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

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

Cole looks beautiful in his suit. The color is so dark that it makes his eyes look like sapphires. He straightens his tie as he looks at me sitting on his blue chair, with my robe barely covering me. “You make it impossible to leave, you know that, right?”

I pull my knees to my chest and see his eyes follow the sweep of my bare hip. “I know.” My heart is racing at the thought of being alone. I’m afraid of the stalker. I wonder if he’s waiting for me, watching me. I don’t want Cole to leave, but I try to banish the crazy thoughts before they make me nuts. I’m not living my life like this. A bolt of determination strikes me and I try to tempt Cole into staying a little longer.

A wicked grin crosses my lips. I stand and allow the robe to fall to the floor. Walking toward Cole, I wear nothing but a smile. Cole freezes. His eyes watch me move toward him. Tension lines his shoulders and spills down into his arms. God, that suit makes him look gorgeous. When I reach Cole, I thread my arms around his neck and gently kiss his lips. The feel soft and warm, completely perfect.

Cole sucks in a breath and slowly releases it after the kiss. His eyes close as he does it. I step away, loving the effect I have on him. Cole smiles for a moment and then his eyes open. He looks me over and says, “I want you wearing that exact same outfit next time I see you.” Cole grins, winking at me before he starts to gather his things and move towards the front door.

I laugh, following him. “I’m sure Sottero will appreciate a buck-naked Anna at court.”

“I know I would,” he says, not looking back at me.

I fold my arms across my chest and lean against the doorway. “Maybe I shouldn’t come today. I mean, she’s just going to try and use me against you—to prove whatever whacked point she’s trying to make.”

Cole turns and meets my gaze. He only looks at my face, but I can tell he’s fighting the urge to let his eyes dip lower. “There’s no way for your testimony to support her claim since you weren’t there.”

“But you were, and it doesn’t seem to matter what you say.” I wish I could make this go away. I can’t stand watching this happen to him.

“I haven’t been fighting this, Anna, but now I intend to. I’m not letting it slide. I’m changing my name before my father’s attorney forces me to and I’m fighting back.” He looks at me for a moment. At first I think he’s asking me if it’s okay, and then I realize that he’s telling me. There’s no question in his voice. He knows what he wants. He knows what he’s doing and he’s informing me of his intentions.

“There are some things that are worth fighting for.” He winks at me, repeating my words back to me. I nod and smile softly. I don’t want him to get hurt, but I think he’s made the right choice. I can’t hide it. Cole smiles at me. “Don’t do anything stupid. Keep the doors locked until you leave. Get in and out of your apartment as fast as possible. Stay out of alleys and abandoned buildings. I’ll see you this afternoon.”

“Cole,” my voice catches. I step toward him, hesitant. “Do you think he can get in here?”

“No, baby,” he shakes his head. “The doorman doesn’t let random people in, and your bike should be fine in the garage. No one can get in there either without the guard letting them through. There are a ton of cameras down there, too. Are you going to ride your motorcycle in later?”

“I don’t know. Which is better? The bike or the train? I could end up in a car alone. With the bike, I’ll end up in the parking garage alone. I can park the bike on the street when I get there.” Goosebumps prickle my arms as I speak. I hate this. I’m altering my life because of this douche. I rub the bumps away, but the creeped-out feeling still lingers on my skin.

“Take your bike. I’ll keep an eye out for you, and you better believe that if you’re a second late, that I’ll come looking for you.” I smile. Cole crosses the room and pulls me to his chest. He presses a kiss firmly to the top of my head and says, “No one will hurt you.”

I nod as he pulls away. I watch Cole walk out the door and my pulse ticks up a notch. It nearly explodes when I shower. The scene from Psycho keeps playing through my mind in an endless loop. I watch the suds swirl down the drain and remember the ribbons of blood on the bottom of the tub from that movie. By the time I get out of the shower, I’ve nearly peed myself twice.

“Stop it, Anna.” I say out loud, just to prove that I’m alone. The back of my neck won’t stop prickling. It feels like a ghost is breathing down my beck. I go to Cole’s stereo and turn it on, hoping that the noise will help. I blow out my damp hair and clip it back to the nape of my neck. I want to dress, but there’s nothing here. I’d already discussed this with Cole. Emma should be home and as long as she is, I’m going to grab my suit. If not, the backup plan is to buy another one. Maybe it’s a stupid time to be cheap, but I really want my suit. It fits me right and there’s no way I’m going to find another one in a few hours and make it to the courthouse on time.

I call Emma, hoping she’s home. She picks up on the third ring. “Anna, are you okay?”

“Yeah, Em. I’m fine. I’m at Cole’s. Are you okay?”

“God!” she spews swear words at me like a drunk gremlin and then asks, “What the hell happened? Edward said an animal got in, and then James came by to make sure you were okay. He said you asked him if he saw someone leaving the apartment? Anna, what the hell is going on?”

“Edward didn’t tell you?”

“Tell me what?”

Rage shot through me. I clenched my free hand and wanted to hurl the phone at the wall. “That someone got in yesterday? He was supposed to stay with you last night. Did he—”

She cut me off, “Yeah, he stayed, but he didn’t tell me crap. He just said that he wasn’t leaving. The ass slept on the couch all night. He was really tense, so of course, we fought like crazy. Then, when I tried to call you, you didn’t answer.” Em breathes, trying to steady her tirade. “How’d you know someone got inside?”

My veins fill with ice when she asks the question. The red letters flash in my mind. I steady my voice. “Because they wrote something on my mirror with my lipstick—‘whore.’” My voice is too soft. I can’t hide how much this is freaking me out. Emma is silent. I expected that she’d be spewing foul words, but she says nothing. “Em?”

“Sorry, Anna. Oh my God. I didn’t know.” She coughs and clears her through. It sounds normal when she speaks again. “Do you think it was a fluke? Like a random break-in or something.”

I want to say yes, but I know it’s not. I can feel it. “No, it’s not random. I’ve felt like I’ve been watched for a while now. Some nights, I would have sworn someone was following me, but I never saw anyone. Then this happened. Anyway, I wanted you to know. Our apartment isn’t safe. Neither of us should be there alone.”

“Edward said the same thing. He wouldn’t leave. I thought he was just being an ass. Damn, Anna. I had no idea. What do we do?”

“I don’t know. I told you, Cole, and Edward. I guess we just hope that the guy stops. It’s not like I can get a restraining order or something. There’s nothing to report.”

“There was no broken glass?”


“How’d he get in?”

I shrug and shift the phone to my other ear. “I don’t know. I’m assuming he got in the same way the raccoon did—through the chimney—but I don’t know.” That doesn’t make sense, but then again, neither does anything else. “I need to run by there to grab a suit. I have to appear for Sottero later today and I don’t have anything here. Any chance that you’re still home?”

“Yeah. I’m still here. Come by and get what you need. I’ll wait for you.”

I pull on my clothes and race down to the garage to grab my bike. When I enter the parking lot, I look around longer than usual and then try my best not to run. My skin prickles again and my entire body is covered in goosebumps. No one is there. Anger rushes through me, but it’s not enough to choke back the fear.

I have the key in hand and have already strapped my helmet onto my head. As I get closer, I see something on the seat. The seat is black, but there is something on top of the leather that looks like a black tissue. When I’m a foot from the bike, I recognize what it is. My spine goes straight and my heart jerks to a stop. My eyes go wide as I stare at my favorite pair of black panties that went missing. They are tucked under the seat strap. I’m so creeped-out that I don’t want to sit on the bike. I glance at the guard in the booth and then back at my bike, at the panties. Someone took them. Someone found me here and put them on my bike, on the seat, where I’d be sure to find them. My heart is racing like a scared rabbit. The trembling in my hands is spilling into my stomach in icy waves. I feel sick, like I’m going to puke. Anger bubbles into the mix. I’m angry that someone is doing this to me. I’m angry that he got so close and I didn’t notice. How could I be so stupid?

I refuse to let this ass get to me. I whip my head around, feeling the blood coursing through me like a bottle of shaken champagne. I feel wired. If he steps out of the shadows now, I’ll rip his eyes out with my nails. My muscles tense, waiting for someone to appear, but no one materializes. No one claims the fear that ignited within me. I’m alone.

I take the panties and stuff them under the seat. I kickstart the bike and peel out, leaving skid marks behind. I speed all the way home.


By the time I get home, I’m calm again. I shove my key into the lock, ready to twist it open when Emma throws the door open and pulls me into her arms. She bear hugs me until my ribs are breaking. I can’t breathe and try to pry her off of me.

Edward is sitting on the couch. He stands and walks over. Resting a hand on Em’s shoulder, he says, “She needs to breathe, Emma. Let go. She’s fine.”

Emma releases me and looks me over. She tucks a strand of dark hair behind her ear, and acts like she doesn’t believe that I’m fine. “Let me look at you. Did something else happen?”

Damn it, Emma. How does she do that?

“No,” I lie and walk into the kitchen. My brain asks, Why are you lying, but I don’t want to think about it. I don’t want any of this. I shake my head and smile lamely. “I’m just frazzled. Some ass in a truck almost ran me over.”

“How can you be so calm about this?” Emma scolds. “What if it was the stalker?”

Uhm, I’m freaking out inside. Wow, did she read me wrong. “I’m not calm. I’m freaked, okay?” I turn to her and snap. I don’t mean to. I shake my head and close my eyes. “I’m sorry, Em. I’m just kind of freaked. I’m going to stay at Cole’s for a while, until this blows over. I just wanted to be sure that someone could stay here with you. Or maybe you should crash at your mom’s for a while.”

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