Crossroads: Book 1

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Chapter 74

Elena


His gaze blazes into mine; he takes his hands from me then rears back. “Elena, trust me -you don’t want to know.”

Just then, I notice how exhausted he looks. The bags under his eyes make him look haggard, his stubble around his face has grown out more, and his eyes are a little red. He still manages to look incredible despite how worn out he looks. Is the club wearing him thin?

Is it wrong of me to expect him to open up just like that? He needs to do it in his own time. I let out a quiet sigh to apologize. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t force you to let me in. However, I don’t want there to be any secrets between us. If there is something that you’re battling with or if something happened to you, I would hope that you’d find the courage to tell me. We are in a relationship now; we both have to give a little here.” I look at my feet away from his stare. “I hope that one day you can tell me what has happened to you. It doesn’t have to be tonight or tomorrow. I just hope that one day you can.”

Even with how strong and rough around the edges Mike is, he’s still able to have such a gentle touch as he lifts my chin so he can see my eyes. “I hope I can one day, too,” he says low and slow. He dips down to rest his forehead against mine. “Thank you for not pushing me.”

I close my eyes and inhale his scent: pine and spice mixed with something that is uniquely him. He smells amazing, so manly even with a hint of Stella beer. I’m gravitating to his body, I bury my face into his hard chest, taking him in. His strong arms wrap around me, and I never felt so safe.

“Thank you for coming with me to my mom’s,” he says into the nook of my neck as he kisses me there.

My body wakes up with a hum. “Of course. I really like her. She’s fun.”

His lips find the spot just below my ear as he faintly acknowledges my response with a low groan against my neck. I feel myself starting to melt in his embrace; he must know it too because his arms tighten their hold on me to keep me from becoming a puddle at his feet.

There’s a buzzing against my butt. I tighten myself around Mike, praying that my phone didn’t just go off, but it keeps on buzzing. Mike groans and reaches into my back pocket. “It’s Rachel. They pulled on our street,” he says over my shoulder then places the phone back in my pocket.

With defeat, I detach myself from my boyfriend and look up at him. His eyes are hooded, the eyes are dark, and that smirk has me feeling dizzy. Rachel has perfect timing; if she didn’t buzz me, who knows what might have happened here tonight.

It’s New Year’s Eve tomorrow...Rachel leaves on New Year’s Day. I have never had a kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve before. I’m sure Rachel would like to go out with Paul. Rachel and I can spend all day together – just the two of us – then we can get dolled up and go out with our men. A smile curls at my lips.

“What are you and Paul doing tomorrow night?” I ask.

Mike reaches up and tucks a strand of hair behind my ear. I love it when he does that. “Hmm...I have a feeling you have our night planned already.” His eyes twinkle.

I skip back slightly and raise my hands. “I have to check with Rachel first, but something tells me that she’ll be on board.”

“What is tomorrow night, anyway?” Mike knits his brows together to think.

I laugh. “New Year’s Eve, silly.”

“Shit. Already?” He looks stunned.

With a playful tune, I scold him, “Language, Mikey.” He gives me a devilish look.

“What did you call me?” The corner of his mouth pulls up. “Only my mother is allowed to call me that.”

I slowly back away as he stalks towards me. A giggle lurches out of my throat, “But, Mikey...” He springs forward and catches me around my waist as I try to run to the other side of the couch. I let out a surprise scream when he falls back onto the couch with me tight in his arms; my back being against his stomach, he tickles my sides. I thrash about on top of him laughing, trying to catch my breath. “No...Mike...Stop,” I protest through my fits of hilarity.

The tickling stops, and he lets me go, I peek up at him from behind, and he has the happiest grin with the deepest dimples I have ever seen. My chest feels so warm. I feel... joyful.

“Quit playing around, Elena. Rachel and Paul are probably waiting for you at your front door,” he smiles. I sit up and swat him in the chest.

“Me? You’re the one who –“A knock on the door cuts me off.

“Wait here.” His demeanor suddenly changes. I peer over the couch as he quietly sneaks up to the door; he pauses and picks up the pistol from the table in the entryway.

Is that really necessary? Does he have someone after him? I tense up with a thought that someone out there may want to hurt him.

With his hand on the handle, he asks over the door in a frosted tone, “Who is it?”

“It’s Paul.” A muffled voice crawls over the door. I let out a breath that I was holding, and I see Mike relax. He tucks the pistol in the back of his waistline then opens the door wide enough that I can see Paul and Rachel beaming.

I rise from the couch and walk up to the crowded entryway. The night’s sounds get louder the closer I reach everyone. The sound of crickets playing their song and the tree frogs that have joined along fill my ears... When did it get so dark outside?

“Did you get my text?” Rachel asks.

“Yeah, I did. Just got it now,” I lie.

“Oh, well, we should get going.” Rachel grabs my hand then pulls me outside. “See you later, boys,” she chirps with a wink. I wave behind me as they wave back while Rachel leads me to my house in the evening’s soft wind, which brushes over my bare skin.

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