Tightening the serpentine belt in my truck, I try to stay busy, so I don’t think about Elena. If I think about her, then I’ll want to see her. I shouldn’t want to see her. I should not care if I see her or not.
I can’t deny that last night was pleasant. With my head in her lap and looking up at her – it was the best medicine for the pain in my head. Most of the throbbing left and went straight to that bothersome organ in my chest.
She thought that I was drunk, but I was completely sober by the time I crawled through that window. When I told her she was beautiful, it was like she didn’t believe me. Why wouldn’t she believe me?
Because you lie to her, the grating conscience tosses my way. I throw it out like sour milk; she doesn’t know that I’m lying to her. I’m not lying to her about everything, just some things, and I definitely was not lying to her about that.
I wanted to flip her over on that bed to show her just how stunning she really is. She cut through that want with a serrated knife when she asked me the question -one of the many queries I’m dreading to answer.
“Do you not recycle?” There’s a grunt behind me. I know who it belongs to, but why in the hell is he here? I grab a rag that’s on the engine and wipe at my fingers while turning around.
“Excuse me?” I question, leaning into the blackout grill of my truck.
“The bottle of Jack Daniels out here.” Detective Cobra points over his shoulder with his thumb. “You shouldn’t just leave empty bottles like that in your yard.” He strolls closer to me then picks up a wrench from the table between us. “People may get the wrong idea,” he says with a tilt of his head.
“What do you want?” He hasn’t been here for nearly five minutes, and I already want him gone.
The wrench falls to the table with a thud. “It’s over,” he claims.
My brows furrow. “What do you mean?” In the span between last night and this morning, did he catch Marcus?
A tight grin sprawls on his face. “You’re out. The deals off.” My eyes narrow as my brows knit together. He throws his arms up. “I know you were in her room last night.”
I wipe more grease off my fingers and inform him, “Nothing happened. We just talked.”
“You expect me to believe that nothing happened between you two?” He doesn’t believe me at all.
Man, judgy much?
My shoulders shrug, I honestly ask him, “What? A guy can’t be in a girl’s room and not do anything but talk?”
“A guy like you – no,” he bites.
I throw the towel on the table as if it stabbed me. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
The angel’s judgy father points a finger at me. “You need to end this with her before she gets too attached; before you break her heart.”
Pushing myself off the truck, I counter him. “How am I supposed to keep her close without literally doing just that?”
A hand goes up to his chin to stroke his goatee as his words ease-out, “I told you not to date her. You were supposed to be a friend to her – that’s all. That’s why I’m pulling you from this job. I’ll get someone else to do it.”
I feel like a ten-pound bowling ball was just thrown into my chest, but manage to ask, “Who?”
Detective Cobra walks along the table while dragging his fingers over my tools, and distastefully mentions, “Paul.”
My pulse is racing.
“Maybe Jace,” he says coolly as he picks up a bolt from the table then throws it back. My blood is boiling.
Stay cool, man.
“Tell me, Mike.” He crosses his arms over his chest. “Did I make a mistake in hiring you for this job?”
I focus on my breathing. “You tell me. You’re the one who begged for my help, remember?” I could slam his face into the table, maybe let a tool or two take his eye out or something. He doesn’t need both his eyes...does he?
Cobra studies me for a minute then speaks, “You’re right. I asked for your help because you are loyal. I thought perhaps you’d be loyal to me and not try to get into my daughter’s pants just to break her heart later.”
I laugh at him. “Nothing happened! But I must warn you; you may want to keep her on a short leash.” He gives me a curious look, with a smirk I divulge, “She practically ached for me to fuck her the other day.”
A sudden fist connects to my jaw, which sends a shock of a dull pain up to my skull. The metallic taste squeezes out of my lip onto my tongue. Damn, he’s got a good right hook. I deserved that.
I turn my head back to face him only to see a finger pointed between my eyes; I smile as he warns, “You will never speak like that about her again. You understand?” His eyes are a blazing dark brown.
Of course, being the ass that I am, I size up to challenge him astutely. “You and I both know that she won’t trust anyone else. Your daughter is smart; she’ll ask questions.” I tell him, “We’ve already been through too much. You’re stuck with me.”
He leans in closer to my face then voices through his teeth, “Break it off with her. Tell her you just want to be friends.” Lowering his tone, he adds, “If you have a hard time making a clean break - keep in mind that the closer she gets to the real you...the more she will be disgusted by who you really are.” I didn’t miss the unsubtle growl.
Clenching my sore jaw, I nod my head once – knowing he’s right. I let this get too far out of control. What was I thinking? Either way, she’ll hate me, so what’s the point?
Detective Cobra jabs a finger into my chest to promise, “If I ever get a whiff of you in her room again, whether you two do anything or not – I will kill you.” He spits a wad near my boot. My jaw tightens as I burn my eyes into his.
Cobra turns on his heel and strides out of my garage then shouts over his shoulder, “Recycle this damn bottle.”