Filthy English (English #2)(17)


by Ilsa Madden-Mills

Like I was a piece of fucking furniture.

Granted, I usually had a couple of girls hanging on me.

I watched her more than I should have considering she was the girlfriend of one of my rivals. It was understood that we didn’t poach the Omega girls and vice versa unless we wanted to end up in a tangle on the quad. Not that I’d ever cared. If I wanted a girl, I took her, although I never went after attached ones, especially those as close as Remi and Hartford.

Plus, I’d had my chance with her, and I hadn’t wanted it.

I came back to the present as sirens wailed in the distance.

At least someone had called the police.

Two beefy guys who I knew to be bouncers for the club flew out the metal door and scanned the area, pausing on our huddled foursome near the dumpster.

They headed toward us. “Everything okay out here?” one of them asked us.

Renewed anger hit and my fists tightened. “It is now,” I said tersely, straightening to eye them. “If you have a back door, it would be a damn good idea to keep security—especially near an alley. My friend was mugged and nearly killed by one of your patrons.”

“I’m fine,” Remi said, smoothing it over. “Thanks to you.”

I glanced down at her face. She smiled, albeit a weak one, and I felt a small bit of peace.

She was safe. She was fine.

But I couldn’t completely relax.

A few minutes later, we gave statements about the incident to the officers and assured them we’d come back down the next day if we remembered anything else. Apparently, there’d been a rash of similar muggings in the area—one or two white men who hit on victims they’d met in bars and clubs. Both of the guys Lulu had picked up fit their general description. They took jewelry, money, bags, phones, even clothes. The police had told the local pawnshops to be on alert if they came in with specific stolen goods, but so far they hadn’t had any hits.

Remi looked crushed when they told her they had no leads.

After the police left, Spider and Lulu went to grab us some waters at the bar while we found ourselves in the staff restroom that the manager of Masquerade had generously offered us, along with an offer of free admission and drinks for the rest of the week.

Remi had small cuts on her hands from the gravel and several fingerprint bruises on her neck that she insisted she could cover up with make-up the next day. Thankfully, the club had a small first aid kit with witch hazel and alcohol wipes. Of course, the police had checked her out and taken a few pictures, but she’d adamantly refused to go to a hospital.

She sat on a stool and I cleaned her feet off, careful to get the little bits of dirt out. It was as if we’d overcome a hurdle. We were friends. Sort of.

We hadn’t actually said that, but I felt the connection between us.

Later, I leaned against the sink as she dabbed my swelling eye with a cold compress someone had brought us from the kitchen. One of the bartenders had also scrounged around in the employees’ stock room and found her a pair of old flip-flops and an oversized, long t-shirt with the words I LOVE NIGHTS AT MASQUERADE. She wore her dress underneath it.

I chuckled at her shirt. “That’s ironic.”

Her lips quirked up. “At least I saw you here tonight.” A pause. “I’m glad.”

“Me too.”

She nodded. “About what happened . . . with my hands down your pants . . .” A blush started at her neck and worked its way to her forehead. “I went a little nuts.” She giggled. “No pun intended.”

“We’re good. No need to explain.” I willed the bulge in my pants to go down.

“So no harm, no foul?”

“Yep, we’re buddies now.”

“Hmmm,” she murmured softly, a smile on her face as she gazed at me, her eyes luminous with emotion. “You’re definitely a hero. I owe you.”

My breath hitched at the way she looked, her face truly happy for the first time tonight, and for a moment I got a glimpse of what my future might have been like if I’d allowed myself to . . .

Stop, Dax.

A few minutes went by as she checked me for other injuries, making me take my shirt off in case I had bruises. He hadn’t hit me that hard, I insisted, but she still ran her fingers over every inch of my skin where I’d said I’d been hit. She wanted to see for herself, and I knew it wasn’t a sexual thing, but true concern. A little furrow formed on her forehead as she poked at my ribs to make sure they weren’t broken.

I tossed my head back and let out a belly laugh.

She jumped back. “I’d forgotten you’re ticklish!”

I laughed and pushed at her hands.

She grinned, her fingers on my bicep, tracing the outline of the dragonfly wings—almost absentmindedly.

“I love this. The colors, the design, the pure emotion. This tattoo means something to you. What is it?” Her eyes flicked back up to mine. “I feel sad when I look at it. Weird, to get a feeling when you see something—as if we have a sixth sense about things.” She smiled. “Whatever. I’m rambling, but I do want my own tattoo.”

Her hand never left my bicep; she stroked the wings, making the same swirls and marks that were in my design. Tingles—no, sparks—were going off left and right.

This isn’t about sex, Dax.

This is the real her. The real you.

Talking. Sharing. Having a moment when she’s peeking into your soul.

Will you let her in?

Absolutely not.

I wasn’t good enough for her, and I didn’t need her in my life, jacking with my emotions and making me want something I could never have.

But her touch.

Then pull away from her, arsehole!

I swayed, leaning into her.

Hypnotic.

Mesmerizing.

So fucking perfect that I wanted to curl up with her on a soft bed, stroke her hair, and tell her everything about the meaning behind that tattoo . . .

But I couldn’t.

I didn’t share that.

On the surface, people saw the cocky, funny guy, but underneath was a mess of feelings—especially since the anniversary of Mum’s death had just passed—and no matter how hard I wanted to explain the meaning to my dragonfly, I didn’t think I could get through the ordeal without getting clogged up in my throat.

So I did what I do best. I pushed her away.

I put some space between us, letting her hand fall to her side. I changed the topic. “Dude. I want to be there when you get a tattoo.”