Authors: Shiloh Walker
Tags: #Romance, #Suspense, #Contemporary, #Fiction
Closing her eyes, she whispered, “Don’t.”
His lips brushed across the side of her brow. “Don’t what? Tell you that I miss you? Miss us?”
“Us?” She laughed hollowly as she turned to face him. “There
no us, remember? You said that. There’s
… and there’s
… and sometimes we’re together, but there’s no us.”
His gaze held hers. “I never wanted it to be that way. And maybe there was more of an
than I realized. Seeing you …” He paused, took a deep breath. “Seeing you just drives that home.”
Those intense, hypnotic eyes held hers. Her heart kicked up a few beats, stealing her breath away. As he started to dip his head, Shay stood there, frozen.
Shit. What now
His mouth, so warm, brushed against hers. She gasped and then almost wished she hadn’t as he used that opportunity to tease the inside of her lips with his tongue, moving deeper and deeper. His hands came around her waist, tugging her closer.
This is a bad idea …
A Ballantine Books eBook Edition
Copyright © 2012 by Shiloh Walker
All rights reserved.
Published in the United States by Ballantine Books, an imprint of The Random House Publishing Group, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.
and colophon are trademarks of Random House, Inc.
Cover design: Lynn Andreozzi
Cover illustration: Chris Cocozza
I had another dream.
I’m in the closet. Again, hiding like always. I hear a baby.
is here. I can hear him shouting. Yelling. Swearing. He’s angry … but he’s always angry.
I hear somebody giggling this time—this is new … I don’t remember this. She’s giggling, and I hear her talking about a princess.
I wait until it’s quiet, because I need to get some food. I think the baby is hungry, too.
Then there are sirens. And I think there’s blood. I hear the baby again, but these screams are different.…
EANING BACK AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER
Morgan closed her eyes and sighed. The dream was already fading away, the threads of it escaping her grasp even as she tried to hold on.
Even as she tried to put the terror into words. The pain.
Moments passed and the dream lost some of that vivid, powerful punch. But still, she was shaken. Sickness
gripped her and in the back of her mind, she could hear a pitiful, broken scream.
Shifting her attention to the screen, she started to read back over what she’d written.
“You’re going to hold down the fort, right?”
The man bent over the desk didn’t look up at first.
Lorna Winter sighed and leaned her shoulder against the doorjamb.
Her brother looked up, eyes a little clouded. Lack of sleep, lack of caffeine, or just general crankiness could account for the dark scowl he sent her way. He hadn’t exactly been a ray of sunshine the past few months.
“What?” he asked, reaching for the cup of coffee sitting in front of him.
It must have been empty because he gave it a look of such disgust, one might think it had kicked him in the face.
“You’re going to take care of things here, right?”
He frowned. “I am? Why?”
“Because … I told you yesterday I needed the day off,” she reminded him.
His frown deepened, then abruptly, his face went as smooth as glass. “Right. The hospital.” He bent back over the computer as though it had him hypnotized. If she didn’t know better, she’d think that catalog for Baker and Taylor held the secrets to the entire universe, the way he stared at the screen.
“You know, if you want, you can go pick Shay up,” she offered.
Elliot just grunted.
“Is that a yes or a no?”
For a long moment, he didn’t move. Neither did she. She knew her brother. She knew his moods, she knew his quirks … and she knew when he was hurting. Right
now, he was hurting, even if he never admitted it. Finally, he slid her a look from under his lashes. “Shay doesn’t need me to pick her up, Lorna. We broke up months ago, remember?”
She just watched him and waited.
He stared back at her. “It’s over, sis. Deal with it. I have.”
Then he focused his attention back on the monitor and started making notes. Knowing she wasn’t going to get anything else out of him, she sighed and turned around.
Dealt with it, my ass
, she thought darkly.
The man hadn’t dated since he’d broken things off with Shay and she’d
the look on his face when they heard about Shay’s accident. She’d been completely shocked that he hadn’t gone tearing down to Anchorage to be with her.
Hell, every damn time the phone rang, he’d practically attacked it. Yeah. He had dealt with it just fine.
But she couldn’t make him see reality until he was ready to see it, she knew.
Of course, it might
if Shay would open her eyes and see what she was missing. The two of them were giving her a headache, damn it.
T YOU HAPPY, PRINCESS—
A mad little giggle brought Shay gasping into wakefulness and pain splintered through her abused body as she rolled up to a sitting position.
Three days after her discharge from the hospital and she still felt like she’d been run over by a freight train, although she’d take the pain over the nightmares any day.
Sick at heart, her belly twisting with nausea, she sat on the edge of the bed and tried to banish the echo of that maniacal laughter, the rasping, ragged breaths of a brutal monster.
Some people had inner demons.
Shay had always called hers an inner dragon.
A diary had been her first way of slaying it, and the dreams it brought.
She’d actually managed to go a few days without the dreams—this had been the first one since her release from the hospital. This had been a bad one, though. The price she had to pay for a few quiet nights, she guessed.
Her hands were still shaking as she clambered off the bed and her knees felt like wet spaghetti. It was a minor
miracle that she didn’t collapse as she made her way down the hall.
She hit the light in her office and stumbled over to the desk she hadn’t used much since her return home from the hospital a few days earlier. There was so much work she needed to catch up on, such as emails to answer and a book to be written, but she couldn’t even think about that.
Right now, she had a dragon to slay.
It was a bad one this time … an ugly monster, although it shouldn’t seem all that bad. I just felt more scared than normal. I don’t know why. I didn’t really see anything different, and I don’t remember much more. A little, but not a lot.
I’m just more scared. More shaken. I almost feel sick, I’m so scared.
I closed my eyes to sleep, and I wake up in the closet. I’m covered in blood and something isn’t right. I’ve got blood on me and I know that closet. I dream of it all the time.
None of this seems right. I’ve dreamt of it so many times, but this was … different.
I can’t hear the baby.
I can’t hear the yelling.
I just hear … breathing.
Almost like somebody is watching me.
I reached up to touch my face and it was my face. As it is now, and I realized it’s the me from now. It was so weird. I could think so clearly. I could feel my scars and I could think that this wasn’t normal.
And then I heard that laughter. A kid laughing. It’s not him. It’s somebody else. I’ve heard her before, but it’s never been quite this intense.
I heard her laugh and then everything changed.
I wasn’t me anymore. I was the little girl, and I was trapped and I heard the baby screaming … and that giggling. Why was she giggling?
Sometimes I think the pain medicine they have me on has screwed up my head until I can’t think straight. Then I think maybe the car wreck knocked
something loose—not that car wrecks can really do that, but ever since then, it’s like I’m trying to remember more.
But I don’t want to. I don’t want to remember anything about then.
Shit, I’m such a baby.
Better go. I’m supposed to have lunch with a friend. I need to try to get my life back to something resembling normal so I can focus again. After lunch, I see the doctor. Yay.
Staring up at the bookstore, Shay closed her eyes.
Next to her, one of her few friends stood with a bright smile on her face. “Come on. I’ll buy you a couple of books.” Lorna Winter went to open the door.