Arrogant Neighbor: A Navy SEAL Romance (6 page)

BOOK: Arrogant Neighbor: A Navy SEAL Romance
10.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads
Chapter 14

Sloane

I
stood
under the pelting spray of the shower head and closed my eyes. But that was a mistake. Ryan’s face was suddenly there, flooding my mind with the fear and adrenaline that had been rushing through me since the moment he turned on me, the moment he showed me his true colors. And that brought the bile back, and I barely got out of the shower in time to deposit my dinner in the toilet. The sickness tore through my body, ripped everything loose, leaving me so weak that I fell to my knees and just lay there for a few minutes, hugging the toilet like a girl who couldn’t handle her booze.

How could I let this happen to me?

I was more angry than I was anything else. I knew better than to put myself in such a vulnerable situation. I never should have let him come upstairs, never should have let him inside my apartment. Never should have let any of that evening happen. I knew at the end of our last date that he wasn’t what I thought he was. I never should have agreed to a third date. But I felt bad, felt that I might hurt his feelings if I didn’t. How stupid was that?

I was stupid. That was why it had happened. But I was determined it wouldn’t happen again.

I picked myself up off the floor and climbed back into the shower, rinsing my mouth of the sour taste of vomit. This time when I closed my eyes, Major filled my mind. The concern in his eyes when he touched my lip, the gentleness in that touch. I never would have thought him capable of that level of tenderness. But maybe that was a stereotype on my part, a way of thinking that shouldn’t be as automatic as it was. Maybe there was more to him than his macho, blue collar appearance.

I was grateful for his help, and so grateful for the fact that he agreed to stay. I wasn’t quite ready to be alone again, and I really didn’t want to call anyone. The only person I could call was Kyle and he would lecture me just as intently as my mom would. I wasn’t ready for that yet.

I scrub my skin, washed away every touch, ever look, Ryan left behind on my flesh, then washed some more. My skin was raw when I was done, sore. But I finally felt clean.

I dressed in a pair of sweats and a heavy, oversized t-shirt I stole from my dad’s house. I wasn’t even sure it was his, but it was comfortable and it made me think of him when I wore it. I wondered what my dad would do if he were the one who came to my rescue instead of Major. Would he have acted as definitively? Would he have beat Ryan the way I imagined Major had?

I wanted to believe he would have. But I had my doubts. And that made me sad.

When I stepped out of the bedroom, I was so relieved to see Major still there that I had to blink away a few tears. He’d gotten a heavy bottle of booze from somewhere and poured two glasses into my mom’s old mason jar glasses. I smiled gratefully when he handed me one.

“Bourbon,” he said.

“Thanks.”

He’d cleaned up the mess on the floor, and it was like nothing had ever happened. And that was a little unsettling somehow.

I don’t know.

I sat back on the couch and pulled my legs up against my chest. I sipped at the bourbon. I don’t normally drink anything that strong, but the burn felt kind of nice. And the blossoming heat in my belly was good. Comforting in a weird sort of way.

Major stayed by the kitchen bar like he was afraid to sit to close to me. We just kind of sat there like that for a while, neither of us speaking, just sipping at the bourbon and pretending like we hadn’t openly hated each other just a couple of hours ago. And then we both spoke at once.

“How long have you lived here?”

“Have you always lived in Houston?”

I giggled a little when I realized what we had done. He smiled too, turning his head slightly like he was a little embarrassed to let me see his smile. He had a dimple, too, not unlike Ryan’s. But it looked a lot better on him.

“You can come sit over here,” I said. “I won’t bite.”

“I didn’t want to make you feel uncomfortable.”

“You’re making me uncomfortable standing over there like that.”

He nodded as he pushed away from the bar. He grabbed the bottle and came over, setting it on the coffee table before he settled on the couch about as far from me as he could get. I watched him, admired the way his body moved. The man seemed to have muscles on his muscles. And when he moved, everything seemed to flex. And big…he was so big that my couch that always seemed so roomy and comfortable was suddenly tiny and compact.

I felt safe next to him. I should have been afraid, especially after what just happened to me. I should have been thinking about how vulnerable I was sitting there alone with him. But I didn’t feel vulnerable. I felt protected. I felt like if any more trouble came my way that night, he would make it disappear without having to lift a single finger.

I knew nothing about him except that he probably keyed my car. But I didn’t care.

“Yes,” I said, dropping my gaze to my drink, “I’ve lived in Houston all my life.”

“Yeah?”

“Went to high school over in Katy. And I attended the University of Texas at Houston. Never even applied anywhere else.”

“Don’t you want to see the world?”

I tilted my head slightly. “I felt like my mom needed me to stick around, you know?”

A shadow crossed over his face. “Yeah. I get that.”

“What about you? Where are you originally from?”

“Houston.”

My eyebrows rose. “You strike me as the type who leaves home the moment he can.”

“I did.” He rubbed his hand over the top of his head. “I went into the Navy when I turned eighteen. And then I came back.”

“For a girl?”

Again that shadow crossed his face. He sat forward a little, clearly not comfortable with the subject. But I was curious and sometimes I don’t know when to stop pushing someone.

“She must have been someone special. Was she the girl from the other night?” I asked, gesturing toward the bedroom with my thumb.

“No. There’s no girl.”

“There was a girl last week,” I said.

He took a long drink from his cup and set the glass down on the coffee table. “That was nothing.”

“Not to that girl. She seemed to think quite a lot of it.”

“That girl was a little drunk.”

My eyebrows rose. “Is that what it takes. A little alcohol?” I held up my glass and swirled the amber liquid around a little. “That’s good to know.”

Major poured himself another few ounces of the bourbon and swallowed a healthy amount, catching the glass between both his hands and staring at it as he spoke again.

“Sex isn’t the same to all people.”

“Definitely between men and women. In my experience, women tend to take it a lot more seriously.”

He glanced at me. “You don’t think men take it seriously?”

“I think men think it’s something we owe them. Take a girl to dinner and she owes you a blow job, right?”

His eyes narrowed. “Just because you date assholes doesn’t mean we’re all like that. I don’t take anything from a woman she isn’t willing to give.”

My cheeks felt like they were on fire. But I wasn’t about to back down.

“But what do you promise her before you drag her into your bedroom? Do you let her think that it means more than it really does? Is that girl from last week waiting for your phone call? Does she think that she’ll see you again? I bet she does.”

“You don’t know anything about me.” He set his glass on the table with a solid thud. “You sit here watching the world from your safe little life and you make assumptions about the people you see based on nothing more than the way they look and maybe an overheard conversation or two.”

“It wasn’t conversation I overheard from your apartment.”

“No. You heard me fucking some anonymous girl and you think that gives you the right to judge me.”

The fire on my cheeks only grew hotter. I put my own drink down and sat up, sliding across the couch cushion a little so that my hand was inches from his.

“You keep insisting that I don’t know anything about you. But I don’t think I have to know that much to see what kind of a person you are. What kind of a man you and your friend are. Bringing girls to your apartment who have been drinking and doing I can only guess what else just so you can have a good time. Do you ever think about those girls afterward? Do you care what happens to them?”

“This is the world we live in, Miss Priss. Those girls knew what they were getting into when they agreed to come here with us.”

“Did they? Did they know that you wouldn’t see them again?”

He shook his head—not in agreement or disagreement, but in total outrage—color rising in his cheeks, too. He stood up and grabbed the bottle of bourbon.

“I don’t know why the hell I came over here. I should have let that guy do what he wanted.”

It was like he’d punched me in the stomach. The air just rushed out of my lungs, leaving me with this sense of drowning. I gasped, and that seemed to help just a little. He was at the door, about to wrench it open and I suddenly didn’t want him to leave. I don’t know what I was doing, why I’d said the things I did. But I really didn’t want him to leave.

I jumped to my feet and rushed across the room, grabbing his arm just as the door began to open.

“Don’t,” I mumbled.

He looked down at me and suddenly he was shoving me against the door, forcing it closed again with the weight of my body. I looked up and he pressed his forehead to mine. I thought for a minute that he was going to kiss me, that his hands would fall to my hips or slide under my shirt. I could almost feel it, what it would be like when his massive hands slid over my ribs. But he didn’t. He stood quite still, almost as though he was afraid to move. He even held his breath, as though the simple act of breathing the same air I was breathing would be too much.

“Don’t leave me,” I said softly.

“You clearly don’t want me here.”

“I didn’t say that. I just…you confuse me.”

I didn’t say anything, just continued to stand there with his forehead against mine, his full lips a breath from mine. If I was going to wait for him to make a move, it was pretty clear I was going to be waiting for a long time.

I lifted my hand slowly and, almost like a timid child touching the snout of a wild animal for the first time, ran my fingers over the angle of his jaw. He closed his eyes and drew in a slow, troubled breath. I didn’t pull away. I let my fingers move slowly down the side of his neck before moving up again, resting a few fingertips on his bottom lip.

“I haven’t had a lot of experience with men,” I said, not sure why I was talking, not sure why I was telling him that. “And when I heard that girl the other night…”

“That was just sex, Sloane,” he said, his voice lower, softer than I’d ever heard it. “A girl like you is better than that.”

“Am I? Ryan didn’t seem to think so.”

“He was a fucking asshole.”

“And you saved me.”

He grabbed my wrist and lifted my hand a little higher, pressing his lips to my palm before pinning my arm against the door.

“Don’t read too much into that.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m no one’s knight in shining armor. I’m not a good person.”

“Yet, you keep insisting you’re not the guy I think you are.” I moved forward, pressed my body against the length of his. My lips grazed his chin, his slowly emerging beard creating an interesting contrast to the softness of his bottom lip. “Prove it.”

He groaned even as he released my wrist in favor of my hip and drew me even closer to him. He studied my eyes for a long second before stealing my lips, his touch insistent. I wrapped my arms around his neck, sliding my hands over the back of his head. His hair was like the bristles of a brush, only so much softer than I ever would have imagined. I opened to him and he immediately came inside, exploring my mouth like it was a cave filled with untold treasures, doing things to me that made shivers run up and down my spine, lodging themselves in my lower belly until I thought the resulting pressure would drive me insane.

There was something about this man I couldn’t even begin to explain. But just this kiss made me feel things that all my nights with Philip could never compare to. No wonder those girls had screamed in his bed!

He lifted me, his hands under my ass, the bottle of bourbon dropped and forgotten on the carpet. He managed to find the top edge of my sweats, his hand pushing its way under the material with no trouble as though the material knew better than to impede his need. I almost wished I’d thought to wear those sexy panties Ryan had pointed out, wishing that I had chosen almost anything but the huge granny panties that I was wearing. But Major didn’t seem to mind. The material was no obstacle to his exploration. And the feel of his massive hand against the bare skin of my ass was just as I had imagined and better somehow. So much better.

I wasn’t even aware that we were moving. I didn’t realize we’d crossed nearly the full length of the apartment until we were falling across my childhood bed—a four poster bed in antique white with a pink canopy across the top—the squeak of the ancient supports bringing me out of my own head for a moment. Major was pushing pillows out of the way, a bewildered expression on his face. I laughed. I couldn’t really help myself. And that made that lovely dimple come out on his cheek again as he smiled down at me.

“I feel like I’m in high school again. I had this girl who had all these stuffed bears on her bed all the time.”

I sat up a little and tossed the last of the pillows onto the floor.

“It’s my mom,” I said. “She has a thing for pillows.”

I lay back again and he stretched out beside me. He ran his finger over my throat down to the top hem of my t-shirt. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

I rolled onto my side so that we were facing each other. I didn’t say anything at first. Instead, I pressed my finger to his chest and watched the material of his shirt move and gather itself into bunches, slowly revealing his lower belly. There was hair there, a little. There were also tattoos, a collection of tattoos that seemed completely unrelated to one another. I touched one and he pulled my hand away. He unfolded my fingers and kissed my palm again.

BOOK: Arrogant Neighbor: A Navy SEAL Romance
10.77Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Black Magic Sanction by Kim Harrison
Housebound Dogs by Paula Kephart
Waylaid by Kim Harrison
Born Into Fire by KyAnn Waters, Tarah Scott
Fire Point by Sean Black
The Snowy Tower by Belinda Murrell
Stephan by Hazel Gower
The Scarlet Thread by Francine Rivers