Home > Hush (Black Lotus #3)(8)

Hush (Black Lotus #3)(8)
E.K. Blair

“Not as much as losing you,” he responds, wrapping his hand around my wrist while I continue to run my fingers along my betrayal that’s now branded on him for eternity.

“I manipulated you. I lied.”

“You did. And I hate you for that. I hate you for what your lies turned me into.”

“But you missed me?”

“I couldn’t unlove you.”

Pressing my hand flat against his chest, I feel his heart pumping, and I decide to rip a piece of my own heart off to give to him, exposing a tiny part of what I know I must protect in the fortress of my soul. Declan has always had a way of cutting right through to the core of me. So, I hand over my offering in the form of truth, letting him know, “You scare me.”

His heartbeat grows in force, exposing his frustration to my words.

“What about me scares you?”

“The way you break my walls so easily.”

“Why do you want walls between us?”

“Because I’m afraid to feel right now. There’s so much inside me that I’m fighting off. I’m scared it’ll be too much.”

He lets go of a hard breath, upset with what I just admitted to him. He drops his head for a moment, and then, with controlled force, he grabs my other wrist and pushes me down onto the bed. I don’t resist him when he straddles my legs and sits on top of my thighs. Green eyes scream for obedience, and I give him just that when he rips my top open, tearing the fabric and breaking the buttons to expose my breasts.

The chill of the air hardens my nipples instantly, but it isn’t my tits he’s after. He quickly gathers both my wrists into his one hand, restraining me, and then takes his other and presses it firmly to the center of my chest.

“This is mine,” he professes. “You want me?”

“Yes,” I breathe.

“You want to be with me?”

“Yes.”

“Then this little heart of yours is mine. It beats for me, and I’ll provide its protection. You hear me?”

I nod.

“You need to trust me enough to take care of you. I won’t ever let you break.”

The rise and fall of my chest hits hard as I take hold of his words, needing them to calm my fears.

“Do you trust me?”

I nod again.

“Tell me.”

“I trust you.”

Another lie.

I LEFT ELIZABETH reading in the library. It’s been a few days since I found her, and even though bruises are fading and swelling is dissipating, she continues to be distant. I’ve yet to fuck her, not that I haven’t tried, but I also haven’t pushed. Taming the beast inside me isn’t something I enjoy while I wait impatiently for her fragility to wane.

Having Lachlan here has helped though. Whatever friendship they forged while she was staying at The Water Lily has dulcified the awkwardness for all of us, leaving just minor remnants. Knowing what Lachlan and I saw that night, the state we found Elizabeth in, doesn’t seem to bother her as much as one would presume, as much as it bothers me. I figure her lack of shame stems from her childhood and what she was forced to endure. It was just the other day she admitted that she saw herself as nothing more than rot.

“McKinnon,” Lachlan announces, redirecting my thoughts when I walk through the door of the guesthouse he’s staying in. “Sorry I bailed on breakfast this morning, I hope Elizabeth wasn’t offended.”

“Not at all. Important call?”

“Yes, actually.”

I walk farther into the house and take a seat in the living area.

“I got information about Steve from my contact.”

“And?”

He sits in the chair adjacent to me and drops a few papers onto the coffee table. “And . . . he’s a dead man.”

“What?”

“Everything checks out. Take a look for yourself. All the documents, the funeral information with plot and burial. Even the death certificate is there. It’s a dead end from that point on. Steve Archer doesn’t exist; he’s been dead for sixteen years.”

I pick up the papers and flip through them, examining the trail of proof that he is indeed dead.

“What’s he hiding from?” I ask aloud, not expecting Lachlan to have an answer for me.

“That’s what I’m trying to find out.”

I set the papers down, knowing damn well they’re nothing but bullshit propaganda to support the prevarication of death, and inquire, “What about the passenger manifest?”

“I’m working on it, but we’re talking about breaking some strict federal laws. I have a friend putting in a few calls for me, but it might be a long shot. I don’t know if anyone is going to be willing to risk their job or compromise their values.”

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