Without warning, I find myself plastered up against the hallway wall. Heart hammering, I look up into Hank’s all too knowing, fiery gaze.
Thick arms brace on either side of me, caging me in. Nowhere to run, nowhere to hide. His pleasing scent tickles my nose and I stupidly want to burrow my face right under his beard line where I see a trickle of freckles I suddenly want to lick.
Holy Hannah, I can’t help but be mesmerized by the overbearing man in front of me. Energy seems to crackle off of him, making me wonder what kind of spark we’d create together. Fanciful notion for sure, and one I should not be contemplating. A zebra doesn’t think of ways to taunt the lion. Everyone in the animal kingdom knows that is the quickest way to being made a meal.
Besides as much as I’m obviously attracted to the great ape, he doesn’t like me at all. Which is fine with me. Sex has never proven to be more than an abysmal experience. Who needs that in their life? Not me. I’ve had enough disappointments.
Although, the pulse pounding heavy through my veins is begging me to find out firsthand how wrong I may be when it comes to sex with Hank.
“I just had an interesting talk with your brother.”
“Oh?” I inwardly cringe. I can only imagine what Dylan has told Hank.
“Didn’t you say your brother was in a car accident?”
“Did I? I don’t remember.”
“I do. You said car. He said he got all banged up from sports, but I’ve played sports. I’ve also seen people after a car accident. He looks like the only thing he ran into was a baseball bat and steel toed boots.”
Dylan hasn’t told me any specifics but recalling what he’d looked like when I’d found him, I doubt Hank is far off the mark.
“Then there is the fact that his oh-so responsible sister, who always takes care of everything has found herself flat broke and in debt. It makes a man wonder. Either you’re that bad with money or there’s more to the story. You want to tell me what’s going on?”
“No.” But I do. I’m mighty tempted to spill my guts and not be in this mess alone.
“I’m going to find out what you’re hiding, Candi.”
“I won’t bring you into my mess.” I couldn’t live with myself if I put someone else in danger. Bad enough I’m in the path of a tornado. No use yanking anyone else out of the cellar.
“If you haven’t noticed, I’m knee deep in your mess.”
“You’ve barely got a toe in my mess,” I say, rolling my eyes. I know I’ve erred when he brings his face within inches from my own. His amber eyes are shooting fire. I should be scared but the feeling rushing through me isn’t fear.
“Dammit, little girl. You’ll tell me one way or another. And you’re not going to like my methods of information retrieval.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking.”
“Then why don’t you tell me?”
“It’s not just about me. You don’t need to be involved in this, but I don’t have a choice.”
Hank’s look softens and it is a worse kick to the gut than his anger. I swat his comforting touch away from my cheek. I don’t want or need his comfort.
He easily snatches my wrist and pulls my arm up behind my back. Pinned to the wall his body covers mine from sternum to toes. His hard body burns against mine.
“What did I say earlier today?
“I’m not sure. You said a lot. I tried to tune it out as best as I could.”
“Tsk, tsk, princess. I’m going to remember you said that.”
“Let me go,” I say trying to pull my arm free.
“You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what’s going on.” When I remain silent he grabs my chin so I have to look him in the eye. It takes all my will not to shrink under his intense gaze. “I told you I’m here now to give you better options. So, you do have a choice. If you’re in some kind of trouble—if your brother is—I can help.”
I shake his hand off my face and unsuccessfully try to push him away with my free hand. “I thought you said you weren’t a white knight. That I remember clearly.” I sound a bit petulant, but I’m pissed he’s putting me in this position.
“I’m not a white knight. I just don’t like watching a train wreck happen that I could have prevented.”
“Is that what this is? Crash prevention?”
The men in my family are gamblers, cheats, and thieves. They aren’t loyal to anyone but themselves. It’s the Dawson way. My oldest brother was killed for sticking to that tradition.
I refuse to let that happen to my little brother. He’s all I have in this world and I’ll do anything to save him.
His debts are now mine, and I always pay my debts.
Now if a certain ape leader would get out of my way, things would go much more smoothly.
I swore never to return to Texas. But here I am, wading neck deep into shit creek. I’m not even getting paid for this crap.
And Candi? She has more secrets than sense and represents everything I try to avoid. I’m not sure how I got tangled up with her in the first place. I have no business getting involved with a woman like her. She needs to be saved from herself.
I don’t have a white knight complex, and this girl needs a savior. I can’t be that guy.