Identity Series Book 2: I Am Sarah

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Chapter 8

Angry words drifted into my mind as I slowly woke up. I sat up and rubbed my eyes, feeling like someone had rubbed them raw with sandpaper.

“Are you sure no one has seen her?”

“Mr. McAllister hasn’t seen her since she left home this morning, and Adam hasn’t heard from her since he dropped her off at Delmonico’s.” There was a pause. “Erik, calm down—”

“Don’t tell me to calm down, Sebastian! It’s been hours, and I—” Erik’s words cut off with a sob.

“Erik, it’ll be okay. She’s okay.”

“How can you possibly know that?” The anguish in Erik’s voice brought me to my feet, and I rushed to the bedroom door and peeked out. Erik and Sebastian were standing in the living room facing each other. Erik’s back was to me, and his shoulders were slumped. “I...I hurt her, Sebastian! I swore to God…I swore to her that I would never hurt her, and that’s exactly what I did!” I stepped out of the bedroom, Sebastian’s eyes flew to me, and he heaved a sigh of relief even as Erik stalked away to the balcony windows and placed one hand on the glass, his head hanging. “If anything has happened to her, I’ll kill myself.” His breath caught. “Please, God, let it just be that she’s left me. She has to be okay.”

I questioned Sebastian with my eyes, and at his desperate glance at Erik, I took another step forward.

“Erik...” I began, but his head snapped up violently, and he spun around.

“Oh, my God, Sarah,” he breathed, and then he closed the distance between us in an instant and wrapped his arms around me. I returned the hug, and then he took my face in his hands and began placing frenetic kisses all over it. “You’re alive,” he whispered between them. “You’re here. You’re okay.”

“Erik, what’s going on?” I tried to pull back, but he wouldn’t let me. The kisses stopped, but his eyes and fingertips roamed over me as if he couldn’t believe I was actually there.

His mouth opened, but instead of speaking to me, he looked over my shoulder at Sebastian.

“Can you let...”

“I’ll let Mr. McAllister know she’s safe,” our friend said quickly, and then I heard the door close softly.

“Erik?”

He dropped to his knees in front of me and held me tightly, his head on my stomach. “Please forgive me,” he whispered. “Please, sweetheart; I am so sorry.”

I fell to my knees and cupped his right cheek in my hand and tilted his face up so I could see his eyes. The pain in them was like a knife wound to my heart.

“No, Erik, it’s not your fault. It’s mine. Everything that happened was my fault.”

He shook his head as tears filled his eyes. “No, Sarah. I lost control, and you have no blame for that. That is all on me.”

I was about to contradict him again but realized it would not do any good. He would still blame himself for everything. Instead, I raised my other hand and brushed the hair from his forehead.

“I forgive you, Erik, but you have to forgive me as well.”

His eyebrows came together. “For what? There is nothing wrong with you talking to an old friend of yours. I overreacted. Badly.”

“But I tried to slap you.”

He looked down as if ashamed, and I held in a sob. “I deserved it, or so Sebastian tells me.” His shoulders hitched suddenly, and his voice cracked as he said, “I am so sorry I hurt you.”

“I still shouldn’t have tried to hit you.”

He just shrugged.

I continued to caress his head, and then, as if they had a mind of their own, my fingers moved to his temple, just below his hairline. He tensed and looked up at me, but he didn’t say anything or try to stop me. I cupped my hand and took his scarred cheek in it, drawing a sharp hiss from him. As my thumb softly traced the part of his scar that crossed his cheekbone, he closed his eyes, and, to my surprise, he placed his own hand over mine, holding it tightly to him with a sigh. I leaned forward and brushed my lips across his as my eyes drifted shut, and he shuddered once before pulling me close and tipping his head back slightly.

“I love you, Sarah,” he said tenderly, “more than you could ever know. More than my life.” He kissed me then, and his hands tightened around me as the kiss became almost desperate. When he broke it, he was breathing heavily, and his eyes were glazed.

“Erik?” I hated to spoil the moment, but I still had a few questions.

“Yes?”

“Why were you so worried about me?”

I was not expecting the short laugh that came from him.

“What’s so funny?”

“Oh, my sweet Sarah, you really have no idea, do you?”

“No idea of what?” I was starting to get annoyed.

Erik just gestured toward the balcony. I looked at the windows and saw, for the first time, that it was getting dark outside. I slowly stood up and then stared down at him.

“What time is it?”

“Almost five.”

“What? I couldn’t have been asleep that long.”

“It seems you were.”

Over five hours. No wonder he was so worried. I had been worried about him when it had only been half an hour after he ran down the street.

“Erik…” I reached for him. He took my hand and stood. “I’m so sorry. I had no idea it was so late. I came back here to wait for you and fell asleep. I didn’t mean to make everyone worry.” Then I frowned. “Wait. Why didn’t Abigail tell you I was here? She knew; it was she who told me to come up here.”

“It’s Friday, sweetheart. You know she gets off at noon on Fridays, especially when no one is here. By then, I was already scouring the city for you.”

I must have looked confused because he led me to the couch and we sat. “I only made it a few blocks before my guilt forced me to stop. I knew that I had to go back and apologize to you for my actions, but the thought that you were with him kept me from heading back right away.” He stopped when I raised my eyebrows. “Sorry. I guess jealousy is one emotion I’m going to have to work on controlling a lot better. Anyway, I wandered around for a while, and by the time I got back to the restaurant, you were gone and so was your friend. I asked the valet if you had gone off with him, and he told me that you had come after me and your friend left alone. I realized then what an idiot I had been, and I immediately got my car and started driving around looking for you. I even went to St. George’s to see if you had taken a cab to your next meeting. Then I went to your home to see if you were there, and last, I went to your father’s shipyard. No one had seen you or spoken to you. For the last four hours, I have been driving around Manhattan, hoping you had simply gone into a shop or a diner to calm down. It never occurred to me that you’d come here. I thought that you were so angry with me that you would want to keep your distance from me for a while. When I couldn’t find any trace of you, I thought I was going to go insane. I thought something terrible had happened to you.”

I gasped. “My father!” I stood up quickly. “Erik, I have to go home! He’ll be so worried!”

He followed me up and took my hand. “I’ll take you right now. Sebastian has probably called him by now, but I’ll take you home.”

We took the elevator to his gallery and then went to the garage. He led me to his silver Spyder which was parked by itself along one wall perpendicular to the parking spots. I glanced around the garage and saw that almost every space had a sign indicating who could park there. Around Erik’s car, however, were only “No Parking” signs.

“Erik?”

“Yes?” He led me to the passenger door and unlocked it for me, holding it wide.

I simply gestured at the signs.

He chuckled. “Look closer.”

I did so and noticed smaller print on the bottom of each sign. I stepped closer and smiled as I read “Reserved for Mr. Erik Desmond. All others will be removed immediately.”

“You’ve reserved an entire wall for yourself? Why? You only have one car.”

“For now,” he said, “but it is a very nice car, and I don’t want anyone parking near it. You never know, they might ding the paint with their door.”

I looked up at him and saw a bright smile on his face. I returned it and said, “Couldn’t you always fix the paint?”

“Of course I could,” he said with a shrug, “but I don’t like to waste my money, and if I can prevent something in the first place, I’d rather do that than pay for an accident later.”

The tension of our argument at the restaurant and the following hours seemed to have disappeared, and he guided me into the car before closing the door. He was right about it being a nice car. As a matter of fact, it was an amazing car. He slipped behind the wheel and started it up. A pleasant rumble came from beneath the hood. He pulled out of the garage and joined the traffic on Central Park South. He quickly guided the car into the left lane and turned onto Fifth. I couldn’t keep my fingers from skimming across the leather of the seats and the doors. It was exquisitely soft, and I caressed it softly. I stopped when I heard Erik clear his throat, and I turned to him.

“What is it?”

His jaw was clenched, but he seemed more uncomfortable than angry, and as he pulled up in front of my building, he glanced at me and then my hand where it was still stroking the seat.

“Nothing.”

He got out of the car, shook his head at the valet, and then came around to open my door. When he took my hand, he shivered.

“Erik, talk to me.”

He gulped and looked at the street. “It’s not appropriate,” he said quietly.

“What isn’t?”

He looked up at me, and his eyes blazed. “What I’m thinking right now.”

I frowned and took a step toward the front of the car before stopping and turning on him. “What are you thinking?”

He shook his head. “I said it wasn’t appropriate. I won’t tell you.”

I stepped close to him, and he caught his breath. “Tell me.”

“No,” he gasped out.

“Hmm.” My eyebrows came together, and I grabbed the lapels of his coat with both hands as I looked into his eyes. He was breathing heavily, and the fire in his eyes hadn’t dimmed in the slightest. “You will tell me, Mr. Desmond; if not now then after we’re married.”

“After we’re married, I’ll not only tell you, I’ll show you.”

His breaths had slowed a little, but I could see something in his face that I couldn’t quite put a name to. I smiled and backed off before taking his hand.

“I’ll make sure you do,” I said, and he took a deep breath before walking me to the curb. He raised my hand to his lips when he stopped in front of the door, which Warren was holding open.

“I’m going to let you go up alone,” he said.

“What? Why?”

He frowned. “I don’t think your father will be too happy to see me right now. He was rather furious when I saw him at the shipyard.”

“Mad at you? Why?”

He sighed heavily. “Because if it hadn’t been for me, you wouldn’t have run off. Don’t you see, Sarah? Everything that happened today is my fault.”

I reached up and cupped his scarred cheek. “It was both our faults, Erik. Please believe that I have some blame in this, too. It is not all on you.”

He shook his head and grabbed my hand before kissing the palm. “You can believe that if you want to, but I know better.” He looked up at the tall building. “You’d better go. I’m sure your father is waiting for you.”

I huffed in annoyance and opened my mouth to continue our conversation—one that could quickly become an argument, but Erik growled out, “Stop it, Sarah! You’re not going to convince me, so just stop and go home!”

“Fine!”

I tried to whirl away toward the door, but he held onto my hand and spun me back into his arms.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “I didn’t mean to sound so harsh, but you’ve got to stop trying to make me feel better. I did the one thing I promised you I would never do, and there is no excuse for that.” He sighed deeply and held me to his chest. “I do love you, Sarah.”

“I love you too, Erik.” I leaned back and smiled at him. “Don’t worry. We’ll get through this just fine.”

He kissed my forehead, and I turned away from him. When Warren had let the door shut behind me, I glanced over my shoulder and saw him talking to Erik. Whatever was said, Erik looked at him in disbelief, but then he nodded his head and shook Warren’s hand with a slight smile before climbing in his car and driving away.

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