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Authors: Angela Graham

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary

Irreplaceable

BOOK: Irreplaceable
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Irreplaceable

Angela Graham

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright 2013, Angela Graham.

 

This book is intended for mature audiences only and
contains content that may be upsetting to some readers.

Reader discretion advised.

 

Editor—Jen Juneau

Book Designer—E.E. Long, Biblio/Tech

 

All
Rights Reserved.

This book may not be reproduced in any form,
in whole or in part, without written permission from the author.

 

 

 

 

 

“It’s
often just enough to be with someone. I don’t need to touch them. Not even
talk. A feeling passes between you both. You’re not alone.”

—Marilyn
Monroe

 

 

 

Chapter One

Sweet Dreams No More

 

In a haze of
raw, undeniable passion, his strong hands gripped the backs of my thighs,
torturously working their way to my ass, where his skillful fingers kneaded and
teased me into surrendering to his every demand. His breath was thick and
minty, with a hint of bourbon, and left me craving more. Goose bumps flared
over my blazing skin. The weather outside was a numbing twenty degrees, yet I
was heated from the inside out.

A giggle escaped my lips when he lifted me from the
ground, my legs finding their way around his waist as his seductive growl
kissed my soul. My hands were relentless, snaking under his shirt and over the
toned muscles of his back. My eyelids fluttered wildly in a vain attempt to
hold his gaze. The harder I fought to watch his every move, the deeper I lost
myself in our moment of hunger.

Everything inside me screamed for more and I ached, truly
pained with anticipation. Grinding myself against his hard body, I rolled my
hips, demanding every part of him. The cool brick wall dug into my back, the
thick coat I wore seconds earlier now lying abandoned on the blacktop beside
us.

A lurid groan spilled from my swollen lips when his hands
dug into my hair, his lips nibbling the corner of mine, the searing passion
between us uncontrollable. Forsaking all logical thought, I submitted to his
reckless frenzy, my lips quivering as his hand slid down the front of my dress.
He tore it open in one swift move, leaving me bare and at his will.

“I need you, Cassandra.”

Oh God, I needed him. I burned for his touch. It was the
closest to serenity I’d ever felt, and I never wanted to lose it. His lips
ravaged mine, taking my breath and eliciting panting when they began their
descent down my jaw. His tongue ignited a trail straight to my breasts, which
were on full display for his eyes only. The scruff of his jaw scratched across
my skin, further awakening every hidden emotion and greedy desire I possessed.

The world around us ceased to exist. He and I were all
that mattered—all I felt, saw, and needed. Lost in the strength of his grip and
power of his lust, I remained at his mercy, fisting his short waves of hair as
he dropped to his knee.

My head fell back, savoring his tongue working its magic
down my stomach. A delicious purr spilled from my open mouth, expressing
everything my brain couldn’t process into words. I wanted more. I wanted it
all, but in an instant, the rough, needy clutch of his fingers and moistness of
his mouth were gone; the indescribable emotions he’d awoken in me were no more.

Dazed, I whipped my head back and forth, desperately
searching the darkness that now engulfed me.

“Logan?”

Panic set in, filling my veins with fear-induced
adrenaline. I reached down for the pieces of my tattered dress, the frosty air
now stinging my clammy skin in his absence, only to find they were gone as
well. There I stood, naked and vulnerable, alone in the night.

“Logan, please…don’t leave me.”

I stumbled forward, struggling to adjust my sight to see
anything other than black. My hands smacked into another wall, and it hit me.

The alley. I was in the alley.

The air was pulled from my lungs, legs quaking as the
harsh words he’d spoken replayed through me.

“I want to fuck you. Here and now. I’m tired of
waiting.”

“Logan!” My hands shielded my ears, shaking my head to
make it go away. Make it stop. He wouldn’t say that. Wouldn’t treat me like
another whore.

“Come back! Don’t leave me.” My words dripped into a
slurred sob as tears sprung from my eyes, distorting my vision further.

Where was he? Why would he leave me like this? He
wouldn’t—not me. He cared about me. He had to be there…somewhere.

“Logan, please!” I cried out, a cracked whimper pouring
from my soul as I fell to my knees, helpless, terrified, and completely alone.
Something in my heaving chest broke.

My heart. It had to be.

With my hands covering my face, palms pooling with salty
tears, my ears rang with a buzzing horn. I looked up, squinting into the
distance.

There was a light ahead. Someone was coming back for me.

Logan.

It had to be Logan. None of it was real. He would never
say those things. Never toss me aside.

The light drew closer, a blinding ray suddenly racing
toward me.

I lifted my trembling hands over my eyes, tilting my
head, anxious to make out the approaching figure. It was so bright, too
intense, and glaring into the wetness of my eyes. I couldn’t see, couldn’t
understand, until the car horn blared through the air. Suddenly it was on me,
crashing, barreling my body into nothing until all I felt was pain as the
unknown consumed me.

I jerked up, fighting to catch my
breath.

The familiar dry air of the hospital room eased me back
onto the thin pillows on the small bed. It was all a dream—a horrible nightmare
I could never escape. Five long days trapped in tiny rooms, and every night I
closed my eyes and found him waiting for me. Each kiss took away the painful
memory of that night, slowly erasing it until I was lost in his arms in that
dark alley. His touch and longing were all I felt, all I lived for there. But
it wasn’t real.

Nothing was real anymore—not the need to feel him, my
body entangled with his, lost in each other. I wanted that while I was there,
wanted him: Logan.

But then it was gone. The haunting memory of the
accident—the fear, the cold, the cruel lingering pain—woke me and hurled me
back to reality every time. He didn’t want me like I did him. It was all in my
head, exactly as it had been with Mark, yet I was too blinded by their charm to
realize it.

“Hi honey. You awake?”

Of course I was awake. How could I sleep knowing what
awaited me in my dreams?

I stared at the wall, facing away, but gave a slight nod.
From my bed, I was unable to see out the tall windows, but I’d counted every
single shape on the dull drapes over the last three days. I spent every waking
moment too ashamed to cry. I did it to myself, and now I was enduring the
consequences: anger, pain, hurt, betrayal, and loss. So many emotions consumed
me, but only once did I shed tears for him.

It was the day I first awoke in ICU, a few days earlier—the
day I opened my eyes and found him there, so broken and tortured. He had no
right to be the one in agony, to beg me to forget. How could I?

I shook my head, unable to inhale a soothing breath for fear
of the reckoning my bruised ribs would set upon me if I did. I never wanted to
relive the heartbreak and devastation of that night again.

“I talked to your doctor, and he said you’re doing great.
The cut on your leg is healing, and it doesn’t look like you’ll need to stay
past Friday.”

The cut?
I winced at her euphemism for the deep
gash running down my thigh that ripped into my muscles and nearly damaged my
nerves.
Luck
, the doctors had told me.

Funny. I didn’t feel very lucky.

“Honey, did you hear me? You’ll be going home in three
days.”

“Great.” My voice wasn’t my own. It was hoarse, and laced
with numbness.

The patter of my mother’s feet bustling around the room
as she hummed a lullaby from my childhood helped keep my mind from spiraling
into the ocean of melancholy I’d been drowning in the last few days. She was
tidying up the room, even though it was no different from how it looked the
previous day.

At least, not other than the newest flowers that arrived.

“I see you got more flowers delivered. They’re gorgeous.
Logan, I’m guessing?”

Try as I had, the one thing I couldn’t escape was the
amount of lavish bouquets that decorated the small, dreary room. Were they
unbelievably breathtaking? Yes. Were they from Logan? I could only assume,
since nobody I knew had that amount of money, or such impeccable taste. Only
the first delivery came with a card, and it was still in place on a thin,
plastic stick peeking out of the vase of pink peonies beside my bed. They were
my favorite flowers, and he knew it. I didn’t know how, but he did.

“I went to see him yesterday.” Hesitation was heavy in
her tone.

My ears perked against my will.

“Why?” It was all I could muster.

Hilary, Luke, and Caleb had been regulars there, but
Logan was a no-show after he’d left me a crying, scared mess. I didn’t know why
I expected differently. He didn’t care about me. It wasn’t real—I told myself
that constantly. I was a conquest to him, nothing more, and all he felt now was
guilt. I could smell it in the flowers. But whatever he was feeling, it didn’t
matter anyway. It was over.

The bed dipped down behind me, and my mother’s hand
attempted to smooth out the rigid posture of my spine. I waited for her to
explain, irritated I’d even asked.

“He called me, wanted to meet for lunch...and I agreed.”

How lovely of her! I fought to quiet my nerves as I
listened, fury stewing, unable to find my voice to tell her I didn’t want to
know any more.

“I don’t know what happened between you two that night,
but I do know that he looks like he hasn’t slept since. Don’t get upset,
but…he’s paid all of your expenses here, and…asked me to give you this. Or,
more so, deposit this into your bank account.”

“What?” I rolled over, ignoring the sting in my bruised
ribs. She handed me a check, and I could only sit there with my jaw dropped,
gaping at it. Fifty thousand dollars. So that’s it. He doesn’t come back to
visit, but sends a check.

My blood boiled.

“You’re going to need a new car, and—”

“I don’t want his money, Mom!” I ripped the check in half
over and over again, taking my fury out on the small paper until I could tear
it no more. “Tell him no! The answer is no!”

I dropped the tiny pieces off the side of the bed, wanting
to make it all disappear, but the insult was heavy on my heart nevertheless.

“Cassie, be reasonable. The other driver didn’t have
insurance.  It could take years to see a dime from that guy. He’s an unemployed
drunk, not to mention the cheap insurance you have isn’t in a hurry to pay up.”
She sighed and took my hand. “I’m sorry, honey. I know you don’t like handouts,
but we’d never be able to afford this hospital bill or anything else that you
may need. Let him help. We can save up to pay him back.”

Turning my head, I focused back on the drapes and let out
a ragged breath. Tears glossed my eyes and I bit my bottom lip to control my
quivering chin.

I had nothing. I knew I couldn’t afford the bill, but
taking money from Logan was not the answer. After another deep, painful breath,
I looked back at her, willing the tears away. Her expression was hopeful.

“I’ll refinance my house. I can—”

“You will not!” Mom leaned back, scowling at me as though
she’d eaten something bitter. “Your grandparents left you that house to live in
and enjoy, not to mortgage and possibly lose if you can’t keep up with loan payments.
Your inheritance went to pay your tuition, so I know you can’t have much left.”

She stood up and began pacing the room. After a few laps,
she stopped and approached the bed, frown lines set on her forehead. “You’re
out of work for at least the next six weeks, Cassie. You need Logan’s help. I’m
sorry, but I’m telling him you’ll accept it, asking him for a new check, and
depositing the money myself.”

“I’m not a child anymore. I can take care of things my
own way. I don’t want his help.”

My mother’s face fell. “We’ll discuss this later, but I’m
going to do what is right for you, whether you like it or not. You’re my baby,
and I won’t watch you suffer when you don’t have to.”

The room grew eerily silent for far too long before the
door creaked opened. Luke strolled in, holding a small paper bag of food from
Haven with his messenger tote slung over his shoulder, oblivious to his hostile
surroundings.

“Oh…hi, Mrs. Clarke.” I could tell he wasn’t expecting to
see her, but his cheerful smile didn’t falter until he looked my way. “I can
come back later if…” he started, concern creeping over his features as he
stopped halfway through the door.

“No, it’s fine,” my mother replied, anxiety still etched
onto her brow. “My shift starts soon, so I was just leaving.”

She grabbed her purse from the chair beside me and leaned
down, placing a quick kiss on my forehead. “We’ll figure everything out,” she
whispered. “Just get some rest. I love you, honey.”

“I love you, too.”

Relieved she was going, I was grateful Luke showed up
when he did. I needed the distraction. I couldn’t stomach the idea of accepting
anything from Logan; flowers were my limit. Luke shuffled out of the way as my
mother passed through the door.

I noticed the smile on his face didn’t quite reach his eyes.
He’d visited every afternoon during his lunch break since I was moved from ICU.
He would bring board games and sneak in snacks, and was the only visitor who
didn’t try to coddle me.

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