“It’s going to be okay,” Tyler says as he opens the door and helps me into his truck. “You’re not in trouble. You’re just answering a few questions.”
“I know, but now I feel like this is all my fault.”
“It’s not. Whoever’s doing this is obviously sick and in need of help. That’s not on you.”
“I just keep trying to think of someone, anyone, I’ve upset, but no one’s coming to mind,” I tell him, letting out a frustrated hiss when I can’t seem to get the seat belt to work.
He takes the buckle from me, then slides it around my waist and latches it in place. “Breathe for me and relax, baby. It’s going to be okay.” He kisses my forehead, then steps back and slams the door. As he comes around the driver’s side, I take a few deep breaths to relax. It works, and I settle back against my seat. When he gets behind the wheel, he grabs my hand, placing it against his thigh before turning on his truck and backing out of his driveway. “Have you had anything more than coffee today?” he asks me, and I turn to look at him before I answer.
“No, there wasn’t time, not with my parents showing up and everything else that happened.”
“We’ll stop on the way and grab you a sandwich,” he says as he rests his hand over mine.
“I don’t think I can eat right now.” Even the thought of food makes my stomach turn.
“You’re gonna eat something, even if I have to force-feed you,” he informs me, turning to look at me when he stops at a red light.
When I see the determined look in his eyes, I grumble, “Fine.”
“Also, Mom and Dad are worried. They’re driving up the day after tomorrow to spend a few days with us.”
“What?” I cry. “I don’t want them here, not if someone’s really trying to hurt me.”
He ignores me and continues. “I placed an order for a mattress for your bed this afternoon. It should be delivered by tomorrow evening. We’ll stay at your place and let my parents have mine while they’re in town.”
“I don’t like that, Tyler. If someone’s trying to hurt me, your family could end up caught up in things. That’s not okay with me.”
“Would you have any luck convincing your parents or brothers to stay away?” he asks. No, I wouldn’t; even if I told them not to come around until the person who broke into my house was caught, they would ignore me. “You don’t even have to answer that question. I know the answer. They want to make sure we’re okay, that you are okay.”
“I still don’t like it.”
“Sorry, baby. It’s not something you need to like, just something you’re going to have to deal with. Besides, this will give our families a chance to meet.”
“Great,” I sigh. “I’m so happy about the idea of everyone coming together since some lunatic has something against me. I mean, could there ever be a better time for our families to get together? I think not,” I say sarcastically while shaking my head.
“Everyone will be coming together because they care about you and want to see that you’re okay.”
“You can keep saying that, but it doesn’t change the fact that I might be putting the people I love and care about in danger. I mean, heck, someone lit your storage space on fire, then broke into my house, trashed the place, and wrote whore on the wall. I don’t even want to think about what they might do next.”
“I will not let anything fucking happen to you.”
“You might not have a say. You can’t be with me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. You have to work, and so do I. I don’t know who’s targeting me or why.”
“Stop!” he roars, and I clamp my mouth shut, feeling like an idiot. I know he’s worried, and me acting crazy isn’t going to help that. “No one is going to fucking hurt you. No one is going to get near you, and I don’t give a fuck if I have to stand guard over you for the next . . .” He jerks his fingers through his hair. “For the next however long it takes for the cops to find who did this shit.”
“Okay,” I whisper when I see his chest rising and falling quickly. “You’re right. I’m just freaked. No one’s going to do anything to me.” I rub his thigh, hoping to calm him down. “I’m sorry. I just . . . I’m just overthinking things and being stupid.”
“You’re not stupid.” He pulls in to park in front of one of the local sandwich shops. “It’s not stupid that you’re worried. You have a reason to be worried, but I need you to believe I will never let anything harm you.”