I hooked my arm around her waist and turned her in the direction I always went when I came up here by myself. “This way.” Then I kissed her hair.
After I sat down in the exact middle of the roof, I pulled her into my lap so she wouldn’t have to sit on the grimy shingles and get a dirty ass. No reason to smear such perfection. Plus her lacy-wrapped tush felt really good against my junk.
Once she was settled against me, I tightened my arms around her and kissed the side of her neck. “Now lean back against me, look up at that sky, and just...enjoy,” I whispered into her ear.
She followed my instructions only to let out a gasp of delight. “Wow.”
“I know, right?” I looked up too, and the night seemed to swallow us whole, making me feel so insignificant and small in this moment and yet important and integral to the universe. The sensation was impossible to explain. It was one of those things you just had to feel.
Caroline seemed to get it though. She tightened her grip on my forearm and inhaled a deep breath. “The sky is so perfect from here. The stars look so close and yet so far away.”
I nodded. Oh, yeah, she totally got it.
We sat in silence for a good fifteen minutes, just letting the evening take us away to that place that felt peaceful and free.
The only problem was we couldn’t stay here forever. Caroline broke the lovely silence by saying, “So...your sister’s name was Zoey?”
I blew out a breath and stretched out my legs under her before running my hands over her thighs. “Yep.”
She turned her face in toward me to kiss my jaw. “And that’s why you write her name all the time.”
I scowled at the stars. “I don’t write it all the time.”
Caroline laughed softly. “I’ve caught you doing it more than once.”
I growled out a sound but tipped my face over to rub it alongside hers.
She let out a cute hum as she caressed my scruff. “You’re really uncomfortable with this discussion; it’s kind of adorable.”
“Thanks.” I curled my arm around her waist in an effort to feel comfortable with something...even if it was just her ass in my lap. “I’m glad one of us is amused.”
“I kind of thought you had a thing for her,” she admitted.
I furrowed my brow. “Who? Ham’s woman? No. Well, kind of, I guess. I mean, I like Blondie. But not...not like that.”
“You like her as a brother,” she surmised.
Every muscle in my body tightened at that word. I’d already been a brother. That had ended badly. I didn’t want to be a brother to any other poor, unsuspecting, innocent girl again.
“You know, it’s okay if you have brotherly feelings for her,” Caroline murmured, stroking her fingers up into my hair. “It’s not going to take anything away from what you felt for the first Zoey. I have three brothers, and loving one doesn’t keep me from loving the other two just as much.”
I groaned. “Jesus, you didn’t lie to my parents at all, did you? I really am seeing a counselor. I just didn’t realize you were the psychiatrist.”
She murmured out a quiet laugh. “And if you’re an extra good boy for the rest of our hour session, Dr. Caroline might even be willing to give you a thorough physical once this is over.”
“Mmm.” I kissed her ear and slid my fingers from her waist to the inside of her thigh. “Can we skip straight to that part?”
Grasping my wrist, she moved my hand up to a more respectable place on her knee. “Not until your hour’s up, Mr. Tenning.”
I bit her earlobe lightly. “Fun hater.”
She grinned and twisted to look up at me. But her expression just as quickly fell somber. “Why’d you say it was your fault she died?”
With a groan, I closed my eyes. “Because it was.”
She frowned in confusion. “So...you shot her? Stabbed her? Suffocated her with a pillow?” After a thoughtful pause, she nodded approvingly. “I’ve actually considered pillow suffocation for Brandt. Numerous times.”
I couldn’t help it, I smiled. But then the memories flooded right back up and swallowed me. “I let her drive,” I finally admitted, “when I knew she was upset.”
Caroline was quiet for a moment before she asked simply, “And why did you do that?”
A sigh eased from my lungs. I glanced back up at the stars and pulled the warm woman in my arms tighter against me, realizing what an honor it was to get to hold her like this. In a second, she could be stolen away from me, too...just like that.