Roth joined her by the fireplace with two steaming soup-bowl-sized mugs of hot chocolate. “Wow. That’s a lot of hot chocolate.”
“They do everything big in Silver Point.”
They sipped and chatted for hours. She couldn’t remember the last time she enjoyed herself just talking. Roth told her about his time spent at The Cardinal House, a group home for boys, and she shared with him things from her childhood she’d never told anyone else. Like the time she’d broken the neighbor’s window and her brother had taken the fall for her. He still held it over her head ’til this day.
When they finally left the coffeehouse, they ventured to the thrift store next door where Roth had purchased them several books. Their last stop was a unique card-slash-gift shop.
Inside the vehicle, Tressa pulled a small box from her purse and passed it to Roth.
“What’s this?” he asked.
Roth lifted the metal bookmark from the wrapping. “Don’t judge a book by its cover or a man by his past.”
“It’s not much. I just wanted to say thank you.”
“For…everything. This week has been incredible, Roth. You have been incredible. You made what should have been the very worst week of my life, the best week of my life. I want you to know I appreciate you.”
Roth reached over, placed his hand behind her neck and pulled her mouth close to his, but he didn’t kiss her. Staring into her eyes, he said, “Thank you.”
The following morning, Tressa and Roth finally got on the road back to Raleigh. Roth had been silent since they’d pulled away from the cabin. Was he regretting returning home, too?
The way he brushed his thumb back and forth across the steering wheel told her something occupied his thoughts.
“I’m really going to miss Silver Point,” she said.
Roth didn’t respond. He simply eyed her briefly, smiled and returned his gaze to the road ahead.
What was going on with him? She wanted to think the best—that things weren’t changing now that they’d left the close quarters of the cabin. But the worst crept in—that just maybe she had been only a temporary replacement for Roth.
When they pulled into her cul-de-sac several hours later, the fact that Cyrus’s car wasn’t parked in her driveway brought her relief. Not that she cared if Cyrus saw her and Roth together. It was a well-deserved ass whooping she knew Cyrus would have surely talked himself into. She would have felt awful if Roth went to jail for assault on account of her.
Inside, Tressa watched as Roth took in his surroundings. His eyes moved from the open living room decorated in brown and teal, to the kitchen outfitted with stainless steel appliances.
“You have a nice place,” he said, folding his arms across his chest.
“Thank you. Is everything okay, Roth? You seem to have something on your mind.”
He directed her to the chocolate sofa. “Sit. We need to talk.”
She wasn’t sure she liked the sound of that. We need to talk were typically words of doom. “Okay,” she said, ignoring the quiver in her stomach. She eased down and stared up at him. “I’m listening.”
Roth took a seat on the leather ottoman directly in front of her and cupped her hands. She saw the signs. When he dipped his head, she decided to make this easier for him. “I get it, Roth. You’re not ready for a commitment. You thought you were, but now…I get it.” Her heart crumbled a little more with every word she spoke. “We had a great time at the cabin, but we’re back in the real world and things don’t look as clear for you, right? You just want to be friends.” She forced a smile. “I get it and…it’s okay.”
Roth brought his gaze to her with urgency. “Can you let me go so easily?”
Now she was confused. Wasn’t he trying to get away? “I don’t want to let you go, but I don’t want to hold on to you if you don’t want to be held. I’m giving you an easy out.”
“Giving me an easy out? I don’t want an out. I was trying to give you one.”
Her brows bunched. “Why would you think I wanted an out? I’m crazy about you, Roth Lexington. You have to know that by now.”