Taming Ryder


#4 in Our Roots Series, but can be read as a stand alone.

Courtney Ramsey is fed up with the way her life is going but all that starts to change when a mysterious, tattooed monster comes into her life unexpectedly. Can Courtney tame the wild beast or will he end up ruining her?

"I know what you probably think of me, what everyone thinks of me...I'm no good, and you know what? That's true. I'm definitely no good." He looks over at me with the most sincere look in his eyes causing my heart to skip a beat. "But I want to be."

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Chapter 1
All my life, I've felt like I've been waiting for something exciting to happen to me; something that makes me feel an emotion other than anger or frustration. I keep hoping that there's something more in store for me; that I'm not destined to be a clone of society, but something more. Something way more. But I'm starting to lose that hope. I'm starting to think anger, frustration and disappointment will be all I ever feel. It's been one hell of a day and I can't wait to get home and c***k open a bottle of wine to curb the nerves. When I step outside of the office building, the cold February air takes my breath away. I pull my jacket tightly around me and start towards my car, digging in my purse for my keys.  I pull my keys out just as I make it to the car, but my frigid hands cause me to drop them to the ground. When I bend over to pick them up, I notice that my back tire is flat. After the day I've had, this is the last thing I need. Overcome with emotion, I kick the tire, which in hindsight, isn't a very good idea while wearing three inch heels. The heel of my left shoe breaks off and slides across the parking lot, almost mockingly. I hobble over to the door and unlock it. As soon as I sit down in the driver's seat, I remember that I don't have enough gas to start my car and turn on the heat. I laugh humorlessly and shake my head, not believing my luck. I take out my phone and schedule a cab to come pick me up, putting off fixing my car until tomorrow. The office building is locked, so I'm forced to sit in this parking lot alone, in the dark, and wait for my cab to arrive. I'm not surprised at my luck. If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. Still, no matter how bad it gets, I'm determined not let my emotions get the better of me. I've been keeping those inner demons at bay for over two years now. I sit on the hood of my car and pull my knees up to my chest, making the most out of the little body heat that I have. Since I'm quite small, it's not much. I busy myself with my phone for a while, replying to two day old texts from my mother that I've been avoiding and catching up on work emails. My fingers are freezing, making typing pretty difficult. After spelling the word tomorrow wrong for the fourth time, I slam my fist down on my car and let out a string of curse words. "Whoa there, kitten," a deep, gravelly voice says from behind me. I spin around so fast, I nearly fall to the ground. A tall figure emerges from the shadows and my limbs freeze over in fear. I want back away, but I can't move at all. "I-I don't have any cash on me, if that's what you're after," I tell him. He moves closer and the street lamp illuminates his face. He's wearing a black hoodie with the hood draped over his head, but I don't miss those brilliant green eyes. His sleeves are pulled up a little, revealing tattoos that probably cover his arms, if not his entire body. "Relax. I'm not trying to rob you," he says, holding his hands up. "I have a tire iron in my car. I'll be happy to take care of that flat for you." As if this day couldn't get any worse, it'll end with me being butchered to death by this serial killer that's been lurking in the shadows, waiting for me to be alone so he can hack me up into little pieces. I jump to my feet and prepare to run, but I forget my heel just broke off my shoe and end up landing on my ass instead. I scramble to my hands and knees but he's already standing in front of me before I can get to my feet. He holds out his hand and I shrink back. He rolls his eyes and drops his hand to his side. "Okay, fine. Get up by yourself." He walks around to the other side of my car and disappears into the darkness. I slowly stand to my feet, keeping my eyes trained in the direction he left in. "You know you should really get new tires," he says popping up from seemingly nowhere, causing me to squeal. I place my hand over my heart and try to catch my breath. "What are you doing out here? How did you even know my tire was flat?" I ask.  I'm sure he says something, but I find myself getting caught up in his striking green eyes. Aside from the fact that this guy probably just escaped from prison, he's incredibly good looking. And his voice. It's so smooth and deep. I start to get a weird, tingly feeling in the pit of my stomach, but I quickly pull myself together and snap out of my daze. "So do you?" "Do I what?" I ask in confusion. "Have a spare?" he smirks, as if he knows the effect he's having on me. "Oh. I called a cab and it should be here any minute." He purses his lips together and raises a brow. "Why didn't you get in your car and turn on the heat? It's freezing out here." "I..." I trail off, squeezing my eyes shut. "I don't have any gas," I say pathetically. "I have a gas can in my trunk. I can-" "It's okay, really," I interrupt, hoping that he'll take the hint. I've never felt more uncomfortable in my life. He looks like he wants to say something else, but thankfully, he only nods and turns to leave. I watch him get into his car that's parked across the parking lot and drive away. Maybe I overreacted. Maybe he was really only trying to help, but unfortunately, you just can't trust people these days. Why would he be hanging around the parking lot of my office this late anyway? I've never seen him before and I'm sure I'd remember him if I did. The next morning, I'm more than fifteen minutes late for work when my cab finally arrives at my apartment. I get into the back seat and repeat the office address four times before the driver finally gets it. We're being passed by every car on the street. I lean up to look at the speedometer and nearly have an outburst. Thirty-five miles per hour?! What the hell?! He could be driving fifty-five on this road, sixty-five if he's brave enough. At first, I keep my cool and try to be nice, but after watching the minutes tick by on my wristwatch, my patience evaporates faster than rain on hot asphalt. "I would really like to make it to work in the next five minutes or so if you don't mind," I tell him. He looks at me through the rear view mirror and mumbles something in what I think is Arabic, probably cursing me for being an impatient b***h. I sigh and throw my head back. Jack is going to kill me for being late after what happened yesterday. We finally pull into the office parking lot about twenty minutes later. I pay the driver and hurry up the steps that lead to the main entrance. I've been working at Brewer-Weston as a graphic designer for two years and I've hated every single day of it. My boss is a d**k and my co-workers are all brown-nosing suck ups. All except for Piti, who is the only reason I haven't jumped out of the second story window by now. "Courtney, you're late," my boss states the obvious when I walk in the door. I take a deep, calming breath before responding. "I know and I'm sorry. I stayed late last night to finish the project you made me start over on." I pause abruptly, realizing this isn't the way to handle this situation. "Anyway, when I left the office, my back tire was flat. I had to get a cab-" "That's funny, I didn't notice any flat tires on your car when I got here on time this morning," Jack interrupts. At first, I just assume this is one of Jack's attempts to undermine me in front of the entire office. But then something dawns on me. I rush over to the window and look out over the parking lot until I spot my metallic blue  Kia Soul sitting at the corner. He's right, there's no flat tire. I turn around with my mouth gaping open, not able to think of a single thing to say. "You know, if you need to think of a lie for coming in late, you could've thought of a better one," he says, in his signature condescending tone. "I'd like to see you in my office in fifteen, Courtney. There's some things we need to discuss." He turns and walks away, not giving me a chance to respond. I stare at his retreating figure in disbelief.  I can't believe I tolerate being talked to like a five year old by someone I know for a fact isn't even close to being as smart as me. He only got this job because he's a suck up. Just like everyone else here. I sigh dramatically and head towards my office. I open the door forcefully, causing it to slam into the wall. I drop my bag to the floor and plop down in my chair, pressing my fingers to my temples. "Rough morning?" I look up to see Piti standing in the doorway to my office. She's a little ray of sunshine in this cold, dreary place. She sits down in the chair in front of my desk and watches me expectantly. Her short black hair is tucked behind her ears and her big brown eyes are always so full of happiness. She's wearing a hot pink pant suit that looks amazing against her mocha skin. Just the sight of her brightens my mood. "It's Jack," I sigh. "He's been on my ass lately and I came in late this morning. I had a flat tire when I left the office last night and some guy offered to fix it..." I turn and look out the window at my car. What i***t just goes around helping random strangers? He definitely didn't seem like the Mother Theresa type.  "Anyway, I told him no, that I'd already called a cab. I guess he came back to fix it after I left." "Was he cute?"Piti asks. I look at her in disbelief. "Are you serious? I could possibly be fired and you want to know if he's cute?" She shrugs. "Well, yeah. It's been a while since you broke up with Nick and I'm ready for you to move on." "And believe me, I'd love to move on. Just not to a creepy stranger that hangs out in empty parking lots all hours of the night, waiting to rescue some damsel in distress. Or murder them." Piti chuckles. "So what did Jack say?" "He wants to meet with me in a few minutes. I'll probably get fired, but if I do, I'm giving this whole office the finger when I walk out." Piti smirks as she stands from her chair. "I wouldn't miss that for the world. Let me know how it goes!" My stomach twists into knots as I slowly walk down the hallway that leads to Jack's office. I don't know what to expect with this guy, since it seems no matter what I do, he's still going to hate me. Just yesterday, I turned in some sketches for a new website design that he simply just tossed in the trash. Nearly four weeks of work tossed away like it's nothing. I take a deep breath before I knock on the door to his office. I hear him tell me to come in, so I step inside and close the door behind me. "Have a seat, Courtney," he says, motioning for me to sit in the chair in front of him. I sit down and awkwardly look around the room as he continues to ignore me and type on his laptop. He finally stops and looks up at me. "Do you know why you're here?" I count to five before I answer, something my therapist told me to do to give my brain a chance to catch up to my mouth. "No, I don't." He raises his brows as if he's surprised by my response, but the truth is, I have no idea why I'm here. "Your work as been less than satisfactory lately. As a matter of fact, it's been quite terrible. The last thing you want to do is give me a reason to fire you, so I suggest you get here on time and put in all the effort you can to keep this job, that quite frankly, I don't even know how you got in the first place." I shrink back in my chair and purse my lips together. Norman Baker, Jack's former boss, is the reason I have this job. Maybe I'm not the most deserving, but I'm certainly not as bad as Jack makes me out to be. The only reason he doesn't like me is because Norman wanted to promote me over him, but I refused the position. Not because I thought Jack would be better qualified, but because I don't want to be in charge of all these petty, ridiculous people that work here. I was fresh out of college at the time and didn't have much experience with management, or people in general. "I expect to see more out of you, Ramsey. Got that?" "Ramsey?  Am I one of your college football teammates now?" I scoff. "Not even close. They had enough dedication to show up on time and get the job done." I can't believe the size of the balls on this guy, metaphorically speaking, of course. He's a good looking enough, I guess, provided you've never spoken a word to him. He's tall, well built and has chocolate brown eyes, but he's a gigantic asshole. He hasn't always been this way. I used to pine for the days of old when Jack and I would hang out at the coffee shop on campus and talk about any and everything. Now days, I consider it a good day when I don't converse with him at all. "You know what, Jack? It won't happen again," I say with a fake smile.

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