Home > Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(4)

Storm (Ashes & Embers #1)(4)
Author: Carian Cole

I nod. “Thank you, Storm,” I whisper. My panic attack has stopped. I don’t know how he knew it would work, but it did. I didn’t have to take a sedative, or run home to hide, or sit in a crumbling mess for hours like I usually do when a panic attack comes on. All I needed was this man’s arms around me with the sound of his voice sharing sweet memories. I start to sit up to move back to my side of the truck, but he gently holds me back. “Stay like this... I’ll keep you warm.”

That’s true, I am much warmer wrapped up against him. My brain struggles to accept that it’s okay to essentially cuddle with someone in a dire situation, even though he’s weird and scary and wearing eyeliner for some unknown persona.

We sit in silence for a while, the only sound in the truck the dog’s gentle breathing as he sleeps. Niko seems unfazed by our ordeal and content to just have Storm with him.

“Niko looks so peaceful. I have a cat,” I blurt out.

Storm lets out a small laugh like he is amused with me. “Really? Okay... tell me about your cat.”

Some of Storm’s hair is lying across my shoulder, mingling with my own hair. It’s odd, to see a man’s long hair entangled with my own, his dark, almost black, against my cherry brown. I find it slightly erotic. I quickly shake the thoughts out of my head.

“His name is Halo. He’s pure white and he was born deaf. My mom gave him to me for my eighth birthday. He’s eighteen years old.”

“Eighteen? Are you kidding me?” he asks clearly shocked.

I nod and smile, even though he can’t see my face. “Yup. He’s great. Even though he can’t hear, he’s still really sweet. He follows me all over the house and he sleeps with me every night. He has really pretty blue eyes. It’s like you could get lost in them, they are so blue.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever met a deaf cat, or a dog, for that matter. I love animals. Niko here is my best friend. He’s eight years old.”

“I’ve had Halo for so long I can’t imagine life without him. It’s hard to think he is so old now. I worry all the time something will happen to him. Like now, I hope he’s okay. I hope Michael is feeding him and making sure he has fresh water.”


“My boyfriend. We’ve been together since high school.”

“Not married?”

Everyone says that and yes, it bothers me. Twelve years together and still no proposal. I let out an aggravated sigh.

“No, not yet,” I reply. “He wants to be more financially stable before he gets married and starts a family.”

“I don’t do relationships anymore. I can’t be bothered with all that shit.”

“So you’re just single all the time? That sounds like it could get pretty lonely.”

“Single maybe, but not lonely. I have a bunch of female friends who I hang out and party with. You know friends with benefits. We hang out, have some fun, fuck for a while, and then they go home.”

I am entirely repulsed and move away from him, resuming my spot across the seat to glare at him. “Don’t you think that’s a little bit gross, Storm? Just fucking a bunch of girls?”

He shrugs at me. “No... not at all. They know where they stand. I don’t lead them on and let them think it might ever be something else. We have fun without all the bullshit. I travel a lot. When I’m in town, I call them up. We have some fun, and that’s it. I practice safe sex, so what’s the big deal?”

“It just seems so trashy to me, just to have sex with no love or commitment.” I can’t even imagine a lifetime of nothing but a bunch of one-night stands.

He’s rolling his eyes at me. “Evelyn, there can be sex with no love. They don’t always go together, ya know.”

I scowl at him and pull the blanket further onto me. “Well, they should go together. Just fucking like a bunch of animals with no feelings just sounds gross to me.”

He lights up a cigarette and stares at me for a few moments. I think I’ve insulted him just a bit, but I don’t care. He’s a pig. “Evelyn, love is an elusive thing. Not all people who say it, or claim to be in it, actually are. I think a lot of people get so wrapped up in other feelings like being horny, wanting a relationship, being in lust, and all that shit, then they just label those feelings as love. But true love? The kind of love where you would just die for that person? Where you’d do anything just to be with them? I don’t really think many people have that. I know my parents do. I know my grandparents did. But I’ve yet to find that. So, yeah, I just fuck the chicks I can tolerate for a few hours.” He opens the truck door just a bit to flick out some ashes. “Let me ask you something, Evie. Do you really, really love Michael? Or are you guys just in one of those habit relationships. You’ve been together so fucking long, you don’t even know anymore how you feel because he’s basically become like an old piece of furniture you’ve had forever. You’re afraid to try something new because he feels safe. Feeling safe doesn’t mean love.”


Maybe he’s right on a few points there, but I’m not going to admit it to him. The spark flew out of my and Michael’s relationship quite a while ago, but that’s normal in a long relationship, right? We still have fun. We still have sex. Yes, he’s busy and distracted a lot, but I know he loves me and I love him.

Storm is smirking at me. “You’re thinking about what I said... wondering if it’s true. Is it real love or is it just a comfortable rut?”

“You’re an asshole. I love Michael and he loves me. We’ve been together for twelve years. Just because you’re not capable of loving and caring about someone doesn’t mean other people aren’t. I feel sorry for you. You’re going to spend your life being lonely and probably end up with a STD on top of it.”

“So what does he do to show you he loves you? I’m just curious how you people on the other side live.” He opens the truck door again, letting a gust of air in for a second time, tosses his cigarette out and turns to me with his full attention.

So, no lie, my mind goes blank. I’m flipping through my brain like a maniac. “He bought me a GPS for my trip here, so I wouldn’t get lost.”

Storm literally starts to crack up. Like right in my face, he is doubled over laughing. I glare daggers at him until he stops.

“Seriously? He bought you a little forty-dollar GPS system, which obviously didn’t work since you got pretty fucking lost. But you think buying an electronic device for someone is love?”

“It’s care, you moron. He bought it because he cares about me. He knows I’m afraid of getting lost.”

“Holy shit, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to laugh at you, but that’s legit hilarious. If he cares so much, why didn’t he just drive you up here himself?”

Okay. So I did ask Michael to drive me to the hotel and then come back Sunday to pick me up. He had no plans other than to just hang around and watch TV. He said he didn’t feel like it and then ran to the nearest store and came back with the stupid GPS. I hate driving and have a fear of getting lost and having a panic attack in the car, but he just brushed it all off and told me I was immature.

I feel defeated. “He said he didn’t feel like it,” I admit. “He wanted to watch TV and hang out on the couch.”

“I might be an asshole... but I know this. If I loved someone, I’d drive them a measly fucking hour or so to a meeting if they asked me to. If I didn’t love them or like them much? Then, no, I’d be just like Michael and plant my ass in front of the TV and forget about it.”

“He’s tired. He works a lot. There’s nothing wrong with that.” Even I can hear the defensive tone in my voice.

Storm nods slowly at me. “Okay, I get it. That makes sense.”

This guy is an idiot. He has no right to judge me or my relationship. People don’t stay together for twelve damn years if they don’t love each other. He just can’t understand it because he’s never experienced it. I feel sorry for him. The longest relationship he’s ever had is with his damn dog.

“Maybe we should try to just get some sleep.” His suggestion sounds great to me. Sleep means no more of his damn comments and judgment.

“Good idea,” I agree, laying my head against the window and looking out at the fast falling snow so I don’t have to look at him sitting there looking at me. We each pull the ends of the blanket up over ourselves and ignore each other. The cold is biting, but the blanket is extremely thick and heavy, trapping our body heat beneath it. Hopefully, I won’t freeze to death in my sleep.

Chapter Two

When I wake up, I am disoriented for a few seconds as the memories of yesterday seep back into my mind. I slowly lift my head, my neck stiff from sleeping with my head leaning against the cold window. I rub my neck and glance over at Storm, who is sprawled out next to me with his foot on my lap. What the hell?

I push his foot off me and he starts to wake up. “Get your damn foot off me.”

I can already see he is not a morning person. He opens his eyes slowly and looks around, dazed.

“Huh? What’s going on?” He straightens out and looks over at me. “What are you doing?”

“Your foot was on me.”

“So the fuck what?”

“I’m not a footrest!”

“Jesus Christ, Evelyn. We’re cramped in a tiny space and I’m six-two. Excuse me for stretching out a little bit.”

“Well, don’t do it on me.”

I twist my neck around trying to ease my sore neck. “This sucks. My neck is killing me.”

“Mine, too. It sucks even more waking up to a bitch.” He stretches his arms out, just missing my face. “My whole body hurts.”

Niko is now also awake and looks back at us. He starts to whimper and circle on the front seat, then stops and looks at Storm expectantly.

“He has to eat and go outside. I’m going to have to take him out there. I have a shovel in the back of the truck. I’m going to clear the snow off the truck, too. We can’t sit here with a foot of snow on top of us.”

Hot Series
» Vampire Academy Series read online
» Crossfire Series read online
» Fifty Shades trilogy read online
» Kate Daniels Series read online
» Black Dagger Brotherhood Series read online
» Cassandra Palmer Series read online
» Rosemary Beach Series read online
» Sea Breeze Series read online
» Too Far Series read online
» Shatter Me Series read online
» Thoughtless Series read online
» Marriage to a Billionaire Series read online
Most Popular
» Magical Midlife Meeting (Leveling Up #5)
» Magical Midlife Love (Leveling Up #4)
» The ​Crown of Gilded Bones (Blood and Ash
» Lover Unveiled (Black Dagger Brotherhood #1
» A Warm Heart in Winter (Black Dagger Brothe
» Meant to Be Immortal (Argeneau #32)
» Shadowed Steel (Heirs of Chicagoland #3)
» Wicked Hour (Heirs of Chicagoland #2)
» Wild Hunger (Heirs of Chicagoland #1)
» The Bromance Book Club (Bromance Book Club
» Crazy Stupid Bromance (Bromance Book Club #
» Undercover Bromance (Bromance Book Club #2)