TAUT: The Ford Book
Series: (Rook and Ronin Spin-off)
Published on January 20h 2014 Romance
TAUT IS A STANDALONE NOVEL - you do NOT have to read any of the Rook and Ronin books first.
Ford Aston is known for many things. Being an emotionless, messed up bastard, a freakishly smart social outcast, and a cold, domineering master who keeps "pets" instead of girlfriends.
And after Rook broke his heart, he plans to keep it that way.
Ashleigh is known for nothing, and that's exactly what she's got going for her. She's broke, stranded in the mountains with a three month old baby, and Ford Aston is screwing with her head.
And she plans to mess with his right back.
It's a coy game at first, filled with flirting, and innuendo--but Ford soon realizes something is not quite right with Ashleigh. In fact, something is seriously, seriously wrong and the closer they get to their final destination, the closer Ford gets to the truth.
One night of devastation, self-loathing, and emptiness turns into the best thing that ever happened to Ford Aston. But one day of in-your-face reality threatens Ashleigh's whole existence.
Since A LOT of people have been asking here is the scoop on how this book fits in with my Rook & Ronin series:
Ford first appears in Rook and Ronin #2, Manic. He has a bigger role in Panic, R&R #3, and then he has a novella, called SLACK. This TAUT book is only FORD. It's not really part of the R&R series, as that plot has all been sidelined for this one romance book.
Luck. We are not on speaking terms, luck and I. Because my name is not Ronin Flynn. Luck loves him. Shit, if Ronin was in this predicament, he’d have broken down across from the Four Seasons, they’d tell him they only had the penthouse available, and he could have it for half price since it was sitting empty anyway. They’d send up complimentary fruit baskets and give him free spa passes to ease his worried brow.
I laugh. The sad thing is that it’s closer to the truth than I’d like to admit. Ronin is like… walking magic when it comes to life. Everything he wants, he gets. People love him immediately. They don’t scowl at him because he conjures up memories of almost blowing people up on the golf course or electrocuting boys in the skate park bathroom, or for being the town freak who read every book in the library, even the dictionary and the encyclopedias.
I have had my share of women, albeit on my own very strict no-touching terms. But Ronin has women throwing themselves at him everywhere he goes.
It’s… it’s infuriating. He’s literally a professional liar, for fuck’s sake, and all they see is sweet perfection. But when they look at me they see freak.
I’m a goddamned movie producer. I know famous people. I have a mountain home in Vail, a luxury condo in Denver, and a five-million-dollar monstrosity on Mulholland Drive in Bel Air. I take care of myself, I’m well educated, I’m not bad-looking. I’m sorta hot, actually. I know this, I have no trouble finding sex when I want it.
And yet I get sluts. I swear. Sluts who don’t even blink when I tell them they can’t touch me.
And Ronin? He gets Rook.
She does not give one fancy fuck what Ronin’s part in our business is. Her exact words. Not one fancy fuck. She loves him, no matter what. Unconditionally. She rode a thousand miles on a motorcycle back to the place where the most horrific things happened to her, stole secret files, and almost got her legs burned off in a house fire to save his professionally lying ass.
And I get no-name pets who want me to bend them over a couch and smack their pussy to make them come.
It’s just… what the fuck? Why? It’s like I have a sign on my fucking head that says I like the weird ones.
I might like to try a nice girl, or at the very least, a semi-nice one with a little freak to her.
I admit, I’m not wholly dissatisfied with the naughty ones. But just once, just fucking once, I’d like the Sandy instead of the Rizzo.
Holy fuck. I just used a Grease Rookism to illustrate my point.
That makes me smile. But then I remember that Rook’s not mine and I just walked away for good. That action—walking away from her, slamming that door and driving off—that was the most painful thing I’ve ever done. And it still hurts. Like… in my chest. I’m not sure what it is, really. This feeling. It’s a little bit like when my dad died a couple years ago. But not really. It’s different.
That was just… unreal. Like I was watching a movie of everyone around me going through the motions of mourning.
I did not cry. Not once. But my dad would not take it personally, because as far as I can remember, I’ve never cried. Not for a stubbed toe, not for being called names in elementary school, not when my dog died when I was ten. And not when my dad died when I was twenty-three even though I did out-luck Ronin in the dad department and I miss him this very moment.
I came to the conclusion a long time ago that I don’t have tears. I’m deformed.
This is not logical reasoning and I realize this. If I had no tears I’d need eye drops. I’d have all kinds of eye problems, and my vision is perfect. So of course, I make tears. I just don’t cry tears. This gets me through the introspection required to understand why I have never felt the deep sadness that others experience.
I look at myself in the mirror as the steam floats out of the bathroom. People who know me see the imperfect weirdo. They see the anti-social freak. They see nothing about me that’s real. And the people who don’t know me are instinctively suspicious. I have a vibe, or something. A vibe that says stay away.
And yet when people look at Ronin they see honesty. Even though he’s a fucking professional liar.
I scrub my hands over my stubbly chin. I’m gonna grow it out. I’m gonna be someone different. I’m going to do things different from this second on. I’m not going to look for happiness anymore. I’m going to eschew happiness and seek out the glum. The broken and doomed. The dark and the dirty.
Why not? It’s where I belong anyway.
I’m New Ford. Fuck happiness. Fuck the nice girls. Fuck everyone. I’m all about me now.
I take off my suit coat and hang it up using the pathetic hangers in the makeshift closet next to the bathroom vanity, then strip off my shirt and do the same thing with that. Like it or not, I’ll have to wear it tomorrow. Even New Ford realizes gym shorts will not do in the aftermath of a blizzard. I check the water temperature in the bathroom one more time and I’m unbuttoning my pants to strip down when there’s a small knock at the door.
I peek around the corner and stare at it.
The knock comes again.
I walk over and open the door, expecting Mrs. Pearson. But it’s the girl with the baby.
She swallows hard, like it’s taking an incredible amount of willpower just to stand here at the door. “I’d like to take you up on your offer. I’m sorry I was rude.”
I don’t even know what to say. She sways back and forth a little, like she’s trying to comfort her baby who must be hidden under the blankets covering the carrier, but the child is silent so it comes off as nerves.
And then she decides my silence is a message and she hears it loud and clear. She turns and starts walking back towards her car.
“Stop.” I find my voice. “You can stay.”
Her shoulders stiffen, but she stops walking and the snow just pours down on her like blobs of white rain. Her dark hair is soaking wet and dotted with sparkling flakes. It takes another second for her to turn and then she nods at me. I open the door wider, letting in the blizzard and freezing cold air, and she brushes past my bare chest when she enters my room.
I shiver, but not from the cold.
So much for New Ford.
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