Home > Pulled Under (Walker Security #2)(7)

Pulled Under (Walker Security #2)(7)
Author: Lisa Renee Jones


“The way that gas affected me,” he says. “That was about twenty percent of what most people will feel.”

“That was obviously a yes. I need to replace the purse. You need to shower first. You’re the one with burning eyes and skin.”

“Unless you want me walking around in a towel, I have to wait for clothes.”

“Oh.”

His lips curve and I have no idea why I’m so obsessed with this man’s mouth.

“Is that a yes or no?” he asks.

My gaze jerks to his. “What was the question?”

“Me in a towel.”

“I’ll give you my pink robe. You have to shower first, though you sure aren’t acting like you need instant relief.”

“I’m good at hiding pain, sweetheart, and this isn’t as much about me right now as it is ensuring I don’t expose anyone else.”

“Is that a yes on the robe?” I ask.

“As much as I like pink,” he replies, “I’d rather see it on you. And since chemical contamination will really screw up any mood we get going, I’m forced to move on, right when I’d rather not. Do you have plastic bags?”

“Yes. I do. Under the kitchen sink.”

“Good. Go to the sink. Wash your hands and arms thoroughly. You don’t want your fresh clothes to end up contaminated. Then get the bags and pick out new clothes with as little contact with anything else as possible. Whatever we touch, we’ll wipe down.”

“I had no idea this was such a big deal.”

“Most people don’t. We should go inside.”

Right. His eyes. They’re red and I should be rushing him to water. Still, when I turn and grab the knob, I can’t seem to make myself open the door and invite the questions I know will follow. Asher knows, too. He is suddenly a little closer, when he was already close, his hand on the door above me. “Nothing in that apartment matters to me,” he says.

He’s wrong. It will matter. I feel it, but I can’t change what’s to come at this point. I open the door and enter what is quite literally my hole-in-the-wall efficiency where the kitchen and the rest of the place are one room. A bathroom and a closet that is barely a closet are the only attachments. The door shuts behind me, the lock turning into place, both of which tells me that Asher now consumes the small space because he’s that big and it’s that little.

I’m also alone with the only man I’ve been alone with since leaving The Beast nine months ago. I’m alone with the only man I actually might like for far longer and how fitting to my dilemma that we’re covered in toxic chemicals. Because I’m toxic and I’m not going to give Asher a chance to try to play hero and get hurt.

 

 

There was no avoiding this moment.

I brace myself to endure Asher’s reaction to my tiny living quarters, and then turn around to find him focused to his left where my entire apartment exists, his jaw set hard. I scan the room, taking in what he sees: a twin-sized bed with plain rose-colored sheets and one pillow, a classroom-size student desk and chair, a small fan, a suitcase in the corner because it won’t fit in my midget closet. No photos, art, or personal anything.

He turns to face me and just that quick he’s erased the small space between us, he’s close again, so very close, but he doesn’t touch me and I hate how much I want him to touch me. “Do you know how many questions I want to ask you right now?” he asks.

“Don’t ask them,” I say.

He stares at me for a few incredibly long beats, his jaw tight, his expression unreadable. “Go wash up, Sierra,” he orders.

I don’t like orders. I took them from The Beast to protect my mother. When I left him, I swore I wouldn’t take them from another man or anyone for that matter. However, in this case, Asher’s just trying to do what I’ve ordered him to do: Don’t ask those questions he wants to ask. So I comply with this particular command willingly. I walk to the sink and turn on the water, pumping soap into my palm and working it into bubbles. “All the way to your sleeves,” he says from behind me, his breath warm on my neck, sending shivers down my spine.

I glance over my shoulder, and he’s practically on top of me. “Do you have to hover?”

“Yes. I can’t sit down. I can’t lean on anything and there isn’t exactly a lot of space.”

“None that creates a need for you to stand this close.”

“Correct,” he says.

“And yet you’re still standing this close.”

“Also correct. Where did you work before the bar?”

“Another bar,” I say, happy to have a question I can answer honestly. I flip off the water and surprisingly, he actually takes that as a cue to back up. I open the cabinet below the sink and pull out the box of garbage bags. When I turn around, I’m sandwiched between him and the counter, and he still smells too good for my sanity. I pull two bags from the box and then shove it at him. “The sink’s all yours.”

He takes the box but doesn’t move, those piercing green eyes of his fixed on my face. “Do you know how many questions I want to ask you right now?”

“Didn’t we just have this conversation?”

“Yes.”

“Repeating it works for you about as well as your suggestion that I take some clothes off and dance on the bar tonight. Not at all.”

“How long have you lived here?”

“I’m not going to tell you that. I’m not going to talk about me with you at all.” Aware that he won’t touch me until he showers, I step around him, easily escaping to my closet. Pulling open the sliding wooden door, I grab a T-shirt and a pair of black Victoria’s Secret PINK sweats, the only pair I managed to haul across the country. I don’t look at Asher, but I feel him staring at me. I feel him every second I’m in his presence, in every nerve and pore of my existence, and I don’t know how that is even possible.

I walk into the tiny bathroom, shut the door, and stare at the tiny shower, that doesn’t actually have a bathtub, and wonder how Asher is even going to move around in here. He knocks on the door and I jump. “Undress in the shower and bag your clothes. And wash your hair.”

“Yes. Okay. Got it. There’s bottled water in the fridge and I have milk and cereal.” I cringe. Milk and cereal? Am I trying to seduce him or just point out that I have nothing but milk and cereal in the house? Whatever the case, I need to get done in here and let him get cleaned up. I hurry forward and follow his instructions. First things first, I clean out my purse, and stick my cash and the other few contents in the small medicine chest. I then toss my purse in the shower, and step inside with it. Once I’ve stripped, I bag everything that might be contaminated, with the realization that I’ll have to have my boots cleaned. I’m not replacing them. Once the water is flowing warm, I lean under the spray wondering what Asher is doing out there. He said he can’t sit down. Is he just standing there in the center of the kitchen?

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