After several seconds in silence.
“He’s asleep, you don’t have to whisper,” Alex’s smooth-as-honey voice said from behind me.
I smiled. A rush of heat washed over me with his confirmation. I didn’t turn to face him, quietly rejoicing in my tiny victory. My heart and breath came more quickly though, which he probably heard.
“You’re not angry that I’m here?” he asked.
“Should I be?”
“Last time I was here I was…very forward. I do hope you’ll pardon me.”
I rolled over to turn on the bedside lamp. He stood at the furthest edge of the room, his back pressed against the wall. Seeing him dressed to runway-model perfection in blue jeans and a black button down shirt with the sleeves rolled up sent my self-consciousness into overdrive. I was sure my hair was a rat’s nest and hoped at least that the minty-freshness of my mouthwash held up the way the commercial claimed it would.
Alex was twisting a piece of red rope around his index fingers. His brows were pulled together and his eyes saddened. Maybe anxious was a better word. He seemed to fidget a lot when he’s anxious.
“You’re pardoned.” I assured. “But I highly doubt you’re here because you needed that from me. What’s really going on?” I asked, my tired voice raspy like a smoker.
The corner of his mouth lifted in to a half-smile.
“You’re perceptive. That’s one of the things I’ve always…appreciated about you.” Appreciated felt like it was meant to be something else. Something more. “Do you have me all figured out yet?” he asked. I assumed that he was referring to the internet research I attempted to do, but hoped that he didn’t know it ended as an epic fail.
“Maybe,” I said flatly.
His eyes searched mine as though he were trying to decide how much I knew.
He took a few steps toward the bed, to which I replied by pulling myself up into a seated position.
“And what do you think now?” he asked.
“Maybe I don’t care.”
He breathed a laugh. “Don’t care?” The threat in his gaze and tone could cut through steal, and was absolutely diabolical. I swallowed hard and pulled the covers in closer. It was the first time since we met that he truly frightened me.

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