He dropped his voice low, sending a sensual tingle straight between my legs. “Explain what? Explain why you’re here. Explain why you’re alone. Explain where the fuck Matt is. Explain, Bailey. Explain so I don’t leave here and rip the head off someone I consider like a brother.” He stopped, breathing down on me, inches from me. I felt his heat, warm and intoxicating, and I was having a hard time circulating my own air.
I wanted his.
“Oh.” I reached out, my hand touching his stomach, and holy God, he was tense. He was tight, and I could feel the control it was taking for him to restrain himself. It was rolling around in him, his stomach muscles vibrating, and it only got worse under my touch. His eyes were closed. His face bent down toward mine.
I said it softly, not knowing it was coming out. “I missed you.” Three long nights.
His eyes opened, anguish and need and frustration and torment all looked back at me. The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. My heart paused, literally paused.
He wrapped a hand around my nape, tugging me to him and closing the distance. As soon as we touched, I felt centered. Settled.
The world made sense, just for a moment, if only for that moment. Everything going around and around. Everything making me confused. Family. Years of loneliness. Love. Yearning. Wanting a father, now wanting my mother. Not knowing where I came from, as if I didn’t know where my roots anchored me to the ground.
All of that. Gone. One touch from Kash and I felt right.
“Fuck,” he whispered. His hand slid to cup the side of my face. “You’re not supposed to be here. Not without me. Never without me. And I got the call where Matt took you, and I am trying not to kill him right now.” His hand was gentle, his thumb starting to rub over my cheek. He did this. He cradled me in the palm of his hand, and every time, I fell a little bit more.
I didn’t even stop myself this time. I let myself go, because it was so good to see him, hear him, feel him.
“He apologized for the party, then brought me here because Victoria’s at the house. Her and the guy giving Cyclone tutoring lessons. Matt said Quinn was going to have lunch with them, and Cyclone and Seraphina would’ve begged me to sit there.”
Kash didn’t move.
Not an inch. But his arm did. His bicep muscle bulged up a full second, held, then relaxed. He expelled more air. “Shit. He was right, but wrong. Victoria is here. She texted, asking me to meet her here. But he was right about Quinn. Her and Victoria together would’ve been a nightmare.”
Victoria was here?
My pulse jumped. I didn’t like that.
“Kash.” I slid my hand down his chest, lingering over his stomach. He went still under my touch, not even breathing. “You said you would explain things.” I looked back up. “It’s time you did that.”
“I know.” He sighed, but his arms slid around me, and he hugged me to him. He said into my neck, “I will. I promise. It’s a lot for you to know.” He lifted his head again, his eyes flashing dark and sensual promises. “I’ll beat up Matt, then you and I, we’ll go to my place. I’m back for a while now. I can explain everything.”
Call me weak, but I was stupid happy he was back.
I nodded. “Okay.”
His eyes paused on my lips, hunger showing, and he groaned. His hand came up. His thumb touched my bottom lip. He liked to do that. Then he forced himself away. Catching my hand in his, he entwined our fingers and said roughly, “Let’s go.”
I felt the bartender’s eyes as Kash led me back out to the main room.
Kash stopped, telling our security the plan, and then we were off. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but we were moving at a fast pace. Down the stairs, out from the barn. We were heading back across the yard, and people were noticing. All the guards, except the three that went with Matt, were with us. They fanned out, surrounding us.
Kash moved a little behind me, a hand on my nape as we walked forward.
“Colello!” A guy was cutting over, running to us.
He had a hand in the air. “Colello! What’s the word on you taking your father’s place with Phoenix Tech after all these years?”
Kash’s hand tightened on my neck, just a smidgen. He ignored the guy.
Another guy joined him, and soon more and more people. They were press, along with the regular partygoers who’d come to enjoy the tournament. One woman yelled, “Kash! We partied together at Noi. Do you still have my number?”
Another: “Who’s the girl?”
Still another: “Your grandfather’s made it known he wants you back in the family. What’s your response to that?”
“Kash! There are rumors you were helping the government in trying to go after your grandfather. Is there any truth to that?”
“Should we expect regular appearances on the nightclub scene?”
We were almost to the main lodge. A staff member came out to meet us. She was held off by the guards, but she waved her badge. “We sectioned off a room for Mr. Colello and his guest.”
The guard looked back.
Kash dipped his head in a nod, his mouth tight and closed. He guided me forward as we got to the lodge. A whole wave of people was on the deck above us and coming to stand around the front sitting area with tables and tents. They were all watching us, some curiously and some surprised.
We were led right under the awning of the deck, all those people shifting to watch us, and into a back hallway.
One girl shifted to the front, a drink in hand. She smiled, though it didn’t travel to her eyes, and she leaned down. “Kash!”
He paused for this one, looking up.
I was gritting my teeth. It was Victoria, and she was looking just as stunning as ever. Her hair was shining from the sunlight over us, and her lips moved into a more seductive smile. “Invite me down. I’d like to talk to you.”
He growled, his head jerking back down. “Not now.”
We were inside. The staff member guided us to a back sitting room. A bar was in a corner. Couches. Chairs. A television on one wall. Shades were closed, with light shining underneath, and we could hear people on the other side. Someone knocked against the window. That was behind the shades. Laughter pealed out from the other side.
“This is the best we could do under the circumstances.” She motioned to the shades. “Those are patio doors, but we locked them and they’re covered. As long as you’re relatively quiet, they won’t know you’re in here.” She hesitated, her hair coming out from her bun, giving her a harried look. “Would you…” She turned. There was no one at the bar. “Would you like a staff member to come in?”