Rastor (Lawton Rastor Book 2) (5 page)

BOOK: Rastor (Lawton Rastor Book 2)
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Chapter 11

It was nearly dawn when I heard footsteps on the front walkway. I didn't wait for the doorbell. Instead, I made for the door and flung it open.

And there she was – Chloe.

My breath caught. She was here. Finally. She'd scrubbed her face clean of all that heavy work-makeup, and now wore jeans and pale pink hoodie.

I wanted her in my arms, and then in my bed. I wanted to hold her tight and never let go. I let out a long, unsteady breath, and her name fell from my lips. "Chloe."

She gave me a cold smile. "Lawton." From the look on her face, she wasn't nearly as happy to see me as I was to see her.

Somehow, I'd change that. I didn't care what it took. I'd make things right between us. "You came," I said.

"You wanted to talk? Well, here I am."

Yeah. She was here. And she was obviously still angry, not that I blamed her. But the fact that she'd come at all meant something more. There was hope. And for now, I was clinging to it like the life-raft it was.

Unable to stop myself, I moved toward her.

She held up a hand. "Not that kind of talk."

I stopped and tried to get past the loathing in her eyes. Yeah, I deserved it, but it still hurt to see. I swallowed the pain and asked, "Wanna come inside?"

"Uh, no." Her gaze narrowed. "That didn't work out so well for me last time, now did it?"

I couldn't blame her. The last time she'd been here, I'd handcuffed her in my basement. I'd held her there for hours. At the memory of what I'd done, I looked down at her wrists. They were covered by the sleeves of her hoodie, but I knew what was underneath – raw, angry skin from where the cuffs had been.

That was how long ago? Nine, maybe ten hours?

I looked up, meeting Chloe's eyes. What could I say?

An icy breeze whipped at her hair, and she gave a small shiver. Hoodie or not, she wasn't dressed for this kind of cold.

Me neither. I wore jeans and a basic gray T-shirt. No jacket. It was below freezing, but I barely noticed.

But the way it looked, Chloe
was
feeling it. She wrapped her arms tighter around her torso and gave another shiver. The gesture, small as it was, hurt to watch – because not too long ago, she'd been shivering in my basement, and I'd
let
her. She hated to be cold, and I'd known that.

If I had my way, she'd never be cold again.

I looked down at her thin hoodie and felt myself frown. In this weather, she needed a winter coat, not some glorified sweatshirt. Or better yet, she needed to be inside.

I gave her a pleading look. "But it's freezing out." My door was still open. I flicked my head toward the interior of my house. "C'mon. Please?"

She didn't move. "Afraid of a little cold, are you?"

I wasn't afraid of the cold. But I
was
afraid of watching her shiver again. I'd seen a lot of shit in my days, but for some reason, this small thing, I didn't think I could stomach it, not after that whole basement scene.

I shook my head. "It wasn't me I'm thinking about. Cold, hot, I don't care." I met her gaze. "I'm just glad you're here."

She rolled her eyes. "Oh please. Save it for someone who believes that sort of thing, okay?"

"Baby–"

"Stop." She gave me a hard look. "Listen, whatever reason you seem to think I'm here, that's not it." She dropped her hands and squared her shoulders. "I'm here because you didn't give me any other choice, remember?"

I looked out toward the driveway. "Where's your car?"

"At work."

"Why?"

"Because the stupid thing wouldn't start." She glanced away. "And I had to beg the busboy for a ride home."

If this were yesterday, she would've called
me
for a ride. She wouldn't need to beg anyone. And whether we were together or not, she
still
didn't need to beg anyone. "You should've called me," I said.

"Yeah? Well, maybe I didn't want to owe you a favor."

"You wouldn't have
owed
me anything."

"Yeah, right."

I looked toward the street. "So you walked here? Alone?" Yeah, it was a stupid question. I didn't see anyone else here, did I?

"Why not?" she said. "I've done it before. Besides, I'm just on the other side of your fence."

Except she didn't come the short way, did she? Yeah, there was a narrow gate out back, but the thing was locked. And as far as the fence, it was double Chloe's height, with sharp metal spires all along the top.

I gave her a look. "So you climbed it. That's what you're saying?" I knew she hadn't, but I was trying to make a point.

"No. Of course not."

"So you took the long way." I crossed my arms. "By sidewalk."

"Well, I didn't fly here, if that's what you're wondering."

Did I need to point out the obvious? "It's a fifteen-minute walk."

"So?"

I glanced around. It was pitch-black and cold as hell. She'd been alone and under-dressed. I gave her a serious look. "So it's the middle of the night."

"No. It's early morning."

Maybe. But she knew damn well what I meant. I didn't want her to be afraid. But I didn't want her to take stupid chances either. Yeah, this was a nice neighborhood, but in some ways, that just made it a juicier target.

I had to say it. "So you
want
something bad to happen to you? Is that it?"

She gave a bitter laugh. "What do you consider bad? Because it seems to me that something bad can happen just about anywhere, anytime. Driveways, parking lots–" Her mouth twisted. "Basements."

Ouch.

What could I say? It was true. Lamely, I said, "You should've called me."

She gave something like a shrug.

"Chloe, I'm serious. Don't do that again, alright?"

She made a sound of impatience. "Look, you were the one who forced me to come here."

Like what? At gunpoint? Was that how she really felt? I heard myself say, "Forced you?"

"Cornered me. Whatever." She sighed. "So here I am. And how I got here isn't all that important."

"It is to me."

"Yeah? Well, from now on, that's your problem, not mine."

I don't know what I expected, but not this. A full-blown temper-tantrum would've been easier to handle. The way it looked, she hated me,
really
hated me.

And I loved her.

Desperate to say something,
anything
, that would make a difference, I tried to think. What could I say? What could I do?

It was Chloe who broke the silence. "Listen, I've had a long night, so can we skip the part where we debate why I wouldn't be calling you for favors?"

I looked into her eyes, searching for some sign that it wasn't over. All I got was an icy stare.

My heart sank. What was the old saying? Live to fight another day? The way it looked, I wasn't going to make any headway tonight. And probably, if I pushed too hard, I'd only be pushing her further away.

But there was
something
I could do – not for me, for her. I could make damned sure she got that apology from Brittney. And if I had to drag Brittney's bony ass out of a nap or whatever to make that happen, I sure as hell wasn't going to hesitate.

"Alright," I said. "But there's something you deserve to hear. At least come inside, alright?"

"No. I don't think so." Her gaze drifted downward and settled on my wrists. Her eyebrows furrowed.

Shit.

My arms were bare, but my wrists were wrapped in white athletic tape. The tape was for Chloe's sake, not mine. She didn't need to know that those two kidnapper-wannabees weren't the
only
people I'd punished.

Under Chloe's gaze, my wrists burned with the memory of what I'd done. I could still feel the friction from the rope slicing into my skin as I wrapped the rope tighter and pulled it harder, until the rope was red, and my skin was dripping.

I didn't regret it. I deserved it.

Chloe – apparently concluding that I'd been working out or something – looked up. Her gaze drifted to the open door behind me. "Aren't you gonna close the door?"

Why? Because cold air was flooding into the house? I didn't care. All I cared about was the girl in front of me. I wanted to gather her in my arms and make sure she was never cold again.

My thoughts were churning, but my voice was quiet. "Screw the door."

She stared up at me, and something in her eyes warmed, just a fraction. For a long moment, I had this crazy idea that somehow, it would all work out, that by some miracle, she'd fall into my arms and let me make everything better.

Silently, I begged her.
Chloe, please.

But then, a different female voice drifted out my doorway. The voice sounded sleepy with a hint of sex. "Lawton," she called, "who's at the door?"

I froze, feeling the color drain from my face.

Fucking Brittney.

Reluctantly, I glanced behind me. And there she was, standing on the darkened staircase.

Naked.

Chapter 12

Desperately, I turned back to Chloe. The look on her face was everything I feared. And from where she was standing, she hadn't even
seen
Brittney yet. I shifted in the doorway, hoping like hell to block her view.

I knew exactly how this would look. Bad, just like it sounded. "Chloe," I said, "it's not what you think. I swear."

I heard movement behind me and stifled a curse. Chloe's gaze shifted to somewhere past my shoulder, and her jaw dropped. I didn't turn around, because I already knew what she had spotted – a certain naked blonde who, at this rate, I'd be strangling any minute.

I tried again. "Chloe–"

Whether she heard me or not, I'll never know, because another voice, sounding sly and possessive, drifted out the open doorway. "Oh," Brittney said. "It's you."

I turned to look, and there she was, standing within arm's reach. Yeah, it was bad, but not quite as bad as I'd originally feared.

From the distant shadows, all I had seen was bare skin. Now, up close, I saw tiny sheer panties and a matching bra. The bra was so thin, I could see the pink of her nipples poking through the nearly transparent fabric.

Knowing Brittney, I was supposed to be aroused.

I wasn't.

Instead, I was royally pissed off. I glared down at her. "You were supposed to wait upstairs."

She blinked up at me. "Oh. Was I?"

"And where the hell are your clothes?"

She raised her arms in a slow, seductive stretch. "Mmm…I dunno. Upstairs?" The way it sounded, she didn't mean upstairs in the guest room. She meant upstairs in
my
room, like we'd just been screwing or something.

A low, strangled sound broke into my thoughts. I turned to see Chloe turning away, like she was making a break for it.

Desperately, I grabbed her elbow. "Chloe, wait! Please?"

She whirled back to face me. Her face was flushed, and her breathing was ragged. "So
this
is why you invited me here? To throw
this
in my face?"

I gave her a pleading look. "There's no
this
."

If
this
was anything, it was a fucking nightmare. I had to make it go away. Now. Before I lost Chloe for good.

I turned to Brittney. "Go on. Tell her. Right now."

Brittney gave me a slow, sleepy smile. "Tell her what?"

My fists were tight, and my muscles were bunched into hard, angry knots. So help me, I wanted to hit her. Through clenched teeth, I said, "You tell her right now why you're here, or the deal's off. Got it?"

She lifted a bare shoulder. "Whatever you say."

"And for God's sake," I said, "put on some fucking clothes, will ya?"

Her lips formed a pout. "But they're dirty. And besides, it took her
forever
to get here."

I was still holding Chloe's elbow. Her body was trembling. And somehow, I knew that this time, it wasn't because of the cold.

I turned back to Brittney. Through gritted teeth, I said, "You've got five seconds."

"Oh alright. Fine." Brittney looked to the ceiling and mumbled, "I'm here to apologize."

As an apology, it sucked. Still, I looked to Chloe, hoping that if nothing else, it had bought me some time.

Chloe's gaze was still locked on Brittney. I knew what she was seeing – the long tousled hair, the sleepy smile, the see-through panties that hid nothing – and I mean
nothing
considering that Brittney wasn't a fan of pubic hair.

Brittney's half-hearted apology hung in the air, unanswered until Chloe said, "In your underwear?" She made a sound of disgust. "Yeah. Nice story."

I turned to give Brittney a warning look. "Brittney, you can do better than that."

But it was Chloe who spoke next. "Don't bother."

She jerked away from my grasp, and fearful of hurting her, I let go without a struggle. Too soon, she was turning away with a muttered, "I don't want your apology."

"Wait!" Brittney said.

Chloe stopped and turned around. She eyed Brittney with obvious impatience.

Brittney turned to me and said, "If she doesn't
want
me to apologize, our deal still counts, right? I mean, because I tried. And she said 'no.' You saw that, right?"

Was she kidding me? What
I
saw was a giant cluster-fuck that was going to cost me the girl I loved.

Before I could say so, Chloe's voice cut across the short distance. "On second thought, I'd just love an apology." She pushed past me and stormed into the house. She stopped in front of Brittney and crossed her arms. "And I sure hope it's a good one, because unlike some people, I've got standards."

Brittney pursed her lips. "Hey, I've got standards, too."

"Yeah," Chloe said, "except yours are too low to measure." She turned to me. "A few hours ago, wanna know what I caught her doing?" Chloe's voice rose. "Boning my boss in the back seat of his car."

I gave Brittney a sideways glance. I recalled the Lincoln Town car, the one she'd crawled out of earlier. Was
that
what she'd been doing in there? Screwing Chloe's boss? Talk about messed up.

Brittney was glaring at Chloe now. "Hey!" Brittney said. "We weren't boning. We were doing other stuff."

"Whatever," Chloe said, turning back to me. "So for your sake, I hope you wore a damn condom." She made a hard, scoffing sound. "You know what? On second thought, I hope you didn't. Because you deserve whatever this skank gives you."

What the hell?

Was
that
what Chloe thought of me? That I'd go straight from her to Brittney, in what? A few hours? I glanced toward Brittney, standing nearly naked in my own house. Shit. Of course Chloe would think that. The way it looked, she'd be stupid not to. But it
wasn't
like that. Somehow, I had to fix this.

"Baby." I moved toward her and reached for her hand. "I didn't wear anything."

She jerked her hand away. "How nice for you."

"Because," I explained, "I didn't have to. She's only here for one thing."

Chloe eyed me with disgust. "Exactly."

"Not that." I turned toward Brittney. "She's here," I said, speaking very slowly and clearly, "to tell you how very,
very
sorry she is."

"In her underpants?" Chloe said. "Do I look stupid to you?"

With a muttered curse, I strode to the front closet. I reached to the top shelf and pulled out a navy stadium blanket. I hurled it at Brittney. She made no move to catch it. The blanket hit her chest and slid to the floor.

I glanced at Chloe. She looked ready to bolt, not that I'd blame her. I gave Brittney a long, cold look. "Cover up. Or get out. Your choice."

Brittney looked down at the blanket, still lying on the floor. Finally, acting more like a stripper than anything else, she slowly bent over and picked it up, giving me a good, long show in the process. She finished by draping the blanket loosely over her shoulders, so it covered almost nothing – not her nipples, not her stomach, and not any part of her bushless bush.

Chloe pointed at Brittney's pelvis. "I think you missed a spot."

With a huff, Brittney wrapped the blanket around herself, leaving only her bare legs exposed. She gave Chloe a smirk. "Prude."

Chloe smiled. "Squid-fucker."

Brittney drew back with a gasp. The way it looked, the name meant something to her. Who was the squid? Chloe's boss?

Brittney whirled toward me and said, "Did you hear what she called me?"

"Like I care," I said. "Now, go on. Apologize. Chloe's waiting."

Brittney sighed. "Oh alright." She looked vaguely in Chloe's direction. In a bored monotone, she said, "I'm sorry about that little joke."

Little joke? What the hell? Maybe I should hold Brittney at knife-point, see if the joke was so funny then.

Chloe was staring at Brittney. "A joke?" Chloe said.

Brittney rolled her eyes. "You know. The prank. With Joey and Paul."

I gave Brittney a warning look. "That was no prank."

"Aw c'mon," Brittney said. "Yes, it was. Just a little joke. No big deal." She turned to Chloe. "Go on, tell him. You thought it was funny. Right?"

"Funny?" Chloe said. "So let me get this straight." Her voice rose. "Two masked men try to throw me in a trunk, and you call that a fucking joke?"

Brittney shrugged. "At least
I
have a sense of humor. Unlike
some
people."

"Gee," Chloe said, "maybe
some
people don't like getting dragged away in the middle of the night. Maybe
some
people are funny like that. Maybe
some
people aren't totally fucking nuts!"

"Hey, you're the one who's crazy," Brittney said. "It wasn't the middle of the night. It was like, what, nine?" She turned to me. "See? She's making it sound ten times worse than it was."

My hands were fisted, and my shoulders were tight. The more Brittney talked, the harder it was to keep my cool.

At something in my face, Brittney took a small step backward, but then recovered just as fast. She gave a toss of her hair and said, "So like I told you, it's no big deal."

My blood was boiling. "And like I told
you
," I said, "it
is
a big deal. A very big deal. And if you were some guy, you'd be getting a lot worse than the chance to beg Chloe for forgiveness."

"Hey," Brittney said. "No one said anything about begging." She threw back her shoulders. "Brittney Adams doesn't beg for anything."

Chloe gave a hard laugh. "Not even car nookie?" 

Brittney gave Chloe an annoyed look. "It wasn't nookie." She turned to me. "You believe me, right?"

"What I believe," I said, "is that you're supposed to be apologizing."

She pursed her lips and turned back to Chloe. "Alright. I
guess
I'm sorry. But seriously, it's no big deal. In my sorority, we do that sort of thing all the time."

What a load of bull.

The way it looked, Chloe wasn't buying it either. She was still staring at Brittney. "Your sorority kidnaps people? Seriously?"

With a little huff, Brittney turned to me and said, "See? She's doing it again. She's making it sound worse on purpose, just to make me look bad."

I wanted to throttle her. "You want to do a shitty job at this, fine." I pointed toward the door. "Get the fuck out. Now."

Brittney gave me a pleading look. "But I'm trying to explain. She won't let me."

I crossed his arms and spoke very slowly. "Try harder."

With an eye roll, she turned back to Chloe. "What we do," Brittney said, "is steal their mascots. Swipe 'em for a day or two." She turned toward me and finished by saying, "But we always return them. It's no big deal. See?"

"No," I said. "I don't see."

And I didn't. For one thing, Brittney wasn't even
in
a sorority. For another, it
was
a big deal. A very big deal.

Brittney made a sound of annoyance. "But it was just a joke. I don't get why everyone's freaking out about it." She adjusted the blanket and gave a dramatic sigh. Looking to me, she said, "But just because you asked, I apologized anyway. So are we good now or what?"

Good? Not by a longshot.

But before I could say so, Chloe turned to me and said, "So this was
your
idea?"

BOOK: Rastor (Lawton Rastor Book 2)
3.3Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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