Page 5

I really don't want to get out, but I do it anyway without taking his hand. Peter shakes his head slightly and then stretches as he turns away from me. His shirt lifts, and I can see his beautiful body, as well as the spot where it's marred by that horrible scar. The blemish makes me wonder. Peter can fight, but he didn't last night. I wonder if he fought back the night the knife was shoved in his side. It feels like there's more story there, something deeper that he didn't tell me.

Peter shoves his hands in the pockets of his jeans and looks back at me. Curiosity spreads across his face when he sees me gawking at him, but he doesn't comment on it. "Come on. Let's get a room and grab dinner. We haven't eaten all day and if I have to eat another cereal bar I'll—"

"You ate all the cereal bars four hours ago." It's the first thing I've said to him since we left. The teasing comment is light. For a second I regret it, but then I push past it. I have to decide what to do with him. I look at Peter from under the curtain of hair that's been hiding my face all day. Fuck it. The silent treatment isn't worth the effort. I reach into my pocket and twist my hair up into a ponytail. Stray curls are probably sticking out like Satan's horns, but I don't care.

Peter walks ahead and grabs the door. He holds it for me, and I step inside. The place seriously gives me the creeps. Peter walks past me to the front desk and rings the bell. An elderly woman, bent with age, hobbles out of the back room. She adjusts her glasses and smiles warmly at Peter like she knows him.

"Peter Ferro. I didn't think I'd see you in here again." Her wrinkled lips smile warmly at him before she glances back at me. "This fine man stayed here before. A Ferro chose to stay at my motel and not that other place down the road." She's beaming with pride as she tells me this.

Peter turns up the charm and cranks his smile to full wattage. He takes her hands and says, "Because this place is the best. I couldn't drive through here and not stop." I swear to God, the old lady blushes. Peter pats her hand before letting go. "How have you been?"

She smiles shyly and shoos at him. "You don't have time to listen to an old woman prattle. I bet you're famished. Here's your pass to get dinner in the restaurant. Each room comes with a hot meal. And here is the room key." The old woman turns slowly and takes a key off the board behind her. She explains as she's handing it to him. "It's the only room I have left. I'm sorry about that."

I don't follow, but Peter seems to. "It'll be perfect. Thank you so much." He hands her a credit card and she swipes it.

"Checkout time is nine, and since this room is the honeymoon suite, it comes with breakfast in bed. What time would you like that delivered?"

I nearly choke. "What? We can't stay in the honeymoon suite." I'm next to Peter at the counter now, ready to jump over the edge to look for an alternate option. "You must have another room."

"I'm sorry, dear, but we don't. There's a convention that has us all booked up. The room is very lovely."

"But it's a…" Sex room! It's for happy couples, married couples. It's not for us! I don't say any of it. The words bounce around in my head like bowling balls crushing every other thought. Instinct is telling me to keep space between Peter and me, but I can't, and this makes it worse.

Peter is grinning at me. "It's a…what, Sidney?" He's leaning on the counter wearing that tight T-shirt with a lazy, sexy smirk. I hate him.


"No, you definitely thought it was something. Go ahead and tell us." He's teasing me.

My face heats up as a blush travels from cheek to cheek. Screw it. I say the first thing that comes into my head. "It's just that I'm sure it's a beautiful room and I don't want it to get messed up like last time. Peter has issues controlling himself. He makes love like a rabid monkey, and things tend to break. I don't want to ruin your best room. That's all."

Peter's mischievous grin widens, like the statement is true. I meant to embarrass him, but it obviously didn't work.

The old woman pats my hand, pulling my gaze away from Peter. She says, "I know, dear," and looks up at Peter and winks. The girlish look on her face implies that she intimately knows what I mean.

I blink twice, certain that I heard her wrong. It makes Peter laugh. He grabs the key from the woman and says, "Thank you, Betsy. I promise that I won't break anything while I make wild monkey love to my friend."

Peter pulls me through the door. When we step outside, the night air is thick and warm. It smells like honeysuckle and jasmine.

My mouth is hanging open. "Did you—"

Peter doesn't stop walking. He heads to the car and pulls out our bags. "Did I what, Colleli?"

"Did you sleep with her?"

"I've slept with a lot of people." Peter carries our bags to the room and slides the key into the hole. It's a real brass key with a big plastic tag hanging off the end.

"What the hell kind of answer is that?"

"It's the only answer you're getting, since you believe what you've read in the tabloids instead of what I've told you." Peter steps into the dark room, turns, and stops abruptly. I smack into his chest just as he drops the bags. His face is so close to mine that I can feel his breath when he speaks. "I fucked half the East Coast, remember? The women around these parts are very satisfied. I can add you to the list later if you like."

Anger surges through me. I hate the way he's talking to me. When he says the last part, my temper gets the better of me. My hand flies and my palm slaps him across his face. Peter doesn't even flinch. He catches my hand and presses his on top of it before I have time to pull away. He holds it there, and that lost look surfaces in his blue eyes.

Panic races through me. I still feel everything I felt for him yesterday and the day before. I still want to touch, kiss, and taste him. My heart beats faster as Peter leans in, closing the space between us. His lips linger so close to mine. If I move the slightest amount, we'll kiss. I don't breathe as my body tenses up. His hand, that slightest bit of touch, is shooting a current through my entire body. The way he looks at me makes my stomach flip. I hate the way he makes me feel, and I love it at the same time. I'm trapped, unable to move. The moment lasts forever. I think about closing the distance; I think about pressing my mouth to his and holding him again. My gaze is locked on his lips, and just as I lean in, Peter pulls away. He drops my hand and steps back.

"I'm not like my father—not anymore. A kiss means something to me, and I don't share them with women like you."

If he slapped me, it would have hurt less. "A woman like me?" He nods. "What the hell does that mean?"

Peter steps closer again, and lowers his face to mine. He speaks swiftly and passionately. "A woman who's blinded by my name, a woman who can't see me as anything but a Ferro."

I fight with him. I argue because I need it. I want to scream and slam my hands into his chest, so I do it. Peter doesn't move. His eyes are narrowed into slits like he hates me. "You fucking lied to me!"

"I'm still the man I was yesterday, and the same man as a week ago. "

"No, you're not! You hid the biggest part of your past and never told me a damn thing! You're a liar, just like him!" Just like Dean. He was all smiles and flattery until he turned on me. The scope of Dean's betrayal reaches out and chokes me, years later, and this feels like the same goddamn thing. I slam my hands into his chest again. This time Peter grabs my wrists and throws them aside.

He presses his forehead to mine and hisses, "I am nothing like him. How could you say that? After all the time we spent together, how could you—"

Tears are stinging my eyes, but they don't fall. "After all the time we spent together, how could you not tell me who you really are?"

Frustrated, Peter releases me and screams, "Because shit like this happens when people find out who I am!" He breathes hard and runs his hands through his hair, tugging hard. The saddest expression I've ever seen plays across his eyes when he sits down on a chair by the door and holds his head between his hands. "Damn it, Sidney, this wasn't about you. I just wanted to start over. It wasn't about you."

I watch him for a moment. I see the way he grasps his dark hair and then runs his hands over the back of his neck. I know he's hurting, and I hate that I'm the one who's causing it, but I can't leave things like this. "Tell me why you didn't fight last night. Dean deserved to be beat to a pulp, but you didn't. Why?"

Peter looks up at me. His eyes are the darkest shade of blue, nearly black. They pin me in place and strip me. I feel vulnerable and I hate it, but I don't move. The light from the open door spills into the room. It paints shadows across Peter's beautiful face, making him look harder than he is. "Why should I answer that? You're just going to use it against me."

I resist the urge to pull my hair and scream at him. Taking a deep breath, I manage to keep a steady tone. "There are two different versions of you that don't fit together. I'm wondering if I was with a lie for the past few months. I know you can fight. I know you used to fight all the time, but last night you didn't. It was intentional, and I want to know why."

Peter laughs so sadly that it breaks my heart. He stands up and steps over to me. Looking down into my face, he says, "I gave you the chance to know me like that and you threw it away. I don't give second chances, Colleli. You have no right to ask me anything like that anymore. Grab your wallet. We're going to dinner and you're buying whatever that voucher doesn't cover."

It feels like he reached into my chest and crushed my heart, but I don't show it. My face is utterly still, relaxed like I don't care. I nod and say, "Fair enough. You paid for gas all day."

The conversation ends, and we're miles away from where I wanted to be. In the back of my mind I'd hoped that it was possible to fix things with him, that Peter could convince me that he's the same person that he always was, but he doesn't even try. Instead, he shuts me out. I'm not the one who did this. My resolve to push him out of my heart solidifies. Peter Ferro will never know every part of me again.