Before I can say a word, Drew’s warm hand lands on my nape. It engulfs me, a comforting weight and a support. “Careful.”
He’s not speaking to me. His eyes are on Henry. There’s nothing overtly threatening about his pose, with his other hand resting casually on the counter and his shoulders relaxed. And yet the message is clear. Should Henry make a wrong move, Drew would take him down in an instant. I don’t need to be protected. But if feels nice knowing that he’s willing.
Henry’s frown is as contrived as his tone. “Careful?”
“Do I need to spell it out for you?” Drew doesn’t need to raise his voice. The authority of his presence is enough for Henry to look away first.
“You all need to relax. I’m just messing around.”
Aware that Iris is cringing, I refrain from calling him on that lie. Drew does as well, but he doesn’t drop his hard gaze from Henry.
“We going out?” Henry snaps at Iris.
“Yes.” She gives us an apologetic look as she takes Henry’s arm and all but tugs him to the door.
“Leave the key,” I say before they get there.
Henry stops, his shoulders stiffening, and turns his head to glare at me. But his gaze clashes with Drew’s, and he simply shrugs before reaching into his pocket and pulling out the spare set of keys. Henry tosses them on to the counter where they land with a loud clang.
As soon as they leave, I lean against the counter with a sigh. “He’s such an ass**le.”
“I’m guessing Iris doesn’t see that.” There’s a knowing tone in Drew’s voice.
“I’d like to believe that she’s living in ignorant bliss rather than choosing to be with him with eyes wide open.”
I move to take Drew’s plate, but he reacts first, picking up both his and mine and taking them to the sink.
“Whatever the case,” I say as he rinses off the dishes and I open the dishwasher to tuck them away, “she hasn’t kicked him to the curb.”
Drew leans a hip against the counter. “It happens sometimes to guys on the team. They’ll go out with a girl who is bad news, manipulative, caring only about the fame. Every now and then someone will try to warn the poor sap.”
“It’s sweet that you guys watch out for each other.”
His teeth flash in a quick but tight smile. “Well, it isn’t entirely altruistic. A team is only as strong as its weakest link. None of us like to see a guy laid low by head games.” Drew’s broad shoulders lift on a shrug. “Not that it matters. Warning a guy about a girl only pisses him off and drives him closer to her.”
“Which is why I grit my teeth and try to steer clear of Henry.”
Drew’s expression grows pinched. “I saw him at the party. Is that why you didn’t want to go?”
“I didn’t want to go, because I don’t like parties.” I toss the hand towel into the sink. “Henry being there merely made it that much worse.”
The corner of his mouth tilts up. “I’m still glad you were there.” His eyes are liquid caramel, and all thought of Henry melts away in a rush of heat and longing. As if feeling the same rush, Drew’s chest lifts on a breath, and his voice lowers to a rumble. “Show me your room, Jones.”
DESPITE THE HEATED promise in his voice, and despite the fact that he came to my apartment for only one reason, when we get to my room, Drew doesn’t touch me. We lay side by side on the bed, both of us staring up at the ceiling. Our shoulders brush, but that is the extent of our contact. My hands are safely folded over my stomach and so are his. We aren’t f**king. I’m not trying to climb him like a tree, or lick him like a Tootsie-Pop. Though I want to do those things. Part of me always does.
I still can’t believe I have Baylor in my room. His presence fills every inch. He’s so expansive with his charisma that I can’t get enough air, or when I do, it makes my blood fizz and my head spin.
When he finally talks, my skin jumps at the rich, deep sound.
“What’s your thing with old Siouxsie there?”
I don’t need to see him to know he’s gesturing with his chin toward the framed poster of Siouxsie Sioux, lead singer for Siouxsie and the Banshees, that hangs over my bed. With her exaggerated straight black brows, wild black bob, and tiny red bow mouth she looks like a deranged Betty Boop, a Goth flapper girl. She screams timeless beauty and “fuck off” all at once. I love her style.
“She’s not old,” I protest. Though I suppose she is now. Likely she’s in her fifties. I really don’t want to know. Up there, on my wall, she’s immortal.
“You didn’t answer me,” he presses. A soft rustle of noise, and I know he’s turned his head to look at me. I keep my eyes on Siouxsie. This doesn’t deter Baylor. “You seem to have a thing for her.”
We’re listening to her now, her haunting voice singing a cover of Dear Prudence.
I shrug, and my arm rubs against his. “Just look at her. She didn’t give a f**k. She led an all-male band, was part of a sound revolution.” I shrug again. “And she’s f**king cool.”
He chuckles. It’s a good laugh. Deep and infectious. Just hearing it makes me smile.
His laughter dies down, and we’re silent for a moment, just listening to music and lying there. His legs are so long that his bent knees rise at least five inches higher than mine. They are dusky blue hills beneath the backdrop of Siouxsie’s haunted eyes. I’m relaxed, I realize. And at the same time, tension, ever present when he is near, simmers low in my stomach.