Tamed (Tangled #3)


by Emma Chase

Chapter 1

During the last few weeks, it’s been brought to my attention that sometimes women actually like to cry. They cry over books, TV shows, those awful abused-animal commercials, and movies—especially movies. Sitting down to purposely watch something you know will make you unhappy? It makes no frigging sense.

But that’s okay; I’m just going to chalk it up to another thing I will never understand about my girlfriend. Yes—I said girlfriend. Dee Warren is officially my girlfriend.

One more time for those in the back—girlfriend—Delores—mine.

Repeating it might make me sound like a Harry Styles–obsessed prepubescent girl, but I don’t give a damn. Because it was a hard-won victory—if you knew what I had to go through to make her mine, you’d understand.

Anyway, back to what I was saying. Chicks like to cry—but this isn’t one of those stories. There’s no dying best friends, no dark tortured pasts, no hidden secrets, no sparkly vampire breakups, and no kinky f**kery.

Well . . . okay . . . there’s some kinky f**kery—but it’s the happy kind.

This is a story about a player, who meets a slightly crazy girl. They fall in love and the player changes his ways forever. It’s a story you’ve probably heard before, maybe even from my buddy, Drew Evans. But the thing is, while he and Kate were figuring their shit out? There was this whole alternate universe going on with Delores and me that you don’t know about. So stick around, even if you think you already know the ending. Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the wild stuff that happens along the way.

Before we start, there’s some background info you may need to know. First off—Drew’s a great guy, a true best friend. If we were the Rat Pack, he’d be Frank Sinatra, I’d be Dean Martin. Although Drew and I are tight, we differ in our opinions about women. At this point in our tale, he sees himself as a bachelor for life. He’s got all these rules about never bringing a chick to his apartment, never dating someone he works with, and the Cardinal Rule: Never hook up with the same woman twice.

I, on the other hand, don’t care where I get laid—my place, her place, the observation deck of the Empire State Building.

That was a great night.

I’m also not opposed to seeing someone from the office—though most of the girls in my line of work are stressed out, chain smoking, coffee-obsessed women with an unpleasant chip on their shoulders. I have no problem hanging out with the same woman on multiple occasions, as long as the good times keep rolling. And someday, I imagine myself settling down—marriage, kids, the whole deal.

But while I’m looking for Mrs. Right? I’m having a blast with all the Ms. Wrongs.

Secondly, I’m a real glass-half-full kind of person. Nothing gets me down. I have a great life—a good career that lets me enjoy the best man-toys on the market, awesome friends, a weird but loving family. “Emo” doesn’t exist in my vocabulary, but YOLO should’ve been my middle name.

Next up is Delores Warren—Dee, if you want to stay on her good side. By today’s standards it’s an unusual name, but for her it’s a perfect fit. She’s unusual—different—in all the best kinds of ways. She’s brutally honest, emphasis on “brutal.” She’s strong and doesn’t give a rat’s ass what people think of her. She’s true to herself and makes no apologies for what she wants or who she is. She’s wild and beautiful—like an undomesticated thoroughbred that runs best without a saddle.

And that was where I almost went wrong. I wanted to tame her. I thought I had the patience for it, but I pushed too hard and pulled too much on the reins. So she broke them.

Are you offended that I compared the woman I love to a horse? Get the f**k over it—this is not a tale the PC police will enjoy.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Just know that Kate Brooks is our coworker and Delores’s best friend—the Shirley to Dee’s Laverne. And in all the years I’ve known Drew—which is every one of them—I’ve never seen him react to a woman like he reacted to Kate. Their attraction, even though it was mostly antagonistic in the beginning, was palpable. Anybody with eyes could see they had it bad for each other.

Well . . . anybody but them.

Kate, like Delores, is a great girl. The type of woman who, in the immortal words of Eddie Murphy in Coming to America, could arouse a man’s intellect as well as his loins.

You got all that? Great. Let’s get this party started.

My life changed about four weeks ago. On a normal, average day—when I met a girl who was anything but average.

Four weeks earlier

“Matthew Fisher, Jack O’Shay, Drew Evans, this is Dee-Dee Warren.”

There’s no such thing as love at first sight. It’s just not possible. Sorry to ruin your fantasy, but that’s how it is. Ignorance might feel like bliss, but when you peel away the happy layer, it’s still just a lack of information.

To really love another person, you have to know them—their quirks, their dreams, what pisses them off and makes them smile, their strengths, weaknesses, and flaws. Have you heard that quote from the Bible—the one they always read at weddings: “Love is patient, love is kind . . .”? I have my own version: Love is missing the taste of someone’s morning breath. Thinking they’re beautiful, even when their nose is Rudolph-red and their hair is bird’s nest crazy. Love isn’t putting up with someone in spite of their faults—it’s adoring them because of them.

Now lust at first sight, that’s very real. And much more common. In fact, when most guys meet a woman, they know within the first five minutes which category of “fuck, kill, marry” they fall into. For guys, the f**k category has a pretty low bar.

I’d like to tell you the first thing I noticed about Delores was something romantic, like her eyes, or her smile, or the sound of her voice—but it wasn’t. It was her tits. I’ve always been a boob man, and Dee’s set was fantastic. Slightly overflowing in a tight, hot-pink top, pressed together just right to create an enticing cleft of cle**age, beautifully framed by a gray knit sweater.

Before she uttered her first word to me, I was in lust with Delores Warren’s rack.

After she banters with Drew for a minute, I steer her attention my way. “So, Dee-Dee . . . is that short for something? Donna, Deborah?”

Warm, honey-colored eyes turn my way. But before she can answer, Kate lets the cat out of the bag, “Delores. It’s a family name—her grandmother’s. She hates it.”

Delores glares playfully at Kate.

If you want to make an impression on a girl, humor is always a safe bet. It shows a woman you’re clever, smart, confident. If you’ve got balls? Flaunt them.

Which is why I tell Kate’s friend, “Delores is a gorgeous name, for a gorgeous girl. Plus, it rhymes with clitoris . . . and I really know my way around them. Big fan.”

As planned, my line gets an instant reaction. She smiles slowly and runs one finger across her lower lip, suggestively. Any time a woman touches her body in response to something a guy’s said? It’s a good sign.

Then, she breaks our gaze and says to us all, “Anyhoo. I have to jet, gotta get to work. Nice meeting you, boys.” Dee-Dee hugs Kate and winks at me. Also a good sign.

I watch her as she walks out and can’t help but notice the rear view is almost as awesome as the front.

Drew asks Kate, “She’s got to get to work? I thought the strip clubs didn’t open until four.”

I have to agree with him on that one. When you’ve been to as many strip clubs as we have, you start to see a pattern. The clothes the women wear—though minimal—are similar. Like they all shop at the same store. And Dee is definitely rocking the Strippers “R” Us vibe.

Though it may just be wishful thinking on my part. It would be awesome if she were a dancer. Not only are they limber—they party hard. Totally uninhibited. The fact that they generally have a low opinion of the male species is a plus too. Because it means the simplest act of chivalry is returned with extreme gratitude. And a grateful stripper is a blow-job giving stripper.

But Kate dashes my hopes. “Dee’s not a stripper. She just dresses like that to throw people off. So they’re shocked when they find out what she really does.”

“What does she do?” I ask.

“She’s a rocket scientist.”

Jack reads my mind. “You’re f**king with us.”

“Afraid not. Delores is a chemist. One of her clients is NASA. Her lab works on improving the efficiency of the fuel they use on the space shuttles.” She shivers. “Dee-Dee Warren with access to highly explosive substances . . . it’s something I try to not think about.”

And now my curiosity is almost as strong as my lust. I’ve always had a taste for the unusual—the exotic—in women, music, books. And unlike Drew, whose apartment is meticulously decorated, I tend to gravitate toward pieces with a history. Even if they don’t match, nontraditional is always interesting.

“Brooks, you’ve got to hook me up. I’m a nice guy. Let me take your friend out. She won’t regret it.”

Kate thinks about it. Then she says, “Okay. Sure. You seem like Dee’s type.” She hands me a neon-green business card. “But I have to warn you. She’s the love-’em-and-leave-’em-with-bruises type of girl. If you’re looking for a good time for a night or two, then definitely call her. If you’re looking for anything deeper than that, I’d stay away.”

And now I know how Charlie felt when he was handed the last golden ticket to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.

I stand up from the table and kiss Kate on the cheek. “You . . . are my new best friend.”

I consider hugging her too—just to f**k with my scowling buddy—but I don’t want to risk getting nut-punched. I have plans for my nuts. They need to be in top form.

Kate tells Drew not to pout, and he makes a comment about her boobs, but I’m only half listening. Because I’m too busy thinking about where I’ll be meeting Delores Warren for a drink—or several. And all the fantastically lascivious activities that are sure to follow.

So that’s how it started. It wasn’t supposed to be complicated—no love at first sight, no grand gestures, no hard feelings. A sure thing, a good time, a one-night stand with an option for a second. That’s what Kate told me Dee was into, and that’s all I was looking for. All I thought it would ever be.

Elvis Presley was right. Fools really do rush in. And if you haven’t figured it out yet, I’m a major f**king fool.

Chapter 2

A lot of people live for their job. Not because they’re forced to financially, but because what they do for a living is who they are—their profession gives them confidence, purpose, maybe even an adrenaline rush. It’s not always a bad thing. The office is a businessman’s playground, a courtroom to a lawyer feels like home. And if I ever need a surgeon? Only a full-blown workaholic is getting near me.

That being said, I’m an investment banker at one of the most respected and prestigious firms in the city. I’m good at my job, the paycheck is nice, I serve my clients well—keep them happy and keep new ones coming in. But I wouldn’t say I love it. It’s not a passion. When I die, I’m not going to go out wishing I had spent more time at the office.

I’m similar to my father in that respect. He’s committed to the firm he, John, and George founded, but he doesn’t let the obligations interfere with his golf game. And he’s an old-fashioned family man—he always was. Growing up, dinner was served at six o’clock sharp. Every night. If my ass wasn’t in that dining room chair, I’d better have been in the Emergency Room, or there was hell to pay. Dinnertime discussion focused heavily on “What did you do today?” and “Nothing” was never an acceptable response. Being an only child, there weren’t any siblings to distract my parents from keeping tabs on me. My old man was well aware of the potential pitfalls of growing up privileged in New York City, so he made damn sure I stayed out of trouble.