She was breathing hard as if she’d just run a race. I think the sappy love stories would say ‘I stole her breath away.’
“I told you not to touch me,” she panted.
“And yet here I am.”
She hadn’t realized I had taken the gun from her, flipped the safety on, and stuck it in my jeans. My hands itched to touch her, but I braced them against the wall again and watched her squirm under my gaze.
“I hate you.”
“You don’t hate me.” I lowered my lips to her neck and licked the spot where her pulse was beating faster than usual. “You hate that you can’t.”
“I should say the same to you.” I heard the angry bite in her voice and smiled.
“You’re right. I don’t hate you, Monroe. Not anymore. I’m obsessed with you,” I admitted.
“Why do I get the feeling that is much worse?” she whispered woefully. I lifted my head to meet her eyes, and I could see the question and the fear. “Why are you here, Keiran?”
“I told you I needed to see…”
“Me?” she whimpered.
“You needed to see if I was still afraid?”
She now had a faraway look in her eyes, and I experienced the unfamiliar, yet intense need to hold her and protect her from the world, but most of all from me.
I remember the first time I felt a similar need.
I had just come back from a summer at basketball camp. Instead of fun, it had been grueling and a waste. I got into countless fights, many of which I started and stayed pissed practically the entire time. It was the first time I’d been away from Monroe for so long. The school year began, and I saw her walking down the hall the first day of school. She looked so beautiful. She was different now, too. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but there was a more womanly quality about her. I had reached out to caress her face as if it were the most natural thing to do. It was her flinch that brought reality crashing down on my shoulders, and I quickly recovered by slapping her books out of her hand. I had to force my feet to keep moving and fight the urge to look back.
It wasn’t until I had her for the first time that I realized the petty shit I had done to her gave me only a false sense of satisfaction. Making her fear me was only half the battle. I needed to make her want me, too.
“Yes,” I lied. I didn’t give a damn about her fear anymore, but I would lie if I said I didn’t still want to control her.
“Well, then I’m sorry to disappoint you.”
“You didn’t.” I shrugged and moved away to sit on her bed. I needed the space just as much as she did. At this point, it wouldn’t take much for me to fuck her right there against the wall. It would be hard and unapologetic. I would make her want it, and then I would make her cry before leaving her like always.
“I’m not afraid of you anymore.”
“So you said.” The murderous glint in her eye, and then the way she stared down at her hand in shock as she finally realized her gun was gone, told me what she was thinking. “I took it from you while I kissed you, silly.”
“Give it back.”
“Why did you get a gun?” I didn’t try to hide my smugness. I wanted her to know I was aware of my effect on her.
“Do you really have to ask? Between you and your sick, crazy father, I felt it was more than necessary. When I think about what he did to Keenan, I—” She snapped her mouth closed and regarded me with a worried expression. “Have you gone to see him yet?” she whispered.
The change in subject took me by surprise but I hid it well. I even found myself nodding. “He’s awake now,” I volunteered.
“I know. Sheldon told me a few days ago. How is he?”
“He isn’t the same.” We stared at each other for long moments as she tried to interpret my meaning. The deep frown marring her forehead only deepened before suddenly clearing.
“Keiran, I have to know…” She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Why did you kill her? Before you said you didn’t believe she was innocent but there has to be more.”
“Why would you think there was more?”
“Because I don’t believe you kill for the hell of it.”
“You don’t know me beyond my cock, Monroe. Don’t pretend otherwise.”
“Even a closed book can tell a story.”
“Yeah, well, mine is no fairytale.”
“And your mother? What about her story?”
She’s still on that? Her persistence in learning more about Sophia’s death was something I could use to my advantage. “What are you willing to do for the answer?”
“You can have your answer if you give me something I want.”
“You. Tonight. Right here and now.”
“Not even if I promise to fuck you hard and long?” I almost grinned at the way she squirmed and the way her mouth dropped open. Her body had already said yes, but her mind had yet to catch up.
“You make such a compelling argument,” she quipped.
“You’re the one standing here as naked as the day you were born. You know how much I appreciate easy access.”
“Screw you. I don’t want the answers that bad.” She stomped over to her dresser and with angry, jerky movements, pulled out a pair of sweats and a shirt.