I bite down on the wood in front of me.
I can feel Verity’s teeth marks beneath mine. Different. Unaligned with my own. I bite harder into the wood as I come, determined to leave deeper marks than she ever did. Determined to think only of Jeremy and me every time I look at this headboard in the future.
Verity is mostly confined to one room, but her presence looms in almost every room in this house. I no longer want to think about her when I’m in this bedroom.
After I come, I pull away from the headboard and open my eyes, seeing the fresh marks I’ve left behind. Just as I run my thumb over them to wipe away my saliva, Jeremy pushes me onto my back and I’m suddenly beneath him again. He doesn’t even need to enter me to reach his climax. He presses himself against my stomach and I feel the warmth spilling onto my skin as his mouth finds mine.
I can tell by his frantic kiss that this is going to be a long night.
Our second round happened in the shower half an hour later. Our hands were all over each other, our mouths were one, and then he was inside me again, my palms flat against the shower wall as he thrust into me beneath the spray of the water.
He pulled out and came on my back before washing me clean.
We’re in the bed again, but it’s almost three in the morning, and I know he’s going to go back to his room soon. I don’t want him to. Being with him in this way is everything I imagined it would be and, somehow, I feel okay being inside this house when I’m also wrapped in his arms. He makes me feel safe from the things he doesn’t even realize are dangerous.
He has me tucked against him, an arm wrapped around me as I lie against his chest. His fingers are tracing up and down my arm. We’ve been fighting sleep, asking each other questions. The questions have taken a more personal turn because he just asked me what my last relationship was like.
“It was shallow.”
“I’m not sure it was even a relationship,” I say. “We defined it that way, but it only revolved around sex. We couldn’t figure out how to fit into each other’s lives outside of the bedroom.”
“How long did it last?”
“A while.” I lift up and look at him. “It was with Corey. My agent.”
Jeremy’s fingers pause on my arm. “The agent I met?”
“And he’s still your agent?”
“He’s a great agent.” I lay my head back down on his chest, and Jeremy’s fingers resume their movement down my arm.
“That just made me a little jealous,” he says.
I laugh because I can feel him laughing. After it’s quiet for a beat, I ask him a question I’ve been curious about. “What was your relationship like with Verity?”
Jeremy sighs, and my head moves with his chest. Then he positions us so that I’m on the pillow and he’s on his side, making eye contact with me. “I’ll answer your question, but I don’t want you to think bad of me.”
“I won’t,” I promise, shaking my head.
“I loved her. She was my wife. But sometimes I wasn’t sure we really knew each other. We lived together, but it’s as if our worlds weren’t connected.” He reaches up and touches my lips, tracing over them with the tips of his fingers. “I was insanely attracted to her, which I’m sure you don’t want to hear, but it’s true. Our sex life was great. But the rest of it… I don’t know. I felt like there was something missing in the beginning, but I stayed and I married her and we started our family because I always believed that deeper connection was within reach. I thought I’d wake up one day and look her in the eyes and then it would click, like that mythical puzzle piece had finally snapped into place.”
It’s not lost on me that he mentioned loving her in the past tense. “Did you eventually find that connection?”
“No, not like I had hoped. But I’ve felt something close to it—a fleeting intensity that proved a deeper connection can exist.”
“When was that?”
“Several weeks ago,” he says quietly. “In a random coffee shop bathroom with a woman who wasn’t my wife.”
He kisses me as soon as that sentence escapes him, like he doesn’t want me to respond. Maybe he feels guilty for saying it. For momentarily feeling a connection with me after trying to feel that connection with his wife for so many years.
Even if he doesn’t want me to react to that admission, I feel something grow inside me, like his words sink into me and expand in my chest. He pulls me against him and I close my eyes, tucking my head against his chest. We don’t speak again before we fall asleep.
I wake up about two hours later to his voice in my ear.
“Shit.” He sits up and most of the covers go with him. “Shit.”
I rub my eyes as I roll onto my back. “What is it?”
“I didn’t mean to fall asleep.” He reaches to the floor and then begins pulling on his clothes. “I can’t be in here when Crew wakes up.” He kisses me, twice, and then walks toward the door. He unlocks it, then pulls on it.
The door doesn’t budge.
He jiggles the handle as I sit up in bed, pulling the covers over my exposed breasts.
“Shit,” he says again. “The door is stuck.”
Something drops inside me, and I’m abruptly ripped from the pleasure of last night. I’m back in the moment, in yet another scenario where I feel desolate inside this eerie house. I shake my head, but Jeremy is facing the door so he can’t see me. “It isn’t stuck,” I say quietly. “It’s locked. From the outside.”
Jeremy turns his head and looks at me, his face giving way to concern. Then he tries pulling the door with both hands. When he realizes I’m right and that the door is latched on the outside, he starts beating on it. I remain where I am, scared of what he might find when he finally gets that door open.
He tries everything to open it, but then he resorts to calling out Crew’s name. “Crew!” Jeremy yells, beating on the bedroom door.
What if she took him?
I’m not sure she would have. She doesn’t even like her kids. But she likes Jeremy. Loves Jeremy. If she knew he was in this room with me last night, she’d probably take Crew out of spite.
Jeremy’s mind hasn’t gone there yet. In his head, Crew is playing a prank on us. Or the lock somehow accidentally latched itself when he closed the door last night. Those are the only plausible explanations to him. Right now, he merely sounds annoyed. Not at all concerned.
Jeremy glances toward the alarm clock on the nightstand and then beats on the door again. “Crew, open the door!” He presses his forehead against it. “April will be here soon,” he says quietly. “She can’t find us in here together.”
That’s where his head is?
I’m thinking his wife kidnapped his son in the middle of the night, and he’s worried he’s going to be caught fucking the houseguest.
“What?” he says, beating against the door again.
“I know you think it isn’t plausible. But…did you lock Verity’s door last night?”
Jeremy’s fist pauses against the door. “I can’t remember,” he says quietly.
“If by some bizarre chance it was Verity who locked us in here…Crew probably isn’t here anymore.”
When he looks at me, his eyes are full of fear. Then, in one swift movement, he stalks across the bedroom and unlocks the window. He lifts it, but there are two panes of glass. The second one isn’t giving way as easily as the first. Without hesitation, he reaches to the bed and pulls a pillow case off of a pillow. He wraps his hand in the case, punches through the glass, kicks it, and then crawls out the window.
Several seconds later, I hear him unlock my bedroom door as he passes it and heads for the stairs. He’s already in Crew’s bedroom before I make it out of the master. I hear him run across the hall to Verity’s room. When he makes it back to the top of the stairs, my heart is in my throat.
He shakes his head. He bends over, clasping his knees, out of breath. “They’re asleep.”