Why in the hell did he sound like he was trying to convince himself? And why did the idea of leaving her here alone bother him so damn much? It wasn’t like he was abandoning her. She would be okay, right?
Once she was checked in, he’d call Vivian to come and comfort her. Her best friend was who she needed, not the man who constantly fantasized about making love to her. Roth brushed a hand over his close-cut hair.
A young man who’d been standing at what looked like a podium and dressed in a black overcoat and gloves approached his SUV. When Roth lowered the window a gust of cold air rushed in. He welcomed the brisk breeze because it felt as if his system was overheating.
“Good evening, sir. Welcome to the De Lore Hotel. Will you be staying with us this evening?”
“Ah…” Shit. Spit it out, Lex. Say yes, she will. Say it. His gaze slid to Tressa. When she rested her hand on the door handle to open it, his heart raced. Don’t do it, man. Don’t do it. “Actually, no. Maybe another time. Thank you.” The window rose and he pulled off, leaving the man standing there.
Roth swiped his thumb back and forth against the steering wheel. What in the hell are you doing? This woman of all women should not be in your back seat. And taking her to the cabin? The cabin’s your sanctuary.
A significant thought occurred to him. What about the nightmares? His past had a way of haunting him in his dreams. All he needed was to wake up screaming at the top of his lungs. It would scare the hell out of Tressa and embarrass the hell out of him. An occurrence like that would break two of his cardinal rules: never show vulnerability and always maintain control. He’d learned a long time ago that being vulnerable got you hurt and losing control made you rash.
Her being at the cabin with him period would break the third: always wake up alone.
Two days. He could handle two days cooped up with the woman he’d dreamed about, fantasized about since the first day they met. Two days. No problem. Hell, it wasn’t like he could actually make a move now anyway. That would be a shit thing to do. She was vulnerable, grieving and probably out for a little sexual revenge.
The last point gave him pause. Sexual revenge. A woman scorned was capable of anything, right? Well, he’d never played the role of the rebound guy, and he wouldn’t start now. Not even for Tressa. That alone should keep his libido in check.
“Thank you, Roth. I promise I won’t get in your way.”
He met Tressa’s tender gaze through the rearview mirror and his heartbeat kicked up just a notch. Oh, you’re already getting in my way. Influencing him to make bad decisions, testing his resolve, reminding him how it felt to crave something unattainable. “You’ll like Silver Point,” was all he said.
Roth swiped his thumb back and forth across the steering wheel, lost in his thoughts. This was the stupidest thing he’d done in a long while. Reckless, even. He couldn’t be alone with Tressa. Yes, he had self-control, plenty of self-control. But this would require a whole lot of self-discipline.
His eyes slid to Tressa, who’d been watching him through the mirror. For a split second, he didn’t regret pulling away from the hotel. Her eyes slid away, and after a short time, his did, too.
Four hours later they arrived at the cabin on the hill, as the townsfolk often called it. He popped the SUV into Park, then glanced back at Tressa. She’d fallen asleep two hours into the drive—or had pretended to be to avoid having to talk.
His insides did a shimmy watching her. She really was asleep now, because in the stillness, he could hear her soft snores. As far as bad decisions went, bringing Tressa here was the Grandfather Mountain of poor judgment calls. He just hoped it wouldn’t backfire in his face.
* * *
Tressa assumed Roth’s gentle touch was only in her dreams until his voice penetrated her slumber, and she realized he was trying to wake her. She cracked her eyes and squinted to focus. His handsome face slowly materialized. “How long have I been asleep?” she asked in a groggy voice.
“A couple of hours. Come on, Sleeping Beauty.”
She took Roth’s outstretched hand, the spark giving her the jolt of energy she needed. Gravel crunched under her feet as she stepped out of the vehicle. One of the first things she noticed—excluding the bone-chilling cold—was the quiet. No horns. No traffic. No bustling.