Home > Secrets Vol. 5 (Secrets #5)(2)

Secrets Vol. 5 (Secrets #5)(2)
Author: H.M. Ward

I shut the door behind me and flip the deadbolt lock even though its daylight. My throat is so tight and dry that I can’t swallow. Hysteria pushes its way through my veins. I want to get out of here and never come back.

I go back to my room, find my phone, and press in the numbers for Emma. I have to tell her even if I don’t want to. If she comes back here alone and something happens to her, I’ll never forgive myself. Em’s voicemail picks up, since she’s still at work.

I try to say it briefly, but as I’m talking, I think that I sound way too scared for what happened. So someone wrote something nasty on my mirror?

Someone was in your apartment, Anna! My mind snaps back. Shaking my head, I change the reason for the call and tell her a raccoon got in and to be careful when she gets home. I hang up and tap my phone. For some reason, I can’t say it. I can’t admit what happened, yet. At the same time, I don’t want her walking in here at night, alone. I have to do something.

I call his number without thinking. He picks up on the second ring. “Edward?”

His voice sounds surprised, “Anna? What’s going on?”

“Any chance you could come over later? I have an appointment and I don’t want Em alone here.”

He asks what happened. I tell him about the raccoon, and that I’m a little on edge. I don’t know where it came from and the more I think about it, the less likely it seems that it came down the chimney. I wonder if the perv threw it in the apartment when he came in. I fall silent and Edward says something, but I don’t respond. I blink, looking at my mirror.

“I’ll head over now, okay? You sound out of sorts.” I start to protest, but he’s gone. I look at my phone and the screen’s gone black.

I run to the kitchen and get the Windex. I scrub away the letters before anyone else can see them. I pick up my make-up and put it away, but one tube of lipstick is missing. The one that was used to write on the mirror is gone. I can’t think about it. I need Cole. My mind feels like its floating in glue and doesn’t want to think. My thoughts are sluggish. The shakes calm down to a small tremor. I fold my arms over my chest to hide it.

I pace the apartment, looking for signs of entry, but there is nothing. Just the hole in the old chimney. That fireplace was part of the reason why we chose this apartment. Although it doesn’t work, the hearth is really cute. I stare at the busted up wood and the door buzzes.

I check to make sure it’s Edward first, and then let him in. His dark hair is wet like he just took a shower. He’s wearing jeans with a cream colored shirt that’s tucked in neatly at his waist. He looks me over once. “What’s the matter?”

His question makes me want to cry, but I can’t say it. It sounds stupid. I’m crying because there was a nasty word on my mirror. I’m crying because I’m not a whore, but someone thinks I am. Biting my bottom lip, I shake my head and don’t look him in the eye. “Nothing’s wrong, just frazzled. That raccoon scared the hell out of me. I need to finish getting ready. Maybe you can seal up the fireplace? It looks like he came in that way.” Lies, lies, lies. The pit of my stomach twists. I hate lying.

Edward nods and walks away from me, into the living room. I return to my bedroom and feel a little bit better since I’m not alone. I hear Edward moving things and then the sound of wood snapping as he cleans up.

I pull the heated flat iron through my hair, careful not to burn myself. When I finish, I look like a different person. I put on a different outfit than I originally intended. I grab a pair of black leather pants and a tight tank. I put my make-up on darker than usual, trying to hide the fear in my eyes. I don’t want this to ruin my night with Cole. He already has too much on his plate, and in comparison, this seems silly.

Edward wraps his knuckles on my open door. He stands in the open doorway watching me as I apply a coat of mascara. “It’s boarded up.”

“Thanks,” I say, trying not to stab myself in the eye. I hold the wand and glance at him, “Do you mind hanging out until Emma gets here?” I look at the mirror and carefully brush my lashes with the black goop. My hand shakes slightly. I rest it on the dresser and take a breath. Why can’t I calm down?

Edward leans against the door frame and folds his arms over his chest. I can tell that he isn’t going to cooperate unless he knows what’s going on. “What’s this about, Anna? I can tell something’s bothering you. Just tell me. Maybe I can fix it.” His eyes burn a hole in the side of my face. He hated it when I wore makeup when we were dating. He likes that au natural thing going on.

“I don’t want to get into it now, Edward.” I finish and put the make up back in my drawer. I turn to him and say, “Please, do this?”

Edward nods once, but his eyes don’t leave mine. I feel a chill work its way through my body. He never had sex with me and he’s watching me get dressed to have sex with someone else. The way he looks me over makes me nervous, but then again, everything makes me nervous right now. I go to brush past him, when he gently takes me by the elbow and stops me. I turn toward him.

“You’d tell me if you were in trouble, right?” he asks. “We may not be lovers anymore, but I hope you still think of me as a friend.”

Breathing slowly, I feel his fingers on my arm. The contact feels wrong. I turn toward him so his fingers slip away. I want to say that we were never lovers, but I know where he wants this conversation to go, and I don’t want to rehash the past. I want to get to Cole and stay with him until all my apprehension fades away.

I smile and say, “Of course, I do. Like you even need to ask that, Edward? I could have called anyone, but I called you.”

I walk down the hall and grab my helmet. Strapping it under my chin quickly, I grab my keys. Edward speaks as I get ready to go. His eyes are downcast, making him look vulnerable. “You only called me because I’m Em’s brother. If it was just you here, alone, we both know who you would have called.” He means Cole.

“But I didn’t. I called you. You’re here now. And I could have called him anyway, but I didn’t.”

Edward looks at me funny, his head tilting slightly, “You didn’t tell him?”

“Tell him what? That a rabid animal tried to take a bath with me? No. It seems more embarrassing than anything.”

“What else happened, Anna? I can see it in your eyes.” He steps towards me and my heart ricochets off my ribs. I can’t talk about it. I squirm away from him.

“Someone got in, okay. I don’t want to talk about it, but I can’t let Emma come home and find a pervert in her room.”

“Someone broke in?” he asks, his eyes narrowing as he shakes his head. “Anna, did you call the cops?” I shake my head. Edward looks at me, things finally clicking into place. “You didn’t tell anyone, did you?”

“I told you,” I bit back. It feels like I ate a can of nails. I can’t stand the way he’s looking at me. I can’t stand the way I feel, like my heart is going to explode at any moment. Just talking about it makes everything worse. “Just watch out for Em.” I turn toward the door and place my hand on the knob.

Edward shakes his head and follows me to the door. “Fine, fine,” he says reassuringly. “I’ll be here when Em gets home, but I’ve got to tell you that you’re a real piece of work.”

“Right back at ya.”


I pick at a tomato on my plate. We’re sitting in Cole’s apartment. When I arrived he greeted me with the sexiest grin I’ve ever seen. “I didn’t think you were into that,” he says, eyeing my outfit.

I smile back, but I’m still nervous. When I pulled my bike out the parking garage, I got spooked. My neck prickled and I’m to the point that I’m ready to jump out of my skin. The thing is, I don’t know how to tell him. Cole is great, and it’s not that he won’t understand, it’s more that he’ll over-react. Saying what happened out loud makes the whole stalker thing real, although if I think about it at all, the lipstick letters on my mirror already did that.

We’re sitting at his table, which is made from some exotic dark wood. I lean back in my chair and look up at him. “I had something weird happen today.”

“Tell me about it.” Cole grins at me. He expects a wild story and he’s going to get one. My stomach twists as I think about telling him and a lump forms in my throat. The smile slips from his lips. Cole leans forward and takes my hand. “What’s wrong?” It’s a command. I can see it in his eyes.

I don’t want to wriggle out of telling him, but it feels wrong to tell. Maybe I’m stupid, yes, that’s it—I’m a class A, completely insane idiot. I have to tell someone. Worry pinches my throat tight. What if he doesn’t believe me? What if he thinks it’s nothing? Stop it, Anna! Just tell him. I suck in air and dive into my story starting with the bathtub and ending with James flushing the raccoon out the front door. Cole’s eyes widen as I tell it, but he doesn’t laugh. He hears my voice hitch and become smaller, more strained as the story goes on.

“And then what?” His blue eyes lock with mine.

I can’t look away and the feeling climbing up my throat won’t subdue. It’s raw fear. I try to keep it out of my voice when I speak, but I can’t. I lick my lips and take a breath. “When I got to my room, I noticed that someone had been there. They took my lipstick and wrote something on my mirror.”

Cole’s body tenses. Every muscle in his strong arms twitches. He’s no longer eating. Cole looks at me, his lips parted slightly. His fingers ball into fists. He’s fighting back the reaction he wants to have. Fury. “What was written on the mirror, Anna?” His voice is soft. It’s the opposite of his body.

My lips are sealed shut. I can’t speak. My voice won’t come. My lips won’t move. Cole comes around the table and pulls me into his arms. I start to sob into his shoulder. He pats my head and I manage to blubber out, “Whore. He wrote ‘whore’ on my mirror with my lipstick. The tube is gone. He took it.”

Cole says soothing things that don’t register. He holds me tight and the crushing fear that I felt all day cracks and falls away. He pulls me from the embrace and holds me at arms-length for a moment, trying to see my face. Looking into my eyes, he says, “You didn’t see anyone? Hear anyone?”

I shake my head. “No. At first, I thought there was a person at the bathroom door, not an animal. I saw shadows and thought they were feet. Then I open the door and it’s a raccoon. I was convinced that I was going nuts, that it was just an animal in the apartment, until I saw the mirror.” My eyes are glassy, but I’ve stopped crying. “I asked James if he saw anyone leave, but he didn’t.”

“The apartment was locked up?”

I nod. “It’s not like it’s Ft. Knox, but I’m pretty sure everything was locked.”

“Is there anything else missing? Or out of place?”

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