Authors: Karpov Kinrade
Copyright © 2014 Karpov Kinrade
Cover Art Copyright © 2014 Karpov Kinrade
Published by Daring Books
Edited by Anne Chaconas at B.A.M.
You may not use, reproduce or transmit in any manner, any part of this book without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations used in critical articles and reviews, or in accordance with federal Fair Use laws. All rights are reserved.
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author's imagination, or the author has used them fictitiously.
To Svitlana Karpova,
The best mother and mother-in-law in the world,
Thank you for believing in us.
Leave Me Love
is the second book in the
Call Me Cat Trilogy
. If you haven't read the first book,
Call Me Cat
, you can find it
Thank you for reading.
ASH STOOD AT
my hospital door, his face an unreadable mask, hands shoved into his jean pockets as he waited for me to respond.
scanned the ominous note in my hand.
One is such a lonely number. Two make a couple. Enjoy it while it lasts.
It wasn't typed, like the others, but it was the same cream stationa
ry with the same watermark, the same tone as the Midnight Murderer.
Lucky hadn't killed my parents.
The killer was still alive. And now the man I'd fallen in love with had a confession to make, even as his scent lingered on the note I held. I stuffed it under my blanket.
Bridgette stood. "I'm going to go call my parents and let them know you're doing better."
She left the room and Ash took the seat next to me.
We hadn't talked since I told him the truth about my double identity, that I was both Catelyn and Cat
. My head spun, pain pounding behind my eyes and a buzzing in my ears distracting me from his voice.
I looked up at his dark brown bedroom eyes, his black locks of hair that always looked like he'd been running his hands through them, the dimpled chin, the face I couldn't get out of my head. I nodded. "Sorry. My head's still not on straight."
Being unconscious for a week does that to a girl.
I still couldn't believe I'd lost a week of my life, a week I'd never get back.
He swallowed and straightened his shoulders, pulling a
rumpled piece of paper out of his pocket. "We didn't meet by accident."
I stilled my heart, breathing deeply and telling myself to give him a chance to explain. "What do you mean?"
He handed me the paper. Palms sweating, I opened the note and skimmed it, the large loops of my mother's writing familiar to me in a way that made my gut tighten.
Meet me at my office tomorrow. There is something you need to know. Tell no one.
The letter was dated the day before she'd been killed. I held it up, glancing at the front and back to make sure I'd read everything. "Ash, what is this?"
hoped you could tell me," he said. "A few months ago, my mom asked me to take some of my old clothes to a homeless shelter. I found the letter in a coat. Why would Alice have wanted to meet me?"
No idea. Did you know her?"
He shook his head.
"Then how'd you recognize her name?"
…" He paused. "Your parents' death was big news."
But what were you about to say?
"I had my privat
e investigator do some digging," he continued. "He found you, and I arranged to run into you."
My head ached with anger. "So you could interrogate me?"
"So I could get to know you." He grabbed my hand and squeezed. A heavy sorrow dwelled in his eyes. A cold truth rang in his words. "I don't know why your mother wanted to meet me. But I can't help feeling—if I'd found that letter earlier, if I'd talked with her, maybe she'd still be alive. Maybe I could have stopped it."
"I don't know. I thought if I got to know her daughter, maybe I'd understand. But I never expected to fall in love. I never expected you." He brushed a strand of hair from my face.
I smirked. "How lo
ng have you been rehearsing
He looked like a kid caught sneaking candy.
"Since I left the room."
. But self-contradicting."
His eyebrows jumped.
"You arranged to meet me, but didn't expect me?"
He chuckled. "Well, a guy's got to try, right?"
I patted his hand. "You'll do better next time."
He gave me puppy eyes. "So there's a next time?"
Why are you telling me this now?"
He shrugged. "You told me about Cat."
"And how do you feel about that?"
Hurt. Because secrets hurt. I never want to hurt you, Catelyn."
I sighed. "Are you okay with me being Cat?"
"I am. Are you okay with me setting up our meeting?"
He grinned. "Is this the part where we hug?"
"And the romantic soundtrack kicks in.
" I leaned forward to hug him, but my head started to spin. "Whoa. Sorry."
"I'll settle for this." He kissed my mouth, fully and deeply, cupping my face in his hands.
He tasted like peppermint.
then the taste turned bitter.
I pulled back,
a ringing in my ears. "I… I have… something…"
"Cat, are you okay?'
"Catelyn… call me Catelyn." My head felt stuffed full of cotton balls, leaving no room for thought. My hands flapped around, as if searching for something. The stationary. The stationary that smelled like peppermint and cigars. I pulled it from below my blanket and passed it to Ash. "The Midnight Murderer is still alive. He sent this."
k the note, glanced it over. His eyes turned wide. "Catelyn. This is blank."
I GRABBED THE
stationary back from Ash, my heart racing as I looked for the blue, neat writing that had been there a few moments before. "That's impossible. I saw it."
Ash rubbed his chin, thoughts stirring in his eyes. "You've had a head injury,
been through major trauma. Is it possible you imagined it? Maybe had a nightmare?"
Anger boiled in me, fast and bright, and I held up the cream stationary. "Am I imagining this? I'm not crazy! I know what I saw. He threatened us. Threatened
Bridgette peeked in
the room. "You two okay?"
I waved the note at her. "
Bridgette, you saw it, right?"
She nodded, her uneas
y smile curving into an uneven frown. "So it's not from Ash?"
Bridgette had never read the note. "It's from the Midnight Murderer."
"What? Let me see." She snatched the note
and turned away from me as she read it. "Um, Catelyn, it's—"
Blank. I know." I sighed, rubbing my eyes, trying to see through the fog of deceit around me.
Stay rational, Catelyn. The Midnight Murderer wants them to think you're unstable. "She imagined it," he wants them to say.
Bridgette handed the stationary back. "Maybe it's a prank? Someone used disappearing
ink to scare you?"
A shot of clari
ty. "That's why the ink was different this time." I searched the note for residue. Then, unable to find any, dropped the note near the flowers. "This isn't a prank. It's
. We have to call Detective Gray."
A nurse checked on me and tidied up the room as I got off the phone. "Beautiful flowers," she said. I nodded in reply.
arrived a few moments later. "I'd just left the hospital." He slipped the blank note into an evidence bag and wrote something in his notebook. "We'll have it tested for residue. If there was disappearing ink used, it will show up." He sighed. "Anything else before I leave?"
I folded my arms.
"You think I'm making this up." His resigned posture told me so.
frowned. "I think you've been severely traumatized, physically and emotionally. The department can recommend someone who specializes in post-traumatic stress disorder—"
"I don't want a therapist."
"A counselor then."
"What's the difference?"
Ash squeezed my hand and I took a deep breath, startled at how quic
k I was to anger since I woke, as if rage boiled just under my skin, needing the barest heat to explode. "When will you have results?"
"Depends on how backed up the lab is. I'll call you when we know something. But I wouldn't worry, Miss Travis. The killer is dead. You're safe." Gray stuck his notebook in his pocket and turned to leave.
"Lucky wasn't the killer, Detective. The sooner your department realizes that, the sooner you can get back to work."
He said nothing as he left
ears burned my eyes, but I blinked them away. "The note was there, Ash. I swear it."
"I believe you, sweetheart. We'll figure this out. Get some rest."
A nurse interrupted us with a fake smile and a wheelchair. "Time for more tests, Catelyn. First, though, I need to remove your catheter."
Two days into my intolerable hospital stay, I was determined to bathe. I couldn't stand the smell of myself and didn't know how Ash could, either.
He supported me from the bed and into the bathroom.
His lips brushed my neck from behind, and he blew a hot kiss against my skin. "Need some help?"
I pulled away
, resisting the urge to moan
. "I can do it myself."
He chuckled, and his voice set me burning inside. "
You can have it your way." He ran his hand down my back, separating the hospital gown and cupping my ass. "But I can promise you this: you'll enjoy my bath a lot more."
His touch sent my heart
racing. I grabbed his hand and pulled it off me, but couldn't bear to let his fingers go. If he took me now, I'd be powerless to stop him, like a leaf caught in a storm. He'd consume me.
I turned to face him, waggling my finger. "Dating before sex."
"Says the phone sex operator."
Well, you know what they say. Don't mix work and play."
So that night—"
"Was following a near death experience." I remembered him inside me, pushed the thought away before I tore his clothes off. "
What if we don't work together? Like a real couple, in the real world—what if we don't fit together?"
He grinned. "Oh, w
e fit together."
I slapped the air in front of him, heat flushing my cheeks.
"Once we get out of here, then we—"
"Take your gown off."
I shook at his command, my reservations crumbling, warmth pooling in my center. My fingertips sparked, the only relief the cool touch of his skin. I nodded and untied the hospital gown, letting it slip off my body and fall to the ground. I covered my breasts with my arms. "No sex."
Ash started the water.
"Who said anything about sex? I'm just giving you a bath. Hard work here."
"Right. I'm sure it does get
He laughed. "Come on." He helped me in the tub.
"This was a bad idea."
Because this seems more intimate than sex. I'm naked and you're not. I haven't shaved all week. You can see every flaw, every imperfection under these damn fluorescent lights.
"It's nothing. Nothing you did. We should just—"
I could almost believe him, but I'd been passed out for a week. Bruises that would have been bright purple, blue and black had faded into a blotchy, watery version of their former selves. I'd lost too much weight. My ribs and hipbones poked out in a way that wasn't at all sexy or flattering, and one look at my hair had depressed me. I was pale with dark circles under my eyes. I looked like crap.
But I was glad he disagreed.
"No sex," I said again. And I sunk into the tub, grateful for the bars and steps built in to support the convalescing. I had my bandages removed, and the heat stung the scabbing cuts around my ankles and wrists. I pulled my knees to my chest, covering as much as possible.
snickered, but didn't say anything. Using supplies provided by the nurse, who had raised an eyebrow and smirked when she'd brought them in and disconnected my IV, he poured soap onto a sponge and started rubbing my back. "Relax."
I tried, but his presence excited every muscle.
"You're very demanding, Bath Boy."
He dipped the sponge into the h
ot water and squeezed it over my head.
"Hey." I swatted at him, but he pulled back.
"Just doing my job. Here, let Bath Boy show you how it's done." He massaged my shoulders, his hands warm like the water, and the tension began to leave.
I closed my eyes, enjoying the soft
touch of his fingers, imagining them all over me, lower, lower…
I gasped. "What?"
"You want my hands lower?"
God. Did I say that out loud? "
Lower… on my back."
"Sure." He slid his hands down my spine, like a knife cutting through stress,
and massaged my hips, his fingers brushing my ass. I imagined those fingers inside me, spreading me, filling me. But I'd said
. I couldn't give in now.
"Let's get back to the bath, Bath Boy."
"Certainly." He washed my hair using the removable showerhead, avoiding the lump on the back of my head. After rinsing out the shampoo, he started at the bottom of my feet, massaging my soles and moving up my legs, his hands skilled at finding each tense muscle and working it until it relaxed under his strong, long fingers.
Those damn fingers again. I used to envision them when we had phone sex,
rubbing my nipples, my thighs. God, his hands reached my thighs. I pulled my legs apart, giving him access to all of me, then shut them.
"What kind of bath is this?
" I teased.
He gripped my thighs
, his voice laced with desire. He had greed in his eyes. Lust in his hands. "The kind you'll never forget."
e spread my legs apart, my body flaring, melting us together. Where his hand gripped my thighs it burned hottest, like a fountain of fire and passion. I wanted to swim in it. To lose myself in liquid ecstasy.
"Oh, God… Ash…" I wanted to say no, to protest. My mind demanded I speak up, but my body refused to form the words that would stop his fingers from exploring me.
His nails dug
into my skin, feeding the furnace within. His other hand slid between my legs and his fingers spread me, inching inside as his thumb rubbed against my clit.
. But I wanted it, didn't I? I could stop him. Could tell him no. But I didn't, because it felt too good and I needed that. I needed a moment of bliss.
He released my thigh and explored my breast
s, teasing each nipple until they were hard and throbbing, ready to erupt.
"Ash… Ash… Oh
He pressed his lips into my neck, and my words turned into a moan.
I arched my hips toward his hand, wanting his fingers deeper, wanting all of him.
"You like my fingers in your pussy?"
He started to pull out.
"Yes. I love them. I fucking love them."
e shoved them back in, sending shivers through me. "Don't think I haven't noticed you staring at my fingers. You want to come on them, don't you?"
"You want to kiss them, don't you?"
He put a hand to my lips and I sucked on his thumb, pressure building in me like a wave about to crest.
"Come on my
fucking fingers, Catelyn. Come for me."
I gave into the
bliss, drowning myself in a tsunami of flame. "Yes. Yes." I bit down on his thumb, letting go of my fear and pain and worry of the future and surrendering to the pleasure he gave me in that moment.
His fingers stayed in me until my contractions abated, and my eyes opened as his lips claimed mine, the now-familiar taste of him a comfort to me even as it rekindled my arousal.
From the way his pants bulged, I wasn't the only one who wanted more.
As he helped me out of the bath, I
rubbed my hand over his cock and whispered in his ear. "When I'm released from the hospital, I want to suck this."
waggled a finger. "Dating before sex."
Then what was that?"
He had the devil in his grin.
"The Ashton Davenport experience."
I rolled my eyes. "Oh, the modesty. The modesty is too much."
"Other girls didn't think so."
He blushed. "Oh, shit. Shutting up now."
"Fetch my gown, Bath Boy."
He did and helped me back to bed, squeezing my ass as he pulled the sheets over me.
I smiled, and a bitter taste filled my mouth
. A ringing filled my ears. "I need to rest."
bath, so do I." He kissed my forehead.
I closed my eyes.
And I found myself in the corridor
It was quiet
. The clock down the hall showed around 10 p.m. Hours had passed since my bath. A door to my side was ajar, and a young boy waved from inside, moonlight glinting on his dark hair. "What are you doing?"
Good question. "Walking."
He nodded. "I sleepwalk too, sometimes."
I brushed the bump on my head.
The boy frowned. "You okay?"
"Maybe you need a nurse."