Breaking love broken lov.., p.10
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       Breaking Love (Broken Love #4), p.10

           B. B. Reid
 
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  I hated to admit it, but he might have been right. It was odd for someone who went through more women in a month than I did since losing my virginity two years ago.

  It was clear I wasn’t going to win her over with my name only, but I did know she was attracted to me. I also had the feeling she was innocent. She unknowingly gave away signs that she was interested even when her lips were telling me to fuck off.

  I hung up on Keenan during the chorus and began planning my date night with a vicious redhead.

  A few hours later, I snuck onto the girl’s hallway. It was a Friday night, which meant everyone was out partying it up, so all was quiet. I found her room number and knocked with my hands full. The door swung open after my third knock.

  “I thought I got rid of you.”

  “I bounce back easily, and I come with a peace offering.” I held up the large box of pizza.

  “I told you—”

  “It’s not a date. It’s just food.”

  “I’m not hungry.”

  “You didn’t eat your lunch, and you haven’t left your room since.”

  “Are you stalking me?”

  Yes. “Not at all. I just made a good guess.” The truth was I found her roommate about an hour ago and paid her to spy for me—and to get lost for the rest of the night.

  “Go away, Dash.” She attempted to close the door, but I stopped it with my forearm and muscled my way in. I closed the door and locked it while holding her gaze and then took her hand, leading her away from the door.

  “Which one is yours?” I asked, indicating the twin beds. She pointed to the bed on the far side with the purple and black bedding. I placed the pizza on the dresser and took her hand and sat on the bed. I opened my legs and pulled her between them. Her hands twitched at her sides, and when I pulled her closer, she placed them on my shoulder. I knew it was only for balance, but I enjoyed the feel of her hands on me all the same. “I have movies. Are you going to let me stay?”

  “I’m not interested in watching movies with you or eating your pizza.”

  “Even if I promise you’ll be safe from me tonight?”

  “I’m safer with you gone.”

  “I won’t try anything.” My reassurance fell on deaf ears.

  “I wouldn’t let you. Now leave.”

  “Fine.” I stood up and caught the way her shoulders slumped with relief… or maybe disappointment?

  I caught her wrists in one hand, and I reached into my back pocket with the other. She was too busy staring at my hand on her wrists to notice the metal cuffs I now had in my hand. I managed to secure a wrist before she noticed and began to struggle.

  “Let me go.”

  “I can’t do that, Angel. Don’t scream or I’ll have to gag you, too.” I took a chance by kissing her on the forehead and then gently settled and positioned her along the edge of the bed. I shed my backpack from my back and pulled out my laptop while she softly cursed and kicked her legs out. “I brought one of every kind.” Her frown deepened with confusion. “I have chick flick, comedy, action, and horror. You pick.” I showed her the choices, but she kept her gaze trained on me.

  “You’re crazy.”

  “I’m not crazy. I promise you.” The soothing tone of my voice seemed to calm her when she relaxed against the mattress.

  “I can’t believe you handcuffed me so I would hang out with you.”

  That makes two of us. I was sure it wasn’t what Keenan had meant by trying a softer approach, but I believed in being prepared for all situations.

  “If you’re a good girl, I’ll remove the cuffs. Now, let’s try again. Are you hungry?” As if on cue, her stomach growling filled the room. “I’ll take that as a yes.” I opened the box and pulled out the paper plates sitting on top of the steaming, greasy pizza. “Are you a vegetarian?”

  “No. Why?”

  “Just figured it would have been one of your eccentricities.”

  “How stereotypical of you.”

  “It’s only stereotypical if you take offense.”

  “The way I dress has nothing to do with what I eat.”

  “Hence, the reason for my asking. I’m sure you’ve made some assumptions about me.”

  “Only a few. I think you’re a narcissistic, whoring, rich prick who thinks he’ll get in my panties, and who has a pretty face and daddy’s money.”

  CHAPTER TWELVE

  PRESENT

  WILLOW

  I FELT LIKE a shy seventeen-year-old whenever I was around him. I hid behind biting words because it was my only defense. I figured if I made him hate me, he wouldn’t want me as much as his eyes were telling me did.

  Wanting Dash was risky. Fucking him was dangerous. Loving him would be a tragedy.

  My aching muscles called to the large garden tub. I stared at its empty depths longingly, but more than a soak, I wanted to sleep so I turned on the oversized glass shower and made the water as hot as possible. I questioned whether a cold shower would be best, but I wasn’t sure a cold shower could wash away the effects of Dash. To rid myself of Dash Chambers, I would have to bleed. Again.

  Steam rose as I fished through the bag, thankful to find a set of pajamas—and not the skimpy kind, either. I also found lavender body wash and moisturizer inside. I didn’t want to think too much about the fact he’d paid attention to a minor detail. Dash knew it was the little things that mattered to me.

  But, Dash is a manipulator. It wasn’t about my comfort or pleasing me. He wanted to prove me wrong and remind me how well he knew me.

  The shower helped soothe my aching muscles, but what I really needed was a good foot massage. I would have to settle for a few hours off my feet instead. Braiding the end of my single braid, I left the steam filled bathroom and found Dash sitting on the side of the bed, facing the bathroom with his phone plastered to his ear. He watched me walk to the bed and smirked. I rolled my eyes and snatched a pillow from the bed and the thinner duvet folded at the end before moving to the couch.

  He quickly ended his call as I made my makeshift bed. “Business so late at night?”

  “Are you concerned about my well-being?”

  I settled my body on the couch before answering. “I’m still trying to figure out if you’ve become like your father.”

  “And?”

  “I don’t know yet.” I turned and faced away from him, hoping he would take the hint. A part of me couldn’t believe Dash would ever become anything like his father. He had been benevolent in ways his father would never understand, but did that Dash still exist?

  The sudden silence in the room lured me into sleep, and just as I was able to fully succumb, I felt his hands grip my body and lift me. “Well, maybe you should stay close until you can figure it out.”

  “You said I could sleep on the couch.” He slipped us under the covers and spooned me from behind.

  “I changed my mind.”

  “You mean you lied.”

  “Angel, if you continue to tempt me with your mouth, I might change my mind about other things, too.” To drive his point home, he pulled me closer, pressing his erection into my back. The heat of his skin felt too close, and against my better judgment, I reached my hand between us and felt his warm, naked skin under my palm.

  “You’re naked?”

  “Sleep,” he ordered. Fatigue was evident in his curt tone, but I couldn’t just sleep knowing the pajamas that suddenly didn’t seem so protective were the only barrier between us.

  I struggled for a mental distraction and control of my breathing once more. Why did he have to be naked?

  “I shouldn’t want you.” I flinched at the sudden sound of his voice. His words were equally abrasive. I wasn’t prepared for him to flip me on my back and lean over me. The disgust in his voice was overshadowed by the lust in his eyes.

  “I didn’t ask you to.”

  He shook his head as if disappointed, and for an insane moment, I wondered why. I didn’t have to wonder for long. He let me go and rolled over to face
away. “You’ve become as screwed up as your mother,” he shot back.

  “And you’re as greedy and heartless as your father.”

  Unwanted tears soaked my face and pillow. My body shook with silent sobs.

  At least it wasn’t lust I felt anymore.

  * * *

  “Where are we going?” I questioned the next morning. It was the first thing I’d said to him since we’d woken up almost an hour ago.

  “I need to shower and head to the office. I’m taking you to Keenan’s.”

  “I don’t need a babysitter. I need to go back,” I stressed, yet again. Of course, I couldn’t really go back yet. Not without making sure my family was safe. Ensuring their safety meant killing Keiran, which wasn’t something I could do. However, I couldn’t think straight around Dash, and I needed to figure out what I could do or go to the police.

  “You’re not going anywhere until you tell me why you came back, and where you’ve been for four years.”

  I considered telling Dash about Esmerelda, realizing I wouldn’t be able to help my family on my own, but then I was reminded of how Esmerelda found me and bested Dash’s men. Was I willing to risk the safety of my family, as well as his safety if she had already proven to be powerful and resourceful?

  It occurred to me that I had no idea who Esmerelda was, or her connection to Keiran, or why she wanted him dead. Lake had told me the entire slave ring was either killed or imprisoned four years ago.

  Without knowing who she was, I had no idea what I was truly dealing with. She knew about everything and everyone, including me. I haven’t been around in four years, so I wondered why she picked me over those closest to him.

  Esmerelda had already shown her hand twice by dumping me at the wedding and kidnapping me from Dash’s apartment. They already suspected me. They just didn’t know why.

  Another puzzle piece of the game she was playing. Maybe it was just a game and she planned to kill us all, which meant I was nothing more than a pawn.

  My head spun with the possibilities, and I realized I was in way over my head. The risk of losing to Esmerelda was far greater than exposing her hand.

  “Dash?”

  “Yeah?”

  “I’m ready to talk. I’m—”

  I was cut off by the sound of Dash’s phone ringing. The screen on his dashboard read Rosalyn’s name, and from a simple phone call, I could feel my blood boil. Why was she calling him? I thought they lost contact long ago.

  “Go on,” he pressed.

  “Aren’t you going to answer that?”

  “No.” His jaw clenched and unclenched and his fingers tightened on the steering wheel. The ringing stopped and his shoulders visually relaxed.

  “Why?”

  “Is that your business?”

  On cue, the ringing started again with Rosalyn’s name flashing on the screen. “I’m making it my business.” I pressed the button for accept before he could react, and immediately, Rosalyn’s shrill voice filled the car. I literally cringed.

  “Dasher? Are you there?”

  I leaned over the armrest and tauntingly whispered, “Oh, you’ve got her calling you Dasher, too?”

  “You’re going to pay for this later.”

  “So I’ve heard.” I waved toward the screen, silently communicating that he should talk.

  “I’m here, Roz.” His use of the nickname he called her when they used to date knocked the air out of my lungs as if he had kicked me in the chest. His smirk further added to the hurt.

  “I thought I heard someone else. A woman.”

  I wanted to confirm for her what she suspected. That he had another woman, more specifically, an ex-lover in his car whom he spent the night with, but I wanted answers more so I kept my mouth shut.

  For the time being.

  I needed to know if there was something between them again. I almost wished there were so it would make everything easier.

  Easier to let go and easier to forget.

  “Sorry, did you need something?” he asked, sidestepping her question.

  “Yes. I want us to do lunch and discuss the wedding.”

  Wedding? Please tell me she sunk her claws into someone else.

  “Now is not a good time.”

  “Our fathers want us married within the next six months,” she screeched, confirming my fears while they had no idea that she had ripped out the remnants of my heart and spat on it with each word she spoke. “We have absolutely no time to plan as it is.”

  “I’m not stopping you from planning without me,” he pointed out.

  “I’m not going to let you run away from this. We have a commitment.” I snorted at her idea of commitment and earned Dash’s glare. “Are you mocking me?”

  Her screeching began to give me a headache, and I wondered if it was the sound she made when Dash made love to her.

  Oh, God. Did he make love to her?

  I must have made some sound of distress because Dash took that moment to meet my stare. “Rosalyn, we’ll talk about this later.” He hung up without waiting for her response.

  I took a deep breath and found my voice. “So, you’re getting married.” It wasn’t really a question but hearing it out loud solidified it.

  “I didn’t want you to find out this way.”

  “So, when did you plan to tell me? Before or after you had your way with me again?”

  “It’s not like that.”

  “No? So, you’re not a liar and I’m not a fool?”

  “What did you expect, Angel—”

  “Stop calling me that.”

  “It’s been four years,” he went on.

  “Forgive me. I forgot that my extended absence meant you could lie to me today. God! You actually kept me prisoner here with little regard for the life I created while your fiancé plans the rest of yours together. I guess I should blame myself because, really… how dumb can one girl be?”

  “Angel…”

  “Gah,” I screamed. “Just stop.” I angrily wiped away the intrusive tears rampaging down my face. I didn’t understand the strength of my reaction. I always knew he was promised to her. I just never thought he would go through with it, and if he did, I never thought I’d be around to witness it.

  We arrived at his apartment minutes later. The tension had increased with each second we were confined in the tight space of his car.

  I needed air.

  I needed a breath.

  Dammit, I needed to breathe.

  I was grateful he didn’t stick around when we entered his apartment. He headed straight for the shower and left me alone to my thoughts. My thoughts as tears spilled onto what I was sure was an insanely expensive couch.

  Twenty minutes later, he emerged looking the role of a high-powered businessman while I had leftover snot drying on my face.

  “Ready?”

  “Do I have a choice?” He wisely chose not to respond and held the door open.

  “Sheldon will take you to get clothes. Get whatever you’ll need.”

  “How long do you plan to keep me here?”

  “I told you. Until you give me what I need.”

  “If I tell you what happened Saturday, you’ll let me go?”

  He nodded but just as quickly averted his gaze, and I had the feeling it wasn’t his intention at all.

  “We’ll see,” I returned and bypassed him with my arms crossed under my breasts. His gaze raked them, and I tried my hardest to only feel disgust. There was nothing desirable about an engaged man. I wasn’t naive enough to believe he actually loved her, but nonetheless, he would belong to her when they married.

  It only solidified my decision to never return home if I were able to leave alive and sane.

  The drive from the city to Six Forks was made in silence. So many times, I wanted to ruin the quiet and tell him exactly what I thought of his impending nuptials.

  Sheldon greeted me at the door with a smiling Kennedy, who looked as if she had just finished rolling in syrup. She quickly sen
t her inside to clean up after one glance at my appearance.

  “Willow! What has my brother been doing to you? You look fucked up,” she cried with extra emphasis on fucked.

  “Your fiancé should teach you how to use better language,” Dash joked.

  “I’m not a pet dog,” she snapped back.

  “Prove it.” They began bickering back and forth, and because I felt as if I were intruding on their teenaged sibling duel, I stepped past Sheldon and let myself into the house.

  I didn’t see Keenan when I stepped inside, so I turned the corner into the first room that turned out to be the kitchen. I did witness the little mischief-maker pouring ketchup on her pancakes, though.

  “Hi,” I greeted. She dropped the ketchup and threw her hands in the air. I laughed at the sight of her. Her pictures didn’t do her justice, and the brief moment I saw her at the wedding wasn’t enough to realize how cute she was.

  “Hi,” she whispered and plopped onto her butt in her seat where her feet had been planted.

  “You must be Kennedy. I’m Willow.”

  “Hi, Willow.” Her pronunciation of my name was more like ‘whoa’.

  “It’s very nice to meet you.” She only stared back while I grappled for something else to say. “What do you have there?” I nodded at the pancake cut into tiny triangles with ketchup and syrup.

  “Cakes. Want some?” She picked up the tiny square with the most ketchup and syrup soaking in and extended it. There was no way I would eat that so I wondered how I could refuse without hurting her feelings?

  I was saved by Keenan’s sudden appearance. He swooped down and ate the offering out of her hands, making hungry noises. Kennedy erupted in a fit of laughter and swatted away at her father when he pretended to eat her tiny hand, as well.

  “More,” he demanded.

  “No, Daddy. Willow have some.”

  Keenan finally looked up at me with mischievous eyes, the same eyes Kennedy had clearly inherited, and a shrug. “Sorry, Wills,” he laughed using the nickname he dubbed me with five years ago. “I tried.”

  “Maybe she shouldn’t eat that, either. She could get a stomach ache.”

 
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