“What the hell are you doing?” A gruff voice rang out and I shot to my feet, the pin falling from the lock.
My blood pressure instantly sped up. Which was stupid. We had had a moment. Not even sex. It was a damn kiss and even though I offered more, he turned me down, insisting on taking me out to dinner first. To which I didn’t show up. And that was weeks ago. But there, standing in jeans, a black tee and leather jacket, the man looked like the badass I was searching for.
“What are you doing here?”
Trying to keep casual, though my body was humming with leftover adrenaline from outrunning Mase and now with a new surge from seeing Rhys and all his yummy form, I shrugged. “Was hungry, thinking about grabbing dinner.”
“Dinner?” He pulled the cuff of his jacket back enough to glance at his watch. “You’re well over a month late for our date.”
“I like to be fashionably late.” I glanced around him, making sure no one else was coming, like Mase for instance. But we were still alone. Completely alone. A realization that made my heart rate pick back up.
He stood there, obviously not amused. “Or maybe you decided that breaking into my hotel room was more fun than going out?”
“Oh, ah, I was just checking things out.” I kicked the hairpin on the floor away, which he saw me do, but whatever. I lied, I never said I was good at it. “I was just popping by to check if Megan and Preston were back yet. You know, to see if they wanted to catch up.”
Again, not good at lying, but there was little else I could do. I hadn’t thought about the next step after getting into his hotel room. I had been too focused on getting to Rhys and getting away from Mase that I didn’t think through the details of actually talking to him or explaining myself.
“And you think Megan and Preston are hiding in my room?” He bent and picked up the hairpin. “Can you honestly even open a magnetic lock with this?”
I shrugged and mumbled, “With the right electrical current maybe . . .”
I had been desperate to get in. To get near him. Part of me was running from Mase, but a bigger part was running toward Rhys. Now that Rhys was there, I felt like a moron. And if I were being honest, a lot safer.
He raised an eyebrow, those smoky gray eyes eating me up and calling my bluff before his words did.
“Megan and Preston are gone for another couple weeks. You know that as well as I do.”
“I forgot.” Again with the quick lie.
He crossed his arms over his chest. His massive chest. His hard-as-freaking-stone-former-Marine-I-could-kill-you-with-my-pinkies chest. Everything about his presence was calm and commanding. Used to giving orders and having them followed. And he looked sexy as hell with all that alpha ego dripping off of him.
I ran a hand over my mouth. Damn it. Every time I got near Rhys I developed a throat problem and couldn’t swallow right. Which resulted in drooling. Which wasn’t helping my case at the moment.
“Really?” he said with a half smile, half frown. No clue how he pulled that off, but he looked equal parts intrigued and angry. “That’s what you’re sticking with? Not going to fess up that I caught you trying to break into my hotel room?”
He held up the hairpin and I pressed my lips together. What was I supposed to say? Damn me for not being prepared. Running scared like a fool with no plan and acting on impulse got you hurt, or killed. I knew better. But when I was running, the only thing I could think of was finding the one place I wanted to be. And that was with Rhys.
“What’s going on, Emma?” His tone was a little softer and he took a step toward me.
Something in my eyes kind of hurt and felt a bit more moister than usual. Shit, all these feelings and lack of sleep probably made me look like a sad sack.
Something Rhys was obviously picking up on, because he softened even more and asked, “Are you in some kind of trouble?”
My automatic self-defense mode kicked in and I found my voice. “What? Why would you think that?”
“Because I caught you. Trying to break in. To my hotel room.”
The way he stated the obvious — something I had yet to acknowledge myself — for the second time in two minutes made me realize that I must really be sounding crazy. But I couldn’t tell him the truth. That I was desperate for a night to hide away, to explore that charm and intensity I had gotten a glimpse of all those weeks ago.
That wasn’t really an option at the moment. Yes, I came here to see him, but I couldn’t really admit that now. And I definitely couldn’t tell him the whole truth, not without putting him in danger too.
“Did you come here to see me — ”
“You wish,” I said, cutting him off, feeling like my pride was suddenly in jeopardy.
“I was going to say, did you come here to see me so I could help you with something? But now that you mention it,” he stepped closer, “yes, I do wish. Every damn day since you stood me up.”
The way his rough voice rolled over every vowel with the slightest east coast drawl made me want to catch every word with my teeth and swallow them down . . . preferably while his lips were against mine.
Casual, Wade. Keep it casual.
“I had stuff to do,” I offered before I lost the ability to speak. Rhys was the only man who’d ever made me feel so . . . uneasy. Scratch that. He was the only man who made me feel uneasy without inspiring fear. He was hard, strong; just the size of him could be off-putting, but instead of being nervous, I was anxious. Anxious to know what it felt like to have that kind of strength, that ability to be effortlessly intimidating.
Only problem was, I wasn’t intimidated. I was turned on. Like I always was the moment he stepped into my space.
Mentally slapping myself, I chalked up my overly revved hormones to the fact that I had been “on the run” and permanently stressed out for the past several months.
“Stuff to do, huh?” He laughed. “Attempted theft can be taxing.”
“Why do you assume I was going to break in to rob you?”
He smiled. Yeah, I’d just admitted it, but I was caught long before so it didn’t really matter.
“So you weren’t breaking in to rob me. Then maybe to surprise me? Because you enjoyed my company so much the last time we met?” The obvious mockery in his voice said he was playing along for my sake.
Did I have it bad for Rhys? Did I wish I had spent the last several weeks with him instead of alone in a small apartment, coming out of hiding just to go to work at a job that didn’t end up paying me? Yes and yes. But knowledge was power and admitting to Rhys that I wanted him was not smart. I had bigger things to worry about. Time to take the power back and check his ego.