Read Wrapped In Shadows Online
Authors: Lisa Eugene
Copyright © 2014 by Lisa Eugene
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Cover Design and Interior format by The Killion Group
To Kristina and the Smexettes. Thank you for your encouragement and all the great laughs!
Get back here this instant!
I won’t let you leave me!”
The words echoed in pounding waves through my skull, delivering an angry assault to my senses. I barely registered their meaning as I tore out of my fiancé’s apartment. A chair was up-ended, a dish of keys bounced off the edge of a table onto the hard-wood floor, and a chunky Lalique overturned, scattering fragments of icy glass in my wake. The doorknob blurred through my tears, but I found it and fisted it tight. The external chaos was nothing compared to my inner turbulence, a vibrating destruction that shredded my insides and chewed up my emotions.
I’d found him with her. Carol.
His fucking Ex!
The woman who was a constant specter in our relationship, a ghost haunting every intimate moment. I’d trusted Josh. I’d believed him.
I pulled hard on the knob, desperate to escape. Josh’s large palm shot over my shoulder, slamming the door shut and loosening a gust of air from my lungs. My heart stilled and an eerie silence claimed my body. His fingers gripped my shoulders, digging painfully into my flesh as he spun me around. The back of my head struck the door, pain splitting my skull. His dark gaze burned into mine. He was a big guy, muscles thick and corded. Blue jeans hung low on his hips and his feet were bare. He was shirtless. That’s right. Carol had been wearing it, looking comfortable and snug. The bitch had actually looked at me and smiled. Like a snake, she’d shed the layer, dressed quickly, and slithered out of the apartment while I railed at Josh.
“Where the fuck do you think you’re going?” Josh hissed, his face hovering close to mine.
“I’m leaving, Josh. Let me out.” My voice trembled from despair.
“You got it all wrong, Kay!”
I shook my head roughly, feeling it scrub against the door. No. I didn’t want to hear his lies. No more lies. Tears pooled in my eyes, a steady stream coursing down my cheeks.
Josh’s palms cupped my shoulders and he shook me hard, slackening my jaw and rattling my teeth.
“You’re lying!” I wanted to spit in his face.
His jaw tightened to a sharp square. “You’re making a big deal out of nothing! You’re such a fucking drama queen—a spoiled little rich girl who wants everything her way!”
I couldn’t believe he’d just said that. Before I knew what was happening, anger reared up like a beast in my chest and my palm came crashing toward Josh’s face. His hand shot out, seizing my wrist and mashing my flesh to the bone. Pain shot through my arm.
“Let go! Let me out of here! It’s fucking over!”
be over. We’re going to be married. And once you calm the fuck down, you’ll see how wrong you are. Carol and I are just friends!”
I sucked in a breath. “You expect me to believe that? She was wearing your shirt! I’m sure with nothing underneath!”
“She spilled wine on her dress. She needed something to wear while her clothes were in the laundry.”
Was he fucking kidding me? Did he think I’d believe that?
“That’s bullshit!” I struggled in his hold, my arms jerking.
“Come on, Kay. Calm down.”
“What was she doing here?”
“She just came to wish me a belated birthday. That’s all. We’re
You’re just jealous and insecure.”
“Don’t try to make this about me! Let me go!” I fought against his steely grip and the burning pain in my wrist. “You’re hurting me.”
“I love you, babe. We’re good together. You know that.”
Before I knew what was happening, Josh’s mouth crashed down on mine, his tongue thrusting between my lips. I gagged at the intrusion. A wail rolled up in my throat as I fought his nearness. Panicked, I bit hard on his lip, then suddenly tasted blood.
” Josh reared back and his hand rubbed his lip, assessing the damage. The other hand was flat against the door, keeping it shut. “Don’t ever think about leaving me.” His voice stabbed like a shard of ice. “I need you.”
“Let me go.”
Calmly, Josh pulled the door open and stepped back, as usual his sudden anger rushed away like a receding tide. He pawed through my disheveled hair, his touch surprisingly gentle. “Just go home and rest, babe. You’ll be able to think clearer when you’re not so emotional. I’ll call you tomorrow.”
I tried to keep my muscles from flinching at his touch. My heart banged against my ribs as I took a step through the door, afraid he’d pull me back in. I caught my trembling lip between my teeth and slowly backed away, one foot guiding the other.
Josh smiled, all perfectly capped teeth. A tolerant exasperation moved over his face. He looked at me like I was a child. “We’ll talk tomorrow. I love you, babe.”
The door closed and my palm flew to my mouth, trapping the sound that wanted to explode. Body shaking, I turned and ran from my future.
As soon as the door opened, I fell into my best friend’s arms. I could sense the frown on Michelle’s face and felt her body stiffen.
“Kay? What’s wrong?” Michelle pulled back and looked at me.
I watched her frown deepen as she led me into the apartment.
“What happened, Kay?” She settled us both on an oversized couch, leaving the warmth of her palm against my arm.
“Josh… It’s over.” I swallowed slowly, trying to work away the pain and keep my shit together. I stared into Michelle’s patient brown eyes. “I found him with Carol.”
Michelle’s lips thinned. “That asshole. What happened?”
At least she hadn’t said ‘I told you so.’ “They were sitting together on his couch. She was dressed in his shirt. Nothing else. He was in just jeans.”
Michelle squeezed my hand. “What did the louse say?”
Tears trickled from the corners of my eyes. “That nothing happened.”
“He expects you to believe that? Asshole! I never trusted the two of them.”
I hiccupped a sob, feeling my emotions surge as I thought about the woman Josh had loved since high school. “He knows how I feel about her. She was always calling and texting him at all hours of the night. He told me they didn’t talk anymore. He promised me it was over.”
“Listen, I know it hurts now, but it’s better you find out before the wedding.”
I covered my face with my palms, a sob shuddering from someplace deep. “Oh, God! The wedding! It’s in three months! All those people! Mother!”
“Don’t worry about any of that. I’ll help you.” Michelle passed a tissue from a box on a table. He voice softened. “You’re doing the right thing. He never deserved you, Kay.”
“He said he wouldn’t let me leave him. He was holding the door close.”
He’s a fucking jerk! I’m calling the police! You have to file a report and get a restraining order against him.” Michelle rose from the couch and I shot up after her, fear fisting my heart.
“No! Michelle, no!” I grabbed her arm as she reached for her cell phone. “Please don’t.”
Michelle’s face wrinkled with disgust. “What do you mean, no? He’s out of control.”
I sighed. “Listen, we were both angry, yelling at each other. He’s going through a lot.”
“You’re doing it again, Kay.”
I rolled my eyes, turning away from Michelle’s accusing gaze.
“No, I’m not.”
“You are making excuses for that asshole! He’s a maniac.”
“I’m not. He was angry. We both were.”
I took a deep breath, my next words catching on a wet sob. I’d been through enough today. The last thing I wanted was to deal with the police. “Look…I don’t want to call the cops, okay? It’s over anyway. I’m done with him.”
Michelle pulled me into her arms and I accepted the comfort. We’d met in college. We’d dormed together at NYU and had become instant best friends. I’d been a sheltered girl from Scarsdale, NY, and Michelle was from a small town in Ohio. She’d been eager to indulge in all the revery that New York City had to offer and took it upon herself to assume my tutelage. Although I had a blast with her, I was a poor student. I mostly stood on the sidelines and lived vicariously through her.
Her phone rang and I pulled away. I settled back on the couch, hearing her answer with a curse.
“I’m sorry, Eddie. We have to reschedule.”
I waved my arms in the air just as Michelle started to offer an excuse to her boyfriend. When she looked over, I started swinging my head, stopping her mid-sentence. I now noticed the shiny black leather mini that was painted onto Michelle’s voluptuous body and the stiletto heels that added four inches to her already tall frame. Her black hair was pulled back in a severe bun and fiery red lipstick broadcasted her shapely lips.
My girl was getting her game on tonight.
Michelle and Eddie had an unusual relationship. They were completely committed and devoted to each other, yet as a couple they openly engaged in sexual relationships with others. I never fully understood the emotional labyrinth. They had trust and friendship, and Eddie doted on Michelle, yet for short periods of time they webbed relationships with others. They were both completely in love, and for a relationship that should be complicated, it seemed effortless. I sighed. A sharp spike of jealously stabbed through me and I looked away.
My three year supposedly monogamous relationship with Josh had been a roller-coaster of emotions and a series of explosive break-ups and tedious reconciliations. Josh always said it was because we loved each other so deeply. Right. That’s why he had that hoe lounging half naked on his couch tonight. Guess his dick didn’t mind loving someone else deeply. The thought made bile rise into my throat and I blinked back tears. How long had he been lying to me?
“Uh…let me call you back.” Michelle signed off the phone and turned to me with a frown. “It’s okay, Eddie will understand.”
“I’m sorry. I didn’t realize you were going out.” I wiped my eyes and pushed to the edge of the couch. “Please, don’t change your plans for me.”
“Plans? I didn’t have any plans.” Michelle waved a manicured hand.
A beat of silence ticked by as we both surveyed her fitted-for-fucking ensemble and I raised my brows knowingly. We both erupted in a peal of laughter and again, I felt a wave of unbidden envy. At least I thought that’s what it was. I couldn’t quite identify the deep longing, the sudden desire to be as carefree as my friend. My life had many constraints. My laughter trickled off thinly and became an awkward scratch in my throat.
“When I see Josh tomorrow, I’ll be giving that asshole a piece of my mind!” Michelle stabbed a finger in my direction then sat in a chair and started unlacing a leather boot.
“You’ll do no such thing!” I stood and approached her. She and Josh had never gotten along, and what made matters worse was they worked for the same company. I bent and stilled Michelle’s fingers on the black laces. “A girl doesn’t dress like this for nothing. You’re not changing your plans to babysit me.” I forced a smile. “Where to tonight?
was an exclusive sex club that Michelle and Eddie sometimes visited. It specialized in heightening every pleasurable sensation and offered various diversions to guarantee absolute bliss. I remembered Michelle describing it as a place where one gets drunk on pleasure.
Michelle sat back in the hair and folded her arms across the mounds of her plumped-up breasts.
“Eddie made reservations but we can cancel them. No biggie.”
“No, I don’t want you to.”
“There’s no way I’m leaving you alone tonight.” She shook her head. “I know Josh. He doesn’t take no for an answer. After the stunt he pulled, there’s no telling what he’ll do.”
I sighed heavily, trying to shake the chill settling on my skin.
“Josh was just angry. He’d never purposefully hurt me.”
“You have no idea what he’s capable of. He has serious anger-management issues.”
“And he’s been dealing with them. He’s getting help. He’s had a rough few years.”
“You’re doing it again, Kay! Excuses.”
Michelle held my gaze and paced her words. “I’m not leaving you alone tonight.”
I issued another thin laugh. “Then I’ll just have to come with you!”
We both started laughing—a halting, preposterous chortle. Suddenly Michelle stopped, seeming to realize hers was the only voice carrying. Her kohl-lined eyes widened dramatically. I held my breath.
“No way in hell can you be serious.”
“What if I am?” I heard myself say. My voice sounded strangely unfamiliar, brittle and thin to my ears.
“I’d say you’ve lost your freaking mind,
Katherine Regina Vandercamp
“Don’t throw that at me!”
Michelle stood and faced me, ticking off her words with a finger. “Then how about I throw this. You just caught your asshole boyfriend of three years with another woman, you’re breaking your engagement, you’re about to cancel a half-million dollar wedding at the Plaza Hotel, and you’re probably freaked out about telling your parents, so I’d say you’re not thinking straight at the moment.”
“My decision has nothing to do with any of that,” I argued.
“And what about the foundation?”
I stared at my friend, annoyed. I ran my family’s prestigious fundraising organization, a job I loved, but the responsibility was tremendous. It was my job to solicit donations from the wealthy circles my parents traveled in, basically I was a kiss-ass, but the donations helped so many in need. At my parents insistence, I had moved into their penthouse in the city. I used my degree in finance to head the Vandercamp Foundation and raised money for various charity organizations. After grad school, I’d tried to get Michelle to partner with me, but she instead had landed a job with Davenport Advertising and Public Relations.
I braced my legs and folded my arms, matching my friend’s stubborn stance. I realized Michelle looked a hell of a lot more formidable in her glossy black leather.
“I’m a big girl. I can make my own decisions.”
“Kay. It’s a
club! What if word gets out that you were there? You’re from one of the wealthiest families in America. You’ll be on the front page of
New York Magazine
, and every gossip rag that gets ahold of the story! It’ll be scandalous for you and your family.”