Home > Secrets Vol. 2 (Secrets #2)(2)

Secrets Vol. 2 (Secrets #2)(2)
Author: H.M. Ward

When our eyes lock, I wonder what he's thinking, what he sees when he looks at me. Previously, he's said I was a child, but his gaze now says otherwise. The intensity of his eyes makes me hot. A current runs through the center of my body. I can't look away. Cole leans closer until I feel his breath wash across my lips. Every inch of me is vibrating. I want him to touch me, to feel his palm against my face and taste his beautiful lips.

My gaze drifts to his mouth. He blinks slowly, once, and I know he's going to pull away. Before he has the chance, I pretend that nothing happened, that I don't feel the attraction. I lean into his chest before he can say anything and rest my head against his shoulder.

Surprise fills me when Cole's arms wrap around me, pulling me tight. We stay like that for a long time, each of us too afraid to move. This is the first time I know how much of an effect Cole Stevens has on me. It shakes me to my core. The dream blindsided me, and there's no stopping it.

My body has reacted to him from day one, but I refused to acknowledge it.

After a few moments, we pull apart. Cole lowers himself to the floor and I close my eyes and lean back on my pillow. I twist the blankets between my fingers. My heart thumps in my chest like I'm startled. I am startled. I like him. I have a thing for Cole. Every muscle inside me cords tightly, my while fingers tug at the afghan in near panic.

Chapter 2

The next morning, I wake up ready to pretend nothing happened, not that anything really did happen. It just feels like it did. Cole isn't next to me on the floor when I sit up. His blankets are folded on a chair. He let me sleep and is enduring my parents alone. Quickly, I pull on my jeans and tank top, and run a brush through my hair. As I approach the stairs, I hear my mother's voice. She's laughing, along with my dad and Cole.

When I get to the top of the stairs, I hesitate. Cole is sitting with my parents and it appears that they are having a somewhat normal conversation. I stand still, listening.

Ma says to Cole, "So what about this one? Was this airbrushed?" She pushes the paper toward him. Cole reaches out and slides it closer while sipping his coffee.

He nods, "Yes, the models in the ads are Photoshopped - that's like airbrushing, but it's more than that. All of these are manipulated to some extent. Real thighs don't look like that."

Ma tugs the paper away and looks at it closer, "How do you know? I can't see it. And this girl is so skinny. Her thighs could really look like that."

Cole shakes his head and pulls the paper back. "It's my job. We do this all day long. So does Anna, and she's very good at it. But, sometimes on the cheaper product lines you can see artifacts, like - " he's turning pages. After flipping three times, he stops and smooths the newsprint, "here. See this?"

Ma tugs the paper back, and her jaw drops. She thrusts the pages at Dad, who is smiling like he already knows all this stuff. "Frankie, did you see this? Did you know they could do that?"

"Yeah. They've been doing that for years. I told you real women don't look like that. You're beautiful and always have been. Those twigs got nothing on you, baby," he takes her hand while he's talking. He's always adored her. They gaze at each other.

Cole smiles and looks up, seeing me in the doorway. He stands and crosses the room, "Good morning, lover. Can I get you some breakfast?" He kisses me on the cheek and I nearly fall over. A voice inside my head giggles hysterically and instructs me to never wash my face again. I stare at Cole as he takes a plate and fills it with pancakes and sausages. He hands it to me and grabs me a cup of coffee. "Come on. Sit. Eat. We have time."

I make my way to the table. We sit together and eat. The conversation doesn't drift to loins or babies. A smile spreads across my face and I can't hide it.


It's Saturday. By the time I get back to the apartment, Emma is gone. I get in the shower, and crank up the hot water. I stand there letting it wash over me until my skin is numb. There are so many things that I want to do, but I don't know where to start. Cole left my parent's house right after breakfast. His driver picked him up in a shiny black car. He offered to take me home, but I didn't want to leave my bike behind. I thanked him and told him I'd be in later.

This week has been so strange. If someone told me that the man who shattered my dreams last weekend would be spending the night with me and starring in my naughty fantasies, I wouldn't have believed them.

Before I leave for work, I call Edward and tell him that I want to meet up with him later. Breaking up is going to suck, but it's inevitable. There's no future for us. This is more humane, even if he does love me. I just hope that he'll understand. I can't change for him, and he shouldn't have to change for me. Somewhere out there, there's a girl that's perfect for him, and I know that it's not me.

I tug on a pair of shorts and a cami. I'm not really dressed for work, but there are no clients today and it's insanely hot. I leave my motorcycle in the garage across the street and make my way to Le Femme via the subway, then trek the last stretch on foot. By the time I arrive, my cute outfit is soaked in sweat and my hair is deflated. I look horrible. After I push through the door, I walk to the mirror, trying to salvage my appearance, at least a little bit. Snatching a tissue, I blot the sweat off my face. Most of my make-up floated away a few blocks back. Sun-freckles and rosy cheeks peek back at me. The sheen on my face refuses to be tamed. I stand there for a second and look at the tissue, wondering if I should even bother.

"Hey," Cole walks up behind me. His voice sounds soft at first, almost timid. "You're here. And... um, wow... You look..."

I huff, "Like a mess. Tell me there are no clients today. Please. I can't fix this." I gesture to my face which is glowing again in an I-just-worked-out kind of way.

Cole leans back on Miss Todd's empty desk. The muscles in his arms bulge. His shirt clings to his body and I realize that I haven't seen him dressed like this before. He looks like he's headed for the beach, wearing shorts and a tee shirt. The office is a warmer than usual. There's a sheen of sweat on his skin. He grins, "There are no clients. We're editing all day. And you look great, so don't worry about it."

I laugh, "Yeah. Nice try, but I saw the way I rendered you silent a few seconds ago." The way he looks at me makes my stomach flip. It's like seeing me in a disheveled mess makes him like me more. I stop fussing in front of the mirror and toss the tissue.

He slides off the desks and walks toward me, "The air conditioner is having issues. We'll be lucky if it doesn't totally die. The repair guys will be here later to work on it. Come on. Let's get to editing." He tilts his head and turns. Cole shoves his hands in his pockets and I follow him back to the studio.

A few hours later, sweat is pouring off of me. The air conditioner totally died and the repair guy hasn't shown up. Cole calls them and is assured that we are next on the list, so we sit and wait. I stop editing and lay down on the cool concrete floor. Sweat was dripping into my computer keyboard; it's so insanely hot up here. The cement feels nice on the back of my neck and legs. I sigh and fold my hands behind my head.

When Cole notices, he walks over and stands above me, his hands on his hips, "Get up, Lamore. There's more work to be done, and we'll be here until tomorrow at this rate." He holds out a hand to me.

I don't take it. "It's got to be 20 degrees cooler down here. We should move the computer to the floor. This is way better." When I don't take his hand, Cole cocks his head and places his hands on his hips. I laugh. He looks ridiculous, "What? Are you gonna yell at me? It's like a hundred degrees in here. Besides, you'd be sitting on the floor if you could get up again. Ya know, without using that button around your neck." I change my voice to mimic the old lady on the TV, "Help! I've fallen and I can't get up!" My laughter obscures my words by the time I finish teasing him.

Cole moves fast. He falls to his knees and lands by my side before starting a tickle fight that brings tears to my eyes. His fingers move over my slick skin. I'm laughing so hard that I can't breathe.

"If I could get up again," he mutters with a smile on his face. "I'm not that much older than you, Lamore. In fact, you're going to be the one who begs for help getting up." He tickles me more. My legs kick as I try to roll out of reach. I manage to flop onto my stomach, but he grabs my ankle and pulls me back. I squeal as my cami hikes up. Frantically, my hands shift from the tickle fight, trying to keep my shirt from revealing too much skin.

Cole is laughing, "Surrender, Lamore. Beg me for help." He bats his eyes and says in a girlie voice, "I've fallen and I can't get up." His fingers wiggle against the bare skin at my waist, as I laugh hysterically.

Kicking at him, my foot connects with the side of his face by accident. The impact is audible. I didn't mean to do that. Startled, we both pause for a moment. His jaw drops, so does mine. No one laughs. No one breathes until he grins, saying, "You're gonna pay for that."

Before he grabs for me, I try to crab crawl away, but Cole yanks my leg and I fall on my back. Suddenly he's over me, his hands trying to still my wrists. We roll around on the floor for a minute, both of us much hotter than a few minutes ago. Sweat trickles down my face. The little beads roll down my neck and into my cl**vage. Cole's eyes trace the movement. I try to knock him off his knees, but when he goes down, he pins my body to the floor, clutching my wrists.

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