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Reluctantly Married

Interracial Romance

Miss Brandy K



Published by Heartthrob Publishing

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Here’s a preview of the hot story you’re about to read…


Holding her body easily, he brings her into his house and locked the door behind them. “Where to now?”

“Up the stairs,” she said, batting her eyelashes. “To my bedroom.”

“Really?” He asked, surprised.

She nodded. “This isn't going to be a regular thing, so don't get any ideas, but you're my hero tonight. And I think it would do us some good to, you know. Get it over with.”

“Right,” he said. “Duty.”

She took his face between her hands and kissed his lips. “This isn't just about duty. I do want to sleep with you. Please, take me. If anyone's going to be my first, I would rather it be you.”

His tongue skimmed her trembling lips as they kissed again. Needing him was making her incredibly uncomfortable, but she had to admit that she did need him. Desperately. Not just as a protector, but she needed him beside her in bed. She needed inside her, too. Her stomach was starting to flutter with butterflies as he carried her up the steps. Roman's tail thumped on the couch as they passed by, but he remained there, not following them up the stairs.

His hands pressed against her hip, feeling her curves. His very touch made her panties moisten. The sound of his breath enthralled her.

Once they reached the bedroom, he looked at her curiously. "Set me down," she said. He left her on the bed, then stepped away. "What's wrong?"

"I'm not going to do anything you aren't ready for me to do."

"Well, I'm ready for you to touch me," she said, grabbing his hand and pressing it to her breast. "Here."

He slowly grabbed her breasts, probing delicately at her soft flesh. Rubbing lightly, he made her wriggle beneath his attention.

Her most primal needs were stirring with rapid, shallow breaths. Troy seemed to perceive her desire, pushing on her chest to force her to lay down.

Taking her dress, ruined though it was, he pushed the skirt up to her knees, then to her hips. She pressed her feet against the bed so that he could slip it beneath her ass, letting the bottom rest on her stomach.

Grasping her knees, he eased them apart then slipped her ankles over his shoulders. Hot lips pressed to her calves, kissing up to her knees then her thighs, alternating back and forth from her left leg to her right until he found his prize.

Pushing her silky, cream colored panties to the side, his tongue immediately dipped and swirled into her folds.

She felt dazed and mellowed as he licked the hard nub that held so many pleasant nerves inside. "Oh, Troy," she gasped, gripping her sheets. "That feels soooo good. Please don't stop."

He chuckled into her mound, kissing the lips and pushing his tongue into the hole. Her legs clamped around his head in the fervor of her response.

Her hot honey started to pour onto his tongue, her eyes slid shut in ecstasy. She was going to have her first orgasm given by someone else.

With quivering thighs and a cry of release, she shuddered an orgasm.

“We can stop now, if you want,” he said.

“No! Keep going! Keep touching me, please!” She begged. She didn't want him to leave her alone. His touch was everything she wanted, her only desire and need then.

He looked up into her eyes, and she saw the heart rending tenderness that was held in them. If her parents had learned to love one another, couldn't she do the same with Troy?

“Stand up, let me help you get that dress off,” he said. The underlying sensuality of his words made the breath catch in her throat. The release from her orgasm was gone, and her body was tensing up with desire once again.

She stood and his hand brushed against her shoulder. He cupped her face, touched his lips to hers again, then to her neck. His hands gripped her dress and pulled it up, quickly, over her head.

“That was easier to take off than it was to get on,” she muttered. A grin flashed across his face, then he pulled her in for a hug. His fingers fiddled with the metal clasps of her bra until they finally came free. She kept her head against his chest, breathing in his scent.

Using her hands, she popped the buttons of his coat, then his shirt. He slid both off of his shoulders, revealing his strong, powerful torso once again. Her mouth found his skin, kissing his pecks and down to his abs.

A groan came from his mouth as she unbuckled his belt, then undid his pants. They slid down easily, and he stepped out of them, leaving only his boxer briefs to be removed.

She pressed her hand against the beast beneath that thin fabric, but he slipped a finger beneath his chin. “Stand up. Let me finish undressing you. I want to see you.”

She blushed and stood, allowing his eyes to find her breasts for the first time. The tips of his fingers brushed against her nipples, making them stiffen with a sigh. Then he fell to his knees, catching her panties with his fingers and slowly, achingly pulling them down her long thighs and to the floor. Her shoes came off last, with a kiss to each toe.

He kissed up her calf again, then her thigh, and pressed his lips to her pelvis, burying them in the brown pubic hair. His brazen hands gripped her bare ass, squeezing it and eliciting a squeal from her.

Something intense flared within her as he guided her to the bed once again. She was about to be taken by him, and there was no turning back from that. Once he had her, she was his. She knew that, then, and it unsettled her. Her unwanted devotion, bubbling up from deep within her psyche, scared her.

Pressing his hands against her thighs, he opened them to him again. Standing between them, he pulled down his boxer briefs and unleashed the monster that rested within. It was already hard and the hood glistened with precum.

She gasped. “It's bigger than I remember!” She said, sitting up. Or, trying to. He pressed her back down.

“Stay there. This is going to hurt, but I'll go slow. After a few strokes, it will probably feel just fine.”

She nodded. “I've used a toy, before, so it might not,” she said.

She was wrong.

It was the size of his cock, not the fact that she was a virgin, that caused the pain. As he pressed the tip into her, it stretched her to the point of discomfort. Gritting her teeth, she grabbed his arms and dug her nails in.

“You look scared. Do you want me to stop?” His voice was tender, gentle, and patient.

She shook her head. “Keep going. You just have to – Oh!” The head popped in, then, and as she was about to say, everything became much easier after that. Slowly, slowly, he pushed into her until his testicles rested against her.

She squirmed under him, the discomfort slowly fading away. He pulled out a little, then thrust back in. The shallow thrusts helped to replace the pain with pleasure. Soon, she was gliding her own hips against his, moving in time with him.

Taking her left ankle, he put it over his shoulder and repositioned her. “Fuck, you're tight,” he groaned. Giving her a controlled thrust, he moved within her more easily while his clever hands kneaded her breasts. Her nipples were pinched before his pointer fingers and his middle fingers.

Abruptly, she was gathered up. He held her so that their bodies touched in almost every spot while he pounded into her. “Oh, oh,” she cried, wrapping her arms around his masculine neck. “This feels so incredible!”

“Better than one of your toys, I hope,” he smirked, kissing her collar bone.

“Soooo much better!” She said. Being with him felt amazing, and she wanted it to never end.

He pushed slowly in, then slowly out, their hips meeting together at the apex, their mouths tasting and sucking on skin and lips. She groaned with her eyes tightly shut as another orgasm rolled through her. Troy's loud grunt signaled his own orgasm, as he spilled his milky white cum deep inside of her.

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I just got out of the shower.

Chapter 1

Ashanti


Life was weird and unpredictable, even for the most conservative of people. It could go from simple, slow, boring and lonely to full of life and chaos, family and friendships in only a few hours. It could bring unknown loves or surprising pain. The news of death came as easily as the news of a new baby.

So many things would happen to Ashanti in such a short time, and she had no idea. All she knew was that she was dreading going back to school.

First day back at school and I'm already stressed out of my mind, Ashanti thought as she played with a lock of her black hair. She stood still behind the long front desk that hotel patrons would come to, to check in.

She had been working at the hotel for the past two years of college. The job wasn't stressful. Now and then she had to put up with rude people or someone upset that they didn't have the right number of pillows on their bed, but aside from that, it was easy.

It was the going to school part that freaked her out. Starting her practicum with the local library didn't help, either, especially since it was unpaid and she only got it because her mother had once worked there. Having to meet the expectations that Ashanti's mom created was going to be nearly impossible.

So I have to suffer through 2 jobs, plus schooling, for one year. One year and I'll have access to the money mom and dad left me, which will pay for food long enough for me to get my Masters and start getting paid for working at a library.

She sighed. No matter how she tried to settle herself down, she hated school enough that her breath would come fast and her chest would start to ache.

Looking around, it was clear that no one was going to come up to her and ask for help in the next ten seconds. She ducked below the desk and grabbed her purse, pulling out a bottle of pills and a water bottle.

She tried not to take her anti-anxiety medications often. Her doctor told her it was fine if she had to take if every day she had class, but she actually went most of last year without taking it. She only needed it for finals.

It was unlikely that quitting her job would give her much relief. True, she felt most herself at home with a book, but being at home with a book didn't expose her to new situations so that she might actually cope with anxiety better.

At least, that's what her therapist said, before she had to quit seeing her because she just didn't have the money. That was the story of her life: needing things, and never being able to pay for them. She needed a new car; couldn't buy one. She needed a textbook for school; she had to pirate one.

She gulped down the pill with a swig of water. They didn't taste great, but the pills did the job. Before she could stand back up, she heard someone clear their throat.

Peering over the top of the counter, she found a beautiful man holding a leather jacket and a small backpack in the crook of his arm in front of her. There was an inherent strength to his face, the set of his chin stubborn, but his features were strained with an uneasy smile.

Standing up, she noticed that he held a dog on a leash. It was a big one, black and brown, panting and drooling on the carpet that had been cleaned just last week. If she weren't at work, she would have probably asked him if she could pet the dog. But she was at work, and she had some bad news for the man.

“Oh, um, unfortunately we have a no pets policy at The Clinton,” Ashanti said, preparing herself to be berated. “I can give you a list of kennels nearby if –”

“The dog's staying,” the man said, keeping his ice blue eyes on her. The strained smile fell away, his face becoming deadly serious. To her, he seemed like the kind of man no one should mess with.

Ashanti sighed inwardly at her bad luck. It had been an otherwise calm day, but this situation was threatening to ruin that. “I'm afraid there's nothing I can do. We only allow service dogs.”

“Roman is a service dog,” he said, crossing his arms. “He's staying.”

It was becoming clear that Ashanti was going to need to call her manager. She picked up the phone, but the man pressed two fingers on it to keep it down, sighing. When he pulled away, he rummaged in the pocket of his leather jacket and pulled out papers. “I wasn't lying, lady. He's a therapy dog, fully trained, and he's staying or I'm going to raise hell.”

Ashanti looked over the papers, and they seemed legit enough. Plastering an apologetic smile on her face, she nodded. “Okay, then! That's perfectly fine, and I'm so sorry for the misunderstanding. I've just never seen a dog like that as a service dog. What breed is he?”

“Rottweiler and German Shepherd mix. Can I get the key to my room now?” The man had no patience. He was starting to rub her the wrong way.

God, this guy's a dick, Ashanti thought. And he's completely negating the effect of my pills. Great. “Sure thing. I just need your name.”

“Troy Whitemarsh.” He was tapping his fingers on the desk, looking around the room. No doubt trying to catch a manager as they came out, to complain about her. She typed a bit faster, just to get him upstairs and away from her just that tiny bit sooner.

“Okay, Troy, we have you here for just one night. Here are a few papers with hotel rules, and a list of phone numbers in case you need anything. Room service runs until 10 pm, night service costs more, and checkout is at noon. Do you need anything else before you head up.” She used her most professional, sweetest voice.

“Definitely not from you, lady.” He waved dismissively as he turned around, his long legs taking him towards the elevator. She rolled her eyes, but checked out his ass as he left. I can't believe I ever thought that jackass was good looking. Then again, I always had such great taste in men.

Clucking her tongue at herself, she resolved not to think about the bad mistakes she made before. She was stressed enough as it was. She didn't need to remind herself why she was such a friendless loser in high school.

Eventually, her pills did start to calm her down, and it was nearly time for her to clock out when one of her coworkers ran out from the kitchen with something red on her.

“Ashanti! Brandy just cut herself really bad in the kitchen. The guy in room 801 needs to have his lunch taken up to him. I know you're about to leave, but can you run it up before you clock out?” He looked about ready to pass out, and she knew he hated the sight of blood.

The tray and table she had brought out didn't have a speck of blood on it, thank God. Ashanti nodded and grabbed it, heading towards the elevator.


Troy


Troy entered his hotel room and immediately sat on the couch, not even looking at his surroundings. He would only be spending a night there, at most. He just needed to see his grandmother and then get back up to Michigan.

Roman's leash was still held in his shaking fist. He took deep breaths, placing his elbows on his knees and his head in his hands. Breathe in, one, two, three. Breath out, one, two, three.

Roman nuzzled against his thigh, looking up at his master with knowing, kind eyes. Troy continued his breathing until his chest had stopped aching and his eye stopped twitching. The shaking hands were going to last a while. He should have refilled his prescription.

There was no money for pills, but he should have done… something. Sold something. Sold himself, if he needed to. It was impossible to function without the medication.

As soon as he felt under control of his emotions, he placed a hand on Roman's head. Threading his fingers through the dog's coarse fur, he focused on the repetition of petting him. The dog's tail slapped against the floor. “I'm a mess, huh, boy?” He asked the dog, but the dog offered no condemnation. Only loving eyes.

They remained in that position, that repetitive motion, for a good long time until the world made sense to Troy again. No more flashbacks.

When that woman at the front popped up from behind the desk, Troy's mind took him back to 6 months ago, when he nearly got blown to smithereens by a female suicide bomber. His best friend wasn't as lucky as Troy had been. He died as Troy was trying to drag him away, bleeding out into the craggy, sand-covered stone road.

With a whine, Roman reminds Troy to keep petting him. Smiling, genuinely that time, Dean leaned back and invited the pup onto the couch with him. He was sure that it was against the rules, even for therapy dogs, but he didn't give a fuck. Let them come and yell at him.

Anyway, he wasn't going to stay in the room much. He was here to see his grandmother, ask to borrow some money and find out why she called him out to Arizona, and then make it back to Michigan in time to yell at his VA about refusing to pay his medical bills.

So many medical bills. PTSD was a bitch, and he was drowning in the hardships the flashbacks caused. He couldn't hold down a job, though his psychiatrist swore up and down he would be able to in only a few months. He couldn't get the VA to listen to him, even though that was their damn job. His landlady? Yeah, she wasn't going to listen to his excuses either. He'd punched a hole or two into her walls, she was looking for a reason to kick him out.

Not that he didn't deserve it. He was as frustrated as any of them over his lack of self control. It was turning into self hatred, never a good thing. Considering he wasn't a drinker or a smoker, and he certainly did not do drugs, there were few things he could devote himself to.

So he devoted himself to his dog, and to running. Some video games here and there helped, too. Even though he played shooters, they helped to soothe him, gave him a sense of control over the memories that seemed to be conspiring against him.

“The lady was nice on the eyes, though, wasn't she?” Troy asked Roman, who sniffed his hand and gave it a lick. “Wouldn't mind bending her over this couch and fucking her brains out.”

His cock was pressing uncomfortably against his jeans. He tried to adjust it a few times, but there was only one way to deal with the problem. Shooing the pup off the bed and closing him in the bedroom, Troy leaned back against the couch and undid his jeans.

He tugged his cock free from his boxer briefs and gripped it lazily. Keeping the vision of the woman at the front desk at the front of his mind, he mentally undressed her. As he imagined her big breasts bouncing free from her bra, he moved his hand slowly up and down his shaft.

Were her huge tits natural, or paid for by some rich man? He imagined her with smaller tits, and then changed them to much bigger in his mind's eye. Neither looked right. He changed back to how she was, with a naturally large rack. That looked much more natural on his vision of her. His mouth was hanging open as he jacked himself off, his breathing coming faster.

“Oh my god, I'm so sorry!”

He opened his eyes just as he came, his spunk spilling onto his stomach. The very woman he had been visualizing as he masturbated stood in front of him, covering her eyes and her face burning red.

“You didn't answer the door so I assumed you were in the shower! I just… I brought up your lunch I'm sorry!” She pushed the cart to the center of the room and turned to exit, her black hair bouncing in her ponytail.

Troy chuckled and put his cock away. If he was caught with his dick in his hands, he might as well have some fun with it. “It's no problem. What's your name?”

She didn't turn back to face him. “Ashanti.” Her voice was meek, quiet.

“Well, Ashanti, next time you want to walk in on me, come a little bit earlier so you can help me out.” He grinned at her, hoping that he pissed her off. He got his wish.

She turned with wide eyes and a scandalized look on her face. The way her mouth formed a ring made his cock stir again. Giving her a cheeky wink, he grinned at her.

“Ugh!” She stormed out, her hands thrown up in exasperation as the door slammed behind her.

Troy shrugged and checked out the steak and burger he ordered. Taking one of the small plates from the wheeled table, he cut up the hamburger on it and opened the bedroom door to let Roman out. He set the plate on the floor and the dog went to town on it.

Troy couldn't keep his mind off of Ashanti while he ate, which he didn't particularly mind. He hoped he would get to tease her a little bit more before he left town.

“Come on, Roman,” he said as he ate his last bite of the sub-par steak. It was good enough, he supposed. “Let's go for a run and then meet up with Grandma.”

Chapter 2

Ashanti


As Ashanti got out of her beat up old Jetta, her face was still bright red. Yeah, that embarrassment was gonna stay with her for a good long time. She rubbed her hand on the old silver car, a habit she picked up since the last time it was threatening to break down for good.

Okay, Ashanti, you've got an hour and a half before classes. I can take a nap before driving to the community college. Or maybe shower and then a nap. Let's see, I only need like fifteen minutes to drive there…

She stopped dead in her tracks when she opened the front door to her mom's house. Her parents had saved up enough to buy the house outright, so it was passed to her when they died. It was hard to keep it up, since it was so big, but if she stayed in only a few of the rooms and didn't go in any of the others, all she had to do was dust from time to time.

She had unexpected guests.

“Grandma?” She said, stepping into the living room. Her grandmother was sitting on her old couch, smiling up at Ashanti. A woman she didn't recognize was sitting next to her, and standing next to the window was a man that Ashanti recognized as her grandma's lawyer.

“Hello, dear! Sorry for popping by unannounced, but I know how you get with plans. Always avoiding!” She chirped, raising her eyebrows. Her hair was dyed black and kept very short, and her eyes were done perfectly thanks to the tattooed eye makeup she paid for last year. Every time she called, she chattered on about how that was one of the best purchases she ever made. Even though her eyes were so dark that you could barely see it.

Ashanti laughed with growing unease. Okay, so a lawyer. Another old lady. Is she about to come out as a late-stage lesbian? Maybe it's a friend and she thinks she's dying soon. That would be bad, don't think that.

“Is everything okay, Grandma? Why are you here?” She hoped, to herself, that there wasn't going to be any bad news. She could take a lesbian grandmother much better than a dying one. Grandma Rosa was all she had left in the world. Ashanti wasn't exactly ready to give her up.

“Oh! By the way, this is an old friend of mine, Ina. We actually went to high school together!”

“That was ages ago,” chuckled Ina, her long silver hair done up in a bun. Her smile was friendly and her blue eyes were kind. She sat straight up as if she were royalty.

“True!” Cackled Ashanti's grandmother. “You should sit before we talk, Ashanti. This is going to be a bit of a surprise for you. Don't want you to faint like when we told you about your trust fund!”

Ashanti did as she was told. Yeah, she didn't want to crack her head open against the coffee table again, either. Sitting diagonally from them in the old chair her dad used to spend his nights in, she crossed her legs under her and steadied her shaking hands against the cool leather arms.

“Okay. I'm sitting,” she said, taking deep breaths. She hated change. She hated surprises. She hated, especially, surprises from her grandmother, who was quite a prankster and never quite knew how to deal with Ashanti's timid nature.

“So, this is actually about that trust fund. You only turned twenty a few weeks ago, so you've only got a year to go! Unfortunately, since you haven't yet married, there is one little hoop you have to jump through first.”

Her heart sank right into her stomach. “A hoop?”

“Yes, dear. You see, when you were quite young –”

“Barely even out of your momma's tummy,” Ina cut in.

“The two of us met and decided that we would love our families to join. And so, we put it in the paperwork for your trust fund that you will marry Ina's grandson.”

Ina nodded, her smile growing. “He's quite handsome! He was born a year before you. I bet you'll like him.”

Ashanti's mouth fell open. “This has to be a joke, right?” She waited. “Right, Grandma?”

“I want it to be clear that I advised both of them against this, and they didn't listen,” the lawyer cut in with a cough.

“No, it isn't a joke. I have to remind you, if you refuse to do this, you lose access to your trust fund, as well as this house.”

“You can't do that! Mom and Dad paid for this!”

“I'm afraid they didn't. I did.”

Ashanti felt as if she might throw up. Or cry. Probably both, now that she thought about it.

“You can refuse, of course. We're not savages, forcing you to marry.”

“Goodness, no!” Ina said, touching her hand to the pearls around her neck.

“And you only need to stay married for a year. If it doesn't work out after that, then I suppose you can divorce and keep your trust.”

Ina shook her head sadly. “What a shame that would be, though. My grandson truly is quite a catch.”

I can barely pay for food, and my loans are going to eat me alive. I need that money. Oh, God, I don't have a choice! I don't have a choice here at all!

Ashanti's bottom lip quivered, but she forbade herself from crying. “Do I at least get to meet him first?”

“Of course!” Ina smiled, the wrinkles around her eyes crinkling. “He should be here any minute, in fact.”

Ashanti's grandma nodded. “Right. Why don't you head upstairs and shower, make yourself presentable. Do you still have that blue sundress I bought you last year? You should wear that when you come down.”

Climbing up the stairs to her room, Ashanti could no longer hold back the tears and panic. She sobbed and heaved herself onto her bed, crying ugly tears into her pillow. She kicked and screamed, allowing herself to be childish. If ever there was a time that she could be childish without remorse, this was it.

How could Grandma do this to me? This is barbaric! No one arranges marriages anymore! She wanted to go downstairs and tell her grandma how awful this idea was, to throw her out of the house. The house that wasn't even actually hers for another year.

The one thing she could count on, the one anchor in her life, had just fallen through her fingers like grains of sand.

It was becoming hard to breathe. Standing, she went to her window and opened it wide, looking out over the city. I need to get some fresh air. Just for a few minutes. I'll go for a walk.

Climbing out of the window, she stepped onto the roof below it and skidded on her butt towards the edge.


Troy


One of the first things Troy taught Roman as a puppy was how to ride a motorcycle. It started with the pup strapped to his back, and as he grew Roman learned how to move with the bike, leaning against Troy and even holding onto his shoulders to keep from falling during hard stops.

Even Troy would openly admit that the dog looked adorable with his red goggles on his face. He acts like he was born to ride a motorcycle. The longer ride from Michigan to Arizona was rough on him, but with regular stops he managed.

Grandma doesn't really like Roman, but she knows I need him with me, Troy thought as he passed by a car. She doesn't know why, but she knows I need him. Troy was not exactly forthcoming with information about his problems. His flashbacks. They felt a lot like a weakness that he didn't want to admit to having. If other people knew, they could use it against him.

The roads in Arizona were so different from Michigan. For instance, there were basically no potholes. Not anywhere near the extent of Michigan potholes, which could take up a hole lane during winter. Potholes like what they got during the Michigan winters were enough to wreck a car and send a motorcycle like his flying. Potholes like that killed motorcyclists.

It occurred to him that Arizona would be a much safer place for Troy. He didn't have much back in Michigan that tied him there, but moving someplace new didn't thrill him. Especially if it meant always being near his grandmother, who had a habit of being a nag with just plain too much energy.

He was also constantly impressed by how clean and shiny all of the cars were. That was definitely not something you would see often in Michigan, with the salt and crappy roads kicking up all kinds of car-destroying crap. Troy took good care of his motorcycle, a Harley Iron 883, but it was starting to get some salt-related problems.

I should just move down here. Be closer to Grandma, be able to walk Roman during winter without putting boots on him to protect his feet. Dog boots are so not manly. I hate ruining his alpha male image for the bitches.

He chuckled to himself, watching as a car swerved from one side of their lane to the other. Fucking nut job, he thought, making sure to stay well away from the guy. That's the kind of driver that kills motorcyclists.

Ina had a bad habit of making Troy jump through hoops to get the money that was technically his. Or, it will be when he turned 30 or got married. Riding across the country was just a minor hoop compared to some of the others.

Getting married was a laughable thought. Troy couldn't be around most women without getting horrible flashbacks. No sex since before he left for Iraq. It was safe to say he had a lot of pent up sexual energy with few outlets.

He wouldn't allow himself to hire a hooker, though. One, because there was no guarantee they were clean. Two, because women he didn't know obviously freaked him out. Three, because a gentleman doesn't hire hookers.

Though he wasn't much of a gentleman at that point, he would like to one day be one. Getting married would be nice, too, but he would have to find a woman that wouldn't make his hands shake. Maybe he just needed to give the right woman some time.

Pulling off of the main road, glad to be away from the insane driver, Troy pulled onto a quiet and beautiful side street. Almost every house had a huge cactus in front of it, which struck Troy as kind of hilarious.

He looked for the house with a gate in front of the door and a blue star hanging over a window. When he found it, he pulled into the driveway just in time for a woman to fall from the roof and right in front of him.

She totally ate it, probably scraping her knee and palms as she fell harder than she expected with a great, “Oof.” The woman stayed like that for a while, just breathing through what must have been quite a bit of pain.

“Hey, you alright?” He called as he undid his helmet, but stayed on his idling bike.

The woman stood, her black hair shining in the sun, and her body started to shake. At first he worried that she was crying, but then she threw back her head and laughed out loud, wiping away a tear and brushing dirt off of her knees.

“Yeah, I'm fine!” She turned to Troy and her face fell.

Oh, boy. Ashanti. Her eyes narrowed with a furious glare. “Why are you here?”

“My grandma? She said she's here with a friend.”

Ashanti groaned and leaned against the house, covering her face with her hands and taking deep breaths. “Keep calm, Ashanti, maybe he's at the wrong house,” she muttered quietly.

“What's wrong?” Troy asked, but she just shook her head. Kicking his bike into place, he helped Roman down and took the dog's leash. “Seriously. Is Grandma okay?”

Roman sniffed Ashanti's hand, giving it a tentative lick.

“Well, I guess this is all perfectly fitting.” She gave Roman a gentle pat on the head, then motioned for Troy to follow her. “Come on, let me welcome you to my own, personal living hell. It's about to collide with yours.”

He cocked his head to the side, terribly confused, then followed her. He watched her heart shaped ass as it swayed up the steps to the gate that barred her front door. She unlocked the gate and held it open for Troy as she went on ahead.

The way her ass moved just begged for a squeeze, but she seemed irritated enough already. He didn't need to make things worse with a sexual harassment charge.

Why was he even being so awful about Ashanti? He didn't know her, and he was still uneasy around her. He had to stop being such a pervert.

It is fun though, he admitted to himself with a smirk.

Chapter 3

Ashanti


Perfect. Wonderful. I should have expected that this was the next step in my slow climb down to hell. What did I do to deserve this punishment, again? She looked behind her, at Troy following her with his eyes right on her ass, and rolled her eyes. That jackass, beautiful though he is, is about to be forced onto me as a husband.

Even though she knew it was inevitable, it still didn't feel real to her. Being forced to marry was never even on her radar as one of the possibilities for her life.

It didn't help that she actually never had a boyfriend before. She didn't have many friends in high school, and never even made the attempt to talk to men because of how they teased her as a kid. She thought that, one day, the right man would sweep her off her feet and claim her.

Someone strong and handsome, that would protect her and provide for her while never treating her like a burden or a piece of meat. That was the kind of man she wanted.

Turned out, it was going to be the wrong man instead. The absolute wrongest man it could ever possibly be. A perverted, asshole whose dick she had already seen by accident.

It was a pretty big dick, though. The kind of dick she wouldn't mind losing her virginity to.

Ugh! She thought, shaking her head at herself. Get a grip! This is exactly the kind of thinking that got me into trouble in high school! He's not into me. He'll never be into me. I'll think of some way out of this, somehow.

There was always the possibility that he could say no, she realized. Maybe he was independently wealthy and didn't need the money, or he was too proud to take it and wanted to make it on his own. Surely Ashanti's grandma couldn't hold that against her.

Roman sniffed around at her couches, but was swatted away by Ina when he tried to lick her hand. She already didn't like the woman before, but anyone that didn't like dogs had to have a black heart.

“Troy! My favorite grandson,” Ina said, standing up to hug him.

He returned the gesture and helped her to sit back down. “Grandma, I'm your only grandson.”

“That doesn't mean you're not my favorite!”

Giving her a lopsided grin, he looked to Ashanti's grandma. “And who is your lovely friend?”

“Oh, this old bat! This is Rosalinda, Ashanti's grandmother.”

“You can call me Rosa, everyone does, dear.” Rosa stuck her hand out and Troy took it, kissing it with a charming smile. Rosa's face went pink as she gave a small sigh of satisfaction.

Then, turning to Ina, “Grandma, I'm having some trouble and –”

“No, I don't want to talk about that yet. Take a seat. I have some news for you.”

Here we go. We're going to see him freak out, maybe even storm out. And then Grandma will tell me I can keep the house and my trust, and we all live happily ever after, far away from each other. Ashanti smiled and stood near the door, watching the conversation from afar. Roman sat next to his master, laying his muzzle on his leg.

“We have a stipulation for your use of your money. As you know, you must get married.”

“Grandma, you know about my problems with that.”

“Yes, but in this case you'll have to suck them up.” She took a deep breath, raising her chin. She must have been where Troy got his stubborn chin. “You see, you've been promised to that young lady behind you since you were both very young. You are to marry her within the week, and stay married for a year.”

A week?! They didn't tell me that! She watched Troy closely for his reaction, but she was disappointed when he sat back with a thoughtful look on his face. There was no explosion, no snide remarks about his pride being more important than money.

“I accept,” he said, and Ashanti felt her eyes bug out, her mouth drop open. “On one condition.”

“Oh? What is your condition?” Ina asked, leaning in. She clearly didn't expect that, and the change had piqued her interest.

Troy sighed, leaning against the arm of the chair. Ashanti wanted to kick him right out of her house, and preferably kick his ass, too. The lawyer excused himself, leaving out the front door and driving away.

“Grandma, my bills are getting out of control. I need some help.”

Ina's eyes watched Troy's face, her expression stoic. Then a nod, and a smile. “I know that you've had a hard time since you got back. Once you two are married, all of your expenses will be taken care of for a year anyway. If you marry, I will make sure part of your trust goes to your medical bills.”

Troy's face looked relieved, then went back to that same stoic expression he shared with his grandmother. Ashanti wondered exactly what kind of bills he had. Had something happened to him? He seemed perfectly healthy, but then he did have the papers for a therapy dog.

Then reality set in. She was going to be forced to marry Troy. “I can't believe you're fine with this,” she hissed, crossing her thin arms across her chest. “This is ridiculous! Do you just have a hard time getting girlfriends or something? Find someone else to marry!”

Troy turned to her, his eyes half-lidded and his lips thin. He wasn't showing it, but she could tell she had hit a nerve with him. “As a matter of fact, I do have a hard time getting girlfriends. And lady, you got no idea how many problems this solves for me.”

“You have no idea how many problems this causes for me!” She cried, starting to grow flustered. If she wasn't careful about how emotional she got, she would break down crying. There would be nothing more humiliating at that point.

Ina asked, “Oh, do you have a boyfriend?”

Her face burned red, her eyes falling to the floor. “No, not right now.”

“Then I don't see a problem here. Rosa, I think we ought to get to our hotel for the night.”

“Grandma, wait, I only have my hotel room for one night. Where am I staying?”

Ina huffed. “I told you not to get a hotel room. You're staying here. Cancel your reservation.”

Rosa kissed Ashanti's cheek, and then both of the older women left. Ashanti stood perfectly still, watching the door as it closed. Troy went out and came back in, holding a backpack he had left on his motorcycle.

“So, where do you want me to stay?” He asked.

“Out in the streets would be preferable to me,” she answered, then turned and walked up the stairs. “I have a guest room up here.”


Troy


On the outside, Troy was doing his damnedest to keep a calm mask on. He didn't want Ashanti to see him as weak. She might use it against him.

Internally, however, Troy was shaking worse than ever before. Having to sleep in the same house as a strange woman could utterly destroy all the good that his psychiatrist had done for him, especially since he had no medication because he couldn't afford it. It was going to be a night of really bad nightmares, and he was not prepared for it.

Roman followed them both up the stairs, whining quietly. The dog could sense Troy's emotions as if he were an empath or something. Having him nearby would at least make the night easier. If Roman wasn't there, he would have already been a sobbing mess on the ground.

“Hey, I do have a night at the hotel that I already paid for. I can go back there, if this makes you uncomfortable. Or I can give you the key card and let you stay there.” He rummaged in his pocket and pulled out the card, holding it out to her as she turned to face him.

“No,” she huffed. Troy could see her throat tighten. “We have to listen to our grandmothers. Come on.”

Troy was becoming very irritated by her attitude. He didn't sign up for this crap any more than she had. If this actually happened, and wasn't just some cruel joke by their grandmothers, he hoped that her bitter attitude would eventually go away. He didn't want to be married to some harpy, not even for just a year.

Cocking an eyebrow up, he smiled. “So, gonna set me up in your bedroom then? I think I know something that could help us both relax.” He hoped that she would laugh.

She didn't.

“No, and don't expect a ring and fake marriage to change that. We are never, ever having sex. Got that?” She pointed a finger and shoved it into his chest. It hurt, a little.

His mind started to race when she touched him, but he didn't curl up into a ball and fall into flashbacks. Ashanti was starting to seem less like a threat, and more like a challenge. He would take that over PTSD any day, so he went with it. He'd have his fun with her, and maybe convince her to fuck him. Yeah, that sounded good.

“Is that so?” He stepped closer to her, purposefully invading her personal space. She reacted just how he wanted her to. The carefully crafted wall of anger she put up around herself started to crumble, and she showed just how fearful and small she really felt. She was beautiful with a slight wobble in her bottom lip.


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