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She didn’t like anyone knowing her that well.
“You’re right,” he said, his voice deep and sincere. “I’m not sorry Steve is leaving. I’m not sorry that I get a chance to prove to you that you and I belong together. But don’t you dare doubt that I’m sorry you’re hurting. The pain in your eyes when you walked into that office, the pain you’re working so hard to hide, I saw it. I feel it. And for that, damn it, I’m sorry.”
She didn’t know when she’d started crying. She wasn’t an easy crier. But she’d lost Steve. And yet here she was less than a few hours later with Chase. Feeling guilty, telling herself that the only reason she was here was about the case, but down deep she knew it was more. She leaned her head forward, resting it on Chase’s chest, and let a few more tears fall. His arms came around her and he held her.
And as crazy as it seemed, it felt right. So right. And yet, still wrong. So damn wrong.
She stepped to the side, out of his embrace, and swatted at the tears on her face. “We should go see if anyone is home,” she said, working to keep her voice from shaking.
He nodded, stepping closer, and with one finger, he wiped away a tear she must have missed. “It’s going to be okay. Believe me.”
She turned and started walking. Then a realization hit.
Hit hard.
Hit fast.
She did believe him. But she didn’t know what “okay” was, or what it meant. Because everything in her life was changing. Again. And she hated change.
*   *   *
No one answered at the Owen house, so they left to go to the Brian’s place, which was about twenty miles away. Della didn’t talk for the first fifteen minutes. Neither did Chase.
All she’d done was rest her head on his chest. Let him put his arms around her. Why did it seem like more?
The answer came. Came with clarity. Because she’d leaned on him. Physically. Emotionally.
Della Tsang didn’t lean on people. At least not many people. Definitely not someone she barely knew. Especially not someone who had basically caused the problem plaguing her.
Fracking hell. She was so damn confused.
She glanced up at the cars moving willy-nilly on the four-lane freeway, her emotions experiencing the same kind of traffic.
A green Saturn jumped lanes two cars ahead. Houston drivers drove like werewolves trying to reach a fresh kill before another wolf got all the good parts. She suddenly recognized the stretch of freeway. They were only a few miles from the turnoff to her neighborhood. And just like that, mentally she was back in the car with her dad when he taught her to drive.
It’s the same as playing chess. You have to be on the offensive and the defensive. You have to guess what the man in the car beside you is going to do.
Funny thing was, he never lost his temper with her, not even when she accidentally pulled into the side of the garage and ran over his golf clubs. Her chest grew heavier remembering what Derek had told her about the calm and gentle man who’d raised and loved … used to love her. The police suspected he had been the one who murdered his sister, Bao Yu. It just couldn’t be.
He never hit her or her sister. He didn’t need to. The look of disappointment in his eyes was punishment enough for both her and Marla. Right then, a new pain wiggled its way into her heart. She missed them. Missed them so badly it hurt.
She pushed a finger against her temple, wondering why she was suddenly thinking about all that.
“Damn!” Chase seethed.
Della jerked her gaze up as a red van shot into Chase’s lane. He swerved, tires screeching, into the left lane between two speeding cars. Then the car in front of them slammed on its brakes. Chase did the same, and then to prevent rear-ending that car, he jumped back into the other lane. Horns blew all around them.
Della saw the accident in her mind: cars piling up, people hurt, blood, lots of blood. But Chase somehow, God only knew how, managed to keep from being hit.
Chase, hands still grasping the wheel, muttered another curse. Della, adrenaline shooting into her veins, let go of a deep breath. Then she glanced out the side window to see a gold Honda pulling up beside her.
In slow motion, she saw the driver start to turn his head.
“Shit!” With super vampire speed, she unlocked her seat belt. Her gaze darted to the floorboard, already occupied by the huge, expensive camera bag. She did the only thing she could to hide from the other driver—she threw herself over the console, between the gearshift and the seats, and plopped her face in Chase’s lap.
“Frack!” he muttered, as his butt shot up from the seat at least two inches. He groaned.
Perhaps her chin had come in contact with his boys. She did have a pretty hard chin. But she didn’t care. Oh, she cared. Being here was the last place she wanted to be. But she wasn’t moving. Couldn’t.
If it was a choice between burying her face in Chase’s crotch or letting her father see her driving around Houston in a zippy-looking Camaro with a good-looking guy, she’d go with Chase’s crotch. Her father would have a shit fit.
He’d probably pull her out of Shadow Falls and stick her butt in some reform school. She couldn’t lose Shadow Falls. Couldn’t lose Kylie, Miranda, Holiday, Burnett, and even little Hannah Rose. Chase’s crotch was a better choice. And she was going to stay there, nose-deep, until he got off the freeway. But if he farted, she would have to kill him!
Chapter Seventeen
“Della?” Chase hissed.
“Get off the freeway,” she snapped, then she remembered her dad’s exit was next. “No, don’t get off the freeway.” She turned her head to the side a little and the tip of her nose shifted across his zipper.