Continuing to give credibility to her story, she said, “I’m an ER nurse, Roth. I deal with the unpredictable day in and day out. Sometimes—” she lifted her arm “—things like this happen.”
His tone sounded weary when he spoke. “Yeah, well, I don’t like them happening to you.”
In that moment Tressa had never felt so protected in her life. She kind of liked it. Too bad it was based on a lie. The greater good, she reminded herself.
On the drive to his place, Roth wanted to be elated that he was getting quality time with Tressa, but what she’d revealed at the restaurant had dampened his mood and he just couldn’t snap out of this funk. If he could just have five minutes with the asshole who’d done that to her wrist, he’d pulverize him.
Another wave of anger crashed through him. Sliding a glance in Tressa’s direction elevated some of his rage. He squeezed her hand. “Hey.” When she looked at him, he lost himself in the delicate expression on her face. How could anyone want to hurt her? “Have I told you how beautiful you look in that little black dress?”
“Only a hundred times, but a hundred and one couldn’t hurt.”
“You look beautiful.”
“Thank you. And you are looking dapper yourself. I love that sweater on you.”
“This old thing?”
A smile curled her lips before she turned away and slid her gaze back into the darkness outside the window. Something was bothering her. He could tell by the fact that she’d seemed distracted ever since they’d left the restaurant. But what? Then it hit him. The way he’d blown up when he saw her wrist. Had he scared her? Damn.
This time Tressa didn’t bother looking in his direction. “At the restaurant… I apologize if I overacted. If I frightened you.”
Tressa turned toward him, a look of confusion on her face. “Frightened me? You didn’t frighten me. You actually made me feel shielded. And I’m grateful that you have my back.”
Roth brought her injured wrist to his lips. “I do. Don’t ever forget that.”
To his credit—and fault—he was a natural protector. If you messed with someone he loved, you messed with him. That had been the case with his foster brothers, waging war on anyone who’d done them dirty. Now it was the case with Tressa. And there was no limit to what he would do for her.
A short time later he pulled into his garage and shifted into Park. Hopping out, he moved around the vehicle to open Tressa’s door. The fact he would fall asleep and wake with her in his arms lightened his mood considerably. Before he allowed her to escape from the vehicle, he leaned in and gave her a soul-shaking kiss, tasting and savoring every inch of her mouth. The sweetness from the mint she popped into her mouth right after leaving the restaurant still lingered and he tried his damnedest to rid her mouth of all its flavor.
When he finally pulled away, his lips ached. Damn, he had to have her. His erection made that painfully clear. Instead of a look of desire on Tressa’s face, she donned one of concern. Enough was enough. He wanted to know what the hell was going on with her and he wanted to know now. Obviously, she’d witnessed that on his face.
“Roth, I need to—”
His cell phone vibrated, causing Tressa to pause. “I’ll send it to voice mail.”
“No, take it. It could be important. We’ll talk inside.”
Nothing was more important than she was, but it was late for anyone to be calling. He fished the device from the holder on his side. Alonso. A smile crept across his face. He and Vivian had been trying to get pregnant. Was Alonso calling to tell him he was going to be a godfather?
If so, that would mean Roth was about to be out of 50K. Years ago they’d agreed that whoever had a kid first, the other would establish a college fund. It’d started out as a joke because at the time, neither of them could have put their hands on that kind of money. But they knew one day they would be able to.
“What’s up?” Roth greeted him, pushing open the door from the garage for Tressa to walk through. She mouthed that she’d be in the living room and he nodded with the promise to be there in a second.