Clawed: Wild Things, Book 3

Dedication

Don’t you know, dear readers, that you are the reason I continue to write? Without your support, I’d just be sitting at home watching one talk show after another. Thank you!

Chapter One

Chloe Long threw her purse on the kitchen counter and frowned at the half-eaten sandwich and spilled juice that hadn’t been there when she’d left.
Great. I get to clean up one of Roger’s messes again.
Groaning, she mopped up the juice and dropped the leftover sandwich into the trash bin.

If only she’d asked him to return the key she’d given him. After all, it wasn’t as though he actually lived with her, although he was at her apartment a lot. He certainly didn’t help with the rent or any of the other bills, including groceries. Having a key for emergencies was one thing, but to just let himself in whenever he felt like it was getting old. Especially when they hadn’t been getting along the past couple of months. In fact, their relationship had gone from just so-so, to bad, then continued the downward spiral to worse with no signs of surviving. After many sleepless nights of soul-searching, she’d finally realized that she’d never really loved him. To be truthful, she’d been more infatuated with the idea of being in love than with actually loving Roger. Maybe the new job and time away were just the incentives she needed to make a clean break.

“Roger, are you here? You’ll never guess what happened. I was in Mr. Bicknell’s office—he’s the head of the tourism bureau—and he offered me an amazing opportunity. Roger?” She continued down the hall toward her bedroom, kicking off her shoes along the way.
Please tell me he’s not using my place for one of his afternoon naps again. How does he keep from getting fired?

“Oh, Roger! Fuck me, big man. Yeah, oh, yeah.”

“I’ll fuck you all right. After I eat you.”

Chloe froze, her body going rigid. What the hell? Was that Roger’s voice?

“Come on, baby. Yeah, uh-huh. Keep it up, sweetie.”

Sweetie?
That was Roger’s nickname for her. Chloe’s heart pounded against her chest. Anger welled inside her, twisting her gut into a massive knot. Taking a deep breath to steady herself, she threw open the door.

Roger Martin, her boyfriend of almost eight months, lay on his back in bed—
her
bed—while he groped the bottom of a shapely blonde who held on to the headboard, her legs straddling his head. The nude girl’s long, golden hair danced around her shoulders and she fondled one breast. Her orgasmic cries grew louder when Roger pulled on her legs, bringing her closer.

“Oh, yeah. Suck me harder. I love it,” she shouted. “Eat me, Roger. Eat me up.”

Roger increased his feverish attack and played with her butt cheeks, separating them to run his fingers into the crevice between. The girl’s legs trembled as she leaned back and twisted her head from side to side in ecstasy.

Chloe stayed motionless, too stunned to move or speak, and watched Roger spur the girl on with his hands, with his tongue. Had he been having an affair the entire time he’d been with her? Or was this girl just one of many flings? Chloe gritted her teeth and stared, unable to break away from the scene.

Why had he done this? Hadn’t she always given him whatever he’d wanted? Hadn’t she done everything sexual that he’d asked for?

No, this wasn’t her fault. She was a good girlfriend. Hell, a great one. In fact, she was too good for the likes of Roger.

Still, she should have seen this coming. Roger flirted a lot, but she’d ignored it, chalking it up her imagination. Instead of facing the awful truth, she’d pushed her nagging doubts away, keeping her fantasy of a relationship alive even when she’d known Roger wasn’t the man for her.

“Ride me, sweetie!”

Screwing around with another girl and using the affectionate nickname of “sweetie”, however, was the last straw. Rage boiled to the surface, giving her the determination to finally end things. If she’d done this a month earlier like she should have, she wouldn’t be in this position now.

The blonde slid down his body and eased his cock inside her. Squealing with delight, she rocked against Roger’s bumping pelvis, her hands flattened against his chest.

Roger’s grunts matched the pounding he gave the blonde. He grabbed her breasts, squeezing them just as he’d squeezed Chloe’s, but the blonde’s breasts were much bigger than hers. She could hear Roger’s voice in her head, telling her to “get a boob job”. He’d often drooled over women’s larger breasts, making her feel small and inadequate with her size-B cups. Roger’s moans grew louder, his thrusts faster, harder.

Chloe couldn’t take any more. “Who the hell is this?”

The blonde shrieked as she scrambled off the bed, knocking the lamp on the nightstand to the floor where it smashed into pieces. The girl clutched Chloe’s grandmother’s handmade comforter in front of her. Roger scurried off the other side of the bed and started toward Chloe, then turned to the girl before he stalled, indecision catching him between the two women. He laughed, a short abrasive sound, then ran a hand through his light brown hair.

“This isn’t what it looks like.” He danced back and forth on his feet, turning to Chloe, then to the girl and back again.

Chloe slammed her mouth shut just in time to keep the fury from flying out like in one of the horror movies she loved to watch. Instead of shouting the obscenities she wanted to spew, she studied the girl, vaguely remembering her from the coffee shop they’d visited last week.

“Oh, come on, Roger. Do you think I’m stupid? Can’t you come up with a better excuse? I know what I saw. Hell, what I’m seeing.” Thrusting out her chin, she kept her remaining ounce of dignity and added a ton of indignation. The girl retrieved her clothes from a pile on the floor, but Roger remained a statue of nudity.

“Look, sweetie, this is just a little fun. Nothing more.”

He sidled over to Chloe, but she thrust her hand out, determined to keep him from touching her. “Don’t you ever call me sweetie again.”

“Just a little fun?” The girl, fully clothed, crossed her arms over her chest and focused on Roger. “You said you loved me. You said you were going to leave her.”

Chloe wouldn’t have been surprised if the top of her head blew off, but somehow she managed to keep from screaming at the girl. “You work at the coffee shop on Marley Street, don’t you? You’re the waitress who flirted with him last week, right?”

“Sweetie, uh, Chloe, she’s nothing. You know you’re the one I love.” Roger tried again to pull Chloe into his arms, but she sidestepped to stay out of reach. “Don’t be this way. Come on. Get into bed and let me make it up to you.”

“You want me to just hop into bed with you? While it’s still warm from that skank?”

“Hey!”

Chloe scowled at the girl. “Why don’t you get out while the getting’s good?”

“Roger?” Her sad plea almost touched Chloe’s heart. Almost.

“Leave, Jilly.”

“But, Roger—”

He flared then, as Chloe had seen him do. But lately his anger had grown worse. “Get the hell out before I throw you out.”

Jilly’s eyes grew wide, but she still moved to touch his arm. “Roger, please.”

He brushed her hand off, but managed to growl out a promise to call her.

With a triumphant smirk at Chloe, Jilly hurried out of the bedroom. Chloe remained silent while Roger dressed. Like a bell signaling the next round in a prize fight, the slamming of the front door restarted the argument.

“Babe—”

“Don’t call me babe either, you dirtbag.”

Roger gave up trying to pacify her and reverted to a tactic he’d used before: using his own irritation to turn the argument around and squash her anger. “Chloe, stop being a bitch.”

His face took on a look she hated. The one that told her his temper was red hot. But for once, she didn’t care. Instead, her fury came to a boiling point. This was her apartment and he had no right to bring anyone else into her home, much less her bed.

“I’m being a bitch? You’re fucking kidding me. You bring another girl back to
my
apartment and into
my
bed, and I’m being a bitch? You, Roger Martin, are a lowlife, scum-sucking, asshole of a bastard.” Why had she ever trusted him when she’d known in her heart that she shouldn’t?

His hand was on her throat before she could move. She sucked in precious air, fear racing through her, but met his hard glare with her own.

Roger was an intimidating man, standing six feet and weighing two hundred-twenty pounds, but she didn’t think he’d hurt her. Roger had never hit her, had never even laid a hand on her before now, but she’d never seen him this furious.

“Listen up. If I want to bring another woman here or anywhere else, then that’s what I’m going to do.”

Chloe struggled, testing her chances of getting free, and realized she couldn’t break his hold. Instead, she narrowed her eyes and hit him the only way she could. “This is my apartment, remember? My name is on the lease. None of this is yours.”

“You’re wrong, bitch.
You’re
mine.” He jerked her, throwing her toward the door.

Chloe stumbled, caught her footing, and ran out of the bedroom. She managed to swing the front door open seconds before Roger grabbed her hair, yanking her back inside the apartment.

She cried out and fought the terror threatening to take hold. “Let me go!”

“Not until you stop and listen to me.”

Chloe swallowed the bile rising into her mouth and struggled against Roger’s arms ensnaring her. He tried to close the door, but she cursed him and kicked the door wide again.

“Stop it, Chloe. You’re going to listen to me one way or another.”

“Get out of my apartment, you jerk.”

“Hey! Let her go!”

The struggle ceased, but Roger kept his arms wrapped around her. Chloe, on the verge of panic, took the brief reprieve to catch her breath. Mr. Ellis, her elderly neighbor across the hall, glared at them, his cell phone in his hand.

“Let her go, son.”

“Stay out of this, old man.” Roger tried to shut the door again, but Mr. Ellis stepped forward to stand in the doorway.

Mr. Ellis, well into his eighties, shook his head. “I don’t think so. In fact, I think I’d better call the police.”

Chloe pushed Roger’s arms off her, then staggered a few feet, putting distance between them. She fought against the fear and anger shaking her body as she shot her neighbor a thankful look. “Call the police, okay?”

Roger gritted his teeth, his jaws moving as he tried to pull himself together. “Now wait a minute. There’s no need for the cops.”

“I’ll do whatever Chloe wants me to do.” Mr. Ellis lifted his phone, preparing to punch in 911.

If she wanted Roger gone, the police could do it. But what would happen later, once they released him? Would his arrest make him even angrier? She bit her lip and struggled to pull herself together. “Roger, I want you out of my apartment. Now. I’ll pack up whatever stuff you have here and send it to your place. Just don’t come back. Ever.”

“This isn’t happening, Chloe. Once you calm down, you’ll realize what you’ll be missing.”

“I won’t miss anything about you. Not your clothes strewn all around the place. Not your crappy music and not your messes. And definitely not your freeloading.” She checked with Mr. Ellis who was still ready to call for help. “Make up your mind. Do you leave on your own? Or does Mr. Ellis call the police and I have you thrown out on your ass?”

Roger was quiet. Too quiet. But after a minute, he grumbled a few curse words, then stormed out the door, almost knocking the old man over. Chloe rushed to steady Mr. Ellis, then gave him a hug.

“Thank you for helping me. I don’t know what I would’ve done if you hadn’t shown up.”

The kind old man blushed, pink skimming up his neck and into his face. “Naw, don’t mention it. I was glad to help.” The ready twinkle in his eye was gone, replaced by a serious side she’d rarely seen in him. “Girlie, you’ve got to take better care. He’s a bad one.”

Chloe looked down the hallway, fearful that Roger might change his mind and force his way back inside her home. “Yeah, I know. I don’t know why I put up with him as long as I did.” Would saying she’d thought she’d loved him make her mistake sound any better? But whatever she’d felt for Roger was gone.

The old man’s pat on her shoulder made her feel safe, and she looked into his face, not for the first time wishing she’d had a father like him. She hadn’t known her father well, and time and distance had made them even more estranged.

“You must be lucky in work.”

She frowned, unsure of what he’d meant. “I’m sorry?”

“I figure you must be lucky in work because you’re so damn unlucky in love. Although, I hope I’m wrong ’cause being lucky in love is a whole lot better than being lucky in work.” His face softened. “I hope you don’t mind my saying so. The wife’s always telling me to mind my own business, but I tend to open my mouth and the words just fall out. I don’t mean to go butting into your private affairs.”

Chloe laughed, the turmoil of the past few minutes easing away. “Butting in? No way. In fact, I love you for caring. They don’t make men like you anymore. If you weren’t already married, I’d snatch you up so fast you wouldn’t know what hit you. I hope Mrs. Ellis knows what a terrific guy you are.”

Other books

An Ancient Peace by Tanya Huff
The Longest Winter by Harrison Drake
Nowhere Wild by Joe Beernink
Guardian of the Gate by Michelle Zink
Los Cinco se escapan by Enid Blyton