“Is Helen going to buy that house? Nate’s old house?”
“Wait. Where’d that come from?”
Money was important to her. Helen Malbourne would never approve of me; she didn’t think I was good enough for Mason. “I know she’s there. It’s another thing you didn’t tell me this past week.”
“Oh.” His hand fell away from my face. “You don’t trust me now?”
After all he had done, that was the last thing I should be feeling. “No. I’m sorry.”
I sighed on the inside. Would I ever be secure enough?
“Look at me.”
I refused, glancing at my hands. Twisting them in my lap, I looked again after he gently nudged me with his shoulder. He smiled at me. Seeing the tenderness in his gaze, I melted inside. Then he murmured as he drew closer to me, “You have baggage. I understand. Your mom betrayed you. Both of your dads left you. Your two best friends and your ex screwed you over. I start keeping secrets, and you see me kissing another girl. I get it. I’m sorry for making you doubt me.”
“This week sucked.”
He laughed, capturing my hand again and bringing it onto his lap. He held it with both of his. “The past couple weeks have sucked.”
“Is it done?”
I cracked a grin. “That’s not very reassuring.”
“Whatever else happens, we’ll deal. We always do.” Turning to me, he lifted me onto his lap and scooted back until he was resting against my headboard. For some reason, sheltered in his arms in my old room gave me a peaceful feeling. My old and new had combined and somehow that was all I’d needed. He pressed a kiss to the side of my head. “You don’t believe me?”
I did, but words weren’t coming to me right then and there. My throat swelled and a big knot lodged in my chest, but it was the good kind. For once.
“Sam,” he whispered, his breath caressing my skin, “I love you.”
I clasped my other hand over his and squeezed with as much force as I could. I loved him. I just couldn’t say it. The knot had doubled, so I tried to turn around so he could see it. I needed him to see my love. Tears and all, they were shining within me, and I wanted him see it all. He always saw everything.
Then he groaned, “Do you know how hard I am right now?”
A laugh broke free. My ribs hated me, but I kept laughing. It wasn’t until later that night when the lights were off and we were in my bed that I was able to speak over the pain, “So your mom really is buying that house?”
His arms tightened around me. “Yeah, I think so and especially after last night.”
“What else happened?”
He stiffened underneath me. “I got a call last night from my dad, and I didn’t even think about it until now, but you should know something. Your mom had another freak out. My dad had to call the cops on her.”
I didn’t know what hit me first: fear or hope.
He added, “She was admitted to the hospital and she’s under a seventy-two-hour psychiatric hold. My dad says that your mom has a disorder or something. She’s going to some treatment center.”
“For how long?”
“He’s hoping for as long as it takes.”
“Takes? For what?”
“I don’t know. For her to get better, I guess. Maybe just for her to deal with things before bringing her back. The bottom line is that they’re going to be gone for a long time. My mom hasn’t said anything, but I’d be surprised if that doesn’t seal the deal. She’ll buy that house or another one in the same neighborhood.”
“To be close to your dad’s house?”
“Because of you.”
I lifted my head from his chest. “What?”
“Because of Malinda Decraw. It’s where she lives.”
“What are you talking about?” I sat up and leaned against the wall, gazing down at him.
He grinned at me, reaching for my shirt and pulling down on the top so he could graze against my br**sts. He captured one in his hand. “Your dad’s going to marry that woman, and you’ll be there from now on.”
“We could go back to the old house, your dad’s.”
“Nah.” His thumb rubbed back and forth over my nipple, and I sucked in my breath. A burning sensation was going through me, the kind that I couldn’t do anything about. “I’m not dumb, Sam. You moved back in with your dad. You can’t leave him, not when you just got him back, and that’s his woman, so I’m guessing we’ll be spending a lot of time going between Malinda and my mom’s houses.”
“What about this house?” I just got it back, too.
“You really want to stay here? We can if you want.”
But he was right. This home was cold now. David was right. This was Analise’s home. There were too many bad memories here. Malinda’s was warm. Loving. Caring. She was the future for my dad. I sighed out loud and laid back into his side. “Well, that’ll be interesting.”
“Going between Helen and Malinda’s houses all the time.”
“Yeah.” His voice dipped and he shifted to his side. His arm tightened around me and he slid his hand down the length of my side. When he stopped and began to rub my thigh, he said, “I know you can’t do much, but maybe I can make you feel better.”