I knock but she doesn’t answer. So I take a chance and open the door. She’s sitting at the foot of the bed when I enter and all the lights are on. Like she’s afraid of what might come out the dark if she risks it. She’s perched on the edge of the mattress in nothing but her underwear and one of those thin tank tops she always wears. My body is urging me forward, begging me to sit beside her and wrap her in my arms. But my mind tells me to focus.
Focus on the mission, Ross. This isn’t the time to get distracted.
“Hey,” I say quietly. She doesn’t even flinch. “I just wanted to check on you. See if you’re okay.” I inch forward. “I’m so sorry. I wasn’t thinking. I don’t know what I was thinking.” She blinks her empty gaze shifting from the floor to the wall. “I know that must have been hard. I can’t even imagine.” Taking a few steps forward, I lower myself onto the bed beside her. “I just want to help. And I know I screwed up tonight. I was distracted by all this stuff with the club opening and I wasn’t thinking straight. I wasn’t focused on you and what you need, like I should have been.” I take her hand, sliding my fingers between hers. I rub my thumb slowly back and forth across her silky skin. “I’ve been here for you from the beginning, Blue. And I’ll always be here. I’m going to make sure you get through this.”
Sheila finally turns her head, her wide, watery blue eyes swallowing me whole. “She’s alone.”
Shit. I move closer and almost as if on instinct, she does the same, crawling into my lap. I force myself to stay neutral—fighting the urge to ease her off my thirsty body while at the same time coaching myself not to fall into old habits. Sheila presses her palm against my cheek and I close my eyes, my resolve quickly melting. Her lips brush slightly against mine and just when I think I’m about to explode, she rests her head against my shoulder and lets out a little sigh.
I brace myself, enjoying this for just a few more minutes before hoisting her up and moving to the side of the bed. I place her down gently, and pull the blankets over her. I know I shouldn’t ask, that it will make an already tough night damn near impossible but… “Do you want me to stay with you?”
I make my way across the room and turn off the main light. Then I start to remove my clothing. First my shirt, then my vest. But when I get to my jeans I pause. Crawling into bed half clothed, I reach across to turn out the lamp, but she stops me.
“Leave it on, please?”
“Okay,” I reply. Then I settle next to her, our bodies fitting together simultaneously—the smell of her hair torturing me as I coax myself to sleep.