‘Oh, Jack…’ Of all the crazy, heartbreaking things.
‘And then Tara called and I found out you hadn’t told me about your brother. After what we’d shared the night before.’ He gazed up at her. ‘What I thought we’d shared…’
She swallowed, her heart tearing all over again.
‘I was hurt,’ he whispered. ‘To learn you were holding back something so huge. So important. I figured I wasn’t at all important to you—I’d clearly made no dent in your defences if you hadn’t wanted to tell me something so massive for you.’
‘You had enough to deal with,’ she whispered.
‘So did you,’ he argued. ‘I would’ve helped.’ He looked hurt all over again. ‘You told me there was nothing you wanted to escape from and that wasn’t true.’
‘He’s my brother and I love him—I want to help him.’ Tears loomed in her eyes and she tried to pull away.
‘How come it’s okay for you to comfort me but I can’t comfort you?’ He tugged her back, pulling her closer still, to stand between his spread knees. ‘That’s not fair, Stephanie. You deserve better than that. And so do I.’
She stilled, stayed in place. ‘You want to comfort me?’
‘Of course I do.’
She couldn’t have faith in what she thought she saw in his eyes. She couldn’t believe in it. It frightened her too much.
‘This is ridiculous,’ she muttered. ‘We’ve known each other only a few days—’
‘Do you believe in love at first sight?’ he interrupted.
She hesitated. Silenced. Scared.
‘I do.’ He laughed softly. ‘Or I sure as hell believe in the possibility. Because I know that the moment I first saw you something clicked within me. There was the strongest reaction—physical, for sure. I was attracted. But then I started to get to know you. And what really gets to me is your strength. Your loyalty. Your generosity. I want that for me.’