Home > At Peace (The 'Burg #2)(2)

At Peace (The 'Burg #2)(2)
Author: Kristen Ashley

Holy shit, it was Kenzie Elise. Kenzie Elise. Kenzie freaking Elise.

I’d seen nearly all of her movies (except when she started to branch out and do those crappy art house films which made little sense to me or the critics, even though she was doing them trying to become known as a actor rather than a rom com sweetheart and she kind of failed at this endeavor).

I loved her movies, especially the rom coms (the thrillers were pretty good too). I loved her. She was awesome.

But now, with her standing in a crackerbox house, in a crackerbox neighborhood, in a small town in Indiana, I was staring at her in shock.

Kenzie Elise couldn’t be my neighbor. That was impossible.

But there she stood, tall because she was really tall anyway but she was also a step up and she was wearing sky-high, platform stripper shoes with straps that wound up her skinny calves. And skinny they were. She was ripped; every muscle in her body could be seen. As could her breastbone, prominent and, I had to admit, immensely unattractive. I could see all this because she was wearing an emerald-green, lace teddy, deep-cut down her non-existent cle**age, high-cut up her bony hips. She had to be ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty pounds underweight. So skinny, it was a little scary. But she had that trademark mane of wild, long, strawberry blonde hair, cornflower blue eyes and cute-as-a-button face.

And she was standing in the doorway of the house next door, the blue eyes in her big head on her stick-figure body staring down at me.

“Who are you?” she repeated and I jumped, coming out of my trance.

“Um… your neighbor,” I replied. “Could you turn the music down?”

“What?” she shouted but when I was going to respond, her blue eyes left me and looked over my head.

I saw lights flash on the house and I turned around to look too.

A shiny, black, new model Ford pickup truck was turning into the drive.


I turned back to see she was smiling, really pleased about something. Her face had gone soft and knowing in an intimate way that made me feel highly uncomfortable.

From the look of her Daddy was definitely home. I was big time third wheel of this particular party and I needed to get out of there.

“Listen, can you turn the music down?” I asked on a shout but she ignored me, her eyes riveted over my shoulder.

I’d seen the lights go out and now I heard a door slam.

“Excuse me!” I yelled over the music, getting a bit desperate. “I live next door,” I lifted my left arm to point at my house, “and your music is really loud. Can you turn it down?”

“Hi lover,” she purred and how she purred over that music I couldn’t imagine but she did it.

I turned around and froze.

Standing behind me was a man, a big man, big in every way. He was tall, taller even than Tim and Tim had been six foot two. He was also broad; his shoulders in his black leather jacket were wide and unmistakably powerful.

And he’d been beautiful, once. It was plain to see, under what he was now, that his features had once been perfect, high cheekbones, an appealingly sharp slant to his square jaw, a strong brow. Now there were lines coming in arrays from his eyes and more around the sides of his frowning, full lips.

And there were also scars down his left cheek, two from about a quarter of an inch under his eye that curved over his high cheekbone coming closer together and ending where, if he had a dimple, his dimple would be. These scars were not puckered or disfiguring outside of the actual marks. They just marred the faultless male beauty that had once been his face, making it, with the addition of the lines, rugged and interesting and more than a little scary.

All of this, with his dark, unruly, way overlong hair, was enough to make him look sinister in a compelling, magnetic way.

And then there were his eyes. Sky blue eyes. Sky. Fucking. Blue.

Kate and Keira had their father’s gray-blue eyes, striking as they were framed with Tim’s long, dark lashes. I’d never seen eyes as beautiful, as striking, as breathtaking as Tim, Kate and Keira’s.

Until now.

He was using those eyes and that rugged face to glower at a point beyond me. Actually glower. And he was doing this in a way that I felt a chill glide down my spine. He scared me so deeply, being so dark, so scarred, so huge, so obviously furious that I was rooted to the spot. I couldn’t move even though I really wanted to.

Then he moved. He strode forward right by me and automatically, as if compelled to do so by the sheer force of his aura, I turned as he walked passed. I watched as he planted a big hand in Kenzie Elise’s emaciated breastbone and he pushed her off.

My mouth dropped open as she flew back on her platform stripper shoes, her arms flying out to the sides to find purchase as she wheeled backwards. There was nothing to grab onto and she tripped gracelessly off the side of her shoe but righted herself before going down.

I stared, unable to do anything else. It was like watching a hideous accident caught on film and aired on television. You didn’t want to see but you had no choice but to watch because, no matter how your brain screamed at you to do it, you couldn’t tear your eyes away.

Without stopping he stalked into the house and disappeared. Then the music abruptly stopped.

“Cal –” Kenzie Elise started, her hands lifted, placating.

“Shut the f**k up,” I heard his growl, his voice low, deep, rumbling and as sinister as his appearance. I heard it but I didn’t see him and Kenzie’s back was turned to me. He was still out of eyesight but, wherever he was, she was watching him.

All of a sudden I realized my goal had been attained. The music had stopped. Therefore it was time to go home and let this domestic situation play out without an audience.

I turned to leave but heard his voice again.


Stupidly, I looked into the house to see his eyes on me.

“I –” I began to make my explanations that I was going to go home but he came at me and I stared as he did. His powerful body was moving in my direction and I was caught, seeing the danger but somehow my limbs were useless even though my brain screamed at them to move.

Faster than it seemed possible, he was right in my space, his big hand was wrapped around my upper arm and he pulled me into the house. This didn’t hurt, not his hand on me or him dragging me into the house and it probably didn’t because I didn’t struggle and I didn’t struggle because I knew this man could break me like a twig.

So I found myself standing in my next door neighbor’s house, me in hot pink daisy wellingtons, a nightie and Tim’s robe; my neighbor in faded jeans, black motorcycle boots, a black t-shirt and a black leather jacket; and Hollywood movie star Kenzie Elise in a barely there, emerald green, lace teddy and platform stripper shoes.

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