Scars litter them. One looks like a burn mark. “Tank.” I reach for his hand, brushing my fingers across the scars. “What happened?” I draw my eyes to his. He’s still bending down to pet Tuesday so we’re both at eye level. My eyes drift to his mouth where I’d noticed a small white scar before. It’s not really that noticeable, but it’s there. Being this close to him, I see it clearly now. How many more does he have? My eyes roam over his body to see any uncovered skin that I can. I feel my cheeks heat more from looking at his massive body. I glance back to my hand, still lying on top of his. I gently rub my thumb over the scars. When I pull my eyes back to his gorgeous face, I notice he is watching my fingers caress him. I begin to remove my hand but he turns his hand over and grabs mine.
“Don’t really want to talk about that tonight.” He visibly swallows. His fingers are now lightly caressing my hand.
“Okay,” I agree. I don’t want him to do something he doesn’t want to. It only makes me want to get closer to him so that he feels comfortable telling me. He looks so vulnerable in this moment. We both stay quiet for a moment.
His body relaxes at my agreement. I hadn’t noticed he’d tensed up at my question. “Will you answer something else for me?”
“Yeah,” he responds instantly, almost eager to give me something else. I fight a smile, not wanting to seem smug about enjoying that.
“Do you keep coming around because the Audley twins ask you to?” I hold my breath while I await his answer. I try to prepare myself for his rejection. This is it. I told myself a week ago that this was going nowhere. His answer could really shut the door on us. Not that there was ever an us to begin with.
“No,” he admits. I watch his face warm again. Who knew a Tank could blush? Boldly, I move in a little closer. I look down to see he has threaded his fingers through mine. I’m not even sure when that happened, but we’re now holding hands. I’m going to take that as a good sign. No one is making him hold my hand. He’s doing that on his own.
“Why then?” I can feel my heart start to race.
“I want to keep an eye on you,” he says nonchalantly, like it’s normal.
I furrow my eyebrows, not understanding him. Keep an eye on me? That doesn’t make sense. He just said he wasn’t keeping an eye on me for the twins. I try to move my hand out of his, but he tightens his hold on it.
“But you said—”
“For myself.” He answers my question before I get it out. “Treasure should be watched over. There’s always some fucker waiting in the dark trying to take it. I have to protect it. I have to protect you, Treasure.”
My mind flashes to the first night I met him and I could have sworn he called me “Treasure.” My breath catches. No one has ever used a cute nickname for me. My heart melts in my chest. Never in a million years would I have looked at this massive man in front of me and expected him to say something so sweet.
“This is why I don’t want to tell you some things about my past. I need you to…” He trails off, glancing away from me.
“Need me to what?” I push, drawing his eyes back to mine. I lift my hand to touch the side of his face. I want him to look me in the eyes. I need it for some reason.
“To fall in love with me.”
My mouth parts in surprise. Tank reaches for me. His other hand goes to the back of my head and he brings his mouth down onto mine.
I close my eyes momentarily, shocked as he kisses me. I feel him shift us. I wrap my arms around him when my chest meets his. I slide my fingers into his short hair and kiss him back with everything that I have.
I moan into his mouth when his tongue slides across my lips. It’s soft and sweet and I know he’s asking me to let him come inside me. I moan louder at my own thoughts, parting my lips to give him what he wants. A need to do that rises up in me. I want him to feel loved and wanted. I’m not only seeking this for him; I want the same in return. I want him to want me for who I am. I know it’s something he wants, too, but he’s scared to show me some parts of him. He revealed more with that simple confession than I think he knows.