Page 29

 Kristen Ashley

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He waited until I quit laughing then his arms gave me a squeeze.
“You got the plan?”
I nodded. “Knight’s business as usual, no one’s the wiser we got the goods on Amy and Nair except Lively who will pass along bogus intel. Set up. You need to work on Charlene’s car after you pick up the part tomorrow morning. I’m on Nick. Tomorrow afternoon, another search of his place. After that, we regroup.”
“You got it.”
“You tired Grandpa?”
He was silent.
Then, “Shit, seriously?”
I lifted my head and smiled down at him. “No. I’m wiped.”
He pressed his head into the pillow and looked back at the headboard muttering, “Thank God.”
“God’s not in my headboard, Creed.”
He looked back at me, grinning. “Disagree. Saw some heavenly action tonight.”
He was not wrong.
I tipped my head to the side and dipped my voice low when I asked, “You wanna sleep in here tonight?”
His voice was dipped low, a flash went through his eyes and his arms tightened again when he replied, “Yeah.”
“I don’t cuddle,” I told him.
His arms tightened again but this seemed reflexive before he muttered, “Right.”
“He cuddled.”
Another flash went through his eyes as his jaw hardened then he unclenched it to repeat a muttered, “Right.”
“You can manage that, you’re welcome here until you go back to the Grand Canyon State.”
One of his hands slid up my back, over my shoulder, up my neck to curl around the side of my head before he whispered, “I’ll take it, Sylvie.”
It was my turn to mutter, “Right,” and I did before I shifted off him.
I turned off my light.
Creed turned off his.
I pulled the sheet up to my waist, settled on my belly, head turned away from him, knee crooked. I didn’t know how he settled.
“I like morning sex,” I warned into the dark.
“Fuck me,” he muttered.
“That’s what I’m saying.”
I heard him chuckle.
Then my body tensed as I felt the tips of his fingers glide over my hip, my ass to my waist in a super soft touch before they moved away.
“’Night, partner,” he murmured.
“’Night, Creed,” I murmured back.
Five minutes later, Gun joined us, curling in the crook of my leg.
By the sounds he made, Creed fell asleep before me.
It took me a while.
Mostly because, over and over in my head, I heard his voice saying, call it and saw in my mind’s eye his hands curling around my headboard.
I adjusted minutely, reaching out to Gun and sifting my fingers through her thick, soft fur.
“Fuck,” I whispered.
She started purring.
I fell asleep.
* * * * *
“Fuck,” Creed heard her whisper.
He squeezed his eyes tight.
He heard her cat start purring.
He cuddled.
Creed opened his eyes.
It took some time but the cat quit purring so he could hear Sylvie’s breaths come deep.
He shifted out of bed and moved to her dresser. Carefully, he opened the drawer where he found it while he was doing his search a month before.
He dug back behind her tees and his fingers hit it.
He pulled it out, moved to the window and stood in it, letting the moonlight light the wooden box as he flipped it open.
His put his finger in, flicking through the chains there.
Eleven necklaces. Eleven peridot pendants.
He flipped the box shut and his eyes went to the bed.
Her cat’s head was up and Creed knew she was looking at him.
Sylvie kept his necklaces. She cared.
She kept them.
She cared.
He f**ked her twice that night, made her come four times. She was there but she was not. He could be anybody.
But if she kept those f**king necklaces, somewhere in her, she cared.
He put the box back, grabbed his shit and left the room. He dumped it on the floor in her wreck of a guest bedroom, climbed into the double there and settled on his back.
He shoved one hand between his head and the pillow. He lifted the other one and traced the scar on his cheek then through his hair, his fingers pressing deep, feeling the ridge along the skin under his hair, over his skull until it stopped.
The memory played in his head like it did thousands of times before, his voice coming back, pained, weak.
Promise me.
The bastard promised.
He’d lied.
Creed rolled to his side.
He didn’t cuddle Chelle. He gave her that until she fell asleep and then he set her away.
He’d f**ked her over, huge. He’d tried but a dead man felt nothing. Creed had nothing to give. He wanted to, she deserved it but it just wasn’t there.
He couldn’t sleep next to Sylvie, his Sylvie, and not hold her.
So he didn’t.
Chapter Eight
I’m Creed
A cold, dark autumn night in Kentucky, twenty-six years earlier, Creed is thirteen, Sylvie is eight…
Bootsie yapped and I opened my eyes.
Then I heard it, like a tap on the window.
Oh boy. This had never happened before.
I threw the covers back, jumped out of bed, ran to the window, threw it up, stuck my head out in the cold and looked down.
Tucker was standing in our side yard.
Wow! This never happened before!
I waved then pointed to me and down. He nodded and started walking toward the backyard.
I pulled the window down and ran to my closet. It was cold and I went to Tuck’s once without mittens and a hat and he got mad at me. So even though I had to be quiet, I pulled on socks, boots and my coat over my nightgown then added my mittens and a hat.
I bent down to Bootsie. “This is different, Bootsie. You don’t get to come this time.” She whined a bit and I put my mittened finger to my lips and said, “Sh.” I dropped my hand and continued, “I’ll be back real soon, promise.”
I gave her fur a ruffle, kissed the top of her head then super careful but as quick as I could, I dashed down the hall, the stairs, through the house and outside.
Tuck was standing at the partially opened back gate.
I ran across the yard and when I was close enough, he reached right down, grabbed my hand and pulled me through the gate. He closed it slowly behind us then he moved, real fast, dragging me with him through the woods.
It was then I knew this wasn’t fun. This wasn’t like meeting him at the lake. This wasn’t like when I went to his house with the squirt guns, got him out of bed and we had a squirt gun fight at night, in the dark, in the woods.