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Because of Low (Chapter Three)

Willow

"Low," Marcus voice whispered in my ear. I snuggled closer to the sound and breathed deeply. He smelled so good I wanted to curl up inside his clothes.

"Low, you need to wake up," his voice said a little louder. I stretched and opened my eyes. It took a second for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. But the first thing I saw was the very defined six pack of Marcus Hardy's stomach peeking out from underneath the dark blue t-shirt he was wearing. My next realization was my head was in his lap.

"I'm sorry I had to wake you but it's after two and I figured you might want to get to bed before Cage gets home." The warm cotton of his shirt was clasp tightly in my fist. I stared at my hand and quickly released the grip I'd had on his shirt. What the heck? Had I been trying to undress him in my sleep? God, I hoped not.

I sat up and a yawn escaped.

"I'm sorry I fell asleep on you," I mumbled feeling my cheeks grow warm.

He grinned and his green eyes twinkled with mischief,

"Don't be. I don't know when I've enjoyed a night this much." I ducked my head and bit my lip to keep a silly grin from breaking out on my face.

"Me too, well except when I fell asleep." His deep chuckle sent a warmth through me I didn't recognize. It wasn't something I was familiar with but it was nice. More than nice. It could be addicting.

"You'd better get to bed. You've got that early class," he said softly.

I nodded then stood up and made my way to Cage's bedroom door. Turning back before I disappeared inside I called out, "Good night."

"Good night Low," his deep voice rumbled in the darkness.

"Hey baby, I'm home and I'm clean. I scrubbed in the shower and used half a bottle of mouth wash," Cage murmured as he crawled into bed beside me. I forced open my sleepy eyes to see the sunrise on the horizon. I nodded and rolled over to get another hour of sleep before I needed to get up.

"I'm sorry I stayed out all night. I didn't mean to," he whispered reaching out and clasping my hand in his. I didn't allow him to snuggle up to me in bed. It never ended well.

He'd get a hard on and start trying to feel me up. We'd tried a few times and I always ended up frustrated with him and threatening to sleep on the floor. I didn't want things to get heated with us. Cage was my family. He'd never be anything more.

"S'okay," I muttered

"Did you have a good evening? I saw you made pizza and left me a few slices in the fridge."

I nodded against the pillow.

"Did Marcus eat with you?"

I nodded again.

"He isn't like us Low. You know that right." I knew what Cage was saying. Marcus was out of my league. He didn't want me thinking there could ever be anything between me and his roommate. I was low class.

Marcus was a rich kid.

"I'm not stupid Cage."

"No you're fucking brilliant. And a guy like Marcus would never get just how fucking perfect and brilliant you are. He'd never see past the other stuff."

I wanted to be mad at him but I knew he was right. If Marcus ever saw what I came from, what I was, he'd never give me the time of day.

"I know," I whispered into the dark.

"I love you Low"

"I love you too"

"Then take this," he said as he slipped a key into my hand and closed my fist over it. "I'll be able to relax knowing you have a key. Please take it."

I didn't respond. I wasn't sure what to say. The fact was I wanted that key. It gave me a warped sense of reassurance that I would be able to see Marcus even more frequently.

Within seconds he was softly snoring in my ear. I lay there staring at the ceiling. Fate wasn't fair. It loved playing cruel jokes on me. Marcus Hardy was its new joke.

I hadn't expected Marcus to be awake when I walked out of Cage's bedroom at seven in the morning. And I really hadn't expected him to be standing at the stove cooking eggs and bacon.

"Good morning," I couldn't help but smile at how cute he looked cooking in a pair of sweats and t-shirt that covered his yummy chest I'd had a peek at last night.

"I didn't want you going to class hungry. So, I figured since I was up I'd go ahead and fix you something." My heart melted a little. No one had ever made me breakfast. Not even my mother. Oh fate really did suck. Why did this amazing wonderful sexy guy have to be a freaking Hardy? Why couldn't he be one of the guys from my neighborhood? Someone who understood the life I'd lived and didn't judge me or see me differently because of it.

"That's really sweet."

He grinned and reached for a plate.

"Then I believe my mission is accomplished." Laughing softly so I didn't wake up Cage, I walked over and took the plate he was offering to me.

"I made coffee too. How do you drink it?" This was really too good to be true. I glanced back at the bedroom door and wondered if I was actually still curled up in bed asleep. This was more dream like than real world.

"Sugar? Cream?" his voice broke into my thoughts and I turned my gaze back to him and smiled.

"Both please, two teaspoons of sugar. And thank you, really. No one's ever made me breakfast before. I'm kind of at a loss for words."

His smile deepened and there was something in his eyes I hoped I wasn't imagining. The interest was there. I could see it. Was it because he thought I was easy?

"You're welcome and if you keep looking at me like that I may become your personal chef."

I covered the giggle I couldn't control. He was quite possibly the most charming guy I'd ever met.

His eyes got serious a moment and I watched as he reached out and touched my cheek almost reverently.

"I really like your dimples," he whispered.

The heat rose up my neck so fast and flooded my face I knew I had to look like a red berry. I hated my fair skin.

"Go sit down and eat Low, please."

I obeyed without question.

I was on my second bite of eggs when he sat down across from me at the table.

"What class do you have today?"

I swallowed and took a drink of coffee to wash it down before responding.

"Calculus"

He grinned, "If you need any help, math is my thing." I needed help but I doubted I'd be able to stop smelling him and ogling him long enough to pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth.

"Thanks"

He nodded and took a drink of his coffee.

"Are you coming back tonight?" He asked after a few minutes. I wanted him to be asking because he wanted to see me. But I also knew I needed to get those thoughts under control before I set myself up to get hurt.

"Not sure but I doubt it. I'm probably going to stay at my sister's," I didn't want to elaborate but I was due a night since I'd kept Larissa yesterday. Besides I couldn't move into Cage's bed.

A frown creased his forehead and he appeared to be thinking about something that bothered him.

"You know I don't mind you being here. If you need to stay here I'm completely cool with it. This is Cage's place after all."

I smiled and swallowed my last bite of bacon.

"Thank you but that isn't why. I can't just move in here. It would crimp Cage's life and he'd eventually get annoyed with me. He doesn't see it that way but I don't want to wear out my welcome."

Marcus shook his head, "You won't wear out your welcome.

I'm positive Cage would never want you somewhere else.

He's very protective of you."

I smiled and stood up to take my plate to the sink.

"Whether he realizes it or not he needs his freedom and room to breathe."

Marcus frowned but didn't respond.

"Thanks again for breakfast. It was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. I appreciate it." The small frown eased at my words and he smiled but I could still see the concern in his eyes. God he was going to get past my barriers. I needed to put some distance between us.

"I'm gone. See ya later," I called out as I headed for the door without looking back.

"Bye Will ow."

Marcus

Amanda called me from school upset shortly after Will ow left. Apparently Dad hadn't come home last night and Mom had locked herself in her bedroom crying and wouldn't come out this morning. I'd gone by to check on Mom first and she'd put on a happy face for me but the dark circles under her eyes told me she knew the truth. It was time I had a talk with dad.

As I pulled into the parking lot at Sea Breeze High School, I spotted Amanda sitting on a picnic table outside the cafeteria entrance with Sadie White right beside her.

Sadie's arm was wrapped around Amanda's shoulders as she cried. I wondered how much my sister had shared with Sadie. I hadn't seen or spoken to Sadie in over two months. I missed being around her but it was just easier if I kept my distance. Sadie had been the one that got away for me. She'd been snatched out of my reach by a freaking rock star as crazy as that sounds. Jax Stone, the hottest teen rock star in the world had been both mine and Sadie's employer last summer. We'd worked as staff in his summer home located on the private island connected to Sea Breeze. One look at Sadie and he'd been hooked.

Unfortunately for me she returned the feelings.

I parked my truck and headed over to get my sister.

Sadie's concerned gaze met mine as I approached. I could tell by the look in her eyes she knew.

"Hey Sadie, thanks for being here for her," I said as I walked up and reached out a hand to my little sister. She threw herself at me and began weeping harder. I wanted to kill my dad with my own bare hands as her sobs shook her body. Damn him.

"She told me Marcus," Sadie said quietly, "I'm sorry." I nodded, "Yeah, me too. He's an ass. A selfish bastard." Sadie didn't even flinch. She understood being furious with a parent. She'd had her hands full with her mother until Jax Stone fell in love with her and proceeded to fix all her problems. Sadie's spoiled selfish mother, Jessica had been one of the things he fixed.

"I just want to get away from it all. Can I come back to your place?" Amanda asked through her hiccups.

"Of course. Sadie, let the office know I have her would ya." She nodded and stood up, "Of course and Marcus if there is anything I can do please don't hesitate to call me."

"Thanks Sadie"

I pulled my sister up tightly against my side and headed back to my truck. First I'd deal with getting her calmed down then I was going to have a talk with my dad.

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