Page 19 of Forbidden Stranger

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And as if she’s heard my inner thoughts, I see Noel in the distance taking her keys out and unlocking the door.I nearly fall over in my hurry to rush out of the bakery, and Frostie waves at me.I ignore her because I realize I look like a love-sick fool.Joke’s on all of them because I am.

By the time I get to the door of the library, Noel is already inside, and there are a few people trickling in.When I see her at the circulation desk reading over something on the screen in front of her, I walk over and clear my throat.

“How can I—” She stops talking when she looks up and sees it’s me.“Oh hey.”

“Hey,” I say, and I’m kind of out of breath.“Can we talk?”

“Um, sure.”She’s hesitant, and all the comfortable feelings from last night seem to be out of her reach.

Deciding that I’m going to make her remember before I start breaking open the truth crate, I reach out and take her hand in mine.There’s a moment where her hand flinches, but just as quickly it relaxes, and her fingers caress mine.

“Is there someplace private we can go?”

“The romance section?”she offers with a grin, and thank god I’m starting to see my sweet Noel from yesterday.

“My favorite.”

Once we get to the stacks and away from the people in the lobby, I turn her to face me and walk her backwards until she’s pressed against one of the shelves.

“I missed you,” I say, and it’s the god's honest truth.I cup her face with both my hands and tilt her head back so she looks up at me.“I’m sorry for how quickly I left last night.You deserve an explanation.”

“As long as you didn’t change your mind about…” She shrugs and then licks her lips.“Whatever this is.”

“Never.”There’s no hesitation in my answer as I lean down and press my lips to hers.I try to put what I feel into this kiss, and I wish I could make all of what I’m about to tell her hurt less, but I don’t know if it’s possible.

“Then why did you run off like that?”There’s a flash of pain in her eyes, and it cuts right across my heart.

“There’s something I need to tell you.”I take a deep breath and then try again.“There’s a lot of somethings, actually, but I have to start at the beginning.”

“You’re married,” she blurts out, and for a second I’m completely confused.

“Me?No, god, no.You’re the only woman I want.”The corner of her lips lifts at the confession, and I smile down at her.“You’re the only woman I’ve ever wanted.”

“That’s not so bad.”

My smile falters, and I drop my hands from her face as I take a step back.“Noel, I’ve been looking for you for a while now.”

“What?”Now it’s her turn to look confused.

“Months ago I was asked to find you, and it didn’t take me long.All I needed to do was put the right amount of money in the right person's hand.”

“Why were you looking for me?”She crosses her arms over her chest, and I hate the way she’s protecting herself from what I’m saying.

“Your birth mother wanted to find you,” I admit, and her eyes widen.

“You didn’t tell me you were that kind of lawyer.”That was one of many things we talked about for hours over diner.

“There’s more to it than that.”I swallow hard and push forward.I’ve got to get this out all at once and rip the Band-Aid off.“Your birth mother’s name is Kate.She wanted to find you for her own reasons, and I said that I would look into it.I’ll admit that when I started this, I was doing it to protect my father.It was all for selfish reasons until I saw you.Until we began to talk.”When her eyes widen and she doesn’t speak, I keep going.“I found you in the online book club, and we began to message each other.”

“No.”She says it in almost a whisper as she brings her hands to her mouth.

“I’m Snow.My name is Gabriel Snow.”

“This can’t be happening.”Tears form in her eyes, and when I take a step toward her, she holds out her palms to stop me.“No!”

The one word echoes in the quiet space, and I realize that it might have been a mistake to do this here at work.Fuck, can I possibly make this any worse?

“I’m sorry, Noel, but after last night, I knew I’d taken things too far and I should have—”

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