With his beer still in hand, he adjusted his shoulders and crossed his arms over his chest. The move was so manly and the vibe he gave off so casually alpha it made my body burn with the desire to rip his clothes off and ride him hard.
“I’ve figured that out by now,” he said. “But you also regularly take me by surprise and leave me with questions.”
So much of this situation was foreign to me that I had no idea how to respond. I was good with simple conversation. Good with talking about one-night stands, but that typically entailed a glass of wine and laughing with either Kate or Megan. Not discussing what you just did with the man you did it with.
Communication was something that I was pretty sure came with relationships. And while I knew Rhys and I had some kind of relationship, I had no idea what to call it. My option was to either shut him down, or let him drive this discussion so it would be easier to muddle my way through it.
“What are your questions, Rhys?”
He seemed pleased that I was willing to chat. Sort of. Maybe it was being out of my natural environment that made me so amiable. And skittish.
“I want to know how you feel. Make sure I haven’t given off an impression that — ” He paused to sigh and look away, and I knew what he was getting at.
“That what?” I faced him fully. Here was the dick move coming. What I’d been expecting. “That you liked me? That while you appreciate me servicing you, I need to remember that we’re not together, you don’t owe me anything and not to get attached?”
I smiled sweetly, hoping he saw that I didn’t care, that I was happy with it being a no-strings situation. Because I’d die of humiliation if he noticed the hint of moisture forming at the corners of my eyes.
“Save your breath, Rhys. I get it.” I shrugged nonchalantly. “You’re just a way for me to blow off some steam. No pun intended.”
I winked. There. That should show him that I definitely wasn’t attached.
He frowned. “Actually, I was going to say that I wanted to make sure I haven’t given off an impression that I was in this for a casual fling. That’s not how I operate nor what I’m interested in.”
My face fell, then heated, then chilled. “Oh . . .”
He stepped closer. “But now that you mention it, is that how you see this? How you see me?”
“I told you that I . . .”
“That you want me, yeah, I was there when you barged into the shower.”
Again that stupid heat hit my cheeks.
“But now you just assume I’m some ass**le who is discarding you?”
Yes! Because that’s what every other guy did. But I couldn’t say it. Apparently I didn’t need to because Rhys was doing that observing thing again.
“This is why I like to talk about things like this.”
“I get it. You’re chatty. And I don’t know what I think.” I huffed and went back to reading a different trophy, this one was for first team all-league. “Everything about you, about this situation, is difficult.” I didn’t know how else to say it, but there it was. “I can’t tell you what I want or what I think. I act and assume things based on history. And I learned quickly that men lie, cheat, steal and use women.”
“I’m not that way.”
I should have said it out loud but I couldn’t. While I trusted Rhys, I still had the good sense to realize that it was not technically smart. Trying to find the balance between honesty and ignorance was tough. I wanted to believe him in a lot of things. And truthfully, a big part of me already did. But too much about him scared me.
“So if you’re not that way, not the kind of guy interested in a fling, then what kind of guy are you?”
He ran a hand through his hair and glanced up. “I’m the kind that wants a woman to love. A home, a family, a place to relax and grow old.”
My tongue must have swollen, because I couldn’t swallow. Here I’d been afraid that Rhys was on a different path than I was, and now I was certain. He wanted the life that came with rooms like the one I was currently standing in. Teaching your son how to ride a bike or your daughter how to tie her shoes. He’d be great at that kind of life.
And I’d be terrible at it.
“We are so different. Fundamentally, down to the core, different.”
“But there’s something here,” he said in that raspy voice that did weird things to my heart rate. “And today you acknowledged that.”
I looked up at him and frowned. “Who are you?”
He grinned. “I’m some guy with trophies in my mom’s house trying to figure out the most frustratingly sexy woman I’ve ever encountered.”
I bit my lip to keep from smiling. “Sounds like you have your work cut out for you.”
He was so close that I felt his heat pulse from his chest and hit my body, instantly warming me the way only he had ever been able to. He bent and gently brushed his lips over mine, a soft kiss that was packed with so much intensity it made my knees weak.
“And we’re not as different as you think we are,” he said against my lips.
I pulled back. “Are you kidding me? Look around.” He glanced around the room. “Your mom probably kept everything you’ve ever touched.”
“It’s excessive, but I’m her only son. Good thing I don’t let it go to my head.” He smiled.
“Yeah, real good thing. Because if you were to bring your dirty laundry over here for her to wash, I’d have to beat your ass.”
“I do my own laundry.”
He palmed my hip and tugged so that our lower halves were pressed together. The act was carnal, like I was his woman and this was a normal show of affection.
“You said you never talk to your parents,” he said in a low voice. “Did something happen to them?”
“No. Well, I don’t know, actually.”
“What? How is that possible?”
I took a step back. “My mother gave birth to me and left me in front of a clinic.”
Rhys looked at me for a long time, his face blank. I never went into that much detail, not even with Adam. I had always said I was given up for adoption. That tended to sound a little nicer. It left room for the imagination. Like maybe my mother was out there somewhere thinking about me. But no. This was the first time I had ever uttered the details out loud. Which was weird, because it just sort of slipped out.