He stared at me as he drank his wine, being cautious as to what he was going to say to me. He ran one hand through his hair, “You’re right, and I’m sorry, I just don’t like to talk about my life with anyone. It’s not that it’s a bad life; I’m just a very personal person and I like it that way.” I looked down disappointed as he leaned over and cupped my chin in his hand. He lifted it so that I was looking into his eyes, “Give me some time; this friendship thing is new to me. You need to understand that I’ve never been just friends with a woman before.”

The thought of the tall beautiful woman entered my mind as he said that and with me and my big mouth I said, “But you said you and that woman you’re always with are just friends, so you have other women that are friends, right?”


He looked at me intently, “It’s different and I’d rather not discuss it now.”

The doorbell rang, and he got up to answer it. I sat there wondering what the hell I was doing. Was I playing a game? Was I his game? Was he using me to prove something? He came back with the cartons of Chinese food, plates and silverware.

“Can I have the chopsticks please?” I asked. He looked in the bag and pulled out a pair and handed them to me.

“What are you doing?” I asked him as he started to put food on his and my plate.

“Um, serving dinner?” He looked at me with a - are you stupid - look. I shook my finger from side to side.

“Let me,” I said as I grabbed the cartons. “Grab your chopsticks,” I told him.

“I don’t know how to use chopsticks, I could never get those things right.”

“I will teach you then.”

“Ellery, let’s just eat.”

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“We are going to eat, but my way,” I smiled.

He sighed and took his set of chopsticks out of the bag. I took the sweet and sour pork container, inserted by chopsticks and grabbed a piece of pork, “See, easy.” If looks could kill, I’d be dead just about now.

I took his chopsticks and placed them properly between his fingers. The feel of his soft skin sent shivers down my spine. I guided his chopsticks inside the carton and helped him pull out a piece of pork. He looked at me and smirked.

“See, it’s not hard with the proper training.”

I took a piece of beef and held it to his mouth as he took it and smiled. He was enjoying this new found way of eating Chinese food even though he would never admit it. He still had some trouble, but managed to get a piece of pork and brought it to my mouth. He laughed when I grabbed the chopsticks between my teeth and refused to let go. This moment we were sharing felt so right and comfortable, and it scared the hell out of me.

When we finished eating, he took his thumb and gently stroked the area above my cut, “Does it hurt?” he asked sympathetically.

“Not anymore,” I answered as I looked down. His touching me like that was killing me. It stirred up heat in me I never knew existed. Kyle never made me feel the way Connor does, and I was bothered by that. I should not have these feelings for him; we’re friends, and that is all we can be. I believe we met for a reason, but I have yet to find out why.

“What are you thinking?” he softly asked. I took his hand and removed it from my head, holding it up to my face as I gently kissed it. I could feel him tighten as his breathing grew heavier, but I didn’t and wouldn’t let go.

“I was just thinking about how lucky I am to have a friend like you,” I smiled.

He smiled and pulled his hand away, “We need to leave early in the morning; we should get some rest.”

I got up and started walking upstairs, “Do you want a pain pill?” He yelled from the kitchen.

“No, I’m fine,” I responded.” I slipped into my night-shirt and got under the absurdly warm covers.

I was looking through my phone when Connor knocked on the door. “Come in.” He walked in the room wearing dark gray silk pajama bottoms that hung off his hips. His muscular frame stared at me as my butterflies awoke and the fire ignited in my blood. He sat down in the chair and reclined it back. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“Getting some rest?”


“Yes, do you have a problem with that?” The only problem I had was trying to keep my hands off him and having my way with him.

“Yes I do Mr. Black.”

He sat up and looked at me, “Why? The doctor said you need to be watched for a concussion. How am I supposed to do that if I’m in the room down the hall?”

“I’m fine, and besides you cannot sleep all night in that chair, you’ll be hurting in the morning, and we have a ten-hour drive to Michigan.”

“Doctors’ orders Miss Lane, so deal with it. You are not getting your way with this one.”

“Now you’re making me feel bad,” I took in a sharp breath and wanted to crucify myself for what I was about to say, “At least sleep in the bed.”

His eyes widened, “I don’t think that is a good idea Ellery.”

“Why not? We’re friends. Peyton and I sleep in the same bed when we have sleepovers, and my bed is tiny compared to this one. You have your own side way over there,” I pointed. “If you don’t then I’m leaving and you know I will.”

“You are not going anywhere, and I’m not sleeping in that bed.”

I threw the covers back, got out of bed and started to put on my yoga pants. Connor jumped up from the chair and grabbed my arm, “Stop it Ellery, you need your rest.” His voice was angry, and his face was irritated.

He took in a long sharp breath, “Fine, I’ll sleep in the bed, just please get back in it and leave those pants on.” I smiled at him and climbed back into bed. He walked to the other side, climbed in and turned the other way, “You are the most stubborn and defiant person I have ever known Ellery Lane.”

I smiled as I closed my eyes, “So, I’ve been told Mr. Black, goodnight.”

Even though, I could not see him, I could feel him smile, “Goodnight Ellery.”

Chapter 18

I awoke the next morning, and I was alone. I got up and headed to the bathroom when I heard yelling coming from downstairs. I stepped a little closer to the top of the step when I heard Connor’s raised voice. “That’s too bad Ashlyn; I have to go out-of-town for a few days on business. No, I cannot, I don’t have time. Don’t you dare come over here; I’m leaving. I’ll call you as soon as I get back. I know it’s been a while, but I can’t help that; I’ve been busy. No, she has nothing to do with it, I’ve been working. Ashlyn, I promise we’ll get together as soon as I get back. I’m going to send an envelope over with Denny; I’ll talk to you soon.”

My stomach felt sick, and my heart ached after I heard that conversation. I leaned my head against the wall and felt the sting of tears fill my eyes. My inner voice started to yell, “Stop it Elle, just stop it, he’s your friend. You knew from the beginning it could never be more than friendship. You knew what you were getting into, and I warned you.” I looked up at the ceiling to stop the tears from falling.

I heard footsteps coming up the stairs, so I ran into the bathroom and started the shower. There was a knock at the door.

“Elle, make sure the water isn’t too hot,” Connor said.

“No worries, it’s not.”

I stood in the shower and let the warm water fall on me. I was going to have to put an end or distance to this friendship when I got back from Michigan. I silently cried as I buried my face in the water, drowning my sorrows. I turned the shower off and stepped out; I wrapped a towel around me and noticed I didn’t bring any clothes except my night-shirt that was lying on the floor wet. I opened the door and jumped when I saw Connor leaning against the wall across from where I was standing.

“Shit, you f**king scared me Connor.” Not to mention the fact that I was half-naked in front of him and the towel was barely covering my ass.

He looked at me with a hunger in his eyes as he blushed. “I’m sorry; I just wanted to make sure you didn’t take too hot of a shower. I didn’t want you getting dizzy and passing out again. You do have a habit of not listening to anybody.”

I rolled my eyes and headed to the bedroom, “Ouch.”

“See, I told you not to roll your eyes at me, and you didn’t listen.”

I smiled as I shut the door and got dressed. When I came out he was downstairs in the kitchen. He set a cup of coffee on the counter and a plate with scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes. “Did you make all this?”

“I sure did, you sound surprised?”

I took a bite of the eggs, “To be honest I am, I didn’t think you knew how to cook.”

He sat down next to me at the island and started eating. “How hard is it to cook eggs? Plus I can cook a little,” he smiled.

I wanted to bring up the conversation I heard earlier, but we were heading out in a while, and I didn’t want to upset him.

“So, did I harm you in any way last night?” I asked.

He looked at me and frowned. “No, in fact, you put your arms around me, started rubbing my chest and calling me Peyton, I was quite turned on.”

My mouth dropped until he smiled and I knew he was joking. I went to smack him as he laughed and grabbed my wrists, holding them rubbing my scars and looking straight into my eyes. The atmosphere was no longer playful as it turned serious.

“My scars really bug you don’t they?”

He let go of my hands and stood up, taking his plate to the dishwasher, “They sadden me, that’s all.”

“Why Connor, I didn’t even know you when this happened. Why would my scars sadden you so much?”

He kept his back turned to me, “It saddens me that someone could think so little of their life to want to do such a thing.”

That comment hurt me deep down to my core, and I wanted to break down and cry. He stood staring out the window with his hands on the counter.

“I told you why I did it, and it wasn’t because I thought so little of my life. I did it to lessen the pain for my father, and how dare you Connor Black.”

Too late, the tears started falling; I left the kitchen. He came after me and grabbed me pulling me into him as he held me.

“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean it, I swear I didn’t. I just get sad when I see them because it reminds me of what you went through.” His voice was sincere, and I could tell he regretted saying what he did.

I looked up at him, “It’s ok, let’s just forget about it and head out.”

He gently wiped my tears and put his forehead on mine, “I’m an insensitive bastard.” He sounded wounded and broken. Those words were from pain, and I wanted to know what happened in his life to make him this way.

I put my hand on his firm chest, “You’re in luck; I am quite fond of insensitive bastards.”

He smiled and kissed me on the head, “Let’s go.”

We took the elevator to the garage and set out on our road trip to Michigan.

The Range Rover was comfortable and I had an easy time settling in my seat with my iPod in hand. I looked over at Connor; his seat was slightly leaned back. He had one hand on the steering wheel, and his other arm was resting on the console in the middle. The way he drove was sexy, and I could not help staring at him. Everything this man did was sexy even when he tried to control me.

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