It doesn’t matter. The longer I sit here the more I feel exposed, vulnerable, a target. My foot hits the gas. I need out of this parking lot and I need out now.
I’m barely on the side street leading to the highway, my hands clutching the steering wheel, when it hits me: the storage unit is unlocked. I’ve left it open and I’m driving away. I cut the car into a gas station and park beside the building. I just sit. It could be a minute, or two or ten. I can’t be sure. I can’t seem to form coherent thoughts. I let my head fall to the steering wheel and try to focus. The storage unit. Rebecca’s secrets, her life. Her death. My head jerks up. No. She’s not dead. She’s not dead . . . and yet, I know in my gut there is a secret about her in that storage unit that someone doesn’t want me or anyone else to discover.
“I have to go back and lock the unit,” I whisper. I could call the police to meet me. They won’t arrest me for being afraid of the dark. They might laugh, they might be irritated, but I’ll be safe and smart this time.
My cell phone rings from the seat, where I don’t remember tossing it, and I jump, balling my fist between my br**sts. “Good grief,” I murmur, chiding myself. “Get a grip, Sara.”
I glance at the number. Chris. My chest burns hot with emotion. There is so much between us that is unsettled, so many reasons why we are wrong for each other. Yet, despite this or perhaps because of it, I have never needed to hear someone’s voice as much as I need to hear his now.
“Sara,” he murmurs when I answer, and my name is a soft rasp of silky male perfection that radiates through me and settles in the deep hollow of my soul only he seems to fill.
“Chris.” My voice cracks on his name, because damn it, my eyes are burning. How have I gone from living the past few years so unaffected by what is around me to the opposite in a matter of weeks? “I . . . I wish you were here.”
“I am here, baby,” he says, and I think, I hope, I hear a note of his own emotion etched deep within his words. “I’m at your front door. Open up.”
I blink in confusion. “I thought you were in L.A. for the charity event.”
“I was and I have to fly out again in the morning, but I had to see you. Open up and let me in.”
I am stunned. I’ve worried all day over his silence. Feared he’d shut me out, as I had him last night. “You came home just to see me?”
“Yes. I came just to see you.” He seems to hesitate. “Are you going to leave me outside?”
More of that emotion I try not to feel erupts inside me, and the burn in my eyes threatens to become tears. He came to see me, went out of his way, to fly here from another city, even after the way I’d reacted to his confession at the club last night. “I’m not home.” My voice is barely audible. “I’m not and I want to be. Can you please come here?”
“Where is here?” he asks, sounding as urgent as I feel.
“A few blocks away. At a Stop N Buy store by the storage unit I told you about.” I can’t bring myself to say Rebecca’s name and I don’t know why.
“I’ll be right there.”
I open my mouth to give him directions, but the line goes dead.
I’m out of my car the instant I see Chris’s Porsche pulling into the parking lot, and the chill I feel when I step outside has nothing to do with the cold air blasting from the nearby ocean, and everything to do with what had happened back at that storage unit. I hug myself and watch him drive toward my silver Ford Focus, and my heart thunders in my chest. Suddenly, I am nervous and insecure, and I hate this part of me I cannot escape. What if I’ve read his visit wrong and he’s here to end what’s between us? What if my reaction to his big reveal last night at Mark’s club has convinced him of what he’s so often declared? That I don’t belong in this world, in his world.
The 911 slides sleekly into the parking spot next to mine, and I try not to think about it being the same car my father drives. My father is the last person I should have on my mind, yet he’s been in my head these past few weeks and I don’t know why. I’m off-kilter, my mind all over the place, shaken by the night’s events and my fear of what will happen with Chris.
I watch Chris exit the car, and just the sight of him towering over the roof of the Porsche sets my pulse to racing all over again. He rounds the trunk, and dressed in black jeans, biker boots, and a leather jacket, his blond hair spiking to his collar, he looks rumpled and sexy, and oh so ruggedly male. His long strides mimic the same urgency I feel, and I launch myself in his direction.
The few steps between us feel like an eternity before I am finally in his arms, wrapped in the warm cocoon of his embrace, his powerful body absorbing mine. The battle of the night before is gone as if it never existed. I melt into the hard lines of him, sliding my hands beneath his leather jacket, and inhaling the wonderful sandalwood and musk scent that is so wonderfully Chris.
In an easy move, he maneuvers me to the side of the car, where the wall hides us from the sight of the people coming and going into the store. “Talk to me, baby,” he orders, studying me in the dim, barely there glow of some kind of parking lights on the Porsche. “Are you okay?”
My eyes meet his and even in the deep haze of the shadows I feel the connection between us, the depths of his feelings for me. Chris has layers I don’t pretend to understand, but he cares about me and I want him to see what I failed to show him last night. I want to understand him. I want him, all of him, including those parts I made him feel I can’t deal with.