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Home > Addicted After All (Addicted #3)(5)

Addicted After All (Addicted #3)(5)
Author: Krista Ritchie

“Lily.” Worry breaches his voice, but I feel his hands around my h*ps before I tumble and fall. He combs my short brown hair out of my face, and I blink a few times, his features clearing past the dizzy haze.

“That’s…my least favorite Lily,” I say under my breath.

He exhales loudly. “Don’t stand up that quickly next time. Your blood pressure—”

“—is low,” I finish. “I know.” I’ve been taking lots of extra steps to ensure a healthy pregnancy: vitamins, eating less junk food, and reading books. But the more I try, the less I succeed. Rose leaves her doctor with an A-plus report and a pat on the back. I leave mine with a list of things to work on.

Lo said that they probably bribe the doctor to say nice things, just to one-up us. I doubt it. Though maybe the doctor is scared of Rose’s wrath. That is a likely possibility, especially since she went through four Ob/Gyn’s before choosing Dr. Freida Dhar.

My finger skims the blue paint on his ribs, the place so red beneath that I wonder if it’ll bruise. And I just hug Lo, my arms flying around his waist. The idea of a real bullet slicing through his skin nearly chokes the breath from my lungs. To lose Loren Hale is to lose my life. It’s these moments—of catastrophic change and brutal, ugly fatality—that I recognize how deeply I love him.

He tilts my chin up with his fingers, reading my pained features well, and he whispers, “We’re okay.”

I nod. We’re okay. And then he kisses my lips, full of pressure and force that numbs my brain. Yes. I shut my eyes and drift with the bursting sensations, his hand falling to the hem of my leggings. Yes. I feel so wet and ready for that image of his c**k to become reality. But maybe now isn’t a good time?

I’m not sure.

And then he pulls away, my lips still warm from his touch. He mouths, later.

Later. I can do later. “What’s later?” I ask.

He just smiles.

His teasing is killing me. In a good-bad way. I cross my ankles, spin around to face my sisters, and lean against Lo’s chest. His hands settle on my hips, some of his fingers dipping below them hem of my leggings. He’s sneaky.

I catch myself rubbing my ass against his crotch, and I stop when his fingertips dig into my skin like he’s trying not to be that aroused.

Later.

I can hear Ryke whispering quietly to Daisy, but I can’t make out any of the words.

Across from me, Rose pulls her silky brown hair in a pony while she speaks to Connor in French. And then her gaze drifts to mine and she goes quiet.

“Talking about us?” Lo asks her, and I can feel his bitter half-smile behind me.

Rose’s eyes narrow. “You’re spending too much time with my husband,” she says. Connor barely even balks at this, knowing exactly where she’s going. My brows pinch in confusion with Lo’s.

“Why is that?” Lo asks.

“You’ve acquired his narcissism. No, we were not talking about you.” She snaps her hairband in place. “Get over yourself.”

Lo’s face sharpens. “Hey, Rose,” he says. Oh no. “You want to know what karmic justice looks like? Your baby, ripping slowly through your vagina on its way out.” He flashes another dry smile, and I punch him in the arm. He barely even acknowledges the attack. The get over yourself comment must have really eaten at him.

Rose straightens to attention and shoots him two middle fingers. “Fuck. You. Times two.”

“I can count, thanks,” Lo says.

Connor is leaning against the sink counter with his arm hooked around Rose’s waist. His grin grows and grows the longer they go at it. That’s great for him, but I’m starting to sweat profusely, scared their back-and-forth verbal fight will go down a bad, bad road. They’ve been there before, and it can easily happen again.

“They teach algebra in detention?” she says with the tilt of her head.

“Weak,” he replies back.

She purses her lips.

I glance down at Daisy, who’s still sitting on the floor with Ryke. He spins the blue baseball cap backwards on her head again, her tears dried. She rarely wears makeup like me, so she has no mascara streaks. Ryke leans in to kiss her, and she swiftly turns her head.

The bottom of my stomach drops at the rejection.

Ryke is rigid and unmoving. And then Daisy says, “I threw up earlier…” Oh…Daisy. I cringe at how many moments she probably wishes she could alter and rewind. She rises to her feet and heads to the sink. Connor scoots over so she has room to brush her teeth.

Ryke stands and rubs his lips in thought as he wanders over to us. And then he whispers to me, “She threw up?”

I nod. “She was nauseous. She’s better now, I think.”

“At least she gave you a warning,” Lo tells Ryke. “Lily would’ve just kissed me.”

I gape and then think about it for a second. “Yeah…maybe.” I probably would’ve forgotten that I threw up. I crinkle my nose. “Am I that gross?”

“No, love,” Lo says and then kisses the outside of my lips like the biggest tease. I just realize that Ryke has already left our side and gone to Daisy’s.

Rose clears her throat to rein everyone’s focus.

“Hairball?” Lo questions.

Rose ignores him by clasping her hands loudly together. “We were holding a vote before you three showed up. We want to payback these guys—”

“No,” Lo immediately says, surprising me so much that my mouth falls.

Rose crosses her arms, drawing more attention to her br**sts, which have grown considerably since her first week of pregnancy. “I despise uninformed voters.”

“I get it,” Lo forces, taking a step forward and unlatching from me. “You want to scare them as badly as they scared your little sister. But you retaliate, and you’re provoking them even more.”

I breathe deeply. This is a new Loren Hale. One that has learned from all of his mistakes. One that understands right and wrong and every gray, messy part in between.

It’s a better Loren, the version of himself that he has been fighting for all along. I’m so overwhelmed by his proclamation that I have to quickly wipe tears before they appear.

“This isn’t an autocracy.” Rose points her folded paper fan at him. “You can’t decide what the house is going to do.”

“If it’s a democracy,” Connor cuts in, “then why were you voting without us, Rose?” Good points.

“You weren’t here, Richard.” She spins to him. “Now that you are, you can have your vote.”

“A pity vote,” Connor says easily. “You’re giving me something you hate.”

Rose’s narrowed eyes actually soften at this blow. Her shoulders slacken for a second.

Daisy switches off the faucet, and I realize she’s already rinsed the toothpaste from her mouth. Ryke is holding her hand, which is really cute. I try to contain a burgeoning smile. One second, I’m near tears and now I’m almost beaming. My hormones need to take a water break and let me be at a content stasis, for once.

“I don’t think we should fight about this,” Daisy says softly.

“We’re not,” almost everyone says in unison—everyone but Ryke who just rolls his eyes at us.

“It’s toilet paper,” I suddenly pipe in. “We’re reclaiming our…”

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