Shade's Fall

Page 23


Lily’s mind shied away from the mere mention of an actual relationship with Shade, but their friendship had certainly developed. He had spent the last few weekends with her at her house when Beth and Razer had been at the club.
She was so happy that Lily felt as if the weight of her fears was slowly dissolving.
Her favorite music came on the sound system while she was finishing warming up when Shade came downstairs.
“Sorry, there was something I needed to take care of.”
“No problem,” Lily said, bouncing up and down on the balls of her feet. “What are we going to work on today? Do you want me to try to knee you again?” Her eager face was lit up with excitement.
“You seem anxious to take my dick out of commission.”
Lily laughed, her eyes twinkling. Usually this was a side of herself that only Beth saw, but Shade had proven his gentlemanly behavior over time, and she now felt comfortable enough to be herself around him.
“We’re going to work on something different today,” he said, moving her closer to the wall at the end of the mat. “I want you to try to get out of a specific type of hold. For instance, if you’re getting into your car and someone comes up behind you.”
Lily nodded.
“You ready?”
“Turn around.”
Lily innocently turned around, clueless as to what he was about to do. As Shade moved closer to her, pressing his body against her back, Lily’s hand automatically went to the wall to keep herself from being pressed against it, leaving her helpless. She began to panic but managed to calm herself down.
One of her arms left the wall on instinct, going back to try to push him away, and his hand caught her wrist, holding it captured against her lower back. Her other hand automatically went back and it was captured also, leaving her defenseless, pressed flat against the wall.
His lower body was flush against her butt, making her feel surrounded. Her breathing escalated and her mind started to shut down. She went limp, about to pass out. Shade stepped back, and helplessly, she started to slide down the wall.
Shade took her arm, leading her to the corner, and left her there to stand alone. She stood, gasping for breath, her hands going to her head, fighting the darkness descending on her terror-filled senses.
“Hands to your side. Stand up straight. Lily, by now you should know how I want you to stand.” Shade’s hard voice had her correcting her posture, her shoulders straightening as her hands obediently went to her side. Regulating her breathing, she focused on Shade as he took a drink of his bottled water before he went to the weights and began working out, ignoring her.
Lily wanted to be angry at him for ruining her good mood. She resented him throwing her into a panic attack.

“Lose the attitude, Lily, or my hand is going to be on that bouncy butt.”
Lily was shocked that he’d threatened her with physical violence. She had never expected him to lay a hand on her in a personal way.
Shade was sitting on the weight bench with his arm frozen in position at her look of shocked horror. “I didn’t say I would beat you, Lily. But I will smack that ass if you don’t behave.” His blue gaze stared into hers.
Lily gasped, turning her eyes toward the wall.
“Eyes forward,” Shade said, continuing his arm curls.
Lily’s eyes snapped forward as she attempted to pacify her tumultuous emotions. The shock of him saying that he would smack her butt had her forgetting the feeling of being held against the wall. As she calmed, she was able to start looking at the situation objectively. It took a long time for Lily to work through how dangerous that hold was and why she needed to learn to get out of it. She even realized where she had screwed up.
“I shouldn’t have reached back,” she said out loud.
“No,” Shade answered.
Lily took a step forward.
“Are you ready to go back to the mat?”
“Yes,” Lily said determinedly, leaving the corner.
“Turn around.”
Lily took a deep breath then, meeting his gaze briefly, she turned around. This time, when Shade grabbed her, pushing her against the wall, she braced herself with her arms.
“What do I do next?” Lily’s voice trembled at feeling his body pressed against her own. She felt the panic attack coming; however, she forced herself to listen to his directions. She did exactly as he told her, and while her movements were too timid to work, she knew that if they practiced she could break his hold.
Shade released her. “Enough?”
“Yes.” Lily turned around, sliding away from him.
“We’ll work on that until you get it right. You need to learn how to defend yourself when someone comes up behind you. Men who attack women are confident that you’ll panic, that you’ll be too startled to be able to defend yourself.”
“I’ll work on it until I get it right.” Lily was going to prove to him that she could break that hold.
“I know you will. You’re learning fast. I’m proud of you,” Shade complimented.
Lily took his praise to heart. “Thank you, Sir.” Lily reached out and hugged him. She hugged Beth all the time; it was part of her personality to show her affection. “I really appreciate all your help.”
Lily turned away from him, missing the hungry expression on his face.
“I’ll get changed.” Lily walked away, so happy that she hadn’t panicked twice. She was learning to be more capable of defending herself. For a woman who had a history of misadventures, it was a big thing for her to become more confident in the world around her instead of seeing ghosts around every corner.
Lily didn’t take long to change; she would shower when she got home, and Shade was waiting for her in the other room when she came out. The noise coming from upstairs was even louder than normal as she made her way across the room. Her eyes traveled up the steps to the closed door.
“It sounds like a football game is going on up there,” she remarked.
“Several of the brothers from Ohio are down for the weekend.”
“Oh.” Lily tried not to sound disappointed, certain that with his friends visiting that Shade wouldn’t hang out with her this weekend. She had gotten used to having him around.
She had talked to Charles, telling him as gently as possible that he was a friend, and would always remain just a friend. He had taken it well, but Lily believed that he hoped she would eventually change her mind. She wouldn’t, and since she had told him, she didn’t feel right asking for him to spend time with her. She had the sinking feeling that it was going to be a lonely weekend.
Shade was walking her out the door when his cell phone rang. He listened for a minute before he replied to whoever had called.
“Give me five. I need a shower and to get changed.” He then disconnected the call.
“You go ahead,” Lily told him, not wanting to keep him from his fun.
“You sure?”
“My car is just around the corner,” Lily said dolefully.
“All right. I’ll see you later,” Shade said, going back inside.
Lily walked down the path toward her car, checking her text messages to see that Beth had left her one saying that she and Razer had left for the party early and that they would see her tomorrow. She saw Razer’s bike already parked in the almost-full parking lot.