Protect Me (Rivers Edge Book 4)(6)

By: Lacey Black

“So, why are you so jumpy?” I ask as she continues to hold the ice on the back of my head. Honestly, it doesn’t hurt much anymore, but for some foreign reason, I want her body close to mine and her hands pressed against my scalp, so I keep my damn mouth shut.

“Oh, you know,” she says with an uncomfortable chuckle. “A girl can never be too careful these days,” she adds.

Something underlying that she doesn’t say, has me turning around. I heard the words she said, but I sense that there is something deeper into her reaction.

Lia drops her hands from my head, one still cradling the bag of melting ice. We are close enough to touch. To kiss. I honestly consider it. I want to lean forward and kiss the hell out of this woman. We both stare at each other, both lost in each other’s eyes. Her eyes hold so much sadness and pain. It’s like they haven’t truly shined like the jewels they are in forever. Something deep inside me yearns to make them shine again. To bring out the vibrant colors in her eyes and make them light the world. I want to give her this.

I lean forward ever so slightly and continue to look in her eyes. I see the questions, the challenge, the fear, and the heat - all there within those magnificent eyes. Lia licks her lips subconsciously and lifts her chin. We are mere inches apart yet it feels like canyons between us. She’s hiding something, I can tell.

Just when I decide to go for broke and kiss the hell out of this enigma of a woman, the back door springs open. Lia and I jump apart like two teenagers and Lia drops the baggie of ice on the floor.

“I’m sorry I’m late, Lia, I just -” Avery says. “Oh, Nate. What are you doing here?” she asks with a look of pure surprise etched all over her face.

“Hey, sis. I just stopped by for a cup of coffee and something sweet on my way home,” I tell her as I casually cross my arms over my wide chest. I love coffee, and even in the early morning after working a long shift, I still crave the taste. Decaf allows me to enjoy the taste without wiring me for the next three hours. Plus, Mom’s cinnamon rolls are my favorite, and I never pass up an opportunity to grab one.

“Oh, okay. Did Lia get you a cup? Did you officially meet her?” Avery asks as she sets her purse down on the small desk in the little room that my mom used for an office.

“Not officially,” I say as I extend my hand towards the woman in front of me. “Nate Stevens.”

She hesitates momentarily, but eventually places her small hand inside of mine. “Lia Walker,” she replies. Electricity.

“Nice to meet you, Lia Walker,” I say as I gently pump her hand up and down. I don’t pull away. Hell, I can’t pull away. I lean forward ever so slightly, dropping my voice to just above a whisper. “Next time, I expect a smile instead of a pan to the head.”

Lia blushes the fiercest shade of pink and drops her eyes to the floor. “I’m so sorry,” she mumbles. “I promise not to hit you again.”

I stand straight up and turn my attention back to my sister who was silently watching our exchange. “I’m heading home to sleep. I’ll see you later, Ave,” I say as I walk over and place a kiss on her cheek.

“Bye, Nate. Sleep well,” she says with a knowing smile on her face.

I walk towards the door and give Lia a quick glance over my shoulder. She’s staring at my ass. Effin’ A! I can’t help the smug smile that crosses my face as her eyes work their way up my body and collide once more with my own. She blushes again before returning her eyes to Avery. I head out the door with a little pep in my step and a lot of tightness in my pants. Lia Walker is a mystery to me, but if there’s one thing I enjoy, it’s unraveling a good mystery.


It took me longer than usual to fall asleep this morning. When I closed my eyes, all I could see was blue-gray eyes filled with so much emotion. Something deep and dark is lurking within those stunning eyes. I felt a pull towards Lia like I’ve never felt before. A sexual pull, of course, but also something more. I feel this overwhelming urge to protect her from the secrets she’s clearly carrying. It’s all I think about as I slowly drift off to a restless sleep.

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