He kept the helmet under one arm and started across the street where the black car was still parked. I was riveted by the way he walked, confident and with obvious purpose. I was also mesmerized by the fact he had on dark jeans, which did wonders for his backside, and the leather jacket he had on seemed to fit him as well, and looked as expensive and designer as his fancy court duds. The man looked like a god in a suit. In jeans and the red-and-black leather jacket that matched the paint job on the motorcycle, he looked much more approachable, more accessible … to someone like me. He was still outrageously out of my league, but he seemed less rigid and formal in his after-hours gear.
The bike totally worked for him, too. It wasn’t at all like the mean and beastly American machines I had grown up around. That Italian bike was made to go fast and to look good while it zipped around corners and tore up the asphalt. It was elegant and sharp. It purred, instead of growled, and I wondered if the man that rode it did the same thing. I never would have pictured him as a bike kind of guy. He seemed too stiff and serious to be the type to get off on the rush of wind in his hair and the exhilaration of riding free. Most people considered street bikes a hundred times more dangerous than the big cruising bikes that my dad and his buddies rode. Quaid Jackson didn’t strike me as a risk taker; at least, he hadn’t until he’d shown up at my house in the middle of the night on that gorgeous monster of a machine.
He was halfway across the street, his gaze focused on the car, when the driver started the motor and peeled away from the curb. Quaid had to jump back to avoid getting run over as the car raced away, and he turned to watch it as it disappeared down the street, without turning the headlights on. He stared into the darkness for a long minute, then turned his tawny head in my direction. I wiggled my fingers in a tiny wave that made him scowl. He looked like an angry bird of prey stalking its next meal. It made my body throb and my heart pulse erratically against my ribs.
He turned on his heel and headed towards the front of the house, so I dropped the curtains one last time and raced down the stairs. I pulled open the front door just as his heavy boots hit the top step.
I was heated and flustered and didn’t bother to hide my reaction to him. He let his gaze sweep over me from head to toe, and I had a second of regret that my hair was in a messy topknot and that my overalls were not only two sizes too big, but also a holdover from my high school wardrobe. They were comfy and cute but they had definitely seen better days, and even with Quaid dressed in jeans and a formfitting black T-shirt, I still felt underdressed and seriously outclassed.
“Thank you for coming. I really wasn’t sure what I should do or if I should make a big deal out of it.” I stepped aside so he could come into the house and watched as his eyes skittered around the well-lived-in and homey interior. He made his way over to the worn couch and tossed the shiny helmet he still held under his arm onto it.
“Considering they took off and almost ran me over as soon as I got close enough to make out their faces and read the license plate on the car, I would say a big deal needs to be made out of it.” He turned and faced me, and I stopped being able to breathe as I saw the predatory look on his face. He didn’t look like a legal eagle at the moment. He looked like a normal eagle, ready to strike and devour. He was all golden and glorious, his obvious anger and concern making him a thousand times hotter than he normally was. The fact that the anger was on my behalf, that the concern was for my well-being, made me tingle in places I didn’t know could tingle. Seriously, the guys that I had been into before Quaid Jackson weren’t the type that made a girl tingle, but everything about Quaid had me feeling things I’d never felt before. It was alarming and exhilarating at the same time.
His deep voice distracted me from my body’s warm reaction to his close proximity. “I would’ve taken a plate number down, but there wasn’t a license plate on the car. That means whoever they were, they don’t want to be found easily. I doubt it’s a coincidence. I’m going to call the detective in charge of the case against the boyfriend and see if he’ll get a patrol car to swing through the area periodically.”
I nodded absently and clasped my hands nervously together in front of me. “Ex-boyfriend.” I blurted it out automatically and saw his mouth tighten in response.
“Let your dad know what’s going on, Avett. I don’t like this. It doesn’t feel right. And with you involved in this case still …” He shook his head and some of his blond hair fell into his eyes. I wanted to reach up and push it off his forehead so badly that my fingers were twitching. “There is a lot of room for this to go bad on you.”
I nodded again, and moved my hands to my back pockets so that I wouldn’t reach for that wayward strand of hair and make a fool out of myself.
“I’ll tell him. Things with him and my mom …” I lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “They’re complicated and I don’t like to intrude on their time together.”
He frowned at me and I noticed his pale gaze was locked on the way my pose pushed my chest up and out. All I had on under the overalls was a cutoff wife-beater that rested well above my navel. In fact, if I turned to the side, there was a clear shot of the hot-pink hipster panties I had put on after my shower this morning. It was an awesome outfit for watching Netflix and eating Jimmy John’s while lounging around the house alone, not so much for trying to converse like a grown-up with a man that equally enticed and enraged me.
“They’re both your parents. I’m sure your mom would understand that your dad needs to be here if something suspicious is going on.”
Oh, she would understand, all right. She would understand that my dad was leaving her to rescue me, yet again, because I could never seem to do it myself and it would shove the wedge between us even farther apart.
I cleared my throat nervously. “She would understand, but my mom and I aren’t exactly on the best terms and we haven’t been for a while. I don’t need to give her any more reason to hate me.”
He blinked at me and lifted his hands to shove that rebellious piece of hair—I was obsessed—back in line with the rest of the golden strands. When he raised his arms, the hem of his T-shirt hiked up and I was treated to the visual of tight abs and a concave V that cut hard and ripped between his hips. The man was built, and picturing what he would look like out of his fancy duds and wrapped in nothing but his sheets got a whole lot easier. He was tall and lean with wide shoulders that tapered into a trim waist, and now that I knew he was rippling with ropy and taut muscle underneath his hands-off persona, I wanted nothing more than to be totally hands-on.