She had a rude awakening coming. Sam was coming too.
Reaching over, I put a hand on her thigh. She glanced up, her dark eyes made darker by her misery. “Things will work out.” I tried to reassure her with a smile.
She closed her eyes. Just like that, I’d been given a window to her soul, and then she took it away. Sam would never know how much that affected me. I needed to feel connected to her. Sometimes it was like air to me—I needed it to breathe. When she would pull away, it staggered me—every time. I tried again, “It will, Sam.” They opened again, baring her insides to me. My lungs filled as the connection happened.
“I thought it was you,” she whispered.
“When Logan sent that text, I thought it was all over.”
Regret washed over me. “I’m sorry. I should’ve asked what Logan texted. No, I should’ve called you myself. I’m sorry.” I grimaced. If I’d gotten a text like that, I would’ve gone nuts. My reaction would’ve been a lot worse than hers had been. Even considering it, the beginning of rage swirled inside of me. I don’t know what I would do if she was ever hurt …
Then she sent another pang through me when she said, “I can’t go back to my mom’s. I thought I could before. I was willing to do it for you and Logan. I think you guys should live with your dad. It’s your last semester here,” her voice hitched on that last statement, “you should have as many memories with your dad that you can.”
“We can’t. Sam—”
“I know.” She sat up and faced me.
She was now in the shadows, but the streetlights flashed over her, illuminating her for a brief second. As I watched, her eyes never changed. There was always such earnestness mixed with sadness in them. Everything in me sank. There’d always been pain in her, but it had gone away for a little while, but it was back now. It had increased. My eyebrows furrowed together. Was this because of my dad?
She murmured, “You said your mom would get you guys’ hotel rooms.” She bit her lip. “I can’t stay with my mom, not if you guys aren’t there. There’s no way.”
“You won’t.” My voice grew rough. “You’re staying with us.”
“But your mom—”
“I don’t care about my mom. If she thinks she can push you out … there’s no way in hell. You’re staying with us.”
“But what if she—”
“Sam.” My hand gripped her thigh harder, my fingers sinking into her jeans. “I don’t care what my mom says. Logan and I both have our own money. We can get our own room. Besides, even if you didn’t stay with me, for some unknown reason that I can’t imagine, Logan would have you in his room. He’d hide you in his suitcase or something.” I grinned at her. “You’re covered no matter what.”
Her eyes held mine, so stricken and vulnerable.
I tried not to let it slip, but this was killing me. Sam was strong. I knew that. I’d seen it and it was one of the things that drew me to her in the first place, but she was fragile too. I could see her nearing the line of too-much. The fight with her mom had almost defeated her. I couldn’t fight for her, not with that battle. It was on the inside. She was still dealing with all the emotional turmoil Analise shoveled at her.
Fuck her, that’d been my theory for Sam’s mother from the beginning, but I knew she needed to put Analise behind her on her own. If she didn’t, her mother would still hold so much power over Sam and nothing good would ever happen then.
Analise Strattan was toxic. She ruined everything she touched. It was only a matter of time before she’d ruin my father, but James remained with her, his eyes wide open. He knew what he was getting himself into. I would never have sympathy for my dad. He refused to leave Analise, so f**k him. She hurt Sam. I was done with my dad as long as he was with that woman.
Feeling Sam slip her hand underneath mine, I broke out of my thoughts.
She smiled at me. She didn’t waver, but the sadness in her eyes would haunt me. I lifted her hand and pressed a kiss to the back of it.
“What was that for?”
I shrugged, putting our hands back in her lap. Then I took a deep breath. I was rattled. I thought my best friend had died. Now his parents were coming back. I knew they would circle the wagons. He’d be banned from seeing me. There was a lot left to handle. Parker. Whatever else Kate was planning. I had a strong feeling when my mom got here, she wouldn’t be leaving for a while.
Things were about to get interesting.
It seemed to take forever to get to the house, but when we did, I held the door for her. Sam brushed against my arm, and the need to have her was sudden and overwhelming. I reached for her without thinking, but stopped. More and more waves of intense desire rocked through me. I wanted her. I wanted to be wrapped up in her. I wanted to pin her against the wall right then and there.
My hand shook as I forced it to return back to my side. She paused in the door, stood on her tiptoes and pressed a kiss to my lips before moving inside.
I let loose a ragged breath. Fuck. Needing Sam had developed into an addiction after my first taste, but she had no idea how she could affect me. If I was being honest with myself, I was scared of letting her know. Marriages could be broken from that. If someone had more power over the other, they could use that love to manipulate the other. It went down the same all the time. Even with Tate and Logan. He adored her, and she didn’t care. She had all the power and had used it to walk all over him.