Home > Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(6)

Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(6)
Author: A.L. Jackson

I glanced at the letter again.

And I chose to take a chance.

Before I could think better of it, I moved through the arch and out into the dated living room. I slipped on my sandals I’d left by the door.

Then I let myself out into the muggy, Alabama night, the air heady with wafts of honeysuckle and fresh-cut grass.

Moon, huge and high, cast the slumbering houses and trees in a silvery glow, and the steady trill of cicadas danced all around.

It felt like stepping straight back into my childhood. The memories of the nights I’d spent on the porch with my grandmother staring up at the stars seemed so close it felt as if I only had to reach out to go back to that time.

Inhaling the vestiges, I kept my footsteps as light as possible. Even still, they crunched against the gravel driveway, and I sucked in an emboldened breath when I stole through the night and across the street, silently making my way up his walkway.

Carefully, I climbed his steps, hand on the railing as if it offered moral support, and crossed his freshly stained deck. I stopped at his door, my heart the thunder that incited a storm within my chest.

What was I doing?

This was insane.

This guy hated me for no apparent reason at all.

Still, I found myself lifting my hand, my fist quietly knocking at his door.

I was shaking all over by the time the latch turned and the door flew open, and I was again met with the same unwarranted fury from earlier. Although this time it was harder.

All of it.

His scowl and his glare and every gloriously defined ridge of his body.

Oh. My. God.

There was nothing I could do to keep my eyes from dropping to explore the wide expanse of exposed flesh. His shirt was missing, and he was wearing nothing but boxer briefs.

I gulped. That foolish attraction drenched me through, wet and hot and sticky. Flaming free and leaving me weak in the knees.

My gaze latched on the tattoo that ran the entirety of his left upper arm. It was a landscape of a jagged cliff with a waterfall pouring over the side. The splashes rising up from the seething pool of water were bright, colorful feathers that floated and twisted as if blown by the breeze.

Sorrow and hope.

They were so clearly impressed into the depiction.

“What are you doing here?”

The severity in his voice cut through the night, impaling my stupor, jerking my attention up to his face.

Of course, it had to be equally as striking as the rest of him.

Powerful and dominant.

I shook as I took a fumbled step back.

Oh, wow, was this stupid. So damned stupid.

Still, I lifted my chin. “I was just . . .” I fumbled for an excuse to be standing at his door at one in the morning. “Wondering if you had any almond extract?”

His head cocked, and if it were possible, his eyes narrowed even more. “Do I look like I have almond extract?”

“Ummm . . .” I stammered.

Great.

I was a blubbering fool.

This man set me totally off balance. He was so different from the men I was used to back in San Francisco.

Rougher.

Unpolished and raw.

More dangerously beautiful than any man had the right to be.

Maybe it was because he reminded me a tiny bit of Aaron. The asshole back in high school who’d had a hand in the breaking of my heart.

But this was more.

Different.

Everything about Rex Gunner was unique.

Blinding in his darkness.

Warm in his coldness.

“I just—” I gestured back to my house across the street. “I was making my gramma’s cherry pie and was missing almond extract when I saw a light on over here. I thought I would take a chance.”

All moments matter. We just rarely know how important they are until the chance to act on them has already passed.

Was this one of those moments that mattered?

And why did I feel like I had to take this chance?

4

Rex

Lust sieged my body as I stared at her standing in the moonlight like some kind of vision.

Like some kind of wicked enchantress with the face of an angel.

Baking my fucking favorite pie, nonetheless.

Her scent was all around me. Cherries and sugar.

My mouth watered, and I clenched my fists in an effort to keep myself from reaching out and taking a taste for myself.

Maybe I was still back in bed and this was just a new element of the nightmares that haunted me night after night.

If this were a dream, I’d be inviting her in and sinking into that tight body. Fucking her hard and wild. Just the way I liked it. That would be right before she grew fangs and ripped me apart. Hell, with the way she was looking at me, it was clear she was already poised to tear me to shreds.

“Some chances aren’t worth taking,” I said, voice rough with warning. She needed to know she was crossing into territory where she wasn’t welcome. Banging on my door in the middle of the night was completely off-limits. How could this girl possibly think this was okay?

I set my forearm high on the jamb, knowing every inch of me was bristling with the challenge.

All except for my dick. Apparently, that was the only part of me that didn’t seem pissed off at the intrusion.

Her strong chin lifted in her own challenge. “No? Haven’t you ever heard you never know if you don’t try?”

“And how many doors have gotten slammed in your face because of that philosophy?”

“More than I could count. And why do I get the feeling you’re about to add another to that number?”

A disbelieving chuckle rumbled in my chest. This girl was all kinds of grit and determination. “I’m easy to read, I guess.”

A tiny snort huffed from her nose. “Hardly.”

She angled her head, and those warm eyes turned almost pleading. “Listen, I’m going to be living right across the street . . .”

Just the thought of it left me antsy and agitated.

Her voice softened. “I don’t know anyone around here anymore, and it’d be nice to have a friend. I thought maybe you and Frankie could use one, too.”

Laughter ripped up my throat.

Cruel and low.

“Sorry, but I have all the friends I need, and I’d appreciate it if you stayed away from my daughter. She doesn’t need anyone else making her promises they have no intention of keeping.”

Before I could do something stupid, I slammed the door shut in her face. Exactly the way she’d been expecting me to do. I leaned my back against the wood, trying to catch my breath, to slow the raging in my spirit, that part of me that hated being such an asshole.

All the while trying to remind myself why it was necessary.

There was something about her that set me on edge. Left me feeling off-balance.

Self-control was not normally something I lacked, and fuck, it wasn’t like she was out there offering herself up like a warm slice of pie.

But just looking at her had me itching for a taste.

I could feel her on the other side, her presence that swept the air unsettled and thick. Like I’d caused her physical pain with the rejection and she was projecting it right back to me.

Maybe she really was just trying to be nice.

Maybe she didn’t have ulterior motives.

But that was a chance I just couldn’t take.

Fear tumbled through his veins and clanged in the hollow of his chest. Frantic, he stumbled through the brushy undergrowth, the world buried by soaring trees. Branches lashed at the exposed skin of his arms and thorns latched onto the fabric of his shirt in an attempt to hold him back.

It propelled him harder.

Faster.

He screamed her name. “Sydney.”

Sydney. Sydney. Sydney.

The howl of wind answered back.

Sydney.

I shot upright, chest heaving as I struggled to catch my breath. To orient myself to the movement that jostled me awake and pulled me from the dream.

“Daddy, Daddy, Daddy! Wakey, wakey, wakey. I made you breakfast.”

Frankie was grinning at me as she jumped on my bed. Brown hair wild and free, just as wild and free as the way she looked at the world. At the way she loved. Wholly and without reservation.

I scrubbed both palms over my face, dropped them just as fast. It was not all that hard to return her grin.

Her expression alone was enough to chase away the exhaustion that constantly weighed me down. The few hours of sleep I managed were restless. Plagued with the curse that darkened my life.

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