I pull my pillow over my face and cry into the soft material as images of my son flash through my head. I think I memorized everything about him during those few short hours. He was so tiny, weighing only six pounds. His small head was covered in dark hair and his eyes were bluish grey. I remember praying that I would be able to see them one day to know what color they turned out to be.
He had a birthmark on his right thigh. I looked at the small area of discolored skin for a long time while I held him. The shape was unique, just like him. Not long after moving to Vegas, I was walking down the street and looked into a tattoo shop window. I hadn’t wanted a tattoo until one of the posters on the wall caught my eye and I saw my son’s birthmark. I went inside to find out what it was.
The old guy behind the counter got on his computer and looked it up for me. He told me that the symbol was an Ankh, the origin was Egyptian, and it represented eternal life or the giving of life. I couldn’t believe that his birthmark had that kind of meaning behind it.
I knew that my son was the one who’d actually given me life; he’d made me fight harder to get out of my mother’s grasp. I had hated her before he’d come along, but after she forced me to give him away, I knew the kind of evil she really was and fought until I was finally free.
I must have fallen asleep again, but when I wake up, I feel like I have only been asleep for an hour. The sound of the doorbell going off again registers, and I wait to see if I hear Kenton answer it. The house sounds quiet, and I hope the person at the door leaves. When the bell rings again, I let out a frustrated huff.
“Seriously?!” I yell as the pounding starts.
I climb out of bed, stumble out of my room, run down the stairs, and swing the door open without thinking. The alarm starts going off and I run to the keypad, typing in the code quickly before turning and going back to the door.
“Can I help you?” I ask a guy who looks no older than twenty-one. He’s tall and lean with tousled, blond hair. He looks like he just came from the beach.
“Holy shit.” He looks me over from head to toe, and I groan when I realize I once again forgot to put on pants. “Shit. Please tell me the carpet matches the drapes,” he mumbles.
I’m not sure if it’s the lack of sleep or the promise I made myself the last time those words were said, but I walk towards him slowly, swaying my hips, my hands going up to his shoulders. His eyes go wide when I touch him, and then I bring my knee up, connecting with his nuts.
He groans, his knees hitting the floor with a loud thud. “What was that for?” he asks me in a breathy, high-pitched voice, holding his junk.
“That was for asking an inappropriate question. Weren’t you raised better than that?”
“What the f**k is going on?”
I turn at the sound of Kenton’s words. He’s standing on the stairs, wearing nothing but a towel. His eyes come to me then lower down my body. I make a mental note that, from now on, I will wear pants at all times. When his eyes stop on my hip, where I have a nice-size bruise from last night’s run-in with the lunatic, they narrow.
“How did you get that?” He looks at the guy on the floor then back at me. His jaw goes hard, and I put my hands up in front of me.
“That’s from your girlfriend last night.”
“He doesn’t have a girlfriend,” the guy I kneed says, whimpering as he stands.
“Why’d you knee Justin in the nuts?” he asks, walking the rest of the way down the stairs.
I try to take my eyes off him, but they feel glued. His wet hair is dripping onto his body. His abdominal muscles flex with each step. The deep V of his hips disappears beneath the small towel that is also showing off his well-endowed package. He walks past me and goes to the couch in the next room, coming back with a blanket in his hand. I don’t even have a chance to think as he wraps the blanket around my waist. I slap his hands away from me, taking a step back to glare at him.
“Oh shit. I’m in love,” the guy named Justin declares, smiling at me.
“Why are you here, Justin? I told you I would be at the office late,” Kenton growls, taking a step in my direction. I take another step away from him.
“I know, but I needed to talk to you and it couldn’t wait.”
“You should have called,” he scolds.
“I did. You didn’t answer.”
“Fuck me.” Kenton looks at me like he wants to say something, but I shake my head no and take another step towards the stairs.
“You’re leaving already?” Justin asks, looking at me with a big, cheesy smile on his face. “We’re basically past second base. You touched my junk. It’s only fair I get to touch yours.”
I can’t help but smile at the guy. I see it now. He’s not pervy, just strange and kinda cute in a brotherly kind of way. “Sorry. No, I need my beauty sleep, and I work tonight.” I shrug, smirking.
“You don’t need sleep, my love. You’re alread—”
Kenton smacks him in the back of his head before he can finish, and I can’t help but smile at him again.
“Nice to meet you, Justin,” I tell him, really meaning it.
“You too, Copper.” He grins back.
“You know you’re still not safe, Autumn. I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to be working,” Kenton says.
I look at him, my eyes narrow, and I growl. “I’m safe and going to work, ass, so get over it.”
His jaw starts to tick a little faster and his hands ball into fists. “Tell me the name of the place so I can check on you.”
“I don’t need you to check on me.”
“Tell me or I’ll have Justin do a run on you and I’ll know everything about you down to your last f**king period,” he growls, taking a step towards me.
“Ass!” I yell, glaring at him.
“Tell me,” he roars, leaning forward, and I can feel the anger rolling off him.
“Vanderbilt,” I say, but I pronounce it ‘Vander’s Belt,’ hoping he doesn’t catch on that it’s the hospital. I don’t know why I don’t what him to know what I’m really doing. I almost feel like he hasn’t earned the right to know.
“We need to talk,” he says, his tone softer, but the growl is still there.
“We don’t,” I assure him, pulling off the blanket and tossing it at him as I walk up the stairs. I hear Justin laugh and Kenton growl something about spankings under his breath before I close the door to my bedroom, smiling.