"Yeah, yeah, just like that. Harder, Carlos, I'm about to come," Red cried out, knowing she was near climax. Panting for breath, she slammed her eyelids shut. Seconds later, she arched her head backwards while her body convulsed in ecstasy as she couldn't hold her orgasm any longer. Heat ravaged her skin, jolting through her like thousands of tiny volcanic explosions.
Carlos Amara had only begun showing up in her tavern last week. The man was handsome enough. He made a few hilarious jokes and he had the kind of outgoing personality she liked, so she decided to sleep with him. Red had long since broken up with the forest ranger, Charles, and she was tired of going to bed alone every night. Sleeping with Carlos made her feel liberated, and she liked the change in her usual routine. Over the past several months, the tavern had become her life—she was constantly working, and she didn't have much of a social life. Her only friend, Cinderella, had married King Caspian, and now she was enjoying her happily ever after, living in a huge castle and having mind-blowing sex every single day.
Carlos was panting and moulding her breasts, while she was in the zone of her orgasmic pleasure. A wave of electric current jolted through her body as he continued to penetrate her harder.
A few months ago, Red slept with a baron in another kingdom, but the sex had been very disappointing. After breaking up with Charles, her life hadn’t been the same, and she wanted to believe that men still found her attractive. She’d been feeling lonelier than ever before, and the baron was interested in her, so that night she’d decided it was time to reclaim the reins of her life and stop allowing Charles to hold power over her. She was free!
Seconds later, she collapsed onto the bed next to Carlos who whistled loudly, obviously satisfied. She enjoyed having sex with the highwayman more than she’d anticipated. And Carlos knew how to pleasure her immensely. He wasn't selfish compared to most of the men she’d slept with in the past.
She flopped to the side, closing her eyes for a moment. She told herself that tonight she wouldn't think about the tavern or her gran. This was her evening, and she needed to relax. Carlos began kissing her naked back, and she giggled when he reached out to the most sensitive parts of her body.
It was such a refreshing experience, and the main thing was that she was finally over Charles. The truth was that the forest ranger was lousy in bed. Red had to fake her orgasms on multiple occasions.
Even worse, she learned that Charles had helped Cindy’s stepsisters kidnap her. Susan and Teresa had given him a fair amount of gold just to keep Cinderella busy. Then, apparently, he slipped a sleeping tonic into her drink. Red couldn't believe Charles would do something like that, especially to someone she considered a friend. At the time, they were still together, but after Red discovered the truth about what he had done, she ended their relationship immediately. Things had been bad between them for a while, and that incident only confirmed that she needed to part ways with him.
“You look so beautiful and radiant this evening, my lady. It’s such a shame that I have to head back to the village soon. I’d love to pleasure you even more," Carlos said, then pulled her to him, kissing her intensely.
Red laughed to herself, thinking that she wouldn't mind him staying the night, but he was already putting on his shirt.
She had invited Carlos to her home after she finished working earlier that night, and now it was just after one in the morning. Ruby, Red's grandmother, had moved into the small room above the tavern a few months ago. She liked keeping an eye on things, and, only recently sold her own home that had grown too big for her. Red inherited a house after her parents died, and preferred living alone.
When a chance to purchase the rundown tavern from the previous owner had presented itself, Red knew that she couldn't turn it down. Ruby offered to help her as much as she could. Her gran had been telling her for months that she should have invested in some kind of business. Other people often told her that she had potential and was very business minded. Months later, they began working together, serving customers and ensuring the entire place ran smoothly. Things were going well, and the gold started coming in, too. Her grandmother loved interacting with the locals and travellers who stopped by now and again for a warm meal, or perhaps something stronger.
Soon enough, Red realised that her dreams were finally coming together. She had her own profitable business.
"That's fine with me, anyway. I need to get up early tomorrow. There’s stock arriving from another kingdom, and we’ve been waiting for it for weeks now," Red replied, already thinking about all the errands she had to take care of over the next few days.
Her schedule was always full. Running a business had proven to be challenging for Red, but she didn't mind. She enjoyed being busy. The tavern had become Red's life. For as long as she could remember, she’d wanted to be independent; she never wanted to rely on a man for money.
Her parents had died when she was only eight years old and it turned her life upside down, altering everything that she’d ever believed in. She was never truly able to move forward after that, believing that God had taken them away from her far too early. She didn’t think it was fair—Red loved them very much, and she had never quite come to terms with the fact that they weren’t around anymore.
Red rose from the bed and walked naked towards the chair. She picked up her purple dress and quickly put it on. She stared at her reflection in the mirror, then ran her fingers through her messy dark hair. She could see the top of the castle turrets from her window. For a second she thought about what it would be like to take Cindy's place, but then realised that thought alone was silly. That wasn't her life or her dream. Red wasn't interested in being married to a royal. She was happy to be alone for now, and, maybe eventually she would find a man who supported her independent nature.
It appeared as though Carlos had changed his mind about leaving, because he was still lying on the bed, watching her. He was handsome, tall, muscular, and, so far, a decent lover, too.
Red and her grandmother were very similar. Ruby encouraged her to have fun, and always let her serve handsome and interesting men when they showed up in the tavern. Ruby wanted her to settle down, but she would never push her to do anything she didn't want to do. It was just her way of supporting her.
"Are you throwing me out, Red? I must say that I'm a little disappointed,” Carlos said, not taking his eyes off her. “People are saying that wolf men have been seen in Farrington Kingdom lately. Apparently, they’ve been kidnapping children and robbing travellers on the road."
She placed her hands on her hips and turned around to face him. She wasn't sure where the highwayman was going with this. Surely, he didn't expect her to believe in those sorts of stories.
"You're a grown, well-built man, and I can’t believe you're afraid of a few wolves. Besides, it may not even be true. Everyone knows that werewolves don't exist," Red retorted, looking down at her nails. Except when she thought of King Caspian, her confidence faded away. She knew that if vampires were real, then the werewolves might be, too, but she wasn't prepared to admit it.
She was quickly becoming bored of this conversation with Carlos. Although he was very handsome and good in bed, she couldn't help feeling that there was something missing—similar to the feelings she had when she was with Charles.
"You got me there, Red." Carlos chuckled and then stood from the bed, still staring at her as though he wanted to kiss her again, but instead added, "There’s a group of highwaymen in Farrington right now who can protect you from the wolf men. The king isn't going to do anything. He just remarried and he’s enjoying his new wife. Our leader can offer you protection for a small payment."
Red couldn't believe what she was hearing. Of course, she should have suspected that Carlos wasn't sleeping with her because he was actually attracted to her—he must have had a hidden agenda from the start. Hot anger began rushing through her veins. Payment? No, she wasn't planning to pay anyone just so she would feel “safe” in her own tavern. She was willing to take her chances. She’d heard about the so-called werewolves but didn't think she had anything to worry about. Her customers were still coming in, and no one was afraid to leave their home after nightfall.
"Payment? You can’t be serious. I work hard, and you think I'm just going to gift you a few gold coins because you’ve given me a decent enough orgasm?" she asked, laughing, but deep down she was furious with him for even daring to offer her something like that.
“I don’t like making jokes, Red. Who knows what might happen to the tavern? Werewolves are dangerous. What if they try to attack you or even rape you? I don't suppose you’d be so happy then." Carlos stood, and started pulling on the rest of his clothes.
Red's blood pressure was rising fast. Potent anger flashed throughout her body. She’d thought that Carlos was different, not like the other men out there, but obviously she’d been bloody wrong.
"Get out!" she shouted and began pushing him out the door. "Get the hell out of my house right now. I don't need some clever bastard telling me I can’t protect my own business. If I ever need your help, I’ll surely ask for it, but right now, I'm perfectly fine on my own."
Red wasn't even sure why she was so furious, but Carlos was already walking downstairs. When he was finally outside on her porch, she began hurling his shoes at his head.
"Jesus, Red, calm down. It was only a small suggestion. You're making plenty of money, and sooner or later, you’ll need proper protection."