Page 50 of The Dancer

I moved her out of the way, pushing her through the door gently and followed her in. I did a walk through to make sure the place was safe and came back to her.

My stomach actually hurt at the thought of leaving her here alone. “Come home with me!” Shit I didn’t mean to say it like that. This one needs a little more tact. Not that it works worth a damn.

It was this place, and what I knew of places like it that had me flustered. How could I leave her here and go home to my safe neighborhood and still call myself a man?

It didn’t matter that we don’t know each other, and this shit might be coming off wrong. I know my intentions even if she doesn’t. This shit’s all kinds of fucked up.

“No, now leave, I have an early day tomorrow and you’re cutting into my bedtime.”

“I’m not asking you to sleep with me, I just don’t like leaving you here. You have to know it’s not safe.”

“I can take care of myself.” She got a look on her face that told me she wasn’t just talking about here and now. Her tiny ass can’t do shit, but fuck if I was going to tell her that shit.

“I don’t doubt that. Look, I don’t know what your story is, but I know this town and this place is no place for someone like you.”

“Do you make it a habit of sticking your nose in where it don’t belong? I said I’m fine.” She unzipped the ugly ass coat and hung it on a hook by the door. I’m gonna burn that shit.

“Annabelle, I know what it means to want your independence, to want to make your own way in the world. I grew up with a mother who wrote the book on that shit. But there’s such a thing as going too damn far. When someone’s trying to help you the thing to do is accept that help…”

“I don’t know you. We just met a few weeks ago. In that time you’ve thrown me over your shoulder like a sack of potatoes, manhandled me more times than I can count and I think you might’ve threatened me a time or two.”

“I don’t know how they do things here in great old New York, but where I come from you don’t just move in with strange men you don’t know just because they ask you to.”

“Didn’t I say this wasn’t about sex?” I just want to take care of you dammit. I didn’t say that shit out loud because I had a feeling that would only make things worst.

“It doesn’t matter, I’m not that kinda girl.”

“Fine, then I’m staying here.” I didn’t know that I was going to make that call until the words left my lips.

Her mouth opened in surprise when I pulled my phone and called downstairs to Tony and told him to leave. He didn’t question me, fucker probably knew what I was going to do before I did.

I took off my jacket and left her standing in the hallway. She got her shit together and followed me, stomping her feet all the way. “You can’t stay here, I only have a pullout bed…”

“I’ll take the floor.” I threw the jacket on her rickety desk and rolled up the sleeves of my dress shirt before kicking off my shoes. She moved around in front of me to do her glaring shit, but I ignored her ass.

“Where, in the bathroom? By the time I pull out the couch there won’t be any room left in here.” She folded her arms and tapped her foot.

“Then I’ll sleep sitting up on the bed.” She opened her mouth to argue father, but I made my way over to the couch and started removing the cushions. “Grab a knife or some shit if you feel the need to protect your virtue, but I’m not leaving you here alone.” No sense in me going back to my place and staying up all night worrying about her ass.

At least here I can be sure that she’s safe even if I don’t get a minute of sleep. I pulled out the couch and wondered how she was able to do that shit on her own. Damn thing nearly snapped off my fingers.

She had some choice words to say, but when it became obvious that I wasn’t leaving she went into the bathroom and slammed the door. I couldn’t help grinning. If she caught me she’d have ten kinds a fits.

She screamed some shit that sounded like ‘asshole’ but I didn’t care. I’d won this round. Heaven knows what she’s going to do to make me pay for it.

I was sitting up with my hands folded behind my head when she came out of the shower, freshly scrubbed and pink all over. And pissed way the fuck off.