Made of steel (made of s.., p.29
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       Made of Steel (Made of Steel Series Book 1), p.29

           Ivy Smoak
 

  Chapter 24

  Thursday

  I woke in a tangle of limbs. His fingers on my skin. My cheek on his chest. I took a deep breath. He smelled like sunshine and citrus. It was probably his laundry detergent. But I could smell it on his skin. He smelled like happiness. I clung to him like he was the only thing in this world I needed. I wanted to stay like this forever. No questions. No worried looks. Just this feeling of security. It was more than that though. I lightly trailed my fingers down his six pack. He was a perfect human specimen. I had no idea what someone like him was doing with someone like me. He was whole. I was broken.

  "Good morning," he whispered.

  I lifted my face off his chest. "Good morning." No one should look as good as he did right after waking up.

  He tucked a loose strand of hair behind my ear. "How are you feeling?"

  "Better. I'm sorry about last night."

  "You didn't do anything wrong." His brown eyes seemed to bore into my soul. "But I wish you would talk to me about what happened."

  I propped myself up on my elbow and looked over his shoulder. Kins wasn't in her bed. The alarm clock on my nightstand read 9 am. "You missed your first class."

  "I don't care about that. The only thing I care about right now is you. I'm just trying to understand, Sadie. But if you don't want to talk to me about this, maybe you can talk to someone else."

  "You mean like a therapist?"

  "Or someone else that you trust."

  The only person I could talk to was Mr. Crawford. And if I talked to him, he'd take me away. "That's not why I don't want to talk about it. I do trust you." I sat up in my bed.

  "Then talk to me."

  "I need to keep the past in the past. I'm trying to live in the present. I just don't want to think about it." I can't think about it.

  "Can I at least ask you one question? That's all I need. Because I don't know how I'm supposed to drop this if I don't know the answer."

  "Okay."

  "The person that did that to you. Are they here? Are they in New York?"

  I shook my head.

  "So that's from before you came here?"

  I nodded.

  He slowly sat up. "So you're safe now?"

  Maybe? He had asked me three questions now. Not one. Mr. Crawford thought I was safe here. Eli knowing more would make me unsafe. Miles being here made me unsafe. "I'm safe," I lied. The truth was, I'd never truly be safe. Don would find me. He always found me.

  "Can I see it?"

  Four questions. "It's not as bad as it looks."

  "Please, Sadie."

  Would he really let this go? Would we be able to move past this? I slowly pulled my hoodie off and pushed my hair over my shoulders. There was no hiding now. He had already seen it. He already knew.

  He pressed his lips together as he shook his head. "Sadie." His voice sounded tight.

  Every day it got better. Every day it faded. I needed the memory to disappear with the bruises. I couldn't talk about it anymore. "I'm okay."

  "Someone tried to kill you."

  "But they didn't."

  "I know you don't want to talk to me, but I want to understand. I want to help."

  "You are helping. This is helping me." I gestured back and forth between us. "It's been a long time since I've been this happy." I pushed my hair back in front of my neck. "But I get it. If this is too much..."

  "Sadie, I meant what I said last night. I'm not going to hurt you."

  "I don't want you to feel obligated to stay with me. Trust me, I don't need anyone's pity. I've gotten plenty of that already."

  "This doesn't change how I feel about you."

  If you knew everything it would.

  His phone started buzzing in his pocket. He ignored it and grabbed my hand. "Sadie, I really like you. I felt sick to my stomach all day yesterday because I thought you were mad at me. You know that I care about you. I'm sorry if I'm not reacting the way you want me to react. But of course I'm upset. How could I not be when you tell me something like that?"

  "I just want to forget it ever happened. I don't want to talk about it ever again. Please don't tell anyone about this."

  His lips parted like he was about to say something, but they immediately closed again. "If that's what you want."

  I pulled my hoodie back on. "That's what I want."

  We were both silent for a moment. He climbed off my bed and pulled his shirt back on. I watched him slowly button it up.

  "Does it hurt?" he asked it without looking at me. He was staring down at the ground.

  Yes. But the memory hurts more. "Barely. You're going to be late for your next class."

  "I'm sorry. I won't ask about it again."

  I followed his gaze. His hands were clenched into fists. He was angry. But it wasn't directed at me. He was angry for me. He did feel my pain. No one had ever felt my pain before.

  "Can you walk me home after work again?"

  He lifted his head and smiled.

  I was worried I'd never see that smile again.

  "Of course. Nine o'clock again?"

  I nodded.

  "I should get going." He stepped forward and placed a gentle kiss on my forehead.

  It didn't feel intimate. It felt protective. And I was worried everything had just changed. My past and present were colliding, and I didn't know how to make it stop.

 
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