Stone Cold

The Stonegars, Book 1

J Hali Steele


Chapter One

If she bumps my cock once more, I'll crumble.

He had spent years watching her, first from the sunroom, now in the backyard. Always there for her. Vena Waring had worn him down to nothing, and he had never even touched her. She hadn't been this upset for a long time and he wanted to beat the bastard who hurt her to a bloody pulp.

Erac Dane couldn't do anything. His helplessness was due to Vena's grandmother, Malvena Waring. She had been a cruel old bitch and he was glad when the witch died. At the time he didn't even care her death had brought pain to the young woman who sat at his feet and cried.

That had changed over the years. What he wouldn't give to make Vena his. Anything to touch her, take her the way he'd dreamed of so many nights. Thinking about it gained him nothing but an excruciating hard-on.

No matter, Malvena being alive wouldn't have changed his predicament one iota. Only Rekat could do that and he'd been absent too many years.

The sun eased toward the horizon in the western sky and a breeze stirred. It ruffled Vena's newly shorn, wheat colored locks. The bobbed hairstyle didn't suit her at all but Erac couldn't tell her that; hell, he couldn't say a single word.

She always followed the current fashion in everything—clothing, what pumps were in style—all of it. Many a night he'd listened to her on the phone with one friend or another chattering on about such things. He'd smile to himself at the way her brow quirked or her soft, luscious mouth curved into a beautiful smile, lighting up her face. Those lips could bring such pleasure to him.

Then there were the times when he called, like tonight. Erac wanted to throttle him for bringing shadows of sadness to her blue eyes. At the same time, he wanted to … shit, that wasn't going to happen.

Though hard to see from his position, her cheeks would be flushed and tear stained. Bastard told her a week before the holiday he'd found his one true love and that he wouldn't be able to see Vena anymore. That wouldn't last; the man would be unable to stay away from her for long but he didn't know that.

There wasn't a damn thing Erac could do. Nothing.

She had been hunched forward but now Vena sat up straight, leaned her back against his stone cold legs, and sighed for the umpteenth time. If he could, he would have brushed the tears away with his fingers—no, he would have kissed them away. Embrace and hold her tight, not let anything or anyone ever harm her again. Show her there was someone who cared and would always be there for her.

Erac wanted to make love to Vena, fill her with the joy she deserved in life. I want to fill her with my cock. Even now, it throbbed and wept at the mere idea of being inside her. She couldn't tell, she always thought of him as hard and cold.

Yet she came to him when some asshole broke her heart.

How many times over the years had she cried at his feet? That really wasn't the worse part. It destroyed him in every way imaginable when Vena climbed into his lap, rested her head against his stony shoulder, and let the tears slide down his chest. They scalded Erac to his soul, left scars that would be hard to heal. He prayed silently for the day he could feel her lips brush across his chest, her tongue taking the sting from each laceration left by the tears she cried for someone else.

Now only half of the sun stood pink on the horizon, ready to slip away. His favorite time of day. Erac's immobile eyes could barely make out the top of her head. One last hiccup wrenched from her throat and she took a deep pull of air, filling her lungs. Her breathing evened out and he felt the tension ebb from her shoulders, a sign she had resigned herself to the inevitable.

Vena was alone—again.

Feeling better, she'd soon rise and leave Erac sitting there in misery. They'd been through this before and her bouts of sorrow never lasted long. She would pull herself together and move on quickly.

Not this time. He'd see to it that no one ever hurt her again.

Midnight wasn't far off, and he'd be the one with her when the next sun rose high in the sky. Somehow, he had to win her heart.

A chirping noise emanated from her slacks and she stiffened against his legs. Her cell phone. Standing, she pulled it from her pocket, answered it.

"Hello." Vena began to pace the yard. Back and forth, all the way to the cliff's edge.

Erac's chest flooded with disappointment, he could only hear her side of the conversation.

"No, not again," she said. Her mouth formed a tight line.

It was him. From the way she spoke, how her back stiffened in defense, it had to be Jason.

Erac's fingers itched and tried to curl into his palms.

"Jason, you called if off."

She wore a path up and down in front of him.

"You're not welcome here anymore." Her short hair brushed her ears with each shake of her head. A fist balled at her side in defiance, a sign Vena meant what she said. "I don't care that you have no place to eat, and I'm not cooking. Especially for the likes of you." She spun, and looked directly at Erac as she continued. "I don't want you anymore."

That's my girl. She had come close enough that he could make out the tiny, whining voice on the other end of the line pleading with her to take him back. Jackass. The other woman couldn't hold him. It had only been a matter of time.

"If you dare step foot on my property, ever darken my door again, I'll have you handcuffed and thrown out on your sorry ass. Good riddance, Jason." She slapped her phone shut, turned and stared at the sun as it finally slipped away.

Damn, I can't see her eyes. Erac had to know if she was hurting inside. His answer came too soon, and far too painfully.

Vena walked over, slipped into his lap and laid her head against his chest. His blood boiled. Everything inside him coiled into a tight knot.

Her arm eased around his stiff neck, and the tears flowed. Rivulets ran down his chest, following the thin, unhealed gouges that remained from all the others she had cried for.

He wanted to wrap Vena in his arms, keep her there forever, and soothe away the anguish in her heart. Tears he couldn't shed stung his eyes.

It had to be the last time because Erac couldn't do this anymore.

Wiggling in his lap to get more comfortable drove him insane with desire. Her soft ass rubbed against his cock, the pressure of it sweet agony. A slender hand rested lightly on his chest. She ran her palm over the nipple and it sent shivers down his stiff spine.

Fuck, she feels so good.

Erac was hard as a rock. Literally.

And stone cold.


Vena cried her eyes out. She vowed it would be the last time. She'd had enough.

Jason wasn't worth a single tear. This wasn't the first time he strayed. Sex had become nonexistent between them. That was a problem. When it did happen, she had insisted he use a condom.

Her body ached thinking about it. The dull throb between her legs had reached a fever pitch. It had been like that the last few weeks and it was hard.

Sex. That's not all their relationship had been, but damn, she was hungry for it most of the time. Especially lately. Jason had been the only one who could make the feeling go away. For a short time. Their laughter often filled the garden, and they strolled hand in hand down the beach at sunset. The perfect pair. In the beginning, it always ended with them in bed.

Vena liked that, needed it.

He'd be back, Jason always came back. And she'd want him all over again.

There was not a jealous bone in her body, which always made her think she was weird. Most women would have had a fit—not Vena. It didn't bother her that he went to someone else, what bothered her is she never got enough. Vena knew what drove him away. He'd acted strangely over the last few months, visited less and less.

Jason told her he couldn't satisfy her anymore, she wanted too much from him. And then she went and asked him to bring his mistress with him if he wanted to. Talk about being pissed off! Vena thought he'd have a freaking heart attack. She couldn't believe she'd said it herself and wondered what the hell had come over her lately.


That didn't stop the tears from falling now.

They weren't for him. Vena cried because even with Jason, she had felt something was missing.

Would the right person ever come into her life? If she had a biological clock, Vena didn't hear it ticking so there was time. She'd dreamt of one day having a family and wondered if it was to make up for growing up separated from hers.

Her grandmother, who named her, raised her alone in a big old mansion in Falmouth Harbor, right off the bay. Some thought Malvena Waring was a distant and strange woman but Vena loved her.

There were few visitors, and aside from school, she never ventured out alone. One of the house staff always accompanied her. Vena was used to it.

When the moon was full Grammy would go down to the water and Vena would watch from the third floor window of her bedroom. Her grandmother would light a fire on the beach and dance around it singing. Other times she spent in the back yard of the house where Vena heard her recite poetry that sounded like chanting while she cleaned Erac.

Gathering the courage to ask one day what the words meant, she was quietly told, "In due time, little one. In due time you will know everything."

Born out of wedlock, Vena had never met her father and learned early not to talk about him. It was the only time she'd heard sharp words from her grandmother.

The circumstance of her birth caused an irreparable rift between her mother and Grammy and it was probably why everyone in the Waring household kept a sharp eye on her—to make sure the same thing that had happened to her mother didn't happen to Vena.

Unexpectedly, she was left alone when her grandmother mysteriously danced too close to the cliff's edge one night, tumbling to her death.

Vena inherited the estate, everything, house and the money—and there was a lot of it.

A half-brother lived with her mom and step-dad on the West Coast and, reluctantly on her grandmother's part, Vena visited them for two weeks every summer.

There was an awful memory of her mom coming to Falmouth and a big argument ensued over Erac. It ended with both women in tears when her mom called Grammy a mean bitch for keeping him in his condition. Her mom had never come back to Massachusetts until the funeral. Gemma Waring claimed she couldn't bear seeing Erac the way he was and she prayed God would rest her mother's soul.

What was wrong with Erac? He'd been the same since the day Vena had first laid eyes on him in the sunroom. He was her playmate; she'd run around him, hide and giggle uncontrollably whenever the servants found her.

She never understood what her mom meant and she hadn't seen her since.

In spite of it all, she'd grown up okay. She had friends, and since her grandmother died, she had lovers.

Her tears slipping down Erac's chest were good old-fashioned angry tears. The nerve of Jason to call looking for an invite to dinner. His new girlfriend had already left him high and dry—and evidently hungry.

A chuckle bubbled up in her throat. Damn it felt great. Served him right.

She had often spent these hours sitting in the back yard at Erac's feet or in his lap and they watched the sun set together. Vena made sure he faced it because it warmed him up. Otherwise, he was always cold. They'd been lucky with good weather this year. It had been in the seventies all week with no change forecasted for tomorrow.

Good times and bad, he'd always been there. He heard her confidences, and she never had to fear he'd tell. A grin curved her mouth at the memory of fancying herself in love with him when she turned seventeen and had her heart broke for the first time.

It would have saved her a lot of heartache if Erac could have loved her back.

Once, while making out, a boyfriend got the willies because Erac sat there. For the first time ever, it bothered her too.

"I wish you could take care of me," Vena whispered.

His torso was broad and muscled with rock hard abs. That drew another snicker from her as she remembered a recent movie in which it was claimed all the gorgeous men appearing in the film had had their stomachs painted to make the muscles look more pronounced.

"Yours are the real deal."

She moved her arm from around his neck, stroked her finger down the straight bridge of his nose, and thought how handsome he appeared with his hair just barely touching his shoulders.

When she reached his lips, she let her fingers play there enjoying the fullness of them. Their perfect shape enticed her. Would it be stupid of me to kiss them? Vena's other hand rested on his chest where his nipple poked at the palm of her hand as she brushed lightly across the peak.

No, Erac could never love her.

His thighs were thick and comfortable under her. Sometimes when she wriggled her butt to get comfortable, an electric shock went straight through to her core. Lately, it happened a lot. It embarrassed her how nice the bulge between his legs felt nestled against her ass. Yeah, I'm not getting enough sex. What the hell was wrong with her?

Relaxed and all cried out, she dozed off, but not before she whispered, "You always make me feel good."

* * * *

Vena's eyes flew open and her head snapped up at a strange sound. It was dark with moonlight filtering through the oak trees that dotted the back yard. Damn, how long had she sat there sleeping?

Standing slowly, she stretched, letting her eyes adjust as she peered around. What time is it?

A twig snapped on the side of the house. Movement caught her eye and she turned in its direction. Holding her breath, she watched a dark figure emerge from the shadows.

"Hey, babe."

Hell, it was Jason.

"Damn it, jerk, you scared the shit out of me. What are you doing here?"

"Why are you standing out here in the dark? It's damn near midnight. Guess that's why you didn't hear me ring at the front door. Where's the staff?"

"I gave them the night off." She ran a hand through her short hair and focused on the man in front of her. "I told you to stay away." As she walked across the yard toward the back door, the motion light flared bright and Vena flipped the switch so it remained lit. She returned to stand by the large tree.

Jason was gorgeous. His blond hair, always perfectly styled and in place, was mussed tonight. The black tee he wore stretched across his chest revealing taut muscles. He was a big man whose thighs were strong and hard. Jason worked out regularly and it showed. His over six foot frame was athletically toned and he turned many a female head when they were out together. Some men stole a second look too.

But tonight he was a mess.

"Why are you here?"

"Honey, don't." He stepped closer and she noticed he carried a plastic shopping bag. "I came over to talk, to tell you I'm sorry."

"God, what is it with you, with us? There's nothing left between us, Jason. Go home." Vena knew she didn't mean it. What was wrong with them, with her? He did satisfy her, she just wanted more of … of what?

"You don't mean that." He sat the bag down and reached in to pull out what appeared to be a ready-to-roast turkey. "Look what I bought. It's the only one I could find on such short notice that wasn't frozen." He placed the dripping package back in the bag.

"Have you lost your fucking mind?"

He stepped closer and grabbed her shoulders. "We haven't made love in a long time and I know you want me, Vena, you always want me."

His eyes darkened. It probably crossed Jason's mind to tell her she wanted him in that way too much and too often. After all, it's what sent him away.

"Damn it, I can't leave you alone, I can't stay away from you. It's like…"

His words drifted off and she smelled the alcohol on his breath. That explained everything.

"I'm calling the cops." She took her phone out, flipped it open and started to dial 9-1-1. Before she finished, he snatched it from her, slammed it shut, and hurled it across the yard.

"I need you." He shoved her into the tree and began feeling her breasts with rough hands.

"Jason," she pleaded. Vena wasn't sure what she begged for. She needed him bad but she wanted to talk, try to figure this out.

Pinned with her back against the large trunk, she jumped at the sound of a loud crash behind the tree. Jason, intent on freeing her breast, didn't seem to hear the heavy footsteps or the rustle of the shopping bag. Vena saw it coming from the corner of her eye. It slammed into Jason's head sending beads of bloody water onto her face and in her eyes, blinding her for a moment.

Jason slid into a heap on the ground.

She swiped at her face with her forearm and when she could open her eyes again, standing before her was a bare ass, naked man.

Holy crap!

It was…

Vena could tell by the length of his hair, the breadth of his shoulders, and the cut of his muscled stomach. His penis, normally just a bulge between his thighs, bobbed in the air. She stumbled back in disbelief.

Stepping over Jason, he caught her by the wrist, kept her from falling on her butt. Gray eyes stared, his chest heaved up and down.

"I … I…" His voice creaked like an unused, rusty door.

"Who the hell are you?" Deep in the recesses of her mind, in her heart Vena knew the answer before she even asked. She needed to hear him say it. Amazed at her calm, she gazed down his body, her eyes coming to rest on his thick cock. As they swept upward, she took in a myriad of lacerations, some fresh, crisscrossing his chest. By the time she reached his face, her breath came in rapid puffs.

"Erac," he croaked.

"This can't be happening." Her head shook back and forth, denying what she saw.

His hands moved to her shoulders and he drew her against his hard body, held her tight. He whispered, "Mine."

Surreal, everything moved in slow motion. It dawned on her she may have gone crazy. If lucky, she was still asleep.

"No one will ever hurt you again." His words came out harsh and strained. "I promise."


Behind him, Jason groaned. Thank God he was alive.

"A freaking statue just cold-cocked a man in my back yard with a fucking turkey." She glared up at him. "Tell me I'm dreaming."

Thunder rolled overhead and she looked up just in time to see a bolt of lightning streak toward them. It slammed into the tree and split it dead center, sending a shower of sparks in every direction. Erac snatched her behind him.

"What the fuck is happening?" Vena screamed above the crackle of flames. The smoke cleared and a shadowy figure emerged.

"Hello, daughter."

Oh shit!



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