Page 17

“He is mine,” she growls. “You will never have him!”

“Oh, that is where you’re wrong. I already have him.” I smile sweetly at her, but when her face contorts into what I can only describe as wacked to the highest power, I know she is past seeing reason.

“Really? Well he was in my bed last night, and every night before that! He might have fun with you, but he always comes home to me.”

“You’re insane.” I move to get off her, and then she pounces, grabbing a hold of my hair and slamming me down to the ground. My head knocks on the asphalt for a second, but not long enough to keep me from shaking it off and springing back.

Not even concerned with the hold she has on my hair, I rear back and slam my fist into her gut. Her grip loosens instantly. I follow that with one more to her temple and watch her eyes go hazy before she falls to the ground.

“Oh my God! Melissa! Melissa! Are you okay, sweetie?” I turn around and watch Brenda running out of the office door with the phone pressed to her ear, “I called the police, saw the whole thing, oh my God! Oh my GOD!”

“I’m okay Brenda, promise. Give me a minute, okay?” I walk over and place the one call that to me is more important than calling the police right now. Greg. Not only is this his mess but I can’t deny I would feel better with him here.

After the quick call to him that has my blood pressure jumping again, I hang up and can’t hold back the smile that takes over my face.

Yeah, I want him here, and not because of the mess, which arguably is his fault, but I want him here because he makes me happy. And for the first time, in a long time I am embracing that happiness without the fear that something will take it away from me.

The police came and took Brenda’s statements and mine. Since ‘Barbie’ is still passed out in front of my car, they call the ambulance to take her to the hospital. Luckily, the parking lot is monitored so they tell me they will collect the security footage and get back to me if they have any further questions. Brenda is shocked when I tell them I’m not pressing charges. That is my own deal and I’m not changing my mind. She wants to start more shit, let her; I’ll be waiting next time.

Unlucky for me, Greg shows up when the paramedic is cleaning the graze on my arm from my run in with the knife. Nothing bad, but there’s enough blood covering my arm and scrub top that he takes one look at me and goes solid. I’m talking you can feel his fury hit hard.

He make it to me in two large steps, takes in my face and his eyes roams every inch of my body making sure there isn’t anything he is missing.

“You didn’t tell me she hurt you. You didn’t tell me that she attacked you.” He didn’t seem mad at me but still, I decide it will be best to lead with caution here.

“I think that it might be a correct assessment of the situation if you were to say that I, technically, attacked her.” His eyes that have been looking at the white bandage against my skin shoot up to mine and I can’t miss the humor that flashes briefly before concern takes over again.

“I’m sorry?” he questions.

“Well, one thing you might want to know about me is that I won’t lay down and let someone fuck my life. She was messing with my car and in turn, fucking me. This happened ten minutes after she got me fired from my job and threw so much garbage around the office that I doubt I will find work for years. So, yes… it’s safe to say I attacked her.”

“Okay. Not sure I know what to do with that, but we can come back to that later. Are you okay?”

“Greg, I’m fine. I just caught the knife for a second but it’s nothing but a flesh wound.” I smile at his handsome face and try to ease some of the anger I can still feel coming off of him in waves. “If it makes you feel better, she looks a lot worse.”

He holds my eyes for a few minutes before he lets out a deep laugh. “Not wild about seeing you hurt, Beauty. Are you done here? What do you say we head back to my place and you can fill me in on the rest of the stuff you just said, yeah?”

“Yeah, Greg, that sounds good.”

Brenda hands me my box that until that moment, I had completely forgotten about, and after we wait for the tow truck to take my junker away, we head off to his house. On the way over, I make a call to my mom letting her know that I had some car trouble and I would be over tomorrow. I know my problems will still be waiting for me in the morning but right now, I need this. I need Greg. Shockingly, the thought of needing someone else doesn’t terrify me.

Chapter 17

After her quick call, she puts her phone away and is asleep in seconds. It isn’t long after that when her head hits my shoulder and her arms curl around my arm. Hell, she can pull the damn limb off if it makes her feel better.

When I pulled up at the pediatrician’s office and saw her sitting on the curb bleeding, I almost lost my damn mind. I’m no stranger to the feeling of overwhelming protectiveness. But I have never felt it this powerfully. Never has every inch of my body turned to stone-cold fury in seconds. There is no doubt in my mind after that; she is mine. And judging by how quickly her body turned to mine in her sleep, she knows this too. Her mind just hasn’t caught up with her heart and body.

I wave at Stan as we drive through the gate. Taking the long ride through the neighborhood gives me a few extra minutes with her resting against my body. It gives me time to enjoy her unguarded trust a little longer.

When we pull up at my house, she still doesn’t stir. I turn off the truck and unfold my body before making my way to her side. I stand there for a few minutes just taking her all in. Running my fingers lightly across the bandage on her arm brings it all home, and the vice on my heart gives a tight squeeze. I caused this. Maybe not directly, but in my mind, it’s the same thing and it is killing me.

“Beauty,” I murmur, stroking her hair lightly. Her eyes flutter a few times before meeting mine. “Come on, let’s get inside, and lay down?” It’s early, not even close to dinnertime, but if laying down makes her feel better, safer, then that’s fine with me.

“I’m okay; just needed a little power snooze.” Her voice is husky with sleep, causing me to fight with myself to keep my lust at bay.

“Alright, well let’s get settled and you can fill me in on the details, yeah?”

“Sure thing, baby.” I know she just woke up, and most likely doesn’t even realize she said that, but that word goes straight to my heart. Zaps right through and causes it to fill with so much elation. I should be worried; after all, the woman has the power to level my world.

We make our way inside and settle. Sitting down on the couch, I don’t even give her time to consider sitting somewhere else in the room, I grab her hand and pull her onto my lap. My arms enclose around her and I let out a low, relieved breath.

“Fill me in, babe?”

She looks into my eyes for a few minutes, for what I’m not sure, but she must have found it because she begins her story. Not easy to hear, but damn I’m proud of her for sticking up for herself. When she stops talking, I can’t even speak. I have to keep myself still to control the fury and the need to do something.

“You didn’t press charges? Please tell me, Melissa, that I heard you wrong there?” She looks up into my eyes, slightly confused at my tone. “Not angry with you baby. Just trying to figure out why you wouldn’t press charges against her.”

“I just want her gone. I don’t know her, and I know you and her had your thing, but this is a little too much.”

The hand that has been lightly stroking her thigh stills. “And you’re going to let this shit come between us?”

“I didn’t say that. What I said was it’s too much. I lost my job because of her, Greg. My job and my family’s income, all gone because of your fuck buddy.”

“Baby, I get that this is some heavy shit but you need to understand that I wasn’t a saint before I met you. I wasn’t perfect, not even close, but that shit with Mandy ended when we started. Not that there was much to end, but I made it clear to her at the wedding that we were finished. I made it clear again, when she showed up at the gate throwing more shit. I don’t know what’s going on in her mind but I’ll find out. I don’t want you to worry about her.”

“I believe you. I do, but that doesn’t change the fact that I lost a lot more today than just some skin on my arm.” I flinch at the reminder of just how dangerous this situation was today.

“Let me take care of it, baby.”

“How are you going to take care of this?” Her brow furrows, and confusion mixed with disbelief flashes in her eyes.

“First, you’re going to let me deal with Mandy but I still want a restraining order on her. Second, I know some people around town. I just did a security install for a general practitioners office right down the street. Just let me call and see if he’s hiring. Third, let me in. Just let me in, Beauty.

The silence around us while she takes in my words is heavy. She doesn’t want to let me in. I know this, but that doesn’t mean that I will stop until she at least lets me have the chance to prove to her I deserve it.

“Meli, baby,” I sigh. “Trust me when I tell you that I have lived a life that makes me know when something is worth fighting for. I took one look at you and knew you were worth it to me. It’s new, I get that, but I know you feel it too.”

“I feel it,” she whispers. “I feel it and it terrifies me.”

“Why? What has you scared, baby? Tell me so I can help.”

“You don’t understand. When I lost Fia, something inside me changed. I have always been the guarded one in the family. Mom is amazing but she is weak. Fia was the same way. They let men walk all over them and I always said I wouldn’t be like that. I wouldn’t need a man. My dad, piece of shit. What I do remember isn’t pretty and I watched my sister relive that nightmare with no hopes of helping her. For years, I have had fun but never let a man in. Greg, you have the power to not only get in but to destroy me if you ever want back out.”

“I can’t make you promises, Beauty. I can’t sit here and tell you that I’m worth letting those walls down for. But, I can tell you that if the way I feel for you now keeps growing, there isn’t an army strong enough to pull me out. Spent too long wanting someone worth it and as crazy as it sounds? One look baby… it took one look that even being covered in Nate’s vomit couldn’t dim how bright that beauty knocked me down.”

She laughs softly but still looks at me as if she is worried I might vanish with her next breath. “I want to be there. There’s just so much going on. Now this, us, and everything else that’s flying around out of control. I don’t know how to just let go.”

“Let me in,” I stress again.

“I—I don’t know how.” It’s like watching a caged animal try to escape. I can tell she wants to, she wants to let me in so bad, but she really doesn’t know how.

“You don’t have to be strong all the time. Let me take it, Beauty. Let me be your rock. Let ME fight. For Christ sake, let me be who you need.”


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