When he stepped back, Alexa rolled her eyes, hating the instant chill that fell over her bare skin. “I’m picking the next movie and you’re going to watch it.”
With a shrug, he replied, “Fine by me.”
Alexa named a title, something old that was ridiculously unpopular and very rare. Hayes lifted his brows in surprise.
“There’s only one other person I’ve ever heard mention that film,” he told her.
She hopped off the counter. “Really? Who else?”
“My best buddy from high school. We remained pretty close even during my first deployment, but then we lost touch and he passed away recently.”
Unease curled through her. There was no way. Absolutely not.
“What was his name?” she asked, almost afraid of the answer.
Alexa’s stomach dropped, her heart twisted, all the moisture in her mouth dried up the second her late husband’s name landed right between her and Hayes.
Now what the hell did she do? She’d slept with her husband’s best friend and Hayes already had issues with trust.
Tonight was about to get even more interesting.
Somewhere between the bathroom and the movie, Alexa had mentally and physically checked out. She’d slept in the spare bedroom, claiming she wasn’t comfortable sleeping with a man since her husband.
That was understandable. Hell, he wasn’t looking for snuggles and whispered promises in the dark so he should be relieved at her decision. But he wasn’t.
Hayes wanted her beside him so he could roll over and touch her, pleasure her when he wanted. He’d never been this way with another woman—not even his fiancée.
So why Alexa? What was it about this affair that had him craving even more?
When he’d been with Carly they just fell into everything because of timing, something he could see clearly after the fact. Hindsight and all that. They’d been stationed together, had fallen into an easy pattern of friendship, which led them straight to bed. Of course they’d snuck around, but once their relationship turned serious, with an engagement, they went to their CO and explained things.
Hayes hated how he must’ve looked like a fool from the start. All of those inclinations of marriage, family and settling down here at Pebblebrook were naive goals he’d once held close.
Between the war zones he’d jumped into and the shock from the betrayal, it was a wonder Alexa had even made it into his bed. He’d been the poster child for needing a distraction and the perfect storm literally landed her on his doorstep.
So what the hell had happened last night that had spooked her? They’d both agreed this was only temporary. She’d been even more adamant than he had.
On the flip side, Hayes should be relieved she wasn’t in his bed when the nightmares hit. She’d already witnessed his waking demons—there was no sense in her experiencing them while sleeping, as well.
The next morning, Hayes stood at the kitchen sink sipping his black coffee and staring out at the riverbank. Well, where the bank used to be. The usual cutoff from the land to the water had shifted somewhat as the flooding came up to nearly the slope that led to his porch. The rain had stopped. The storm had eased sometime during the night.
Actually, it had come to a head at eight minutes after two. He knew because he’d lain awake staring at the ceiling. After another nightmare and a clap of thunder, his sleep had been nonexistent. More than likely he’d never get a good night’s rest again, not with the demons constantly chasing him away from any type of normalcy.
The crashing overhead jerked him from his thoughts. His eyes went to the ceiling as he set his mug on the counter. Whatever Alexa had done, it sounded as though something had broke and his gut tightened at the thought of her being hurt.
Hayes raced up the stairs and down the hall leading to the room she’d chosen on the opposite end from his.
When he turned the corner, Alexa sat on the floor, his T-shirt bunched around her hips, and one of his grandmother’s antique pitchers, which had sat on the dresser, was in the floor in shards.
“Don’t come in,” she told him as she reached for the larger pieces. “Go get me something I can put all these broken pieces in. I just… I wasn’t paying attention and bumped the dresser. I’m so sorry.”
Her hands shook as she lifted another piece. Hayes carefully watched where he stepped and crossed the room.
“Put those down,” he ordered. “You’re going to cut yourself.”
She sniffed and glanced up to him, unshed tears swimming in her eyes. “Just get me the trash so I can throw these pieces away.”
Hayes took the three large chunks from her hand and set them back on the floor. Without warning, he lifted her from the floor and adjusted until one arm was beneath her knees and the other behind her back. He left the room with threatening protests from his houseguest.
“We’ll clean it up later,” he informed her as he went to his room. “Are you upset because you broke that piece? Because I don’t even go in that room and my mother wouldn’t want you to cry over broken porcelain.”