Authors: Lark Lane
Love Scars – 5: Covered
Cover design by eyemaidthis
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Love Scars, a new adult romance serial:
Part Five: Covered
Nora Deven was seventeen when her family was killed. Now twenty-three, she's raised her niece the past six years by taking on massive student loans. When Nora's offered the chance to pay off her debt through a little benign corporate spying, she takes it—though the job may shatter the tenuous defenses she's built around her pain.
Tech genius J.D. Reider was a multimillionaire at eighteen. Now twenty-eight and worth billions, J.D.'s wealth hasn't shielded him from being scarred by love. Then J.D. meets Nora Deven, a fragile graduate student used by a rival to sabotage the biggest project in his company's history. Nora could unwittingly ruin J.D.'s company, but his real fear is she'll destroy the fortress he's built around his heart.
They can heal each other’s love scars, if only they can see past them.
Part 5: Covered:
With her memory of the night of terror restored and the discovery J.D. was lying to her all along, Nora struggles to move on with her life. While helping Lisa prepare for the wedding, she makes a decision that changes everything.
J.D. retreats to Orcas
pulled apart by triumph and despair. His company is secure, but losing Nora has brought him to his knees. Can he ever convince her to trust him with her heart?
Panic ripped through my guts when Nora caught me going through her purse. Panic and irritation. She fled the kitchen and disappeared down the hall toward her room, but the look on her face stayed with me, the feeling of betrayal hanging in the air. How could I be so stupid?
Frank leaned against the wall. “Sorry about that,” he said. “I thought she’d like to know her new boyfriend’s a billionaire.” As if he was genuinely perplexed.
Was I the only one who saw Frank as he really was? He relished pushing in, dropping little spoilers on other people’s happiness.
The Proto 1 was still in my hand. Instinctively I hit the reset button and smiled to myself when the numbers came up zero. I played around with the unit until I was able to enter different numbers into the data fields.
Wait a minute.
Did Frank say boyfriend? “Did Nora say something about me to Lisa?” I looked over at the wanker.
He didn’t hear me. He had the look, the reason I didn’t socialize with normal people. I could see the calculations clicking in his mind as he contemplated billions of dollars. It wasn’t his fault. The mere thought of all that money was intoxicating, I got that.
I heard Nora stomping back down the hall.
“Get out!” She turned the corner and threw my clothes at me.
“Nora, please.” I snagged my shirt out of the air and threw it over my shoulder. “Let’s talk about this.” I picked up my pants from the floor. I turned to step into a leg, and one of my sandals hit my butt cheek.
“Get!” The second struck a shoulder blade hard enough to sting. “Out!”
“Ow! Jeez, Nora.” I deserved it. As far as Nora Deven was concerned, I was a liar and a thief. The situation was impossible. She was too furious to hear me, and Frank stood guard like a righteous busybody.
“I’ll leave this. You can return it Steve Heron.” I set the scanner on the kitchen counter. “I’m so sorry, Nora. I never meant to—”
“Lie to me?” She looked up at me and her eyes shimmered with tears. “Just go, J.D.”
I was dying inside. She was so close, an arm’s length away from me in those cute piranha pajamas. I could easily reach out and touch her chin, take her into my arms and kiss away the misunderstanding, but her heart was locked away from me. And her mind.
I wanted to ignore her words, grab her and never let her go, not until she let me back in. But I would only do more damage. I had to respect her wishes, not dwell on my own. I forced myself to obey. I turned away from her, and in a daze made it out to the Range Rover.
I headed for BlueMagick. The cell phone was still connected to the vehicle’s system. “Call Brad,” I said, inwardly screaming far worse curses at myself than Nora could ever think of.
J.D., you fuck.
Of course I should have told her the truth from the beginning.
So mockingly obvious in hindsight.
Before Brad could pick up, I ended the call and turned off the phone. He’d ask about Nora, if I’d found her. What was there to say?
Yes, I found her. I found her fragile and utterly vulnerable, and I blundered through that vulnerability to the core of her being and proceeded to fuck the whole thing up.
I couldn’t talk with that running through my brain.
It was Saturday morning, not yet eight o’clock, but several dozen vehicles filled the BlueMagick parking garage. A lot of our programmers and engineers were animals for work. They lived and breathed their projects. Most came in on weekends. Some had likely worked through the night. The cafeteria was already out of the maple scones I like.
I generally thrive on the fact our creative teams work around the clock, but as I thanked the barista for my latte something clicked inside. It struck me then: even “the truth” about me was a lie.
All the lifestyle crap I’d built into BlueMagick was fake. The bowling alley, the theater, the game rooms. Even the daycare center. It was a fake culture. A fake life. These weekend warriors were fools, chasing the elusive next big tech breakthrough while real life passed them by.
And I was their enabler, their Fool in Chief. So many of them wanted to be like me. To be me. And what was I? An imposter. A coward. A man who hid from the world. Nora made me want to live in the world again, to feel. And I’d lost her.
I stopped outside my office and stared at the floor-to-ceiling double doors. Impressive. So imposing. The doors to the inner sanctum of a Very Important Man. What did Frank call me?
Wonder boy CEO of BlueMagick
A load of fucking bullshit. I hadn’t been a boy in a long time, and the only wonder was I hadn’t lost everything to neglect. Who was I kidding? Brad ran the company while I played at being king of all I surveyed. I gazed down on people from my wall of tinted windows and fucked an employee I wouldn’t let call me by name. I was pathetic. Nora was lucky to be well away.
I passed my office and kept walking. I took the elevator down to the garage and drove to my place, packed a bag, and texted Tom Jennings, BlueMagick’s corporate jet pilot, to meet me at the airport. Two hours later, I called Brad from the air.
“Dude, what’s going on?” he said. “I’ve been trying to call you back.”
“I turned the cell off earlier. Sorry. I wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Why? Did you find Nora? Do you have the Proto 1?”
“The scanner’s still with her. I screwed with the numbers to throw MolyMo off.” I had no idea if Nora would return the scanner. Either way, it couldn’t hurt us now. “We’ll need to analyze the real data,” I said, “but the initial feed looked good. On Monday, get with legal and have a team start on mineral rights. We’re late to the table. It’s past time to bring on a lobbyist.”
“So we’re going over to the dark side at last,” Brad said.
“It’s where the deals are made,” I said. “You’ve wanted this for a while. I was an idiot to put you off.”
“You were idealistic.”
“And ideals are for idiots.”
“We need a political affairs department internal to BlueMagick.” Brad clicked into planning mode. “We can write bill language to our advantage and get it slipped into the legislation we need.”
“Bring it on,” I said. “I want more than the Barton dig mineral rights. I want MolyMo locked out of all the action in California—in the country, if we can do it.”
A guy had to have a goal. If loving Nora was out, crushing Steve Heron would do.
“Sir, we’re coming up on some turbulence,” Jennings said over the intercom. “I’d advise you wear your safety belt and secure all loose objects.”
“What was that?” Brad said. “Where are you?”
“Somewhere over Eugene, Oregon, most likely. Look, Brad. I’m going up to the island for a few days. Handle things until I get back, okay?”
I was a wreck. Why did I ever trust J.D.?
A kaleidoscope of fragmented emotions shifted within me, unable to settle. I went from guilt to rage to self-pity to unhinged abandonment. Then the whole thing started over.
The recovered memory from the cabin replayed in my mind. I was a coward, and my cowardice had killed my little brother Nick. I’d opened myself to J.D. I laid down my soul and accepted his comfort, what I thought was his love, only to discover he was a liar and a petty thief and I was a fool.
I stumbled back to my bedroom, physically exhausted and emotionally obliterated. I cried myself to sleep, and when I woke up the house was empty. Frank was gone, and Lisa and Stacey were at work. I wanted J.D., but I’d told him to get out.
And he did.
I stayed in my pajamas all that day. And the next. I sat in the rose garden and watched the stars and wished the universe made sense. I sat on the sofa and sobbed through romantic movies. I saw J.D. in every hero. Mr. Thornton, Captain Wentworth, Palmer Joss. I even watched that crappy
movie again and pictured J.D. as Mr. Rochester in every scene.
Thursday I went online and googled him. The search results made me feel like an idiot. There were tons of links citing J.D. Reider as the CEO of BlueMagick. Oddly, there weren’t many pictures, and all were old or small and grainy. J.D. was a recluse. BlueMagick’s public face was its Chief Operating Officer, one Bradley Morgan, J.D.’s best friend since grade school. They hadn’t lied about that.
Lisa was in the kitchen making a salad. I brought my laptop in and set it on the counter. “Look at this.” I showed her a picture of Brad in a
at the Oscars with a beautiful woman on his arm. The story was about his date, up for best supporting actress, but he was named in the photo’s caption.