Roman (Raleigh Raptors 2) - Page 23

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He raised his hands, his biceps threatening to rip the seams of the black T-shirt he wore. His dark eyes were wary but edged with excitement, and his black hair had that perfect just-rolled-out-of-bed messy quality that made my skin flush. God, he was gorgeous, but those eyes? The way they flickered from one emotion to the next, so open, so real and raw? It did things to my body. To my heart.

“I need you to hear me out,” he said, and I raised my brows.

“What’s going on? You look nervous,” I said and swallowed hard as I glanced from him to the door behind him. My shoulders sank, my heart dropping to the bottom of my stomach. He didn’t want me in his room anymore. And why would he? I’d taken up more than half his bed with the wild sleeper that I was. And my nightmares hadn’t gotten any better. It made sense for me to move into the guestroom. I wasn’t his girlfriend, and we weren’t having sex…

Ohmigod. I’d kept him from bringing girls home for two months.

Jealousy, angry and bitterness raged in my blood as images flashed behind my eyes—another woman tucked up against him in that bed, her hands against his smooth skin…

I clenched my eyes shut, the twisting in my stomach shifting to something deeper as those images were replaced with me. My fingers touching and exploring his body in ways I’d never had but always secretly longed to. My lips on his, inhaling his scent, tasting his kiss. My knees went weak with a want so deep I thought I might topple over.

“Teagan,” Roman said, tilting his head, and I snapped my eyes open. “What is going on up there?” He smoothed his knuckles over my forehead, and a warm shiver danced along my spine.

Sleeping with you. In more ways than just the bed.

“Nothing,” I said. “What’s up?” I asked again, my voice cracking slightly.

Roman blew out a breath and turned to open the door.

My lips parted on a gasp as he ushered me into the room.

The queen-sized bed had been removed and replaced with…

“Omigod.” My hands flew over my mouth, shock rippling over my skin.

Easels and canvases filled half the space, the other half dominated by a standing art desk piled high with supplies. Fresh paints and brushes, empty water cups, cloths and sponges, colored pencils, and charcoal pieces.

“Roman.” I spun, taking the room in, my eyes watering as I met his gaze from where he lingered in the opened doorway.

“It took me a while to track down all the supplies,” he said. “I would’ve asked you, but I know you would’ve told me the cheapest supplies to get, and you deserve better than that.”

A tear rolled down my cheek, and he pushed off the doorway, breaching the distance between us.

“Hey,” he said, brushing away that tear with the pad of his thumb.

Heat blazed straight down the middle of me, a constant hunger churning and aching as I tilted my head to meet his eyes. God, he was tall and smelled like a dream, and I could feel the warmth from his body he stood so close.

This is Roman! Your best friend.

Your kind, caring, perceptive, gorgeous friend.

Right.

“I know when Rick gave you a space to paint, he did it as a way to control you. Like everything he did, he had a motive behind it. He wanted to keep you in a cage. One where he knew where you’d be and what you’d be doing.”

I swallowed hard, acid chasing away the hunger. Had he always known? Or had Roman just now seen the truth of the situation in the little bits I’d given him over time?

“And this, Teagan, is not that.” He glanced around the room that he’d converted into an art studio, but didn’t move an inch away from me. “You’re fucking talented. And you deserve the space and freedom to create. You deserve the option of if you want to work or not.” He dropped his hand, the edge of his fingers just grazing my arm enough to make my breath stutter past my lips.

I slowly turned away from him, knowing if I looked into his eyes for one more minute, I’d crumble into a thousand pieces. I ran my fingers over the soft brushes at the desk, relishing the feel of the bristles against my skin.

Roman was right, damn him.

Rick had used my need to create as a tool to control me. He’d never believed in what I’d done, merely allowed me to do it so I’d keep busy when he wasn’t home to watch me. He’d acted like it was a privilege to pursue my passion instead of my God given right.

“T?” There was a hint of desperation to his voice. “I’m not trying to pressure you to go back to work. You have to know that.”


Tags: Samantha Whiskey Raleigh Raptors Romance
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