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Keeping Her (Losing It #1.5)

By:Cora Carmack

Keeping Her (Losing It #1.5)
Author: Cora Carmack





1

Garrick

THE ALARM SOUNDED too early.

I smacked it into silence, and then reached for Bliss. I found only rumpled sheets and empty space. My eyelids felt like they'd been weighted down by sandbags, but I sat up and pried them open.

My voice was graveled with sleep when I called out, "Love? Where are you?" Something clanged in the kitchen in response. I sat up, fatigue wiped away by the realization that Bliss was up. And she was cooking.

That couldn't be a good sign.

I threw back the covers, and cool morning air assaulted my bare skin. I pulled on a pair of pajama bottoms and a T-­shirt before padding down the hallway to the kitchen.

"Bliss?"

Another clang.

A muttered curse word.

Then I rounded the corner into a war zone.

Her wide eyes met mine. Her face, her hair, our tiny nook of a kitchen was covered in flour. Some kind of batter was smudged across her cheek and the countertops.

"Love?"

"I'm making pancakes." She said it the way one might say, "I didn't do it" when held at gunpoint by policemen. I cast my eyes down to keep from laughing, only to be devastated by the bare legs stretching out from the oversize T-­shirt she wore. My T-­shirt. Damn.

I'd loved her legs from the moment I'd first seen them while helping her with a burn she'd received on my motorcycle. They drove me to distraction just as much now as they did then.

I could have studied for hours the shape of her thighs and the way they flared out toward her hips. I could have been swept away by the feeling of possession that swelled in me at seeing her wear my clothing. There were dozens of things that I wanted to do in that moment, but an acrid smell tickled my nostrils, and a few tendrils of smoke began to creep around Bliss from the stove at her back. I lurched for the pan, where I found a blackening, misshapen lump of something. I pulled the pan off the stove, and heard a slight hitch in Bliss's breath behind me.

Another bad sign.

As quickly as I could, I tossed the "pancake" into the trash, and deposited the pan in the sink. I said, "Why don't we go out for breakfast?"

Bliss smiled, but it was one of those watery, wavering kinds of smiles that made every man want to run for the hills. I'd become well accustomed to Bliss's panic freak-­outs. But crying . . . that was still a terrifyingly unfamiliar territory.

She collapsed into a nearby chair, and her head thumped down onto the table. I stood there, clenching and unclenching my fists, trying to decide on the best course of action. She turned her head to the side, pressing her cheek against the table, and looked at me. Her hair stuck up in every direction, her bottom lip suffered under her teeth, and the look in her eyes pulled at something in my chest. Like an itch at my heart. All I knew was that something was wrong, and I wanted to fix it. The how was the question.

I moved forward and knelt beside her chair. Red lined her eyes, and her skin was a shade paler than normal. I asked, "How long have you been awake?"

She shrugged. "Since around four. Maybe closer to three."

I sighed and ran a hand over her unruly hair.

"Bliss . . ."

"I read and did some laundry and cleaned the kitchen." She looked around. "It was clean. I swear."

I laughed and leaned up to press a kiss to her forehead. I pulled another chair around, and took a seat beside her. I laid my head down beside hers, but she closed her eyes and flipped her head around to face the other direction.

She said, "Don't look at me. I'm a mess."

I wasn't about to let her get away with that. I slipped an arm underneath her knees and tugged her into my lap. She whined my name, and then buried her head into my neck. I took hold of her jaw, and made her meet my gaze. It couldn't be a coincidence that this was happening on the day we were set to leave for London to meet my parents. She'd been remarkably calm about it until now. "Everything is going to be fine, love. I swear it."

"What if she hates me?"

That's what this was about. My mother. Bliss could barely handle her own overbearing mother; it seemed cruel that the universe had seen fit to give us two. But I was far more worried about what Bliss would think than what my mother would think. Bliss was honest and sweet and genuine, and my family . . . well, not so much.

I forced a smile and said, "Impossible."

"Garrick, I've overheard enough phone calls with your mother to know she's very . . . opinionated. I'd be stupid not to worry about what she'll think of me."

"You'd be stupid to think that anything my mother could say would matter." And it wouldn't matter to me. But it would matter to Bliss. Late at night when our apartment got quiet, the image of my mum as predator and Bliss as prey kept popping into my head. One week. We just had to survive one week. I stroked my thumb across her jaw and added, "I love you."

So much that it terrified me. And I didn't scare easy.

"I know . . . I just-­"

"Want her to like you. I know. And she will." Please God, let my mother like her. "She'll like you because I love you. She might be a bit abrasive, but like any mother she wants me to be happy."

Or at least I hoped that was how she would see things.

Bliss's chin tipped up slightly, bringing her lips closer to mine. I felt her breath across my mouth, and my body reacted almost instantly. My spine straightened, and I became acutely aware of the bare legs draped across my lap. She said, "And you are? Happy?"

God, sometimes I just wanted to shake her. In many ways, she'd overcome the worst of her insecurities, but in moments of stress they seemed to all come rushing back. Rather than wasting my breath answering, I stood with her cradled in my arms, and headed for the hallway.




"What are you doing?" she ask

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