Into the Flames (Out of the Ashes Book 2)

By: S.M. Lynn

Prologue




I didn’t know what to think when I first opened the door. I went to the kitchen to open a bottle of wine for Celeste and I, though it was late or early depending on how you look at it, I wanted to celebrate. Things had been so rough over the last few weeks it was time for us to celebrate, celebrate our future together. I knew before Rebecca showed up at the office that I wanted to ask Celeste to be my wife and I made that clear to her tonight. There would be no more hiding my feelings from her; never again would I keep anything from her. We were moving forward in complete trust and honesty. Or so I thought.

The buzzer never even rang but the pounding on the door made it clear that someone was here. This building’s security is far too lax. Until all this shit is sorted with Rebecca, we really need to be staying at my… our house or the apartment. But I understand why she wanted to come here tonight.

The shock on my face is clear as I open the door. “Dean?” Why the hell is Dean Marcus here? “Sorry, did you need something?” For a moment, he looks confused as if I’m the last person he was expecting to see but then again who was he expecting to see.

“I need to speak to Lauren now.” His voice is harsh; the words spoken through gritted teeth. His jaw ticks as he fights with his anger. What the fuck is going on?

“Dean, I’m sorry but I think you have the wrong place. Perhaps the concierge sent you to the wrong apartment.”

“Get out of my fucking way, Ian. I’ll go through you to get to her if I have to and I know she’s fucking here. There’s no more hiding for her.”

Now I’m getting pissed. “I think you better think about who you’re talking to and listen to what I’m fucking telling you, asshole. You’re in the wrong place. There’s no one named Lauren here.”

I just want to get him out of here so I can get back to Celeste. My mind is consumed for a moment with thoughts of her; her soft skin pressed to mine, hearing her whisper that she loved me. Despite the situation, a small smile crosses my lips at the thought. Then in a moment my whole world is turned upside down.

A chill runs down my spine, like my body knows nothing good will come from this encounter. It takes me a few minutes for the pieces to click together. Ah Lauren, I’d carried a torch for her for years after only one meeting and despite my engagement to Rebecca. Celeste is the only other woman to ever put flames like that in my heart. I had been devastated by the news of what had happened to her. I can only imagine what something like that would do to you, when someone you loved was ripped from you without warning. The fact that Dean was still looking for her after all these years was a testament to his love for her. Or so I thought. But why the hell was he here looking for her?

I hear Celeste’s light footsteps coming down the hall to see what all the commotion is about. I want to keep her as far from here as I can. “Celeste, sweetheart, you can go back to bed. This asshole is clearly in the wrong place but isn’t bothering to listen.” I turn to look at her and the look on her face completely guts me. She’s staring in complete, unadulterated fear at the man behind me. Her face immediately goes pale and whatever she was about to say dies on her lips. Dean’s saying something but I’m so focused on her I didn’t hear what he said. I have no idea why she would react like that to him and for a moment I’m stunned immovable.

Unfortunately, that moment is more than he needs. Suddenly, he’s in front of her, speaking to her intimately. I see him reach out to caress her face and am almost brought to my knees. Her knees grow weak at his touch and for a moment I envision her throwing herself into Dean’s arms and him claiming her mouth with his. The fear in her eyes is the only thing that helps me maintain my sanity. Her fear is palpable and shows me that these are not acts of love but that something’s wrong, something’s very wrong. I should have moved faster, should have seen what was coming but I couldn’t, for the life of me, fathom what was happening. How did he know Celeste? Why, if he was here for Lauren, was he looking at Celeste like she was the air he needed to breathe? What did she have to do with Lauren? I know there are things that she still needs to tell me but what do they have to do with him?

Finally I recover some of my senses and start across the room toward them, not fast enough though. Her head snaps back from the force of his blow to her face. Her body goes limp and blood pools on the floor around her head. What I will never forget are his last words to her, him telling her how much he missed her. Fuck, he called her Lauren. Screaming in rage, I lung for Dean, spinning him around and connecting my fist with his jaw. Before he can fall, I pin him against the wall and take a few more swings at him. When I’m convinced that I’ve beaten the fight out of him, I rush to Celeste. There’s so much blood. Her breathes are shallow and a bruise is already starting to bloom.

My mind wanders as I hold her limp body in my arms. Could it be? How did I not see it before now? How was I so blind? The sight of her that first night at the club blasted through me; I was instantly intoxicated by her. I was so drawn to her; it felt so much like when Lauren and I met. I knew I had to have her and then she was here with me but now I’ve lost her again.

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