The door closed a little harder than I had intended. “You don’t know that.”
“Now you’re defending him?”
“No. I just—” I stopped to consider my words. Keiran nearly broke our friendship before. I wasn’t about to let him have a second go at it. “I don’t want an innocent man to go to prison. What if Sheldon is right?”
“You were there the night of the fair. How wouldn’t he be guilty?”
“Yes, but so were Dash and Keenan. They actually kidnapped them. Do you think they killed them, too?”
I was harsher than I had to be. Her face tightened with anger and then uncertainty. I realized that I sounded like Keiran when he played mind games. I didn’t want to be him. Least of all to Willow. I needed to save my aggression for the person who deserved it.
“Willow, I’m sorry…” She stared down at the floor and took a deep breath.
“No, you’re right. If Keiran is guilty, then so are they.” Her eyes shined with the sheen of tears as she backed toward the door.
“Willow, wait, please,” I pleaded, but it fell on deaf ears as the front door opened and closed with her departure. “Shit!” My fingers gripped my hair in frustration.
I thought to go after her and apologize but knew she needed time. Willow wasn’t someone you pushed when she was hurt and angry. I knew how much she loved Dash despite her claims and wrongfully convincing her that he was guilty of a brutal murder wasn’t something a best friend would do.
The sound of running water could be heard from upstairs. I remembered the running bath water. I was no longer in the mood for it but now needed more than ever.
I ran up the stairs, silently hoping the tub hadn’t overflowed. When I made it to the bathroom, I dashed for the knob to shut off the running water only a few inches from spilling over and then let some of the water drain from the tub before plugging it again.
I stood up and began lifting the hem of my shirt when the sound of the doorbell ringing for the second time tonight stopped me. My feet swiftly carried me out of the bathroom and into the hall.
I was living one bad cliché after the other. Just when would this hellish nightmare end? For the second time tonight, I was standing in front of my front door with sweaty palms.
This was it.
I could do this.
He was just one guy.
But he wasn’t just a guy. He was someone who was unafraid to draw out a person’s weaknesses and to use them against them. He was a guy who could make me feel things I never knew anyone could feel. He wasn’t just a guy… but I wasn’t just a girl, either.
I turned the knob and opened the door to the past ten years. It was waiting for me on the other side with hooded eyes and an imperceptible expression, just as I knew he would be. We stood there gazing at each other, completely lost.
“I would say I’m surprised to see you, but you’re a lot more predictable than you think,” I said, breaking the ice that started to form from his cold gaze alone.
“So you were waiting for me?” His eyes trailed me leisurely as a small smile teased the corner of his lips. “I got to say, you’re a little overdressed for the occasion.”
“Actually, I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just about to bathe. What are you doing here, Masters,” I asked, taking a page out of his book and calling him by his last name. “You aren’t supposed to come near me.”
“Did you really expect me to stay away after you turned me in and accused me of murder?”
I took a deep breath and gripped the door tighter for support. “In case you missed it—that was your only warning.”
His eyes darkened as an indescribable expression clouded his features. I didn’t see his hand move. My grip on the door loosened as he pried my fingers from the hardwood one by one. “It requires a little bite with your bark to get your point across. You don’t confront the monster hiding in the shadows or under your bed without first getting rid of the fear in your eyes. Wasn’t it you who said you preferred a person’s eyes over their words because they told the real truth?” His mocking grin, as he quoted something from my journal, spiked my temperature, creating a heated flush over my skin.
“Give me back my journal. You had no right to read it and no right to take it.” I hadn’t realized until after I turned Keiran in and had gone home to cry my heart into the pages, it was missing. I knew there could only be one culprit. It was then I realized a photo of me was also missing from the desk, but why would he take them?
He walked into my home as if he owned the place and closed the door, locking us both in. Without invitation, he moved further into the house and disappeared into the living room. I stomped after him like a two-year-old and saw he had made himself comfortable on the couch.
“So what could you have possibly said to send your best friend away crying? Your track record is amazing. Some might say you’re a terrible friend.”
“Go to hell.”
“Is this the part when I say, ‘I’ve been there’?”
“This is the part when you get the hell out of my house.”
“And miss the chance to watch you bathe? Matter of fact, I think I’ll join you.”
The chance at a witty comeback or scathing remark passed me by when he crossed his arms and lifted his shirt over his head. I was stuck in a state of drooling and muscle clenching as my pussy salivated over the exposed muscles of his abdomen and chest and those arms…