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The Sweetest Obsession: Chapter 15

ONE OF A KIND (GRANT)

You can’t imagine what the fuck it does to me when Ophelia kisses me first.

It’s a wild thing, a fireball affirmation that she wants me just as bad.

Hell, the fact that she’s here in my bed, in my arms, willingly and eager and soaked knocks something loose in my head.

All those years I thought she hated me after I ran my mouth—when really she was just waiting for me to stop being a dumbass and make my feelings clear.

I still remember how she writhed under me last night.

And I’m hard in an instant at the thought, especially when I feel her flesh yielding under me as I sink into her kiss, twining tongues before I take the fuck over.

I’m a demanding fuck in bed.

I need to be.

Need to own her, to possess her, to claim her, to make every inch of her mine.

I’m hardly aware I’m shredding her clothes.

She hisses when it bites into her flesh before being dragged away.

I’m pure hunger tonight, ravenous as hell to have her skin under my fingers.

And Philia’s so soft to the touch.

My fingers sink into lush thighs and curving hips, the hot round swells of her breasts.

I goddamned well devour her with my hands, never breaking away from a kiss that leaves our mouths wet as I savage her with teeth and needy tongue-thrusts, starving to taste her.

In mere seconds she’s thrashing under me in total sweet surrender, her mouth slack and needy, her nipples hard against my palms.

I can’t fucking wait.

I feel like I’ve got ten damn years to make up for and I want to brand her into my flesh until my hands remember the feel of her even when we’re apart.

So I touch her everywhere, finding the forbidden places that make her moan against my lips, that shake her apart. Everywhere that makes her go so tense she’s trembling.

Her tongue lashes mine with silent curses that only encourage me more.

I’m possessed, thumbing her nipples, framing her waist with both hands, sliding over her hips, spreading her wide for me.

“So fucking wet. Good girl,” I mutter, lashing a palm against her ass.

The crisp smack of skin only excites her more.

When I slide my fingers over her dripping flesh, she bites me.

Her hips shudder in a sharp jerk, and when I delve two fingers into her hot little pussy, her knees grasp at my waist and dig in.

That’s it, darling Butterfly.

Let the fuck go.

Everything about her cuts me open.

From her whimpering cries against my lips to the way she writhes, impaled on me, her fingers dragging through my hair and telling me how bad she wants me.

I savor that, plunging my fingers inside her again and again—twisting them, curling them, stroking her and learning how she feels, all softness rippling and slick and soon-to-be devoted to my cock.

I need to feel her again.

I need to feel how good it gets when she’s clenching on my cock, binding us together as we tumble into pleasure together.

It nearly kills me to tear myself away and pin her down under me.

To let go of that kiss, slip my dripping-wet fingers from inside her, fumble a condom from the nightstand, and shove my pajama pants down.

I have to fight to get the rubber on when my cock is pulsing like mad, this unruly bulge of straining energy and single-minded heat.

That heat becomes an inferno as I look down at her, gloriously open and naked beneath me, so tiny, so vulnerable, so ready to be fucked good and proper.

And she looks up at me with such trust through the haze of lust, flushed with desire, doing nothing to hide that lush body from my ravenous eyes.

Her pale skin glows in the moonlight.

Fuck, I almost say it.

I almost blow everything to little flaming bits by telling her I love her.

I already damn well told her once before, but with everything else going on, I don’t think she was ready to hear it.

I definitely don’t want to scare her off with those words now.

Don’t want to break this new, fragile thing we’re building.

So I keep those words to myself and breathe until the air tastes like raw fire.

Snarling, I kiss that feeling into her lips instead, showing her my need to possess her.

I grip her thighs, hitch her against me, and seize her mouth.

I barely press my cock against her soft entrance before she’s pushing herself against me.

So needy, so wanton, aching for my cock and needing to be filled.

A rough growl boils out of me.

Her hunger bleeds into me, rips away my control.

With a vicious groan, I slant my mouth harshly against hers, thieving her moans as I crash down to meet her, pinning her body to the bed.

In one hard surge of steaming flesh we merge till I’m buried balls deep inside her and all I can feel is Ophelia.

Her heat.

Her straining pleasure.

How she clutches at me so intently with arms and legs and shivering flesh, holding on so hard it’s work to move and draw it out.

But I fucking need to.

The rush has taken over and there’s no stopping it, drawing my hips back and losing my breath as the friction of our joined bodies drags over my cock.

It leaves me fucking fiending, insane to be inside her again.

Steeling my muscles, I arch my back and drive in harder.

Fuck fuck fuck I can’t take it.

She’s too good, too hot, too tight.

I can taste my name etched on her lips in every fluttering moan.

My eyes pinch shut.

I can’t even look at how beautiful she is against me or I’ll lose it in a few messy seconds. Not when she’s already driving me to the edge.

“Give that pussy up,” I rasp. “Fucking mine, Ophelia.”

She shudders deliciously.

With her body under mine, I fill her again and again, falling into a brutal rhythm like a rutting beast, venting a decade of pent-up need in every thrust.

This feels like a chase.

Like I’m chasing this pleasure, chasing her heart, chasing the love I need no matter what I have to do to earn it.

Panting.

Raw.

Groaning delight.

Merciless claws of pleasure savage me, but not just that.

Her nails find my back and their sweet sting pushes me higher, higher, drawing more primitive, uncontrolled heat from me until I’m slamming her into the bed.

And she’s still rising up to meet me with frenzied breaths, her lip pushed between my teeth like a strawberry screaming to be devoured.

I oblige.

My thrusts match hers in every way as she fuses to my cock.

We rut on in sweat-slicked tension, in a quivering peak that towers over us like a wave, crashing and inevitable.

I bury myself in her one last time until something unspeakable hits.

A firebolt.

An invisible hand that reaches up inside me like a puppet and rips my pleasure out until I’m pouring it into her, baring my teeth and snarling like an animal.

Into her tight-locked depths.

Into this body that flows and fluxes and ripples and shudders just for me, and now I can’t help but open my eyes to drink her in as we come together.

She’s pearl and gold in the moonlight, her skin gleaming and her head thrown back.

Her back arches so beautifully, thrusting her tits toward me like an offering.

Watching as she loses herself in sheer ecstasy is a hundred proof shot to my soul.

It’s like falling in love all over again.

It’s like finding myself when I didn’t know how lost I was.

It’s like I’ve been waiting my entire life for this.

For her.

As she soars on my cock and slowly comes back to me with her eyes flitting open, staring up at me in wonder, I can’t imagine a world without Ophelia Sanderson again.


She’s gonna kill me tonight and I’ll die a happy man.

I feel like my heart’s giving out as we collapse in a sweaty tangle—and I narrowly avoid crashing down and smothering her.

She’s so delicate under me, this tiny thing I could crush like a hummingbird. One thing I love about her is that she’s never been the slightest bit afraid of me or intimidated by my size.

Other people act like I’m one second away from hurting someone just because I’m big. They only see how easily I could bowl over a small crowd or turn a man’s face into a sack of busted skin and bone.

Always looking at me like they’re trying to find the threat.

They move different around me.

Keeping a certain space, like if they get any closer, they’re afraid they’ll get sucked into my gravity and compacted into tiny bits.

Not Ophelia.

She’s never been afraid to get in my face and tell me what an asshole I am with the absolute faith of knowing that no matter how I react, she can handle it.

She can handle me.

Hell, I think she’s handling this sex better than I am right now.

Because while I’m still shaking, shattered by just how goddamned good I feel right now, she’s a content little bundle.

She barely waits for me to sprawl out on my side before she tucks herself into my arms and takes her place against my chest like she belongs there.

I’d sure as hell like to say she does.

Do I even know what the hell we’re doing?

No.

All our lives, we’ve been part of each other’s landscape, sharp rocks and all.

She was always my best friend’s little sister, but we were friends.

We didn’t talk about it.

We didn’t admit it.

We didn’t dare.

She was just part of this unspoken thing that made us, and now I see that us didn’t break when Ethan disappeared, even if it took one hell of a beating.

I just never knew she had feelings for me, though I guess I was pretty damn good at hiding how I felt, too.

Still, just ’cause she’s living with me temporarily and we fell into bed together doesn’t mean we’re something more. Something solid.

As I press my lips into her hair, gathering her close and breathing in the sweat misted on her skin, I wonder.

How the fuck do I ask?

How do I even know what I want from her?

All I can think about is the present, this magic moment, how perfect she feels when she’s curled up and trusting me with her life.

“Mmm.” She sighs, rubbing her cheek to my chest. “That was a much better way to end the day than it started.”

I chuckle. “Was this morning so bad?”

“Not that.” She swats my chest lightly. “I liked waking up with you. Remember I was out grocery shopping and ran into Janelle Bowden?”

I open one eye. “Yeah? She adores you. What happened?”

“She’s…” Ophelia frowns, tilting her head to peer up at me through her sex-mussed hair. “She’s still carrying a lot of guilt over what happened to Lucas’ wife, I guess. And she doesn’t trust the chief anymore, as crazy as that sounds. Almost like she thinks he was complicit, instead of just being his lazy self and close enough to retirement to stop giving a crap. But she also said some weird stuff about Ros being engaged—and about our mom, too.”

I stiffen.

Anything I was about to say in defense of the chief and my own worries flies out of my brain. I stare at her.

“Your ma? The hell you mean?”

“I don’t know,” Ophelia whispers, laying her head on my shoulder with a fretful knit between her brows. “But she hinted Mom used to be pretty close to the Arrendells, way back before I was born. She didn’t have anything else to say, but that makes me wonder even more what Aleksander wants with Ros.”

“Me too,” I say too quickly.

I gather Ophelia close, wishing I could protect her from more worries and dark thoughts.

Maybe it’s nothing.

Though Janelle Bowden wouldn’t go stomping around spreading rumors lightly.

That gives me a sneaking suspicion it isn’t, and it hangs like an axe over my head as I hold Ophelia till sleep finds us.


I never sleep long that night.

Eventually, my girl drifts off in a relaxed bundle against me, her soft breaths tickling my chest and shoulder.

But me?

My brain’s spinning too many circles to let me rest.

Mostly, I’m knee-deep in my memories.

Being older than Ophelia, I was around Angela Sanderson since I was in grade school, back when Ethan was her only kid.

That was how we met.

Some of the kids at recess were picking on him because he was moping around and didn’t want to talk to anybody, always curled up with his Tolkien books. I thought he was gonna get completely pounded, but he was a scrapper. Ethan threw himself into the fray like he didn’t care if he got murdered by a bunch of pipsqueaks.

I didn’t like it.

So I turned that fight into two on ten and somehow we came out of it alive—beat to hell and back but alive—and friends before we even knew each other’s last names.

That was how I found out his dad died of leukemia and it was just Ethan and his ma.

That he wasn’t moping ’cause he was a ‘big nerd’ like the kids called him, but ’cause he missed his old man like any normal boy would. Even when we were munchkins, I remember being so mad anyone could pick on him for that that I could spit nails.

The rest of it, that’s where I blank out.

I can’t remember seeing Angela Sanderson with the Arrendells one time.

Could just be holes in my memory. Muddled stuff from childhood that doesn’t like to stick, the same way your old life falls away like a dream as you grow up.

I dunno.

Something about this ain’t adding up, though.

Feels like it’s right in front of my face.

I just can’t fucking see it.

There’s some bigger picture coming together here and I’m too close to make out what it is. I can’t shake the weirdness.

It’s almost like you’re being watched.

Like the shadow of the Arrendells looming over Redhaven is this invisible force, always staring down from every corner, leering and watching your every movement—

Crack.

I go stiff as something snaps outside.

Wrapping my arms tighter around Ophelia, I gather her close.

Maybe that feeling ain’t just my imagination after all.

Because that sure as hell sounded like somebody stepping on leaves in my yard.

Moving stealthily, I lift myself up to peer through the window over the headboard without jostling her.

There’s a solid view of the front from there.

While common sense tells me it’s just a critter or the wind skittering yard debris across the driveway, my instincts smell a rat.

Or rather, a tall, ominous skinny figure standing on the walk right outside my fucking house, staring up at the window like he knows I’m looking back.

Same dude.

Thin. Grey hair. Tailcoat.

The asshole stalker.

Pure primal instinct takes over—can’t let him escape again.

I jolt out of bed with Ophelia’s startled cry trailing me, pelting across the floor and leaping downstairs two at a time.

Pure frustration drives me like I’m a human engine and someone just poured white-hot fuel through me.

That man, whoever he is, can’t be up to any good.

He’s a threat.

The fact that he scared the bejeezus out of the woman I love is enough reason to pound him senseless.

Like hell I’ll let him get away.

I streak through the house, momentum throwing me to the front door and out to the porch.

The moment I tear the door open, the man starts, stumbling back.

He’s fucking real.

Not just my imagination.

Definitely not an illusion as I catch a glimpse of a haggard, wrinkled face, fearful black eyes, and a mouth pulled down in a sagging curve.

We lock eyes for a split second.

I smell pure dread in his face.

Then he turns and bolts into the night.

He’s spry for an old stalkery fuck, and he’s got a head start—not that it stops me from rocketing after him.

I barely feel the cold air or the rough wooden porch boards on my bare feet—then the asphalt, the ground, cracked twigs stabbing my calloused feet as I chase him through the trees.

How is he so quick?

His long legs fly in a blur, tailcoat streaming behind him, breathing loudly through clenched teeth.

Asshole, no, you don’t!

I pour everything into the frantic chase, closing the distance one ground-eating stride at a time, fists clenched as I pump my arms, faster, faster until—

He vanishes into the tree line at the edge of my property.

Fuck.

Snarling, I plunge in after him, the shadows under the branches swallowing me whole.

Boughs and shrubs scratch at my arms, my shoulders, my chest.

I shove the foliage aside, scanning left and right, searching through the dense tree trunks, but there’s nothing.

Nothing but the earthy smell of autumn and the screech of a startled owl.

Dammit all.

I can’t see more than a foot or two in front of my face.

Even with the trees mostly stripped of their leaves, the branches are a thick net. The black starless sky doesn’t help tonight, either.

Sighing, I stumble to a halt, inhaling and exhaling roughly, my breaths puffing in white clouds of rage.

Shit.

I’ve lost him.

And what the fuck just happened?

What was that?

What does he want with me and Ophelia?


“I don’t know,” Ophelia answers, after I voice the same question out loud.

I’ve got a funny feeling I’m about to get my head ripped clean off and honestly, rightfully so.

“But look at you, Grant—you didn’t even put shoes on. You’re a mess…”

Her eyes shine with sympathy.

Wincing, I make myself hold still while she dabs an alcohol wipe over a long scrape down my forearm, thin and shallow enough that the blood’s mostly dried.

I didn’t even feel it when it happened.

The moment I came stomping out of the woods and found her standing on the porch in nothing but one of my shirts with her phone clutched in her hand, 9-1-1 already partially typed in, she insisted on parking me on the sofa and checking me over.

Wouldn’t that have been a riot?

Calling 9-1-1 from the police captain’s house.

The boys would never let me live it down for the next decade.

While she cleans my arm, I pluck a dead leaf out of my hair.

“Sorry,” I grind out. “Never meant to startle you like that—or worry you. When I saw him, I had to—”

“Had to what? You scared the shit out of me, Grant!” Ophelia smacks my arm, right above the scratch. That honestly stings more than the little abrasions all over my chest and shoulders, though there’s a deeper one on the sole of my foot from a sharp stick that’s starting to throb. “Just tearing out of here like crazy, you didn’t even say anything. I just woke up to you running and no idea what the hell was going on. What about Nell? If you’d been a minute later, I’d have called the cops first and asked questions later.”

Goddamn, this woman.

Nell’s no relation to her, yet her first thought isn’t for herself. It’s for my little girl.

She’s brave as hell.

By some miracle, Nelly-girl snoozed through the ruckus. I’d like to keep it that way, so that’s why we talk in low, rough voices.

I also get it.

Even now, she’s hiding behind anger, but her cheeks are flushed and her lips pressed together into a nervous line. Her lashes quiver as she glares down at her hands, her fingers clumsy as she fumbles with the cap on the alcohol bottle.

I reach out to cover her hand, stopping her, and tip her face up to kiss those trembling lips.

My heart wants to stop, knowing that tremor is for me.

That she cares so goddamned much.

I remember what I was thinking about before I heard that snap.

I don’t know what we are to each other, but I sure as hell want to have that conversation.

I can’t imagine letting Ophelia slip out of my life.

Not unless she really wants to go.

Not unless she plans to run off again and leave the dust of my heart and the ashes of this freaky town in her wake for good.

Tracing the line of her lips, I draw back, stroking her cheek.

“I’m fine now,” I murmur. “More worried about you, Philia. This man’s clearly stalking you. You feeling okay?”

“No,” she answers, though with less force than before. “I’m angry, Grant. What does he want with me? Why is he doing this?”

“Wish I knew,” I reply before firming my voice into a promise. “Tomorrow, I’m going up to the big house—and I’ll be damned if I leave before I get some answers.”


Frankly, I don’t know if I’m going to get shit.

Certainly not without a fight.

I stand in the grand hall of the Arrendell mansion with Montero Arrendell just over my shoulder.

He’s hovering, sticking just close enough that it’s obvious he’s trying to make me uncomfortable.

If I actually gave a shit, he might be intimidating.

Right now, I’m too far past that.

I’m laser focused on the full staff complement lined up in front of me. Men and women in maid uniforms or tailcoats and livery.

Seeing these girls with their hair skimmed back and their demure black dresses just makes me uncomfortable, remembering the dead woman dressed in the exact outfit not long ago. Same woman we found swinging from the chandelier of this very room.

My frown becomes a scowl.

No one looks like they’re over the age of forty-five here except for one wrinkled little man in breeches. Montero identified him as the stableman—how weird is having a stableman in the twenty-first century?—but when you have the money…

I sweep them all with hard looks, thumbs hooked in the belt loops of my uniform pants, then turn my head over my shoulder to Montero.

“And this is everyone?” I ask skeptically. “No one’s called in today?”

“Not one,” he announces in his deep, rolling voice. His charming confidence doesn’t work on me any more than this invasion of my personal space. I just eye him. “They’re all live-in staff, Captain Faircross. If someone else was missing, I’d escort you to their quarters personally myself.”

“Uh-huh.”

I turn my gaze back to the staff.

Every last one of them stares at the ground, averting their eyes. Nobody meets my gaze except for a few halfhearted glances and quick smiles.

Wonder what the hell they’d tell me if Montero wasn’t in the room.

The men’s outfits are dead ringers for our stalker.

My memory wasn’t failing me when I made that connection.

Exact same cut, same colors, same fit as the man who’s been trailing Ophelia like a demented ghost.

Yeah, something ain’t right here.

Montero claps his hands together.

“All right, everyone, please return to work. You’ll be compensated with an hour of overtime for the inconvenience.” He says it pleasantly, but there’s an undertone there—you’ve inconvenienced my staff and inconvenienced me by having to compensate them for it, you stupid cop. And that nastiness lingers as he steps forward to look at me. “Captain, could you kindly be a tad more clear what this is about?”

It’s a question, but he frames it like an order.

I sigh, taking my time before answering.

“You had any thefts here lately, Mr. Arrendell? Even petty stuff? People raiding the linen closet or anything? Stealing uniforms?”

His aristocratic black brows draw together. “Well, I don’t exactly monitor inventory in the linen supply closet myself.”

“Somebody should,” I growl. “You’re swearing no one on staff meets this guy’s description, but maybe someone stole some of their duds.”

“For what, Captain Faircross? What possible motive?” An edge of cultured exasperation enters Montero’s voice. “What is this man accused of, that you come storming up to my doorstep—as if we’re somehow to blame?”

I don’t get a chance to answer.

He wouldn’t like what I’d have to say, anyway, ’cause right now I’m not telling him shit. Nothing he can use to deflect if he is somehow involved.

And I’ll be damned if he isn’t.

I’ve seen Lucas’ folder.

All those newspaper clippings showing Montero back in the seventies, eighties, and nineties, gliding through high society and hundreds of women like a Grim fucking Reaper, always trailing death in his wake.

No evidence, of course.

But nobody stacks up that many coincidences.

Wherever this man goes, tragedy follows.

And it feels like I’m watching a new tragedy unfolding in slow motion as the staff scatter like startled mice into the walls.

Two familiar faces come strutting in through the main entryway.

Ros and Aleksander, clearly dragging themselves in from a night of hard partying.

Her rumpled bright-red dress gives me a heart-shot of sick rage and cold fear.

For a second, I’m seeing another beautiful young woman in red.

Emma Santos, dead on the floor of that little house where Delilah Graves was living.

Then Delilah herself, sobbing in the back of an ambulance in another red dress while Lucas held her so hard, all while she stammered out the shocking details of what happened for her police report.

Ros is right here, I remind myself.

She’s not in danger—yet.

She’s alive and well and God willing, I’ll keep it that way.

I just need to drive her away from that drug-addled, panty-sniffing fuck.

She doesn’t even notice me, completely absorbed in Aleksander, stumbling against him with clumsy movements and his arm holding her up.

Damn, are they always like this?

I can’t remember the last time I saw her sober. Had to be months ago.

Worse, she’s mooning at him like he’s a rock star, so awestruck she’s barely breathing.

Aleksander, he’s not looking back at her.

The prick stares at me, his green eyes glacial and unblinking like an alien winter.

His smile slow, cruel, and knowing.

Now that I think about it, I think it wasn’t drugs or booze in the bar that made him act that way. He wanted to show me a little glimpse of his real self. Selfish and reckless and arrogant as hell.

A young man who’s so used to getting his way he flaunts it in my face, sneering and asking, What’re you going to do about it, Captain?

That hollow smile says he’s making me a promise.

I just don’t know what it means or how I’ve pissed him off today.

As they stagger past, my blood runs cold.

Aleksander makes a big show of gathering Ros possessively close and kissing her right there in the middle of the grand hall.

Not just for me, I realize.

Because while Montero watches them, his eyes distant and thoughtful, his face changes.

His smile is all teeth and edges, his face a mask.

There’s no shaking the terrible feeling I’m witnessing something vile.

Like I’m looking at the face of the Devil himself, just daring me to stop him before it’s too late.


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