Home > Stolen Soulmate (Crowne Point #2)

Stolen Soulmate (Crowne Point #2)
Author: Mary Catherine Gebhard

One

 

 

STORY

 

My love story began when it ended. With a savage kiss and a confession whispered in the dark that wasn’t meant for me.

I was walking the corridors of Crowne Hall when I was grabbed, pulled into a dark room. Moments later I was shoved into the center of the room. Ms. Abigail Crowne’s “must be exactly 180 degrees” white tea fell off my sterling silver tray with a crash and shatter.

The smell of salt air floated in the darkness, white cloth draped over one-of-a-kind furniture, and gold frames glinted along the walls. I knew this room—it was designated for only select, trusted servants. This place, though shoved away and forgotten in the no-man’s land between Ms. Abigail and her sister Gemma’s wing, held millions’ worth of treasures.

The antique room.

The door slammed shut behind me, and I jumped, spinning to find the shadow of a tall man only inches from me.

“Excuse me—” I started, but then the mystery man seized my face, his mouth on mine, and words left me. Thoughts left me. All I knew were his lips—unyielding yet soft. So soft. Searching and commanding and consuming.

I wasn’t ever one to kiss strangers in dark rooms.

I wasn’t ever one to kiss, period. I’d come close…once, but in the end that boy made it clear he’d wanted only one thing.

This was what people talked about in fairy tales. It was the pop. It was fire. Something I didn’t know existed, a tether in my soul, came loose, and latched on to him. The silver tea tray fell from my hands with a clang to the floor, and I grasped my mystery kisser, trying to give him all that he was searching for.

He slammed me against the wall with a rattle, fingers tangling in my spirally, curly hair. He tasted like lollipops and whiskey.

Who was he? A guard? A cook? No one ever gave me a second look, save West, but his attention proved worse than none.

I dressed conservatively, not even showing my collarbone. Even though I could look other servant staff in the eye, I never raised my eyes. I couldn’t have people knowing anything about me, because then they would ask questions, like why I was here, why I didn’t have any family, why I dressed so conservatively.

Questions opened up doors to the past, and taking one look back meant disappearing into a darkness so black it consumed me.

My mystery kisser slanted his mouth, diving deeper, and I sighed into him, getting lost in whoever he was, letting questions vanish.

We broke on a breath, his forehead pressed to mine. A glimmer of the dying sunset sparkled on the iron-blue ocean between us. My eyes had adjusted to the dark and I could almost make him out. Messy blond hair, sharp, angular features.

No.

It can’t be. He wasn’t supposed to be in this part of Crowne Hall.

Each Crowne had their own wing, and they stuck to them like someone had demarcated the lines with lava.

“You came,” he said.

Alarm rang my heart like a bell. I know that voice. I didn’t want to believe it, but I hadn’t come anywhere. Of course it made more sense that I would be mistaken for someone, than that I had a secret admirer.

No one admired Story Hale.

I wasn’t the girl you looked at; I was the girl behind the girl.

“I always wondered what you’d kiss like now.” He dragged a closed fist down my cheek. “It’s so much better than my imagination.” The groan strangling his voice nearly toppled me. I still had some small hope that maybe this man wasn’t the person every sign pointed at.

But then my eyes adjusted, and I knew for certain.

Blue stared back—the notorious steely blue reserved for almost all Crownes. A color as vivid and cutting as the ocean on a stormy day at Crowne Beach.

I should’ve stopped then. Looked away. Run away.

There’s a rule at Crowne Hall: no servants can look the Crownes in the eyes—ever. It was one I’d obeyed religiously. Yet I couldn’t avert my gaze. There was a look in his eyes I’d only ever dreamed of receiving.

Grayson Crowne, playboy prince, heir to Crowne Industries, was staring back at me. It wasn’t to knock books out of my hands and laugh like in high school. It wasn’t to kick over my bucket of soapy water while I cleaned his floors. Gray Crowne was looking at me like he wanted me.

“You’re so goddamn perfect, you know that?”

He pressed me against the wall, abs and chest flat with mine, hips sharp. Every rigid and sculpted piece of him pressed deeper and deeper into me, until even lungfuls of air brought him inside me. He smelled expensive and heady and unobtainable.

“Do you know what I want from you now?” He grew hard on my hip, and suddenly I couldn’t speak. I swallowed and shook my head.

“Honesty. Bloody, raw, jagged truth.”

Alarm bells rang louder than a tornado siren, blaring in my gut. I knew I should pull away, but with him so close, and his breath hot on my lips, I couldn’t.

I wanted that too. Oh my God, I didn’t know how much I wanted that until he said it.

I had no right.

I was an effigy of dishonesty. Lies never left my lips, but I made damn sure no one got close enough so the truth didn’t either.

His lips went to my neck; then he paused. “Did you change?” I thought for certain I was done for, found out, dead. My heart pounded faster than a jackrabbit, louder than a drum. Then Grayson pulled aside the lace of my high-collared blouse. “What is this? Fuck. I like it. I get harder not seeing all of you.”

He sucked on my neck, hard. So hard I saw stars. I knew he would leave a bruise, and a sick part of me wanted that. I dug my fingers into his side.

This moment didn’t belong to me, but I was going to steal it anyway.

“Tell me something. A secret. Anything. Something no one else knows.”

“Sometimes I watch you,” I whispered. “I know you don’t see me, and you don’t think anyone is watching.”

Brief moments when Grayson Crowne was just Grayson.

Moments where I gave in to the insanity growing inside me.

A pause stretched long enough to be counted by the crash of waves outside. Then a distorted, jagged sound fell from his lips and reverberated against my neck. My knees weakened.

“Tell me more.”

I don’t know what came over me. I wanted to tell him everything, give him everything, be everything for him. It was a darkness, a need I’d never known before.

“I want you to bite me harder.”

The tiny shred of sanity left was screaming at me to shut the fuck up. My escape door kept shrinking with each confession. When this inevitably ended, when the lights came back on, there would be no way out.

But he smiled against my flesh before he bit the skin at my neck, and that was all I could think about. All I cared to think about.

“Fuck,” he groaned. “Where has this side of you been? More,” he demanded.

“You’re my first…first…” The word I struggled to say was kiss, but he fisted the material at my thighs, and my words left me. “I—I can’t do it here. Not like this.”

Not again.

He dropped my dress, hands coming beside my head. “More.”

“Tell me something,” I dared to ask. I’d dreamed of kissing Grayson Crowne…but never had I dared to dream I could ask for admittance into his soul.

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