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Breaking love broken lov.., p.11
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       Breaking Love (Broken Love #4), p.11

           B. B. Reid
 
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  His smile turned down and his head snapped back to his toddler. “Hey, princess. How did you get the ketchup?”

  “Daddy ate a burger last night.”

  His eyes widened and he snatched up the bottle and ran the short distance to the pantry as if hiding the evidence. The evidence was also all over Kennedy’s face and clothes as well as the pancakes that remained so I wondered what his game plan was.

  “When Sheldon comes in and loses her shit, we say the kid acted alone,” he prepped me.

  “Keenan…”

  He covered Kennedy’s ears. “If I get in trouble, I won’t get my afternoon nookie when Ken takes her nap.”

  “Shame on you.” I laughed hysterically. I’d forgotten how funny Keenan could be. It appeared as if the last four years hadn’t changed him, but I could have been wrong.

  “How’s it going, Wills? I missed you.”

  “I missed you, too” I found myself admitting and realized it was the truth. I’d missed all of them but found it easier to admit with Keenan. Out of everyone, I might have been able to identify with Keenan’s need to leave and him with me.

  “Don’t be so stiff. Can’t I get a hug?” I let him envelop me in his embrace, and that brief moment of contact made me feel as if I finally had a friend again. He let me go and stared down at me with sad eyes. “Did you find what you were looking for?”

  “I was finally able to put some things into perspective.”

  He turned away to start pouring cereal for himself. Kennedy was no longer attempting to eat the pancakes but instead, raced them around her plate. “So what brings you back?”

  I contemplated answering his question. I might have understood him, but I knew where his loyalties were. He sensed my hesitation and looked up from pouring his milk. “It’s not a loaded question,” he assured.

  I nodded and answered simply. “I was visiting my mother.”

  “I see. Was this your first trip back?”

  “More like the twentieth or so.”

  “So, how did you end up on the Chambers’ doorstep?”

  “It’s complicated.”

  “I have to admit it was a pretty epic way to crash a wedding.”

  “I promise that wasn’t my intention.” I had found out from my mother a couple of months ago that Keenan and Sheldon were getting married. My initial decision was to skip the visit, knowing they would all be in town at once, but my mother had guilted me into coming. Other than the single visit every other month, I didn’t keep in much contact with her. The call I placed the week before was one of the rare calls I made home.

  At times, I felt like a fugitive on the run.

  Dash and Sheldon entered the kitchen, and I only just realized they had been outside the entire time. Sheldon’s expression was nervous while Dash’s was grim. I met his stare from his perch at the door. He seemed to be searching or waiting for something from me. If he was expecting a goodbye or to wish him a nice day, he was delusional. After another few seconds of staring, he finally left, and I could breathe again.

  “I’ve been ordered to take you shopping.”

  Before I could decline, Keenan grumbled, “That’s my cue to leave.”

  “Baby, I need you to watch Ken for a few hours, and by watch I mean watch her.”

  “I do watch her.”

  “Oh yeah? Then how do you explain the ketchup on her half-eaten pancakes?”

  “I don’t know, Shelly. You were on pancake duty this morning.”

  “Yes, but you left the ketchup out.”

  “It could be worse. She could have thought your birth control pills were candy,” he snapped.

  Whoa. Tension.

  Sheldon’s amber eyes seemed to glow as she glowered at Keenan. “What does that have to do with any of this?”

  “Nothing. Forget it.” He picked up Kennedy and stormed from the kitchen. Sheldon stared after him on the verge of crying.

  “God, he can be such a dick,” she cried.

  I risked hugging her because she needed it more than I needed to keep my distance. “Am I missing something?”

  “Keenan is trying to get me pregnant.”

  “So? I thought you two were happy…” It’s true they were still young, but they already built so much together. It only seemed natural to want to add more.

  “I haven’t even started medical school, which he practically forced me into pursuing, and I’ll be years away from finishing. I already have one small child and an overgrown one. It’s not the right time.”

  “So tell him that.”

  “I have. He’s not listening. He said he didn’t see a problem with me finishing school and giving him more minions at the same time.”

  “Minions?”

  “He has this evil mastermind plan involving any future kids we may have and taking over the world,” she clarified exasperated.

  “Okaaay then.”

  “I don’t know what to do.”

  “Birth control?”

  “I’ve tried the pill, but he always manages to find them, and he refuses to wear a condom. I have an appointment next week for a shot. That will hold him off for the next three months at least.”

  “Do you think maybe he wants to make up for missing the first three years of Kennedy’s life?”

  “I don’t blame him for that. Not anymore. We’ve talked about it and realized we’ve both made mistakes, and there is nothing we could do to erase the past.”

  “Did the both of you agree with that or just you?”

  “I’m not following.”

  “It’s pretty clear he wants more than to make up for lost time. He’s intelligent enough to know he won’t ever get that back. He’s trying to fill a void.”

  “A void that I put there.”

  “Don’t be stupid. You both made decisions, but the important thing is that you’re together now. Kennedy had you and now she has the both of you. Don’t fuck that up over ‘what-ifs.’”

  “You should take some of your own advice.” She grinned. “What’s going on with you and my brother? That was a pretty intense look he had given you before he left.”

  “Nothing is going on. He’s engaged to Rosalyn, which I’m sure you know.”

  “He told me at the wedding after telling me that very day that he’d brought her. I’m also grateful the wedding was ruined so I didn’t have to see her there.

  “I’m sorry I ruined your wedding. Have you guys decided on a new date?”

  “No, and I’m not that sorry.” She shrugged.

  “Why not?” I couldn’t conceal the surprise from my tone. Did she not want to marry Keenan? It was undeniable that those two were in love, even more so than before.

  “Because I realize now that it wasn’t perfect. You weren’t there with me and now you are.”

  “I don’t think my presence would have really made that big of a difference.”

  “And that was always the problem, wasn’t it? You underestimate your worth to the people who love and care for you. You probably thought the same when you took off, but you hurt all of us. I just wish you would tell us what we did to make you leave.”

  “I just had a lot to figure out. I found someone who could help me do that. I might not have ever come back given the choice, but I don’t blame you.”

  “There’s someone?”

  I shook my head. “It’s not what you think.”

  She nodded, accepting my answer, which wasn’t much of an answer at all. No one knew where I’d gone. Not even my mother.

  “What about Lake? Do you blame her?” she blurted.

  “Lake hurt me, but it’s not about blame. My decision to leave was for me. I’m not even sure if my feelings or my reaction to her leaving were reasonable, but they were real.”

  “Where did you go?”

  “Somewhere I thought I’d be safe.”

  “And you’ll go back there, which is why you won’t tell,” she guessed.

  I nodded and looked away. I couldn’t handle the look in her eye
s that begged me to stay. It wasn’t possible. Especially now that Dash was getting married.

  “You know he won’t marry her.”

  “That’s what you said last time,” I pointed out.

  “And I really believed it as much then as I do now. How could he when he has found you again?”

  “But he didn’t find me.”

  “Well, someone did, and it doesn’t matter who takes the credit or… blame. The important thing is you’re back. I just hope you come around in time to save my brother.”

  “Your brother is in control of his own fate. He doesn’t have to marry her.”

  “But, he thinks he does. He has this unhealthy sense of duty and never learned how to chase his own happiness until you.”

  “I’m nothing more than a guilty pleasure.”

  “Don’t undersell yourself when it comes to Dash. Think about why you’re still here. He could have let you get on that plane and never see you again. He might have searched forever for you just to know if you were okay.”

  “He looked for me?”

  “He always denied it, but I know he did. I’ll never understand how you were able to escape my brother.”

  “I had some help.”

  “Will you ever tell me?”

  “I think it would be better if I didn’t.”

  CHAPTER THIRTEEN

  SUMMER BEFORE SENIOR YEAR

  DASH

  “MAYBE YOU WOULD like to be gagged,” I reminded her. I was secretly amused at being called so many things in one sentence and was quickly learning that she had a sharp tongue.

  She took the pizza I offered, but her cuffed hands made it hard to move. I watched with amusement as she slowly brought the pizza slice to her lips. “I can’t eat like this.”

  “You’re doing just fine.”

  “Where did you get these cuffs anyway?”

  “A sex shop.”

  She scrunched up her nose with disgust. “Have you always had these?”

  “I bought them for you.”

  She ate silently after that, taking her time with dainty bites. I’d already inhaled two slices by the time she’d finished her first.

  “Ok, I ate so what happens now?” I took her empty plate from her hands to the trash, but she chose that moment to clean her fingers free of the grease with her tongue. My own dried up in my mouth as I stood rooted to the old carpet. “Why are you staring at me?”

  “Do that again.”

  “Do what?” The startled look on her face brought me to my senses. I shook myself free of my thoughts and trashed the plates.

  “Never mind.” She continued to watch me curiously as I set up for the movie. I chose the comedy since it was the most neutral. Once the movie started, I joined her on the bed with my laptop in hand. Her twin bed was narrow and by no means meant for two people, but I knew just the way to make it work.

  “Lay with me.”

  Her back stiffened and her head whipped around to face me lying behind her. “What are you doing?”

  “Lay with me,” I repeated.

  “No.”

  “I could make you.”

  “You can’t make me—”

  I pulled her down against my body before she could finish. Her back was flush with my chest while her bottom wriggled against my dick. I slid my hand down the curve of her hip and whispered to her.

  “I can do whatever I want.” We were so close that I felt her shiver against me. I couldn’t resist the opportunity to bait her. “Cold?”

  “I’m a little hot, actually.” Her tone was anxious and light. The movie had already begun to play, but neither of us noticed it.

  “We’re both fully clothed. If you’re hot, I can fix that.”

  “No. No. I—I’m fine.”

  The skin of her face was like porcelain so smooth and pale. I couldn’t resist dragging the tip of my finger from her hairline down to her chin I used to guide her face toward the laptop. “Relax. You’re safe.”

  She seemed to believe me and relaxed enough to enjoy the movie, and I found that I liked the sound of her laugh. The husky tone of her laugh hit me straight in the gut, and halfway through the movie, I suffered a severe case of blue balls.

  Thankfully, she was completely oblivious to my current condition. So much so that she made the mistake of wriggling her bottom against me whenever she would laugh particularly hard. By the end, I couldn’t remember what the movie was about because of all the fantasies playing out in my head.

  “Dash?”

  “Yes?” I struggled to keep the evidence that I wanted to fuck her silly out of my voice.

  “The movie is over.” She was back to being nervous again. At least she wasn’t cutting me down with that mouth of hers.

  “So it is. Would you like to watch another?”

  “It’s late. You should go.”

  “I’m kind of comfy.” I lifted my hand from her hip to wrap my arm around her. Actually, my back hurt like hell and my arm was asleep from holding my head up for two hours, but it was worth it.

  She twisted around to face me and I helped her. “Thank you for the pizza and movie, but I would really like for you to leave now.” I might have been able to take her seriously if her gaze wasn’t trained on my lips. She did that thing with her tongue when she touched the corner of her mouth and breathed out.

  I suddenly got the uncontrollable need to breathe the same air as her. I leaned closer. When she didn’t back away, I got a little bolder and didn’t stop closing the gap until my lips were on hers.

  Fuck me, it was better than I imagined. I had kissed a lot of girls but never one that had my heart beating out of control. Her taste alone was electrocuting.

  * * *

  “You shouldn’t have kissed me.” If she wanted me to stop, her moans were the wrong way to go about it. I didn’t stop attacking her neck. The taste and smell of her skin were so addictive. It was as if I had never known a woman before… or maybe it was because, after Willow, none of them mattered.

  “It’s what someone does when they want another person, and Angel, I want.”

  “Why do you keep calling me that?”

  “Calling you what?”

  “Angel.”

  That brought me to a screeching halt. “I wasn’t aware that I was.”

  “How couldn’t you? You never really say my name. Do you not like it?” I could detect the insecurity in her voice and shook off my raging lust long enough to offer the assuring she needed.

  “There isn’t anything about you I don’t like. My feelings toward you are nothing short of an addiction. I crave you, Willow Waters.” Her name rolled off my tongue sensually, delivering sex with every syllable.

  “Give me one good reason why you want me, Dash. I’m ten pounds overweight, my hair looks like the wild kingdom gone wilder, I’m a penny below poor and according to the rest of the world, I’m colorblind.”

  I picked over every flaw she so graciously pointed out, nodded my head slowly, and then told her what she thought she wanted to hear.

  “You’re right. You’re a fucking mess.” Her face fell in disappointment. “I’ve never met anyone more perfect.”

  * * *

  PRESENT

  Leaving Angel behind, after the morning proved one for discoveries, seemed almost cruel. I was still fighting the need to track down Rosalyn and strangle her with my bare hands. The look on her face and the sound of her voice as she inadvertently begged me not to break her heart again wasn’t something I’d forget anytime soon.

  Marrying her was the last thing I intended to let happen, which is why I kept the engagement secret. Richard Simon was the key to my freedom. By law, of course, I could simply refuse, but I didn’t care to live the rest of my life as a disgrace to not only him but also anyone who would listen.

  Last night, while Angel showered, my father called to demand I meet with him this morning. Whatever his reasons, I no longer had the patience. Watching as Willow’s heart broke this morning because of me again ha
d fucked me up.

  By the time I arrived at the office, I was irritable. Celesha wisely chose to remain silent. She bit into her apple with wide eyes and watched me cross the suite to my office. I found my father had once again invaded my office, but this time he had James, the company Vice President, with him.

  “Dad. James.” My greeting was short, but so was my temper. “I would have met you in the conference room.”

  “This shouldn’t take long. James had some pressing concerns about your campaign to change the company’s acquisition procedures.”

  “What particular concerns?”

  “I want to know about this nonsense idea you have of a ‘gentler approach,’ as you put it.”

  I looked between the two men before fixing my gaze on my father. “James, why don’t you get back to work while I speak with my father about your concerns?”

  “Don’t be rude, son. He brought this to my attention. He needs to be here.”

  “Which is precisely my reason for excusing him from this meeting. He brought his concerns to you instead of directly to me, so I’ll speak to you and you can relay the message.” I nodded to the vice president in dismissal. “James.”

  James left without a word, and as soon as the door closed, my father stabbed his finger on top of the desk. “Your behavior is taxing, Dasher. I did not make you head of this company for you to behave like a petulant child.”

  “Yet you speak so highly of the man who can’t even speak for himself. Listen well, father. I’m not going to continue to do this job with you breathing down my back and your spies watching my every move. Interfere again, I’ll quit, and you can find yourself another heir.”

  “I’ll do no such thing.”

  “Why did you give me all this so soon if you don’t trust me to do this job? You must have known I wasn’t ready. I’m fresh out of college.”

  “What does age have to do with it? I wasn’t much older than you when I started this company.”

  “But how long before you were actually good at it? I only have the skills you hand fed me.”

  “Then learn more by listening to James. You cannot simply ignore decades of business practices just because it doesn’t suit you!”

 
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