He said such nice things but then he acted like he didn’t want to be near her. She was confused. His frown made her revaluate his offer to take her out to see the sights. When she had agreed it seemed as if he hadn’t expected her to and didn’t want her to. Perhaps she had better rescind her consent. She didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable.
Yet he had seemed so genuine about his desire to spend time with her. Her wish to get to know him better was authentic. He seemed like a good man, like their father. She liked that he made her feel like a part of his family and said he would protect her, just like their dad had told her over and over. When she finally accepted her adopted father’s promise it had felt like a huge weight had been lifted off her chest. Someone had her back. She could relax a little now.
Until then she had felt like she had to be on guard 24/7. Danger lay all around her and she was damned if she would let it hurt her ever again. So she had built a wall up around her heart and soul. She kept guard over it night and day by herself.
When she allowed Mr. and Mrs. Carrington into her world, after several years of watching and studying them, the wall was still up but she wasn’t so alone now. Mr. Carrington helped her to keep watch and Mrs. Carrington showed her a world where life was softer and comfortable. Growing up she had lived in a place of sharp edges that had nearly cut her to pieces.
Emma pulled her thoughts away from the past. Mom and dad had been good to her. They had raised Chris. He seemed just as good as them. Perhaps she needed to relax and let the situation enfold and not try to hide from it or him.
Don’t overthink it, she chided herself. Take him at his word, like you would mom and dad. He’s your brother. You can trust him.
“What can I do?” she asked when she got to the kitchen.
“Grab the pasta out of the pantry over there.”
“Do you have a preference on which pasta you want?” she asked seeing that he had at least four different kinds.
“Let’s try the angel hair.”
She brought the box over to him. He had started the water to boil on the stove. He smiled at her when she handed him the box.
She returned the smile thinking that his made his whole face light up. He was handsome but when he looked happy, he was downright delicious. No wonder he had his pick of women in the world. As far as she could tell from the gossip columns and blogs, he had never dated a woman more than once. They tended to all be models and blonde. It was reported that he was living the American male dream. He played sports for a generous living and he had all the women he could handle.
Emma felt a fleeting stab of some emotion in her gut. She couldn’t quite figure out what it was never having felt it before. Was she bothered by his lifestyle? He was a player and usually men like that made her uncomfortable. They tended to be mean and vicious. She wasn’t exactly their type and they liked to let her know that.
He’s not like that, she told herself. You’re jealous.
She took a step back from him at that thought.
Jealous, she thought disturbed by the possibility. Was she jealous of him? She shook her head. No that wasn’t it. Then who was she jealous of?
The women he’s having sex with, her mind revealed to her.
“Hey you ok?”
She snapped out of her thoughts when he spoke to her. She looked up at him, self-conscious she had been thinking about him in that way. Her smile was timid.
“Yeah, sorry. I was thinking about something I shouldn’t be thinking about.”
“Oh yeah, what?” he asked curious. “If you don’t mind me asking.” He glanced at her as he put the pasta in the boiling water.
Her heart jumped into her throat. Oh shit, she thought. What do I say?
“Hey, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to,” he said quickly. She must have looked terrified for him to backpedal so fast.
“No I – I …” she stuttered. “I was thinking about … I hope I haven’t put you out by being here. Mom and dad insisted that I stay with you but if I’m in the way of your … life, I can get a hotel room.”
“What do you mean by ‘in the way of my life’ ?” he asked now staring at her.
“You’re – uh – da – dating life,” she murmured, looking away from his penetrating gaze. “I know how much you – date and if you bring your dates home … I – I don’t want things to be awkward for you.”
“Look at me Emma.”
She obeyed his gentle command. His facial expression was intense with emotion. What emotion she couldn’t tell.
“I haven’t dated anyone in several weeks,” he told her. “While you are here, I plan on being too busy with you to be dating.”
She watched him raise his hand and cup her head. His thumb rubbed over her cheek. Her body lit up with a jolt at his touch. She felt like she was throbbing as a live electrical wire would. Why was he touching her? No one ever touched her. No one ever wanted to anymore. Hence why her body was reacting so deeply to his hold on her.
Did he know how much he affected her?