My eyes narrowed. “I really don’t think you have the right to be so bossy.”
“Do you really want to wake up your parents? You see what time it is, and scare them like that?”
I gaped at him. “Dammit, you’re right, but that’s low.”
“It’s not low. It’s just the truth,” he replied. “Come on, let’s get your stuff and get you the hell out of here.”
Honestly, I could sit there and argue with him. I could go to Katie’s or wait until it was a more decent hour, but I could see the determination etched into his features. This wasn’t a battle I’d win easily and frankly, I was exhausted and I didn’t want to be there any longer than I had to.
Dragging myself up, I headed back to my bedroom with him in tow. While I grabbed some clothes, he checked out the other room. Being in my room gave me the creeps, and I didn’t know if that was going to ever change.
I exhaled roughly, fighting the urge to cry.
Reece came out of my second bedroom, his face a shade or two paler. I stilled, my hand hovering over the strap on my overnight bag. “Did you find something?”
Reece blinked as he shook his head. “No. You almost ready?”
Slipping a long, thick sweater on that reached my knees, I grabbed my bag and slipped my feet into my flats. Not trusting myself to speak, I nodded.
Reece was silent as he led me out of the house and locked up. As I stepped off the porch, both upstairs apartments had lights on, and I told myself I needed to bake them cookies or something.
I got to sit in the passenger seat of a police cruiser—which, surprisingly, smelled pleasant, like fresh apples—and any other time, I’d have been excited about all the buttons and potential noise-making power, but I stared out the window, into the darkness as dawn steadily crept into the horizon.
“You hanging in there?” Reece asked.
Glancing over at him, I was struck with the urge to reach out and smooth my fingers along his jaw. To touch him. For him to touch me. “Yeah. I’m okay.”
He sent me a sideways look that was a cross between amused and worried. “It’s all right not to be okay in a situation like this.”
I lowered my gaze to my hands, keeping my mouth shut.
We didn’t speak again as we drove to his place. He lived in a condo near Jax, a rather large apartment on the third floor. He let me in, and the crisp scent of laundry greeted me as I stepped inside.
Reece eased around me, flipping on the lights. I blinked against the brightness, wondering how exactly my night had ended up with me staying at Reece’s.
He had a wide foyer that led into a large galley kitchen and dining room. The living room was neat with an exception of a basket of laundry sitting on the coffee table.
Reece frowned as he saw it.
Walking over to the basket, he picked it up. “You know where the bed is, and if I remember correctly, you thought it was really comfortable, so make yourself at home.”
Surprise fluttered through me at the lack of rancor in his tone as he mentioned that night. I hadn’t moved very far, only placing my bag near the couch, by the time he reappeared in the living room. Amused, I watched him swipe up a bag of chips that was on the end table and take them to the trash in the kitchen.
“I’ve got to head to the office, get your phone to Evidence to see if we can do prints,” he said, running a hand through his hair. The movement caused his biceps to strain against the hem of his uniform. “I got a landline in several rooms. The number to the office is on the fridge. Call that or my cell if you need to. I should be back a little after eight or so.”
He stopped in front of me, and I drew in a deep breath. Pulling the sides of my sweater tight, I lifted my chin. His eyes searched mine.
“I’m not really okay with what happened,” I admitted in a small voice. “Any of it.”
Somehow, I think he got that I wasn’t just talking about what happened in my apartment. For a moment, I thought he wasn’t going to say anything. That he’d just turn around and walk out of his apartment.
But then he moved forward and slowly—oh so slowly—wrapped one arm around my shoulders and then tugged me close. I hesitated for a second and then I went, pressing my cheek against his chest. The cool edge of his badge was sharp against my cheek but I didn’t care. The warmth of his body, of his embrace, was worth it.
His other hand cupped the back of my neck and he lowered his chin to the top of my bowed head. He drew in a deep breath I could feel, and I closed my eyes. “I know,” he replied in a rough voice. “I know, Roxy.”
Reece held me for a few seconds more and then he stepped back. The hand around my neck slipped to my cheek. His eyes met mine. “Get some rest. I’ll be back as soon as I can.”
I didn’t move until I heard the door close and lock and I still didn’t move for several minutes. Reece said to take his bed, but there was no way I could sleep back there. Not with how things were left between us. Yes, he was helping me out now, but he was a good guy. That’s what good guys do.
Moving two of the throw pillows to one side of his overstuffed beige couch, I dragged the quilt off the back of the couch and then stretched out. The cushions sucked me in immediately, and when I closed my eyes, I knew it wouldn’t take me long to sleep. As crazy as it sounded, I felt safe here and I didn’t fight the sleep that tugged at me.
I slipped into a dreamless sleep for I don’t know how long. Minutes? Hours, maybe? But it was the deep kind of sleep that when I woke from it, I couldn’t figure out my surroundings right off.
I was at Reece’s place. Right. I remembered that, falling asleep almost immediately on his really comfy couch. He had really good taste in furniture. I started to stretch, but stilled when I realized the couch was oddly hard . . . and warm.
Confused, I moved my right hand and it slipped over something as smooth as silk stretched over marble—something also warm and very hard. And rippled. My fingers dipped. Was that a navel?
My eyes flew open.
Holy moley, I was so not where I’d fallen asleep. This was not the couch I was plastered against or currently feeling up.
It was Reece—a sleeping, shirtless Reece. I was curled up close against him, and I was in his bed.
If this was a dream, I didn’t want to wake up from it. For a lot of reasons, but mainly for the fact there was nothing like waking up next to this man. I’d only gotten to experience it twice before and that was not nearly enough.