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Reckless

(Part of Thoughtless)
By S.C. Stephens

Read an Excerpt

Reckless
Chapter 1

Temporary Bliss

I was stirred from sleep by a hand running up my thigh. Smiling, I stretched my tight limbs and placed my palm over the wandering fingers. The hand was warm and soft, and clasped mine, cinching tight. A cool ring of hard metal dug into my skin as he held me in his firm grasp and I smiled wider, fingering the matching band on the ring finger of my hand.

I’d gotten married last night . . . in the spiritual sense, at least. A soul-filled pledge of undying devotion was enough for us right now. And really, a formal ceremony and a piece of paper wasn’t what made a marriage. It was the feeling bursting apart my chest—the overwhelming sensation that I’d been cleaved in two at birth, and, miraculously, I’d managed to find my other half. And even more miraculously, he felt the same.

Soft lips touched my shoulder, and I snuggled further into the body seeking my solace. The sheets wrapped around us were the finest linens I’d ever slept in, but their luxuriousness paled in comparison to the man beside me. With his warm legs tangled around mine, his broad chest flush against my back, and his arms circled over and under me cradling my body to his, he was far more comfortable than the overpriced bed.

Pulling the fingers laced with mine up to my lips, I kissed the promise ring on his left hand. A low chuckle escaped him, then those sensuous lips of his worked their way up my neck. Warm and content, my skin instantly pricked with goose bumps as small bolts of electricity shot right through me.

When he got to my ear, he whispered, “Mornin’, Mrs. Kyle.”

My heart was instantly thudding in my chest. I twisted in his embrace until I could see him. Eyes the color of a twilight sky stared back at me, and a small smile curved his mouth as he searched my features. His face was perfect—the angle of his jaw, the slope of his nose, the fullness of his lips. At the moment, I couldn’t recall anything quite as beautiful as the man who’d just given me his name.

“Good morning, Mr. Kyle.”

A small giggle of disbelief escaped me, and Kellan’s smile widened. The contentment in his eyes was nearly palpable. It warmed my heart that I made him feel that way. He’d had enough pain in his life; he deserved peace. It was all a little surreal to me, the depth of his love, the fact that I inspired it. Sometimes, I didn’t feel worthy of him, but I was grateful for him, every day.

“I can’t believe we just did that, Kellan.”

He cocked an eyebrow, his grin instantly mischievous. “What? Have mind-blowing sex? That really shouldn’t surprise you.” His expression softened into adoration. “Every time with you is incredible.”

Biting my lip, I forced the flush he was making me feel aside. “I wasn’t talking about that.” Reaching up with my free hand, I stroked his jaw with my finger. “I meant getting married.”

Kellan propped himself up on his elbow and looked down at me. His gaze slid down to our hands locked together, to the ring encircling his finger. The look of contentment on his face shifted to outright bliss. I’d never seen him happier. “ ’Til death do us part,” he whispered.

Running my fingers down his chest, the hills and valleys of his absurdly defined body starting to ignite mine, I murmured, “My parents won’t accept you as my husband until you walk me down the aisle, you know.”

Remembering that I’d left them a vague message on the answering machine at Kellan’s place, since they were still in town for my graduation yesterday, I frowned. They were going to be so pissed when they woke up and heard that I’d run off and gotten married without including them. Honestly, I was a little surprised that my phone hadn’t rung yet . . . or that the hotel room door hadn’t been beaten down.

Kellan laughed and repositioned our bodies so that he was lying on top of me. Giving him a soft smile, I ran my fingertips down his back. He shuddered. “And I will. . . .” Leaning down, he placed a kiss on my neck, then my collarbone. My heart sped up. “I will give them the ceremony they want. . . .” Looking up at me, he let his lips trail from my collarbone to the top of my breast. I struggled to not squirm. “I’ll give you the wedding of your dreams, Kiera.”

His lips closed over my nipple then, and all of last night’s passion flooded back to me. As satisfying as our first union as husband and wife had been, I wanted more, I wanted him again. I didn’t think I’d ever stop wanting him in every way that that implied.

Just as my fingers drifted up to thread through his hair, my breath long past casual, his lips left the erogenous zone that they’d found. I looked down at him right as he looked up at me. Crooking a grin, he kissed between my breasts, then down my belly. Just the thought of him continuing on his southern path had me instantly aching for him. His grin turned cocky, like he knew it.

“I’ll give you everything, Kiera, but, until I can do it properly . . .” His tongue dipped into my belly button before trailing down my abdomen. I groaned and closed my eyes, simultaneously shifting my hips up and pushing his head down. I heard a throaty laugh escape him as his lips traveled down my thigh. His breath hot against my skin, he finally finished his sentence, “. . . we may as well enjoy the perks.”

Then his tongue brushed over my core and I lost all pretense of control.

•   •   •

It was several hours later that we were finally dressed and ready to leave our swanky hotel room. A quick inspection of my cell phone showed me that Kellan had turned it off sometime last night. I guess that explains why we hadn’t had any interruptions. Smirking at him as he grabbed his jacket from the plush bench in front of the vanity—a bench that we’d christened last night—I turned my cell phone back on. A new voicemail alert chirped at me; I was sure there were several of them.

Considering the fact that we’d be seeing my very unhappy parental units soon, I didn’t bother listening to the voice mails. I was pretty sure I knew what they all said anyway. “What were you thinking? You can’t marry him, Kiera. Get your ass back here so we can fly you home!” Etcetera. They were going to take a while to accept this union.

They were going to take even longer to accept the fact that I was soon to be hitting the road with my new husband. Even I was still in shock. Touring around the country with Kellan had been out of the question while I was still enrolled at school, but I was a graduate now, and I was free. I could do whatever I wanted. And I wanted to be with Kellan, wherever that may be.

My dad was kind of old school—go to college, graduate, and get a good job. Kellan hadn’t even gone to college. He’d run away from home right after high school and fallen into the Los Angeles music scene with Evan, Matt, and Griffin. He’d been playing with them ever since. Dad was mystified by Kellan’s life choices. And he was going to be furious with mine.

But it was my life to live, and I was going to do what felt right. And being with Kellan felt . . . amazing. There was no place I’d rather be than by his side. I wasn’t giving up on my dreams to live vicariously through Kellan’s, though. No, I was going to strive to make my dreams come true too, and it just so happened that my dream job lined up perfectly with his.

I wanted to be a writer, and that gave me a certain amount of freedom since I could do it anywhere so long as I had a bit of privacy. That might be tricky in a tour bus full of rowdy boys, but I was certain I could carve out a few hours every day to put something meaningful down on paper. I was in the middle of writing my first book, which was autobiographical in a sense, since it was based on actual events. It was a detailed, intimate depiction of everything that had happened between Denny, Kellan, and me. The love, the lust, the betrayal—it was all in there.

Writing it was torturous, but therapeutic. Taking a step back and looking at the situation through critical eyes, it was easy to see my many mistakes. There were points when I had been whiny, clingy, petty, wishy-washy . . . downright annoying. Seeing all of my flaws laid bare was a humbling experience. The book was so personal, I almost wasn’t sure if I could let anyone else read it. Especially Kellan. But he’d asked, and I’d told him he could. I didn’t want to go back on my word, so I would just have to reassure him with each painful page that I wasn’t that weak, pathetic girl anymore. I knew what I wanted, and it was him.

Scanning the room to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything, my eyes swept over the messy bed. The rich, red comforter was a jumbled mess, and the creamy, satin sheets beneath it were twisted as well. Kellan and I had made good use of the king-sized space, rolling around over every inch of it as we’d explored each other. Our moans and cries of ecstasy were still reverberating through my head, and for the millionth time I was grateful that Kellan had agreed with my idea of renting a hotel room for our honeymoon. I couldn’t imagine doing the things we’d done last night at our place, with my parents in the next room.

Coming up behind me, Kellan wrapped his arms around my waist. I inhaled deeply, savoring the fresh, invigorating scent that was uniquely his. Kissing my ear he murmured, “We should go. I told Gavin I would have breakfast with him today, and we’re already really late. . . . It’s more like brunch now.”

Looking over my shoulder at him, I couldn’t contain my smile. Gavin Carter was Kellan’s biological father. Kellan had put off meeting the man for months; he’d been terrified to see him. But they’d finally met yesterday, and now Kellan was going to try and have a relationship with the person who’d helped create him.

Twisting in his arms, I slung mine around his neck. Running my fingers through the back of his hair, I gave him a soft kiss. “I’m sure he’ll understand that your wedding night ran a little long.”

Kellan sighed and cinched me tight to him. His body flush to mine was hard and unyielding. My fingers itched to feel the curves of his defined physique, but that always led to him exploring mine, which usually led to a long, drawn-out lovemaking session . . . and we really did have to leave. Practicing as much restraint as I could, I kept my fingers tightly tangled in his hair.

Kellan kissed my head. “I still can’t believe you’re my wife.”

Nuzzling my face against his chest, I felt like my heart was going to burst open onto the floor. God, I loved him. Desire for him started building in me as we held each other, and I again had to repress the urge to express my love for him physically. Pulling back, I frowned. “You’re right, we should go.”

Kellan smirked at my expression. “You want to have sex again, don’t you?”

Flushing, I pushed his chest away from me. “I think we broke enough records last night . . . and this morning.” I felt the heat in my cheeks and averted my eyes.

Squatting in front of me, Kellan grabbed my chin and made me look at him. “Do you want to have sex with me?” he asked, not a hint of a tease in his voice.

His question was so direct that I found it difficult to keep my eyes trained on his. I instinctively wanted to look away. I didn’t, though. I made myself stare into his dark blue depths as I whispered, “Yes.”

Kellan gave me a prideful grin. “Was that so hard to admit?” he asked, a gleam in his eyes.

I started to close my eyes, but stopped myself. He wanted me to not be embarrassed around him. And he wasn’t trying to tease me right now; he was trying to help me grow. Locking gazes with him, I nodded again. “Actually, yeah, that was a little mortifying.”

Pursing his lips, Kellan shifted away from me. “I want you to ask me to have sex with you . . . right now.”

My mouth dropped open. “Kellan . . .” Feeling self-conscious, I covered my chest with my arms. As I was still wearing the tight, slinky dress my sister, Anna, had let me borrow for my graduation ceremony, there was a lot of skin to cover up. “I’ve asked you for sex before. . . . Why are you purposely embarrassing me?”

Sighing, he leaned down again to meet my eye. “You’ve asked me in the heat of the moment, when we were heading in that direction anyway. I want you to feel comfortable enough to ask me anytime, anywhere.”

I cocked an eyebrow at him. “Anywhere?”

Kellan gave me an impish smile. “Anywhere.”

Knowing he wasn’t going to drop this, I huffed out a disgruntled breath. Dropping my hands to my sides, I counted to ten. Really, this wasn’t so hard. I should be able to ask him to have sex with me. I’ve certainly used my body to ask him on several occasions. Bluntly saying it was different, though. It made me feel a lot more vulnerable.

Lifting my chin, I confidently asked, “Kellan, will you have sex with me?” Well, I meant to say it confidently, but my voice came out high and squeaky—anything but sexy.

But by the look on Kellan’s face, you’d think I’d just given him a lap dance. His burning eyes slid down my body, igniting me. They lingered on my lips, my chest, my hips, and even though he wasn’t touching me, my body responded like he was. When his bedroom eyes finally returned to mine, he took a step forward. His hip brushed against me and I gasped. Leaning down, his breath hot against my skin, he murmured in my ear, “That is the hottest thing I’ve ever heard you say.”

My eyes fluttered closed. I felt like I was vibrating, waiting for him to touch me. Every sensitive spot on me buzzed with anticipation. All he had to do was touch his lips to mine, brush a thumb over my breast, or cup my backside, and I would explode . . . I was sure.

His lips closed over my earlobe and a low moan escaped me. “But we have to go.” With those words he grabbed my hand and yanked me forward. Startled at the sudden movement, my eyes flew open. His grin was amused as he backed toward the exit . . . and not the bed.

I frowned at him as he laughed. “I’m sorry, Kiera, but you’ll just have to be unsatisfied for a while.” Cocking his head, his smile grew wider. “That’s sort of . . . karma . . . for all the times you’ve left me aroused and alone.”

Guilt crept toward me, but I pushed it back. Our past wasn’t relevant anymore. “You’re mean,” I muttered.

He kissed my cheek. “Hmmm, maybe I am.” Stepping into me, he grabbed my backside and pulled my hips into his. Fire swept through me instantly and I groaned a little before I controlled myself. Running his nose along my jaw, he husked out, “Because I’m really looking forward to teasing you all day.”

Irritated at how turned on I was, I pushed him back. “You suck.”

He laughed as he opened the door. Grabbing my purse, I looked back at the rumpled bed that screamed A passionate romp happened here! “Wait, Kellan. Should we make the bed before we go?”

Kellan bunched his brows as he looked between my face and the twisted sheets. Shaking his head at me, he murmured, “You’re so adorable.” His loving grin turned into amusement as he looked back at the bed. “No, we’re leaving the room like it is. I want the world to know what happened here . . . on the night we consummated our marriage,” he said, returning his eyes to mine.

I sighed, moved by his words. Then he added, “Besides . . . it’s hot.”

Rolling my eyes, I followed him out of our hotel room.

The woman at the front desk kept her eyes on Kellan the entire time he checked us out. I saw her gaze flick down to his wedding ring when he handed her his credit card, but by the sparkle of interest in her eyes, I don’t think she much cared that Kellan was married.

Kellan was a breathtaking man, and gorgeous men attracted attention when they walked into a room. I was used to the reaction by now, and it didn’t really bother me anymore. Well, at least it didn’t bother me as much as it used to.

The eager hotel employee frowned as she handed Kellan his receipt. By the flash of disappointment in her eyes when Kellan thanked her without even looking at her, I think she’d been hoping he would ask her to join him upstairs. I refrained from smiling when her eyes finally shifted to me. She may have been hoping for a quick hookup with the hot man about to exit her lobby, but Kellan didn’t do hookups anymore.

Snuggling into Kellan’s side, I politely thanked her for the pleasant stay. I giggled after I said it, still a little high from my wedding night. Kellan kissed my head as he turned us toward the exit. “When we get home, I’ll call Gavin and have him come over to our house for brunch. Might as well have our two families formally meet, right?” he said.

Kellan’s smile was content and it warmed my heart. He’d referred to his father as “family.” That was a far cry from when he hadn’t wanted anything to do with him. “Yeah, sounds great.” I cringed. “My parents are going to kill me, though.” I flashed my ring. “And then kill you.”

Kellan only shrugged at my comment as he led us to his car in the parking lot. Gallantly opening my door for me, he gave me a peck on the cheek as I slid inside the Chevelle. He sprinted around to the driver’s side with a huge grin on his face. He looked so happy to finally have me as his wife, to know that I was his and I wasn’t going anywhere. I’d always hoped that the man I married would love me beyond reason, but Kellan . . . loved me beyond anything. The depth of his love sometimes overwhelmed me, but my love for him was just as powerful. He was everything to me.

As he stepped into the vehicle, I moved across the bench seat so I could be as close to him as possible. He grinned as he draped his arm over my shoulder. “Miss me?” he asked, his voice low and husky.

Nodding, I leaned up to kiss him. Kellan eagerly returned my affection, his hand coming up to cup my cheek. I lightly flicked my tongue against his and he groaned, then pushed me back. “Hey, I’m supposed to be teasing you today, not the other way around.”

He had an adorable pout on his face, and I couldn’t stop the giggle that escaped me. “Sorry, I learned from the master.”

Kellan let out a dramatic exhale and removed his arm from around my shoulder so he could start his car. “Serves me right, I suppose.” The hearty engine growled to life, and Kellan’s content expression returned.

My face was a mirror image of his as I lay my head on his shoulder. Even though the hotel receptionist had blatantly ogled my husband, even though my dad was going to try and ground me when I saw him again, and even though Kellan’s newly discovered father was going to be dropping by for a visit this afternoon, today was a perfect day; nothing was going to squelch my happiness.

We turned onto Kellan’s cramped street, and a feeling of homecoming came over me. I had enjoyed our night away, but I was glad to be back at our place. And I was really glad that I had moved back in a few weeks ago. When Kellan pulled up to his white, two-story home, a car was parked in the driveway. Kellan glanced over at the bright red sporty Jetta and frowned. Curious about who was here, I looked over as well; the car didn’t belong to anyone I knew.

Shutting off the Chevelle’s engine, Kellan muttered, “Hmmm,” and cracked his door open. I opened mine as well, wondering if maybe Gavin and his kids were here. He was visiting from out of town. Maybe he’d rented the car? Although I found it hard to believe that Gavin would show up without asking Kellan if he could come by first. Plus, he would have needed directions to Kellan’s house. And I really doubted that a rental car would have a bumper sticker on it that read: If you’re gonna ride my ass, at least pull my hair.

Knowing the driver was female and probably one of Kellan’s many, many ex-whatevers, I reluctantly followed Kellan to the front door. God, if some chick had shown up wearing only a long coat while my parents were here . . . I was going to die.

The front door was unlocked and Kellan stepped through. Reaching back for my hand, he escorted me into our entryway. Kellan’s home wasn’t the largest. From the front door you could turn right to go upstairs to the bedrooms, turn left to head into the kitchen, or go straight ahead to the living room. My parents were currently sitting on Kellan’s lumpy living room couch, a deep scowl fixed on my father’s face. My mother was trying to contain it, but I could tell she wasn’t happy either.

I wasn’t sure if their disappointment was over my impromptu elopement or if they were irritated by the person lounging on Kellan’s comfortable chair, a chair that held a large amount of sentimental value for me since Kellan had given it to me when we’d broken up. It meant a lot to me that Kellan had cared enough to think of me at a time when I really didn’t deserve his kindness. Some strange girl sitting on it sideways, dangling her high heeled legs over the armrest, made my stomach tighten.

Hearing our entrance, the girl tilted her head back so she could see the door. When Kellan got a good look at her, he muttered, “Shit,” and glanced down at me with a worried expression. The tightness in my stomach shifted to ice as I wondered who this girl was.

Clenching my hand, Kellan walked into the living room so we could greet the new arrival. When we came into her view, she looked up at Kellan and narrowed her eyes. She had long black hair with equally dark eyes. She made them seem even darker by covering her lids with smoky gray eye shadow. Her lips were painted bright red and were pursed in an irritated, but erotic, pout. She was gorgeous, but I’d been expecting that. Most of Kellan’s conquests were.

Her face full of contempt, her voice low and husky, she bit out, “Well, fuck me, Kellan Kyle.” Amused at herself, she smiled and added, “Oh, wait, you already did.” As her scowl returned, my expression darkened; I already disliked this person.

Ignoring her comment, Kellan acknowledged my parents first. “Martin, Caroline.” Then he shifted his gaze back down to the rude girl lounging on my favorite chair. “Joey.”

My brows shot up my forehead as I stared at the girl glowering at Kellan. Joey? As in, the ex-roommate Joey? The girl who had lived here just a few weeks before Denny and I had moved in . . . over two years ago? I never thought she’d come back. What the heck was she doing here now?

Face tight, Kellan echoed my thoughts, “What are you doing here?”

She hopped to her feet. Crossing her arms over her ample chest, she lifted her chin. Eyes fiery, she snarled, “Where the hell is all my stuff, Kellan?”

Kellan’s mouth dropped a little and some anger seeped into his expression. Holding my hand a little tighter, he replied, “You’ve been gone for two years. I tossed it.”

I bit my lip to stop myself from cringing. I had actually tossed her stuff. Joey had run off in a huff after Kellan had slept with her then immediately slept with someone else. He wasn’t always the sweet, loyal lover that he was now. Kellan had insisted that Joey didn’t care for him, that she was just possessive. He’d offended her by sharing his bed with another woman . . . even though she’d been sharing her bed with other men.

Denny and I had used her furniture when we’d moved in. After our bad breakup, the furniture had felt tainted to me, like the ghost of my ex-relationship had somehow infused into the dark wood. To purge the home, I’d had all of her stuff taken away. Maybe I shouldn’t have done that, since it wasn’t mine to toss, but I’d wanted it gone so Kellan and I could start fresh. I probably should have expected that decision to bite me in the ass.

Her face theatrically outraged, Joey shoved Kellan’s shoulder back. “You what? That wasn’t yours to get rid of, asshole!”

Face heated, Kellan took a step forward. “You ran out. It’s not my problem if you left everything behind!” Eyes disdainful, he scanned her face. “My house isn’t your personal storage unit.”

She scoffed and raised a hand dismissively. “Whatever, Kellan. I don’t need your temperamental crap. If you don’t have my stuff, then you can just pay me for it.” She smirked. “Fifteen hundred should cover everything.”

I made a strangled noise and Joey twisted her head to glare at me. “Who the hell are you?” She raised an eyebrow. “Kellan’s flavor of the hour?”

My dad rose to his feet, his cheeks flaming bright red. “I don’t know who you are, missy, but you cannot talk to my daughter that way!”

I was worried that my father might have a heart attack, he seemed so angry, but his rage was nothing compared to Kellan’s. Dropping my hand, he stepped up to Joey and stared her down. “Be very careful, Josephine. That’s my wife you’re talking to.”

Joey looked intimidated by Kellan for a moment and backed up a step. Then his words hit her. Her dark eyes bugged out and she openly gaped at me. Then she started laughing. “Oh my God, are you serious? You, the biggest man whore I know, actually got married? What a joke.”

Kellan crossed his arms over his chest while my dad sighed and sank back down to the couch. He really wasn’t pleased about this whole marriage thing. I thought I heard my mom sniffle, but I was too focused on Joey to look. My own temper was quickly rising, ready for this intrusive little bitch to leave.

Kellan was too. Indicating the door, he told her, “Fine. I’ll get you fifteen hundred for the furniture. Now get the hell out.”

Joey shook her head. “Oh, I don’t think so . . . not anymore, Kellan.”

He cocked his head, not understanding. I didn’t either. Hands balled into fists, I stormed up to her. “You heard him! You’ll get your money.” I shooed her off with a hand. “Now go back to whatever hole you crawled out of.”

Joey drilled daggers into me with her eyes. She kept her gaze on me, but spoke to Kellan. “I have something of yours that I’m returning”—she looked up at him—“since I have no use for it.” Kellan bunched his brows and Joey smirked at his confused expression. “And if you want it back . . . sweetheart . . . then you’ll double my price.”

“You’re nuts, lady!” I snapped.

Joey ignored me, turning her eyes to Kellan. Then she leaned over and grabbed her bag off the chair, her short skirt exposing almost all of her thigh. Opening the bag, she pulled out a tiny, rectangular media card, the kind that fits into digital cameras, camcorders, and some cell phones. Kellan’s eyes widened when he saw it. He snapped his eyes to hers, and before I could ask what the hell was going on, he quickly told her, “Fine, I’ll give you three thousand.”

Throwing me a victorious smile, Joey handed Kellan the SD card. My mind was spinning over just what was on that card that Kellan was willing to pay so much money for. The fire in my belly shifted to nausea. Kellan clenched his hand around it, then pointed at the door. “I’ll get it to you tomorrow.”

Joey patted his cheek. “You better . . . ’cause I will make your life a living hell if you don’t.” She glanced back at me with a wicked grin.

Kellan closed his eyes. “Get the hell out of my house, Joey.” Reopening them, he added, “And don’t ever come back here.”

Waggling her fingers at my parents, Joey sauntered to the front door. No one moved or spoke as she left the house. When the sound of her car starting filtered in through the door, Kellan finally seemed to relax. Turning to my parents, he discretely tucked the card he was holding into his pocket.

“I’m sorry about that. I hope she didn’t give you too much trouble while we were gone.”

My dad’s posture turned rigid as he looked up at Kellan. I could have sworn his graying hair was getting grayer by the second. “I’m more concerned about what the two of you were doing last night than your tawdry friend.” Cheeks flushed, he looked between my new husband and me. “What’s this about you running off and getting married?” He focused his warm brown eyes on me. “Have you lost your mind, Kiera?”

Mom sniffled again, and Dad patted her hand. I wanted to sit and talk with them about last night, but I was still shell-shocked. What the hell did Kellan have in his pocket? And why was it worth three grand to him?

As Dad patted the couch insistently, Kellan looked back at me. His face was a mixture of amusement, resignation . . . and fear. I wasn’t sure if he was doing it purposely, but he’d angled his hips in such a way that I couldn’t see his card-holding pocket anymore. I still knew that damn thing was in there, though.

Kellan indicated that I should sit in the empty space beside my father, then pointed at the front door. “I’ll be right back. I want to go check on my car, make sure Joey didn’t mess with it.” Giving me a tight smile, he added, “If she keyed my baby, you may need to restrain me, ’cause I might kill her.” He laughed as he started to move toward the door.

My words stopped him cold. “What’s on the SD card?”

The amused smile instantly left Kellan’s face. Swallowing, he shook his head. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it, Kiera.”

Ignoring my parents for a moment, I stepped close to Kellan. I tried to reach around him, to grab his pocket, but he nimbly stepped away from me. Trying very hard to control the anger roiling my stomach, I repeated, “What’s on the card?”

Seeing that I wasn’t going to back down, Kellan leaned in and whispered, “Can we talk about this later . . . in private?”

I wanted to nod my head and sit down to explain my “symbolic” marriage to my worried parents, but I couldn’t get the smirk on Joey’s face out of my mind. Aware that I sounded like a broken record, but not able to stop myself, I asked again, “What’s on the card?”

Irritated at me now, Kellan narrowed his eyes and snapped, “What do you think it is, Kiera? We filmed ourselves screwing!” Instant remorse crossed his face once he realized what he’d just crassly told me. Kellan sometimes lost the filter on his mouth when he got annoyed, and Joey confronting him had put him on edge. I guess my incessant questions pushed him over it.

My mouth dropped open and I felt like he’d just doused me with ice water. I knew that’s what he was going to say, I really did, but hearing him confess it hurt. My whole body felt cracked, torn. Eyes quickly watering, I murmured, “You made a sex tape with her?”

My mom cleared her throat and shifted on the couch. That’s when I suddenly remembered that Kellan and I weren’t alone. No, I stupidly hadn’t been able to wait until we were in private to start this conversation. I really wished I’d been able to squelch my curiosity. I’d give anything to not know that my new husband had a documentary of him banging another girl in his pocket. And I’d really give anything for my parents to not know that too.

Seeing my pain, Kellan came toward me, arms extended. “Kiera, I can explain.”

I held my palms up to him as tears dropped to my cheeks. I didn’t want an explanation right now. I just wanted to be alone. Turning from him and my parents, I darted up the stairs. I heard Kellan asking me to wait and my mom calling my name, but I ignored them. Slamming the bedroom door behind me, I tossed my shoes across the room, collapsed onto my bed, and let the tears flow freely.

So much for nothing ruining my happiness.

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