Better When He's Bad (Welcome to the Point 1) - Page 28

“Don’t be a pain in the ass.”

He stroked his hand all the way along my spine and I let my eyes drift closed. What on earth was I supposed to do now?

RACE AND BAX MIGHT have grown up together, but they were as opposite as day and night. And not just because my older brother came from a privileged background, and Bax was oh-so-obviously from the streets. It went beyond their light and dark looks as well. I woke up early again, mostly because I was surrounded by brawny, half-naked Bax and he had his hands tangled painfully in my hair. Even in sleep it was like he was struggling, fighting some unseen enemy, and that made my heart hurt for him. Race slept like a baby. He sprawled out, snored, and wouldn’t wake up if a bomb went off next to his head.

Grocery shopping with Bax was like a full-contact sport. He blazed through the aisles, throwing things in the cart at random with no idea or rhyme or reason as to what they went with or what they could make as a meal. He clearly had a sweet tooth because there was more candy in the basket than any grown man could possibly consume. Race made a list, broke it down in meals, and avoided the aisles that didn’t have the stuff he wanted in them. Not to mention the other shoppers. Bax ignored them, or glowered at them if they stopped to look at him too long. He was the one who had tattooed his face; I would’ve thought he would be used to it. It didn’t help matters that without his hoodie, there was no missing the smear of red high along his side on the fabric of his gray Henley he had pulled out of the back of the Runner. Race was affable. Liked to chat and flirted shamelessly with any old lady or teenage girl we went past. I was having a hard time figuring out how the two of them managed to have any kind of friendship, let alone a brotherhood that Bax had been willing to go to jail to protect.

I pulled up short when I realized we were in the pharmacy aisle and he was looking at me with a raised eyebrow. There were giant boxes of condoms in front of him and he was waiting for me to decide what I wanted to do about it. All I could do was stare at him. If he didn’t seem to be two different men, it would be easier. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the brute that bossed me around and tried to intimidate me, but the guy who held me at night and brushed my hair softly off my face I kind of had a major crush on. It sucked that they both inhabited the same battle-hardened, impossible-to-ignore body.

I sighed. “Just get them. Better safe than sorry.”

He laughed at me and then made a face and put a hand on his side. I had refused to use the superglue on his cut, but now I wondered if that was a good idea. The wound was still oozing blood and it obviously hurt him when he moved wrong. He tossed not one, but two boxes in the cart and wheeled around so we could go check out.

“I still think you should go see a doctor and get stitches. You were stabbed.”

He looked down at me. “I was sliced, not stabbed; big difference. It’ll be fine. That was a sharp-ass knife, it was a clean cut.”

I noticed a woman next to us in line giving him the once-over. He just seemed to have that kind of draw to the opposite sex. I rolled my eyes.

“How did Nassir know you were going to win? I told you he handed me that money before that big guy slammed you into the ground.”

He gave me a sharp look and then noticed the other woman checking him out. Where my brother would have smiled at her, maybe offered her a little wink or something, Bax just stared at her until she had no choice but to look away.

“I had to win because you were there.”

I handed him stuff as he tossed it on the belt. “What does that have to do with anything?”

“You fight until one guy is down, like out, unconscious or dead. If I lost, then you would be in that club and Nassir would have served you up to the wolves. Benny, Novak, whoever he thought he could hand you over to, and get the most out of it. He knew I wouldn’t lose.”

I just looked at him like he had suddenly sprouted horns.

“That other guy had a knife. He could’ve won.”

“But he didn’t.”

I growled a little, which made him smirk at me. “I knew I should’ve ignored that text. How would Novak even get ahold of my number to set you up like that?”

He lifted a shoulder and handed a bunch of bills over to the cashier.

“Criminals always seem to have the information they need. Come on, we need to stop somewhere so I can grab a new hoodie and some T-shirts.” He rolled his gaze over me and a grin kicked up the side of his mouth. “You should let me buy you some pants that actually fit.”

I wanted him to keep his mind out of my pants altogether. I helped him haul all our stuff to the car.

“Where have you been staying? I mean, you have nothing at your mom’s house, and even if you’ve been bouncing from bed to bed in the weeks you’ve been out, you have to have someplace to land eventually.”

He looked at me over the trunk as he slammed it closed. “I have a place I keep in the Point. A crash pad where all my crap is at. I haven’t really been in a different bed every night. I tend to stick with tried and true.”

I gave him a chilly look as he pulled open the door for me to slide in. “I don’t think that makes it any better.”

He just shrugged again and closed the door. “A guy has needs, but so does a girl. She just needs the right person to make her hot enough to ask for them to be met.”

He wasn’t an overly talkative guy, which was a good thing. When he put his mind to it, he could spin words in a way that was hard to argue with.

“I’ve never met a guy I wanted to ask.” I muttered it under my breath, hoping he might not hear me. Of course he did, though, and just laughed at me.

“That’s because you haven’t figured out what it is you need yet. You will, though.”

I looked out the window and openly sulked as he drove us to a small outlet mall halfway between the heart of downtown and the street where the bungalow was located. I was going to be stubborn and sit in the car while he went in and got what he needed, but I should have figured out by now that Bax got what Bax wanted because he bodily lifted me out of the passenger seat and pinned me to the side of the car. I was pouting and he was laughing down at me.

“You can have as big of a fit as you want, Copper-Top. I think you’re cute when you pout.” He put his thumb on the center of my bottom lip and pressed down. I snapped at him with my teeth and then forgot my name because he bent his head down and kissed me.

His lip was still split on the bottom, so there was a weird scrape of raw skin mixed with the soft press of his mouth against mine. He forced his tongue in to tangle with my own, and unbidden, my arms ended up wrapped around his neck while he pressed into me. His teeth worried along the curve of my lower lip, and my heart started pounding with the press and retreat of his mouth. This was mimicked by the slight press of his lean hips where they were pressed against my own. I gasped and he took full advantage by pressing farther into me and twisting his tongue even farther with my own. Kisses shouldn’t make you want to crawl inside the other person, but oh man, his sure did.

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