“Hey, can’t say I didn’t try,” he states.
“No, no one will ever say that,” I assure him.
“One more thing.” He leans in, way too close. I lean back a little, not even on purpose, just intuitively. “I left my phone in the car, and I don’t know how much time I got to get back to work.”
“Oh.” It takes me a second to react, then I finally extract mine from my handbag, touching the screen and lighting it up. I hold up the phone to show him the time.
“Thanks, you’re a doll,” he tells me, his eyes lingering on the lock screen. “Cute kid. Yours?”
I glance at my lock screen, seeing Lily in her bed, “reading” a bedtime story to her doll. “Yeah.”
Leaning in one more time, he says, “Thanks,” and places a hand at the small of my back before pulling away and retreating back to his spot in the crowd.
I roll my eyes as I slide my phone back into my purse, hoping he doesn’t act like this when Adrian comes back. He’s bound to get punched in the face.
A minute later, Adrian shoulders past people to get back to my side, scowling.
“I’ll give you a doughnut. It’ll be worth it, I promise.”
“You okay?” he asks.
My eyebrows rise in surprise, then I frown a little. “Yeah. Are you?”
He nods, glancing back to make sure he isn’t bumping into anyone as we settle back into our spots. I glance behind me where the guy who tried to pick me up was standing, but he must have moved. When I look back at Adrian, he’s watching me again. I don’t know why, and it’s making me uneasy.
Eyes still on me, he asks, “You ever met Castellanos?”
I’m so floored that he’s asking me this question at all, let alone in public in a crowd full of people, that I am unable to school my expression. My jaw falls open, my eyes widen, and although I rein it back in after a second, I see something decidedly unpleasant flicker in his gaze in that split second of reaction. I feel like I need to backpedal, and I haven’t even opened my mouth.
“Why would you ask me that?”
I don’t know how to answer that, and unfortunately the truth doesn’t take any time to come up with. “I’ve—No, I—Why would I?”
To say Adrian looks disappointed would be an understatement.
“Come on,” Adrian says, putting a hand on my shoulder and guiding me back to the door.
“But—the food isn’t done yet,” I point out, trying to turn back.
“Meg. You want to make a scene?”
I glance around, see a woman looking at us, at his hand, at my face. I force myself to remain calm, but I don’t turn to leave. “What’s wrong?” I ask.
“You know what’s wrong,” he states.
From behind the counter, I hear, “Order 138.”
“That’s us,” I say quietly, though my stomach is aching now, and I don’t think I’ll be able to eat, after all.
Adrian sighs irritably, turning back and grabbing the bag from the lady before turning back to me. Grabbing hold of my arm like he’s afraid I’ll bolt, he hauls me out to the car.
“Adrian, I don’t understand,” I tell him as he opens the door and waits for me to climb inside. “Why are you mad? What was that? Why—?”
“Just get in,” he interrupts tiredly, dropping the bag of food in the floor.
I glance around the street, but it’s not like I really have any alternative. Finally, I climb into the back seat of Mateo’s Escalade, wondering what the hell I did, and what the hell happens now?
“Where are you taking me?” My voice wobbles a bit mid-sentence and I clear my throat, embarrassed.
“I’m gonna hide you,” Adrian states as he tugs me through the Morelli home. “It’s not the best hiding spot, but if you stay back, he won’t be able to reach you.”
“What are you talking about? Mateo? Why wouldn’t I want him to reach me? I don’t understand what’s going on. I don’t understand what I did.”
“Yeah, you do.”
I fall silent, but I slow to a stop when I realize Adrian is hauling me to a basement. Not the wine cellar, where Mateo has taken me a couple times, but to a dank, ordinary section of basement that doesn’t seem to fit this house.
“Adrian, I’m not going down there.”
“I can throw you over my shoulder and carry you if you prefer it.”
“Why are you being mean to me?”
He spins on his heel, leaning in so close I rear back. “I’m protecting your ass until I determine whether or not you deserve it.”
My chest feels tight, and my hand drifts up to rub it, but knocks into the necklace. It catches Adrian’s attention and a tired sort of dread passes over his face.
“Come on,” he finally says, heading for the basement, trusting that I’ll follow.