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Sheesh, I was rambling, but something about the intent way Knox watched me while I spoke, looking between my mouth and my eyes, left me distracted and warm. I drew a deep breath, trying to clear my head. Knox was still watching me, waiting for me to ask him something. It was my turn.

“So…” I drew out the word, buying time. I could go for the obvious, asking him how he ended up with this addiction, but something told me not to push him. I wanted him to open up and feel comfortable, so I couldn’t interrogate him from the start. I liked talking to him and I wasn’t ready for it to end. “Tell me about your brothers,” I said at last.

Knox leaned back into the armchair, crossing one ankle over his knee. Gosh, he was so big, so male, that it was impossible not to notice how completely he filled the small space between us. My pulse jumped and quickened in response.

“Tucker’s eight and in the third grade. He’s a good kid, listens to his teachers, and keeps his room clean.” He released a heavy sigh. “He has an amazing capacity for love. He was so little when we lost her and when Dad took off, that I think he’s the least affected by it.”

Listening to him talk made me wonder what the little boy had been through. I couldn’t imagine losing my mom at such a tender age, and then having to watch my dad run off and abandon the family. My heart ached for him.

“Luke is seventeen and he’s a junior. He’s smart. Like smart-smart. He wants to go to college and he studies hard so he can qualify for a scholarship when the time comes. And Jaxon…” He shook his head. “Jaxon is too much like I was. He’s eighteen and will graduate in the spring. I thought I’d feel relieved once he turned eighteen, knowing that he could ensure the boys didn’t get split up if something ever happened to me…”

He hesitated, and something in his eyes made me sad. I could see how much he worried about them.

“I’m sure he’d step up if he needed to,” he went on. “But for now, he has no plan of what to do when he graduates, no job, no money, and he chases after girls just like I did at that age.”

It surprised me how much Knox was sharing. As uncertain as I’d felt, I was glad I’d followed my instincts and came here today. Maybe he just needed someone to talk to. Not that I’d been thinking about my background in counseling a moment ago. I’d been thinking about his sad eyes, and the way my heart slammed into my ribs when he was near.

Knox grew quiet, like he’d said too much. His eyes slowly lifted to mine. “Your turn, angel.”


Something about seeing McKenna in my space was surreal. I couldn’t believe she was actually here, sitting in my bedroom. My messy-ass bedroom.

When she’d refused my offer for coffee, I’d seen the momentary indecision in her eyes. She’d wanted to say yes. But something had kept her from acting on it. So I’d left my notebook behind on the table, wondering if would propel her to find me. She had. And now she wanted me to spill my secrets, to psychoanalyze me. Too bad. I wasn’t opening up until she did the same. I didn’t know shit about this girl; I didn’t have to tell her anything. She wasn’t my court-appointed counselor. But if she took the first step, showed me I could trust her, I wasn’t opposed to talking. Something about her intrigued me.

And now, after just a few minutes, I was sitting here spilling my guts like a pu**y. I needed to switch us to a lighter topic. She wanted to be let in, but I was pretty sure she’d hate me once she really knew all of it.

Her back was still ramrod straight and she totally looked out of place. It was adorable and struck something inside me. I wanted to see her pretty, unsure smile again. “Is your boyfriend going to be mad you came here?” I asked with the hint of a smile playing on my lips. Her denying that he was her boyfriend would definitely make the alpha male in me happy.

“Brian?” Her brows pulled together. “He’s just a friend.”

“No boyfriend then?”

She shook her head. “No. No boyfriend. What about you?”

“I prefer females. I thought we’d established that was my main problem.” Her cheeks flushed ever so slightly. “And no, angel, I don’t have a girlfriend.”

“Knox,” she started, then stopped herself, chewing on her lower lip before continuing. “I’m sorry I’m here taking up your time, I just came to apologize for how I reacted today. I thought you were blowing off the group and trying to pick me up.”

That might have been my intention at the time, but now it was anything but. McKenna wasn’t like the girls I was used to. If I pressured her into going out with me, something told me I’d only push her away. And I wasn’t ready for that to happen.

“I was serious about being more comfortable talking one-on-one versus in a roomful of people.”

She nodded. “I get that. I’m sorry again. I figured it was a come-on.”

I shook my head. “Not my intention, angel.”

She frowned, like the idea that I wasn’t coming on to her was a slight disappointment. This girl just got more and more interesting the more time I spent with her. I shifted in the chair so I was leaning a little closer to McKenna. Her scent was light and crisp, with the warmth of vanilla and a hint of soap. Not too overpowering, but subtle and pleasant. Just like the girl herself.

The stairs creaked and I glanced over to see Tucker peeking around the corner to spy on us. I’d purposefully left my bedroom door open; I didn’t want any confusion over what was happening between me and McKenna.


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