Hardwired

Author: P Hana

Page 31

   

I answered with a subtle swivel of my hips. With one arm he circled them, holding me in place as he changed his angle and thrust upwards, ramming hard giving me more of himself. I stilled at the jolt of pain that came when he hit the end of me. The slight discomfort quickly gave way to the pleasure when he massaged tiny circles over my clit.

A fine mist swept over my skin as he pumped into me—steady and determined motions that made me momentarily forget my advantage in our present position. I met his movements, rolled into them until Blake loosened his hold, gradually giving me control. His hands flexed anxiously at my hips.

“Trust me,” I whispered. Tightening around him, I scored my nails lightly down his chest and kissed him feverishly, sharing every breath that brought us to the brink, where we fell apart, together, never looking away from each other.

* * *

Between last night and this morning’s exertions, I was exhausted. I fell asleep on the couch after breakfast. When I woke hours later, he was sitting on the other couch, his shiny black laptop resting on his thighs. He was a different Blake from this morning, fully dressed and looking intensely at the screen, typing with expert speed.

“I thought you didn’t work at home,” I said, stretching out.

“Just doing a little research.” He didn’t look up.

“What kind of research?”

He closed the laptop and set it to the side, his expression softening when our eyes met. “I think I found him,” he said quietly.

“Who?”

He folded his hands in his lap.

Oh God. My stomach turned, threatening my breakfast. My thoughts were still foggy from sleep and now reeled as I processed what Blake had just told me.

“How?” I sat up straight and tried to shake the cobwebs.

“I pulled the transaction records from the restaurant. Specifically the bar. I narrowed it down pretty easily from there based on his age and alma mater.”

“I don’t even want to know how you did that,” I said. This was too much. He’d gone too far.

“Well, I wasn’t planning on telling you anyway. How I found the information is far less important than the actual information, don’t you think?”

“Why would you do this? It doesn’t even matter.”

“You don’t think that identifying the man who raped you matters?” He raised his eyebrows.

“At this point in my life, no. Why do I need a name for a face I’d rather forget?”

“You could still press charges against him. You’re well within the statute of limitations.”

“And what would I say? Hello, Officer, I was eighteen and drunk at a frat house when this asshole had his way with me. I bet they’ve never heard that one before.”

“What if he’s still doing this?”

What if I wasn’t the only one? My throat became thick and tight at the thought. As much as I blamed myself for getting into such a perilous situation, deep down I knew no one deserved to go through what I did. I would have done almost anything to erase the painful memory from my past.

“I have to go.” I stood up quickly, but the sudden movement made me dizzy, nearly throwing me off balance as I made my way down the hall to the bedroom.

“Erica, don’t go.”

I disappeared into the bedroom. A teal sundress lay on the bed, which Blake must have collected from my place while I was sleeping. On top of it lay the lacy white panties that had gone missing in Blake’s Vegas hotel room.

Damn it. I dressed quickly and grabbed the rest of my things. He met me in the doorway but I pushed past him, avoiding his eyes so I wouldn’t lose my resolve. I rushed out and flew down the stairs. I paused at my door, listening for his footsteps, but I heard nothing. I entered my apartment and latched the chain, just in case he changed his mind and decided to use the keys I knew he had.

* * *

New York was unseasonably warm when I arrived a few days later. I had avoided Blake’s messages and was grateful when he didn’t seek me out. Thanks to our living situation, simply knowing his proximity was distracting enough, and I needed time to think. The past few days had been intense.

I cabbed a short ride from JFK to an address Alli gave me in Brooklyn Heights. The driver pulled up to a stone multi-story building with an ornate overhang. I entered the expansive lobby and greeted the doorman who smiled politely.

“I’m Erica Hathaway. I’m here to see Alli Malloy.”

“Certainly, you’re expected. She’s in Mr. Landon’s suite, number forty-two.”

“Thanks,” I said, trying to hide my surprise. So much for my grand plan of staying under the radar for a few days in New York.

I knocked once and waited a few seconds. I knocked again louder—still nothing. I huffed and tried the doorknob. Just as I did, Alli opened it, her eyes bright and her skin flushed, looking like...well, I knew that look. She reached for me and pulled me into a tight hug.

“You’re here!”

I hugged her back. I had missed her terribly. She felt small and warm in my arms. Had she lost weight? Before I could mention it, she pulled back and appraised me. New York was beastly hot today, so I had dressed in cut off denim shorts and some layered tanks, topped with a white fedora, just for fun.

“You look so cute,” she said.

“Yeah, um, you too.” I wished I meant it.

“Oh God, no, I’m a mess. I just, um, I just got up from a nap.”

“Some nap,” I said, noting the just-fucked hairdo she was trying to smooth out as we walked into the enormous open layout of the condo with unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline.

She laughed a little and blushed. I looked around, expecting to see Heath right around the corner, but he was nowhere in sight.

“Nice place,” I said.

“I know, right?”

The condo itself was nothing short of impressive, everything and more than I expected from someone in the Landon family. The ceilings were high, characterized by exposed dark wood beams and matching hardwood floors. The furniture and décor were muted with periodic pops of color, mainly deep reds, a color that seemed to suit Heath, though I wasn’t entirely sure why. The decor reminded me of Blake’s place in Boston.

“Can I get you a drink?” Alli asked.

“Sure, anything with ice. I’ve been melting out there.”

She busied herself in the kitchen while I settled at one of the bar stools at the island.

“So when were you going to tell me you were staying with Heath?”

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