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I took my feet off the bottom and sank down into the cold, dark water, holding my nose with one hand and shutting my eyes. Waves circled me. Suspended in watery darkness, I thought about a mermaid coming to take me away. Some sea nymph with big breasts and stiff nipples, yearning for a human with a big cock to suck on. Unfortunately, I surfaced with no luck of a mermaid.

Zola’s locket slipped back and forth on my chest, riding the water. She was my best friend, York’s sister. In some ways, she was my sister too—not by blood, but by love. Their mother had adopted me when I was thirteen. She’d been eight at the time.

York and I had been best friends since kindergarten. Around elementary school, York’s mom, Mrs. Ellen started noticing the burns on my skin. By middle school, Mrs. Ellen filed a case with social services and battled for custody. My mom went to jail later. Social services and Mrs. Ellen thought they knew the whole story of my abuse. I’d just stopped at the soft parts.

For the rest of the time, I lived with York’s family. At eighteen, I joined the Army. By then, Zola was fifteen. I visited on the holidays, watching her become more stunningly beautiful with each trip.

She was tall—a little over six feet. A book nerd turned model by accident. Rich, chocolate skin. Large, expressive eyes. Heart-shaped face. Delicate lips. Brown, unruly curls.

I’d never touched her, never tried. Had she stayed that bony little kid with the braids, life would’ve been easier. But she turned eighteen, shifting into lush curves and throbbing flesh—and it got to the point where I couldn’t hug her on the holidays without going hard.

My feelings for Zola were complicated, a dark urge hidden far away, in a chained box at the bottom of an ocean. I hadn’t been home for the holidays in five years. I planned on fixing the cowardice problem. Now I was thirty, and she was twenty-five. Surely, I’d gained control.

One problem at a time. Mourn Nakita. Help Baptiste. And then, deal with Zola.

Floating in the dark ocean, I gripped the locket tighter as if the more I touched it, the more things between Zola and I would be fixed.

For all this time, that little trinket had managed to appear brand new. I’d made modifications throughout the years. The heart’s sides had been reinforced with titanium to keep it waterproof. A jeweler had put a Z behind the heart in diamonds, along with a GPS chip.

Just clear your head.

Letting go of the locket, I swam far off into the ocean, not caring what slipped and slid deep within the waters.

An hour later, I made it back to my room, showered, and ordered food.

I’d been pouring myself the expensive whiskey when my phone rang.

A knock came at the door.

I opened it.

The phone rang again.

Room service pulled in a large cart covered with fresh bread and slabs of pate and foie gras.

I grabbed my phone and checked the screen.

York’s name appeared.

I answered. “York, what’s up?”

Room service left.

“You’ve been quiet for the past few weeks,” he said.

“I’m always quiet, but that’s not why you’re calling.” I picked up a butter knife, selected the thickest piece of foie gras, and smeared it on warm bread.

“Are you busy?” York asked.

“No.” I stuffed my mouth, relishing in the savory excellence.

York’s voice sounded tense. “It’s Zola.”

I swallowed the food and dropped the knife on the plate. My cock went hard. Need rose inside of me, uncoiling into heat.

Stop it. Calm down.

I stepped away from the table. “What happened?”

Worry tinged York’s voice. “Zola has a stalker. Her bodyguard isn’t doing shit about it. Meanwhile, this creep has been going further and further.”

“Like what?”

“He started mailing her letters two months ago. I’ve got pictures.”

“Send them to my phone.”

“I am,” York said. I heard movement on the other side and hoped he was doing it now. York continued, “Then, this creep showed up at events.”

“Why are you just telling me now?” I tried to keep my anger out. “Don’t ever let things go this far, when it comes to her. She’s a top model. Thousands of men salivate over her every day.”

I wasn’t shocked she had stalkers. I’d been stalking her for years.

“You’re right, Hunter. I’m sorry. You haven’t even heard the worst. Zola swears the stalker has stolen her panties. All of the red ones went missing.”

If I was taking her panties, it would be the red ones too. But you’re not me, motherfucker. Your games are done.

I ran my fingers through my hair. “I’ll be in New York tonight.”



“It’s just that…I figured you would send one of your men. Not handle it yourself.”

“No.” Zola’s face flashed in my head. Lust vibrated through my body. I was hornier than I’d ever been in my life. I knew I would have to jack off before seeing her.