Cautious (Disastrous 2) - Page 44

“Marcus, I . . .” At a loss for words, she lightly shook her head, in an attempt to clear her mind. After she wet her lips, her eyes locked back on mine. “Can I think about it?”

Disappointed by her response, I forced a smile and gave a curt nod. “Of course. Let’s go to bed.”

“Okay.” She whispered as she climbed off my lap and reached her hand out to me. I took it, stood, and we made our way out of my office up the stairs and into my room. I lay in bed more confused than ever as to where she must have seen our relationship going.

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

MIA

As I lay on my side in bed with the white silk sheets tangled between my legs, wrapped around my torso, and nestled along my arms, I admired Marcus as he dressed for work that morning. I watched as the man before me stood in front of a long mirror with an unreadable expression, yet I knew he was broken in more ways than one.

He was a man with two lives: one that he wanted no part of and another he desperately tried to keep successful. Any man that had to survive the turmoil and struggles that Marcus had in life was usually twice his age. He was a man with many flaws, which haunted his very existence—a man who had held so much hatred in life. Yet, when he loved? It was strong. It was hard. It was passionate. It was without control. And at the end of the day, all this man wanted was me.

Marcus caught me staring as his eyes locked with mine in the reflection of the mirror. A soft smile crept along his lips. “You have to go to school soon. Do you still want to have breakfast? I can drive you to campus, and we can stop by the café shop.”

“Why can’t we just stay in and lie here all day.”

A soft chuckled escaped from him as he buttoned the last button of his shirt and tugged the tail of the fabric into his pants. “As much as I would love to, I have this deposition that I promised Peirce I would handle, and you have school.”

I let out a pathetic whimper, and knowing that he was right, I stretched and stood up out of the bed. I made my way over to him, pressed my body against his back, and wrapped my arms around him. He grabbed my hand and lifted it, grazing my knuckles along his lips. Then he placed my hand back on his chest as he reached for his tie. “Let me.” I asked as I took the silk fabric from his hand. He turned around and looked down at me.

Smiling, I popped his collar up and wrapped the tie around his neck. I felt him staring down at me as I slowly tied a knot, remembering how I did it for my brother. Michael was terrible at tying one. He’d rather put on a clip tie than knot one himself. I softly giggled at the memory, and Marcus gently tilted his head aside. His brown eyes exuded curiosity and humor, and his lopsided grin showed off that adorable dimple I loved so much. He didn’t ask what made me laugh; he just continued to watch me.

After I finished knotting the tie and securing it perfectly, I folded down the collar of his shirt. I took a few steps back to admire my masterpiece, and with a big smile, I rocked on my heels and placed my hands behind my back. “All done.”

Marcus stood there with a small smile on his lips as his eyes intently focused on mine. Not taking a look in the mirror, he took two steps toward me and gently pressed his lips along my forehead. “Perfect.”

“You didn’t even take a look.” I glanced up at him through my lashes.

He smiled. “I meant you.”

With an arched brow, I cocked my head. “Good one. You know you don’t have to try so hard with the lines. You’ll always get laid.”

His laugh surrounded the room. “Yeah, yeah, I’ll be downstairs, waiting.”

Smiling, I turned on my heels and headed toward the bathroom.

***

“Have you given much thought to what I asked you last night?” Marcus took a bite of his breakfast sandwich. He quickly glanced up from across the small bistro table for two.

“You mean what you asked at two this morning? Which was only a few hours ago? No, I haven’t.” I teased.

“Well, tell me your thoughts. Why is it such a difficult decision to make?”

With a sigh, I placed my coffee down and focused on him. “Marcus, I’m not sure what it is. On one hand, I really do want to live with you, but then I feel as if something is holding me back. My thoughts keep pulling against each other in a tug of war. I just need time.” I lightly shrugged. I wasn’t sure why I was having this constant battle between what my heart desired and what my brain advised.

It broke my heart when I saw the same disappointment in Marcus’s eyes as I had witnessed a few hours ago. I wanted to jump right on it and say yes. We’d both grown so much, and I knew Marcus was trying hard, but he was still involved with Lou and that criminal lifestyle. As much as I’d tried to put that fact aside, it was something I wanted him to quit. I hadn’t told him that because I knew that it would be a major stress and burden to him. Yes, I’d accepted his flaws, but when I thought about having a future with Marcus and starting a family with him, I immediately thought of our children. Marcus became involved in the underground criminal lifestyle because he grew up surrounded by it. Could I live with myself if I allowed my children to grow up in the same environment? I knew I couldn’t, because it wasn’t a life I knew until I met him.

Maybe I was thinking too far ahead, but I couldn’t help it. After what we’d been through in such a short period of time, I wanted to feel secure about our future. Until then, I had to deal with the constant battle between what I felt was right and what I knew was right.

Marcus simply nodded. “I understand.”

He didn’t push the issue any further as we continued with our breakfast. After we were finished, he dropped me off at school and drove off to work. With a deep sigh, I prepared for the day ahead.

***

In an empty classroom, I stood before my professor’s desk with a shocked expression. His brow lifted, waiting for my response. My stomach knotted as nausea shot through me. “Well, Ms. Sullivan, do you have an explanation?”

“No. I didn’t realize I wasn’t doing well. I-I . . .” Oh my God, what was I going to do? I couldn’t fail this class. My low score on my last exam was threatening my GPA. I swallowed back the lumps that formed in my throat. “What can I do to ensure that I don’t fail the class?”

With a smug look, he scribbled something down on a note pad and tore the paper from the binder before handing it to me. I quickly looked at what he gave me. “That’s a tutor you can contact. She’s really good and could possibly have you back on track before the semester is over. You need to pass the next two exams and the final in order to move forward. I must say, Ms. Sullivan, I’m very disappointed in your lack of dedication. You have to work harder if you want to maintain your GPA.”

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