Every person has a story to tell. Some may be sweet with a happily ever after, but there are others that end in tragedy. Mine has yet to be finished.
My name is Elizabeth Kingston and this is where my story begins.
I never thought my life could be so perfect. I have an amazing job owning my own bakery, and a wonderful husband who I love and who loves me back. Never once did I have to worry about anything, at least, not until the texts started coming in. They always begin the same way … numbers that spell my nickname when read upside down.
It’s someone from my past, only they won’t to tell me who they are, but that by talking to them, I’ll figure it out. It’s a game I refuse to play. Unfortunately, I’m left with no choice when things begin to take a dangerous turn.
His name is Anonymous and there’s only one thing he wants … ME.
|File size:||404 KB|
|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author L. P. Dover is a southern belle living in North Carolina with her husband and two beautiful girls. Everything’s sweeter in the South has always been her mantra and she lives by it, whether it’s with her writing or in her everyday life. Maybe that’s why she’s seriously addicted to chocolate.
Dover has written countless novels in several different genres, including a children’s book with her daughter. Her favorite to write is romantic suspense, but she’s also found a passion in romantic comedy. She loves to make people laugh which is why you’ll never see her without a smile on her face.
Read an Excerpt
Just in time. I'm ready for you, girlie."
Heart racing, I grab my chest and breathe a sigh of relief as the salon door shuts behind me. "I'm so sorry I'm late."
Maggie slips her black smock on and swivels her chair around. Her smile is infectious. "No worries. I ran a little behind this afternoon anyway. Just got done about five minutes ago."
Grinning wide, I set my purse on the floor and take a seat. The salon is an open-style room with three other hair stations, one of which is occupied by a lady with foils in her hair, reading a magazine.
Maggie Denison has been my hair stylist for the past eight years. You can just look at her dark, stylish, wavy hair and tell she knows what she's doing. She's the best in town. Not that I'm a glamorous person, but I love to keep my hair healthy, even if I do have to wear it up most of the time at the bakery.
She runs her hands through my hair and meets my reflection in the mirror. "What are we doing today? Maybe a few caramel highlights, like we did last year before summer?"
"Sounds good to me. Jake likes it when I get highlights."
She snickers and shakes her head. "Your husband is so sweet."
"Yes, he is," Shayna agrees as she walks into the room, her bright blonde hair is in curls down her back. Her black heels clank on the floor as she goes to check on her client's hair. "That's why all the girls loved him in high school."
"Oh, I know. I've seen his yearbooks," I say. "He was Mr. Popular."
Shayna and Jake had graduated together and now she cuts his hair. Jake and I hadn't met until our college years through a mutual friend of ours. He had been an up and coming professional MMA fighter, but a motorcycle accident squashed all those dreams.
Shayna looks at me and smiles. "That's because not only is he good looking, but he's a great guy. He's nice to everyone."
That is one of the many reasons I love him. He'll do anything for anybody if they need help. In fact, it's because of him I was able to start up my own bakery. My parents were going to give me the money, but he refused to let them help. He's very prideful.
Maggie mixes up my highlight cream in one of her bowls and begins on my hair. "Speaking of which, how's the bakery coming along? Is business good this time of year?"
"It's been good all year around," I say, feeling thankful. "There are always orders coming in and we have tons of visitors every day. We keep everything stocked."
Her stomach rumbles. "I need to come in there and get your red velvet cupcakes. Those things are the best."
"Grandmother's recipe," I gloat. "She was an excellent baker. I learned everything from her."
"Are you hiring anyone right now?"
I shake my head. "Not at the moment. Why? Do you know someone?"
She shrugs. "There are times when I get clients who are looking for work. I was just asking in case I could send someone your way."
"I'll let you know if I ever do. Vikki works with me full time, and then in the afternoons, her daughter and my two nieces come in. So far, I've been able to keep up with the people I have."
Once she's done putting the highlights in my hair, she hurries to the back to eat her lunch. Shayna finishes up with her client and sits in the chair across from me. "Hungry?" she asks. "I was thinking about grabbing some sushi down the road. I can bring you back some."
I wave her off. "No, thanks. I'm cooking some of Jake's favorites. I want to be hungry for it."
"I bet," she teases with a wink.
My phone dings with an incoming text. "Speaking of Jake. I bet this is him."
Shayna pulls out her phone. "Girl, I hope you know how lucky you are. I keep telling Jake he needs to hook me up with one of his friends from work."
Fiddling in my purse, I finally find my phone. "Yes," I gasp excitedly. "He mentioned it the other day. He'll find someone for you."
When I look at the text, the number is local.
(xxx) xxx-6489: 31773?
"Is it a solicited dick pic?" Shayna asks, pretending to lean over to catch a peek.
I chuckle and shake my head. "No, you perv. I actually don't know who this is." I text the number back.
Me: Who is this?
(xxx) xxx-6489: I'm surprised you still have the same phone number after all these years.
My curiosity piques. I have had the same phone number since I was sixteen, when I first got my cell phone. There's no telling who it is. I do a quick lookup of the number and it says it's the number from a Sherwin Williams store, but according to the internet, it's been closed for a while now.
Me: I'm sorry, but I don't know who this is. I lost all my contacts when I switched phones.
That isn't true, but I want to know who it is.
(xxx) xxx-6489: Does it matter who I am?
Groaning, I roll my eyes. "You have got to be kidding me."
Shayna perks up. "What is it? What are they saying?"
"They won't tell me who they are."
Me: Yes, it matters! I don't like to play games. I'm not in high school anymore.
I show her the messages and her eyes light up. "You don't think it's Jake pranking you, do you? My ex-husband tried to do that once, to see if I was cheating on him."
"Were you?" I counter, grinning slyly. Shayna's always talking about men when I come in to get my hair done.
Feigning shock, she places a hand over her chest. "Would I do such a thing?"
I shake my head. "You're too much." Looking down at the texts, I sigh. "This isn't Jake. You know he's not the type to trick me. Plus, I've never given him a reason not to trust me. Besides, the number is from a Sherwin Williams store that closed down. There's no telling who it belongs to now."
"Want me to call it?" Shayna asks.
Before she can type in the number, another text comes through.
(xxx) xxx-6489: Through our conversation you should be able to tell who this is.
"What the hell, this is just getting outright annoying. Call it, please," I say. Shayna types in the number and presses send. Putting it on speaker, it rings and rings until an automated greeting comes on. I throw my hands up in the air. "And of course, no one's going to answer."
Shayna sits back down, pursing her lips. "It's probably one of your ex-boyfriends."
The thought makes my stomach clench. I'm thirty-two years old and married. I've been with Jake for nine years. I don't want anyone from my past trying to come in and stir things up. I'm happy.
Taking a deep breath, I huff. "If it is, they need to leave me alone. I don't like games. This is going to end now."
Me: Look, if you're not going to tell me who you are, then you need to leave me alone. I'm happily married now.
(xxx) xxx-6489: I'm glad you're happy. I don't want to cause problems. I was just thinking about you and wanted to see how you were.
I hold my breath, praying my phone doesn't ding again. All I want is for the texts to stop.
"Are you going to tell Jake about the texts?" Shayna asks.
With a snort, I toss my phone back into my purse. "Are you kidding? Jake is the epitome of an alpha male. He won't like it. Knowing him, he'll get his cop buddies to track down the number, so he can find out who it is. If that happens, it'll be a mess." It kills me to keep secrets from Jake, but there are some things he doesn't need to know. "I think it's best to keep it to myself."
"You're probably right," she agrees with a nod. "But if you get any more, you might not have a choice."
I just hope it doesn't come to that.
* * *
BY THE TIME I get home and get dinner finished up, Jake walks through the front door with his tie loose around his neck and the top buttons of his shirt undone. I can see the top part of the tattoos on his chest, and everything inside me tightens. He'd gotten them all during his MMA fighting days. Guess you can say it made him look more bad ass.
We've been together for nine years and the sight of him still turns me on. And since he's an architect and working in an office environment, he has to wear suits, which look delectable on his toned body.
Jake's eyes focus on me and a smirk stretches across his lips. "You got your hair done. Looks good." He leans over the bar and kisses me, his lips warm. The stubble on his chin tickles my face, and I can't help but love how rugged it makes him look.
I breathe him in and step back. "Thanks. Vikki and her daughter held down the fort this afternoon. I have a lot of orders to work on the next couple of days though."
His blue eyes stare right into mine and he runs a hand through his ash brown hair. "I'm glad you took a break and did something for yourself. You deserve it." Jake takes in a deep breath as I finish the salad and slide the bowl onto the counter. "Something smells good. What's for dinner?"
Grabbing the oven mitt, I pull the dish out of the oven. "Lemon pepper chicken, potatoes, and salad. I was craving it. Plus, I know they're some of your favorites."
He kisses me. "You're too good to me."
We both fix a plate of food and sit down at our kitchen table. A smile lights up my face because we've done more than just eat on it recently.
"What's on your mind?" Jake asks, his grin widening.
"Oh, I don't know," I reply, lowering my voice seductively. "I'm thinking we need a repeat of the other night."
His eyes twinkle. "You do, huh?" Grabbing my hand, he pulls it down over his arousal and I bite my lip.
"I see you agree."
"You're damn right, cupcake. Unfortunately, we have a problem."
"Please tell me you don't have to work tonight." I pull my hand away.
He shakes his head. "I promised Owen I'd go to the driving range with him, now that he's home from the last undercover case. You can always come with us, and then we'll have our fun when we get home."
I finish eating my salad and put my plate in the sink. "Actually, I think I'm just going to stay home and go for a run. Maybe light a few candles and take a bubble bath afterward."
A deep growl rumbles in his chest. "I'll make sure to be back in time then."
Once he's gone, I change into a pair of shorts and a tank top and head outside. The weather is perfect for an evening run. Being in the North Carolina mountains has its perks, especially in the spring. One thing I love is that our neighborhood is tucked away on a mountain with the perfect streets to run on. It helps clear my mind when I know I have a busy schedule coming up.
Before I slide my phone in my arm band, I read the anonymous text messages again, then delete them all and block the number. This way, it's erased from my life, like nothing ever happened. Unfortunately, my cell phone provider only blocks numbers for ninety days. I know this because I called today and checked. I'm just hoping it's enough to get my message across if Mr. Anonymous decides to text me again.
That's who he is to me ... Anonymous.
A part of me feels like I should tell Jake, but then the other part thinks it'll just cause problems. Shaking my head, I take off down the driveway, my feet pounding on the asphalt. It feels good to run, to feel my heart race. Woods are all around me and I usually hear birds chirping, but today, there's nothing but silence.
A tingling feeling runs up my spine and I freeze. Either it's my imagination running wild, or I'm being watched. I look around and see nothing out of the ordinary, but in today's time, there's no telling who could be lurking in the woods. Turning on my heel, I run back to my house and lock the door. I'm not taking any chances today.CHAPTER 2
THREE MONTHS LATER
I really hope the buttercream doesn't melt before we get there."
Jake chuckles and pats my thigh. "It'll be fine. The AC is blasting, and you have it surrounded by a fuck-ton of ice packs."
I look back at the cake and sigh. It's three-tiered and round, with each layer being a different flavor. The bottom is vanilla, the middle chocolate, and the top is strawberry — all encased in a rich, buttercream icing. I even made the colorful, fondant flowers that cascade down the side. "As much as I love my baking, there's something not fair about having to make my own birthday cake."
Jake bursts out laughing. "Blame your family on that one. I can't help it they like to have a cookout the week of your birthday." It just so happens there are a lot of us in the family with August birthdays. My family likes to celebrate by having one huge pool party. Jake swirls his fingers on my bare thigh, making me shiver. "I'll make it up to you tonight." I look over at him and he winks. "I can eat my piece of cake off your body." His gaze dips down to my breasts. "Maybe even spread some of that buttercream on your nipples."
A snicker escapes my lips. "Sounds like a plan to me." In fact, it sounded like a great plan. With me being a baker, there's always some kind of sweet treat in the refrigerator. It's fun to incorporate it into our sex life. It keeps things interesting.
When we get to my parents' house there are cars lined down the street, but they saved a spot for me and Jack in the driveway. All my aunts, uncles, and cousins are here. It's pretty much the only time of the year I see them. When my grandmother died, it's like it killed the spirit of getting together.
My father is at the grill, wearing his red apron. He waves his spatula in the air and smiles. "Hey, honey," he yells as I get out of the car. "Happy birthday!"
I laugh. "Thank you."
"What's up, Roger?" Jake shouts as he comes around to my side of the truck.
My father looks down at the grill. "Trying to cook up some hamburgers and hot dogs. Would've been nice if my son-in-law could've helped."
Jake squeezes my shoulders. "Your daughter has me on cake duty right now. I do what she tells me."
That earns a smile from my father. "Smart man."
"He's just trying to stay on my good side, since it's my birthday." I open the rear car door for Jake and he reaches in to grab the cake. "Whatever you do, don't drop it."
He smirks. "I'll be sure to do just that, cupcake."
"You'll be limping home if you do," I tease, slapping him on the arm.
Chuckling, he walks around the side of the house, holding the cake with his tanned, muscular arms. I can already hear my two nieces squeal as they fawn all over him. They love him to death. And why wouldn't they? Jake has always been good with kids. In fact, everyone keeps asking me when we're going to have some of our own. I have no doubt I'll be hearing the same damn question when I get to the back.
My father pulls me in for a hug and kisses the side of my head. He smells like Old Spice cologne and I love it. It's what he's worn for as long as I can remember. "How's work been, sweetheart?"
I step away, so he can flip the burgers. "Busy. Vikki and I have been coming up with new recipes. I'm going to try them out next week."
His grin widens. "Can I be your taste tester?"
Giggling, I rub his back. "I wouldn't have it any other way." I squeeze his shoulders. "I'm going to head to the back and say hey to everyone."
I walk around the side of the house to the wooden gate, and when I slip through, Jake is already in the pool, tossing my nieces into the air, while three of my cousins' little boys are hanging onto Jake's neck, trying in vain to take him under.
"Ellie!" my mother calls. She waves me over to where she and my sister are sitting at one of the picnic tables.
Everyone says I look just like her, especially since we have the same light brown hair, hazel eyes, and curvy figure. My older sister, Amber, is six years older than me and looks like my father with her blonde hair and brown eyes. I hug my mother and fluff Amber's ponytail before sitting down across from them.
"Your husband's a nut." Amber laughs. "He's like a big kid trapped in a man's body."
I look over at Jake and smile. "Yes, he is."
When he's at work, he's always so serious and professional, but when you get him alone, he's different. He can be playful in the bed too, but there are times when he just goes for what he wants. I love those nights.
My mother pats my hand, drawing my mind away from my dirty thoughts, and slides a present over to me. "Happy birthday, Ellie."
"Oh, yeah, that's right." Amber gasps, reaching under the table. She pulls out a silver glittery gift bag and hands it to me. "Happy birthday, sis."
I place a hand lovingly on their arms. "Aww, thank you. You didn't have to get me anything." I open the present from my mother and it's a gorgeous pair of diamond earrings. Since I'm not wearing any, I slip them on. "Mom, they're beautiful," I gush. "Thank you."
She beams. "I knew you'd like them." I hug her hard and then open my sister's present. Inside the gift bag are two of my favorite shower gels from Bath and Body Works, along with a Macy's gift card.
"You are awesome," I say, squeezing her tight. "Thank you so much."
Our mother peers down at her watch and jumps up. "Girls, I'll be back. I have to get the baked beans out of the oven." She hurries off, leaving me with Amber.
"We still meeting at the gym Monday morning before work?" she asks.
I nod. "Yep. Bright and early. I have a lot to do at the bakery, so the earlier I get there, the better."
Her gaze lands on Jake. "Have you told him why you don't run around the neighborhood anymore?"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Anonymous"
Copyright © 2018 L.P. Dover.
Excerpted by permission of CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
About the Author,
Also by LP Dover,
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