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Ross 03 Leave Me Breathless(13)

By:Cherrie Lynn

Gus’s dad was a cop, and a big one at that. Hell, even Ghost was scared of him.

That got a reaction. “No friggin’ way, man. You call my dad, and I’ll kick your ass.”

“That’s funny. Look, if you really don’t give a shit about life anymore, do what you gotta do. I know from experience nothing I say or do is going to change anything. But I’ll tell you one thing—you skip out on practice Saturday, and you seal your fate with the guys. They’re done. So am I. Think about that while you’re prioritizing.”

Gus was silent as Ghost stalked across the room. He switched off the light, bathing the room in the darkness Gus craved, before slamming the door behind him.

And breathed. That house had been…oppressive. Like the dark cloud hanging over his friend had begun to permeate his skin.

Fucking relationship drama. God, if there was one thing he didn’t need. He’d had it in spades, and if Macy hadn’t seemed like such a practical person with a decent head on her shoulders, he might have called off tonight no matter how his genitals might protest.

He pulled out his cell phone and, feeling like a tattletale, called Gus’s parents to let them know they needed to check on him. His friend would want to kill him for it, but better that he was alive to do so.

And…well, that was all there was to do. Practice had been a bust. He’d been confronted with a pathetic ugliness he hadn’t needed to see. But now he was done. Free at last. For a guy who wanted no strings with a girl, he was sure chomping at the bit to get to this one.

Chapter Eight

Macy’s phone rang, and she leaped halfway across the living room to snatch it up. All night, she’d kept it within arm’s reach, and of course he picked the one moment she put it down to call.

“I was starting to think you’d changed your mind,” she said by way of greeting.

“Sorry about that. Had to handle some business with a friend.”

“Everything okay?”

“Not really, but it will be as soon as I see you.”

So he could talk sweet as well as sexy. She smiled and settled the phone between her ear and her shoulder. “I’m ready whenever you are.”

“My place or yours?”

Considering she’d spent the evening cleaning like crazy? There was no way she was going to put all that effort to waste. Not that she was a slob, but she very rarely actually dusted. “Mine. Do you know where I live?”

“Are you kidding? I hide out underneath your bedroom window every night. I was really there last night, watching you.”

She laughed. “Oh, really.”

“No. What’s your address?”

She gave him quick directions, and he said he knew the building.

No going back now, was there? Well, she supposed she could, but…who would want to?

“Are you dressed?” he asked.

“Hey now, we did all that last night. Let’s just wait—”

“No, you goof. I meant are you decently attired such that we might go into public without getting arrested.”

Public? “Oh. Yeah, I’m dressed.”

“Cool. I’ll pick you up in twenty minutes.” He hung up.

Okaaay. Nothing had been said about any public appearances. This wasn’t a date. What on earth did he have in mind?

She was staring out her living room window exactly eighteen minutes later when his GTO purred its way into the parking space in front of her apartment. Purse already in hand, she bolted for the door, excitement churning through her belly.

Seth was already out of the car and striding around to the other side to open the door for her. She almost stopped in her tracks. He looked good enough to eat. And demand seconds. Tight black V-neck T-shirt, leather jacket and ratty jeans that broke over his boots just the right way. On his head was a black Fedora. He was definitely a guy who could pull off hats.

Dayum. Maybe she could take him somewhere after all.

“Wow,” she said as she skirted around the door he held open. “You look great.”

“Wow yourself,” he said, his lopsided grin wreaking havoc with things down south.

Did they really have to go anywhere?

When the clean smell inside his car unleashed a torrent of flashbacks, she put the question to him as soon as he got in the driver’s side. He planted his arm across the seatback and turned to look out the rear window as he backed out. The position gave her a great view of his neck. How she wanted to nibble that thick vein, lick it, feel his pulse throbbing inside.

“Well,” he answered, “I hope you don’t get mad, but Brian called a few minutes before I called you. There’s a get-together at a friend’s house, and he wanted me to go hang out with them. I shut him down, but when I was talking to you, I remembered everything you were saying last night, and…I thought this might be a good thing for you. If you don’t want to go, say the word. We’ll get sushi instead.”

Ah, sushi, the one interest they did share. But she wasn’t hungry. She shrugged. “I don’t mind going. Candace will be around, right?”

His scoff had her lifting an eyebrow. “Have you ever seen those two in the last year when they’re not attached at the hip?”

“Hmm. Do we have a certain measure of hostility about that?”

“I wouldn’t say I have hostility about it.” He straightened in his seat and zoomed out of her parking lot. “He’s in a fool’s paradise, and I hate it for him. That’s all.”

“Why do you say that? They seem pretty solid to me. She would never hurt him; that much I’d bet my life on.”

“Every relationship I’ve ever seen is like a bubble ready to burst, and most of them do.”

“Some of them don’t.”

“I guess I’m too cynical to think any of them around me are going to remain intact.”

Insanely curious now, she glanced over at him, sizing up his body language as he manhandled the gearshift. If they hadn’t passed through the yellowish wash of a street light, casting the tense lines of his face into stark relief, she might have thought these were simple observations of his.

“So who burned you?” she asked casually, smoothing her palms over her jeans.

He waved a dismissive hand. “An hour ago I was standing over the miserable, wasted heap of a good friend who would rather lose everything he’s worked for than even make an effort to get over the woman who keeps walking out on him.”

She didn’t buy it, but if it was a conversation that was going to bring down the night, she didn’t want to have it. “I’m sorry about that. But don’t let it sour you. These things work out all the time, and sometimes they don’t, but that’s life.” She shrugged and fell silent, staring out the window as the buildings gave way to skeletal trees missing their summer foliage. God, she hated winter.

The solid warmth of his fingers curled around her hand. She looked over to find Seth watching her in between glances at the road. “Didn’t mean to get heavy on you, there.”

“It’s okay.” At least she knew there wouldn’t be any weirdness on his end, if he had such a foul outlook on relationships. “Honestly…I wouldn’t know about the drama, myself. The one serious relationship I had, it was just… nice. All the time. So any speculation on my part about these things is just me talking out of my ass.”

He grinned and his thumb stroked over the back of her hand. “Well, in the interest of full disclosure, I’ve had more than my share…and I don’t recommend it.”

He had?

The two little words kept echoing in her head as their drive continued, as he parked among what must’ve been a dozen other cars at a house in the middle of nowhere, as they walked through the front door to a chorus of greetings from people who were strangers to her.

He’d had serious relationships? He’d been in love?

If ever a man existed that she would’ve pegged for never having succumbed to the lure of domesticity, it was Seth Warren. Wow. She couldn’t even imagine the guy in a relationship that lasted more than one night. Or one night at a time, at least.

“Check him out, lookin’ all GQ and shit.” Some guy laughed, giving Seth’s hat a thump.

Seth ducked the attempt. “Get off me, man. You wish you could make this look this good.”

Candace slithered through the crowd and wrapped Macy in a hug almost before she realized it. “I’m so glad you’re here,” she said into her ear. Macy clung to her friend for dear life. Save me.

This was a get-together? It was an outright party, and it was definitely Seth’s crowd. Ink and piercings everywhere. Heavy-metal riffs overlying obscenity-laced chatter. What the hell was she doing here? Whose freaking house was this?

Just relax. Go with the flow.

Candace appeared to recognize her distress. She disengaged herself and gently took Macy’s upper arms, staring into her face. “You okay?”

Macy nodded.

“It’s going to be all right. Do you need to drink?”

“Quite possibly.”

“Let’s get you fixed up.”

She planned to nurse this one carefully, not wanting to end up like she had last night. No, she would go into this fully coherent…just with a tiny bit of the edge taken off. She was a nervous wreck.

But Seth didn’t leave her side. They ended up in the spacious living room with about twelve others, Candace and Brian included. Sitting on the couch with him next to her, she slowly began to relax. It wasn’t her crowd, and she was definitely the outsider here. No one was looking at her as if wondering what the hell she was doing there, though, and plenty of them had asked her name and what she did for a living and how she’d met Seth. Or Ghost. No one she’d ever met called him by his real name.