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Because of Low (Chapter Nine)

Marcus

"Well that took awhile," Amanda teased as I got into the truck grinning like a fool.

"Yeah it did."

"She's really pretty."

Pretty did not begin to describe Will ow. Seeing her sitting there beside Sadie I realized how much sexier Will ow was.

All that copper hair and fair skin and curves. Damn the girl had curves. Really, really nice curves.

"More like gorgeous," I replied backing the truck out into the street.

"That's what Sadie said. She was really happy about Low.

She seems happy for you. I think she worried you were still pining away for her."

I'd stopped pining for Sadie awhile back. My attraction to Will ow only proved that.

"I mean I know Cage is a total male whore but Preston said he was like real protective of Low and then there is that little issue about his claim that he's going to marry her one day." I gripped the steering wheel tightly trying to control the violent reaction that reminder caused. There was no way in hell Will ow was going to marry Cage. I wasn't ready to propose marriage to her or anything. We were just in the beginning stages of a relationship. But I knew she was better than Cage York. Sure he was good to her but he reminded me of a big brother. He treated Will ow the way I treated Amanda. Will ow deserved so much more in life than that. She was smart, funny, real, so incredibly sexy, she wasn't someone's standby dammit.

"Your knuckles are turning white," Amanda chirped.

I relaxed my tight grip and took a deep breath.

"Cage is a little confused about things. Low will never marry him. She'll tell you so herself. She's special."

"Like Sadie was special?"

I thought about it a minute and then nodded.

"Yeah, like Sadie I guess. You don't come across girls like those two often. Trust me, I've looked. They're definitely rare."

"Like I said before, this time you aren't up against a rock star. My money's on you."

I grinned and reached over and squeezed her knee.

"So tell me about this car Dad's giving you." An immediate frown tugged the corners of her mouth down.

"My Jeep has all kinds of issues and Dad said that's what happens when you buy inferior automobiles," she rolled her eyes. "Anyway, he's giving me some trade in he just got. A sports coupe or something. I think he said a 250CL…

maybe. I don't know. But I need a car and I can't afford one on my own."

Figures, Dad was putting her in a Mercedes. Let the world see the Mercedes King supplies his daughter with a car.

He won't be getting my ass in a damn Mercedes. Nothing was wrong with my Chevy truck. It was paid for, by me.

"It'll be a safe car. If you end up going to Tuscaloosa in the fall then I'll feel good about you being on the road in a Mercedes coupe."

Amanda fidgeted in her seat and cleared her throat. Uh oh.

That was never good. Those were her nervous ticks.

"Um, about college. See, Jamie and Hannah are going to Auburn"

"Ah no! Amanda please tell me you're joking."

"Let me finish Marcus, GAH!"

I did not want to hear this but I let her continue.

"Like I was saying before you went all 'Roll Tide Monster'

on me, Jamie and Hannah are going to Auburn. Jamie got a cheerleading scholarship and Hannah's daddy is an Auburn alum, and I want to be a veterinarian. You know I love animals. It's what I really want to do," this was not happening. Amanda shifted in her seat until she was turned toward me. "If you weren't a die hard Alabama fan and someone asked you the best college in Alabama to go to if you wanted to be a veterinarian what would you tell them?

Hmm?"

I let out a frustrated sigh, "Auburn," I mumbled.

"Bingo! Which is why I applied there… and I got accepted." Well shit. My baby sister was going to freaking Auburn.

"I mean I could've applied to an out of state college and moved off really far away."

I shook my head, "No, I wouldn't want that."

"That's what I thought. I'll secretly still cheer for Bama during the Iron Bowl every year, I promise."

Shaking my head I decided to focus on that kiss with Low. It made me happy. My sister's choice in college did not.

My dad was standing outside his dealership when we pulled up. He was tall and in shape with a few silver streaks in his brown hair. He was laughing all relaxed and happy looking. You couldn't tell by his jovial appearance that he was tearing his family apart. It didn't appear to be bothering him at all. Clenching my teeth tightly shut I kept my thoughts to myself. The last thing Amanda needed was to hear me vent about what a complete ass our father was.

"You getting out?" She asked glancing back at me as she opened the truck door.

I shook my head, "I'll just see you in a few minutes at the house."

"Okay," the understanding in her eyes reminded me I wasn't alone in this. We were a team.

She stepped out of the truck. My dad began walking my way. I debated spinning off before he could get to my truck window. But for Amanda's sake I didn't. I rolled down the window as he approached.

"Marcus, you're not getting out to see your sister's car?" His question chaffed me. As if I didn't care about Amanda.

"I'll see it in a few minutes at my mother's house." That caught him off guard. He cleared his throat and shifted his feet.

I continued to glare out the front window.

"The other day I wasn't prepared for your verbal attack. I may have said some things I shouldn't have. I apologize.

But this is between your mother and I. You kids don't need to be caught in the middle. You're both almost grown." I jerked my head around and shot my glare directly at him.

"This will always affect me. My mother is falling apart. She's my mama. The woman who fed me soup when I was sick and held me while I threw up. She was the one who fixed my scraped knees and held me while I got stitches because I ripped my arm open. She read me stories until I fell asleep at night. You expect me to just not care that you're hurting her. Hell, you're killing her. My mother and my sister are the only two people in this world I'd die for. I'll do anything I have to in order to make them happy. So NO

Dad this isn't just between you and mom. When Mama cries, Amanda cries. Then I'm the one who has to go pick up the pieces of this mess you've created." I stopped ranting and took a deep breath because at the moment I really needed to hit something and my Dad's face was looking very appealing.

"I didn't realize your mother was sharing our personal problems with you. I'll speak with her about it." I jerked the truck door open and stood face to face with my father. Our noses were almost touching. My finger was shoved against his chest so hard I knew it had to hurt. "You go near my mother and I will break every bone in your body old man. Do you understand me?"

My Dad's face was bright red. I could see the fury and surprise in his eyes. I'd embarrassed him in front of his employees and if he said one more word one of those employees was going to need to call an ambulance for their boss.

Turning away from him I jumped back in the truck and spun off leaving tire tracts on his nice paved car lot.

Willow

Was it possible that my lips were still tingling from Marcus's kiss hours later? Surely not. It had to all be in my head. I picked up the last spoon Larissa had used to play the drums on the pots and pans. Tawny had finally shown up to get her and acted like I was being an inconvenience asking her to pick up her daughter. But even my crazy sister couldn't bring me down off my high. The memory of Marcus's kiss and his words had me floating around on a cloud no one could knock me off of.

Yawning I decided it was time to go take a nap with all these good thoughts to spur some really nice dreams.

Glancing at Cage's bedroom door I paused. Should I go get in his bed? Did I want to? I turned and looked back at the couch. That's where I wanted to sleep. All my really good Marcus memories were in this room around or on that couch. Surely I'd have Marcus dreams if I slept on it.

Grabbing a pillow off Cage's bed and a blanket out of the closet I headed to the couch for some overdue sleep and hopefully very good dreams.

Warm fingers ran through my hair then traced the side of my face down to my collar bone where they teased and caressed the sensitive skin there.

"Hmmm," I murmured snuggling closer to the warmth holding me. I was having a very good realistic Marcus dream. Strong hands returned to my hair and gently massaged my head. Oh I liked that. How did Marcus know to do that? Cage always massaged my head. He knew I had a weakness for it. Dang Cage was messing up my dream. This was supposed to be a 'Marcus only' dream.

Before I could get too upset his hand found its way back down to my collar bone. He was driving me crazy. Just slip a hand under my shirt already. Please. I was ready to beg.

When his hand started moving north again I whined,

"Marcus please."

The hand froze. I opened my eyes and stared directly up into Cage's face.

"Did you just call me 'Marcus'?"

Fantastic. What had I done? This was not the way I was going to handle the whole me and Marcus possibility with Cage. I rolled my eyes and sat up.

"Probably. I was dreaming Cage. I can't control what I say when I'm asleep."

Cage scowled, "You were dreaming about Marcus?" I shrugged.

Cage groaned, "Will ow, we talked about this. Baby he's so not like us. He dates rich babes his parents approve of. He doesn't slum it. Don't set yourself up to get hurt. Please," he pleaded.

If anyone else had referred to dating me as slumming it I would have slapped them. But it was Cage who grew up next door to me. He lived my life. He was allowed. It was different coming from him.

"Again, it was a dream. I can't control it." Cage scooted over closing the distance between us.

"You're so dang cute when you sleep," he murmured leaning over to nip at my shoulder.

"Stop Cage. Don't start that. If you need to get laid go elsewhere."

He dropped his head back against the couch, "I just wanted a taste Low. You're killing me."

I patted his leg, "No you're just horny and I'm just available." Cage chuckled, "You think you've got me all figured out don't ya love."

"I know I've got you all figured out. You can't fool me Cage. I happen to know spiders scare you to death and you cry every time you watch Extreme Home Makeover. There is nothing about you I don't know."

Cage wiggled his eyebrows at me, "You think so?" He leaned over until I could feel his warm breath tickle my ear.

Surprisingly it didn't smell like whisky… yet.

"I beat off to thoughts of you naked spread out in my bed with that wild red hair of yours covering my pillow."

"UGH! Cage!" I pushed him off me and stood up. "TMI Cage. I so did not want to know that."

Cage cackled with laughter. "What, baby? You don't think about me when you slip your hands into your panties and get naughty?"

"Cage SHUT UP!" I screamed putting my fingers in my ears.

He stuck his pointed finger in his mouth and licked it. I swear he could be so gross.

"Who do you think about Low? When you're making it feel good down there?"

I was getting ready to slug the stupid smirk off his face.

"First of all I don't do that. And second of all you're a pervert. Now go get laid and leave me alone." Cage sat up and rested his elbows on his knees. His baby blue eyes were round as saucers.

"You don't stroke it Low?"

"Oh. My. God. Would you please stop it!" Cage shook his head in disbelief.

"You really don't. You've never had an orgasm. I can see it all over your face. Well shit."

"Cage I mean it. This conversation," I stopped as the door opened and Marcus stepped inside. My face went instantly bright red. I didn't have to see it to know it. The idea that he could have heard even a tiny portion of this ridiculous conversation was humiliating.

"Marcus, man we were just talking about you," Cage said with an evil smirk and stood up from the couch. I couldn't bring myself to clarify Cage's stupid greeting. Instead I stood stock still as Cage walked by me and whispered,

"Remember what I said."

I didn't need him reminding me that I wasn't good enough for Marcus. I already knew this. But what he didn't know was Marcus was completely clueless to this fact. And I wasn't about to point it out to him.

I shoved Cage as he stumbled and laughed before going into his room and closing the door behind him.

I knew Marcus was waiting on me to say something but I didn't know what to say. Tucking my hair behind my ear I glanced over at him.

"Um hey," I managed to croak out.

A small sexy smile touched his lips and I felt like I might melt in a puddle on the ground. If it wasn't for my worry that he'd heard us before opening the door I would completely be enjoying his smile.

"Did you get some sleep?" He asked walking over to me slowly with a very determined gleam in his eyes.

I nodded, "Just woke up."

He slipped his hand into my hair and cupped the back of my neck.

"Good," he replied. His eyes drifted down my face stopping to study my mouth before traveling on down to let it drift over my neck and shoulders then my chest which was rising and falling pretty darn fast.

"Go out with me tonight Low. We'll go do anything you want to. We can go eat, dancing, walk down the beach you name it. Just go somewhere with me."

I swallowed hard and bobbed my head up and down,

"Okay," I managed to reply without it sounding like a strangled whisper.

A pleased grin spread across his face and his eyes locked with mine again.

"We can do all three. I'll take you somewhere to eat.

Somewhere nice. Then we can go dancing. I really want to dance with you. Then we can end our night with a walk down the beach."

Oh wow. Yes. Yes. Yes. I nodded again.

"Then let me go get ready and you do the same. I'll meet you back right here in an hour. Is that enough time?"

"Yes"

Marcus dropped his hand from my neck and stepped back.

He gave me one last bone melting smile before turning to disappear into his room. I fantasized about following him in there. Watching him change. What would his stomach look like completely bare? The tiny peek I'd gotten was mouthwatering. I could only imagine what the rest of him looked like.

"Low, were'd you put my favorite jeans?" Cage broke the spell. I spun around and headed for the closet where I'd hung up his jeans. Crazy boy couldn't find anything.

I pulled the jeans off the rack and handed them to Cage.

"Right in front of your face," I said handing them to him.

"Thanks babe. Look I gotta date. Probably won't be in until late. You stay here. After that crap Tawny pulled on you this morning I want you here."

I nodded. He jerked his jeans on and I went back to the closet to find the few things of mine I'd hung up.

"Where you going?" he asked as he tugged on his boots.

"I don't know yet. Out with friends."

It wasn't that I didn't want to tell him about Marcus because I really did. I wanted to say 'look here I guess he doesn't think of me as slumming it' but I didn't. Telling Cage would worry him. Possibly make him get all jealous. I was never sure with Cage. But I wanted Cage to stay out all night. I didn't want him coming home and ruining my night with Marcus. I kept my mouth shut.

Cage came up behind me and wrapped his arms around my waist. "Be safe. Call me if you need anything! And don't drink too much."

"I'll be sober and home early and safely tucked away in bed," I promised.

Cage smacked a loud kiss on my cheek, "That's my girl," he released me and left the closet.

"I'm out. If I don't show up until in the morning don't worry," he started for the door as I walked out of the closet then stopped, "But call me if you need me."

"I promise you, I'll call if I need you." He grinned at me then finally left the room. I glanced over at the clock. I had forty five minutes left. I needed to shave, paint my toenails and wax a few other areas. Throwing a few items to choose from on the bed I grabbed my toiletry bag and headed to the bathroom.

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