Dire (Page 22)

Chapter Eleven

Mary Anne

Thankfully Hunter didn’t stay in the guest room long. “Just let me know if you need anything.”

“I think I’m all set, but thanks.” I forced a smile, hoping it looked genuine enough.

“I’m right across the hall.” He hesitated with his hand on the doorknob.

“Great.”

He stared at me awkwardly for a moment before closing the door behind him. I let out a small sigh of relief. At least the guy wasn’t going to hover.

I took another look at the flimsy black fabric. Did Marni seriously leave that for me to sleep in? It was the kind of thing I’d be embarrassed to wear to bed alone in my own room let alone in some strange house in the middle of nowhere. Plus it was freezing out. Where were the flannel pajamas or nightgown? At least I had the wool socks.

I set the slinky nightie to the side. I’d be sleeping in the yoga pants and tank top. I pulled off my sweater and slipped into bed. I contemplated turning off the light, but in the end I left the bedside lamp on. There were no lights outside, and the fire light wasn’t all that bright, so turning the switch would have sent me into darkness. I wasn’t ready to handle that yet.

The bed felt empty. Cold. I wanted Gage beside me. Why was I in such a big bed when he was sleeping on the couch? If it weren’t for how adamantly against it Hunter was, I’d have told Gage to sneak in and join me. Instead I used an extra pillow to snuggle with. I wasn’t selfish enough to put Gage in that position. We were at Hunter’s mercy until we could get to a town or at least a phone, so for the time being we had to play by his rules.

I’d just started drifting off to sleep when I heard the door creak open. I held my breath, hoping it was Gage but terrified I was wrong. I kept my head down as I tried to come up with a plan to defend myself.

“I know you’re awake.” Hunter’s voice cut though the silent night

I sat up. “What are you doing in here?”

“I came in to make sure the fire was still going strong. I don’t want you getting cold.” He pushed the poker around in the fire without turning to look at me.

“I appreciate the concern, but I’d prefer if you didn’t walk in here when I’m sleeping.”

“Why?” He set aside the poker and turned around. “Does my presence bother you?”

“Yes.” I noticed that the door was still partially ajar which set me at ease. If he was going to kill or rape me, wouldn’t he have closed it?

“No it doesn’t.” He strode toward the bed.

“It does, and I’d like to go back to sleep.”

“You weren’t sleeping.” He sat on the edge of the bed.

“How would you know?”

“I heard you tossing and turning and your breathing wasn’t a sleeping pattern.” He smoothed out the quilt next to him. “Is there anything I can do to help you sleep?”

Let me sleep with Gage. Of course I left that thought to myself. “No, thank you.”

“Are you sure? Maybe something warm to drink?”

“I’m fine.” I held the blanket tighter against me.

“Do I frighten you?” He scooted closer.

“Yes.”

He laughed. “Honest.”

“Not you specifically, just having a man this close who I don’t know.”

“How well do you know Gage?”

“I’ve known him my whole life.” I couldn’t even remember the first time we met.

“Knowing who someone is doesn’t mean you know him.”

“I know him.” I tried to pull the blanket even higher, wishing I’d kept my bra on under the tank top.

“Are you sure?”

“Why are you doing this? What’s your angle?”

“My angle?” He rested the palm of his hand next to me.

“Yes? Why do you care so much about my relationship with Gage?”

“Because I can see it for what it is.”

“And what is it?”

“A boy using you.”

“Gage isn’t using me.”

“He isn’t?” Hunter leaned in closer to me. Despite how little he knew of our situation, he was probably right. The sex had been because I was convenient, but what would happen when we got home? Would he still want me? Either way, we were closer now, and he was the only thing I had until we made it back.

“No. At least not any more than I’m using him.” Had I said that? Had I thought that? I mean I wasn’t a saint in any of this either. I wanted Gage, but did I really even understand those feelings? Was I ready to turn things into something real?

Hunter chuckled. “I see.”

“But I care about him, and he cares about me.”

“And caring is enough?”

“Yes.” At least for now.

“You deserve more than caring.”

“You mean love?” I wasn’t sure why I was even talking to Hunter. Maybe it was the late hour or the reality that I was never going to see this man again.

“Love, passion, complete adoration. You’re a unique girl. There’s something more to you than shows on the surface.”

“Are you done analyzing me?”

“Are you done being afraid of me?”

“Yes.” If he was going to hurt me he would have done it already, but I was definitely ready to get out of his house.

“Then I’ll leave you. Sleep well.” He stood and turned off my lamp. “It’s not good to sleep with the lights on.” He closed the door behind him leaving me in near darkness. Only the firelight provided any illumination.

Hunter made it even harder for me to sleep. I kept thinking about Gage, about what we meant to each other, and I decided I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to overanalyze things. I also decided I needed him. I waited as long as I could, hoping that Hunter had gone back to bed.

I crept out of my room and down the dark stairs. There was a faint glow of moonlight coming through a window, but otherwise it was pitch black.

I felt my way along the banister. Once downstairs, the firelight was enough to help me make my way over to where Gage was sleeping on the couch. I slipped in under his blankets.

“Mary Anne.” He murmured my name as he pulled me close.

“It’s me.” I snuggled into his side.

“We have to get out of here,” Gage whispered. He was more awake than I’d originally thought.

“I know. Something is seriously up with these people.”