Storming past her and my shell-shocked-looking younger brothers, I hurried to my room and immediately knelt on the floor to yank my suitcase out from under the bed. Once it was flopped open, I yanked out the top drawer of my dresser. When I turned back to the suitcase with an armful of bras and panties, I found Aspen in the doorway, looking scared.
“I-I...” At a loss for words, she blinked at me and began to wring her hands at her waist. “I’m sorry, Caroline. You just looked so upset. I didn’t mean to automatically assume it was Ten’s fault.” She shifted to the end of my bed and motioned toward my rushed pack-job. “What exactly is going on here?”
I hissed out a breath, forcefully calming myself. Blowing up at my sister-in-law wasn’t going to help anything. It wasn’t her fault my brother had been a complete asshole tonight.
“I have to leave,” I said. “I can’t stay here a second longer with your fuck-face husband. He just... He...” I shuddered and my bottom lip trembled. I bit it hard before I could burst into tears over the way he’d betrayed me.
“Oh, great,” Aspen muttered, running her hand over her forehead. “I was worried he would do something ugly and irrational. He always does something ugly and irrational whenever he’s scared and upset.”
“Scared?” I spat the word out on a laugh. “What does he have to be scared about?”
She looked up at me, her eyes swimming with concern. “I think he’s scared he might lose both his best friend and his sister over this.”
“Yeah, well...he did just lose his sister.”
Aspen’s eyes filled with misery. “I probably don’t want to know what he did, do I? Fine. Let me help you pack. Then I’ll take you wherever you need to go.”
The shift ended, the club cleared out, and only us guys remained to clean the place up. I tried to hold my tongue for as long as I could, but for me, “long” lasted about ten minutes. Everyone in the joint must’ve sensed our tension, because there wasn’t a lot of talking or bantering as we set to our duties. I was wiping down the stools in front of the bar when Noel began to clean the counter behind it. We were facing each other, the bar between us, and working in the same direction, though we avoided eye contact, when my patience shattered.
Slapping my washrag on the bar top, I looked over at him and burst. “You know, even if your fucking plan had worked tonight, the person who would’ve gotten hurt the most was your sister. Did that even occur to you, you prick bastard? Your only little sister. Oh, but don’t worry; if that was your goal, I think it worked anyway. It wasn’t me who caused her devastation, though, it was you. I cannot even believe you would...” Shaking my head as words failed me because I was vibrating with so much rage, I just wanted to leap over the bar and start pounding on his fucking face.
What he’d done to Caroline had been completely unacceptable.
Too close to the edge to trust myself, I glanced at Lowe, who’d stopped what he was doing to watch us openly. “I’m taking off.”
He nodded and made a dismissive gesture with his hand, excusing me. I swear I saw some pride glittering in his gaze as he sent me the hint of a smile.
Without even looking Gamble’s way, I turned and walked out of the club.
When I found my wife curled in my bed, fast asleep with her luggage sitting against the footboard, I wasn’t all that surprised.
Smiling softly, I stripped down to my boxers and crawled in with her.
I woke the next morning to the end of my bed dipping down as someone sat next to my feet. In my arms, Caroline stirred and her scent rustled up from her hair, filling my nose until I had wood. My arms were already wrapped around her as we spooned, and her ass was tucked into my lap with her back snuggled to my chest.
As someone who liked my space at night, it blew my mind that I enjoyed sleeping with her so much that I actually wanted her this close to me. But hell, I had no idea having her right there would feel quite this nice. My hips arched forward and I instinctively rubbed my hard cock through my boxer shorts until I found the crease in her ass.
She let out a breathy sigh, and I leaned in to bury my face in the back of her neck, enjoying every single second of this moment...until a throat cleared at the end of my bed.
Jumping out of my skin, I sat up, instantly pulling the blankets up to cover my woman. We were already fully covered to the tops of our chests. But I knew she only had on those cute little boy shorts and a camisole top. I didn’t want someone else seeing even her creamy bare shoulders.
When I spotted Noel sitting by my feet, I lurched upright. “Jesus. What the fuck, man?”