Home > Secrets Vol. 5 (Secrets #5)(8)

Secrets Vol. 5 (Secrets #5)(8)
Author: H.M. Ward

Cole has been standing across the room. One cop is watching both of us. They don’t want us talking to each other. Cole moves toward me, but the officer shakes his head. “I’m sorry. One more minute. The medics will be here and you can tell us what happened.”

I nod and sadness sticks to my insides like syrup. I feel like I can’t breathe. Cole steps toward me. He’s shaking, probably with rage, but he says nothing to me. Cole’s face is pinched. His arms are folded across his chest. Blood streaks his shirt with tiny beads splattered on his cheek. He looks older somehow. It’s his eyes. They reflect his fear and it’s all I can do to sit still without shivering. Guilt slams into me. I did this. I made this happen. Edward did this because I led him on. I had to do something, didn’t I? My eyes sting. I blink and look at my hands as I twist them together.

The paramedics arrive and swamp me and Edward. They poke me, ask me things that I know—like my name, when I was born, and that kind of thing. Then they ask what happened. I glance across the room, but Cole has been separated from me. He stands with the officers who arrived earlier with his back turned toward me. Cole’s speaking, but his eyes keep cutting across the room to me when he looks over his shoulder. Edward’s blood is on Cole’s shirt. They probably think Cole stabbed Edward.

“It was me,” I croak, trying to speak loudly, but I find that I can’t. The officers look at me and nod. Their eyes say they’ve seen this before. One smiles sadly at me and says that everything will be taken care of, to let the medics do their work.

Cole speaks to me, his voice filled with something that breaks my heart. “It’s all right, Anna. Let them look at you.”

The paramedic next to me wants me to open my mouth. They check my throat and offer a rape kit, but I wasn’t raped. Edward didn’t get that far. I want them gone, but no one leaves. They ask me what happened. I tell them.

My story stays the same, but the guilt is killing me. “I must have done something,” I say to one of the medics. “But I don’t know what.”

The guy is well over six foot and looks like he could carry a walrus up a flight of stairs. Anger flashes in his eyes. His voice is firm, but gentle. “There is nothing, and I mean nothing, that you could have done to make this happen.” I nod, but I don’t know what I think. Cole is hurt. Edward is hurt. I’m hurt. I stabbed Emma’s brother. I’m going to lose my best friend.

My head feels hot and then cold. I shiver and the world goes fuzzy. Heat travels up my body in a wave and the world goes black.


The first thing I notice is the hard bed under my back. My fingers bunch the waffle-weave blanket in my hands. I recognize the texture. Between that and the scent of disinfectants, I know where I am. I peel my eyes open and look around the hospital room. I hate hospitals. I blink slowly and the world comes into focus.

Cole is sitting next to my bed, his arm dangling over the rail, stroking my cheek. “Hey,” he says, and offers a weak smile. His hand feels so warm. I shiver and want to pull him into the bed with me. I want his arms around me. I want to feel safe, but I’m too weak to move.

“Hey,” I say back, confused. I don’t know what happened. I don’t remember getting here.

Cole sees the questions in my eyes and says, “You went through a lot. They wanted to check to make sure nothing was broken, and then you passed out. Nothing’s broken, but you do have a sprained ankle.” He watches me, his eyes holding mine. I see the remorse in his eyes. He wants to say, I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.

But he did. We both feel guilt that we shouldn’t feel. I wish I could take that away from him. He saved me. I press Cole’s palm to my cheek and lean into his hand. “If you didn’t come…” I take a deep breath, “How’d you know?”

“You were late and didn’t answer your phone. Emma texted and said you were grabbing suit, and that she had to leave you. Then, when you didn’t show, I thought something was wrong. I raced over there and found him—” Cole’s jaw tenses, and he stops speaking. He works his jaw for a moment and finally says, “When I saw you, you weren’t moving. You were hanging there, limp. There was blood everywhere. My God, Anna, I thought he killed you.” Cole’s voice tightens as he speaks. It’s barely audible by the time he’s done. He rubs his hand across my cheek and takes a breath to steady himself. His gaze locks with mine. “I love you, Anna. I thought I lost you.”

“You didn’t,” I say, my voice still raspy. “I’m right here. I’m not going anywhere, dude.” I grin at him, but my face hurts.

“Stop cracking jokes, Lamore. You’ve got a couple of stitches in your cheek. You’re not supposed to aggravate it.”

I nod. “So, I have to ask how you kept my parents away.”

“There’s no force on earth that could do that. They were here fretting and pacing each other into a hysterical mess. I sent them to the cafeteria to get coffee. They’ll be back in a minute.”

I lean back into the flat plastic pillow and smile at him. It’s a doped-up dreamy kind of smile. “I love you, Cole.”

He opens his mouth to say something, but there’s a knock at the door. The doctor comes in. He speaks to me and explains a few things and is gone again.

Before he leaves the room, I ask, “Can I go home?” I don’t want to stay here a second longer than I need to.

The doctor looks back at me and nods. “As long as you have some help, yes. Stay off your feet for a few days until the ankle mends. No strenuous activities.” His eyes cut to Cole when he says it, which makes me blush like my face caught fire. The doctor smiles and says to Cole, “Take care of her.”

“I will,” Cole replies. His blue eyes drift to me and he says, “I’ll always take care of you.”


Things feel different after the attack. I stay at Cole’s. He pushes back the court date a week, until I recover. I look like hell. My face has been beaten and is all shades of awesome. My entire body is sore, aching in places I didn’t even know I had. Cole keeps giving me ice packs and heating pads. I can’t believe he talked my parents into staying at his place, but he did.

I’m laying on his couch, with a pillow under my head, when Emma comes over. She hands Cole a huge bouquet of mums for me. They’re so big that I can’t see her when she walks through the door. When Cole takes the flowers from her, Em sees me for the first time and gasps. Her fingers press to her lips as she mashes them into a thin line.

“You’re not supposed to tell people they look like hell, Em.” I want to smile, but I can’t. I pull up the blanket and twirl the fringes under my fingers. I’m worried she’ll hate me. Cole assured me that she wouldn’t, but I’m still worried. I can’t undo any of this. I wish it never happened. Before I can say another word, Emma grabs my hands and starts talking.

“I’m so sorry, Anna. I didn’t know. I swear to God that I didn’t—” Emma can’t stop apologizing. Grief lines her face. Cole perches behind her on a stool. He flips through a magazine like he isn’t listening, but I know that he is.

I cut her off, “There was no way for you to know. I didn’t know. Nobody did.”

“I should have known. He’s my goddamn twin,” she rubs her eyes with the heel of her hand. Emma’s beautiful face is pinched, lining her forehead with wrinkles. “I should have known.”

I know how she feels. I feel the same way. I don’t know why I didn’t see it before, why I kept dismissing the warning signs. They were there, clear as glass, and I ignored them. We both ignored them.

Cole turns the page of his magazine, and doesn’t look up. “His mistakes are his alone. You didn’t do this to her, Emma. Edward did.” Emma turns to him, her mouth hanging open.


Cole shakes his head, “But nothing. You had nothing to do with this. From the moment I met you, you’ve been nothing but a great friend to Anna.”

“I told her you were creepy.”

“Good,” he says. “You were looking out for her. You sure as hell wouldn’t have done this to her. Blame the person who actually did it. He’s not the guy you thought he was. Blood is strange like that. You’d think the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, but some apples do. They roll so far away that they they’re nothing like the rest of their family.” Cole’s tone is firm. He’s speaking about himself as much as Edward. I feel the pain in his voice. I want to throw my arms around him. I hate hearing him speak about his father, but Emma needs to hear this, so he says it. “Blood or not—twin or not—he’s not you.”

Emma’s eyes fill with tears. It’s what she needs to hear. She looks back at me and says, “You’re my best friend. You always have been…”

“I always will be.”

Emma and I share a snot-filled cry. Cole left the room at some point after we use an entire box of tissues. Emma dabs her dark eyes. “I’m not sure if my timing is crap or not, so I’m just going to tell you.” She takes a breath and pushes her dark hair over her shoulder. “I met someone.”

My brows inch up my face. “Really? Who?” Emma is never serious about anyone, but I can tell in the way her posture shifts, in the way her shoulders shrink in, that this is important to her and she’s afraid of what I’ll think. “Tell me, Em. Who is he?”

“You already know him.” She presses her lips together for a moment. After taking a deep breath, she says his name. “Jessie. After you two broke up, I saw him. We talked about you for a while, and then… I don’t know what happened. He irritates the hell out of me, but I like him. A lot. I didn’t want to date him until I told you about it, but then this happened and I didn’t see you for a while.” She glances up at me. “Are you mad?”

I forget myself and smile. “No, that’s wonderful! I felt so bad for him. He’s so nice, but Cole… I wanted Cole. I’m happy for you, Em. I really am.”

She talks to me for a while longer and tells me about Jessie, about why she likes him. She’s so excited that it’s hard not to feel excited, too. Then she starts talking about her internship and the paper. “Then we ran this story on Sottero. Did you see it?” I shake my head. Emma looks around for Cole, and leans in, whispering, “I thought not. Apparently, it’s gotten around her social circles that she’s a two-faced bitch thanks to a loud-mouthed intern that quit a little while back.” She winks at me and smiles, like it’s wonderful. “Her clients don’t want to have anything to do with her. She’s been an icon for years. The article was about how the mighty fall from grace. A few other names were in there too. It was a business piece on the importance of being genuine and remembering where your next paycheck is coming from. It seems that the arrogant fall faster and harder than anyone. I guess the article kind of double-damned her.” She smiles at me. “I thought you’d like that.”

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)