?中文字幕乱码免费_TYOD-017我在女寝室的乱欲生活 - 第8页

Shutdown (Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter #0) The Hero (Thunder Point #3)

He answered by rolling over in the water and showing me his pale belly that sported a two-foot long gash created by Nikolas’s sword. Blood still seeped from the wound that looked painful and deep.

I had never seen Stone completely vulnerable until that moment. He wasn’t hiding his emotion behind his hard façade. He was letting me see it all. I moved, unable to keep my distance. I walked right into his arms and we stood like that while silent tears ran down my cheeks. His warmth, security, and scent made all the pain from the past two days vanish. Without knowing the entire story, I knew I loved him. I would love him no matter the cost. That was powerful. Nothing had ever owned me that way. I don’t know if Wills is my son, he said quietly as his chin rested on my head and his arms held me against his chest. His heart was beating rapidly. I held on tighter giving him my reassurance as he talked. I was sixteen when he was born. Underage. Gilda was married to my dad. Legally that made the child she was carrying his. Without a paternity test, there was no question. I begged her. He paused and his shoulders tensed. I fucking pleaded with her to allow a paternity test. She refused claiming the boy wasn’t mine. We’d used condoms. There had been a condom break once and the timing lined up too closely. I knew if I told my father there was a good chance he’d send her to get a quiet abortion. If he thought for a second that the child wasn’t his, Hilda would likely face a severe beating and then it would be my turn. I wasn’t worried about what he would do to me. I didn’t trust him not to force her to get an abortion. I couldn’t tell him. I had no power or leverage in the situation. My chest felt like it was going to explode from the pain that dripped from his words, knowing the fear he had felt, the unknown he now lived with. Having a child and not know if it’s yours was pain I couldn’t begin to imagine. The day I turned eighteen, I went to Hilda again. I begged her to have a paternity test on Wills. She refused. The older he got, I saw my face when I looked at him. Not my father. Me. He has my eyes—my mother’s eyes. The next year, he divorced Hilda and married a model he had met at a charity event. She was twenty-two. The prenup had covered children. Wills would stay with my father. Hilda didn’t try to fight for him for fear my father would make her life hell. She got scared from his threats and left Wills there. With my father . . . the monster. I began searching for a lawyer that was powerful enough and not scared of my father. I’ve finally found one. We are slowly working through how to handle this. I don’t want Wills hurt by my father. I have to find out if he is mine carefully. Which is what I am currently doing. He paused, lost in thought. I’ve told no one about my plight to know Wills’ paternity. Not even Jasper. You are the only person that knows. The answer is yes, Beulah, I have secrets. Fucking nightmares that I kept to myself. Because it wasn’t the right time to tell you I might be in a court battle soon that will make the news. My face will be all over the media if this continues. Nothing will be a secret anymore. My hands were fisted in his shirt as I’d listened to his story. The horror of what he’d lived broke my heart. I wanted to hold him until it all went away. There was no way I could help him. He was facing something that no man should ever face. If Wills was his son, he’d have more pain knowing he’d missed all that time. Even if Wills is my brother, living with that man isn’t a life I want for him. I’ve loved him from the moment I met him. Hilda was resting when she got home from the hospital. I went to the nursery and held him. I realized that regardless of who his real father was, he was my blood. My family. And I wanted him safe from the man who had made my childhood a living hell. His hands moved to my arms and he gently pushed me away from him so he could see my face. I have to fight for him. It may be years of a court battle that consumes my time. I’ll have to be in New York more and more. He leaned closer to me. You weren’t supposed to happen. I never thought that we would be here, but we are. I brought you into my life. You own me. That doesn’t mean I won’t fight for Wills. I can’t let that go now. But I also know I can’t expect you to stay with me through this. You have Heidi and she needs you close by. It’s a lot to take in. I don’t need an answer now. We have time. I had somehow lost track of this conversation. He suddenly made no sense. What answer? I asked. He brushed his thumb over my cheek. If you want to continue this with me. Knowing soon my life will become complete chaos. I didn’t need time to think about that. Do you honestly think that I would need to take time to decide to stay with you? I asked incredulously. There is no question, Stone. I love you. I admire your perseverance to fight for Wills. And I will be here through it all. When you need to vent, scream, or sit in complete silence. I’m not going anywhere. That’s not what love is. His shoulders rose and fell with a deep breath. Thank God, he whispered. Then his hands cupped my face and he kissed me. The kiss wasn’t wild and crazed, it was one of relief and tenderness. I pressed closer to him wanting to comfort him any way I could. If I could take it all away from him I would. He’d been betrayed from those that were supposed to love him since birth. His father, mother, and now Jasper. Knowing Jasper had so openly accused Stone of something he wasn’t sure of to hurt him turned my stomach. Jasper was a disappointment. He wasn’t the man I thought he was. What he had done to Stone was very Portia-like and that made me sad. He’d been more affected by his parents than he realized. And I had been so swept away by his good looks and prince charming ways that I missed all of that. My thoughts went to Stone. Was I missing something that also dwelled deep inside him? If so, I would accept it. I had no choice. My heart was his. Stone I EASED OUT OF BED where Beulah lay sound asleep. She hadn’t moved in over an hour. My eyes had remained open and staring at the ceiling. Not wanting to wake her with my restlessness, I decided that getting up was the best idea. Holding her after our lovemaking had been reassuring. She wasn’t gone. She wasn’t leaving me. Telling her the truth had been hard. It was a secret I’d held close for so long that sharing it with someone was a huge step for me. I’d debated telling her, knowing deep down she’d stay with me no matter what. I had also known I could trust her. Even if she chose to leave me she’d never share my secret. For the first time in my life I had someone who was there for me. Someone I could lean on, share things with, and know they were by my side. The moment I saw the doubt in her eyes, I cracked. I couldn’t handle that she trusted Jasper. I had to get away so I could work through it without her there, tearing me apart with her pleading eyes. I never told Jasper about Hilda. He had been there when Hilda acted inappropriately around me though. Once he had asked if I was banging my stepmom. I’d scowled at him in disgust. The moment she’d become my stepmother it was over. Not that she didn’t try to change that. After Wills was born she got worse. When he was only four months old, she came looking for Jasper and me downstairs. Wearing nothing, she had made it very clear that she wanted us both. At the same time. Jasper’s eyes had bugged out of his head. He’d played with her tits that were still massive from the milk. My father required she nurse Wills for at least six months. She hadn’t wanted to. That didn’t stop her from showing me her swollen breasts more than once in her attempt to get me to have sex with her. Jasper was mesmerized. He was begging me to touch her. When he put his mouth on her nipple to try her milk like she suggested I told her to leave.Instead, Hilda had straddled Jasper’s lap. He was ready to fuck her right there with no concern for his life if my father came downstairs. He had told me I needed to taste her which disgusted me. She was possibly the mother of my son and she tried to get two sixteen-year-old boys to have sex with her while a nanny took care of Wills. I had to stand, point at the door to the stairs and threaten if she didn’t get her ass out of the room that I would call my father. That worked—Jasper didn’t want anything to do with my father’s temper and Hilda had all but run out of there. Later that night, Jasper asked me if I’d fucked her before. I told him I hadn’t. I wasn’t admitting that to him or anyone. He didn’t ask me about Wills until he turned two years old. Wills looked exactly like me. It wasn’t obvious or abnormal to anyone else because we were half-brothers. However, my father’s unsaid accusations were obvious. He would glare at me and I knew he wondered. Hilda soon became another ex-wife and my father’s newest girlfriend was even younger—only a few years older than me. According to the prenup, Hilda had signed without even reading it, Wills was to remain with my father. She could have fought him in court. She was his mother and the prenup was ridiculous. She never debated and left her son there. She rarely even sees him to this day on her designated weekends. Wills was living my life and I hated it. I didn’t want that for my son. Wills didn’t have a Geraldine to come along to fill in the loneliness and isolation. He had a stepmother who acted as if he was a hindrance. She never wanted him around and swore she wasn’t having kids. The idea of her stomach being anything but flat was unacceptable to her. I grabbed Wills’ photo album from my closet and took it with me to the living room to look over his photos. I’d taken him to the Central Park Zoo and a movie while I was in Manhattan. He’d talked nonstop about his new school and his new friend George. I listened as he shared every aspect of his life with me. I understood his babbling. When Geraldine would take care of me as a child, I talked to her like this. I had needed someone to listen about my life and to care. When I dropped him off later that day, he’d held my neck tightly and told me he loved me. The hunger to be loved and wanted was so familiar to me. I’d been that child once. Taking him and running was so damn tempting. But I knew my father would have Wills within hours and I’d be thrown in jail. I had to fight my father the right way. I had to be smart. And if Wills wasn’t my child, I had to find a way to save him anyway. A life with my father would ruin him. I didn’t want him to be like me—hard, cold, unable to trust. He still had joy in his eyes, they held hope for more. That would eventually get beat out of him and I had to save him before that happened. If he was mine, I would never be able to forgive myself for leaving him. Even though I had been a victim. I was just a fifteen-year-old boy that succumbed to a thirty-year-old woman sucking his dick and offering sex to him. It had been a mistake that possibly made me responsible for bringing a life into this world, only to hand him off to a life of hell. I didn’t regret Wills’ life. He was a great kid, but the circumstances he’d been born into could very likely be my fault. When you’re fifteen, you don’t think about the circumstances that might result from your actions. I had been horny and in lust with Hilda. She was the adult and her actions should have concerned her, but she hadn’t cared. She only wanted what made her feel good. It was always about her and what she wanted. Wills suffered because of that. I had cursed myself thousands of times over the years for being so damn thoughtless. Berating myself wouldn’t change anything. What had been done was done. I had to save him now. My whiskey wasn’t gone, but it was low. Shay had left a few glasses in the bottle. I poured one and walked out to the balcony. The night air was warm as I looked out into the darkness. Wills had never been to Savannah. I’d never been allowed to take him outside of Manhattan. He’d like it here. I’d made a list of things I wanted to take him to see. I’d told him about the city more than once. He would listen with his eyes wide with wonder. The door behind me opened, and I turned to see Beulah walking out in nothing but the shirt I had been wearing earlier. Are you okay? She yawned and her hair was messy from sleep. When she was near me, I was okay. Touching her, being near her, it always helped. She made me forget for a moment. She reminded me of happiness. She showed me that life could be bright. I set my drink down and held a hand out to her. She slipped her hand in mine and I pulled her toward me. She came willingly. Without saying anything I moved her to face the railing and then slipped my hands up her hips to find her naked underneath the shirt. Without direction, she widened her stance and put her hands on the iron railing in front of her and lifted her bottom up. Rubbing my hand from her backside to the front, my fingers dove into her wetness. Her body responded to my touch with a jerk and she moaned. Playing with her for only a moment, I watched her wiggle and squirm. The sounds she made and how she felt as I commanded her with my hand had me so damn hard I couldn’t take anymore. I pulled my erection from my boxers I guided it to her open warmth that waited for me. Her loud cry as I entered her hard and swift was exciting. Taking her outside with her sounds of pleasure echoing in the night around us, I lost myself with each thrust. She was what fixed me. She was what would be my healing. Beulah WAKING UP ALONE IN STONE’S bed after the past couple of days had caused me to panic. Finding him alone on the balcony with a glass of whiskey made him appear so vulnerable. Now that I knew his secrets I understood how deep his pain went. It wasn’t just a childhood of mental and physical abuse. There was more, so much more. As the night breeze warmed my skin, I let go of my inhibitions. I wanted to be whatever Stone needed. If giving myself to him out here in the open gave him relief, I would do it without hesitation. With each thrust he filled me, and slowly our actions had become a basic instinct. My body hummed with pleasure and the promise of release. I gripped the railing and my head dropped between my shoulders as I let the thrill of such a carnal exhibition wash over me. I didn’t care if we are seen. I only cared about climbing for that apex. The moment the world would fall off balance and I’d go with it. Stone’s hands ran down my body and his fingers bit into the flesh of my thighs. Although it stung it caused me to buzz with desperation. I heard myself beg him. It was as if I were standing back watching us. He had torn his shirt from my body leaving me completely naked and bent over in front of him. My legs were spread wide and my face was a mirror of the passion as he drove into me relentlessly. I missed this. His voice was hoarse and strained. You can fucking beg all you want, but I won’t give you what you want until I’m ready. I whimpered and bounced back against his pelvis. My bottom slapping him where we came together. That’s it, he encouraged me. Keep giving me that pussy. He leaned over and his hands slid down my chest until he was squeezing my breasts, feeling the heavy weight of them. He squeezed tightly and I moaned with pleasure. The sensitive tips pressed against his palms while his harsh breaths hit the back of my neck. I want to feel you come on my dick, he said close to my ear. Then when you’ve got all you can handle I’ll pull out and cover your ass with my come.

Craved (Gwen Sparks #1)

I shook as the image he painted propelled me closer to the edge. Yes. I panted wildly. You want that? he asked as his hands continued to pump and tease my breasts. Please. I was begging again. I’m so damn close. Come for me, baby. His deep voice was tense. As if holding back was painful. His hands grabbed my hips and he slammed into me hard while I launched over the crest I’d been promised. Grabbing the rail to keep from falling I called out his name over and over. My knees buckled, but his hands kept my bottom up. Just as I began to slowly come down he pulled back roughly with a loud growl and the warmth of his release covered my backside. Fuuuuck! was the only other word he spoke as he spasmed behind me. His hips jerking and his legs pressed against mine causing my already pleasured parts to start tingling again. I wanted to see him like this. Undone and free. His arms wrapped around me right before I was lifted into his arms. He carried me back inside and closed the door behind us. I looked up at him. The angles of his face didn’t seem as harsh as they had earlier. I had done that. My chest felt warm with the thought. He carried me into his room and straight into his en suite. The massive shower had no door. I prepared for the cold water to hit me when he reached forward to turn the water on, but he held me back a moment. Before I thought it possible, he stepped under the warm water and let it cascade over both of us. I was gently lowered until my feet touched the tile. Water ran over our bodies and I stood there looking up at him. Emotion set in at the reality that this was mine. I hadn’t lost him. Moving on and finding a way to live without Stone wasn’t going to be something I had to face. He was here. I’m going to bathe you and try not to fuck you in the process, he said simply. I perked up at that one word. But only nodded. He reached for body wash and poured it into his hand before creating lather. He proceeded to massage the suds into my arms, stomach, breasts, and my back. I had to close my eyes to keep from getting worked up. Although I couldn’t see him, it didn’t help when his hands were moving between my legs. I couldn’t restrain the small cry that resulted from his touch. The sound I made caused him to pause. I widened my stance and he began again. I rocked my hips against his hand as it slid between my legs. He held his hand and fingers there, not moving. I took advantage of his fingers, rubbing my aroused sex until I had to grab onto his arms from the euphoria. I was so close when he pulled his hand away to lift and press me against the shower wall. He entered me before letting me slide back down and I sighed with relief. This was what I wanted. More? I can’t give you enough, can I? His tone was excited. Never enough, I agreed readily. He didn’t move faster. Instead, he moved slowly inside me. Our eyes locked as he brought us closer and closer to the peak we both hungered for. I want to come inside you so goddamn bad, but I won’t. We can’t tempt fate again. He was strained, fighting his ache. The idea of locking my legs around him and holding him inside me was there in my thoughts. But I knew I wouldn’t. We couldn’t continue to do that as amazing as it felt. He lowered his head until his forehead touched mine and I felt the slight tremble of his body. I let go, sobbing his name as I reached my orgasm. He held my tightly and I shook again and again unable to stop wave after wave that came over me. Just when I thought I’d pass out, he pulled out of me and shouted as his warm semen shot against my thigh. We stood there, both in a daze. The water was hitting our skin while our breathing slowly returning to normal. Neither of us moved. I didn’t want to let go of him. I also didn’t think I had the energy to walk. I was blissfully drained. The intensity from the past couple of hours had zapped me of all I had. It was beautiful. It was perfect. When Stone finally moved, it was to continue washing me. His hand was quick this time when he slid it between my legs. He didn’t dwell too long on any sensitive area. I smiled with my eyes still closed. The water cut off and he wrapped a thick towel around me. I held it tightly as I followed him out of the shower. A towel hung on his hips and his hair was still damp. Water was dripping from mine. None of that mattered. All I wanted was the bed and several hours of sleep. I was ready to relax. Stone held back the covers and I climbed inside the bed. His body came in behind me and held me against him as I quickly fell into a deep restful sleep. Stone SCANNING THE RESTAURANT, I FOUND her easily enough. Hilda hadn’t changed much over the past six years since Wills’ birth. Men still turned their heads to watch as she passed. The excitement for life, however, was now void in her eyes. Coldness had taken the place of the once youthful gleam that had resided there. A reality that living with my father would do to anyone. My mother also had the same hardness in her gaze, although I’d never known what she was like before my father ruined her. Walking toward Hilda, I feared this conversation would end the way the last few had. My lawyer was adamant that I attempt to get her to work with us one more time. I was done dealing with her, but I needed her cooperation to fight what was to come. She lifted her gaze and a tight smile touched her red lips before she took a sip of her champagne. This meeting had taken me several calls to arrange. Hilda was currently living in Chicago as a congressman’s mistress. The diamonds on her ears and the ones dangling from her wrist told me he was keeping her happy. Taking the chair across from her, I sat down. Winston, she said in acknowledgment. Hello, Hilda. I would like to say that it’s nice to see you, but we both know that’s a lie. Her smile was gone replaced with a smirk. Thanks for agreeing to meet me. It’s important. She shrugged. It’s pointless, Winston. You know it is. Why you keep battling this, I don’t know. It’s a waste of your time and money. He’ll never give Wills up. I didn’t expect him to. But if Wills was mine, I would take him. Life with my father is a living hell for anyone. You know that. How can you so easily accept the fact he has Wills? As a mother, don’t you want to protect him? I asked this knowing the answer already. Hilda was selfish. She only cared about her plans. Wills wasn’t included in those plans. I didn’t want to be a mother, Winston. You know that. I wasn’t cut out to be a mother. I’m not the motherly type. I grimaced. She sounded so much like my mother. The damage Wills had already suffered because of her and my father would be hard to repair. Every day he spent in that house, it only grew worse. I didn’t want him to have my life. He deserved more. Obviously. She looked at me with a bored expression and continued drinking her champagne. When was the last time you saw Wills? I asked. She frowned. I think in April, maybe? Wills had told me it was February since she’d last visited him. She’d patted his head and talked on her phone the entire visit. I wanted him to talk about how she treated him and how it made him feel. My hope was having him face it would keep him from withdrawing and letting the bitterness darken him. As it had me. You don’t care what happens to him. You’ve made that clear. But I do. Even if he’s my brother I don’t want him to grow up the way I did. I’ve got to save him.She lifted her left shoulder slightly. You turned out just fine. Successful. Happy. I laughed. My laugh held no amusement but disgust. She honestly thought I had turned out fine. Because I had been successful? The shallowness that consumed this woman was hard to be around. I didn’t want to talk to her. If I could do this without her I would. But she was Wills’ mother. Success doesn’t equal happiness, Hilda. She raised her eyebrows as if what I’d said was ridiculous. Winston, you have never wanted for anything. Not once. I was cold in the winter, I went to bed hungry every night, and my clothes were either made by my mother or they were found in trash bins, thrown out by others. I lived in poverty. I watched my mother die from a cough that eventually consumed her in a cold, little one-bedroom shack. That is real fucking life. What Wills has is everything I didn’t. I love my son and I know that he has more than I ever imagined having. I’d never known anything about Hilda’s youth or family. And although that was a sad story I still asked, Did your mother try to keep you warm? Did she beat you or call you names to belittle you? Did she take care of you when you were sick? Did she love you? I stopped and waited for her to respond. Hilda tensed and I watched as she took a deep breath through her nose. I’d hit a nerve. She finally gave me a tight nod. That was it. Yes, she beat you? Or yes, she took care of you the best she could? She loved you? Hilda cut her eyes away from me. She did the best she could. Did you feel loved? I repeated. There was no response for several seconds. When Hilda finally turned her gaze back to me she said, Yes. But love didn’t feed me or keep me warm. Love didn’t give me a fortune. She was right about one thing. I’d never been cold or hungry. A child needs love just as much as they need warmth and food. The lack of love damages you. I want Wills to feel loved. I don’t want him hiding for fear his father will get angry with him and use his fists. That fear never goes away, even as an adult that can easily handle himself. It’s there in your nightmares reminding you that you were weak once. You were alone. Hilda sighed and took the napkin from her lap and placed it on the table in front of her before she stood up. I can’t keep doing this with you. We are not going to agree on what is best for Wills. If he’s your son, I know he’ll have just as much advantage in this world than if he is your father’s son. Do whatever you think you must. But leave me out of it. I gave Wills up before he was born. That pre-nup made sure of it. Hilda picked up her purse and tucked it under her arm. I swabbed the inside of his mouth while he slept during my last visit. I’ll know If he is my son or my brother soon, I told her. If he is, I will fight for him. If he isn’t, I will still fight. If you won’t, I will. She gave a nod. Like I said, do what you think you must. Goodbye, Winston. I sat there as she walked away. I’d flown to Chicago hoping I could persuade her to stand with me in court. Having Wills’ mother there testifying against my father would be huge. However, I knew that was a long shot. Hilda hadn’t been cooperative any of the other times I’d tried to get her with Wills. Even after she’d been on the receiving end of my father’s fist. She knew how brutal he could be. Standing, I laid money to cover the check on the table and left. This was my last chance to get her on board before I moved forward either way. I would know tomorrow, if not sooner. They’d assured me the express test would take no longer than seventy-two hours. If Wills was my son, I’d probably never forgive myself for not saving him sooner. The pain of that reality would haunt me. Forever. Beulah A SHORT NOTE. THAT WAS all I had from Stone. All it said was, I’ll be home late. Nothing more. No reason why. He hadn’t even added an I love you. Maybe it was girly of me to thinking that, but I hadn’t heard from him all day. And I get home and find that note. I hadn’t eaten dinner with Geraldine thinking I would cook something for us tonight. We could have a nice meal together and talk about our day. I wanted to be there for him to discuss what his next steps were with Wills. Nope. I was alone. With no information other than he would be home late. Sitting in the kitchen, I ate a bowl of chicken noodle soup I had found in the pantry and heated up. There was nothing appetizing about canned noodle soup, but I wasn’t going to cook just for me. The saltine crackers helped the taste somewhat. My plans to make spinach and chicken gnocchi for a nice dinner were now gone. The apartment was quiet. I’d been here with it empty except for me more than I had been here with Stone. At least it seemed that way. I was being whiny. I knew my roaming thoughts were unreasonable, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself. Life with Stone was never going to be predictable or normal. I shouldn’t expect it to be. Especially now. He had a lot on his shoulders. More than I could imagine. I had to be his support not another responsibility—he didn’t need that. Pausing mid-bite, the soup suddenly smelled funny. My mood was more than likely the cause. I stood up and walked to the sink to dump the soup, washed it down the sink disposal. A bath sounded nice. I would do that while I waited on Stone. Eating wasn’t enjoyable. After I washed my bowl and put it away, I headed to the room I had been sleeping in and decided I would use that bathroom. It felt weird going into Stone’s bedroom and personal space without him here. This wasn’t my home. I was referring to it as if it were, but this was Stone’s home, not mine. I didn’t have a home. Stopping to look at myself in the mirror, I wondered if I should think about getting a place of my own. Stone had never mentioned that he wanted me to live with him permanently. We were . . . we were a couple. But that didn’t mean he planned on us living under the same roof. Feeling displaced was normal for me, but it didn’t make it feel less lonely. It made me miss my mother and our home. Would she approve of Stone? I hadn’t thought of that. I’d been so wrapped up in how he made me feel that I didn’t stop and think about what my mother would have done in this situation. I had never seen her date or get serious with a man. Heidi and I had been her center. Her world. Had she ever been lonely? As a mother of two girls with no help, having a life outside of us had to be incredibly hard. She had no one to lean on, no support. Once again, I was reminded of how tough my mother was. She was strong. She had raised me to believe in myself and to never depend on someone else. She’d taught me to change a tire, fix a lawn mower, climb a ladder to check the roof, and never think I needed a man for anything. And here I was feeling lonely without a man. I was vulnerable where I had been raised never to put myself in this situation. The man who donated part of my DNA never came around. He never asked about me. Never helped her once. And I never heard her complain, mention him, or blame him for the difficulties I know she had to face. It was as if he never existed. I walked into the bathroom and turned on the water for my bath. I would never be as tough as my mother. I could blame that on the unknown man who helped give me life. He was weak. Maybe that was where this emotional outcry was coming from. With a sigh, I took off my clothing and stepped into the warm water. My head was all over the place. My emotions abnormally raw. It wasn’t like me to worry and get worked up so easily. Stone has a job. He can’t be expected to be here with me all the time. That was silly and I needed to get over myself.Lying back, I closed my eyes and enjoyed the warmth of the water. My body was tired and my thoughts quickly began to ease and drift. Drowsily, I realized I was beginning to dream and forced my eyes open. I’d never gone to sleep in the bath before. Last nights events must be catching up to me. My lack of sleep could also be contributed to my emotions. I sat up and started to wash my body deciding I needed to get some sleep before Stone got home. If he wanted a repeat of last night, I was on board. However, in order to keep up with him I needed sleep. At the thought of grabbing a nap, I yawned and my eyes watered. Jeez, I was tired. I quickly finished and dried my body with a towel. I felt so out of sorts. Reasons for my off behavior ran through my head. I smiled when I realized it was probably time for my period. I paused and did the math in my head but it didn’t seem right. Thinking harder I counted the days but once again it was wrong. It couldn’t have been thirty-six days since my last period. I was a twenty-eight days on the mark girl. Never a day early or late. My heart began to thud more rapidly in my chest. I wrapped the towel around me and searched for my phone. I needed to see my phone calendar because I had marked down the first day of my last period. I always marked the calendar so I knew when to expect my next one. Each step I took to my phone, my mind began assaulting me with what ifs I tried to slap away and push back. When I grabbed my phone, my hand was trembling. I was shaking as I unlocked the screen and scrolled for the calendar app. There was a moment of pause before I clicked it. I wasn’t sure I wanted to see. I wasn’t sure I was ready if I wasn’t wrong. Too much would be in the balance. I began to sweat as I lowered my thumb to press the small calendar app and it opened in front of me. I closed my eyes and whispered a brief please no to God or whoever was out there listening. With the panic causing my blood to pound through my veins so loudly I could hear it in my ears, I opened my eyes. The moment they focused and I studied the dates in front of me, I knew. I don’t know when I sat down. The floor had to be cold, but I didn’t notice. My knees buckled and I went down like a tree falling. I was sitting on the floor staring at the phone in my hand. My mind was racing and my heart was beating so rapidly that my breathing became erratic. All I could think about was a little boy who needed saving from a monster. Stone was facing the hardest battle of his life. The darkness from his past clawed away at his mind so much it haunted him. He was ready to save that little boy. This was not what he needed. It was bad timing—the worst. We had both known. When we chose to get lost in the pleasure, take a chance, we had been aware that this could happen. I hadn’t thought about the consequences, and as the truth sank in, I wasn’t thinking about them now. I dropped my phone into my lap and touched my stomach with both hands. If there was a child inside, if we had created a life, I would love and cherish it. I’d never let my child believe I hadn’t wanted it or that it hadn’t been planned. I wasn’t sure I could stay here. My trust in Stone wasn’t as strong as I thought it was. At this moment, I couldn’t say with certainty that I trusted him to want . . . this baby. Stone I DIDN’T WAKE BEULAH WHEN I finally got home. I hadn’t planned on being so late, but my flight had been delayed for three hours. When I walked in at midnight, she was curled up in the bed in the room I’d given her instead of mine. I didn’t want to risk moving and waking her, so I had climbed into bed with her. In her sleep, she had curled up against me and mumbled something I didn’t understand. She would expect an explanation this morning. As well she should. I had planned on recapping my evening when I arrived home. However, the flight delay kept me from that conversation until this morning. The coffee perked and the smell filled the kitchen as I watched the sun slowly rise through the windows. It was something I was accustomed to. Standing in a kitchen, drinking my coffee as the sun comes up. The difference was I had a woman I loved in bed. I should be in bed with her still. My eyes had barely closed all night. Instead, I was going through all the different scenarios that could transpire when the results from the DNA test came back. From the moment Wills came home from the hospital, he had felt like my sibling. But I’d always felt the weight on my shoulders that he could be my child. The reality I was forced to accept was that Hilda had decided my father would be Wills’ father. Even after he beat her ass when she’d confronted him about sleeping with the college-aged daughter of one of his clients. The designer clothing line that filled our stores should have been more important than a fucking vagina. Virginia was as empty-headed as a spoiled heiress could be, but my father hadn’t been able to keep his hands off her. Now she was my stepmother. Hilda was thirty-seven and as far as my father was concerned she was over the hill. I’d hoped she would at least seek revenge when he had divorced her. She hadn’t. She’d taken his threats to heart and given up on being a mother to Wills. Disgusted with my train of thought, I grabbed a cup more aggressively than needed and poured my first cup of coffee. I couldn’t change Hilda. I couldn’t rewind to before I had slept with her. That was done. And Wills was here. What time did you get home? Beulah’s voice was still raspy from sleep. I’d been so wrapped up in my thoughts I hadn’t heard her in the kitchen behind me. That wasn’t like me. I was normally very attune to everything around me. I turned to see her standing there in her faded and worn pink pajamas. Her mother had given them to her and she wore them for security. I realized she must have needed them last night and I knew it was my fault. I sat my cup down and walked to her. Midnight. I didn’t realize it would be so late or I would have called. She didn’t relax. There was tension in her shoulders. As if she needed to protect herself. I slid a hand around her waist and pulled her to me before pressing a kiss to the top of her head. Still the stiffness remained. I went to see Hilda. My flight was delayed three hours. I expected to be home by nine. I was going to tell you all about when I came home, but that wasn’t how it went. She tilted her head back and gazed up at me. Is she going to help? Although her body remained tense she was truly concerned. Her eyes were so damn expressive she didn’t need to speak for me to know what she was thinking. No, I replied. She’s not. Beulah sighed and her frown deepened. I’m sorry. Me too. I didn’t expect her to but I had to try one more time. What are you going to do? I was waiting on the DNA results. I thought I knew what I’d do next but I also wasn’t sure exactly how I would react if I was told Wills was my son. I couldn’t leave him with my father another day. Knowing that taking him would be the worst move where my father was concerned, I feared I had to find another way to carry out my plan. I want to say I know this answer, but I don’t. I will have to wait and see. When will you know? Any day. Possibly today. Beulah laid her head on my chest for a moment. Something was still bothering her. But she was holding it close. Not wanting to say anything, I would give her time to tell me what was on her mind on her own. If she didn’t come out with it soon, I’d push until she told me.

The Ever After of Ella and Micha (The Secret #4)

What’s for breakfast? She rubbed her hands together as she walked over to the coffee pot. I’d made coffee earlier hoping to coax her out of her memories. I repeated the proposed menu. Oh, yum. I love that. It’s my favorite. And my tomatoes are exceptional this year. I think it’s the beer I used on them. I read about it on Pinterest. Do you ever go on Pinterest? It’ll suck you in with its brilliant ideas. I’d heard of Pinterest but couldn’t say I’d browsed through the photos and ideas there. No, but I know it’s popular. It’s bloody brilliant, she repeated with enthusiasm. I bet you could find great ideas for cleaning, recipes, and the like. We should pull out my computer today and look at it together. Okay. I was grateful for something else to occupy my mind. I was desperate for anything. My friend, Beatrice, brought me some peppermint tea that I love. It can only be bought in England. I’ve tried a million different kinds here, but nothing compares. I even ordered some offline but it’s not the same. This tea—she held up a mesh bag of tea leaves—is perfection. Something about the motherland I guess. The British know their tea. We just know our Starbucks. She sounded a bit disappointed. I knew she missed England. I thought it was because of her fond memories of her British friends that were gone from this world and of England that her mind always wandered back to that period. Do you want me to make you some tea to go with your breakfast? I asked. She shook her head. Oh no. This is for tea time. It’s British, darling. We need to have it at three. She was teasing me, but then she was also serious. I poured her a cup of coffee instead. She had French coffee. As she swore by British tea, she also swore that the French were the coffee experts. I had to agree the coffee she had was amazing. There was nothing like it anywhere else. Where is my boy today? Haven’t seen him in week. She changed the subject ever-so-subtly. He’s dealing with work issues. I didn’t know how much she knew about Wills. I didn’t want to be the one to tell her the story. It was Stone’s to tell. Geraldine took the cup of coffee I handed her and her lips pursed slightly. He’s going to fight him, isn’t he? I wasn’t sure what to say here. I remained silent. She let out a breath and tapped her fingertip on the counter. I guess it’s time. That child can’t last the way Stone did. He’s not as tough. She walked toward the doors leading to the patio and said nothing more. I wondered what she knew. And if he had told her about Wills or she had just figured it out herself. Again, I glanced down at my stomach and worried she may figure out my secret. What would I do if she did? Stone I MADE IT HOME BEFORE Beulah. Relieved after not seeing her car parked, I took my time getting my paperwork together and made my way toward the entrance of the building. I didn’t want her to arrive home without me here again today. She seemed vulnerable last night and I wasn’t sure why. It felt like she was going to bolt at any moment but couldn’t make herself. With everything I had going on, I needed to make sure I found time for her too. I couldn’t always expect her to be there for me and not reciprocate. A car pulled up as I was unlocking the front door of my building and I turned to see it was a white Lexus. Whoever it was parked directly in front of me. I knew that Lexus didn’t belong to anyone who lived here. Lifting my hand, I shaded my eyes from the sun to see who it was. Unfortunately, the tint on the windows hindered my view. The driver’s door swung open and Hilda stepped out of the car. Hope, dread, and anxiety rushed through me at the sight of her. I wasn’t dumb enough to think she had a complete change of heart after I had left her in Chicago yesterday. Her showing up here meant something though. I wanted to believe it was to help her son. I knew I was setting myself up for disappointment. She flipped her sunglasses up on top of her head and made her way toward me. Each step she drew closer I wanted to ask why she was here. Instead, I waited. I’d asked, begged, and done all I could to help her. It was far-fetched to think she was here for my help now. When she was only a few feet away from me she stopped. I called Wills to tell him I had to change my plans and he started crying. Your father has given him a real beating because he asked to come visit you. She paused and my hands clenched at my sides. I’d hoped Wills would escape that. My plan was to get him away before my father thought he was old enough to hit. That day had come too soon. I won’t let him hurt Wills. He’s a kind child. I’m ready to help. He needs free of that bastard. Jumping on the first plane to New York to take Wills away was my first instinct. I knew I couldn’t do that yet. I had to wait until I had all the facts straight. Messing up by letting my emotions control me would give my father the upper hand. Come inside. I turned and opened the door. Hilda followed me inside and we walked in silence up the stairs. I used every technique I’d learned over the years to calm myself. The rage boiling inside me was threatening to take over and right now I wanted to yell at the woman beside me. I was tempted to remind her that Wills wouldn’t ever have had to suffer at the hand of my father if she’d been the mother he deserved. But her selfish behavior and choices had led us here. Opening the door to my apartment, I stepped back and waved my hand for her to enter. Wow, Winston this is something else. Gorgeous. Stunning. Hilda was always impressed with material things. When did you talk to him? I was not interested in talking about my apartment with her. She turned and I could see the subtle change in her demeanor. It had all kinds of warning signs attached to it. She was imagining something that would never be again. I didn’t have the patience to deal with her stupidity. This morning around nine. I had gotten a call that woke me then changed my plans. It was important and I had to call Wills and let him know I would be there a day later than I had originally told him. He started crying so I thought he must be upset about something bad. He was, I stated. She frowned. Yes, he was. Anyway, he was crying. Upset. I calmed him down and we talked. He told me he wanted to come live with me. She batted her lashes and I watched as she worked up fake emotion and tears. I wanted to believe that she loved Wills, but I was sure I couldn’t trust her. I also didn’t believe he asked her if he could live with her. He didn’t much like her. And if the results come back and he’s not mine, he’s my fathers. What then? Will you still fight for him? Her tears threatened to spill over. Of course! He’s hurting him, Winston! I’d warned her he’d hurt him from the beginning. When I wanted to know if he was mine. When I was a kid and had no power. But she didn’t care then. Why the sudden change of heart? This is something you’ve been warned about repeatedly. She wiped at the tears yet to roll down her face. I didn’t believe you. Okay? I thought you were exaggerating or maybe you deserved what you got because you were a bad kid. I don’t know, she trailed off. Sounding almost guilty for the words she was saying.I should have been the last person you thought would lie. I’ve never been dishonest with you. You can’t say the same thing to me. She opened her mouth to speak, took a step too closer and placed a hand on my chest. I reached for her hand to take it from my body and move her back. At the same moment, the door to my apartment opened. I turned my head locked eyes with Beulah. I knew she would be here soon. Hilda showing up talking about Wills had distracted me and I’d forgotten momentarily. Who are you? Hilda’s tone was sharp. Possessive. As if she had some right to be in my home and ask who walked in my door. I moved her hand away and walked to Beulah. Her eyes wide, confused, and nervous. This wasn’t what she needed. Tonight, I had planned on talking to her about what had been bothering her. Who is she, Winston? We are dealing with family issues. Hilda’s voice had gotten louder. I didn’t respond to her. Instead, I kept my eyes on Beulah’s. Reassuring her while the insane woman who was possibly the mother of my child ranted behind me. That’s Hilda. I had dismissed Hilda for a second to stay focused on Beulah. She knew enough about Hilda to understand. At least I hoped she did. Is Wills okay? she asked immediately. There was honest worry in her tone. He will be. But my father has hurt him. Scared him. Oh God. She covering her mouth. The pain shimmering in her eyes was real. It wasn’t fabricated or worked up. She was genuinely worried about Wills. Why does she know about our son? Hilda asked sharply. Demanding attention. Hating that she was ignored. I slipped my arm around Beulah’s waste. Beulah meet Wills’ mother, Hilda. Hilda this is my girlfriend, Beulah. She lives here. With me. She hadn’t been expecting a girlfriend. That much was obvious. There was a certain annoyed gleam in her eyes that I read all too well. Women like Hilda wanted to be the most important. The most beautiful. Beulah was sixteen years younger and by far more beautiful inside and out. Hilda would hate that. It’s nice to meet you, Beulah said. Her voice was sweet and perfect. Hilda glared at her but only for a moment. She snapped out of her snit quickly and forced a smile. A smile that was all too vibrant. Likewise. I am sure we’ll be fast friends. I doubted that. Beulah I DIDN’T KNOW SHE WAS coming here, were the first words out of Stone’s mouth when we stepped into his bedroom. I’d figured that out, I told him. It was obvious he’d been caught off guard, but there was hope in his eyes. Hilda showing up here was a good thing for Wills. They had to work together to help him. Stone ran a hand through his hair messing up his thick locks. I need her help. Wills needs her help. Honestly, I don’t want her here with us . . . staying in my place. Our place. She’s toxic. He was worried about me and I knew that. I could tell within seconds of entering the apartment that he was on guard where Hilda was concerned. He was ready to swoop in and save me. I wasn’t that helpless. I knew I could deal with Hilda. Just because I was nice didn’t make me weak. We will be fine with her here. This is a good thing. A very good thing. Don’t worry about anything else. You have enough to be concerned with. He walked over to me and put both his hands on my waist. I’m glad she’s here. I’m not happy with what finally pushed her here. My stomach is in twisted in knots over it. But I have a chance now. I also have this. He reached into his back pocket and pulled out an envelope. Frowning, I looked at the envelope and tried to puzzle out what was inside. The results. I was waiting until we were alone to look at them. No matter what they say, what these results tell me, I will need time to adjust. Hilda showing up surprised me and I put look at this on hold. We would both know now. The next steps he took would be decided by the results in that envelope. I was confused what my steps with be and wouldn’t know until after my doctor’s appointment tomorrow. Open it when you’re ready. I didn’t want to push him. I imagine in his heart and mind there was a lot riding on what the piece of paper inside that envelope said. Stone already loved Wills. He’d lived not knowing if he was his father, but that hadn’t changed his love for him. Wills and Stone had the same eye color, but the color wasn’t rare. That didn’t make Wills his. And the boy’s dark hair and smile looked more like Hilda to me now that I had seen her. Sure, looking at the photos the boy could be his. But he could be his brother just as easily. Stone stood there looking at the photo in his hands. His frown drawn tightly. So many things running through his head. I would make this easier on him if I could. But there was nothing I knew I could do. Nothing at all but stand here and be his support. He wasn’t alone anymore. At least not now. His slowly opened the envelope and pulled out the neatly folded paper from inside. I looked up to find Stone was watching me. He took a deep breath as if to steady himself. I gave him an encouraging nod and he held the paper in his hand. The slight tremble didn’t go unnoticed by me. It was another small glimpse at his vulnerability. I wasn’t sure if I was breathing as I stood there waiting for him to say something. The unknown had hung in the air for so long now that he knew it would change so much for him internally. His hand didn’t give way to the answer he was reading. His body didn’t react differently. I searched for any clue as to what he knew. What to be prepared for. Wills’ chance at a life free of that man would all weigh on this. It seemed like an eternity as the room stayed silent. I didn’t push. It wasn’t my place. This would all be when Stone was ready to share. Finally, he lifted his head and his eyes said everything. They reflected his raw pain, the joy he felt, and the desperation. So many things all stemming from the same truth. He’s mine . . . There was a pause. A brief moment where he looked he was unable to speak. As if he wasn’t sure he understood himself. I wondered what could have him so shocked. He knew that Wills was very likely his. There was something that was causing the look of disbelief on his face. He’s not my father’s son . . . He repeated what I already knew. Confused, I could do nothing else but wait. He was still grasping mentally at something. A fact he wasn’t prepared for. Neither am I. Those last three words caused me to pause and repeat them in my head. Neither am I? I was confused. Neither is he what? His father’s son? What he had said dawned slowly and I felt my jaw drop as everything sank in. Wills has none of my father’s DNA. Not a trace. If he’s my son, then he’d have some of my father’s DNA too. He’s unequivocally mine. He even has my blood type. His eyes aren’t the only thing I gave him. His voice was deep, hoarse with emotion. I took a step toward him and he shook his head as if he couldn’t believe it. He’s not my father. The man I’ve grown up fearing, trying to please, and ended up hating was not the man who gave me life. He abused me. He damaged me. He taught me at a young age not to trust anyone. He kept me from finding any form of real relationship or even love until you. I opened my mouth to say something, but he tossed the paper on the bed and let out a harsh laugh. One that had no humor. One so full of anger and disgust that I took a step back.

She knew. My mother . . . she knew. She knew I wasn’t his and she let me grow up under that man’s fist. When she could have taken me. All she had to do was prove I wasn’t his. That was it. But the money . . . that goddamn money. It was all that mattered. All that fucking mattered. My heart was breaking as he spoke. The little boy he’d been was so desperate to be loved. He so desperately wanted to please that man. The one who hated him knowing he wasn’t his son. Believing his own mother allowed it when she knew he could be free of the man seemed heartless. Even more so than Portia. At least she’d left her daughter with someone who would raise her with love and adore her. She was left with a mother that made sure she was always taken care of and secure. It’s possible she didn’t know? I wanted to believe his mother didn’t. He didn’t look at me. She knew, he replied his voice void of emotion now. Where the pain had been it was now hollow. Words didn’t come. I wanted to say something to comfort him but nothing came to me. Instead I walked to him and wrapped my arms around his waist. The stiff body under my touch didn’t relax. I could almost feel his emotions pulsing through him. Even now, as a man, he is forced to face the monsters of his youth. The secret I might hold inside me would stay there for now. That’s all I could do. Stone needed me to be strong and stay by his side. And that’s what I would do. Stone HILDA DIDN’T COME OUT OF her room until ten minutes after nine the next morning. I’d been pacing the living room floor trying to remain calm as different scenarios played out in my head. There was a good chance that the man I had thought was my father knew already knew he wasn’t. He may also know Wills wasn’t his son as well. I had to be prepared for that. I also needed to talk to Hilda to find out what she knew. There was too much riding on all this and she chose to sleep in. She didn’t seem worried at all about Wills. When she finally came out of the room she was completely dressed, hair and makeup done. The scent of her perfume that had once made me a horny wreck now caused me to physically cringe. Regret was the only thing attached to that scent. Good morning, she said beaming brightly as if her little boy hadn’t been left scared and alone. As if the child we had created didn’t need to be rescued. She was taking her bloody sweet time getting dressed and now she was all smiles. My hands fisted beside me and I fantasized about putting them through a wall. My anxiety grew until anger began to take over. He’s mine, I told her and waited to watch her reaction. I needed to know if she knew more than she had always let on. She paused a moment. Her eyes shuttered and she smiled. Good. That makes this easier, doesn’t it? Her response wasn’t one of relief. It was more rehearsed than anything. Did you know? I demanded. I don’t have time for fucking games. Did you know he was mine? My voice was getting louder. Her eyes flew open wide in response to my fury that was impossible to mask. How would I know, Winston? Her hands went to her waist defensively. I’d been fucking you and your father at the same time. I was stupid and careless. But he was old and I needed your youth and beauty. Your dick was always on go and ready to please me. He couldn’t keep up with my needs. You did. I was wrapped up in his power and money, but I was addicted to fucking you. So no, I was never sure who Wills belonged to! Her cheeks were pink and flushed. I could see the way she was moving toward me and the way her chest was rising and falling too quickly. It was obvious what she wanted. What she was thinking about. She definitely wasn’t focused on Wills right now. But you didn’t care either did you? I shot back at her and moved away putting distance between us. I didn’t want her close to me. Her choices, her selfishness . . . it disgusted me. However, her mental trip down memory lane had caused her to think about things she wanted and missed. Things I never wanted to experience again. I was confused, Winston. Scared. Your father is a powerful man. I was doing what I had to in order to protect us both. Again, no mention of Wills. As if his well-being was of no consequence to her. It seems you’re not the only woman to marry the man and not be sure who had fathered the child she carried. My mother did the same thing. Who fathered me, however, is unknown. I’ll have to ask her. What I do know is she left me with that man exactly like you left Wills. Not entirely sure if he was your child’s father or not. But the money he gave you was more important than the welfare of your child. The pain my mother had caused was coming through and I was putting that on Hilda. And she deserved it. She’d done the same thing. They were alike—vain and self-absorbed. What are you talking about? Her perfectly plucked brow barely wrinkled with the Botox I knew had to be under her skin. My mother was like you. She was fucking someone else while she was with my father. The DNA results came back and they didn’t just confirm that Wills was mine, I paused and glared at her. I wanted to make sure she understood all of this. Every damn word. Wills isn’t his grandson either. There is NO blood relation to the man I always assumed was my father to Wills. Yet Wills is my son. So that tells you what? Her eyes rounded and her jaw dropped. She blinked several times. I let that information sink in. She covered her mouth with her left hand. I turned and walked away. Her candid shock only infuriated me more. This was all something I had forced. She’d never have pushed for me to check Wills paternity. I did that without provocation. I was the one who wanted to know. She didn’t want Wills. Her showing up here had nothing to do with Wills, I knew that now. I saw past her shallow excuse. Why are you here, Hilda? What is it you want? She studied me for a moment. Truths and lies flashed in her eyes as she decided what it was she wanted to tell me. Tell me the fucking truth, damn you! I roared in frustration. She didn’t back away. She didn’t appear scared nor did she play the victim. Instead, she took a step toward me. I came for you. I want you. You want Wills and I can help you get him. But I want you, she said the words as she ran a hand over her left breast. We were good together, Winston. You know we were. I stood there. Not much surprised me anymore. But this, at the moment she chose to pull this stunt, it was like slapping me in the face. More proof she cared nothing for our son. I’d created a child with a heartless woman. He had a mother much like my own and I’d done this. It was my fault. I will fight for my son with or without your help, Hilda. I have the power I need now. This idea you have that we can go back to what we had when I was a kid is stupid. Pathetic. It’s also a waste of my time. I don’t need you here. If you cared about Wills then I would respect your presence. But this . . . offer you’ve made? I don’t want it. I don’t think I can even stomach repeating it. She threw her shoulders back as if she were born into money rather than married into it. Because of that girl? her words sounded bitter. That girl is the woman I have waited my life to love. She saved me. Hilda rolled her eyes and sighed. I thought you were smarter than that. Jesus, Winston. That’s what is pathetic. No vagina is that good. You’ve had a lot of them. Don’t tell me hers is magic.

This wasn’t a conversation I was going to have with anyone, especially not Hilda. If you want to help with Wills, stay. But you better remember your reason for staying here and your place. If you want nothing more than to try and fuck me, leave now. You’re wasting my time. A large part of me wanted her to walk out the door. I feared her presence could hurt things with Beulah. I didn’t trust Hilda, but she was Wills’ mother. Even if she was a careless bitch, she was his mother. He needed to see her fight for him. He’s my son. I’m staying. Beulah GERALDINE HAD ASKED TO GO visit Heidi when I arrived this morning. She’d already made the cake batter and started making cream cheese icing when I walked in the door. The thought of seeing my sister made things seem brighter. Leaving Stone’s this morning I had felt as if we were drifting apart. I didn’t have a reason to feel that way. And I was aware my insecurities were heightened after learning he was a father. It also didn’t help that Hilda was staying in his house. Not to mention it was possible I was carrying our child. My emotions were all over the place. Geraldine’s idea was better. Focusing on Heidi was safe. Lucky for me, Geraldine also had me making cookies because they were her grandmother’s recipe and she knew Heidi and May would love them. That gave me even more to occupy my thoughts. It was almost lunch when we finished baking and Geraldine had put her final touches on everything. I’d thought Stone might stop by, or I had hoped he would. Being apart was difficult right now. Things seemed so rocky and I had suddenly become needy. I didn’t like that feeling at all. I have this beautiful pink dress with ruffles. You can twirl and the ruffles dance all around you. It’s perfection. Do you think Heidi would like that? It’s hanging in my closet. Every time I see it I wish someone could enjoy it the way I once did. We both know I’ll end up prancing down here in it eventually when I’m in a crazy spell. Might as well give it to someone who can use it. I didn’t think Heidi could use a dress like that. Would she enjoy it though? Absolutely. She’d think she was a princess and I doubted she’d ever take it off. Which meant it would get dingy and stained. There is no telling how much Geraldine paid for the dress. Giving it to Heidi to play in made me nervous. I know she would love the dress, but I’m afraid she won’t appreciate it. She’d want to play outside in it. There would be dirt stains and icing smears, I explained with a smile. The offer was incredibly generous. I didn’t think Geraldine understood Heidi that well. Even after our visits. Geraldine laughed and waved a hand. Who cares about that! I want her to have fun in it. That dress was meant for fun. Excitement. Adventure. Not dust in an old woman’s closet, she said then clapped her hands together. I’m going to get it now. We’re taking it with us. She can even wear it while she eats these cupcakes and cookies. It’ll be the most excitement that dress has seen in decades. I opened my mouth to argue, but Geraldine was gone. She was fast for her age, especially when she wanted to be. I watched as she ran up the stairs—or rather, walked swiftly. Going to visit Heidi always put her in a good mood. I was thankful for that because it did the same for me. I needed to see Heidi today. Her smile would ease the constant ache in my chest. The one that was foreboding, warning me the inevitable was coming. This afternoon I would see my doctor. Geraldine already knew I was leaving early for an appointment. The closer it got to my time to leave for my appointment, the more nervous I became. I’d be there alone. Stone thought it was for a routine visit and to get me on birth control. I couldn’t tell him I was having a pregnancy test. He had too much to deal with. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t stop thinking about him and Hilda alone. Together. I wondered what they were doing and what they were talking about. Was he still attracted to her? Did he remember what it was like to have sex with her and did he want to again? I sounded ridiculous but my curiosity was eating away at me. What shoe size does Heidi wear? Geraldine asked as she came back down the staircase holding a pair of pink satin slippers. If they had been heels I would have been against it but the slippers were like ballet flats and Heidi would be fine in those. Her balance wasn’t the best. Heels had always been hard for her. She’d twisted her ankle trying mine on before my graduation. Seven, I told her knowing the shoes she was carrying would fit perfectly. These are seven and a half, she beamed. I wear an eight now. My foot has grown with age. But these feel like you’re walking on a cloud. She’ll love them. She won’t know how to handle so much excitement. A surprise visit is one thing. We are also taking the treats, the dress and shoes. She’s going to think it’s Christmas. Geraldine was smiling from ear to ear. She liked doing things for people. It was one of the many reasons she was easy to love. She had a huge heart. Heidi had taken to her immediately. She’d be happy to see her again today. Has Stone visited Heidi with you? Her question made me pause. I didn’t want to answer that. As imperfect as Jasper was, he’d visited Heidi with me. He knew she was important to me and he had wanted to be a part of my life. Stone had never asked or shown interest. Again, my emotions were raw. I was being sensitive. Shaking that off, I smiled and mentally reassured myself that everything was fine. Stone was withdrawn, quiet, kept to himself. Jasper was different. He liked crowds. Stone liked crowds too. Or at least it seemed like he did when he was at Jasper’s parties. They had been his people though—the ones he’d grown up and gone to school with. No. I would not do this to myself. I was digging up drama where there wasn’t any. Stone is busy. He rarely has time to sleep. I can’t expect him to find time to visit my sister, I said knowing I didn’t have to defend him to Geraldine. She understood him better than anyone. Humph. She frowning as we walked to the door. He’s got time to have relations in my pantry while he thinks I’m napping. I guess if he can do that he can visit your family with you. I opened my mouth and closed it three times, unable to think of the right thing to say here. Stop flapping your jaw or a fly is gonna get in there. Now, come on. Let’s go see your sister. I won’t talk about Stone anymore today. But I will tell you this—she stopped and looked at me—you have got to make a stand. Let him know what you expect and deserve. Don’t let him run all over you or take advantage of your good nature. He’s a man, Beulah, and they are all a little self-centered until we shake them up a bit. All I could do was nod. I didn’t think Stone was self-centered at all, but I wasn’t about to argue with her. She would keep going, and we would run out of time. I had three hours to visit with my sister and drive Geraldine back home to get her settled before my appointment. Men don’t know how good they’ve got it when they find themselves a good one. We are worth our weight in gold. Geraldine marched toward the garage that housed her Mercedes. I didn’t comment. Do you think I should wear this pink dress to the Miller’s wedding?He’s sizing up the girl by the keg, but with a familiar air surrounding the approach that makes me think they’ve met. He taps her on the elbow. Smiles again. She nods.

Yup, they definitely know each other from somewhere. Class maybe? Definitely haven’t fucked or he never would have approached her; he’s not the double-dipping type, not from what I’ve seen.The kid is well and truly a total dipshit.

No Denying You (Danvers #5)

I lean back, get comfortable, and watch.The girl isn’t bothered by him or overly charmed, but she’s blushing—I can see the tint on her cheeks from here, damn near across the room, and I can see the brightness of her face. Her high cheekbones shine. Her teeth are white and blinding.

She’s nervous but trying to be nonchalant, as if she gets approached all the time, when it’s obvious to me that she doesn’t.I wonder what Smith wants from her. Why he walked over.

He grabs the hose to the keg and holds it up, demonstrating to her that it’s tapped out.See? He laughs, tipping his head back. Mocking her a little until her head bows a bit.

He gives her a nudge, dropping the black line to the beer. It falls to the carpet and he sets it on the metal barrel, crossing his arms and looking up at her. Puppy dog eyes? Really, Smith?I can’t see the girl’s face anymore—just her back and the long brown hair spilling down it—but her arms eventually come uncrossed and her posture relaxes. Whatever it is Smith is saying, it’s easing her tension. It’s probably garbage, but she seems comfortable.