The door flew open before I’d even had a chance to climb out of the car, and he stood there, one hand resting on his stomach, the other braced against the door jamb, staring at me with the wide-eyed look of someone about to encounter aliens for the first time.
“What the fuck?” he mouthed.
“You tell me,” I mouthed back. I didn’t want to get out of the car now that I’d seen the shitty expression on his face. His hair was crazy, standing on end, and his jaw was marked with dark stubble that made him look both unkempt and well put together at the same time somehow. He was wearing a tight, gray, long-sleeved shirt, sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and yet another pair of scruffy black jeans. He was pale and there were shadows under his eyes, which made him look haunted.
Slowly, still pressing one hand to his stomach, he hobbled out of the doorway and came and stood in front of the driver’s side door, looking at me through the window. When I didn’t buzz down the window, he lifted his hand and rapped a knuckle against the glass.
Didn’t really seem like I had much of a choice after that. Down the window went. He considered me for a moment, considered the car in general, then said, “I don’t suppose…that this is a coincidence?”
“You left your meds at the center.”
He turned and walked away. “I’m not taking that shit.”
“It’s pain medication, Fletcher. They wouldn’t have prescribed it to you if they didn’t think you needed it.”
“I don’t need it. How do you know they’re pain meds anyway?” Slowing, he looked back over his shoulder, frowning. “You been snooping in my shit?”
“I was surprised they weren’t anti-psychotics actually,” I snapped. “And no, I wasn’t snooping in your shit. Gale offered up the information before she handed over the bag.”
“Yeah. Your girlfriend isn’t the brightest bulb in the box, huh?” I got out of the car and followed after him.
“You know all too well she isn’t my girlfriend.”
“You implied it.”
“Which doesn’t mean anything, really, does it?”
“Why are those signs stacked up by the side of the house, Fletcher?”
“To stop nosy busybodies from showing up at my place, unannounced.” Stopping at his front door, he turned and barred the entrance with one arm. “Shame. Didn’t seem to work in this particular instance, did it?”
“I’m just trying to do the Good Samaritan bit, you asshole.”
“I’m not a Christian.”
“The Good Samaritan. He was from the bible, right?”
“You don’t need to be a Christian to be a good person.”
“I’m sure it helps. Look, it’s fucking freezing and I have four cracked ribs. Can we please do this some other time?”
Over his shoulder, I could see a room in disarray, and a television on a stack of books, its screen turned to static. White noise popped and crackled, rustling low. I should have just left. I shouldn’t have come in the first place; as soon as I’d found out he’d refused treatment at the medical center and gone home, I should have left him to his own devices. But he looked terrible. A clammy looking sweat had broken out across his forehead, and his hands were shaking. He hadn’t taken any of his damn pain medication, and now he was telling me he had four broken ribs. God, how the hell was I meant to just drive away now? It would be easy enough to do. It’d feel great slamming the car door and speeding off, leaving him behind in the dust. I wouldn’t get further than a mile before the guilt set in, and I had to turn back, though.
“Damn it, Sully. Just let me inside so I can fix you up with something to eat and something warm to drink. Set my mind at ease. Then I’ll be on my way, I promise.”
Sully cocked his head to one side. His breathing was shallow. Shallower than it should have been. “You’re quite the little do-gooder, aren’t you? What was the chick’s name from The Sound of Music again? The nun that wouldn’t quit that infernal singing? You know, the one who saved those children from the Nazis? You’re just like her. So…sunny.” He used the word as if it were an insult.
I folded my arms across my chest. “I’m nothing like her. Can we please just go inside? You’re right, it is freezing, and I don’t feel like catching hypothermia right now.”
Both his eyebrows lifted at once. “That’s funny.”
Okay, so that was a pretty dumb thing to say on my part, but there was no need for him to be such an ass. “Fletcher. Come on. Please.” Lord, I was begging him to let me inside his house so I could take care of him? How had this come about? Really, it categorically,absolutely made zero sense.
He sighed, allowing his arm to fall. “All right. You can come in. On two conditions.”
“If you step foot inside my house, do not even think about trying to tidy anything. Move one book, one plate, one mug, and you’ll be back out of the door quicker than you can say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.”
He looked so damned pleased with himself that I couldn’t help wipe the smile from his face. “That’s from Mary Poppins, not The Sound of Music.”
“I don’t care what it’s from. You mess with my shit, you’re gone. Copy?”
I held my hands up. “Fine. I won’t tidy.”
“Second condition. There won’t be any of that hot tea bullshit. If you’re coming in here, you’re drinking whiskey.”
“What? Why am I drinking whiskey?”
“Because I’m drinking whiskey. And that’s just the way it is.”
“I have to drive.”
He shrugged. “Take it or leave it, Lang.”
How much would it hurt him if I jabbed him in the ribcage right now? A lot, probably. Enough to make him behave himself? I wasn’t going to hold my breath. “Okay. Fine. Whatever. Just let me inside already. My feet are going numb.”
This was going to be a disaster.
Betrayal. Lust, Unrequited Love. Redemption.
Between Here and the Horizon is an Epic Love Story
by Callie Hart releasing October 18th!
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2dNLrMr
Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2dmSUWY
Ophelia Lang needs money, and she needs it bad. Her parent’s restaurant is going under, and ever since she lost her job teaching third grade elementary, scraping enough cash together to pay the bills has proven almost impossible. Her parents are on the brink of losing their home. The vultures are circling overhead. So when Ophelia is offered an interview for a well-paid private tutoring gig in New York, how can she possibly say no?
Ronan Fletcher is far from the overweight, balding businessman Ophelia expected him to be. He’s young, handsome, and wealthy beyond all reason. He’s also perhaps the coldest, rudest person she’s ever met, and has a mean streak in him a mile and a half wide. A hundred grand is a lot of money, however, and if tolerating his frosty temperament, his erratic mood swings and whatever else he throws at her means she’ll get paid, then that is what Ophelia will do.
Her new boss is keeping secrets, though. Awful, terrible secrets.
The ghosts of Ronan Fletcher’s past are about to turn Ophelia’s future upside down, and she can’t even see it coming.
Note: Between Here and The Horizon is a brand new standalone contemporary romance novel from USA Today bestselling author, Callie Hart. Between Here and the Horizon does contain some scenes of violence and sexual content, and so is directed at audience 18+.