The rain is coming down hard on the roof now, so I almost don’t hear what he says.
“I love you.” His voice is gruff, the line of his jaw flexing. “Like a goddamn fanatic. It claws deeper with every breath out of your mouth.” I’m grateful when he pauses so I can attempt to calm my racing heart. But then, “This book has become about you. You are the wife. I’m the man. And he’s slowly going crazy with need for her. He’s obsessed, the way I am with you. So obsessed he might drop dead of misery if she leaves.”
Tears burn in my eyes. My pulse riots.
I can’t barely speak through the emotion packed into my throat.
He loves me. I love him, too. And that means…I have to tell him everything. He doesn’t even know my real name or where I came from. He thinks my name is Sarah, for god sakes. Suddenly, I can’t stand the lies. They lie between us like a trench of fire.
There’s a loud knock at the door. “Hello?” calls a man’s voice.
Followed by another knock.
I brace to run. It’s an immediate reaction. I have to flee. They’ve found me. I hear the authority in the man’s voice and I know. I know the truth has arrived before I could say it out loud. No, this can’t be happening. Not when he’s just told me he loves me. Now he’s going to know I’ve been lying all along. That he’s in love with a lie.
My heart climbs into my throat and I choke it down, trying desperately to keep my features schooled. It’s dim in the room, the storm painting the house in gloom, and I use it to my advantage, sinking back into a shadow.
Caleb turns in his chair with a frown. Neither one of us moves for a long, tense moment.
Then he rises, muscles shifting, chasing each other across his shoulders, his ruthlessly tight abdomen. “I’ll go see who it is.” He stops in front of me, tips my chin up. “Go wait in the bedroom. I don’t want another man looking at you.”
Even in my state of panic and despair, desire trickles through me.
He sees it. Recognizes his own creation.
“When he leaves, it’s going to be extra rough.” He grips me between the legs. “You drew him here with this pussy. I know you did.”
Wetness rushes toward his palm, my core clenching eagerly. “No.”
He squeezes tighter, his teeth flashing. “Yes. Go to the bedroom and lock the fucking door. I might have to kill him if he tries to get past me. He wants what’s mine.”
I moan, melting back against the wall. Every time I think we’ve hit a new level of this obsession, it sinks deeper and so do I. God help me, so do I. “Don’t go. He’ll leave. Come to the bedroom with me. Caleb, please.”
“You think I’m going to turn my back when there’s another man sniffing around you?” He yanks down my panties and shoves two fingers into my sex, capturing my cries with his mouth. “Do as you’re told, girl, and be ready to fuck when I get back.”
Oh God, oh God, I have to tell him everything, but his eyes are black with jealousy, possessiveness. Madness. He won’t hear a word I say. He’s a mate preparing to rip the throat out of a challenger. So I simply nod. “I will.”
“Lock the door and hide in the closet.”
“Yes. I will.”
He slides his fingers out of me, sucking them with a groan as he turns from the office doorway. And I go in the opposite direction, hurrying down the hallway and closing the bedroom door, locking it. But I don’t go to the closet. I wait, listening, my ear to the crack.
It’s so much worse than I could have imagined.
The front door of the house creaks open.
“Afternoon. Are you Caleb Daniels?”
Caleb doesn’t respond, but I picture him nodding.
Picture him holding his rifle just out of sight.
“I’m Officer Torres,” the man says, sounding slightly wary of my man. As he should be. “And this is Sarah Horner. Found her out in the woods while we were looking for someone else. Says she’s supposed to start an internship for you but had some trouble finding the place.”
“Hi, Mr. Daniels,” Sarah sniffs, sounding sick. “I guess I got turned around…a-and there was no cell service. I’m a little worse for the wear after camping for three days, but—”
“Who were you looking for in the woods?” Caleb asks.
Officer Torres laughs. “Escaped mental patient. Young girl named Juno took off, jumped the fence of the facility about eight miles north. I’ve got a picture here…”
I cram my knuckles to my mouth, a sob wrenching up my throat as I back toward the window. Have to run. I have to run or the police officer is going to take me back. And I can’t be locked up again. I won’t scream until I’m hoarse that I don’t need medication only to be held down and have it administered. I refuse to feel my thoughts lose their edge and my limbs turn lethargic. To be propped in a corner so I can stare into space.