“Why were you on the roof the other night?” she tried.
He simply stood and watched her.
“How’d you get up there?”
“You said a lock wouldn’t stop me.”
“Fine. Fine. You won’t come in. You won’t let me dry your clothes. You won’t answer my questions.” Larkin yanked off her coat, glad for the working thermostat. At least he wouldn’t freeze for as long as she could keep him inside. She sidestepped him and hooked her coat on the rack. If she was going to get this out, she couldn’t look at him. The sight of him all big and fucking sexy as hell muddled her brain. Her feet carried her from one side of the foyer to the other.
“That night on the roof … I wasn’t trying to kill myself.”
When he didn’t protest, she looked at him. His gaze followed her, calculating her again and again like a high-functioning computer. Reading and reading and not asking a single question.
“I know it looked that way. I know, now, why you acted the way you did, but it scared me. No one is ever up on the roof. It’s my place to get away from … everything. I hadn’t been up there in a while. Too long. Things were pressing in on me. Work. My …” Why was she blabbing so much to him? He didn’t give a shit. He was probably worried about where his next meal would come from. What did he care about her problems? Which really weren’t problems at all in the grand scheme of the world. People lived not knowing where their next meal was coming from. People lived without proper clothing. Without proper shelter.
Beckett didn’t look homeless. He wasn’t malnourished in any way. His clothes were used but clean and well maintained. The scruff on his face wasn’t more than three days growth.
“Your … boyfriend?”
She stopped pacing and found his gaze. “I don’t have those. They’re … messy.”
Her face crinkled. “Even worse.”
“Finally, someone who understands.”
“So many people don’t.” She nodded and walked, studying the intricacies of the woodwork and the fibers of the entry’s rug.
“And you don’t need much, do you?” She stole a quick glance at him. His head shook.
“So who was it that night?”
Her gaze dropped to the ring on her finger. “My family.”
His fingers came into view. They grazed the thick band and large stone.
“It was my mother’s.” She hated the words as soon as they were out.
“Why are you mad at a dead woman?”
Her gaze flashed to his. He stood over her, eyes warmer than before. She hadn’t said a word about the rage that boiled inside her bones for her mother, but he was smart. Smart enough to add her action that night and her words tonight and ask the one question she wouldn’t answer.
Larkin’s head shook, jarring loose the tear she’d been fighting back.
“Seems we both have our boundaries.” His thumb wiped the tear from her cheek, dragged it down her face, and smoothed it over her lips. They parted for him. He took his time tracing the high arch. The salt from his fingertip bled into her mouth as the pad dragged over her lower lip and pulled it wide. “Unlock the door and tell me to leave.”
“No.” Her tongue slid along the path with his finger. “You ran away from me Saturday. I’m not going to let you do that tonight.”
“It’s what I should do.” His thumb left her lip and joined the rest of his fingers at the side of her neck. He tilted her face up. “Tell me to stop.” His face, scarred and angry, neared hers, open and intent.
Not a sound passed through her lips. She grabbed his jacket, only inches from his hand, and tugged. His hold broke. The cold exterior chilled her fingertips. The weight of it forced her muscles into action but not for long. She dropped the thing on the ground behind her, toward the wall and away from the door. Her gaze never left his. His gave nothing away.
He was too tall for her to lift up onto her tiptoes and press her lips to his, and he didn’t move from his battle-ready posture. She could climb him like a tree, but if this was going to work, he would have to give … just a little.
Toe to toe, she studied him as blatantly as he did her. A healthy pulse swelled the veins of his thick neck. His gaze narrowed and cooled as though begging her to lose interest. Not a chance. Every inch of him intrigued her. Even the ugly scar that hid in the shadow of the foyer. She reached up slowly. His head shifted higher into the stratosphere of her entryway.
“Don’t tell me a big guy like you is scared.”
His jaw worked back and forth. “Cautious.”
“I won’t hurt you. Don’t think I could if I tried, but I won’t.”
His head lowered.
Larkin grabbed his chin. It barely fit in her hand. The short hairs pricked her fingers. She turned his face to the left and held her breath. Webbed and raised skin slightly darker than the rest of his face gleamed with a waxy smooth finish in the lamplight. Its dips and rises spread wide from a point just below his eye to encompass the hinge of his jaw and a two-inch swath of his cheek. It was fully healed but not an old scar. Her fingers slid up the side of his face. She mapped the ridges of scarred and unmarred skin alike.
He moved under her touch, not visibly, but energy hummed under her fingertips. She dragged her touch down over his scar, his neck, and gripped the collar of his shirt with both hands. Cool water seeped from the fabric, running through her fingers.
Hunger flashed in his eyes.
She pulled his face down. Her heart beat against her chest, urging her to take his mouth, but determination made her wait. He had to give. Saliva pooled. Her breasts ached. Oxygen, so skittish before, heaved in and out of her lungs as though she was chasing him down the street again. If he broke down her door and ran away, she’d chase him again. This wasn’t like her. She took what she wanted. Men gave it freely. But this man just looked at her.
If you liked this excerpt, learn more about Larkin and Beckett HERE!