“Shit, man. Vivian just got home from the hospital and told me what happened today. That shit is foul. Is Tressa okay? Are you okay? I know you blew a gasket.”
Roth figured Alonso was talking about Tressa’s incident with the meth head. His jaw clenched at the ugly visual that filtered into his thoughts, some big, burly biker type slinging her around the room by the wrist. ’Course if he was a meth head, he couldn’t have been so big, right? Still, that didn’t pacify him. Roth opened the refrigerator door for a bottle of water. “Yeah, everything is good.”
“It’s a good thing Tressa didn’t marry that lowlife. Any man who puts his hands on a woman is a punk.”
Roth stilled and his brow furrowed. His jaw clenched tight enough to crush his teeth. He slid a glance to Tressa, who was walking around the pool table using her hand instead of a cue to sink balls in. Had her ex done this to her?
“Let me call you back, Lo.”
“Okay, man. Peace.”
Peace? Peace wasn’t exactly something he was feeling at the moment. Taming his mounting outrage, he joined Tressa alongside the pool table. “Tell me what really happened to your wrist, Tressa.” He kept his tone as steady as possible. “The truth this time.”
Tressa tensed but relaxed a moment later, refusing to look at him. “Obviously, you already know the truth, Roth.”
“Why did I have to hear it from someone else? You looked me directly in my eyes and lied to me.”
Whipping toward him, she said, “What would you have done if I’d told you Cyrus did this, Roth?” She lifted her arm.
“Don’t you mean what I’m going to do to his ass? Right now, in fact.” He turned to move away, but Tressa snagged the hem of his sweater, then moved around to block his path.
“Baby, he’s not worth it.”
“Because he’s irrelevant.”
Roth already knew that, but Cyrus’s irrelevance wasn’t what he was inquiring about. “Why did he grab you?” Tressa’s eyes lowered, which told him what he’d suspected. “He knows about us?”
“He has an idea,” she said, barely audible.
“And that’s why this happened?”
When she didn’t respond, he had his answer. He made a fist so tight his knuckles cracked. He was the one the bastard should have come for, not Tressa. But Roth would make sure he felt every ounce of that mistake.
Tressa rested her hands on his chest and he flinched.
“What are you going to do, Roth?”
He flashed her a do-you-really-want-to-know look.
Her words were sharp when she said, “You’re not a monster, Roth.”
His words were equally as pointed and urgent when he said, “No, I’m not. But I am a man who loves a woman and will be damned if I let—”
“Wh-what did you just say?” Tressa interrupted.
It took him a second or two to realize what he’d allowed to slip. Shit! This was not how he imagined saying those three words to her for the first time. He massaged his forehead. When he spoke, his tone was much calmer than it had been moments before. “I said—”
“You said you love me.”
He scrubbed a hand over his head, handling her trifling ex no longer seeming so urgent now. A lazy chuckle floated from him. “I guess I did.”
“Did you mean it?”
She seemed almost hesitant to ask.
“Yeah, I did.”
“I love you, too.”
Roth crushed his mouth to hers and kissed her long and hard. Without breaking their connection, he hoisted her into his arms and climbed onto the pool table. “Do you have any idea how much I want you right now? I want you so bad I’m bordering delirium.”
“Well, I can’t have the man I love going insane. I guess that means you better take me.”
Roth rolled her onto her stomach, then slowly unzipped the sexy-ass dress he’d fantasized peeling her out of all night. Leaning forward, he peppered tender kisses over her vanilla-scented skin. She always smelled so damn delicious. Maybe that was why anytime they were together he wanted to eat…her.
“You’re always so gentle,” she whispered.
Kissing his way to her ear, he said, “Not tonight, baby. Not tonight.”