Belinda was right. Despite being a few months pregnant, she wasn’t showing at all. In fact, she had on a pair of skintight leggings that showed off how slender she was, and an off-the-shoulder white tee.
Tearing my eyes away from her, I realized Knox was still chatting with the girl and hadn’t even noticed me. I slid into my seat and cleared my throat. Amanda and Knox ended their conversation, and I kicked off our session. But the little impish smile remained fixed on Amanda’s lips long after her chat with Knox.
Somehow, seeing firsthand the effect he had on women bothered me even more than it should have. I wanted to separate their chairs, position myself between them, but of course I didn’t. I just continued right on with group, trying to remain professional.
“Amanda, right?” I looked at the new girl and she nodded her head. “Welcome. I’m glad you’re here.” My voice sounded genuine, but if she was going to move in on Knox, that would change in a heartbeat. I would be the only one tempting him, thank you very much. “Why don’t you introduce yourself and tell us whatever you’re comfortable starting with.”
“Sure. Hi, everyone. I’m Amanda.” She looked around at the faces in the group and smiled. She went on to explain that she grew up in the foster care system, and no one had wanted her—or at least that was how she felt, and so she sought man after man to supplement those feelings. She used sex to cope—to feel wanted—if only for a short time. Then of course when it was over, she felt worse than ever.
It was a tragic cycle I’d heard before, and I honestly hoped I could help her break it. This work was hard, but I never gave up hope of actually getting through to someone. It made it all worthwhile. Amanda didn’t mention her pregnancy, so I assumed she wanted to keep that to herself.
I moved on, asking what other updates people wanted to share. As Mia spoke about her recent breakthrough, I knew I should feel happy and proud. Instead I was struck with a sense of worry. The closer I got to Knox, the more I’d worry about his past with women, and if it was truly all in his past. The realization was harrowing. Would we ever really be able to move forward from the demons that haunted us?
The possibility that his sexual addiction could come between us terrified me. Would I be used and then tossed aside like so many before me? I was smarter than that, wasn’t I? Brian’s concerns had obviously gotten inside my head.
“McKenna?” Mia asked, her brows drawn together in question.
Twelve sets of eyes were peering right at me. How long had I been lost in my own thoughts? A quick glance at the clock told me far too long. Our hour was up, and a few people were already zipping up coats and jingling car keys in their hands. Oops.
“Thank you, everyone. See you next time.”
Amanda turned right back to Knox, like she’d spent the entire hour just itching to strike up their conversation again.
Wiping the scowl from my face, I rose from my seat and went to the desk at the front of the room. As curious as I was about what they could be discussing, I forced myself to focus on something else. I wanted to talk to Knox, to tell him I hadn’t stopped thinking about that night, but the more time that passed, the more foolish I felt.
Several minutes later, Amanda rose to her feet and slung her purse over her shoulder. She fished her cell phone from the bag and it appeared that she and Knox were exchanging phone numbers. A searing pain stabbed at my chest.
I shouldn’t have been so hungry for his touch. It hadn’t been my smartest moment. But I wasn’t a normal girl. I was damaged emotionally and had felt so alone for the last few years that I craved physical touch. From a sex addict. A man like Knox wouldn’t savor those simple touches like I did. He wouldn’t be lying in bed tonight thinking about how his hand had felt brushing over my skin like I would be. He used women, took his pleasure and moved on.
Maybe it was time I did the same thing. I grabbed my purse from the desk and fled.
I dressed and ventured downstairs. Tucker was sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, watching a cartoon I knew he’d seen three hundred times. But his science project was done, so I wouldn’t complain.
Jaxon and Luke were stationed together at the dining room table, and Luke was helping him with algebra. “Dude, what the f**k did you eat?” Jaxon asked, pushing Luke’s shoulder to gain some distance between them.
“I don’t know. I had Chinese earlier. Why?” Luke responded, sniffing his breath through a cupped palm.
“It smells like garlic and farts. It’s f**king burning my nostrils, dude. Go get some gum or something. I can’t concentrate on math when my eyes are watering.”
Luke stuffed three sticks of gum into his mouth. “Happy?”
“Very,” Jaxon said dryly.
“Guys, you’re on your own tonight. I’ll be at Gus’s Pub till probably two. Call and order pizza.” I handed Luke a twenty-dollar bill. “Lock the doors, and stay in. Got it?” They nodded in unison. “And call me if you need me.”
I wondered if McKenna would still be stopping over, and what she’d think when the guys told her I wasn’t here. I pushed the thoughts from my head. It wasn’t my problem. We both probably needed to move on before things got even more complicated. I crossed the room and ruffled Tucker’s hair to say good-bye. Then buttoned up my black dress shirt and headed out into the night.
Gus’s was an Irish tavern that I tended bar at occasionally. Thursday nights were usually good for at least two hundred bucks in tips, and so when Rachel had called earlier and said they were short staffed, I’d jumped at the opportunity. We could use the cash, and I knew if I stayed in tonight, I’d end up calling McKenna.
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