Xavier Cold

Page 30


“Just stop, and I’ll go wherever you want.”
His eyes leave me for a brief moment. He stares down at the man behind me, like he’s debating on whether or not to walk away from the fight that’s brewing. When his gaze meets mine again, he wraps his fingers around my elbow. “Let’s go.”
I stumble a bit, my feet a little numb from all the liquor I just drank, as he begins to lead me outside.
Supporting all my weight with ease, he releases a small growl as we pass through the front door. “You shouldn’t drink without me. If I’m not there, what’s going to stop some motherfucker from drugging you?”
We make it into the cool night air, and I swat his hand off me. “I had everything under control in there. No one in this place is going to hurt me, not with Quinn and Tyler on the lookout. You have to stop trying to save me all the time. This whole possessive thing is becoming a problem. Allow me to live, Xavier!”
His blue eyes narrow. “Live? If you call putting yourself in danger living, then excuse me for giving a fuck and for ruining your fun.”
“Nothing was going on in there. If I were in danger, I would have known it,” I fire back, completely angry that he sees me as a silly twit who cannot take care of herself.
“That’s where you’re wrong, beautiful. This cruel world is far worse than you can imagine, and you wouldn’t know real danger if it bit you in the ass.”
His words have a ring of bitterness, and while I might not have experienced the same levels of hell he did, living with my father was no picnic either. I feel like I’ve grown up so much since I left Portland, and I’ve gotten better at detecting danger.
I rake my fingers through my hair and attempt to take a deep breath, but suddenly, I find it difficult to breathe, like I’m being smothered. “Maybe a few days apart will do us some good.” The words leave my mouth before I even realize I’ve said them out loud.
Xavier’s eyes widen, and I’m pretty sure I’ve shocked the hell out of him.
“No, Xavier. I mean it. All we’ve been doing is fighting. You bite my head off when any man shows me the slightest bit of attention, yet you keep secrets from me all the time and basically tell me that another woman kissing you is none of my business.”
I can’t imagine living without this man, but I won’t be the next woman he grows tired of and tosses to the side. He once told me to demand respect, so that’s what I’m doing.
“It’s not like that, Anna. I told you, she meant nothing to me.”
He’s trying to talk his way out of the situation yet again, but he still hasn’t given me a real answer.
If he really loves me like he says, then he needs to come clean to me about what he was doing with Angie. We need to work this out before I leave for Tension. If I don’t know the truth, my mind will run wild about what he’s doing.
I fold my arms across my chest. “Then, tell me what she is to you.”
“I explained that to you.”
“No, you didn’t. You’ve refused to tell me why you were with her,” I snap.
He blows a rush of air out of his nose. “She gave me a ride back to my bike. That’s it. You have nothing to worry about when it comes to her.”
“How can I not worry? I’m about to leave town, and you’re surrounded by women who want to sleep with you.”
His eyes jerk down at me with a stare so intense that it causes a shudder to ripple down my spine. “And you don’t think I worry about that same fucking thing every minute of the goddamn day? Whenever we go out, all the male eyes around you can’t seem to peel themselves away from you. What if, one day, you figure out what a son of a bitch I am and leave me for someone better? God knows I’m not worthy of you, so I’m waiting on the day when you realize that too.”
His words sober me up, and I recall the conversation I had with Nettie.
I reach up and cup his face, so I can stare into his nearly see-through blue eyes. “I’ll never leave you.”
He closes his eyes as he leans into my touch. “You don’t know how hard I pray for that. Losing you is my biggest fear, so that’s why I fight like hell to keep you.”
“You have to stop being afraid of that. Not everyone in this world is going to leave you,” I whisper. “You have to allow yourself to have some good in your life. You need to let me in and trust me.”
He gazes into my eyes as he cradles my face in his hands. “That works two ways, beautiful. Some things I keep from you would cause you more harm than good if I told you about them. I don’t want you to worry, which is why I won’t tell you about the details of today. Just know that I’ve never loved anyone the way I love you, and I’d never do anything to hurt you. I promise you that. I’ve not thought about touching another woman since I’ve been with you. Trust me when I say, everything I do is to keep you safe. I love you, Anna—only you—and I meant it when I said I want to keep you forever. I wouldn’t do anything that might fuck this up between us.”
The pleading I see in his eyes tells me that he’s being sincere, that he didn’t mean to hurt me. As angry as I was with him earlier today, I can no longer bring myself to be mad.
How can I ask Xavier to trust me if I don’t give him the same courtesy?
He leans in and presses his forehead to mine, and then he closes his eyes. “Please, Anna. Don’t frown. I can’t stand to see you so upset.”
“I’m not mad at you, but we need to be completely honest with each other if things are going to work out between us.”
He sighs, and warm breath wafts against my lips. “I’ve never lied to you about anything, and I’ll be up-front about everything with you—except for this. This, you don’t need to know.”
“By saying that, I’ll only worry more.”
“Don’t.” His finger slides under my chin, and he tilts my head up. “Things will be all right. I’ll make sure of it.”
“If you would just tell me what’s going on, whatever problem you’re trying to hide from me, maybe I can help.”
He shakes his head, causing a lock of his dark hair to fall across his forehead. “Sorry, beautiful. No one can handle this but me.”
I stare into his eyes, and I know Xavier well enough to know that when he decides something, there’s no changing his mind. I have a sneaking suspicion that something from Xavier’s past has come back to haunt us both.