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One Bossy Disaster: Chapter 25


Life is a messy damn blur and I’m loving every smear of it.

For the first time in forever, there’s a reason to leave work early.

Hannah has already had enough of my slacking and she teases me relentlessly, of course, but I make no apologies.

I’ve simply become the guy who leaves at five o’clock sharp unless he has a loaded gun pressed to his head.

Hell, I barely answer my phone anymore on weekends barring an emergency.


Monday to Friday, seven to five is my life in the tower, hashing out high-tech camera systems and adapting drones for peace.

The rest of my time, like my heart, belongs to Destiny Lancaster.

“What do you think?” she asks, blotting at the ice cream on her nose.

This weekend, we took a drive up to Anacortes and stopped off at a small-town ice cream parlor. It’s this old-timey place with hipster flavors like curried Elvis and midnight chocolate plum.

It’s enough to activate any dormant sweet tooth, though mine isn’t obsessed with the ice cream today.

I can’t keep my eyes off this woman to save my life.

She’s wearing hip-hugging jeans and a t-shirt that’s just tight enough for me to see the slight protrusion of her nipples.

Fuck, sometimes I have to pinch myself hard to remember she’s mine. Then I wonder how I ever got so lucky.

“I think we should go back to the car,” I tell her matter-of-factly.

There’s probably a secluded parking lot somewhere, right? Behind a building will do just fine.

Or hell, we could just stay where we are, consequences be damned.

She raises a tanned arm, shielding her face from the autumn sun. “Why? It’s such a nice view.”

I grit my teeth.

There’s no argument there with sailboats and green islands and fifteen shades of blue between the sky and the placid waters below.


I can’t just pin her to the wall of the busy grocery store or the burger joint next door, although it’s mighty tempting. There’s a lot of elderly folks milling around the narrow streets, and I won’t be liable for triggering any heart attacks.

I bend down, pressing my mouth to her ear. “Because if we don’t go back to the car right now, I’m going to fuck you right here in broad daylight.”

Her eyes pop.

I fucking love the fact that I can still make them do that.

It’s like I can see the desire flaring in her veins when she smiles. It kicks my own heart and spikes my adrenaline to eleven.

Since getting together, I can’t keep track of the number of times we have sex during any given week.

It’s probably unhealthy and absolutely indecent.

Completely inappropriate when she wakes up with my tongue already working on her clit. Every time she comes into the office, the blinds snap shut and she leaves teeth marks on my wrist from stifling her moans.

Almost every day and it’s still never enough.

I’d say she enjoys the routine as much as I do.

I think a few people have gotten the message. Hannah noticeably takes her lunches away from her desk anytime Destiny visits.

I don’t blame her. I also don’t care.

Frankly, I’m just glad she hasn’t handed in her notice after watching her boss transform his office into a naked freakshow.

That isn’t even touching the number of times I’ve had her outside.

On the grass, the dock, the yacht, once I managed to lure her back on it after we triple checked the weather for clear skies.

Throbbing flesh does a lot to chase away bad memories.

So do a few hours in my cabin with the glass walls, where the only storm is us, gasping and sweating and groaning each other’s names through clenched teeth.

She always comes so sweet for me.

When it comes to Destiny, I’m as shameless as I am fucking insatiable.

And right now, I need to have her again. Simple as.

She looks me up and down, a smile quirking her lips, nodding at my hard-on. “Careful, boy. I almost think you want us to get slapped with indecency charges.”

“There’s an easy workaround, and it involves dragging your cute ass back to the vehicle right this second,” I growl.

“One that won’t get us arrested? It’s a busy place with the fall tourists and all…”

“I’ll drive off-road, dammit. Into the trees, the brush, where there’s no one around to see.”

“Hmmm,” she mutters thoughtfully, holding my gaze as she licks up the cone, drawing the ice cream back into her mouth with a curl of her tongue.

Little she-devil.

She’s about to find out I’m willing to face the rap for public indecency if she keeps teasing me like that.

“Tell me,” she says, not looking away. I’m too caught up in the way the sun reddens her nose and highlights her freckles.

“Tell you what?” I ask.

The sun gleams on her hair and fuck, I want to thread my fingers through it and pull until she tilts her head back and exposes her throat.

All the better to bite you, my dear.

I want a hundred, a thousand, terrible, filthy things.

“When will you get tired of me?” she asks, but her voice is a whisper.

My brows go up.

“Never. How is that a question?”

“Can’t blame a girl for asking. I almost believe you.”

“Almost?” I snort. “If there’s any room for doubt, then someone needs a nice, long reminder of just how obsessed I am, Dess.”

I watch her shudder, hiding behind her blooming red cheeks and sunrise smile.

For a second, I think that’s it, that’s all she’s going to say.

Then she nods. Just once. Decisively.

“Well, okay. Let’s go find where we parked and—”

I don’t let her finish.

She’s airborne as I lift her out of the chair and we take off through the hilly streets like teenagers playing tag. I don’t even care that my hard-on makes it damnably awkward to run, or that she’s giggling and playfully fighting back when I finally grab her.

I don’t even care that this is the most ridiculous—and possibly the horniest—I’ve ever been in my natural life.

All I want is this bright young thing who makes me feel twenty years younger.

No, better, when my life at twenty-one was a living nightmare.

Dess gives me the laughter and the enjoyment I never had when I was truly young, and she’s so worth the wait it leaves me dizzy.

We’re both winded by the time we reach the car, but it still doesn’t slow me down.

No driver today, just us, so no one inside will get the shock of their life when I throw her against the passenger door and kiss her life out.

Goddamn, this is good.

Every time we kiss, I feel like a starved man settling down for dinner as she kisses me back, my own steaming madness igniting her desire.

For her, I boil over.

Every. Damned. Time.

Soft lips move against mine with butterfly beats, and soon my tongue slides into her mouth, laying claim for the thousandth time.

It never gets old.

Apparently, I need to mark my territory daily.

Her moan is decadent. Absolutely fucking luxurious.

Honest to God, I could feast on her mouth forever.

But my body has other demands, and while I devour her, my hips wedge against hers, making her feel how hard I am.

She never stays quiet for long. She gets ten, maybe fifteen seconds in before she has to break away and tuck her head against my shoulder, gasping too loudly.

I don’t care.

A sinister part of me wants to make her scream, to show the world just how much she means to me.

I only hold back for her sake, knowing she won’t take kindly to being hounded by small-town cops.

She leans back, her eyes gleaming as she looks up at me. “Guess what?”

“What, sweetheart?”

“I love you.”

My dick likes hearing that a lot.

Almost as much as it likes the cradle of her thighs as I grind against her again.

Fuck, she’ll be my destruction, and I’ll go happily like a moth into the furnace.

I pull her up so her legs are folded around me, sinking my fingers into her thighs.

Still too many clothes, but I’m sure this isn’t quite breaking any public decency laws.


Her mouth meets mine again, hungry and eager and so succulent.

I kiss back until I forget the heat of the sun and the distant clammer of the seagulls soaring high overhead through the trees.

Everything fades out except Destiny’s sweetness and all the myriad ways I want her.

“God, I want you,” she murmurs, rubbing her fingers along my bristly jaw.

I rake my stubble against her throat, knowing it drives her wild.

“Your wish is my command, ma’am,” I rumble. “Into the car.”

For once, she doesn’t argue.

Despite the fall coolness, I crank up the air-conditioning before throwing the seat back and slinging her across my lap.

“Fuck,” I grind out as she shifts against me, fully straddling me. “Holy shit, Dess.”

“I want to do this for the rest of my life,” she tells me, then freezes, her arms still locked around my neck. It’s clear she thinks she’s gone too far.

The rest of our lives.

I smile like a fool. I can definitely handle that.

That’s more than fucking okay.

“Pants off, beautiful,” I tell her. My fingers find the waistband of her jeans and undo the button. It’s our go-to response to big, scary news. “You make me want to live forever if it means fucking you to cinders every day.”

I inhale her as I slide her pants down her legs.

She shifts, allowing room, opening her legs slowly and sexy as hell.

It’s her eyes that really slay me, though.

The girl has the most beautiful eyes.

Every time I think I’m at full capacity, I fall for her a little harder.

“Every fucking day, Dess. No question,” I whisper.

She catches her breath as I slide my fingers through her slickness, sinking in deep.

This, right here, is everything I’ll ever need.

Her mouth parted and her eyes restless.

Her hair tangling up in my fist, dragging her head back so I can suck her throat.

Her tits rising and falling, impatient to be next, waiting for my mouth.

Her tight little pussy, aching to be filled, quivering against my fingers as I work them deep inside her.


The entire rest of my existence is nothing but noise.

Her looks, her moans, her shudders will always take priority.

And she grips my shoulders, her eyes hazy with unrepentant lust.

I’m damn glad we have tinted windows. Otherwise, we’d be giving a few stragglers wandering off the main path a show they’d never forget as I unhook her bra and tug her top away to reveal the most perfect nipples.

I suck one and get back a sigh so erotic I almost come in my pants.

Her body welcomes me, hot and wet as ever, writhing against me like pure sin.

“You already have the rest of my life,” I tell her. “You had it from the start. I was just too stubborn to know it.”

She whimpers.

“Shepherd!” Her fingers grab my shoulders, almost painfully hard.

“Sweetheart, if you want something, take it.”

She grabs my wrist and removes my hand. Then she unbuttons my pants and frees my cock, rubbing it against her entrance. We don’t bother to work off my pants.

She’s so fucking wet for me, and I’m transfixed.

“I want you,” she says fiercely. “That’s it. No games. Just you.”

And just like that, she slides on top of me, engulfing my cock.

The sugar rush of slick heat down my shaft short-circuits my brain.

Her feet are braced on either side of me as her hips plunge down, swing up, and come down so quickly, greedy for more.

One hand presses against the window as she finds her balance. There isn’t enough space for me to do half the things to her I want to, but we’ll make it work.

Even so, it’s some of the best sex ever in our hyperactive love life.

No, not just sex—this is soul.

My body welded to hers, our lips fused together, rocking gently as she gasps and moans and clenches.

I groan my delight into her mouth.

She nips my bottom lip.

I bite back harder.

We wrestle for control just like we always do, racing to the finish, a contest I won’t let her win, but God help her, she tries.

That’s one of the things I love about her most.

And there are so many little things on a list the size of the Mississippi.

Even through her moaning, her pleasure, the insistent motion of her hips, her eyes wet as she meets mine.

I know then that this means as much to her as it does to me.

When she picks up speed, her counter-thrusts turning frantic and messy, she lets out a tiny mewling sound.


So fucking close.

I have to clench every muscle in my body to hold back as her pussy grips my cock.

“I know, sweetheart,” I whisper, holding her close, shrugging off my shirt so we’re skin to skin. “Let fucking go. Come for me, Dess.”

With both hands, I squeeze her ass, guiding her movements, dragging her over the finish line.

There, there.

Fuck, there.

She tightens around me again right before the white-hot ecstasy consumes her.

“Fuck!” I bury her lips under mine again as she goes off like a cherry bomb.

I swallow every breathless moan spilling out of her as her pussy tries to rob my soul, giving back punishing thrusts that drive her higher, higher.

There’s no sweeter sight than driving this woman stark raving mad with pleasure.

“I love you,” she pants when she can finally speak again.

That’s all it takes for both of us.

She clenches again, the sound she makes ripped straight from her heart, and then I fall the fuck apart.

My balls rip lighting up my spine, and soon I’m one long human current, pure magma that only exists to fill her.

Every part of me, hers.

Body and soul and mind.

She has my all, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

We come together just as she goes off again, so intense I forget how to breathe.

At first, I was amazed at how the energy between us never diminishes no matter how many times we do this. I thought it was a law of human nature.

Now, I know it’s going to be like this for the rest of our lives.

She said it herself.

But it’s about time I did something about it, I think, coming down from my high with my cock still rooted deep inside her.

And not just because I don’t want any shit from Cole if I beat around the metaphorical bush for too long. He’s not the type who’ll take kindly to any man stringing his daughter along.

I told myself marriage wasn’t something I’d ever do again. Not after my last one ended in a catastrophic heart-fuck.

Yet as Dess brushes her messy blonde hair out of her eyes and smiles down at me like paradise, how the hell can I ever do anything else?

“I think loving you might be a health hazard,” she whispers.

I’m still inside her, but she doesn’t seem to want to move.

Fair. I don’t know how we’ll clean up the mess we’ve made either, but right now I don’t care.

I pull her in with a hand on the back of her neck, kissing her deeply, drinking my fill.

“Why’s that?” I ask.

“Because. I just came so hard I left the known universe.”

I chuckle. “That’s the kind of warning label I don’t mind wearing, woman.”

“Only for me,” she warns.

I snort loudly.

Like I’d ever waste a second on another woman.

“No jealousy. I’m yours,” I promise, holding her close—because let’s face it, there’s going to be a round two in the not-too-distant future—and I think about all the ways I can show her I mean it.

I’m a man who lays claim.

I never imagined giving myself up could be so satisfying, too.

Still, as we trade hot kisses and roaming hands through the lazy evening, I think I’m ready.

For Destiny, I’ll throw myself down on the altar and offer her everything.

The world knows the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but by now.

Destiny Lancaster won her Young Influencers position fair and square. Hannah, who came out on record to confirm this, was the person who selected her.

We did not get together until after the event.

And now, after that final confrontational interview with Vanessa, everyone knows how deeply in love with Dess I am.

I’ve made it perfectly clear that it was always her passion and heart and dedication to conservation that made me fall so hard.

Not her looks.

Not her family.

Not her age.

The person she is on the inside.

That’s why I’m encouraging her to film as much as she wants on our latest trip to the South Carolina shore to see dolphins. I know it’s something she’ll want to share with her followers, and that’s fine.

If I’m something she wants to share, that’s fine too.

At least, I’m learning how to make it fine.

I’m coming to terms with the fact that the woman I love has to put herself out there to make a difference in the world.

Destiny swings her phone up to capture me on camera.

We’re in the water after diving off the ship. Any second now, I have a feeling some of the nearby dolphins will swim in closer to investigate.

“I know what it looks like,” Destiny says in her live video. “But I promise you he’s having fun.”

I make a contorted face at her.

She laughs and turns her attention to a lone dolphin approaching us, stopping less than ten feet away.

“Oh, wow, look!” she squeals. “They’re coming.”

“Point and shoot. Don’t miss anything.”

“Oh my God.” I think she might be crying. “This is so cool.”

The guys on the boat are prepped and ready. She doesn’t know it yet, but I want everything recorded.

Not for her followers this time.

For me.

For us.

I want to show this video to our kids someday.

“The perfect ending to a perfect week,” she murmurs, ending her video with a panned shot of the dolphin before she tucks her phone back in her waterproof grip. “Shepherd, holy crap. I can’t believe we’re doing this.”

Surprisingly, the dolphin isn’t done. It comes closer and Destiny makes first contact, gently trailing her hand across its back.

Her other hand is cupped over her mouth.

Shit, I didn’t plan this part.

Not that it matters, I’m not having my thunder stolen away by Flipper the nosy-ass dolphin.

“Holy hell,” she whispers. “Are you getting this?”

“Every second,” I tell her, holding up my camera.

“This is just surreal,” she whispers, grinning.

I wonder what she’ll say a minute later when she’s living a fairy tale.

The dolphin chirps then and we both duck underwater.

I slip on my goggles, watching as she dips under to marvel at the sight.

Dolphins and brightly colored fish dart past, and below, on the seabed, there’s an explosion of life. Coral, seaweed, crawling crabs and shimmering fish and so many different colors it would take a year to describe them.

Another dolphin swims up behind me, bumping right into me.

I’m pretty sure it laughs—if dolphins can laugh. Cheeky little punk.

Destiny is giddy.

Yeah, fuck it, so am I.

The perfect moment. The perfect day. The perfect everything.

What better way to start forever?

When we surface, she’s laughing so hard her face turns bright red, and I pull her against me. She wraps her arms around my neck.

“Thank you. This entire week has been incredible, but today was the best by far.”

“Do you know what today is?” I ask cryptically.


“Six months to the day since we went on an otter hunt,” I say against her mouth. “Six months of loving you.”

She laughs. “Come on, you didn’t love me then.”

I pretend to think.

“Not like I do now, no.” I hold her tighter. “Still, that was the start of me coming to my senses. The first inkling I couldn’t live without you.”

She laughs again as more dolphins splash around us and one nudges my back.

Another taps Destiny’s arm, and she looks down, her brow furrowing in surprise and concentration.

“Um. Is there something in its mouth?”

“Why don’t you find out?” I tell her.

“Wait, what? Is it a dolphin? The size seems a little off and—oh, its eyes are weird too.” She stares at the fake dolphin before she reaches for the snout.

“Home Shepherd can’t improve on nature’s perfection, but we can mimic it. You’re looking at the first trial run of our new underwater environmental surveillance drone. Today, it’s been painted and designed to mirror the local sea life in stunning detail.”

She looks up with saucers for eyes.

“Get out! Shepherd, you’re a genius.”

I smile and we lock eyes. “Nah. Someone much smarter gave me the idea about six months ago. I almost had to make Carol sign her name in blood to keep it a secret.”

Laughing, she holds out a hand as the fake dolphin lets her unhook the small box tied to its clawlike jaws. That’s mostly for appearance, but it does do an excellent job of grabbing small objects.

“Oh my God.” Destiny makes a strangled sound and stops cold, bobbing in the water.

That’s my cue to take over.

I pry the box from her frozen fingers and open it.

It’s a pearl engagement ring, a custom design.

I even found that pearl myself years ago on a trip to New Zealand. It was just after the legal circus following Serena’s death, when I took a solid month island hopping around the Pacific to clear my head.

The pearl was my only keepsake. The only thing that made me forget my demons for a few minutes. The large, striking pearl washing up on the beach was truly a unicorn event and it made me marvel.

Who knew I was actually finding an engagement ring for my future wife?

Or maybe it found me.

Now, as I watch her eyes glistening with a thousand emotions, I finally understand why.

“Shepherd,” she says again, her voice hushed and fingers trembling as she holds them to her lips.

Her wide eyes dart to my face.

Okay, showtime.

I take a deep, rattling breath and—



I must’ve planned this in my head a hundred times. Exactly what I’d tell her and how I’d ask.

I love you.

I need you to be mine for the rest of our lives.

Will you marry me?

After the real dolphins mingling with our robot, it feels a tad anticlimactic.

Still, there’s no turning back now, and she needs to know how much she means to me.

“Destiny Lancaster,” I say, trying not to choke.

They’re filming this from the drone’s camera eye, too. I decide I won’t mind it years from now if we play this back and I have to watch myself going to pieces.

Just as long as she says yes, dammit.

Just as long as this Destiny is mine, now and forever.

She grips my hand like the little mind reader she is, willing me to carry on.

“I love you more than life itself,” I tell her. “You know me. I’m not good with big, feely speeches and I’m not perfect with fancy words, but you already know you’re the most precious thing in my life. The second closest treasure is that pearl, and it’s got nothing on you. I want you to take it. I want to make you mine every day I’m breathing. I want to come home to you. I want the laughter, the tears, the love, the sex, the disagreements that’ll have us ripping our hair out. I want everything. I want all of you, Dess, and I think you know I’ve already handed over all of me.”

Her eyes are huge and sparkling and she doesn’t say anything.

Radio silence.

I’ve had more affirming food orders.

Maybe I’m overzealous, but I take her hand and slide the ring on, still beaming a question into her eyes until it burns.

It fits too well, the pearl’s shimmering contrast with the tan of her hand.

Then I wait, looking at her with my heart in my throat, aging a year every second until the woman I love finally says yes.

She doesn’t say anything, though.

She squeals so loud my ears are ringing.

Her hand shakes as she clamps it over her mouth and she stares at the ring on her finger for a heartbeat too long.

I kiss her jaw, smiling as she melts into me.

“Dess,” I murmur. “I need words. Was that a yes?”

She laugh-cries and presses her face against my neck. “You never asked properly!”

“I can’t get on one knee while we’re in the water, brat.”

“Fine. I’ll settle for the question then.”

“Oh, all right.” I catch her chin in my hands and look down at her as she grins. “Destiny Lancaster… will you marry me?”

There’s the slightest pause as she stares up at me with her whole heart, and my nervousness evaporates.

“Of course I’ll marry you!” she rushes out.

Then we collide like shooting stars in a mess of lips and tongues and hunger that probably isn’t appropriate for the video I’m filming for posterity.

When we pull away, I’m grinning so wide my face hurts.

“You planned it all, didn’t you? You took me to the ocean so we could get engaged?” she demands.

“Had to pick a place you love.”

“There are dolphins.

“I know. It all went off without a hitch, everything except for them butting in. Rude little pricks.”

She beams at me, and I smile back just for her.

“Just so you know,” I tell her, nodding to the cameraman. “You’re on video. The drone’s equipped with cameras on all sides.”

“What? You didn’t!” She clutches me and laughs madly before we turn. All the guys are lined up on my charter boat, Captain Juan and the rest who came along to crew it. They wave to us wildly and one guy whistles as I call, “Thanks, wingmen! I appreciate your help.”

I don’t think they can hear me, but they get it just the same.

“So, what now, fiancé?” she asks sweetly.

“Now I’d better tell your dad you said yes so he can stop worrying. He thought I only had a fifty-fifty chance.”

“What? Rude!” She bursts out laughing again and pushes her hands against my chest. “You really asked Dad?”

“Not exactly.” I grimace. “I told him I was planning on asking you either way, but I wanted his advice. Just between you and me, I think he liked that.”

“He knows how much I love dolphins,” she muses.

A dolphin surfaces on our right side then and looks at us with wickedly intelligent eyes. I wonder if they can feel the love, too.

“Nothing would make you happier, he said. After today, I’m inclined to agree.” I raise my eyebrows. “So, how’d I do?”

“You want a rating? ‘Wonderful proposal technique, excellent setting, ten out of ten, would say yes again?’”

“As long as that yes is forever, sweetheart.”

“Well, yeah. That’s what marriage is for, right?” She smiles and then her face drops. “Oh, no, I didn’t mean—”

“Forget it. That’s what marriage is supposed to be. This time, I get to do it with the right person.”

She beams like the sun.

“That’s what Dad and Eliza taught me. I was old enough to really know when they got together, you know? I saw what their love was like—what it still is. That’s how I knew what I wanted more than anything when I finally found it?”

“Yeah? What’s that?” I nudge my nose against her neck.

“You,” she says simply.


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