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Synopsis

 

Mia Ryan has learned the hard way that her choices can have horrible consequences. Taking an offer that was supposed to get her life back on track was nothing but a ploy. To keep the ones she holds dear safe, she's forced to finish what she started, without any hope of finding out why she was targeted in the first place. Though Mia has Ethan by her side, she can't seem to believe in him, especially since most of his life remains a mystery.

Ethan Fitzgerald has done everything in his power to prove to Mia that she can trust him, but it never seems to be enough to convince her to drop the last wall around her heart. With deep and dark secrets lurking around every corner, he has his own plan to keep Mia from any danger, but it may just shatter their love forever.

There are so many questions – with even more shocking answers – and when Mia uncovers the truth, nothing will ever be the same...

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EXCERPT FROM COMPLICATED

I woke up to the sun shining brightly through the window and rolled over to reach for Ethan, but he was gone. My stomach almost projected its contents across the room. There was no way he’d do it to me twice in the same week. It would be beyond cruel to do that to anyone, no matter what they did to deserve it. I leaped out of bed, grabbed his button-down shirt, and tossed it on as I left the bedroom. With each step, a new wave of paranoia swarmed through me. The shower wasn’t on, so I crossed over to the other side of the apartment and skidded to a halt in the living room. 

 

Dozens upon dozens of vases filled the space. Ethan had covered every square inch with all my favorite flowers. Taking in the smell of lilacs, daisies, lilies, and roses, the strings of my heart began to play. Snatching a daisy, I tucked it behind my ear and walked farther into the room.

 

Wow. This is amazing. I thought last night was the most romantic thing anyone had ever done for me, but this makes it look like child’s play.

 

I noticed tiny lines taped to the floor. Grinning like a lovesick schoolgirl, I followed the arrows to the glass wall. My favorite views of downtown and the lake were in front of me, but that wasn’t what held my attention. As I gazed at the message scripted in white, my breath faltered.

 

Like the ripples of the waves that glide along the water,

I've searched ceaselessly to find the one that fills my heart like no other.

I never knew what love meant until I finally got her.

 

Like the sands along the lakeshore,

I'll ride along with each wave, always eager for more.

Because I have your love there with me at my core.

 

Like the peacefulness in the air when I'm out there,

I'll spend every day showing you how much we share.

I'll love only you for the rest of my life, this I solemnly swear.

 

Tears of happiness streamed down my face and my heart was ready to burst with the amount of love I had for Ethan. I had no idea a person could feel this deeply for someone else. He consumed every part of me in a way I had never experienced. Spotting a flower pinned to the window, I strode over to find a white rose and opened the card attached to it.

 

You're dawdling. Now, stop crying and follow the path.

And just so you know…I love you!

 

I laughed at my instructions. The path zigzagged across the living room in a goofy pattern, bringing me over to the room off to the left of the entryway next to his bathroom. I opened the door and gasped. The bed had chocolate boxes arranged so they spelled “I love you” across it. Ethan had aligned the flowers on the bed in an arrow pointing to the pillow with a tiny box in the center. As I picked it up and removed the card, my hands shook, my stomach fluttered with butterflies, and my heart sped along at a rapid rate. I opened the card to read my next message.

 

My mom would’ve loved you.

She gave this to me when I was a boy.

She made me promise to give it to “the one”.

Since the day I met you, you've brought me to life.

You are my one, so this belongs to you.

 

I unfastened the clasp on the box to find a stunning sterling silver necklace—a Celtic piece that had an entwined heart with a diamond in the center. On one side, “love” was visible in script and two more diamonds rested on the bottom. When I picked up the necklace, a piece of paper fell to the mattress.

 

Hurry up! I'll help you put it on later. Remember to stay on the path.

And just so you know…I love you!

 

How well Ethan had come to know me in the very short amount of time we’d shared together sent shivers down my spine in the best possible way. The way he anticipated some of my moves before I even made them downright terrified me at times. Placing the necklace back in the box on my way out of the room, I proceeded to the laundry room. It confused me more than anything When I opened the door, I didn’t hide my confusion but followed the arrows over to the washer where a lilac laid across it with another card.

 

Sorry, love, there’s nothing but dirty laundry in here.

I love getting dirty with you though, so pick up the pace.

And just so you know…I love you!

 

I rolled my eyes. It was no surprise Ethan had infused some sort of sexual humor into this scavenger hunt. I closed the door to continue on the path taking me into the kitchen. I expected to find Ethan, but the room was empty. Our arrangement from last night was gone and a plate sat in the center of the island with a red rose on top of the silver cover and a card fastened to the side. I picked up the lid to see eggs and toast near the top with bacon at the bottom that spelled “I love you”. I tore open the card to read what he had in store for me next.

 

I told you I'd change your life in ways you never thought imaginable.

I'll find a new way each day to remind you that you’re mine.

Hurry up and eat so I can show you what I have in store for you.

And just so you know…I love you!

 

My heart expanded even more from the amount of joy I felt. As I circled around the kitchen, I saw the counters and island had flowers scattered on them. Running my hands along the island, I spotted another card taped to the edge and ripped it open in hopes it would reveal his location since my path ended here.

 

You really suck at following directions.

Your food and coffee are getting colder by the minute.

Eat up! You’re wasting precious seconds.

And just so you know…I love you!

 

Grumbling, I sat down on a stool to eat my damn breakfast. All I wanted was Ethan’s embrace and to thank him repeatedly for choosing me—not to mention, forgiving me. I picked up my coffee cup for a quick sip. As I took a drink, another card popped into view.

 

Dammit, woman, eat!

You drink gallons of caffeine on an empty stomach.

That’s why you’re always jumpy.

EAT ALREADY!!

And just so you know…I love you!

 

I laughed and set down the card. Ethan knew some of my quirks far too well. I began to freak out a little. Either I was transparent or he spent a lot more time watching me than I ever noticed. I picked up the fork to dig into my breakfast that was still somewhat warm. Once I finished every morsel of food, just to please him, I pushed the plate aside and looked for another card, but there was no sign of one. Glancing around again, I wondered what the hell he had in store for me. As a last ditch effort, I picked up the plate, saw another card, and eagerly pulled it away.

 

Stop freaking out!

I'll never leave you again. I promise.

Thank you for giving me your heart.

Hurry up and get to my office.

And just so you know…I love you!

 

On my way out, I snatched all the cards and the jewelry box and ran down the hall. I burst into his office, fully expecting Ethan to be there, but I came up empty again.

“What the hell! Where are you?”

 

I strode over to his desk and fumbled around for more clues. Suddenly, the first song Ethan put on my playlist sounded through the room. No matter how many times he told me not to freak out this morning, I was. There was a card taped to the window behind his desk. Hurrying over to it, I swiped it down, hoping it led me to him.

 

You sure do miss the obvious sometimes.

You're adorably cute when you freak out.

Turn around!

And just so you know…I love you!

 

When I turned around, Ethan stood behind the door holding a dozen pink roses. I dropped everything in my hands onto his desk, flew over to him, and leaped into his arms. Ethan set the flowers down on the bookshelf as he caught me. I wrapped my legs around him, clutched his neck, and trailed kisses along it. Keeping a tight hold on me, he shuffled us over to his desk. I crushed my lips against his in demand for further access to his mouth and he gave it to me with enthusiasm. We were all lips and tongues until coming up for air became a pressing issue, but it still wasn’t enough to express how much I loved him. Breathless, I pulled back and rested my head against his forehead. Seeing the happiness exuding from him captivated every ounce of me.

 

“I love you. I can't believe you did this for me!”

 

Ethan’s eyes twinkled as he squeezed me. “I'm glad you enjoyed it. It seemed like the appropriate way to show you how much I love you, especially after the last few days.”

 

Cocking an eyebrow, I asked, “When did you do all this?”

 

I relaxed into his chest to listen to the beat of his heart. Ethan had handed it over to me and eased my worries about us with the most romantic gesture ever. The thoughtfulness of each card had my body wet and ready for so much more than just his hands and mouth.

 

Giving me a crooked grin, Ethan said, “I did most of it last night, aside from the obvious things like the flowers, your coffee, and breakfast.”

 

“Did you sleep at all?”

Ethan rested his hands on my cheeks before placing a gentle kiss on my nose. “No, but I have the rest of my life to sleep. You deserve to know exactly how cherished you are, so this was time well spent.”

 

A shy smile spread across my face as I whispered, “You’re absolutely amazing. I don't know what I ever did to get you, but I don't plan on letting you go.”

 

Ethan chuckled. “Ditto.”

 

We sat, lost in the love in each other’s eyes before I looked away to check the time. When I woke up, it was around six. Now, it was quarter to seven. I loosened his hold on me and Ethan frowned. 

 

“Where are you going?”

 

“We need to get ready. The last time I checked, today is still Wednesday, and that is a day within the workweek,” I pointed out.

 

His frown deepened as he shook his head and said, “I don't want to go to work today.”

 

I sighed. “Ethan, we have to go. If we don't show up, Ian will only report it to Harrison. There's too much at risk. I don’t want to draw any more attention to myself.”

 

“I swear, it’s taking everything in my power not to go down to his office and strangle him with my bare hands,” Ethan spewed.

 

“That would be a bad idea. What kind of relationship could we have with you behind bars?” I joked.

 

“It's not funny, Mia. If I weren’t worried about how this affects you, I'd expose him. After I did that, I’d cripple him to his knees and make him beg for mercy. I have more power than he thinks. I'd really love to teach that asshole a lesson,” Ethan sniped, each word coming out at a higher decibel and matching the muscles rippling between his arms and chest as he tried to control his temper. 

 

Bringing my hands to his cheeks, I rubbed my palms soothingly across them and his body instantly relaxed under my touch. “I won't be the person who stands in the way of you completing what you promised your mom.”

 

“I don't understand you at times. Are you concerned for yourself at all? Everything you ever say is always about someone else,” Ethan grumbled, a scowl on his perfect face.

 

“If everyone around me remains safe, I’ll be just fine. I don't deserve to consider myself. It was my selfishness that created this mess,” I reasoned.

 

“I don't—”

 

I cut him off with a quick kiss before walking to the door with an eyebrow raised for him to follow. Ethan griped as he got up from the desk to join me. Grabbing his hand, I gave his wrist a light peck. He shook his head as we walked down the hallway and I linked one hand with his while draping the other across his ass.

 

“Trust me. I’ll make it worth your while in the shower,” I said with a salacious grin.

 

His face brightened as he opened the bathroom door and I rolled my eyes at his gusto. Unbuttoning his shirt, I tossed it over my shoulder as Ethan removed his boxers in a flash, cut the distance between us in two strides, and scooped me up with a playful pat on my ass.

~

If there was anything we did well together, it had to be getting lost in each other’s bodies. Once we were in the shower, it was a challenge to remember why we needed to leave at all. Afterwards, Ethan looked more relaxed than earlier and was smoking hot in his navy pinstriped suit with a light-blue tie. When his reflection in the bathroom mirror caught my eye, I wheeled around with a soft smile and Ethan brushed my hair aside as he pulled the necklace from earlier around my neck to fasten it. Seeing the love in his eyes as he put it on filtered down to the tips of my toes, making my entire body hum to life.

 

“Are you ready?” Ethan asked, turning me around.

 

“Yes. I need to get the rest of my stuff, but I'll be ready to walk out in five,” I answered, tossing my bathroom supplies into my bag.

 

Shuffling past Ethan, I let my fingers linger on his biceps before heading to his bedroom to grab the rest of my things. Once everything was stowed away, I met him in the entryway. To my surprise, he had a laptop in his hands that was different from the one I’d been using at the office.

 

“Um…something you want to fill me in on here?” I said, skeptical.

 

“It’s a backup in case anything happens to the one you’re using now.”

 

“Try again. Everything is saved on the company drives. Why don’t you try the truth?”

 

Ethan gave me a pointed look, telling me to take the damn thing without any further explanation, and I refrained from pressing him on it. There was no need for a fight after such a wonderful start to our day. Sighing, I placed it in my bag as he opened the door and ushered us out. We walked in silence for a bit. Something was off with him and it made me uneasy.

The elevator arrived for us to make the journey to the garage. He went to one side as I rested against the opposite. As we rode down, it was uncomfortably quiet and I bit at my cuticles to keep my anxiety in check. Even with the truth out, I was on edge with the unknown ahead of me, and my prickly nerves attested to that much. The amount of mistakes I had made left a minefield for me to navigate. One wrong step had the potential to blow everything to pieces. I deserved any consequence, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t terrified, and Ethan’s unpredictable behavior didn’t do much to ease my worries.

 

I looked over to him to see he was lost in thought with his eyes shut. For him to appear as stricken as he did, something unpleasant had to have been on his mind. Closing the distance between us, I rested my hand on his cheek and brushed my lips along his to soothe whatever was eating away at him. Ethan hummed before sliding my hand from his face to his heart.

 

“I don't know what’s on your mind, but know that I love you,” I breathed against his lips.

 

The pain on his face faded to a look reserved only for me and the peace returned in his eyes. When the elevator opened to the garage, Ethan gripped my hand on our way to my car. As he helped me in, he whispered, “Drive careful. I love you.”

 

I started the engine and exited with caution. My senses were in a continuous state of override whenever other people weren’t around. It didn’t seem like anyone was following me, so I rummaged through my purse to grab my cell. As I pulled out into traffic, I hit speed dial.

 

“I'm surprised you’re even available to talk. I figured you’d be thoroughly thanking your man right about now,” Bri answered, amused.

 

“Huh?” I replied, confused by her greeting.

 

She giggled. “I know all about what you’re dying to get out. Ethan called me very early this morning. You're damn lucky he opened with a long apology for the past few days. Otherwise, I might have bit his head off for calling at the ass-crack of dawn.”

 

“He did?”

 

“Did you think he magically guessed your favorite flowers?”

 

“I'll be damned. What else did you two plot this morning?”

 

“I didn't do any plotting. Apparently, Ethan has had this planned out for a while but didn't know the flowers. The dude has some swagger to get a florist to deliver before sunrise. Why aren't you giving him the thanks he deserves? If someone ever did that for me, I think I'd spend the entire day doing nothing other than him, just so he knew how damn grateful I was,” Bri declared, seeming happy for me.

 

“Ethan wanted to play hooky today, but I persuaded him to go to work. I did use some of my, um…motor skills, to let him know how grateful I was for what he did,” I answered, blushing beet red as our very intimate shower crossed my mind. By the end of it, Ethan was fully aware of just how thankful I was.

 

“Good. Because if you didn't do something to let that man know how much you adore him, womankind would raise their pitchforks and hunt your ass down. Ones like that don't come along very often. If I were you, I'd do everything within my power to hold on to him,” Bri advised.

 

I scratched my head. To say she confused me didn’t seem to cover it. She had never really been in the Ethan-cheering section, so her support of me being with him was a tad alarming. “Now, I'm concerned. Is it the early hour that has you so agreeable, or did you fall and hit your head?” 

 

“You still strike me as two idiots who do nothing other than give into your sexual urges, but there’s something more there. Ethan and I talked this morning. It was eye-opening,” Bri responded with ease.

 

“It must have been one hell of a conversation.”

 

“It was, and I'll take it to the grave with me, so don't bother asking.”

 

I sighed. “I don’t want to pick a fight with you, but damn, you’re confusing the hell out of me. Every other day you flip from one side to the other when it comes to Ethan. It’s next to impossible for me to keep up with what your opinion really is because it changes by the hour.”

 

Bri exhaled. “It’s your situation with Harrison that dictates my opinions. I warned you taking his offer would be disastrous. It’s difficult for me to support anything or anyone that comes out of Ethan’s company with the underlying danger surrounding you. Unfortunately, that bleeds into my attitude toward him. After this last year and everything that has happened, put yourself in my shoes. How would you handle matters if I were in a serious mess? It doesn’t help that your stubbornness blinds you from letting the rest of us help.”

 

“Don’t go there. I did this to myself, I’ll be the one who fixes it,” I interjected.

 

“The offer is always there. I wish you had a little more faith that we’d be able to find an answer that could end this nightmare for you together,” Bri bit back.

 

“Dammit, Bri, drop it! You’re missing the point. For the time being, Harrison isn’t concerned with any of you. I just need to get to this damn meeting—then it’ll be over. I’m not about to do anything else stupid. What the rest of you keep suggesting is just an invitation for more trouble!” I shouted.

 

Bri remained silent for a few moments before taking a deep breath. “I’m sorry. I’ll try to be less wishy-washy when it concerns Ethan. He loves you. That’s enough for me. Just try to make a better effort to learn more about him. It might bring you more clarity on how to get out of there.”

 

“I’m sorry too. You’re probably right on getting to know more about him. I promise to try harder.”

 

“Trey is waking up. I need to go. Try to behave yourself at work,” Bri teased.

 

I ran my free hand across my face. “I make no promises. Bye.”

 

I tossed my phone aside and a loud thud sounded as it collided with the laptop. It bothered me that Ethan had given it to me without an explanation, that he lied to me, and that I wasn’t at liberty to call him out on it. My own lies had created enough for us to deal with, rubbing his face in the one lie I caught him in wouldn’t help us find a solid ground. Once we were there, I knew I stood a chance at cracking the mystery behind the man.

 

Our amazing morning shifted back into my mind and I zoned out for the remainder of my ride. Exiting my car, the cool breeze floated around me and I inhaled the smells from the rain shower late last night. There was something about the aroma that lingered after a good storm. The heavens could bring down the worst, but the sins of yesterday had been washed away with the rain, paving the road for a fresh start.

 

On my way into the building, a set of firm hands pulled me into one of the cars. The fright attacking my body nearly shut my system down entirely. I doubted my heart could handle many more days like this with Ian. It was about to flat line any second. I opened my mouth to scream, but a hand silenced me. I struggled under the tight grasp and the grip loosened enough for me to shift the angle of my body.

 

I turned to see Micah. His blond hair fell into his eye line and he looked as though he hadn’t changed clothes in a few days. His torn jeans had smudges of dirt across them and his red muscle shirt looked similar. I checked his eyes to see if he was high. He stared back at me, sober as could be. He held his finger to his lips for me to be quiet and I nodded slowly so he’d let me go. When he released me, I leaned over and slapped him hard across the face.

 

“You scared the shit out of me!” I snarled.

 

“What the hell did you do that for? I told you I needed to talk. I can't wait any longer,” Micah shot back.

The enclosed space wasn’t helping me calm down. His eyes pulled together as his frustration flew to the surface. He looked like he was ready to throttle me at any moment. At least the feeling was mutual. It took everything in me not to strangle him.

 

“You never finished the rest of my letter, did you? I gave you a damn important piece of information at the end of it. That’s why I took off. I took a huge risk by passing that name along, only to have you ignore it completely.”

 

I was more than angry with him. My face was on fire with the amount of fury coasting through me. Everything about Micah was unpredictable. He broke my heart, disappeared, then reappeared, and I had found nothing but riddles around every corner since his return.

 

“What name? Never mind. Forget it. I don't have time to deal with you,” I snapped.

 

As I grabbed the handle to get out of the car, Micah pulled me out of sight. I glared at him as we stared at each other, our heads below the dashboard. He was going to need to give me a damn good explanation.

 

“I don't want anyone to see us together. It would be bad for both of us,” Micah muttered, his face strained.

 

“So you thought showing up was the best way to keep us out of harm's way? Great thinking, Micah,” I sneered.

 

He shrugged. I closed my eyes and counted to ten. Being stuck in a car with him made my blood boil. Before my anger got the better of me, I gave him my attention again.

 

“What were you doing with Ian O'Connor?”

 

“I'm playing both sides. Listen, I need to get out of here before he knows I'm talking to you. Finish the letter and meet me at Lockhart’s,” Micah urged.

 

“You make absolutely no sense. I thought I knew you!” I screeched.

 

Micah paused in his attempt to push me out of the car. Having his hands on me after all this time was strange. My body gave no response to his touch, but my heart was all over the place. He seemed to go from one extreme to the other and it exhausted me. His first week back had been nothing but persistence, then he followed it with complete silence, and now we were back to his insistence to speak again. I used to understand his every move, but I was as lost as ever trying to figure out the person who returned. I never knew what version of him to expect anymore, or what cryptic tidbit would roll out of his mouth. Given my circumstances with Harrison, I wanted to avoid drama, but that was all that could be guaranteed with Micah.

 

“You’re the only person who knows me,” Micah mouthed, clearly upset by my outburst by the pain in his eyes.

 

I shook my head. “I used to know you. You can’t keep doing this to me. I can’t keep having you pop in and out whenever you feel like it.”

 

Micah’s face turned bright red. “You pushed me away. You strung this out, Mia—you and your damn stubbornness. You’re the one who refused to hear me out. I left you a letter with answers, you failed to read it. I showed up to talk, you chased me away. I sent texts asking for a chance to explain, you blocked me. If you’re upset, you only have yourself to blame.”

 

My temper soared and the pressure was almost enough to make my head explode. I had a strong urge to get it all out. I opened my mouth, but Micah pinched it shut. Poking his head above the dash only to drop it just as fast, he opened the door for me to get out.

 

“I don’t have time for this right now. You need to get out or we’re going to have some serious issues, and I think we already have more than enough.”

I scrambled out of the car. By his tone, I knew he was beyond pissed, but something had scared him when he lifted his head. It was all over his tense body, especially in his trembling hands. Seeing him so out of sorts brought on waves of terror. Leaning down to remove the panel under the steering wheel, Micah made quick work of the wires and the car revved to life.

 

No fucking way. He’s lost his fricken mind. It’s one thing to do this at night, but it’s a whole different game when you heist a vehicle in broad daylight.

 

“You’re not stealing this car!”

 

Micah motioned for me to keep it down and I glared daggers at him. I had taken more than enough risks with him over our years together. We were no longer an item and the last thing I needed was to be associated with his criminal tendencies. My prints would be all over the car.

 

“I prefer to call it borrowing,” Micah said, his tone mischievous.

 

“Micah, you can’t fucking take it,” I hissed.

 

“Oh, settle down. I'll wipe it clean before I bring it back. No one will know it was gone. What happened to your sense of adventure?” Micah quipped.

 

Shutting the door, he zipped out of the lot without a look back and I glanced around to see if anyone saw us. Thankfully, the parking lot was relatively quiet. I rummaged for my phone to check the time. Seeing it was a twenty after eight, my heart dropped to my knees as my stomach became a giant abyss. Taking my sweet-ass time on my way toward the building, I swiped my card for clearance and Ethan’s ringtone sounded from my cell.

 

“Ethan, I'm sorry. I'm walking in now,” I answered in a rush.

 

“I'm certain we left at the same time. Unless you hit a detour I wasn't aware of, you better have a damn good explanation,” Ethan fumed.

 

“I do. Please remember you love me—even when I piss you off,” I replied.

 

“Get your ass in here. I'm very interested in what you have to say,” Ethan barked.

 

I cringed while putting my phone back in my purse. Swiping my card again, I hurried to his office. It was fairly quiet in the lobby, so my semi-sprint went unnoticed. Entering his office, I rested against the closed door as Ethan circled around in his chair with an icy glare. The desk served as a buffer for us. I was all about having those these days. The amount of rage oozing from him sent a healthy dose of fear through me, especially since I knew it would get a lot worse. Ethan tossed his hands in the air, his eyes demanding I speak.

 

“It's not my fault. Well, maybe it's my fault a little, but I didn't plan on it,” I rambled.

 

“Get on with it, Mia,” Ethan growled.

 

“Micah pulled me aside in the parking lot. I planned on talking to him tomorrow, but he got desperate and showed up here. I'm sorry I didn't tell you when he returned a couple weeks ago. I've been avoiding dealing with him altogether,” I explained.

 

Ethan slammed his fists down on the desk before he closed the distance between us in several strides and pinned his hands against my head. I withered at his visible anger and yearned for the buffer again. This side of him scared the hell out of me, but I was also over men roughly pulling me aside or pushing me against walls. I looked into his eyes, pleading for him to step away. He kept his irate stare on me for several moments before taking a few steps back as he loosened his tie.

 

“What else are you keeping from me?”

 

My eyes fell to the ground. “I was going to tell you Micah came back, but the timing hasn't been right. I haven't wanted to deal with it. I'm not keeping anything else from you.”

 

Ethan glared. “How am I ever going to trust you?”

 

“I'm sorry. All I want is your trust. I realize I'm going to have to earn it and I’ll do everything I can to show you you can trust me. Please believe me,” I begged.

 

Ethan stepped farther away as his hands ran through his hair. His head circled the room a few times before he focused on me, plenty of rage still in his eyes. I held my breath in anticipation of him blowing up completely. I really wanted to wrap my arms around him to comfort him with my touch, but I had a strong feeling it would only make him angrier.

 

“Do you still have feelings for him?”

 

“No. My heart belongs to you. I thought I made that clear,” I said, my voice barely above a whisper.

 

“I thought you did too, but then you conveniently forget to tell me your ex-boyfriend is back in town,” Ethan snapped.

 

My underlying guilt started to fade as my temper took over. I had opened up to Ethan more than anyone before. No one knew I lacked a single memory of my parents—just him. My life before Chicago remained a mystery to me. He had gotten nearly every dark secret out of me that I had carried around for the last year or longer. He didn’t have every detail of my life, but he was damn well privy to the big moments.

 

“Do you have any idea how hard it was for me to tell you the truth? Do you even understand what that means, given what I've already shared with you? I'm sorry I didn't tell you about Micah, but I won't stand here and be questioned about whether or not I love you,” I shot back.

 

Ethan stared at me as an array of emotions flashed across his face. At first, I tried to follow them, but there were far too many to index. My eyes fell to the floor again while the rest of me started to deflate with my doubts. I needed to know what he was thinking; guessing was getting me nowhere. After a few minutes, Ethan closed the distance between us, but I avoided looking at him. I wasn’t sure of his next move. Frankly, it could very well be kicking my ass to the curb. His fingers ran along my jaw as he tilted my head up to face him.

 

“From this moment forward, I need you to promise you’ll be honest with me—even when it terrifies you. You need to have some faith in me, Mia. I know you love me, and I shouldn’t have questioned it. I have a feeling loving one another is never going to be our issue. Our biggest obstacle is going to be whether we’re able to get past our demons and believe in each other,” Ethan murmured, stroking my face.

 

“I don't want anything to linger between us. I'm sorry,” I choked out.

 

“You said you plan on talking to Micah later this week. Why?”

 

“He's determined to give me his side of the story. I've refused to hear him out, but everyone keeps telling me to get it over with so we can have some closure.”

 

“I can't argue with that. You deserve an explanation.”

 

Placing his hand in mine, he led us to his desk, and pulled the chair out for me before taking his own. He ran his hand along his mouse to bring his screen to life while remaining engaged in our conversation, but something was off. Given what I had just thrown at him, it was difficult to determine what dictated his mood.

 

“I don't have to go. But if I don’t, he's just going to be a thorn in my side,” I pointed out.

 

“No, you should go,” Ethan contended.

 

“Okay... Micah wants to meet for lunch at Lockhart's tomorrow,” I disclosed with caution

 

“Meet with him and be done with it. Just don't keep anything else from me,” Ethan demanded.

 

I wanted to argue with his sharp tone, but it wasn’t a battle I dared to engage in—not when it was my fault we were walking on eggshells in the first place.

 

“I won't.”.

 

“We should get to work. This morning is slipping by.”

 

“Ethan, I'm sorry,” I whispered, fidgeting with my necklace. 

 

With the tension between us, I needed something to reaffirm his love. Reaching across the desk, he subdued my nervous fingers and placed a kiss along each one before bringing his body above the desk entirely. He ran his nose down mine and let out a soft sigh.

 

“I know. Let's get to work.”

 

He brought his mouth to mine, his tongue outlining both lips before parting them. I lost myself to the sparks within me as our mouths carried on as one. After a few minutes, he fell back into his chair, his breaths heaving, and I rested my elbows on his desk to catch my own. The entire moment nearly made me howl with laughter. Our control around here was all but gone. That kiss scorched every part of me and if he pushed it farther, I would’ve let him have me without hesitation. Bringing my head out of my dirty thoughts, I grabbed the laptop from the corner of his desk and turned it on. I hoped the rest of the day would move along without issue. I was all over the place after these last few hours, both men running my mind in different directions.

 

We worked in silence for the majority of the day. The morning had been so beautiful, but Micah reared his head and devastated that harmony. I cursed under my breath on more than one occasion during the day just thinking about it. I really looked forward to the day when I would get some time with Ethan without some damn dark cloud looming over us. A part of me wondered how we had found each other under these circumstances—it was like a cosmic curse surrounding us for falling in love.

 

 

Reading Order

Conflicted

Concealed

Secrets and Lies Box Set

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