Ross: Central Florida Stories
She was never meant to be his. But his heart was always hers.
Ross Michaels hasn’t laid eyes on Hadley Keller since the night she took off on the back of his younger brother’s motorcycle. Her innocent sweetness had called to him. But she wasn’t his. End of story.
But fate can be viciously unpredictable.
He’s been working at the members only, Club Nexus, when he receives an unexpected letter from Hadley. Even though four years have passed, she still has such a hold on him that when she writes begging him to rescue her daughter, as they are both trapped in an outlaw MC, he decides to rescue both of them out of that hellhole. It’s when he sees her bruises and the helplessness in her youthful face, that the Daddy Dom in him, recognizes from her behavior that she is a Middle and in desperate need of his help and protection.
Only, his mission isn’t as simple as loading them into his truck and driving away. Hadley’s trauma had set its hooks deep. Ross is determined to remove each one; barb by painful barb. And keep her safe from MC elements that’ll do anything to claw her back in.
Note: Ross is a standalone romance in the Central Florida Stories - Club Nexus universe. Contains DDLG dynamics, spanking, scenes of abuse that may be triggering to some readers, explicit sex, and lots of dirty talk.
Avondale, Jacksonville, Florida, 2012
“Stop! Don’t do this, Steve. Listen to me. You’re going to mess up your life.”
Ross stopped drinking his beer. That was his mother’s anxious voice. A barrage of thunderous footsteps running down the staircase followed her shouts.
He put the bottle down and dashed to the hallway in time to catch his brother, Steve, running out the door toward his chopper parked at the curb. Ross squinted; a shadowed person waited next to the bike. In a moment, Steve’s chopper roared to life.
“Oh God.” At the bottom of the stairs, his mother sobbed and spoke at the same time. “If your brother leaves, his record will be ruined forever.” She walked to Ross’s side and gripped his arm. Her face was contorted in a grimace he’d never seen before.
“Hold on, Mom.” Ross touched her cheek and went after his brother. Ross had come home an hour ago. He’d barely had enough time to hug his mother, throw his duffel on his bed, and grab a beer when the fireworks exploded.
As he jogged outside, his vision adjusted to the weak illumination from the street lights. His soul plummeted when he recognized Hadley, Steve’s on-and-off girlfriend, waiting by the idling chopper.
Not Hadley. He can’t take her.
Ross stepped in front of the bike with his arms crossed. His brother would have to run him over if he wanted to leave.
Steve swung his motorcycle helmet at him. His brown eyes flamed. “Get the fuck out of my way. You’re not gonna stop me.”
“Come on, bro.” He frowned at Steve. “I just got home like minutes ago. Why is Mom so upset?”
Steve glared. “I don’t have to tell you a fucking thing.”
“Go ahead, tell your brother,” his mother, a discreet woman who kept up appearances and hated to be the topic of gossip, shouted from the front stoop. Evidently, she was beyond caring what the neighbors overheard or thought about this argument. “Steve’s on probation. He has three more weeks to go.”
Ross raised his eyebrows. “Probation? When? Why?”
“What the fuck is it to you?” Steve barked. “Just because you served and got some fancy ribbons and shit, don’t give you the right to order me around. You’re not Dad.”
“Almost six months ago,” his mother, walking toward them, said, “he and his best buddy, Denton, got picked up for shoplifting and assaulting the store owner when the man tried to stop them. He sent the owner to the hospital, so the man pressed charges. I paid Steve’s first fine. This was his second offense. I refuse to pay again.”
Ross grasped both handlebars and held on tight. He wouldn’t step aside. “I don’t want to be Dad. I only want to understand what happened. Help you, if I can.”
“Help me?” Steve scoffed. “Save it. Go hang out with your military friends. That’s all you have time for.”
“He’s taking Hadley with him,” his mother whimpered. “He’ll destroy her life.”
Ross swallowed and turned to the girl, who was wringing her hands furiously. She looked pale, confused, and more beautiful than ever. Under the street lamp, her auburn hair glimmered with soft lights.
Sweet, innocent Hadley.
And Steve, selfish and self-centered in the extreme, had convinced her to leave with him. His brother wanted his sexual comforts and was taking them on the road.
“Don’t do this, brother. Fuck up your future if you want. Hadley doesn’t deserve a life on the run.” Ross glared at Steve.
“Ross is right, sweetheart.” Abigail turned to Hadley. “You know I love you like a daughter. Where will you go? Where will you live? Stay with us.”
“Enough of this shit.” Steve kicked back the bike stand. “Get on.” He jerked his head at the girl.
Hadley, her green eyes huge as saucers, hadn’t uttered a word while the ugly argument between himself, Steve, and their mother had raged on.
“It’ll be okay.” She touched Ross’s arm, offering a small smile.
Ross knew she wanted to reassure or calm him down, but even the lightest contact with Hadley had the opposite effect. His skin burned. A rush of guilt battered him, and he stepped back from her touch and the bike. He didn’t have a right to feel this way. Hadley was taboo.
Frowning at his reaction, she licked her lips and nodded. Did she believe he was rejecting her?
No, you have it all wrong. He wanted to hold her, tell her the truth, beg her to forget Steve and stay. I’m not pushing you away. I want you too much.
Ross pressed his lips into a hard line.
Hadley climbed on behind Steve. She wrapped her arms around his brother’s waist, and Ross closed his eyes as a bitter taste filled his mouth. When he looked again, his mother was sobbing softly at his side, and the chopper had disappeared into the night. Only a distant roar lingered. He wrapped his arm around his mother’s shoulder.
Why is life never even?” she asked between sobs. “One son returns and the other leaves. When are you going back?
“I’m not reenlisting.”
“That’s good. What will happen to them?”
“Oh, Mom.” He fought to answer, his throat ached so badly. “Do you really want me to answer that?”
She turned into his chest and wept.