It’s pitch dark. Nothing but streetlamps light our march down the sidewalk. I constantly stumble to keep up with Reid’s long strides. It’s not because I’m staring at his ass in those jeans.
Definitely not that.
He pulls me down an alleyway that is lit only by the dim lamps hanging over the doorways. “My car is that way,” I say, pointing in the opposite direction.
“I’ll get it later.” He pushes forward down the alley, never bothering to look back.
We come out on another street where he stands looking up and down the block before motioning for me to follow him across the road. I still look twice each way even though the street is deserted. He waits next to a double-cab, gray truck. He flings the passenger side door open and pushes me inside.
He ignores me, slamming the door in my face. Once he’s in the driver’s seat, I shoot him a dirty look. “Where are we going?” I ask again, this time hissing out the words.
“I thought maybe we’d go to your house, let you hit me over the head again.” He glares over at me, gesturing toward his wound. “You know, to even it out, because I think it looks pretty stupid lopsided like this.”
“Smartass.” I throw myself back into the seat and cross my arms as he backs out of the parking space. “No wonder you’re single.”
He stops momentarily in the middle of the street with his hand on the gearshift, waiting to push it into drive. “What?”
“I said you’re such a charmer.”
He scowls at me. His pissed off face is growing on me. I grin back. With one swift jerk of his hand, the truck is in gear and we zoom down the back street. I fumble to find my seat belt. My hands tremble as I click it into place.
We are already on the road leading out of town when I look back out the window, watching the lights from downtown fade out of sight. His eyes fixated on the road,his fingers running along the side of the steering wheel like he’s in a hurry.
“Where are we going?” I ask, this time in a whisper, avoiding eye contact.
I know it’s silly, because we just left a room full of witnesses, but I can’t stop picturing myself being thrown into a swamp full of snapping alligators like I’m Indiana Jones on my last crusade.
“You wanted this.” Attention straight on the road, he refuses to look at me. “So, we’ve got some things to straighten out.”
It’s vague, but at least it’s an answer. However, I doubt he’d actually tell me if he planned to feed me to alligators.
That would probably be counterproductive to his mission.
I lean back in my seat and breathe, assuring myself that just because he wants me to leave town doesn’t mean he wants me dead. I become slightly less panicked when we pull into the driveway leading down to my house. The sound of the gravel is noisy as we skid into place just behind the trailer. He jumps out of the truck before I even notice that he cut off the ignition. I scurry out, following him up the walk. He fumbles with his key in the lock.
“Hey!” I peek over his shoulder and scowl. “You’ve got to stop doing that.”
I stomp in behind him. “You can’t just come in anytime you feel like it. I appreciate you taking care of the house, but it’s mine now.”
He stops in the middle of the room, and I stumble into his back. He turns around slowly, looking down at me. The house is dark; only the light of the moon shines through the windows highlighting his face. He’s close. He could touch me if he wanted. It would make sense. His palm under my elbow, or his fingers against my waist.
Except he doesn’t.
“Fiona gave me this key when I was ten years old,” he whispers in the small space between us. “Everyone in our family has a key to this house.”
I want to snap back at him, but I don’t know if I’m actually mad about the key or something else. I take a step back, and this time I look away. “I don’t know how families work.”
I shouldn’t be embarrassed. I’ve been an orphan for the better part of my life. I still can’t look him in the eye.
“There is a blue cookie jar on the top shelf of your cabinet,” he says, pointing behind me.
I walk by him, dodging boxes along the way until I open the cabinet doors. In the very last one I see a chipped, blue jar stuck in the back corner. I climb up on the counter to reach it. I grab it, sitting down so I can hold it more securely. I glance at Reid, standing at the counter’s edge watching me, before I stick my hand inside. My fingers hit metal, and I can tell by the jingling sound it makes that the jar is full of keys. “Mine is the one with the giant R painted on it,” he says, crossing his arms. “Feel free to break in anytime.”
I clamp the lid shut. “You don’t mean that.”
He shrugs. “You’re right, I don’t. But I’m keeping my key.”