“Some people are very good at acting.”
Something about the way he said that made me narrow my eyes. “You’re still considering Cade, aren’t you?”
Blake sighed. “Do I think he would physically hurt you? No. But Smith hasn’t hurt you. Do I think Cade would scare you in the hope that you’d run to him? Maybe. Do I think he’d be so frustrated at being unable to have you that he’d vent that frustration in such a way? Possibly.”
“No,” I stated. “He wouldn’t.”
“He wants you for himself. You refuse to see it, Kensey—and maybe it’s because you don’t want to see it. For as long as you act oblivious to it, you don’t have to face that he’s hurting; you don’t have to face that you might one day have to tell him that you don’t care for him that way.”
I shot him a hard look. “I don’t blind myself to things just because they’re uncomfortable to confront.” I let out a little squeal as Blake lifted me and then propped me on his lap so that I was straddling him.
He cupped my face. “I’m not saying you’re anything like Clear,” he said gently. “That’s not what I meant. But we can all find bliss in ignorance sometimes. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s human nature.”
“If Cade really didn’t want you and me to be together, he wouldn’t have told me that he thinks I’m safe with you.”
Blake stilled. “When did he say that?”
“The day you found it necessary to mark your territory in the parking lot outside the bar.”
“I won’t believe for one moment that he’s glad we’re together. If I had to see you with another man, I’d feel nothing but hate for the bastard. I’d want him out of your life. I’d make it happen.”
“By trying to scare me?”
“Never that.” Blake toyed with my ponytail. “But I’d hurt and scare the living shit out of him.” He tugged on my hair slightly. “You’re mine.”
“Didn’t say I wasn’t.”
“Because you know it’s a fact. You know every inch of you belongs to me. I know every inch of you belongs to me. But someone who wants you as badly as Cade does … I’m not so sure they’d be able to accept it. And if they did, they sure as hell wouldn’t fucking like it.”
I was about to jump to Cade’s defence once again, but Blake raised his hand.
“Just imagine this scenario, Kensey. Let’s say I’m right. Let’s say that Cade has always believed that you’ll be his one day. Just maybe he got tired of waiting for you to see that he’s who you want, so he decided to speed along the process, thinking you’d go to him for advice and comfort. Only it didn’t work. And then this other guy appeared on the scene—swanned in out of nowhere and claimed you as his. Cade would hate that, and he’d need the bastard gone. His objective would change from trying to scare you to trying to get rid of the interloper.
“Think about it, baby—the last few things that have happened have been about me. Smith sent you pictures of me. He called you and warned you that I wasn’t for you. He crossed my face out with a marker on all the photos.” Blake gave my nape a comforting squeeze. “I don’t want it to be Cade, because that will hurt you. But I’m going to consider him a suspect until I have reason to believe otherwise.”
“It doesn’t make any sense, though. Cade was the one who ended our relationship when we were teenagers. He left me for some big-titted cheerleader.” I almost smiled at the memory because, though hurtful at the time, it was now easy to laugh at.
“Probably because his hormones were running rampant and, like most teenage boys, he followed his cock. You slept together a few times since then. Who initiated those times? It was him, right?”
“Yes, but only when we were lonely or drunk. It wasn’t regular. It happened, like, once or twice a year—if that.”
“Did he stop trying his luck, or did you tell him you were done with one-night stands?”
“I told him I was done. He respected that. Didn’t get upset. Didn’t push. Said I was right and I was worth more. He never offered me more. In fact, he said that he didn’t think he’d ever be capable of offering it to anyone.”
Blake shrugged. “Maybe that’s changed.”
I sighed, realizing that I wasn’t going to change Blake’s mind on this. “If you want to consider that it could be him, fine. I can’t even blame you for wanting to be thorough. I just …”
“I know.” Blake kissed me again. Soft, slow, deep. “Moving on, how would you feel about going away for a few days next week?”
“Somewhere warm and relaxing, so you can have a fucking break from this shit.”
I would have absolutely no qualms about it. “Do you have anywhere particular in mind?”
He grinned. “Yeah, as a matter of fact, I do.”
“You’re being completely unreasonable!” bellowed Bastien from the living room.
“You want to see ‘unreasonable,’ asshole?” Sarah bellowed back at him.
There was a hard thump. The sound of excruciating pain that flew out of Bastien made me wince.
I looked at Blake, whose eyes gleamed with amusement. “Should we intervene?”
Blake shook his head. “Bastien’s used to women giving him his own way and not questioning whatever move he makes. Sarah’s different. She demands to be counted. I think he likes it, even though it drives him crazy.”
“You’re driving me crazy!” Bastien shouted.
Blake’s mouth quirked. “See?”
“It’s better than me driving my foot up your ass, which you’d totally fucking deserve!” Sarah yelled.
“He would,” I told Blake, who sighed.
“Yeah, I guess he would.”
“You’ve gotta be fucking kidding me.”
Hearing Sarah’s outburst, I paused wiping the table and looked up. I wanted to snarl. Joshua and another officer had entered the bar and were now scanning the large space. When Joshua’s eyes settled on me, they flared. He elbowed his partner, tipped his chin in my direction, and they both then made their way over. Apparently, he’d come to amuse himself at my expense.
I exchanged a droll look with Sarah and handed her my cloth. “Hopefully this won’t take long.” Turning to face him, I held back a sigh of boredom.
“Miss Lyons.” Joshua’s smile was as polite yet fake as mine. “As you know, I’m Officer Buchanan. This is Officer Bartley. We’d like to speak to you, if you have a minute.”
My nose wrinkled. They smelled of coffee and fast food. “We’ll talk outside.” I walked toward the open rear doors at an unhurried pace, wanting Joshua to see that his presence hadn’t flustered me, if that had been his game.
Outside, I settled at a picnic bench and invited them to sit opposite me. Crossing one leg over the other, I kept my posture relaxed. “What’s this about?”
“You used to live in apartment 6D of the Brownstone Apartment Building. Correct?”
I gave a slow nod, wondering where the hell he was going with this. “Correct.”
“But you recently moved out.”