Reece cast his gaze to the window, his jaw working.
“You don’t owe me anything.” Nick glanced at Reece. His eyes narrowed. “You sure you’re good here now?”
“Yeah,” I murmured, my thoughts in a thousand different places.
Nick stopped at the door. The grin on his face warned trouble. “By the way, loved the bows on your panties.”
Oh, for fuck’s sake.
Reece’s jaw became so hard I thought it would snap off as he watched Nick saunter out the door. Then it was just us. He stood with his back to me for several seconds and then wheeled around. Walking over to the couch, he sat on the edge of the coffee table, directly in front of me. “Are you okay?”
Yes. No. Maybe? I had no idea. I was feeling way too much. Scared wasn’t even the right word for how I felt. Someone had been in here—repeatedly. I felt . . . I felt violated, like all my walls had been stripped away from my home, and I felt stupid that I’d chalked up all the weird happenings as something supernatural. Then again, why would anyone jump to the conclusion that someone was breaking into the house just to mess with things inside of it?
I shuddered as it really hit home. Someone had been in my apartment. Someone had been in here many times, even while I was here. The residual fear peaked once more. How in the hell would I feel safe in this house again? Having that taken from me angered me, and there was nothing I could do about it.
“I don’t know what to feel,” I said finally, leaning back against the cushion.
He rested his arms on his bent knees as he let out a weary-sounding sigh. My gaze flicked up, collided with his and held. In a second, the shields dropped, and I sucked in an unsteady breath. He looked conflicted—torn. As if he was experiencing the same wild range of emotions that I was.
“Why didn’t you tell me this stuff was happening?” he asked.
I ducked my chin, shrugging. “I honestly thought my place was haunted. I mean, why would I think someone was breaking in just to move stuff around and do weird things like that? And some of the stuff I could’ve been responsible for without realizing or forgetting about it, like the dishwasher, the remote—stuff like that.”
“Did you stick your own panties in the dishwasher?”
“No.” I made a face.
“Then you knew it couldn’t be you, babe.” He straightened, looking around the house. “When was the last time before you found them in there that you were using the dishwasher?”
I knew what he was thinking. “I hadn’t checked the dishwasher Monday.”
“But you were home all day, right?”
Nodding, I pulled my legs up and wrapped my arms around my knees. He didn’t need to say it out loud. I knew what he was thinking. Tonight wasn’t the first time the person had gotten into my apartment while I slept. It was the only plausible explanation. Closing my eyes, I rested my forehead against my knees. My voice sounded incredibly small when I spoke. “Why would someone do this?”
“To mess with your head, Roxy. These kinds of things, what was being done around here, were minor enough that it wigged you out and you questioned it, but most importantly, you questioned yourself. Which meant you didn’t tell anyone. You kept it to yourself.” There was a pause. “Fuck, Roxy, I wish I knew. There was no reason for you to deal with this alone.”
“You believe me?” I asked. My voice was muffled by my legs.
“Why in the hell wouldn’t I believe you?”
I gave a lopsided shrug. “Hank was giving me a WTF look. I don’t blame him. It all sounds highly suspect.”
“Fuck Hank. He’s an idiot. And when I get my hands on whoever is messing with you, I’m seriously going to fucking kill him. But that’s something we’ll talk about later.”
My head shot up and I gaped at him. His reaction shocked me, all things considered.
Reece stood. “I don’t want you staying here.”
The idea of staying here, especially right now, was something I also did not want to do.
“I’m also going to need to take your phone in to see if we can get prints off it that aren’t mine, yours, or Hank’s. Nick hasn’t touched it, right?”
I shook my head. Tonight had been a blur. “I don’t think so.”
“Do you have an extra phone you can switch service to in the meanwhile?”
“Yeah. I have an older one.”
“Good. Why don’t you pack up some stuff,” he said, stepping around the couch. “I’ll take you to my place. I still got a couple of hours left on my shift, but at least you’ll be able to get some sleep.”
I was back to thinking I was hallucinating things.
When I didn’t move, Reece continued. “That works out perfectly. I need you to talk to Colton. He can come by my place. He’s been investigating what’s been happening around here. That’s why I had to go let out his dog Tuesday morning.”
It struck me then, the conversation between Brock and Jax. “The girl who works at Brock’s training place?”
Reece eyes narrowed on me. “You heard?”
“Yeah, Brock was in the bar. He said . . .” I shivered. “He said she was really messed up. Was she . . . ?” I couldn’t even bring myself to say it.
Cop Face appeared. All emotion gone. “I can’t go into details. Not because I don’t trust that you’d keep it quiet, but it’s out of respect for the vic. But we’re pretty sure all the attacks recently are linked. The violence has been escalating.”
“To what?” I whispered.
His gaze held mine. “It’s been physical—worse than you can imagine.”
A shudder of revulsion rolled through me. “Oh my God, those poor girls. I . . .” My eyes widened. “You don’t think this has anything to do with what happened to them?”
He knelt down, placing a hand on my knee. “I don’t know, but nothing—I swear it—nothing like that is going to happen to you. Now, come on, let’s get going.”
I watched him straighten and turn. “Wait. I can’t go to your place.”
Facing me, he cocked his head to the side. “Why not?”
“Why not? Um, I think you pretty much made it clear that you . . . that I lied and you can’t deal with that. So I can’t stay with you.” There was no way I could put myself through that. “I can go to my parents.”
His face softened by a degree. “You and I still need to talk. Now just isn’t the right time for that. You’re coming home with me.”