Home > Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(12)

Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(12)
Author: Carian Cole


His head snaps to look at me. “What’s wrong?”

I’ve lost my voice. It’s hiding behind my thoughts and feelings. Thoughts and feelings I can’t even begin to explain or understand right now.

“I-I just...” I look down, away from his intense stare. What am I doing? “Nothing,” I say softly. “Goodnight.”

I walk back down the dimly lit hallway and find my way back to the huge bed, snuggling back under the covers. I wonder why he’s just sitting there and what he’s thinking. Probably plotting my next unwanted orgasm.

I begin to drift off, but I feel a weight on the bed. I open my eyes, and it’s Niko lying at the foot of the bed, curled up against my feet. I smile. Halo sleeps on the bed with me, too. “Goodnight, Niko,” I whisper. That’s when I notice Storm in the doorway, leaning against the doorframe. My heart literally stops. The fuck is he doing?

I don’t say anything as he slowly walks toward the bed. He stops when he gets right next to the side of the bed where I’m lying. He is only inches away, but I can hardly see him in the darkness. I can feel him, though. I can feel the heat radiating off his body. I can hear his steady breathing. I find his hand in the dark and I gently pull him onto the bed. He is massive in the bed next to me—all legs, muscle, and hair. I’m trembling all over and I’m not sure if it’s from fear or the new unknown excitement that he forces onto my body. He rolls onto his side and pulls me against him, cocooning me against his chest.

“I can feel your heart pounding, Evie.” His voice is so low I can barely hear him.

“I can feel yours, too.”

“You’re shaking.”

“I know. I’m scared.”

“You should be.”

Everything inside me freezes.

“You have no idea who I am. Or what I could do to you. I could do things to you that you can’t even fucking imagine, Evie.” He burrows his nose into my hair and takes a deep breath. “I want to make you scream.”

Fear and sheer desire rip through my body. Those two feelings should never be mixed up and thrown together into the same space. I want to run. I want to hide under the bed. I want him to kiss me. I want to touch every inch of him. Fuck me. I am so messed up.

“Relax, little one. I’m not going to touch you or hurt you. But I will be the ghost that haunts you.”

Shit. Damn. Fuck.

He lets go of me and rolls onto his back, but reaches for my hand and entwines our fingers together. We fall asleep that way, two feet apart, our hands still together.

Chapter Six

There’s something terribly intimate about watching a person sleep. To watch them when they have no idea you are doing it. It’s an invasion of the highest form to gaze upon someone when they are unable to hide, or put a wall up, to protect whatever scars or vulnerabilities they might have. I’m doing this now, but like so many other things these past few days I can’t stop myself. Nor do I want to.

Storm is lying on his back sleeping. Sometime during the night, he pushed the comforter off himself and it’s now only covering him from the waist down. One arm is bent up, curled under the pillow below his head. I stare at his face. His eyelashes are incredibly long and dark. He has some scruff on his face from not shaving for a few days. His lips are full and are slightly parted as he breathes soundly. His long hair is fanned out over the pillow. His chest, sides, and stomach, as well as his arms, are covered in ink. It’s a huge collage of mostly black with some color. There are words in calligraphic style—don’t fear the pain, rise above, all that’s ugly is beautiful, hate me or fuck me. What? That last one, seriously?

The artwork is beautiful and just a mishmash of things. Castles, wolves, faces, masks, clowns, swords, feathers, random numbers, a rainbow, a motorcycle on a road, bleeding hearts, a raven, peeking eyes. There’s a black arrow low on his hip pointing toward his crotch. I smirk at it.

His skin is naturally dark and smooth. I spy a long scar on his chest, jagged and almost hidden under the fuzzy hairs and ink. I want to touch it, but I don’t let myself. Every part of him is defined muscle. He must work out a lot to look like this. This type of bulk does not come from sitting around.

He stirs and rolls over toward me, and his eyes slowly open and lock right onto mine. He’s caught me staring at him again.

“I’m gonna start charging you.” His voice is groggy and sleepy.

“Very funny,” I say.

He sits up and stretches his arms out. “Breakfast or a blowjob?” he says.

“What?” I’m not smiling anymore.

“Those are the choices when a chick wakes up in my bed.”

“Not for this chick. Sorry.” Ugh, he’s such a pig sometimes.

He looks down at me with his bratty smile. “I’m just kidding. Don’t get all crazy.”

I shake my head in annoyance at him and roll over so I’m facing the other side of the bed. I should get up, but it’s so nice to be in such an amazingly comfortable bed. I wish I could stay in it all day.

He props himself on his elbow and stares down at me. “I watched you sleep too, ya know. In the truck.”

“I’m sure that was exciting.” Ugh. I hope I wasn’t making weird faces, drooling, or snoring when I was sleeping. I’m sure I didn’t look all pretty and glamorous like women did in the movies.

“You twitch.”

I wince. Of course, something embarrassing.

“You don’t sleep peacefully, Evelyn. Why not? What are you thinking about?”

“How would I know? I’m sleeping.”

“I thought I was wound up, but I think you’re even worse than me.”

“I am not wound up,” I say sitting up and holding the sheet against my chest. I swing my legs off the side of the bed. I don’t want to hear any more of his comments about me. I just want to go home.

I look at him over my shoulder. “If you’re done psycho-analyzing me, can we please get dressed and go?”

“You can’t wait to get away from me, can you?”

“I’ve had about enough and would like to just get back to my life, as I’m sure you would, too.”

“I dunno. I’m kind of getting used to having you around. You’re like a little spastic kitten. One minute you’re cuddling and purring, and the next, the claws are out, and you’re pouncing in five directions.”

Well, there’s an analogy I’ll never forget.

He grabs a handful of my hair and gently pulls me back to his face. “You can scratch me if you want,” he whispers.

I yank his hand out of my hair. “Storm, cut it out. Stop touching me and saying things like that.”

“You’re hard not to touch. Sorry.” He gets up and goes into the bathroom and shuts the door.

I wonder if that was some strange compliment. Somehow, he’s made me feel guilty for not letting him touch me. What kind of crap-twist is that? Screw this crazy with him. No wonder he doesn’t have any real girlfriends. They would have to be insane to deal with him.

I go get my bag and take it into the main bathroom and put some makeup and clothes on. I still only have the one pair of stupid shoes, of course. Back out in the living room, I find my cell phone plugged into the wall next to the couch. Storm must have done that for me last night because I totally forgot to do it. There are still zero bars.

Storm comes into the room wearing jeans, a black t-shirt and barefoot. There is something about a barefoot man in jeans that’s so sexy. At least to me. He whistles for Niko, who comes running, and Storm lets him out the door to go do his business.

“The cafe in town has those lattes you like so much. Once you’re ready, I’ll take you.”

“Thank God. I need a coffee badly. I’m ready when you are.”

“Great, once Niko comes back in, we can go.”

He sits on the chair across the room and pulls on socks and his work boots. An odd feeling starts to wash over me as I watch him, his arms flexing as he ties his boots, his hair hanging down over his face. I’m going to miss him.

He looks up and catches my eyes, but I quickly look away. He shakes his head, visibly annoyed, and stands up.

“Just say it,” he says, his face turned away from me as he slides open the glass door that leads to the deck and whistles for Niko.

“Say what?”

Niko comes bounding in, paws covered in snow and runs directly over to me to kiss my face. I pet his big fuzzy head and plant a kiss between his ears. “I’m going to miss you, buddy,” I tell him.

“He’s going to miss you, too.”

I look up at Storm, who’s watching me pet his dog, and I know what he’s saying, and what he wants me to say. But I won’t say it, and I can see he’s mad. I will not fall into his trap. He thrives on this cat and mouse game of making women want him so he can play with them. I will not be one of his toys or allow myself to think that the few glimpses of possible sincerity meant anything.

“Let’s go.” He picks up my bag and I follow him down the hall to a door leading to the garage. A big truck, an older corvette, and about six motorcycles are parked in there. The walls are covered in tools. I fight the urge to ask him if this is all his. He opens the passenger side of the truck for me, and I get in and wait for him to come around and get in.

“Let’s not crash, okay?” I joke trying to lighten the mood that’s coming off him.

He grins over at me as he pushes a button to open the electric garage door and starts to back up. “If we do, I’m throwing you over my shoulder and carrying you back here. Our backseat days are over.”

Now that it’s daytime and the snow has stopped, I can see how far up into the woods we are. There are maybe three houses on the street where Storm’s house is, and then we turn onto the road where we were stuck. We drive about five miles and we come to a very small town. It’s adorable and quaint, with a few small mom and pop shops that I just love, an auto garage, a diner-cafe, the hotel, which is more like a little bed and breakfast it seems, and a very small grocery store. Storm stops at the garage first to check on our cars, which have both been towed here already. Mine doesn’t look too bad from the outside, the front looks dented a bit, but Storm’s truck is all smashed up in the front. Seeing the damage makes me realize how lucky we are we didn’t get hurt.

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