Her smile just grew. “I’m beginning to get a clue.”
Jesus, she was loving this. Why did women love it so much when you got all sappy and poured your frigging heart out to them?
“So, if the timeline in my head is right, this all happened near the end of your...last year of high school, right?”
I nodded. “Two months before graduation.”
“God, that’s so awful. How did you...I can’t even imagine how you were able to graduate after that. How you moved on at all.”
I shook my head. “I don’t remember much about the last bit of high school. I just know I passed. It was moving on to college that really changed everything. I guess I looked at it as a clean slate, as if I hadn’t existed until that moment. I had no past, no sister, no nothing. I was just me. Gamble...” I paused and glanced at her.
She nodded, seemingly okay with me bringing up her brother. I swallowed. “Well, he probably helped me through everything more than anyone, without even knowing what he was doing. We were assigned as roommates in the dorms. And he just...swept me along with him and kind of forced us into being this...team.” I shook my head and grinned. “It was easy not to tell him shit about me. That fucker was driven. I tell you what, he was looking so far into the future when he came to ESU, it was as if he never had a past. Like no one had ever had a past. So, shit, I don’t know. It was easy to forget anything that had happened to me before college, too. We just lived for the present and the future. I knew about you and your brothers because he would call home, like, every fucking day, but I figured you were all really young or something. I never really thought about it. He didn’t voice any concerns to me, so I didn’t worry about you either. And he never worried about any of my shit I’d pushed out of my head, so...it just worked for us.”
With a smile, Caroline hugged me. “I understand why he had to leave Colton and Brandt and me for a while, then. He had to be here for you.”
I stared at her, realizing shit, she’d had to suffer so I could find a way to heal. That sucked ass. But in a way, I was kind of glad it’d worked out this way. Her suffering had brought her here, to me.
Pressing my forehead to hers, I breathed in that amazing smell that was purely my woman. Then I cupped her face in my hands. “Whatever shit happened to drag us here to this moment...I wish most of it hadn’t needed to go down the way it did, but I’m still glad it ended up here, right here, with you and me together on this roof. The pain was worth it if it’s what brought you to me.”
Caroline sucked in a shuddery breath before murmuring, “Oren?”
“Hmm?” I closed my eyes, once again so grateful I had her.
“Your hour session’s over.”
I opened my eyes. She smiled up at me. Damn, I loved how horny she could get.
With a groan, I rasped, “Thank God,” right before I kissed her.
I should’ve known better than to open up to anyone about my sister. The very night I sat on top of the old theater and told Caroline about Zoey, I went home after dropping her off near her house and fell asleep in my bed, only to have a fucking nightmare.
The dream even started shitty, with Libby Lawson shrieking at the sight of my dick.
“Oh my God! What the hell is wrong with it?”
I’d just crawled off her, was still naked, and I was scouring her bedroom for my pants before her parents returned from their dinner party.
“What?” I glanced down, hoping she didn’t think I was too small. Then I immediately covered myself. Shit, I wasn’t smaller than Rowdy Crowner, was I? She’d dated him earlier in the year, and I’d heard they’d gone all the way. But, damn, I’d have to kill myself if she told me I was smaller than that douche.
Face molted in horror, she veered backward up the bed in an attempt to get as far away from me as possible. “Holy shit. What is that thing on the side? You don’t have some kind of STD, do you?”
I blinked for a second before saying, “You mean my birthmark?”
I opened my hands to show her. “It’s just a birthmark. I’ve always had it.”
She shuddered and turned her face away. “Eww. Put it away. I can’t believe you had that thing inside me. How gross. Why didn’t you tell me about it before we did anything? I better not catch something from you!”
“Don’t worry.” I couldn’t get the bitterness from my voice as I scrambled to yank my clothes on. I hated how my face was heating. “Birthmarks aren’t contagious.”