I made my way back to the chair and pulled out the book I’d been reading to him. It was New Moon, and we’d gotten to see the first movie together. Almost got to see the second. As I cracked it open to the last page I’d left off at, I was convinced that Charlie would’ve been Team Jacob. He would never go for emo vampires. Even though this was the fourth time I’d read the book to him, he’d seemed to like it.
At least, that’s what I told myself.
Not once during the hour I spent with him did he look at me, and as I packed up, my heart was as heavy as that rock that had changed everything. I leaned down close to him. “Look at me, Charlie.” I waited a heartbeat as my throat clogged. “Please.”
Charlie . . . all he did was blink as he rocked slowly. Back and forth. That was all, as I waited a full five minutes for a response, any response, but none came. My eyes dampened as I pressed a kiss against his cool cheek and then straightened. “I’ll see you next Friday, okay?”
I pretended he said okay in return. It was the only way I could walk out of that room and close the door behind me. I checked out and as I made my way outside into the blistering heat, I found my sunglasses in my tote and slipped them on. The heat did wonders for my chilled skin, but didn’t warm my insides. It was always like this after I visited Charlie, and it would take until my shift at Mona’s started before I was able to shake off the coldness.
As I walked toward the back of the parking lot where my car was, I swore.
I could see the heat wafting off the pavement, and I immediately wondered what colors I’d need to mix to capture the effect on canvas. Then I saw my trusty Volkswagen Jetta, and all thoughts of watercolors vanished. My stomach flopped heavily and I almost tripped right over my feet. There was a nice, practically new truck sitting next to mine.
I knew that black truck.
I’d driven it once.
My feet refused to move so I came to a complete standstill.
The very bane of my existence was here, who oddly was the same person who had a reoccurring starring role in all my fantasies, even the really dirty ones—especially them.
Reece Anders was here, and I didn’t know if I was going to punch him in the nuts or kiss him.
The driver’s door opened smoothly, and my heart—my damn, traitorous bitch of a heart—skipped a beat as a long denim-clad leg appeared, along with flip-flops with a tan leather thong. Why did I have to have a thing for guys who were ballsy enough to wear flip-flops, because, oh dear, I really did think that was entirely sexy paired with faded jeans. Another leg appeared, and the door blocked the torso for a moment—only a second. The door closed, and I got an eyeful of a worn Metallica shirt that did very little to hide a well-defined, totally yummy-in-my-tummy six-pack. The shirt was practically mating with his stomach, clinging to each ripple. It was doing the same to his biceps, essentially taunting me.
That was it. The shirt was being a spiteful man-bitch.
I dragged my gaze up over broad shoulders—the kind of shoulders that could bear the brunt of the weight of the world, and had—to his face. He was rocking some sexy black sunglasses, looking damn good doing so.
God, Reece looked great in casual clothes, panties-on-fire hot when he was wearing his police uniform, and when he was naked, he could seriously induce a visual orgasm.
And I’d seen him naked. Well, sort of. Okay, totally saw his goods, and they were goodie-gumdrops kind of good.
Reece was classically handsome, the kind of guy with the bone structure that had my fingers itching to sketch—angular cheekbones, full lips, and an honest-to-God jawline that could cut cheesecakes all day long. And he was a cop, serving and protecting, and there was just something entirely badass hot about that.
Unfortunately, I also hated him, absolutely loathed him. Ah, well, most of the time. Sometimes. Pretty much whenever I gazed upon his perfection and started lusting after him. Yeah, that’s when I hated him.
My girlie parts were feeling that vibe right now, meaning in this moment, I disliked him. So as I tightened my hand on the tote bag I carried, I popped out a hip like I’d seen Katie, a . . . well, odd friend of mine, do when she was about to deliver a verbal smackdown.
“What are you doing here?” I demanded, and then promptly shivered—shivered in the hundred-degree temperature, because I hadn’t spoken to Reece in over eleven months. Well, not counting the words Fuck off, because I’d probably said that to him, oh, about four hundred times in the last eleven months, but whatever.
Dark brows shot up over the frame of the sunglasses. A moment passed and then he chuckled, as if what I said was the most amusing thing ever. “How about you actually say hi to me first?”
Curse words would’ve flown from my tongue like birds migrating south for winter if he hadn’t caught me off guard. I’d asked a totally valid question. From what I knew, Reece never, in the six years I’d been seeing Charlie, had visited the facility, but a smidgen of guilt bloomed and my momma raised me better than this. I forced out a “Hi.”
He pursed well-formed lips and said nothing.
My eyes narrowed from behind my sunglasses. “Hello . . . Officer Anders?”
A moment passed as he cocked his head to the side. “I’m not on duty, Roxy.”
Oh man, the way he said my name. Roxy. How he curled his tongue around the R. I had no idea how, but it made me all squishy in areas that so did not need the squishiness.
When he didn’t say anything else though, I was close to punching myself in the girlie areas, because he was seriously going to make me do this. “Hello . . .” I drew the word out. “Reece.”