Reece slowly shook his head as he laughed again, but the laugh—it was short and full of incredulity. “I . . . I just need to make sure I understand this correctly.”
The unease spread like a noxious weed as he shook his head one more time, closing his eyes briefly. “For the last year, you have been pissed off at me because you thought I regretted having sex with you, when in fact, we never even had sex?”
I opened my mouth, but what the hell could I say to that?
“So, you’ve ignored me. You’ve called me names.” He laughed that abrupt, abrasive laugh again. “You’ve cussed me out over what you thought I meant about an act that never even happened?”
I squeezed my eyes shut for a moment. “I was upset because I thought you regretted having sex with me.”
“But we didn’t have sex.”
I shook my head.
A muscle flickered along his jaw. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
I always suspected that Reece was not going to be thrilled once he learned the truth, but I still flinched.
Reece stood, walking away from the table. I had no idea where he was heading, but he stopped in the middle of the kitchen and faced me. A long, pregnant pause stretched out between us. “Do you even know how crazy I’ve been driving myself, because I couldn’t remember that night? Remember what it felt like to hold you—to be inside you, and fall asleep and wake up with you? That after the shitty year I had, I’d topped it off by not remembering sleeping with the only girl I’ve ever cared about. Do you even understand how that fucked with my head?”
My breath hitched around the messy knot in my throat.
“I can’t even count how many times I’ve tried to remember it and God knows how terrible I felt for not remembering our first time. For fucking thinking I might’ve hurt you somehow,” he said, rubbing his left hand over his chest, above his heart. “And this whole fucking time, nothing even happened between us? Are you seriously fucking joking right now?”
“No,” I whispered, blinking back hot tears. “I should’ve told you—”
“Hell’s yes, you should’ve told me. You had eleven months to tell me, Roxy. That’s a long time.”
I stood. “Reece—”
“Instead you’ve been lying to me this whole time?” His brows rose, and for a moment, I saw everything I never wanted to see written across his striking face. Pain. Hurt. Disbelief. All of those mingled with the anger that tightened his jaw. “Wait. Not actively lying. Just letting me believe in a lie.”
I started around the table. “I’m sorry. I know that sounds lame, but I am so sorry. It’s just at first you weren’t talking to me and then so much time passed and—”
“And you didn’t know how you’d be able to talk yourself around that lie? Sounds fucking familiar,” he spat. I knew at once he was talking about his father. “Honest to God, Roxy, I never thought . . .”
He didn’t finish his sentence, but he didn’t need to. He’d never thought I’d so brazenly lie to him, and I had. Pain sliced through my chest. I wanted to crawl under the table, but I forced myself to stand there and take it like a grown adult.
Reece opened his mouth, but the muted sound of a phone ringing interrupted him. Pivoting on his heel, he stalked over to where he’d dropped his bag last night. He yanked his phone out of the side pocket.
His eyes were on me as he answered the phone. “What’s up, Colt?”
It was his brother on the other line, and I wasn’t sure if it was personal or cop-related.
“Shit. You serious?” Reece raised his free hand and scrubbed it through his hair. He dropped his hand. “That’s not good.”
I had no idea what was going on, so I turned and picked up his empty plate. Opening the dishwasher, I almost dropped the plate.
A pair of my undies was in the utensils holder, stuffed into the square cubby. My hand shook as I stared at them. They were—oh my God—they were the black lacy thongs that I wished I’d worn last night.
How in the world did they end up in the dishwasher?
I hadn’t opened the dishwasher since Sunday, if I remembered correctly. Yesterday, I hadn’t used any dishes and I’d left the cup I’d used in the sink.
Shaken, I placed the plate inside, but I didn’t grab the undies. I didn’t even want to touch them. Casper was haunting me, and he was a pervert. If I’d placed them in there having no recollection, I needed to get an X-ray of my head. Maybe I needed to take Katie up on that séance idea.
“Yeah.” Reece’s voice startled me. “I can do that. Talk to you soon.”
Closing the dishwasher, I left the undies inside. The last thing I wanted to do was whip them out. I had enough explaining to do than try to explain that. Turning around, I caught the tail end of Reece pulling a shirt out of his duffel bag and slipping it on over his head. He wasn’t looking at me when he buttoned up his tactical pants.
“Is everything okay with your brother?” I asked.
Reece lifted his head as he straightened out his shirt. His handsome face was blank, devoid of all emotion as his clear blue eyes met mine. “Yeah. Everything is cool.”
The knot in my throat expanded at his apathetic tone. I opened my mouth, but he turned away. “Look, I’ve got to go,” he said, heading down my hallway.
For a moment, I was absolutely rooted to the floor. He was leaving? We hadn’t finished our conversation. Springing into action, I hurried after Reece, finding him in my bedroom, sitting on the edge of the bed, pulling on his socks and boots.
All I could see was the rumpled sheets and comforter. The indents in the two pillows. The shirt he wore last night, the one he’d used to clean me up, a messy ball on the floor.
My heart was pounding so fast I was afraid it would burst like a balloon stretched to its limits. “You really have to leave? Right now?”
“Yes.” Tying up his boots, he rose to his full height, a good two heads taller than me. “I’ve got to go let Colt’s dog out.”
I silently mouthed the words back, because I almost couldn’t believe that’s why he had to leave. I mean, I didn’t want the doggie to go potty anywhere inappropriate, but we so needed to finish our discussion. “He can’t . . . he can’t wait for a little while?”
“It’s a she,” he replied, bending down and grabbing his used shirt. “Her name is Lacey, and no, it can’t wait.”