Authors: C. L. Stone
Tags: #The Academy, #spies, #spy, #terrorist, #secret agent, #new adult, #coming of age, #menage, #love, #romantic, #spies, #Espionage, #love triangle, #billionaire, #rich, #millionaire, #wealthy
“How are you doing, Sang?” Kota asked.
I twisted my head, watching him drive into the parking lot. We were around each other a lot, but it was the first time I’d really been alone with Kota in a while. “I feel ... weird,” I said as honestly as I could.
Kota chuckled. “Regret that we ran into each other yet?”
My eyes widened. Was he serious? “No, of course not.”
I pursed my lips. “Do you regret it?”
He pulled into a spot, throwing the car into park and shut off the engine before turning to me, putting his hand on the seat behind my head. “Kinda wished I had met you sooner,” he said quietly.
His green eyes glinted behind his glasses. My fingers shook against my stomach and my heart did another flip flop. I craved this look from him, but at the same time it was the one where I felt he could see into me, and I was too scared to let him do it for long. I lowered my gaze to avoid his eyes, only to stop short at his mouth and chin.
His hand by my head moved, touching my chin, which was all he needed to do for my eyes to lift and meet his again. He parted his lips as if he wanted to say something, but stopped. This time his eyes lowered down, focusing on my mouth.
I froze, stiffened in the seat. I didn’t know what it would be like for someone to kiss me. I had no idea how to tell when someone wanted to but everything in my being told me Kota wanted to. My mind blanked out.
And I wanted it.
Forgiveness and Permission
Written by C. L. Stone
Copyright © 2013 C. L. Stone
Published by Arcato Publishing
All rights reserved.
This book is a work of fiction and any resemblance to persons, living or dead, or places, events or locales is purely coincidental. The characters are productions of the author’s imagination and used fictitiously.
From The Academy Series:
Friends vs. Family
Forgiveness and Permission
Other Books By C. L. Stone
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For the ones who taught me that arguing could be a sign of affection as much as a hug or kiss.
Because arguing can show exactly how much you really do care.
f you had asked me last week when my life changed, I might have said it did when I met Kota Lee and he dragged me into the world of the Academy with secret agendas and boys who were handsome, who knew how to infiltrate, spy and rescue and did so on a regular basis.
Today, if you asked me the same question, I would say it was when my mother told me she wasn’t my mother.
My name is Sang Sorenson. I was your untypical straight A student who was shy and never had a friend in my life until I met Kota. I had an abusive—I guess I should call her a stepmother—who didn’t want me and a father that was never there and didn’t want me either. The only thing my father asked me before he disappeared back into his double life was to keep my head down and keep an eye on my older half-sister until the end of the school year and to take care of my stepmother if she managed to make it out of the hospital. He left us money and the two story gray house on Sunnyvale Court. Outside of that, we were on our own.
And my sister, Marie, didn’t want me there, either. After I revealed to her what our father had said, she claimed she didn’t need a babysitter and she could handle things herself.
But I made a promise to my father, and from that to the dead mother whose name I didn’t even know. He had promised her that he would take care of me and I would allow it, for now. I wouldn’t abandon my sister like our parents had abandoned us.
But I also had Kota, Luke, Nathan, Silas, North, Gabriel, Victor, Mr. Blackbourne and Dr. Green. Nine friends. Nine members to my own secret family. They looked after me and promised to be there for me no matter what.
Except I had a sketchy idea of what family meant, and what they wanted with a girl with such a complicated situation.
I could only wish, with all my heart, that they would stay and not leave me alone.
They were all I had left to believe in.
heard the footsteps of a couple of boys in the hallway before they managed to open the door to my bedroom. I could sense it was another hot Saturday for late September through the glare of sunlight assaulting me from the window. For me, who had grown up in Illinois, I was unused to the warmth of southern summer so late in the year. The boys kept telling me I could expect summer days on through November. It seemed impossible but I’d believe it when I felt it.
The footsteps quieted by my door. The handle was twisted, the door had been unlocked. I was under the sheet and thin blanket on my bed, the one Victor bought for me. I could still smell him in the sheets since he’d spent the night with me. He didn’t need to, none of the boys did, but they did it anyway often enough. Marie and I were alone, but we were never really truly alone when the Academy was always watching.
I’d slept in. Seven a.m. was late to sleep in for boys who were usually up and working at dawn. However, Victor kept me up late watching a movie, and I was feeling lazy.
My skin electrified. The boys in my room were being sneaky. I had no clue what they were up to. My fingers clutched the blanket, ready to hold tight to it or push it back and jump up and catch them at whatever they were doing.
The edge of my blanket was collected at the foot of my bed in someone else’s grasp.
Silence. Either side was waiting for the other to strike first.
My blanket was yanked from my grasp. I raced to pop up and go after whoever it was.
A spray of ice water smacked me in the face. The edge of a shrill cry caught in my throat but I held it in. Screaming was pointless.
There was a rush for the door. I caught Nathan and Gabriel dashing out, large Super Soaker guns in their hands. Nathan was shirtless. His muscular, tanned body left me breathless. He wore red sport shorts, and was barefoot. His reddish brown hair was wet, sticking up.
Gabriel’s leaner frame was also shirtless. He wore camouflage shorts. Two locks of blond hair stuck wet to his cheeks and the rest of his russet brown hair was raked back, hanging behind his ears. White crystal studs hung from each lobe, and three black rings were pierced into his right ear toward the top crest.
Their running, like a roll of thunder, rumbled through the house as the they raced down the front stairs. They threw open the front door and ran outside.
My wakeup call had been delivered.
More footsteps rushed up the backstairs. I jumped up on the bed, moving to the wall next to my door, pressing my back to the frame. I’d gotten hit in the face once and I didn’t have a weapon. I was outmatched for speed and power by all of the guys so it didn’t matter who it was. I hoped I could garner sympathy from my new assailant.
The footsteps padded closer, slowed, and stopped behind the wall.
I peeked out into the hallway.
Luke peeked back in at me.
His shirt was gone, too. His khaki shorts hung low on his hips. His tapered shoulders were starting to get a little pink from sun. His longish blond hair was sloshed behind his head, tied back with a clip he’d probably borrowed from me. He grinned down at me, his brown eyes brightening.
“About time you got up,” he said. He stepped back, holding out a second Super Soaker gun. Pink. “Look what the Kota fairy got for us.”
I grinned. Kota bought us new toys. I took the pink gun from Luke, holding it in my hands and feeling the weight.
“I’m going to run out the front door,” Luke said. “Head out the back and around the house. I’ll try to get their attention. You do that super silent thing you do and sneak up on them.”
“Okay.” I didn’t know what he was talking about. What super quiet thing? Tiptoeing?
I raced back to my bookshelf, snatching up a hair clip to twist back my hair quickly to keep it out of my eyes. I checked my clothes, soft gray shorts and a light pink bra cami tank top. I was decent enough for water guns.
I ran down the back steps, listening as Luke did the same on the front steps and headed out the front door. I would have to hurry.
I ran past the side door, flew through the family room and unlocked the back door out onto the screened in back porch.
The morning greeted me with a wave of thick heat. A basketball was bouncing in the driveway and there was the echo of shuffling tennis shoes meeting the beige concrete. I closed the door behind me, jumping down the brick steps to land on the blue utility carpet.
Silas’s tall, strong frame flew into view, nearly hovering as he stood on his toes over North in the driveway. North might have been a few inches shorter, but with the fierceness in his almost-scary face from his intense eyes and strong, two days unshaven jaw, you’d never know it.
North clutched the basketball in his hand, avoiding Silas. Kota ran in, his black rimmed glasses sliding down his nose, sweat making the hunter green T-shirt he wore stick to his back. North tossed him the ball. Derrick, a boy from up the road, raced after Kota, trying to block him as Kota aimed for the basket and tried to get off a shot. Derrick was probably the same size as Kota, wearing only a pair of cut off jean shorts that hung low off of his hips, revealing a trace outline of dark boxers underneath. Derrick was deeply tanned from long days spent outdoors all summer. He was a new face, though, as he hadn’t been there all week, when the other boys had. Word must have gotten out that the house was no longer a place to stay away from.
I was surprised, too, to find Micah and Tom, a couple of twelve-year-old boys, in the backyard, bouncing on top of a large trampoline. The trampoline had been something like a consolation prize from my father before he last left. He never even finished building it but North fixed it up. I hadn’t been on it yet, mostly because I didn’t want to enjoy it. I didn’t like the meaning of it. I didn’t mind the others using it. In fact, I was glad. At least someone liked it.
My stepmom would have had a fit seeing all these boys running around the yard, through the house, and playing with me.
I ran for the screen door in the porch that led out into the yard. I flung open the door, stepping out into the grass, feeling the heat heavy around me, the water swishing in the gun in my hands.
North stopped in mid-step, glancing over at me and temporarily distracted from his basketball game. He smiled after me, his black hair hanging in his eyes. I gave him a small wave and a wink before dashing off in the opposite direction, heading around the back of the house toward the side yard, taking the longer way around to the front.
I crouched by the bushes surrounding the front porch, glancing over them for Nathan and Gabriel.
Luke was dashing around the front yard. Nathan was on his heels and after him. They aimed their water guns at each other, spraying the other one down with a fresh blast every few seconds. The front yard was large and bare, with plenty of space for running around. I didn’t have much to block me if I just ran out there. And where was ...