“You know what the fucking hardest thing the last eleven months was to watch?”
“No,” I whispered.
His voice was rough, a low rumble. “Seeing you with guys who weren’t even worth a minute of your time—people that make me wonder what kind of shit choice in guys you have.”
I started to defend my taste in men, but I snapped my mouth shut. Yeah, the last couple of guys I’d gone out with were kind of bad. Not Dean. He was just . . . blah. Boring.
“You go out with these tools while you’d turn and run from me.”
“You’re worth my time?” I asked, unable to stop myself from doing so.
The tilt to his lips was knowing, arrogant and annoyingly sexy. “Babe, you have no idea how worth your time I am.” The hand on my hip tightened. “I’m not wanting to be just friends with you, Roxy. Hell no, but if that’s all you want, then I’ll deal with it. I just need to lay it all out there. So we’re both on the same page. You know what I want.”
Static transmitted through his shoulder radio, a dispatcher calling in a traffic accident on a back road not too far from here. Keeping his eyes on me, he moved his hand and hit a button I couldn’t see on the radio. “This is Unit Three-oh-one,” he said. “I’m en route.”
When Reece removed his hand, he said to me, “Just think about it.” Then he dipped his head, brushing his lips across my cheek, to my temple. He placed a honeyed, all too brief kiss there. “Now get your sweet ass inside.”
In a daze, I did just that. The only thing that stopped me was when I turned in the open doorway and he was already halfway to his cruiser. “Reece!”
He looked over his shoulder. “Roxy?”
My cheeks heated. “Be careful.”
I couldn’t see him smile, but I heard it in his voice. “Always, babe.”
Then he was gone.
The pleasant trill was back, stronger than I could remember. It was like having sugar land on my tongue. I floated as I closed my door, seconds from throwing out my arms like the chick in the Sound of Music and twirling around when I drew up short, just in front of the hall. There was a low hum coming from the kitchen, the sound of gears—of a machine turning over.
Reece and his I’m-not-just-wanting-a-friendship speech forgotten, I quickly flipped on the light. Everything looked normal, but that sound . . .
Dropping my purse on the couch, I slowly made my way through the small dining room, flipping on lights as I went. My stomach twisted as I reached the kitchen, quickly finding that light switch.
Light flooded the kitchen and I sought out the source of the noise, immediately finding it.
“What in the world?” I muttered.
Directly across from me, the dishwasher was getting down, doing its business. Nothing weird about that . . . except I hadn’t turned the dishwasher on before I left for work. And even if I had, it wouldn’t have been running this long. Tiny hairs rose along the back of my neck as I stared at it.
With the breath hitched in my throat, I crept toward the dishwasher, expecting it to spring to life and start singing like appliances did in Beauty and the Beast. Swallowing hard, I slid my fingers under the handle and yanked it open, interrupting the cycle.
Steam poured into the air, and I jerked my hand back. The door creaked and then fell all the way open. There were only two things in the dishwasher. The cup I’d used for the tea before I left for work and the plate I’d eaten a bagel on.
Leaving the door open, I backed away as I shook my head. I didn’t get it. Had I accidentally knocked on the timer? Sounded plausible, but hell, I honestly didn’t even know how to turn it on.
A cold chill snaked down my neck as I folded my arms across my chest. Turning in a wide circle, my gaze sought out every nook and cranny in the kitchen. Then, more than a little freaked out, I darted out of the kitchen, leaving all the lights on, and I didn’t stop running until I was in my bedroom, door shut and locked behind me.
“Do you still believe in ghosts?” I asked Charlie.
He was staring out the window, no response, but I was dauntless—totally like that chick in that movie everyone was talking about. Couldn’t remember her name, but Theo James was in it, so score.
“I remember us playing with the Ouija board stuff,” I continued, sitting in the chair across from him with my legs tucked under my butt. “But we were, like, thirteen, and a year before that, we swore we saw the chupacabra outside, but whatever, I think my apartment might be haunted.”
Charlie blinked slowly.
I took a deep breath. “The remote control ended up in the fridge last Saturday, and when I came home from my shift, the dishwasher was running. Then, after my shift on Thursday, I came home and the TV . . . in my bedroom was on. I didn’t leave it on when I left. So, either there’s a ghost in my house, someone else is living there that I’m completely unaware of, or I’m losing my mind. And I know, going crazy doesn’t seem too unbelievable.”
My nervous laugh echoed around the otherwise silent room, taunting me. Truth was, whatever weirdness that was going on in my apartment was freaking me out. I’d told my mom about it when I talked to her this morning on the way to visit Charlie, and she was totally convinced it was a ghost. Although, I’d never seen one, I believed in them. I mean, way too many people—healthy, normal, and completely sane people—in the world had claimed that they’d seen a ghost for some cases not to be real. But nothing had happened in my apartment before. Why would it start messing around with stuff now? Or maybe it had done things before, and I just never noticed? God, it was super creepy to think that my place could really be haunted.