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Authors: T. L. Haddix

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BOOK: Cricket Cove
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She put more pillows in front of him and gently pushed on his back, forcing him onto his stomach. “Want me to work them out?”

“God, yes.” He couldn’t even pretend otherwise.

Amelia laughed. “Let me get some lotion.”

She didn’t try to make small talk as she rubbed the worst of the kinks out. Logan didn’t try to stop her as she worked her way down his body. What she was doing felt too good, and he was hurting too much. After several minutes, the worst of the spasms faded and he groaned with relief.

“I don’t know what to say,” he told her in a low voice, “other than thank you. You could have just let me ride this out.”

“True. I could have. But do you know how long I’ve waited to have a mostly naked man in my bed? How could I not take advantage of the situation?”

Logan laughed helplessly. “Does that mean you’re going to tie me up and have your way with me now?”

“What will you do if I say yes?” she teased as she covered him back up. “Try to get some sleep. I’ll probably stretch out beside you, but I promise to not take your virtue. I’m too tired.”

The sad truth was he was too tired to enjoy having her beside him. He fell asleep almost before she had the light turned out.

In the morning, daylight was starting to filter in around the edges of the curtains when Logan awoke. Instead of embracing the pillows, his arms were around Amelia. She was still sound asleep.

For several minutes he relished in the feel of her, the smell of her. He had no expectation that whatever had caused her acceptance of him last night would last. She’d been kind to him last night because he was hurting. So he took what he could, while he could.

Chapter Nineteen

A
melia woke up as Logan was sliding out of bed, but she didn’t open her eyes. The warmth along her back faded, leaving her feeling bereft. He was quiet as he left the bedroom, and she listened to the rustling of his clothes as he got dressed in the hall. She waited to see if he would return, but instead he went down the hall. In a few seconds she heard the front door open and close, and then his SUV started up.

“You’ve done that before, mister.”

When she was sure he wasn’t returning, she rolled over onto her back and exhaled. “What in the world possessed you last night, girl?”

She sat up slowly, running a hand over the still-warm side of the bed where he’d slept. After he’d agreed to go for a run with her last night, she’d wanted to keep things light, superficial. But when she’d realized how badly he was hurting, it was all she could do to not hover over him until she was sure he was okay.

“So much for staying impersonal,” she muttered. She pushed her hair back and drew her knees up to her chest. She flexed her hands, holding them up to her face to inhale. Even though she knew his scent was gone, she pretended she could still smell him. “You are shameless,” she told herself, flopping back on the bed.

Being that close to him, seeing him almost naked, she’d not been able to resist putting her hands on him. She hadn’t meant to touch him, had been as startled as he to find her hands on his skin. But when he hadn’t protested, she’d decided to push things. When she felt the tenseness in his muscles, her lust had been tempered by concern, and by the time she finished the massage she was in control of herself again.

The path of scars across his body showed her the direction of the blast that had hurt him so badly. In addition, his body was crisscrossed with old wounds. He was still the most beautiful man she had ever seen. If he’d not been in such pain and had been interested, she would gladly have had sex with him and to hell with any consequences.

“I’m turning into a horn dog. Oh, my God. What am I going to do?” she groaned. As her thoughts of Logan faded, the memory of her promise to tell her parents what had been going on surfaced. She pulled a pillow over her head and whimpered. She’d rather face the dentist than her parents, and Amelia was terrified of the dentist.

With heavy reluctance, she got up and got ready for the day, had breakfast, and started some laundry. She realized when she found herself standing in front of her pantry thinking about how best to reorganize it that she was stalling. “Chicken. Enough is enough.” She picked the phone up and called the farmhouse. Her father answered.

“Hey, Daddy. I need to talk to you about something. Are you busy?”

“No, just pampering your mom a little. She’s home today with a cold.”

Amelia grimaced. “Oh. Well, it can wait, I guess. I don’t want to bother you two if she’s feeling bad.”

“Now I’m worried. What’s going on?”

She sighed, knowing he wouldn’t let her get away with not answering. “It’s complicated. I’d better explain in person. I’ll head up if you’re sure Mom’s up to it.”

“See you in a few minutes.”

The air was quite cold and she pulled her heavy winter coat on, along with her hiking boots. She hadn’t felt the chill last night as her fur had protected her, but her human form was much more susceptible to the weather. Within a few minutes, she’d made the hike and was crossing the yard to the kitchen door. Owen let her in, a concerned smile on his face. He hugged her close.

“Well, you look healthy enough. How was Lexington?”

“Nice. How’s Mom?”

“Driving your father crazy,” Sarah answered as she came in the door. She was dressed in comfortable lounge wear and one of Owen’s old flannel shirts. Her nose was red and she sounded stopped up, but she didn’t appear to be too sick. “Did you and Jonah get into any trouble?”

Amelia laughed as she embraced her mother. “Of course. We ran the town ragged.”

“So what’s going on?” Owen asked as he poured three mugs of coffee. “And is this a living room conversation or a kitchen table discussion?”

“Definitely the living room,” Amelia answered. She hung her coat on a hook by the door and toed her shoes off.

“Are you pregnant?” Owen asked as they went down the hall. “If you are, just spit it out. We’ll deal with it.”

Though his tone was light, Amelia could see the worry on his face as he glanced at her over his shoulder.

“I’m not pregnant. I almost wish I were. It might be easier to deal with.”

He stopped in the middle of the living room and stared at her as she sat on the couch. “What could be worse than being pregnant?”

“Plague, famine, death and destruction?” Sarah asked as she took her favorite chair, tucking her legs up and to the side.

Owen scowled at her as he sat on the love seat. “That’s not funny. What’s going on, Pip?”

“I need you to promise me that you aren’t going to rush off and try to do something when I tell you. Both of you.” She looked between them. “Otherwise I can’t tell you.”

Her parents exchanged a long look. Owen didn’t agree until Sarah nodded.

“Fine. We won’t try to do something.”

“You promise?” She knew if he promised he would keep his word, no matter how angry he got when she told them what had been going on.

“Amelia—”

“I’m not budging.”

If her father’s scowl got any darker it might be etched onto his face permanently. “I promise. Now talk.”

“Roger’s stalking me.” She paused to let that sink in.

“I beg your pardon?” Sarah asked, slowly sitting up, her feet coming to the floor. “He’s what?”

“Stalking me. He has been for a few weeks now. And I don’t know what to do about it.” She explained about the flowers, the power disconnect, his appearance last night, all of it. “I called Rick last Tuesday when I found the flowers, and that’s why I went to Jonah’s. I needed to get some space between me and here to try to figure out how to handle this.”

Owen set his mug down with a loud thud and stood, striding to the window to look out across the stark winter landscape. “I’ll rip the son of a bitch apart for this. Goddamn him.” When he turned back to face them, his eyes had changed, taking on the more feral look that belonged to the wolf.

“Daddy, you promised.”

“I never would have if I’d thought it was something like this!” he shouted, hands clenched into fists at his side. “Fucking little bastard.”

Amelia knew her eyes were as big as half dollars. She’d never heard Owen curse like that. She looked to her mother for guidance, but Sarah looked as angry as he did.

“That’s why everyone was acting so oddly this past Sunday,” she hissed. “They knew about this.”

“Why are you just now telling us?” Owen demanded.

She set her mug down with a heavy sigh. “Because I didn’t want to worry you and honest to God, Daddy, I didn’t know how. Like I said, I’d almost rather be pregnant.”

“It wasn’t fair of you to trap me into not hurting him,” he growled. “Someone needs to eviscerate the little shit. What’s Rick doing about this?”

His reaction was precisely why Amelia had exacted the promise. She knew his threats weren’t idle. “Rick can’t do anything. There’s no proof it’s Roger.”

Sarah came to sit beside her and clasped Amelia’s hand with hers. “Does Lori know?”

“No. She’d never believe me. It wouldn’t do any good to tell her.”

Owen had gone back to the window and was muttering curses under his breath. “You have to stop going to her. You realize that, right? It isn’t safe. You can’t help her if you’re dead.” The tortured expression that crossed his face broke Amelia’s heart.

“Daddy, I’m sorry.”

He shook his head. “No. Don’t you dare apologize for this. And don’t you dare tell me you’re going to keep trying to save her. I mean it. I don’t give a damn if you’re a grown woman, I won’t let you put yourself in harm’s way. Do you understand me?”

She closed her eyes and a tear tracked its way down her cheek. The lump in her throat was too big for her to speak around, and she had to nod an answer. When Sarah put her arm around her shoulders, Amelia leaned into her with a sob.

“I tried so hard. I don’t want to give up on her, Mama. But Roger… he’s so much more dangerous than I knew. What if he doesn’t stop?”

Owen sat on her other side and rested his hand on her back as Sarah held her. “Then we’ll make him stop, no matter what it takes.”

After she’d calmed down, she told them about Logan’s question. “He wonders if she’s having an affair. And I… I hate to admit that it would make an odd kind of sense. A lot of little pieces of things I’ve seen over the last few months would fall into place nicely if she was having an affair.”

“Who in the world would she be seeing?” Sarah asked. “Roger doesn’t let her go anywhere.”

“I don’t know. I was going to call her today and see if I could find out what’s going on, but after Roger showed up last night, I don’t even want to do that. I just want this to be a bad dream, and frankly, I’m tired of dealing with it. That makes me feel like the lowest person in the world, but it’s how I feel. Tell me what I should do.”

Owen shook his head. “I don’t know. Sarah?”

Her mother stood and went to the mantel. Now that Christmas was over and the stockings had been taken down, the pictures that usually lined the wide fireplace were back up. She stopped in front of one and stared at it for a long, long moment. Amelia knew it was a picture of Sarah and her siblings, taken that previous summer in Georgia. She realized Sarah was probably reliving what the family had gone through with Kathy when her husband had attacked her. The guilt and shame of bringing the memories from that awful time back to haunt her mother rose up and threatened to choke her.

“Don’t even go there,” Owen said in a low voice, reading the look on her face. “Don’t feel guilty. You didn’t ask for this.”

“Didn’t I? I’m the one who pushed and insisted I knew best for Lori. Where’s that gotten me in three years?”

“If you didn’t try to help her, sweetheart, you wouldn’t be able to live with yourself. It isn’t in your constitution to see someone who needs help and not try to give it. And if you’re worried about me, don’t be. I’m a big girl.” Sarah turned around. “As to what you should do? You need to get away from here for a while, not just a short jaunt to Lexington. I think you should go to Eli and Mama’s. Spend a few weeks down there. With any luck, Roger will lose interest once he can’t get to you. At the very least, it will give us all a chance to come up with a better idea of how to handle this, without the fear of you being in harm’s way every day.”

Amelia hesitated. “I don’t want to impose on them.”

“They wouldn’t see it as an imposition,” Owen argued. “As a matter of fact, once they know what’s going on, I’d be surprised if they don’t insist you come down there.”

“The idea of leaving feels an awful lot like running,” she admitted in a low voice.

Sarah shook her head decisively. “No. Protecting yourself from someone like Roger isn’t running. You know that. You wouldn’t say Lori was running, would you?”

“Of course not.” She sighed. “You’re sure they wouldn’t mind?”

“Pretty sure. I’ll make the call right now. Just say the word,” Owen offered.

She nodded. “Do it.”

She knew she could write just as well from Laurel County as she could from home. And the more she thought about the idea of getting away for a while, the better it sounded. Remembering last night and the temptation Logan had provided, she figured a few weeks away from him while she got her head on straight might not be a bad thing. At the very least, it might give her the emotional equilibrium to handle whatever might crop up between them.

Her father came back in the living room a few minutes later. “You’re set. They’re not just okay with you coming, they’re insisting. Eli said he’ll drive up here and get you if he has to. And you can stay as long as you need to.”

Amelia swallowed back her trepidation. “I’ll miss my birthday.”

Owen raised an eyebrow. “London’s ninety minutes away. We’ll come to you.”

“Do you want me to help you pack?” Sarah offered.

Amelia was skeptical. “Do you feel like helping me pack?”

Her mother smiled softly and tucked a lock of hair behind Amelia’s ear. “Yes. I’ll get dressed and we can drive around, though. I don’t particularly want to make a trek through the woods in this cold weather.”

After Sarah went upstairs to change clothes, Amelia joined Owen at the window. “Do you think I’m doing the right thing?”

“I do. It’s the only thing you can do right now.”

“And what about when I come home? What then? What if he doesn’t relent?”

Owen hugged her. “Then we’ll do whatever we have to do.”

Whatever they had to do. She didn’t ask what all that entailed. She was afraid to.

BOOK: Cricket Cove
11.64Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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