“I’ll see you tomorrow,” I murmured, stuffing my keys in my coat pocket.
“That lawyer called again.”
Crap. I chewed on my lip, avoiding his eyes.
“You ever gonna deal with that?” he asked.
Not if I don’t have to. “I will, Bri. Soon,” I promised. Spotting the headlights of Knox’s Jeep from the front window, I headed out the door.
“Hi,” I murmured, climbing inside the darkened interior of the Jeep. The scent of warm leather and Knox’s unique masculine scent of sandalwood washed over me and calmed me in an instant. Maybe things would all work out. I just needed to have patience.
“Hi, beautiful.” He kissed my forehead before pulling out onto the road. “The guys have missed you.”
Reading between the lines, I wondered if he had missed me and that was his way of letting me know. I craved his affection, craved honesty and realness from him, but I sensed he was still holding himself back from me. “I missed them, too.”
When we arrived home I was accosted by Tucker, who seemed to grow an inch every time I saw him. “Hey buddy.” I rumpled his hair. “How’s school?”
“Good. Will you read to me tonight?”
“Sure.” Casting a quick glance at Knox, I let Tucker take my hand and pull me upstairs to his bedroom.
After three books and a sleepy goodnight hug, I pulled the blankets up around Tucker and met Knox in his attic bedroom. He was sprawled out across his bed with his sketchbook balanced on his chest. “Tucker get settled in okay?”
I nodded. “Yeah, he’s out cold.”
He studied me for a second, watching the way I stood in the center of his bedroom, my eyes sweeping over the room. “What’s on your mind?” he asked, patting the bed bedside him.
Take your pick. That letter I’d yet to open from the lawyer in Indiana concerning my parents’ estate, Knox’s failure to fully commit, my guilt over sleeping with a sex addict in recovery, or Brian’s recent admission that he wanted to be with me. I felt dizzy just thinking about it all.
I couldn’t dump all of that on Knox right now. Releasing a heavy sigh, I decided to tell him the least painful part. “Brian asked a few weeks ago if he had a shot with me. He said it’s what my parents would have wanted.”
“And what did you say?” His face was impassive, but I hoped that maybe this would push him into action. I wasn’t going to be happy with our arrangement forever. I wanted a real commitment, love, a relationship that I knew could eventually grow into something more.
“I couldn’t say anything. My parents loved him.”
“I see.” I wondered if that was a twinge of disappointment or fear that flashed in his chocolate brown eyes. Before I could decide, his expression had turned stoic.
With Knox’s cool demeanor – he was neither pushing me away, nor drawing me closer. I wondered if it was time to go back to Indiana and deal with my past once and for all.
“I don’t know what this is, but you know how I feel about you, right?” I asked.
He nodded, but gave me no indication he shared those feelings. I wanted to push him for answers – to ask him to explain – but I feared hearing his answer, so instead I sat on his bed, quietly picking at the hem of my sweater.
“Tell me what else is on your mind. There’s something more than just Brian’s infatuation bugging you.”
“This is too much for me. I thought I could do it – be with you and lead SAA, but I can’t.” The heavy sigh weighing on my chest ripped free. “I’m emotionally invested in both and I don’t even know where we stand.”
“That’s fair,” he said quietly, looking down at his sketchbook.
I hated how calm and cool he was about it all. What did he mean? What was happening to us? Whoever said sex changed everything between a man and a woman was right.
“I need to go back to Indiana. There’s something I need to take care of. And I’m going to ask Brian to come with me.”
He nodded. Piercing brown eyes gazed up at me, making my chest ache. “When are you leaving?”
I shrugged. I hadn’t talked to Bri yet – with this being a spur of the moment decision and all. “Probably around the holidays. I know his mom will want to see me.” With Christmas just a week away, it made sense.
“You’re still staying over tonight, right?”
“Do you want me to?”
“Of course I do. I’ll always want you here, McKenna.” His voice was so sincere and the look in his eyes was genuine, but I still felt like something was missing. I’d gotten him to open up and I’d convinced him to let me share his bed, but I hadn’t gotten what I really wanted – the real Knox, unedited and genuine. He was still holding part of himself back and that hurt more than I ever thought it would.
I headed into the bathroom with my backpack, planning to brush my teeth and change clothes. Instead, I sank down on the toilet lid and silently cried.
After I’d dried my tears, I cleaned myself up and emerged from the bathroom a short time later. I found Knox waiting for me in bed with just the soft glow of his bedside lamp to guide my way. I crawled into bed beside a man who owned my heart and made me dizzy with desire, yet offered me so little in return. Maybe this was some type of self-punishment I was putting myself through. Wouldn’t Brian be the easier choice? He’d love me unconditionally and without all this worry that kept my stomach in knots. But maybe that was just it. Anything worth having wasn’t going to come easily. I knew without a shadow of a doubt I’d fallen in love with Knox, and I hoped me heading home to Indiana would give him some time to think about what he wanted.
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