Blake skidded to a stop near an enormous wrap around porch where Lea, Conner, Ethan and Brayden sat together waiting. When I climbed off Blake’s snowmobile, Lea flung herself into my arms, “Oh, thank God, you’re okay!”
I looked back toward Blake, “Thank you,” I said.
He grinned back at me. “Get inside and warm up, we’ll talk later. Then we can think of a way you can properly thank me.” What?
“Come on, let’s go inside. We’ll get you warmed up and changed, and then we’re going to the bar at the resort. I need a drink,” Lea said, moving me away from Blake.
I was shuttled away from Blake as he drove away blasting snow out of his path. Lea dragged me by the hand through the front entryway of an enormous log cabin style ranch. When the warmth of the inside hit me, I realized how wet and cold I was. My jacket was soaked through, and so was the shirt and jeans I wore beneath it. It felt as though a layer of ice was forming on my skin. I began shuddering uncontrollably.
Shane strode in after us and looked far worse than I did. He dropped all of our belongings in front of him, closed his eyes, leaned back and rested his head against the wall. “Lea, get her out of those wet clothes.”
“I’m fine,” I shuddered. I was lying through my teeth. I could barely move and icy chills rocked my body.
His eyes snapped open and gave me a challenging glare. “You’re impossible!” He stomped towards me, picked me up with one hand, and flung me over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, again. “Bring the bags for me, will you? My hands seem a bit full,” he said to Lea.
He marched with me through the house, down a long hallway and into a dark room. Lea switched on the lights for him and he threw me down on a beautiful king-size four-poster bed. “Get out of your clothes!” He walked through another door and came back with an armful of soft white towels. He lifted his eyebrow at me, “Do you know what hypothermia is? Get out of your clothes!”
I gritted my chattering teeth and began taking off sneakers and socks. My eyes never left his harsh stare, but I did notice when Lea quietly slipped out of the room. Oh, was I going to kill her for that!
Shane tore off his shirt and pants and stood in his boxers, leaning over his bag, searching through it for dry clothes.
With my bag slung over my arm, I slowly walked through the door where he had gotten the towels. I didn’t care if it was a closet or a bathroom, it was where I would be getting changed so I wouldn’t have to do it with Shane’s eyes on me.
When I changed into dry clothes and blew dried my hair, I walked out of the bathroom into an empty room. My guitar was in its case, propped up against the bed, but all of Shane’s things were gone. Throwing my bag on the bed, I walked out of the bedroom and into the rest of the house.
The entire house was filled with bright lights hanging decoratively from high vaulted ceilings. The walls were made of deep cherry colored timber. The smell of pine needles and wood chips filled the air; it was a real log cabin. Walking into the living room area, I discovered Lea, Conner and Ethan sitting on soft brown leather sofas; antique wooden furniture lay sporadically throughout the room.
“How are you feeling?” Lea asked.
“Fine. Thanks by the way, for leaving me in there alone with Shane. Remind me to pay back the favor one day,” I sarcastically sneered.
“I guess I got the wrong idea about the whole situation, sorry,” she pouted. “If you feel up to it, everyone is snowmobiling down to the resort bar for some drinks. Blake, Tucker, Brayden and Shane are already there.”
“Yes, I’m definitely in need of a drink, although I have no dry coat to go outside with.”
Ethan bundled me up in his gigantic coat and stood back to laugh at me. “Let’s go get drunk, shall we?” He hooked my arm in his and curiously smiled down at me, “And you must let me know what you did to get Shane all fired up, so I can repeatedly tease him about it.”
I shook my head, “Oh, I’m sure he’ll forget all about whatever it is I did or didn’t do once he finds someone to occupy his time. I think I just got on his nerves on the long car ride here.” I didn’t like how easy it was getting for me to spin a lie.
He tilted his head down towards me and tightened his lips. “I hate that you think that you need to lie to me.”
I jumped on the back of the snowmobile and I sighed, “Well, hurry up. Now I really need a drink.”
There seemed to be a good size crowd in the resort bar, despite the blizzard raging outside. People were dancing to someone horribly singing karaoke, the bar was lined with people ordering drinks, and every table was full with laughing noisy patrons.
The inside of the bar had the same sort of ambience as Tucker’s house and any other time, I would have probably stopped to appreciate the atmosphere, but Blake was waiting for me at a crowded table. His beautiful blue eyes locked onto mine and didn’t let go; a sweet smile beamed across his face.
Shane sat across from him and watched our exchange. We walked up to the table and Blake’s smile beamed brighter. Shane tipped his head back, draining the last of his beer and then he slammed the bottle on the table. Everyone at the table stopped their conversations at the jolting noise it made. He stood up and grabbed some girl’s hand that had been sitting at the table with them. His eyes watched mine as he led her to the dance floor. The girl looked back at her friends as if she’d just won the lottery.
I watched them walk away and practically have sex with each other on the dance floor. I squeezed my eyes shut and turned away. It hurt like hell, but I needed to remember that was the exact reason Shane was not a good choice for Grace, if Blake wasn’t who I wanted him to be.
Blake stood up and smoothly slid next to me. He held out a shot glass for me and I grabbed it, gulping the golden liquid down. He tilted his head towards Shane and his friend on the dance floor, “I bet we could put them to shame,” he smiled wickedly. Leading me to the dance floor, we grabbed onto each other like there was no one else around, like there was a thousand years since we’d seen each other last.
Everyone at the table swarmed us on the dance floor. Immediately, the temperature rose and sweat glistened on our bodies. Blake held me close and I danced with my arms wrapped around his neck. I closed my eyes and melted into his body, we danced close and hot until the music turned slow. Someone started singing Karaoke to Adele’s Someone Like You, and Blake roughly grabbed my chin and pulled my lips up to his. His tongue attacked my mouth like a hungry animal, and then he spun me around to face the crowd.
I whirled in his arms to stand face to face with Shane. He looked like a stone statue, frozen in the middle of a crowd of slow dancing bodies, eyes wide; staring right through me. His lips parted as if he meant to say something, but thought better of it. The girl he was with had stopped dancing along with him and just waited beside him for his next move, as he stood waiting for mine.
Blake pulled me closer against him and kissed my neck, pulling my hair back, trailing a thick wet tongue along my skin.
Shane swallowed hard, intently focused on every spot of my skin that Blake touched.
Blake slid his hands around to the front of my shirt. He lifted the fabric, placing his hands on the bare skin of my stomach and dug into my skin roughly.
Shane’s eyes dropped to watch Blake’s hands and back up to my eyes. His lips pressed tightly together and shaking his head, he held his hands up to wave me off. He turned around and melted into the slow dancing shadows of the crowd.
When the music ended Lea, Conner and Ethan lugged me up to the microphone. My mind reeled. Blake stood in front of the stage cheering me on with them. Shane’s beautiful back was walking to the door with the girl he had danced with in tow.
Lea talked to the Karaoke DJ and the pop beat to Katy Perry’s The One That Got Away thumped through the speakers. How appropriate.
The first word I sang caused the entire crowd to stop and stare, and the rest of the words had them looking at me dumbstruck. When I got to the chorus, Shane stopped at the entrance to the bar and clenched his fists and raked them through his hair. I sang the song right to him. The crowd screamed over my voice and when the song ended, they chanted for me to sing more, but Blake walked up on the stage and carried me off.
He carried me through the crowds who were yelling for more and booing Blake for hauling me off the stage.
“Put me down!” I snapped.
“I haven’t seen you in lifetimes, and you would rather sing for a room full of sweaty strangers?” My heart thudded to a stop. His features were taut and set, and then after a few seconds, he nodded his head and a smile radiated on his lips.
He walked me to the table, picked up his coat, and left Ethan’s, the one I wore there, on the back of the chair. He nodded to Tucker who was sitting down talking with a pretty redhead. “I’m taking her back to the house. See you tomorrow!”
Tucker’s jaw hit the table as Blake put his coat on me.
Blake took a full shot glass that was sitting in front of Tucker and gulped it down, and then he drank the redhead’s, who wore a disgusted look on her face. I just laughed. His eyes watched me, sheer naughtiness danced in them when he heard my laughter. He took hold of my hand and ran with me through the bar, right out the front door.
Giant snowflakes still fell in heavy white sheets making an eerie silence surround us. He swept my feet out from underneath me and sat me on the snowmobile. He leaned over me and covered my mouth with his, thrusting his tongue in almost painfully.
He ripped his mouth from mine and smiled a slow sexy smile down at me. “Selah,” he called me, making my heart pound hard against my chest. My name.
He straddled the snowmobile and offering me a sly smile, gunned the vehicle until we were practically airborne. We catapulted across the great white expanse and glided into the front area of Tucker’s porch, almost colliding with the steps.
Blake jumped off his seat and helped me off and into the cold knee-deep snow. He kissed me again and tugged me up the stairs, unlocking the front door with his lips still attached to mine.
Shane’s brooding dark expression was the first thing I saw when I stumbled in. He sat next to his friend from the bar on the couch, elbows resting on his legs and his hands dangled between them. He glowered at Blake and jumped to his feet.
Blake laughed as his eyes darted from Shane to me. “Crap, I thought we’d have the house to ourselves,” he sneered.
Shane stormed over and stepped between us. “I want you to come with me, Grace.”
I baulked at him. “Are you serious, right now? What am I supposed to join you and your friend over there?”
Shane leaned in closer, “Don’t do this.”
Blake pulled me by the hand and nodded to Shane, “Take a step back, Shane, this has nothing to do with you. You have a pretty girl over there,” he said, pointing to the girl quietly sitting on the couch.
Shane touched his hand to my elbow and I froze to the spot, pretty much damn near shocked at how he was acting. Even more so, I was shocked about how the simple little touch of his hand on my elbow reverberated throughout my body, like Blake the one who I’ve searched for, for lifetimes, wasn’t standing in front of me.
His blue eyes blazed into mine; probably waiting for me to just up and leave with him. Ha! Like that was going to happen.
Blake stepped closer to Shane, moving me forcefully behind him. “Back the fuck up, Shane, she’s with me,” he growled. My mouth went dry and my heart thrashed against my rib cage. I hated Shane at that moment. He was the only thing keeping me from what I’d waited for.
Shane stepped even closer to Blake, starring him right in the eyes. “Let her decide,” he snapped back. He leaned past Blake and grabbed me by both wrists. His beautiful eyes so intense, so real. “Come with me.” I knew at that very moment that I should run. I should bolt into Blake’s arms and leave, and never come back, but I couldn’t.
“Okay, that’s enough. Get the fuck away from her,” Blake said as smooth as silk. He yanked me back hard and I fell back against him with a loud thud, but my eyes never faltered from Shane’s.
I pushed myself off Blake, “I’m not a fucking pretty little shiny toy, both of you get the fuck off me!” I spun my face to Shane’s, “I’m going with Blake into my room. You seem to have a visitor with you that you’ve forgotten about.”
Shane narrowed his eyes at me and got right in my face, “If you do that, you’re like every other girl that you fight so hard not to be.”
“You know what, you’re a fucking asshole!”
Then he laughed at me! “In the past few weeks that I’ve known you, you’re called me a hell of a lot worse.” He raised his hand to my face and gently touched my cheek. “Call me anything you want, as long as you don’t do this.”
I recoiled away from him. “What? You’re here to save me, Shane? I’m sure the answer to all my problems is to lower my standards to go with you and your friend.”
Blake yanked me violently away from Shane again and it felt like I was being ripped in two, as if being away from Shane was tearing Grace’s body apart. My God, Grace would have chosen him. He was the one she would have fallen for.
I grabbed Blake’s hand and walked down the hallway towards the room that I left my belongings in before.
Blake locked the door behind us and I heard a loud crash of broken glass down the hallway. I tried desperately to ignore the fact that Shane was probably trashing the house, and fighting the urge to run right back to him.
Before I could formulate a single thought in my head, Blake slammed me painfully against the wall. One hand wrapped itself in a vice grip around my throat and the other yanked a fistful of my hair back, bringing my face to his. He bit my lower lip so hard that I tasted the thick rusty saltiness of my own blood. Thrusting his tongue in my mouth, he pinned his hips against mine to restrain me more.
“I need you right now. It’s been too long since I’ve had you,” he moaned into my mouth. He pressed his groin into mine, as if he was trying to step right through me.
Fear rocked my body. Dread seeped through each and every one of my pores. Had me? Shamsiel had never had me. We never. We had one single kiss.
I bit him so hard that I felt my teeth meet each other in the middle. I pushed him off me as hard as I could, but he only squeezed my neck tighter.
“Yes, baby. You know I like it rough.” His smile was wicked and his chin dripped with the blood from his lips.
“You’re not Shamsiel.” I could barely breathe the words. Just let me die.
“Yes I am,” he hissed. “You don’t...remember me?”
“Oh, I remember him. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t think of him, every single heartbeat that pumps in this body does so in anticipation to see him again. But, you are not him.”
He brought his lips down to my throat and raked his teeth relentlessly against my skin. “Let me remind you of our crimes,” he whispered as he raked his tongue up to my ear. His free hand undid the buckle of his belt, the sound of his zipper opening sliced through the air like a sharp knife.
My mind raced frantically. I couldn’t let him do this to Grace’s untouched body. I knew it wouldn’t matter to Grace wherever she was, but I couldn’t let him. “Gabriel!” I yelled.
Blake’s breath caught and he squeezed my throat harder, blocking the air from my lungs. I felt his body convulsing with laughter. “All you humans are so ignorant,” he said leveling his eyes to mine. “Do you really think he’ll save you?” He brought his lips to my ear and exhaled deeply, “He’d love to watch you burn, so he could roast marshmallows in your burning embers. Go ahead, call him, listen to the silence of your prayers.”
I closed my eyes and let my body go completely limp in his hands. I let my arms swing down to my sides and dangle against my body.
“I’d forgotten how weak these human bodies are,” he chuckled. “I always envied him because of you; this body looks so much like her. I’m going to enjoy ripping you open. Unconscious or not, although, I’d give my soul to watch your face as I do it.”
The second his hands loosened on my neck to take himself out of his pants, I grabbed the first thing I could grab, which was a snow globe on the dresser that was next to us. With all my strength, I slammed in against the side of his head. The cracking sound was almost sickening, but it honestly made me feel powerful.
Blake’s body flew against the wall and I smashed the globe at him again. He only looked stunned, but he leaned heavily against the wall with a confused look crossing over his face.
“You forget, I have nothing to lose. I’ve been sentenced to hell, just like you!” I ran for the door and fumbled with the lock.
Blake grabbed his arms out for me stumbling towards the door.
I opened it hard and thrashed it against his body. I bolted down the hallway and screamed for Gabriel. The house was empty, even Shane had gone. Shane.
I’ll never forget the look on his beautiful face when I walked away with Blake. What I just did was unforgivable. He would never forgive Grace, and he shouldn’t. If I lived through this night, I would tell him. Tell him everything; because what secrets should I hide anymore? Why had I kept these secrets? Was it because people would think I was crazy? Or, because I didn’t want everyone to know how truly cruel the world was? I screamed for Gabriel again, but Blake was right. No one answered me.
I thrust open the front door to the cold muteness of the snow; the angels continued their pillow fight. “Gabriel! Don’t do this to me! Gabriel!” Silence answered, heavy and smothering.
I searched for a place to hide. There was nothing but snow as far as I could see. I held my breath and plunged my body into the cold wet snow. I waded in the thigh high drifts and made it to what I would have guessed about twenty feet from the front porch, when I heard Blake cursing from the porch behind me.
My clothes became icy and stung my skin, burning my flesh every time I moved. But, I wouldn’t stop. Ever.
I could hear Blake as he grunted through the snow after me. I pushed ahead, beyond freezing, exhaustion had already set in. The more I moved, the more my mind fogged and my body staggered. My entire body numbed.
I dragged my body further, but it was too much time out in the cold snow, the end of my vision blurred and the world spun around me. I couldn’t give up, I couldn’t let Blake have her.
I didn’t know how fit Blake’s body was, but mine was trying to shut down. It screamed against the cold and begged my soul to give up.
I stumbled again when a shattering pain jarred my body and spiraled through my head. Something jerked my body violently, causing agony to surge through my veins. The faint hum of a snowmobile gave me the smallest bit of hope.
I blinked at the falling flakes of ice as they blanketed my face and eyes. I tried to move my body, but their seemed to be an excessive weight pressing down around me. That’s when my eyes focused on him. Blake.
He had pinned my arms underneath me, straddled my body and crouched over me. His mouth was a mere inch from mine. I stared into his ancient cold remorseless eyes.
He slowly lifted his left hand to my face, exposing the long sharp blade of a knife. I could hear myself moan in panic. The sound made his lips turn up in a smile.
“Go ahead and kill me,” I whispered.
He lifted the knife from in front of my eyes and slid it slowly down my torso to my waist. I was so numb from the ice and snow that I couldn’t even feel if he had cut me yet.
“I didn’t really want to kill you, Selah, I wanted to love you. Wanted you to be mine and take over the heavens. Think about it, because I won’t stop until you’re mine. Until everything is mine.”
He placed his lips on mine as he pierced the knife into my skin.
I tried to speak, I tried to scream, but his mouth stifled any noise I could have made.
He pressed the knife through my side as if I was warm butter and leaned away to assess his work.
Calmness covered my body, as I floated away from the pain and stared into his eyes.
“Never. Never will I be anything but his,” I whispered.
The world unfocused and everything became darker. After the heaviness of Blake on my body lessened, I could hear only the voices of angels, and the warmth of someone’s arms.
I could hear someone yell for 911. Background noises of screams and curses melted into the blowing winds. But louder than anything, I could hear a whispered voice near my ear; warm and pure. “Don’t be scared...heaven is breathtaking.”
I tried to move my lips to smile, but I could no longer feel my body. I’d never get to see heaven, but at least I got to feel it once in a kiss.