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“Tomorrow hopes we have learned something of yesterday.” ~ John Wayne
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The Cardigans had just started singing the first lines of Lovefool in the background when Farica heard the door swing open, and she quickly pulled her pen down and looked up. She was hoping for any kind of distraction that could give her an excuse to take a break from bookkeeping, but a moment later, she realized that she had once again fallen victim to the world’s most sadistic proverb.
Be careful what you wish for…or you might just get it.
She watched in stunned dismay as Kady rushed up the stairs, and the girl was crying.
Slade saw the accusation in his friend’s eyes the moment he entered the cafe and he glared right back. “Thanks for the vote of confidence,” he said sarcastically, “but I’m not the one who made her cry.”
Farica wasn’t so easily convinced. “And you’re absolutely sure of that?” This was Slade, after all, and he could be pretty heartless if he wanted to.
“For fuck’s sake, Fari. Yes, I’m absolutely sure.” Slade stalked to the counter and threw his weight down on the bar seat next to her. “It probably has something to do with Humbug,” the billionaire muttered. “It’s the only thing I can think of that can upset her this much—” He raked a hand through his hair. “But she won’t say a fucking thing.” And he had no fucking idea why. Had his story of Penny triggered something in her, made her remember something about her and that bug, and that was why she couldn’t stop crying?
Farica belatedly noticed the thin, red lines marring Slade’s face. “What happened to you?” she exclaimed.
She couldn’t help wincing, knowing that ‘ugly’ could be the only word to describe said encounter, if the billionaire’s face was anything to go by. “I’m guessing she still hates your guts.”
“It would’ve been a relief if she had.”
Oh. “I’m sorry.” Farica’s voice was now subdued. “Did Kady…”
He shook his head. “Penny was gone by the time Kady came out.” And thank fuck for that. He cast a brooding look at the stairs, wondering tensely if Kady was still crying. And if she were…
The billionaire swung in his seat to face her, the movement so sudden it almost had Farica jumping in her own seat. Shit. Kady’s nervous ways were starting to become an epidemic, and if she weren’t careful, she might end up acting all blushing and jittery the next time she ran into Steel.
Stop thinking about him, idiot!
Pushing the evil and thoroughly unnecessary thought away, she desperately turned her attention back to Slade. “Sorry, what was that again?”
“I want to know what you would’ve wanted Steel to do—”
“Slade!” This was supposed to help her forget, not remember more, darn it.
“Just humor me, dammit. I’m at my wits’ end. Nothing I said in the truck seemed to make a difference with her,” Slade revealed tautly, “and I just want to know if there might be something I’m missing here, because I don’t…”
Slade glared at his friend, knowing a trap when he saw one. If he said he didn’t love Kady, Farica would only accuse him of lying, but if he were to say yes, his question had something to do with love, the brat would purposely misread him and say he had just admitted to loving Kady.
Which he didn’t.
But it didn’t mean he wouldn’t mind doing something that men in love would do, if that was really what it took. Anything to make Kady stop crying.
Kady was back in her bedroom, her tiny body curled up in a ball, when he entered and silently closed the door behind him. Her hair was still wet from the shower, and she had changed into a shirt – a shirt that was damn too large it could only belong to a fucking bug.
The billionaire’s jaw clenched. He fucking knew it. This whole crying bout clearly had everything to do with fucking Humbug, and despite having Farica’s advice ringing in his airs—
Think knight to the rescue, not chest-beating caveman.
Cajole, don’t command.
Sweet and soft, instead of rough and hard.
Yeah, well, to hell with all of that.
Kady only had her first inkling of no longer being alone when the bed dipped, and she found herself rolling to her back—
And then she saw a bare-chested Slade looming over her, his shirt in one hand.
She immediately sat up, tears drying in her confusion. “S-Slade?”
“You’re wearing his shirt,” he bit out.
She stared at him dumbly. “What?”
“If you don’t have enough clothes, then take mine, dammit.” His arm shot out, thrusting his shirt at her.
She looked down, unable to understand why he was so adamant about her changing into his shirt. “I don’t—” Her gaze absently fell to what she was wearing, and she stopped speaking. OH. She thought about telling him that she hadn’t realized it was actually her male cousin’s shirt she was wearing and not Eric’s, but instead she heard herself mumble, “Sorry. I didn’t…realize.”