Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1) (10 page)

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
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She didn’t get far when someone opened a door behind her. Wondering if Rodney had something else to say, Avery stopped in her tracks. It wasn’t Rodney she saw when she turned. Lucas stood outside his door, watching her with those wide eyes. Locks of wet, dark hair fell over his forehead.

He looked so good.

He also seemed exhausted and deep in thought.

“I heard voices.” Lucas shuffled out of his room.

“Just us,” Avery said wearily. She wasn’t ready to deal with his strange high and low attitude. “Good night, Lucas. I hope you got done what you needed to.”

Time to go home and sleep. As far as emotional days went, this one held the top spot on the list.

“Avery.”

The way he said her name, so easily, his voice low, sent her into the willies. How did he manage to do that?

I don’t want him to affect me like this!

She faced him again. “What is it, Lucas? I’m tired and ready to go to bed.”

And not with you.

Liar!

She wanting nothing more than to know how he felt while-

No! Don’t go there.

“I want to feel again,” Lucas whispered, taking the last few steps that bridged the distance between them. “You make me feel something, and I need to feel again.” His long arms encircled her waist.

Avery melted into him.

What did he mean by that? “Luc-” His mouth crashed against hers, prodding her lips apart with his tongue. All of her good senses washed away as Avery returned his kiss. He had a way of freezing her mind with his kisses. Just like right now. Until a light flickered and startled her. Then she had to gather her strength to stop. “I can’t keep kissing you like this in the middle of the inn, Lucas.”

She tried to smile, lighten up the mood.

“Please join me for awhile.” Lucas gestured to his room. “I’m not asking you for sex. I just really need some company right now, and I enjoy yours.”

Well, that was a first. Wow. Avery glanced up and met his gaze. There was an unreadable expression that Avery guessed was a mix of sadness and anguish. But why?

Maybe she’d get more information if she went with him. Something haunted him, bothered him and he didn’t look like he wanted to be alone.

“Okay. Let’s go.”

Lucas grabbed her hand and led her to his room. When she closed the door behind her, she expected Lucas to continue what they started in the hall. He stared at her, cupped her face, his thumb circling her cheekbone, but didn’t move closer for another kiss.

“Is something wrong, Lucas?”

He sighed. “Yes. It’s work related. I can’t really talk about it.”

Whatever it was, it weighed heavily on his mind.

“I understand. I won’t ask for details, then. But the look in your eyes right now-”

He put a finger to her lips. “You have this way about you, that has me feeling more than I’ve felt in a long time, Avery.”

“You said that before. Why don’t you feel, Lucas? What do you mean?”

“I’ve shut off my emotions for so long.”

He wasn’t making sense. Had he been drinking? Maybe coming in here wasn’t such a good idea after all. His strange behavior sent warning vibes to her gut. She’d back away, but her backside was already up against the wall. “Lucas, you’re scaring me.”

She put a hand on his shoulder and shook him firmly. It wasn’t that she feared him, his actions. Something told her Lucas wouldn’t hurt her.

What scared her was the way he guarded himself, and he was about to break.

He blinked. “Damn. Sorry. That’s not my intention. I know you think I’m a little crazy right now-”

“Right now? You’ve been teetering on the edge since I met you,” Avery teased. His lips turned up slightly, but his eyes didn’t match the halfhearted smile.

“Yeah, you may have a point.” Lucas lowered his voice. “You want to sit down? I promise, I might start making sense.” He gestured toward the table and two chairs on the far side of the room, facing the window.

“Sure. I don’t think I’ll stay too long. I’m getting tired, but I’ll keep you company for awhile.” Lucas followed her to the table. He pulled out a chair for her, and after she settled in it, slid into the one across from her.

“Thank you. I don’t get company much. I’m always on the go. On the road. It gets really lonely after awhile. And I’ll admit, watching you connect with Rodney tonight makes me wish I had even one set of parents that ever gave a shit.” His voice dripped ice.

Avery’s head snapped up. “You didn’t have a good childhood growing up?”

He shook his head sadly. “No. My parents were, well, difficult, to say the least. They didn’t know I was there half the time.”

“That’s terrible!” That was so hard to imagine. Avery’s parents weren’t always up in her face, and lately, they hardly saw one another with such short staffing at the inn half the time, but they’d always inquired about her day, made sure that she had everything she needed and even tried to get her what she wanted as well.

“It sucked, but I know some people had it worse than I did.”

“Where are they now? Do you not talk to them at all?”

Lucas looked up, with empty eyes. “They’re dead. Drugs and alcohol.”

Avery gasped. “Oh, Lucas-”

Avery regretted the times she’d felt like what she had wasn’t enough. She’d been a baby when left at the inn. She had no memory of her birth parents. Lucas grew up with his parents. That kind of abandonment had to have been a thousand times more painful than hers.

At least she’d had a place to go.

When someone’s situation turned out like that, it gave Avery a new perspective.

He lifted a hand. “Please, don’t feel sorry for me. I don’t want any pity. I just- I guess I just need a really good talk tonight. It hasn’t hit me this hard in forever. I think, after their deaths, is when I stopped letting myself feel. Other than anger, and hurt, and rage, which put me in a world of trouble.”

“How old were you when it happened?”

“I’d just turned fifteen. I was taken to some foster homes, but frankly, no one wanted to deal with a teenage boy. Everyone judged me without knowing me. Especially when they all believed I was like my parents. They didn’t trust me, ended up trying to get me in trouble so that I could be taken away. I finally just ran away and avoided the system all together. And then, like a dumb ass, I did start ending up in trouble.” Lucas searched her face, his lips pursed into a set, thin line. The look in his eyes- such hurt tore Avery apart. All of a sudden she just wanted to console this man, even though it’s not what he wanted. But her heart ached for him.

Fifteen. Not old enough to be on his own. What kind of parents kept their child and couldn’t stay clean for them?

“I started stealing to survive. I thought, ‘Why did the rich need shit when they didn’t care about others?’ One night, I got into the wrong house, baited by others that I ran with on the streets. I was caught. I thought that was the end, that my ass would be rotting in jail, but the home owner took me under their wing, and helped me change my life.

“It wasn’t until I was older, probably about nineteen, that they started wanting favors from me. I started cleaning up after their messes. One night, an old friend of mine tried to break in. He was shot in the process. The people I stayed with took him in and promised not to call the cops because he was just sixteen at the time. When he started out with me, yeah, he was only thirteen. The damage from the bullet affected him, and he’s now in a great facility. It’s all paid for by these people that helped me. In return, I cleaned up their messes. I’m the one that keeps them out of trouble, which ends up making me the bad guy.”

“He’s the only friend I’ve truly got, and I let it all get swept up under the rug. I haven’t even visited him after that, and it’s been twelve years. I keep thinking he’s better off that way, but can you imagine? I don’t know who visits him, and I’m kind of afraid to. I’ve got no family. I’m on the go all the time dealing with things I’d rather not, and tonight, I start to feel. Of all times. I don’t know what the fuck is wrong with me.” Lucas slapped his hand on the table and inhaled, a sharp, shaky breath. “Then there’s you. Your every move drives me wild, and I don’t understand it, and sure as hell can’t act on it.”

“But it’s so much more than that. I think you understand me on a level I never thought someone could. I don’t know what to do about it.”

“You call those kisses not acting on it?” Avery prodded gently. If he wasn’t doing something about it, then what the hell were those intense kisses all about?

“Yeah, and you noticed I ran, didn’t I? Bolted the first sign of trouble.”

Avery’s lips turned up in a slight smile. “So, I’m trouble now?”

Lucas didn’t laugh like she’d hoped. He was all serious tonight. Damn.

“More than you know,” Lucas growled, his gaze fixated on her, that same look of need appearing again. “I’m torn between taking you to bed, or pushing you out of here and telling you to get away from me.”

“You’re the one that caught me in the hallway and wanted me to make you feel again!” Avery protested.

Men! She would never understand them as long as she lived!

“I know that, Avery. Call it a sign of weakness. You’re killing me here. And I don’t know which way I want to go about it,” Lucas said, his voice strained.

Avery moved to his side in a second. “I can help you decide, then,” she whispered.

Now or never. She’d never been this bold. But life was all about taking chances. Right now, she wanted a chance with Lucas. Even for a night. No reason to worry about regrets. That would come later. She’d deal with the aftermath then. But at this point, the lust took over. Avery reached for Lucas, needing to touch his face. His stubble scratched her hand, but she inched her lips closer to his anyway. His lips parted, waiting for her.

“You don’t know what you’re doing, Avery.” Lucas tried to protest, but she silenced him with her kiss. “You and I, we-”

“Shut up and kiss me, you fool,” she muttered against his lips. “I want to help you feel.”

I want to feel, too. I want to feel you.

Feeling brave, Avery climbed on top of Lucas and positioned herself in his lap, wrapping her arms around him. She’d certainly gotten his attention. His penis pushed up in his jeans, pressing against her. Lucas moaned when she pulled back. “Are you feeling now, Lucas?”

“Damn you, woman. I feel. I feel like I’m going to explode if you aren’t naked soon,” he grunted, voice hoarse. Lucas tugged at her shirt. Avery lifted her arms, and Lucas pulled it over her head. He tossed it behind him.

Then, he stopped.

What the hell?

“Avery, I didn’t ask you in here for this, I really didn’t. I know I cornered you with a kiss, but I don’t want you to think-”

This again? Avery sighed.

“Lucas, I’m a woman of my own free will. Okay? I’m not one to be pressured into these things. So, if you want to stop, we will, but I know what I’m doing. I know what I want. Right now, that’s you.” She trailed a finger along his cheek, hoping for a good sign, waiting for his next move.

“You don’t normally do this, do you?”

Why did he have to ask questions now, of all times? Damn him and his exasperating questions. What was wrong with him? Or was it her?

“Does it matter?” Avery backed away from Lucas, giving him what she hoped was an evil stare. Okay, she just practically threw herself at him, as he’d been insinuating for the past few days, and he wanted to ask questions at this very moment?

Ugh! Whatever.

“I don’t want to be your regret once you’ve thought this over. You don’t know me. I don’t know you. So what if we seem to have a fire for each other, it doesn’t mean we should act on it.”

“Lucas, I don’t get it. Get you. Because if I’m not mistaken, you’ve been coming on to me. And you’re going to have a change of heart now?” Avery swallowed.

Lucas’s breath hitched as his stare hardened. “You can call me a stupid idiot right now, but yeah. I can’t do this with you right now, Avery. Trust me, it’s better this way.” Lucas averted his gaze.

“You are the most infuriating man, Lucas!” Avery gathered her purse. “I don’t know why we’re having mixed signals, but I’m sorry. How about we forget this ever happened. I’m going to get the hell out of here before I-” She grabbed her rumpled shirt and threw it back over her head. She wanted to say so much more to him. The ringing of her phone interrupted her. Who would be calling this late? Panic rose in her throat when she pulled the phone from her purse. Mom and Dad. Why would they be calling at this very moment if it weren’t serious? She didn’t look back to give Lucas another look. Instead, Avery bolted from the room, cell phone to her ear. “What’s going on?”

“Did you remember to pick up your mother’s prescription like she asked?” Dad asked. He didn’t sound very happy at all.

Prescriptions? What was he talking about? And no one asked her to pick anything up unless-.

Her mother had been about to say something before Rodney showed up earlier. Avery never got a chance to ask about it more, because she’d been in her own thoughts and then a new distraction. Oh, crap! If the prescriptions weren’t important, her father wouldn’t be calling after ten o’clock.

“Dad, I-” Avery started.

“This isn’t like you, Avery. You’ve been distracted, slacking on the job, and Alice says you’ve been parading around with a few of the guests. What’s gotten into you?”

She couldn’t remember the last time her father had ever sounded so upset with her. Her heart thundered in her chest. “I’m sorry. Look, I’ll stop over at the pharmacy in the morning.”

“Thank you. Maybe we’ve all been so busy, and distracted. I apologize for sounding so crass.”

“No, Dad. You have the right to. I’ve got a lot on my mind and you’re right. I’m distracted. I’ll be home soon, okay?”

“See you then.” The call disconnected. She bolted from Lucas’s room without another word.

No more getting distracted by Lucas. He was all talk and no action. What the hell had gotten into him, anyway?

Wait, wondering about that meant that she was thinking about him. Again. Argh! Somehow, she’d have to shut the man out of her mind permanently. Whatever his job was, she wished it would end so he’d leave and stop dragging her desires through the mud.

BOOK: Baby Stetson (Love and Music in Texas #1)
10.01Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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