I was in a bastard of a mood when the doorbell rang after I’d dropped the two hundred-pound weight onto the rest. My chest burning, my ribs wracked with agony, I curled up to my feet. Thought about a shirt. Thought, fuck it. It was probably just Brooks.
He’d become my watchdog, checking in regularly, inviting me to his place for dinner with him and Delaney, keeping the door open in case I needed to talk to someone other than my sponsor.
Striding through the house, I absentmindedly swiped at the sweat on my chest with the towel I held.
I opened the door.
Wished I hadn’t.
My cock went fully hard in an instant.
I draped the towel in front of me, one hand notched on the doorframe, my chest bare, Reggie’s chin barely reaching my shoulders.
Reggie. On my doorstep. Showing up out of the clear blue.
My lips flattened as my heartbeat thudded in my chest.
Everything that had broken open in that alley with Brooklyn I’d sealed back under. Until this precise moment when Reggie lifted a bag in her hand and a smile on her lips when I was pretty sure I’d never looked more threatening.
“I’ve got some time off. Recuperation.” She angled a leg in tight faded jeans toward me. “Sore tendon. Figured you’d know how to put me back together right as rain with your PT background.”
“Funny.” Hooking the end of the towel into the waistband of my shorts, I rasped my hands across the dark shade of stubble on my jaw, and she watched every goddamn stroke. “You don’t look injured.”
“You do.” Her gaze—challenging—dropped to the bruise on my ribs.
“You came to check up on me.”
“So what if I did?” She shrugged one shoulder.
“You don’t have to worry about me anymore.”
“I can’t just turn it off, Calder.”
“I don’t need or want your help.” I tried to maintain the barrier, nearly snarling at her.
She merely cast her eyes beyond me. “Are you going to invite me inside like an old friend should?”
Old friend. Old pain.
I stepped back. Barely.
She ducked under my arm. Smiling.
Closing the door, I sealed my body against it. “What are you really doing here?”
“Well, you said you’d accept my calls.” She dropped her bags. Stood with hands on hips. “You lied to me.”
“It’s what I do, sweetheart.” Determined to piss her off so she’d leave because danger lurked in the dark spaces of my mind.
I’d forgotten she reacted like a lioness when cornered.
In two steps, Reggie was up against me, in my face.
Protect and dominate. The two different impulses swarmed through me.
I wanted to serve her up on a silver platter and plant my face between her thighs.
Then tuck her against me in my bed, blankets all around, my arms a cradle.
Her eyes hooked mine with nothing but unwavering intensity. “You have driven everyone away, Calder.” Her stance blended her against me, and she had to feel the heat—the need and arousal—she spiked in my body.
“I will not fucking let you go down one more time.” Bleak, no longer dreamy eyes, rose to mine. “I’m not losing you to self-pity or self-loathing or any other kind of hate you keep wrapping around yourself.”
Looked like I’d met my match.
I’d known it all along.
“One man is enough to lose.” Her voice dropped, but her finger pointed at my chest before she spread her fingers over my careening heart. “And youhave a choice in the matter.”
At her unerring words, I went stock-still.