Stripped by H.M. Ward Read Free Book Online

Book: Stripped by H.M. Ward Read Free Book Online
Authors: H.M. Ward
makes the man, it's the heart. Kindhearted people can be kings or paupers." Her old gray eyes lock with mine. My Dad has those eyes and they do the same thing when he gives me that look.
    My stomach grows cold and I nod. "Yes, Aunt Paula." I don't mean to, but I glance up at Jonathan. I expect to see a smug look on his face, but it isn't there. Instead, his eyes flash with concern and his lips are parted just enough to ask if I'm okay—after I acted like an asshole.
    Robyn breaks the tension and slaps the hot dish down on the table. "Sit, eat. Stop arguing and act like a goddamn family."
    Aunt Paula sighs, "Language, Robyn." Robyn pulls out Aunt Paula's chair and scoots her in.
    "Sorry, I forgot. I haven't been out here in a while."
    "You're welcome anytime Robyn." Aunt Paula smiles at my cousin who isn't really my cousin anymore. She's my ex-step-grandfather's wife's granddaughter. She's not blood, but she doesn't need to be. If something were horribly wrong, Robyn would be there in a blink. I can't even say that for my own mother.
    Water is thicker than blood, at least that's true for me.
    Aunt Paula's table is a small circle. We bump elbows, and normally I don't care, but Jonathan is on one side. I swear he's bumping me on purpose, first with his elbow and then with his knee. I take a bite of my dinner and look at him. "So freeloader, what are your summer plans?"
    Jonathan grins. "You're my summer plans." He doesn't elaborate. Instead, he stuffs half a quesadilla into his mouth and chomps away.
    Robyn gives me a lopsided smile. "You might have to make other arrangements Jonny-boy. My girl Cassie here seems to think that you're only after one thing."
    Aunt Paula looks appalled. Her food falls to her plate as her jaw drops. "Robyn!"
    Jonathan reaches out and pats my aunt's hand. "It's all right. I have a bad reputation, Ms. Barrett. Robyn is just looking out for your niece."
    Aunt Paula eyes him and leans back in her chair. "So, out with it. What'd you do this time?"
    Jonathan has a sheepish look on his face. "What makes you think I did anything? Maybe I just wanted to visit my uncle for the summer and have dinner with you fine ladies."
    Aunt Paula shakes her head. "God bless your mother. You're a real handful."
    Jonathan has no witty comeback, no quick retort. Instead, his eyes drop and he just nods. Someone has some serious mommy issues. I wonder what they are and if they're as screwed up as mine.

    Those lips are burned into my mind. Dreams flutter behind my eyelids, making it impossible to sleep. Her impossibly sinful mouth, and the fact that Cassie seems to detest me, makes it hard to stop thinking about her. She's crazy, she has to be with notions like hers. I start to drift off again and see those perfect porcelain legs walking away from me. My mind replays the day again, always starting on Cassie and working backwards through the memories. Soft skin brushes against my lips as I kiss her cheek, and I inhale deeply. The light, sweet, scent she wore fills my head and makes me want her.
    Mind wandering, I drift off picturing her next to me. Her face above mine, before she slowly sits up. Her clothes are gone and so is that irritating smile. Cassie looks down at me and slips her hand over my bare stomach, her perfect little fingers tracing each muscle. I watch her body as she breathes, happy to be near her. When she leans over, my pulse skyrockets. Her hair tickles my skin as her lips trail kisses down my chest, and past my waist. When her hot lips wrap around me, I can't control myself. I try to hold her, to give her what she wants, but the scene shifts and I know I'm dreaming.
    I'm in my old room. The lights are out and the voice in my ear isn't Cassie's. It's hers—Monica's. "Does that feel good, baby?"
    I dart upright, my heart racing too fast, with my body covered in sweat. What would've happened next is a fucking nightmare. My mind recognized it as soon as Monica's voice snaked through my mind.

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