Granted, I’d wanted her from the moment I’d seen her up on a stage, being sold to the highest bidder. But other than one slip-up, I’d resisted the primal urge to make sure she was always going to belong to me in the most elemental ways I could think of, and my imagination had run pretty wild when it came to Ruby.
I’d given myself a plethora of reasons to stay away from her, and even though it hadn’t been easy, those excuses had worked.
Number one, she was afraid of me and my physical appearance. It had stung for a while after she’d shied away from my scars. But maybe her reaction had been for the best.
Number two, she was young—way too young. There was nine years and a whole lot of experience between the two of us. Ruby hadn’t really had any opportunity to live as an adult. She’d gone from a bad childhood to a homeless adult life. She needed time to adjust.
Number three, she was a virgin, for God’s sake. What in the hell did I know about virgins?
“Are you okay?” Ruby asked tentatively.
My eyes turned toward her, something I’d been trying to avoid. Every time I looked at her, I was even more tempted to help her get used to my damn scars and convince her that she needed to be initiated into the pleasures of down and dirty sex.
Ruby’s eyes were even darker and more intriguing than they’d been when she’d been onstage at the auction, and they made me think about more than just rescuing her.
I wanted to fuck her.
But I cared about her, too. More than I wanted to admit, even to myself. “I’m good,” I said with less warmth than I wanted to project.
Christ! I was losing my damn mind.
If I was really honest, I’d admit that I’d been fighting the urge to touch her ever since I’d kissed her. But I’d been using excuses one, two, or three to keep my ass in line.
Unfortunately, they weren’t working all that well anymore.
Not since Ruby had reminded me tonight that even though she was young, she wasn’t that young.
She was turning twenty-three shortly, but it wasn’t her age that kept me in check.
It was the horrified look on her face when she’d ran away from me and my scarred body.
I’d wondered if I should just find myself a woman and get relief, even if I had to pay for it. But I knew damn well it wouldn’t help. Ruby would be there with me every single moment, reminding me that the only one I wanted was her.
If I got myself off…she was always there. So I had no reason to think that she wouldn’t be just as present if I had sex with another female.
To tell the truth, I was screwed, and I had no idea how to keep going from day to day without blowing off some steam.
So I kept getting myself off while I fantasized about a woman who had become an obsession for me.
I was pathetic.
I knew it.
But I had no idea how to stop it.
“So, I’m thinking about moving to Africa to become a game warden,” Ruby said right before she took a sip of her wine.
I nodded, and swallowed the lump in my throat. “That’s great,” I said automatically, too caught up in her sultry eyes to make any kind of intelligent statement.
“Do you think I’d get eaten by a tiger?”
I frowned at her. “What? There are no tigers in Africa, Ruby.”
Her lips formed into a smile. “I know. I was just wondering if you were ever going to come out of your coma,” she said impishly.
I coughed. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t paying attention.”
It was rare that I wasn’t fully engaged in a conversation with Ruby. But I’d been losing focus since I’d seen her showing way too much skin.
“I said that I was thinking about moving to Africa to become a game warden. I asked you if I’d get eaten by a tiger.”
“No game warden and no Africa,” I told her. “Too dangerous.”
And the only thing she might get eaten by was me if I couldn’t douse my animalistic urges to make her mine.
“So what do you think I should do?” she asked.
I shrugged. “One thing at a time, Ruby. Get a license. Get your GED. And then you can decide.”
The thought of her going anywhere made me crazy. I was pretty sure I’d be stalking her if she tried to leave.
“I know I’m going to be okay now, Jett. I can’t take up residence forever in your guest bedroom,” she said softly.