Home > Secrets Vol. 5 (Secrets #5)(3)

Secrets Vol. 5 (Secrets #5)(3)
Author: H.M. Ward

I nod slowly, feeling the realization creepy up my throat like bony fingers. “A pair of panties is missing.”

Cole just stares at me. His nostrils flare and he blinks. “When? When did all this start?”

I pull away from him and slip off his lap. I have to stand. Nervous energy floods my body and I start to pace. His eyes trail my movements and his arms fold over his chest. I try to swallow again, but it hurts. My mouth is too dry. “I don’t know. I felt like someone was following me, but there was never anyone there. And then I thought it was you—”

“Me?” he says shocked.

“Yeah, you said you were following me around, trying to talk to me. I assumed that you were following me.”

“Anna, I never followed you like that.” Cole runs his hands through his hair. “Shit. I can’t believe someone is doing this to you. I went to places where I knew you’d be. I never stalked you. This is a f**king stalker and he’s gotten into your house.” Cole pauses a beat and lifts his eyes to meet mine. “Does Emma know?”

I nod. “Yes, well, sort of. I felt weird telling anyone. I mean all that stuff in the beginning was just a feeling. No one was there, and I figured that I just lost the panties, but then today...” I shake my head and my eyes sting with tears. I blink them away and rub my eyes with my hand. “I called her brother over so she wasn’t there alone after dark. I left her a message on her phone. I haven’t had a chance to talk to her yet.”

“You told her brother?” Cole asks. “You told him that someone was in the apartment?” I nod again, trying to remember exactly what I said. The day had that white haze over it, like it was a memory from a long time ago. The part with the bathtub and the raccoon is vivid, but the rest grows fuzzy fast.

“I told him that it wasn’t safe for Em there alone. I asked him to stay the night and didn’t really say why. He promised he’d stay.”

“You need to tell her,” Cole says. His eyes lock with mine. I’m standing in front of him with my arms wrapped tightly around my middle. I hate feeling like this and talking about it makes it worse. Cole asks, “Who do you think it is?”

“I don’t know,” I answer, and close my eyes. I press my fingers to my temples and glance up at Cole as I speak. “For a second I thought it was James. He was there when I was screaming, but he was on the other side of the door. James doesn’t have a key and the door was locked. If he got in, I don’t know how.

“And that doesn’t make any sense anyway. The kid’s in school. He’d have to be cutting and ditching curfew to show up at the times when I’ve felt spooked.” Goosebumps spring up on my arms. I try to rub them away. Cole steps toward me and pulls me to his chest.

“It’ll be okay. You stay with me,” he kisses my head and holds me.

“Cole, I can’t.” I look up at him, not wanting to mention it. “Sottero wants to take everything you have. If you don’t fight back… you’ll have no home. Besides, whoever this is will just come at me when you aren’t around. I’d file a police report, but what am I supposed to say? I don’t have a description or a name. I don’t have anything.”

Cole looks like I kicked him in the stomach when I mention the lawsuit. He turns from me and sits down at the table. He works his jaw and is quiet for a while. I walk to the kitchen and grab a bottle of wine and open it. After pouring two glasses, I return to the table and offer him one. I chug mine like it’s a shot.

Cole looks at me and I know something’s changed. His back straightens. Cole stands and says, “I need to make a phone call.”

Cole disappears from the room. I hear his voice, but can’t hear his words. I don’t know what he’s doing or who he’s talking to. Tonight was supposed to be a night of passion, a night of sticky sex, and sultry smiles. Instead, I’m spending it recanting how my day went to hell and that some nutjob thinks I’m a whore. I down another glass of wine and lean my head on my hand. In a moment, my body feels warm as the wine works its way through me. The fear that’s been coiled in my throat all day lessens.

Cole reappears and drops his phone on the table. He walks toward me and never takes his eyes off my face. Cole slips his hands around my waist and pulls me to my feet. Running his fingers through my straight hair he says, “I’ll protect you. I promise. Nothing will happen to you.”

I nod. He watches me for a moment and something shifts. I feel safe with him. I know I am. It doesn’t make sense to be so scared and then feel so frisky, but I do. I want him. I want his hands on me. I want him to hold me. I don’t care what kind of kinky stuff he had planned for tonight. I want to show him that I love him. I want things to be soft.

I thread my fingers through his hair. They graze across his cheek as I do, feeling the stubble under my skin. He leans his head toward mine, and I feel his mouth on my lips. Cole kisses me lightly, like I might break. His tongue sweeps across the seam of my lips and I part them for him. The kiss deepens. It becomes hotter and possessive. Cole’s hands slip over my body, pulling me to him, claiming that I’m his.

I moan into his mouth and press my chest against him. His hands are on my back, drifting lower, feeling my curves. When he grabs on tight and pulls me up, I crash into his mouth and the kiss changes. Instead of being light, his tongue strokes my mouth like he’ll die if I pull away. His lips smash down on mine. His fingers tangle in my hair and pull gently, tilting my head back and opening my mouth more. When his lips drift to my neck, I can’t stand. I feel my knees give out and he catches me in his arms.

Without a word, Cole sweeps me up in his arms and carries me to his bed. He places me gently on the covers and looks down at me. “You’re amazing, you know that?”

I smile softly at him. “What happens if I say that I’m not so sure?” I feel uncertain, like my life is spinning out of control. I don’t know who I am any more. I don’t understand why someone is stalking me or what they want, and the red letters burn behind my eyelids every time I blink. I pretend that it didn’t bother me, at least I try, but there’s a twisting inside my stomach that doesn’t quiet. It chokes me. I tangle my fingers together as I look at him.

Cole sees the worry in my eyes. He winks at me and turns away like he’s decided something. Curiosity flames through me and I sit up. Cole takes something from behind his dresser. They’re large prints in a black Le Femme box. “These will change your mind.” His voice is soft.

“What is that?” I cross my leather-clad legs on the bed and sit up. Cole walks back to the bed and sits across from me.

He hands me the box and says, “See for yourself.”

I lift the lid and set it down on the bed next to me. Tissue paper is folded over the contents. I push the thin papers back, parting the thin sheets until I see the photographs. My hand stills as I recognize the model. I glance up at him, “These are from that day…?”

He nods. “Yes, and if there is any doubt in your mind about how incredibly seductive, alluring, or sexual you are after seeing those, well, I’ll just have to take more.” Cole grins wickedly.

I react wrong. I feel it coming and I know it’s the wrong response, but I can’t stop it. Instead of feeling better, tears well up in my eyes and spill down my cheeks. I suck in air so fast that I choke. Cole shifts so that he’s sitting next to me, his gaze rapidly sweeping my face trying to figure out why I’m crying. I hold the picture in my hands, trembling. It’s beautiful. The trail of crystals that draped my body, the way he posed me, the light and shadows…

I rasp in a jagged breath and try to stop acting like a lunatic. “These are beautiful.”

Cole takes his hand and rubs my back as I look at the portrait. He kisses a tear from my cheek and whispers in my ear, “You’re amazing, Anna. You stun me into silence, and it’s not just because of any one thing. It’s you. It’s who you are, everything from your sharp wit, to your amazing eyes, to the way you wear those pants like they’re jeans—which they’re not by the way—you’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.” His eyes are on the side of my face as he speaks. I can’t turn. I’ll explode into a ball of tears. As he says these things, a smile spreads across my face.

I look at one image, and then the next. I say nothing for a while, just gazing at his creations, seeing me how he sees me. The images that were painted with light showcase every curve. The stones glitter in the darkness, giving the impression of my curves that remain unseen. A pale violet light rims my waist and hips, trailing up to my br**sts, and spilling onto my neck. My face is turned toward the light source, and unlike his old work, my eyes are prominent. There’s a look on my face that I wish I could conceal. It makes me feel completely nak*d, as if being stripped wasn’t enough. I feel like he’s captured my soul.

“It’s perfect,” I finally say.

Cole is watching me, his blue gaze never leaving my face. He drinks in the look in my eyes, the way they devour the picture and take in every tiny detail. “So are you.” He leans in and kisses my cheek. It’s a gentle kiss, chaste even.

I smile in response when he pulls away. Glancing at him, I say, “I’m glad we met. I’m glad you interviewed me and not someone else. I’m glad I wore that hideous outfit and insulted you. If I hadn’t, none of this would have happened. I—”

Cole doesn’t let me say anything else. He takes the box from my hands and sets it on the dresser before leaning in and pressing his lips to mine.

The last few times we were together, everything felt hot to the point of combustion. This time it is different. Cole’s kiss is soft and perfect. He makes no attempt to watch me the way he did last time. He stays with me, kissing my mouth like he’s searching for something, like I’m the one he needs, the one he wants. His hands slip over my body, feeling each curve as we lay back on his bed. I reach my arms around his neck and tangle my fingers in his hair, losing myself in the kiss. It’s a good kiss. There’s no other word for it. There are kisses that burn with lust and then there are others that are sweet. This one is both. It burns, but it doesn’t make me crazy. Lust doesn’t surge through my veins, something else does, but I’m not entirely certain what.

I let the kiss linger and Cole is no hurry. His tongue seeks mine, playing, feeling the curves of my mouth. He tastes me like he could never get enough. Cole’s hand lingers at my waist as the other finds my cheek. He brushes the back of his fingers across my jaw and down my neck as the kiss continues. I can barely breathe. My body is warm, yearning for his. I want to take Cole in my arms and never let go. The world around me vanishes. Every worry that occupied my mind disappears until there is only the two of us, lost in this kiss.

Cole slowly moves on top of me, leaning all his weight on one arm. His fingers play in my hair and his other hand slips beneath my shirt. He splays his fingers on my stomach and slides his hand around to the small of my back, pulling me closer to him. I feel the heat of the kiss, the desire building between us. That attraction has always been there, but this is more.

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)