“Because you don’t want me to?”
“I already told you why. You’ll hate me later. And I’ll hate me for giving you the chance.”
“And what about me? Will you hate me?”
“I don’t have a reason to hate you, Chad. I don’t know you.”
“But you want me.”
“I don’t know the right answer to that.”
“The truth will set you free.”
“The truth can’t set you free if no one believes you.”
Something about those words rips through me and cuts deeply. It’s some long-buried memory that I can’t seem to call to the surface, but it shakes me to my senses. Am I really about to bed a woman I was ready to believe helped kill my parents less than an hour ago? What the hell am I doing? I pull her arms forward and quickly wrap them.
“You’re still tying me up?” she demands, sounding desperate. “Why? Please.”
“I told you not to say please.”
“You didn’t say—”
“I am now.” I stand and pull her to her feet.
“This isn’t necessary. I don’t have anywhere to go. I don’t even know how to hot-wire the truck. You can take the phone cord.”
“You knew how to make a bomb.”
“I explained that.”
“You’re just full of answers. And I’m full of questions. Come with me.” I start leading her toward the bathroom.
“I can’t go in there with you. What are you doing?”
Stopping, I face her. “I told you. I always have a plan. I’m keeping you close and safe.”
“No. You need privacy.”
“Sweetheart, I don’t give a fuck about privacy. Don’t make this harder than it has to be.” I start walking again and she tugs against me. Grinding my teeth, I give her a hard look. “My need for a shower and sleep is making me real damn cranky. Don’t make me carry you.”
She glowers, but she’s smart enough to follow this time as I lead her into the canister-sized shithole of a bathroom and seat her on the toilet. “Make yourself comfortable.” Anticipating her compliance, I return to the bedroom and snag the second tie dangling from the curtains. Returning to the bathroom, I kneel at Gia’s feet, grabbing her ankles and wrapping them just tight enough to be sure she can’t escape.
My hands settle on her knees, and when our eyes meet, hers burn with defiance, anger—but there is more there as well. There is the kind of simmering heat a man sees in a woman’s eyes when she wants him. She knows it, too, lowering her lashes. Trying to hide it. Enemy. Ally. It doesn’t seem to matter. Right now, we’re alone, us against the devil himself.
“Seems the tide has turned and we’re in reversed positions,” I taunt softly.
Her lashes lift instantly. “I was helping you escape,” she argues.
“And now I’m helping you escape.”
“That’s not what this feels like.”
“What then, Gia, does it feel like?” My voice is a low growl of heat and desire, my fingers flexing into her skin.
“I’m tied up.”
“Do you feel in danger?”
“No,” she admits reluctantly. “I don’t.”
“Then what do you feel?”
Her beautiful blue eyes search my face, as if she’s trying to figure out whatever mystery I am to her. “Confused,” she finally confesses. “You are very confusing.”
“Sweetheart, I’m a puzzle with so many missing pieces, even I can’t find them. Don’t try. You’ll fail.” I lean back on my haunches and lift my pant leg, grabbing my gun and placing it in between her hands. “If anyone comes in, remember your Texas roots: Shoot first and ask questions later.”
“What? Wait. You’ve tied me up, but you’ll give me a gun?”
“I can’t help you if you shoot me. You can’t call Sheridan to tell him our location if you’re tied up. Pretty damn clear to me why this works.” Standing, I tear my shirt off over my head and toss it away. Her eyes go wide and she gives me a fast but thorough inspection before her cheeks flush and she glances away.
“Don’t look at me like that again,” I warn, tearing off my ankle holster and setting it in the sink, “or I might stop caring who hates who until after we fuck.” It’s crass. I’m crass and suddenly pissed off, and I don’t try to pretend I know why. I walk past her, so close in the small space our knees bump, and damn it, I jolt with the impact, and that pisses me off, too. I turn on the shower and adjust the water.
“Me,” she supplies as I turn to tower over her. “Just in case you’ve forgotten how mad the kiss in the truck made you. You’ll hate me.”
“If I end up hating you, Gia, it won’t have anything to do with how good you fuck or don’t fuck. I promise you that.” I step away from her, giving her my back and unzipping my pants. I shove them down my body and kick them away. Turning, I find her head on her knees, her long brown hair draped over her face.
“Tell me when you’re in the shower.”
This is not a seductress, or even an actress. No one is this good, and I have no idea why, but seeing her hiding her face is like a hammer cracking the ice I erect around me. I laugh, a low, deep, genuine sound I barely remember as belonging to me. I never laugh; I don’t even smile all that much. I’m really not sure what to make of it. I was just pissed off. I am pissed off. And aroused, my cock thickening uncomfortably, in a way that would scandalize this woman, and oh yeah, I want to scandalize her, and a whole lot more. I want this woman like I don’t remember wanting anything in a very long time. But I step past her, resisting the urge to touch her, because now is not the time for this. It may never be the right time.