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The Beginning After by Kiersten Modglin (10)



Okay, so Clay hadn’t told Peighton the truth about everything, so what? How could he? She wouldn’t understand. Not yet. What mattered now was that he kept his head on straight. Stuck to the plan.

He stared into the television without really watching it, painstakingly aware of Peighton a mere foot away from him on the couch. Her eyes had begun closing, the times they were open growing further and further apart, so he knew she would be asleep soon. When he finally saw her eyes close without opening for several minutes, he knew his chance had come. He stood up cautiously, careful not to wake her. The leather squeaked as his weight left the couch, but she didn’t stir.

He stood, staring at her for a moment too long. She was beautiful, in a slightly unconventional way. Her head rested on her shoulder, a position that looked slightly uncomfortable, but he didn’t dare move her. Her light brown hair hung over her face, shaking a bit with every breath she took. Underneath her heavy lids, he imagined the dark brown eyes he’d spent so much time agonizing over the past few days. The sleeve of her robe had fallen down, exposing the bare skin of her shoulder, and he had to shake his head to pull his gaze away.

He turned, walking out of the living room, up the stairs, and down the hallway toward the office Peighton had showed him days before. He put his hand to the bronze knob, turning it slowly. He heaved a sigh of relief when he heard the latch click, felt the door release. He pushed the door open, holding his breath when it creaked slightly. He froze, listening. When he was sure he didn’t hear anyone coming, he snuck in the room, pushing the door behind him without closing it.

He flicked on the light, looking around. The office was simple, neat. The Senator had a few stacks of papers lying on his desk, ones he had determined unimportant. He flicked through the pages, looking for her name. When he didn’t find it, he opened a drawer in the desk, sorting through pens, paperclips, and sticky notes. It wouldn’t have killed the man to use an organizer.

Still finding nothing of use, he closed the drawer and pulled at the next one. He pulled out a stack of pictures, sorting through them quickly. A few were from what looked to be a family vacation to Disneyworld, some of the boy with the nanny, Isabel, some with the Senator, Peighton, and their bodyguard, Frank. They looked happy, he observed. Each of the pictures looked as though it could’ve come from a magazine. He stopped, taking a second longer look at a picture of Peighton and her late husband at the beach, Peighton’s wiry arms wrapped around him. He was staring at her, a huge smile on his face. He couldn’t help but notice the green string bikini she wore, and how tightly it clung to her curves. I’d be smiling like that too.

The door whipped open suddenly, causing him to throw the stack of pictures. They spiraled down, like money at a strip club. He stared into the doorway, into her shocked stare.

“Clay, what are you doing in here?” she asked him, crossing her arms.

“I was looking for the bathroom,” he lied, but it was no use. Her expression told him plainly she wasn’t buying it.

She darted toward him, snatching the pictures from the ground heatedly. “You’re going through my husband’s things. You have no right! How dare you? You said you were just here to help me. Well, that was all a lie, wasn’t it? You were just using me, waiting for your moment, huh?”

“That’s not what this is, Peighton,” he told her, bending to help her pick up the mess he’d made.

“Then what is it? Huh? You and the other officers, you already got everything you needed from his office. I gave you permission to take whatever you needed then. So, what could you possibly need from his office now? And why would you have to sneak to get it?”

“If you’ll just let me explain,” he began, with no real earthly idea how he could explain anything.

“Go on then.” She stopped, holding the pictures in her hands and staring into his eyes. “Explain.” He stared at her, her dark chocolate eyes burning a hole into him, but he couldn’t say a word. There was nothing he could tell her to explain this away without blowing the whole thing. When he didn’t answer, she stood up. “I want you out of my house,” she said firmly, opening the door.

“Peighton, don’t do that. I was just being nosy. Trying to find out more about you,” he confessed finally, a half-truth.

“What could you possibly want to know about me that you couldn’t just ask?” She dropped a hand from her hip, a bit of her wall coming down.

“I wanted…” he paused, thinking quickly. His jaw grew tight as he realized his only way out. It was a long shot, but he was too tired to talk himself out of it. He was going for it. “I wanted to see how he looked at you.”

“W-what?” she asked, her eyes wide.

“I wanted to see how he looked at you, okay? How happy you were together. I needed to see what you looked like when you were with him.”

“But why? For the investigation?”


“Then why?” she demanded, her voice raising. “Why would you need to see that, Clay?”

Dropping the pictures in his hand, he walked toward her, grabbing hold of the back of her head, their faces only inches apart. “Because I thought it would give me a reason not to do this.” With that, he pressed his mouth onto hers, his whole body igniting. She dropped her stack of pictures, wrapping her arms around him with passion. He lifted her up, forcing her legs around his waist and pressed her against the door. It slammed backwards, causing him to stumble forward, but they didn’t miss a beat. He ran kisses from her lips to her jawline before venturing to her neck, biting her gently.

“We should stop,” she whispered breathlessly.

“Yeah, we should,” he said in between kisses, moving back up to her mouth. He stepped back from the door, lifting her up to get a better grip. He glanced at her then, her cheeks red, hair wild, sexy as hell. She leaned back in, kissing him again, running her long fingers over his scalp.

He carried her down the hallway, his footsteps heavy. “We shouldn’t do this,” she said again, though that didn’t stop her from moving her kisses down his collarbone. She moved her hands to the buttons on his shirt, trying to open it. “You could get in trouble.”

“Yeah, I could,” he said, pushing her bedroom door open and locking eyes on her bed. The moonlight danced on the bed as her curtains swayed.

“Are we stopping?” she asked, hopping down from his arms and continuing to unbutton his shirt.

“Not a chance,” he said, his voice a low growl as he grabbed hold of her robe and ripped it open. He stared at her, the light barely highlighting her curves. She pulled his shirt off and they fell into the bed at once, his whole body aching for her. She was his. He ran kisses all down her body, exploring every part of her. She groaned with each move he made, pure ecstasy on her face.

As he slipped off his pants, keeping one hand on her breast, he kissed her again, aching to fill her. He’d had three jobs: find out the truth about the murder, catch the killer, and leave Peighton Claiborne the hell alone. As he climbed on top of her, his skin on fire, he cursed himself. Well, hell, two out of three.



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