Ignite Me (Shatter Me, #3)(11)

He hauls himself up with a casual elegance that startles me. Smooths out his slacks. Pushes his sleeves up again. “I’ve had your armoire moved into my closet,” he says. “There are things for you to change into, if you’d like that. The bed and bathroom are yours. I have work to do,” he says. “I’ll be sleeping in my office tonight.”

And with that, he opens the adjoining door to his office, and locks himself inside.


My food is cold.

I poke at the potatoes and force myself to finish the meal even though I’ve lost my appetite. I can’t help but wonder if I’ve finally pushed Warner too far.

I thought the revelations had come to a close for today, but I was wrong again. It makes me wonder just how much is left, and how much more I’ll learn about Warner in the coming days. Months.

And I’m scared.

Because the more I discover about him, the fewer excuses I have to push him away. He’s unraveling before me, becoming something entirely different; terrifying me in a way I never could’ve expected.

And all I can think is not now.

Not here. Not when so much is uncertain. If only my emotions would understand the importance of excellent timing.

I never realized Warner was unaware of how deeply I’d detested him. I suppose now I can better understand how he saw himself, how he’d never viewed his actions as guilty or criminal. Maybe he thought I would’ve given him the benefit of the doubt. That I would’ve been able to read him as easily as he’s been able to read me.

But I couldn’t. I didn’t. And now I can’t help but wonder if I’ve managed to disappoint him, somehow.

Why I even care.

I clamber to my feet with a sigh, hating my own uncertainty. Because while I might not be able to deny my physical attraction to him, I still can’t shake my initial impressions of his character. It’s not easy for me to switch so suddenly, to recognize him as anything but some kind of manipulative monster.

I need time to adjust to the idea of Warner as a normal person.

But I’m tired of thinking. And right now, all I want to do is shower.

I drag myself toward the open door of the bathroom before I remember what Warner said about my clothes. That he’d moved my armoire into his closet. I look around, searching for another door and finding none but the locked entry to his office. I’m half tempted to knock and ask him directly but decide against it. Instead, I study the walls more closely, wondering why Warner wouldn’t have given me instructions if his closet was hard to find. But then I see it.

A switch.

It’s more of a button, actually, but it sits flush with the wall. It would be almost impossible to spot if you weren’t actively searching for it.

I press the button.

A panel in the wall slides out of place. And as I step across the threshold, the room illuminates on its own.

This closet is bigger than his entire bedroom.

The walls and ceiling are tiled with slabs of white stone that gleam under the fluorescent recessed lighting; the floors are covered with thick Oriental rugs. There’s a small suede couch the color of light-green jade stationed in the very center of the room, but it’s an odd sort of couch: it doesn’t have a back. It looks like an oversized ottoman. And strangest of all: there’s not a single mirror in here. I spin around, my eyes searching, certain I must’ve overlooked such an obvious staple, and I’m so caught up in the details of the space that I almost miss the clothes.

The clothes.

They’re everywhere, on display as if they were works of art. Glossy, dark wood units are built into the walls, shelves lined with rows and rows of shoes. All the other closet space is dedicated to hanging racks, each wall housing different categories of clothing.

Everything is color coordinated.

He owns more coats, more shoes, more pants and shirts than I’ve ever seen in my life. Ties and bow ties, belts, scarves, gloves, and cuff links. Beautiful, rich fabrics: silk blends and starched cotton, soft wool and cashmere. Dress shoes and buttery leather boots buffed and polished to perfection. A peacoat in a dark, burnt shade of orange; a trench coat in a deep navy blue. A winter toggle coat in a stunning shade of plum. I dare to run my fingers along the different materials, wondering how many of these pieces he’s actually worn.

I’m amazed.

It’s always been apparent that Warner takes pride in his appearance; his outfits are impeccable; his clothes fit him like they were cut for his body. But now I finally understand why he took such care with my wardrobe.

He wasn’t trying to patronize me.

He was enjoying himself.

Aaron Warner Anderson, chief commander and regent of Sector 45, son of the supreme commander of The Reestablishment.

He has a soft spot for fashion.

After my initial shock wears off, I’m able to easily locate my old armoire. It’s been placed unceremoniously in a corner of the room, and I’m almost sorry for it. It stands out awkwardly against the rest of the space.

I quickly shuffle through the drawers, grateful for the first time to have clean things to change into. Warner anticipated all of my needs before I arrived on base. The armoire is full of dresses and shirts and pants, but it’s also been stocked with socks, bras, and underwear. And even though I know this should make me feel awkward, somehow it doesn’t. The underwear is simple and understated. Cotton basics that are exactly average and perfectly functional. He bought these things before he knew me, and knowing that they weren’t purchased with any level of intimacy makes me feel less self-conscious about it all.

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