B E L L A M Y
The little exchange between Noah and Sebastian was still on my mind the next morning, and when I thought back to the way Noah had gone all protective on me, butterflies erupted in my stomach once again.
I rolled over in bed, smiling at the man who was laying next to me, snoring slightly. He looked so peaceful and calm—not necessarily words I used often to describe him.
He had really shown me a different side of him these last couple of weeks, or maybe he had just put on a mask before.
He was caring and kind, treating me like a princess every day. I still couldn’t quite believe it, but I was hoping I would never wake from this dream.
I wanted to do something for him. Maybe something sexual now, and romantic later.
“Noah,” I said softly, trying to wake him up. I knew better than to touch him when he wasn’t expecting it, so I kept my distance.
He groaned and rolled onto his back, slowly opening one eye.
“Good morning,” he said, his voice hoarse with sleep and his lips barely moving.
I chuckled, climbing on top of him.
“You know what I’ve realized?” I asked, brushing a strand of dark hair from Noah’s forehead.
“We never do oral.” I pecked him on the lips, but before I could do anything else, Noah lifted me off of him and let me fall back on the sheets beside him.
He quickly stood up, running his hands over his face.
“Hey.” I frowned, propping up on my elbows to look at him.
“We don’t need to,” he replied, keeping his back to me as he pulled a shirt over his head.
I pouted at the now covered tattoos, and sighed, standing from the bed. “But I want to,” I purred, placing my hands on his shoulders.
He flinched, shrugging my hands off as he turned. “Drop it.”
The anger in his tone startled me, and I felt embarrassed.
I realized I was falling in love with someone I barely knew.
“Why don’t you talk to me?” I questioned, taking a seat at the foot of the bed as Noah continued to dress himself.
“Drop it, Bella.”
My heart dropped at the use of my nickname, and I looked at the floor. “I just want to know the person I give my heart to.”
I mumbled that last bit, but Noah heard me crystal clear.
He let out a long breath, crouching down in front of me. He tilted my chin up and brushed his thumb over my cheek as he looked at me.
“But you don’t have to know the bad stuff? It’s in the past.” He swallowed hard after he spoke, showing me that for him, it was still very much in the present. Whatever was hunting him.
“Noah...” I cupped his face in my hands, trying to make him feel safe and comfortable. “Please stop running from your feelings. It’s okay.”
He straightened up, combing his hands through his hair as he started pacing in front of me.
I could see that he had an inner battle going on, and I just wished the part of him that wanted to let me in, would win.
It took him a couple of minutes, and I waited patiently, scared to make a sound or move.
“I...” he trailed off, but he stopped himself, going back to his thinking.
After what seemed like an hour, he stopped pacing, and he slouched back against the wall opposite of me.
After a big sigh, he spoke. “When I was younger, someone who I was supposed to trust and look up to, used me.”
My eyes got big, and I knew immediately knew where this was going. All the times Noah had flinched from someone’s touch, the nightmares, the times he jumped from the most normal of things.
“They...molested me.” He avoided my eyes when the words left his lips, and I covered my mouth with my hand.
“So now,” he continued, clenching and unclenching his hands into fists. “I have set some boundaries for myself. Lines I will not cross.”
I let out a long breath, sliding from the bed and moving to sit next to him.
He kept staring straight ahead, his arms resting on his knees. I hesitantly hovered my hand over his, debating if I should touch him or give him space.
Noah answered the question for me, flipping over his hand and taking mine, giving it a little squeeze.
“Thank you for letting me in,” I said with a watery smile, relaxing against him.
He wrapped his arm around my shoulders, pulling me against his chest. “Thank you for being here. For giving me a chance.”
“Noah, I think I lo—”
A loud bang on the door startled us, and we sprung apart. “Bella?” It was my brother, and Noah and I shared a look.
“Yeah?” I choked out, stumbling to my feet.
“I saw Reed at the coffee shop this morning and invited him to dinner tonight, if that’s ok?” Isaac said, and I looked from the door to Noah and back.
Trying to contain my smile when I saw Noah’s jaw tighten for a split second, I answered. “Sounds fun.”
You could cut the tension with a knife that night at the dinner table. Reed and Isaac tried to keep the conversation going, but Noah’s death stare gave everyone the creeps.
“So,” Isaac said, taking his final bite from dinner. “What are your plans for the future, Reed?”
Reed shifted in his seat, quickly glancing over to Noah before he answered. “I’ve been applying to some managing positions all over the city.”
“Ah,” I chimed in. “So you’re leaving town again?”
Reed was probably grateful for my attempt to lighten the mood, because he chuckled and grabbed my hand. “Will you miss me?”
It was meant as a joke—a sarcastic comment, but I could feel the anger radiating off Noah from this side of the table.
“Anyway,” I said, hopefully breaking the tension a little. “How about some dessert?”
Noah stood up, throwing his napkin on his plate. “I don’t want dessert.” He turned and stormed up the stairs, and even though I really liked having him around, I couldn’t deny that everyone felt a little more at ease without the hostile energy in the room.
“I’d love some,” Reed replied, smiling at me. “Need some help?”
I shook my head no, clearing the table and grabbing some ice cream, topping it with fresh strawberries.
The rest of the evening was a lot more relaxed, and Isaac and Reed took that time to catch up together as well. They always really liked each other, having the same interests, and I was starting to think Isaac had an ulterior motive for inviting Reed over for dinner.
Especially when he told me he would clean the kitchen, giving us a little ′alone-time′ before I saw Reed out.
“This has been fun,” Reed said as I opened the front door for him.
“Yes,” I replied softly, feeling a little awkward. “So...”
I had been debating what I would tell him all night, and decided on the truth. “Look, Howard—”
“It’s ok,” he cut me off, fumbling with his keys in his hands. “You don’t have to say it.”
I felt bad, even though we didn’t speak the words, and I almost felt guilty that I didn’t like him back that way. I mean, I was surprised he like me that way, but still.
He gave me a final hug, before leaving the house and walking to his car.
“And?” Isaac said, his voice dripping with hope for some reason.
I rolled my eyes, making my way to the stairs. There was a very jealous bad boy waiting for me to comfort him.
“I’m not into Reed, Isaac.”
My brother seemed disappointed, but he shrugged. “I just wish you found someone, you know?”
I almost choked on my saliva, my eyes shooting to the top of the stairs. “Yeah...”
He went back to the kitchen, and I took that opportunity to make my way upstairs. The hallway was a little dark, and I was praying Noah wasn’t sleeping or something as I tiptoed to his room.
But, before I could reach it, the door to the bathroom opened and a hand pulled me in.
The door closed behind me and Noah pushed me with my back against the vanity, kissing me roughly.
The adrenaline coursed through me, and my excitement grew when he turned me around with his hand around my throat.
I very much liked where this was going.
“See this little slut in the mirror?” he hissed against my skin, forcing me to look at my reflection. “She belongs to me.”
I felt myself aching with desire, every single one of those words turning me on, and the way he breathed them into my ear almost making me faint.
“Noah,” I said softly, making sure our eyes met in the mirror.
I almost got lost in his green stare, the color nearly on fire as he waited for me to continue.
“Treat me like your slut then.”