“And I needed to see you,” she said. “But what does it mean?”
“That you needed me bad.”
She choked on another laugh.
“You don’t think so?” He turned and lifted up his shirt. He hadn’t refastened his jeans so they were sagging a little, enough to reveal the ten fingernail indentions, five on each perfect butt cheek.
She slapped her hands over her eyes in tune to his soft laugh.
Great. He was invigorated by sex and she . . . well, she’d lost another chunk of her heart. She straightened her clothes, swearing when she couldn’t find her panties. Being a sex fiend was getting expensive.
Keane came close and buttoned up her top for her, his hands lingering to cup her face, gently tilting it up to his for a soft kiss. “Okay,” he said. “Tell me. Tell me what you want me to know. Do you still need space? Because I’m thinking eight to nine inches should do it.”
She huffed out a soft laugh and rubbed her temples. “It’s just that when we do this”—she gestured vaguely at her desk—“it makes me feel things. More each time.”
She tipped her head back and stared at the ceiling as she let out another low laugh. She felt his hands slide up and down her arms.
“Willa, look at me.”
She hesitated because she knew damn well she got lost in his eyes every time, but she did meet his gaze.
“You get that you’re not alone in this, right? I’m right here in this with you, and just as unnerved by what’s going on.”
She shook her head. “Are you? Because you seem so at ease with it. You move in and out of the intimacy without even blinking an eye, like it’s not hitting you.”
He studied her for a long beat. “You think I don’t have emotions?”
“I think you’re better at managing them than I am.”
“You’ve got to have faith,” he said. “In me. In us.”
“That’s hard for me.”
“So are you ending this then?”
“No.” Her stomach quivered at just the thought. “No,” she said again more firmly and actually clutched at him.
“Okay,” he murmured, pulling her in, holding her tight. “Okay, I’m not going anywhere.”
She was too choked up to do anything more than nod as she sought comfort in his embrace for a long moment before pulling back, making sure they were both decent.
“I’m not going to pretend anything,” he warned her when she turned to the door. “Not even for Rory. Don’t ask me to.”
She shook her head. “I won’t.”
Her entire crew was hanging close by, clearly trying to eavesdrop. When they saw her, they all scattered wildly.
Except for Elle, who studied Willa for a long beat and then Keane.
Willa ignored her the best she could and gestured for Keane to make his escape. Instead, he came close to her and kissed her. Not a deep kiss but not a light one either. It was the kiss of a man staking his claim. When he lifted his head, the barest hint of a smile crossed his lips. “Still your ball and your court,” he said.
And then he walked away from her without looking back.
When Willa finally got home that night, she had a raging headache from the thoughts she’d managed to block all day. A raging headache and some deep gouges courtesy of an extremely pissed-off cat who’d been brought in for grooming after a run-in with a rose bush.
The cat had been so wild that Willa had refused to let Rory or anyone else work on her, which meant she’d handled the situation alone.
And had paid the price.
Rory had wanted to treat Willa’s deep scratches but Willa had told her she was fine.
But really, she was as far from fine as she could get.
Feeling much more alone than she could remember feeling, she strode through her dark apartment without bothering with lights. Outside, rain was battering the building and inside, all she wanted was a PB&J sandwich—triple-deckered—and her bed. She was halfway through making the sandwich when she was driven crazy by her leaky kitchen faucet. “Shut up,” she told it.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Dammit. She used to love being alone. When had she stopped loving it?
Drip. Drip. Drip . . .
“Fine. I’ll shut you up myself,” she muttered and crawled under the sink with a wrench. She gave the loose bolt a twist and then screeched in shock and surprise when icy water burst all over her.
Sputtering indignantly, she sat on her kitchen floor and stared down at herself.
She was a mess.
Fitting, given her day. Refusing to cave to it and lose her collective shit, she was back at spreading peanut butter when she heard a knock at her door. Because it was past midnight and that kind of a night, she brought the knife with her to look out the peephole. Her good parts tingled and she told them to shut up too.
Keane stood on her doorstep looking dark as the wet, cold night and just as dangerous.
Keane hadn’t been able to fall asleep to save his life. Feeling oddly weighted down, he’d gotten up to run, figuring pushing himself to exhaustion should straighten his shit out.
As he pounded the sidewalks, he ticked off the positives in his life. One, his great-aunt Sally was back in her rehab facility and doing well. She’d even left him a message for a change, telling him that an old friend had offered to take Pita off his hands. Two, his real estate agent was officially accepting bids for the Vallejo Street home over the next week.
He was in a good place. Hell, he was in a great place, so he should be over the moon.
He wasn’t. None of it felt right.
Not giving up Pita. Not selling the Vallejo Street home. Not giving Willa space to figure her shit out, none of it worked for him on any level.
He ran harder, until his muscles quivered with exhaustion. And that’s when he’d realized he’d ended up in front of Willa’s building.
The simple truth was that he’d been drawn here like a moth to the flame. He loved her smile, loved her laugh, loved the way she made him do both of those things with shocking regularity. He loved the way she brought him out of himself, not letting him take himself too seriously. He loved . . . everything. Absolutely everything about her.
She opened to his quiet knock and he drank in the sight of her; hair wild, eyes flashing bad temper, her shirt drenched and just sheer enough that she could have won any wet T-shirt contest the world over.