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Okay, so maybe I was a bit dramatic but what else was I supposed to do? I was a desperate woman.

It’s not like I could tell him that his sweet little girlfriend was in cahoots with my stalker, and his life was hanging by a thread. Besides, Deacon had warned me not to breathe a word to anyone. I knew telling Corbyn was only asking for trouble, but I had to tell someone, so why not him?

But my desperate measures produced some satisfactory results. As I speak, I was in a jet on the way to San Francisco, snuggled closely against the man of my dreams. His arms and musky scent securely around me. Was it shameful of me to pretend to be asleep?

Hmmm… Bliss.

If there was a man that knew how to take care of a woman, it was Corbyn Coleman. When you were under his care, he made you feel safe, loved, protected, pampered, and all sorts of wonderful.

Zara Wilson was one lucky girl.
We had picked her up on our way to the airstrip and she put on a good show trying to appear to be happy to have me join them on their flight. Her expression tittered between a laugh and a cry. It was almost funny to watch.

I felt myself being lifted and then carried by the strong arms that I missed more than I cared to admit. He laid me on a bed and tucked me under the covers as if I were a child. “Sleep my cookie. I’ll keep you safe,” he said and kissed my forehead before he stepped out, leaving the door slightly open.

“How is she?” Zara asked, feigning concern.

“She’s asleep now.”

“What happened?”

“I can’t tell you,” was his response. “It’s kind of like a personal issue.”
“And she had to come running back to you? As always.”

“Zara please don’t be this person,” he grated. “You sound like a jealous girlfriend right now.”

“Which means I’m playing my part well. Unlike you.” She issued a stern rebuke.

I did a happy jig in my heart. They were not together. They were playing pretend all this time. All of a sudden, the world seemed like a better place.

“Thanks for helping me out but I think we have achieved our goal now, don’t you think?” Corbyn was saying.

“I wouldn’t be so sure of that…”

“What do you mean?”

Zara exhaled a bit too dramatically. “I was in some coffee shop the other day and… I overheard her talking on the phone. She was telling someone that she was going to get you back by all means-”

“That was the plan wasn’t it?”

“But not like this, Corbyn. She’s manipulating you all over again.”

“Go on with your story,” he groaned.
“She went on to say she was going to lie to you that Deacon was out and threatening her or something along those lines.”

“I didn’t say this was about Deacon. As far as I know, he is in jail. Besides, she would never lie about something like that Zara,” he said in my defense. “Not after what we went through.”

“Are you sure about that,” she grunted. “If she suggested an open relationship…” The conniving little tramp went there didn’t she?

“I think she’s telling the truth this time and I’m not going to take any chances.”

“Why don’t you find out the facts before jumping to her aid?” she posed. “That’s all I’m saying.”

“I appreciate your concern,” he said to her. “I will do that. Will it put your mind at ease snowball?”

“I just don’t want you to get hurt again,” she remarked. “Just be careful, okay?”

“Please don’t go upsetting her any further,” he put forward a gentle reminder. “She’s already fragile as it is.”
“You’re so gullible Coleman,” she bemoaned.

“I mean it, Zara. Promise me?”

“Fine. I won’t antagonize your helpless cookie.”

Oh, she was good. She had planted the seeds of doubt and obviously, she’d nurture them until they took root and sprouted. Deacon must have taught her well, too well in fact. I just realized what I was up against and it was time to up my game a notch. In high school, I ate girls like her for breakfast. Two can play the game and I was a master.

“Don’t take this moment away from me. Let me enjoy it,” he whispered before he came back to check on me. He laid on the bed, draped himself over me with his chest against my back, and I pretended to be in a deep, blissful sleep.

About an hour later, Corbyn nuzzled my neck, trying to wake me up. If only he knew. “Cookie,” he coaxed in his husky voice. “We’re about to land. You need to get up.”

“Already..?” I rolled over and my eyes clashed with the most intense pair of green eyes that could read every thought running through my head. It was the first time I was able to study his face without fear of those piercing eyes arresting me.

“I just want you to know that I am aware that this doesn’t change anything-but I am here for you.” My heart did a flip-flop when he turned his warm hand and caressed my cheek. “I’ll always be here for you, Blue. No matter what.”

Instinctively, or maybe it was out of habit, I flattened my palm against his chest, more to feel his heartbeat. “You’re one of a kind, Corbyn Coleman. I am lucky to have you in my life. Even if it’s only as a friend.”

“That was purely your choice,” he was quick to point out.
“I do love you-”

“There’s no need to explain,” he cut in.

“I think there is honeycomb.” My gaze stroked over his chiseled, masculine features. He looked more susceptible and vulnerable. “I know in my heart of hearts that you are my soulmate.”

He brushed a strand of hair from my face and stroked my face. “And you are mine.”

“I see myself-in the future-being with you indefinitely. Having your children…being your wife…”

A pleased smile was on his lips and his eyes held a glint of humor. “Then it seems like we’re on the same page, cookie.”

“But I also think that we’re too young to be tied down. You’re only nineteen and I’m twenty,” I continued my argument. “You haven’t experienced life to its fullest. And I think it would be unfair of me not to allow you to explore and-”

“Date other people,” he finished off, clenching his jaw.

“Yes,” I replied. “And it seems like you’re getting the hang of it...”

“Speaking of which,” he sat up and slid off the bed. “I’ve got to go and check on Zara. At least she needs me.”

“I need you too.”

“Well, you have a funny way of showing it,” he remarked and stormed out.

My heart ached to hear him say those words, but I knew from experience there was nothing more I could do or say to make it better.

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