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Powerless: Chapter 33

Jasper

“Just a second!” Sloane melts against me.

We’re plastered against each other, breathing heavily when there’s another hard knock at the door.

I smirk, running my nose along the back of her neck, damp with sweat and little flyaways loose from the tight bun in her hair. “Someone probably heard you screaming and wants to check if you’re alright.”

Her shoulders shake with laughter as I pepper kisses over them. “I’m not alright. You made a mess of me, and my legs are going to give out if you let me go.”

With a deep laugh, I swoop into a crouch, picking her robe up off the floor, knowing it will be the quickest, easiest way to cover her up. With me holding it wide, she slides her arms into the loose sleeves while I settle it around her shoulders.

I spin her to face me, press a quick kiss to her ravaged lips, and step back to fix my own pants. I don’t bother tucking my dress shirt in. I just make sure I’m clothed and shove my dick back into hiding.

Sloane’s deft fingers make quick work of the belt around her waist, and after a once-over of me, she nods. And blushes, pushing those little flyaways back with a disbelieving shake of her head.

She gives me that look a lot, like she can’t believe we’re here, doing this. Sometimes I feel the same. Like it’s all just a dream.

When she swings the door open, that dream freezes in place. We wake up from it abruptly, like we’ve fallen right out of bed.

Robert and Cordelia Winthrop are standing in the hallway. Robert is red, almost vibrating with fury. Sloane’s mom is standing a few feet behind him, eyes dropped to her shoes with an embarrassed blush on her cheeks.

“What the fuck do you think you’re doing here?” Robert asks.

Sloane’s arms cross and she goes instantly rigid. “I could ask you the same thing, Dad.”

“I wasn’t talking to you, Sloane. The ballet company announced in the newspaper you were filling in, and we would never miss our little girl on stage. I’m talking to you.” His meaty pointer finger jabs in my direction. “What the fuck are you doing in here with my little girl?”

What I want to say is, I think you heard exactly what I was doing to your little girl, but I have more respect for Sloane than to go there.

I hit him with a blank look and push my hands into my pockets, which just draws his gaze to my untucked shirt. “What I should have done a long time ago.”

Robert’s hand trembles as he thrusts his finger my way with force, right over Sloane’s shoulder, like she isn’t even there. “I told you to stay the hell away from her.” His loose jowls jiggle with the force of his anger.

“It seems you failed to inform me of that.” Sloane’s hand props against the door as though she’s blocking her father from getting at me. Protecting me like always.

To her own detriment.

“Sloane, move aside like a good girl. This doesn’t concern you. We’ll have plenty to discuss once I have taken the trash out.”

Good girl? Is he out of his fucking mind talking to her like she’s a dog?

Sloane gasps. I’ve always known he’s a piece of shit, but I think this might be the first time she’s really seeing it.

With two long strides, I’m at her side, entirely blocking the doorway.

“Talk to her like that again and see how it ends for you.” The angry, fucked-up teenager in me flares to life. I’ve worked hard to get control of myself over the years, and Robert fucking Winthrop just undid it all with one well-placed tug on a loose string.

“You forget what I told you, boy? You want that career? You want that paycheck? I can still ruin you. I can take it all away in a second.” He snaps his fingers for emphasis.

The logical part of me doesn’t want to believe him. The logical part of me knows I’m a household name. A national sensation as the headlines would say. Indispensable to my team—at least when I’m playing well.

Sloane steps up to her dad, dwarfed by his size but holding her head high like she doesn’t notice at all. Her dainty finger points at her father, steady and strong. “Talk to him like that again and see how it ends for you.”

“Sloane, let the men talk.” He waves her off like she’s completely inconsequential to him.

She rears back as though he’s struck her. And I guess in a way he has.

He also talked to her like that again when I told him not to.

With one gentle hand, I usher her behind my body, protectiveness pouring out of me. “Get out.”

“I’ll ruin you, Gervais. You’re not in the plan for her. You’re an orphan who works in the entertainment industry. She’s practically Canadian royalty.”

My head tilts, and Robert Winthrop might as well be a puck. Because all I can think is that I need to stop him. Stop his forward motion into this room. And stop his stupid mouth from running.

“I think Sloane will be the judge of that. I think we’re all going to step away from telling Sloane who she is and what she needs to do. I think Sloane is very smart and very capable of knowing what she wants for herself.”

My gaze flits over his shoulder to Cordelia, whose eyes are boring into mine. She looks angry but not at me. It’s the type of anger that could brim over into hot, quiet tears.

I know that anger. I know those tears. They taste like regret, and that’s what’s written all over her face.

She looks so much like her daughter, it’s hard not to see the parallels between them. It’s hard not to see her as living the life that Sloane could be years from now. Having to watch her own daughter get pawned off like chattel.

I shake my head. What fucking year is it? I guess I really must be from the wrong side of the tracks because these business transaction marriages are just not a part of my world.

“Is that so, Sloaney?” Robert peers around me, bending down condescendingly, looking far too amused by his daughter’s distress.

I want to deck him in the face and watch him crumple to the floor. But despite my lowbrow upbringing and being an orphan who works in the entertainment industry, I’m not dumb. He’s the type of asshole who will waltz into his fancy lawyer’s office and fucking cry about it.

Sloane’s fingers link with mine as she steps close to me, holding her chin up, refusing to cower. “You need to leave. When I’m ready to speak to you, I will. And my name is Sloane. Not Sloaney.”

Robert blinks once as he straightens. He expected her to roll over and show him her belly, not curl her lip at him.

I’m proud of her. Of how much she’s grown in the last couple of months.

The beefy man tugs at the lapels of his jacket. “I’ve made us a dinner reservation for your birthday on Wednesday. If you deign to grace us with your presence, it would be lovely to have the birthday girl there.”

He slips into being a condescending asshole so easily. My teeth grind, and my fingers curl tightly around hers while the opposite hand balls easily into a fist.

“Jasper has a game that night,” she says matter-of-factly.

Robert smiles. “That’s fine. He isn’t invited. Not if he wants to keep that gig.”

Sloane’s chin dips and her shoulders roll inward. Disappointment paints every crevice of her body, but she doesn’t offer a response.

He’s almost out the door when he turns back and delivers his killing blow. “Think hard, Sloane. If you’re going to be master of your own destiny or whatever this new phase is, you have to consider some things. Do you want to be the reason Jasper Gervais goes back to where he came from? That’s a long way for a man like him to fall.”

With that he raps his fingers against the doorframe and strides away like he owns the fucking place.

Cordelia’s haunted eyes are a shot straight to the chest. The look of pleading she hits me with is heavy and uncomfortable.

Almost as uncomfortable as the silence that descends over Sloane and me in the aftermath of that conversation.

I want to tell her that I love her. The words practically scorch the tip of my tongue as I hold them back. But it’s not enough. Or maybe it’s too much.

Of course, I love her. I always have. But this? Now? I love her so much differently than I’ve loved a single other person in my life.

A truck, a hotel, a snow-covered runaway lane, it doesn’t matter—she’s home.

She’s the air I breathe and that fucking terrifies me.

Because no matter how fiercely I love someone, I know they always leave.


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