I blinked as he offered me a hand and pulled me to my feet. I saw all the curious faces of the kids inside filling the dirty windows, but it didn’t matter. When he bent his head and sealed his mouth over mine, I drifted into him and let him take what he wanted. It was getting to be a dangerous habit, one that, if I didn’t get a handle on it, was going to leave me with nothing left of myself. He rubbed his tongue along the curve of my bottom lip and lifted his head, leaving me breathless and dazed.
“I’ll come get you Monday.”
I started to nod absently as he handed me the small bag that had my meager belongings in it. I shook my head to clear the haze of desire he kicked up just by being close, and put a hand on his forearm.
He lifted a dark eyebrow at me.
“I mean, I have school Monday night. I don’t get out of class until ten.”
He didn’t like that. I could tell by the downturn of his mouth and the way the shadows moved in his eyes. He shook off my hand and pulled the hood of his sweatshirt up around his face. I decided I hated it when he did that. It was like he was pulling armor into place and there was no Shane, only Bax.
“Call me when you get around to it, I guess.”
Something cold shafted down my spine and I bit my lip as he worked his way back to his side of the car. I tilted my head to the side.
He paused before climbing back into the car and looked at me. All I could see was my nervous and unsure face reflected back at me out of those dark orbs.
“No Roxie or Honor this weekend, promise?”
It was a question, because really, what did I expect from him? It wasn’t like he was some kind of paragon of virtue and honesty. We stared at each other over the roof of the car for a long moment before he dipped his chin down.
I gulped a little and nodded as I stepped up on the curb as he blazed away from me. I let out a pent-up breath and wondered if I would survive dealing with him long enough to find Race. It was like handling a grenade with a loose pin. I wanted to zig and every time I did, he managed to zag. It was exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.
When I pushed through the front door, I was immediately surrounded by little bodies. The teenagers were too cool to show any outward excitement that I was there, but I could see the questions brimming in their eyes. Bax was hard to miss, and it was well known I didn’t date or make time for a love life, so I’m sure everyone wanted to know who he was and why I had arrived to work in his badass car when I typically took the bus in.
I maneuvered my way through the bodies and the barrage of questions to get to the kitchen, where Reeve Black was working on making the kids dinner. There were a total of twelve of them, ranging in ages five to sixteen, so it was no simple task, and she looked harried.
“Need a hand?” She jumped a little at the sound of my voice.
“Oh, thank God you’re here. Lindsey and Blake were helping but then everyone bolted because of someone at the front of the house. All I heard was ‘sweet ride’ and ‘hot guy’ . . . blah blah blah, you know how teenagers are.”
Reeve was a few years older than me. I didn’t know her whole story, but I think the bones of it were similar to mine. I didn’t know why she was as devoted to these kids as she was, but she was the heart and soul of this house. She also looked like she could make a fortune being a bikini model or some rich guy’s mistress, so I always wondered what she was doing slumming it with the rest of us average folks, but I never felt like it was my place to ask. Frankly she intimidated me with her long black hair and unwavering cobalt gaze. I think she saw more than she ever let on, and all I wanted to do was hide, so I tried to keep things between us totally professional.
“I got a ride in to work today. He does have a sweet ride and he is wicked hot in a very dangerous kind of way. They were right.” I put my stuff on the long dining table and started to roll up the sleeves of my confiscated shirt. “Put me to work. What do you need me to do?”
She handed me a pile of potatoes and told me to get peeling and scrubbing.
“I didn’t know you were seeing anyone.”
She said it casually, but I heard the question in her voice.
“I’m not. He’s a friend of Race’s. We’re both just worried about him and want to find him.”
“Oh. You never mentioned being close with any of your brother’s friends before.”
I never mentioned much of anything before, so I looked at her curiously. “I’m not. Bax is different. He and Race grew up together. He might be the only one who can get him out of this trouble he seems to have cooked up for himself.”
I jumped and looked up as the ladle she was stirring the sauce with clattered to the floor. I frowned and tossed her a towel.
She muttered something under her breath and bent down to clean up the mess she had just made.
“Shane Baxter? You’re running around with Shane Baxter?”
I cocked my head in surprise and just continued to look at her. “‘Running around’ isn’t exactly what I would call it, but yeah, Bax and Race go way back. Why? Do you know him?”
She swore under her breath and moved off to the fridge, when a couple of the kids wandered in looking for juice. I thought maybe she was going to drop it when she walked over to the sink and took me by my shoulders so I was facing her. Her blue eyes were intent and so serious, I suddenly had a hard time swallowing.
“I know where you lived before here was no picnic, that you understand how places like the Point run, but at heart you are a good girl, a really sweet young woman with goals and aspirations that I admire. Do not”—she gave me a little shake that had my teeth rattling together—“let a guy that is poison like Shane Baxter anywhere near you. He will destroy anything and everything you have ever loved and will enjoy every second of it.”
I couldn’t formulate a response to that. Besides, it was already too late. If he was poison, I was beyond infected with it.
“What did he do to you, Reeve?”
She shook her dark head.
“Nothing, I don’t even know him, but I know of him, and I think that’s worse. His reputation is awful, Dovie. He steals, he fights, he hurts people, and everyone knows the only reason he didn’t get busted for murder was because his brother is a cop. Come on, Dovie, you really think Race is hiding from Novak? Isn’t it more likely he’s hiding from the guy he helped put away? Shane Baxter is bad news, and all you’re asking for hanging out with him is trouble with a capital T.”