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I smiled as I thought about that. “I really do love working at Mona’s.”

“And like I said before, there isn’t a damn thing wrong about that.”

Reece was right. Jax was happy as a monkey with a banana owning and working at Mona’s. So was Nick. Well, I guessed Nick was happy. I never really asked him and he sure as heck never volunteered the info.

“You think you can eat something?” he asked, and when I nodded, he smacked my behind. “Come on, let’s get some cheese and crackers.”

I climbed out of bed and was out into the hallway when Reece caught me around the waist and spun me around. He pulled me to his chest as he cupped my cheek with one hand, tilting my head back.

“I love you, Roxy.” He dipped his head, kissing me softly, and I suddenly understood the emotion behind those sweet, tender kisses. It was that four-letter word. Love. “You wanted to hear me say it again. I’m going to say it so much that you get tired of hearing it.”

Smiling against his lips, I placed my hands on his chest, inhaling deeply and catching the faint scent of his cologne. “I don’t think I can ever get tired of hearing that.”

The next couple of days were a blur for a different reason. I wasn’t numb anymore, which meant when I woke up Friday morning, I had another crying fit, because I realized I wouldn’t be seeing Charlie on Friday like I had for the last six years. That was hard, and I honestly don’t know what I would’ve done if Reece hadn’t been there. Not only had he let me have my tear fest, when I finally stopped crying, he hadn’t treated me like something was wrong with me or like he was over the emotional outbursts.

Reece had simply ordered Chinese and we ate a late lunch, spending the entire day on the couch, watching really bad zombie movies. That carried into Saturday and then I had another crying jag, because I was so frustrated with myself, with how I’d tried to push Reece away and how Charlie would’ve smacked me upside the head if he was around and knew that, and how I wasn’t being strong enough to just . . . to just fucking let it all go.

It was Sunday, as I sat on the bed, while he—in all his shirtless and pajama-bottom-wearing glory—fiddled with his duty belt and attached the numerous things on his uniform, that I told him what I planned to do tomorrow.

“I’m going to go to my apartment tomorrow.”

His head had been bowed as he hooked his badge into his shirt, but his fingers stilled as he lifted his chin, both dark brows raised. “Why?”

I scooted to the end of the bed and looked down at where he sat on the floor. “I want—no, I need—to go through the stuff I brought back from . . . from Charlie’s room. I just dropped them in my living room.”

He finished hooking the badge in. “Can you wait until I can be there with you?”

I smiled a little. “I appreciate you wanting to be there, but I think . . . I need to do this alone.” In other words, I knew I was going to break down again, especially seeing all those paintings and little things I’d brought with me whenever I visited Charlie. After all the time spent crying on Reece, I really didn’t think he needed to see that again. I needed to start letting all of this go and that was something I needed to try to do on my own first. “My place is safe now.”

“It should be safe now.” Setting the shirt aside, he started messing with the clips on his belt. Getting his uniform ready was a freaking complicated process, I was learning. “You know I want you staying with me until we find this guy.”

“I know.” I folded my legs under me. “But with the security system, I’m pretty safe. That was the point of putting that in there, right? Plus, what if they don’t even find the guy?”

“You can stay here forever,” he replied.

I shot him a bland look. “Reece, I . . . don’t think I could. I mean, we just started dating and most people—”

“I don’t give a fuck what most people do. I love you. You love me, even though I haven’t heard those words yet.” He stretched his belt out on the floor while I arched a brow. “So if we want to move in together now, we move in together. What-the-fuck-ever.”

My lips twitched. “I’d like to see you explaining it like that, with so much grace, to my parents.”

Reece stood swiftly. “What do you think your parents are thinking we’re doing while you’re staying with me now?”

“They think we’re playing cards and knitting blankets.”

He chuckled as he placed his hands on either side of me and leaned over the bed. “They know we’re fucking each other’s brains out whenever we get the chance.”

“Ew.” I wrinkled my nose. “They think we’re doing pure and wholesome things.”

“Your parents?” He snorted. “They’re probably hoping we give them a grandbaby by next summer.”

“No way, no . . .” I groaned. “You’re probably right.”

Grinning, he kissed the tip of my nose and then pulled back so he could look me straight in the eye. “You planning on going over during the day?” When I nodded, he sighed. “Please tell me that if you notice anything suspicious, you’ll get your ass out of there and call me. I’ll be working, but I will drop anything.”

I smiled and then rocked forward, kissing the tip of his nose. “I’ll be fine. I just need to . . .”

“You need your privacy. I get that. I really do.”

And that . . . that was so Reece. Yeah, he could be bossy and demanding, in and out of the bedroom, but he was also considerate and compassionate. He was strong-willed, but the softer side of him dug deep into my marrow. I loved every side of Reece, no matter how incredibly annoying he could be sometimes.

I thought about what he’d said about how he dealt with the shooting—how he was still dealing. My chest ached. “Are you okay?”

“Perfect,” he mused.

“That you are, but that’s not what I meant.” I took a deep breath. “Everything with the shooting? I knew it had gotten bad, but I didn’t know how bad, and I . . . I just want you to know that you can always talk to me. Okay?”

A small smile appeared. “I know.”

“Don’t forget that,” I demanded softly.

That smile spread. “I won’t.”

Placing my hands on his biceps, I closed the tiny distance between us and kissed his parted lips. The way he sucked the air between his teeth stirred desire deep inside me. Kissing him again, I pulled back just enough so we were eye to eye once more.