Home > Talon (Ashes & Embers #4)(9)

Talon (Ashes & Embers #4)(9)
Author: Carian Cole

Reaching out, he gently lifts my chin and stares into my eyes. "Are you crying?"

I try to turn away from him, but he holds my face still. "Are you?" he repeats, his brown eyes locking on to mine.

"A little," I admit.

His thumb slowly traces my jaw. "Why?"

"I thought you left me already."

He leans down and kisses my lips softly. This time, I let him.

"I'm still here," he says, not pulling too far away. "I just went down to the gym to work out," His lips meet mine once more, and a crazy tingle races down my spine and explodes in my stomach like little fireflies. "I try to work out every morning. And your lips taste yummy," he adds.

"Oh…" I guess the vanilla lip balm I've been trying to get right is finally perfect.

Letting go of my face, he picks up my things and carries them back into the room casually, as if that kiss didn't just happen. "Can we agree not to randomly ditch each other?" he asks, turning back to face me. I'm still glued to my spot in the small hallway.

"I would like that." I touch my lips softly with my finger, still a little mesmerized by his kiss, which made me way weaker in the knees than I want to admit.

He runs his hand through his wavy hair. "You really think I'd just leave while you were sleeping? The fuck?"

I shrug a little, feeling silly for overreacting. "I'm not sure… I don't know you or what you would do."

He nods. "Fair enough. For the record, I'm not a dick, Asia. If I've got an issue, I'll tell you. I won't just disappear."

"I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions. I don't know what I was thinking."

"I don't like that you were just going to leave, though. We're either in this fuckin' thing together, or we're not. There's gotta be a little bit of trust here."

"You're totally right," I say, slowly walking back into the main room. "This is just hard. And to be honest, I'm kinda scared. People have a habit of leaving me." Admitting my fears to him is difficult for me, but Dr. Hollister insisted during our many meetings that being honest about our fears is important.

He narrows his chestnut eyes at me. "I ain't leavin'." He picks up the menu from next to the phone and sits on the bed with it before returning his attention to me. "We made a commitment. And even though it all seems pretty messed up right now, I think we need to give it a try."

"You're right. That’s what this entire thing is supposed to be about." I cross the room and sit on the bed next to him. "Having faith in someone else, right?"

"And ourselves," he adds.

That's true. So much of this is about trusting ourselves as much as trusting the other person, on top of trusting the people who matched us up.

"And if it makes you feel any better, chicks leave me, too, once they're done getting their brains fucked out. That seems to be all I'm good for."

Yikes. "Well, that really doesn't make me feel better, but I'm sure you're good for a lot more than that." I hope.

He smirks at me. "Since you're not interested in me fucking your brains out, I guess we'll find out, won't we?"

I suddenly have an aha moment and touch his arm. "Talon, I think you just figured out the first reason why they put us together."

He stares at me, those sexy dark eyes boring right into me. "You might be right, jelly bean. I guess I'm supposed to win you over with my witty charm and not my dick."

I can't help but laugh. I'm kind of starting to like his sarcastic side. "That would be a good start."

He lets out a big sigh. "I don't know about you, but I want some fucking pancakes."

* * *

Talon wasn't kidding when he said he was going to order everything on the breakfast menu. It takes two waiters to deliver our food and spread it all out on the round table in the corner of our sitting room. I'm a little awed when he tips them each a $50 bill, and they both leave, offering to bring him anything else he needs.

We sit at the table and he starts to dive in to pancakes, bacon, and sausage while I take the fresh fruit and yogurt.

He holds a piece of bacon out to me. "Bacon?"

"No… I don't eat meat."

He bites into it and chews slowly, watching me with an impish spark in his eyes. "Oh, you will be eating meat, baby."

I roll my eyes at him and swallow my fruit before replying. "Is that your witty charm coming out again?"

"Hey, I'm tryin'."

I pour some fresh squeezed orange juice into my glass. "So, I was thinking we should do something like a speed-dating conversation to try to get to know each other."

He nods excitedly while drenching his pancakes in more syrup. "I'm game. That could be fun. We just shoot questions at each other?"


He sips his coffee and thinks for a moment. "Okay, I'll go first. Favorite color?"

I laugh and shake my head in amusement. "That's the first thing you want to know?"


"Purple. Yours?"

"I'm gonna go with black." He starts to dig in to the waffles next. "Do you work?"

Geez. He goes from colors to career in two seconds. "I work from home. I make clothes and accessories, belts and scarves and whatnot, and some jewelry. I also make homemade soaps and bath products like body scrubs, lotions, and lip balms."

He raises his eyebrows in surprise and approval. "That's pretty wild. Did you put those little gem things on your shirt?" He points his fork at me.

"I did."

"I like that. I dig creative stuff. And I like that you're home. I won't have to worry about you."

"Do you do anything else for work?" I inquire. "Or just the band?"

He looks offended and leans back a little in his chair. "Really? That's not enough?"

"I didn't mean it like that. I just wondered if you were involved in anything else."

"I've done some modeling."

"See? That counts."

While buttering up some toast, he fires his next question at me. "I noticed my brother dragged you down the aisle. Where's your family?"

Taking a deep breath, I try to find the best words to explain my family and decide to just spit out the truth. "My father and brother are both in prison, and my mom took off when I was seventeen with a guy she met. I've only heard from her twice since, when she was hoping to get some money out of me—which I don't have." I raise my gaze to meet his, hoping he's not disgusted by me, and his eyes soften as he nods a little for me to continue. "I had to drop out of school my senior year so I could try to work and take care of myself. I didn't go to college or anything like that."

He puts his fork down and runs his hand through his hair, tucking it behind his ear. "Whether you went to college doesn't matter to me. That's a shitty thing to have to go through, though, especially so young. As you saw at the wedding, I have a big family, and we're all pretty close."

"You're very lucky to have them." I'm envious, actually. Although I met them all briefly in the flurry of crazy yesterday, they seemed extremely nice and welcoming. And I could tell they actually cared about each other, unlike my own family.

"You have them, too. My family is your family now."

I glance down at my plate and push my fruit around. "That's really sweet. But, we don't even know if this is going to work. I'd rather not get my hopes up about having a nice family."

"Asia, I didn't get into this to get divorced. Did you?"

I snap my head up with defiance. "No. That's the last thing I want."

"Good, 'cause I don't know how, but we're going to make this fuckin' thing work."

My insides tremble at the possibility of what he's saying. Maybe this really can work. Maybe, somehow, I really will get through the next six months of this and end up with a husband and a great family.

"Is that your real name?" he asks suddenly. "Asia?"

"It is. Is Talon yours?"

"Yup. We all have unique names in my family. That's what you get when your mom is a romance author and your dad's a musician."

"I really like all the names," I admit. "I always thought they were stage names."

He grabs an e-cig out of his cigarette pack and starts to puff on it. "Nope. They're on our birth certificates that way."

"Did you quit smoking while you were downstairs?" I tease, gesturing to the electronic cigarette.

Letting out a laugh, he pushes his empty plate a few inches away. "No, I just don't want to set the smoke alarm off. I am trying to quit, though. My brother used these, so I'm giving them a try." He blows vapor to his left and then fixes his eyes on me intently. "So, the million-dollar question. Sex. You've made it clear you're not a slut, and I like that, actually."

My stomach does a small flip and a flush of heat comes over me. "I wish I could say the same about you. It seems like you have quite the reputation."

He smirks. "Guilty as charged, jelly bean. Sorry."

I brace myself to ask my next question. "Are you able to be faithful?"

The tip of his e-cig glows blue while he takes a long drag off of it. "I think so," he finally says, with a hint of uncertainty.

"You think?" I repeat. "You have to be sure. I can't be married to a cheater."

"Is it cheating if we're not having sex?" he teases, tilting his head to the side.

I glare at him and push my own plate off to the side, my appetite suddenly gone. "Yes, Talon. It is."

"Take it easy, I'm just kidding. I'm sure I won't cheat on you. I've gone a month without it so far, so that's a record for me."

I feel as if I were just slapped at his words. "A month?" I repeat. "You had sex a month ago?"

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