Book: OtherSide Of Fear (Outside The Ropes #3)

Previous: 18: The Past
Next: 20: Never That Good


19: Surrounded

GAGE LEANED OUT HIS OFFICE DOOR, CELLPHONE headset attached to his ear.

I had seen his boots and coat at the entryway, but hadn’t expected him to be home at this time. His sexy smile had me slowing my path to the bedroom. He wasn’t planning on letting me pass by him anyways, I could tell by the glint in his eyes.

He reached towards me, and I walked into him, his hand sliding around my waist.

“Hm,” he spoke into the phone while pulling me into the office with him, “Yeah, do that.” He rolled his eyes to me with a teasing grin as he dropped back into his chair behind his desk. He gripped my hips and pulled me between his spread legs.

“The mechanic checked.” His eyes dropped from mine as the person spoke in his ear, his focus pulled back into the conversation. “He says it’s running smooth. I’m still driving careful.”

I lifted myself to sit on the edge of his desk, and he rolled his chair close, hands running over my thighs with a sigh. He moved them up my body and grasped the zipper on my sweater. His eyes followed the path of his fingers as he unzipped me, and I leaned back, my hands braced behind me to make it easier.

He rose to his feet and pushed my jacket off my shoulders. “Your kid, she decide on a pet yet?”

I didn’t try and make sense of his words, the codes they spoke changed too often for me to keep track of, and this conversation didn’t seem too heavy. It couldn’t be since he was giving me his focus as I removed my jacket the rest of the way.

“No, that puppy’s too much. You should get her the cat, the fancy one.”

I raised my eyebrow, and he grinned, shaking his head. His fingers were already back at my shirt, undoing the buttons.

“I said no, not that one. Get the mutt if they want a dog.” He was quick, already down three buttons. His fingers grazed over the top curve of my breast as he slid my shirt open.

The light trail of his fingertips on my skin ignited the heat he had already started, but the look in his eyes liquefied it, making it swirl low in my stomach. I couldn’t sit still, my fingers moved to his shirt, but there were no buttons. I dropped them down to his pants, pulling on the waistband to move him closer as I undid the top button.

“Something’s come up. We’ll talk later.” He pulled the phone from his ear, turning it off, grin spreading as he set it down.

His eyes dropped to his pants, hands covering my fingers there. “You shouldn’t have done that.”

I wrapped my legs around his waist and arms around his neck, pulling him on to me, my lips finding his, both of us moving to fit together. The familiarity with each other only made it that much easier, that much faster, to turn each other on, to touch where we knew the other couldn’t resist. That tight skin low on his stomach that made his skin goose bump when I glided my palm over him. His fingers down my spine and teeth on my lips, pulling a moan from me.

He had my shirt undone completely, hands sliding into the back of my leggings.

“What are you doing wearing these to school?” He groaned into my ear, lifting me so his hands could cup my ass.

“I didn’t. I just left the gym.” I pulled back, remembering. “I need a shower.”

“Hmm, that sounds good. After.” His head dipped to my neck, lips nipping at the skin there, down to my shoulder. His hands froze on my ribs, stopping their path of pushing my shirt back, voice suddenly serious. “Are you supposed to go to the gym?”

“Yeah, as long as my body’s all right with it. I can keep doing what I’m doing.” The gym was my sanity, I wouldn’t stop.

I pulled the bottom of his shirt up. My legs pulsed with the need to get us back to what we were doing. I needed this, to feel desired by him.

He took his shirt from my hands and pulled it over his head in one quick motion, tossing it to the ground. I don’t know how the sight of his muscles still surprised me, making me breathless. The reality of him was always so much more than I imagined, perfect and mine to touch.

He braced his hands on either side of me, gripping the edge of the desk as he leaned in close. “I would have went to the gym with you, if you told me.”

“I didn’t even know you would be home this early.” I rolled my head back as he brought his lips back to my skin there, burning and building that aching in my core.

His fingers unclasped my bra and then slid it off my shoulders. I took my shirt off along with it. His tongue curled around one nipple, sucking as his hand slipped into the front of my pants. I was already slick, and his fingers slid into me, stroking and hitting the right spots, making my leg quiver.

“Regan,” my name came off those lips in a groan that vibrated his chest and made me clench around him with excitement. He was panting in my ear. “I came home for you…” he gasped as I took him in my hand, taking a couple of breaths to finish explaining, “…to tell you something.”

I stilled, stopping the rhythm of my strokes. “What were you going to tell me?”

He closed his eyes, his hand covering mine to get me moving again. “It can wait. This can’t.”

When he brought his lips to mine, I was all too willing to silence my reply. To silence anymore talking and focus on the man in front of me. I wanted to make him moan my name with that sexy rumble again, burn it into his brain like it was the only name he knew.


He wrapped a large towel around my shoulders, moving his hand over the fabric to help dry me off.

My eyes dropped down his body, beads of water from the shower sliding down his muscles until the towel at his waist absorbed them.

He growled in warning. “Damn babe, stop looking at me like that.” He pulled me to him, arms wrapping around me. “Or we may never get dinner, and we need to, I’m starving.”

“I wasn’t doing anything but looking.” I couldn’t. He exhausted me; my muscles were drained in the best way.

“Good. Go get dressed so we can eat.”

I walked out to the bedroom and grabbed sweats and a t-shirt to change into, glancing at him as he covered his body. There was beauty in the way he moved, just pulling on a shirt. My hormones had to be acting up because I couldn’t look away.

“So I found out some things today.” His back was to me as he slid sweatpants over his boxers.

“What is it you found out?” My voice came out small, quieter than I wanted to be.

He crossed the room and his hands gripped my shoulder. “I finally got my mom to talk to me. She didn’t have much to say about Angela, but it might be something.” He shrugged. “She told me why she ended the conversation with you so quickly.”


“She was scared of talking about that time and those people. She was never initiated into things, but she knows all about staying silent, and she wasn’t sure how much she could say to you.”

Initiated. The word stuck with me, questions surrounding it. Was that some sort of formal thing? I pushed it aside to ask later. “But she knows she can tell you more?”

He nodded, cocking his head slightly. “But she didn’t have that much more to add, I don’t think. It’d be better to talk to her in person, I could read her better, and I will when we go there at the end of the month. But we might be able to figure this out before then.” His eyes dropped over me. ”Do you want to eat first?”

“No, just tell me.” My stomach was already swirling, killing my appetite.

He shrugged one shoulder, hand moving behind his head. “She’s not sure who Jared is, she only met him a few times. But when Nikolai started pursuing your mother, she fell for him hard and stopped seeing Jared.”

“And he just left?” My stomach sunk, disappointed that this information didn’t seem to lead anywhere. “So maybe he’s not my father then. Maybe he was just a boyfriend.”

“I don’t know yet, but he didn’t just leave. Mom said that your mo—Angela and Nikolai got into a fight one night, a couple months after they met. They were arguing about Jared, and Angela was upset about whatever was going on.” He was watching me, but I had no reaction, unsure what it meant. “She doesn’t know what was said, but she just remembers it was heated and things were thrown. She thinks Nikolai smacked Angela, but that was her last night at the restaurant, after that she went to work for Nikolai at the club.”

I sat on the edge of the bed, headache growing, but still unsure how I felt. It should make me angry, him hitting her, but I didn’t feel anything for her. I didn’t want to feel anything for her. “Did Nadia— your mom—see her after that? She didn’t work at the club I thought.”

Gage shook his head. “No she never worked there. My father never let her. She saw her a couple times after that though, with Nikolai. But nothing that helps solve who Jared is.” He sat on the bed next to me, hand gripping my thigh. “But I left a message for Nikolai in prison. He might know more. I’m on his visitor list, I could go Saturday and ask. I have other business to discuss with him anyways.”

“Back to Baltimore to see him?” That made my heart drop, even though all the demons there were dead or locked up.

“No.” He held me in place with his gentle gaze. “No, his prison is outside the city. I’ll fly down and be back within the same day.”

“I’m going with you then.” I didn’t want him going alone. I didn’t want to be left alone.

“You can’t go to visit Nikolai. You’re not on the list.”

“That’s all right. I’ll just fly down with you. That way you can tell me what he said right away.” I could tell Gage saw through my excuse, my nerves were thinly veiled.

He nodded, palm cupping my cheek. “Okay. Come with me, and keep me company. I’d like that.” He pressed his lips to mine, pulling back with a slight smile. “Now that’s settled. Lets make dinner.”

I stood with him, his agreement taking some of the weight, but my stomach still spun.


My phone rang as I walked into the math building. I had expected it and pressed the phone to my ear, actually surprised I made it this far without the call.


“I know you want that guy following me everywhere, but he’s strange and doesn’t even speak English. You said he’d be my driver, not escort. I don’t want that.”

“Sal is a good guy. He’s there to keep you safe,” there was a hint of laughter in his voice.

“He’s rude and doesn’t recognize social norms. He plowed through a bunch of people in the union, it’s embarrassing. I don’t want him around.”

He sighed. “Fine. But he stays nearby, and you use him as your driver.”

“Sure.” That was easy, easier than I expected. Gage had been in a good mood all week. “Are you going to the gym today?”

“I can’t. Actually that’s the real reason I called. I already knew you wouldn’t like him around you all day, but I wanted to see what you’d allow.”

Bastard. “What was the reason you called then?” I cut off his laughter.

“Well, I’ve got a meeting tonight. I won’t be home till late.”

“All right.” I spoke slow, trying to read his tone.

“It’s important. About the new club, I’ll fill you in later, in person.”

He wanted to say more, I could tell, but couldn’t. He had been careful about phones since his run in with FBI at the gym.

“That’s fine, we’ll talk later.” I tried to sound reassuring, but his pause was spiking my nerves.

“Well, there’s something else I need you to think about.”

Leo was waiting at the door to our class and Kendall was coming down the start of the hall. I ducked into an empty classroom to try and finish this call without being interrupted. The windows along the far wall let in bright light, enough to fill the small room.


“You know that trip we were taking this Saturday?”

“Yeah.” The Maryland trip that had been haunting my thoughts for days.

“Well, he called today, and I told him a little about what I wanted to know.”

The pause could have been a second, but it was heavy.

“He says he won’t talk about that unless you come too. He wants to talk to you.”

“Oh.” My mind blanked.

“You’d have to be on his list, they have to process that paperwork so we wouldn’t be able to go till next Saturday.”

“All right. I’ll do it. You’ll be there, right?”

“Of course. I’ll be right there, but you don’t have to do this. You don’t have to answer yet. Think about it.” There was some sound in the background, someone trying to get his attention. “Think about it. I have to go. I love you.”

“I love you.” I hung up, staring around the empty classroom. I wanted to know who my father was. I had to go. Gage would be there. I had to go. He was in prison. The visit would be safe, surrounded with guards.

I had to go.

Decision made, I turned around just as someone slipped into the room, closing the door behind him.

I stepped back, thinking my mind was playing tricks on me. The man was dressed casual, jeans and leather coat over a dark t-shirt, his hair was swooped back. He looked at me like the past couple of years never happened. Like we were familiar with each other still.


Previous: 18: The Past
Next: 20: Never That Good