Read Enemy Within (Unseen Enemy Book 1) Online

Authors: Marysol James

Tags: #romance, #military, #sex, #contemporary, #fiction

Enemy Within (Unseen Enemy Book 1) (10 page)

BOOK: Enemy Within (Unseen Enemy Book 1)
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“Why not?”

“I guess – because I feel like I don’t really deserve one.”

Emma stroked his back gently. “Because you feel like you let Kimberley down?”

He looked at her, amazed that she got there right away, that she knew so clearly what he was thinking. “Yeah. Exactly. I failed her. I was supposed to protect her and keep her safe… I fucked it all up and a good woman died in my arms, Emma. How can I possibly think that I deserve any peace when her family doesn’t have it? Why do I get a warm, safe place when she’s cold in the ground?”

“Three years is a long time to punish yourself.”

“In some ways, it doesn’t feel like nearly long enough.” He sighed. “But lately, I’ve been thinking about letting it all go. Finding my way back home somehow.”

“And that safe place? You think you can find it?”

“I think I have.” He spoke so quietly, she barely heard him.

“Where?”

“Right here. With you.” He touched her face. “This is the only place I’ve found yet.”

Emma stared at him, speechless. In the space of five minutes, Dean had just blown almost every rule of their agreement out of the water, and she didn’t even care. She was glad that she’d come to mean so much to him – because he’d come to mean a lot to her, too.

He kissed her now, and she felt his desperation, his desire to be close to her. She opened to him without any hesitation at all; she wanted to give him what he needed. She wanted to be a safe, warm place for him to find some peace, even just for a little while. She reached for the condom herself, and he took it from her, rolled it on with shaking hands.

He lowered himself on top of her and she put her hands on his lower back and pulled him in. When he thrust inside her, she kissed him gently, then harder as their bodies moved together, again and again. He kept his hands on either side of her face the whole time, and they gazed at each other as they made love, not wanting to look away even for a second.

Dean heard her breath catch, felt her pussy muscles pulling on him. She threw her head back and arched her neck and he knew her climax was starting.

“Open your eyes, baby,” he said softly. “Look at me when you come.”

Emma gazed up at him, her amazing blue eyes sparkling with heat, hazy with lust. She cried out when she came and his own orgasm began right away, long and intense. He gripped her head tightly and looked in to her eyes as he released inside her; she stared back at him, whispering his name, telling him that she had him.

They lay together afterwards, still joined, not wanting to move apart. For Dean, this wasn’t like all those other times he’d had women in his bed. They had just been bodies to hold on to for a little while in an effort to beat back the darkness, but with Emma, it was about something more. Connection, maybe, and comfort. Whatever it was, it was real. He knew the difference now.

Emma felt his heart beating against her breasts and she smiled. Never in her whole life had she felt so close to someone and she knew that she wouldn’t be able to leave Dean the next day. She had to tell him the truth about her illness, and give him the chance to stay with her, if he wanted to. If he didn’t, it would hurt like hell, but she’d understand. She’d be able to get on with it all even if it meant he wasn’t in her life anymore; what she
wasn’t
able to do was lie to him anymore. He had been so open and honest and vulnerable with her tonight, so she had to be brave enough to do the same thing, even though the thought of his reaction terrified her.

Tomorrow. I’ll tell him tomorrow morning, first thing. I’ll give him the choice here… and maybe he’ll decide to stay. Maybe it’ll all be OK.

Chapter Nine

 

The next morning, Dean woke up at six o’clock, the same as always. He stared at Emma sleeping next to him, watched the sun start to light up her face. What he saw disturbed him.

Her beautiful face was scarily pale and she looked completely exhausted. He lifted the sheet and glanced down at her naked body; she had definitely lost some more weight. He noticed new bruises on her thighs and his mouth tightened at the realization that he’d done that the first time they had made love the night before.

Dean resolved that today, he was going to push until she told him what was going on with her. If it was just anemia, then she needed to find another doctor, get some more aggressive treatment. Whatever she was doing now wasn’t working. Dean was prepared to drag her to doctor after doctor himself, if that’s what it came to.

As he looked at her, he felt a wave of tenderness just wash over him. He remembered last night, her sweetness as she held him close, and he knew that something had changed between them, something permanent and real. Dean had been vulnerable with her and he didn’t feel even the slightest bit embarrassed about that. She’d seen him in a way that only three other people on the whole planet had seen him, and that made Emma something that went way beyond a fuck. It was time to suspend the original agreement of three months ago, to start talking about commitment and expectation and long-term.

Maybe… maybe you can give this a shot with her. Maybe it would be OK to let her in, to let yourself care about her. Maybe you can keep her close.

He rolled over quietly, not wanting to disturb her. He grabbed his boxer shorts and went in to the kitchen to start the coffee. He stared out of the kitchen window, watching the sunrise over the distant mountains, feeling like today was the beginning of something amazing in his life.

He drank his coffee and jumped in to the shower. He wished that Emma was in there with him so he could soap her breasts, slip his fingers between her legs, make her come under the hot water, her hands clenched against the shower tiles. But there would be time for that; lots of time.

**

Something warm was running down her face, tickling her. Emma turned over, still mostly asleep, and brushed her hand across her cheek. It came away soaking wet.

What the hell? Is my ceiling leaking?

She opened her eyes and it took her a few seconds to remember that she was at Dean’s place. Puzzled, she looked above the bed to see if water was dripping down on her. Nothing – no damp patches. She sat up, trying to figure out where the water was coming from.

Something dripped off her chin and she glanced down. The red spot on the white sheet was joined by another, then another. She raised her fingers to her face, looked at them. They came away covered in deep red blood. She just stared in utter incomprehension.

Am I bleeding?

Even as she had the thought, she felt something loosen in her nose –
almost like a door opening
– and the flow got stronger. Now the blood was running between her breasts, down her stomach, drenching the sheets. A wave of dizziness passed over her, and the room started to go dark. She opened her mouth to call for Dean, and blood gushed down her throat. Panicking now, terrified of choking to death, she forced his name out in a strangled cry. Then she leaned forward, coughing and coughing. She saw a flash of red splatter on the wall in front of her and she blinked.

That was the last thing she remembered before falling in to unconsciousness.

**

Dean was back in the kitchen when he heard a sound from his bedroom. He paused, listened. Emma was calling his name weakly; he heard coughing. Then total silence.

Fuck. Something is very wrong.

He rushed down the hallway and burst through the door. What he saw stopped him dead in his tracks.

Emma was lying in the middle of his bed, covered in blood. She was limp and deathly pale, her eyes were closed. He launched himself at her and lowered his ear to her mouth. He heard and felt her breath, but it was faint and shallow.

“Emma!” he said. “Honey, can you hear me?”

She didn’t even move.

Oh, God. Not again, not again. No fucking way.

He ran his hands over her body now, frantically trying to see where the blood was coming from. He realized that it was a nosebleed and he yanked off his t-shirt to staunch the flow. He held her against his naked chest, whispering to her.

“Come on, angel. Open those beautiful eyes, OK? Wake up, baby.”

He lifted the shirt away and the blood gushed again; Dean recoiled in horror. Her entire face was covered, her body was dripping red.

What the hell kind of nosebleed is this?

He grabbed his cell off the bedside table and called Dallas.

Dallas answered on the fifth ring. “What the ever-loving
fuck
, man,” he began. “I was actually sleeping in for once –”

“Get over here now!”

Dallas didn’t even respond. He ran out his front door, down his steps, and across the yard in less than ten seconds. Dean’s door was locked and he didn’t even pause to think before he kicked it in with his bare foot.

“Dean?”

“In the bedroom… hurry up!”

Dallas stood in the doorway, feeling like he’d just stumbled on to the set of a horror movie: blood was splattered everywhere, even on the wall. If he didn’t know Dean, he’d have said that the guy had just finished beating Emma almost to death. But the real horror was when Dallas caught a glimpse of his face: the look in Dean’s eyes took Dallas straight back to another bloodied woman lying pale and unmoving in his friend’s arms. Dallas’ stomach clenched up hard with fear and worry.

“What the fuck happened?”

“I don’t know!” Dean was beside himself. “It’s a nosebleed, I think.”

“That’s no normal nosebleed. I’ll call an ambulance.”

Dean shook his head. “No time. Drive us.” He stood up, Emma in his arms. “Grab a fresh blanket.”

Dallas gave him one from the closet and Dean wrapped it around Emma’s naked body. He handed her to Dallas while he got dressed and put on his shoes, then he carried her to Dallas’ car while the other man went home to get his own shoes and the keys.

“Hurry,” Dean said when Dallas started the car. He was sitting in the back seat, clutching Emma to him. “Hurry, man.”

Dallas gunned the engine. “Three minutes, I swear. Just hold on.”

**

Dean and Dallas sat in the waiting room, not talking. Dean was covered in blood and he felt sick every time he looked down.

What the hell is going on?

Ten minutes earlier, a blonde woman had dashed by and gone in to Emma’s room. Dean thought that the nurse had called her Jenny, and he was waiting for her to come out to the visitor’s lounge so he could find out what was happening.

The elevator door slid open and Jim and Chris stepped in to the hallway. They spotted the other two men and their eyes widened.

“Dean? You OK?” Jim said. “You cut?”

He shook his head. “It’s not my blood. It’s Emma’s.”

“Emma’s?” Chris said. “Who the fuck did this to her?”

“Nobody,” Dallas said. “It was a nosebleed.”

Chris and Jim looked at Dean’s clothes. “What?”

“She was at my place, sleeping. She just – she wouldn’t wake up and she wouldn’t stop bleeding.” He shook his head, dazed. “Can anemia do that to someone?”

“Anemia?” Jim said.

“Yeah. She told me she’s anemic. That’s why she bruises so easy.”

A soft voice behind them said, “She’s not anemic.”

The guys turned around to see Olivia standing there. Dallas’ eyes almost exploded right out of his head as he took in her long legs and shiny hair and perfect skin.

“Olivia Jameson?” he said.

“Yeah. Which one of you is Dean?”

“I am.”

She focused on him. “Emma isn’t anemic, Dean. Never has been. That was a lie she told you.”

“It – what?” Dean said. “A lie?”

“Yeah,” Liv walked in to the waiting room. “She doesn’t have anemia. She has leukemia.”

The four men stared at her. Dean was thunderstruck.

“She – what? How can she have cancer?”

Liv shrugged. “She just does.”

“For how long?”

“She got the diagnosis just over four months ago.” She met his eyes. “She got it the day that you two first met at Shooter’s.”

“She – I..” Dean stammered. “What?”

“She’s sick. I mean, she’s
really
sick.”

Dean did not understand one single fucking thing that was going on right now and he was getting pretty pissed off about it.

“Why didn’t she tell me?” he asked Liv angrily. “We’ve been sleeping together for over three months. Why the fuck did she keep this from me?”

Her beautiful brown eyes flashed. “That’s why, Dean.
That
, right there.”

He paused. “What?”

“What you just said, those words you used. You said that you two have been ‘sleeping together’. Not ‘seeing each other’, not ‘dating’, not even ‘going out’. Definitely not ‘in a relationship’.”

He flushed. “Well, yeah… because that was the deal. Just sex.”

“OK, fine. Great.” Liv stared up at him. “But you don’t get to have it both ways. You don’t get to fuck her without strings or commitment and then get all pissed off at her now because she didn’t confide in you. She didn’t even tell you her last name, so do you
really
expect her to have told you about this? About the fact that she’s dying?”

The men were very still.

“She’s – she’s dying?” Chris said. “Like, really dying?”

“She’s fighting like hell, but she’s not winning. So, yes, she’s really dying.” She stared in to Dean’s horrified eyes. “And just what would you have done if she’d told you that? Would you have been there for her, Dean? Would you have held her hand through the five rounds of chemo that she’s had in the past four months? Her hair’s falling out now – will you tell her that she’s still beautiful? If she can’t get a matching stem cell donor, will you be there in six months when she takes her last breath?”

“I – I…”

“No. No, you wouldn’t have and no, you won’t, and that’s OK. You and Emma were always a fling and on a clock, and time has now run out. I’m pretty sure this isn’t how she wanted it to end, though. I know she never had any intention of telling you about her illness.”

“She wasn’t going to tell me?” Dean said. “She was going to – what? Break it off one day and just disappear?”

Liv shrugged. “Wasn’t that the agreement between you? And really, would you have even noticed a week later? You’d just go on as if Emma had never been in your life at all. You still can.”

“That’s not fair,” he said. “Things have changed between us, Olivia. If she’d told me, I’d have been there. I swear.”

She shook her head. “There’s no need to say that, Dean. I know you feel badly about what’s happening with Emma, but I see no need to fake feelings you don’t have. It’s OK.”

“Liv!”

They all turned to see Jenny outside Emma’s door.

“She’s awake,” Jenny said.

Dean took a step towards Emma’s room but Liv blocked him. He had half-a-foot and easily ninety pounds on her, but she stood up to him like he was no more threatening than a kitten.

“No, Dean. You need to leave.”

“I can’t even see her to make sure she’s OK?” he said quietly.

“She’s
not
OK. Not even close. But you’re not responsible for her. She’s not your wife or girlfriend – she’s a woman you slept with off-and-on for three months.”

He flinched. Liv saw his confusion and she softened.

“I’m not trying to be cruel, I swear. I’m just trying to explain to you… you can go now. No guilt, no judgment, no bad feelings. Not from any of us, not even from Emma.” She smiled. “We love her and we can take it from here. We’ll be with her through it all – right to the end, if it comes to that. So relax, Dean…you’re off the hook. You don’t need to do anything you don’t want to, you have no ties to any of this. Go get on with your life.”

Liv turned and walked down the hall to Emma’s room.

Dean stood frozen, staring after her. He just couldn’t figure out what the hell was going on. He turned to his friends who were all standing there watching him closely.

“How the
fuck
could I not know? Why didn’t I –”

He fell silent, shaking his head.

Chris stepped forward. “Come on, man. Let’s go. Nothing more to do here.”

**

Without any discussion whatsoever, the guys went back to Dean’s place. While Dean was in the shower scrubbing off Emma’s blood, Jim called the parlour and said that he and Dean wouldn’t be in at all and then – despite the fact that it wasn’t even nine o’clock in the morning on a workday – he went to the convenience store on the corner and picked up three cases of cold beer. Dallas arranged for one of his team to replace him on duty; Chris called the garage and said he couldn’t make it to work that day.

They sat around Dean’s living room, drinking beer and not saying anything much. They just waited for Dean to talk, if he wanted to. If he didn’t talk, they were sure as hell going to get piss-drunk with him in almost complete silence and then carry him to bed to sleep it off, if that was what he preferred.

After his third beer, Dean started to lose that hit-over-the-head look and opened his mouth.

“I knew something was wrong,” he said. “She was so tired and she was losing weight and I just didn’t believe her when she said it was from work stress. She disappeared for days at a time and came back looking like she’d been through a fucking meat-grinder. She had all those bruises that couldn’t be explained… she was so clearly sick, and I knew it.” He hesitated. “I just – I didn’t want to hear it. I didn’t want to know the truth.”

“We all knew she didn’t look good, man,” Jim said. “We all saw something was wrong.”

“Yeah, but not all of you were sleeping with her.”

“Stop beating yourself up,” Chris said. “Even if you knew something wasn’t right, it wasn’t your relationship with her to get involved in her life, or her in yours. It’s always just been casual and about sex. You can’t forget that now, just because you feel bad.”

BOOK: Enemy Within (Unseen Enemy Book 1)
2.29Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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