Found in You

Found in You: Page 12

He stood at the edge of the bed, his eyes narrowed. "But what if you don't? Have you considered that? Has it crossed your mind that I might have done things you could never forgive?"

"There's nothing-"

He cut me off. "You don't know that."

I switched tactics. "Is there anything I could have done to make you...?" Stop loving me is what I thought. But it felt weird to say it out loud like that when he hadn't ever said it himself. "To change the way you feel about me?"

"It's not the same."

"You don't know that either." To be fair, he knew very little about the things I'd done before. I hadn't wanted to tell him, hadn't wanted him to know the awful ways I'd invaded people's lives. I completely understood about wanting to let the past lie.

"Then tell me."

I swallowed but didn't let the trepidation show on my face. "Anything?"

He sat on the bed, facing me. "The restraining order against you was filed by Paul Kresh.
Who was he?"

I closed my eyes for half a second. Hudson had read my police files. Of course he would remember the details.

My hesitation spurred him. "See? You can't tell me."

"He was a guy," I blurted out. I wasn't stupid. If I wanted him to share, I'd have to do the same. "Just a guy who picked me up once when I was clubbing."

"You f**ked him."

Another deep breath. "Yes."

Hudson's eye twitched. "Go on." His voice was tight.

"He took me to his place. And after...well, after, he wanted me to leave. But I played drunk and stayed the whole night."

"Then what?"

"Then I went through his things while he was sleeping and discovered wedding invitations. He had a fiancée. She was out of town for the weekend or something and I was a girl he'd picked up. But he didn't realize that I'd been crushing on him for weeks. I'd seen him with her, and I didn't care. When I saw him alone that night, I made myself available."

My hands were sweaty-I'd been holding them in a ball. I wiped them on the bed next to me as I went on. "Of course, he wanted me gone, to pretend it never happened. Wanted me to forget his address. He never gave me his number, but I'd gotten that when he was sleeping, too. Sent myself a text from his phone so I'd have it."

I paused, trying to remember how I'd felt, how desperate I'd been for Paul to be in my life. "I couldn't let him go. I thought..." My voice trailed off at the memory. "I don't know what I thought."

Hudson turned so that his back was against the headboard. "Yes, you do. Tell me."

I sat back next to him, stretching my legs out in front of me. "I thought he was my soul mate. That I was meant to be with him or something. Before I even actually talked to him. I know. Crazy. It was crazy." I stared at my toes. "I was crazy."

"No, you weren't. You only wanted to be loved."

Hudson's rich brandy tone pulled my eyes to his. "Yes," I said, meaning so much more than yes, I wanted to be loved. Meaning yes, we understand each other, yes, we get it.

Yes, we weren't crazy or sociopaths or horrible people. We only wanted to be loved.

"Anyway," I smoothed my hair behind my ear, "I didn't have a job. I was living off my inheritance, which is gone now, and so I had plenty of time to wait outside his apartment and follow him to work. Every day. For months. Two? Three? I don't remember exactly. One day, I told the security guard he was my boyfriend. I convinced him to let me in his office during lunch. When Paul came back, I was waiting for him." I lowered my lids. "Naked."

Hudson's eye twitched again.

"He turned me away, H. Called security before I had a chance to even throw some clothes on." My throat closed at the humiliating memory. "He filed the restraining order after that."

I studied his face, trying to pick up on the slightest change in his expression, hoping to pick up on his thoughts. But I came up with nothing. His features were stone.

Would he ever let me in?

Hudson brought his index finger up to his face and rubbed the tip along his chin. "But that's not all, is it? Your record says you violated the order."

I felt my face flush. "I, um, I did." God, talking about it was embarrassing. Even thinking it made me want to crawl in a hole. Of the stupid, idiotic, insane things I'd done, this had been one of the worst. "I became friends with Melissa."

He nodded once, immediately understanding. "His fiancée."

"Yeah. I joined her Pilates class and became buddy-buddy with her. So she started inviting me out with her and her friends. Eventually I ended up at a party that Paul was at too. He was livid. And he had to decide if he wanted to ignore it or report me. If he reported me, Melissa would find out about the one-night. I wouldn't leave things alone, so he reported it. And she broke things off."

"He deserved that."

"Maybe." I wasn't so sure. Yes, he'd cheated on his fiancée, but that didn't make up for my role in things.

"He deserved worse in my book." Though Hudson was guarding his reaction to my story, his casual crumbs of support in my favor helped put me at ease. "And Paul's the only one this happened with?"

No. Not even close. "He was the only one who went to the police."

"I see." Hudson was quiet for a handful of seconds, absorbing. Finally, he furrowed his brow, and looked me eye-to-eye. "Why would you think that this would change how I feel about you?"

"Are you kidding? Aren't you worried I'll become that hung up on you?"

"I'm hoping you become that hung up on me." He draped his arm around my shoulder. "Paul was a f**king ass**le who didn't realize what he had in front of him. I do. Get hung up on me."

"I am hung up on you!" I turned to kiss his shoulder. "But careful what you wish for. If I go crazy on you, you'll want me gone."

He turned his cheek to nuzzle against the top of my head. "I'd never drive you away. Not on purpose."

It was sweet-being held and told that I was wanted. I couldn't ask for anything more.

Yet, I still felt Hudson didn't understand the severity of the things I'd done.

I sat forward and turned my entire body to face him, pulling my legs underneath me. "But what if I started to doubt you? That's happened before, too. Where I didn't trust anything my boyfriend said to me, no matter how innocent they were. And then I snooped and invaded privacy and people got hurt."

"Then I simply have to make sure that you never have any reason to doubt me." He swept his hand out in front of him. "Snoop away. I have nothing to hide from you here."

And there was my ticket back to where we'd started the conversation. "You're hiding your past."

He groaned. "I'm not hiding my past. There's simply nothing worth talking about. It's ugly. Why would you want to focus on the bad things?"

"It's not focusing; it's sharing and then moving on."

He shook his head.

"I told you mine. That's not fair."

This time I got a steady glare.

"Come on. Anything. One thing." I felt desperate. Opening up had been hard, and I wasn't even getting the reward that I'd counted on.

I stared at him with wide, pleading eyes.

"One thing and you'll leave it alone?"

I nodded enthusiastically.

"Okay, one thing." He sighed. "It was a game. Always a game. And my favorite was the same one I played on Celia. Make a woman fall for me, and when she did, I was done." He paused, and for half a second I feared that was all he was going to say.

But then he went on, his eyes glossy with memory. "There was one time, though, I wanted to see if I could make someone fall for someone else, someone they had no interest in. I knew this guy, Owen, who was a real ass. A complete man-whore. And this woman, Andrea-a girl, really. She was in my tennis club my second year of college. Very shy, simple, homely. I discovered she had a thing for me. Having a thing for me was very dangerous." He stared pointedly at me. "Still is."

I rolled my eyes. "No, it's not. Go on."

"I set her up with Owen. Not just on a date, more. I played silent matchmaker. Got them together. I convinced Owen he was doing me a favor by taking her out a few times. Meanwhile, I'd fill him with all these stories of how amazing Andrea was, how her true beauty was inside. And it happened-they fell for each other. Completely. Sincerely."

I blinked. Twice. "That's a beautiful story."

"Then I f**ked her and showed Owen the pictures."

"Oh, my god." My hand flew instinctively to my mouth. I hadn't been prepared for that and immediately felt ashamed. I'd been trying to be supportive. He'd tried to shock me. He won.

Hudson carried on as if I hadn't reacted. "Andrea tried to tell Owen it was a mistake, that I'd tricked her, which I had. I didn't rape her-I never raped anyone. But he wouldn't listen to her. They were both...broken, is the best way to describe it. Andrea left school in the middle of the semester. I never heard anything about her again."

"And Owen?" My voice sounded much feebler than I would have liked.

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