Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(63) by Susan Mallery
“All this time you were fine,” her mother continued. “Completely and totally fine and you couldn’t be bothered to let us know. Do you know not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about you, prayed for you, wondered where you were and what you were doing? Do you know what your incredibly selfish disappearance did to our family? To your brother? He lost his childhood. We were so busy looking for you that we couldn’t spend time with him.”
“I called,” Elissa said quietly, unable to deal with her mother dumping on her this way.
“Talking to a thirteen-year-old boy doesn’t count,” her mother yelled. “Why didn’t you talk to me or your father? Why didn’t you call back? Do you know the pain you caused us? Do you know what it was like to take your picture to the police, to put up posters, to offer a reward? Do you know that they told us you were probably dead and that we should try to get on with our lives?
“I could have forgiven you,” her mother said. “With time. But you have a child, Elissa. You know what it’s like to love a baby, to hold her in your arms. You know how big that love is and how it never goes away. You knew and you still didn’t call me. You still left me in pain.”
Something inside of Elissa burst open and years of pain flew out.
“You stopped looking,” she screamed back. “You stopped looking! I’ve been here for five years and it took that same teenage boy to find me. I was right here but you had already stopped looking. You stopped caring. You went on with your life. I would never stop looking for Zoe. Never!”
Her mother stared at her. “You say that now, not understanding what I’ve been through. Do you know why I stopped? I had to. I had a breakdown. Your father came home one day and found me curled up in the corner. I couldn’t deal with losing you anymore. So I went away and they medicated me and I learned not to hurt so much.”
“By giving up,” Elissa said bitterly. Her worst fears had been confirmed. She wasn’t sure whom she hated more—herself for making this all happen or her mother for not being strong enough to keep looking no matter what.
Her mother’s mouth tightened. “You’re right. I gave up.”
Zoe bounced through the front door and ran toward the car. “I’m ready,” she yelled.
“I’ll have her back tomorrow by six,” Elissa’s mother said, then she helped Zoe into the car and fastened the seat belt.
Elissa felt as if she’d been hit with a steel beam. Even her bones hurt. Emotionally, she was an open, raw wound. She could barely wave back when Zoe called “Goodbye.”
The small Lexus backed out of the driveway, then drove down the street. Elissa felt herself begin to tremble. Her muscles gave way and she would have fallen, except for a strong pair of arms that caught her.
She recognized the scent and feel of the man, even as he picked her up and carried her into her apartment. When Walker put her gently on the sofa, she allowed herself to lean against him.
“You heard,” she whispered.
“The whole block heard.”
“I live to entertain my neighbors.”
“You’ve been pretty quiet to date. I think you were due.”
She tried to smile, but couldn’t. Then she raised her face and stared into his dark eyes. “Why does it hurt so much?”
“Because life’s a bitch.”
“I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to make it better.”
And then the man who had warned her he couldn’t be trusted bent his head and kissed her.
ELISSA KNEW THIS was a bad idea. The last time she and Walker had started down this path, things had gotten out of hand and she’d ended up feeling hurt.
But he kissed her so gently, so carefully, that she wasn’t sure how to resist. Still, when he drew back slightly, she opened her eyes and said, “Don’t be a jerk again.”
One corner of his mouth curved up. “I promise. I’ll be a perfect gentleman.”
“I’m not sure I want that, either.”
“Then what do you want?”
An interesting question and one she didn’t know how to answer.
He leaned in and just before his mouth brushed hers he said, “Please, Elissa.”
The quiet plea was more than she could withstand. She gave in to both the request and the touch by placing her hands on his chest and parting her lips.
He swept his tongue into her mouth. He tasted of coffee and something sweet. He smelled like soap. He’d obviously recently showered because his hair was damp and his skin freshly shaven.
While his tongue circled hers, teasing, arousing, exciting, she rubbed her palms against the hard planes of his chest. Beneath the worn T-shirt and smooth skin was a layer of muscle that rippled with her every touch.
Suddenly she wanted to be touching that skin. She tugged on the shirt. He broke their kiss long enough to pull it over his head. Then he grabbed her hands and pressed them against his body, as if he needed to feel her caressing him as much as she wanted to be doing it.
As she explored his chest, his shoulders and arms, he bent over her. He kissed her jaw, then along her neck. One arm came around her. He rested his other hand on her belly, then moved it slowly up to her br**sts. Her ni**les tightened, her insides grew heavy and between her legs she felt both heat and moisture.
Then his mouth was on hers again. Deep kisses took her breath away. She lost herself in the sensations he created. He used his hand to lazily explore her br**sts. He brushed against her ni**les, one at a time.
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