Can't Take My Eyes Off of You (Summer Lake 2) - Page 25

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CHAPTER TWENTY

As Liam and Christie kissed in the moonlight, neither of them saw the lone figure standing in the shadows.

Susan had never spied on her kids before. She wasn't one of those overprotective parents who hovered and asked too many questions. And she certainly hadn't dropped by the inn tonight to try to catch Liam and Christie together. She'd simply come by to see if she could make peace with her son, knowing full well that she'd done nothing but drive him even farther away since he'd returned to Summer Lake.

While she knew that Liam and Christie weren't actually doing anything wrong--when she'd cooled down the previous night, she had to admit that Henry was right, and she should butt out of Liam's budding love life--she also knew they wouldn't appreciate her watching them. She desperately wanted to get back into her car and drive away, but if she so much as moved, she was certain they would hear her.

And she knew how it felt to be caught.

How, she wondered, as they finally made a move to go inside, could they not hear her heart beating when it had never sounded so loudly in her own ears? Especially now that she'd finally learned why Wesley had left: because he'd been afraid to tell them he had feelings for a man.

She and Henry had made their fair share of mistakes, but had they really done such an awful job as parents that he felt he couldn't trust them?

Unfortunately, Susan was afraid she already had her answer in the list Christie had given Liam of the reasons she should steer clear of dating him. A list he'd agreed was accurate: You barely speak to your mother. Your father is desperate for a relationship with you. And your brother has been keeping a secret from all of you his whole life.

Susan could no longer deny the painful truth: She had failed both of her sons.

When she finally deemed it safe to move without being seen, she ran to her car and quickly drove away. Henry was waiting on the porch when she got home.

"I was wondering where you went," he said, and then, "Are you crying?"

"I went to the inn to talk to Liam. But he and Christie--"

Frustration flew across Henry's face. "I don't want to hear it. Whatever they're doing is their business."

It was instinctive at this point for her ruff to go up at his tone. But where had her pride--and her mistakes--gotten her so far? So she forced herself to say, "You were right. Their relationship is their business."

Henry's eyes widened with surprise at her admission. "Then why are you crying?"

"Wesley is gay." Realizing what it sounded like, that she was crying over her son's sexual orientation, she quickly clarified, "I accidentally overheard Christie tell Liam why Wesley left. Our son swore Christie to secrecy because he thought the truth would break us."

"My God." Henry sat down hard on one of the porch rockers. "How could he have thought that?"

"I keep going back to what a wreck I was after James died." Her brother had passed away unexpectedly nearly twenty years ago from pneumonia. But the man they'd seen crying at her brother's funeral had clearly been more than a friend. He'd been her brother's partner. Only, her brother had never come out to her either. "Wesley must have mistakenly thought he had to marry Christie to make sure I didn't fall apart all over again."

"And when he couldn't do it, he ran," Henry confirmed thoughtfully.

"I've ruined so many things." Her legs were shaking, and she could feel them about to give way. But her husband was there before she could fall. Just like he always had been.

"You're freezing cold. We need to go inside and sit near the fire." She was grateful for his warmth, for the way he cared for her even when she didn't deserve it. And he was right. She was cold. But it was a cold that had hardly anything to do with the temperature.

Secrets were ripping her family apart. First, Liam had pulled away from her. And then, Wesley had run.

She needed to come clean about everything. Now. Tonight. Before the secrets ripped her husband away too.

But inside by the fire, as Henry held her and she reveled in his warmth and touch for the first time in far too long, the fear of actually losing him kept the truth of what she had done twenty years ago locked up tight inside her heart.

*

Christie had never been promiscuous. She wasn't a virgin, of course, but she never slept with anyone until they'd been dating for a while. Not because she was a tease, not because she was frigid, but because she'd never been able to let herself go physically without emotion tying her to someone.

Liam had left her at her door like the perfect gentleman. And though she knew they should let their ridiculously hot kisses settle a bit before they took the next step, it was taking every ounce of self-control she possessed not to grab her master key and unlock his door.

To offer herself to him.

On top of all that, her bedroom was suddenly frigid. Almost as though some unseen presence were trying to kick her out of it...or get her to invite Liam back in to see if his presence would warm it up again.

"I don't have the energy for you tonight," she found herself saying to the room at large.

Thump!

She should have known better than to issue a challenge like that. Because the sounds that started coming from the walls weren't the sad wails they'd been before--this time they sounded impatient.

Okay, say she was willing to believe that there was a ghost. Did this spirit expect her to solve its problems? More specifically, had this bedroom been waiting sixty years for true love to set it straight, after Jean's honeymoon had ended in such tragedy?

Christie snorted at the thought. "If you're waiting for my love life to turn things around for you," she said to her bedroom walls, "you're going to be in for a much longer wait."

Thump!

She could have sworn the wall was talking back to her, a loud banging akin to a foot stomping in frustration.

"Yes, I'm as frustrated about it as you are," she replied, even though this conversation was taking weird to a brand-new level. "If I were you, I'd look to one of the couples getting married at the inn. Trust me, you're bound to have better luck there. Besides, you've had decades to deal with this. Why now? Why me?"

As soon as she could get away from the front desk tomorrow, she was going to hunt down Jean and keep pouring tea until she got the rest of the story out of her. Maybe if Christie had some clues as to what had happened after Thomas left, then she co

uld make whatever was going wrong in this bedroom stop.

Reaching into her bedside table, she pulled out earplugs and jammed them into her ears. But sixty seconds later, she knew it was pointless. The knocking had become even louder--a thump, thump, thump that was sure to make the headache that had been forming in the back of her head come to full fruition.

And then she realized it wasn't the walls knocking.

It was someone at the door.

*

Liam had tried to do the right thing. He'd intended to say good night to Christie with one final kiss. But then he heard those sounds coming from her bedroom, and how could he possibly have stayed away?

Now here he was, standing in front of her door again. He'd knocked once, then twice. The master keys were still on the coffee table in his room. He wouldn't barge in on her again, even if it meant catching another glimpse of her in her sexy pajamas.

Liam knew he should not only get the hell back to his room, but also do everything he could to keep things from going from complicated to ridiculously messy. If he didn't know better, he'd think there was some outside force pushing the two of them together. But he just couldn't believe in anything he couldn't see and touch.

Which brought him right back to where he was now. Standing in the hallway, dying to see her. Dying to kiss her again. Dying for even one more smile, if that was all he could get.

Finally, the door opened. "Hi."

Her beautiful smile had him smiling back. He simply couldn't help it. "Hi."

"You heard the sounds?"

"I did."

"Want to hear it close up?"

He knew what she was asking him. And it had nothing to do with the strange sounds. "More than you know."

"Oh, trust me," she said with another gorgeous smile, "I know."

"One day you're going to stop surprising me."

"I hope not," she replied. "You seem like a man who likes to be surprised."

She was wrong. He hated surprises. Or used to anyway. But there was something so incredibly engaging about the way he could never predict what she was going to say next. Or do, apparently, because a moment later, she was tugging him inside, locking the door behind him, then cupping his jaw and moving to her toes to kiss him.

She was so soft. So sweet. And so damned sexy, made more so by the lingering innocence that surrounded her. As if she was desperate for the chance to experience more pleasure than she'd ever had before. As if she thought that he could be the man to give her that pleasure, to find her sensual limits and push past them in all the best possible ways.


Tags: Bella Andre Summer Lake Romance
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