While he hated what had happened, it had made his decision about her easy. He wasn’t walking away. He couldn’t live knowing she was off somewhere and not be with her. Nope. Not gonna happen.

The sexy woman belonged to him. Very soon he was going to remind her why.

He popped his head back in the room and she immediately stood, wrapping her arms around herself like she did when she was nervous or scared. It pierced him to see her like that and he wanted to hurt the person who had caused it. “Can we go?”

“Yeah.” He held out his arm and she walked right into his embrace, wrapping her arm around his waist as he led her out.

The feel of her pressed up against him and the fact that she didn’t hesitate in searching him out for comfort had the ability to bring him to his knees.

“Did the detective say anything else? Do they have any leads?” There was a thread of hope in her voice.

Hating to disappoint her, he shook his head as they stepped out into the balmy night air. “Unfortunately, no.” He had plans to look more into the monster who had changed her life, Curtis Woods. Vincent didn’t care that the FBI said Woods and his brother were dead; he wanted to make damn sure that was true. Not to mention he had some potential enemies and he was worried this might be one of them trying to mess with him. “I need to stop by my place and grab an overnight bag and my laptop, but it’s not a long walk.”

She looked up at him in surprise. “You’re staying with me tonight?”

He grunted. How could she not realize he was staying with her? “Of course. After what happened, I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

Something he couldn’t read flickered through her hazel eyes as she looked away, keeping her gaze focused in front of them on the sidewalk. “I don’t need you feeling responsible for me. That attack was crazy, but I can take care of myself. I’ve been doing it for a long time.”

Responsible? She really had no idea. “Yeah, well, that’s about to change.” He wanted to take care of her any way he could.

She stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and pulled away from him. “Vincent, I can’t do this. I…thought I could, but I can’t. All I really wanted was your forgiveness when I came to see you—okay, that’s a lie, I wanted more—but that’s not the point. I just can’t sleep with you and have it mean nothing. I thought I could, but I can’t. And if you stay the night I know where things are headed between us.” There was such raw agony in her voice, it cut him impossibly deep.

Vincent swallowed hard, trying to make his throat work. He didn’t want just sex either, but he also knew that telling her that wouldn’t do him much good. Not when only hours ago he’d admitted he was trying to figure things out where they were concerned. Now he knew exactly what he wanted from her. Everything. When that asshole had thrown that firebomb at them, he’d lost a decade of his life and the reality of what he needed—Jordan, in his life, forever—had become crystal clear. He wouldn’t lose her again. But words were useless.

He would have to show her, not tell her. “I’ll sleep on the couch, but I’m not letting you out of my sight.”

For a moment it looked as if she might argue, but she finally nodded. “Fine.” Instead of wrapping her arm back around him, she kept her arms tightly around herself as they headed to his place.

* * * * *

Jordan felt as if her emotions were on a freaking tilt-a-whirl. Completely out of control and making her just a little bit nauseous. She pulled her knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them as she sat on the couch and half listened to Vincent’s conversation. He was talking to someone he worked with. A woman. Jordan could tell because of the softer tone of his voice. Even if she hadn’t heard Vincent originally talking to the woman’s husband, she would have known.

He was always like that. Back when they’d been dating she could always tell if he was talking to his mom or one of his sisters. Whenever that happened, he seemed almost docile, like a little puppy. Jordan had always wondered what kind of woman it would take to make a man like Vincent be on his best behavior. Sadly she’d never gotten the chance to meet his family. And right about now, Jordan had a feeling she never would.

Not with the way things were headed between her and Vincent. She sure as hell didn’t want to be his responsibility and that’s what he was treating her like. They’d been randomly attacked but she wasn’t worried about some maniac breaking into her place. Hardly anyone knew she was here. The man she’d put behind bars and his brother that she’d feared for so long were both dead. There was no one left to hurt her.

After what felt like an eternity, Vincent finally ended his phone call. Leaning forward on the couch, he set his phone on the coffee table between them and rubbed a hand over his hair. It was still just as short as it had been seven years ago. His habit of rubbing his head when he was agitated hadn’t changed either.

“So what did your friend say?” She couldn’t stand the suspense.

He looked up at her and pinned her with that pale stare. “Lizzy is going to look into all my old files, see if anything sticks out. I had a few brushes with assholes on various cases, but nothing to warrant the kind of attack we had tonight. And nothing recent. That type of raw violence just doesn’t make sense.” She could see the wheels turning in his head as he looked at her and she realized he wasn’t really seeing her, but thinking.

“Sometimes crazy just doesn’t make sense.” She’d lived for years in a semi-state of fear. It didn’t matter that she’d been in WITSEC, that fear had taken root deep inside her and she refused to live like that again. Hell no. She was finally free and was determined to actually live that way.

“Yeah, maybe,” he muttered before opening his laptop.

Frowning, she glanced at the nautical themed clock that was made to look like a porthole on the wall next to the sliding glass door. “It’s almost midnight, why don’t you get some rest?” There were two bedrooms, both with queen sized beds, so he’d have plenty of room to stretch out.

He grunted a non-response and fired up his laptop anyway. Sighing, she stood. She knew better than to argue with him when he was determined about something. The man could be damn stubborn when he wanted. She headed to the kitchen and made a half pot of coffee. If he was going to be up, she figured she could at least do something. Once it was brewed, she poured him a mug, but found the living room empty.

Jordan set the mug on the side table and glanced at his computer screen. A file had been pulled up that almost looked like a mug shot of a woman. A very beautiful blonde woman. Next to the picture was a bunch of text. She started to scan it when she heard a door shut.

Vincent appeared from the hallway moments later. His eyes lit up when he saw the mug. “You made coffee?”

“Yep, just the way you like it.” Two scoops of sugar, nothing more.

He grinned in such a boyish way, she forgot about pretty much everything for a few seconds. She really hated the effect he had on her. It was as if she forgot to breathe sometimes. “Who’s the woman? Is she important?” Jordan asked, motioning to the open laptop.

That sexy smile suddenly fell as he shook his head. “No.”

At that, she raised her eyebrows. “No, what? She’s not important? Obviously she is or you wouldn’t be wasting time on whatever that file is. Come on, don’t leave me in the dark if you know something about tonight.” It wasn’t like she needed to be protected from whatever he thought was going on. After what she’d been through, she could handle pretty much anything.

“She’s…just some woman I dated a while ago. She went kind of stalker on me and I had to take out a restraining order. I haven’t seen her in almost two years and haven’t had any issues, but I had Lizzy run her records to see where she’s been hanging out lately.” He said the words in a rush, glancing back at the screen as he spoke.

Jordan knew that Vincent had dated. Probably a whole lot. It made sense and she had no reason to get mad. She was the one who’d left. She’d made that choice. But it still hurt to actually hear that he’d been with other women. And she knew it was beyond stupid to feel hurt, but she did just the same. For years she’d locked down thoughts of Vincent completely, had locked down stupid masochistic images of him with other women. Actually seeing someone he’d been with felt like a punch to the stomach. Not to mention the woman looked so damn different from her. Jordan wasn’t sure why that was worse, but somehow it was. “Covering all bases is good.” Damn it, why did her voice have to tremble? Swallowing hard, she tilted her head in the direction of the bedrooms. “If you don’t need me, I’m going to crash.”

Without waiting for a response, she made a quick escape. Tonight had left her feeling raw and vulnerable and she simply couldn’t add any more to her plate. Sleep was the only thing that might make her feel better. Unfortunately she had a feeling finding rest was going to be difficult.

Chapter 6

Jordan stared at the ceiling in the darkened bedroom. She’d pulled the drapes back from the sliding glass door so that the room was illuminated by moonlight and a few stars. Both bedrooms had private balconies looking out over the pool at the complex. She wondered if Vincent had his curtains open too.

Okay, she didn’t care about the state of his stupid windows. She wanted to know if he was sleeping naked or not. About an hour ago she’d finally heard him go to his room. She wasn’t sure what he’d been doing on his laptop but he’d eventually given up. For that she was thankful. He’d looked so exhausted earlier.

She was annoyed with herself because her body was begging for rest but her mind was working overtime, refusing to let her give in to the call of sleep. Shoving off the sheets, she slid out of bed. The cool hardwood floor chilled her feet as she made her way across the nautical themed room. Maybe a hot cup of herbal tea would help, though she doubted it. But at three in the morning, she was willing to try anything.