slid against him, thigh to thigh.
Another middle finger exclamation seemed like a really bad idea, especially since he had sympathized with her losses.
As they whizzed along the country road, she mused, “You must go through a lot of tires in a year.”
He snorted and hit the gas pedal. “Every six months, I order a new set.”
“And do you always get your man?”
“Good.” She relaxed into her seat as she saw they were now sailing on a straightaway. But one look at his speedometer told her that he could hit ninety soon and she swallowed her screech of fear. The car would only plane. Geez, something to write about, if she ever tried to pen a cops and robbers shoot ‘em up.
“I hear you’ve come to Bravado to do research on your great grandfather.”
“I have,” she said, her heart in her throat as they passed a slowpoke doing seventy or so.
“The MacRaes and Turners are really eager to meet you.”
“Case Turner and the three MacRae men always wanted to know what happened to Blade. The whole family did in fact.”
“My great grandfather had left Bravado as a young man and from what we know he never returned here. I want to know why.” She smiled at him and when he glanced at her only for a second, she could have sworn he focused only on her lips. Before she could enjoy it for the caress it was, he looked away, then whizzed past two other cars.
He squinted at the road. “For that, you need to learn what happened to his mother.”
He squinted at the road. “For that, you need to learn what happened to his mother.”
“I do.” She saw a truck approaching in the other lane and prayed the sheriff got over to his own side pronto.
“Fancy Turner left the Comanche tribe about a year after the chief Bull Elk captured her.”
“I want to know how she managed that.”
“We have the facts. Loosen up, there, kiddo. Your fingers will fall off if you clutch the seat any tighter.”
“Yeah, well, lemme just say I don’t trust your driving.” She scrunched her whole face up at the car barreling toward them as it attempted to pass another truck. “Blowing that horn doesn’t help.”
“He needs to get out of my way. Relax. I’m good at my job.”
“It’s not your job that takes my breath away.” Truer words had never left her lips.
What’s an East Coast gal to do to if she lives deep in the heart of Texas, travels often everywhere, and adores Paris, Florence, London, Tokyo and all points east and west?
She becomes an author who can write about those romantic places. With a passion for cowboys, spies, rakes, knights in shining armor and their gutsy women, Cerise DeLand is an author who adores an alpha male with a tender heart and a need for a smoldering erotic love affair with the right woman!
Cerise is a Top 20 Best Selling author on Amazon with more than three dozen works published in erotic romance, and she is the award-winning author of mystery, mainstream and romance with St. Martin’s Press, Pocket Books and Kensington. Her books are on numerous book clubs, including Featured Selections of The Mystery Guild, Doubleday and Rhapsody. And when she isn’t dreaming up fiction or traveling? Cerise is a fabulous cook and an avid history buff.
Busy lady. Happy writer.