Chapter Seventeen

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"I'm only trying to keep you safe. If you string this thing out with Luke it will end in disaster. Do the smart thing and end it before you get too involved." 

It was too late for that, far too late. Not that I was telling Ethan that. Instead I smiled and nodded as if I was taking his words on board, rather than trying to dig the shards of them out of my heart. In many ways he was right. How long could Luke and I keep this up before someone else found out? How long could we exist and love in secrecy? 

Ethan ruffled my hair. "C'mon, let's get some breakfast."




The smell of frying eggs and buttery toast washed over us as we went into the kitchen, and my stomach loudly rumbled. It must be Sophie cooking; she always made the best breakfasts. 

Clara and Ava were already at the kitchen table when we traipsed in. Clara was attacking a grapefruit with a sharp knife. She never ate fried breakfasts.  

Ava nodded at us by way of greeting. "Good workout?" 

I shrugged and a slight frown touched her face. She considered spoken answers more respectful.  

The table was all set for breakfast, plates and cutlery laid out, and a jug of cold orange juice in the middle. I reached for the juice, pouring a generous amount into a glass. Ethan opted to wait for coffee. 

Breakfast was the closest we ever came to eating like a family. At lunch and dinnertime everyone just did their own thing. Usually, I considered breakfast my favourite meal of the day, simply because it made me feel more like I belonged to a family, rather than being one of a number of people who happened to live in the same house. It was the closest we ever got to normal. 

Sophie set a stack of buttered toast on the table and dished warm, greasy eggs onto everyone's plates. It made me wonder how Luke and his family handled mealtimes. Did they sit down together and dish out blood like soup?

Noah's heavy footsteps sounded in the hallway a second before he pushed open the kitchen door. 

Sophie cracked two more eggs into the frying pan. "These won't be a moment," she told him. 

Noah merely grunted in response and accepted the mug of steaming coffee Ava handed him. His eyes slid to me, taking in my dishevelled, sweaty appearance. "You've been training?" 

"All morning," Ethan jumped in.  

Noah's short nod was the closest to approval we were going to get. He was pulling out a chair to sit down when the harsh trill of his phone cut through the kitchen. Pulling it out of his back pocket he frowned at the screen. It took me a second to realise he was trying to read the number without his glasses. Finally he pressed answer and lifted the phone to his ear. 

"Caleb?" 

Across the table Ava looked up sharply at the mention of the name. I glanced at Ethan but he shrugged, as clueless as I was.  

"No, I haven't read the paper yet," Noah said into the phone. He listened for a moment then his eyebrows tugged down into a scowl. "Are you sure?" 

I strained my ears, fruitlessly trying to hear the mysterious Caleb's side of the conversation. Even Sophie was paying attention now, forgetting the eggs in the pan which were starting to burn.  

My breakfast sat uncomfortably in my stomach, cold dread knotting inside me as I looked at the expression on Noah's face. Something was wrong.  

Noah nodded to a question I couldn't hear. "Of course. I'll come over right away." 

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