Beneath These Scars (Page 55)

“Please leave it be. It’s over now.”

“I beg to differ. You’re homeless. Even if you won’t admit it, you believe that explosion was meant for you.”

Bile rose in my throat when he put it so plainly. I squeezed my eyes shut and forced it down. I was done thinking about this for now.

“Shit, Yve. Just let me—”

I opened my eyes and met his. “Can we just drop it for now? I . . . I don’t want to talk about it anymore.” I glanced at the clock on the nightstand. Dirty Dog should already have been open for an hour. I latched on to something I could control rather than this threat I wasn’t able to wrap my arms around—or the shifting sands that were my feelings about Lucas Titan. “You need to get back to work, and so do I.”

He shook his head. “You’re not going to work. Jerome should be there by now. He’ll talk to your temp and make sure the shop runs smoothly.”

Just when I thought the man’s overbearing nature wasn’t as bad as I’d made it out to be, he proved me wrong. Dirty Dog was my domain.

“Not necessary. I’ll be ready in five minutes. I’ll find something there to change into.”

Lucas stood, and like a brick wall, he blocked my path. “No.”

I raised an eyebrow. I really didn’t like the word no, especially not when work would give me the lifeline of distraction I needed. “You can’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same. I’m not helpless. I’ve had my cry, and nothing I do now is going to change what happened. All I can do is move forward and make sure Dirty Dog continues to kick ass so I can get someone to loan me the money to buy the place.”

Latching onto another subject far removed from the explosion, I stared pointedly in Lucas’s direction. “And you’re not going to pull any strings to help me. I don’t care if you’re on the board of that fund. You’re going to hand my file back over and take yourself out of all the discussions. You can’t be impartial, and that’s not fair.”

I expected him to scowl or tell me I was being ridiculous. But instead he just laughed, something he did rarely enough that I had to stop and enjoy the unique sound—a sexy-as-hell husky, deep chuckle.

When he stopped, a mocking smile played on his lips. “What makes you think anything that happens in the business world, or life for that matter, is impartial and fair? People get ahead based on who they know, not how good they are. Do you know how many applications the fund gets a month? Hundreds. You know how many grants it gives? A handful. You deserve one of them, and I’m not saying that just because I’m fucking you. I’m saying it because you’re damn good at running the place. You’ve got the owner mentality, and now you need the capital.”

“I know that,” I said, inwardly glowing at his compliment. “But it doesn’t mean I want any favors.”

Lucas shook his head, and I decided now was an ideal time to end this conversation by walking out the door. I reached the threshold before his hand wrapped around my arm.

“You’re still not going to work.”

I swung around. My feelings toward him might be confusing as hell, but one thing I knew for sure—I needed him to respect me.

“You really need to stop ordering me around. I need to be busy. I’m not going to sit around here all day and relive the whole thing. I’ll—” I squeezed my eyes shut, shocked when my voice started to break.

Lucas’s chest pressed to mine. Safety. Strength. I felt both as soon as he wrapped his arms around me.

“That’s why we’re not going to sit around here. We’re going out.”

I opened my eyes and lifted my gaze to meet his. “In these clothes?”

“Don’t worry about that.” His thumb smoothed over the skin of my arm. “I’ll make sure you’re covered.”

Lucas watched me silently. He and I were both so damn stubborn. I would push and he would push back. But who would give?

For the first time in a long, long time, I could admit to myself that I didn’t want to make all the decisions, didn’t want to have to be so strong. The fight drained out of me.

“Okay. Let’s go.”

Lucas nodded and slid his palm down my arm to lock his fingers with mine. “Good. You’ll like this.”

THE SHELL DRIVE CRUNCHED UNDER the tires as Lucas guided the Aston up what seemed like a mile-long stretch of twists and turns. Huge oaks shaded it from the sun, and a sprawling plantation house, one that could have been a replica of Margaret Mitchell’s Tara, sat at the end.

“What is this?”

“An investment I’m considering.”

“You brought me to look at a multi-million dollar house?” I asked. I looked down at my clothes in horror. “In these?”

Lucas shook his head and drove a few hundred yards past the house before stopping in front of stables that most people would have been happy to live in. “I brought you here to ride. There are plenty of clothes inside. All different sizes, as they’re used to having guests come out for riding parties.”

I surveyed the stables with skepticism. “I’ve never been on a horse before. Ever.”

He flashed a grin at me. “Then I guess you’ll be so busy worrying about staying on that you won’t have time to think about anything else.”

His meaning was obvious. “A plan for an effective distraction.”

“Of course.”

“Then let’s see this place¸” I said, pushing the door open and climbing out.