Taking a deep breath, I leaned back. His arm was right behind my neck. Not a second seemed to pass before his hand found its way to my shoulder. “Do . . . do you think he’ll marry again?”
“Probably.” He grabbed his glass, taking another drink. I’d completely forgotten about mine. “I think the worst thing, though, isn’t the fact that he’d stick his dick in anything that walked, but that he constantly lies about it, even when he’s caught. I don’t get that. Never will. Anyway,” he said, drawing out the word with a grin that didn’t reach the beautiful eyes I had such a hard time capturing. “So what have you painted lately?”
Holy shit, was he a mind reader? Blood flooded my cheeks as I searched in my head for something that didn’t include his face. “Um, well I’ve been doing a lot of landscapes. Beaches. Gettysburg. That kind of stuff.”
Good answer, Roxy!
His gaze tracked over my face, almost like a physical caress. “You still painting for Charlie?”
Of course, he’d remember that. Nodding, I wasn’t surprised when the familiar sadness washed over me as I thought of all those paintings hanging on his wall.
The hand on my shoulder tightened. “So when are you going to paint something for me?”
“When you become my official pool boy,” I retorted.
He stared at me. “You don’t have a pool.”
“I know. So it’s when I get a pool and you become my official pool boy.” I grinned. “You think I’m kidding.”
Tipping his head back, he laughed deeply as he used the hand on my shoulder to tug me over to him. One second I was leaning into him, and the next I was on my back, my head resting in his lap, and all I could think as I stared up at him was that was one hell of a smooth move.
“Did you learn that move while training to be a cop?” I asked, breathless.
“Yeah, they teach that special kind of takedown in the academy.” His thick, dark lashes lowered as he settled a large hand on the curve of my hip farthest from him. “Couldn’t wait to use it on you.”
I smiled up at him as my heart started jumping around in my chest. The hand on my hip seemed like an unconscious thing to him. “I feel honored.”
“You should.” Using his other hand, he carefully brushed a strand of hair out of my face. Something about what seemed like an absent-minded touch sent my heart careening. As his lashes lifted and all I could see were brilliant blue eyes, I knew in that moment that being satisfied with just a hookup here and there was going to be really hard.
Before I could really dwell on that realization, he spoke. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Sure.” I wished he’d ask if he could kiss me. That would’ve been a resounding yes.
The hand on my hip shifted and his thumb smoothed over the hem of my cami, and I shivered. “What were you thinking when you threw that book, Roxy?”
Whoa. Total change of subject I wasn’t prepared for. Here I was thinking about him kissing me. I opened my mouth, but it took me a few seconds to answer. “I really . . . really wasn’t thinking.”
He picked up a strand of my hair, twisting it around his fingers. “Babe, I don’t think there’s ever truly a moment when we’re not thinking.”
I averted my gaze as I chewed on my lower lip. Thinking back to the moment Henry had grabbed my arm, there was a lot in my head. So much that it felt like there was nothing. My chest tightened.
Reece dropped my hair and ran his finger over my lower lip, startling a gasp out of me . . . and a response. “I hate him,” I blurted out, feeling the words swell inside me like a blood promise. “I seriously hate him, Reece. I never really hated someone before, but when I see him, I want . . . I want him to hurt like Charlie hurt. That’s what I was thinking when I threw the book.”
The lines of his face softened. “Roxy . . .”
“I know it’s wrong.” I closed my eyes, exhaling slowly. “I know what I did wasn’t that much different than what Henry did.”
“No,” he argued, and when I opened my eyes, he was staring at me intently. “What you did was throw a book at a windshield, not at him. Henry picked up a rock and threw it at the back of Charlie’s head when you two walked away.”
“You never had any intentions of harming Henry,” he went on as he kept swiping his thumb along the hem of my cami. “And if Henry really didn’t mean to do the kind of damage he did to Charlie, he still made the conscious decision to throw that rock at him. Not at the ground or a nearby car. He threw it at another living being. You’d never do that.”
Cold air whirled its way down my chest, into my stomach. The thing was, I wasn’t too sure of that. When I had tasted that anger, that red-hot bitter anger, I knew I was capable of doing something heinous. Everyone was capable of it; some moral compass ingrained in me had prevented it, but would it always stop me? If I saw Henry again, there was a good chance I’d lose my cool once more, and really, how did that make me any better than him?
“Deep thoughts,” I murmured, edgy from where my thoughts were heading.
His lips quirked up at the corners as his thumb brushed against the thin sliver of skin exposed under the hem now. The touch was like an electric shot. “Yeah, too deep for four in the morning.”
Reece’s tone was light, but everything in me was heavy. It was like a door being unlocked inside my head. Painful memories of the night with Charlie and Henry were unleashed. They stacked up inside me, like a tower about to topple over. They started with what I had done, the verbal rock I had thrown, that had started it all.
And here I was, lying in the lap of the man I’d . . . well, I’d been lying to for eleven months. A man who hated nothing more than he did a liar. That wasn’t right.
Pushing myself up, I started to roll onto my side so I could pretend to go to the bathroom, to give myself time to clear my head, but I didn’t make it.
Reece curved his hand behind my neck and the hand on my hip slid up my waist, stopping just below my breast. My eyes popped wide as he held me there, my shoulder pressed against his chest.
“Don’t,” he said, voice rough.
That one word was like a lightning bolt. Sometimes I forgot how well he did know me. Even though we hadn’t spoken for almost a year, he still knew when I was getting cagey, recognized that my mood could flip as quickly as a coin spinning through the air.