Page 26 of The Dancer

I spent way too much time wondering why and how she was able to stay on my mind the way she has. And why each time I thought of her I got this insane urge to protect her; keep her close.

I put my anxiety down to just a natural concern for a young girl alone in the city. I’m sure I would’ve felt this way about anyone else, that she was nothing special.

After all, I’m known for championing the underdog. There was obviously something going on with her and with my penchant for saving lost souls I’d picked up on it that’s all.

I put it all in perspective on the plane ride back and came to the conclusion once again that there was nothing more going on here than my innate need to protect someone I felt needed me.

I know how dangerous my city can be for anyone who doesn’t know the ropes. It was the fact that she was a new transplant who seemingly had no one to rely on, and that hungry look mixed with sadness in her eyes.

These were the things that had thrown me into a tailspin and brought back memories of harder times in my own life. So it wasn’t such a stretch that I had reacted that strongly to her in the beginning.

Tony was off his game this time. He’d misread the situation and put me through this misery for nothing. Maybe that’s the reason he’d stopped pestering me about her.

I felt a little more relaxed now that I’d worked it all out in my head. So what if I still can’t get her out of my mind? That was probably due to the fact that I’d left so soon before making sure that she was settled in her new job.

Or the fact that if she disappeared before I returned I had no way of knowing where to find her from the little bit of information she’d given me.

Not unless I got my security team involved, which would only open the door to a lot of unnecessary questions and gossip.

Now that I had it all figured out I was sure that I would be able to handle seeing her again without losing my mind or acting out of character.

If all had gone well she should’ve started working by now after her training. I had no reason to believe that she hadn’t been hired, but I wouldn’t know since my management staff wasn’t in the habit of reporting such things to me unless it was someone I’d recommended in the first place.

As the pilot announced our approach I felt a quickening in my blood. My heart raced and my body felt like someone had lit a match under my skin. There was no denying that I was excited about seeing her again.

But that too I put down to my natural instinct to see someone in need succeed. If she was having a hard time, wasn’t it only normal for me to want to see her situation change for the better?

I was halfway out of my seat before the plane came to a full stop. I caught Tony watching me with a smirk on his face and ignored him. What does he know?

He whistled behind me as we deplaned and I wanted to plant my fist in his face, but controlled myself. If I entertained his bullshit he’d only make my life miserable.

My mind was already settled, I didn’t need his words confusing me all over again. “What are you looking at?” Did he think I couldn’t feel him watching me?

“Who me, nothing? Where to? Are we going to the apartment or downtown?”

“Take me to the club.” We were in the car on our way into the city from the airstrip on Long Island.

I didn’t look up from reading the paper that had been left in the backseat to answer him because I didn’t want to see that knowing look on his face. Jackass!

He may not have been saying shit to me about her these past few days, but I didn’t believe for a second that he was through messing with my ass.

I’d noticed that his choice of music here of late had changed. Instead of blasting Jay Z or that damn Trap Queen that he’s been stuck on for years, his new favorite is some crap about everyone falling in love sometimes.

I’m not sure who the hell he thought he was fooling with that shit, but if he’s not careful I’d tear the damn system out of the dashboard.

I threw the paper aside when the words started to run together and I couldn’t make heads nor tails of what the hell I was reading.

“Problem?” He glanced in the rearview mirror. “Why don’t you just drive the damn car?” He laughed and turned up the music louder, bopping his head and singing along.