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Damaged Goods: Chapter 20


Bailey

Everything is not okay.

Everything is far from being okay.

In fact, okay is not currently even in the same universe.

My entire existence is in pain, my mouth is dry, and it must be a hundred thousand degrees in this place.

“Is it just me, or is it superhot in here?” I’m stomping across the landing of Uncle Vicious’s Jackson Hole mansion.

Cayden, Sissi, and the twins are upstairs with their nannies.

It’s just Lev and me, and Lev has been trying to get me to watch Everything Everywhere All at Once, but I keep wandering off from the couch.

I just wish he would give me one moment alone so I could pop a few pills and breathe normal again.

I’m on the verge of a panic attack from the overwhelming emotions slamming into me all at once now that the Xanax and Vicodin are out of reach.

Lev stands up slowly, leaning a hip on the wall, eyes hooded.

He’s more cut than shredded lettuce, in a white V-neck and black sweatpants. “It’s sixty-eight degrees according to the thermostat.” He runs his tongue over his upper teeth. “Good number, don’t you agree?”

“I’m roasting.” I pull my hoodie off, standing in front of him with nothing but a sports bra and leggings.

Outside, snow is falling down onto mounds of white. It looks like we’re nestled inside a marshmallow bag.

I discard my hoodie, wiping off my sweaty face. “The thermostat must be broken. I feel like I’m inside a marathon runner’s tanga.”

“Yeah, Bails. It’s called withdrawals,” he says sadly.

Rolling my eyes, I walk over to the kitchen, fling open the glass door of the Sub-Zero fridge, and stick my head inside, groaning.

I’m burning alive over here.

“This isn’t even helping.” I bang my forehead against one of the shelves.

Lev’s arms wrap around me from behind, his chin resting on top of my head. “Come on, Dove. I’ll fill you a cold bath and you can soak in it. I’ll make you some lemonade too, okay?”

“Hmm.” I turn around to hug him, and he squeezes me close, dropping kisses to my forehead like a top-grade book boyfriend. “That sounds good. You go fill that bath, I’ll make us lemonades.”

His chest rumbles against my ear. “Nice try. I’m not leaving you for a nano-fucking-second.”

“Ugh, I hate you.”

“I love you.”

“You say that a lot.”

“I mean it completely.” He stands still, studying me under a thick fan of eyelashes. “Fuck it, I’m turning off the thermostat. The babies are swaggered or whatever it’s called.”

“Swaddled,” I correct. “Yup.”

“They’ll survive,” he mutters, then scowls. “They will survive, right? Baby Killer is a great rap name, not so much a title I wanna acquire for myself, though.”

Sighing, I push off of him. “They’re bundled up nicely. Plus, one of the suspected SID causes is overheating.”

“Fuck. I’ll turn it off but just on the first floor.” He flicks off the device, then starts making us lemonade, all while keeping an eye on me.

He’s doing it the elaborate, overachieving way. The Lev way. Squeezing lemons, mixing sugar, crushing ice cubes. I pace back and forth.

Sweat drips down the tip of my nose over the floor.

Drip, drip, drip.

It’s hot.

Too hot.

Hot enough to do something reckless.

Wildness takes over me. I peel off my leggings, tug my hairband loose, wrench the door open, and run straight into a pile of snow.

I dive into it. The snow melts around me, biting into my feverish flesh.

I rub my face against it, opening my mouth, my legs, my arms—letting it sneak into my bra and my panties.

I moan and laugh and cry and promise myself that if I ever kick the habit, I will never ever use a painkiller again.

Not even if I have surgery. Or a C-section. Or both. At the same time.

Muscular arms wrap around my waist from behind. They yank me from the hill of snow I’m perched over. Sleet tumbles off every crease in my body.

I moan in protest as Lev chucks me over his shoulder as if I weigh less than a wristwatch and tramps back into the house, oozing dark energy.

His back is a triangle of bulging muscles, and I rake my fingers along the slopes of his latissimus dorsi.

His skin pebbles wherever it’s exposed—elbows, forearms, even his fingers.

“Let me down. I said I’m hot.”

“You don’t have to say it,” he mumbles, kicking the door open and making way too much noise. “I have eyes, and my dick is in complete agreement.”

“I’m roasting, Lev. I need the snow.”

“You’ll catch pneumonia.” He is going up the stairs, leaving the half-finished lemonade behind. My face is dangling dangerously close to his ass now, and I’m tempted to sink my teeth in for a cheeky bite.

“Actually, there’s no scientific evidence linking cold, wet weather to respiratory infections. It’s a myth,” I point out.

“A myth, huh?” His fingers dig deeper into the back of my thighs, and my insides clench deliciously. “Consider me a Hellenist, then.”

Lev drops me on the edge of my four-poster bed. He turns his back to me and throws my closet open, sifting through my stuff.

I watch him, dread filling me. Is he searching for drugs again? I hope he doesn’t go for my suitcase. But he comes back a few seconds later holding my…pointe shoes?

“Planning to work on your rond de jambe?” I bite out sarcastically.

Apparently, I’m back to being shitty again. It’s hard to keep up, though.

“Why’d you bring these along?” he asks, pulling the ribbons apart from the shoes callously.

I gasp. “What are you doing? It’s so hard to resew—”

“Answer me,” he cuts in, and I don’t know why, but I’m kind of scared of him right now.

“I thought I might squeeze a practice or two in!” I snap. “Is that a crime?”

With the ribbons ripped from the shoes, he makes his way over to me with death in his eyes. “Arms up, Dove.”

“You want to tie me?” If my eyes are as large as they feel right now, they must be taking over the entire state of Wyoming.

“Gotta leave you alone for a couple minutes and I don’t trust you,” he says dryly.

“What if there’s a fire?”

“I won’t be gone long enough for that to come up.”

“Are we gonna open the trust issues Pandora’s box?” I laugh coldly. “Because last I checked, you were the one who—”

“Arms up,” he bites out again.

“Fuck you!”

“Trust me, baby, it’s on my agenda. Your smart mouth will be the first to be full of me. Your pussy will be next, and finally, that perfect ass. Don’t think I forgot about that pool scene. I’m going to fuck all of you and soon, but first, you’ll be sober, willing, and of sound mind.”

He scoops both my wrists and slams them above my head, using the satin ribbons to tie me to one of the columns.

Uncle Vicious bought one of those vintage nineteenth-century poster beds with a wooden canopy, so there’s no way I can wriggle myself out or drag the bed with me.

Also, is it just me, or is Lev freakishly good at restraining people?

“Is that why you’re dipping your junk into a cheap knockoff?” I spit out as Lev double and triple ties the satin around my wrists while his jaw flexes with irritation.

“Thought you liked Thalia.”

“Well, I don’t.”

“What made you change your mind?”

“Her fucking the boy I love!” I buck back and try to kick him.

He steps back to admire his handiwork. His face is blank and serene, as though my love declaration didn’t register at all.

Lev hooks his finger into the satin to loosen it a little around my skin, then exits the room. A few moments later, he returns with a bowl laden with snow.

It reminds me that I still feel as overcooked as a Thanksgiving turkey, and I whimper in self-pity.

“I’m going to run a cloth with some snow along your body to take care of that fever, all right?” He crouches down to my eye level.

I nod. Swallow. “Lev?”

“Yes, Dove?”

“I need a distraction.”

“It took Leo Tolstoy six years to write War and Peace.” He moves the cloth up and down my body. “And the same amount of time for me to read it.”

I groan in frustration. I can’t concentrate on anything or bring myself to laugh.

“Let’s see what else…oh!” Lev says. “Abraham Lincoln was also a professional wrestler. He had a 299 and 1 record. Only one loss.”

“Armph.”

“Also, Reagan helped Barry Manilow write ‘Copacabana.’”

“Are you making all those things up?” I seethe.

“No! Google it.” Lev lifts two fingers in a scout’s honor. “Okay, don’t Google that last one. But everything else is legit.”

“Untie me,” I demand.

“Nah, it makes my job easier.”

“The ribbon bites into my wrists,” I lie.

“Oh.” Lev, being the most considerate man on planet earth, quickly loosens the tie, tossing it on the floor.

I let my arms drop to my lap and massage at the tender part with a wince.

Lev grabs a chair from a desk nearby and takes a seat in front of my bed, redirecting his attention to the stupid, snow-covered cloth and pats it across my belly like a midwife in a ’50s movie.

I’m only wearing my bra and panties and would like to be treated like an irresistible femme fatale, not a lady who is about to perish during childbirth.

“More fun facts?” he suggests charmingly.

I produce a sound from the back of my throat.

“How does this feel?” he asks, focusing on my face as he brushes the cloth up and down my torso. I fall backward on my elbows, spreading my legs in front of him.

“Like we’re reenacting Jersey Girl. Can you put some snow down here too?”

“Bailey.” He gives me a pleading, please-don’t-do-this-to-me look.

His erection can be seen from neighboring planets. He is obviously turned on and wants to do the right thing by me.

“Oh, come on. We both know you and I are going to fuck each other’s brains out now that I’m no longer uptight and you’re no longer my lovestruck sidekick. Might as well take advantage of our time together before I go off to Juilliard and you go off to play college football because you’re too much of a pussy to stand up to your dad.”

Wow. Withdrawal-suffering Bailey is a bitch.

Lev doesn’t fail to notice that.

He grabs my foot and places it on his hard thigh, running the cold cloth down my inner thigh, teasing me. “First of all, I was never your lovestruck sidekick. You wanted someone to baby—someone to practice your nurturing nature on—so I humored your ass.” He stops right at the junction between my thigh and groin, knowing he is driving me crazy with need. “Second of all, you’re high if you think you’re going back to that school. Since you and I both know that you’re currently sober, might as well admit it’s time for a plan B.”

“What!” I shriek. “Of course I’m going back. I have a practical exam in four weeks.”

“Uh-huh.”

“I do!” I thrash and kick at his chest.

He catches my ankle and squeezes. “Stop moving.”

“No, you stop talking! Why did you say that?” And then, because apparently, I have left my faculties back in California and have zero self-control, I start sobbing uncontrollably. I jerk away from him, roll around on the bed, bury my face in my elbow, and cry.

I’m not being quiet about it, either. I’m wailing and howling, and I’m pretty sure the kids sleeping in the other rooms can hear me.

Lev confirms my suspicion when I feel his hand rubbing at my back. “Shhh. Bails, you’ll wake up Den and Sissi.”

The twins are down the hall, but my lungs are showing good capacity to wake them up too.

No matter how low I’ve stooped, I still care about those kiddos.

So I stifle my sobs by biting into a pillow. I’m bawling even harder now, but the linen swallows my tears and snot and saliva.

I wonder if I finally hit rock bottom.

“Bailey. How do I make you feel better?” Lev asks desperately somewhere above my head, still stroking my back with the damp cloth. “Tell me what to do.”

But I’m too stuck in my own head. In my paranoia of failing.

In the scorching, torturing arms of withdrawal. In all those feelings I have been trying to keep at bay.

I ball into a human knot of emotions, my whole body shaking.

Suddenly, I feel something weird happening. I swallow a hiccup before I can decipher what it is, my face still plastered to the pillow.

Did he just…?

Yup.

Lev shoved snow into my panties.

Took a handful of white fluff and rubbed it into my core. My whimpers stop, and I hiccup once.

The tantalizing damp and cold feeling between my legs is spreading to other regions and my nipples harden.

“Is this what you need right now, Dove?” His hoarse tenor licks at my spine.

Confident fingers stroke the slit of my ass all the way down to my pussy from behind through my wet panties.

When he gets to my clit, he pushes the fabric aside and pinches the bundle of nerves with a dusting of snow on his fingertips. I buck my ass backward. “Does this help?”

My only response is a loud, desperate groan.

Lev is distracting me. He is doing what I asked him to. Taking my mind off the withdrawal even though we both know that this is torture for him.

He didn’t want to claim me tonight. He wanted us to do this differently. A part of me wants to stop this for him.

So he’ll get the chance to do it right. But I’m too selfish right now. Too needy.

On my knees and with my back to him, I back toward him, awarding him access.

“No,” I hear him drawl like a brusque king. “Use your fucking words. I’m not your lovestruck sidekick.” Welp. I’m going to pay for that one for eternity.

“You want my words?” I peer at him from over my shoulder, locking my gaze with his.

There’s a blaze behind those emeralds. It promises to burn down everyone and everything in his way to have me. “Fine, I’ll give them to you. I’m sober right now—unhappy but sober nonetheless—and there is nothing I want more than for you to taste me, fuck me, use me, and come inside me. You’re right. You were never my lovestruck sidekick. You were the boy I was deathly scared of because I knew you had power to destroy everything I’ve worked for. And when I got into Juilliard…” I hesitate, my breath catching. “I was too afraid I’d actually choose to stay just so I could be near you, so instead, I broke both our hearts. Happy now that the truth is out? How’s that for words?”

“Sufficient,” he clips out.

He’s never been more beautiful than he is right now.

Erotic and powerful, all corded muscles and hungry eyes. Lev flips me on my back, grabs the back of my knees, and drags me along the mattress.

He stops when my ass is on the edge of the bed, hovering in the air, and spreads my legs wide. I hear the scrape of his chair over the parquet.

He hoists my legs over his shoulders. I’m bare before him and he can see my entire pussy, only the fabric of my underwear between my lips.

Lev paws some snow from the bowl and shoves it into one of my bra cups.

I drop my head back and hiss, the delicious chill over my warm skin sending tremors up my spine. I’m leaking all over the linen and I don’t even care.

“Lev,” I rasp, pushing my bra down to expose my nipples. “Please, I—”

“Shut up, Bails. If you don’t talk, at least I can pretend it’s a fantasy and I’m not really doing this to you.” He grabs my jaw and pushes snow into my mouth—lots of it—to keep my mouth shut. I could spit it out, but I moan around it, my teeth sensitive to the cold, when he claws the rolled sports bra and yanks me forward.

He wraps his mouth around my snow-covered nipple, sucking on the cold with his hot mouth.

I fall apart into a trillion pieces at the sensation. He grabs more snow and starts playing with my nipple. One moment he rubs snow over it, the other he licks it better. I hump the air as he works my tits.

“I feel so empty,” I groan.

He shoves snow into my pussy.

I’m trembling all over, about to experience the most violent orgasm to be recorded on planet earth.

A sound other than our panting penetrates the air, and when I open my eyes, I realize the chair Lev was sitting on is askew on the floor, and he is climbing on the bed atop of me, covering my body with his huge frame.

His lips crash over mine. An unrestrained snarl ripping out of his chest.

“Bailey.”

“Lev.”

He grabs the back of my neck and tongue-fucks my mouth in a way that is entirely too dirty from the boy who helped me figure out how to clean my braces when I was younger.

The tip of his tongue is cold, but the rest of his mouth is hot. And with this kiss, he sucks my heart out of me—whole, clean, arteries included—so that all that’s left in me is empty space and useless information they taught us in chem class.

“Daria saved Penn all of her firsts…but you, I want you to have all my seconds. All my lasts. All my everything.”

“They’re mine,” he growls.

I almost gag when he thrusts his tongue deep into my mouth, rolling his hips between my legs, letting me feel what I do to him.

He is thick and hard and huge, and I cannot wait for him to fuck my face.

“Distracted yet?” he rasps into our kiss, pulling my bra all the way down.

It pushes my boobs up, and he takes a break from my mouth to trail his tongue along the outline of each of my nipples.

He bites my pale flesh, leaving a dent of his perfect teeth.

“Very.” I peel his white shirt off, then clasp my thighs around his waist, turning us over so that he’s flat on his back and I’m straddling him. I splay my fingers over his chest.

Over the Rosie tattoo on his ribs. And the compass on his chest—an homage to his love for aviation—when I notice something I’ve never seen before. Right atop his heart.

“What’s this?” I run my index finger along the ink. He hisses, like it’s still fresh, then looks away, blushing.

“You know what this is,” he grumbles.

“Two doves,” I choke out. “Us?”

There is a brief silence before he inclines his head. “Us.”

“When did you get it?”

“On the day you turned me down.” Our fingers find one another. “And I knew that it didn’t matter because I’d still always be yours.”

His dick is still throbbing and twitching between my legs.

“Well, I love it.” I lean down and roll my tongue over it seductively. “Thalia has seen it?”

His nostrils flare. “She did. Even if she hadn’t, d’you really think she needed to be clued in to how I feel for you?”

No. Because Lev and I were always endgame.

We were both too proud, too scared, too much of perfectionists to blow it.

We both know every single person we messed around with was nothing but a pawn. A collateral time-waste.

He reaches between my legs, pulling my panties so that they disappear inside my slit. The pain is delicious, and my toes curl around the crisp sheets. “Every second inside her, I thought about you.”

He lets go of my panties, and they thwack! over my skin.

“Now, come on my fingers and tell me how much you want me.”

He pushes two fingers into me, and on demand, I start convulsing and jerking, squeezing him inside me in a death grip.

“That’s my good little lovestruck sidekick,” he growls. “Had enough of me yet?”

Not nearly enough.

I drop to my knees between his thighs and start working.


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