Home > Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(2)

Everything for Us (The Bad Boys #3)(2)
Author: M. Leighton

Seen or felt.

After a long pause, he finally speaks. “I’m trouble.”

“I know.”

Another pause.

“You’ll probably get hurt.”

I gulp. I know it’s true, but hearing the words, out loud, acknowledging them, is something else entirely. “I know,” I admit.

“Then you can’t say I didn’t warn you.”

“I know,” I say again, wondering if I’ve lost my mind as well as my vocabulary.

After a few more seconds of staring at me, Nash turns gingerly onto his unwounded side. “Roll over,” he says gruffly.

I’m not sure why, but I do as he says without asking questions. It makes me pretty certain that yes, I have lost my mind.

On my side, facing away from him, I fold my hands under my cheek. My mind races with questions that have no answers and images that haunt me from the darkness. Just as a sense of panic starts to creep up from my chest and lodge in my throat, Nash drapes his arm over my waist, pulling me toward him, snugging me up into the curve of his body. He does it roughly, almost grudgingly. I don’t get the feeling that he’s giving me comfort so much as giving in and getting some for himself. It’s almost as though he resists the help, the emotion of other people. He’s a loner, stranded on an island of anger and bitterness. He needs rescuing. He just doesn’t know it yet.

Regardless of his motives, the effect is still the same. In fact, the thought that he might need me as much as I feel like I need him intensifies it. Instantly, my mind stills and the panic quiets. That’s the moment I realize that yes, he is trouble. And that no, it won’t keep me away from him. Nothing will.

And I don’t know why.

* * *

When next I open my eyes, I can see streaks of daylight peeking beneath the edge of my curtains. I listen to the sounds around me.

Nash’s breathing is deep and even where it fans the side of my neck. A chill runs through me at the feel of his hard body pressed against my back.

I don’t know what has gotten into me. I’ve never reacted to a man this way. Not even close. And I dated his brother, for God’s sake! But it was nothing like this. This is something more, something wild. Something . . . different.

I hear the click of a door shutting. It sounded like it came from Olivia’s room. One of them must be up.

Olivia.

Guilt washes through me when I think of her. How in the world she could be so kind to me, to risk so much to save me when I’ve treated her so badly, is truly beyond my comprehension. It makes me want to be worthy of that generosity and sincerity, although I doubt I ever could be.

An idea strikes me, so I move slowly away from Nash and slip out of the bed, padding quietly to the kitchen. I’m pleased to see that Olivia kept the fridge stocked while I was gone. Pulling eggs from the cubby inside the door, I open the freezer, too, taking out sausage patties and hash browns and laying it all on the counter. I grab a bowl and three skillets of varying sizes from the cabinet and set them on the stove. Looking proudly at my progress thus far, I push up my sleeves, ready to dig in and make a great breakfast for everyone. I jump, startled, when I hear a throat clear behind me.

I turn around, a big smile in place, fully expecting to see Olivia standing in the doorway. The voltage of the gesture, as well as the sincerity, dims considerably when I see Cash poised there instead.

“What are you doing?”

“Making breakfast,” I respond, trying hard to rid my tone of sarcasm as I turn back to the food. “What’s it look like?”

“You don’t cook,” Cash says flatly.

“It’s never too late to start.” I don’t bother to look at him; I keep my attention focused on the eggs I’m cracking into a mixing bowl.

“You can drop the act, Marissa. It’s just us. You don’t have to pretend for me. You forget, I know you.”

“Maybe you used to know me, as much as two people like us could’ve known each other, but that’s in the past. Things are different now.”

“Oh really?” There’s no doubt he feels that’s completely impossible. And that makes me angry.

I whirl to face him, pointing my whisk like an accusing weapon. “Don’t act like you were any better than me. You lied to everyone in your life, everyone you called a friend or coworker. You used me for my position, to get close to my father, to keep your job at the firm. You were more than happy to do whatever you had to do to achieve your goals. Don’t you dare get all pious and spit your righteous indignation at me. Don’t you forget that I know you, too.”

It only makes me angrier that he looks completely unflustered. “True. But that wasn’t the real me. You never knew the real me. Only the person I let you see, the act I put on for everyone else’s benefit.”

“Judge all you want. Justify your actions all you want. I don’t really care what you think, and I don’t have to prove anything to you. I owe Olivia. As long as I can prove myself to her, I don’t give a damn what you think.”

With that, I turn back to my bowl full of raw eggs, diving in with my whisk and beating the crap out of them.

The thing that makes me angriest is that Cash is right. I don’t deserve a second chance. I don’t deserve anybody’s trust or confidence. They’ve all seen what I was like. I’ve made an impression that I may well never be able to live down.

But that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. At this point, there are few opinions I actually care about. I’ll just have to focus on those and put the rest out of my mind.

I hear the shuffle of Cash’s bare feet as he leaves the kitchen. They stop at the last minute, so I stop whisking to listen.

“I’m sorry for what happened, Marissa. Not even someone like you deserved to be dragged into the shitstorm of my life.”

I say nothing, just listen to the quiet as he waits for a response, gets none, and then walks away. I try to ignore how his obvious distaste for me stings. I don’t really care what he thinks, but it’s disturbing to think anyone feels that way about me. Was I really that bad?

Before I can start down the horrible road of self-loathing, I hear another voice.

“Ignore him, Marissa.” This time it is Olivia standing in the doorway when I turn. She looks tousled and sleepy and sweet, as always. I’m a little embarrassed that she heard what he said. “He’s like a bear with a thorn in his paw this morning. I don’t know what his problem is.” Her grin is kind. I know she’s trying to excuse his behavior, but somehow that just makes me feel worse. Has she always come to my defense this way? And have I always been this undeserving of it?

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