Home > Rush Too Far (Rosemary Beach #4)(11)

Rush Too Far (Rosemary Beach #4)(11)
Abbi Glines

“OK. If you really mean that, then thank you.”

Thoughts of her in my bed na*ed started taunting me. I couldn’t let it turn into that. I had to remember Nan. And what that all meant to Blaire. She’d hate me in the end.

“I mean it. But that also means that the friends thing with us needs to remain in full effect,” I told her.

“Agreed,” she replied. I hadn’t wanted her to agree. I’d wanted her to beg me like she had last night. Because at this moment, I was weak, and I’d give in. I forced all sexual thoughts of Blaire out of my mind. I couldn’t think like this, or I would go mad.

“Also, you are going to start eating the food in this house when you’re here.”

She shook her head at me.

“Blaire, this isn’t up for argument. I mean it. Eat my damn food.”

She stood up and leveled me with a determined glare. “No. I will buy food and eat it. I am not . . . I’m not like my father.”

Fuck. Again, this was all my damn fault. I stood up to look her directly in the eyes. “You think I don’t know that by now? You’ve been sleeping in a damn broom closet without complaint. You clean up after me. You don’t eat properly. I am aware that you’re nothing like your dad. But you are a guest in my home, and I want you eating in my kitchen and treating it like it’s yours.”

Blaire’s stiff shoulders eased a little. “I’ll put my food in your kitchen and eat it in here. Will that be better?”

No. That wasn’t better. I wanted her eating my food! “If all you intend to buy is peanut butter and bread, then no. I want you eating properly.”

She started to shake her head, and I reached out and grabbed her hand.

“Blaire, it will make me happy to know you’re eating. Henrietta buys the groceries once a week and stocks this place, expecting me to have a lot of company. There is more than enough. Please. Eat. My Food.”

She bit her bottom lip but not before a giggle escaped. Damn, that was cute.

“Are you laughing at me?” I asked, feeling the need to grin myself.

“Yeah. A little,” she replied.

“Does this mean you’re gonna eat my food?”

She let out a heavy sigh, but she was still smiling. “Only if you let me pay you weekly.”

I shook my head no, and she jerked her hand free and started to walk away. Damn stubborn woman! “Where are you going?” I asked her.

“I’m done arguing with you. I will eat your food if I pay for my part. That’s the only deal I will agree to. So take it or leave it.”

I growled, but I was going to have to give in. “OK, fine. Pay me.”

She glanced back at me. “I’m going to go unpack. Then take a bath in that big ol’ tub, and then I don’t know. I don’t have plans until tonight.”

Tonight? “With who?” I asked, not sure I liked the sound of that.

“Bethy.”

“Bethy? The cart girl Jace messes around with?” I really didn’t like the sound of that. Bethy was nothing but trouble. She’d get drunk and forget all about Blaire. I thought about the men who could hurt her. No, she wasn’t going without me. Someone needed to protect her sexy ass.

“Correction. The cart girl Jace used to mess around with. She wised up and is moving on. Tonight we’re going honky-tonking to pick us up some hardworking blue-collar men.” She turned and hurried up the steps.

This conversation wasn’t over.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

She was upstairs now. Right next to the door leading up to my room. Taking a bath . . . Shit.

I had to leave. Putting space between us today was important. This morning with her had been good. I wasn’t going to keep her at a distance so that her basic needs were neglected anymore. She would eat my food, dammit. She would sleep in a good bed and bathe in a nice big bathroom. No more treating her like the fu**ing help.

The weight off my shoulders was now replaced with fear. Fear that I wouldn’t be able to stay away from her. Knowing she was right there, asleep. Watching her eat, which I would now be doing regularly to make sure she ate normal food. I wasn’t going to be able to stay away.

Grant. I needed to talk to Grant. He’d remind me of why I couldn’t have her. Why I couldn’t tuck her into my arms and hold on. After glancing up at the stairs one more time, I headed for the door. Getting some breathing room away from her and talking to someone rational would be good for me.

I climbed inside my Range Rover and dialed my mother’s number. They had to be coming home soon. I was running out of time. Blaire would know everything, and I would lose her. I would make sure she was taken care of, though. I wasn’t going to just let her run. I’d hold a damn gun on Abe if I had to in order to get him to go after her. Stupid fucker.

“Rush,” my mother said after the third ring.

“When are you coming home?” I asked. I wasn’t in the mood for small talk.

“I’m not sure. We haven’t discussed it,” she replied. The annoyed tone in her voice didn’t surprise me. She hated knowing that I could make her come home now if I wanted to.

“Let me talk to Abe.”

She sighed dramatically. “Why, Rush? So you can yell at him for not being there for his adult daughter who can take care of herself now?”

Gripping the steering wheel, I took several deep breaths and reminded myself that cursing out my mother wasn’t cool. This was just her being her self-centered self. “Credit cards, houses, cars—it’s all mine, Mom,” I reminded her instead.

She made a noise that sounded like a hiss.

“Hello, Rush.” Abe’s voice came over the phone.

“She has a job at the club. Says she’s going to move out and get her own place soon,” I told him. Surely he could see how Blaire’s living alone was a bad idea.

“Good. I knew she’d be able to figure things out,” he said.

I jerked the Range Rover over onto the side of the road. My blood pounded in my ears, and my vision went blurry. Motherfucking piece of shit. Did he really just say that? “You don’t deserve to breathe air, you sorry son of a bitch,” I growled into the phone.

He didn’t reply.

“She’s a fu**ing innocent. She’s so damn innocent and trusting. She’s gorgeous. Blindingly gorgeous. Head-turning, drop-dead gorgeous. Do you get that? Your daughter has no one. No one. And she’s vulnerable. She’s hurt and alone. Any jackass could use her. Don’t you care?” I was breathing hard. My knuckles turned white where I gripped the steering wheel, trying to control my rage.

“She has you,” was his only response.

“Me? She has me? What the f*ck are you talking about? You know me. I’m Dean Finlay’s son. Who am I? I’m sure as hell not her protector. I’m the heartless as**ole who took her father away from her when she needed him most. That’s who the f*ck I am!” Me. He’d said she had me. As if I were worthy of that responsibility. Didn’t he cherish her? How could a father have a daughter like Blaire and not want to protect her?

“I would have left without your visit, Rush. I couldn’t stay. She hasn’t needed me in years. She doesn’t need me now. I’m not what she needs. But you . . . maybe you are.”

How the f*ck did he think that made sense?

“She’ll be OK. She’ll be much better without me. ’Bye, Rush,” Abe said, with a heaviness to his voice that I hadn’t heard before. Then the line went dead.

He had hung up.

I sat there staring at the road ahead of me. He wasn’t going to do anything for her. He was really going to let her figure things out on her own. And he had a small hope that I’d help her. That was it.

She would be fine. I would make sure of it. She’d be motherfucking perfect. I wouldn’t let anyone hurt her. I’d protect her. She didn’t have a father to keep her safe, but she had me. She wasn’t alone. Not anymore.

She had me.

I didn’t want to talk to Grant anymore. I needed to be alone. To think. To plan. Blaire was mine to protect. I had to make sure I didn’t let her down again. She deserved so damn much.

I came home hours later with a newfound determination. I would be Blaire’s friend. I would be her best friend. Fucking best damn friend she ever had. Nothing would touch her or hurt her. She wouldn’t want me making things easy or taking care of her, so I would have to do it quietly Make her think she was handling it.

I opened the door, a smile touching my lips. Knowing she was inside made things seem right with the world. Until I saw her on the steps dressed like a fu**ing wet dream.

Holy hell, why was she wearing that?

A short denim skirt with boots—cowboy boots . . . dear Lord, have mercy. “Day-um,” I muttered, closing the door behind me. She was going out in that. To the club . . . with Bethy Shit. “You, uh, wearing that out to go clubbing?” I asked, trying not to let her hear the panic in my voice.

“It’s called honky-tonking. I’m pretty sure it’s a completely different thing,” she said, smiling at me nervously.

A bar. She was going to a bar. Dressed like that.

I ran my hand through my hair and tried to remind myself that she wanted us to be friends. Friends didn’t lose their shit and demand that each other change clothes before leaving the house.

“Can I come with y’all tonight? I’ve never been honky-tonking,” I said.

Blaire’s eyes went wide. “You want to go with us?”

I let my gaze travel down her body again. Oh hell, yes, I did. “Yeah, I do.”

She shrugged. “OK. If you really want to. We need to leave in ten minutes, though. Bethy is expecting me to pick her up.”

She was going to let me go. No argument. Thank God. “I can be ready in five,” I assured her, and took off up the stairs. I could get changed and down here in plenty of time. Drunk men in a bar with Blaire looking like an angel in a pair of cowboy boots was not happening. At least not without me there to beat them off her.

If I was going to a damn country bar, I was going looking like the son of Dean Finlay. Country bars weren’t my thing, although Blaire’s boots were definitely on my list of favorite things. Any reason to see her in those boots was a plus.

I grabbed a Slacker Demon shirt and threw it on with my jeans. Then I added my thumb ring. I brushed my teeth and added deodorant before stopping and looking at myself in the mirror. I was missing something.

I grabbed a few of the small hoops I wore on occasion and slid them into my ear. Sticking out my tongue, I grinned, thinking about Blaire’s interest in my tongue piercing. She was almost in my lap last night trying to look at it. If she attempted that tonight, I might just let her crawl all over me. Shaking my head at my thoughts, which would lead to nothing but trouble, I ran for the stairs. I hadn’t taken ten minutes, but I was pushing it.

On my way back down the stairs, my eyes found Blaire, who was watching me closely. It made my heart speed up when she looked at me like I was some kind of treat. God knows I had thought about tasting her in many, many ways. The idea of her having any naughty thoughts about me got me more excited than I needed to be in these tight jeans.

When her eyes made it to my face, I stuck out my tongue so she could see the piercing. Her eyes flared, and I wanted to groan. Damn, the things I wanted to show her with this little piece of silver.

“I figure if I’m going to a honky-tonk with guys in boots and cowboy hats, I need to stay true to my roots. Rock and roll is in my blood. I can’t pretend to fit in anywhere else,” I explained.

She laughed. “You’re going to look as out of place tonight as I do at your parties. This should be fun. Come on, rock-star spawn,” she said, looking pleased before heading toward the door.

I hurried around her and opened the door for her. Something else I should have been doing all along. “Since your friend is riding with us, why don’t we take one of my cars? We ’d all be more comfortable than in your truck,” I suggested. I wanted her sitting up front with me. Close to me. So I could look at those legs . . . and boots. I didn’t want to be crammed into a truck with Bethy.

She glanced over her shoulder at me. “But we’d fit in better if we took my truck.”

I pulled out the small remote from my pocket to open the door to the garage where my Range Rover was parked. Blaire swung her gaze over and watched as the door opened.

“That’s certainly impressive,” she said.

“Does that mean we can take mine? I’m not crazy about sharing a seat with Bethy. The girl likes to touch things without permission,” I said. She’d never touched me, but I had heard about her.

“Yes, she does. She’s a bit of a flirt, isn’t she?” Blaire said, grinning.

“ ‘Flirt’ is a kind word for her,” I replied.

“OK. Sure. We can take the badass Rush Finlay’s killer wheels, if he insists,” Blaire said with a shrug.

Score. Now I needed to get her into the passenger seat before she tried to climb into the back. I headed toward the Range Rover, nodding for her to follow.

I opened the door for her, and she stopped and looked up at me. “Do you open all your friends’ car doors?”

I never opened doors for girls. It made them expect more. But with Blaire, I wanted to. I wanted her to feel cherished. Damn, this was dangerous. “No,” I told her honestly, and moved away to get in on my side. I shouldn’t flirt. I shouldn’t treat her like there could be more.

I climbed in. I wasn’t sure what to say to her now.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to sound rude,” she said, breaking the silence.

I was making this weird for her. I had to work on that if this was going to work. “No. You’re right. I just don’t have any female friends, so I’m not good at balancing what I should do and what I shouldn’t.”

“So you open doors for your dates? That’s a very chivalrous thing to do. Your mother raised you right.” She almost sounded jealous. But . . . no. That made no sense.

“Actually, no, I don’t. I . . . you just seem like the kind of girl who deserves to have her door opened. It just made sense in my head at the moment. But I get what you’re saying. If we’re going to be friends, I need to draw a line and stay behind it.”

A small smile touched her lips. “Thank you for opening it for me. It was sweet.”

I just shrugged. I wasn’t sure I could say more without sounding like an idiot.

“We need to pick Bethy up at the country club. She’ll be at the office back behind the clubhouse at the golf course. She had to work today. She’s showering and dressing there,” Blaire explained.

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