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 Episode Four

Darian hadn’t been able to get her out of his mind. Maybe it was the fact he’d saved her the night before from those men that it made him feel like she was already his, but he knew he’d have to mellow out a bit or chance scaring her.

He walked into the Cigar Lounge later that night. He knew he’d never been to the place but admitted the place was very classy, expensive-looking, and definitely masculine. Dark wood walls and brown leather furniture were set in groups around the room, and then also several tables and comfortable chairs. It was a place men could come to relax for an extended period of time. It was an exclusive establishment, but he had no trouble getting a membership.

“Ah, Mr. Marsh.”

Darian turned to see a tall thin man headed his way. He held out a hand. “Are you Mr. Turnbell?”

“Yes, sir.” The man smiled. “But you, of course, can call me, Bert.”

“Bert. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Would you like to see our display of cigars?”

“Not right now. May I sit and have a drink?”

“Oh, of course. What can I get you?”

“Scotch, please.”

“I’ll have someone bring that right to you. Have a seat anywhere.”

Darian watched him scurry off and then scanned the area. It was a large room, but the way it was decorated and how the chairs were placed in small groups made it seem cozy and relaxing. He found a table where he could have his back to the wall so he could see the whole room.

Larkin’s roommates had told him they would all be working, so he expected to see her right away.

“Hello, Mr. Marsh.”

Darian looked up at the woman standing beside his table. “Hello, Monica. Where’s Larkin?”

She looked around. “She’s here. Do you want me to find her and have her come over?”

Darian shook his head. “No, I’d just like to observe first.”

“Okay. Have you ordered?”

“Yes. Thank you.”

“Yell if you need anything.”

Darian received his drink from another waitress and relaxed back in his chair. His posture changed when Larkin came from another room with a tray stacked with glasses. She was wearing trim black pants and a white long-sleeved shirt like the other waitresses. Her long hair was up in a twist and pinned to the back of her head.

Although the clothes fit snuggly, he was just glad she was covered.

He watched her go to one of the bigger tables and start serving the men.

His grip on the glass tightened when a few of the men tried to reach for her, but Larkin would step out of the way, so none of them got a hand on her. He could tell she’d done it many

times before, and it infuriated him.

For the next hour, he watched her work, rushing from one table to the next. Darian caught Monica’s attention with his hand raised.

“What do you need?”

Darian tipped his head toward where Larkin stood. “I want you to send her to me.”

Monica looked around and then back at Darian. “You have to be careful with her. She’s a very sweet person.”

“I would never hurt her,” he promised.

Monica bit her lip, seeming uncertain. “I have to tell you … she’s unique.”

Darian’s brows snapped together. “How?”

“She’s one of the smartest people I know. She’s always reading about boring stuff, but when it comes to life, she’s … clueless.”

“I understand. She doesn’t have a lot of street smarts.”

Monica snorted. “What I’m saying is she has none. The girls have been trying to get her to go out with us so we can teach her about life, but she rarely does. She spends most of her time with her friend Brylee, and she’s a lot like her.”

“Just know she will be taken care of.”

“I hope so. She really is a special person.”

Darian watched Monica walk to Larkin and say something in her ear. Larkin headed his way with her head down, oblivious to where she was going.


Larkin stopped at the table. Monica told her to get the order. She stopped writing a list for the drink order she’d received and then looked up. Her heart throbbed painfully in her chest, and tears burned under her eyelids.

Unable to say anything, she just stood and stared at the man she never thought she’d see again.

“Hello, sweetheart.”

“What are you doing here?” she whispered in shock.

“I came to find the woman who ran from me this morning.”

A tide of red stained her cheeks. “I … I didn’t know what to do. I was embarrassed that I didn’t remember you and …what happened last night. I don’t know the protocol for one-night stands.”

Darian narrowed his eyes. “You think we had sex?”

She flinched at the hard tone of his voice even though he whispered it. “Um, yes. I remember talking about it with you, and then I was practically naked this morning.”

He scowled at her. “We did not have sex…”

“Why not?” she burst out and frowned.

“Because I refuse to have our first time together be when your drunk and wouldn’t remember it.”

She looked down in disappointment. “So, you’re saying I’m still a…?”

“Virgin,” he said and nodded. “Yes.”

“I told my friend, Brylee, I was finally a woman. We celebrated with hot chocolate and cookies.”

His lips twitched. “Why are you so disappointed?”

“Because I’ve wanted to be like girls my age, and now, I don’t think it’s ever going to happen.”

“What if I told you that you didn’t have to be like everyone else? That I wanted you to stay the way you are because I think you’re perfect?”

She shook her head. “That’s not possible. Look, I have to get back to work. I’m sorry if I disappointed you or made you angry.”

He tightened his grip on her hand. “When do you get off?”


“How about I take you out to breakfast?”

Larkin bit her tongue and looked around the room. “It’s just… I don’t know you.”

“My name is Darian, sweetheart. Ask your friends or your manager who I am. If I had wanted to hurt you, I could have last night. Besides, we’ll be in a public place. I know a diner that sells great food twenty-four hours a day.”

“Okay, I’ll talk to my friends.”

“Good. I’ll be waiting here.”

She nodded again and took a step away. Turning, she walked away but then looked over her shoulder at him, almost running into another table.

Darian cringed. He was glad when she caught herself before hitting the table.


Darian watched her the rest of the night as she glanced at him and blushed. He smiled every time because it was incredibly charming. To pass the time, he made notes in his phone as he waited on her. He even made a few calls. He wasn’t one to sit idly around, so he took the opportunity to get a little work done.

A throat clearing got his attention. He looked up to see Larkin standing beside the table with her purse over her shoulder.

He stood right away and slid an arm around her waist as Mr. Turnbell walked up to them.

“We were glad to have you with us tonight, Mr. Marsh.”

Darian stopped. “Thank you for letting me get a membership at such a short notice.”

“Oh, my, anytime.” Mr. Turnbell looked from one to the other. “So, you two know each other?”

“Yes,” Darian said.

“Have you known each other long?”

Darian nodded at the same time that Larkin shook her head. When she scowled up at him, he grinned and tightened his arm. “Thank you, again,” he said to the manager and maneuvered Larkin out of the lounge before the man could ask any more questions.

He led her to his car parked down the block. A drop of sweat rolled down the middle of his back when she started to balk. “Come on, honey. Everything’s going to be okay.”

He watched her exhale, nod, and slip into the car. She sighed when she sank back into the soft leather seat. He felt a satisfaction knowing this was the first step to having her as his own.

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