Steeling myself against the attraction, I take Clara’s hands and help her stand up. I’ve been so absorbed in her, I’ve forgotten all about the mean-looking girls hanging around, sneering with their arms crossed. Clara must notice, too, because she hunches her shoulders. Which I don’t like one bit. Turning toward the bitch crew, I bare my teeth at them and growl—loud—sending them running.
“S-s-sir, you really must leave now,” stammers Clipboard Man, to my right, half of him hidden behind the curtain. “It’s just policy—”
“I’ll leave when I’m damn well ready.” I wait for his enthusiastic nod, before facing a giggling Clara again. Man, even her laugh sounds innocent. Untouched. Beautiful. “You going to be able to dance?” I manage.
“Yes,” she murmurs, smoothing her hands down the tight top of her costume. “Will you stay afterward? Please?”
Despite the eyes on us, I can’t help moving closer, trying to count the sparkles on her eyelids. “You know I shouldn’t.”
“You saved my night.” Her skirt brushes my legs and my dick turns to swollen, hanging meat. “You made everything better and I just want to say thank you.”
“Say it now,” I grit out. “Words only.”
She shakes her head, mischief shining in her eyes. “See you later, Uncle Rex.”
I have to untuck my shirt to cover my vicious cock-stand, just so I can return to my seat. Everyone watches me curiously as the music starts once again, but as soon as Clara takes the stage, I see nothing but her, encased in glowing white light.
My life has been nothing but grit. Ropes, crab traps, icy death, danger. Before I started my career crabbing, I bounced at biker bars where I witnessed the shitty side of humanity on a regular basis. Ugly. All I’ve seen is ugliness. All I’ve heard is anger and cynicism. But watching Clara float around the stage like an angel, all the hardness inside me crumbles. Dear God, who knew this kind of beauty existed?
I know I should leave now, because there’s more here than inappropriate lust for something I can’t have. There’s…more. I want her smiles. Her trust. I want to scare off people who are mean to her. Tuck her into my arms at night. But none of that is possible, so I need to leave. Do my best to put Clara out of my mind.
But I remain glued to the seat, knowing—knowing—I’ll be staying after to get her thank you.
I’m standing outside the auditorium and I don’t see Rex. Did he leave?
My heart sinks into my stomach at the possibility. I came on too strong backstage, didn’t I? God, he must think I’m a sex-starved lunatic. I practically begged him to climb on top of me in front of everyone. What is wrong with me?
It’s just that the sight of him makes everything south of my belly button feel…wobbly and ticklish. I get wet and flushed and my skin turns so sensitive, I want to scream. Once, I snuck a romance novel out of my mother’s nightstand just to read the sex scenes and I found it ridiculous. No way could a person lose control of their body in such a way. Oh, I was so wrong. When I see his hearty shoulders and that chest hair curling around the top of his shirt, my thighs spread themselves.
He always looks so mad—so irritable—but his words are like blankets straight from the dryer. As soon as he stomped backstage, looking like an avenging lumberjack, my blood sighed with safety. Here he is. I’m fine now.
But I probably scared him off, all but promising not to behave. As if being his step-niece isn’t enough to keep us separated, there’s something in his past—something involving my stepfather—that is making him twice as adamant to stay away. I wish I knew what it was—
I whip around to find Rex standing in the shadows, down the stairs and to the right of the entrance, puffing on his cigar. When he puts it out with a twist of his boot, my belly cinches inward, my heart clattering like tin cans tied to a back bumper. I don’t want to question my instincts. I just want to follow them. Needing to be in his reassuring presence, I fly down the stairs, make a quick turn and take a flying leap into his arms. My legs twine around his waist in full view of everyone still filing out of the auditorium—and I guess that’s why Uncle Rex gives a low, punctuated grunt and walks us around the side of the building.
“Girl, you are asking for trouble.”
“You stayed.” I snuggle my face into his beard. “Does that mean you’re asking for it, too?”
“No.” Even as he makes the denial, his hands inch up my thighs, toward my backside. “Just wanted to tell you…I ain’t never seen anything like you. Up there. You move like some kind of angel.”