I knew what the brick through the window was.
As I stood in front of my untouched jewelry box, I shuddered. Message was received, but that didn’t mean I was going to listen. I’d already told the one officer and Reece, and I would tell Colton.
“Abby?” a deep voice boomed from downstairs. “Reece?”
I turned at the sound of Colton’s voice and Reece’s answering, “We’re up here.”
A handful of seconds later, Colton appeared in the doorway. He had changed since this morning, wearing a different police-issued polo. His blue eyes were fastened on me as he stepped into the bedroom.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“She’s okay,” Reece answered, and then rolled his eyes when Colton shot him a look.
“I’m fine,” I insisted, smoothing my hands along my skirt. “I’m just shook up.”
Colton crossed the room and within a heartbeat, he was standing right in front of me. One hand curled around the back of my neck in a familiar, comforting gesture. The other landed on my shoulder. Our eyes locked, and my lips parted.
“The man at the store, he didn’t harm you or anything?” he demanded, his gaze intently searching mine.
“No,” I whispered, swallowing hard. “He just told me that I…I needed to keep my mouth shut. That I better not identify anyone from last night. And then he said that I’d understand quickly how serious the message is.”
A muscle flexed along Colton’s jaw as his gaze swept over my face. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“I was going to. I was picking up my phone to call you, but you called me first. I was so caught off guard by what was happening here that I focused on that,” I explained.
His hand tightened along the nape of my neck. It wasn’t a constrictive or threatening move. It was one that was oddly tender. Intimate. Way beyond what he had to do, as a member of law enforcement, to comfort me.
The moment, whatever was going on between us, stretched out. There was something there, a jolt. Like touching a live wire. He sucked in an audible breath. His fingers spread along my shoulder, and the sudden urge to obliterate the tiny distance between us, to press my body against his, rode me hard. Without thinking, I stepped forward.
Reece cleared his throat.
Flushing, I looked away from the unnerving intensity in Colton’s gaze. A shiver chased after his hand as it slipped off the back of my neck and dropped to his side.
“I need you to tell me exactly what happened at the store,” Colton said after a moment, his voice rougher than normal.
I did exactly that.
It was odd to have both Colton and Reece in my bedroom. Their presence made it feel much smaller than it was. Any other time I would’ve been amused by having two extraordinarily attractive brothers who were also cops standing in front of me, but I was too thrown by everything.
The murder last night.
Colton showing up this morning with crepes.
Creepy van dude.
And now the way Colton behaved when he showed up and that…that spark? My skin was still tingling.
All within twenty-four hours. It was insane. My life was normally boring.
By the time I answered all of Colton’s questions, it was just us in the house. Reece had left not too long after the other officer to answer another call, and it was close to ten.
Colton had gone downstairs to make a few calls and I was slow to follow him. A warm breeze stirred the curtains in front of the broken window and may gaze drifted to the floor. The glass was gone. The TV was also righted, its broken face a sad sight.
Stepping off the stairs, I looked into the kitchen just in time to see Colton dumping the glass in the trash can. He was still on the phone.
“That’s what I thought,” I heard him say as he placed the dustpan on the counter. “You know how he operates. We all know how he works.” There was a pause as he turned around. His eyes met mine. “Yeah,” he spoke into the phone. “I’ll be in touch.”
Suddenly self-conscious, I glanced at the window and then back at him as I stood near the stairwell. “Thank you for cleaning up. You didn’t have to do that.”
He placed his phone on the counter and started toward me. Goose bumps raced across my flesh. “Do you have something to cover the window with tonight? Tomorrow I can head down to the hardware store and get some boards to cover it until someone can get out here and replace it.”
Did I fall and hit my head? “You don’t have to do that. Thank you, but—”
“I know I don’t have to do it. I want to do it.” With his long-legged pace, it took him no time to end up standing in front of me. “I’m off tomorrow, and I have time now unless I get a call.”
I tilted my head back to meet his stare as I weighed whether I should accept his help. It seemed stupid not to, but it was a lot for him to do for…for me. “I don’t want you to go out of your way, Colton.”
One side of his lips kicked up. “I don’t mind going out of my way for you.” He put his hand on the stairway railing above me. “Not at all.”
The crazed, possibly carnivorous, butterfly flutter from this morning was back, wiggling around in my stomach.
“Let me help you with this,” he urged softly.
I drew in a shallow breath. “Okay.”
The smile grew as he lifted his hand from the railing and caught a piece of my hair, brushing it back from my cheek. “Now that wasn’t so hard, was it?”
It was and I didn’t even understand why.
“Do you have a tarp that I could use to cover the window?” he asked.
“There is one in the shed out back. It was there when I moved in and I don’t know if it’s any good or not.”
“I’ll check it out.” He started to turn and then stopped. Placing the tips of his fingers under my chin, he tilted my head back. There was a good chance my heart stopped. “Can I ask you something?”
At that moment, he could probably do anything he wanted. “Sure.”
The dimple appeared on his left cheek and then he bit down on his lower lip. Something about that tugged at the very core of me. I wanted to be his teeth. Or his lip. Hell, I’d be down for any part of that.
“Do you believe in second chances?” he asked.
That was not the question I was expecting him to ask, but my answer was immediate and it was the truth, something I felt deeply. “Yes.”
“Good.” His finger slipped up my chin and his thumb smoothed along the skin under my lip. “So do I.”