He’d picked up on Tressa’s nurturing side the first time he’d met her. It was one of the things he found so attractive about her. Nursing was the perfect profession for her. “Why didn’t you adopt him?” Roth asked out of curiosity. She seemed to have cared for the child.
Tressa stared into the crackling fire. “I wanted to.”
“Cyrus? Is he why you didn’t adopt Jamison?” Roth wasn’t sure why he’d come to that conclusion, but when Tressa faced him again he knew he’d been spot-on. He hated the man even more.
She slid her gaze back to the fire. “Pathetic, huh?”
Roth wanted to say something encouraging, but he couldn’t find the words. Growing up, every single day he’d wished for someone to care enough to want to adopt him, but it had never happened. But Tressa could have been the answer to the prayers Roth was sure Jamison said every night. She could have saved him from the hell of the foster system. But instead, she’d allowed that bastard Cyrus to convince her to send Jamison back into…hell.
Anger swirled inside him. He wasn’t sure if it was geared more toward Cyrus or Tressa. He took a long swig from his bottle.
“After two weeks without the sound of Jamison’s laughter, I realized the mistake I’d made. I contacted the agency, but I was too late. A family was interested in adopting him. I know I should have been ecstatic he’d found a permanent home. I was and I wasn’t.” She shook her head. “I had no right to be upset. I’d had my opportunity and blew it. I was being selfish. Which is typically not me, might I add.”
She’d redeemed herself.
“He would have been lucky to have you as his mother.”
A lazy smile curled her lips. “Thank you, Roth. That was kind of you to say.”
Tressa’s lips parted, then closed as if she’d reconsidered what she was about to say. The move drew his attention to her mouth. A knot formed in his stomach when he thought about how badly he wanted to lean over and kiss her. Not a smart move. Fight this, Lexington.
“I asked for a sign.”
Scrambling his thoughts of ravishing her mouth, he said, “Excuse me?”
“Tonight. Right before you joined me on the balcony. I asked God to send me a sign if I was making a mistake by marrying Cyrus.”
Was she suggesting he’d been her sign? Something warm and prideful blossomed in his chest.
“I guess your fiancé’s mistress crashing your engagement party was a fairly obvious one, huh?”
And just like that, it wilted. “You don’t seem too distraught about it.” Roth pressed his lids together. “Shit. I’m sorry. That was an insensitive and stupid thing to say. I’m sure you’re plenty upset.”
“I’m not, actually. I mean, I’m angry as hell and hurt, but not in a debilitating manner, if that makes sense.”
He hadn’t expected that response. “Why?”
A beat of silence played between them.
Tressa lowered her head as if to hide her face in shame. “Because deep down, I knew Cyrus wasn’t the right one for me. I just hung on in hopes of my feelings changing. I guess I kinda brought this whole mess on myself.”
Roth knew it was a statement that didn’t need a response, so he remained quiet. Before he’d even realized what he was doing, he draped an arm around her shoulder and pulled her against his chest. Tressa rested against him without any hesitations. Maybe he couldn’t have her in the way he truly wanted, but he could be a friend in her time of need.
* * *
Tressa tossed and turned, unable to find a comfortable position. When she moved, it felt as if she were stuck to the smoldering leather. Kicking the quilt off that Roth had given her, she sat up and dragged the back of her hand across her forehead. It had to be three thousand degrees in here. And since heat rose, she was sure Roth was cooked to a crisp.
She sent a gaze to the loft. Though her view was obstructed, she imagined him sprawled out across the bed, his body sweat-dampened and glistening. A tingle in her belly slowly traveled to the space between her legs. As usual, her body was clearly on a mission to destroy her.
The popping embers brought her attention to the fireplace. She thought about their time in front of it earlier and how Roth had pulled her into his arms, and how safe she’d felt there. He’d wanted to kiss her, she was sure of it. So why hadn’t he? Because he was too much of a gentleman.