Soar (Page 41)

She didn’t even wake up when we landed. I gently shook her and spoke quietly. “We’re here.”

“What?” she asked groggily.

“We’re in New Orleans.”

She opened her eyes, still resting her head on me. “Already?”

“Yeah. You were out cold.”

“Did you sleep?”

“No.” I decided not to fill her in on just how little sleep I needed.

“Oh. Sorry that I just abandoned you then.”

I brushed some hair away from her face. “I was very comfortable.”

Evidently, it was the wrong thing to say because she picked up her head and unbuckled her seatbelt. “What’s the plan?”

“It’s late. We’re checking into the hotel.”

“Hotel?” There was a note of nervousness in her voice.

“You have your own room, but it’s in a suite with me. You’ll be safe.”

“I’m not worried.” She let down the rest of her hair and ran her fingers through it before tying it back up. Her hair looked more wavy than usual and I wanted her to let it back down.

We didn’t talk much when we deplaned and made the drive downtown. She still seemed sleepy, and I was happy to have her sitting next to me in the car. She waited quietly while I checked us in and we took the elevator up to our floor. Marv and Nelly decided to get a drink at the bar.

I pushed open the door to our suite and gestured for her to walk in first. “You can take either room.”

“Oh, thanks. I’ll take this one.” She chose the one further from the door, the room I wanted her to take because I could protect her better that way.

“Great.” I carried her duffel bag in for her.

“Believe it or not, I’m still tired.” She leaned against the door frame.

“It was only a two and a half hour flight. You need more sleep than that.”

“Are you going to sleep?” She yawned the cutest yawn I’d ever heard, but then she covered her mouth as though she’d done something embarrassing.

“Yeah. I’ll get some sleep.” I probably would get an hour or so.

I said good night and went into my bathroom to take a shower. I couldn’t stop the thoughts of Casey that ran through my head as I stood under the hot water. She’d gotten under my skin, and I knew it wasn’t going to get any better.

Dressed in just my boxers, I sat back on the bed. I picked up my phone and flipped through my emails. Nothing but work related ones waited for me.

I slipped into the sheets and closed my eyes. I’d need some sleep to deal with the circus of my life the next day. Levi was in charge, but I wasn’t going to sit back and let him call all the shots.

A scream came from Casey’s room and I sat up with a start. I ran to her room, pushing open her door within seconds of leaving my bed. I looked into the mostly dark room. She’d left the bathroom door ajar with a light on. She lay in bed with a look of absolute fear on her face.

“Toby?” She said my name softly, and it got me right in the heart.

“Yeah. I’m here.” I sat down on her bed right next to her. I looked her over. She seemed physically fine, and I wondered if it were more nightmares.

“Did I scream out loud? Did I wake you up?”

“You screamed, but you didn’t wake me up. Are you okay?”

She nodded. “But would…”

“Would I what?”

“Never mind.”

I was pretty sure what she wanted, but if I was wrong I’d make a fool of myself. I went with it. “Do you want me to stay with you?”

“Yeah.” She played with the sheet at her waist. She was wearing a tank top and a pair of shorts. Hopefully she didn’t mind the sleeping attire I’d picked either.

“Of course.” I stretched out next to her on top of the covers.

“No, you can come under. The fan is on and you’ll get cold.”

I could have assured her I wasn’t going to get cold, but that would have involved turning down the opportunity to get into bed with her. I wasn’t making that mistake again. I maneuvered under the sheets, keeping a small distance between us, not sure what she wanted.

“Thanks.” She moved over, resting her head on my chest again. This time was different. This time I was nearly naked, and we were in bed together. It was intimate, something couples did, and I loved it. I wanted to know it wasn’t a one-time thing, because going to sleep with Casey in my arms was perfect.

“If you want to talk about your dream, just let me know. But you don’t have to.” I didn’t want to break the spell of comfort between us, but I wanted her to know she could tell me anything. I’d do anything for her. That realization hit me hard as I ran a hand gently down the bare section of her back that the tank top didn’t cover.

“It’s about my sister. I have it a lot.”

I didn’t push her any further. I just kept rubbing her back, hoping my presence and touch helped her fall asleep.

“I’m glad you know my name.”

I smiled. “Yeah, me too. I’ve known it a long time though.”

“I mean that you liked me too, and that my name mattered.” She said it all sleepily, but I knew what she was getting at.

“I feel the same way about you having feelings for me. I thought you were just friendly to everyone.”

“I’ve thought about this a lot.” She ran her hand down my chest, and I never wanted her to stop touching me.

“About what?”

“Lying with you this way. I thought about it the first time I stayed over at your place.”

“So did I.” I’d also thought about it every night since.

“I can’t believe I came down to New Orleans with you.”

“Me either. It was a nice surprise.”

“Thanks for letting me come.”

“Of course. I wanted you here.” I rubbed her back gently.

“Do you think we’ll find my sister?” She sounded so sad it nearly broke my heart.

“I will do everything in my power to help you find her.”

She smiled. “Thank you.”

“Thank you.”

“What are you thanking me for?”

“Making my life better.” I kissed the top of her head.

“I hope that continues.”

“Me too.” My resistance was tested that night. Everything about her lured me in. Her scent, that sweet face, her warm body resting against mine—I loved it all. I couldn’t ruin it. I couldn’t push her if it wasn’t what she wanted. If she needed to take things slow, I’d wait. I’d wait as long as I had to. In that moment, lying with her in my arms, I realized something. I was over Allie.