Dire (Page 20)

“Not at all.” My wet jeans felt heavy as they clung to my skin. “I appreciate the clothes.”

“Of course.” She led me through the main living space and up a narrow set of stairs. At the top was an equally as narrow hallway with doors lining each side.

Marni pushed open the door to a large bedroom with a queen sized bed in the middle. A dark quilt was draped over the bed neatly. One dresser stood across from the bed, and a small bed stand stood next to it, but otherwise the room was empty.

“There’s a bathroom right through there.” Marni pointed to a door.

“Nice guestroom.” Considering we were in the middle of nowhere and these people had no phone, I wasn’t expecting a suite.

“Hunter likes you.” She leaned against a bed post. “He’s going to make sure you’re comfortable.”

“Oh.” I took the pile of clothes and walked into the bathroom. What could I say to that? I didn’t quite understand the relationship all these people had. I assumed she wasn’t dating Hunter, but maybe I was wrong.

“The underwear is brand new, I promise.”

“Ok.” The thought of wearing anyone else’s underwear wasn’t a pleasant one. Knowing it was new helped.

“I always buy a million pairs whenever I get to a mall to shop. I’m a little bit addicted to Victoria’s Secret.”

I held up the black silky underwear and smiled. I wasn’t a big shopper, but I had plenty of friends who felt more at home in a mall than anywhere else. “Great.” I decided to take her at her word about their newness.

“I think there’s shampoo and stuff in there, but I brought over an extra razor in case you needed it.”

With everything going on she worried about me getting to shave? I wasn’t sure if that was more strange or thoughtful. I went with thoughtful. A girl with an addiction to nice underwear probably put a high price on smooth legs. “Thanks.”

“I’ll wait here in case you need anything.”

“Ok, thanks.” I walked into the bathroom and closed the door. I searched for a lock but didn’t see one. At least it was Marni on the other side of the door.

I quickly undressed and turned on the shower. The warm spray felt invigorating. I tried to wash off the stress and the cold, but not Gage. I never wanted to wash off Gage. I played it off earlier, but I was going to miss sleeping beside him. After two nights I didn’t want to sleep alone, especially not in this strange place. I decided to shave quickly, just to feel a sense of normalcy. After all the walking and two nights in the truck, I wanted to get as cleaned up as possible.

A few minutes later I turned off the water and wrapped up in a plush towel. Marni’s yoga pants were a little bit long on me, but I cuffed them and they worked fine. The tank top fit perfectly though, as did the powder blue sweater that went over it. I left my hair down after toweling it off. It would dry wavy since I didn’t have a brush. The warm wool socks were the best part. The heavy material provided a satisfying barrier from the cold wood floors.

I walked out of the bathroom. “Thanks for the clothes and everything.”

“No problem. I’m glad you guys came by.”

Came by? She made it sound like a social call. “We were lucky to find your friends. Otherwise we’d be frozen to death by now.”

“You’ll like it here. Hunter’s a good guy even if he’s rough around the edges.” Once again she talked Hunter up. I still couldn’t read whether they were involved or he was her boss, but there was something that made their relationship more significant than friends or neighbors. Plus, she’d listened to him like he was giving her orders. The other possibility was that he was a brother or cousin.

“I’m guessing this is his house?”

“Yes. The rest of us live in the cottages.”

There went his argument about other men walking by me in the middle of the night. “Are you all family?”

“Sort of. Not all by blood though.” She smiled. “Otherwise the things I do with Chet would be pretty disgusting.”

“You and Chet? You’re a couple?” I tried to hide my surprise. I didn’t see that coming.

“Yes, although not officially.” She bit her lip like she was debating what to say. “There’s kind of an unwritten rule that Hunter has to find someone first.”

“He’s single?” By his behavior with me earlier, it didn’t surprise me.

“Yes, but he seems to really like you.” She raised an eyebrow.

“I’m with Gage.”

“With him?” She placed something next to one of the pillows.

I glanced to see what it was.

She noticed my gaze. “Pajamas. But I mean are you serious or just having fun?”

“Why?” Was she into him? Didn’t she just say she was with Chet? “I’m not sure yet.” I had no idea what was going to happen, but I knew there was no pretending that nothing had changed between us.

“He’s cute, but I’d choose Hunter.” She pressed her lips together and her eyes twinkled.

“Yeah… I’m never going to see Hunter again after we leave.”

“Why not?”

Was she crazy? “Because we’re going home.”

“I see.” Her smile was gone, replaced by a complacent look I didn’t quite understand.

“Are you ready to go downstairs?”

“Sure.” I picked up my wet clothes.

“I’ll take those.” Marni pulled them from my hands and walked out of the room.

Hunter met us at the bottom of the stairs. “How was your shower?”

“Oh. It was nice, thanks.”

His eyes slowly raked over me. “You look beautiful. Blue is a great color on you.”

“Thank you.” I searched around for Gage. His appraisal made me uneasy.

“Would you like some dinner?”

“Maybe, but where’s Gage?” I tried to look around Hunter’s large frame.

“He’s already in the kitchen.”

“Okay, thanks.”

Gage paced in the hallway outside the kitchen.


He looked over and smiled. “There you are.”

“I took a shower.”

“I can tell.” He picked up a strand of my wet hair.

“Do you want to shower too?”

“Are you trying to tell me I smell bad?” He still held the strand like he was studying it.