“You have an uncle, and you’re on the streets?”
Yeah, it was going to be hard to answer Jett’s question, but I needed to be as honest with him as possible. He was trying to help me, so I owed him that.
“He was…abusive.” I looked up at Jett, my eyes pleading with him not to ask me anything else.
He nodded sharply, like he understood that I didn’t want to talk about my uncle. “What happened to your inheritance? There must have been money coming from the business, and I’m sure your parents had some funds.”
I shook my head. “My uncle was a silent controlling partner. He’d given my dad the funds for startup, so he took over half ownership. He sold it. And since he was my only relative, he was also my guardian once my parents and grandma were gone.”
“A house? Life insurance? Savings?” he asked.
“We rented our home, and we didn’t have a lot of money,” I told him. “We were one of those families who just got by.”
“So you didn’t really ever have a chance to work because you left home while you were a minor,” he observed.
“Not much else except the catering business,” I confessed. “I picked berries where I could for money while I was on the road. I did just about any unskilled labor I could to survive.”
“Why South Florida if you were a Midwestern girl?”
“When you’re homeless, it’s better to be someplace warm. I can cool down during the day in the library, but it’s hard to survive frigid temperatures.”
“What about shelters?”
“I used them sometimes, but there was usually somebody who needed it more than me. Mothers with kids, someone elderly who couldn’t survive the elements. There just isn’t enough space for every homeless person.”
“Come with me to Seattle, Ruby. Trust me just enough to know I’m never going to send you out on the streets again,” Jett commanded in a guttural tone.
I knew he could never understand that I really trusted no one. Being alone and homeless, I couldn’t. I’d already made a huge mistake by trusting the wrong people, and I’d had a smaller lesson that I’d learned on my own during my adult life on the road.
But Dani had stuck her neck out and helped me, even when she really had no idea whether or not I was worth saving. And then Jett had done the impossible and gotten me out of a bad situation at considerable risk to himself. He’d even been injured trying to save my ass.
We locked eyes, and I asked, “Is that really what you want?”
He nodded. “Maybe I need you as much as you need me.”
I highly doubted that Jett Lawson really needed anyone. He appeared to be pretty self-contained. But if I could help him, and keep myself off the streets, I was willing to try to be useful to him.
“Then, yes. I’ll go. But I’d really like to find a job as soon as possible.” I had to take a huge leap of faith because there was no other option if I ever wanted my life back.
He actually looked relieved when I’d given him the answer he appeared to want.
We were back at the condo later that night, both of us hanging out in the living room, when a very big question hit me. I asked Jett in a flat tone, “What happens when you fall in love? I don’t think any woman is going to want her man living with another woman, even if it isn’t a sexual relationship and I’m just an employee.”
I stopped downloading free books to the e-reader Jett had gotten me, and looked at him sitting in a recliner across the room.
If Jett suddenly fell in love, what would happen to me?
Since he’d asked me to marry him, I assumed he didn’t have somebody waiting for him in Seattle, but I’d discovered that assumptions weren’t always correct.
My stomach knotted at the idea of Jett being involved with a woman, and I wasn’t quite sure why. It wasn’t my fear of being alone again because I’d already been there. I was thinking the tightness in my belly had more to do with the fact that I was attracted to Jett.
Being drawn to Jett wasn’t comfortable for me, but I couldn’t seem to stop myself from staring at his gorgeous body and his handsome face. For some unknown reason, I just wanted to be closer to him. Something pulled me toward him even when I should really be pushing him away.