Page 73 of The Keeper

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“I doubt my pirate styling is related to what I said while drugged in the hospital with a gruesome injury.”

“It wasn’t that gruesome,” I scold. “Don’t be a baby.”

“You are a terrible caregiver.” A measured pause. “A really hot terrible caregiver though.”

“Whoa, boy, you got jokes now?” I don’t know if he’s even aware he did it, so I want him to know that I noticed. So freaking adorable I can barely contain myself.

“I did, didn’t I?” He cracks the merest smile and cocks his head to the side but then right back to a demanding pause. “But now I must know what I said to you in the hospital.”

“You said you thought this might be what love feels like,” I blurt, slapping my hand over my mouth with a nervous giggle. “Of course, you also said you wanted a cat and a dog and that you had feelings.”

He laughs lightly. “That’s a lot to unpack. Where shall we start?”

“Um.” The ability to form sentences lost…apparently.

“Okay, I’ll go. I do kind of remember something like that, now you mention it.”

“You do?”


We sit awkwardly as Calum takes another sip of his water before setting his cup on the coffee table. When I get his attention again, he’s serious, his blue eyes studying me intently.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it,” I say softly.

“No, no, it’s fine. I just…I want to get this right.” He takes a breath and blows it out in a rush. “I said I wondered if this was what love felt like?”

“Mm-hmm. Did you—did you not love Emily?” I’ve wanted to ask that for the longest time. It feels good to get it out, but my heart’s about to beat out of my chest as I await his response.

“I know I cared about her, but I think it was more that I loved the idea of her, plus the steadiness of having someone. But if I’m honest, it was only ever lukewarm.”

“Lukewarm?” I’m quiet for a moment, but then I gather my courage to ask him the next question. “Do you feel like we’re lukewarm?”

“No.” Zero hesitation, and I can’t miss how his eyes are a little darker blue than they were a moment ago. He shakes his head sharply. “No way. I feel like…I’d want to kill anyone who dared to try to hurt you. And I want to rip your clothes off every time I’m with you—not just to fuck but to make love to you, and make you feel good.” He takes my hand in his and brings it to his lips. “Billie, you make me feel everything that’s the opposite of lukewarm.”

I swallow back a wide grin. “Well, I think very similarly about you.”

“Say it.”

“Say what?”

“My name.”


He growls and leans in for a searing kiss. It takes my breath away and makes my toes curl into the carpet.

“I’m pretty sure sex is on the strenuous activity list.”

“Fuck that list,” he says against my mouth, pushing me back, positioning himself between my legs as he kisses my ear and neck and jaw.

“Do you want to make a go of this? Like, for real?”

“Be my real girlfriend you mean?” He pulls back to look at me, searching my face for answers maybe.

I chew on my bottom lip, suddenly shy. “Well yeah, but I meant more like maybe—”

“Do you think this might be love, too, Billie?”

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