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Bound (Mastered #1)(10)

By:Lorelei James

Then he edged closer. "Where'd you go?"

"Maybe the better question is where am I? I'm out of it and don't even know what I'm saying. I need to go to bed."

"I'd be happy to take you to bed," he murmured.

"Ronin." God, just saying his name made her heart race. "We're getting past my comfort zone."

His eyes searched hers. "Now you're getting it. From the minute I watched you walk into my dojo, this has been past my comfort zone."

Holy hell.

"Hello?" echoed from the doorway.

Grateful for the reprieve, Amery sidestepped the formidable Ronin Black and headed toward the man with the clipboard.

"You're Ms. Hardwick?"

"I am."

"I'm Dennis Harris from Schmidt Insurance. I'll just poke around and be out of your hair before you know it." He returned outside.

She turned around to see Master Black studying the projects she'd framed and hung on the wall.

His movements were measured and deliberate even when it appeared he was wandering. His profile was well proportioned-both rugged and classic.

"You do great work," he said without looking at her. "Very original when so much graphic art seems like a rehash."

"Thank you."

"Have you been in the business long?"

She opened her mouth to answer, but instead she yawned so widely her jaw cracked. All of a sudden everything went fuzzy and she swayed.

"Sit down before you fall down." He rolled Molly's wheeled office chair over and held it steady as she dropped into it. Then he crouched in front of her. "You're fading fast."


"I just need more coffee." Amery started to stand, but two strong hands on her thighs kept her in place.

"You need sleep, not coffee."

"But that one guy is here, doing that one thing." She frowned because she couldn't remember. "What's his name?"

"Harris," the man said from somewhere. "I've finished."

"Already? That was fast."

"Expediency is our motto." He handed her a clipboard. "So I'll just need you to sign off on this and I'll get it filed."

Amery held the pen poised at the bottom of the paper, and then the next second the clipboard was gone. She glared up at Master Black, who'd gotten way too close. "Hey, what're you doing?"

"You're just signing this without reading it?"

She fought another yawn and the temptation to rest her head on his broad shoulder. She muttered, "I'm exhausted and just want to be done with this."

"Which is all the more reason for you to wait until you're coherent to sign a legally binding document." He shoved the clipboard back at the agent. "You've done the preliminary work. She'll be in touch about finalizing it."

"She's already called the window replacement company. We won't pay the claim without her signature. And most of the companies expect COD in these situations."

"Amery, which glass company did you call?"

Her fuzzy brain rallied and she said, "Bet Your Glass, on Colfax."

"I've dealt with them. They owe me a favor. They'll waive the COD fee and I can get them here within the hour."

More male bickering. Amery closed her eyes and tuned them out.

That wonderful darkness beckoned only to be yanked away when someone poked her shoulder. "What?"

"Chaz is taking me home. I have class in an hour."

She opened a bleary eye and squinted at Molly. "But I thought you were going to stay until the glass guys were done?"

Molly's gaze darted to the right. "Master Black said he'd be happy to handle it for you. That's okay, isn't it?"

"Of course it's okay," Chaz inserted. He squeezed Amery's shoulder. "She's exhausted and who better to trust her safety with than her self-defense instructor?" 

Ronin flashed Amery a wolfish grin that no one else saw.

"Besides, Emmylou is here and she promised to lock up after the new windows are installed. So we're heading out, okay, sweets?"

Amery was too tired to argue. She closed her eyes when Chaz kissed her forehead. Her mind blanked out the hushed voices until they faded completely and sleep teased the edges of her consciousness.

Ronin's deep voice roused her again. "You can't sleep in the chair."

Dammit. Why wouldn't everyone just leave her alone? "Fine. I'll go sleep in my bed." She mustered the will to push upright. Her feet seemed to be encased in cement blocks as she trudged to the back door that led to her loft. After nearly tripping, she slapped herself in the face to stay focused. Seeing the twisty metal staircase leading to her living space put an extra spring in her step.