My parents hadn’t bothered to reach out to me since I let them know I bought back their land for them, and even then, other than to let me know that they weren’t coming back to the lower forty-eight. Harrison and I used to be close, but when he left and my parents followed, I lumped them all into the category of what was. I never gave my little brother the benefit of the doubt. He might not know about my marriage ending, but I didn’t have a single clue what he was up to, and how his life was going either. I felt like my folks abandoned me, but I’d never done anything to bridge the gap as I got older and maybe not so wiser.
If Lottie had been impressed, maybe she wouldn’t have cheated or been so callous about how she treated the life we built together. I’d wanted to give her everything, and had tried, but there was always more, so I knew that no matter how much I worked or spent I was never going to have her look at me like I had done a good job. To her, I was always going to be the kid from nothing, doing his best to hold on to the girl that was out of his league.
There was Orsen and the guys at the firm. I worked my ass off, took cases other lawyers were scared of, and I won far more often than I lost. I made them money. I fit the mold that was set out for me to crawl right into when I was hired, and I did it all with determination and my eyes set firmly on the big picture. But the reality of the situation was that no matter how nice my home was or how expensive my suits were, they still hadn’t made me a partner, and I had more than earned the right to have my name on the sign. I don’t know if it was because I didn’t have an Ivy League law degree like the rest of the partners did, or if it was because my messy divorce had made the news, or if it was simply that they knew underneath the veneer I was a guy playing at being civilized and refined. I wondered if those jagged edges that were so apparent here in the wild and with this girl were blatantly obvious to people that hadn’t been born with them. I wondered if who I had been born to be was keeping me from being the man I was so sure I wanted to be.
After waking up with dawn in my face and pink hair tangled in my hands, I woke Avett up by kissing her, and touching her, and warming her up in front of the fire. I hated that I had to take her back to a place that wasn’t safe and hated even more that I was going to have to put her into the hands of other men to keep her protected and out of the trouble that so effortlessly found her. I could tell she was nervous when we stopped for a late lunch, and I tried to reassure her that once her ex went to trial and saw that his lawyer had a bigger interest than his at play, Jared would do whatever he could to cover his own ass. I had a feeling his first night in jail without Acosta’s protection would have him singing a new tune.
She nodded, but I could tell she was still worried about what came next and it made my heart throb because I was worried, too. My job was typically to put guys like Jared back on the streets. I never wanted the story and when the story was staring me right in the face, terrified and trying not to show it, I understood why I’d kept myself so separate from my clients. Emotion and personal attachment meant I couldn’t do the job I was hired to do. The reason I had been so off-kilter and unsteady with her from the beginning was because she had managed to tell me her story without words. It was in her eyes and in the way she sat there, locked up, devastated, and forlorn over her circumstances, knowing she was the one that had orchestrated her own downfall. She was never a client. She wasn’t a job or another victory I could put in my cap and tote around as I searched for validation that I shouldn’t need or want. She didn’t merely see past my personal façade to the man underneath; she had managed to slip under my professional one as well.
When we got back to the city I wanted to take her home with me, but she insisted that she should spend some time with her parents since they were all back under the same roof for the first time in too many years. I had to work early in the morning, and since I wasn’t at the office on Saturday, I knew I was going to be drowning in paperwork so I reluctantly agreed. I also didn’t miss the warning look that Brite sent me when I pulled up in front of the house with her on the back of the bike. To be fair, I wasn’t sure the glare was for the fact I had his daughter plastered to me and wrapped around me or the fact that my bike wasn’t American made. Either way, I nodded, acknowledging that he had his eyes on me, and lifted the dark visor off my face so I could stare at the tiny hurricane of a woman that had blown past all my defenses and turned my well-ordered and structured life upside down as she climbed down off her perch and moved to my side.
She leaned up on her toes and kissed me on the end of my nose and told me she would text me later.
I went back to my sterile and lifeless loft and took a scalding hot shower so I could get my head back where it needed to be before I went into work the next morning. It didn’t work. All I could see was eyes with every single color of the woods we had left. All I could feel was soft skin and silky hair moving across my body. I brushed my teeth before getting in the shower but all I tasted was sweet chased by wild. Every single one of my senses had been corrupted by her, and by the time I shut the water off and climbed naked into bed I knew I was in for a restless night of sleep. My dick was hard and my brain was scrambled. It made for a particularly uncomfortable and annoying situation.
I had the lights off and was scrolling through emails for the morning on my phone when a message from Avett popped up. I was expecting a good-night text or a see-you-tomorrow text. What I got was:
I miss your dick. I wanted to send you that text after the first time you kissed me, but I refrained.
I blinked at the glowing screen and then read and reread the message to make sure what I was seeing was accurate. No one sent me messages like that … no one except for Avett Walker. Sexting wasn’t something I had much practice with and, frankly, wasn’t sure I was any good at, but I was game to try.
It misses you, too.
Is it hard for me?
I looked at the dark sheet that was tented in front of me and let out a snort, suddenly glad I hadn’t taken care of the discomfort the thoughts of her created while I was in the shower.
I want it in my mouth, or in my hands. Not picky. Where do you want it, Quaid?
I groaned into the darkened room and looked at the glittering lights of the city as they watched me wrap my fist around my now throbbing dick like curious voyeurs. I could feel my blood pumping under my fingers and tension coiling at the base of my spine.