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Beautifully Damaged(123)

By:L.A. Fiore

I watched as fury quickly replaced sadness. Trace pulled from my hands and, in one swipe, knocked everything from the bathroom counter: the sound of shattering glass filling the silence.

"How many goddamn lives had to be ruined?"

Every muscle in his body was flexed as his anger rolled through him. There wasn't anything I could say and knew he just needed time to process it, so I slipped from the room and headed down the hall for the pan and brush. He was still standing there with his palms flat on the counter when I returned. His head was hung low and the scroll work of his tattoo was rigid and flexed. I knew what he wanted, he wanted to walk because he needed to vent. He needed a fight but he wasn't going because he vowed that he would never walk out again but this was different because he wasn't walking out on me.

"Go, Trace." He lifted his head as his eyes found mine in the mirror.

"I'll clean this up. Go."

I could see his confusion so I added, "I understand the draw of the fight for you, it helps you cope, so go. I'll be here when you get back."

He turned, pulled me into his arms and kissed me hard on the mouth.

"Thank you, Ember."

"I'm sorry."

He said nothing, only kissed me again, before walking out of the bathroom. I heard him moving around for a few minutes before I heard the sound of the front door closing. I cleaned up the mess and then settled into bed with a cup of tea and a book. An hour later, the phone rang.


"I was asked to check in on you."

"Hi, Rafe. Tell him I'm fine. How's he?"

"When he first called me, not good, but he's better now. He's always better when he gets to work out his issues with someone else's face."

"Tell him I love him."

"I will. Goodnight, Ember."

"Night, Rafe."

I was dreaming about pie-pops, more specifically wondering if it was actually feasible to make a pie-pop or would the juice drip out of the hole where the stick was inserted into the crust? I grew rather warm in my dream, so warm that I was seriously thinking about jumping into the lake of cold milk that existed in the cake-pop forest. I felt desire stirring in my belly and little shots of electricity shooting down my arms and forced myself to wake up because I realized why I was growing so warm.

Trace's naked body was covering mine as his mouth glided over the skin of my neck and shoulder. I was still half asleep and hadn't realized that he had already divested me of my clothes until I felt him slide into me in one, long, smooth stroke. My hips lifted as the heels of my feet dug into the mattress. I wrapped my arms around him as I trailed my fingertips up and down his back. He moved so slowly and each roll of his hips ignited a fire in me. His mouth found mine as he very deliberately brought my body to bliss and, as I floated back down, I slipped back into sleep.

I awoke the next morning to the smell of bacon and peeled my eyes open to see Trace standing before me with a breakfast tray.

"Good morning, sleepyhead."

"Good morning," I sat up and settled against the headboard.


I smiled. "Yes."

Trace settled down next to me and handed me an egg sandwich that was loaded with bacon and cheese. I took a hearty bite and watched as he did the same, before I asked, "How are you feeling?"

"Better. Thank you for understanding."

I leaned over and brushed my lips over his before I took another bite and chewed.

"This is delicious."

"Ember, I would like to visit Mrs. Fletcher's grave."


He held my gaze before he whispered, "Thank you." I knew the thank you wasn't just for going with him to the gravesite but also for looking into what happened to her.

"You're welcome."

"How was your evening?"

He asked this with a knowing smile so I answered, "Uneventful."

He looked almost hurt before he asked, "Are you certain?"

"...yes. I had a most excellent dream though."

He leaned up and looked at me with a grin. "Really, and what was this dream about?"


"What?!" He moved the tray, luckily for me I had already finished my sandwich, before his body covered mine.

"Is this sparking your memory?"

I purposely looked clueless before I said, "No."

He looked positively put out so I decided to cut him some slack.

"...any time, Trace."

"...any time what?"

"...you want to wake me like that, any time."

He grinned before his mouth found mine.

Chapter Thirty-One

My uncle called and asked if Trace and I would join him for dinner. I was surprised he was in Manhattan since he hadn't told me he was coming. The place he selected was a small eatery in Midtown and when Trace and I entered we saw that my uncle wasn't alone. We made our way through the tables and as soon as my uncle saw us he stood, his guest following him.