Authors: Melissa Pearl
Tags: #coming of age, #justice, #young adult, #fugitive, #contemporary romance
I wanted those feelings back, even though I didn’t deserve them.
Biting down hard on my bottom lip, I shuffled towards the door. My finger was shaking as I pressed the doorbell. I thought I might throw up as I waited for someone to answer the door. What if it was his parents? I ran my dirty fingers through my greasy hair and cringed. How was I going to explain myself?
I nearly left. I nearly turned and fled on my weak legs, but the door clicked and swung open to reveal the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.
Man, I’d forgotten how gorgeous he was. Those gentle eyes of his, that square jawline holding his perfect features in place. I wanted to touch him so bad, but knew I had no right. I squeezed my fingers together, trying to control myself.
I had to say something. He was bugging out big time.
“Hi, Zach.” The words barely made it out of my mouth.
He swallowed, gripping the door and just staring at me like I was an apparition.
“I um…” My voice was stumbling and tripping all over the place. Why hadn’t I rehearsed a speech or something? I was usually so prepared, but for one of the most important conversations in my life, I’d thought of nothing? I was such an idiot! I licked my bottom lip, buying precious seconds. “It’s been… Well…”
“What are you doing here, Dani?” His voice was just a little icy. Soft, but cold.
He called me Dani.
Man, I had so much explaining to do.
I just had to get over myself and get on with it. I’m sure my heart stopped beating as my mouth opened, but the words finally began to flow.
“I know I don’t have any right to be standing at your door. There’s no apology big enough to make up for running away like that and there’s no apology big enough for coming back.” I grimaced. I knew what coming back could mean for him. Would he let me stay if he truly understood how much danger I was putting him in? If I loved him then I should turn and walk away, but I couldn’t. Now that I was this close to him, I wanted to launch myself into his arms and never let go.
“I don’t know what I’m doing anymore.” My chin trembled as I sucked in a breath. “I’m scared and running’s always kept me safe in the past. But it doesn’t seem to matter how far I go, I…you…” I paused, my lips quirking to the side. “You are impossible to run away from.”
It was true. He’d consumed my every thought from the second I grabbed my stuff and took off. I hadn’t been able to shake him, not even for one breath.
I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear, hating how grimy it felt. He must think I looked disgusting right now. I repulsed myself! But I couldn’t think about that. I had to get through this. He could turn me away once I’d said my piece.
My insides hitched.
“I guess I just couldn’t live with…” I blinked, looking down to the ground. How was I supposed to get this out? What would make him forgive me for ditching him without so much as a goodbye?
One thought flickered through my brain and my immediate response was a resounding NO. Since my parents’ murder, I hadn’t whispered my name to a living soul. But this wasn’t just any living soul…this was Zach and if I was serious about being back, I needed to trust him…with all of me.
I huffed out a breath and went for it before I could change my mind.
“I never introduced myself to you properly.” I jerked out my hand like a robot and summoned every ounce of courage I possessed. “I’m Lucy Tate.”
There. I’d said it.
I’d finally told someone my real name.
It was one of the scariest things I’d done in the last five years. My hand quivered in the air as I waited. I felt like a guilty criminal in court. Zach was the judge and waiting for his response was pure torture. I couldn’t look at him. My eyes jerked to the ground and I was milliseconds away from dropping my hand and making a run for it when he stepped forward.
His fingers were warm as they wrapped around mine. “Nice to meet you, Lucy.”
A slow smiled spread across my face as he gently pulled me into his arms. My quaking insides instantly settled. I rested my chin on his shoulder, my lips quivering as I held back tears. My arms snaked around his body and I clung to him, squeezing him until I’m sure it hurt. I never wanted him to let me go, ever. I wanted this moment to be a photograph, one we could be locked inside of, safe and secure for all eternity, but then Zach sniffed.
His arms squeezed me a little tighter as he chuckled. “You really stink.”
My body rippled with laughing tears. I turned my head on his shoulder, lightly kissing his neck, before whispering, “I’ve been sleeping in a lot of dumpsters.” It was humiliating to admit. I had turned myself into a street rat, refusing to pick one pocket or con anyone. I wanted to get rid of my old life and start anew, but that came with a price.
I’d been homeless, hungry and petrified for the last month and a half.
Zach pulled away form me, his brown eyes swimming with agony as he studied my face. His thumb gently caressed my cheek as he lightly kissed my lips and pulled me inside.
He didn’t say a word as he gently took the tatty bag off my shoulder and placed it by the front door. I kept a tight hold of his hand when he walked me up the stairs. I glanced into the living room as we went, listening for signs of his parents, but the house was quiet. We were here alone, I could feel it.
We reached the bathroom door next to his room and he flicked on the lights. Letting go of my hand, he reached into the shower and turned on the water. The sound of the hot spray hitting the porcelain tub beneath was music to my ears.
Zach flicked the curtain across and came back to me. With a gentle smile he touched my face and trailed his fingers down to the top of my jacket. I could barely breathe as he slowly unzipped it then flicked it off my shoulders. He kept his eyes on my face as he reached for my shirt, lifting it over my head. The fabric dropped to the floor, leaving me standing in nothing but my ripped jeans and a tatty bra. I should have been humiliated. I should have been covering my dirty, skinny body with my bony arms, but the look in Zach’s eyes held me frozen. There was desire there, but it wasn’t lust. The compassion radiating from him kept me safe. Reaching behind me, he unclasped my bra and gently kissed my shoulder before sliding it off me. He didn’t touch me, didn’t study my naked form with hungry eyes, he just quietly undressed me…and I let him.
Once I was naked, he kissed my lips lightly before stepping back to the shower and checking the temperature.
“It’s good.” He slid the curtain back.
I was still frozen. Stepping towards me with a little grin, he placed his hand on my lower back and gently pushed me towards the bath. “Get in. I’ll go get you a fresh towel and leave it on the vanity.”
With that, he stepped from the room. The door gently clicked shut and with an astonished head shake, I stepped beneath the hot spray. Closing my eyes, I buried my head in the water, letting the droplets wash over me. As six week’s worth of filth inched its way off my body, my insides began to tremble.
I knew I shouldn’t feel safe right now. If my past caught up to me, which it inevitably would, I was putting the guy I loved in unbelievable danger.
Guilt wrestled with relief as I reached for the soap.
I didn’t deserve Zach Schultz. He was way too good for me.
But now that I was with him again, I didn’t think I could just walk away.
In spite of the looming danger, I felt safe.
I just needed to figure out a way of keeping him that way too.
Thank you so much for reading I Know Lucy, if you’ve enjoyed it and would like to show me some support, please consider leaving a review on the site you purchased this book from.
Thank you so much for everyone who has contributed to this project. I’d like to give special thanks to a few key people.
Margery from Evatopia Press - Thank you for being open to my ideas and giving me so many good ones of your own.
Kate from Dwell Design & Press - Thank you for another cover that captures the feel of this story so perfectly.
Cassie & Brenda - You continue to be the feedback queens. Thank you so much for reading my work and telling me how I can make it better.
My proof-readers - You guys rock!! Thank you so much for catching those last few mistakes.
Inklings & Indie Inked - Your continued support, advice and friendship is such a source of strength and joy for me. Thank you so much.
My street team - You guys are the world’s best fan club.
My readers - Thank you so much for supporting me in this job that I love so very much. I wouldn’t be here without you guys.
My family - I love you all so dearly. Thank you for your constant support.
My inspiration - I have fallen in love with this story and these characters. Thanks for giving them to me and helping me create an intense, emotional story around them.
The Fugitive Series
Set Me Free (Releasing May 18th, 2014)
The Masks Series
Books 2, 3 & 4 (due for release: 2014 - 2015)
The Songbird Series
Fever (Releasing: June 15th, 2014)
The Time Spirit Trilogy
Golden Blood - Black Blood - Pure Blood
The Betwixt Series
Betwixt - Before - Beyond
The Elements Trilogy
Unknown - Unseen - Unleashed
The Mica & Lexy Series
Find out more on Melissa Pearl’s website:
Melissa Pearl is a kiwi at heart, but currently lives in Suzhou, China with her husband and two sons. She trained as an elementary school teacher, but has always had a passion for writing and finally completed her first manuscript in 2003. She has been writing ever since and the more she learns, the more she loves it. Keep an eye out for future projects.
You can contact Melissa Pearl online:
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