Maddox melanie moreland, p.1

Maddox ~ Melanie Moreland, page 1


Maddox ~ Melanie Moreland
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Maddox ~ Melanie Moreland

  Maddox—Vested Interest #3 by Melanie Moreland

  Copyright © 2018 Moreland Books Inc.

  Registration # 1148534

  All rights reserved

  ISBN: 978–1-988610–08–5

  Edited by:

  D. Beck

  Lisa Hollett, Silently Correcting Your Grammar

  Cover design by:

  Melissa Ringuette, Monark Design Services

  Interior Design & Formatting by:

  Christine Borgford, Type A Formatting

  All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

  This book is a work of fiction. The characters, events, and places portrayed in this book are products of the author's imagination and are either fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.

  Love is an all-encompassing, passionate emotion found in all my books.

  But there are other forms of love, and I am blessed to have them in my life.

  Friendship and family

  To my friends, thank you for being part of my life-

  You brighten my days and make my world sparkle.

  To my sisters, Sandy and Kerry, you are my heart. I love you.

  To my Matthew who is my world.

  There aren’t enough words-there never will be.





  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20


  Reid is Coming Soon

  A note from the author

  A Word of Thanks

  Books by Melanie Moreland

  About the Author


  I RAN INTO the house, skidded to a stop in the kitchen, and stared in horror at the boxes.

  My father turned, glaring at me. “Pack your stuff. We’re leaving.”

  “No!” The word was out before I could stop it.

  Pain exploded in my cheek from his backhand. He knew how to hit to cause the most agony. After all these years, he was an expert at it.

  “You have half an hour. Anything that isn’t packed, we’re leaving behind.”

  My eyes smarted from holding in the tears. I grabbed two boxes, trying not to flinch at the sight of them. Stained, partially torn boxes that, no doubt, my father had grabbed from a dumpster or behind a store.

  In my room, I glanced around, knowing he was serious. Anything I didn’t have ready I had to leave behind. Every time we moved, it was the same. Once again, he would pull me from the routine I had fought to establish. The thing I needed to cope. Now I would have to face a new place, new school, new people.

  None of which I would stay at long enough to become attached to. He made sure of that.

  I hurried to pack my things, being careful. I didn’t have much in the way of clothes or possessions, so I tried desperately to take care of the few things I had. My father found it amusing to destroy anything that might mean something to me, so I had learned never to let him see what I liked. I acted nonchalant even when I found him rifling through my things. I knew he was looking for money or anything of value to sell. However, I’d learned to hide anything I really loved. Loose floorboards, wall vents with covers he would never think to check in, became my friends.

  I listened at my door, but he was down the hall in his room, so I hurried and pushed aside my mattress to get to the loose floorboards hidden underneath. Briefly, I wondered if the next place would even have the luxury of a mattress on the floor to sleep on at night. I grabbed the small, hidden shoebox and shoved the bed back into place. Using some frayed jeans and T-shirts, I wrapped the box and placed it into the old cardboard box, rushing to add the rest of my meager wardrobe on top. I added my few books and folded the torn lid into place. Into the second box, I put my worn shoes and the one item that went from place to place with me.

  An old lamp, chipped and worthless. It meant nothing to anyone except me. But what it represented was everything. My mother used to read to me with the lamp sitting on the table by her elbow. Her voice was always soft as she spoke the words on the page and her touch gentle as she stroked my head.

  I shut my eyes and stuffed my thin pillow around the lamp to keep it safe.

  It was one of the few things I had left of hers. He had no idea of its existence or the memories it held for me.

  Her gentle, loving voice, sweet words, and a time when I had been happy. Dim recollections of a long dead childhood.

  That was all I had of my mother. Reminders of being loved.

  I fought to keep them alive in my head.

  No matter how he tried to beat them out of me.

  He appeared in my doorway.

  “There’s room for one box. Move your ass.”


  He shoved me aside, my shoulder burning with pain when it met the edge of the doorframe.

  I didn’t make a sound.

  He reached into the box, tossing my shoes carelessly. “Carry these.” Pushing the pillow aside, he lifted the lamp, a frown creasing his face. All that remained was the decorated base, the lampshade long ago broken, bent, and discarded. The truck with the loader lifted high was dull, the streetlight it sat beside pieced together with glue. The edges of the truck were worn from where my fingers had rubbed, wanting to play with it when I was a child. I could hear my mother’s patient voice talking to me.

  “No, Maddy, just to look at, baby boy. One day, you can have a real one.”

  A glimmer of recognition flitted over my father’s angry face. “What the fuck? Where did you get this?”

  I shrugged and tried to bluff. “It’s a stupid lamp. I need something to use when I read. It was in one of the houses, and I took it.”

  He wavered, his saturated memory unclear. “Oh yeah? Well, leave it behind. We ain’t got room.”

  “No! Please!” I couldn’t help but beg.

  Satisfaction glimmered in his dark eyes, confirming his thoughts. “Well then, let’s make it fit.”

  Frozen, I watched as he lifted the lamp, cracking it against the window frame. It broke, the truck separating from the stand, the streetlamp shattering as it all fell to the mattress on the floor.

  “There,” he sneered. “Fit it in or leave it. You have five minutes.”

  With shaky hands, I lifted the truck and tucked it into the corner of the one box he allowed me to bring. The rest of the lamp was garbage, damaged beyond repair, so I left it behind. I would have to safeguard the last piece and keep it well hidden.

  Tears dripped on the box as I flipped closed the lid.

  I lifted my box, and placed my shoes on top, leaving the pillow.

  I wiped my face roughly. I would never allow him to see my tears. I would never give him that satisfaction again.

  I didn’t look back as I left another piece of my life behind.

  There was no point.


  WITH THE LIGHTS of the city spread out below me, I stared out the window, sipping my whiskey, enjoy
ing the way the rich flavor rolled around my tongue. The low lights reflected my condo in the large pane windows. Tidy, organized, everything in its place. Exactly the way I liked it. Needed it.

  Behind me, I heard a light tap. I hit the button on the remote, unlocking the door, knowing who was waiting. Soft footfalls headed in my direction, and Dee’s reflection appeared in the glass. Turning, I offered her a smile and a tumbler of whiskey. I knew she’d like this one.

  “Hey, neighbor.”

  She shook her head, taking the glass from my hand and settling into the club chair. “You are such a dork. I live ten floors below you. I’m not your neighbor.”

  I shrugged. “Close enough.” I sat across from her on the sofa. “Seriously, are you settling in?”

  She held up her whiskey, studied its dark golden color, then took a sip. Her eyes drifted shut as she swallowed. Her hand swept through her hair, the strawberry color catching the light. She was artless, sexy.

  I liked it.

  She opened her eyes. “Nice choice.”

  “I knew you’d enjoy it.”

  She smiled and reclined her head. “I’m settling in. I wasn’t expecting to be on my own, but it will be nice to have a home office to work from on occasion.”

  “Still in shock?”

  She chuckled. “I shouldn’t be, given it was Cami, but I am.”

  “I think this was all on Aiden, which makes it the biggest shock of them all.”

  We went to Vegas for a quick trip away. Everyone needed a break, and rather than the girls going on their own, we joined them. The first day was fun with sightseeing and dinner. We went to a show and even did a little gambling. The next night, we ended up pairing off the way we usually did: Emmy and Bent, Cami and Aiden, Dee and me.

  Bent and Emmy went to another show. Dee and I checked out a whiskey bar we’d heard about, Cami and Aiden spent the night doing the usual touristy things. They visited the Eiffel Tower, took a gondola ride, and watched the fountains dance. Then, Aiden being Aiden, he had gone for broke, and since we were in Vegas, married Cami.

  They showed up at breakfast the next morning, and neither of them said a word. But they looked guilty, yet so happy; I knew something was going on. They simply ordered their meals, talked about the day’s plans and acted as if nothing was amiss. Until Emmy spotted the rings on their hands.

  “What the hell? Cami . . . are you . . . oh my God, are you married?”

  All of our heads snapped in their direction. Aiden lifted Cami’s hand, pressing a kiss to her knuckles. The light glinted off the matching ring on his left hand.

  “We are,” he stated.

  We gaped at them, shocked.

  “Is it legal?” Dee asked, looking between Cami and Aiden. “Or did you do this for fun?”

  “It was fun, but it is very legal,” Aiden confirmed.

  Suddenly, the table exploded. Hugs, kisses, backslaps, and congratulations were exchanged all around. Aiden looked like the happiest man on earth, and beside him, Cami beamed. When Emmy asked if they were going to have a real wedding, Cami shook her head.

  “It was exactly what we wanted. Only us.” She smiled at Dee in apology. “We thought we’d renew our vows next year and bring everyone to join us.”

  Dee covered her hand. “That sounds perfect. I’m happy for you.”

  I had wondered then, the same way I wondered now, if Dee was as okay with the marriage as she seemed to be. In the weeks since we had returned, life had been busy with work, moving Cami in with Aiden and moving Dee in to her new place in the building where I lived. I helped move boxes at night. Movers handled the furniture, but it still took a lot of hours. We’d barely had time to see each other.

  Or, in other words, fuck each other.

  “You were very calm about the whole surprise wedding.”

  She sipped her whiskey, looking contemplative. “I was a bit hurt, but I realized it was Cami’s decision and her life. She was much too happy for me to be upset.” She huffed a long breath. “I hope it wasn’t a rash decision they’ll both regret.”

  I scowled, feeling the need to defend my friend. “Aiden loves Cami. He loves her so much it terrified him. When he accepted what he was feeling, it changed him. She changed him—for the better. For the first time in his life, he accepted something good for himself. I don’t think you have to worry about any regrets from him.”

  She tilted her head, studying me. “That was spoken with conviction.”

  I shrugged. “The two of them work.”

  “They do.” She grinned. “That was also spoken like a true romantic, by the way. Which you insist you are not.”

  I chuckled. “I have my moments. I’m okay with romance . . . for other people.”

  “Me too.”

  We stared at each other, not speaking. Slowly, the air shifted, growing more intense.

  “So tell me, Deirdre, what are you wearing under that businesslike navy suit you have on?”

  She loved it when I murmured her full name. No one used it but me, and I only uttered it when we were alone.

  She traced the rim of her glass, eyeing me. “I’m sure you’d like to know.”

  I shifted, my erection lengthening as I thought about it. Wondering what secret I would discover tonight.

  Dee was a walking contradiction. Classic, dark suits, neutral-colored blouses. No-fuss hair. Simple makeup. No jewelry.

  However, underneath the linen and cotton was an entirely different story.

  Lacy, push-up bras, tiny triangles that covered silky curls and a sweet little cleft I knew intimately.

  Satin, lace, silk, and sin.

  Black, pink, red, every color of the rainbow.

  Cutouts and high tops. Thongs, boy shorts, strapless, bustiers, stripes, polka dots, pin-tucked, bedazzled, and sexy.

  She had them all. She was sex on legs.

  “Why don’t you show me?” My eyes raked down her body.

  She stood, her fingers drifting to the pearl buttons under her neck. I settled into the cushions, anticipation waking every nerve in my body.


  She tilted her head.

  “I want it slow tonight, baby.”

  She shrugged out of her jacket, the fabric a dark pool on the floor.

  “Is that so?”

  “Yes.” My cock grew harder as she moved. Slow. Sensuous. Exactly the way I instructed her.

  “Do I get a reward?”

  I palmed my erection. “You get me. Buried so deep inside you, you’ll feel me for days.”

  Her blouse joined her jacket, showcasing the cream lace bustier encasing her torso that made me groan. Her breasts were high, ready to spill over the tight lace. I wanted to bite them. When her skirt fell, revealing the thigh highs attached with tiny straps of lace, I almost lost it. The scrap of material nestled between her thighs was so minute it was ridiculous. And sexy as hell.

  I widened my legs. “Come here.”

  She stood between my knees. I trailed my fingers up and down her thighs, tracing the ribbons and lace, teasing the satin of her skin. I jerked her forward, burying my face in her pussy, breathing her in.

  She whimpered as I pressed my mouth to her, hard.

  “You want me. I can smell how much you want me.”

  She dug her fingers into my scalp, lifting my face.

  “Yes. But the rules still apply, Maddox. Sex. That’s all it is. Nothing has changed.”

  I smiled grimly. “I wouldn’t expect it to.”

  “Then fuck me.”

  Never breaking eye contact with her, I shredded her panties. Tore them away from her skin with one firm yank of my fist.

  I would fuck her. I would fuck her because that was what we did.

  To the outside world, we were the same: cool, calm, and collected. Detached.

  When we came together, alone, things changed. We were relentless. Explosive and insatiable.

  She fucked with my control.

  I fucked her to get it back.

bsp; That was our game. It always had been.

  Until one of us changed the rules and fell in love.


  I WAS ALONE once again. Dee never stayed. It was one of our rules. There were many, but that one had never changed or been broken.

  Pouring another shot of whiskey, I sat on the sofa, thinking of when we met.

  Deirdre Anne Wilson slid into my life as easily as she slid into the back seat of the limo on the night out for Emmy’s birthday that Bentley arranged. She sat beside me with her long, sexy legs crossed demurely and a smile playing on her full lips.

  “You must be Maddox.”

  “Dee, I presume?”

  “Right in one.”

  She looked around the interior of the car. “Nice limo.”

  I grinned and pulled a bottle of champagne from the bucket. “Thanks to Bentley.”

  She arched an eyebrow my way knowingly. “I think my sister insisted. She has no boundaries.” She glanced over at Cami. “I’m afraid Aiden has his hands full.”

  I poured her a glass of the bubbly with a chuckle. “I wouldn’t worry about Aiden. He can handle himself.”

  I thumped the roof of the car and yelled at Bentley to move things along. I was hungry, and I wanted to get the evening started.

  When Bentley and Emmy finally entered the limo, I handed them each a glass of champagne and toasted the birthday girl. I already had a soft spot for Emmy. She was bright, vivacious, and a good match for Bent. I had never known him to be so taken with someone.

  Aiden seemed caught in Cami’s spell, and she only had eyes for him. I had a sense she was going to keep him on his toes, and he might prove to be a good partner for her—if he allowed it.

  That left Dee and me. I was prepared to endure the evening being friendly, for Bentley’s sake. I didn’t know what I anticipated Cami’s older sister to be like, but the alluring woman sitting beside me wasn’t part of my expectations. She was average height, with a willowy build. Unlike Cami’s vivacious looks and personality, Dee was sedate and pretty in an understated way. Her clothes were simple and unfussy, her hair cut chin-length, and her face makeup-free. Yet, there was something intriguing and sexy about her. Her large green eyes were intelligent and her movements graceful. She had a low and husky voice, and she chose her words carefully. When she smiled, her face lit up, but in a different way from her sister. Cami beamed, while Dee’s expression softened and warmed, like the diffused light of dawn.

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