“I can’t stay. I’d feel bad,” she slurred.

He laughed at her. “It’s not a big deal. I’ll just…take the couch,” he offered.

“You’re serious?”

“Hey, you said we’re just friends,” he reminded her. “And I think you’re right. It’s a good idea. Plus, you’re trashed. Just crash here.”

She giggled again as she tried to steady herself. “Okay, maybe you’re right.” She held her hands out. “But I can take the couch.”

Clay shook his head. “Even if I’m an ass, I’m a Southern gentleman at heart. You take the bed. I’ll take the couch. End of story.”

He climbed the stairs to the second floor and helped Gigi along the way. He fished out some clothes for her to wear, and she changed in the bathroom, somehow managing to get out of her dress. He grabbed a few blankets and a pillow just as Gigi crawled into his bed and promptly passed out. He sniggered at her and shut out the light.

The couch wasn’t half as comfortable as his awesome fucking bed upstairs, but this was safer than letting her drunk ass take a cab home. He had just stood up to turn out the lights when a knock came from his door.

He yawned and went to check to see who the fuck would be here at two o’clock in the morning. He stumbled into the doorframe, ran a shaky hand back through his hair, and then straightened himself before opening the door.

His eyes widened when he saw who was standing at his doorstep—Andrea.

Chapter 17


Clay just stared at Andrea in disbelief.

She was here.

He couldn’t seem to process this fact fast enough. Her being here this late at night…her being here at all made no sense to him. Why is she here?

But he realized then that it didn’t matter.

Here was everything that he wanted…that he’d been dying to have for the last three months. She was standing right in front of him, and all he had to do was reach out and take it.

“Do you want to come in?” he asked, pulling the door open wider.

She seemed just as shocked to be on his doorstep as he was that she was here. But she gathered herself together, nodded, and crossed the threshold into his townhouse without a word.

He shut the door behind her, wishing he were a little less wasted for whatever was about to happen. He was regretting that bottle of scotch right about now. But whatever she had to say must be important or else she wouldn’t be here. All he could fixate on now that he had her in his place was the way her hips moved in the silky black dress and the peek of leg from the slit.

Then, all he could think about were those lips as she whirled back to face him. Uncertainty rippled through her body. Her gorgeous blue eyes were wide. Her soft pink lips parted, as if to speak at any moment. Worry lines hit between her eyes as her brows drew together.

“Clay,” she whispered.

And she sounded different than he’d ever heard her.


Something shifted in that moment. He didn’t care if she belonged to someone else. He didn’t care if she had walked out on him. He didn’t care about the last three months of torture. All he cared about was that the woman he’d spent damn near fifteen years in love with was here.

A tear trickled down her pale cheek, unchecked and uninhibited. Her eyes were raw with emotion. Her body was tense yet vulnerable.

He couldn’t help himself. He cleared the distance between them in one easy stride. She barely breathed when he reached up and wound one hand up into her hair while sweeping the loose tear from her cheek with the other. She just tilted her face up to look at him, to judge and weigh him.

“Why are you crying, baby?” he finally asked, breaking the weighted silence.

She swallowed hard but kept their gazes locked. “I don’t know why I’m here.”

Clay leveled her with a disbelieving look. She had a reason for being here. And she had a reason for crying. Andrea did nothing without a purpose.

“Yes, you do.”

She shook her head but didn’t dislodge his hand from where he still held her. “No. I just know that I shouldn’t be here.”

“But you are.” He kept his voice firm.

She was here. He couldn’t leave her standing there, crying in his apartment, without an answer…some kind of reason. He needed to know what this all meant. He couldn’t read her mind. If he’d been able to do that, then they wouldn’t have been in this mess to begin with.

“Yeah.” She breathed out heavily. “I’m so stupid.”

“You’re many things, Andrea, but stupid is never one of them.”

Andrea’s eyes filled with surprise at the comment. She seemed to be debating with herself as to what else to say. He just wanted to push her. To make her admit why she had come crawling to him in the middle of the night…why she was letting him touch her so affectionately when she had ended it all.

“I ruined everything,” she whispered.

Clay stilled completely. “You think so?”

“We…we were fine before, right?” She seemed so hesitant, like she needed confirmation for all the questions she had in her head. Like she had no clue what he was thinking when he was sure it was clear on his face.

But before what? Fuck. He just wanted her to be clearer. Before Bad Suit? Before the attack? Before what?

Yet he couldn’t say any of that. He couldn’t voice the ugly thoughts that crept into his head, at how cruel he wanted to be with her. He should send her home, send her packing right now, like she’d done to him. Give her a taste of her own medicine. But he couldn’t do it.

Andrea was a hard woman. He’d always loved her for it. He’d thought that her tough exterior meant that she didn’t care about anything. Thought it meant she didn’t want a diamond ring and a happily ever after. He’d been wrong about a lot of things.

So, he just shook his head. They hadn’t been fine before. If they’d been fine before…they wouldn’t be in this spot right now.

Confusion seeped into her features at his denial that their relationship had been all right before she’d left. Before…before…

God, he desperately wanted to know what was going on behind those eyes. Learn all the secrets left buried in this woman. Lay her bare before him until nothing could tear them apart again.