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Wretched: Chapter 26

NICHOLAS

Ifucked up.

And I keep fucking up. Over and over again, I think I’ll get my head on straight, and then she shows up and it all goes to shit. It was stupid to try and see Rose without the proper planning beforehand.

So I panicked.

If I lied again, who knows what would happen. And I’m not willing to gamble with my sister’s life that way. I shouldn’t have gone in the first place.

But if I told the truth…

I took a risk. Showed my hand so Eveline doesn’t search for the rest, and then I slammed her against the wall and fucked her with her gun as a means to distract her. But like usual, any time it involves Eveline Westerly, I get lost in the moment.

She’s fucking insane. But having her at my mercy does something to me, sparks a match to forgotten embers, creating a blazing inferno whenever she’s near. She makes me feel alive.

Now she’s in the bathroom of my hotel room, and I’m once again panicking, my heart beating out of my chest as I fumble with my burner phone and send a text to Seth.

Get Rose out. Now.

I wish I could say I trust Eveline, but I’m not stupid.

What the fuck am I doing?

The restroom door opens right as I shove the throwaway cell into the top drawer of the side table, sloppily hidden underneath the hotel Bible. Lying back in the bed, I pull the sheet up to my waist and place my hands behind my head, smiling at her.

“How was your shower?”

She sighs, rubbing her wet hair with a towel. “Fine.”

My eyes track down her damp body, and my cock twitches as I take her in. She always does it for me, but something about seeing her like this, bare and stripped down of all her extras, makes me feel like a caveman.

I clear my throat. “Hungry? I can order us some breakfast.”

She tilts her head, dropping both towels to the floor until she’s completely naked. My mouth dries.

“You’re being weird,” she says, slipping beneath the covers.

“Because I’m asking if you want something to eat?”

She shrugs. “I don’t know, this is weird, isn’t it? Us not arguing? I mean, I was definitely planning on causing you serious bodily harm when I came here. I’m still not one-hundred-percent sure I won’t.”

“Wow. Romantic.” I place my hand over my heart.

“Is that what you want me to be?” She tilts her head. “Romantic?”

Her question punches me in the stomach and the lighthearted energy in the room evaporates into a black abyss, leaving something heavier behind. It’s the kind of air that sits on your shoulders and presses down, making you feel weary from the weight.

“I don’t really buy into the whole ‘romance’ thing.” I reach out my hand, tucking her damp hair behind her ear. “But I like the way you make me feel.”

The corner of her mouth tilts. “Even when I’m trying to kill you?”

I laugh. “Especially then. Gives me a reason to fuck the brat out of you.”

Her tongue ring peeks out as she runs it over the top of her bottom lip. “So this is just… sex?”

My stomach heaves with nerves, and everything is urging me to tell her it can’t even be that. The truth is, if I keep fucking her, it isn’t going to be for the case, or to get an angle. It’s going to be because I can.

Because I want to.

Because I’m not sure if I can stand to be around her and not touch her.

I grab her small hand in mine, my fingertips tracing along the backs of hers. “You know it’s not.”

“Do I?” she utters.

Leaning in, I press a kiss to the side of her jaw, moving my palms to just beneath her ribs. I feel her smile as she fidgets.

My fingers trace up her sides and she laughs.

It’s just for a moment, but the sound is jolting, a thousand volts of electricity lighting me up inside.

“Do that again,” I demand.

She lifts a brow. “Do what?”

I don’t reply, digging my fingers into her torso instead, trying to force the noise from her mouth. She thrashes at my attack, yelping as her hands push against me, laughter pouring out of her as she fights against my hold. I dive down, peppering her neck with kisses, my entire fucking body floating from the way her giggles soar through the air and settle in the center of my chest.

Finally, I pull back, and she calms down, her eyes gleaming as she stares up at me with a smile on her face.

And I’m fucking reeling; no breath in my lungs, dizzy from the height type of spin.

It’s that smile again, her real one. Rare and so beautiful.

My eyes are ravenous as I stare, burning this moment into my memory in case I never see her look this way again. Knowing that soon, I’ll no longer have the chance.

“I never realized you had freckles,” I say.

She scrunches her nose, her hand running across her face. “Yeah, makeup usually covers them.”

I grab her hand, bringing it away from her cheeks, my stomach flipping as I do. “You don’t like them?”

“They remind me of my mother.” Her voice is monotone.

“And that’s a bad thing?”

“To look in the mirror and see a woman who couldn’t stand that I existed? Uh, it doesn’t exactly feel like sunshine and roses, no.”

Her body language changes then, arms stiffening as she crosses them over her chest. She’s curling in on herself. Stowing herself away.

“Do you always do that?”

“Ugh,” she complains. “If I knew you were planning on asking so many questions I wouldn’t have agreed to spend the night.”

I grin. “I’m just trying to get to know you.”

She rolls to her side, resting her hands beneath her face as she lies on the pillow, her eyes flickering over every inch of me. “My mom was… she just wasn’t meant to be a mom, I don’t think. Not mine, anyway.”

My middle burns because I’ve never related to a comment more.

“I’m the youngest kid, you know? Nessa and Dorothy, they were both planned, but… not me. I was a mistake. An ‘unfortunate accident.’” She pauses, her eyes losing focus. “When I was little, back when I was forced to go to Mass every Sunday, I used to listen to the priest wax poetic about God, and I’d go home and lie in bed wondering, if we were all made in His image, why my mother couldn’t love me the way I ached to be loved.”

“I think…” I say carefully. “The only love you can count on, is the way you love yourself.”

She hums, chewing on her bottom lip. “Yeah. Maybe. I’m over it now, you know? She’s been gone for a long time. My dad went to prison and she dipped out quick. Left Nessa to raise us even though she was still just a kid herself.”

The quiet stretches between us.

“My mom didn’t really die of cancer.” The truth feels good as it rolls off my tongue, and I keep going, knowing I’m yet again jeopardizing my cover, but not really giving a fuck. She knows my files are fake as it is, and it feels shitty to not give her something real when she just gave something to me.

She rolls her eyes. “No shit.”

Chuckling, I reach out and pull her body into me before moving to my back, my hands tracing lines up and down her spine while she rests her head on my chest.

I wonder if she can hear how my heart is racing.

“She was a junkie, actually. She never…” Emotion works its way into my throat and I swallow around it, forcing the words out. “She wasn’t around much, and when she was it wasn’t great. But there were moments.”

I think back to the last time I saw her. How clear her eyes were, her face looking more alive than it had in years. I was convinced she was getting better.

“Like the poetry?” Her fingertips send goose bumps skating down my skin as she draws circles on my pec.

“Like the poetry,” I repeat. “Then one day she dropped us off at her sister’s trailer and disappeared.”

“She didn’t come back,” Eveline states.

I shake my head, the scabbed-up wound in my chest being picked open until it bleeds.

“My mom never had moments,” she muses. “Not with me, anyway. I used to spend countless hours trying to figure out why she hated me so much, and then one day, I realized I didn’t care.”

Moving my hands up her sides until my fingers hit her chin, I lift her face so she meets my gaze. “I don’t know how anyone could hate you.”

“Don’t you hate me?”

I shake my head, my middle squeezing tight. “About as much as you hate me.”

She rises up and presses her lips to mine, and for the rest of the morning, I’m lost.


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