Kiss Me Twice Part 2 (Three Little Words)

By: Lauren Hawkeye
Chapter One


ADELE

The last six months had taught me that when the going got rough, I could turn to Malachi or Dorian for a shoulder to lean on. It had been nice to have someone to help ease my burden.

The problem? Those two damn men had broken down my barriers, the ones that forced me to rely on no one but myself. And right then, with both of them mad at me—unjustifiably so—I’d lost my safety net.

“Can’t rely on anyone but yourself.” I muttered this to myself as I worked at the lock of the school gym door with a credit card. After a few frustrating tries, I caught the latch, and it fell free with a satisfying snick.

The door creaked as I opened it, and rather than shying away from the noise, I found myself grinning, a hint of adrenaline trickling through my veins.

Before I’d ever met Mal, I’d taught myself to break into places just for kicks. I’d never stolen anything, I’d just craved the rush that came with being someplace I wasn’t supposed to be.

I’d stopped all of that, of course, when I’d wanted to just blend in. But tonight?

I needed to channel a bit of the old me that I used to be.

Propping the door open—if anyone asked why I was here, I’d just say that Nina had let me in and then left—I groped for the light switch before I moved from the doorway. I knew the gym where we held our derby practices was empty, but I’d learned the hard way to be careful.

The overhead lights flickered before catching, casting the room in a fluorescent glow as I dropped to the front of the bleachers to tie up my skates. Every sound I made echoed throughout the cavernous gymnasium, but rather than being eerie, I felt my nerves calm as my entire self realized that I was finally, blessedly alone.

Not having Mal and Dorian to be a net for me as I fell had sent me reaching for something that linked my past and my present together. Something that had gotten me through the hard times before, but that wasn’t only symbolic of pain.

As I pushed off from the wall, my legs began to move automatically. My mother taught me to skate when I was just little, and by now it was second nature to me. Not having to think about how I was moving let me focus on the burn in my thighs, my calves as I picked up speed, and my breathing as I channelled my fury at Mal and Dorian into the movement of my body.

The gym spun around me as I moved, faster and faster still. It actually wasn’t safe to go at the speed that I was in an enclosed space, especially since I wasn’t wearing any of my protective gear.

Yesterday I would have been good and put on my helmet, my shin and knee pads.

Today? I just couldn’t bring myself to care. Maybe if I fell, the physical pain would distract me from the turmoil that rolling around inside.

Breathing hard, I rounded a corner, ground my teeth together, and geared myself up to go even faster.

But the angel sitting on my shoulder was suddenly louder than the devil, telling me in no uncertain terms that this was stupid. Just because I was in a relationship with two pigheaded idiots who wanted to control me, didn’t mean that I had to revert to self-destructive behavior.

What’s more? Though they were going about it in a way that really pissed me off, I knew that both Mal and Dorian just wanted to protect me.

And the voice in my head that was forcing my legs to slow down to an easier pace... well, it wasn’t entirely the influence of my guys. No, that voice was my own, one that hadn’t existed a few years ago.

Life had forced me to grow up and I knew that it would be better to go talk—or even yell—this out with the guys, than to put myself in harm’s way.

Snorting to myself inelegantly, I coasted around the gym, working out the burn in my legs from pushing so hard. I caught movement from the corner of my eye as I rounded the far corner, and jolted suddenly with fear, my feet tangling over each other, leading me straight into the concrete wall.

I shrieked, the sound echoing off the high ceiling, as fear filled me, an involuntary response. Flinching before I could even look twice at whatever it was, I huddled against the wall, the chill of the rough surface a sharp contrast to my sweaty skin.

“No!” I could feel my heart thudding in my chest as, suddenly, I pushed myself away from the wall.

I wasn’t going to be vulnerable. Wasn’t going to succumb to the demons of my past. Planting my feet as best I could in my skates, I swiped strands of sweaty hair from my face and turned, squinting across the gym.

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