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Authors: Kendall Ryan

Hard to Love (10 page)

BOOK: Hard to Love
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“We’re going to need to hose you down out back,
Lils
,” I chuckled.

She slurped the noo
dle dangling between her lips and grinned.
“No way!
I want
Lexa
to give me my bath tonight.”

A smile tugged at Alexa’s mouth.

“Not tonight
,
baby doll. It’s too late for a bath.”  

Lily pouted but let it drop. Alexa exchanged looks with me across the table, and I could tell she wouldn’t mind helping, but there was no way I was doing that to her. She’d already done too much.

Once we were through and Lily
thoroughly
wiped down, she escaped to play in her room while Alexa and I lingered at the table.

She tapped her fingers against the
wood surface
, studying me.
“So I take it you weren’t shooting a new film today.”

“Ah, no.
I work construction most days. That was just a…stupid
mistake.”

“So you don’t do it anymore?” she asked.
 

“I don’t plan on it, but the money’s damn good. And Lily’s healthcare costs…” I shook my head. “Never
mind, I don’t know why I’m telling you all this.”

She
tucked
her
chin do
w
n
, fiddling with her hands in her lap
, not meeting my eyes
.

“Are you through?” I nodded to
ward
her plate
.

“Yes, thank you.” She folded the napkin and set it on
the empty dish
.
 

I took our plates to the kitchen, and after a giving each a quick rinse, loaded them into the dishwasher. Alexa
had
cleaned as she
cooked
, because the dishwasher was loaded with the
pots and implements
she’d used while
preparing supper
. She leaned against the counter and watched me finish the rest.

“You said it was a mistake, but you did film one video…”
Her
voice trailed off and her
eyes went wide, like she knew she’d been caught snooping.

My breath caught in my throat and my cock stirred in my jeans.
“You’ve seen it?” The idea of her watching me have sex with another woman
was…
incredibly fucking hot.

Her cheeks
f
lushed crimson and I knew she’d not only seen it, but probably even gotten herself off while watching it.
Ah, hell.

 

 

Chapter 8

Alexa

 

Lily
’s sudden appearance in the
kitchen couldn’t have come at a better time. I needed a heap
ing
dose of
shut the hell up
. I
’d
practically admitted to Cade that I’d watched him on video. God
,
I probably sounded like a creeper. But that wasn’t why I was here. It was this sweet little girl.
The fact that her brother made me hotter than hell was beside the point.

I
followed her to her room and
helped her get undressed, removing her leggings and tunic while she kept one hand on her walker, holding herself up. I
could
tell
that
as she got tired, her coordination and muscle control went south.
She pointed to the drawer where she kept her jammies, informing me that she wanted the Cinderella ones. I couldn’t help but notice that the drawer also held a few
gently worn, adult-sized
T-shirts.
Cade’s I
presumed. Those
were probably
full
-
length
dresses on her.

I found the pink Cinderella nightgown trimmed in yellow lace and slipped it on over her head.
I
noted
a
small puckered scar from a recent surgery and
a
pronounced dimple where her spine had failed to fuse properly before birth.
Poor little thing.
I delicately touched the patch of skin, wishing my hands held the power to heal.

I lifted her into bed and secured the covers around her. “Get some rest, swe
e
t pea.” I brushed her blonde curls back from her forehead and leaned in to press a kiss
to
the center of it. She smiled sleepily up at me, her eyes already
beginning to fall
closed.

“Night
-
night,
Caden
,” she whispered.

I turned and saw his large form
filling the open doorway, his expression serious
.

Cade remained silent, but his eyes were locked on
me
. Watchi
ng everything
I did
, m
y every movement with her.
The intensity of his gaze sent a rush skittering along my spine.
His look was both curious and possessive.

I crept from the room, and he backed away from the doorway, allowing me to close it behind us.
I stood before him in the hallway, which suddenly felt crowded and narrow.

“You probably had better things to do th
a
n babysit all afternoon.” His voice was soft,
careful
.

“No, it’s fine.” I couldn’t believe I’d been here for going on six hours. The truth was it was nice being here, feeling helpful and needed.
It was better than sitting alone in my empty apartment
,
studying.

He stepped in closer and lifted a hand to my
cheek
, brushing his thumb along the line of my jaw. “Thanks for…
taking care of her,” he
said
,
his callused thumb whisper
ing
a delicate path along my skin.

I nodd
ed, not trusting my voice to work
.

“Do you have to go…or
do
you have time to stay for a drink?”

I nodded
again
.

“You have to go?” He dropped his hand.

“No, I can stay.”

A lazy grin tugged at the corner of his lips. “Come on. I have beer, and I think I could
even
rustle up a bottle of wine.”

“Beer is fine.” Something
icy
to cool me off would be perfect.

I headed to the living room while he collected two bottles from the fridge and joined me on the couch. The beer was refreshing after such a long day, and I leaned back against the sofa,
propping my feet up on the coffee table. He grinned at me, as if in agreement that it was tiring caring for her. I returned his smile, knowing she was worth every second of work.  

I glanced around the sparse living room.
No feminine touch here
. No throw pillows, knick-knacks
or
candles
,
or any of the other things that made a house feel like a home. The room contained a large picture window efficiently covered with wooden blinds, a hunter
-
green sofa and armchair
and a pair of
matching coffee and end tables, one of which held a softly glowing lamp.
It was sparse, b
ut it was enough. You could tell this house was filled with love. It was completely at odds with how I first pictured Cade’s life.

When I finally looked over
at the man himself
, I realized
he
was watching me
from
beneath hooded eyes.
I took another sip of my beer and broke the connection. “What is it?” he asked.

“You said you’ve had Lily since you were eighteen. I’m just wondering…what happened to your parents?”

He pulled back a healthy swig of his own beer before answering. “That’s too generous a term for them.

I kept quiet, wrapping my fingers around the chilled bottle, waiting for him to continue.


I was raised by my grandparents, and was left this house when they passed away. I was only seven
teen, and my mother had given birth to a baby,
a
nd dropped the toddler off her
e.
Lily wasn’t walking yet and needed more care than they were prepared to give her.”

I couldn’t help but compare how very different our lives were. My parents and I vacationed in Italy
and
spent Christmases
at our ski lodge
,
and I never wanted for anything growing up

except for maybe more freedom. Cade was saddled with a special
-
needs child.

“I took one look at that little girl, and she stole my heart. I graduated
from high school
early
and started working, determined to give Lily the life my parents couldn’t. They were later busted for running a meth lab out of their trailer and are now in prison.”

Wow
.

Sensing my inner turmoil, he gave my hand a squeeze. “I promise you, we’re managing.”

“I know, I can see that.”
And they truly were. Cade, or
Caden
as Lily called him
,
was doing the best he could, providing a safe, loving home
, even if he went about paying the bills in unconventional ways
.
Who was I to judge?
 

“Why
’d
you
come
today
?”

I knew the question hadn’t been forgotten.
I hesitated for just a second
before recovering
.
“For Lily.”
Which was m
ostly
true
.

He waited, eyeing me curiously. “Are you sure that’s all?”

Images from the sexy video replayed in my mind

the sensual curve of his mouth
as he
devour
ed
hers
with
kisses
.
H
is large
,
rough hands softly caressing her skin
.
T
he
skillful
way his fingers spread
her
apart and rubbed slow circles in just the right spot
.
“I… I don’t know
,

I breathed.

He rubbed a hand across the back of his neck, letting out a sigh. “
Fuck.
Don’t tempt me,
Lex
.”
His voice wa
s a rough plea in the silence of the room.
T
he nickname on his lips felt
far
more intimate than
it had any right to
.
F
riends shortened my name all the time
, but
never before had
it never made my heart jump
.

I turned to face him on the couch, knowing this was crazy. He was a
freakin
’ porn star.
A bad boy with a capital B.
Not someone I should crush on, but there it was all the same, pulsing in my chest
.
A
want, a
fierce
desire I couldn’t name
.
Something I
definitely
wasn’t supposed to
explore.

I wanted to be at the receiving end of
that touch. I wanted to have
those big hands, strong and calloused from working construction, yet still gentle
, all over my body
.

I wondered if it could be a simple infatuation
, like
the kind
you developed for a movie star. I’d watched him i
n the most intimate of moments,
so
maybe
my brain had created
some type of freaky
fascination
that wasn’t based on anything but his sexy body
sending
my sexless one into overdrive.

But when Cade turned to me and brought his hand up
,
cradling
the back of my neck to pull
me close
to him and his waiting lips,
all coherent though
t
escaped me.

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