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Authors: Charisma Knight

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interests such as movies, food, and books. To be honest, she welcomed his presence in her home. On several occasions, he’d spent the evening at her house, sleeping on the sofa.

They’d also shared their fantasies with each other. Letting her guard down, Pearl showed him her nightstand full of sex toys in her bedroom. Other than kissing and petting, they mutually decided to forego sex. She wanted to see where this relationship was going

before giving her body over to another man in her life. And it was pure torture for them both.

Pearl had became more relaxed than she’d ever had been in the past and slept throughout the night. Nicholas had installed an alarm in the house, but her peace of mind wasn’t due to the security system. It was because of his presence.

After dinner, they cleaned the kitchen together and snuggled on the couch, catching the end of an action movie. She moaned softly when Nicholas bent down and crushed his

lips to hers. “I love your kisses,” she said with a smile.

“And I love kissing you. Mmm, you feel so good,” he breathed. His hands slowly

roamed over her body and made her tingle.

“What time do you have to leave?” she asked.

“I need to be on the site at seven o’clock. It’s on the other side of town,” he admitted.

“On my way back, I need to stop off at my place and pick up some clothes.”

“Okay.” Looking down, she picked at the scarlet nail polish until Nicholas grasped her chin and forced her gaze to his.

“What’s wrong, precious?”

She was being a big baby because the thought of his absence made her melancholy. Why was it suddenly difficult for her to share the way she felt with the man? He’d been

nothing but understanding, even during her lack of communication.

“Come on,” he coaxed with a smile. “Spill your guts.”

“I can’t recall missing my ex when we parted.” She looked him in the eye. “Why do I

feel this way with you?”

“You know I’ll return, right?” he asked her.

Her cheeks burned because it was so unlike her to have these type of feelings. Perhaps it was the vibe of a new relationship with someone she truly desired. She’d never felt the warmth and kindness of a man. “You’re spoiling me, Nicholas, that’s all. Guess I’m just not used to that.”

“There’s a lot of things you’ll need to get used to with me,” he said, squeezing her tight before giving her a peck on the lips and heading for the door. “I’ll call you later, okay?”

She smiled. “See you soon.”

A few hours, after Nicholas left, Pearl showered and turned on her laptop to update her real estate bio. She had quite a few homes to show this weekend and she wanted to put her best foot forward.

Feeling blessed, she sent up a prayer of thanks for the ability to live comfortably on her own doing something she’d loved for years. Although the market had given her quite a scare a few years back, she managed to recover and it was refreshing to know she never once had to depend anyone for one red cent.

After updating her bio and answering a few inquiries about the brick single family

cathedral style home over on Ravenshire Blvd, she decided to shower. Quickly, she

entertained thoughts of purchasing the chic home herself.

After quickly showering, she dried herself off and slipped into her nightgown before settling down at her vanity to wrap her hair for bed. Her cell rang, and upon seeing it was Nicholas, she quickly picked up.

“Hey, darling.”

“Is everything okay, Nicholas?” she asked with concern.

“I’ll be a little late. One of the guys got hurt on the site. I’m sorry, honey.”

An old familiar feeling of distrust slowly unwound deep in her soul and crept its way up her spine until she pushed it away. No, she wouldn’t let old ghosts destroy what she and Nicholas were slowly building.

“Just make sure your guys are safe.” She urged.

His voice deepened. “The alarm is on, right? Is everything okay?”

“Yes. Nicholas, I’m fine.”

“Okay. I’ll call you when I’m on my way.”

“Be safe.” She hung up quickly and closed her eyes and opened them. She gazed into the mirror, suddenly finding fault with Nicholas’s excuse. “No.” she muttered. She had to learn to trust again and after all, she’d given him a key to her home while he and his crew repaired and painted. She even had a key to his small one bedroom apartment

across town.

Pearl glanced around the room and checked her phone before slipping into the bed and settling beneath the silk covers. The sudden uneasy feeling returned. She turned over and pulled the covers over her head. “Big baby,” she muttered before falling to sleep.

“Pearl!” A deep voice broke the silence of the night, ripping her from a peaceful sleep.

“Nicholas?” She sat straight up in bed, clamping her hands over her mouth. Reaching

out, she felt the empty spot next to her. Had Nicholas called? She froze when she heard someone walking around downstairs.

“Pearl!” The voice boomed through the house again. Her skin crawled. No, that

definitely wasn’t Nicholas’s voice. Déjà vu settling over her, she slipped from the bed and reached for her cell phone, but it wasn’t in its usual spot on the nightstand next to her bed.

She’d left her phone over on the vanity across the room. Frozen where she stood, Pearl trembled and broke into a heavy sweat.

“Shit!”

The stairs creaked beneath the weight of the person invading her home, just like last time. Only now, if she moved, she felt the invader would immediately know where she

was because of the squeaky floorboards in her room. Gathering her courage, she moved backed up toward the closet, until the floorboard beneath her creaked.

Cursing, she slipped into her large walk-in closet. She should have gotten a gun and what about the damned alarm Nicholas installed? Had the intruder disarmed it?

“I know where you’re hiding, you fucking cunt.” The man growled as he entered her

bedroom.

She heard him knocking over her belongings from her vanity and dresser drawers. The

shattering of glass must have been her vanity mirror. Barely breathing, she reached for a hanger to turn it into a weapon.

Shaking uncontrollably, she watched as the door opened. The silhouette of a man entered her closet. His glowing eyes darted about.

“I can smell you,” the man taunted. “I can smell your fear, human.”

Wondering how he knew her name, a cry slipped from her lips. The beast leapt in her

direction. Pearl aimed for her assailant’s crotch with a foot, but he grabbed her ankle and pulled her from the den of clothing.

She yelped as her nightgown was suddenly pulled up around her waist to reveal her

naked crotch. “Get off me!” she screamed.

Suddenly, the man was on top of her. His weight pushed the air from her lungs.

“I’ve got you now.” The intruder laughed.

She struggled harder when his large hand clamped down around her throat, constricting her air passage until she thought she’d pass out.

Tears streamed down her face, she wasn’t ready to die, not yet. There was so much for her to live for.

“Pearl!”

She kicked and screamed as her assailant shook her. What? Choking her wasn’t enough?

“Pearl, darling, wake up!”

She opened her eyes to find Nicholas straddling her. He pinned her wrists to the bed. She strained to lift her neck from the pillow. “Nicholas?”

“Are you awake now, woman?”

“Yes.” She squinted at the bloodied scratch just below his bottom lip. Had she done that?

Releasing her, he sat on the side of the bed. Still shaking from the bad dream, she threw her arms around him. He rubbed her back and squeezed her tight.

“That was one hell of a dream you had there, darling.” He said.

“I’m sorry.”

She released him and glared at the clock. It had only been four hours since she’d fallen asleep. “When did you get in?”

“About an hour ago. Tried calling you before leaving the hospital, so I stopped past the house and picked up some clothes. You were sleeping like a rock until you started

tossing and turning so much. You went ape-shit on me when I tried waking you up.” he continued while rubbing his jaw.

“What? I hit you?”

He laughed slightly. “Just kidding.”

She nudged him playfully before grabbing a tissue. “Now’s not the time for jokes. And you’re all healed anyway.”

“Yeah, we wolves can take quite a bit of punishment.” He chuckled again before

returning to a serious gaze. “What did you dream about?”

“Someone breaking into the house again. I used to have dreams like that off and on after the divorce.” She said with a shrug. “It seemed so real this time.”

“I’ve got you now.”

The old feeling of distrust returned and she could no longer contain what she felt.

Although she knew she shouldn’t, it was a question she couldn’t resist asking. “Nick, was there really an accident at the site?”

Nicholas looked at her in confusion. “Yes, Jimmy Johns slipped and fell. Took a nasty bump on the head and was knocked unconscious.”

“Did you go anywhere else after?“

“Pearl, just come out and say what you mean.”

“You wouldn’t be dishonest about something like this, would you?” she began picking at her nails again.

Nicholas narrowed his eyes. “If you’re asking if I’m lying, I resent that and I can’t believe you would ever think I’d do something to lose your trust.”

“Nicholas.” She reached for him, but he recoiled. Now she’d done it.

“Look, I’m not your ex. Get that through your head right now. I’m later than I should have been, yes, but I called to let you know what was going on. I stayed at the hospital for over an hour. I called you while I was there too.”

Pearl gazed at him through the tears in her eyes, seeing the pain etched on his face. She was ruining a good thing. “Nicholas, I don’t know what to say.” She opened her mouth but couldn’t speak.

Silence fell across the room as he continued gazing at her. Scratching his head, Nicholas cleared his throat. “Maybe I should go.”

Pearl shook her head and her heart dropped into her stomach when she couldn’t find the words she wanted to say. She wanted to ask him to stay, but something prevented her

from doing so.

“Give me more than just a shake of the head,” he said sternly.

The feeling was hard to fight, and once again she found herself inside a paralyzing

bubble where it was hard to breath and talk. She knew what she wanted, but was afraid to say anything. Especially after displaying her distrust of Nicholas. Perhaps it was too soon to be in a relationship, and she didn’t deserve a good thing. Or so she felt. Maybe she deserved the way Danny had treated her, after all she did provoke the majority of their arguments by remaining silent.

When she said nothing, he slipped from the bed and began to dress. “I think you need some space.”

She couldn’t bear to look at him and continued staring down at the silk sheets. From the corner of her eye, she saw him pause.

“I’ll talk to you tomorrow, Pearl.”

When she didn’t say anything, he left, leaving her to her thoughts. The task of opening up and becoming vulnerable to another human being was too much of a risk. She wanted Nicholas, but how high of a price was she willing to pay?

* * *

Unable to fathom Pearl’s behavior, Nicholas sat in his truck and stared into a void. He shook his head. Things had been going perfectly. One little twist of fate, and he’d

suddenly found himself in the doghouse.

As much as he wanted to leave, he couldn’t bring himself to do so. He worried so much about her. What if she had another night terror? What about the wolf lurking around her home? He’d never forgive himself if something were to happen. Although, it had been

days since he’d sensed the other male, he refused to let his guard down. What would

happen if he showed up and pounced on an unsuspecting Pearl? He had installed the

alarm, but that didn’t mean anything. Pearl knew it as well as he did. If the wolf wanted in her home, he’d get in.

With a sigh, Nicholas slid down in his seat, continuing to monitor the house, hoping Pearl would get over her trust issues. He understood completely how she felt, but it would be nice to continue their relationship which to him had been so refreshing and pure.

Chapter Six

Pearl woke at the crack of dawn to the sound of birds chirping and Nicholas’s truck

backing out of the parking lot. Tumbling out of bed, she made it to the window just as he was pulling off. She stood watching him until she could no longer see the truck.

She turned, leaning against the wall, trying to figure out the mess she’d gotten herself into. Had she been just in deciding to start a fresh relationship with someone new?

Danny had destroyed the loving, trusting woman she’d been long ago. How could she

ever come back from that?

Tears misting her eyes, she came out of her nightgown and slipped into the shower,

allowing the tepid water to wake her. A nice cup of hot coffee would spring new life into her. Who the hell was she kidding? Things were broken between she and Nicholas and

something had to give. After she showed the house across town later in the day, she’d rest up and gather her thoughts.

* * *

Nicholas had taken up residence in her thoughts the entire day, even when she showed

the home across town. She was wrong in her actions and she just had to admit that to him. From there, hopefully they could continue the journey of their relationship while building a strong foundation so she called him.

“Hello sweetheart.”

“Nicholas.”

“How are you?”

“Not good. I want to apologize to you for last night. I was wrong for accusing you like I did. Can you forgive a fool?”

He chuckled. “Sure, darling. If you’d open the door, you can tell me to my face.”

Laughing, she disconnected the phone and rushed through the kitchen and living room to the front door. When she opened it, she found Nicholas standing there with a huge grin on his face and a bouquet of flowers. Immediately, she threw her arms around him. “I’m sorry baby.”

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