When she spoke, her words tore me open. I knew that, regardless of my own fears, I needed to find a way to deal with it or I’d lose her before I ever even got to have her. Then I went to Nico’s house and saw him with Sophie and how close they had gotten. The way she looked at him like he had the power to turn on the sun had me feeling jealous. I wanted that for myself.
Nico was right in telling me to get my head out of my ass. He told me that if I wanted something, I had to take it; I couldn’t ever let anyone or anything hold me back. I want Autumn more than I’ve wanted anything before. I wanted her even before I knew she was a nurse. I would be proud to take her home to meet my family. My parents and sister would love her.
“Give me a chance.”
“I can’t. You’ve already said so many cruel things to me. I can’t willingly open myself up for more of that from you.”
“You know the night I made you dinner, when you told me it was the first time you had been happy in a long time? You weren’t the only one who felt that,” I gently confess to her.
“I was drunk. Isn’t everyone happy when they’re drunk?”
I laugh and her eyes meet mine. “Don’t lie to yourself.”
“I’m not. You’re lying to yourself. I’m a stripper, remember? I may not be one now, but I was. I can’t change that.” She shakes her head, causing her hair to slide against my skin.
How many nights have I lay in bed thinking about her hair spread out around her while she sleeps or hanging over me as she rides me to completion?
“I shouldn’t have said what I said. I should’ve been man enough to admit what I was feeling for you. I said some f**ked-up shit in order to cover up how I really felt.”
“I don’t know,” she says, confusion lacing her voice.
“We’ll take it slow. I just need you to stop avoiding me. I need to be able to talk to you, to see your face,” I practically beg, pushing her hair out of her face.
“Friends?” she suggests with a tilt of her head.
“More than friends, baby, but we can start out as friends.” I lift her chin to look into her eyes.
Our eyes meet and I shake my head. Friends? Can I be friends with him? Probably…and it would probably be the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.
His hand runs along the underside of my jaw, his thumb touching my bottom lip.
“I don’t know,” I repeat, closing my eyes. “Why?” I don’t know if I’m asking him or myself, but I just don’t know why I feel this pull towards him.
“What’s the worst that could happen?” he asks, leaning into me.
Heartbreak is the first thing that comes to mind.
I jump at the sound of Derik’s voice and lean around Kenton’s wide frame so I can see the door. My eyes meet Derik’s, and then his go to Kenton before settling back on me.
“Sorry, but I gotta go and can’t leave Tara on the floor alone,” Derik says.
“I’m coming right now,” I tell him, trying to duck away from Kenton, whose hold on my hip tightens.
“I’ll see you Saturday night,” Derik says, closing the door.
“What’s Saturday night?” Kenton asks, and I feel his fingers dig into my skin.
“We’re going out,” I tell him, trying to step away again.
“A date?” The word ‘date’ spits out of his mouth like it tastes bad.
“We’re going to a club or something.” I shrug, attempting to move again.
“I have to work. I don’t have time to play Twenty Questions with you right now,” I state, finally wiggling out of his embrace.
“You’ll have dinner with me on Sunday,” he says rather than asks.
“I have plans.”
“With who?” he growls, his jaw grinding.
“Viv,” I tell him exasperatedly.
“Viv?” He raises an eyebrow at me.
“Yes, Viv. Now I really need to go.” I put my hand on the doorknob to open it.
“Don’t think we’re done talking,” he says close to my ear, startling me.
I look over my shoulder and our eyes meet. I nervously lick my bottom lip and his eyes drop to my mouth. He leans in, and I’m frozen in place. His mouth softly brushes mine and he leans back, looking at me again.
“See you at home, baby,” he whispers, making it sound almost like a threat. He smiles, showing off the small dimple that fascinates me.
I inhale a deep breath and nod. My insides are going crazy, my heart beating double-time.
I walk down the hall towards the nurses’ station, trying to ignore the fact I can hear his boots behind me. I spot Tara, and her eyes go big when she looks over my shoulder. When they come back to me, she smiles an odd smile and I shake my head in a slight move, letting her know to hush.
As soon as I make it to the desk, a bell goes off and I practically yell that I’ll go check on the patient. Tara doesn’t say anything. She just nods, and I make my way quickly down the hall to the patient’s room. I take my time in the room, making sure everything’s taken care of before going back to the nurses’ station. I walk around the corner and see that the area’s empty except for Tara. I let out a breath I didn’t realize I was holding.
“Who the hell is Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome, and where the hell did he take you?” Tara asks as soon as I take a seat. I try to think of a way I can avoid answering that question before looking at her. “Please tell me you are sleeping with him regularly.”
“Oh God.” I cover my face with my hands.
“What? Oh no… Please tell me he isn’t one of those guys who look all hot and yummy, but then you get to the package and get a surprise…and it’s not a good one.” She sits back in her chair, shaking her head in disappointment.
“He’s just a guy who’s been letting me stay with him,” I tell her, hoping she’ll drop it.
“So, you’re not together?” Her eyebrows come together in confusion. “I would’ve sworn he was your man with the show he put on earlier.”
“Nope.” I shake my head frantically.
“Sooo…you live together, but you’re not together?”
“How the hell can you live with someone who looks like that and not jump their bones?” she asks, dumbfounded.
“He’s an ass. Trust me—it’s not as hard as you think it is.”