Valorous a tame quantum.., p.1
Valorous, A Tame Quantum Novel: Quantum Series, Book 2, page 1
Valorous, A Tame Quantum Novel
Quantum Series, Book 2
Valorous, A Tame Quantum Novel
Quantum Series, Book 2
By: Marie Force
Published by HTJB, Inc.
Copyright 2015. HTJB, Inc.
Cover Design: Kristina Brinton
E-book Layout by Holly Sullivan
E-book Formatting Fairies
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each person. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at [email protected]
All characters in this book are fiction and figments of the author’s imagination.
MARIE FORCE and QUANTUM SERIES are registered trademarks with the United States Patent & Trademark Office.
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The Quantum Series
Book 1: Virtuous
(Flynn & Natalie)
Book 2: Valorous
(Flynn & Natalie)
Book 3: Victorious
(Flynn & Natalie)
Book 4: Rapturous
(Addie & Hayden)
Book 5: Ravenous
(Jasper & Ellie)
Book 6: Delirious
(Kristian & Aileen)
Book 7: Outrageous
(Emmett & Leah)
Book 8: Famous
Tame Quantum Series
All the romance, none of the kink…
Box Set 1, Books 1-3
Box Set 2, Books 4-6
Victorious, A Tame Quantum Novel
About the Author
She’s in shock. That’s the only possible explanation for the glazed look in her gorgeous brown eyes as well as the unusual and pervasive silence between us. She’s trembling so violently that I want to call a doctor to give her something to calm her down. I’m at a total loss as to how to comfort her.
I’ve brought her to my home, hoping to protect her from the feeding frenzy going on outside hers. All my worst nightmares have come to life, but my worst nightmares have nothing on hers. With her painful past made public for the world to dissect, she’s lost her job as well as her anonymity, and it’s entirely my fault.
I want to get on the phone with my people—lawyers, publicists, anyone who can get me the blood of the man who hurt her. I want to get Leah over here, because Natalie needs a friend. But I’m afraid to leave her alone for even the short time it would take to make calls that might help. Her silence is freaking me out. I liked it better when she was sobbing. That I understood. The eerie silence… That scares me.
Then I remember how she admired the big tub in my bathroom—the one I’ve never used in the ten years I’ve owned this place. Leaving her curled up on my bed, I go into the bathroom and start the bath. Under the counter, I find a bottle of body wash that can be used to make bubbles. Keeping one eye on her and another on the tub, I wait until it’s three-quarters full before I turn it off and return to her.
Sitting on the edge of the mattress, I kiss her cheek, which is cold under my lips. “Hey, Nat, I ran you a bath. It might feel good to warm up.”
She doesn’t protest, so I help her up and out of her clothes and then pick her up to carry her into the bathroom, where the tub full of steaming water and bubbles awaits. Two nights ago, we made love for the first time, yet nothing about this is sexual. When I deposit her into the water, I end up with wet sleeves, so I remove my shirt and take a seat next to the tub.
“Sweetheart, will you talk to me?”
“Nothing to say.” Her voice is dull and flat, as are her eyes. The tears that roll silently down her cheeks break my heart and threaten my own composure. I have to do something—anything—to help her.
“I’ll be right back.” I get up to go into the other room to find my phone and a dry shirt. I’ve missed thirty-two calls and forty-six text messages. I ignore all of them and call Gabe at Quantum. He runs our BDSM club and acts as Quantum’s head of security in New York.
“Flynn,” he says, “are you all right?”
“I’ve had better days. I need a doctor for Natalie. Do you know someone who can come here and be discreet?”
“My cousin. I’ll call and set it up.”
“Let me know if there’s anything else I can do. We all want to help.”
“I will, thanks again.”
I return to the bathroom, where Natalie hasn’t moved from where I put her. Tears continue to leak from her eyes, every one of them a knife to my heart.
“Flynn,” she whispers.
“What, honey?” I kneel beside the tub. “I’m right here. What do you need?”
“I’m going to be sick.”
I grab the trashcan from the floor and get it to her just in time to hold back her long dark hair as she heaves violently. “I need to get Fluff,” she says, still gasping from being sick.
“I’ll ask Leah to bring Fluff here. Don’t worry about anything.” I settle her back against the towel I’ve rolled into a pillow for her in the tub. I wet a washcloth under cool water and kneel next to the tub to wipe her face and mouth. “I’ll get your phone so we can text Leah.”
Tears continue to roll unchecked down her pale cheeks.
In all my thirty-three years, I’ve never felt as helpless as I do right now. I don’t want to leave her for even the short minute it takes to retrieve her phone from where we left it with her purse in the living room. “I’ll be right back, okay?”
She nods, and the weary resignation I sense in that small gesture crushes me. This is my fault, and I’m going to fix it for her or die trying. I bring the phone back to the bathroom. “Do you want to punch in your code?”
“You can do it,” she says. “It’s zero one one eight.”
I’m strangely moved to be trusted with her code. What can I say? I’m a disaster where she’s concerned. After punching in the code, I see that her phone is alight with messages and voice mails. Ignoring all that, I open a text to Leah.
Hey, it’s Flynn. Natalie is asking for Fluff. How do you feel about bringing her to us at my place?
She responds immediately. So glad to hear from you. How is she? Of course I’ll brin
Thanks. Not so good… Fluff will help.
I send another text with info about how to get into the garage at my place, which is not something I give to just anyone. But right now, I can’t be bothered with things I’m normally obsessive about, such as protecting my privacy. All I care about is Natalie and whatever I can do for her.
The buzzer on the elevator sounds, and I’m once again torn over leaving Natalie alone, even for a minute. “Fluff is on her way with Leah. I’m going to get the door. Be right back.”
She doesn’t reply. Tears continue to roll down her cheeks, but she’s completely unaware. The vacant look in her eyes terrifies me.
I run for the elevator. “Yeah?”
“It’s me.” Addie.
Without hesitation, I hit the buzzer to let in my faithful assistant. A minute later, she steps off the elevator, drops her bag in my foyer and hugs me. “What can I do?” She’s become like a little sister to me in the five years she’s worked for me. There’s nothing either of us wouldn’t do for the other, which she’s just proven once again.
“I don’t even know what I need right now.”
“Whatever it is, I’m here for both of you.”
“How did you get here so fast?”
“I jumped on a plane an hour after the news hit the Web. Liza is coming, too,” she said of my publicist, “but I told her not to come here tonight. Tomorrow will be soon enough.”
“Good call, thanks. I need to get back to Natalie. She’s in the tub. Gabe is sending his doctor cousin over.”
“I’ll make tea.”
“She likes hot chocolate.”
“I’ll make that, then.” She grasps my arm. “You’re not in this alone. The entire Quantum army is circling and out for blood.”
“Thanks for coming, Addie.”
“Just doing my job.”
“You’re doing much more than that, as you well know.”
“Go to her. It’s all going to be okay.”
Though I’m soothed by Addie’s assurances, one look at Natalie’s ghostly white, tearstained face tells me it’s going to be a very long time—if ever—before things are all right again. “Let’s get you out of there, sweetheart.” As if she’s a child, I help her up and out. I dry her and wrap her up in a warm robe of mine. Then I towel-dry and brush her hair.
All the while, she stares blankly at the wall, barely blinking even as tears keep on coming. Where the hell is that doctor? “Let’s get you to bed.” She doesn’t so much as blink when I pick her up and carry her to my bed. After she’s tucked in under the thick down comforter, I sit beside her, holding her hand and wishing I knew what to do for her.
Addie comes in with a mug of hot chocolate and silently puts it on the bedside table before leaving us alone.
“Addie made you some hot chocolate.”
“What’s she doing here?”
The question is a huge relief to me. “She came to help us.”
“There’s nothing she can do.”
The absolute desolation in her voice is another arrow to my broken heart. “There’s a lot we can do, and we’re going to do all of it after we take care of you. You’re the only thing that matters.”
“Your career, what they must be saying…”
“Fuck that. I couldn’t care less about my career right now. I care about you. I love you, and I hate that this is happening to you because of me.”
“I just… I don’t understand… Why? Why would he do this?”
I wipe the tears from her face while holding back my own. I can’t remember the last time I cried about anything, but I fear if I start now, I might never stop. “Who did it, Nat?”
“It had to be the lawyer in Lincoln. I paid him a lot of money to help me change my name after everything that happened. Why would he do this?”
“Money.” I’m gutted as the pieces fall together. “After you were seen with me, he recognized the chance to cash in.”
“I was his client,” she says on a sob. “He’s not allowed to talk about me.”
“You’re damned right he’s not. I’ll see to it that he’s disbarred and charged criminally for what he’s done to you. Not to mention we’ll sue his ass off.”
“It’s like it’s happening all over again… Feels just like it did then.”
She’s referring to being raped at fifteen, which the whole world is now hearing about thanks to a fucking lawyer in Lincoln, Nebraska, who sold her out to make a buck—probably a lot of them.
I can barely breathe through the rage. I want to cry along with her at knowing I caused her to be victimized all over again. I dragged her back into a nightmare that she’d long ago put behind her. If I’d had any idea something like this was even possible, I never would’ve been seen in public with her.
“It’s not your fault,” she says softly.
Though I’m relieved to see a spark of life in her normally luminescent eyes, I refuse to be let off the hook. “It’s absolutely my fault. Because you were seen with me, they wanted to know more about you, so they dug until they found someone willing to talk for a price.”
“I don’t blame you. I blame him.”
I adore her for being concerned about me at a time like this. “What’s his name, sweetheart?”
“David Rogers. He’s the only person, until today, who knew me by both names. It had to be him.”
“You’ve never told anyone, even your family?”
She shakes her head. “I haven’t seen or talked to my family in eight years.”
I’m saddened to be reminded of how alone she’s been for all these years. Well, she’s not alone anymore. I want every detail of what happened to her, but asking for that now isn’t what she needs. So I sit with her, holding her hand and offering her sips of hot chocolate until a knock on the door announces the doctor’s arrival.
I’m relieved that Gabe’s cousin is a woman. I’m further relieved when she doesn’t make a thing of who I am. Rather, she focuses all her attention on Natalie.
“Hi there, I’m Doctor Janelle Richmond.” She shares dark hair, eyes, complexion and a general family resemblance with Gabe.
I get up to shake her hand. “Thanks so much for coming.”
Natalie glances at me, her trepidation palpable. “You called a doctor?”
“I thought it might help to get something so you can sleep.”
“Maybe I could have a moment alone with Natalie?” Janelle asks.
I don’t want to leave, but I defer to her. “Is it okay with you?” I ask Natalie.
She grasps handfuls of the down comforter on my bed. “I guess.”
“I’ll be right outside the door. Call if you need me.” I lean in to kiss her forehead before I leave the room, closing the door behind me.
Addie finds me in the hallway. “How is she?”
“A little better than she was.” I run my fingers through my hair repeatedly. “Can you call Emmett for me?”
“Sure.” She goes to the living room to get her phone and returns to my post outside the bedroom door. “Here you go.”
I take the phone from her. “Emmett.”
“What can I do, Flynn?” As the chief counsel for Quantum, Emmett Burke is a friend as well as a colleague. He’s also a member of Club Quantum, our secret BDSM club. “I can’t even imagine how upset you must be.”
“I’ve moved past upset straight to enraged. A lawyer named David Rogers in Lincoln, Nebraska, handled Natalie’s legal name change. She says he’s the only person on earth who knows her by both names. I want him buried.”
“I’m all over it.” After a pause, he says, “Flynn… I know you’ve been tending to Natalie, but what they’re reporting about what happened to her… You… um… You need to prepare yourself before you read it. It’s h-hard-core, man.”
In ten years in business together as well as a close personal friendship, I’ve never heard the supremely confident Emmett Burke stutter or stammer. That he is doing both now only
His deep sigh comes through the phone loud and clear, letting me know how difficult it is for him to tell me these things. “Her father was a top aide to former Nebraska governor Oren Stone. They were lifelong best friends. The families were close, and Natalie—or April, as she was known then—babysat Stone’s kids. She traveled with them on family vacations and spent many a night at the governor’s mansion.”
My stomach knots with tension as the story unfolds. Her name was April…
“Apparently, Stone arranged for Natalie to babysit for a weekend that his wife and kids were going to be out of town. He held her there all weekend, raped her repeatedly and threatened her family if she told anyone.”
I feel like I’ve been gut-punched. “Son of a fucking bitch.”
“She went straight to the cops.”
I close my eyes in awe of her strength and courage as a brutalized fifteen-year-old who had the guts to take that bastard down.
Then Emmett drops the next bomb. “Her parents sided with Stone.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?”
“I wish I was. The case made national news. Stone made a lot of enemies on his way up the ranks. A bunch of people stepped up to support her through the trial. She filed for and was granted emancipation from her parents. She testified against Stone, and her graphic, detailed testimony sealed his fate. He was sentenced to twenty-five years to life in prison. About four weeks after he went to jail, he was raped and murdered in the shower by another inmate.”
I experience a perverse feeling of pleasure at knowing he suffered even a fraction of what he’d inflicted on her.
“She disappeared after the trial. There’s no mention of her anywhere online after the day Stone was sentenced.”
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