Home > Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(3)

Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(3)
Author: M. Leighton

My stomach curls into a sick knot. I know the answer to that question.

Yes.

“You don’t have to cover for him, Liv. I can only imagine how hard it would be to believe someone can have a change of heart overnight.”

She eases on into the kitchen and perches on one of the bar stools at the island. “That might be true if something so . . . drastic weren’t involved. But Marissa, you were kidnapped. I mean, you had no idea what was going on, that you were even in danger. None of us did. No one thought you might get hurt. Or grabbed. That’s enough to change anyone’s perspective.”

I smile at her before I turn back to the eggs. I give them a few more strokes before pouring them into the hot, buttery skillet. “I guess it’s one of those things that I’ll have to prove with time.”

She says nothing at first, but then she appears at my side, leaning over the stove until I meet her eyes. “You don’t have to prove anything to anybody. You’ve been through a lot. You should be concentrating on getting your life back in order.”

“It’s not out of order.”

“You came home early from a trip, then disappeared for a couple of days. Um, yeah. I’m pretty sure you’ll have some questions to answer.”

I shrug. “Maybe. But I don’t owe anyone answers. Not one of the people in my life really cares about me. Not really.” Just saying the words aloud is like holding a searing hot branding iron to my heart. Because it’s true. “Besides, I’m still supposed to be out of town, so . . .”

“Marissa, I care about you. I hope you know that. And your father cares about you. Your mother. I’m sure you have friends who care about what happens to you. It might not seem like it right now, but—”

“Liv, you’re so sweet for trying to make me feel better, but you’ve seen the people I’ve surrounded myself with. You went to that art exhibition. I know and work with and spend time with most of the people there. And they’re horrible, Liv. Horrible! You saw that.”

I see her start to say something, see her want to say something, but there’s nothing to say. She knows I’m right.

“Look, Marissa. You’re in the unique position of getting a second chance, a chance to make different choices and live life in a better way. Everybody has . . . unsavory people they have to deal with, but you can’t hide from them. You just have to tolerate them the best you can.”

“I know I can’t hide. Not forever, anyway. But I don’t think I’m ready to get back out there just yet. Maybe in a few days . . .”

“So you’re not going to work today?”

“Nah. I think I’ll call and let them know I’m taking a couple of weeks off. I am sort of in between projects, too. Daddy was ‘grooming me,’” I say, holding up air quotes and rolling my eyes.

“I thought you liked that?”

I feel the frown pinch my eyebrows together as I give the eggs a stir. “I did. But I’m not sure what I want anymore.”

That’s not entirely true. There is something that I want, something that’s been plaguing me since I was drugged, manhandled, and kept against my will. But it’s something that would mean a huge life change for me, something that would be frowned on by practically everyone I know. Everyone except Liv. And probably Nash. The thing is, I’m just not sure I’m that brave yet. But I’m also not sure there’s another way forward. It certainly doesn’t feel like I have a choice.

THREE

Nash

The smell of cooking meat wakes me. I’m nothing if not a ravenous carnivore.

I open my eyes to an empty bed, which is probably best. Even though I wouldn’t mind losing myself in Marissa for a little while, now’s not the time. Her tenderness last night made me feel comforted, and that’s a very dangerous place to find myself. I have no desire to get involved with a woman. Any woman. That’s why I can say that her absence is a good thing all the way around.

I roll onto my back and feel a twinge of pain in my side. It’s not nearly as bad as it could be, but I don’t like that it still hurts at all. I’m sure the doc’s medicines helped, but I’m an extremely fast healer, so even the small amount of pain I’m feeling now is a surprise. A very unwelcome one.

Ignoring it as though there weren’t a gash in my side, I sit up and throw my legs over the side of the bed. My head swims a little and I stay put until it settles.

What the hell did that bastard have on that knife? Did he dip it in just enough poison to piss me off, but not kill me?

Standing, I make my way unsteadily to the bathroom to take a piss before facing a house full of people I don’t trust. I need to be at my best, and it irritates the shit out of me that I’m still hurting and that I’m dizzy. That means weakness, and weakness of any kind is something I don’t tolerate. At all.

I feel a little more like myself after I splash some water on my face and let my body adjust to being in an upright position. As I meet the reflection of my eyes in the mirror, I will myself to feel better. I don’t have time to be sick or hurt or sore. Therefore I will not. Still, the dull ache in my side ensures that I’m as surly as ever when my nose leads me to the kitchen.

I feel like growling when I see Marissa in front of the stove, putting pieces of sausage on a paper towel to drain. She’s so damn sexy, even doing something as mundane and domestic as cooking. But that’s not what bothers me. It’s the fact that I like seeing her doing such a simple caretaking activity. I’ve been away for a long time—away from civilization as I always knew it, away from home and love and life as I knew it. I learned not to miss it.

Until now.

I steel myself against feeling anything other than the desire to tear her pants off, put her up on the counter, and eat her for breakfast before the toast pops up. I remind myself that Marissa’s obvious interest in me is all fine and good as long as it stays purely physical. On my end, anyway. I don’t care what happens on her end. I can’t.

But me? I have to care about how involved I get. And the instant I start feeling anything . . . deeper, I’m out the door. I haven’t needed a woman in my life for years. Other than in the most physical, carnal way possible, that is. And I don’t ever plan to let one drag me into feeling anything other than lust.

She looks over her shoulder and laughs at something, and I notice Olivia sitting at the island. As Marissa turns back toward the stove, her eyes stumble to a stop on me. Her smile climbs a notch on the brilliance scale and she greets me. “Good morning.”

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