He was quiet for a second while he thought about it. “Yes and no. Trust me, I enjoyed it, and as far as it not going any further…I can manage.”
“I like you so open and vulnerable like this,” I whispered.
“Yeah? Well, enjoy it now then. I’m never like this.”
“Yes, you’re normally so intense, and dominant.”
“Do you even understand what that word means, McKenna?”
“I think so.” A crease lined my forehead. Maybe I didn’t really know. At least, not in the context of how he thought of himself.
“I am dominant. Sexually. Does that scare you?”
He chuckled lightly. I hadn’t meant my answer to sound like a question. It only showed how unsure I felt around him.
“Good night, McKenna.”
“’Night, Knox,” I murmured, feeling sleepy and warm. And safe.
When I arrived home the following morning, I thought it best that Knox not walk me inside. I said good-bye to him in the car and ventured in to face Brian alone.
Just as I suspected, Brian was waiting for me. Probably waiting to ambush me. He flipped off the TV and rose from the couch, coming to meet me near the door.
“Did you stay the night with him?”
“Brian,” I pleaded. My tone was a warning. He didn’t get to act the way he did last night and then give me the third degree this morning. Besides, I didn’t want to crush him or make him angry by confirming what he already knew. I’d slept in Knox’s bed last night and it was one of the best night’s sleep I’d had in years. I figured it was safer not to answer, so instead I released a heavy sigh.
“Tell me you’re not stupid enough to fall for this guy. He’s a goddamn sex addict, McKenna.”
“Don’t call me stupid.” I pushed past him and entered the kitchen, grabbing the coffeepot and filling it with water.
“I’m sorry, I know you’re not…it’s just…” He rubbed the back of his neck, looking down at the scuffed tile floor. He looked tired, like he’d barely slept last night, and his face was pinched with worry.
It made my stomach cramp seeing him so distraught. Brian had always been there for me and he’d been a great friend for almost fifteen years. He’d messed up last night, but without him, I wouldn’t have survived these past few years. I just didn’t know why he was acting so ridiculous about Knox.
“I get it,” he said. “You’re a fixer, you always have been, and he’s a project, but he’s not like that cocker spaniel you found on the side of the road with a broken leg. You can’t fix everything, and you sure as hell can’t play house with him.”
“Too late for that, isn’t it, Bri?” I shoved the carafe back into the coffee machine and set it to brew. When I looked up at him, really looked at him, I noticed his lip was split and there was a bruise forming under his eye. Served him right for attacking Knox like he did.
Brian sighed. “I’m sorry I flipped out last night. I just don’t want to lose you.”
The sight of him and Knox fighting on our living room floor was burned into my retinas. I was glad neither was seriously hurt. Knox’s cheek was still slightly swollen this morning, but nothing that a little ice and pain reliever wouldn’t fix.
I tried to look at things from Brian’s perspective. We’d moved here together and neither of us knew a soul, and now I was forming a relationship with another man. My anger faded just slightly. “I won’t condone any more testosterone-fueled displays like last night. You’re my best friend. Knox is my…” I stuttered, coming to a halt midsentence. What was Knox?
“He’s your what, McKenna?” Brian challenged.
“Friend,” I settled on finally. “So you have to be nice.”
Stuffing his hands in his pockets, Brian nodded. “For you, I’ll try. But just be careful with that guy.”
“I will,” I promised. I would be careful with him, I just hoped he would be careful with me too. I was terrified of feeling something real for him, unsure if he was capable of returning those feelings.
The rest of the week passed quickly. Brian seemed to chill out a little, not mentioning Knox again and being overly helpful at home. He was trying to make up for how he had acted, though I wondered if his change in mood was because I hadn’t seen Knox again.
Things had gotten busy at the center for troubled teens, and even though I only worked there part-time during the week, I found myself going in early and staying late. They were short staffed, so I’d added extra hours to my schedule without having to be asked. And since I still had my weekly commitments at the homeless shelter, soup kitchen, and others, I was exhausted at the end of the day.
Knox and I had texted a few times, and I wondered if both of us were subconsciously trying to slow things down between us after how heated they’d gotten the last time I saw him.
After sleeping in later than planned, I was running late for my Saturday morning meeting. The only thing that kept me from being really late was the bus had cooperated and been on time. When I entered the room, I found the members of our group already seated in a semicircle. Someone had even brewed the coffee. I breathed a sigh of relief. Everything was in order.
Crossing the room to the front, my eyes strayed to Knox. He’d turned to face the girl next to him—someone I’d never seen before. She appeared to be about our age, petite and very pretty with shiny coppery hair and big green eyes. Suddenly I realized that this must be Amanda.
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