Page 25 of Hush Now Love

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Not believing my ears, I shake my head, thinking of the pain he must’ve gone through but his eyes soften when he looks at me, explaining, “My stepdad knew how to put on the charm. I don’t blame them for taking his side.”

I do.

“Thank you for telling me,” I whisper and he lightly shrugs.

“I was going to tell you anyway. Thought I’d wait a while, though. Was afraid that you might take it the wrong way.”

Shaking my head I say, “You’re innocent in all of this.” I touch his scars. “You didn’t deserve what happened to you.”

“You’re being very kind,” he says in an equally low voice, giving my fingers a kiss, before adding, “but I think you should go and take that bath now before the bathroom floods.”

Smiling a little, I nod and I walk away from Callan into the house and he watches me then follows and I hear the door slam. I walk into the bathroom feeling overwhelmed but the dizziness that I felt after coming home from the festival is gone.

He managed to distract me with his story and maybe that was the point because I’m not thinking about Romeo anymore. Now all my thoughts are occupied with a younger version of Callan who had to fight off a monster.

It’s a miracle that he didn’t grow up into a bitter, coldhearted man like my father. Instead he stayed, strong and brave. And warm.

Pouring some purple bath salts into the very lush bath, I sink in, leaning my head back and I kick my feet up on the edge. The water is nice and comfortable, making my muscles quickly relax until I go drowsy. My lids flutter and the whole bathroom seems a little fuzzy all of the sudden.

Very, very fuzzy....

Jerking my head to the side, my eyes flare open because I nearly fell asleep. The water has gone a little bit cold and I’m about to get up when there’s a noise on the second floor. Heavy footsteps on the wooden boards and I know it’s not Callan.

I can hear Callan shouting profanities at the TV and it sounds like he’s watching a rugby game.

So who then, is walking around...?

Panicking, I throw myself out of the bath, causing water to splash and I cry, “Callan!” I snatch a towel to cover my body and in my eagerness to get out, I almost slip on the wet tiles and smash my head on the sink.

A second later, Callan is right in front of me, his eyes hard and he’s holding his gun. “What is it?” he snaps. “What the hell happened?”

“There was someone on the second floor while I was in the bath,” I gasp with flaring eyes, “I heard them walking around.”

“You heard someone open the doors?” Callan asks suspiciously, taking a couple of steps back then to the side and he opens the bedrooms.

They’re both empty.

“,” I say carefully, clutching my towel, “but I heard creaking. That I know for sure.”

He lowers his gun but he’s still not fully relaxed and I can tell that my screaming did a number on him. “This is an old house.”

My shoulders slump both in embarrassment and relief. He’s right. It is an old house which means that creaky sounds are normal. Callan’s eyes lower and they turn a pinch amused and he scratches his jaw with his gun.

“What were you planning on doing with that?”

I look down at the pink loofah in my hand and my cheeks heat because I feel like such a girl. “Thought I could use it as a weapon.”

His eyes shimmer and he looks like he’s struggling to stop himself from laughing. “And exactly how were you going to use it as a weapon?”

Scowling, I reply, “By throwing it at him.”

Callan grins, chuckling and this time he doesn’t care one bit about how it makes his face look and it fills me with those kinds of emotions that are difficult to explain.

“One day, I’m going to have to teach you how to put up a proper fight, love,” he rasps in a tender voice and I shudder.

“But not now?” I ask and he gravely shakes his head, making me gasp when his hands go to my skin and he murmurs with curved brows,

“You’re so clean.” He drags a pained breath. “Wet.” His eyes darken when he flicks my towel away from me. “And naked.”

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