CHAPTER 1

Captain


I should have known.

My last name is Brayshaw, and while those on the outside looking in may believe being a member of this family means all things come easy, the reality doesn’t come close.

More than anything in our lives, we fight.

Me, my brothers, Raven. Shit, anyone who is tied to our name, really.

We fight for our people, what we believe in and what we want, what we feel we’re deserved. Outside of the love and loyalty for them, not a damn thing has ever even come close to easy.

That right there is exactly why, when a long-legged, strong-willed, stubborn ass blonde with pouty lips, and bratty little blink slid into our world I should have taken four steps back for every one she drew me forward.

And fuck me, did she draw me forward. 

I resisted.

I fought against her.

I caved.

I took her mouth like I’d wanted to for months, tasting what became my newfound favorite flavor.

But our town is a twisted place and no move is as simple as making it, so I shouldn’t have been surprised when not two minutes after, I learned of a lie.

A lie too big to forgive.

Two and a half years ago I found out I had a daughter who was already born and hidden from me, she was two months old by the time I discovered her.

Today, I learned the blonde I planned to keep for myself knew of my little girl before I did and never said a word.

This blonde, she was a stranger to me then, so did she owe me any loyalty? Not even a little bit and I want nothing I haven’t earned.

That’s the solid truth.

So why the fuck does her betrayal sting like a cut to the chest as if she already holds a place there?

She doesn’t.

She won’t.

Because while she might not have owed me then, she sure as fuck does now.

I slam my notebook shut and toss it to the floor with a huff, my glare flying to the dark, empty hallway. The hallway that now leads to her new bedroom.

At first, she was afraid to move in—only a fool would lay where the wolves sleep, especially when one has been left starved and angry, right?

At least, that’s what common sense would tell you.

So why did the little liar take the stairs two at a time, and how, after being warned to keep one eye open, did she fall asleep with ease?

Running my hands down my face, I let my head fall to the headboard, blindly reaching over for my Brayshaw item—heavy brass knuckles given to me by my father at the age of seven. 

I pull them close to my face, inspecting the anchor symbol etched along the curves, a perfect match to the ones tattooed across my knuckles, and read the words scrolled beside them.

Family runs deeper than blood.

Words all Brayshaws live and breathe by, another way of saying never trust blind or give loyalty to those who haven’t earned it. You don’t have to come from the same line to form a solid and strong one.

If only the treacherous blonde understood such a thing.

I close my eyes, pulling in a deep breath to try and relax, but not two seconds later the quiet click of a knob turning has them flying open. I focus, listening to the silence stretching across this wing of the mansion, and for a moment I think I imagined it—three a.m. will do that to you—but then soft thumps sound.

Footsteps.

I bring my eyelids as low as I can without shutting them completely and not a moment later, she tips her head around the corner, only one of her eyes showing as she hides as much of herself as possible.

She was expecting me to be lying down, sleeping, or absent altogether, so the sight of my body sitting up against the headboard has her freezing in place.

I hold as still as a hunter while she searches for a sign of lucidness.

She finds none, and tiptoes a foot farther, peeking into the open room across from mine.

Peeking in on my daughter as if she has any right to go near her.

Brave or stupid?

She leans forward, her hand resting loosely on Zoey’s doorframe.

I jump up as swiftly and silently as possible, and right before she tries to take a step inside, I cage her in, my body forcing hers flat against the wall.

Her gasp is quiet and quickly swallowed.

She knows who’s behind her, which is why she doesn’t bother looking to confirm.

Her grip on the white molding tightens, even more so when I place my right hand beneath hers, my left planting on the opposite side.

I don’t say anything and neither does she.

Tension builds around us, thickening the air as heat and hatred meet.

She as aware as I am.

Her shoulders rise higher, fall faster, her quick breaths fanning across my hand and causing my jaw to clench.

I shift closer, not missing the curl of her toes against the floor.

Is she scared? Nervous?

Turned on?

My dick twitches without permission.

She should be uneasy at the very least.

We opened the door for her, something we don’t normally do, and she stepped right through, hard lies buried beneath a baggy hoodie. 

She was a master of hiding—herself, her thoughts, her truths.

I bring my lips close to her ear.

She’s maybe five-five to my six-two, so I have to dip my head to get where I want.

I let out a slow exhale, a sick satisfaction flaring in my groin when her fingers twitch.

Every little thing from me stirs a reaction inside her.

I wait a long moment before speaking.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“I woke up and couldn’t go back to sleep,” she whispers. “Thought I’d check on her.”

Anger boils beneath my skin, from her words, from the way they fuck with my head, but I hold it back, moving my hands to her hips and reminding myself they don’t belong there.

She tenses, but doesn’t resist, allowing me to spin her around, still blocking her in with my chest.

It takes her a second, but then her eyes, a brown, almost golden color, the same shade of brown sugar, lift to mine.

I grind my teeth together as I bring a hand up, running my knuckle against the edge of her curved jaw, flexing mine when her pupils dilate before me. For me.

She’d be so easy to please, I can nearly fucking taste it.

Her lips, perfectly pouty, forever rusty red in color, part.

I swallow a growl and allow my fingers to trail lower.

Victoria gives a subconscious tilt of her head, granting me easier access to her neck as she stares, a little unsure and a lot hopeful.

Once I reach her collarbone, I slip a piece of her silky blonde hair between my fingers and force my gaze to soften as much as I can control.

Every inch of her settles.

Just like I wanted.

“I want to fuck you, Beauty,” I whisper, anger causing my pulse to jump, because damn if it’s as true as it is a lie. “So bad.”

Her eyes widen, completely caught off guard.

“I’ve been thinking about it for weeks, can’t stop,” I admit, tugging on the smooth strand a little. “I wanna lay you on my bed, run my hands through your hair, and pull your body close.” I slide my arms behind her back and do just that.

She melts into me as I drop my face in the crook of her neck, and her grip flies to my biceps.

“I wanna kiss your throat, like this.” I run my lips across her skin, and she shivers.

The hold she has on me tightens as I glide my mouth higher, back to her earlobe, and I have to bite into my tongue to keep it from sneaking a taste.

“I wanna strip you bare,” I rasp. “Have you... bare.”

Her hard swallow brings a smirk to my lips.

She tugs on my arms, trying to bring me in more, but I’m already flush against her.

I remove my hands, placing them back on the wall while keeping my body pressed to hers. She’s not wearing a bra, so her pebbled nipples are felt on my naked skin through her sleep shirt, and I clench my thighs as a way not to focus on the feeling.

“Wanna know what I’d do next?”

Her answer is a whispered moan.

“I’d flip you over, fill you from behind.”

She nods, breathless.

“And once I’m inside...” I drop my palms to the curve of her ass and she squirms. “Smashed between this tight ass, and your slick spine is arched and begging, I’d run my hand up your back until I reached your hair, so I could wrap it around my fist and pull. And, Victoria, baby...” I breathe, and she shivers, leaving marks on my biceps as her nails dig in. “I’d stare right at the back of your head... imagining I was fucking an entirely. Different. Blonde.”

She turns hard as fucking stone.

She doesn’t breathe, doesn’t dare move, and neither do I.

I keep her there, trapped, a long moment before I slowly push away, letting my hands fall as I take a backward step, eyes icy and on hers.

“In case you weren’t aware, my daughter’s blonde didn’t only come from me,” I speak with no emotion.

She stares, still stuck with her back to the wall, palms planted flat against it.

“Her mom’s name was Mallory, and her hair was just as long as yours.” I tilt my head, regarding her with a coolness I hope gives her frostbite. “Just as blonde. Maybe a bit shinier,” I callously add.

She’s good though, has the whole ‘hide what’s real’ thing down well, and recovers quickly, a mask sliding over her dark eyes.

“If that’s what you need to do, do it.” She steps forward, shoulders held high as she places herself directly in front of me. “You wanna play pretend, need me to be her for a night or two, I’m game. Use me.”

A dark chuckle escapes me, and her fingers anxiously tap at her upper thigh, but stop when she realizes I’ve noticed.

“Use you, huh?” I take my time bringing my eyes back to hers. “That what you want?”

“I’m used to it.”

“Not from me, you’re not.”

She fights not to let her frown free, the muscles in her cheeks twitching as she prepares to snap at me. “I said I don’t mind.”

I move toward her, and she doesn’t budge when I reach out to tuck her hair behind her ear, my gaze locked on hers. I leave it there for several seconds until, yet again, her guard slips the slightest bit.

This girl has little to no control of herself where I’m concerned.

Won’t take much to erase it completely.

I lean in, stopping once I can speak against her lips.

“Victoria Vega...” I breathe and her chest rises with a deep inhale. “Such a pretty. Little. Liar.”​

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