Propping her up on his knee, he unlocked his door and stepped inside. Fortunately, he’d left some lights on in anticipation of arriving home late. What he had not anticipated was arriving with the bundle he currently had in his arms.

“Sheets on the bed are clean,” he said, carrying her down the hall to his guest room. “I know you’re a neat freak over things like that.”

“Like you,” she mumbled. “Remember … dirty … fuck.”

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His cock hardened at her words. He wasn’t exactly sure which dirty fuck she was talking about. Hell, they’d had so many, and he was never one to be gentle.

“I remember them all—trust me.”

He pulled the sheets down and tucked her in.

“Ass hurts,” she said.

“I imagine it does. I’ll check it out in the morning.”

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She smiled. “Check my ass out.”

“Good night, Dena.”

“’Night, Master.” She snuggled into the bed, and his chest ached at the sight of her and the words she’d spoken.

Instead of going to bed, he went into the living room, where a small desk sat in the corner. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep until he at least came up with a plan for finding out who was harassing Dena. He pulled out a notebook and a pen and jotted down his initial thoughts. There were several possibilities for who it could be, but he thought two most likely: someone she had prosecuted at work or someone trying to get to her father.

Tomorrow he would look into some of her closed cases and start with the assumption it was work related. That would be relatively easy in that the scope of the search was limited. Especially when you compared it to what he would have to do if it turned out to be related to her father. Jeff knew the man had to have made his share of enemies over the years.

Jeff considered himself a reasonable man. He got along with most people, though it helped that the majority of them simply left him alone. Dena had been the first person to really get under his skin. To know and understand him. How she came from the same genetic line as her father was a mystery he’d never solve.

He’d never forget his first, and only, conversation with Senator Jenkins.

He and Dena had been together only a few months when it had happened. He’d arrived at work one morning, and balancing the apple Dena insisted he eat on top of his files, he’d worked the lock with the other hand. He frowned when he got in, realizing he must have left the lights on all night.

But when he saw the man sitting at his desk, he jerked back and nearly dropped everything.

“Senator Jenkins?” he asked, recognizing Jenkins from his television appearances.

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“Jeffery Parks, I presume?”

The guy spoke only those four words, but somehow managed to fit a world of disdain into them. Jeff disliked him immediately.

“That’s what the name on the door says.”

Jenkins ignored the barb and stood up. “You’ve led an interesting life, Parks.”

Jeff shrugged, refusing to show any sign of surprise at Jenkins’s words. Dena’s father kept his gaze on Jeff, his look intense as he rose from his seat and started circling around him.

“In and out of trouble with the police from an early age. Alcoholic mother. Absent father. High school dropout. Though you did somehow manage to get your GED eventually, didn’t you?”

“I’m guessing you didn’t come all the way here to entertain me with stories of my past.”

“I have one child, Parks.”

“Dena.” Of course, he’d known that was why Jenkins was there.

“She’s on track to become a superior court judge. She will be an exceptional one.”

Dena had told him of her father’s obsession with her becoming a judge. She’d confessed to Jeff she had no interest in doing so because her passion was prosecuting criminal cases.

“She’s an exceptional woman, Senator. I’m sure she’ll excel at whatever she decides to do.”

The two men continued to size each other up.

“Of course she will,” Jenkins finally said. “As long as she’s not … distracted.”

“I suppose you consider me a distraction.”

“She’s had a conservative upbringing; I won’t deny that. It’s expected she’ll feel the need to taste the other side. See what it’s about.”

“I see. I’m the distraction from the other side.”

“Whatever you are, you aren’t the same as us.”

“You might want to run statements like that past your publicist before you make them. People tend to frown upon public officials drawing such class lines.”

“I’m glad you find this conversation amusing.”

“It’s the only thing keeping me from telling you to fuck off. I’m sure I don’t need to remind you that Dena’s a grown woman, capable of doing whatever the hell she wants.” Jeff had felt it was past time for the visit to be over. He walked to his desk and sat down. “Thanks for stopping by. You can show yourself out.”

But the senator wasn’t finished. “These are dangerous times, Parks. I hope you’re careful. So much senseless violence these days. So many unprovoked shootings.”

The enormity of the words hit Jeff solidly in the chest, and several seconds passed before he could breathe. “Did you just threaten me?”

“I did no such thing.” Jenkins headed toward the door but turned right before he opened it to say one more thing. “I’m simply suggesting that it might be more beneficial to your health if you looked elsewhere for companionship.”

“Asshole,” Jeff had mumbled under his breath.

Now, thinking back on that day, words didn’t exist to adequately convey the loathing he felt toward Senator Jenkins. And though he believed truth and honesty a pillar of any relationship, he’d never told Dena about the day he’d met her father.

She might not get along with the man, but that was a long way from her knowing just how manipulative he was. Was it wrong of him to keep that knowledge from her? Maybe, but he told himself he was just protecting her.

He brought his hand up to massage his temple, and when he did so, he caught the scent of Dena’s perfume on his fingers. He held still for a second and breathed her in. It didn’t seem possible she was in his house again, and he purposely didn’t let his mind wander to how it would feel when she left.

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