But, though I hadn’t told him about the conversation, I was certain sociopath was a term Sophia had used openly with him. I wondered if he thought it was an accurate description of himself. It was hard to bring it up and debate it with him when I knew so little about the things he’d actually done in the past. I only knew the general idea—that he manipulated people. Played them.
If I was being honest with myself, I could see where sociopath might be mentioned by a therapist treating someone with those types of habits.
I didn’t know enough. Though I believed in Hudson and his feelings for me, there were still so many unknowns.
Propping the book open on the nightstand, I turned my body to face him. “Hudson, can I ask you something?”
He shut his laptop, set it on the nightstand on his side of the bed and switched on the table lamp. “Yes, I will do wicked things to your body, but only if you promise to do wicked things to mine.”
I giggled. “I’m being serious.”
“So am I.” His eyes blazed as he ran them down my bare legs and back to meet mine. “But wickedness can wait. Ask me.”
“I was thinking…” I ran my teeth over my lower lip as I figured how to broach the subject. “Celia had said that you manipulated women, as if it was more than her. What does that mean exactly? Like, what did you do?”
His jaw set. “I thought you said you just chatted today.”
“We did.” I rushed to correct his impression. “She didn’t mention that today at all. Or anything like it. I swear.” I took a deep breath. “It was before, at the charity fashion event of your mother’s and I’ve been thinking about it. I should know, don’t you think? If we’re going to be open and honest with each other, I need to know.”
“No, you don’t.” He stood, and for a moment, I thought he was leaving the room, but he merely turned off the overhead light and started back to the bed.
“I do need to know.”
“No way.” He said it with finality. Case closed.
But I wasn’t willing to accept that. I pulled my legs under me to a kneeling position. “Hudson, I get it. I do. You want to ignore it and leave things in the past. But you’re always going to be scared that I can’t love you through anything if you don’t give me the chance to prove that I will.”
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?”
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 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.