Because of Low (Page 51)

Got it?"

I laughed and nodded. Cage was beyond wonderful.

"Pinky promise," I said holding out my pinky. Cage looked down at it and then back at me with a mischievous grin before pulling it into his mouth and sucking it.

"Cage!" I squealed pulling it out of his mouth with a pop.

"Don’t point your cute little body parts at me and I won’t suck on them," he replied with a wink.

I would have never made it over the past two months without Cage. My chest still ached and my anxiety attacks were back full force but I was actually doing better. Well until Cage had talked me into facing everyone at Live Bay tonight. I’d thought I was ready. But Marcus had been there.

He’d looked at me and I’d thought for a moment I saw relief as our gazes locked. But I’d been way off base. He’d jumped up and taken a girl on the dance floor and began to grope her right there for my viewing pleasure. He was sending me a message and I got it loud and clear. Cage had spun me around and hauled me out of there so quick I had spun me around and hauled me out of there so quick I didn’t have time to fall apart.

"Eat. I’ve loaded this down with butter and salt. You’re doing better. Putting on a little more weight. I don’t want you to relapse after tonight."

I reached into the bowl and grabbed a large handful of popcorn and stuffed it into my mouth.

Cage chuckled, "Awesome."

Chewing I settled in against Cage’s side and focused on the movie. If I didn’t concentrate I’d think about all the times I’d spent with Marcus on this couch. How many times I’d watched him sleep right here where we sat. It seemed like forever ago now. Almost like that part of my life was a dream. Tonight reminded me that it wasn’t. It was very real.

And just like before the person I loved had left me. I reached over and grasped Cage’s shirt tightly in my hand. I needed the reminder that I loved Cage and he hadn’t left.

Not when I’d lost it and completely shattered after Marcus had left me standing there at my sister’s. Not when the panic attacks started happening every night. He’d stayed.

Given up his nights out so he could take care of me. He was my family. He was all I had. Facing my sister was impossible. I missed Larissa so much it hurt but I couldn’t go back there. The memories attached to that house were too painful. One day I’d be okay. Then I’d go see my niece.

I’d learn to accept what my sister had done and accept Jefferson Hardy as Larissa’s father.

"He still cares."

Cage’s words startled me.

"What?" I asked looking back to the screen thinking he was commenting on what was happening.

"Marcus. He cares Low. I saw it in his eyes. What he did tonight was shitty but it was his defense mechanism. He doesn’t want to care. But he does."

I shook my head and closed my eyes. I didn’t want to hear that. Not now.

"No Cage. Don’t. I can’t let myself hope. He hates me. He always will."

Cage clicked his tongue, "There’s a thin line baby. A thin line between love and hate."

"No. There isn’t."

Cage tucked the hair that had gotten loose from my braid behind my ear.

"Low, a guy doesn’t fall in love with you and have you love him back then just throw it away. You’re too special. After being loved by you, he can’t completely forget. He’s haunted by it. I’d bet my life on it."

Cage loved me. He thought I was perfect. He was the brother every girl deserves. I turned my head and kissed his chest.

"Thank you. I know you really believe that. And I love you for it. But you’re wrong."

"Haven’t you figured out by now that I’m never wrong?" Laughing I reached for another handful of popcorn. I was safe here in this moment. I didn’t want to think about anything else.

Chapter Twenty-Two

Marcus

"He’s our father, Marcus. That isn’t ever going to change," Amanda said heatedly as she paced in front of the desk where I’d been trying to pick the summer courses I needed to take. "Besides, I keep seeing that little face and those blond curls and knowing she’s our sister. She’s a baby who did nothing wrong. She was born. It’s not her fault. I want to know her Marcus. I want to have my dad back in my life again. I hate this. Mom wants us to go see him. Them. She thinks it’ll be good for us. Especially you." Groaning, I leaned back in my chair and stared up at my very determined sister. What happened to mad Amanda?

The one who hated our father and never wanted to see him again. I liked that Amanda. I wanted her back. We felt the same way. Except of course the part about Larissa. Every time I thought about her my chest ached. All that time I’d been so fascinated with her little blond curls and happy little claps and squeals and she’d been my sister. Had that been Will ow’s plan? She’d thought by bringing Larissa into my life under false pretenses that I’d love her and accept what my father had done? God, how had I been so blind! Those damn dimples. I was lost the moment she flashed them at me. She appeared so wounded and innocent and the whole freaking time she’d known exactly what her sister was doing to my mama. What she’d done was unforgivable. She lied to me. To my family. And dammit I was still in love with her.

"They’re going to be at the condo this week. He’s invited us and I’m going. I want you there with me. I need you there Marcus. Please," Amanda begged.

Dinner with Dad, the other woman and the other kid. Not my idea of a good time. An image of Larissa smiling up at me and demanding I play with her tugged at me.

"Okay, I’ll go. But only because you want me to so badly.

Not because I want to make amends with him. If you want to then fine. But it’ll never happen for me." Amanda frowned then nodded and walked around the table and kissed me on the head.

"Thank you. I really wish you’d get past all this anger and let it go. Then maybe you can see the big picture that everyone else sees. You’re living in a tunnel and if you stay blind for too long you’ll miss it."