All the Secrets Page 1

Author: Charlotte Byrd

Series: All the Lies #2

Genres: Romance








I stand on the porch of the only place I had ever called home and stare at the woman that I think I might be falling in love with. I only met her a few days ago and I don't believe in instant love.

In fact, I don't believe in love at all.

Not after everything that has happened.

Yet, the spark that exists between us is difficult to deny. She's curvy and small with a feisty personality of someone who has fought for everything that she has ever had.

She comes from a wealthy family and is the middle child, yet somehow, she's in a constant state of rebellion against her place in the world. She doesn't fit in with them or with the rest of the world.

We have lived completely different lives and I have secrets that I have to keep, but I can't extinguish the love that I feel for her. It burns deep within me and it borders on obsession. It consumes all my thoughts.

At first, I thought that it was a fluke. I thought that I could just go home and forget all about her. She was a stranger, someone who was previously engaged to a guy I knew in high school.

I met her at her engagement party.

Earlier that day, she had found out that he was cheating on her and had been for years. The first time we spoke to each other, they were already broken up.

I know that I can't be anything to her more than just a rebound.

I know that she can't be anything to me because who I am and who I am not.

But neither of these things matter.

When I touch her, I feel fire and yearning.

I want her the way that I have never craved anyone.

That's exactly why I had to pull away from her.

That's exactly why I didn't let whatever was going to happen in the car go any further.

It wasn’t because I didn’t want to. It was because I did.

Emma needs something from me. I am the extremely popular best-selling author of independently published romantic fantasy novels that Kindle readers can't get enough of. Many people know my name, no one knows who I really am.

To find me, she scoured Facebook groups and dedicated fan forums until someone gave her my address.

I don't know who that was but if he knows me, then others might also.

But it's not my fans that I'm afraid of. They read my books and give my life meaning and a purpose.

No, it's someone else that I'm afraid of.

He, or rather they, are the reason why I have to hide who I am online and in real life.

They are looking for me and once they find me…

They are the reason I’m a recluse.

I don't tell Emma any of this. She thinks that I live this way because I don't want to be bothered. That's only partly true.

Emma needs to write an article about me. Her boss is insisting on it and if she doesn't come back with something significant, then she's going to lose her job.

When she told me, I refused.

She doesn't know what she's asking me to do. She thinks I'm unreasonable and self-centered.

I am both of those things, but not in this case.

I should have told her to leave as soon as she arrived, but I couldn’t.

I wanted to get to know her.

I wanted to be with her.

That's why I made her that offer.

I told her that I would give her permission to write her article if she spends a week with me.

She won't have to do anything she doesn't want to, but she has to be here.

I wanted to get to know her. I thought that she might be… No, I can't let myself think that.

She might be my way out.

She may hold the key to my freedom.

First, I have to know who she is. I have to get to know her and to see what she's capable of.









When he makes an offer, I take a deep breath and take a step away from him.

I don't know whether I should be offended, flattered, or insulted. Frankly, I'm feeling a little bit of all three.

He stands a little bit away from me, waiting for my answer.

Of course it’s no.

What else can it be?

When he kissed me and pressed his hard body against mine, I would’ve done anything he asked. Then he pulled away and the trance was broken.

I got a hold of my wits and realized that whatever is going on between us is purely physical.

I'm still grieving the loss of my engagement and the terrible thing that Alex did.

My mind isn’t in the right place.

Liam’s supposed to be a rebound, nothing more, and that's exactly what he's going to be.

I came out here to the desert to find the real identity of a reclusive and best-selling romantic fantasy author by the name of D. B. Carter.

What I found instead was a man who used to be friends with my fiancé and who had exchanged a few words with me at my parents’ house.

Why was that?

Was this whole thing a set-up?

My thoughts go back to how I found out about him. I wrote messages on various Facebook groups and forums. Then a guy named Matt Lipinski wrote me back.

Liam said that he has no idea who Matt is, but now I'm not so sure.

What if he's been lying to me this whole time?

What if this whole thing is a prank?

Liam is waiting for me to make a decision, but I have already made it.

I'm a journalist and I don't pay people for stories. He's not offering me money, but he's asking me to do something worse.

Maybe he's not coming straight out and asking me to sleep with him, but it’s somewhere along that line and I don't like it.

I'm not for sale.

My body can’t be bought for a price.

He can go fuck himself.

Without saying a word, I turn around and head back to my car.

It didn't start before and I don't know if it will now, but I pray that it does.

I take a deep breath.

I slowly press the accelerator and then push the start button.

I hold my breath and I shut my eyes tightly so it takes me a few moments to realize that my Prius actually started up.

“Oh, thank the Lord!” I exclaim when Bruce Springsteen starts to blast from the speakers.

Looking in the rearview mirror, I see his silhouette on the porch and quickly pull away from his house.

I drive down the long unpaved, dusty road leading up to the iron gate and pull out onto the highway. I don't look back again until I get on the freeway, finally letting out a sigh of relief.

It takes me four hours to drive back to my apartment in Los Angeles. It's Saturday and the traffic shouldn’t be that bad, but there's been a few accidents so we are all stacked bumper-to-bumper.

Normally, the drive should take about 2 1/2 hours, but I don't mind. I'm used to the traffic and I just sit back in my seat, turn up the music, and space out.

I want to lose myself in Springsteen's “Badlands,” but instead my thoughts keep going back to Liam and his forty acres in the desert.

He was respectful, polite, and welcoming, yet distant. His eyes were razor-sharp and his voice was smooth like velvet. I pick up my phone and open the Dragon Anywhere dictation app.

I have gotten used to making verbal notes about my research and stories while I sit behind the wheel.

Now I want to jot down some thoughts while we crawl through Pasadena.