Secrets That We Keep by Linda Kage

Chapter One


Drinking had never been a good idea for me. I tended to forget everything I did and make stupid, reckless decisions whenever I partook, like getting online and buying a dozen pairs of new shoes or ordering thirty-eight packs of chewing gum at once.

True story.

So I had pretty much cut all the alcohol out of my life, except for today, when I just couldn’t seem to help it.

I’d started with the girls earlier to help Haven get over a fresh breakup. And after Gracen had dropped me off at home—alone—I’d stumbled my way to my own liquor stash and poured myself another.

Because my poor baby cousin’s situation had felt too freakily similar to mine.

You see, Haven had walked in on her boyfriend cheating.

And so had I.

Kind of.

I mean, it had been the next morning and no one had been in the middle of the actual deed as they’d been in her case. But they’d still been naked and cozied up in bed together, passed out after a night of rowdy unfaithfulness. And I’d been officially engaged to my cheating loser. Haven had not. So it felt just as traumatic, if you wanted my honest opinion.

Yet not one family member had mentioned that today to Haven when they’d been trying to console her.

No, hey, Bella totally understands; ask her how she overcame it.

No, yo, Bella just went through this, so you can make it through too.

No nothing.

Or maybe they all knew I really hadn’t made it through yet. I was still stuck somewhere in the muck of unrelenting misery.

Though honestly, it felt more like they’d all just plain forgotten I was also nursing a broken heart. Sure, it’d almost been six months and I was totally over that cheating dickhead asshat. But the deceit and betrayal part still felt like yesterday to me, especially after watching Haven cry today.

We had tried to talk her into rebounding with another guy. Actually, I had been more on team vibrator and anti-man, but whatevs. I’d eventually sided with the others and encouraged her to take a crack at getting under one man in order to get over another. I mean, it couldn’t hurt her any more than she was already hurting to taste-test her hot new male roommate, because Wick was super-hot. And super male. And since she now lived with him, super easy access.

It was really too bad I didn’t have my own Wick to help me get over Ethan—er, not Ethan himself, but what I thought I’d had with Ethan. Because, fuck Ethan, you know? That douche had been dead to me since the moment I’d found the skank in bed with him while our engagement picture sat on the nightstand right next to her passed-out, two-timing face. But I couldn’t seem to get over this new inability to trust anything, not even myself. My confidence had taken a serious nosedive since then. And I hadn’t been able to even crave sex with another person. Which made me feel broken.

I didn’t want to be broken.

Broken made me irritable. And who wanted to be irritable?

I made a sour face at the dildo in my hand and then chucked it into my still-open nightstand drawer next to me before shoving it closed. Cold plastic just didn’t sound appealing right now. It was all that damn Teagan’s fault, too. Pregnancy must spike the hormones to unbelievable heights because T had made sex-with-a-live-person sound pretty damn appealing a couple of hours ago in Haven’s kitchen, which I hadn’t thought was possible for me anymore.

But now…

Now, I couldn’t get the idea of hot, urgent hands, a wet, seeking mouth, and firm, sculpted abs out of my brain. Except pure panic clutched my throat every time I tried to picture a face connected to any kind of pleasure.

Argh! I hated being this messed up.

Maybe I should try what Haven was currently trying and just force myself back onto that horse. Yeah, then I’d realize sex did not equate getting your trust and pride stomped on and shattered. It didn’t mean I was a broken, naive idiot. And everything would be okay again.

Yeah, I could do this. I’d just have to find a willing guy and—

Oh, right.


Boo, hiss, never mind.

I didn’t want anything to do with a bearer of penises right now. Except maybe one. But he was my brother, so he totally didn’t count. Because brothers didn’t even have real, working boy parts. Or at least, they shouldn’t. That would just be weird. And I was going to stop thinking about weird and odd drunk things now.

Knowing I could always depend on my Gracen, I turned to my nightstand and reached for my phone on top, accidentally knocking over the glass of bourbon and Coke I had sitting next to it.