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The Keeper: Chapter 3


I’m not sure what wakes me up first . . . the throbbing in my head or the obnoxiously loud alarm I don’t remember setting on my phone. I yank the pillow over my face to drown it out, but it’s no use.

Wait . . . I think that’s a ring tone.

Who the hell is calling this early?

I swing my hand out, trying to silence the phone and smack my wrist against the corner of the nightstand instead.

Ow. That hurt. Not enough to stop the pounding in my head, but enough.

I’m pretty sure you’re not supposed to be able to feel your pulse behind your eyes.

This is not normal.

I lie with my eyes closed, trying to piece together why the hell I feel this way, but last night is fuzzy. Almost as fuzzy as my mouth. Eww. The last thing I remember was . . . Shots. Dancing. More shots. Then what?

“Relax, princess. I got you.”

That voice . . . Oh my God. I’ve heard that voice more times than I can count, but it’s never sounded quite that good. Deep and gravelly and so fucking sexy that heat pools in places it has no business pooling at the moment.

A big, warm, deliciously callused palm wraps around my waist and presses flat against my stomach. My very bare stomach. Butterflies take flight, and every nerve-ending in my entire body stands alert. And that’s before I’m pulled back against an incredibly firm chest, and the man that chest belongs to groans.

A man who shouldn’t be in my bed.

Why is he in my bed?

Wait . . . is this my bed?

“Unless you don’t want to sleep,” Easton murmurs as he buries his face in my hair as that question hangs in the air. Fuck me.

Wait. No.

This has got to be a dream. I’m on a girls’ trip in Vegas.

I’m rooming with Everly.

Nowhere in my plan was I supposed to end up in a bed with anyone this weekend.

Especially. Not. Him.

No . . . I press the pillow down against my eyes.

This can’t be happening.

It’s a dream. You’re still dreaming.

Hips press against my ass, and any doubt that I might actually still be dreaming quickly vanishes because in my dreams, Easton Hayes doesn’t feel this good. Of course, my dreams usually end before I get the chance to enjoy his ridiculously large erection pressing firmly against my ass.

I shift a little, and Easton’s hands grip my hips. “Lindy,” he warns.

This. Cannot. Be. Happening.

“Yeah, princess, it is.”


Who’s he answering?

“You, baby. Now stop thinking so loud and go back to sleep.” Easton pulls the pillow off my face and tucks it and his arm under my head, positioning me so I’m snuggled between the crook of his neck and his bicep.

Just where I always wanted to be, only I have no idea how the hell I got here.

How many times have I wondered what this would feel like? And now that I know, how am I ever going to live without it again? Easton’s mouth presses against my neck, and a small moan slips past my lips.

Stupid, traitorous lips.

This isn’t right.

Maybe nothing happened.

Maybe he just fell asleep next to me.

Or maybe I finally indulged in the one thing I’ve always wanted to do but never had the lady balls to grab for myself.

Okay, time to be a big girl. Roll the fuck over and face the music.

I take a hot fucking second to cringe at the poorest excuse for a pep talk I’ve ever given myself, and I’ve given myself plenty. I’m a goddamn gold medalist. I can do pep talks. They just usually happen on the ice or in the locker room. Occasionally in a car. Once while lying in the wet grass when I fell running and had to convince myself to get the hell back up and finish the run. But never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be giving myself one in bed.

Stalling done, I try to carefully roll over without exposing any of my bits in the process, and two things happen at once. First, I say a quick thank-you to the one-night-stand gods because as I roll over, my panties go straight up my ass in the most uncomfortable way possible. Sleeping in a thong is not fun. But I’m pretty sure if I had sex with Easton last night, my panties would have been incinerated in the process. I’m hoping this means I didn’t finally give up my virginity when I was sloppy drunk to the man I’ve been half in love with since before I started shaving my legs.

The second I look up, any thoughts about how my thong is permanently wedged up my ass like dental floss or about how drunk I must have been last night evaporate into thin air. Because Easton is looking at me with the sexiest smile I’ve ever seen. Wow. That smile promises wicked things. “Mornin’, princess.”

He presses his lips to my forehead, and I’m pretty sure I melt into a puddle of goo, right here on the thousand-count Egyptian cotton sheets on the massive hotel bed. My headache forgotten, I bring a shaky hand up to his neck and dig my fingers into the back of his hair.

For a single second, I let myself lie here, safe in his arms before panic sets in.

Because it always sets in.

I pull back, yanking the blanket up around my chest to cover myself while inching back against the headboard. “What the hell, E?”

Easton runs his hand up my thigh, and damn it, there go those goosebumps again, followed by a literal knee-jerk reaction when he tickles me.

As in, maybe I kick him a little.

And maybe he kinda, sorta falls off the bed.

Because really, how many more ways could this morning be more humiliating?

Easton falls to the floor, tangled up in the blanket with a thud, and I peek over at him. “What the fuck, Lindy?”

I can’t believe this is happening.

I close my eyes as embarrassment washes over me, followed by freezing cold waves of panic. With a deep breath, I hide my face in my hands. Only, when I yank my hand back, I stare in horror at the big, fat, perfect brilliant-cut diamond sitting on my ring finger, right next to a matching band.

A wedding band.

My mouth opens and shuts a few times as I try to find words. Then I look from the beautiful diamond and platinum band to the mouthwatering man now standing at the foot of the bed, shirtless and in a pair of navy-blue boxer briefs. Every inch of his golden chest is on beautiful display. Muscles stretch under taut skin. Veins bulge. It’s a sight I would love to savor if it weren’t for the shock I’m pretty sure I’m going into. Because there’s a plain black band on his left ring finger too.

“My eyes are up here, princess.”

I snap my head up to his stupid grin and throw a pillow at his face as I climb up to my knees. “Wanna tell me why I have a wedding ring on my finger, Easton Hayes?”

“Pretty sure because you’re my wife, Madeline Hayes.”

“I’m sorry. WHAT?” I shriek at Easton as I stand up and attempt to secure the sheet around myself, while hysteria bubbles underneath my skin. “For a second, I thought you said I was your wife. But that couldn’t be right. I mean, that’s crazy.” I fight to get the stupid fucking sheet knotted so I can move without my boobs popping free but can’t seem to manage since my hands won’t stop shaking. “I can’t be your wife. I’m not even your girlfriend.” When I still can’t get the damn sheet tied, I grab a white t-shirt off the floor and take a step toward Easton. “How exactly could I possibly be your wife?”

Easton takes the shirt out of my hands and pulls it down over my head like I’m a freaking child, and I manage to slide my arms through it without flashing him. My husband. “What the fuck, E?”

His eyes soften as I drop the sheet to the floor and step out of it. The shirt comes to mid thigh, covering all the important bits, and I feel slightly better for a second until he reaches out and cups my face. “What’s the last thing you remember, Lindy?”

I close my eyes—trying to ignore how good it feels to be held like this—and try to focus on last night, but that makes my head hurt ten times worse. “Everything gets a little fuzzy after the shots.”

Oh, lord. So many shots. “There was dancing.”

“Yeah, baby. There was dancing. A lot of dancing,” he murmurs as his thumb rubs along my cheekbone.

I lean into it, and then my eyes fly open. “You threw me over your shoulder like I was a bag of dirty laundry,” I exclaim, and a sexy laugh rumbles in his throat.

“You throw a lot of bags of laundry over your shoulder, princess?” He bends his knees, bringing his forehead to rest against mine when I don’t laugh at his stupid joke, fighting to hold back the tears threatening to pool in my eyes instead. “Come on, Lindy. Try to remember what happened after that. I need you to remember the rest of the night.”

I shake my head and immediately regret the motion as my head threatens to explode again. “How were you sober, E? You had as many shots as I did.”

“I wasn’t completely sober. But I wasn’t blackout drunk. And I didn’t think you were either. At least, not then. When we all piled onto the party bus afterward, and you and Everly started chugging champagne straight from the bottle, I thought maybe you wouldn’t be feeling too great today.” He tilts my face up to his, and I’m shocked by the hurt I see there. “But I wasn’t expecting you not to remember anything.”

“East—” I’m cut off by a banging on the hotel room door.

“Madeline Kingston, kiss your husband goodbye and get your ass moving. The jet leaves in an hour.” When I don’t answer her right away, too busy being stuck on the fact she just told me to kiss my husband, she bangs again. “I’ve been calling you all morning. Now answer the damn phone or open the damn door.”

Guess it was Everly who woke me up earlier.

That’s one question solved.

Only about a million more to go.

I step back from Easton, cross the room, and crack the door open. “Give me a minute, okay?”

She stuffs her hands through the crack in the door and shoves clothes at me. “Hurry up and say goodbye to lover boy. We’re waiting on you, and I need to know what to tell my mom.”

“Your. What?” I whisper, and my breath is ripped from my body. “Your mom? Your mom knows? Does my mom know?”

Please, dear sweet baby Jesus in the manger.

Please, please, please, don’t let my mom know.

“Everly,” I yell and open the door. Only, instead of Everly being there, the hall is empty.

Son of a—

My eyes fly to Easton. “It’s Vegas. We can get this annulled, and nobody will ever have to know, right?”

If they don’t already.

My mom’s gonna kill me.

My sisters . . . Good grief. My brothers are going to lose their minds.

“We’ve got to get this annulled. Quick,” I add on for good measure as I pull up the jeans Everly handed me.


“I’m sorry. What?” I ask as I stare in disbelief. “What the hell do you mean no?”

Easton crosses the room in two strides and sinks his hand into my hair, pulling me closer.

I drop whatever else I was holding as I lean back against the door behind me and lay my palms over his chest. “Easton—”

“Stop talking, princess.” He brushes his mouth over mine, and a million sparks light up my body for the very first time. I sigh, and Easton’s tongue pushes into my mouth. Firm and deliciously demanding. Making me momentarily forget about this morning. About any war I was about to wage. I ignore the fear and anxiety bubbling under the surface and just feel him. Feel. Us. Until suddenly I can’t feel him anymore.

Because Easton pulls away, leaving my body cold and my heart racing. “Like I said, princess. Like it or not, we’re married, and we’re going to stay that way until you remember last night. Once you can tell me you remember marrying me, if you still want to annul this, I will. But for now, go pack your bags.” He smacks my ass and turns me toward the door. “See you soon, wife.”


The door closes with a soft snick behind Lindy, and I have the overwhelming urge to open it back up, just so I can slam it shut.

How the fuck does she not remember last night?

I bared my fucking soul.

She fucking said—

My phone rings, cutting off my thoughts, and I yank it off the table. “What?”

“Good morning to you too, asshole.”

“I’m not in the mood for your shit today, Pace.” I hit speaker and toss the phone on the bed so I can find my clothes.

“Aww. The honeymoon sex a disappointment? It gets better, buddy. You’ll last longer next time.”

“There was no sex last night, dick.” This motherfucker. “Lindy woke up this morning, didn’t remember any of it, and asked for an annullment.”

“Ohhh . . . Burn. That had to be a blow to your big, fat ego, huh? How you gonna fix it? Not sure it can really be fixed. But you’re gonna try, right?”

“You gonna take a breath, man?” I drop down on the bed and tie my damn boots, then rest my elbows on my knees. “She’s getting on a jet in an hour. How am I supposed to fix anything?”

“You want to give her the annulment?”

“Fuck no,” I growl.

Pace scoffs like the shithead he is. “Weren’t you trying to convince me yesterday she wasn’t your girl?”

Trying to convince myself is more like it, but I keep that to myself. “I was wrong, and you know it. You’ve always known it. And you’ve never missed a chance to point it out.”

“I know. I just wanted to hear you say it. Can you hold off on the annulment until you can talk to her? Or better yet, see her? When’s the next time the Vipers play the Revolution? At least then, you’ll be in the same city.”

“Pace, you’re a fucking genius. I could kiss you, man.” I jump up and grab my keys and the phone.

“Dude. I’ve always been a genius. ’Bout time you fucking noticed. But I’m gonna need you to tell me what the fuck you’re talking about this time.”

Always the smartass. “I need you to make a call.” I smile as I walk out of the hotel room. “I need you to accept the trade.”


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