“This is fine. What’s up?”
Blake sighs heavily on the other end of the line and then curses ripely.
“No, I don’t believe I’m interested in fucking you sideways,” I reply with a smirk.
“I shouldn’t be calling you.”
Something in his voice has the hair on the back of my neck standing up.
He swears again, and now I’m just pissed.
“Blake, what the fuck?”
“First, let me say this: everything Leash ever tells me is in confidence, and I don’t make a habit of breaking that confidence.”
“Understood.” I turn to watch my brothers, not really seeing them, and narrow my eyes. “What’s going on?”
“I just got off the phone with her. Have you spoken to her?”
“I saw her just this morning. She left for some work that she needed to take care of.”
“That’s bullshit,” Blake says grimly. “She ran, man.”
“What exactly do you mean, she ran?”
“She’s not working, she’s at her apartment over-thinking the fact that she slept with you. She’s scared. She has her reasons, and they’re her reasons to tell you, but intimacy scares the fuck out of her.”
“I figured that out,” I reply, and feel my blood heat. It has nothing to do with the heat of summer.
“Yeah, well, I thought you should know.”
“Why are you telling me this?” I turn my back on my brothers again and pace away.
“Because I think you’ll be good for her, and because when I got off the phone with her a little while ago, she sounded regretful that she left, and I know she won’t fix it on her own.”
I push my hand through my hair and shake my head in exasperation. “I’m on my way to her place.”
“I think she was going to go help out with a wedding tonight, but you might catch her if you leave now.”
I hang up and return, just as Matt scowls at Caleb and shouts, “Are you just going to stand around all fucking afternoon?”
“No,” Caleb replies sarcastically, “I’m gonna fuckin’ riverdance, asshole.”
The guys laugh at Caleb’s witty response as I slip my phone in my pocket.
“I have to go, guys.”
“Everything okay?” Will asks.
“No, but it will be. If you need anything, Celeste is just inside.”
“We’re fine,” Isaac says. “We’ll have this done in an hour, tops.”
“Is she okay?” Caleb asks.
“I don’t know.” I shove my hands through my hair again. “I’m going to go figure it out.”
“Let us know if you need anything,” Matt says.
“Good luck,” Luke says with a grin, as the others wave. I run through the house, grab my keys and wallet, and set off to Alecia’s apartment.
She fucking ran.
I take the stairs up to Alecia’s floor, rather than wait for the elevator. Just as I burst through the stairwell doors, Alecia is stepping out of her apartment and her eyes go wide when she sees me stalking toward her.
“What are you doing here?”
“That’s my question,” I reply, and stop a few feet away from her.
“I live here,” she replies and props her hands on her hips, pulling her pink blouse tight over her full breasts, and making my cock take notice. “But I’m about to go to work—”
“No, you’re not.”
Her jaw drops at the hard tone in my voice.
“Yes, I believe I am.”
“You’re going to invite me in your place so we can work out all the reasons why you ran from the villa today.”
Her eyes narrow on my face. “I didn’t run anywhere.”
“Like hell.” I step forward and cage her in against her door, my hands on either side of her face, and lean in, but don’t touch her. Not yet. She takes a deep breath and lays a hand on my chest to push me away, but instead swallows hard and stares at my mouth.
“I couldn’t stay there,” she whispers before catching herself. She grips my shirt in her fist and scowls up at me with bright, angry brown eyes. “And it’s none of your business if I decided to come home for the day.”
“It’s my business, tesoro, to make sure you’re okay, and you clearly weren’t if you felt that you couldn’t stay in my home after I’d just spent the better part of last night and this morning inside you.” Unable to resist touching her for one more moment, I drag my knuckles down her cheek, and feel the flare of satisfaction when her eyes close and she leans into my touch. “Invite me in, please.”
“I told Emily I’d help her tonight.”
“You can un-tell her.”
“You’re not going to leave, are you?”
“No, cara, I’m not leaving.”
She opens the door at her back and motions for me to follow her into her apartment, closes and locks the door and pulls her phone out of her bra.
“Emily, I’m sorry, something’s come up, and I won’t be able to help you after all.” She smiles as she watches me lean my hips back against her kitchen counter. “I know you didn’t really need me in the first place. But you know where to find me if you do need anything. Good luck.” She clicks off and sets the phone and her handbag on the table by the front door. “Happy?”
“No.” I sigh and cross my arms over my chest. “No, I don’t think happy is the right word to describe how I feel.”
“How do you feel?”
“Frustrated. Concerned. Baffled. To start.”
She nods slowly and walks past me to the kitchen, pours us each a glass of Merlot, then passes one to me.
“This isn’t one of mine,” I comment wryly and take a sip.
“No, but it’s nice.” She walks out of the kitchen toward the living room and I can smell her citrusy shampoo as she passes by.
“Hmm.” The wine is nice, and I have a feeling she needs it to bolster her courage.
“Have a seat,” she says, motioning to the couch, and I have to take a breath to rein in my temper. This morning, she was writhing beneath me and now she’s speaking to me like I’m a business associate.
So, I sit right next to her and brace my arm on the back of the couch behind her head and pull the pins out of her hair, letting it spill into my fingers.