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Captured by Mr. Wild: Chapter 4

Daisy

    idea.

I curse myself as I pull on my dress and slip my feet into my sandals. Why did I let Blake talk me into meeting him, Kayla, and Travis tonight? The idea of seeing my old friends both excites and terrifies me. It’s been three years since we last spoke online, and a hell of a lot longer since we all saw one another face to face. I suppose I had to expect it, though. Hope Cove’s hardly big. I couldn’t fly under the radar for long, no matter how much I wish that were the case.

I mean, I would love to see them. Of course I would.

My shoulders sag as I look in the mirror and pull at the front of my dress, so it isn’t showing too much cleavage. It’s just… a lot has changed. I’m not the girl they thought I was.

I’m not who I thought I was.

And then there’s Blake.

Fuck, there’s Blake.

I blow out a breath as I picture seeing him again for the first time earlier. Seventeen-year-old Blake Anderson was bad enough. But fully grown man Blake Anderson…

My God.

He’s certainly changed, all right. Gone is any lingering awkwardness from being a teenager with limbs too long for his body, and in its place is… a man. A great big hulk of a man—all muscles, tattoos, and those same intense green eyes and cheeky grin. Blake Anderson certainly took puberty and stuck his middle fingers up at it—after grabbing all the testosterone it had to offer.

I look back in the mirror and frown at myself as I drag my hands through my short, dark hair. It doesn’t suit me. The colour is too dark, too intense. It drains me and makes my skin look gray.

It matches the inside now; I guess.

The sound of a vehicle approaching the house makes me suck in a breath. I look out the window and recognise Blake’s shiny black truck. I head downstairs and double check I’ve locked the front door before running over to the truck and climbing in before he can get out.

He’s wearing black jeans and a green shirt that matches his eyes, the fabric of the sleeves straining over his biceps.

“Hey, gorgeous.” He gives me an easy grin as his eyes drop over my black, floaty dress. “You know a quarter of the population of Hope Cove is over the age of sixty? You’ll give them all a heart attack looking like that.”

I drop my head. “I’ll go change… I’ll just be a minute.” I reach for the truck handle before Blake’s large, muscular hand stops me.

“Hey, I’m joking. You look great.” His brows knit together as he releases my arm and sits back in his seat.

I avoid his confused gaze and stare out through the windscreen instead, my arm tingling where his skin just touched mine.

After a second, he clears his throat. “You ready for the best food you’ve ever had in your life?”

I look back at him. His face is lit up like a kid in a sweet shop who’s just been told to get whatever they want.

Despite my earlier reluctance at coming out tonight, I smile.

“Sure. Show me what you’ve got.”


“So then Blake turns to the camera and gives it this smoldering look, and says, let’s get dirty!” Kayla slaps the tabletop as she erupts into hysterical giggles. “Oh, my God. You have to watch it!” She wipes the tears from her eyes.

I look over at her on the other side of the window booth the four of us are sitting at in the local diner as she creases up with laughter.

“Honestly, it is TV gold! We should play a drinking game based on how many times he tries to pull a sexy face for the camera. He’s even got an online fan club. They’ve nicknamed him Mr. Wild. I mean, they must be blind! Either that or they’ve got him mixed up with his brother.” Kayla continues to laugh.

“Hey! What’s wrong with my face?” Blake pipes up.

I turn to look at him just as he throws Kayla what I imagine is his ‘let’s get dirty’ face. She shrieks with laughter again, obviously immune. Yet I can’t help my eyes lingering on him a fraction too long, admiring his firm jaw, covered in a short, dark beard.

“How is your brother?” I ask.

His face returns to an easy grin as he looks at me. “Jay’s good. He’s married now. Him and his wife, Holly, are expecting another baby.”

“Really?” I picture his older brother. He always seemed so busy living in LA and working as an actor that I never heard of him even having a serious girlfriend before. But then, I’ve avoided reading the magazines I’ve seen with him on in England. They just reminded me too much of Blake, and Hope Cove, and my aunt.

All things from the past.

“Yeah. Holly must be mad, putting up with him.” Blake sniggers, but his eyes light up and I know he’s joking. He and Jay are close. They’re polar opposites, look-wise. Jay is all dirty blond hair and American jock handsome. While Blake is dark-haired and rugged. The kind of guy who looks like he could wrestle a bear in his sleep. Single-handedly.

“Thinking about it. She’s English, too. Must be a thing you Brit girls have in common.” He winks at me as our burgers arrive.

“I still can’t believe you have your own show. That’s amazing.” I smile, feeling myself relax slightly. It may have been years since the four of us were last together, but sitting here now, I could almost believe it was yesterday.

Almost.

“And I can’t believe you ordered a vegan burger!” Blake’s mouth drops open as he eyes the food on my plate with what I can only describe as complete bewilderment. “Don’t tell me you also joined a convent and started braiding your armpit hair while you’ve been gone?”

“Ouch!” His face pinches as I’m pretty sure Kayla kicks him underneath the table.

“Don’t be a douche, Blake.” She rolls her eyes. “Not everyone is a caveman like you, with a lack of social skills.” She turns to me, her lips twitching at the corners. “As you’ll see, Dee, not much has changed around here. You haven’t missed anything.”

I smile, relieved she called me Dee. She seems the most accepting of me coming back out of the blue. But that’s always been Kayla—happy to go with the flow, and sense when there are some things a person wants to share… and some things they don’t.

“Tell me more about the show.” I take a bite of my burger and watch Blake lift his to his lips. It looks tiny in his huge hands.

He tilts his head to the side, taking a bite and swallowing before he answers. “It was a six-part series. I had a group of guys and girls, all with their own unique reasons for wanting to push themselves, and I took them out and taught them how to survive in the wild.”

“Remember the guy who brought his stuffed lion toy?” Travis chuckles.

I expect Blake to laugh. He’s always joking around, but I’m surprised when he takes his time to think before he answers.

“We all need something soft to cuddle up to at night, man. I’ve got Betsy. Ray needed something too. We had a great chat about it, actually. That lion represented security to him when he felt he had none.”

“It’s an emotional journey for them, then? As well as the physical challenge?” I nod in understanding.

“Exactly. Thank you, Dai—” He clears his throat. “Thank you, Dee.” His green eyes meet mine for a second and I look away quickly.

“And you guys have been married a few years now?” I turn my attention back to Kayla and Travis. Anything to prolong the inevitable info dig, which will come my way at some point.

“Yep.” Kayla grins and wraps her arm around Travis’ shoulders, planting a kiss on his cheek. “He’s been the luckiest man alive since one game of truth or dare started it all.”

Blake tips his head toward me, and the feel of his breath on my neck sends a shiver through my body. “See what you’re responsible for?”

See what you’re responsible for, Daisy?

I flinch at his words and let out a gasp. My movement knocks my soda over and sends liquid cascading all over the table.

“I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!” I cry, grabbing napkins and catching the spillage before it runs off the edge of the table.

“Relax, babe. It’s only soda.” Kayla looks at me with a strange expression on her face as I feel my cheeks heat and hurry to wipe up the mess.

“I know, it’s just… I’m so clumsy.” I leave the wet napkins in a ball and place my hands in my lap, my appetite gone, even though I’ve barely touched my burger.

The conversation moves on and I smile as I listen to Kayla talk about her and Travis’ wedding, and how Blake gave a great best man’s speech and arranged a brilliant bachelor party. I tell them about coming back to sort my aunt’s house out, and Blake tells the story about the day he got Betsy as a puppy. All the while I fight to push away the dark images that seep in when he tells me how excited Betsy was the day he took her home.

How much she trusted him.

No matter what I do, those images claw at me.

After dinner we say goodbye and Blake drives me home. I don’t talk much on the journey, and he seems happy to be in companionable silence until we pull up outside the house.

“Here you are, madam.” He grins as he climbs out of the truck and comes round to open my door before I can say anything.

“You don’t have to do that, you know?” I say as I slide out and he closes the door behind me.

His eyes light up and he flashes his perfect teeth. “I know. But I always walk you to the door.”

I suck in a breath as I stare up at him. Heat radiates from his body, like he’s the sun and I’m a plant, feeding off his energy.

Suddenly, I’m seventeen again. Seventeen and tipsy from homemade elderflower gin. But not tipsy enough to forget the way my stomach twisted in humiliation when he pushed me away from trying to kiss him.

I’ve done some stupid things in my life.

“Thanks,” I mumble, pulling my keys out of my bag and walking away from him up the porch steps.

“Dee?” he calls out.

I turn back around and look into his intense gaze. “Yes?”

“It’s good to have you back.” He winks at me and then heads back to his truck and climbs in.

I open the door and make my way inside, knowing that he won’t leave until he sees me get in.

He would never leave until the door was closed.

Some doors should stay shut forever.


Please… No!”

My eyes widen in horror as I take in the sight in front of me.

Stop!”

Terrified eyes look back at me.

I didn’t know… I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry,” I whisper.

I come to with a scream; the sheets tangled around my legs as I bolt upright and scan the room.

Thank God.

I fall back against the pillows and swipe a hand over my brow, slick with sweat. My heart’s hammering in my chest as the nightmare fades. It’s always the same one. The same helplessness, the same fear.

The same smell.

I sit up again and swing my legs out of bed. It’s still early, but the sun is up. The perfect time for a swim to help clear my head.

I pull off my vest and shorts and throw them in the laundry basket. I’m so glad I packed extra sleepwear. At the rate I go through it, I could open my own store.

I grab my bikini and slip it on before heading downstairs and out onto the back porch. I double check I’ve locked the door and take the keys and my towel down to the jetty. It’s a beautiful morning. The last orange hues of the sunrise are just leaving the sky, and it’s already warm.

I place my things down onto the wooden boards and then take a deep breath as I dive into the water. I slip under the surface smoothly; the water welcoming me, muffling the sounds from above, and with it, quietening the storm in my head.

I love it here. Just me and the water. It’s tranquil. A haven below the real world where I can just exist. I don’t have to do anything other than swim and hold my breath.

It’s just me.

Me and the water.

I break the surface and gulp in a lungful of morning air, last night already like a distance memory. Maybe Mum and Dad were right. This might be good for me. I reach my arms out and cut through the water, feeling my muscles loosen with each stroke I take.

I don’t know how long I swim before I realize I’m being watched; that feeling where you just know there are eyes on you.

Goosebumps form on my skin as I glance around, my breath catching in my throat.

“Betsy!” I cry in relief as I lock eyes with Blake’s gorgeous chocolate lab sitting on the jetty by his house. She’s sitting there pretty as a picture, watching me swim.

I look past her. If she’s out here, it probably means Blake isn’t far behind.

Then I see him, walking past his open back door in just a pair of sweatpants, his upper torso bare. It’s only a fraction of a second, but it’s long enough to make out the rippling muscles in his broad shoulders, the way his dark brown hair is ruffled from sleep, and the tattoo running down his side, all the way from his ribs, then disappearing below his waistband.

Yes… Blake Anderson definitely grew up.

I turn and swim away quietly before he sees me, grabbing my towel and keys from the jetty and heading inside.

Nothing good will come from me staring at my past.

Even if it does look great in sweatpants.


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