Murder_ A Sinful Secrets Romance - Ella James
He takes her in his arms
He wants to say I love you, nothing can hurt you
But he thinks this is a lie, so he says in the end
You’re dead, nothing can hurt you
Which seems to him
A more promising beginning, more true.
— Louise Gluck, from “A Myth of Devotion”
The night is dark. The road is white. The snow-caked trees that crowd the shoulder dangle icicles that click as wind dives down the famous ski slopes, somewhere in the pinkish clouds above us.
The weather radio said the snow will keep on through tomorrow night. A New Year’s blizzard, maybe twenty inches. This is Breckenridge in winter. Frozen to a crackle. Cloaked in white.
Gwenna’s breath and mine plume silver in the velvet dark that hangs like a stage curtain over the curved road. Snow is falling fast now, caking our jacket hoods and freezing in a sheen of sparkles. Her coat is the color of a plum—or blood. The thick down softens her form. She reminds me of an animal: one sweet and small, in need of shelter.
I must be more head-fucked than I thought, because she turns around, her cheeks red, her lashes wet with snowflakes, and I realize she’s about twenty feet ahead of me.
Her large brown eyes are widened slightly—in affection or alarm? Her mouth twitches, then presses into a small, red line. She doesn’t speak, and there’s no need. I know her so well. I can see the worry on her face, the burden of her fear and grief a notch between her brows.
“Come walk by me and hold my hand.” She pulls her left glove off and reaches for me.
I oblige her. Anything she wants. With two long strides, I’ve closed the space between us. My hands are ungloved. I told her I forgot my gloves, but that’s a lie. I need to feel the sting.
Her hand folds around mine and Gwen gasps.
“Barrett! Brr, I need to warm you up…” She pulls my hand into her jacket sleeve, gripping it tightly. “Crazy man.”
She laughs, despite the somberness of our affair. Her eyes, wet ink in the moonlight, shine with love—for me.
“Hang on.” With her right hand, she unzips her jacket. “Come here…”
She takes my hands and pulls them into her jacket, pressing them atop her sweater, underneath which I can feel her heart beat.
Her face tilts up to mine, despite the driving snow. “You can’t be leaving gloves at home. It’s so cold. You’ll get frostbite.” Behind her words, there is a smile—a small, lopsided smile she gives me almost all the time. A dreamy smile I love more than life.
I try my best to return it.
Her boots shuffle in the snow as she tries to step closer to me. “It’s so freaking cold. Even with a-all these layers.” She shivers, and I pull a hand out of her coat, tucking her close to me and rubbing my hand over her back.
“Yes!” Her voice trembles with cold.
I press her hood over her head and rub behind her neck, down to her shoulder blades, right where she likes.
“I love you.” Her eyes peek out from behind the faux-fur lining her big hood. I see them crinkle with another smile.
“I love you too.” I pull her close again, and God, I’d like to keep her here forever, locked against me like a splint.
“My Bear,” she whispers.
I swallow. We’re not there yet, but I’m starting to feel frozen—on the inside. A deep breath does nothing to thaw me. She rubs my arms through my jacket and smiles at me again. This smile is curious. Perhaps concerned.
“Your nose is red,” she croons.
Her sweet voice doesn’t thaw me either, but I still smile. “Yours too.” I hug her close once more, but even that can’t pierce the ice that’s thick inside me.
We walk on, along the road’s edge, through a deep snowdrift I worry will spill into her boots.
Somewhere miles away, I hear a lone firework.
She takes my hand again, searches my face as we walk slowly. “I’m glad you came with me. I’m feeling better than I ever have before. Just knowing that I’m not alone, you know? Jamie used to come with me, but you’re different. I feel…healed or something.”
My jaw clenches. I force my lips to curve up at the corners. “Good.” I know my eyes on hers are earnest. “That’s good,” I murmur.
She comes closer to me. We are leg to leg, shoulder to shoulder. I’m walking off the road, so she seems as tall as I am.