Chapter Four from Shattered Trust…

Posted Aug 1 2014, 12:01 am

It’s just about two weeks before Shattered Trust is released – yikes! Hope you enjoy this chapter!


Chapter Four

At nine thirty Saturday morning, Kate’s alarm went off. She lugged herself out of bed, stumbled to the dresser to smack off the annoying pop song, then staggered into the bathroom. Her head pounded and her mouth felt drier than Death Valley. She poured a glass of water and stared at her reflection.

She looked worse than she felt, if that was possible. Her hair was a rat’s nest with her face pale and blotchy. Good Lord, she looked like a reject from a bad Picasso painting. And why had she gone to bed in a t-shirt and panties, with her bra on no less? She took a sip of water.

And she threw it right back up.

Sudden chills seized her. She floundered her way back to the nightstand where she’d left her cell. She hit speed dial number one.

“Sedona,” she said thickly to her daughter’s voicemail. “I’ve got the flu or something so I’m not coming in. Do what you have to do for today. I’ll call later.”

Kate hung up and turned off the ringer before crawling back between the sheets. Her obsessive compulsive side could not believe she’d called in sick. She hadn’t done that in…ever. She waited for the remorse to set in, to be obligated into hauling herself back out of bed and going to work. It never came.

Rather a sense of…tranquility settled over her. Sedona had handled things while Kate had been on that disastrous cruise. Her daughter could handle things now.

She sighed, her eyelids coasting shut.


The warmth of the sun on her face persuaded Kate to open her eyes. She blinked at the bright light streaming through her bedroom window then checked her clock.


Wow. The extra hour and a half of sleep had made a huge difference. Her head thudded at a much softer cadence and her stomach wasn’t lurching. She could still make it into work. She picked up her cell, noticing numerous texts and missed calls from her daughter.

Had something happened at the bar? The Bluebird had been open for barely an hour. She dialed Sedona’s number, then heard someone knocked on her front door. With the phone to her ear, she tossed off the covers and padded through her house.


“Hi, honey. Is everything okay?”

“Funny, Mom. Are you okay?”

Kate unlocked her front door. Odd that she hadn’t put the chain on last night. “I’m fine, sweetie.” She opened the door. “Just running a lit…tle…”

Liam stood on her stoop, a grocery bag in each hand, dressed in a dark gray t-shirt and faded jeans. Sunglasses hid his eyes, but she sensed his intense stare.

What was he doing here? How did he even know where she lived?

She pulled her robe closed with her free hand. “What are you doing here?”

“Mom?” Sedona’s voice said into her ear. “What are you talking about? I’m not there.”

Liam slid his sunglasses to the top of his head. “I came to cook you breakfast.”

Kate pressed the phone against her shoulder. She didn’t want Sedona to know he was at her house. “I don’t have time for breakfast, and neither do you. We have to get to the Bluebird.”

“But I don’t work today.”

“Since when? Your day off is Sunday.”

He looked at her, his eyebrows slightly raised.

Realization dropped her jaw. “Sedona,” she said into the phone. “Is today…Sunday?”

“Duh, Mom. You must’ve really been out of it yesterday.”

Kate leaned against the door jamb. She’d been asleep since Friday night? How was that possible? She realized she’d been dragging since the cruise, but that didn’t explain this. What had happened for her to sleep for so long?

A deluge of events from the other night drowned her brain. How she’d ordered Liam to return the keg room to its original order. How mad he got. How he’d trapped her behind the bar. How she couldn’t escape. How her vision had blackened and she’d said…red light.

Icicles impaled her chest as she met his stare. Why was he here now? At her house? What did he want? Her muscles tensed, ready to slam the door in his face if he made a move. But he didn’t. He stood there, calm and nonthreatening.

“Mom? You still there?”

Kate cleared her throat, her gaze never wavering from Liam’s. “Yes, honey. I’m here.”

“So, you’re feeling better? Liam told us you got sick Friday night. Said he drove you home then walked back to finish closing.”

Suddenly Kate’s throat ached. “Did he say anything else?”

“Like what?”

“Like why I was sick?”

“Food poisoning or something. But we were too busy to talk yesterday. Good thing he came in at noon. Worked straight through till two this morning.” Sedona laughed. “I think he’s bucking for a raise.”

Kate straightened. “He can try. I’ll be in soon.”

“You don’t have to. Stay home and rest.”

“No. I need to go over the produce orders. See you in a bit.”

Kate disconnected the call and crossed her arms, staring at Liam and waiting for him to say something.

He lifted the bags. “So…breakfast?”

“You want me to believe you’re actually here to make me breakfast?”

“That and to check on you. We both know you didn’t have food posioning.”

She tightened her arms around her middle. “I’m fine. And you don’t have to cook for me. I can get something at the bar.”

“But the kitchen’s closed on Sunday. What are you going to eat? Peanuts? Stale tortilla chips and Marie’s spicy jalapeno salsa? Your body needs something more substantial than that after fasting for so long.”

“No need to concern yourself.” She shifted to close the door.

“But what am I supposed to do with all this food? I can’t cook in my motel room.”

Her shoulders drooped. She wanted to refuse, but there was something so…sincere in his tone, she didn’t have the heart to send him packing. And she couldn’t refute the cramping in her empty stomach. Silently, she moved to the side and allowed him access to her home.

He stepped across the threshold and waited while she shut the door. She headed across the hardwood floor, feeling his presence behind her.

In her pale yellow kitchen, she swept her arm in a wide arc. “Here ya go.”

He smiled as he passed her then piled the bags on her counter and pulled out items. “Where do you keep your pans?”

“There.” She pointed to the cupboard.

He pulled out a heavy skillet, set it on the stove and lit the burner. “It’ll be about fifteen minutes before the food’s ready,” he said pouring oil into the pan. “Want to take a shower in the meantime?”

A fresh wave of shock rippled through her. Shower with him in her house? Oh, she didn’t think so.

But as she watched him throw a white tea towel over his shoulder, rinse a pint of strawberries under the faucet then crack several eggs into the hot skillet, a…coziness quilted her shoulders. How insane was that? She felt cozy and confused and maybe a teeny bit…safe.

Without a word, she went into her bedroom and locked the door. What had she been thinking to let Liam into her house? To cook her breakfast no less? Did he really expect her to believe that? Maybe she should stay in her room until he left.

No. This was her house, and she wasn’t going to hide in it like a scared child. And she’d get cleaned up as well, not because he suggested it. But because she wanted to.

She showered in record time. Clad in a white shirt and khaki pants, with her hair pulled into her signature ponytail, she hated to admit she felt refreshed. Or that the smells coming from the kitchen made her mouth water. She tiptoed down the hall and peeked through the doorway. A single place setting was on the table. He stood at her stove, his attention on the skillet.

His profile was to her, and she noted the sharpness of his facial features. His defined cheekbones and angular chin. And he still sported an unkempt beard. Didn’t the man know how to shave?

Her gaze roamed over the muscles bulging in his t-shirt then down to his poured-into jeans. Not an ounce of fat existed on his body. His stance was wide, self-assured, like cooking in a strange kitchen was no big deal. Her heart skipped a beat—but not in a good way.

He turned, and caught her staring. She ducked her head as her cheeks warmed.

“Feel better?” he asked.

She nodded. “A little.”

He pulled out the chair then stood to the side, though his hand remained on the chair back. “Good. Come and eat before it gets cold.”

With great care, so she didn’t allow him touch her, she slithered onto the seat. He momentarily left her side, but returned an instant later gripping the hot skillet with one of her rooster oven mitts.

He served her a mound of scrambled eggs. “You look lovely.”

She snorted, placing the napkin in her lap. Lovely? Puh-leeze. “You should get your eyes checked.”

The pan hung in front of her. She glanced up at him. His eyes were shuttered, his mouth pulled into a frown.

“Something wrong?” she asked.

“No.” He set the pan on the stove.

She turned her attention to the pastel yellow mass, dotted with black flakes. “Did you use pepper?”

He placed a smaller plate with buttered toast and a bowl of chopped strawberries at her elbow. “Lemon pepper.”

She pushed away the plate. “I don’t care for pepper in my eggs.”

“It’s lemon pepper, and I found it in your cupboard.”

She shook her head. “Still…”

“Still what? You’re not even going to try them?”

If Liam had sounded angry, she could have refused. But he didn’t. He sounded bewildered and maybe a little…hurt.

Her conscience whacked her. Okay. So she wasn’t thrilled at having Liam in her kitchen, but she didn’t have to be rude, for goodness sake. She grabbed her fork again. “Fine. I’ll try them.”

She scooped a small portion into her mouth. She only planned to taste his cooking. But the texture was fluffier than a cloud, with the perfect blend of salt, a slight sour tang and peppery spice.


Uneasiness tinged his voice.

She swallowed then looked at him. “It’s good.”

He grinned. Not a gloating smirk or an arrogant beam. But an easy half-grin that made her stomach flutter and her lips twitch to smile back. She forked another heap of eggs into her mouth instead.

“I wasn’t sure if you wanted coffee or tea. Both were in your pantry so I made a pot of coffee and put the kettle on for tea.”

“Coffee, please,” she said between bites. “And I take it with cream…” The pint of liquid creamer immediately materialized on the table. “…mer.”

“I know.” He poured a cup and set it beside her plate.

She tightened her grip on her fork. “How do you know I take cream in my coffee?”

“Because the carton was in the fridge.”


He turned toward the sink, switched on the water and squirted dish soap under the stream. He wiped down the counter while the basin filled, then proceeded to wash the pan, knives and other dishes. Kate stared at him, completely dumbfounded. A headache started behind her eyes.

What was with this guy? He showed up on her doorstep, wanting to cook for her and now was cleaning up. What kind of a person does that?

But rather than dwell on the puzzle that was Liam St. James, she tucked into her breakfast. When she’d scraped the last bit of egg off the plate, chewed the last bit of toast and swallowed the last succulent slice of strawberry, she glanced up to see him watching her.

He nodded at her plate. “Should I even ask if you liked it?”

“It was very good. Thank you. But why didn’t you eat?”

“I had lunch before coming over. It is afternoon, after all.” He reached for her plate.

She picked it up and pushed from the table. “I can get it.”

He nabbed it from her hand. “No. Stay. Drink your coffee.”

She huffed. “I’m not an invalid, you know.”

“I know.”

He returned his attention to the sink. She cradled her cup and allowed herself to observe how the modest movements of washing the plate and setting in the drainer bunched his muscles. “So,” she said into the yawning silence. “You really came by to cook me breakfast?”

He chuckled while pouring another cup of coffee. “I really came over to cook you breakfast.”

Pot in hand, he turned and warmed the contents in her mug then loitered by her side. Against her wishes, her gaze lifted to meet his.

His eyes, which had darkened to the deep jade green of her necklace, held her captive. There was no intimidation in his gaze. Rather she felt…sheltered.

“Are you really okay?” he asked in a husky tone.

She didn’t pretend not to understand what he was talking about. “Yes.”

“Would you like to talk about it?”


The refusal burst off her tongue. She cringed inside, waiting for the recriminations to come. They didn’t.

Instead, he simply shrugged and replaced the pot. “Okay.”


“Oh…kay?” Disbelief rang in Kate’s voice. “So, that’s it?”

Liam glanced at her over his shoulder, his eyebrows scrunched. “What do you expect me to do? Reach down your throat and pull out the words? If you don’t want to talk, I can’t make you.”

“But isn’t that what people like you do? Make others do whatever you want?”

People like him? That crude judgment stuck in his craw. She had no honest clue about people like him. He faced her. “I’m a Top. Not a bully.”

Her head tilted to the side, a slight pucker on her forehead. “A top what?”

He pressed his lips together to keep from laughing. Somehow he didn’t think she was teasing him. “A Top is someone who dominates in the bedroom. A sexual Dominant, if you prefer. And I’m still not a bully.”

She lifted her cup with a very unladylike snort. “If you say so.”

He crossed his arms, irritation needling him. “I do say so.”

Her knuckles whitened around the mug in her hands. A mere fraction, but still he saw it. He dropped his arms and rested his palms on the counter behind him. A fragile truce existed between him and Kate. He wouldn’t allow his pride to fuck that up. “I take it you’ve had experience with a bully rather than a Dominant.”

She set her cup down with a thunk. “I said I didn’t want to talk about it.”

“And I agreed. But you didn’t accept that answer.”

With care, he eased away from the counter. Her gaze shot to him, her eyes massively round and steeped with fear.

He stopped and raised his hands. “I don’t know what happened to you, but I assure you it wasn’t anything like what happens in a normal, healthy Dominant-submissive relationship.”

She barked a laugh. “There’s nothing normal about someone beating or whipping another person. And there’s definitely nothing healthy about allowing yourself to be beaten or whipped.”

Her eyes widened even more and she pressed her lips into a thin, bloodless line, as though she hadn’t intended for that confession to jump from her mouth.

He rubbed his palms on his jeans. “Look, I’m probably the last person you should talk to about this, but you need to talk to someone.”

Her lips flattened. “I don’t need to talk to anyone about anything.”

“Yes, you do.”

“Really? And why’s that?” Sarcasm laced her words.

He dragged the chair against the floor. She bolted to her feet. “That’s why. That naked…terror in your eyes. Like you’re afraid of everything. Then there’s the fact you can’t allow anyone to touch you, not even your daughter, without visually cringing. And, yes, it’s noticeable. You’re too young, too…beautiful and vibrant to live your life like this.”

“You don’t know the first thing about me.” Her accusation sliced the air.

“You’re right. I don’t know you, but it doesn’t take a genius to figure out you’ve had some terrible experiences. Google BDSM counselors. Find someone you can trust.” He gently pushed the chair under the table. “I’m gonna go now.”

She slinked around the opposite side of the table as he walked to the doorway. He was almost to the hallway when he heard her voice, “Did you know my father was a minister?”

His heart froze for an instant before it hammered double time. He turned. “I heard that.”

She stood in front of the sink, staring out the small window, her arms wound around her middle like she was trying to hold herself together. With her bland clothes and pale cheeks, she practically blended into the dullness of the kitchen walls and cabinets.

She glanced at him, the saddest smile he’d ever seen tipping up her lips. “First Baptist Church of Lewisville, Michigan, situated right on the shore of Lake Michigan.” She looked back out the window with a small shiver. “When the wind blew off the lake, it would get so cold. Bone-chilling cold.” Her shoulders lifted on a sigh. “My father reminded me of the female character in The Story of O.”

His eyebrows popped up. “You’ve read The Story of O?”

She nodded. “When I was seventeen the church had a rummage sale. That book was in one of the boxes. My father went positively apoplectic when he saw it. Ordered it be burned. I saved it from the incinerator.”

Liam leaned his hip against the counter, his hands in his pockets. “How was your dad like O?”

Kate matched faced him, her arms still crossed. “He had the same single-minded obsession about his congregation that O had for her masters. Anything they wanted, he did. Without question. No matter the cost.”

His insides puckered at her lifeless words. “No matter the cost?”

“Yes. Nothing mattered more than his congregation. And if it was important to him, it was important to my mother, even at the expense of her own heath.”

Kate wagged her head. “My mom was sick for over two years, but never went to the doctor. She brushed off her weight loss and lack of appetite to getting older.” A small scoff escaped. “She was a year younger than I am now when they found the malignant tumor the size of a grapefruit in her intestines. She died three months later.”

He dropped his arms to his sides. “I’m sorry for your loss.”

Kate blinked at him. “Don’t be. She and I weren’t close. Like I said, it was all about the flock.”

How could a child not be close to her mother? He thought of his own mom. Even though he hadn’t seen her for over a decade, he still felt close to her. Still called her when he could. Still missed her. “How old were you when she died?”


“It had to be tough losing your mom at such a young age.”

Her mouth pulled into a frown. “Nothing really changed for me. I’d been raised to put the needs of the parishioners first. My father expected me to fill my mother’s shoes, so I did. It wasn’t easy, but he was my father. I wanted to please him. I guess that kinda made me like O too. Not burning that book was the first time I’d ever disobeyed him.”

She returned her gaze out the window. “I was also…curious about the lifestyle portrayed in The Story of O. How could anyone enjoy being treated that way?” A humorless giggle blew past her lips. “When I met Ramon, I found out.”

“Ramon? Is he Sedona’s dad?”

Kate met his gaze. The abject despair in those blue, blue eyes hitched his breath. “I don’t know who Sedona’s dad is.” She lowered her lashes. Red stained her cheeks. “Ramon…he liked to…share.”

Blood rushed in Liam’s ears. “How did you get mixed up with someone like him?”

“My freshman year in college, my roommate’s brother was gay and he took me to some kind of club where…things happen.”

“A bondage club?” Liam offered.

She shrugged. “I guess. That’s where I met Ramon. He was handsome and virile, and so kind and considerate. And he loved The Story of O. That’s what got us talking in the first place. He said if O actually existed, she’d be me.”

Her voice cracked slightly and Liam’s heart ached.

Kate cleared her throat. “Anyway, we dated for months, but never slept together, despite my willingness. Eventually he confessed to having a fetish for spanking. Said he couldn’t make love to me unless I allowed him to spank me first.”

“And you agreed?”

“Instantly. I was in love with him and pain wasn’t going to keep me from having him.”

Liam shifted. “I take it Ramon taught you to about the green, yellow and red light practice?”

She nodded. “When he finally took my virginity, it was after he’d spanked me with a wooden paddle. The session went on for a long time. I cried. Not because of the pain, but because I didn’t think it was possible to be so happy. I quit school and moved into his house.

“But there were other girls living there too, just like that château place fromThe Story of O. Some girls were older, some younger. The older ones helped the newer ones…adapt…to their new lives. We were really like sisters. And we’d do anything Ramon wanted. He was rich, family money I think, and would host these…parties for friends and associates. We’d get passed around like hors d’oeuvres for anyone’s perverted whim.” Her depressing laugh punched Liam’s chest. “I was his O. We all were. And I was living out my fantasy nightmare.”

Bile churned in his stomach. Twenty years ago, the kink world still had rules. Still had protocol. Protocol that this fucker Ramon heartlessly disregarded, if he even knew it at all.

He wasn’t a dungeon master. Wasn’t a Dom. He was a fucking abuser. A pimp. A goddamn slave trader. “At the house, your safe word wasn’t honored, was it?”

Another head shake. “If you used it, you’d get punished…horribly punished. You learned quick to stay quiet, no matter what was being done to you. Not that it mattered. I think we’d all have crossed the English Channel filled with razor blades for Ramon. I know I would have. I loved him that much.”

“What happened?”

“I got pregnant.” She blew out a long exhale. “Ramon always insisted on condoms. Someone either forgot or deliberately disobeyed him. When my pregnancy was discovered, Ramon beat me with a belt. I think he was trying to cause a miscarriage. When that didn’t work, he demanded I get an abortion. I refused. It was the only time I ever told him no.”

“What’d he do?”

“He kicked me out. All I had were the clothes on my back. I had to hitchhike more than two hundred miles to get home.” She squinted out the window, her eyes brightening with moisture.

Dread knotted Liam’s gut. “What happened when you got home?”

She tapped her index finger against her tightly pressed lips.


She kept her gaze fixed on something outside. A single tear trailed down her cheek. After several long, silent moments, he realized she wasn’t going to answer. Not that she needed to. He could imagine the conversation between a holier-than-thou minister and his pregnant, unmarried daughter.

 Rage pulsed through him. God! To think of her being so young, so scared and pregnant made him want to bash his fist into something. Kate’s face lost all color as she stared at him. He inhaled a deep breath to control his temper. The last thing he wanted was to upset her further. Hell, all he really wanted to do was hold her…

And before he acted on that stupid impulse, he whipped around toward the hall. He needed to get the fuck outta there. “Go online, Kate. Find a counselor. It’s your best bet for figuring out…things. I gotta go.”

Liam knew he was grade-A chickenshit for running away, but he couldn’t help it. Kate’s history was complicated—too complicated—for him to deal with. If he tried to help, he’d just fuck up the situation worse than it already was. Which was pretty damn bad. Better to cut bait and let her deal with this shit on her own.

He rationalized his actions while walking back to the motel. Leaving had been the right thing to do. Really.

But the memory of Kate’s tortured expression said otherwise.


The quiet click of her front door closing jarred Kate.

What had gotten into her, confessing everything like she had, and to Liam no less? And what he must think of her. Her issues growing up. Her parents. Reading that book. Ramon.

She was pathetic and drained from having shared all that. But even as she wanted to take back the conversation, she conceded that talking with Liam had been easy, and soothing. In an odd way.

She glanced at the stove clock. After two. Uh, oh. Heading into her living room, she grabbed her purse, keys and jacket then out the door.

The drive to the Bluebird took less than ten minutes. When she walked through the main doors, she immediately recognized a half dozen of the “usual suspects” sitting at the bar, their backs to her and their gazes trained on the televised NASCAR race.

Several tables held customers, but Sedona was right. The place was empty. Not unusual for a Sunday. They were open noon until seven, mostly to give the locals a place to watch sports.

She looked again at the men. Each man had two other things in common…they’d each asked Kate out. And they’d each been turned down.

That realization stumbled her feet as she made her way toward the kitchen door. Liam said she was “beautiful” and “vibrant.” Was she? She remembered a time long ago when she had felt that way…with Ramon. Now she felt old, and used up.

She hurried her steps, in hopes of dodging anyone’s notice. Why hadn’t she come in through the back like normal? She was almost to the safety of the kitchen when Sedona’s voice boomed in the near quiet of the room.


Six sets of male eyes swung toward Kate as she accepted her daughter’s hug.

“Kate, how ya feeling?”

“Missed you last night.”

“You feeling better?”

With a stilted smile, she looked at the guys. “I’m fine. Thanks for asking.”

“You look good, Kate,” Moses said, tipping his beer to his lips, his focus on her.

Moses was her most persistent suitor. A few years older than her, he was quite handsome, with his short salt-and-pepper hair and hazel eyes that danced in humor or blazed with intensity. Like they did now. Heat rose up her neck.

He’d asked her to countless dinners and numerous times to the movies. And she always said no. But he persevered, never letting on he was upset by her rejection.

He swallowed, and she watched in fascination at how his throat muscles worked. Her face burned hotter. “I need to…uh…figure out the produce orders for the week.”

Moses nodded. “Maybe when you’re done, we can go for a drive.”

Her legs weakened. Say yes. Say yes. Say yes. “Uh, maybe…” Terror cut off her air. She shoved through the double door. “But I doubt it.”

Fleeing into the kitchen, she stumbled into her office and collapsed into her desk chair.

Not only was she crazy, she was stupid as well. Why hadn’t she said yes? It wasn’t like she didn’t feel attracted to Moses. He was kind and generous, and she’d known him ever since she came to Trustworthy. He was divorced with two grown kids. He was available. She was available. And it was just a drive for goodness sake.

But as the questions formed in her head, she knew the answers. Twenty-three years and six months had expired since she’d last been with a man sexually. And her daughter’s birth had been the last time anyone—man or woman—had touched her at all, with the exception of Sedona.

And now Liam.

Tears gathered in her eyes. She didn’t want to feel this way, to be so scared of physical communication, she shunned the very idea.

Liam said she needed to talk to someone. Maybe he was right. She should talk to…what had he called it…a BDSM counselor? Would it help? Would that allow her to live, or at least go on a date with a man and not recoil from his touch?

To hold a man’s hand and feel his strong fingers intertwined with hers… To feel skin against skin… Or to feel his lips against hers. She closed her eyes as her belly fluttered in anticipation.

But could she do it? Could she spill her darkest secrets to a complete stranger? Her palms grew sweaty and her head ached at the prospect.

Yet hadn’t she done that very thing with Liam? While not a complete stranger, he was more of a stranger than a friend, and she’d divulged the most private…things about her past. Talking with a counselor would be just as easy, wouldn’t it?

There was something different about Liam. Kate knew that from the moment she’d laid her eyes on him. A connection of some kind existed between them. A peculiar comfort. A connection she didn’t like, but couldn’t deny either. Maybe she should stick to talking with him.

That thought speared her chest.

What? Liam? That was crazy. Absolutely certifiable.

Another shiver skated through her, stirring her hidden, wicked side. The one she’d kept buried all these years. Liam was a very handsome man, and he obviously knew a lot about that culture. Maybe his “help” would entail more than them…talking.


She ruthlessly squashed her sinful urges. She wouldn’t fall victim to her depravity—not again. It nearly killed her with Ramon.

Her best course of action was to seek out a counselor, preferably someone old and stodgy. She’d find a way to confide her past…indiscretions. That was a much better plan than dealing with Liam.

Kate opened the produce log and jotted notes as a foreign sense of optimism lightened her mood. She could do this. She would do this. For the first time she believed the demons which had plagued her for so long could be exorcised. She would be whole again. A light did exist at the end of the tunnel.

Hopefully it wasn’t a freight train barreling toward her.

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