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Home > Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(5)

Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(5)
Author: Kristen Ashley

His tongue darted inside.

I lifted a hand to curl it around his wrist at my neck, arched into him, and melted into his kiss, committing the smell, feel, and taste of him to memory.

And Ham let me, kissing me hard, wet, and long. A great kiss. A sad kiss. A kiss not filled with promise of good things to come, a kiss filled with the bitter knowledge of good-bye.

We took from each other until we both tasted my tears.

Just as suddenly, his hand and mouth were gone and he’d taken half a step away.

It felt like miles.

“Go.” His voice was jagged.

He didn’t want to lose me.

Why? my thoughts screamed.

“Bye, Ham,” I whispered.

He jerked up his chin.

I turned away, concentrating on walking down the boardwalk to my shop, ignoring anyone who might be around, and trying to ignore the feel of Ham’s eyes burning holes into my back.

I didn’t get relief until I turned to my shop, unlocked the door, and pushed inside.

No. The truth was, I didn’t get relief at all, not that day, that week, that year, or ever.

Because I’d walked away from the love of my life.

And he let me.

Chapter One

Ax Murderer

Three years later…

I sat cross-legged on my couch, pressed the tiny arrow on the screen of my phone, and put it to my ear.

Again.

“Zara? I, uh… signed the papers. Took them to George. It’s, uh… done. I, well, uh… just wanted you to know. Okay? I just…” Long pause, then, quieter, “Wanted you to know. I’ll, uh… I guess I’ll, um… see you around.”

I closed my eyes when I got silence.

Greg.

He’d signed the divorce papers.

It was done.

Shit, we were over.

The end.

I’d done what I never wanted to do. Never thought I would do. Hell, never thought I had it in me to do.

I’d broken a man.

I sucked in a breath through my nose, brought the phone down, and forced myself to lean forward, grab my remote, and turn on the TV rather than listen to the voice mail.

Again.

The news flashed on and I made myself pay attention to it.

Now, tonight’s top story, the newsman said. Dennis Lowe, the man who has been on a multistate killing spree, his chosen weapon an ax, was shot dead in the home of one of his victims by law enforcement officers today. After a short standoff with the FBI and local police, officers entered the house where Lowe was holding three women hostage. One hostage, Susan Shepherd, is in stable condition in a hospital in Indianapolis.

“Holy crap,” I mumbled. “An ax?”

A picture of a relatively good-looking—strangely, considering his chosen weapon was a freaking ax—mild-mannered-appearing man flashed on the screen behind the newscaster.

Lowe’s body count right now is unknown, although four murders are confirmed as being attributed to him. However, there’s a possibility that his victims number at least seven, with murders in Colorado and Oklahoma, and another man today in Indiana, suspected of being Lowe’s gruesome handiwork. In addition to Ms. Shepherd, a police officer and a bartender in Brownsburg, Indiana, were severely injured during the kidnapping of one of Lowe’s hostages, February Owens. Ms. Owens was allegedly the object of Lowe’s obsession and the reason behind his grisly spree. In Texas, Graham Reece, until today the only survivor of Lowe’s attacks, was released from police protective custody.

My breath became painfully stuck as I stared at Ham on the screen, looking hugely pissed and wearing a sling holding his left arm tight to his chest, prowling to his silver F-350. Reporters were crowding him, bright lights in his angry, hard face. You could see the reporters’ mouths moving but Ham’s was tight.

The news anchor droned on as I dropped the remote to my lap, fumbled with my phone, and flipped through my contacts.

As promised, I’d kept Ham’s phone number. I had not changed mine so, luckily, this meant I had not had to contact him.

He had also never contacted me.

For three years.

He was listed as Z Graham Reece because that would make him the only Z I had in my phone and it would, therefore, make it so I wouldn’t ever have to see his name accidentally as I scrolled through my contacts.

But right then, I went directly to the Zs hit his name, hit his number, and put the phone to my ear.

It rang four times while I breathed so heavily I was panting, at the same time despairing that Ham might not pick up.

Then I heard, “Zara?”

As promised, he kept my number, too.

I thought this at the same time a lot of other thoughts clashed violently in my head.

Therefore, the only response to his greeting I was capable of was to chant, “Oh God. Oh f**k. Oh shit. God, God, God.”

“Cookie,” he whispered.

At that, I burst into tears.

“I take it you’ve seen the news,” he remarked.

I made a loud hiccoughing noise, which was the only ability I had at that moment to answer his question in the affirmative.

Ham understood me.

“Honey, I’m okay,” he assured me gently.

I pulled in a breath that broke around five times and then I forced out a wobbly, “Ax murderer.”

“Yeah, sick f**k,” Ham told me.

That was all he had to say?

Sick f**k?

So at that, I shrieked, “Ham, you were attacked by an ax murderer! That shit doesn’t happen. Ever!”

“Zara, baby, I’m okay,” he stated firmly.

“Oh God. Oh shit. Fuck, f**k, f**k,” I chanted.

Ham said nothing.

With effort, I pulled myself together and asked, “You’re okay?”

“Said that twice, babe,” he replied quietly.

“You sure?” I pushed.

“Zara, darlin’, no fun havin’ some guy come at you with an ax but he’s very dead and I am not so, yeah. I’m sure.”

I gave that a second to move through and slightly calm me before I muttered, “Okay.”

Ham again said nothing.

Suddenly, I was rethinking this call, the first time I’d spoken with him in three years.

A lot had happened to me. Nothing as big as being attacked by an ax murderer but it did include marriage, divorce, and a lot of other not-so-fun stuff.

I no longer knew Ham. He no longer knew me.

Sure, any girl who’d been in love with a man who was attacked by an ax murderer would want to call to make sure he was okay.

Then, that girl should think again and maybe not make that call the day her now ex-husband signed their divorce papers, a day that was just one day in months of super-shitty days, each one leading toward the likely outcome that her life was going straight down the toilet.

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