Part of me was so shocked that I’d been in a deep enough sleep that he’d been able to move me without my knowledge. I tried to picture what he’d done when he returned home. Obviously he’d undressed first, and I could tell he had pajama bottoms on, because I could feel the soft, worn cotton against my bare legs. He must’ve scooped me up and carried me into his bedroom. I didn’t know if he’d placed me as close to him as I was or if I’d snuggled up to him. Either way, there wasn’t any space between us, and his hand rested on my hip.
My heart ached, and as I lay there, listening to the soft snore, I realized how badly I wanted this. Not just with anyone, but with him. Despite the messy past between us, and everything that needed to be spoken, he . . . he was still taking care of me.
That spoke of the kind of man he was. Decent and kind to his very core, and there were so very few men like that.
And Reece truly was a beautiful man.
Features relaxed in sleep, there was an openness about him that was rarely seen when awake. There was always an aura of concentrated power, and it was there even while he slept. I didn’t think it was because he was a cop. It was just something innate in him, like a second skin.
Full, well-formed lips parted, I resisted the urge to run my thumb over his lower lip. It was even harder to deny the need to kiss him, because I really wanted to feel those lips against mine again.
His skin was warm and smooth under my hand, and I knew I needed to get my butt out of this bed before I did something wholly inappropriate, like slip my hand down under the band of his pajama bottoms.
Carefully, I eased away from him, and rose from the bed. Finding my sweater on the edge, I slipped it on and tugged it close, immediately missing the warmth of his body. Not wanting to wake him since it was still early and he couldn’t have been asleep that long, I crept out of the bedroom, quietly closing the door behind me.
The apartment was tomb silent as I walked back out to the living room. Remembering he had a balcony, I opened the French doors and stepped outside. I dragged in the late-morning air and looked around. The balcony faced a wooded area and was rather private.
Or someone did.
Flower boxes hung off the wrought-iron railing, full of pretty pink and purple flowers. There were two green stands, and a bushy fern hung in the corner, out of the sunlight. Two wide wicker chairs were positioned close together.
I tucked my legs along the side and huddled down in the comfy chair. I couldn’t believe how cool it was. When I really thought about how quickly the seasons changed, it blew the mind.
My mind wandered as I sat there. I couldn’t remember if I had grabbed my glasses before I’d left my place. Didn’t really matter since I didn’t have my car. I’d have to go back to my place to get it before I headed into work later tonight.
Back to my place.
I shivered and it had nothing to do with the cooler temps. I almost couldn’t believe it—I was being stalked. Freaking stalked. Me. I shook my head slightly. That’s what was happening. I no longer could joke that it was Casper the Pervy Ghost, and barring some kind of memory disorder, it was someone sneaking into my apartment while I was there. Deleting texts while I was in the shower. Taking pictures of me. Out of everything, those were the two creepiest things ever. But even worse was the fact I really had no idea this was what was happening. I couldn’t even begin to imagine that, or who it could be.
There was Dean, and while he was persistent, he didn’t strike me as a psycho. Unless it was a stranger—the man responsible for what was happening to the other girls—who was doing this, and that was even more horrifying. He could be coming in the bar every night for all I knew. I could be talking to him, smiling at him.
Oh my God, that was horrifying to even imagine. It made me not want to step foot out of my apartment, except my apartment wasn’t even safe. Geez. I squeezed my eyes shut. What was I going to do? I hated the idea of changing my whole life over some freak who was a virtual ghost to me.
Then again, the ghost of my past had changed my entire life. I did and didn’t do things all because of what happened with Charlie. That was a sobering realization I wasn’t nearly awake enough to really delve into.
A thought snuck into my head. Maybe it was someone I knew. Not Dean. Not some guy I dated. Maybe it was someone who just recently came back into my life—an unwanted recent addition.
The idea didn’t make a lot of sense, but when we were in high school, he was a bit of a creeper. A handsome guy, but a creeper nonetheless. Maybe he wasn’t satisfied with screwing up Charlie’s life. Maybe he wanted to drive me crazy. Honestly, it sounded
insane—as insane as someone breaking into my apartment and taking a picture of me.
I opened my eyes just in time to see a brown bunny rabbit bounce across the lawn below, into the tree line. Well, I guessed it was a rabbit. It was kind of a brown blur. Could’ve been an opossum for all I knew.
Criminy, I couldn’t believe I was at Reece’s place. I just couldn’t let myself read too much into it. Tucking my hair back, I blew out a tired sigh. Even in the silence, surrounded by bouncing bunnies and pretty flowers, it was hard to really grasp what I felt for Reece. My feelings for him were tangled into a web of our past and our present. Lust cultivated over years and . . .
I couldn’t even think it.
Where I could admit I cared for him strongly—I had for a long time—love was scary. I learned that with Charlie. I loved that boy more than anything, and seeing him hurt had killed a part of me when I was sixteen and still was killing me. I couldn’t fall for Reece, not fall that deeply. Not when going to work every day could mean he could be harmed or worse. I flinched, but that was the truth. God, these thoughts were freaking pointless, because—
The French doors opened and Reece stepped out onto the balcony, his sleepy blue gaze finding me. My tummy tumbled as I drank him in. Goodness, he was cute in the morning. Hair all messy and a shadow of brush along his jaw, he was total pinup material.
“Hey,” he said, and one side of his lips quirked up in a lopsided grin.
My own lips responded. It was clear he was still half asleep. “Hey you. I didn’t wake you, did I?”
“I don’t think so.” Lifting an arm, he dragged his fingers through his hair. My eyes got hung up on his bicep and the muscles along the side of his chest. I shifted in the chair, surprised that I could be so visibly aroused by a guy scratching his head. He moved to the seat beside me. “I mean, I woke up and you were gone.” He leaned back in the chair, spreading his thighs as he tipped his head toward me. “I was worried when you weren’t there. You okay?”