“Why?” He growls into my wet hair, bracing one hand on the brick wall, keeping his other thick forearm wrapped around my middle. “Why can’t you stay put? Every time it gets uncomfortable, I have to chase you down.”
The words are so familiar. Evan said something similar to me once. Why do you keep running from me? All the struggle goes out of me at the visceral reminder of what a coward I am. “What are you going to say next?” Sarcasm drips from my voice. “That you just want to get to know me? That I have nothing to be scared of?”
“No.” He nudges his fingers just below the waistband of my jeans and presses down hard on my belly. Oh God, in my current worked-up state, I don’t expect the bullet of pleasure that wings me in the gut. It catches me off guard and I moan, head falling back against his rain-dampened shoulder. “I’m not going to say that. It would be a load of bullshit.” He fits his lap against my bottom, his lips drag up the side of my neck, bringing rain with them. “Here’s what I want to say, girl. Having to chase you only makes me want to pin you down.”
Like a bomb has been waiting for the right opportunity to go off, heat explodes through me, sending shrapnel in every direction. Some inner demon stowed away deep inside me loves the fact that he didn’t run after me spouting apologies. Reassuring me that my secrets are safe with him. It loves the honesty, has quite possibly been craving it for a long time.
It has been ages since I’ve had sex. That has to be the main reason I’m considering turning around, wrapping my legs around his waist, and letting Shane hate-fuck me against this filthy brick wall. I like sex, even if I’ve only ever had it with one person. Instinctively, I know Shane wouldn’t give me the sweet intimacy I’m used to. No tender looks or gentle kisses on my eyelids. He would be an entirely different experience, demanding and intense.
Shane’s hand curls into a fist at my belly. “Take back your words. Tell me I can touch you.” His breath shudders out, the sound almost lost in the pounding rain. “Take it back.”
“No,” I choke out, but my bottom presses back against him harder, contradicting my words. Shane groans and the sound liquefies my insides. It’s hot and needy and male.
“I’ll have you over him in five minutes flat, babe.” Biting my ear lightly, he fingers the snap of my jeans. “Let me take him right out of your head.”
I’m equally horrified and tempted. Tempted because, my God, I’ve never been so achingly hot or turned on in my life. I’m not even sure I knew what being turned on meant until right this moment, soaked to the skin in an alleyway while someone I’m supposed to dislike begs to have me. It’s an unbelievable rush, knowing the frustratingly complicated Shane wants me enough to let his pride slip for the chance. It would be amazing between us. I don’t need a crystal ball to tell me that. Even now, I’m battling the need to drag his hand down the front of my jeans, to the source of the throb he’s created.
But the horrified half of me wins.
I’ll admit it. I’m afraid. Afraid Shane is right. That letting go right now, letting this urge work itself out, might mean Evan slips a little further from my mind. Don’t I owe him more than that? I wasted two years of his life, and now I’m going to tarnish his memory, which is still fresh, by letting a near stranger attempt to exorcise him from my brain? My body? I can’t do it.
I try not to acknowledge the final reason I tear myself away from him. Shane would change me. For the better or worse, I don’t know. But I’m not ready to find out.
“Stop. You have to stop doing this.”
“You say that like its simple.” His head drops to the crook of my neck. “God, why do I hate the idea of you having had a f**king boyfriend? I shouldn’t give a shit. You’re just passing through.”
“I don’t know.” My voice is a strangled whisper. “Get over it.”
A beat passes, and then he lets me go with a harsh curse. I can feel his gaze burning into my back as I jog on unsteady legs toward the inn, wanting to go back and throw myself into his arms every step of the way.
It’s still dark outside Monday morning when Kitty knocks on my door. How do I know it’s her? She’s singing the American National Anthem. Maybe she’s starting to remember me. Or at least that there is an American sleeping on the other side of the door. For some reason, that fact makes me smile through my tigerlike yawn. I try to reach out and turn the rattly glass knob without leaving the bed, but when I almost eat shit onto the floor, I give up and stand.
“Is that what you’re wearing?”
Glancing down at my flannel boxer shorts and Chicago Police Department T-shirt in sleepy confusion, I open my mouth to respond, but it snaps shut when she glides past me into the room. Today, she’s wearing creased black slacks and a silk button-up blouse, two sizes too big. Her hair is being held up by a knitting needle and as she walks past, I jerk back before I’m impaled by the sharp end. A brush with death already and I haven’t even drank a cup of coffee yet. Never a dull moment in this country.
Since Friday night, I’ve been sticking to my routine of leaving before the pub opens and sneaking back in when it’s too busy for Shane to take too much notice. The weekends mean bigger crowds in the pub, but it’s Monday now and I’m not sure how much longer my luck is going to last. Even though we haven’t spoken, I can feel his attention slide over me every time I walk past the bar, telling me my presence doesn’t go unnoticed. The one time Shane and I made eye contact, I was surprised to find him looking less hostile and more thoughtful as he watched me slip through the pub. He had that face Derek gets when he’s looking through a homicide case file. It’s certainly not helping that I’ve been dreaming about blue eyes, rough hands, and a certain accent that makes everything sound like a good idea. Honestly, I never pegged myself for a girl who fawns over accented men, but I’ve started hearing my name in my head the way he pronounces it. Will-eh.
It’s f**king annoying.
I’ve spent the last couple days strengthening my resolve. Thankfully, Faith has been busy waiting tables all weekend, so I haven’t had to contend with her inviting herself along to more places with me. Not that her company wouldn’t be welcome, but antagonizing Shane is at the bottom of my Bucket List. Yesterday, I’d gone to a one-woman show at the Abbey Theatre, having scored a last-minute matinee ticket. Afterward, I’d spent the afternoon people-watching at Trinity College, listening to the tour guides for free from my sprawled-out position on the grass while I waited for film to be developed at the One Hour Photo.
Today I’m planning on doing something for Ginger. Yesterday I overheard a group of tourists discussing the Heritage Center at Dalkey Castle, where they’d been heading to trace their Irish lineage. Since I could be 100 percent German for all I know about my heritage, this could be a total waste of time. Ancestry wasn’t something often discussed in the Peet household. Ginger and I aren’t even certain if we have the same father, although it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference either way. She’s my sister, plain and simple. But isn’t it worth the trip to find out if maybe, just maybe, we can think of ourselves as something bigger than the unwanted offspring of Valerie Peet? I think so. A bus schedule sits on my bedside table and I’m planning on heading out to Dalkey as soon as I get dressed.