Protecting His Forever(9)

By: LeAnn Ashers

A creak of a floorboard on the steps brings me out of my thoughts. Glancing up, I see Brae slowly walking down the stairs looking down at us all. Stepping forward, I hope my face expresses that everything will be okay.

She timidly walks beside me. She looks at the ground, her whole body shaking. Kane and Ethan are a little scary—they’re really tall, tattooed, and intimidating.

“Braelyn, this is Ethan, my brother.” I motion to Ethan to step forward. He doesn’t take his eyes off of her. He searches her over, assessing. Looking up at Kane, I find him staring at me. Blushing, I look away quickly.

“And this is Kane, my brother’s best friend.” Her eyes shoot up to look at him and then back to the ground. She is so freaking scared. Ethan looks at me and gives me a desperate look. My brother, raised by a single mom, has a soft spot for women. “She’s scared,” I mouth to him.

Taking her hand, I lead her to the couch and sit directly beside her. Feeling a presence sitting on the couch arm, I look up. Kane is sitting there just watching me like before. Shuddering, I turn my attention back to Brae. My brother sits right beside her, and Braelyn sinks into herself a little more.

“Braelyn, honey, I know this hard, but you have to tell him. He is a police officer,” I tell her softly while putting my arm around her.

Braelyn sighs sharply as she looks at Ethan. He inhales a large puff of air and repositions himself on the couch, looking in my direction. Braelyn flinches at his sudden movement and drops her eyes to the floor. Their exchange is different, and I notice Ethan is studying her face closely.

Then it clicks. Brae has the most beautiful eyes. They aren’t one color—one minute they look blue, but they rapidly change with her mood. Braelyn is absolutely beautiful, like beyond super model pretty. She used to tell me that her beauty held a curse and it made her life hell.

Ethan shoots me a questioning look, and I shake my head, silently dismissing him for now. He nods, then turns back to Braelyn and places his finger under her chin lifting her face up to meet his. “I’m not going to hurt you,” he tells her intently. She nods slightly and she tells him everything.

It’s not easier hearing it a second time. I’m just as horrified.

A familiar, warm hand touches my back then trails down my arm, linking our fingers together. I look up at Kane and notice the tortured look in his eyes. Giving him a small smile, I turn back to Brae and Ethan.

Ethan looks horrified, pissed even. His jaw is clenched and his hands are hard in fists against his legs. Brae is getting to the part about the man finding her again. My brother’s eyes widen and his gaze shoots to mine, understanding.

Kane squeezes my hand, his palm warm. I look down at our interlocked hands, and I can’t help but notice how his hand dwarfs my small one.

The room quiets and I look at Brae who is staring at the ground again. Ethan jumps off the couch pacing the floor. Letting out a deep breath he turns to her. “Why didn’t you tell the police about him the first time?”

She shakes her head before answering, “I was scared and humiliated. I didn’t want anyone to know what happened to me. I just ran. I ran away from it all. What good it did me.”

“Sydney could be in danger because of this,” he tells her.

“I know…” she trails off before getting off the couch and turning to me. “I’m so sorry, Sydney. I’m leaving now. Putting you in danger wasn’t my intent. I just didn’t know what to do.” A sob escapes as she heads for the door.

Shocked, I turn to Ethan ready to kill his ass. He watches me, his face full of guilt and regret. Dick. Jerking my hand free from Kane’s, I get up to stop her.

“Braelyn, my brother is a dick. You’re staying here with me,” I tell her while glaring at Ethan.

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