“You flustered her,” Ian chuckled, nudging T.J. with his shoulder as they stood side by side, leaning against the counter like they didn’t have a care in the world.
“It happens.” T.J. shrugged and gave me that maddening half-smile again.
“Grrrr…” I growled at him, glaring. “I can’t get you to hardly string sixteen words together before tonight, you barely ever smile, and now you’re sexy smiling and winking at me? What the hell?” I threw my hands up in frustration, ending with my legs apart and my hands on my hips as they both just smirked at me.
I gave up and crossed my arms, content just to glare at them when T.J. send a sideways glance at Ian and said, “She’s a feisty one, isn’t she,” and Ian just nodded slowly, his eyes warming with glee. “Yes, she is, T.J. Yes, she is.”
“Assholes,” I muttered, stalking out of the kitchen and throwing myself onto the couch, smiling to myself when I heard them laughing behind me. I wasn’t really mad. How could I be? T.J. laughed and smiled…and opened himself just the tiniest bit.
There’s a story there. And Chloe and I would figure it out eventually.
The guys made their way into the living room, T.J. perching on the edge of the recliner, his half-empty bottle of beer dangling from his fingertips between his wide-spread knees, and Ian picked my legs up and sat down, arranging my thighs across his lap, one of his hands curling possessively around my upper thigh while he traced his other one slowly up and down my shin.
I glanced at the clock, noting that it was only eight o’clock.
Ian pinched my thigh lightly as he broke the silence, asking, “You over your fit?”
I ignored him, instead addressing the room in general. “Wanna watch a movie?” I hit the button on the remote to go to the pay-per-view new releases and scrolled through to the comedy listings, popping them up on the screen.
Nothing caught my eye, so I dropped the remote and snuck a look at the Ian and then T.J., noting that they were both still smirking at me.
“Are we going to watch something or not?” I asked them, more to make them stop staring at me then anything.
T.J. chuckled and shrugged, then drained the rest of his beer.
“Want another?” I asked him, looking to see if Ian needed one, too.
He shook his head. “Nah, gotta drive home after the movie.”
“Want something else?”
He shook his head again, so I looked at Ian and got a negative shake of his head, as well. I reached for the remote again, but Ian snagged it and turned it immediately onto one of the new shoot-‘em-up/bang-‘em-down movies that had just come out. Not my favorite but…whatever.
So it was totally not my fault that I was asleep within the first half hour.
I was pacing back and forth across my sister’s living room floor, agitation written across every inch of my body. I was so pissed that I couldn’t even enjoy the cuteness of my niece as she watched me pace, her little head tracking me as I moved past her where she sat in her octagon-shaped, gated play yard, tossing her toys around and teasing the dogs that were watching her through the fence.
They’d finally given up on following me, which was a good thing because every time I turned around to pace back the way I’d come, I’d almost trip over one of them as they scrabbled to get out of my way.
Emma was sitting on the arm of her couch, watching me with concern, her fingers fidgeting with the hem of her shirt. She’d given up trying to get me to sit down and try to get calm once we’d gotten back to her house.
Ian had called Luke, who’d sent Emma to get me and take me to their house until things were dealt with at home and he could get to me, because he didn’t want me driving while I was so upset.
It was Wednesday, three days after a pretty kickass weekend that had ended with me asleep on the couch while my man watched a movie with T.J. When it was over, Ian had woken me to say goodbye to T.J., who’d swooped me up in a tight hug, thanking me for cutting his hair and letting him hang. Then Ian had taken me to bed and…well, he’d just plain taken me, sending me off to sleep with not one, not two, but three toe-curling, hair-pulling, eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head, screaming orgasms. He’s good like that.
And Monday and Tuesday were perfectly fine, normal days. Today had been, too. Until about an hour ago when I walked into my bedroom to see a stack of Louis Vuitton luggage sitting in front of the dresser, the top one open and full of Ian’s shirts, folded neatly. More than that, there was a very strong chlorine-y smell filling the room, making my eyes water.
Confused, and more than a little disturbed, I’d retrieved my phone from my purse on the kitchen counter and called Ian.
“Um, are you going somewhere, or you planning on leaving me?” I’d asked him, half-jokingly. “And did you use bleach or something in the bathroom today?”
He’d sounded distracted when he answered, “What? What the fuck are you talking about? I’m not going anywhere and I’m sure as hell not leaving you. Why in the hell would you ask me something like that? And no, I didn’t use…”
His words cut off and he’d me to hold on because he was getting a lot of texts coming through and the phone was beeping non-stop in his ear. Suddenly, I’d heard him growl, his voice low and menacing as he’d asked, “Are you at home?”
I opened my mouth to reply but stopped when a slip of paper on Ian’s pillow caught my eye. Picking it up, I’d read the first line, my fingers tightening on it as the words penetrated, leaving me unable to utter anything to Ian other than, “Get. Home. Now,” through tightly clenched teeth.
I’d hung up on him, finished reading the note, and then stalked to my dresser to confirm what had been written. I was still standing there, ignoring my phone as Ian called me back over and over again, staring down into the drawers I’d wrenched open, the note still crumpled in my fist when my sister had walked in, Everly on her hip.
As soon as I’d seen her, I’d whirled and pushed her gently out of the room, crying, “NO! You can’t have Everly in here, it’s too strong!” I’d moved her into the kitchen before I’d asked, “What are you doing here?”
She’d explained that Ian had called Luke to send her over to pick me up, but hadn’t really told her why. Just that she needed to take me to their house and wait for Ian. I hadn’t explained anything to her then, either. I’d just opened my hand and dropped the crumpled note onto the counter. She’d smoothed it out as best she could while still holding my niece, then gasped as she read.
Then she’d folded it haphazardly, shoved it in her pocket, and after grabbing my keys off the counter, she’d shoved my purse into my hands and marched me out the door and into her car.
Which brought us back to here, me pacing the floor of Emma’s living room incessantly.
I’d just turned on my heel to start back across the room when a car door slammed outside, sending the dogs into a barking fit. I glanced out to see Ian running flat out for the house and met him at the door as soon as it opened.
He grabbed me by the shoulders, leaning down to stare into my eyes as he asked, urgently, “Are you okay? Why wouldn’t you answer me? What happened after you hung up?”
“Did you go home before coming here?” I asked, flatly.