“Don’t tell anyone,” he whispered.
“I wouldn’t dream of ruining your street cred.”
With a chuckle, he scooped me up and took me to bed.
Again, I woke to muffled voices. No, it was just one voice, I realized. Just Blake’s. And he sounded irritated.
I edged out of the bed and slipped on his shirt as I quietly padded out of the room. He was sitting on the top step of the spiral staircase, his bare back to me.
“I know, I know … And he loved you too.” Blake sighed. “He didn’t leave you. He didn’t leave anyone. What he did wasn’t about us … She is paying for it, Tara. And she’ll continue to pay for it.”
Tara. My upper lip curled. Was I at all impressed to find he’d left me in bed to go talk to that heifer? No, not at all.
His broad shoulders stiffened. “I don’t need her to pay for what happened between me and her—it wasn’t me she hurt,” he said, voice flat.
My stomach plummeted. Oh shit, what had the bitch in question done?
“Well, of course I don’t talk about it. Why the fuck would I want to talk about it?” His shoulders lifted as he breathed deep. “I’m not holding in anything. There’s just nothing to say. Now, drop it, Tara … Oh, for fuck’s sake, don’t cry.” He bit out a soft curse. “What bar are you in?”
Wait, she’d called him from a bar? Drunk?
“Stay right there. Rossi will pick you up and take you home.” He sighed impatiently. “No, not me.”
Definitely not freaking him.
“Then Rossi will drop you at a friend’s house.” Another impatient sigh. “No, not here.”
Definitely not freaking here.
“For one thing, I’m not the comforting type. For another, I have Kensey with me … Why is it surprising? I told you, she’s mine.” He rubbed at his nape. “Not yet, no. I’ll tell her in my own time.” His back went ramrod straight. “Who the fuck fed you that shit? Libby Williams, I’m guessing.”
That hoe would never learn, would she? I silently and slowly crossed to Blake.
“Kensey’s none of those things,” he clipped. “Yes, I do know that for a fact.” A low growl rumbled out of him. “Careful, Tara, you’re crossing a line here. Don’t ever insult what’s mine and expect to—”
I snatched the phone out of his hand and put it to my ear. Blake shot to his feet and turned, but I cast him a look that warned him not to interfere. “Hello, Tara,” I said, voice hard. “Having a drunken pity party, are we?”
There was a sharp intake of breath. “I don’t wanna talk to you,” she slurred.
“That’s good, because I don’t want to talk to you either. But you will hear me when I say that you do not call Blake ever again in the middle of the night trying to lure him to you with crocodile fucking tears.”
“This’s none of your business.” The garble was laced with loathing.
“You made it my business when you started talking smack about me.”
“You won’t last. I’m the only woman in his life who ever has.”
“Good for you.”
“You don’t even know him. You think you do, but you don’t. Nu-uh. But I do.”
That dart hit its mark. I met his eyes as I allowed, “Maybe you’re right. But I know what he looks like when he comes. Can you say the same?” I inwardly smiled at her hiss. “Don’t pull this shit again.” With that, I ended the call and threw the phone back to Blake. Before he could say a word, I spun on my heel and marched back into the bedroom.
I was mad enough to yank my clothes on and walk the hell out. I liked to be alone when I was pissed anyway. But that would give Tara power, wouldn’t it? She’d just freaking love to hear that her midnight call caused a blowout. So, instead, I flung myself on the bed. Flat on my stomach, I hugged the pillow and closed my eyes.
As I lay there wishing all manner of diseases, deficiencies, and the worst hangover ever on Tara, it occurred to me that her calling Blake with crap about me was slightly similar to Cade coming to me earlier with a vague warning about Blake. But Cade hadn’t tried to poison my mind against him; Cade had even claimed to be partly glad that I had Blake in my life. Cade had even assured me that he thought I was safe with Blake. Cade had been looking out for me whereas Tara was just being a bitch.
Blake crawled up the bed, hovering over me. “How pissed are you?”
“Let’s see … Imagine you woke up to realize I’d left you in bed to take a call from Cade, who was trying to lure me to him, and then he talked shit about you when I refused to go. How would you be feeling, I wonder.”
Blake kissed my hair. “I only left the bed because I didn’t want to wake you. Tara’s what you’d call an ugly drunk. She either cries or gets bitchy. Tonight, she did both. Tomorrow, she’ll do what she always does the day after she fucks up like that—she’ll turn up, mortified, and apologize profusely.”
I huffed. “Maybe you’ll be interested in hearing a false apology, but I won’t.”
“She’s not a bad person, she just …” He sighed. “She’s never been able to move past her brother’s death.”
“The one who committed suicide?”
There was a long moment of silence. “Yeah.”
“What was his name?” I asked. I didn’t look at him, thinking he might find it easier to speak of it if there was no eye contact.
Blake lowered his body over mine, bracing himself on his elbows and giving me most of his weight. “Levi.”
“Why did he do it?”
“He was depressed. Someone …” Blake nudged my hair away from nape with his chin and kissed it gently. “Someone he thought loved him … just didn’t. They hurt him. He couldn’t take it.”
“And this person also hurt you?”
“Hurt me? No. But she made me fucking pissed.”
“Is this the same person you were with when you were a teenager?”
His teeth raked my nape. “Yes.”
“So she played you both or something?”
I sighed, annoyed. “Why do you have to be so mysterious about it?”
He rubbed his cheek against mine. “Talking about it takes me to a dark place. I don’t want to go there right now.”
I turned my head to meet his eyes—they were so disturbingly blank that my skin itched. “All right. No more.” For tonight.
He rolled me onto my back, and then he was kissing me. Touching me. Driving me to a fever pitch of need. Only then, when I was embarrassingly wet, did he slide inside me.
His eyes pinned mine. “Just so we’re clear … If Cade ever called you in the middle of the night and pulled that shit, I’d break his fucking ribs. I keep what belongs to me. I won’t give you up to him or anyone else.”
Each thrust was torturously slow and amazingly deep. It wasn’t until I exploded around him with a choked cry that he upped his pace, pounding into me hard and fast. And then I came again, and he was right behind me.
Rolling off me, he placed a restraining hand on my stomach and said, “Stay. I want you to sleep with my come in you.”
“That won’t happen.” As soon as I could feel my legs, I’d be in that bathroom. And then, as fingers brushed my hair away from my face and a soft mouth whispered over mine, I felt sleep pull me under.