Three men. One woman.
Hutch Bishop, Cam Douglas, and Sawyer Pritchard were juvenile delinquents with a reckless and wildly sexy side. But they had more in common than that. They had Regina Fallon, a wealthy but lonely girl from the right side of the tracks who formed an unusual friendship with the boys. She felt protected. She felt needed. She felt loved… for the first time in her life. By all three.
So much closer than just friends.
Today, she’s a police officer, dedicated to her badge, and wary of reigniting her relationship with the hot trio after one night of passion left her confused—and stunned—by what they wanted from her. But when a mysterious attempt is made on her life, Hutch, Cam, and Sawyer jump in to protect her again. Now, Regina and her three lovers are forming an all-new bond. It’s more exciting, more intense, and—as a killer looms in the shadows—more dangerous than ever before.
Be With Me was reissued in mass market paperback in October 2013. The cover may be new, but the story you love remains unchanged.
When Regina opened her eyes, she groaned and slammed them shut again. There wasn’t an inch of her body that wasn’t screaming like a girl. She heard the murmur of voices and cracked open an eyelid to see who was there.
Birdie. Regina smiled then winced. Damn, even smiling hurt. Her gaze skirted over to where Jeremy stood with his wife Michelle.
“Where’s the kiddo?” she croaked out.
Relief echoed in Jeremy’s expression. “Jake and Ellie have him. How do you feel, Regina?”
He and Michelle moved closer to the bed, and Michelle gave her a sympathetic smile.
“Do I look that bad?” Regina asked.
Before Michelle could answer, a cool hand fluttered across Regina’s forehead.
“Birdie,” Regina whispered. “I’m sorry to have worried you, but I’m so glad you’re here.”
The older woman smiled and bent down to kiss Regina’s cheek. “As if I’d be anywhere else.”
“You’ve been here all night, haven’t you?” Regina frowned. “For that matter, how long have I been here?” She looked up at Jeremy as more of what happened came back. “Did you get him? And damn, why does it sound like I’ve got a horde of frogs in my throat?”
Jeremy grimaced. “One thing at a time, okay, girl? No, I didn’t get him. But we will. And you sound like shit because he tried to choke you after beating the hell out of you.” His eyes glittered with anger.
His wife put a reassuring hand on his arm and squeezed.
Another thought hit her, and panic gripped her throat. “My gun, Jeremy. He knocked it out of my hand.”
“It’s all right. We recovered it on scene. It’s being processed, so you’ll have to do without it for a few days. Not like you’ll be coming back to work tomorrow anyway.”
She grimaced. No, she wouldn’t be back tomorrow, but if she had anything to say about it, she wouldn’t be laid up for very long. She glanced up at Jeremy and his wife. He looked haggard, and he probably had better things to do than sit here and babysit her ass.
“I’m fine now, so you two should go home. I appreciate you coming, though,” Regina said.
“Are you sure you don’t want us to stay?” Michelle asked.
“You two go on,” Birdie interjected. “I’ll be staying with her no matter how much she fusses about it.”
Jeremy nodded then stared hard at Regina. “We’ll get him.”
Regina nodded and regretted moving her head when the room swam in her vision. A few moments later, she heard the door shut, and she slowly turned her head so that Birdie was in her sight.
“How bad is it?” she asked.
Birdie let out a soft hmmpph. “It’s not good, but you’ll live. Half the department has been by to see you. The other half has phoned. I finally had to turn the ringer off so it wouldn’t disturb you.”
“What happened? I don’t remember much.”
Birdie sighed. “I think your department is hoping you can fill them in on what happened. Jeremy said he responded to your request for backup and found you inside the house with a man’s fingers wrapped around your throat.”
Regina raised her hand to her neck and rubbed lightly as she remembered the hand that had squeezed.
“Do you hurt?” Birdie asked. Her face softened in sympathy. “I can call the nurse and get you something for pain. The doctor said you’re pretty banged up.”
Regina looked down, and for the first time, registered that she had a brace on her left wrist. She grimaced as she raised it to view the damage. “Is it broken?” she asked, hoping to hell it wasn’t.
Birdie shook her head. “The ligaments in your wrist are strained, and the doctor wants you to nurse it properly until it heals. They were concerned you’d broken some ribs so they took X-rays.”
“So when can I get out?”
“You’ll stay put, young lady. Don’t get any ideas about moving too quick.”
Regina sagged onto her pillow. Another day or so in bed sounded pretty good, not that she’d admit that to Birdie. A sudden thought occurred to her, and she turned her head to look at Birdie. “You didn’t call my parents did you?”
Birdie sighed. “No, of course not. I know you wouldn’t want that.”
She didn’t quite meet Regina’s gaze, though, and that worried Regina. She eyed Birdie suspiciously, and then her face tightened in alarm. “Birdie, you didn’t.”
Birdie frowned. “I didn’t what?”
“You didn’t call them. You wouldn’t.”
Birdie sighed in exasperation. “What are you talking about, Regina?”
Regina groaned. “You did, didn’t you? You called them.”
Birdie pursed her lips and leaned forward in her chair. “When are you going to stop running from them, Regina? From yourself?”
“That’s a damn good question, Birdie.”
The low drawl sent a flutter of excitement through Regina’s stomach. She ventured a look at the doorway to see Cam, Hutch and Sawyer standing there in various poses. Cam had his arms crossed over his chest, Hutch had his hands shoved into his jeans pocket, and Sawyer leaned indolently against the door, watching her.
Hutch was the first to move. He strolled over to the bed, raised one brow when he looked her over, then dragged a chair to the bedside and slouched down.
“You look like hell.”
Regina laughed and promptly regretted it as pain wracked her body. God, she’d missed him. She’d never admit it in a million years, but she was glad to see them all. Too glad.
Cam moved closer to the bed, his dark eyes glittering with anger and concern. He put a hand on Birdie’s shoulder then leaned down to kiss her.
“You should go home now, Birdie. Get some rest. We’ll take care of her from here.”
Birdie flashed a guilty look in Regina’s direction then smiled and patted Cam’s cheek. “Someone has to take care of this one. She won’t do it herself.”
Regina growled under her breath.
Sawyer chuckled and elbowed his way by Cam. Regina turned her cheek as he leaned down to kiss her, but he nudged her chin with his fingers and kissed her lingeringly on the lips. His goatee tickled her skin and sent a shiver down her body. He slid his palm down her jaw to the bruises around her neck.
“I’m going to kill him,” he muttered.
Regina shoved at him in irritation then fixed her glare on all three of them. “See, this is why I didn’t want Birdie to call you. I knew you’d come barging in, swimming in testosterone, beating your chests and muttering threats against humanity.”
Sawyer laughed. “You wouldn’t exaggerate now would you, Reggie?”
She shot him a quelling look, but he only grinned in response.
Cam sat down on the edge of the bed and laid a hand over her leg. “Whether you wanted us here or not, we’re here. We’ve been here all night, and I have to say, you’re a lot easier to get along with when you’re sleeping.”
Damn it, she would not smile.
“Furthermore, you’re coming home with us when you’re released.”
She opened her mouth to protest, but Sawyer touched her arm, Hutch put a hand on her shoulder, and Cam’s grip tightened on her leg, and she forgot all about saying anything. How did they do that?
“I’ve already spoken to the doctor,” Cam continued. “He wants to keep you one more night for observation. He’ll release you in the morning as long as you have a place to stay. Your house alone doesn’t count.” He stared pointedly at her.
She sighed. “I have a job to do. I have a killer to catch. I don’t have time for you guys to fuss over me, and I seriously doubt you have the time either.”
“We’ll make the time,” Hutch said.
She turned to him and frowned. He was the one she could usually count on not to treat her like an invalid. She’d been so grateful when he walked in and said she looked like hell, because it meant he wasn’t going to start posturing like the other two and make a big deal over what had happened.
“I’m a pushover, Reggie, but not when it comes to what’s best for you,” he said as if he’d reached right into her mind and plucked out her thoughts. Damn the man.
“I agree with them, Regina,” Birdie spoke up. “You shouldn’t be alone right now. There’s no way you can go back to your job until you’ve properly healed.”
“Traitor,” she muttered.
“Birdie, you sound tired,” Sawyer said. “If you like, I’ll drive you home. We’re here now. We’ll take good care of Reggie.”
Birdie smiled even as Regina scowled. “I can drive myself. You boys came a long way to see Regina. I’ll leave you to it.” She leaned down to kiss Regina’s cheek. “I’ll be back later. Is there anything I can bring you?”
Regina shook her head. “Thank you, Birdie.”
Birdie squeezed her hand. “No need to thank me. You feel like one of mine. Just like these boys do.”
Regina smiled and watched the guys momentarily forget about her as they gathered around Birdie to give her hugs and kisses. Birdie did love those boys. She’d given them a home and love when no one else wanted them. And they loved her every bit as much as she did them.
There had been times growing up that Regina had envied Cam, Hutch and Sawyer. It sounded silly. She’d had a privileged childhood in that she’d never gone without food or clothing. But the one thing she’d missed was love, the one thing that the guys had never lacked for once they’d come to live with Birdie.
She’d envied them that. They would have laughed at the idea that she, the daughter of one of the wealthiest men in the state, had envied dirt-poor boys who had been in and out of foster homes and juvenile detention. But in a lot of ways, they had more freedom than she’d ever dreamed of. And they had Birdie.
It wasn’t until junior high that the bond had formed between her and Hutch, Cam and Sawyer. They had lived with Birdie a few years, Hutch being the last to arrive. It was Hutch who ultimately brought the four together.
He had stumbled across Regina’s “pretend place,” what amounted to a little hollow in the creek bed a mile from Birdie’s house and across the pasture from Regina’s own home.
Regina hadn’t appreciated the interruption any more than Hutch had liked coming across a girl. But with no place else to go and nothing else to do, they’d formed a grudging truce and agreed to share the space.
When Cam and Sawyer had discovered Hutch’s new friend, they’d teased him relentlessly. That is until Regina bloodied both their noses. While Hutch was a little mortified to be defended by a girl, the three developed a healthy respect for the tiny little spitfire.
By the time they reached high school, the friendship between the four of them was solid. Labeled as hellraisers and not given a spitting chance at ever amounting to much (by the townspeople), the three boys hadn’t cared much about fitting in. But no one bad-mouthed them around Regina. Even her father had learned the futility of that.
She sighed. She’d give a lot to go back to those days. Things had been simple. They’d had so much fun. They’d been inseparable.
A warm hand closed over hers, and she jerked her attention back to the present. Birdie had disappeared, and now Regina faced three surly looking men. Hell.
Cam, ever one to take the bull by the horns, didn’t bandy words. She usually liked that about him except when it was her he wanted to be blunt about.
“It’s time we talked, Reggie,” he said firmly.
She glanced to Hutch and Sawyer in a silent plea for mercy. The determined looks on both their faces told her she wasn’t getting any.
“Captive audience, darlin’,” Hutch murmured. “You won’t be running like a scalded cat this time.”
She closed her eyes and clutched the sheet with bloodless fingers. They wouldn’t really bring up that, would they?
“You pretending we didn’t have sex won’t change a damn thing,” Cam said.
Yeah, they would.
Embarrassment heated her cheeks but she worked, at great pain to herself, to keep the humiliation from her expression.
Sawyer leaned down, tucked one finger under her chin and tapped upward until she met his gaze. “It would be one thing if you didn’t enjoy it, Reggie, but we all know that isn’t the truth. It would be different if you didn’t have feelings for us or we didn’t have feelings for you, but we also know that isn’t true.”
She pressed her lips into a mutinous line and glared up at him.
“We have all the time in the world,” Hutch said casually. “You won’t be getting away from us this time. You ran hard, Reggie, and we let you. That’s on us. But it won’t happen again. That’s also on us.”
Helpless rage tightened her chest. She hated how they made her feel. She loved the way they made her feel. She hated how out of control they made her feel.
She swallowed and winced at the pain in her throat. Sawyer stroked his hand over her forehead and gazed tenderly down at her. “We’ll get you something for pain, Reggie. You need rest. We’ll be here when you wake up. We’re not going anywhere. You count on that. You also need to know that we’re going to talk about this. Us.”
He lowered his head and once again kissed her. Hot tears pricked her eyelids, and she blinked furiously, pissed that she’d allow him to affect her so deeply.
“It was just sex,” she whispered.
His blue eyes flashed and narrowed. “You keep telling yourself that, Reggie, and one day, you might actually believe it.”
“I don’t need you here.” The words caught in her throat, and she immediately regretted them. Weak. She was weak. But her rejection didn’t anger the guys.
Cam just smiled at her, while Hutch stroked her arm above the line of the brace.
“You may not want us here, but you do need us,” Cam said with confidence that grated on her nerves.
“And we need you,” Hutch said simply.
She turned to look at him and felt her stance weaken. What they wanted, no, what they demanded, she couldn’t give them. How could anyone? It wasn’t normal. It wasn’t done. It wasn’t possible. Not in her world. Not in any world.
Sawyer ran his hand through her hair again, and she instinctively moved closer. He tucked the short, curly strands behind her ears and ran his finger down the sensitive skin behind her ear.
They were doing it again. Lulling her, numbing her senses with their touch, their presence. Hutch stroked her arm, rubbing lightly while Sawyer continued to finger the strands of her hair. Cam laid his big hand over her knee, and she could feel the heat of his fingers through the sheet.
She felt safe. More than that, she felt comforted, as if for this one moment, everything was all right.
She jumped when the door opened and the nurse walked in. She scowled at the interruption even as she realized she should be grateful for the reprieve.
Somehow, Sawyer had maneuvered himself onto the bed beside her, all while stroking her neck. Smooth bastard. He sat with one leg hanging over the side, her head nestled in the crook of his arm.
She realized how cozy, how intimate, they all looked, Hutch on her other side, his hand resting possessively on her arm, Cam sitting at her feet, absently rubbing her knee, and her all hugged up to Sawyer.
The nurse raised an eyebrow but didn’t say much as she navigated around the males to get to Regina’s IV. The line had been disconnected but the saline lock was still in place to administer medication. Sawyer gently pulled her arm up and rested it on his lap but made no effort to move for the nurse. She shrugged and reached for Regina’s hand.
“My best oblivion cocktail coming right up,” the nurse said as she uncapped the syringe. She swabbed the port and deftly inserted the needle.
In seconds, Regina felt the slight burn as the medication hit her veins. It swept up her arm, and when it got to her shoulder, she relaxed and sagged further into Sawyer’s embrace.
She drowsily registered his lips nuzzling into her hair and him murmuring softly. As the nurse moved away, he pulled her even closer. She raised her other hand, blindly reaching for Hutch. The action contradicted her every word, but as much as she said she didn’t need them, didn’t want them there, for the last year she’d felt like a huge part of herself was missing.
Hutch caught her hand and lowered it back to the bed, his fingers cautiously laced with hers.
She struggled to open her eyes one more time, and her gaze connected with Cam’s.
“I missed you,” she whispered, too foggy to call back the words before they slipped from her mouth.
Cam’s brown eyes softened. “We missed you too, sweetheart. Now rest and get better.”
“Don’t go,” she murmured as she fought against the lethargy slogging through her body and brain.
“We’re not going anywhere, Reggie,” Sawyer said close to her ear. “I promise.”
She drifted off with the comfort of that promise echoing in her mind.