Veiled innocence, p.1
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       Veiled Innocence, p.1

           Ella Frank
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Veiled Innocence


  Veiled Innocence

  by

  Ella Frank

  Copyright © 2014 by Ella Frank

  Edited by Candace Wood

  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without the written permission of the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  Also by Ella Frank

  The Exquisite Series

  Exquisite

  Entice

  Edible

  Erotica

  Blind Obsession

  The Temptation Series M/M

  Try

  Dedication

  Sometimes it isn’t until a book is complete that you truly know whom it is meant for. This book has constantly surprised me, and this dedication is no different.

  Veiled Innocence is dedicated to someone who is brutally honest, hard-working, and dedicated to the craft of writing. She constantly reminds me of why I love to do what I do, and this book would not have seen the light of day without her.

  Candace Wood, you’re irreplaceable.

  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  Xx Ella

  There is always some madness in love. But there is also always some reason in madness.

  Friedrich Nietzsche

  You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequence of your choice.

  Anonymous

  The heart wants what it wants—age be damned.

  I love you, Francesco.

  Ella Frank

  Prologue

  Drifting out into the field, a sense of familiarity hits me. Every time, the dream is the same. It never changes, never deviates. Not even once—ever.

  Clasping Daniel’s small hand in my own, I cautiously regard the path we will take, knowing this is the only way. Ahead of us, as far as the eye can see, are miles and miles of fields, blanketed in flowers of the deepest blues and purples.

  The colors, vibrant and loud, call to me, beckoning me closer—though I know what fate they hold, I cannot change our course. We are bound to this path, as I am forever trapped by my decision that led us here.

  Squeezing his warm fingers in my palm, I manage a small smile at the trusting face turned up to me.

  I know this dream. I don’t want to be here.

  Turning my back on such trust, I desperately seek a way out—a way to escape the world I have been sucked back into, but I know it’s no use.

  “You’re late again, Addy.”

  His voice is exactly as I remember—cheerful, sweet, and a little high-pitched. Looking down, I find the same blue eyes I possess peering back at me.

  “Dad’s gonna be so mad at you.”

  “Shh, we won’t be late,” I promise, pulling Daniel’s arm up so I can see his watch. As always, it has stopped at 3:17 p.m. “Damn it.”

  “Oooo, you cussed.”

  “Daniel…” I warn, knowing we have no time.

  I can hear it as it’s chasing me.

  Tick, tick, tock.

  The watch I was given for my fifteenth birthday methodically keeps time as the second hand ticks around the face.

  Tick, tick, tock.

  I hear it. I memorize it.

  “Come on. If we hurry we’ll make it. We still have time.”

  As I step forward, a breeze brushes my cheek, making the hair on my arms rise as though someone has stepped on my grave.

  “No, Addy,” he tells me and tugs his hand from mine. “Time’s up.”

  It only takes a second for our connection to be severed. I turn to him, and I know he’s right. His time has stopped. It’s not my grave that has been stepped on.

  Before I can reach him, the flowers around us wilt, shriveling into the ground, and as he disappears with them, everything before me fades to black.

  All I’m left with is darkness, a car horn’s insistent blast, the counting of the crosswalk—and the ticking of a clock…

  Present…

  Tick, tick, tock. Tick, tick…

  “Addison?”

  Tock.

  Pulled from one nightmare and thrust firmly into another, I try to focus on the man sitting across from me in the stark temporary office.

  Jesus, I know these sessions are tedious, but this is the first time I’ve fallen asleep. I’ve known Doc ever since Daniel—well, for three years, and now he’s been brought here. To help me, save me—heal me.

  Tick, tick, tock.

  “Addison? I’m going to ask you again.”

  He’s concerned. They’re all concerned by what happened, but it’s too late.

  Tick, tick…

  “Remember, anything you say in here, stays right here.”

  Tock.

  They think that I’m sick, that I’m…damaged.

  “When did you last see Mr. McKendrick?”

  I tell him nothing. I never will. Not about this.

  “It’s okay to talk about it, Addison. No one is here to judge.”

  That’s not true.

  Ever since I was admitted, Doc’s changed. He doesn’t see me like he use to. So he would probably be surprised to know that I’m judging him.

  “We just need to know. Where did you last see Mr. McKendrick?”

  Tick, tick—“You don’t have anything to be ashamed of”—fuck!

  I hate interruptions. He knows that. Plus, I wouldn’t be sitting here if he didn’t think I should be ashamed.

  “Okay, Addison.”

  I wish he’d stop saying my name like that. It reminds me of…

  “We’ll try this again tomorrow.”

  And we will. That he’s not lying about. But I no longer care.

  What do I have left? Nothing.

  He’s gone. I’m alone, and all I can hear is…tick, tick…

  Chapter One

  Past…

  Tock.

  I looked at the watch strapped to my wrist before turning my head to Brandon.

  “Hurry,” I urged as he pulled me down hard on his lap. With a groan, I craned my neck back, gasping into the tight interior of my car.

  “What the hell, Addy? I just got inside you.”

  Straddling his legs, I ceased grinding against him.

  “Well if you hadn’t been late—” I started, but he cut me off by sitting up in the passenger seat and connecting his mouth to mine.

  “Quit bitching, would you?”

  I pulled my head back, twisting my fingers tightly through his brown hair.

  “Fuck! That hurts.”

  “You know how I am about this kind of stuff,” I reminded him.

  “It’s the first day back. No one’s gonna care if you’re five minutes late.”

  “I’ll care. I hate being late.”

  With a rough flex of his hips, he shoved himself deeper inside me.

  I guess he was right…I was poor little Addy, after all. Plus, I hadn’t had sex in months since my mother had planned my entire summer vacation down to the very last detail.

  Brandon grunted as he moved once again, and I glanced at my watch, nasty habit that—Tick, tick, tock.

  * * *

  I was late…great, as if I wasn’t anxious enough. This was just what I needed on the first day of my senior year. Then again, it wasn’t like any of my teachers would mention it. They wouldn’t dare.

  Inspecting myself in the restroom mirror, I was careful to make sure that my lip-gloss was perfect. My hair fell in soft waves I had painstaki
ngly curled that morning, and after my earlier activities with Brandon, my clothes were all back where they should be.

  Raising my chin, I studied my reflection.

  Narrowing my gaze, I pouted my lips. Doc was always spouting something or other about inner beauty being important, but I’d once heard a quote from Marilyn Monroe that said, Boys think girls are like books. If the cover doesn't catch their eye, they won't bother to read what's inside. In my opinion, she had a much more accurate take on these kinds of things. So, as usual, I was careful to make sure that this cover was extra eye-catching.

  I peeked at my timekeeper faithfully guarding me and followed the second hand as it made its rounds. I wished it would hurry up and get to the twelve, because then I’d feel right about leaving. Instead, I was held in place in front of the mirror—by invisible chains.

  Tick, tick, tock.

  * * *

  First day on the job, and already I wanted out.

  I scrawled my name across the chalkboard like the responsible teacher I was expected to be. Unfortunately, the smell of the chalk and the scrape of it along the board did nothing to make me feel responsible; it just made me want to leave.

  The clock hanging on the wall of my world history classroom was driving me crazy. I hadn’t been any place recently where I needed a clock or a watch, and the reminder that I was back on somebody else’s schedule was irritating as hell.

  I’d just returned from a six-month trip traveling throughout Europe where I’d gotten to visit some of my favorite historical sites, so to be restricted to four walls and a door made me…antsy. The tie I wore felt as though it was about to choke the life from me, and right then, I would have welcomed it.

  Not coming home hadn’t been an option. The minute I’d been told about my father’s deteriorating health, I knew I had to go to him. So thirteen hours and fifty minutes later, I was back in Denver, Colorado—that was a little over a month ago.

  The door to my right crashed open, alleviating the suffocating stillness of the classroom, and the first student stepped into the empty space.

  Boy, girl. Boy, boy, girl.

  One after another they trickled in, and as the seats filled, I remained in the far corner, leaning up against the bookcase.

  I always did this whenever I started a new class, especially at a new school. I observed. It was interesting to see how the students interacted before they knew I was there. Before they put on a good show and behaved as they were expected to.

  Talking, giggling, and flirting, the students on the first day were always excited to see one another. It was the perfect opportunity to catch them in that snapshot of their true selves. That moment of unobserved freedom.

  As everyone took their seats and the second bell peeled through the halls, I pushed away from the shelves and moved to stand in front of the old wooden desk at the front of my classroom.

  One by one, heads lifted, and when they found me waiting on them, and realized I’d been standing there all along, they immediately settled. The talking subsided and slipped into whispers and then finally, silence.

  I remained steady and still until I had every last person’s attention. Then the door opened for the final time that morning and she stepped into my classroom. Late.

  I looked at her—she looked at me.

  My ending, staring right at me from the very beginning.

  * * *

  Hating that I was late, I rushed through the classroom door and was shocked to be faced with a man instead of Mrs. Ross.

  This was a stranger. A stranger who knew nothing of Addison Lancaster, and right now he was regarding me with annoyance.

  That was the moment I first saw Mr. McKendrick.

  He was the teacher every girl dreamed about. The one that we all had a crush on the second we saw him. With brown hair streaked gold by the sun and pulled back into a short, messy ponytail at the nape of his neck, he was unlike any teacher I’d ever seen before—and my reaction to him was immediate and potent.

  “And who might you be?”

  That voice. I swear it touched me—I was that affected.

  “Miss?”

  Blinking once, I tried to clear my mind and realized that, for one brief moment, the ticking had stopped. My body had overpowered my mind, something that never happened with me.

  “Miss? I’m talking to you.”

  Laughter erupted from the class, and suddenly it was back—tick, tick, tock.

  The new teacher turned on my loud classmates, and as their mouths closed, the room plunged back into tense silence.

  Wow, that was some kind of authority right there. One glance from him, and my unruly peers shut down…became respectful—and we weren’t even ten minutes into the period.

  Again, his eyes came back to mine and even as they conveyed his irritation, they also held something else. Something I instantly craved.

  This cover that I had so carefully constructed had caught his eye.

  Like a lion, his stare was fierce as he appraised me. All men did—they couldn’t seem to help it. No matter how inappropriate they knew it was, I always drew their attention.

  With my wide, bowed lips, innocent blue eyes, and a figure that belonged on a twenty-something—I knew what I had and I was never afraid to use it. Unlike most men, whose expression betrayed their unwanted interest, I pictured this one stalking me from across the room and me allowing it.

  “Miss? I asked you a question.”

  I’d forgotten what he’d asked the minute I saw him. I was too busy imagining him touching me, tasting me. It took four long strides for him to be close enough that I could see the dark stubble dotting his jawline.

  “You’re late,” he stated, his tone impenetrable as he opted for a different route. “On your first day. Not a fantastic way to start the school year, wouldn’t you agree?”

  Aiming a coy look at him from beneath my lashes, I finally found my voice and assured myself a firm place on his shit list.

  “Maybe you could keep me after school and teach me to tell time.”

  What a joke that was, considering my obsession when it came to time management. Not that he knew that.

  “Since it’s the first day, I don’t think that will be necessary. But from now on, be on time. Your name, please.”

  “Addison. Addison Lancaster.”

  “Thank you. Now go and take a seat.”

  Shrugging my bag farther up on my shoulder, I spun on my toes and made my way down the second aisle of desks with a little more sway to my hips than usual. Glancing at Brandon, I noticed him wink, reminding me of exactly why I’d been running late. Returning the sexy gesture, I owned the sensual smile I aimed his way as it spread across my mouth.

  Flirting to me was like breathing to everyone else, and I always made sure I had their attention when I put on a show. As the school’s track champion, I strived for perfection, and I liked seeing the results of my efforts. I was their role model, their person to admire—and to hate.

  Everyone, including the teachers, knew me, and everyone loved me. Except for the man standing at the front of my world history class. He definitely did not love me, but I’d always liked a challenge. It was in my nature to win.

  I took my seat and let my bag slide slowly down my shoulder and onto the floor. I crossed one leg over the other and returned my attention to my new teacher whose eyes were moving methodically over each and every one of us, before finally coming back to rest on mine.

  He studied me for a moment in a way that felt calculated before moving on to Jessica, who was seated in the aisle to my right. Just like that—I was dismissed.

  “My name is Mr. McKendrick. I’m going to be your world history teacher this year, not Mrs. Ross. I have very few rules, but one of them is to be on time,” he stated in a perfunctory tone as he paced the front of the room. “The other is a little unorthodox. I want you to be curious…but respectful. Ask questions. Challenge one another. I want you looking outside the box, so to speak, because that is where you
ll find some of the most fascinating discoveries.”

  Mr. McKendrick.

  He was intriguing and definitely outside the box.

  I was, without a doubt, fascinated.

  * * *

  She watched me from her seat—third row from the back, two aisles in—with eyes so blue I could see them from where I was standing. They locked on mine the second she settled, and she continued to scrutinize me.

  As I stood at the front of the class introducing the course, I waited for my morals and drummed-in ethics to assert themselves. To remind me that I wasn’t supposed to be affected by a student’s inspection.

  Thirty minutes later, and I was still waiting.

  I sat at my desk and observed the students quietly working on their first assignment, but I continued to be drawn back to the young lady who had shown up late.

  She was positively alluring. From her porcelain skin to the curls of chestnut hair that bounced against the curve of her high, full breasts—Addison Lancaster was more woman than girl, and she was dangerous.

  The other males in the room knew it too if the way they acted around her was any indication. They seemed caught on every lick of her plump, red lips—and yes, I had caught those too.

  So there I sat, trying to work out what it was that was making her impossible to ignore and then she glanced up, and I knew.

  It was those eyes. They held secrets they shouldn’t have.

  Dark, sad, and inviting all rolled into one, and yet, she was far too young to possibly understand any of those emotions in their absolute form.

  Breaking the searing connection, I focused back on my textbook, but all I continued to feel was Addison Lancaster watching me.

  * * *

  The first day of school went by faster than I expected and everything was exactly how it should be. Except for Mr. McKendrick. I had not expected him.

 
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