Home > Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(8)

Love's Cruel Redemption (The Ghost Bird #12)(8)
Author: C.L. Stone

“First thing,” Nathan said, “I don’t want any trouble. The Sorensons are going through enough right now. Whatever you’re thinking of doing, you probably don’t want to do this.”

Danielle smirked and crossed her arms over her chest, making the fabric appear even tighter around her shoulders. It was a wonder how she managed to even move. “I saw the fight,” she said. “I saw the fight with Kota.”

Great. She was the last person who needed to see anything. “It’s not what you’re thinking.”

“It was something about Sang.”

“It’s none of your business.”

She dropped her haughty smirk. “Listen. I’m not here to give you a hard time. I’m here to help.”

“You say help, but the best way to help is to stay out of it. There’s nothing you can do.”

“You don’t know everything,” Danielle said. “You think you do, but you don’t. Marie and I know about Sang. We know about her real mom.”

Nathan ground his teeth. He probably should have been surprised Marie kept that bit of information to herself for as long as she did. For now, he tried to pretend they were on the same team, to keep Danielle from talking around school or anywhere else. “Exactly how do you think you’re helping?”

“Let Marie and I come over and spend the night tonight.”

Nathan laughed, short and sharply. “You’ve gotta be kidding.”

“I’m not kidding. I’m going to try to get Marie out of the house tonight. Her mom sleeps pretty heavily, so she probably won’t notice. She sneaks out now sometimes. I know Sang used to do that all the time. Marie told me about it. So don’t act like you’re above it all.”

If Marie knew, she didn’t mention it. He had to give Marie a little credit for that. “Why do you want to stay here?”

Danielle leaned against the counter, looking him in the eyes dead on. “I have an idea. I’ll be telling my parents I’m staying at her house.” She held up a single finger. “Just one night. I’ll explain everything. If you change your mind at that point, that’s up to you. Just hear us out.”

Nathan considered his options. If he said no, she and Marie could go somewhere else. That could make it more difficult to figure out what was going on. However, if he let them spend the night, maybe pretend he was in on it, he could stop them before they did anything stupid. “Okay...” Nathan said. “I guess. But I get to make the final decision before you do anything. Sang’s happier now. And so is Marie. I don’t want to mess that up.”

Danielle put a hand over her heart. “I promise, no tricks.”

Nathan doubted it. He only hoped he wasn’t making the wrong decision.

And he hoped Mr. Blackbourne was still listening. This was a distraction to keep him occupied, but he wasn’t sure if he was just asking for more trouble.

The Truth Among the Lies


There were voices floating from the living room. I was pretty sure my name was spoken a few times.

I was afraid to move. Nathan had said to stay, and I trusted him, but I was afraid of what was being said.

Shame filled my senses, not just for Jessica catching us and not knowing the truth, but for leaving Nathan to confront it and not being out there for him.

They shouldn’t have to do this alone.

I wasn’t sure how Kota would react, or Erica or Jessica... They had been very nice to let me stay with them this whole week and support me. I felt like somehow this whole mess was a betrayal to them. Even if they didn’t really understand it.

Even Kota knew about the relationship between myself and the rest of the guys, but he struggled. I knew he did. And now he was forced to face it. Forced to deal with the aftermath with his mother and sister.

After several long minutes, I heard Kota’s voice again. His voice was stronger, more upset.

“I don’t want to talk about it right now,” he said.

Not good.

A moment later, there were footsteps in the hallway and my heart nearly exploded, anxious. Luckily, it was Kota that appeared in the doorway.

Him being with me when being confronted by Jessica and Erica, that made it better. Kota understood it probably wasn’t what Jessica thought it was.

He took one look at me and with his back to Jessica and Erica, he flicked a finger to his lips, indicating to me not to say much.

I would’ve been happy to not say anything if I could help it. If he had a plan, I was willing to follow it.

Erica nudged Kota a little so she could stand beside her son. Her face was kind, but it still made me feel bad for what she may have heard. “Sang, it’s okay. Don’t be afraid.”

Just the delicate way that she was talking made me realize that whatever had been said, they were upset with Nathan, and not me.

That just made me feel so much worse about what was going on. I pressed my lips together, blushing and unsure what to say. So I stuck with what Kota said, saying nothing.

Erica went on, “Jessica said Nathan tried to kiss you...”

Kota spoke quickly, cutting off Erica and stepping toward me, hands up to offer to collect mine. “I don’t blame you. I don’t. He told me that he did try to kiss you. You had told him no. You don’t have to prove yourself. I believe him and I trust you.”

I wanted to groaned, but I couldn’t. I was afraid to say anything in the next few minutes, because I was pretty sure I wanted to clear up the entire situation. I wanted to help Nathan in any way I could. The only thing I could say was that he didn’t do it against my will, which just seemed to make things so much worse.

“I...” I started to say then just stopped. I thought maybe that was better. Stutter a little, look like I was making an effort. I focused on Kota’s outstretched hands. I put mine in his, hoping this was the right thing to do if Kota was urging me silently to do it.

Kota nodded and pulled me into him, getting me into a hug.

I lean into it and hid my face in his chest. I felt bad enough to not want to look at the others. I don’t know how he knew what I needed right then, but he did.

I felt a third hand on me, near my head, and I thought it was Erica.

“You’ll be okay,” Erica said. “Kota, I know you trust them. But she is a pretty girl. And if you ask me, she is the only girl that they have spent any time with of the last several months. I didn’t want to say it, but it was just a matter of time.”

“We shouldn’t talk about this now,” Kota muttered.

Erica released her hand from me and then said, “What he did was wrong. I don’t want to diminish it. However, I am willing to accept that he is young, and probably a little confused. You let him know it wasn’t okay. I don’t want him to think he can get away with kissing someone if they didn’t want him to.”

At this, I had to say something. I turned myself away from Kota a little bit to face Erica but kept my cheek pressed against his chest. “He wasn’t being that pushy.” I wasn’t sure how else to say it, but I really didn’t want to give them the wrong impression about him like that. “I’m not sure what was heard, but he wasn’t trying to force me, he was just...saying he wanted to. He wasn’t going to force me.”

Kota quickly pushed his palm against my cheek, partially covering my mouth. “That’s enough for now.” He sighed. “We should talk, but let’s give it some time. Let’s eat breakfast, give ourselves a chance to calm down. We’ll talk about it then.”

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