Glancing at the still-empty doorway, I head to the bathroom and shut myself inside, setting the envelope down on the sink and staring at it like it’s alive and will move. The possibility it might send me racing for another new location is too much to take. I can’t seem to make myself open it. I kick off my heels and tear my dress over my head, then stare at the envelope some more. It still hasn’t moved and I still haven’t opened it.
“Just get it over with, Amy,” I whisper and reach for it, flipping open the flap and pulling out what appears to be a copy of my signed lease with a note attached. I w as in your neighborhood and Dermit wanted me to check on you and drop this by. Looks like I missed you.
Call the office if you need anything. Luke Evernight. I should be relieved—this is not a warning or instructions to leave—but instead a frisson of unease slides down my spine and I’m not sure why. What is it that is bothering me?
Abruptly the door behind me opens, and Liam is an unstoppable force. He lifts me and sets me on the counter, dislodging the papers from my hand in the process, and sending them flying to the floor. His arms frame mine, his hands on the surface by my knees.
“Reality check, Amy. I never promised to be Prince Charming.”
I flinch. “I told you. I’m not looking for a Prince Charming.”
“I f**k and move on.”
“You told me that, too. Stop saying it. I don’t want to hear it.”
“The last time I had a long-term girlfriend was college, and she left me because she said I was self-centered, cold, and just wanted between her legs. And it was true. For all kinds of reasons, it was true. I am not a relationship guy.”
“What do you want me to say, Liam? Please f**k me for a few days and move on? I didn’t even say that word before I met you. But fine, fine, fine! Fuck me for a few days and move on, but stay out of my business. Stop asking questions. Stop trying to change my locks and order me to go to the doctor and just stop. No barbarian routine unless it’s when we are naked. Period. The end.”
He scrubs a hand through his hair. “You don’t get it. I’m not explaining myself well, which is a testament to how out of my skin you make me. My point is that I’m the one who’s on unfamiliar territory. When I saw your smartass neighbor look at you like he wanted to strip you naked, I had to fight the urge to throttle him. I have never felt that. Never.”
“What? No. He—no.”
“He wants you. I want you. I can’t walk away from you, Amy, and I have this sense that you could bolt at any minute. And yes, you’re right. I’m being barbaric. And intense. That’s who I am and I can’t be anyone but me. When I want something I go after it. And baby, I want you, and all I can say is you might be smart to run before I get any more into you, but please don’t.”
His voice is gruff, affected, vulnerable in a way I didn’t know him capable of being. And his eyes, those deep blue, amazing eyes are blurred with shadows and torment over me, over something in his past I am not sure I understand. All I know is he’s letting me see it, and him, and he is exactly what he preaches. Raw and honest, and intense, and I believe in this moment we are a rainbow of the same colors, none of them bright or beautiful. We are the many shades of gray and black, hoping to find a glimmer of light in each other, not more darkness.
I press my hand to his cheek and he leans into my touch. “I don’t want to go anywhere,” I whisper, and I don’t want him to go anywhere either, but deep down I know he will or I will. We are destined to end. This is the way of my world and he is as captive to it as I am without knowing it.
“Then I’m not going to let you,” he says, his hand sliding into my hair, his mouth closing down on mine, and there is more than passion that bleeds into my mouth. There is the promise he means to hold onto me, and I pray it’s not one we will both regret.
Liam and I are about to walk into the cell phone store when Liam’s phone rings. “It’s
Derek. I’ll meet you inside.” Relief washes over me. He won’t see my Colorado license.
Liam holds the door for me and I step into the store and hear him say, “No, I am not going to meet with him today,” followed by a deliciously deep, sexy laugh I could seriously get drunk on.
I find Scott behind the counter on the phone and he waves me forward. Eager to take advantage of Liam’s absence and wondering how long I can really keep secrets from him, I rush forward. Rushing does me no good. The customer Scott is talking to is difficult, and I find myself twisting my fingers in knots, trying to will the call the end. My gaze falls on a typed note about some cell phone accessories and my mind goes to the typed note left on my door. I can picture it.
I was in your neighborhood and Dermit wanted me to check on you and drop this by.
Looks like I missed you. Call the office if you need anything. Luke Evernight.
I straighten and stiffen. The note was typed, but it sounded like he’d handwritten it when I didn’t answer the door. That isn’t logical. Why didn’t he handwrite it? Surely he didn’t go back to his office to type it. And why would he type a note stating I wasn’t home before discovering that to be the case?
Scott hangs up and slides my ID to me. “Here you go, Ms. Bensen. Nice and safe.”
I shake off enough of the unease to focus on the present. “Thank you. I’m so glad you kept calling. I thought it was a wrong number.”
He frowns. “I only called the one time and got lucky you answered.”