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To everyone who’s waited patiently for me to get my act together — Thank you! <3 Ever (This is the fourth chapter in an ongoing series and won’t make a whole lot of sense if you haven’t read the first three. Which you should definitely go do right now. Don’t worry—we’ll be here waiting for you when you catch up.) * * * * * Ever try to make something work in your brain that just doesn’t want to? Like, the right half is saying, “This makes perfect sense,” but the left half is all, “Yeah, it so doesn’t.” That’s what’s happening in my head right now. Staring at the pic of the unfairly flawless, batshit crazy woman who’s determined to ruin my life in one way or another, the right half is telling me she’s Caleb’s ex-wife. The left half is asking, “But… why?” Melissa’s the one who filed for divorce. She’s the one who decided she couldn’t deal. According to Caleb, they never even acknowledged the bubbly, blonde elephant in the room. She could’ve worked harder to keep him if she’d really wanted to. She could’ve asked him to— “Earth to Em!” Eric’s voice shouts from my phone, which I apparently dropped on the bed while I was zoned out. With my cell back at my ear, I try to focus. “Sorry. Got distracted. What were you saying?” “Nothing. I was waiting for you to say something. You ok over there?” Well that’s a silly question. “Not even a little bit. You and Parker make killer spies, and you got some awesome intel, but…” “It doesn’t fix anything.” “Nope.” “But it could, you know, at some point.” Eric’s optimism is adorable but so incredibly un-backed up by reality. The guys did exactly what I asked them to do, though. And then some. Popping his balloon wouldn’t be a very nice thank-you. “Yeah,” is all I say. “Hey, I’ve gotta call Caleb. But you seriously cemented your best friend status today, Eric.” “Wait—I thought I did that when I put my dick in you, even though I know you suspected I’m not a fan of lady bits.” In the background, Parker’s sweet, shocked voice yells, “You what?” “Yeah, but you were still in denial about it, and afterward, you weren’t. So, really, I was being selfless for the sake of your future sex life.” Not waiting for his response to that bit of fiction, I say, “‘K, I gotta go! Big hugs to you, and give Cutie a kiss for me… with tongue. And if you could, you know, rub his—” My supposed best friend hangs up before I can finish my totally innocent request. He’s probably going to be rubbing his boyfriend anyway, so why not dedicate it to me? Looking at my phone, I see I’ve missed a few texts from Caleb, all demanding an explanation for my surprise sexual assault on him earlier today. The first ring doesn’t even get to finish doing its thing before he picks up. “Jesus, Em. What were you thinking? What if he saw that kiss?”—”He” being our stalker who, as it turns out, really is a dickless wonder, and “that kiss” being my way of drawing out Ms. Dickless—”Did you get an email?” “Does Melissa have glossy brown hair?” I ask, not bothering to answer any of his totally legit questions. He hesitates, probably thrown off by what he thinks is a change of topic. “What does it matter?” “Just tell me.” “Yeah, sure, but—” “Does she dress like she’s got a personal shopper at Saks?” “Em, you’re not making sense. Why are you asking about Melissa?” I almost laugh. If he’s confused now, just wait until I get to the point. “Is she beautiful?” Her picture stares me in the face, and, God, I have so much fucking hate for her. My finger hovers over the “send” button in the chat window on my laptop, and as he starts speaking again, I click it. “She is nowhere near as…” When he goes quiet, I know he’s just seen Exhibit A. “What am I looking at?” “You tell me. Is that Melissa?” His lack of response is all the answer I need. “It’s her,” I tell him. “She’s the one who’s been sending me the emails. She’s the one who took the video of us.” “That doesn’t make any sense, Em.” “The stalker doesn’t want me, Caleb. She wants you.” Normally, his long pauses make me throw internal hissy fits, but this one, I get. He can take as long as he needs to process this massive mindfuck. Hell, I’m still processing it. Fifteen minutes ago, I was convinced that Jeff was obsessed with me. That he was behind all the threats. Now? Up is down and down is up, and it’s making me super dizzy. Wait… Nope, that’s not dizziness. It’s nausea. I think I’m gonna be sick. The toilet is too far away, so I run to my bedroom window, throw it open, and spill what little I have in me to spill all over the back patio. You’d think vomiting would stop once your stomach’s nice and empty, but no. Your body needs to make extra special sure everything’s out and just keeps on heaving until it’s satisfied. “Em! Are you ok?” Caleb’s alarmed voice shouts from the phone. Oh God… He heard all that retching and splashing. Gross. “Yeah, yeah. I’m good. Can canlı bahis you hold on for just a sec?” If I don’t brush my teeth and gurgle a gallon of mouthwash right now, I’m going to throw up all over again.
“Of course, babe. Just don’t hang up. I’ll be right here.”
“If you insist, weirdo,” I say with a smile, because that weirdo is all mine.
As soon as I can stand the taste of my own mouth again, I get back on the phone. There’s a bunch of clattering around, footsteps, the sound of a belt buckle, and the jangling of keys. Caleb’s up to something stupid over there.
“Um, hello?” I say, assuming he has me on speaker phone.
“I’m coming over, Em,” he says from a distance. Uh. No he isn’t.
“Uh. No you’re not.” If my mouth-attack in the tech room wasn’t enough to make his ex-wife unleash our sex tape on the world, him paying me a visit at my house would certainly do it. That woman is teetering on the edge of sanity. Much as I’d love to push her right off the crazy cliff, it’s too much of a risk to take just because my tummy hurts.
“Don’t be ridiculous. You’re sick. And I’m supposed to, what, just stay here? You know that’s not happening.”
“Ok, ok. But you can’t come here, and I can’t go to your place. Is there somewhere else we could meet?”
Despite my very recent upchuck episode, the thought of getting to be near Caleb again is too tempting to pass up. Today, after nearly three painful weeks apart, I had my hands and mouth and tongue on him, and I finally felt whole again.
Ugh. What a cheesy thing to say. See what this man does to me?
This is riskier than anything we’ve done, so far. There’s a chance his ex is camped outside one of our houses, just waiting for us to fuck up. I’d probably be able to keep away from Caleb if he weren’t so hellbent on seeing me. But if he wants me right now—if he’s willing to take the risk for me—there’s no way I’m strong enough to tell him no.
“Yeah, I know this one place. I’ll text you the directions.” He’s quiet for a sec while he types them out. When they pop up on my screen, I squint to make sure I’m not reading them wrong. “And, Em? Wear those boots you had on at set strike.” His wish is my command, forever and always. “And those ruffled socks. Fuck, those were cute.”
* * * * *
Caleb’s directions lead me to an intersection outside the mall. I pull up behind his truck, expecting him to turn left into the packed parking lot. Confusing me more than I already was, he makes a right… into the woods. About half a mile down a rocky road—thank goodness I have four wheel drive—we end up in a large clearing. It was probably a campground until the mall went up a few years ago, but it’s gotta be hard to commune with nature when there’s a Target within walking distance. Run out of toilet paper? Fuck leaves, just hit up aisle six.
When my ridiculously sexy older man gets out of his truck and looks at me, his face lights up, and I no longer give a shit why we’re in the middle of this creepy-ass forest. Caleb could pull a dead body from his truck, and I’d grab a shovel to help him bury it, so long as I can kiss him and touch him and fuck him as soon as we’re done. I hop out of my car and bounce up and down like a perky little rabbit as Caleb makes his way over.
The second he reaches me, I’m wrapped up in his big, strong, tattooed arms. The relief is so powerful, tears pour from my eyes and stream down my face. Between tiny little sobs, I’m finally able to breathe deeply again, filling my lungs with Caleb’s metal and sawdust scent. The gentle strokes of his fingers in my hair relax me even further. After another deep breath, I let out a long, contended sigh.
“Don’t ever let me go, k?” Not that he could, what with how tightly I’m squeezing him.
“Never,” he promises. His deep voice rumbles in his chest, against my wet cheek. His hand leaves my hair and takes my chin, tilting my head back until his concerned eyes meet mine. “Are you ok, babe?”
“More than ok.” My smile may be trembly, but it’s definitely not lacking in happiness. His gaze fixes on my lips, and I wait for a long “Oh, how I’ve missed you!” kiss. I’m about to stretch up onto my tiptoes to steal it from him when he turns my body around. My tank top is almost backless, so I can feel the heat of his chest soaking into my bare skin. It goes a long way to calming my jitters.
Hell yeah, I’ve got jitters. Of course, I do. This right here is the love of my young life. And my middle-aged and old-person ones, too. Every time he touches me, I get all buzzy inside. My arms even have goosebumps right now, despite how hot and muggy it is out here. I’m sure I’ll walk away from tonight with a bajillion mosquito bites, but whatever. I’ll just run across the street and buy some Benadryl. It’s probably in aisle fifteen.
Caleb’s large, calloused hand slides just under the waist band of my denim skirt and flattens on my stomach, below my belly button. My insides literally flutter, and he must be able to feel it, because he holds bahis siteleri me even tighter.
“I mean this, Em. Is your stomach ok?” His other hand rubs my upper arm as he presses a kiss on the top of my head. His lips linger there as he goes on. “Have you been getting sick? You didn’t mention anything.”
“It’s gotta be the stress. And I’d just eaten dinner. Well, actually, I didn’t really eat anything, just picked at a roll. Then the email came in and, well…” I trail off when my stomach rumbles, letting me know it’s angry about its emptiness. Caleb doesn’t miss the growl.
“So you haven’t eaten since lunch?”
“Well… not exactly. I’m pretty sure the last time I ate anything—aside from that popsicle last night—was right before Eric and Parker told me they traced where the emails were coming from, but then I’d gotten a little distracted, and— Oh, wait. I haven’t told you about any of that, yet, huh?” There is so, so much to catch him up on! Before I can even start, my tummy roars again.
“That can wait. I need to feed you.”
“Oh yes, Mr. Turner. I am a very hungry girl,” I purr, turning back around to give him my best innocent face, “and I know exactly what I want in my mouth.” My hand gropes the bulge in his snug-fitting jeans, and it stirs to life. Now it’s Caleb who’s growling.
“You fucking minx,” he says, the throaty sound still thick in his voice. Then I’m off the ground and over his broad shoulder. If we weren’t alone in the middle of the woods, my squeal might attract some attention. He hauls me over to his truck and gently places me on the tailgate. “Stay there, young lady. And behave.” His stern look is absolutely adorable.
“I can’t make any promises.”
After grabbing some things from the front, he joins me on the bed. He spreads out a thick quilt and props up a couple pillows, which I recognize from his living room, against the cab, then scoots back and beckons me to join him.
I settle in between his bent legs and rest my head against his shoulder. Strong arms wrap around me, a pack of saltines in one of his hands. I am so fucking hungry, even the blandest crackers on Earth look like gooey chocolate cake. Caleb isn’t opening the package fast enough, so I snatch it from him, rip the stubborn thing open, and shove two crackers in my mouth.
“Mmm…” I moan around the half-chewed wad of flaky goodness. Seconds later, I’m regretting my overeagerness when my dry mouth struggles to swallow everything without choking. The glorious man behind me chuckles and produces a bottle of ginger ale from I have no idea where. A few big gulps make everything right again.
“God, I love you,” I sigh as I snuggle against his hard, yet cozy, chest, on my way to feeling less ravenous. For food, that is. “What else ya got over there? Chicken soup?”
“When you have a cold, I’ll cook you chicken soup. Right now, you need to eat something that won’t come right back up.”
After swallowing my next saltine and washing it down with more soda, I take his hand and place it back on my now-pleased tummy.
“You take such good care of me, Caleb. Even after I used you as bait to lure the stalker out and get her to send an email while Eric and Parker went all Harriet the Spy in the library and… Oh God, there is so much to tell you! I don’t even know where to start.”
“You know exactly where to start, Em. What’s the first thing you hid from me?”
I cringe at the unsubtle and hundred-percent justified accusation in that question. Maybe I could hide a little more from him… like my whole self, because I’d love nothing more than to go curl up in a ball of shame for deceiving him.
“Shh… I’m sorry,” he whispers as his thumb strokes the skin just below my breasts. “I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just… you were putting yourself in danger, and I had no idea. I wouldn’t have been able to protect you if something had happened. That’s what I’m mad at. Not you.”
“The plan wouldn’t have worked if you’d known about it. That’s the only reason I lied to you. And I promise that I’ll never do it again.”
And then the whole truth tumbles right on out of my mouth.
It’s crazy just how much has changed in the past couple days. Yesterday, we went from knowing nothing at all about the blackmailer to knowing that the person was using a computer at the library to send the threatening emails. Then, my stunt with an unwitting Caleb earned me another email, this one bitchslapping me with the knowledge that our tormentor is a woman. Not just any woman, but Caleb’s ex-wife.
I tell Caleb everything, not leaving out a single detail. Once it’s all out there, I wait for him to say something, anything. Then I wait some more. If I had a watch, I’d probably have checked it ten times by now. This is an oddly lengthy pause, even for him. Maybe he fell asleep during my longwinded rambling?
When I twist my head to see what the hold up is, I wish I hadn’t. It’s pretty dark out here, what with the sun setting and all the trees and whatnot, but it’s light enough bahis şirketleri to see the wetness on his cheeks and the hard work of his throat every time he swallows. I try to turn completely around, so I can hold him and assure him everything’s ok, but Caleb just hugs me to his body and squeezes tight.
“This is all my fault,” he chokes out. Ok… It’s so not, but there’s no way I’ll be able to convince him of that. My fingers trace the branches of the pine tree tattooed on his forearm as he goes on. “I had no idea, Em, I swear. Melissa may have been a little high strung while we were married, but she was never… God, she wasn’t crazy. What the fuck is going on in her head?”
It may be a mystery to him, but I’m starting to get it. Being here, wrapped up in the sweetest and sexiest man on the planet, the thought of not being his anymore is like a shiv to the gut.
“I know exactly what’s going on in her head. If you ever fall out of love with me, I’m pretty sure I’ll snap just like she did.”
“That will never happen.” His words leave no room for doubt, and the conviction in his voice makes me warm inside. “I’m yours for the rest of my life, babe, whether you want me or not.”
“And I’m yours, Caleb. Always.” He’s still tense, though, so I plant a quick kiss to his twitching jaw. “Ok, now that we agree on the why, there’s an even more puzzling question.”
“And what’s that?”
“How? How the hell did she get into the school… more than once? How was she there at set strike without anyone seeing her? How would she have known we’d be getting all sexy in your office that morning? How did she see me attack you in the tech room yesterday?” My head shakes back and forth, trying to work out the mess of unanswered questions rattling around in it. “Ugh! None of it makes sense!”
Caleb pushes my white-blonde hair aside and presses his soft, familiar lips to the crook of my neck. My inner rage demon calms her ass down. He must be able to sense it, because the kisses keep coming. Now that the angry, red haze is clearing from my mind, something occurs to me.
“Because she didn’t.”
“She didn’t what?” he asks, his lips brushing my sensitive skin and making me all shivery. Distracting much?
“She didn’t do any of it. She couldn’t have.” Oh man, I am so freaking smart. Screw acting—I’m a natural born detective.
“You think someone in the school is helping her? …Which means we’re back to not knowing who took the video of us.”
“Well, yeah, sure. But that doesn’t mean we’re at square one all over again. Just think about it—we now know things that they don’t know we know. That’s power, right there.”
Clearly, his excitement doesn’t match mine, yet. But I know exactly how to change that.
“Can you go back to kissing my neck? It felt really, really good.” Not as good as what we’re about to do, but still pretty high on the pleasure scale.
When he takes his shirt off, I feel the soft fabric sliding up between our bodies, and then the scalding heat of his skin on mine. His lips meet my skin again, only this time, they’re parted, and his wet tongue comes out to play. I tilt my head to the side to expose more of my neck to him, and he takes full advantage of it. Something—I can’t imagine what—grows hard and thick against my lower back, and my womb contracts in excitement. This is about to get good.
The taut muscles in his arms flex as he caresses his way up my bare thighs and under my skirt, the veins of his forearms growing more pronounced beneath the dark layers of ink covering them. My eyes enjoy the sight of skin that’s equal parts tanned perfection and greyscale works of art. Then they seek out the poem on his shoulder—the one that’s just for me—and warmth flows through me, because it’s the only piece that doesn’t fit into the greater nature puzzle. I’m dying to know…
“Why the forest theme?”
“Hmm?” he asks, still focused on making out with my neck and shoulder.
“Oh, that. I grew up in the city, but my father took me hiking every fall. Every piece is a memory of that time with him.” One of his hands leaves my thigh to trace the proud pine on his arm. “This was the first. I had it done as soon as I turned eighteen, two months after he died.”
“That’s why they’re all so beautifully done. Because they mean so much to you,” I guess. My eyes fix back on the poem. Those words for me are the only thing on his body that have nothing to do with his dad. I’m speechless.
“You mean so much to me, Em.”
You know, you think you love someone. You feel it with all your heart and in every inch of your body. Then something is said or done that makes you realize you had no clue what love was before. I get the feeling I’ll be realizing that a lot with Caleb.
My back slides up his chest as I shift position. The short denim skirt I deliberately chose to wear tonight rides up as I spread my thighs and plant my knees on either side of Caleb’s legs. Meanwhile, his large hands travel up the front of my body and slide underneath my shirt, and I lift my arms to let him know I’d like it to go away now. As soon as it’s off, his rough palms cover and knead the soft, white flesh of my small tits.
Ben Esra telefonda seni bosaltmami ister misin?
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