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Sidetracked: Chapter 11

LANA

Never contract friendship with a man who is not better than thyself.

—Confucius


When I reach the drop spot, I leave the car and keys in the parking lot, along with a couple thousand dollars under the seat. The drop spot changes all the time, and they only get a five minute warning before I’m gone.

I grab my bag of wet clothes, and the black bag from the trunk that has minimal supplies, just as all the warehouse cars have.

I toss the clothes into a trashcan, and start hiking down the road, ignoring the cars that pull over to ask if I need a ride. It isn’t until a motorcycle rolls up that I smile and roll my eyes.

“Really? How’d you make it out of your house on a motorcycle?” I groan, hopping on the back as Jake gives me a helmet.

“I didn’t,” he says with a shrug. “I picked it up from the warehouse when I went to make sure your car didn’t have any trackers or anything on it.”

I put my arms around his waist, and he pats my hand.

“Did he confess?”

“More than you know. I don’t want to talk about it right now. In fact, I never want to tell you the things he confessed to. I want to scrub it from my mind so that I’m not tempted to run down the list of every pedophile out there and repeat the same ending for them. However, there is something I need to tell you, but I’ll wait until I have the energy to deal with your rant.”

He sighs harshly while revving the bike, and he drives me all the way to the warehouse.

“I’ll send the link to the new cameras to you so you can watch Anthony in your free time,” he says as I head toward my car.

“I’ll be waiting.”

With that, I drive straight home, not even acknowledging the patrol cars at the end of my driveway.

I can’t stop them from hanging out on the street, unfortunately.

My house is unnaturally quiet, something I find peaceful instead of eerie like most people. I hurry through the motions of stepping into the shower, feeling the warm spray of the water against my back.

The sounds of footsteps have me turning off the water and stepping out of the shower. With silent movements, I wrap up in a towel and open the shower door, watching with a wary eye.

Just as silently, I open the drawer, and pull out the gun I have hidden there. Why is there a gun hidden in my bathroom? Have you ever seen a horror film? The girl always gets stabbed in the shower. Or she runs into the bathroom and locks the door, but has no way to defend herself when the psycho killer breaks in.

I could defend myself and have no plans of hiding in the bathroom, but a backup plan never hurts.

Clutching my towel with one hand and holding the gun in the other, I carefully open the bathroom door. Movement has my hand jerking to the right, but a strong hand clamps around my wrist, and my eyes swing up to meet a devastatingly familiar pair of blues.

Logan arches an eyebrow at me, and my entire body relaxes when I realize it’s not the Boogeyman in my room.

“You really do have a gun,” he says as though he’s surprised.

“Why are you in my house?” I ask, still holding the gun while he holds my wrist, keeping the barrel aimed away from him.

“Care if I take this?” He gestures to the gun, and I release my hold on it as he takes it away slowly, warily.

He gingerly places it on top of my nightstand, turning the safety on. Then he turns to face me again.

“I’m sorry. I really am, Lana. You have every right to be pissed.”

I exhale heavily as he takes a seat on my bed, and I clutch the towel a little tighter with both hands now.

He looks down at his hands as he rubs them together, leaning forward on my bed with his elbows resting on his knees. “I didn’t know you knew about the attack. But you’re right; I should’ve called you right away. I didn’t want to worry you, but I should’ve been prepared for somebody else tell you before I could. It won’t happen again.”

Most of my anger is gone now that I’ve stabbed a man to death, which allows me to slowly digest what he’s saying without too many emotions clogging up my logic.

But to be honest, I have no idea what to say.

Instead of speaking I continue to hold my towel, watching him as he lifts his eyes to meet my gaze.

“I’m not leaving here until this is resolved. I’m not leaving here until I know this is okay.”

I believe him.

Twice he’s shown up after I’ve returned fresh from a kill. What happens when he shows up too early? What happens when I have to explain the real reason there’s blood in my hair or on my clothes? What happens when he catches me?

Staring into his eyes, I remember why it’s so hard to walk away. Without the anger I had earlier driving me farther from his arms, I remember what it’s like to feel.

He looks tired, always tired. His tie has been loosened, hanging down below the top two buttons he’s undone. The firm, tan flesh is visible through those undone buttons.

His shirt is untucked, and his jacket is strewn across my bed, developing wrinkles as we speak.

“I mean it, Lana,” he says, drawing my attention back to his face. His blond hair is disheveled, and those firm, full lips are curved down. “I’m not leaving until we’re good, and you’re in my arms, and you let the police go back to protecting you when I’m not here.”

My lips thin as I think over my options. Leaving here without him seems to create a massive hole in my chest. I’ve been avoiding feeling the loss since I left the hospital.

The tears earlier overwhelmed me and caught me off guard. If there hadn’t been someone to take the brunt of my overflowing emotions, I’d be a sobbing mess in Jake’s house right now.

Over this man in my room.

A man who has the power to destroy me.

A man I can’t let go.

“Okay.” My mind is screaming at me how stupid this is, as the solitary word of damnation weakly leaves my mouth. Never has okay held so much power.

“Okay?” he asks, as the tears start to reform on my eyelids.

I nod, not trusting my voice not to crack if I try to say more. I thought I’d rid myself of the emotions earlier, but they’re back with a renewed vigor now.

He springs to his feet, and my breath leaves in a rush as he grabs me at the waist with more speed than I was prepared for. He tugs me to him, pulling me flush against him before lifting me, clinging to me with a possessive, desperate hold.

His lips find mine as I wind my arms around his neck, turning off the part of my mind that is still begging me to see reason.

As my fingers thread through his hair, he drops me to the bed, jarring me as the kissing and touching ends abruptly. I look up, feeling flushed as my towel falls open, and he hungrily rakes his eyes over my body.

A breath hisses out of me when his hands cover my knees and force them apart.

“I’ve been doing everything wrong,” he says on a reverent breath, his eyes trained between my legs as he licks his lips. “I’ve been skipping all the important stuff, giving you the middle instead of the beginning in every way.”

Before I can ask what that means, his head dips, and his blond hair tickles against my legs seconds before his mouth fastens around my clit. My hips buck, but he holds me still, gripping my thighs to hold me in place, and to anchor his face right where he wants it.

He’s sucking and flicking his tongue at the same time, ratcheting up the pleasure with each passing second. It’s almost too intense. It’s almost too much.

I’ve never let anyone touch me this way, and he wouldn’t have had the chance either if he hadn’t caught me off guard.

My fingers grip his hair, possibly tugging too hard, but he merely growls his approval, the vibrations of his voice driving me that much closer to that powerful edge. It feels perfect and incredible and awesome…and all the other damn good words too.

I cry out when something explosive crackles over me, the force of the orgasm taking me by surprise. I’m practically panting when he continues to suck, bite, and lick in perfect unison against the oversensitive flesh.

He finally shows me mercy by letting go, and my whole body shudders as he starts kissing his way up my damp skin, sliding the towel out from under me with a hard tug. He tosses it away as my body turns limp under his lips that are still kissing their way up my body.

“At least you’re good at apologies,” I tell him, albeit I’m still all breathy when the words come out.

A rumble of laughter slips between his lips and plays against my skin that he’s still teasing, now moving between the valley of my breasts on his ascent.

When his lips finally reach mine, the kiss is hungry, and I forget why we were ever fighting to begin with. His hips settle between my legs as he kisses me harder, holding me under him in a way I never thought I’d be able to stand.

But with Logan, it’s as though I’ve never been hurt. I trust him. It’s insane to trust someone so freely after being hurt so irrevocably in the past, but I do. I trust him completely, and there’s no doubt in my mind that he’d never intentionally hurt me.

I can feel it in the way he kisses me. I can see it in his eyes when he bares his soul. I can taste it in the way he breathes. And I sense his honesty like a predator can sense its prey’s fear.

“You’re only with me?” he asks, breaking the kiss as I start stripping his shirt over his head, tugging his tie off too. “It’s not something we’ve discussed, but I think I’ve made it clear where I stand, and you’ve made it clear you don’t want me with anyone else.”

I never even considered that being an option once we had sex.

“You know I don’t want you with anyone else,” I tell him, confused as to why he feels this is the best time to bring it up.

He grins as he nips at my lips and pulls back, reaching between us to undo his pants.

“How long since you were with anyone before me?”

“Seven months,” I say without needing to think about it.

His eyebrows go up. Yeah, I keep track of sex. Sort of happens as an accidental quirk after you’ve been through what I have and can finally enjoy intimacy again.

“Good,” he says, kissing his way across my cheek. “Birth control?”

My heart clenches in my chest, and I swallow down the knot in my throat.

“I can’t have children,” I whisper hoarsely.

His head rears back, and his forehead creases in confusion. I could have just lied. I could have glossed over it and promised I couldn’t get pregnant.

I’m just sick of lying when I don’t have to.

“Why?”

Instead of telling him another lie outright, I point the scars on my side. “I lost a lot that night,” I say quietly.

I push at his chest, and he lifts off me enough for me to roll over, giving him my back. I point the scars on my side, the ones closest to my right hip.

“And a kidney,” I add.

His fingers trace over the scar tissue, but for once I don’t tense away. Instead of it feeling like acid, it feels like a healing balm touching me for the first time ever.

His lips brush my shoulder.

“What else?” he whispers softly, running his hands along the curve of my ass where another long scar is.

I close my eyes. “My face. There’s more metal in there than bone right now. There were a lot of very complicated, somewhat experimental surgeries to restore a semblance of bone structure. The man who worked a miracle is quite frankly a genius. He lives in Russia, but came to the states just for my surgery. Money can change the outcome of someone’s life.”

Just a face. It’s just a face. But it could have been disfigured. I could have looked like a monster. Then I’d have been just as ugly on the outside as I am on the inside.

I turn my face around, looking over my shoulder at him running his hand along my hip, tracing the jagged scar there.

“What’s this from?”

I don’t have to completely lie. “Glass. It cut into me that night, dug so deep that they couldn’t remove it right away for fear of me losing even more blood—too much blood. My blood painted the streets that night.”

Telling him the truth without telling him the whole truth is oddly therapeutic. I’m sick of constantly lying. Even a little truth makes this feel more real.

I just don’t mention that Kyle slammed a broken piece of a mirror there. The same mirror they broke after they used it to taunt my brother.

I have a mirror for Kyle too. Several mirrors. He’ll get to watch everything I do.

“I’m sorry,” he says softly, sounding so heartbreakingly genuine that tears threaten to return to my eyes again.

“It’s not your fault. I didn’t want to ruin the moment, but I didn’t want to lie either.”

“You don’t have to lie,” he says, the words making me bite back more truth than he could ever handle. “It’s amazing you survived.”

He has no idea.

“I flat-lined twice. Technically I died twice. Then I was reborn. At least that’s how I like to think of it.”

His eyes meet mine, and he slides his hand up my side as he leans forward. His lips capture mine, and his weight comes down from behind me. It’s another position I never thought I’d be comfortable in, but it’s so naturally effortless with him.

The kiss is reverent, soulful, and it actually means more than anything he could say right now. I don’t stop kissing him, even though the angle is awkward.

His hand slides around the front of my body, lifting my hips just enough. I moan into his mouth when I feel him pushing inside me, skin-to-skin. He slides in so easily, despite how tight the fit is. His hips rock, slowly pushing in and out, taking me as though he could fuck me all day.

And I’d let him.

His phone rings and rings, but he doesn’t stop. His lips never move from mine, and his hands grip my hips, moving a little faster. I’m the one to finally break the kiss so I can suck in a sharp breath as one of his hands slides around, finding my clit.

I rock against him as his pace quickens. He slides his knees under my hips, giving himself better leverage to push in harder, faster.

The phone doesn’t shut up, but we’re too lost in each other to stop. His hips stagger, losing the rhythm, and I know he’s close. Just as I think I’m not going to follow him over the edge, the orgasm comes out of nowhere, and I’m crying out his name before I can stop myself.

He jerks against me, squeezing my hip tightly with one hand, while his other hand continues to rule me, driving my orgasm on and on.

I collapse, and his hand finally stills, pinned between my body and the bed. He comes down on top of me, his body shuddering in the aftermath as he drags his lips over my shoulder.

“Your phone,” I say, panting once again.

I can run up five flights of stairs without my breathing changing at all, yet sex with Logan turns me into a sweaty, breathless mess.

“Let it ring. I have three hours before I’m back on duty.”

He kisses my shoulder again, and I grin against the pillow, feeling my eyes grow heavy.

“You’re perfect,” he says against my cheek as his lips brush a kiss there too.

“I wish,” I say softly, lifting his phone from the nightstand where it is. “Answer. It could be important, and I know you’re only not answering because of me. I won’t get mad.”

He groans, still inside me as he takes his phone. “That’s not the only reason I’m not answering. I’ll never answer my phone if I’m inside you. Not even I’m that much of a company man.”

I snort indignantly, then laugh into the pillow, feeling him smile against my cheek as he kisses it again.

He pulls out of me, and I clench my thighs together, already feeling the loss. And the mess. The mess I haven’t felt since…

I wait for the wave of nausea to wash over me.

I wait for the panic to seize me.

I wait for the buried memories to resurface and steal this moment away.

But it doesn’t happen.

Another grin curls my lips. He’s just healed another small piece of me.

If only he could make me think like a normal girl again, I might could be the perfect person he wants me to be.

But for now, I’ll take the illusion he’s offering. I’ll savor it like there’s no tomorrow.

“What the hell are you talking about?” I hear him saying as he comes out of the bathroom, picking up his boxers from the floor.

When did he get fully naked? I swear I lose all thought process when he’s pressed against me.

I head into the bathroom, giving him privacy since he’s sitting down—still naked—on the edge of my bed. But even as I shut the door and start cleaning up, I can hear him.

“Hadley has been with the team and has been sleeping in the office. They can check the security footage if they need it.”

Oh shit.

“Then get clearance for them to see the time stamps of the window he was killed. She’s been with us. There’s no way she drove all the way out there and killed her stepfather.”

That fat bastard has already been found? Damn him. I should have stabbed him even more for ruining this moment.

“No. No. No. They can’t haul one of ours in for questioning. If they want to talk to her, they can do it on our turf with our rules. They don’t get to fuck with her reputation for any reason. Understood?”

A harsh breath escapes him, and I lean against the door, listening.

“What kind of pictures?” I hear him ask quietly, but there’s a dark edge to his tone.

“I’ll be right in.”

Definitely should have stabbed that motherfucker more. And weighed him down with stones. And chummed the water for sharks or something. Are there sharks here?

There would have needed to be a lot of sharks for that douchebag.

But sheesh. I’m only so strong. Not even I’m able to break the laws of science, and it was all I could do to push him out to the water.

“No,” I hear him saying. “We won’t help them find whoever did this. They want to question her—fine. But fuck him and fuck them for trying to get our help on it after trying to haul Hadley in. Keep an eye on her. Don’t let them near her until I get there. Understood?”

I open the door, seeing him stab his legs into his pants, keeping the phone wedged between his shoulder and his ear. The sun has been high in the sky for a while now, though I’ve barely noticed it through my dark curtains.

Logan never asked where I was all night. Or maybe he didn’t know I was gone.

No. No. The cops at my driveway saw me come in. Yet Logan never questioned where I’ve been.

“Yeah, I’m at her house now. And I’m going to kick someone’s ass for interrupting it. Then I’m coming back and getting a solid five hours of sleep. None of us are going to catch him if we’re all running on empty. As for this Kenneth guy, I’m glad he’s fucking dead.”

A small grin spreads on my lips. I don’t know why it sounds like he’s condoning what I just did. Or why I feel a sense of pride.

I banish the smile, removing the crazy thoughts before I say something stupid aloud. Normal people aren’t proud of removing a life from the earth and sending them to hell and all that.

“You’re not kidding. I may bring her in with me, if she’ll come.”

His eyes dart up, meeting mine as I stand in the doorway.

“Yeah,” he says, still talking into the phone. “I won’t be staying long. I just want to make sure they aren’t trying to pin this on Hadley. Then I’m coming back.”

He stands, coming to me, fully dressed now. He’s probably a pro at talking on the phone and getting dressed.

“I’m still working on that part, but hopefully,” he goes on, smirking at me. “Be there as soon as I can.”

He looks down the length of my naked body, leisurely raking his eyes over me as I lean against the wall. “As much as I want to keep you naked, I need to go in. I want you to come with me, because we’ll be coming right back. I’m not ready to leave you alone just yet.”

I roll my eyes. “The cops can sit outside again. Duke can have his room back.”

It’s a horribly stupid concession.

“Duke got called away on this homicide they just called me about. Hadley’s stepfather was killed. He’s requesting to interrogate her.”

He meets my gaze again, and I try to remain a stone wall as I think over the real reason Duke is probably there. I doubt it’s to question Hadley about the monster I killed. If anything, he wants to know the rest of the monster’s secrets…the darkest ones he confessed to me. The ones I wasn’t expecting. The ones Lindy will have to share.

Then I realize an expression would be a good idea.

“Were they close?” I blurt out, trying to recover from my cold-as-ice routine slip.

“No,” he tells me, grabbing a dress from my closet and handing it to me.

I arch an eyebrow and move past the proffered dress to grab some yoga pants and a T-shirt. As I pull on some underwear and a bra, he drops the dress to the bed, blushing a little. I’ll wear a dress on a night when I have on makeup and can do more than pull my hair in a ponytail.

“Is she okay?” I ask, imitating normal questions.

All of my normalcies are usually an imitation.

“She’s…I don’t know. He’s a sick bastard, apparently. Hadley just told me she was a confused kid back when she ran away. Now I wonder if—” He cuts his words off and runs a frustrated hand through his hair.

“Let’s go,” I say, pulling my hair up as soon as I finish putting on my clothes.

As if my life wasn’t complicated enough, I’m about to head into FBI headquarters. Lovely.


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