“I never want to talk about her. But I need to know that she isn’t a threat to me.” I swallowed the unexpected lump that formed in my throat. “To us.” I hadn’t realized how scared I still was about her possible influence on my relationship with Hudson.
“Hey.” Hudson cupped my face in his hands. “She’s not a threat. She has no solid proof of her claims, and she’s not pressing charges. Even if she did, I’d still be here with you. You know that.”
I nodded weakly. “But what about going forward?”
“Simple. We don’t see her. We don’t speak to her. We don’t answer her emails.”
“We don’t?” Of course I wouldn’t see her—I hated the bitch. But what about Hudson?
“Yes, we. I don’t have room in my life for anyone who is against us.”
Another wave of tension rolled off of me. “Your mother is against us too, you know.” I was pressing my luck. Sophia Pierce, monster that she was to both her son and me, would likely always be a staple in Hudson’s life. I would never ask him to cut her off. Though I disliked her, I recognized the importance of family.
“I know.” Hudson sighed, his hands leaving my face. “At least she hasn’t tried to sabotage us. If she does, I’m done with her. You’re the only one that matters.”
“Thank you.” I kissed him softly. “But I hope it doesn’t come to that. It would be nice to believe that there could one day be reconciliation where Sophia is concerned.” It had only been a few days since I’d reconciled with my brother Brian. It had relieved a constant knot in my belly that I hadn’t even been aware of. The same scenario wasn’t likely to happen with Hudson and Sophia, but, hey, what did I know?
My thoughts travelled back to Celia, her reasons for playing me still unclear. “But why did she do it, Hudson? Why was Celia against us?”
“Not us. Me.” His jaw tightened. “She’s mad at me.”
“Still? For what you did all those years ago?” My heart panged at his obvious torment. Hudson wasn’t proud of his past and how could he be expected to move on when it kept coming back to haunt him?
Then anger took over. “I don’t care what you did to her—she’s a bitch. It was awful and terrible and horrible to do what she did. Especially when she claims to be your friend. Is she still in love with you? Is that her problem?”
Hudson lowered his eyes. “If she thinks she loves me, hurting you isn’t the way to win my affection.”
“Well, she certainly acts like a jealous lover.”
“Without reason.” He brushed his hand across my cheek. “Celia and I have never had anything together. Nothing. Except for…” His voice softened. “Except for what I made her believe I felt for her.”
“She knows that wasn’t real.” I hated that this still tormented him. “And that was forever ago, now. If she’s trying to get you back, it seems she already did that when she slept with your father and trapped you into claiming to be the father of her baby instead of Jack. Why didn’t you tell me about that, by the way?”
“I should have.” His tone was filled with regret.
“Yes, you should have.” It would have made things much clearer to me about his relationships with both Celia and his father. And it had been yet another thing that stood as a wall between us—though most of the secrets keeping us apart had been mine. That was my regret.
Hudson released his hands from mine and swept them down my ribs. “It didn’t feel like it was my secret to tell.”
“Okay, that’s fair.” I shivered as his fingers kneaded the skin at my hips. He was getting restless, wanting more, wanting me. The time for talking was nearing an end. I had to jump to the meat of my concerns. “But some things have to change between us. We have to be able to share these things with each other. You could have at least told me you had good reasons not to trust her, reasons I shouldn’t trust her.”
“And you could have honored my wishes when I said don’t see her.”
“Yes, I could have.” I let out a sigh. “We both have to change. We have to put everything on the line, Hudson, as much as possible. We know now that we’re together, thick and thin, right? We have to trust that more than anything. We can’t be afraid of our secrets and our pasts. Both of us. Honesty, open doors, transparency.”
He cocked a brow. “Nakedness?”
Yep, I was losing him. “You’re such a perv.”
“I agree.” He leaned forward again to lick a bead of water from my nipple. “I am a perv where you’re concerned.”
I smirked. Which was difficult considering how his tongue on my breast made me crazy. “Hudson, stop. I’m serious.”
“I know.” He leaned back against the tub. “And I agree with everything else you said. We need to be honest.”
“Good.” I put my hand up to stop him before he resumed his seduction. “Hold on. I have one more thing.”
He was getting impatient but trying not to show it. I almost decided to leave the rest of our conversation for later. But the memory of my nightmare and the cold foreboding feeling that lingered in my chest pushed me forward. “What happened between you and Stacy?”
“Stacy?” He seemed confused. “Mirabelle’s Stacy?”
“Nothing happened.” He was bewildered by my question. “What do you mean? Like did I date her? I took her to a charity event a year or so ago. But after that, nothing.”
“And I didn’t sleep with her,” he added before I had to ask.
That was comforting. But that wasn’t the reason she concerned me. “Is there a reason she’d have a vendetta against you? Or reason to distrust you?”
He shook his head slowly. “Not that I can think of.”
“She wasn’t one of your past victims?”
“Victims?” His eyes narrowed. “Is that what you call the people I played with?”
I cringed. “Maybe that wasn’t the best choice of words?”
“No. It probably is the best choice. That doesn’t make it pleasant to hear.”
His features darkened. “Don’t be. It’s my past. I have to live with it. Why are you asking?”
I took a deep breath. We were putting everything on the line, after all. This was part of it. “The last time we were at Mira’s, Stacy told me that she had some sort of video. A video that proved something or other about you and Celia. She didn’t have it with her, so I gave her my phone number so she could contact me later.”