“I think you were wearing this exact same thing last time I saw you,” I say, and playfully slap his arm.
His smile is soft, and he nods at me. “Yeah, could be. I’m down this way to meet a friend for breakfast.” He smiles and shakes his head. “God, it’s so crazy running into you. Not a day goes by I don’t think about you. Let’s have dinner, maybe—”
We both turn to see Captain standing there, holding my bag of breakfast and scowling at Patrick. I want to laugh at his absurd expression, but I also feel the need to step in front of Patrick to protect him from Ryan’s wrath. So I do a little of both.
Laughing, I shift so I’m standing in front of Patrick, and take out my phone. He gives me his number and I text him mine. “I’ve got to get to work, so text me later and let’s set something up. I’d like to talk. It’s really good to see you.”
“Yeah, I’m running late, too. Great to see you again, Paige. Really great.”
He leans in for a hug, and I give him one back. I can practically feel the glacial stare Captain bores into my back, but I ignore it. I release Patrick, and he walks into the coffee shop, waving to someone inside.
“Who was that?” The question feels accusatory, like I’m in trouble. I can see the jealousy on Captain’s face. His jaw is locked as he waits for my answer.
“Just an old friend I haven’t seen since I was a kid.” I take a sip of my latte and walk the rest of the way to work thinking about Patrick. Captain must sense where my mind has gone because he doesn’t ask me any more questions. I’m sure he’ll do his own digging once we get to our office, but until then he stays silent.
Patrick knew about my situation with my mom and dad, so I’m sure he’ll have questions. I don’t know that I’m ready to go down that path again, but it might be good to talk to someone who already knows about my past. Telling Captain everything isn’t going to be easy, and maybe I don’t have to. This could be a way for me to work through what I want without the pity I know Captain will give me. Patrick and I grew up the same, so I’m not worried about him feeling sorry for me. We both had it bad back then, and something about sharing that darkness seems familiar.
We walk into the building and scan our badges, and I make my way to my desk and set down my things.
I feel Captain’s eyes on me, watching my every move. He’s got questions of his own, but I’m not ready for them. The one thought that keeps running through my mind is that I felt more when Ryan looked at me than when Patrick had me in his arms.
* * *
JORDAN RAISES A dark eyebrow at me from over the top of his many monitors. I look away and scan the room to see if anyone else noticed. Captain is staring intently at his computer, which he’s been doing since we got to the office. I’d bet you anything he’s running a search on Patrick. I would roll my eyes, but it’s something I’d do, too, if I was him. His job is to keep Miles safe, and part of that is knowing everything about everyone around Miles. But a deeper part of me hopes that it’s jealousy making him do it. At work, Captain always does everything by the rules, and to think he’s breaking protocol and looking something up to check on me makes something warm inside me. I love the idea that I can make him do things he shouldn’t be doing. That he’d break the rules just for me.
Clearly, Jordan has noticed me staring and is wondering what the hell I want. Jordan doesn’t like to be stared at, but he’s the only person I know who can get me what I want. Well, at least get it to me the fastest, and I’m not sure he’ll help me. If I know anything about men, it’s that they love a good damsel in distress, especially men in this line of work. It’s what they do for a living. Protect people.
I’m supposed to be reading about a new company Miles wants to take over. I’m in charge of learning all the ins and outs about it and who it might piss off if the buy goes through, but all I’m doing is waiting for the right time to get Jordan alone. I tried to gather information on my father on my own, but there wasn’t much. I need to be able to track him, find out more about what he’s doing and where he’s living. What I will do with this information, I don’t know, but I need something, anything. I need to be more prepared for him.