Beneath These Lies (Page 39)

I bit my lip because I didn’t know how to reply. I decided to go with the question that was really on my mind. “Why do you do what you do?”

Glancing up at Rix, I watched the interplay of his muscles as he shrugged. For now, he had his pants on, because I knew he’d be too distracting to paint without them at first.

“This is what I know. It’s what I’m good at. You wouldn’t understand, duchess. My life isn’t something that will ever make sense to someone like you.”

“Are you ever going to stop doing what you do?” My question hung between us, and I knew the impact his answer would have.

Even though it seemed utterly impossible, I was fascinated with him. If there was a chance he would leave this life behind, then maybe there was some sliver of a possibility that we could have a future where he wasn’t breaking into my house.

Since when do I want a future with Rix? Since I woke up with him in my bed, apparently. I liked it way too much and wanted it to happen again.

Rix flexed his hand, curling it into a fist and releasing it. “It ain’t that easy. This isn’t something I can just walk away from any time I want.” Curling his hand back into a fist, he added, “And while I’m in this life, I can’t take you out and let people see me doing it—even if you’d let me. It’s not safe. You don’t get to where I am without collecting a hell of a lot of enemies, and those enemies are always looking for weaknesses.”

I paused as I dabbed my brush in the paint. “Am I a weakness?”

Rix’s nod was short. “Yeah. Because if someone took you, I’d tear this town apart to find you.”

The vehemence behind his words should have been scary, but it wasn’t. It was actually comforting. He felt something for me, and whatever it was, he felt it strongly.

“So you think someone would target me to get to you if they knew?”

“That I’m hung up on you? I’m not taking the chance. That’s why you won’t ever find me knocking on your front door. That’s why I won’t be picking you up and taking you out. That’s why I need to stop fuckin’ thinkin’ about you, but I can’t.” He looked at me, the muscle in his jaw clenching.

“I—I don’t know what to say.”

Rix shook his head. “You don’t need to say anything. I don’t have family, don’t have friends outside my crew. Because it’s too dangerous. I can’t afford to have weaknesses, and once you get your girl back, you should never see me again.”

His words hit me with the force of a blow. “You—what? You’re going to just disappear?”

“I said should. Guess we’ll see what happens.” He met my gaze over the canvas. “You want me gone anyway.”

I replied with the truth. “If I wanted you gone, you would’ve been in jail the first time you broke into my house.”

His expression changed, the silver burning brightly. “That so?”

Nodding, I knew I had to change the subject. “Drop your pants. I’m ready to do your lower half.”

Rix threw his head back and laughed. “Didn’t even offer to buy me dinner first.”

“I’d offer to make you dinner, but you might not survive. I’m a terrible cook.”

Rix reached for the button on his jeans and unhooked it before shoving them down.


That was how many times I’d officially seen him naked, and every single one of them was going to be burned into my brain for the rest of my life. One man shouldn’t be allowed to have such a beautiful body. I’d also never been so thankful to have a paintbrush in my hand.

“You can sit back down, if you want.” I nodded to the chaise behind him.

“How do you want me?” he asked, the double entendre clear in his tone.

“Sit, lay back. Throw your arm over the back of the chaise. Just . . . get comfortable.”

Rix complied silently.

“You can keep talking.”

“You want me to keep spilling secrets?”

I shrugged. “I want you to keep my mind off the fact that I’m staring at you naked, and the silence is making it awkward.”

“Long as you see something you like, we’re good.”

“I think it’s pretty clear I like what I see.”

“Seems like you should be naked too,” Rix said, a mischievous smile on his face. “Only fair.”

I’d thrown on a pair of leggings and an old, paint-covered tank top. Without a bra, there was no way he could miss the press of my hard nipples against the thin cotton.

“I think you’re getting mixed up about how this works.” Heat curled between my legs, and I felt myself grow wet.

“Nah, I’m just saying that if you’re going to study every detail of me, I should have the same opportunity. Watching you sleep wasn’t quite the same.”

I paused. “You watched me sleep?”

Another shrug from Rix. “Maybe.” He shifted on the chaise. “I struck a deal for your girl. Should have her back to you before the end of the week.”

“Really?” Hope filled me, because that was the best news I’d gotten in a long, long time. “You could’ve maybe led with that, you know.”

“I was gonna tell you before I left either way.”

I kept painting, and we lapsed into silence. I concentrated on the canvas, and when my gaze flicked back to him, I froze. His hand was wrapped around his cock and he was stroking it, his eyes burning into me.

My thighs squeezed together. “Wha—what are you doing?”