Working at the fire department meant I saw a lot of terrible shit. Car accidents. Burn victims. Floaters in the river. And sometimes we were called in when the police or EMTs couldn’t get through a door. Found a lot of OD victims that way.
“So why aren’t you going into psychology?” Curiosity consumed me. “Seems like you might have found your calling.”
She smiled a little. “I don’t know if I have the empathy to pull that off every day of the week for the next forty years. Syd does. I don’t.”
I wasn’t so sure about that.
“What about you?” she asked. “Why do you want to be a cop? You seem to like doing the fireman thing.”
My lips curled up on one side. “It’s what I’ve always wanted to be.”
“Because of your father?”
Surprise shuttled through me. I’d had no idea she knew that my father was a cop. Had to have been Kyler. “Yeah, but not the reasons you’re probably thinking.”
She twisted toward me, her thigh glancing off mine. “What do you mean?”
My father was the last person I wanted to talk about, but I found myself running my mouth anyway. “Walter—my father—was a shit husband and dad, but he was even more of a shit cop.”
Andrea blinked, obviously taken aback.
I laughed under my breath and looked away, casting my gaze to the woods surrounding the pool. “He couldn’t keep his dick in his pants and he couldn’t keep his nose clean, you know what I mean? He’d let people slide if they could do things for him, like cut him deals on shit. Not drugs and that kind of shit, but you’d be surprised by what people will do to get out of tickets. When I was younger, I didn’t get why my mom cried all the time or why my dad didn’t always come home after his shifts. I didn’t get that he was a bad cop, probably wouldn’t have if it wasn’t for his partner. She was the one who showed me what it was like to be a cop, to respect that uniform and your role in society. I have no idea how she dealt with my father as long as she did—or how my mom did—but because of her I knew I wanted to be a cop.” I took a breath, feeling the tops of my ears burn. “Anyway, I guess I wanted to be one because I could somehow make up for how shitty my father was at it.”
“Wow,” she said, placing her sun-warmed hand on my shoulder. “I didn’t know any of that.”
My gaze fell to where her small hand rested. Such an elegant and graceful hand, one that could’ve wielded a scalpel artfully, just hopefully not to my heart.
Why in the fuck was I thinking about my heart and her cutting into shit?
And I was still hard.
Her hand slid down to my forearm. When she reached my wrist, she squeezed gently. “You know, you don’t have to make up for how lousy he was.”
“I know.” My voice was rougher, abrasive.
Her slight smile grew. “But you’ll make an excellent cop. You’re a good guy. Most of the time,” she teased.
I wasn’t having good-guy thoughts right then. Nope. Not at all. I couldn’t help it. I had to touch her. I needed to, and my control thinned and then snapped. So I did.
I saw the change in him immediately. Those baby blues darkened to azure, and I stilled, barely breathing. Part of me wanted to dive underwater, but that was such a small part. The rest didn’t want to move.
My heart skipped as Tanner moved, but it wasn’t closer to me. He pushed away from the ledge. But before I could feel a second of disappointment, he shifted so that he was behind me, his forearms resting on either side of mine on the pool ledge.
I sucked in air as I tensed, keeping the front of my body against the slippery side of the pool. What in the world was he doing? My imagination fed me a ton of naughty images as the clouds darkened over us again.
His breath was warm on my shoulder as he spoke. “Can I tell you something?”
Closing my eyes, I nodded. “Sure.”
“I’m glad you didn’t want to go hiking. I like having you all to myself.” He moved one hand off the ledge and it landed on the bare skin of my side, underwater. I jerked back and came into contact with his large body. I didn’t move. Not even when his chest rose sharply against my back. “Are you?”
All thoughts scattered when his hand slid to my hip. The small stretch of material did nothing to block the feel of the rough callouses on his palm.
My breath stuttered. “Yeah…yes.”
“That makes me happy to hear.” His hand drifted off my hip, over my belly, stopping just above my navel. I didn’t even have a chance to think about sucking in my stomach. My mind was blown by the touch and my arms shook. “Are you okay with this?” he asked as he flattened his hand.
I could barely get the words out. “Okay with what?”
“With this.” He leaned into me. His entire front pressed against my back as he used his hand against my stomach to hold me in place. Against my lower back, I could feel the hard length of him, and my blood trilled through my veins. “You feel me and you’re okay with that?”
Lust blurred my thoughts, mingling with confusion. While my body was a hundred percent on board—hell, it was on a train that had already left the station—I didn’t understand why he wanted this—wanted me now. But I wasn’t sure if that mattered—if the past really had any place in the here and now. And when had I ever really stopped to think about anything? Obviously not often.