The first time I met Leland and his family they arrested me. I didn't know it then but that day was going to change my life. I had been charged with assault because I kicked my now ex boyfriend's ass after I caught him selling ICE to a 13 year old girl. He obviously thought pressing charges would be funny so I'd ended up on bond with Da Kine bail bonds. Duane Lee had dealt with my case and helped me with all of the paperwork. He'd even congratulated me for what I'd done.
The problem was that while I was supposed to be in court for sentencing I was actually in labor. Didn't I mention that I had been 8 months pregnant when I was arrested? Anyway, the Judge didn't seem to grasp that there was nothing I could have done and decided to issue an arrest warrant for me. My daughter was only 6 days old. When Duane Lee rang to speak to me and I gave him my address, got my stuff together and then sat on the porch to wait. I had Hope dressed and ready to go. She was asleep in her car seat. Her bag was ready too. I wasn't sure what was going to happen to her now but I wanted to make sure she had everything she needed.
When they pulled up outside I smiled at them because I knew none of this was their fault, they were just doing their job. I didn't want any of them to feel bad about it. Duane Lee, Beth, Dog and Leland got out of 2 separate SUV's and headed my way. Luckily for me they didn't have any cameras with them. I knew that that was courtesy of Duane Lee and I could have kissed him. I couldn't quite bring myself to get up to greet them though. I was still in a lot of pain after having Hope and even the slightest movement hurt. "Hey Duane Lee. How's it?" I raised my hand to shade my eyes from the blinding sun as I spoke. He took the hint and stood so he blocked the sun.
"Hey Madison. Thanks for being so cool about all of this." He touched my shoulder and I tried not to cry. I wasn't used to people being so nice to me. Even though they were here to arrest me they were being so sweet. "So who's coming to get the baby?"
"Nobody. I don't have any family Duane Lee and I wouldn't trust her father as far as I could throw him for obvious reasons. I don't know what to do now though. I won't give her to him. I can't." I felt a tear slide down my cheek and I hated myself in that moment. I hated crying because crying was weak. I wiped it away hastily hoping that nobody had noticed.
Leland stood watching her try so hard to be brave from behind his sunglasses. She was trying her hardest to be strong but this was killing her. That much was written all over her face. She was about to hand over her baby to people she hadn't even met. He couldn't imagine what she was going through but he could tell that she was angry at herself for crying for some reason. Even faced with all of this she didn't want them to know she was hurting. She must have been through hell to be so tough.
"You can't take her in with you Honey; they won't let you." Beth spoke softly. She felt so sorry for this young girl. She was all alone in the world and she was still only 26. She was just a baby herself. She wasn't a criminal and she didn't deserve this but it was the law. Their hands were tied.
"Hey there sweetness. Aren't you just precious?" Leland leaned over and scooped Hope into his arms without even thinking. He smiled at the tiny baby and lay her on his chest as sat down next to Madison on the steps. This baby smelt so good; she made him miss his own children more than ever but he felt closer to them too. "I'll look after her." He whispered instinctively. He knew his family were going to think he was crazy but it felt natural. He couldn't explain why but he needed to protect this woman and her baby. She was hurting and he wanted to make that pain go away. He knew he couldn't take it all but as long as Hope was safe then she could cope. He knew that much about her already.
"Leland, are you crazy? You can't take in a strangers baby son!" Dog was horrified by the idea. Leland was usually so calm and level headed. This wasn't like him at all. He knew that Leland had a big heart but you had to draw the line somewhere. They knew nothing about this girl or her child. Leland hadn't even spoke to the woman before. He was letting his personal situation cloud his judgment.
"I'm not crazy dad. It'll only be for a day or two and it's not like I haven't had practice. She doesn't have much of a choice. If she hands her over to child services she mightn't get her back and she doesn't deserve that. Neither of them do. She only did what any one of us would have." He turned to look at me then and slid his sun glasses up onto his head so I was looking into his gorgeous face. "Madi, do you trust me to look after her for you?" He looked right into my eyes then and I knew I was in trouble. His eyes were glowing amber in the sunlight and he was smiling shyly at me. He held my daughter like she was his whole world and I knew in that instant that I would trust him with my life and more importantly hers.
"Yes." I knew in my head that this was a stupid idea. I was trusting the most precious thing in my world to a man who I had only met 5 minutes ago but my heart didn't care. I trusted him completely.
His whole family were staring at us completely dumbfounded. They didn't understand what was happening here but it was definitely big. Leland usually kept away from all of their clients drama and yet here he was voluntarily throwing himself into the middle of it all. He was holding the baby like she was his own and he was looking at Madison like she was precious to him too. They were scared for him. He was going to get hurt again.
Duane Lee found his tongue first. "Leland, you're nuts! You can't even pick up dog mess. How are you planning on changing her diapers? And what about work? We can't take a baby bounty hunting. It's just not possible. You need to think this through properly. I want to help Madison too but this isn't practical and you know it." He hated playing the part of bad cop but his brother needed to see sense. He needed to see what a bad idea this truly was. They had a rule not to get involved with their clients for a reason.
"Duane Lee I know what I'm doing. I've got 2 of my own so I can handle a few dirty diapers. As for work, I'm sure Baby Lyssa and Cecily won't mind babysitting for a few hours if we get an emergency jump but she can hang in the office with me otherwise. Madi has nobody else and I know what it's like being away from your babies. At least this way she can go in knowing that her daughter is with someone who will love her and look after her properly. Now I'm not arguing anymore. Let's go." He stood up but kept Hope nestled again his chest. He saw Madison struggling to stand and offered her his hand. As soon as her hand touched his it felt like a bolt of lightning had just hit him. He handed the baby over to Madison and picked up the car seat and bag.
"Listen Madison, we'll stay on your bond but you've got to check in with us every single day. I know it's hard with a baby and all that but we have to be in contact with you all the time. Why did you miss court?" Dog asked me as he watched his son fitting their car with a baby seat. In nearly 30 years of bounty hunting that was definitely a first. He had had a wide variety of people in the back of his work car but never a new born baby.
"I was in hospital having Hope. Judge Halleder said I was making it up. I think he thought I was trying to scam him and he hit the roof and sent you guys for me. I've never tried to run Sir and I have been speaking to Duane Lee every day." I looked him right in the eyes as I spoke and I knew Dog liked me straight away. He thought I was honest, polite and very open.
The car seat was in and Leland took the sleeping baby from her and made sure she was strapped into her car seat properly. He then helped Madison into the car before climbing in on the other side. Hope lay sleeping between them and she looked so peaceful. Duane Lee climbed into the drivers seat and left Beth and Dog to take the other car. "Mads, you know I respect you right?" Duane Lee questioned as he watched her in the rear view mirror.
"I know that Dude." I didn't look at him. I was staring at my daughter and sneaking quick glances at Leland. I had felt the electricity between us and it had scared me. I was trusting him with my daughter and he looked so scary! He had long dark hair and a goatee. Both of his arms were covered in tattoos and he was well muscled from what I could see. I had never known a man like him. He looked like a scary biker but when he spoke he came across as a southern gentleman.
"I don't think Leland taking Hope is a good idea. What happens when he's grown attached to her and you get out and take her away? I know he's trying to help but he's going through some stuff right now and I don't think he can afford to be hurt again." He could see Leland's face in his mirror and he looked horrified. "Dude don't look at me like that. She deserves to know."
"What's going on with you?" I met his eyes and for some reason I simply couldn't look away. He captivated me. It felt like he was staring into my soul. I knew instantly that he would be honest with me. It was weird because I don't open up to people but I was an open book to these people. I had nothing to hide and I knew they would treat me with the same respect.
"I'm divorcing my wife. She's took our 2 boys and moved clean across the islands so that I can't see them as often as I want to." Leland didn't know why he was telling her any of this but he felt drawn to her. "I'm not some psycho who's going to take off with Hope. I will look after her for a few days and hopefully you'll let me see her every once in a while after that. I don't expect anything else." He turned his eyes back to the baby and knew he was in way over his head. It wasn't just the baby he wanted to protect. He wanted to protect Madison too. He didn't want anything to hurt either of them and putting her in prison felt wrong.
They pulled up outside the jail too soon for his liking. Madison had spent the remains of the drive telling him how much to feed Hope and when. She told him how she liked to be rocked and burped and about what songs sent her to sleep. It was heartbreaking to watch her say goodbye to that little girl. You could see just by looking at her that Hope was all she had in the world and that she loved her completely.
Leland left Beth holding Hope while he took Madison inside. They sat on the wooden benches and waited for the police officer to come down and book her in. "You'll be OK?" Leland asked.
"I will be now! Thank you for doing this. It means a lot." I didn't look at him as I spoke. I felt so ashamed. He was here putting me in prison and I was trusting this stranger with my little girl.
"You don't need to thank me. You're the one being treated badly Madi. You don't deserve to be in here and I'll get you out as soon as I can! You aren't alone in this Darlin'" He put his arm around her then and she broke down. She was crying so hard that her shoulder shook. He knew then that she had had a really tough life; she wasn't used to people being nice. He pulled her into her arms and just held her. She certainly wasn't their typical client and he was struggling to remember that underneath all of this she was still just a client. After a while an officer came out and took her away from him. He didn't want to let her go.
"Kiss her goodnight for me Leland." I called as the door shut behind me. I felt better than I had for a long time and now that I was alone I could admit that that was because of Leland. He gave me strength. I was missing Hope like crazy already but I knew he would look after her. I wasn't alone anymore.
"Please take good care of her Neil." He asked his friend on the front desk as he waited for his paperwork to be completed. It was tearing him apart to leave her in here and it shouldn't. It was a rare occasion that he felt bad putting someone back in prison but it had never effected him this badly before.
"You got an interest in this one Leland?" Neil queried. He had never seen Leland so much as touch a prisoner once they were seated. To see him sit next to one and hold them was actually quite shocking. Leland simply didn't like being touched.
"Something like that." He called as he headed back outside. He wasn't sure himself what his thoughts were on Madison other than she deserved to catch a break. She'd been treated badly for so long that you could see in her face that she thought she deserved to be treated like that.
When the door shut his family all turned to look at him. "Don't start." He muttered as he took Hope from Beth. "Hey little girl. Are you going to hang out with me for a little while?" He cradled her to him and paced up and down for a bit until he knew she was asleep.
"Leland, you can't just take on some kid and then expect us not to have an opinion! She's a client; you do remember our rule about the clients, don't you? We all agreed that we shouldn't get personally involved with any of them because it would only end in disaster." Beth was trying desperately to stay calm. She wasn't used to dealing with this impulsive side of Leland. He was the one who made the plans, thought through every option and outcome and made sure they all stayed on track. He reined in everyone else's impulses not the other way around.
"Look it's done. Hope is coming home with me until Madi gets out again so can we all just stop arguing about it please." He looked around at his family and prayed they would support him in this. He needed to do this; he just couldn't explain why.
Eventually they were all loaded into the cars heading back towards the office. They still didn't understand but at least they would stop attacking him. Leland was sat next to the baby in the back of the car. Duane Lee was driving and it was quite peaceful. The brothers understood each other better than anyone. Duane Lee knew that Leland didn't have a choice because they had all been raised to follow their instincts.
"This whole fucking thing is crazy man! Shit dude, you've got a baby!" Duane Lee was actually quite excited. Despite their image all of the Chapman men were a sucker for babies. They couldn't get enough of them. Babies brought them a sort of peace that none of them could ever explain.
"I haven't got a baby man. I'm just babysitting. Madi will be out in a day or two and then things can go back to normal." Leland still didn't take his eyes off the baby. He was in way too deep and it had only been about an hour. It was going to crush him to say goodbye.
"So what's the deal with you and her? I warned you she was pretty dude but it's more than that so don't try and bullshit me." Duane Lee was genuinely curious. He had noticed the spark between his brother and this girl. Madison was a great girl but he had to protect his brother and the girl had a hell of a lot of baggage. Leland didn't need all of that right now. He had enough of his own to sort through.
"I don't know man. I just know that I want to look after her and keep her safe. For the record though, she's definitely a lot more than pretty." Leland said as he pictured Madison again. She was about 5 foot 5 with long brown hair that fell in waves down her back. Her eyes were a deep emerald green that had flashes of gold in them when she was in the sun. She had a cute button nose, unbelievably full dusky pink lips and a dimple in her left cheek when she smiles. Despite having a baby less than a week ago she had an amazing figure and a wicked dress sense. She was wearing a pair of blue jeans that had faded so much they were also white in places. They clung to her ass and hips and made her legs look longer than they were. Her belt was black leather with a set of handcuffs as the buckle. She had a white tank top on that was cut just low enough to hint at an amazing cleavage and rose high enough to show that she had a tattoo on her stomach. She wore heavy boots and a black leather biker jacket. She was casual, sexy and intimidating all rolled into one. "She's... well, she's amazing."
2 days later Leland was parked outside the prison waiting for Madison. He had been here a few times to drop some things off for her over the last couple of days. Hope was asleep in his arms. She had been a complete angel the entire time. He was nervous about seeing Madison again and he couldn't explain why. All he knew was that he loved this little girl like she was his own but he had no idea what to expect from her mother.
When the door opened Madison bolted down the steps and almost ran head first into his car door until he put his arm out and caught her. She took the baby from him but stayed nestled against him. He couldn't get past how right it felt. "Are you OK?" He asked. She was wearing a pair of board shorts and a black vest. He recognized them as the ones he had stolen from Baby Lyssa for her. Her feet were bare and her hair was up in a messy bun. She looked as good to him now as she did the first time he had saw her. She had a bag over her shoulder and he slid off and into his hand so that he could put it in the car with Hope's things.
"I am now. I can't thank you enough Leland. I've missed her so much! The only thing that made it better was knowing she was being well looked after." I sobbed. I clung to my little girl and let Leland hold me too. He smelt almost as good as Hope. It had been a long time since I had felt safe being this close to a man but with Leland it was almost natural.
"Anytime Princess. Now let's get you back to the office to fill in the paperwork. After that we'll swing by my place and grab her stuff and then I will run you home." He tried to make his voice sound normal but he was actually excited about spending a few hours with this girl. He helped her strap Hope into her seat and was surprised when Madison climbed out of the back and into the passenger seat next to him.
"So what do you do for a living then?" He asked. He was just trying to make polite conversation. He glanced across at her and couldn't stop himself smiling. She was twisting a ring around her finger and she looked unbelievably cute and very nervous.
"You don't want to know." I muttered. I'm definitely not ashamed of my job because it let me take care of Hope but I knew that he and his family probably wouldn't approve. I was actually surprised that Duane Lee hadn't told him already to be honest.
"I wouldn't have asked if I didn't." He said. This girl was one big mystery and he was determined to figure her out. He was slightly worried that she was trying to hide her job from him. He'd hate to think of her doing anything illegal.
"I'm a burlesque performer." I glared at him. I wanted him to be shocked because I was used to that reaction. I could deal with that but he was smiling and that unnerved me. Usually when I guy smiles like that he assumes I mean stripper. "I'm not a stripper Leland." I was angry with him before he had given me reason to be. I knew I was judging him because of other peoples reactions but I couldn't help it.
"I never said you were Madi. I'm not going to judge you for dancing darlin'. I think it takes a lot of talent and balls to do a job like that." He couldn't keep his amusement out of his voice. She was very defensive about this and he didn't understand why. She was a performer and he thought that that was actually quite sexy. She was a professional tease. "So do you just dance or what?" They pulled up into the office car park and he turned off the engine. He turned in his seat to look at her but she wouldn't meet his eyes.
"I sing too. Why are you so nice Leland?" I was still playing with my ring but I could feel his eyes burning into me. I have never been that aware of anybody the way I was of him. I wanted to look into his eyes but I didn't trust myself. I couldn't afford to fall in love with this man and I knew that I was already risking that happening just by being here with him.
"Why wouldn't I be nice to you? You're a nice person Madi and I don't care what you do for a living. I actually think it's quite sexy." He was grinning from ear to ear because she instantly started blushing. For someone who lived in the world she does she is still unbelievably innocent.
I climbed out the car then and started unhooking Hope's car seat. I didn't know what to say to him. Once I had Hope's seat unbuckled I headed straight into the office without even looking at him. Duane Lee grabbed the door for me and gave me a one armed hug as I passed him. "Go grab a seat on the couches baby girl. I'll help Leland get your stuff and then come and see you in a minute."
Leland was still grinning when Duane Lee found him unloading the car. He had Hope's bag over one shoulder, her spare clothes in a bag over another, Madison's bag over his arm and was struggling to get her moses basket out of the back. For such a little thing she needed a lot of stuff. "What are you so happy about Bro?" Duane Lee hadn't seen Leland smile like that for a long time. It actually reached his eyes and it was good to see.
"Nothing that you should worry about Dude." Leland shook his head as he gave Duane Lee the bags. He was trying to fight his attraction to this woman but he was failing. He had already basically admitted it to her now he just had to wait and see what happened next. He knew that if he pushed too hard she would bolt. "Did you know that she is a burlesque dancer?"
"Yeah but I didn't think it was important. You're acting all crazy bro." Duane Lee said. He was worried that Leland was getting too attached to this girl. They stood outside chatting for a few minutes about her case and Leland got all of the information that his brother knew about Madison.
When they went in his heart melted at what he saw. Madison was curled up on his chair asleep with Hope cradled against her. She looked so peaceful and relaxed. Leland walked quietly across the room and took Hope from her. He put her in her moses basket next to the chair and grabbed his jacket from the back of the chair to put over Madison. She snuggled in and breathed in deep. A small smile played across her lips but she stayed asleep.
"I'm glad you guys are back. We've got a tip on a jump and we've got to boogie." Beth called as she came out of her office. Leland rushed to get her to be quiet before she woke up his girls. He caught that thought, my girls? Where did that come from? He put his finger to his lips and pointed the pair out to Beth. He didn't have time to process that thought properly just now.
"Well shit brah. We need you guys out there like now. Your dad has already left with Justin. You'll have to wake her up and tell her to wait here for you." Beth took Duane Lee outside to fill him in on the situation while Leland was dealing with Madison.
He crouched down next to her and gently brushed her hair from her face. "Madi, Honey, wake up." He whispered. She opened her eyes and smiled shyly. "We have to run out quick but you can stay here with Hope and I'll be back as soon as I can." He couldn't stop himself from reaching out again to brush her hair back. She flinched when his hand went towards her but didn't move away. "I'd never hurt you darlin'." He kissed her lightly on the forehead and ran out the back door before she could reply. It shocked him that such a small gesture could cause her so much fear. He wanted to take all of that hurt away but he'd have to wait until she realized that there were good men in the world.
They were out for about 3 hours and when they pulled back into the car park they all heard the most beautiful singing coming from their office. The whole team stood listening for a minute but Leland went and leaned against the door frame with Duane Lee to watch her. She was practicing one of her routines. She was singing 'Fever' a Capella. She hadn't noticed them watching her and Leland thought she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. She was so graceful, confident and undeniably sexy.
Dog slammed his car door so that she would know they were coming. She spun round and jumped when she saw the 2 guys watching her. "How long have you two clowns been stood there for?" She demanded. She was embarrassed that they had caught her dancing. She could dance in front of complete strangers but was embarrassed by them watching her. She was so confusing!
"Long enough to know that you are amazing Madison. You have the voice of an angel! Although I think a body like that must come from the devil himself." Duane Lee spoke before Leland could. The whole family came in then and she went to sit back on the chair she was in when they left. She completely ignored Duane Lee's comments. Leland loved the fact that she had put his jacket on at some point. It made him feel like she was marked to the outside world as his. He felt very possessive about this girl and he couldn't help it. He knew he had no right to but he couldn't change it.
It was around 10pm by the time they'd finished all of her paperwork and had something to eat. While they were out she had answered a few calls from clients and took messages. She had even filled out their call compliance sheets both on paper and on the computer. She had sat with Leland at his desk and walked him through everything she had done. He was shocked to see that she had done everything perfectly. Nobody on the team understood those sheets completely except him.
"Listen, it's way too late to drive clean across the island so why don't you and Hope stay with me and Duane Lee tonight and then we'll take you home tomorrow?" Leland was praying she would agree. He didn't want to say goodbye yet.
"I couldn't ask you to do that Leland. I've taken advantage of you enough as it is." She was feeding Hope and it looked so natural for her to be sat in their office with her daughter. She belonged here he thought. "Besides Hope and I only have a few days to find a new house and a new job."
"I thought you had a job and a place?" He had a flash back to watching her dance earlier that day and just the memory of it filled him with desire. It wasn't just a physical attraction he felt for her though and he had to admit that to himself. He'd been fighting it for days but he couldn't deny it anymore.
"I did but I rang them before and I've been replaced. They said I'm not reliable anymore and since the house was rented through work then we have to leave that too." She sounded very upset about it. She obviously enjoyed her work which was surprising. She was such a shy, self conscious woman that it was hard to imagine her doing a job like that.
"Well listen, Baby Lyssa's off sick at the minute so we're short staffed around here. You handled our systems well enough today so why don't you help us out here for a few weeks until you get back on your feet." Duane Lee offered. He could see how attached Leland was to this little family and he figured he'd give them a chance to see where this could go.
"Yeah and my boys aren't coming to visit again for like 3 weeks so you can stop with us in their room until you find somewhere." Leland tried to keep the excitement out of his voice. He knew that this was moving faster than he had anticipated but he didn't care. He would be this girls friend until she was ready to let him be more.
"I couldn't do that guys. You have been amazing but you really don't have to do all this. I will figure something out." I was trying to convince myself more than them. My heart was racing at the thought of spending time with Leland and I knew he would be a great help with Hope but I didn't want to start relying on them.
"You're right. We don't have to but we want to so just stop arguing and let us be nice." Duane Lee ordered. He liked this girl too. She felt like one of the family already. It was hard to explain why it felt so natural but he wouldn't argue with his instincts.
"OK. You win but I insist on paying something for rent and food. That's the deal, take it or leave it." I smiled at them. These two men were my guardian angels. I would be lost without them now and that scared me. I used to pride myself on not needing anybody.
Later that night I was curled up on their sofa watching Leland play with Hope on the floor. He was pulling faces at her and making her laugh. Duane Lee sat on the arm chair playing on the Xbox. It felt like we were a family. I didn't want to let these people in but I couldn't seem to help it. I cared about them all and I hardly knew them but it was my feelings for Leland that terrified me. I was falling in love with him and I couldn't stop myself. I fought it as hard as I could but it didn't seem to make any difference. I was in over my head and the only thing I could do now was keep it to myself and pray he never finds out because I didn't want him to walk away from me. I'd rather have him as a friend than not at all.
"Can I go grab a shower please?" I asked. I couldn't quite think of this as home yet even though I knew it was driving the men crazy every time I asked to use something. They wanted me to just relax but that was easier said than done. I was trying not to relax completely because I didn't want to let them see the feelings I was developing.
"Sure. Let me show you were everything is. Duane Lee watch the baby a second." Leland jumped up and I watched his muscles work effortlessly. He was wearing a pair of shorts and that was it. He'd had a shower early while I had cooked us all a late supper so his hair was still wet and tied back loosely. He had tattoos on his back and shoulders as well as his arms and my fingers itched to touch them all. He was so confident in himself that it shone through. He wasn't trying to show his body off but he didn't feel a need to hide it either.
He led me down the small corridor which had all of the bedrooms and the bathroom coming off it and opened the bathroom door and another small cupboard door. "All of the towels are in there." He said as he pointed into the cupboard. "Hang on a minute." He squeezed past me and put his hand on my hip as his body pushed up against mine. I could feel the heat instantly and it felt amazing. He paused and looked at me. I could tell he was aware of the tension between us too. He leaned down and kissed me tenderly. Before I could react he pulled away and slid past me into his room. He came back not even a minute later with one of his t-shirts, a pair of his shorts and his bath robe. "We haven't had chance to pick up your stuff yet so I figured you could use these." He handed the things to me and went to walk past. He was hoping that he hadn't just destroyed their fragile relationship.
I put my hand on his arm and he stopped instantly. "Thank you." I whispered. My hand was tingling from touching his skin but it felt right. I had never felt this strongly for anyone before; not even Hope's dad.
"For what?" He wouldn't look at me. I knew he had wanted to kiss me so I knew that wasn't the reason. He looked almost scared though and I couldn't figure out why. I was the one who was supposed to be afraid and cautious, not him.
"For not pushing me. For showing me that you care. For kissing me like I actually mean something to you. For everything Leland. It means more than you could ever know." I let go of his arm but smiled at him. I knew that if I didn't move soon I would cry and I didn't want him to see that.
"I like you Madison. I'm not going to make you do or say anything you don't feel ready for but I want you to know that I am here for you." He walked back down the corridor then and I let my silent tears fall. I had spent my life being beaten and abused. Men constantly told me I was worthless or that I was only good for one thing so I didn't know how to handle this. He was being nice to me even though he knew I owed him, All of the other men in life would have taken advantage of that. He truly was a gentleman.
After I got out the shower and put on Leland's clothes I hand washed my underwear ready for tomorrow. I went back into the living room and found Duane Lee pasted out on the floor. He was lying star fished across the whole floor and he was snoring softly. Leland was sat on the couch watching a film. Hope was asleep in her basket at his feet. "Feel better?" He asked as I walked in the room.
"Much. Thanks for the clothes." I went to walk past him to the chair but he caught my hand and pulled me down onto the couch. I was sat on the opposite end but he didn't let go of my hand. I could feel the tension filling the room but I didn't know what to do about it. I wasn't ready for anything else just yet.
"They look better on you anyway." He smiled at me. "Madi, you don't have to be nervous around me. I've told you that I won't do anything you don't want. I just want to get to know you and to hold you, if thats OK with you." I finally met his eyes and I was blown away again by how beautiful he was. His eyes were a chocolate brown when he was out of the bright lights and they truly were windows to his soul. In that instant I knew that my heart wasn't my own anymore and I simply didn't care.
I shuffled across the couch and snuggled into his side. He wrapped his arms around me and we just sat there and talked. He made it easy to open up and tell him about my abusive parents, my abusive boyfriends and basically how I had swore to never let anyone get close enough to hurt me again. He didn't judge me or talk over me; he simply listened.
I must have fell asleep eventually because I woke up to the bright morning sun streaming through the windows of the apartment and Duane Lee humming in the kitchen. I was still cuddling Leland but Hope was nowhere to be seen. I should have been scared or panicked but I wasn't. These two men loved her almost as much as I did so as long as they were breathing I knew she was safe here.
I stood up and headed straight for the kitchen. Duane Lee was leaning against the kitchen counter with Hope in his arms giving her a bottle. He was humming away and didn't even notice me come into the room. "Morning." I called and he looked up at me and smiled. He was absolutely gorgeous too but his smile didn't effect me like his brothers did. He was wearing a pair of jeans and a basketball jersey. He was well muscled, tall and handsome with amazing bright blue eyes but my body simply didn't care. I thought that was strange because he was closer to the type of man I usually go for.
"Did you have a good sleep? I must say you looked rather comfortable when I woke up this morning." Duane Lee teased. He thought her and Leland made a cute couple but he still wasn't sure if it was a good idea for them to be getting so close this quick. He laughed when he realized she was blushing. "So come on, spill. What happened? I want details." He was trying to make her blush some more.
"Dude, leave her alone." Leland called from the living room. He headed into the kitchen and stood in the door way to stretch. Madison drank in the sight of him; he was amazing but she started to blush even harder when she figured out that both men were watching her check him out. Leland laughed and kissed her gently on the cheek as he walked past her to the fridge.
"Hey it's not my fault that you two got all cozy on the couch while I slept on the floor." Duane Lee joked as he moved to sit at the table so that Leland could figure out what they were going to eat. "I'm just calling it like I see it man."
"We didn't get cozy Bro. We sat up talking until like 4 this morning and then she fell asleep." Leland explained as he gathered up the ingredients for omelette's. He wasn't a great cook but nobody ever wanted to eat anything Duane Lee had made. "She's a lady Duane Lee so leave her alone. You're being an ass."
"Let me do that." I said as she knocked him out of the way with my hip. "Thats the first time I've ever been called a lady." I was trying to sound casual about it but it made me feel special. I expertly made myself at home in the kitchen and started whisking eggs and chopping mushrooms like I'd been in there for years. "Make yourself useful and get the coffee going." I ordered. Leland laughed as he moved effortlessly around me to do as I asked.
Duane Lee watched them with interest. They were moving around each other instinctively. It was like they had been doing this every morning for years. They were moving like they were two parts of the same person. "Man, that girl has you whipped already! You're such a pussy." He laughed as Leland span round only to realize that he had Hope in his arms so he couldn't hit him. Madison moved quickly and grabbed Hope before Duane Lee even knew what was going on.
"He's all yours Leland. He deserves it using language like that in front of my daughter. Just try not to spill any blood. I'd hate to lose my appetite." I grabbed Hope's car seat off the table and placed her in it on the floor while I carried on cooking. I could hear them play fighting in the living room and I smiled to myself. It was surprising how at home I felt but they made it natural. They never treated me like a guest. To them I was part of the family now and I liked that feeling. I had never belonged anywhere before but it felt like I could fit in here.
About 20 minutes later they strolled back into the kitchen as if nothing had happened. Duane Lee finished making the coffee while Leland grabbed Hope from her seat and sat rocking her at the kitchen table. "What's for breakfast Princess?" He asked and I smiled to myself. I liked being treated like I was something precious. It was worlds apart from what I'm used to.
"Cheese and mushroom omelette's, French toast and fruit salad. I figured I'd make a variety since I wasn't sure what you guys ate. I didn't know if you have a strict diet or anything." I was rambling and I couldn't help myself. I was so nervous because I wanted to show them that I was useful. I hated feeling like I was sponging off them. I wanted to feel like I was an important part of this little unit.
"Duane Lee will eat anything he can get his hands on usually and I like the sound of all of it. Thanks though. It makes a change from having to stop on the way to work. We are much to lazy to cook something this nice." He started piling food onto his plate one handed. I went to take Hope so he could eat properly. "Nah, just leave her. I like holding her." He caught my hand and kissed my fingers before picking up his fork to eat.
"Yuck! Pass me a bucket." Duane Lee grumbled half heartedly. It was nice to see them so relaxed although he wasn't sure what vibe he was catching. He couldn't decide if they were friends, friends with benefits or in a relationship.
I smacked Duane Lee on the side of his head as I slid into the chair next to his. Leland's bath robe had fallen open at some point but I didn't care. I raised my leg up so it was on the seat and began eating. I knew Leland was watching me and it made me shiver. I wasn't deliberately flashing my leg at him but it felt good to know he noticed.
After breakfast we went into separate rooms to dress. Leland told me to help myself to anything in his closet. He grabbed some clothes and headed into the bathroom to change so I could use the mirror in his room too. I still didn't have any clean clothes so I threw on one of Leland's white shirts and fastened my belt around the waist. The shirt came mid way down my thighs. I rolled up the sleeves and added his handcuff cuff links to keep them in place. I put on some of his white Lycra shorts underneath to preserve my modesty. I folded the legs up so that you couldn't see them under the shirt. I fixed my hair into a complex braided bun on the top of my head and applied a touch of lip gloss. It was the only make up I had with me. I borrowed one of his small silver necklaces to finish the look. When I came out of the bedroom both men stopped what they were doing to stare at me. "Too much?"
"No. I'm just amazed that my clothes could ever look so good." Leland laughed. She looked sensational but he knew he was going to struggle to concentrate on work all day. "What about shoes?"
"As long as I don't have to walk too far I don't need any. Besides, I only have my boots with me and they just wouldn't go." I grabbed Hope's bag and started loading it with Hope's diapers, bottles, formula and spare clothes. Cecily was off school today so she had agreed to babysit while I went work. It still felt odd leaving her but I knew I would cope.
"If we need to go anywhere I'll just carry you." Leland offered as he took Hope's bag and finished packing it so I could get the rest of my things together. It gave me goosebumps to think of Leland wrapping his arms around me and cradling me to him body.
"Are you sure you've got time to take me back to mine tonight? There isn't much to pack really but I don't want to monopolize your time." I knew what his answer was going to be even before I asked the question. He had refused to let me drive up there alone when I had suggested it earlier.
"I'm looking forward to it and besides, Duane Lee is babysitting and he doesn't offer often so take advantage while you can. We can stop for dinner on the way back if you want." Leland tried to keep the offer casual but wasn't sure he'd succeeded. He didn't want to push her too hard but she was driving him crazy.
When we pulled up at the office Leland ran around his car to open my door. He offered me his hand and helped me out of the car. "Thank you kind Sir." I teased as I walked past him into the office. We had dropped Hope off with Cecily on the way here.
"Damn Madison! You are going to give Big Daddy a heart attack dressed like that." Beth called as I strolled into the office and threw my bag onto Leland's desk. She was laughing as she read through some client files.
"Sorry Beth, Leland doesn't have much variety in his closet. I think you need to take him shopping." I went over to sit next to her. I wanted to learn as much as I could so I could be helpful to everyone.
"You've got no chance darlin'. I hate shopping at the best of times so shopping with Beth is just a cruel and unusual punishment. Anyway, you're supposed to be helping me fill out client compliances so why are you sat with the enemy?" Leland threw himself down at his desk and put his feet up. "Just for the record though Beth, I happen to think she looks wonderful."
"I bet you do. Have you branded her yet Lee? She's wearing your clothes, aftershave and even your sunglasses. I think my son has a small crush you, Madison." She winked at me as she stood up and headed into her office to grab a different file.
"I haven't got around to the branding yet Beth and who said it was small?" He shouted across the office just as Duane Lee came in with Justin and Dog. I laughed at their confused faces as I stood up to go and sit next to Leland.
"Madi, you are stunning. Now I wish it was me that had offered you a bed for the night." Justin hollered at me. I was looking at Leland and I saw the look in his eyes change to anger and his smile disappeared. He was jealous and it was written all over his face.
"Justin, you couldn't handle me sweetheart. I need a rough and tough gentleman not an over excited, hormonal teenager. Now go be a good little boy and get all the grown ups some coffee." I strode straight past him to Leland and kissed the top of his head before sitting down next to him. I made sure I angled my body towards him and even crossed my legs towards him. He put his hand on my leg and smiled at me. I had let him stake his claim on me and that had allowed him to curb his jealousy. He knew now that even though I wasn't ready I still only had eyes for him.
Duane Lee was laughing hysterically. Justin's mouth was hanging open and his eyes looked like they were going to pop out of his head. "Go on now boy, you heard the lady." Dog said. He was smirking himself. The girl fit in well with this family. Justin headed out the front door as quick as he could. His face was flushed and he couldn't think of anything to say in return.
"That is one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time. You certainly put that boy in his place. Although are you aware you forgot to put your pants on?" Dog was laughing but I couldn't figure out whether he was joking about the pants or not. Luckily Leland came to my rescue this time.
"She hasn't been home to get any clean clothes yet and my pants were way too big on her Dad. We're going to get her things later." Leland leaned across me to grab a file from the end of his desk and his hand slid further up my thigh. I was trying to decide if it was an accident or not when he moved his hand back to by my knee.
"OK, well just keep her behind a desk if any of our male clients come in today. You look good though Honey." Dog spoke as he walked into the other room towards Beth's office.
"Have I done something to upset him guys?" I was concerned because I just wanted to fit in. Maybe I shouldn't have been so hard on Justin. I hadn't meant to be but I didn't want anyone but Leland and he needed to understand that.
"No Darlin'. He's just worried about this jump we've got and about you. He thinks that some of our clients can't be trusted around a girl as gorgeous as you." Leland was loading up his laptop as he spoke. I had to concentrate to take in each word because he was tracing patterns with his fingers on my leg and it was very distracting.
"Well, I should go buy something else then. I don't want to cause any trouble Leland." I went to stand but his hand was still on my leg. He didn't force me to stay seated but he made it obvious that he would prefer me too.
"You stay exactly where you are. You look great and it's not like you're going to be here alone today. When we go out your coming with us. Travis is covering the office. You'll only be in the car but I figured you might want to see us on a real hunt." Leland glanced at me a few times as he spoke but he was trying desperately to concentrate on his computer. He had a lot of work to do and I knew being this close to him was a distraction for both of us.
"I'd love that!" I squealed. "You get on with all of this and I'll get Duane Lee to walk me through the rest of your systems and show me around." I stood up and walked behind his chair to get past. "Oh shit. Will there be any cameras?" I really didn't want to be on film wearing nothing but Leland's shirt.
"Not today Princess. They aren't back in until Monday so you've got a few days to settle in first." He looked back at me and smiled. I wanted to kiss him so badly but I fought the urge. I needed to get back on my feet before anything else happened. "Oh and Beth's got a spare pair of heels in her office that should fit you that will look hot with that outfit."
Going out on a hunt with them was very exciting. I was told to stay right next to Beth and just keep my eyes and ears open. That was easy until Leland started acting like a spider monkey. He was climbing up walls, over fences and even onto roofs. Every time he did it I was terrified and excited all at the same time. He looked incredible but I couldn't help thinking he was going to get hurt. Beth thought it was highly amusing to hear me squeal and cringe each time and obviously couldn't help but share my terror with the group.
"Oh what? No concern for me huh? It's OK because I get it. I know when I'm not wanted." Duane Lee teased and I laughed as I punched him in the arm. He looked shocked at first and then laughed along with me as he gave me a one armed hug.
Leland was a lot more careful after that and even made sure he stayed by me when we were handing out mug shots and trying to get information. I could feel the heat of his body against my skin and it felt like I was home. I belonged here. Tentatively I slid my hand into his and he linked his fingers with mine without saying a word. He was letting me call all of the shots and I knew that I was hooked. He had me already, he just didn't know it yet.
When they caught their guy I was in complete awe. One minute Leland was strolling along beside me and the next he was sprinting after someone with Justin. Leland grabbed hold of the mans arm and threw him to the floor while Justin pointed his mace can at the crowd surrounding them. Leland cuffed the guy just as Dog and Duane Lee ran up and helped him haul their fugitive to his feet. It was over in a matter of seconds but I was in shock. The sweet, loving man I had come to know was so aggressive and lethal underneath. I didn't move. I just watched.
It felt like seconds later when Leland was back beside me. "You OK, darlin'?" He asked. My head was spinning because of how quickly he changed between these two people. He was stood in front of me now looking like I was the only other person in the universe.
"Yeah. I mean No. I'm not sure Leland. I just wasn't expecting that. It shocked me a bit I guess." I was trying to be honest with him. It had scared me a bit. I had no idea that Leland was capable of that sort of behavior.
"We have to take them down hard Princess because if we didn't then they might hurt us or somebody else. We could carry guns and all that but we choose not to. We don't hurt them deliberately and definitely not lethally. I always think to myself as I'm doing it that if I don't get them on the floor quick they could hurt my boys or my family. Today I thought that if I didn't get him down then he could hurt you." He took my face between his hands and made me look at him. "I would never hurt you Madison. I am like this in the field because it potentially saves lives but I don't take those emotions home with me." He looked hurt that I could think he would ever hurt me and seeing that tore me apart. I didn't want to be the reason he was hurting.
"I am trying to trust you Leland. It's just hard but I know you wouldn't hurt me on purpose." I kissed him softly then. I was almost exactly the same height as him in Beth's shoes and I looked right into his eyes as we kissed. I pulled away from him before he could deepen the kiss but I made sure I left him in no doubt that I cared about him.
"If you two are quite finished." Justin huffed as he walked past us. I laughed and leaned my head against Leland's shoulder. He put his hands on my waist and just stood there with me for a few seconds. Eventually we pulled apart and carried on like nothing had happened. It was a fine line to walk to but managed it.
3 months later
Nobody except Duane Lee believed us when we said that we were still just friends. We kissed occasionally but never anything more than that. I was still living with Leland and Duane Lee. All of mine and Hopes things were in Leland's room but while I slept in there with Hope he slept in his sons room or on the couch if they were visiting. The boys adored Hope and seemed to like me too. We were an unconventional family but it worked for us.
"It's Christmas soon." I declared one morning over breakfast. In fact it was Christmas in about 3 weeks and I wasn't sure what their plans were or even if Hope and I would be invited along.
"Yeah. We've been meaning to talk to you about that. It's Leland birthday in a week or so and we're going to Colorado for this weird family thing. He doesn't see Dakota and Cobie too much over Christmas so the Chapmans get together with his boys and have an extra Christmas and his birthday rolled into one for him." Duane Lee rambled on as he fed himself and Hope yogurt. He was very attached to the little girl now.
"What my useless brother is trying to say is: Would you please come down to Colorado with us? I would be miserable without you and Buttons?" He gave me the sad puppy eyes and I knew I didn't have a choice. Hope looked at him when he said Buttons and I laughed. She had taken to sucking on the buttons and zips of his clothes lately so she had earned herself a pet name from him.
"If your sure you don't mind us tagging along." I said quietly. I still couldn't quite believe how lucky I was. These people had changed my world completely and hadn't asked for anything from me.
4 days later we were all sat around a roaring long fire in Dog and Beth's house in Colorado. All of the children were asleep and we were enjoying a glass or 2 of wine. "I love Christmas but it's so not sexy. I mean, look at us all. How can this be sexy?" Baby Lyssa complained. I looked around and everyone was bundled in pajamas and dressing gowns. We all looked warm and cozy but definitely not sexy.
"Oh Lyssa. Do you want me to show you?" I looked around and got the thumbs up from everyone. "Travis, put Mariah Carey's all I want for Christmas on please." I was nervous about doing this. None of them had seen me perform unless you count that first day in the office. I stood in the middle of the room still wrapped in my dressing gown.
I stood and sang as sweetly as I could. I moved my hands around to the music and just let myself feel the song. I knew I was captivating everyone but I put my focus on Leland. I pointed to him and caressed my stomach and neck as I sung.
I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is...
When the music started to speed up I moved around the room singing to each man individually until I was stood in front of Duane Lee.
I don't want a lot for Christmas
There's just one thing I need
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree
I don't need to hang my stocking
There upon the fireplace
I sat on his knee and caressed his face as I sung. He was smiling at me and I winked at him as I undid the belt for my dressing gown.
Santa Claus won't make me happy
With a toy on Christmas day
I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
I stood up then and let my dressing gown fall to the floor. I was grinding and touching myself on the stomach, neck and legs as I sung.
Make my wish come true
All I want for Christmas is you
I won't ask for much this Christmas
I don't even wish for snow
I'm just gonna keep on waiting
Underneath the mistletoe
I stopped in front of the fire and reached down to touch my toes and slowly drew my hand up my own body until I was raising my shirt a little to flash the smooth cream skin of my stomach.
I won't make a list and send it
To the North Pole for Saint Nick
I won't even stay awake to
Hear those magic reindeers click
'Cause I just want you here tonight
Holding on to me so tight
I sat in my vacated chair and wrapped my own arms around me while kicking my legs high in the air. As I kicked I leaned back over the chair until my hair was touching the floor. My cleavage looked spectacular from that angle and Leland had a full frontal view. As I sat up I flicked my hair and twirled to face him again.
What more can I do
Baby all I want for Christmas is you
All the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children's
Laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
I twisted and danced seductively as I sang along to the music. As she sung faster I started running my hands through my hair and down the front of my body.
Santa won't you bring me the one I really need
Won't you please bring my baby to me...
Oh I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see my baby
Standing right outside my door
I sat on Leland's knee then so that I was facing him and my legs were either side. I sang just for him and moved him hands to the base of my back.
Oh I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is...
As the song was finishing I kissed his forehead and threw myself backwards off the chair so that flipped over using his hands as support and landed in the splits on the floor.
All I want for Christmas is you... baby (repeat and fade)
I stood up and self consciously went to retrieve my dressing gown. The room was silent as they all stared at me. I couldn't handle it so I ran back to Leland and dived into his lap. I buried my face in his shoulder as I blushed.
"Wow! I can certainly understand why my son is so smitten Madison. If you can look that good in PJ's and without any rehearsal then I think you may give me heart attack if I ever get to see the real thing." Dog spoke and I could tell he meant it. He had enjoyed my dancing.
"Yeah, DAMN Mads! You should dance like that more often around the house. I'm quite jealous of my little bro right now." Duane Lee said as he laughed. It was a nervous laugh though. He had honestly enjoyed the performance but he knew how possessive Leland was of her and he wasn't sure if Leland would like this very public performance.
"You have got to teach me some of that." Baby Lyssa called and I raised my face to look at her. She was genuine. I felt my confidence grow by the second.
"No she doesn't" I heard Dog call and then Lyssa husband Bo laughing but I was concentrating on Leland's voice then so I missed the rest of their conversation.
"You are going to get me in some serious trouble young lady. That was amazing." Leland whispered into my hair so that only I could hear. I looked at him puzzled and he shifted me slightly further into his lap so that I could feel him hard against my thigh. "Now do you understand?" I looked at him and he smiled. I knew I was blushing but I couldn't stop myself. He laughed and kissed my cheek. "You may have to stay there for a while if that's OK darlin'."
"Um, yeah. I mean sure, thats fine." I muttered and that just made him laugh harder. I twisted slightly in his lap so that my legs were over the arm of his chair. He cradled me with one arm and let his other one rest over my legs.
"Care to share the joke?" Beth called over to us and I looked around to see everyone watching us. They all looked amused and puzzled at the same time.
"Actually, just this once I think I might keep it between me and Leland." I smirked as I spoke and I felt him giggle into my hair. I was surprisingly relaxed right then and I knew that I was almost ready to move on to the next level with him. He had been unbelievably patient with me and I loved him even more because of that. He had known from that first kiss that he could have pushed and I would have fallen into bed with him but he wanted me to be sure first.
The rest of the night passed in a blur. I remember listening to them all tell stories about their favorite Christmas memories but thats it. I was happier than I had ever been just sitting there on Leland's knee. Hope was asleep upstairs and we had a baby monitor with us so I knew she was safe. When I finally fell asleep Leland carried upstairs and put me in bed. He lay down on top of my covers and just held me while I slept.
The next day Beth, Lyssa and I went shopping while the men took care of the kids. They were decorating the trees ready for Leland's birthday and our pre-chistmas Christmas tomorrow. Leland was watching Hope with Dakota and Cobie. They all loved her as much as I did and it felt nice to know that she was so wanted.
We had a blast shopping. I bought Leland a pair of boots, a bullet proof vest and a gorgeous silver necklace with a pair of hand cuffs as the pendant. The hand cuffs were silver and amber which was the exact color of his eyes in the sun light. I also made a quick stop to Victoria Secret for some sexy lingerie. Beth and Lyssa raised their eyebrows at me but didn't say anything.
When we got home the men were all relaxing on the porch with Hope while the kids were entertaining themselves. I ran straight past Leland and put his gift wrapped presents under the tree. Then I went upstairs and hid the lingerie. I was nervous about wearing it for him but I knew he would appreciate it.
All of the children were as excited the next morning as they would be on the actual day. Everyone got 2 presents each that day except Leland, Dakota and Cobie. The boys got all of their presents from the family for Christmas and Leland got his birthday presents. He nearly cried when he realized I had bought him the vest and boots he had been after for nearly 6 months and I nearly cried when I realized that he preferred the necklace to his other presents. I put it on for him and he hugged me tight. "I love you Madison." He whispered against my neck.
"What?" I said into his shoulder. I needed to make sure I heard him right. I could feel the tears clinging to my lashes but I couldn't let them fall. I hated crying.
"I said that I love you." He said again. He whispered it into my ear and I felt the tears hit my cheek. I never expected this and now I was so confused. "Why are you crying Princess? Please don't cry." He put his hands on either side of my face and moved me away from him slightly so that he could look into my eyes.
"I can't say it back Leland. I'm not ready yet." I knew I felt something for him but I wasn't sure it was love. I had wanted everything to be perfect for our first time together, which I had planned on being tonight, but that chance had gone. I looked into his eyes and I knew I had just hurt him but I couldn't change that.
"It's OK Mads, I can wait." He kissed my forehead and walked away from me. I felt my heart break then. He was the one man who had ever treated me with respect and I was hurting him. I hated myself for it.
Duane Lee ran up behind me and grabbed me around the waist. He swung me round and round until I was laughing. He was such an idiot but he always lifted my mood no matter what. "Come on short stuff. We're all going out on the 4 wheelers; you can ride with me.!" He tucked me under his arm and carried me effortlessly out of the house. He put me on the back of his bike and jumped on in front of me. "Hold on tight shorty!"
"You call me short one more time and I'm going to kill you Duane." I gripped onto him as he started the 4 wheeler. I felt his laughter rumble through my body as he pulled away from the house. I buried my face in his back as he started picking up speed. I didn't trust many people but I trusted Duane Lee completely. I knew he wouldn't let anything happen to me even though he thought it was funny to try and scare me. Eventually he pulled to a stop and jumped off the bike. I shuffled forward and he hopped back on behind me. I grabbed the handles and he covered my hands with his. I loved riding on these bikes but I didn't trust myself so Duane Lee always kept hold to make sure nothing went wrong.
We spent another hour or so riding around and I thought a lot about the last few months during that time. My life had been turned upside down and I loved it. I had gained a whole new family and my daughter was loved more here than I ever thought possible. These people love me and I love them. I need to get over my fears and just go with the flow. "I need to head back Duane." I called as I spun the bike around. He didn't argue with me, we'd have had to head in soon anyway since it was getting dark and the weather was changing. There was a storm heading this way; you could feel it in the air.
I ran straight up the stairs into my room. I changed into the lingerie I had bought and put on my black silk robe and a pair of 6 inch kitten heels. As I ran out of my room I barreled straight into Duane Lee. "Damn Madi! My brother is one lucky boy." He said as he released me and carried on to his room. All of the children were tucked up in bed but I was still hoping I didn't run into anyone else. I inched his door open and realized he was on the phone so I decided to wait until he had finished to make my presence known. I didn't want to share that moment with anybody.
"You know I love you Maui but it's not that simple." I heard him say. Maui had been trying to get Leland back for a while. He'd always admitted that he still loved her because she was the boys mum but that's as far as it went he said. "I need to sort things here first. I'll be back in a few weeks babe." I dug my nails into my hands. I didn't like where this conversation was going. "There is only you Maui. I want us to be a family. I just need to tie up a few loose ends here first." I felt tears running down my face. I was furious with him but my heart was breaking too.
"FUCK YOU LELAND!" I screamed at the top of my voice as I threw the door open to his room. His face drained of color and he was staring at me as I stood there. My gown had slipped a little and I was flashing my bra to him but I didn't care. "You mother fucking SCUM BAG!" I swore at him as I turned and ran down the hall and down the stairs. I didn't know where I was going but I needed to get away from him. I knew I was only in my robe and underwear but I didn't want to stop. I need some air and to clear my head. I jumped on the 4 wheeler Duane Lee and I had left parked outside. I took off fast enough to fling gravel at the front door.
"What the fuck was that about?" Beth called to Leland as she made her way to his room. She had heard Madison losing her temper and watched her race from the house in her lingerie. There was a storm on the way so she hoped that Madison wasn't going far.
"I fucked things up royally Beth. I told Madi I loved her this afternoon." Leland spoke and he saw Beth's face light up. "Then she came in here just now and heard me telling Maui we were getting back together." Leland sat on the end of his bed and dropped his head into his hands.
"You're a fucking dick! Are you insane?" Duane Lee asked from just behind Beth. "I'll go after her Beth. You tell dad and Justin to get ready to search. Give me a couple of hours; if we aren't back then send out the search party. She's in a robe and heels during a fucking storm. Shit!" He ran down the stairs and out the front door. He jumped onto one of the motorbikes and took off. If he knew Madi she'd be up on the cliff top.
"Why would you do that Leland? You know how fragile that girl is. If you weren't feeling it you should have made it clear to her. This is going to crush her man. She trusted you completely." Beth turned and walked away. She loved Leland but he was wrong in this and she couldn't support him. She headed off to tell the others what was going when she heard the first roll of thunder. She prayed that Duane Lee could find her soon. Madison was part of their family and she was scared and alone out in a storm. Beth let her tears fall as she prayed Madison would be OK.
He pulled up next to the quad she had been riding and looked around. She was sat on one of the large rocks by the cliffs. These cliffs looked out over the city and it was a breath taking view. She had fell in love with it the first day he had brought her out here. He walked over to her and just sat down next to her. He was careful not to touch her. "Hey baby girl. Fancy seeing you here?" She turned and smiled at him but it was completely empty. The rain was heavy now but he could still tell she had been crying. Her robe was soaked right through but she didn't seem to notice. She threw herself into his arms. "Shhhhh it's OK now short stuff, I've got you and I'm never going to leaving you. It's going to be OK now." He whispered against her hair as he held her. "You, me, Hope and Dylan against the world from now on Shorty. You're stuck with me now so just hold on tight." He scooped her into his arms and sat her on the 4 wheeler with her back towards the handles. He figured he could come out tomorrow with Justin and pick up the motorbike. He jumped on facing her and she wrapped herself around him as she carried on crying. Despite the torrential rain it felt warm and comforting to be in his arms; she felt like she was home and more importantly she felt loved.
He drove back to the house with her clinging to him like that. She wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms hugged his neck and shoulder. She was ice cold to touch and shivering but she never once said that she was cold. In fact she didn't say a word for the whole ride back to the house. They had been out for nearly 2 hours and he was soaked too but she was virtually naked. When they pulled up outside Leland ran out of the house and tried to take Madi in his arms as Duane Lee got off the bike with Madison still clinging to the front of his body. Duane Lee's grip tightened instinctively but he knew had to let Madison decide what she wanted.
"Don't you fucking touch me, Leland. You lost that right when you lied to me! I hate you. Do you understand me? I fucking hate you right now." She snarled. It lost some of it's effect because her teeth were chattering but the anger was still evident in her voice. Duane Lee didn't even speak to his brother as he walked past him and carried her into the house. He took her straight upstairs and put her in a warm shower. "Please don't leave me Duane. I don't want to be alone right now." She whispered through fresh tears as he went to leave her alone in the room. She sounded so vulnerable and scared that his heart ached for her. He stepped into the shower and just held her. Duane Lee removed his t-shirt and jeans but kept his boxers on. She hadn't even took off her robe. It didn't hurt quite as badly when she was wrapped in his arms.
Eventually they emerged from the bathroom and she allowed him to leave long enough to grab some pants while she changed into her pajamas. She refused to see or speak to anyone else. Duane Lee had found her and held her, he had been there from the start and she knew he loved her. When he came back she curled up against his chest and just lay there. Baby Lyssa brought Hope in after a while and then left when she got no reply to her questions. Madison locked the door and then just sat and watched Duane Lee holding her baby.
"Why did he do that? Why say he loved me and then make plans with her? I don't understand." I cried as I sat back down on the bed. I was so confused about everything and I was scared. I didn't want to have to go back to my old life. I loved working in the office with these guys and it would hurt more to have to leave Duane Lee as well as Leland if I had to move out of the apartment.
"I don't know Shorty. I honestly don't know what he was thinking but I do know that you need to speak to him. Maybe not right now but at some point because you need answers that I just can't give you." Duane Lee pulled me into his arms as he spoke. He cradled Hope and me until we were both asleep. He sat there just watching us for a long time. My brother is a fool he thought before he drifted off himself.
The next morning I threw on a pair of sweat pants and a t-shirt and went looking for Leland while Duane Lee and Hope slept. I couldn't find him anywhere. All of his things were gone from his room and so were Dakota and Cobie along with all of their things. I was even more angry with him then until I realized he had left a note on the kitchen counter for me:
I'm sorry that I've hurt you like this. I never meant for any of this to happen but I can't go back and change it. I do love you. I love you more than you will ever know Darlin' but I owe it to myself to try this one more time. I know you'll be safe and loved with my brother and the rest of the clan. Please don't shed anymore tears over me because you deserve so much more. I hope one day you can forgive me Princess. I love you and Buttons so much even though I know you won't believe me right now. You have every right to hate me but I hope that won't last forever.
You are truly a lady so don't let anyone tell you otherwise. You deserve the best of everything in life. If you meet someone love them completely and let them love you too. Don't hold back especially not because of me. You deserve to be happy even if you don't believe it.
If you ever need me just call and I will be there, always.
I sat there staring at that note for a long time. I had no tears left to shed but it felt like he had stuck a knife through my heart. Lele is what the family call him and for him to sign the note with that hurt me because I knew then that he really did mean every word he had written. I wasn't enough for him; it was that simple. Hope and I didn't give him what he wanted so he was going home. I kept thinking about what I could have done differently. If I hadn't kept him waiting so long then would things have been different? Or would this just hurt that much more because I'd have given everything I had to him?
Baby Lyssa found me sat at the kitchen table still holding that piece of paper. She came and sat next to me and I silently handed it to her. Once she was done reading she just took my hand. She didn't say anything and I was grateful for that. She was simply there and that meant more than any words could.
"I don't want to lose you all Lyssa. I know he's your brother but I feel like we belong in this family and it's scaring me to think that we're not part of it anymore because he doesn't want me." I couldn't look at her when I spoke because I was determined that I wouldn't cry again.
"You and Hope are family girl. Dad and Beth adore you both and so do the rest of us. Besides the office would be a shambles without you now. I know it'll be weird when he comes back but you can't leave us now. Who would I get to help me beat Duane Lee up if you left?" She laughed and even I smiled. Lyssa was one of my closest friends in the world and I felt better knowing she wasn't walking away too.
"Who's leaving?" Dog asked as he came to join us in the kitchen. He poured out 3 cups of strong coffee and brought them over to us. He sat next to me and patted my arm. "I'm sorry about that son of mine Madison. You don't hate the rest of us because of his actions do you?"
"No Uncle! I was worried you guys wouldn't want me around anymore now that he was gone." I covered his hand with mine and smiled softly at him. He was more of a father to me than my own had been and I loved him for it. He was always there when I needed some advise or someone to just listen to me. I took my coffee back to my room then and found that Duane Lee was gone and he'd taken Hope with him. I smiled because he treated her like his own without even thinking.
The storm was still raging outside but I decided to go for a walk anyway. I pulled on a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a jumper, my water proof coat and a pair of wellington boots. Once I convinced Dog that I was going to be OK I set off. I knew Hope was safe with Duane Lee and the others so I walked out into the hills surrounding the house and found a spot to sit and just think for a while. It wasn't long before another figure came walking over the hill towards me. They were coming from the house.
"You have some strange ideas of what's peaceful Short Stuff." Duane Lee called as he made his way over and threw himself down next to me. "We are surrounded by warm weather and beautiful beaches all year round back home and you figure you'll take up walking during a storm while we are on vacation?" He smiled at me and I couldn't help thinking how gorgeous he was when he smiles. I had forgotten how attractive he was because Leland had been blinding me to everybody else.
"It helps me remember that I'm not the only pissed off person in the world. Besides, tell me you don't find the sound of the rain soothing?" I leaned in towards him and put my head on his shoulder. I always enjoyed touching Duane Lee because he made me feel petite and precious. He was so big that I felt safe with him around no matter what. I could rely on the fact that he would take care of me.
"Actually no. Storms have always made me horny." He laughed. I knew he was trying to get me to relax but I couldn't. I edged closer to him and he wrapped his arm around me. My hand was on his thigh and I could feel the muscle and strength under my fingers.
"Is that so Mr. Chapman?" I traced a pattern on his thigh with my finger and I felt his muscles tighten. I ached to be wanted and I had to agree that storms always made me feel excited too. I wanted Duane Lee to see me as more than Hope's mum or Leland's almost girlfriend. I wanted him to notice me.
"Madison, are you coming on to me?" He turned his face so that he was looking at me and he was smiling at me. I didn't answer him I just pulled his face down towards mine and kissed him. I kissed him with all of the need and love I had inside. I kissed him with all the longing I had to be wanted and he kissed me back just as forcefully. I moved so that I was straddling his legs and he wrapped his arms around me and slid his hands under my t-shirt until his hands were virtually circling my bare waist. "I'm taking that as a yes young lady." He laughed against my mouth. The sensation gave me butterflies in my stomach. I wanted him right there in the middle of a storm on a dirt hill.
I pulled away slightly and looked into his eyes. They were sparkling with desire and need but there was something else there. He was scared. "Did I do something wrong?" I asked as I wrapped myself around his body. He raised his knees so that I was leaning against his thighs and his groin was against my ass. I could feel his pleasure because he was hard against my ass. He was taking all of our weight on his arms now but he didn't even seem to notice.
"No shorty. You didn't do anything wrong but I don't want to do anything that you're going to regret. So as much as it kills me to do this; I'm going to stop now." He must have seen the pain that slid across my eyes because he hastily carried on. "I want you Short Stuff but not like this. I want you to want me; not just want to feel wanted or to get back at Leland. So if you still want to carry this on when we go home then we have a nice, warm apartment to do that in. Until then though I am I going to flirt outrageously with you and tease you and make you crazy. Oh and I'm going to be your friend and help you pick up the pieces after that moron brother of mine broke your heart." He pulled me into his arms then and just held me. I loved him a little more for that. He refused to take advantage of me and bizarrely that made me want him even more. Why do Chapman men have to be so damn chivalrous? I just sat in his arms and pondered that question. Duane Lee loved me and he wanted me but he refused to take advantage of me. I've never experienced that with any except Leland before. I'm glad this time though because I knew it would be for the right reasons when it eventually happened. "Fancy coming to find an abandoned motorbike with me?" He laughed as he stood us up.
"What?" I looked up at him puzzled. He was laughing and just took my hand as we walked out towards the cliff tops. I didn't remember seeing Duane Lee before he came to sit next to me last night. He had left one of their bikes out in this all night because of me. "I'm sorry Duane. Will it be OK?"
"Yeah, should be. Besides I'd sacrifice a bike for you any day. Luckily though this is Leland's bike so I actually feel quite good about leaving it out here." He laughed as we walked along. He kept hold of my hand and I felt strangely happy. Duane Lee always made me feel happy though not matter what mood I was in.
We found the bike where he had left it and it still worked. The seat was damaged though and as we rode it back to the house Duane Lee took great pleasure in covering it in as much dirt as possible. When we got off it you couldn't even tell what color it was because of the amount of mud on it. I had to smile. it was childish but it made me feel a little better.
We became absolutely inseparable for the few remaining days of our stay. He helped me to look after Hope and we played games and read books with Dylan. Duane Lee touched me all the time and he kissed my cheeks, shoulders, neck and forehead constantly. Nobody ever mentioned it though, at least not to me. They just let us get on with it and I think they were just glad that he stopped me moping around. We even started sharing a bed. He slept in his boxer shorts but I drove him absolutely crazy by insisting on sleeping as I usually do: nude. He held me every night and I knew he wanted me but he refused to act on it. He was a gentleman and it drove me insane. That kiss had opened up a door that refused to be shut. I wanted him. The smell of him turn me on and I constantly had to be touching him. As much as I teased and even begged him though he wouldn't back down on what he had said. He was going to wait until we got home before taking us any further and I loved him and hated him for it at the same time.
We didn't hear from Leland. I think he had rang Dog once to say that they had arrived safely but other than that nobody heard a word. Or if they did they weren't mentioning it to me. I didn't care in all honesty. It hurt less without him around and having Duane Lee with me made it OK. I could cope while I was with him. I knew he was Leland's brother but I didn't care and neither did he. Leland and I had only ever been friends no matter how much chemistry there was between us so we were doing nothing wrong. I felt a little weird that I was tending a broken heart over Leland while fantasizing over his brother but it didn't seem to bother anyone else. Duane Lee listened to me talk about Leland and Lyssa and Beth listened to me comparing both of them. I felt strongly for both of them but I felt completely different about them too.
When we arrived back at the apartment it was just Duane Lee and me because Baby Lyssa was taking Hope to the zoo with her girls early the next morning so she had taken her overnight as well. We barely got the bags in and shut the door before I literally jumped on Duane Lee. He caught me with ease and I wrapped my arms and legs around him as we kissed. It felt natural and just the taste of his tongue on mine drove me wild. He walked us to his bedroom and kicked the door shut behind us without ever putting me down or breaking the kiss.
He pulled my top off over my head and unclipped my bra so quickly that I barely even registered it. When he put me down long enough to remove our pants I was begging him to hurry up. I wanted him urgently. As soon as we were both naked I was wrapped around his body again. Neither one of us wanted to wait so he drove himself into me while we were stood in the middle of his room. He turned around and rammed my back hard against his door as he drove himself into me over and over again. He was kissing me as he slammed into me. I felt him start to lose his rhythm and let myself fall over the edge to my release. I bit down on his shoulder as I felt wave after wave of pleasure. I tightened around him as I climaxed and that sent him over the edge. I felt his hot seed spill into me and that sent another wave of pleasure through me.
When we had our breathing under control he carried me to his bed and lay me down. He pleasured me all over again but this time it was slow and tender. When he was sliding in and out of me he stared into my eyes and kissed me softly. That's when I let the tears fall. I had had sex many times before but this was different. Duane Lee was making love to me and that was a completely different thing. He kissed me while I cried and we climaxed together again.
He held me in his arms for a while after that just stroking my hair and listening to our breathing. Eventually though he sat up a little and his hand stilled against my head. "Why did you cry Shorty? I didn't hurt you, did I?" I knew he was worried because he was very well endowed and we had been so impatient the first time. I smiled softly at his concern, he was truly a gentleman in every sense. Most men I had been with before probably wouldn't have even noticed that I was crying or that they might have hurt me. Even if they did they wouldn't have cared enough to ask why.
"No babe, you didn't hurt me I swear. I was crying because you're the first person who has ever made love to me. It was more than just sex to you and that's why I was crying. They were happy tears because you actually care about me rather than just my body." I closed my eyes then and listened to his breathing while he processed that information. He knew I had had had my fair share of lovers in the past so I gave him a few minutes to take in exactly what I was telling him. He was the first person I had ever slept with that had meant anything to me.
"They must have been fucking idiots then because you are wonderful and amazing and totally beautiful Madison. I just want to hold you and love you forever." He slid back down into the bed as he spoke so that I was cradled against him with my head on his shoulder and his arms wrapped tightly around me.
"How about we sleep now and then we can work on forever tomorrow?" I smiled and threw one leg and arm across his body as I got comfortable. It felt natural and I could certainly get used to this. I wanted him to be mine and I felt very possessive of him. He pulled the duvet up over us both but I'm not sure if he ever replied to my question because I think I was asleep within seconds.
"I hope you mean that Shorty because I think I'm in love with you." He whispered to me as I slept. He lay awake for a long time wondering what would happen now. Did she actually want to be with him or was he just convenient? Would she walk away once she her heart was mended? He fell asleep still praying to God that she felt the same as he did.
When we headed into the office the next day Beth gave us a strange look but just carried on with her paperwork. I was wearing one of Duane Lee's hockey jerseys and a pair of denim hot pants. I had knotted the jersey just above my navel because otherwise it came past my knees. I was in bare feet as usual so I knew it wasn't me she was looking at like that. They were all used to me stealing both of the guys clothes by now. I turned to look at Duane lee and couldn't help but giggle. He had my lipstick all over his mouth and a perfect impression of my teeth was visible under his basketball vest. I stretched up and wiped away the lipstick with my finger.
"Morning Beth." He called as he walked past her desk. He was blushing a little and I don't think I had ever seen him look more adorable than in that moment. He sat down at his desk and started shuffling files around while loading up the computer.
"Rough night Duane Lee?" She called over to him. I could see her grinning but he couldn't see her face from his desk. The woman has an evil streak even wider than mine. I think thats why we get on so well; we are a lot alike.
"Oh Beth. Stop being mean and leave him alone. You know I have to brand what's mine." I laughed as Duane Lee nearly choked on the mouthful of water he had just taken. "Sorry babe but she'd already guessed anyway. I think I bit you a little hard last night." I touched my shoulder to show him what I meant and he simply grinned. I realized then that he had known it was there and was proud of it.
"So are you two together now or are you just friends too?" Dog asked as he came into the office. I knew he thought it was a little strange but he would be happy for us anyway. I thought it was strange so I knew how he felt.
"We're together Dad." Duane Lee answered before I had a chance to. He smiled shyly at me and I blew him a kiss. "But enough of our personal life, what's on the menu for today?"
"You by the looks of it." Beth giggled and I laughed when I saw Duane Lee blush even harder. He wasn't embarrassed about last night. He just wasn't used to girls being friends with his whole family before he got involved with them.
"We've got a jump and since we're so short on man power Madison is coming with us." Dog declared as he headed towards the board. I had been out with them before but that had always been an after thought. Dog had thought about this before the meeting so I knew it was different. "You'll be with Beth the whole time Madi but you guys are going to have to be watching the back. Can you handle that?" I nodded and he smiled.
"We're going to be scrapping today Mads." Beth hollered as she went to take her seat by the board. "I can feel it girl. You're going to have to put shoes on in case she's a runner." She sounded excited about it and if I'm honest then I was too. Duane Lee didn't speak but I knew he wasn't happy. The cameras were due in today so my first real bounty would be caught on tape.
When we set off I rode with Beth while Duane Lee drove his dad's car. The camera crew kept asking where Leland was but Beth answered them every time. As far as the show was concerned he was in Kona for business. They didn't know about the relationship I'd had with him thankfully otherwise that trip would have been hell. "Shorty, you got your mace?" Duane Lee's voice came over the radio and I smiled. He was nervous about me being at the back with Beth. He had even pleaded with his dad to let Beth go in with him through the front so that he could stay with me but Dog wouldn't budge.
"Yes Lover. I have my mace, my vest is on, I have cuffs and my radio is fully charged. Besides I have the hell cat with me and we all know this cat is tougher than the Dog." I laughed and so did Beth. The camera man was looking at me puzzled as he filmed me. I remembered then that I'd just called Duane Lee lover while the cameras were rolling.
"No cat is tougher than the Dog but the Dog likes when this cat scratches." Beth purred down her radio. She smirked at me in her rear view mirror but I didn't know what she was going to do. "Duane Lee, Madison would like to know if little dogs like being scratched too?" She asked and I laughed. She had been teasing him mercilessly all morning and he didn't know how to react.
"Are you and Duane Lee dating?" The camera man asked. He panned his camera up from my feet to my face as he spoke.
"Ask him." I said seductively. I knew that the young boy had a crush on me but he was also petrified of all of the men on the team. He turned almost purple when he figured out that I'd saw him checking me out.
"Depends on who's doing the scratching and for what reason." Duane Lee's voice echoed around the car and it sent a shiver of excitement down my spine. I was aching to touch him already and we'd only been away from each other for about an hour.
"Well isn't that just food for thought right there?" I said down the radio. I tried to keep my voice normal but I knew my desire was evident as I spoke. I sounded sexy and smoky even to my own ears.
"Damn it Short Stuff. You need to stop doing that." Duane Lee barked down the radio. I turned slightly in my seat and waved at him through the back window of the SUV. He blew me a kiss and I giggled like a 14 year old girl.
"Yeah, the crew are asking questions that we just can't answer Madi." Dog spoke and I knew instantly what he was talking about. The camera man in their car was asking about me and Duane Lee too.
"Well, that's funny because I told this cute little guy to speak to Duane Lee for the answer to that question. I mean isn't it obvious? I have a major crush on Duane Lee but he's just not interested." I deliberately spoke in my sexiest voice as I pouted to the camera. Beth thought it was hysterical and I had to fight to keep a straight face. Our camera man looked like he was about to have a heart attack.
"Madison, if you use your sex voice in front of these people again you're going to have one very jealous lover back here but then I think you'd enjoy that, wouldn't you Shorty?" He growled down the radio and it was my turn to blush then.
"Point for little dog! You made our vixen blush although she didn't go as red as our camera man did for her so I think I'll actually call it a tie." Beth laughed down the radio and I joined in. I loved these people so much.
"Oh I love it when you go all cave man on me. But you know I don't take orders well." I smirked at Beth. I knew that my 'sex' voice drove Duane Lee crazy and I was taking full advantage of it. "You know that this Vixen is very, very naughty."
"Now I know why the kids get so embarrassed by us Beth." Dog laughed down the radio and I heard Duane Lee chuckling away too. The family were used to me saying outrageous things but I don't think they expected me to say them on camera.
"OK, we can continue this later. 3 minute warning team." Beth said down her radio and immediately everything changed.
"10-4" Dog called back and I knew instantly that their car was suddenly as somber as ours was. Everyone got scared just before we pulled up to a place. We'd be stupid not to because we didn't know what was waiting for us or what weapons these people had or would be willing to use.
It was actually a quite mellow arrest when they caught the guy but his sister and her boyfriend decided to start a fight once he was loaded up in Duane Lee's car. She ran at me and threw a punch but I caught her wrist and twisted it behind her back. Her boyfriend grabbed hold of my hair and tried to pull me to the floor. I fought him and somehow managed to keep hold of her but when 2 of their friends jumped on me I knew I was in trouble. I saw Beth watching. She couldn't get involved in the fight without risking hurting me. "Mace the fuckers Beth." I screamed. I knew she would get me too but I was losing this fight.
She didn't hesitate then as she sprayed all of us and suddenly I was free but I couldn't see anything. I stumbled out of the pile of people but tripped and landed on my knees. "I'm going to pick you up Shorty so don't hit me. We'll get it off you in a few minutes, I promise." Duane Lee lifted me into his arms and carried me to Beth's car. He hated leaving me but didn't have a choice. Dog was controlling the fugitive and he and Beth had to drive. He ran to his car and we pulled away. About 30 seconds later the cars screeched to a stop and he was there again. He carried me to the side of the road and started washing off the mace. I was covered in it from head to toe.
"I'm so sorry Madison. I had to do it; you told me to." Beth was panicking now and I felt bad for her. It wasn't her fault that they had attacked me but she was still blaming herself. "You did good though. You had 2 of them down before I maced and in a 4 one 1 fight thats amazing."
"It's OK Beth. I'm fine so stop apologizing. I knew what I was signing up for and I told you to spray us all so it's all good. It's only a bit of mace although I think Duane Lee's top may need to be replaced, It's soaked through with the stuff." I smiled as Duane Lee and Dog poured bottle after bottle of water over me. When I was completely free of the stuff I looked like a drowned rat. "Sugar, take your top off and grab the blanket out the back of the car." I demanded. He looked puzzled but went to get the blanket.
When he came back I made him and Beth hold the blanket up so I could change behind it while Dog kept the cameras away. I put Duane Lee's top on and had to laugh. It fell to past my knees and hung from my shoulders. Beth helped me tie the sleeves so it sat just off my shoulders and we took Dog's belt off him to fasten around my waist. When we were finished you couldn't notice the belt and the top looked like a dress. I braided my hair and then wrapped it up into a bun. I actually looked quite good. "Not bad sister but then you could make a potato sack look good." Beth said but then she leaned in and whispered in my ear. "Judging by the love slams you have my son agrees with me." She laughed uncontrollably when I gasped and turned a dark shade of red.
"What did she say this time?" Duane Lee asked as he wrapped his arms around me and cradled me against him. I could feel that his heart was still pounding and he was shaking. He was petrified about what might have happened.
"Oh, just something about some love slams I have? Care to elaborate?" I leaned back in his arms so that I could see him smirking at me.
"Sorry Shorty. I only noticed them before too. You've got a bruise down you back and one the the top of your thigh. Oh and on the back of your shoulder." He said. He was pleased with his work I could tell. I simply smiled and shook my head. He was proud that he had marked me as his and that someone else had seen it.
The next few weeks were pretty much uneventful except that Duane Lee and I continued growing closer. We spent Christmas with the whole family at Dog and Beth's house. He bought me some gorgeous customized hand cuffs. He'd had them painted lilac and encrusted with crystals. He also got me a stunning platinum and pink diamond necklace. He spoiled me and Hope and he made me feel like I was the only woman in the world. I knew he was missing Dylan but he tried to hide it so that he didn't spoil our day.
On new years eve we were at a party with the family. Cecily was babysitting so that we could have a few drinks and relax. We were dancing and having fun. Dog, Beth, Justin, Baby Lyssa, Bo and Travis were out with us and we were all having a ball. I jumped into Duane Lee's arms and wrapped myself around him He held me and was smiling. "I love you Duane Lee Chapman." I whispered into his ear. I'm not sure why I chose that moment but it felt right.
"I love you too Short Stuff." His voice was rough as he spoke like he was almost in tears. I knew then that he had loved me for a long time. He kept hold of me for a long time. It felt like he thought that maybe if he let me go I would disappear.
Everything after that night changed. We started looking for a 4 bedroom apartment for us and the 2 kids. We went everywhere together. Duane Lee hated the fact that I insisted on still going on bounties. He was with me the entire time though. We had Justin take Leland's place on the team so that he could stay at the back with me.
It was the middle of January when reality hit. We were walking through the back door of the office when we heard Beth of the phone. "Lele you have to speak to your brother and Madi. I can't make that decision and besides there is some stuff happening you don't understand." She sounded nervous which was unusual for her.
I walked over and took the phone from her hand before she could object. "Leland, how's it?" I was very relaxed as I spoke. I'm not sure what I expected but I was calm and actually happy to be speaking to him. He had hurt me badly but I still missed him. He was my best friend before everything else.
"Darlin' I've missed you so much. What's going on over there? Everyone is being quite cagey with me when I ask about you." Leland's voice was shaking with nerves. He wasn't sure how I was going to react to this conversation.
"I've missed you too Leland but you did me a favor. I'm guessing nobody told you about me and Duane Lee?" I smiled at Duane Lee as I spoke. He was sitting on the arm of the sofa watching me. His arms were crossed over his chest and he looked tense. I knew he was worried about how this conversation was going to go.
"No, what about you and him?" He asked. I could hear other people in the background his end and I wondered who he was with while he was talking to me. I knew I shouldn't care but I couldn't help myself. I felt a flicker of jealousy and I tried to squash it. I was happy with Duane Lee so Leland shouldn't matter to me but he did.
"We're together. We're even looking for a bigger apartment. Look Leland, I'm not mad at you anymore and I don't hate you either. I want us to be friends for the families sake because you're all stuck with me now." I felt my hands shake as I spoke to him. I knew then that this was taking more of a toll on me than I wanted to admit to. Duane Lee came to me and took my hand. I smiled nervously at him and he just kissed my forehead. I leaned against him and breathed in deep to control my nerves.
"I'm glad for you Darlin' because he's a good guy. Maui and I aren't going to work so I was talking to Beth about coming back to work with you guys." I knew he was terrified of my answer. If I said no then Duane Lee wouldn't allow it either and Leland knew that. I was in control and I didn't like it. I never wanted to be the one who decides who gets to work with us. That wasn't my place.
"I'd welcome you back with open arms Lele. You know that because you know I still love you but I'm only going to say this once: If you come between me and Duane Lee I will rip your balls off and feed them to Uncle Dog's fish. Now here is Beth." I heard Leland laughing hysterically as I handed the phone back to Beth and headed back out of the back door with Duane Lee. Once I was outside I broke down and Duane Lee held me while I did. "I'm so sorry Duane." I whispered through my tears.
"What for Shorty?" He spoke as he held me against him. I didn't want to cry over Leland but I couldn't help it. I was in love with Duane Lee but a part of me would always mourn what I could have had with his brother and that tore me up inside. I felt like I was cheating Duane Lee somehow because I could never give him my whole heart. It wasn't mine to give anymore.
"I keep crying over your fucking brother and you are always there to pick up the pieces. It's not fair on you because I should be over all of this. I love you Duane but I can't stop this hurting and I fucking hate it!" I let my tears fall as I spoke to him and he just carried on holding me.
When I was done Duane Lee just laughed. "I know that it still hurts you. I'd think it was strange if it didn't. Leland was your first true love; it's not easy to get over that but I trust you Short Stuff and I love you. I love Hope like she was my own and we're all going to be OK so dry your eyes and we'll work through this." I kissed his chest and then pulled his face down to mine so that I could kiss him properly. Instead he picked me up off my feet and slid his tongue into my mouth while he held me suspended off the floor.
"You are so helping me rehearse right now for being such a tease Mr Chapman." I had been practicing this particular routine for weeks and Duane Lee was helping. I dragged him into the office and he helped me move the furniture out of the way. Whenever the office was quiet I worked on my routines. Duane Lee took his position in the middle of the floor and Beth went to start the music for me. Rihanna - Rude Boy.
I used Duane Lee like I would a pole. He held me upside down, swung me round when I told him to. I had my legs around his waist, I sat on his shoulder and piggy backed him. He didn't move from that one spot despite my best efforts to make him squirm. This was one of my most sexual routines but he had had a long time to practice keeping his cool. He was very disciplined and had a lot of self control.
"Damn girl! You should come with a warning label!" Justin called from the back door and I just laughed. I had one leg hooked over Duane Lee's shoulder and his hand was holding me in place. My other leg was flush against his back and thigh and I leaned backwards with my hands rubbing up and down my own body. I kicked my free leg out and around Duane Lee's waist and he let my other leg side down his arm until I could cross my feet in front of him and fall backwards so that my hair brushed the floor. I released my legs and stood on my hands for a second before standing up.
"She does Justin; me. So put your eyes back in and stop thinking dirty thoughts about my girlfriend." Duane Lee was laughing but I knew he hated other men looking at me like that. He didn't want to share me with anybody and had been trying to convince me to give up burlesque for a while. It was part of who I was though so he didn't have a choice. If he didn't like it then it was his problem.
The next day Baby Lyssa and I were shopping in the mall when one of the girls we'd been chasing walked by. She didn't even look in our direction so we made the decision not to wait for the others. Lyssa jumped on the girl and was screaming at her to get down on the floor. Her boyfriend took offense and tried to pull Lyssa off his girl. "Dude, take your fucking hands off my sister!" I screamed. He just laughed so I pulled at his shirt. He swung out his fist and connected cleanly with my cheekbone. "You mother fucking dick!" I landed a spinning kick to the side of his face and knocked him off of Baby Lyssa.
"Watch yourself Mads!" Baby Lyssa called as she cuffed our prisoner. She was on the phone to her dad. "Dad, we got Katey! We're at the mall. Mads is fighting with our girl's man." I heard her say as the guy climbed to his feet.
"Don't fucking touch me bro! I'm telling you. It's not a good idea." I warned as he took a step towards me. He didn't listen because he stepped forward again. This time I swung out with a fist and connected with his stomach. He doubled over and I backed off again. I kept Baby Lyssa and our prisoner behind me. As long as I kept Baby Lyssa safe I would be happy.
"You fucking bitch! I'm gonna fuck you up for that you fucking whore!" He ran at me and I slammed my fist into his nose the way Leland had taught me and he hit the floor. His eyes were watering and he was clutching his nose.
"FREEZE MOTHER FUCKER!" I heard someone scream from behind me. I knew in my heart it was Leland but I didn't want to believe it. He wasn't due into the office until this afternoon. I couldn't figure out what he was doing here. "Princess, do you have cuffs?" I blinked and looked down to see Leland kneeling over the guy. He was looking at me expectantly but when I didn't answer he reached across and grabbed the cuffs Duane Lee had bought me for Christmas from my belt and hooked the guy with them. A security guard grabbed him from Leland so that he could come and check on me. "You OK, baby girl?" He asked. He reached out and gently touched his fingers to my cheek. I winced and pulled my face away. The guy must have hit me harder than I thought.
"No. I was so scared Leland. All I kept thinking was that I had to keep Lyssa safe. It didn't even register that he could hurt me." I knew I was crying but it didn't matter. It was finally hitting me that I could have been in serious trouble.
He pulled me into his arms and I let him. I wasn't thinking then and it felt good to be wrapped in the arms of someone who would always look after me. "It's over now Princess. You did so good. I'm proud of you Darlin'." He whispered. He was rubbed my back as he cradled me against his body. "Did he hurt you?" He stepped away from me but kept his hands on my waist.
"Not really. It stings a bit but I'm OK Lele. Is Baby Lyssa OK?" I stepped away from him and he let his hands fall back to his side. He looked disappointed that I'd pulled away but he didn't say anything. He grabbed the cuffs for the guy from the security guard and roughly pulled him towards our group.
"She's fine. You did good baby girl, honestly. You and Lyssa got the girl and you kept Lyssa safe while she secured your prisoner. You did everything right. You even gave this fucking moron two warning shots before you broke his nose." Leland was grinning as he spoke. I knew then that he was actually proud of what I'd done. "We're causing a scene though so lets take these two to the car while we wait for the others. We can get the police to pick up this joke before we take her in." He grabbed my hand and headed towards the car park. Lyssa followed behind us with her prisoner.
"So mamacita, is this your old man? He's a pussy if he is though. You need a real man like me." The guy spoke but his voice sounded gurgled because of his broken nose and all of the blood in his mouth.
"A real man? Dude, I kicked your ass and who the fuck do you think taught me that shit? You need to quit running your fucking mouth until you can back your shit up because if you don't I'm going to give you a broken jaw to match that fucking broken nose." I ranted at him as we walked. The guys mouth fell open and Leland was just laughing as he pulled the guy along. I could hear Lyssa laughing behind us along with Katey, our fugitive.
By the time we reached the cars the whole team was waiting for us. Beth ran over and grabbed the girl from Lyssa while Dog took his daughter into his arms. He hated not being there when a capture goes down, especially when it's just girls there, because he gets scared. Duane Lee came and took me into his arms and lifted me off my feet to kiss me. His heart was racing and he had tears in his eyes. He was terrified.
"Wait! Hold up! Which of them is your old man? You act like you're in love with both of these guys. So what happens? Do you share her or something?" The guy called from where Leland still had hold of him. I heard skin connect with skin and then the guy called out in pain.
"Sorry guys, my foot slipped. I think he twisted his knee though." Leland called to us and I smirked against Duane Lee's lips. I tapped his shoulder to let him know to put me down. He slid me down the length of his body and then kissed me lightly before releasing me. I saw the anger cloud his eyes as he finally registered the growing bruise on my face.
"Now you listen to me you stupid piece of shit!" I called as I walked over to stand in front of him. "I've already warned your pathetic ass to stop running your mouth. Why the fuck does it matter to you who I'm with." I looked at him and watched his eyes slide up and down my body as he checked me out. "Oh, I get it. You're jealous. You want some of what they have. Well dude, you ain't man enough to handle this. These men can barely handle all of this so get your mind off of me and start worrying about whose bitch you're going to be when you get inside." I glared at him but he wouldn't look at me so I turned to walk away.
"Oh I think I finally understand it now. You're like the team mascot. Everybody takes turns and you make them all feel good." He was laughing at his own joke but nobody else was. Leland looked furious, Baby Lyssa looked shocked and Katey looked embarrassed. I couldn't see the others but I'm sure they were just as upset. I didn't think about what I was going to do. I just ran the few steps to close the distance. I leaped into the air and connected a spinning kick with the back of the guys head. He fell to his knees and I kicked him in the balls for good measure.
"If you ever speak to me like that again dude I won't stop. I will fucking kill you. I am not a toy or a mascot. I am not passed around for their pleasure. You don't even know me but if you want to continue I've got all day. I will carry on kicking your ass until you beg me to stop." He didn't lift his head up or acknowledge me in any way. I don't know why I was so upset about what he had said but he must have touched a nerve.
"Easy Tiger. The cops are here but I'm sure we're all in agreement that it was self defense." Leland looked at Katey and she nodded her approval. Duane Lee didn't touch me after that. He had seen something in me that he didn't like. I was still too defensive of my feelings for Leland. He thought I should have been able to control my feelings for Leland by now but obviously not.
Once the cops had taken all of our statements they took him in so they could book him for assault. Baby Lyssa went home with Beth and Dog. She was still shaken up by what had happened so that left me to go and book Katey in since we needed to have a female with her at all times. Duane Lee said he didn't feel well so he went home too once I assured him I was fine. He kissed me chastely before he left and that bothered me slightly. I tried to convince myself he simply didn't want to hurt me because of the bruise on my face but it never quite worked.
Once we had dropped Katey off at the prison Leland took me for a coffee. My hands still hadn't stopped shaking after everything that had went down. "Are you sure you're OK, Princess? How's your face?" He asked as we slid into a booth at our favorite coffee house.
"It stings like a bitch but I'm OK. I'm just glad you showed up when you did Lele. I don't know what would have happened if you hadn't have been there. Why were you there by the way?" I looked at him and my heart beat a little faster when I met his eyes. I hated my body for betraying me but I could deny that the attraction was still there.
"You can't do that darlin'." He said and I looked at him puzzled. I hadn't done anything. "Every time you call me Lele I want to kiss you and then you look at me with your eyes burning like that and it nearly kills me. I was shopping for Hope to answer your question though. I've missed Buttons as much as I've missed you." He looked down at the table and took a sip of his coffee after he spoke. I knew he was giving me time to compose myself and I was grateful to him for that.
"I'm sorry Leland. I don't mean to make this harder for everyone but I can't turn off my feelings. I'm attracted to you and I probably always will be but I love Duane Lee. He picked up the pieces and helped me become stronger. He adores me and Hope and Dylan loves us too. I don't know what we're going to do but I won't risk that. I can't." I looked at him from under my lashes and he was tracing circles around the rim of his cup.
"I know that Princess and I don't want to break that for you but are you sure Duane Lee knows that? He's a very jealous person and can be quite possessive. I was surprised he's let you carry on dancing so I guess he has mellowed a little." He pondered as he met my eyes. I nearly shared with him that Duane Lee hated me dancing but I bit my tongue. No relationship is perfect but Leland didn't need to know about our problems. "Look, let's just agree to try OK? We can be friends again, can't we?" He asked.
My heart broke a little bit as I looked at him. He looked so scared and vulnerable because he thought I was going to reject him. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't tempted because I wanted him to understand what he had done to me. He had rejected me and broke my heart but I couldn't do it to him. It would kill me just as much as it would him if I hurt him that badly. "Of course we can Leland. I still love you." I leaned across the table and put my hand over his.
Duane Lee and I argued a lot after Leland came back. He didn't like Leland and I working together, hanging out together or even just talking on the phone. He couldn't handle it and it caused us to argue. Unfortunately, when we argued Leland defended me which made things difficult for everyone. The office was tense, the family unit started to show cracks and everyone was taking sides.
One day I lost it! Leland had sat down next to me while Dog talked us through our new jump. Duane Lee had started screaming about Leland trying it on with his girl and the two of them had nearly come to blows. If Dog hadn't stepped between them I think they would have. "ENOUGH!" I screamed. "I can't handle any of this. You are brothers for fuck sake! What's that old saying? Bros before Hos? Well, you guys need to listen to that. I'm not a toy that you can fight over like when you were kids. I love both of you but I'm sick of all the drama." I stood up and moved away from the whole family. "I've been speaking to Bobby Brown and he said I can go work for him until I get my shit together. Duane Lee, I'm so sorry but I can't be with you now. I love you. I honestly do but I can't do this anymore. I'm a dancer, I'm a flirt and I'm a tease and you can't handle any of those qualities in your woman." I smiled sadly at him because I knew that he thought he loved me completely but he couldn't because he wanted to change me.
"So you're choosing Leland?" He asked. His voice sounded gruff and I knew he was fighting the tears. He thought he was losing me to someone else and that hurt him more than losing me because we weren't working.
"No, I'm not. I'm not going to be with Leland either. I love him too and he accepts who and what I am and loves me for it but I can't trust him. I can't give myself to him and spend my life wondering if he's going to get bored again." I felt a tear run down my face and I left it. I needed them to know that I was hurting too.
"It wasn't like that Princess. I was confused but it had nothing to do with you. I was always in love you, I just needed to admit it to myself." He pleaded. I knew it was hurting him as much as it was Duane Lee that I was leaving but I couldn't change any of it.
"It doesn't matter now Leland. It doesn't change anything. I need some space from everyone. I need to just be me and concentrate on Hope for a while. I've been too caught up in all of this and I need to find myself again so can you please all just let me go." I begged as I felt the flood gates open and I was suddenly sobbing. Before I could do anything both Leland and Duane Lee had their arms around me. They were holding me and stroking my hair. The two men I loved most in the world were holding me together physically while I crumbled emotionally.
"I can let you go Shorty. I knew this day would come and I can let you go. I love you Short Stuff and I just want you to be happy. I'm always going to be here for you though so just call me if you need me." He physically let go of me then and head out of the back door. That just made me cry even harder. My knees buckled and Leland lowered us to the floor.
"I'm always going to need to Duane. I love you!" I shouted after him. I'm not sure if he heard me but a wave of fresh tears starting falling then. I felt like my whole world was falling apart.
"I can let you leave Princess, I can do that for you but I'll never let you go. You own my heart and all you ever have to do is call and I will come running. I understand that you need space and I can give you that. I'll give you however long you need but I won't give up on us. That's never going to happen." He whispered into my ear as I cried. I could feel my heart breaking and in that moment I wanted to die. It hurt so badly that I wanted the pain to stop. It felt like I couldn't breath. Leland rocked me and whispered soothing words to me while I cried. I was having a panic attack and I couldn't stop it but he held me through it until I got control again. Nobody knew I suffered from them except Leland.
After what felt like an eternity I walked out the front door of their office and went home to pack. Once I was done I took a taxi to get Hope from day care and then went straight to the airport. I'd already booked my tickets and arranged for Bobby to meet me when we landed. Beth and Dog had said I could use their house until I had figured things out.
It felt strange being there by myself. I kept expecting to bump into people coming and going but I never did. For the few weeks I stayed either in the kitchen, the living room or in one of the guest bedrooms. I avoided the rest of the house because I couldn't face the memories. Eventually though I knew I had to get over the pain and just face up to it all. After Hope was settled I wondered around from room to room and just remembered everything that had happened last time I was here. I ached to call one of them. I was a Chapman and it felt wrong to be so far away from them all. I felt bad for Hope because I knew she missed them all as much as I did. When my phone beeped I nearly jumped out of my skin because the house was so quiet. I slid my phone out of my pocket and opened up my text. 'I know you need space but can I at least text you to tell you that I'm thinking of you? Love Lele x' I stared at the screen for what seemed like an eternity. It was as if he had heard my pain from Hawaii.
'I'm thinking of you too. I can't deal with calls right now but I think some texts would be nice. Can you not tell the others though?' I replied eventually. I went and lit a fire in the living room and curled up on the couch watching the flames. I had Hopes baby monitor with me and for the first time in a very long time I felt like I was myself.
'I won't Mads. This place just isn't the same without you x' I smiled at my phone and let the tears fall. I knew I could finally let myself feel everything because I didn't have to be brave for anybody. Hope was asleep and everyone else was 1000's of miles away. I lay there and sobbed for everything. I cried for Hope because she would never know her real dad since he had took off to California to avoid doing prison time. I cried for Duane Lee because all he had ever done was love me and I had hurt him so badly. I cried for Leland because I was tearing him apart even though I knew I was in love with him. I cried for everyone who was caught up in this mess I called my life.
I cried so much that I couldn't breath. It hurt so badly and I couldn't stop it. I felt the panic attack coming and I dialed his number before I even thought about it. It didn't even ring once before he answered. "Hello?"
"Panic attack. Talk to me please Leland." I couldn't manage any more because I was struggling to breath. I could hear myself gasping for breath. My hands were shaking so badly that I nearly dropped my phone a few times.
"I'm here Mads. I bet you don't know where I am? I'm on the beach where we take the boys surfing. Well, me and the boys surf. You want sit looking gorgeous with Buttons and watch us." He was laughing and I managed to catch my breath. "We've got a jump later so I'm trying to relax as much as possible now. Dakota has his English exam tomorrow. He thinks he'll be OK because of the work you did with him over Christmas on Shakespeare." He stopped talking for a minute and I just listened to him breathing. I could breath easier now but the tears wouldn't stop. "Are you still there Princess?" He asked.
"I'm here Lele. I'm sorry for calling you. I just didn't know what else to do." I sobbed down the phone. "I know I said I wanted space but I wish you were here with me." I was watching my hands as they shook. Leland always calms me down. He sooths my soul completely like nobody else ever has or even could.
"OK, so how about I come and visit this weekend? I won't tell the others I'm coming to see you. I'll sleep on the other side of the house and we can just talk for a while. I'm not trying to push you though so if you don't think it's a good idea let me know." I knew he was holding his breath as he waited for my answer.
"How would you manage to get here without everyone knowing? I don't want the others to know Leland. I can't do it to Duane Lee. I just miss you." I was still crying but I was breathing normally now.
"I'll tell them that I've got a fight to coach. They never ask questions about my MMA stuff anymore and if anyone wants to tag along then I'll just tell them I want to be on my own. Apparently I've been a miserable bastard since you left according to my dad. I want to help you Darlin'. I need to make things easier for you. I will be whatever you want me to be and I don't expect anything from you." He was smiling and I could hear it in his voice. We needed some time together but nobody could ever know. I'd hurt Duane Lee enough already.
"Just swear to me that they won't know Lele. I couldn't handle it if they knew. I want to figure this all out myself first." I was calmer now. I knew I would be seeing him soon and that soothed me. I loved him so much. That's when I heard Hope crying. "I've got to go Leland. Hope's crying. Just come here when you can. I don't start with Bobby for another 3 weeks." I hung up before I said what I was thinking. I couldn't complicate things by admitting to him that I still loved him. Even though I knew he already knew it I couldn't say it to him.
I ran up the stairs and into Hope's room. I scooped her into my arms and rocked her gently. As long as she was safe that was all that mattered. I gave her a bottle and settled her back to sleep. Once she was laying back in her crib I just watched her sleep. It made me laugh that the Chapman's kept a room here ready for a baby constantly. When the sun started to rise I sat down on the rocking chair in her room and closed my eyes.
I woke up and realized I was in the bed that I'd had when we had all stayed here for Christmas. I bolted out of bed. Hope wasn't here. "HOPE!" I screamed. I ran into the room I had left her in and she wasn't in her crib. "HOPE!" I ran down the stairs and then suddenly screeched to a halt as I ran into the kitchen. Leland was leaning against the door frame looking out over the Chapman land. I knew he had Hope in his arms. He was wearing a pair of jogging bottoms and nothing else. His feet were bare and I could see the cross at the base of his back. His hair was loose and fell like silk. I could smell the sweet scent of Hope mixed with his glorious masculine scent from him.
He turned to look over his shoulder at me and a grin lit up his face. "Morning Princess." He murmured. His eyes went up and down my body and it made me shiver. His eyes were on fire with desire.
I looked down at myself and blushed when I realized I must be wearing the shirt he had taken off. It fell to just above my knees but I remembered being in my jumper and jeans when I fell asleep in the rocking chair. "How did I get into this? I mean, when did you get here? How did you move me?" I realized now why I could smell him so clearly. The shock of not knowing where Hope had been was wearing off now and desire for Leland was taking over.
"I jumped the first flight I could last night because you scared me half to death last night darlin'. When I got here you didn't look very comfy so I carried you to bed and went to change you into your pajama's but I couldn't find them so I put my shirt on you." He must have seen me blushing again because he carried on. "I just got you changed darlin'. Believe me, when that happens you'll remember it." He smiled at me as he came further into the room.
He passed Hope to me and kissed my cheek before heading over the the kitchen island. he poured 2 cups of coffee and carried them into the living room. I followed him and put Hope in her Moses basket before sitting down on the opposite side of the couch. He passed me one of the mugs and just smiled at me. I curled my legs up under me. I knew I was showing a lot of skin but it didn't bother me. I was comfortable. "I didn't mean to scare you Leland. I don't know what happened. One minute I was texting you and the next I couldn't breath. I'm sorry."
"You have nothing to be sorry for Princess. I did this to you and it fucking kills me. I was so stupid and it rips me apart to know that I can't just click my fingers and fix it for you." Leland reached out and brushed my hair back off my face. The bruise the guy had left was finally fading. It was a nasty yellow and green now. It was taking a long time to heal because he had fractured my cheekbone too. He stared at it for a minute before carrying on. "I wanted to kill that punk! I was so angry that I wanted to hurt him badly but I couldn't. I had to convince myself that you weren't my lady and that you were dealing with it fine yourself. When Duane Lee turned up and kissed you I wanted to kill him too for touching you like that. It should have been me kissing you." He looked away from me then. He thought he'd said too much.
"Do you remember how I lost it when he said you and Duane Lee shared me?" He nodded but still wouldn't look at me. "I lost it because it was true. I felt like you and Duane Lee were sharing me because I loved you both in such different ways. And after that when you said about Duane Lee mellowing because I was dancing? I had to bite my lip then too. I nearly told you about our arguments over him wanting me to quit. I came close to tell you that I wished he was you! How fucked up is that?" I touched my fingers to his chin and forced him to look at me. "I love you Leland but I don't know if I can trust you and it scares me. I don't want to let myself go again and then you leave because Duane Lee won't be here this time to keep me sane."
"I'm going no where Darlin' but I understand why you're so nervous. I'm going to prove to you that I'm not leaving but first you need to go get dressed. Daycare are coming to collect Hope in an hour and then we are going to enjoy a day together." He smiled at me and my heart stopped. I loved the effect he had on me but it scared me too.
When daycare left with Hope, Leland and I took out the 4 wheelers. At first he sat behind me and held me while I drove but after a while he left me alone while he took his own out. I was so scared but he stayed next to me the whole time. He was patient and caring the whole time. He never made me feel childish or stupid. By the afternoon I was racing with him and even doing small jumps. We had an amazing time all day.
Daycare dropped Hope back off at about 6pm. Leland gave her a bath and bottle while I relaxed with a glass of wine. We read her a story and then went and just cuddled on the couch watching TV. When it was time for bed he went to his own room after kissing me lightly on the cheek. I dreamed of him that night. I dreamed that he proposed to me but left me stood on the alter because he'd decided to give Maui another chance. I woke up screaming and he came running. He cradled me while I calmed down and then begged me to tell him what I had dreamed of. When I reluctantly did he apologized time and time again and whispered soothing words into my hair until I fell back asleep.
I woke up to the sun blinding me but I was completely alone. I felt lost without him and I knew the game was over. I'd give him another chance no matter what it cost me. I went down stairs and found them in the kitchen again. I finished giving Hope her breakfast while he ate. "I want to try us again but I want it to go slowly Leland. I'm not going to sleep with you this visit but I want to share my bed with you. I hate waking up without you. Is that OK? If you can't deal with that then I'll understand." I looked into his eyes as I spoke and I saw them burning amber in the morning sun and I knew then that he had my heart forever.
"Of course I can deal with that Mads. I love you Baby Girl!" He leaned over then and pressed his lips to mine. He kissed me so softly that it was like he thought I was about to break.
Leland stayed for nearly 2 weeks and it was the best time of my life. He was a perfect gentleman but he filled me with so much desire at the same time that I thought I was going burn up. He treated Hope like she was his own. He took us shopping, for walks in the park, hiking, swimming and we just got to know each other again. On his last night we settled Hope in bed and went down stairs for a glass of wine by the fire.
"What are we going to tell everyone?" I asked. I was lying on the floor in front of the fire with my feet up on his lap as he massaged them. I don't think I had ever been that happy before except for the first time I saw Hope.
"We don't have to tell them anything yet Baby Girl. You aren't ready to come home and I understand that. So for now we'll keep it between us. I'll come and visit every few weeks and we'll talk on the phone and text. I've told you that this is going at your pace and not mine. When you're ready then we'll tell people we've been texting, talking and eventually that I'm coming to visit." He smiled at me and I felt my eyes fill with tears. Family was everything to Leland and he was willing to lie to them all for me. "Don't cry Baby Girl."
He slid off the couch and lay down next to me. I lay my head on his chest and let the tears fall for a minute. "I've torn your family apart Leland. I never meant for any of this to happen. I wish you and Duane Lee could understand that no matter what happens you are still brothers."
"I love him sweetheart and once he stops hurting he'll be fine too. It's just a bit raw right now but none of it is your fault. I left you and he was there. I don't blame either of you. I mean obviously I'd rather it had never happened but I can't change it." He kissed me then and my whole body felt like it was on fire. His hands were at the base of my back and I wanted him to touch me and explore my body. I slid my hand under his top and he grabbed my wrist. "Not tonight. I want you to be sure and to think about this first. I love you Madison but I hurt you badly. I need you to forgive me for that first before we carry this on." His whole body fought him as he moved away from me slightly. "Damn, you make it so hard to be a gentleman Mads." He complained.
"Why do you Chapman men insist on being so fucking chivalrous? I love you Leland and I don't want to wait. I forgive you for leaving and I even understand why you did. I want this. I want you in every way possible before you go home and I can't touch you for weeks. Please just do as you're told for once Leland Blaine Chapman!" I begged as I grabbed hold of his pony tail and kissed him. I felt him smile as he opened up his mouth to the demands of my tongue. I explored every inch of his mouth and neck before sitting him up so I could get his top off.
"You're very demanding Princess." He groaned as I covered his chest and stomach in kisses. My hands memorized every inch of his body before moving to slide his pants off. He was already hard and ready by the time I released his cock. I bit and kissed the inside of his thighs as he squirmed. Finally I took him into my mouth and he sighed his pleasure. I ran my hand up and down his shaft as I sucked at the length of him. He was too big for me to take all of him into my mouth but I tried. "Please Baby, I want to be inside you!" He begged. I was already wet from pleasuring him so I straddled his hips and guided him inside me. He sucked in his breath as he entered me and I groaned.
He held onto my hips as I rode him. I had my hands on his chest as I pounded myself onto his throbbing cock. Suddenly he flipped me over so that I was on my back looking into his soulful brown eyes. "Not this time Madison. This time it's all about love." He kissed me then and it was so tender and beautiful that again I was crying. He kissed my tears away as he slowly made love to me. He caressed me and loved me like I was the most precious, valuable thing in the world. "I love you more than you will ever know." He whispered into my ear. I dug my nails into his back and bit down on his chest as I climaxed around him. I felt his rhythm falter seconds before he spilled into me.
When I could finally breath I smiled at him. "I love you Leland." I whispered I watched the flames cast shadows over us and the sweat on both of our skins glint in the light. He looked wonderful. His hair was fanned out around him and his lips were flushed and swollen from our kisses. I glanced at his chest and winced. "Sorry Baby Boy. No showing off that gorgeous body for a few days." I laughed.
"Baby Boy?" He growled as he ran a finger over my stomach. I was lying on my back on the rug and he had turned onto his side and was leaning on his elbow to look at me. He was smiling softly at me and I could see the love for me written all over his face.
"I figured that you've got all kinds of pet names for me that I need one for you and since you call me Baby Girl I thought it fitted." I smiled shyly at him and he leaned over to kiss me. He left me breathless which made him laugh.
"I think we need to work on that. It's not very masculine Princess. I didn't mean to make you cry by the way." He lay back down and pulled me onto his chest so that he could hold me and stroke my hair.
"I was crying because of how special you make me feel Lele. And how about I stick to Lover, Babe or Lele?" I snuggled into him and wrapped my free arm around his waist. He was so warm that I could feel my eyes getting heavier.
"You, Buttons, Dakota and Cobie are everything to me. You're my world now so how could I not make you feel special? I want to be with you forever and I plan on showing you in every way I can think of for the rest of my life." He kissed my head then and we just lay there enjoying being with each other. My eyes got heavier until I couldn't open them anymore. I felt content and loved.
It was heartbreaking to say goodbye to him the next morning. I drove him to the airport and waited until I couldn't see his plane anymore before I left. My tears blinded me to the point that I had to sit in my car for nearly an hour before I could make the drive home. The house felt empty without him. A few hours later I got a text from him. 'I miss you and I want to come back already! Can't wait to see you and Buttons again xxx' I couldn't stop smiling.
Once I started working with Bobby everything went quicker. I spent the days chasing fugitives, the evenings with my princess and my nights on the phone with Leland. Him and Duane Lee were repairing their relationship. They had even started hanging out again. Before I realized it I had been in Colorado for nearly 7 months and it was coming up to Hope's first birthday. I wanted her to be with her family for it.
I didn't tell Leland I was coming home. I arranged for Lyssa and Beth to meet me at the airport and take me and Hope straight to the office. When I walked in Dog looked up and did a double take before bolting across the office to wrap us both in his arms. "Damn I've missed you two." He said as he squeezed us.
"Dog, we need to breath." I muttered as I laughed. It felt so good to be home. I hadn't realized how much I missed this place until now. Duane Lee and Leland were sat on the couches watching us. When Dog released us I smiled at the two men.
"DADDA!" Hope shouted and I was shocked. It was her first word and she'd chosen to shout it now. I laughed and cuddled her and she shouted again "DADDA!" She was wriggling in my arms and wanted to be put down. Since she'd learnt to crawl she was very independent.
"Who's she shouting for?" Beth asked as she came in with our bags from the car. She had her eyebrows raised as if she was in on a secret. I wasn't sure what to do. "Well, put her down and let's find out." Beth said. So I stooped down and sat Hope on the floor at my feet. At first she didn't move but then she was off like a greyhound chasing a rabbit. She went straight to Leland and pulled herself up without hesitation so that she was stood in front of him. "Dadda." She said again. She raised her arms to him and as she did she started to wobble. Before she fell Leland scooped her into his arms and cuddled her tight. I didn't meet anyones eyes because I was fixated on them. Leland had tears in his eyes that I could see from here and that made me fill up too.
"Hey Shorty. How about a hug for your favorite Brother?" Duane Lee called from across the office and I took off running. I dived into his arms and got him in a bear hug. I never wanted to let him go. He was one of my best friends and I loved him completely. "OK Short Stuff. You have to let me breath!" He called and I relaxed my grip a little.
"Fancy taking a walk Duane?" I asked softly. I wasn't sure if I was pushing the boundaries or not but I needed to talk to him away from the others. I had to tell him about me and Leland because he deserved that much. He had loved me and I wanted him to stay in my life and more importantly in Hope and Leland's life.
"Sure thing Shorty." He stood up with me still clinging to neck and swung me round onto his back. He piggybacked me out of the office and down towards the park. When he put me down he stopped but kept hold of my hand. "I'm OK with you and Leland. I guessed a while ago that that was were he was sneaking off to and I was fine with it. You and me were always meant to be best friends and brother and sister Madi. I mean, don't get me wrong, I ENJOYED our time but we both knew it wouldn't last. You were always going to end up with Leland and I'm hoping Teresa will give us another chance too. So just be happy and know that I love you." He spoke and I knew he meant every word. The time I had taken away from here had let everyone understand the situation and accept it. "So lets get back and start planning my nieces birthday!" He spun me round and back onto his back and I climbed up further to sit on his shoulders. I fought the tears that were burning my eyes because this was a happy time. I was home. When we made it back to the office I had to duck to get in the door. I leaned to far forward and nearly fell until I felt Leland's strong hands grab hold of me and lower me to the ground.
"I've told them." He whispered into my ear and I smiled. "You're not mad, are you?" I tiptoed up and kissed him gently. I was in bare feet and he had his boots on so he was at least 6 inches taller than me. "I'm taking that to mean no." He said against my lips.
"OK, Travis, you're babysitting while we take Madi out and test what she learned on the main land and then it's party time. Oh and every one consider this your invite to Hope's birthday party. Sunday, our house. Be there or be dead!" Dog called from his desk. "Renegades mount up!"
I grabbed 3 waters and 2 cans of Monster before jumping into Dog's car with Duane Lee driving. I did it instinctively but it didn't feel wrong when I realized. This was my place on the team. Duane Lee and I took the back door together and it worked. I knew he would look after me and get the job done.
"I love you Big daddy." Beths voice came over the radio and I smiled. I had missed all of this.
"I love you more." Dog replied.
"Yuck, come on guys. You make me want to hurl!" Baby Lyssa complained.
"At least it's not open radio dirty talk Lyssa like last week." Duane Lee groaned and I couldn't help but laugh hysterically.
"You sound sexy when you laugh like that Sugar." Leland's voice caressed over my skin and I felt my skin turn red.
"Ha Bro, you made her blush. I forgot how easy it is to do that. Bet you can't make her turn beetroot!" Duane Lee laughed.
"How much?" Leland replied. I could hear Lyssa and Beth laughing in his car.
"Leland Blaine Chapman! I will make you very sorry if you take up this bet." I growled down my radio.
"$50" Duane Lee tagged on before Leland could reply to me. Dog was sat next to me laughing and I couldn't help but smile. I know the boys fighting had hurt him a lot and now he had his family back.
"I'm not doing anything Princess. I mean it's not like I'm telling anyone what came before the Baby Boy comment or anything. I'm just hanging out, minding my own business." He could hear the laughter in his voice and I also heard Lyssa asking about it before the radio went dead.
"LELAND!" I shouted. I could feel my face burning but I wasn't going to let him get away with that. "Yeah and it's not like I'm telling your dad about those other tattoos... oops sorry." I giggled down my radio and Duane Lee cracked up. He knew that Leland had tattoos of MMA career stats on the inside of his thigh right near to top but the rest of the family didn't because Leland had said he wouldn't get any more for a while.
"Bro, I owe you $50 but I think you best step lightly with this one. She's got a mean streak." Duane Lee called and I smiled at him in his mirror.
"I don't have a mean streak Duane Lee. I have a nice streak that runs through the middle of all this meanness." I giggled into my radio. A minute later my phone buzzed to say I had a text. 'You my darling are playing dirty. I'm looking forward to tonight. I'll bring the hand cuffs.' I nearly choked on my water as I read it. 'Well Mr Chapman, get the guy today and you might get lucky again tonight. You know I love to watch you work.' I replied. I knew he wouldn't check it until we came to a set of lights or we stopped at a gas station. 'deal.' was the only reply I got.
When we pulled up the house we had to go in to search. Duane Lee, Lyssa and Beth stayed outside while Dog, Leland and I went in. I was searching the bedroom with Leland when he screamed at someone to put their hands up. I spun round with my mace can ready to see Leland throw the guy onto the bed cuff him singlehandedly. We were taking him outside when his mother grabbed my arm and spun me around to face her. "Don't you touch me ma'am." I said as nicely as I could. She pushed me and I took a step backwards. "DON'T FUCKING TOUCH ME!" I screamed at her this time. Why do I always get the crazy bitches? I thought to myself.
"You're taking my son. If you don't let him go I'm going to rip your face off." She slurred at me. I knew then that she was either high or drunk and either one was trouble. She wasn't thinking clearly and thought we were hurting her son.
"Listen sister, he has to go in right now and that's the end of it. If you want to join him then by all means carry on. If not go back inside." I kept calm and hoped that the others came to help quick. She swung at me and I grabbed her fist and shoved her backwards. "I'm not going to tell you again." I warned. She took another swing at me but I ducked. Before I could retaliate she was already on the floor. Leland had took her down from behind and had her pinned to the floor.
"Now listen Lady. I'm going to stand you up. Walk you inside and then shut your door. You will stay in the house until we drive away or my girl will spray you with mace in the face while I shoot you with some rubber bullets. Do you understand?" Leland asked. When the woman nodded he did exactly what he said. He kept his back the house watching in front of us while I walked backwards watching the house. I knew he wouldn't let me fall so I was OK. "You are going to get into a fight you can't handle one day Princess." He said as he kissed the top of my head.
I smiled sweetly at him and replied "I never start anything I can't handle and you know I can handle a lot." I licked my lips then and laughed when he started to blush. We went to the prison and dropped our guy off before heading back to the office where we just chilled for the rest of the day. It was good to be a family again.
Hope's birthday was amazing. Everyone had a great time and Hope got spoiled by the whole family. Leland seemed quiet all day though and it made me nervous. He seemed to be deep in thought a lot and my stomach sank. I thought he was going to leave again and I knew I wouldn't cope if he did. I was in over my head this time.
At the end of the night Beth, Dog, Duane Lee, Baby Lyssa, Bo, Travis, Cecily, Leland and I were sat around the fire pit in the backyard. All of the children were asleep and we hadn't all been together for a long time. I was off in my own little world and didn't hear half of what was said.
"Earth to Madison!" Leland called as he waved his hand in front of my face. I blinked and looked at him puzzled. "Are you OK?" He asked. He looked worried and I knew that I couldn't lie to him.
"No." I managed that one word without crying and for that I was extremely proud of myself. I stood up and walked around the back of the house towards the front yard. I knew he would follow me so I made sure we were out of ear shot of the others before I spun round to speak to him. "Are you leaving again?" I demanded.
"What? No, of course I'm not. Where is this coming from Princess?" He looked genuinely shocked and I thought that maybe I had been paranoid. I knew something was bothering him though.
"You've been weird all day. You've been quiet and distant. Every time I've been around you, you find an excuse to leave the room or you have to do something else. If you aren't leaving then what's wrong?" I was trying not to cry because it felt like all I ever did. I hated being so weak.
"Oh Baby Girl, why do you have to be so observant? I've been quiet because there is something I've wanted to ask you for a long time and I keep choking before I can but it seems like you've called me on it now so I can't back out." He knelt down and pulled a platinum and diamond ring out of his shirt pocket. "Madison, will you please do me the honor of being my wife?"
I couldn't speak so I just nodded and threw myself into his arms. He caught me with ease and just held me for what seemed like only seconds. "We might want to do it quick though Lele." I whispered into his ear.
He pulled away from me and looked into my eyes. He was suddenly grinning from ear to ear. "Are you sure?" He asked.
"100%. I'm pregnant Leland." I said and he pulled me back into his arms and span me around and around. "Enough Babe or I might hurl." I laughed as he finally put my feet back on the ground and held me until everything stopped spinning.
I suffered really badly through the first half of my pregnancy with morning sickness. It was that bad that I couldn't go hunting or even consider planning a wedding. Every one was really supportive though. They stopped bringing any food or drink with a strong scent to the office, even coffee. They would all hold my hair back while I vomited. They kept my spirits up when I was feeling down and they all told me how beautiful I was.
Leland was a saint. He put up with my mood swings, cravings and obsession for tidying with a smile on his face. We got married when I was nearly 6 months pregnant with just the family and a few close friends present. Duane Lee was best man and Tim and Dog gave me away. It was perfect. We spent our wedding night curled up on the sofa watching American Football and eating ice cream. We wouldn't have had it any other way.
When I went into labor Leland was there every step of the way. He held my hand and whispered soothing words to me for 23 hours until our gorgeous little girl came to join us. She was absolutely perfect. She looked exactly like her dad except she had my mouth. We called her Faith Bethany Lee. Bethany Lee was after her grandparents who loved her almost as much as we did. Faith was simply because we had always had faith that we would end up together.
Dakota and Cobie adored both Hope and Faith. As far as they were concerned they had 2 little sisters who they could love and protect and that was all that mattered to them. Maui let them come over every 2 weeks and for the school holidays and we went to Kona whenever we could. I even got to be good friends with Maui eventually. She was a good, strong woman and a fantastic mother.
5 YEARS LATER
"Dakota! Let's go or we'll be late. Cobie, can you drop Hope and Faith off at school and take Brae, Katie and Savannah to Auntie Lyssa's please? And don't be late for school!" I shouted from by the front door. Dakota was 21 now and was working with us as part of the team. Cobie was 17 and had been living with us for about a year. Hope and Faith were a handful, they were absolutely stunning and little minx's who knew it and used it to their advantage. Brae was our 3 year old boy. He had brown hair like his dad but bright green eyes like me. He was very shy and lovable. Katie and Savannah were our 1 year old twins. They were like miniature versions of me and already had their dad wrapped around their little finger just like mommy. I was pregnant again but I swore to Leland that this would be out last.