will fix her rotten day better than compliments or a bubble bath. Her straitlaced exterior and her wild heart light him up. But Emma wants to escape her past and settle down—and if her desk jockey dates don’t understand where she comes from, at least she doesn’t worry about them bringing her back.
They climbed back on the motorcycle and left the parking lot. Sean drove them into a quiet residential neighborhood of single-family homes. Not an apartment in sight. Her radar immediately pinged. This was not a guy who had his shit together enough to own a house.
She could write a book on how to pick up the man-boy. Sean parked and she shoved the thought away. This was about the weekend. About her getting what she wanted—no, needed—for the moment. Then she’d go back to her real life and look for what she should have. What she really wanted. At least find a guy who was adult enough to not live at home with mom.
Sean held her hand and pulled her to the back of the building. When he moved toward basement steps, she pulled from his grasp. “Where are we going?”
“My place.” He hitched his chin in the direction of the door. “My room’s in the basement.”
“What are you? Twelve?”
“My brother Tommy and I have it set up as our own place.”
She sighed. “Do you at least have your own bedroom? Or am I supposed to screw you with an audience?”
He laughed and reached for her hip. His voice dropped into the sexy range. “While I share a lot of things with my brother, a woman isn’t one.”
Then he turned and pushed her toward the steps leading upstairs. “We can have a drink upstairs first so you can see I’m not a crazy guy looking to lock you in my basement.”
She laughed a little at that. For a bad boy, Sean was pretty adept at reading things. He opened the back door and flicked on the light, flooding the kitchen. As he locked up, she saw how beat up his hand was. His knuckles were red and swollen.
She winced. “You should ice your hand.”
Sean reached into the refrigerator and handed her a bottle of beer. With his own bottle in one hand, he grabbed a bag of frozen green beans with the other. Emma took his beer from him and opened it.
He flexed his hand and looked at it as if he hadn’t noticed before. “No big deal.”
But it was a big deal. She’d been in similar situations too many times to recall. Her mom had taught her to smile and laugh it off, but Emma had never been able to do that. It rattled her every time. Memories of the guy pressing against her, trapping her, washed over her now. From deep in her bones, she felt every part of her start to tremble. To cover it, she gulped some beer.
She gripped the bottle tightly as she set it on the table and took a seat across from Sean. He watched her closely. “You sure that guy didn’t do anything to you? I mean, other than get in your face?”
She shook her head and didn’t like the way the room started to spin, so she answered, “No.”
“You look really upset.”
“I’m fine. Are we going downstairs or what?” Right now, she’d give almost anything to forget this day. She pushed off the table, wobblier than she’d thought she was.
Sean stood, still eyeing her, and tossed his vegetables back in the freezer. She finished her beer and suddenly realized the goldfish crackers she’d eaten in her car were the closest thing she’d had to dinner. No wonder the alcohol had hit so hard. Sean grabbed her hand and led her downstairs.
The basement was mostly unfinished. Concrete floor and walls. A washer and dryer sat against one side. Sean pulled her toward the back of the basement. Actually, the front of the house. There, crudely constructed walls divided the space.
He pointed toward the corner. “That’s the bathroom. Tommy’s room is next to it. This one’s mine,” he added with his hand on the doorknob.
She snickered. “This is your idea of having it set up like an apartment?”
“It’s better than a mattress on the floor or sleeping on the living room couch.”
The last remark hit home because that was exactly where she’d found Nicky more often than she cared to consider. So at least Sean was a step up from her loser brother.