Capture Me Slowly(9)

By: Joya Ryan

No, not simple. Because staying away from him, like everybody else, was the best thing I could do. I was tainted by my past. Put those I loved in danger by association. Yet every night I thought of Rhys.

It was without thinking that I ran here tonight. Looking for him. Needing him.

Taking a page from his book, I tried to observe. His eyes were fiery. His whole body seemed relaxed, but there was a tension rolling off of him, his hands barely clenching into fists, as if trying to hold back from . . .

“You want me, don’t you?”

He frowned. “What? Where did that come from?”

“I was just noticing you, the way you seem to notice me. You think I’m breathing with fear? I think you’re breathing with lust.”

“Emma . . .” The way he said my name was a half warning, half dare. I heard it as clearly as the thumping pulse in my neck, speeding up with desire for this man.

“I don’t want to talk anymore, Rhys.” I just needed him. Needed to feel his skin against mine. Feel his lips again. “Like you said, I didn’t show up last time, but I’m here now.”

Rhys walked straight at me. Finally! No dating, no questions, just the closeness I was craving. A craving only he could satisfy. I scooted to the middle of the bed and leaned back on my forearms behind me. He bent at the waist, hovering over me, his mouth brushed my earlobe.

“Emma,” he whispered, “get some rest.”

With that, he pulled away, taking a pillow from the bed with him, grabbed his pack from beside the nightstand and marched out of the bedroom.

“Wait, what?” I shot up and scooted off the bed, following after him. “Are you kidding me?”

Rounding the corner, I entered the living area as Rhys dropped his pack, pulled a throw off the back of the couch and tossed the pillow down. “You can have the bed. Good night.”

“Good night?”

“Yes,” he snapped and faced me. “I’m not going to play this game. You distracted me the first time, but I know better now. Know that this is just a routine you pull.”

“I don’t pull any routine. You can’t assume — ”

“I can’t assume? That’s all I’ve been able to do when it comes to you. You think you can manipulate me with sex? I may be hard up since I met you, but I’m not stupid. You don’t want to tell me what’s going on, fine. You can stay here as long as you need, but I’m done trying to help you.”

“I don’t need your help.” The second the words came out I wanted to call them back. Because there was a slight tremble on the last word and it made me want to grab my throat.

Apparently Rhys heard it too, because he turned his attention to me fully and his expression softened.

“Okay, Emma. I believe you. You don’t need help.” And just like that, he let me keep my secrets and have my dignity.

It was a shallow victory because we both knew better. Only I didn’t do help, didn’t know how anymore.

Relying on someone usually ended up badly. And for whatever reason, I liked Rhys. From the second I met him at that damn party and danced with him. The way he looked at me, held me, like nothing in the world could touch me when I was in his arms. It was that same intensity that got me hooked on him. The same reason I didn’t follow up that kiss with dinner.

I wasn’t a classy, take home to Mom kind of girl. Rhys was out of my station and comfort zone. I didn’t know how to handle him, or how he made me feel.

I cared. Enough to know that we would never work. He was former military with three tours under his belt. A self-made man who owned a security company that protected the rich and famous. Facts I’d gotten out of him a few weeks ago. He never gave details, but he wore honor like a very real badge in every move he made.

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