“I just wanted you to understand that you were mine.”

“Oh.” My heart galloped. I was his. Body and soul. And falling deeper every day.

“Was last night okay, then?”

I nodded, my head bobbing up and down while he studied me. “I liked it.” Liking it was an understatement, but the furrow creasing his brow told me not to press the issue.

“Are you sure you’re alright with this?”

I knew he was asking more than his words conveyed. He was asking if I was okay with his nature – his dominant, take charge attitude in the bedroom. The truth was, I was more than okay with it. With Knox I felt like a woman. I liked him making the decisions and pushing me in ways I never dreamed. He was opening me up to new experiences, just like I was doing for him. “Last night was perfect. I’m just sorry I fell asleep on you.”

He smiled, the playful gleam I loved returning to his eyes. “Passed out was more like it.”

I gave him a shove, but his body was a solid wall of immovable muscle. What he’d said was true, though, I’d all but collapsed from exhaustion after the three powerful climaxes he’d given me. If this was what a sexual relationship with him was going to be like, I would be one happy girl.

“I gotta get the guys up and ready for school.” Knox kissed my lips and then climbed from the bed, treating me to a view of his firm backside as he moved across the room and began to dress.

I lazily stretched and then joined him, forcing my languid and relaxed body into yesterday’s clothes before venturing downstairs.

I found the boys were already up and moving about.

“Dude, don’t sit so close to the TV, Tuck,” Jaxon said, nudging Tucker’s shoulder. “You’re gonna get a tan from that thing.”

I chuckled as I watched them. The glow of the television was casting a bluish hue over Tucker’s little face, but he obeyed, scooting backwards on his butt. Knox might have been worried about the second oldest Bauer boy, but I could see that in his heart, Jax was one of the good guys. Or maybe I just had entirely too much faith. I’d always believed the same thing about Knox, too. Yet I couldn’t help the inexplicable feeling that everything good was about to come crashing down around me in a messy heap.

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“What are these?” I asked, sniffing a huge arrangement of pink carnations on my dining room table.

Brian appeared in the doorway after changing out of his suit and tie and into jeans. He’d arrived home from work just a few minutes after me.

I picked through the pink blossoms, hunting for a card. There wasn’t one and somehow I couldn’t really imagine Knox sending me pink carnations. Maybe blood red roses, but not these. And when would he have had the time? I’d just left his house this morning and I knew he’d worked all day, too.

Brian watched me curiously. “They’re from me.”

“Oh. What’s the occasion?” I couldn’t recall Brian ever giving me flowers…except the bouquet he’d had sent to the funeral home at my parents’ wake. But those had been white daylilies. For a totally different reason.

“No occasion. I just wanted to….” He stopped himself and exhaled heavily. “Come sit down with me.”

“Okay.” He was acting strange. I wondered if he’d caught the flu that was going around.

We sat side by side on the sofa, the TV playing softly in the background.

“I just wanted to apologize for everything lately. My behavior toward you, and fighting with Knox.” He lifted my hand from my lap and held it. “I know you’ve been through a lot and I just want you to know I’ll always be here for you. I’ll be whatever you need, okay?”

“Okay. That’s sweet of you, Bri.”

Neither of us could deny that something had changed between us since Knox had come into the picture. I remembered Knox’s request that I tell Brian about us, but somehow I knew the moment wasn’t right. He was trying to apologize, to make amends. He’d gotten me flowers, which was sweet, but not necessary. Giving a girl carnations wasn’t a romantic gesture, was it? Pushing all that from my mind, I thanked him for the flowers and headed into the kitchen. “Are you hungry?”

“Starved,” he confirmed.

We were like two ravenous lions come dinner time. We’d been that way since we were kids. Searching through the cabinets, we settled on grilled cheese sandwiches. We worked together in the kitchen, him grilling the sandwiches and me slicing some tomatoes that were about to go bad. It’d been a while since we’d enjoyed each other’s company like this and I was happy to see the previous tension between us was all but gone.

Over gooey, cheesy sandwiches, Brian shoved an envelope at me. “This came for you today.”

The return address was a law firm in Indiana.

My stomach dropped.

I didn’t want to open it, knowing it was somehow related to my parents’ accident. But the letter taunted me, capturing all of my attention.

Brian’s sheepish look apologized for something over which he had no control. I wondered if this was the real reason for the flowers. He knew this would upset me – take me right back to that dark place I was in four years ago. Running to Chicago hadn’t been enough. My past would follow me anywhere.

“Are you going to open it?” he asked, pulling my thoughts back to the present. I looked down at my plate. I’d picked apart my sandwich into little bits. So much for my appetite. “What do you think it is?”

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