“That . . .” My voice sounded like I was gargling with acid. “That is the finish line.”
She snorted out a cute little laugh and opened her mouth to reply when a phone trilled from somewhere on the floor. I sighed and pulled out of her. I situated myself as best as I could and reached down to the pile of discarded clothes. I handed her my shirt and dug around until I found her phone. She hopped off the counter and picked her way around the carnage of the groceries on the floor. I made my way to the bathroom to situate my junk and to look at my seriously throbbing side.
The cut looked like it was seeping and oozing, but there was a decent crust of a scab starting to build up on the edges of it. Since Dovie wouldn’t help, I popped the lid off one of the tubes of superglue and slimed the burning liquid over the nasty cut myself. It felt like pouring boiling oil on my skin, but the blood stopped as soon as the clear liquid started to dry. I was probably going to end up with a raging infection and it wouldn’t be gangsters or my life of crime that ended up doing me in. It would be gangrene.
I was washing my hands and throwing the wreckage of the bandage in the trash when she propped herself up in the doorway. My shirt covered most of her up, but it was hard to look away from those legs when I knew she was naked underneath.
“That was the group home I work at. One of the other monitors got sick and they need me to cover. I usually only stay every other weekend, but they need me to stay over tonight and tomorrow.”
That meant I wouldn’t see her until sometime Monday. Why that made me annoyed I didn’t know. I nodded at her and ran my hands roughly over my short hair.
“All right. Give me a minute to clean up the kitchen and I’ll take you. Like I said, I bought you some stuff to get by for a few days, so you can grab that and get ready.”
She gave me a look that I swore was colored with disappointment, but then she just nodded and turned on her heel.
“Cool. I’ll help you clean up.”
I watched her walk away. Somewhere in the part of my chest that I had long thought was an empty and hollow cavern, I felt a twist and a wrenching feeling that her walking away was something that I needed to get good with her doing . . . more for her sake than my own.
I DON’T KNOW WHAT I had been doing with Billy Clark all those years ago or with that loser from the restaurant, but it hadn’t been anywhere near the same level of what I had just done with Bax. I knew that sex was just a thing to him, a way to find instant gratification, a way to intimidate and control, but to me it was something different. I felt like I had a part of him inside me, burning, twisting, and throbbing in time with my heartbeat. I could feel the heavy weight of his dark gaze as he watched me out of the corner of his eye as he sped through town toward the group home. I didn’t know if he was waiting for me to freak out, demand an apology, or something else dramatic and probably more appropriate, but he was going to be out of luck, because all I really wanted to do was be back on the counter with all his intensity and focus centered on me. He was scary hot, and having him that close, being that intimate with him, was terrifyingly encompassing.
When he was nice . . . well, as nice as a guy like him could be, it was unnerving and I wasn’t sure what to do with him. When he was unhinged, angry, and all silent and broody, that’s when I knew to watch my step, keep my guard up, and prepare to do battle with him. I wasn’t sure what this new development between us meant, but I did know I had never felt as worshiped, as appreciated, as I had after he was done with me. I wasn’t anything particularly special in the looks department, but after that interlude on the counter with his midnight eyes picking me apart and putting me back together, I felt like the most beautiful girl in the world. Or at least in the Point.
I tucked a strand of hair behind my ear and fiddled with the long ends of the sleeves of his shirt I still had on, bloodstains and all. I couldn’t explain why I didn’t want to give it up, but luckily, he hadn’t asked for it back.
These were the first words spoken since we got in the car.
I nodded absently. “Yeah. I stay tonight, work the entire day tomorrow, and stay tomorrow night. I love it. Those kids were all me at one point in time. I really want to get a degree in counseling so I can help kids like us, kids that had shitty parents, a crap upbringing, transition into foster care and adoptive homes. More often than not, they think they have all the answers and are unwilling to adapt. That’s the curse of the streets, I guess. Kids grow up too fast.”
He just grunted, but from the limited info I got from him so far, I knew it was true in his case as well. No kid just woke up one morning and decided they were going to be a car thief because it sounded fun.
“So your brother—” I was cut off when he turned to look at me with narrowed eyes.
“Uh . . . half brother . . . he doesn’t help you with your mom at all? Does he know about the house?”
I saw his jaw clench and a muscle start to tick. Too bad. He had seen me naked—been inside me—and that, at the very least, entitled me to a few hard questions.
“Titus has always been very rigid, very black and white on what equals good and bad. His dad was a major drug supplier, he got locked up when Titus was just a little kid. He never got over it. He wanted the perfect family, mom and dad who loved each other, no addictions, no troubles, and when he couldn’t get that in the Point, he wrote us off and found a new family. He doesn’t care about Mom because she doesn’t care about herself. And with me”—he sliced me a look that made me shiver—“he proved how much being my brother meant when he hauled me in.”
I cleared my throat and turned my attention back to the windshield. “It’s not like he had a choice. You’re a criminal, he’s a cop.”
“There’s always a choice, Copper-Top. Sometimes it takes balls to make the wrong one and deal with the fallout, but there is always a choice.”
I didn’t have an answer for that, so I just twirled a curl loosely around my finger and rode in silence until the house came into view. It was right in the center of the Point, run-down, bars on the windows, a sad-looking playground set out front. It didn’t look like much, but the love that was on the inside made it the most beautiful place I had ever been in my life. I turned to tell him thanks for the ride, to ask when I would hear from him, but he was out of the car and pulling my door open before I could.