Bash had reluctantly given me the address of Willa’s old house. He’d wanted to give Willa a few days to get her head straight, but I knew that if she had too much time to overthink the situation she would start imagining all kinds of stupid shit. Stuff that would be so far from the truth she would never believe me when I explained everything.
The first door I came to upstairs was a room that had been painted pink with a gray boarder. There was a toddler bed against one wall, telling me this had been Lexa’s room. Bash had told me that Willa was selling her mother’s house, with nearly all the furnishings included since there was no need for them back in Creswell Springs. The next two rooms showed me a half bathroom and what must have been Bash’s room while he had been living here. It had been a small room, with just a bed and a few odds and ends, but it showed me that he had indeed had his own room.
The next door was the last one and it was also a good distance away from the other two bedrooms. Opening it quietly, my breath caught in my lungs as I found Willa spread out across the top of the comforter of the queen-sized bed. She had her head pillowed on her arm and she had one shoe on while the other was on the floor beside the bed. Her jeans were unbuttoned but still on and her shirt had ridden up her back showing off that alabaster skin I loved to lick and taste.
It was her face, the dark circles under those long lashed eyes, and the tear stains on her cheeks that made me want to beat my head against the closest wall. Making her cry was the last thing I wanted to do. I was such a fuck up when it came to her and our relationship.
Jaw clenched, I sat on the edge of the bed and took off her remaining shoe before tugging of
f her jeans so that she could sleep more comfortably. Then I picked her up and pulled the covers back before tucking her in. I ached to lie down beside her then and there but I was a mess. A shower was in order before I could sleep. I didn’t want her to wake up and find me smelling of smoke and cheap perfume from Paradise City as well as blood and sweat from where I’d pummeled some college boy from trying to rape one of the girls who worked at the club.
By the time I returned from the connecting bathroom, I could barely keep my eyes open. I climbed into bed beside Willa and pulled her close, my eyes already closing from exhaustion as I fell into a deep, dreamless sleep…
The slap across my face had my eyes snapping open. A very awake, very angry Willa leaned over me. The glare on her face mixed with the hurt in her storm-cloud gray eyes hurt me more than the sting of her slap. I touched a hand to my cheek, letting her have her five seconds of redemption. She knew I wasn’t going to hit her back. I’d cut my own hand off before raising it to her.
“I don’t want you here,” she yelled as she got to her feet and turned to look down at me. “Get your clothes on and get out.”
“I’ll leave after we talk,” I told her as I sat up, pulling the comforter and sheets up to my waist. It wouldn’t earn me any points to show off my hard-on while she yelled at me. I didn’t want to leave here without her, but if that was what she wanted after I told her the truth, then it was what I was going to give her. That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to keep pushing when she got back to Creswell Springs, though. I was ready to fight as long and as dirty as I needed to get her back.
“There isn’t anything to talk about. You’ve had the chick who you cheated on me with working for you for three years, didn’t bother to tell me, and I don’t like it. End of conversation.”
“I didn’t cheat on you.” My voice was quiet as I sat there following her with my eyes. She was pacing back and forth now, but at my confession she stopped and her whole face changed. Angry tears leaked from her eyes and her nose scrunched up as she prepared to blast me with her wrath. Or, as Raven would have called it—ugly cry. I hoped she didn’t cry.
“Liar!” she screamed. “You fucking liar. I walked in and saw it all. You had two girls—two fucking girls, Spider!—laid out with you naked as the day they were born.”
“You saw what you were supposed to see, baby.” I tried to keep my voice calm, but my anger over the whole episode even years later was enough to ignite my rage all over again. The night I’d learned the truth was the night I’d come the closest to ever hitting a female in my life. “Your bat-shit crazy sister set me up. That night she knew that we had something going on between us. Knew that my feelings for you were a lot deeper than just someone I talked to in passing. You saw her try to work her way into my bed that night. It was why you ran back to your room in the first place.”
“Don’t try to turn this around. I know what I saw.” But some of the anger seemed to leave her face to be replaced with confusion. “You were asleep with two girls…”
“I was passed out. I’d drunk nearly a whole bottle of tequila because I didn’t want to face saying goodbye to you the next morning. I wanted to ask you to come to Creswell Springs with me. Or let me go back to Seattle with you. Damn it, Willa, I loved you and I was about to turn nomad for you. Would have turned my back on my MC, my friends and family. I would have let that all go so that I could be with you.” I would do it now if that was what it took. Anything that would make her see what she meant to me, I would do it without hesitation.
“How do you know Tasha set you up?” she demanded, her chin trembling. I breathed a little easier as I saw something akin to hope in her gray eyes. Things might turn out okay for us after all.
“Topaz confessed the night she showed up at Paradise City. She hadn’t wanted to do it in the first place, but Tasha was scary as hell when it came to forcing people to do what she wanted.” I grimaced, remembering the shape Topaz had been in the night she had shown up in need of a safe place to heal and asking for a job. Tasha had worked her over really good, and Topaz would always have a few scars to remember Tasha Blackstone for. “Tasha had Topaz and some other sheep climb into bed with me, knowing that you would find them there. I was so drunk that I thought I blacked out and cheated on you, when all I did was fall asleep.”
Willa bit her lip and sat down in the rocking chair beside the bed. Her fingers were trembling as she ran them over her face. “Why didn’t you tell me sooner?”
For over a year I had thought I had done the unforgiveable. It had haunted me and I’d thought I was unworthy of Willa because of it. As soon as I had found out the truth I should have been on the road to her, to get my female back. It was the biggest regret of my life that I hadn’t. “I didn’t know how to tell you. I had heard through a few people that you were having a hard time taking care of your mom. I was scared that you wouldn’t believe me and that seeing me would only stress you out more. When you showed up in Creswell Springs I was pissed off at first. You had been living with Bash for over a year so of course I’d thought the same thing Raven did. That you and my best friend wouldn’t have been able to live together that long and not hook up.”
Her glare returned. “Bash has only ever been a friend. He’s like a brother to me. Of course we got close while we lived here, but that was only because of Lexa. We both grew up fast when we had to learn to take care of a defenseless little baby. Plus he was hung up over Raven. He talked about her every day, and I saw how much he loved her.” She shook her head and looked away, her cheeks filling with pink. “Taking our friendship further had never even crossed my mind because all I could think about was you.”
“Good.” The thought that she couldn’t get me out of her head gave me hope. Maybe she had loved me just as long as I had loved her. I knew that her wanting to label our relationship as ‘just sex’ in the beginning had been her way of protecting herself. When she had agreed to make us something more I’d thought that she was learning to trust me.
Willa sighed and shook her head, but a small smile teased at her lips at my cocky reply. “You loved me four years ago?” Her voice was soft, as if she was shy.
“More than anything. Which was why I hated myself for so long after that night. I would have given up everything for you, Willa. Everything.”
A fresh batch of tears filled her eyes. “And now? Do you…love me now?”
“I never stopped.” The words came out huskier than I expected as my throat clogged with emotions I wasn’t used to feeling. I never thought that telling a female I loved her would affect me so much. Fuck, I never thought I would tell a female other than Raven that I loved her. It was kind of scary, but as soon as the words were out I felt lighter for some inexplicable reason.
“I never stopped.”
I felt as if I were still dreaming. Honestly, the dreams I’d been having before waking up to find Spider pressed against my back had been bizarre to say the least. The long drive through the night had been more than exhausting physically. Crying most of the way to Seattle had left me emotionally and mentally drained and I’d barely had time to use the bathroom before conking out on the bed that had once been my mother’s.