Home > Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(15)

Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(15)
Author: Carian Cole

“I forgot about your car, sorry. It’s been a long day.” Michael looks so... ordinary to me all of a sudden. Short brown hair, spiked a little in the front. Light baby blue eyes. He’s about five-eight and has an average body. Storm was so interesting to look at, like a piece of walking artwork. I quickly shake him out of my head.

“I can take your car and go get us Chinese food,” I suggest.

“Yeah, baby, that would be great. Get the usual and I’ll take a shower. By the time you get back, I’ll be done.” I watch him walk away and disappear down the hallway toward the bathroom. I was really hoping he would have offered to go get the food. He can see I’m sitting here in yoga pants and I just woke up.

I place our usual order by phone and then go pick it up. I feel sort of strange driving, and even a little bit nervous. Maybe the ordeal had a bigger effect on me than I thought. By the time I get back home and pull into my parking spot, I’m in the beginning of a panic attack. I rush inside and throw the food bag on the coffee table and sit on the couch as the dizziness comes over me. I pray I don’t start to have anxiety attacks every time I have to drive now. That is the last thing I need to complicate my life even more.

“Why are you just sitting there?” Michael asks. He’s toweling off his hair, wearing pajama bottoms and a gray t-shirt. He throws the wet towel on the recliner and picks up the bag. “Let’s eat, I’m starving. Did you set the table?”

I try to calm my breathing. “No... I just got back. I’m having a panic attack.”

“Evelyn, come on. Now what?” he says from our tiny kitchen. “Stop it and let’s eat. I’m tired. I’ve been on a plane all day, remember?”

“Michael, did you forget I was trapped in a blizzard with a total stranger for two days? I could have died. I was in two car crashes in less than an hour and then nearly froze in the back of some weird guy’s truck with some huge ass dog! I think I’m just a little bit stressed from all of it.”

I hear him clanking dishes around. “No, I didn’t forget, and I’m sorry you had to go through all of that. I was worried sick about you. But you’re home now and you’re fine that’s all that matters. Now, come in here and eat. Dwelling on it is only going to make it worse. Did you take one of your pills?”

I join him in the kitchen and sit down, burying my face in my hands. I feel like I’m going to faint. He puts a glass of water in front of me. “Drink this. You’re probably dehydrated and hungry.”

I take a few sips of water and stare at him across the table. He’s piling chicken and broccoli onto his plate, barely paying attention to me. He hates when I have panic attacks because he believes I bring them on myself and can stop them at will. Even though, he’s watched me have them for twelve years, he still can’t see I really can’t prevent them from happening.

I spoon some vegetable fried rice onto my plate. Even though, I’m starving, I don’t feel like I can eat.

“How was your meeting?” I ask him, hoping to distract myself.

“The usual bullshit. I think we got the account though, so that’s good. We’re going to be rolling out a new line of software starting next month. Remember, I told you the programmers were almost done? They finally got their shit together so now we’re ready to sell it. I’m going to have to travel a bit more over the next few months while I demo this to our existing customers to try to get them to upgrade.”

I nod and swallow my food. “Okay. That sounds great, though. About the new software.”

“It is. I should be getting a higher commission too. Maybe in a year or so, we can get out of this condo and get something bigger.”

That perks me up a bit. I have wanted to get out of this condo for a while now and move into a nice house with a pretty yard. Maybe Michael will finally want to get married at some point, too.

“That would be great. I’m really excited for you, Mike. I know how hard you’ve worked for this.”

He bites into his eggroll and starts talking with his mouth full. “Don’t start looking at houses yet or getting crazy ideas, Evelyn. It’s probably going to be a while before we can do any of that.”

Buzzkill.

He doesn’t talk for a while, and I wonder if he’s regretting bringing up the possibility of moving. Of course, I get my hopes up whenever he mentions a possible life change. Isn’t that normal? I don’t know many women who wouldn’t get excited about maybe moving into a nicer house.

“So was the guy nice to you at least?”

“Who?”

“The guy you were stuck in the truck with.”

“He was okay, I guess. He was kind of weird, like a hippie or something. He had a huge dog with him.”

“You’re lucky he found you.”

I meet his light blue eyes. I wonder if he can tell that another man has touched me and then gave me an assisted orgasm. Does it show somehow? I feel like it’s branded across my forehead.

“Yeah, I was very lucky. He had a bunch of food and water in his truck too, and a big thick blanket. If he didn’t have all that, I’m not sure what would have happened.”

“It’s crazy. When the guy called me up to tell me, I thought he was kidding. It must have taken him about five minutes to convince me it wasn’t a joke.” He wipes his mouth on his napkin and lays it on his plate, signaling he is done eating. “When are you getting your car and going back to work?”

“I’m not sure about the car. The garage will call me when it’s done, then we’re going to have to go get it. I told Jack I’d be back on Friday.”

“All right. We’ll figure it out.” He stands up, pushing his chair back. “I’m going to go lay down. Come to bed when you’re done out here, okay?”

I nod vacantly. “Sure. In a few minutes.”

He leaves me sitting amongst the little Chinese food cartons and dirty plates. I’m not sure why I feel so out of place in my own home. Something feels different, but I can’t put my finger on it. I don’t know if it’s Michael or me—but something just feels different, like something has moved out of place.

Maybe it’s the feeling of guilt, which is not a feeling I am used to at all. I’ve never had to feel guilty about anything before, but I do now. Being close to Storm, sleeping next to him in his bed when I clearly had a choice to not sleep next to him again, was wrong. Cuddling to prevent both of us from freezing was one thing, but to sleep in the same bed with him once we were out of the situation was a big mistake. Having orgasms in front of him was wrong on more levels than I can even count. If the situation was reversed, and I found out Michael had touched and rubbed up against, and then slept next to another woman, I would be livid and jealous out of my mind.

I pick up my fortune cookie and break it open to read my fortune.

How can you have a beautiful ending without making beautiful mistakes?

Fortune cookie is an insightful bitch. Shut up, cookie.

I head up to our bedroom after I clean up the kitchen. Michael is lying in bed watching the news, but he clicks off the TV when I get into bed beside him. He immediately turns on his side.

“Do you feel better now?” he asks, running his hand across my stomach under my tank top.

“I’m just really tired. I didn’t sleep well at all the past few days.”

He moves his hand up to cup my breast, flicking his finger over my nipple. I’m really not in the mood for sex, but I feel like in a way it will cleanse me of what I did with Storm.

He kicks off his pajama bottoms and then pulls off my panties, rolling on top of me in a swift motion. Michael is a hard kisser and the concept of foreplay went out the window about eleven years ago. Within seconds, he is forcing his way into me. The pain causes me to bite my lip so I don’t cry out. I don’t want him to mistake it for a pleasure moan. I put my arms around his back as he moves in and out of me and try to move with him. I can never have an orgasm during sex. I was starting to worry something was wrong with me, like maybe my clit was broke or something, so I actually brought it up to my ob-gyn last year. Thankfully, she is really sweet and easy to talk to so it wasn’t as embarrassing as it sounds. She assured me my parts were all in working order and the issue could just be that since Michael and I were both virgins when we started to have sex, we just never experimented enough or evolved sexually together, so to speak. In other words, we are just sexually boring.

Maybe that’s why I was so easily turned on by Storm. He’s just a shiny new object who knew how to press the right button.

Michael grunts and collapses on top of me. “I missed you,” he says, kissing my neck.

“I can’t breathe.”

I inwardly cringe at my own non-romantic comment, but in my defense, he was crushing me lying on top of me like dead weight.

He rolls over to his side of the bed. “Goodnight, babe. I’ll be around in the morning. I’m going into the office late.”

“Okay. I love you.”

I listen for him to say it back, but he’s already snoring.

Chapter Eight

“Holy shit. Evelyn, wake up.” Michael is pushing my shoulder. I groan into my pillow and hide my face. All I want to do is sleep late in my own bed. He shakes me again. “Were you in the truck with Storm Valentine?”

I pick my head up and yawn. “Yeah... he just said Storm, though. He never told me his last name.” What a cool name. Storm Valentine. It sounds like a name in a romance novel.

“Evelyn, do you know who that is?” Mike asks me, raising his eyebrows at me in excitement.

“Um, no. Just some random asshole in the woods.”

“Look, he’s on the news right now. Talking about you.”

I sit straight up and stare at the television. “What? Who is he?”

“He’s the lead guitarist of Ashes and Embers. They’re a kick-ass rock band and they all grew up around here. How did you not know who he was?”

   
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