Sinful Longing(9)

By: Lauren Blakely



“I am so proud of you, baby,” her mom said, walking around the counter and clasping Elle in a big hug. “You worked so hard for this, and those kids need you. You have done so much for them.”

Her throat hitched. “I’m lucky to work with them.”

Her mom stiffened and wrenched back, narrowing her eyes. “Young lady, didn’t you have your hair up when you left?” She arched an all-knowing eyebrow that somehow had the power to see right through her daughter.

But Elle wasn’t eighteen. She was thirty-two, and she didn’t have to hide her activities. Elle patted her mussed-up hair, then raised her chin up high. “I did have it up, but someone took it down.”

Her mother held up a palm to high-five her then snapped it back. “Say you used protection. Did you use a condom, young lady?”

Elle rolled her eyes. “Yes, Mommy. I used a condom,” she said in a sing-song voice. “And I’m on the pill. So don’t worry your pretty little head about me.”

“As if I could ever not worry about my baby girl,” she scoffed. “Wait. Was it good? Will we see him around here?”

Elle shook her head.

“It wasn’t good?”

Elle laughed. “Yes. It was amazing, as in out-of-this-world epic, incredible. But no, you won’t see him around. He’s not the type of guy I can have a relationship with.”

“Why not? Is he an asshole?”

“Definitely not.”

Her mom parked her hands on her hips. “Then what is it?”

Elle shooed her to the door. “Get out of here. You’re going to be late for your shift. You have fifteen minutes to get to the hospital.” Her mom fixed her with a stare that said this conversation isn’t over, missy, and Elle rolled her eyes. “I love you, but you need to skedaddle. Thank you again.”

“Anytime,” she said and walked out. But in two seconds, she popped the door back open and held up a finger. “And ‘anytime’ also applies if you want to booty call this epic, incredible, out-of-this-world guy again, and you need a warm body here. You know where to find me. Because I’ve got some flesh-eaters to destroy with my grandson.”

“Your booty call offer is duly noted,” Elle said, then shut and locked the door and walked down the hall to check on her son. Alex was sound asleep, curled up under the covers, air conditioning rattling loudly in his pigsty bedroom. His dark hair was a wild mess and would be sticking up in all directions in the morning. She bent down and dropped a quick kiss on his forehead.

“Night, sleepy boy,” she said, then left his room and returned to the living room where she sank down on the couch.

And waited.

Waited to feel the regret.

Waited to feel the shame.

Waited to feel the sting of her bad choices.

She sat, watching the clock, then closed her eyes, trying to meditate, aiming to let her mind clear so she would feel all the things she was supposed to feel after sleeping with a man like Colin. All the things that gnawed at her and vexed her. That nagged and twisted away at her heart. The things that would cement her decision to make this the last time with him.

When she opened her eyes, she didn’t feel any of those things. Not a one.

Instead, she simply felt…good.

What the hell? She wasn’t supposed to feel okay. Being with Colin broke promises. She needed to feel like shit so she wouldn’t go there again with that man.

Maybe a distraction would let the feeling sneak up on her. Leaning forward, she grabbed the game controller from the coffee table and turned on the TV. Lowering the volume so as not to wake her son, she proceeded to blast through a town of the infected, quickly clearing several blocks of zombies as night fell in video-game land. When a flesh-eater appeared out of nowhere, she panicked.

“You need to run away.”

Pausing the game, Elle leaned her head back and looked up at her son. “I do?”

With his rumpled hair, basketball shorts, and gray T-shirt, he walked around the couch, and parked himself next to her. “Yeah, you don’t have to fight the super zombies every time. If you successfully run away from them, you can level up your agility skills.”

“My agility skills suck,” Elle admitted, then added, “Why are you up?”

“Had to pee. Is that a crime?”

“Not that I’m aware of. I’ll let you know if that changes though.”

Alex laughed and grabbed the controller. “I’ll show you how to run away from the zombies.”

“Run! Run! C’mon you can do it,” she said in a rah-rah voice to the big screen.

He swiveled his head to stare at her, then rolled his eyes. Typical fourteen-year-old. “No cheering, Mom. Anyway, here’s how it’s done,” he said, turning the game back on and demonstrating his speed and skill in evading the enemy. “Now, we just need to get back to the safe house.”

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