Dangerous Lines (9 page)

“Well, make sure he knows anyway.”

“Yes ma’am.” Getting up off the sofa, he went to
the kitchen for the call. While he wouldn’t keep anything from Rhonda, Vincent
also knew better than to give her too much information at once. No need to get
her wheels spinning madly for no reason. He’d tell her what he found out. No
real choice there. Woman would kick his ass if he didn’t. Didn’t mean he
couldn’t tone it down a little, right?

 

Chapter Eleven

 

Rhonda hated waiting, for anything. All she could
do in that moment was twiddle her thumbs, metaphorically speaking of course. Damn
cast didn’t exactly give her a lot of options. It made a great paperweight, but
not much else. Sighing, she stared down at the hunk of plaster and tried to
remember how much longer she’d have it on for.
Another week?
Two at the most unless she was off on her calculations. She could hear the low
rumble of Vincent’s voice. She even knew why he’d decided to make the call to
Shawn in the kitchen.

Not that she’d let him get away without telling her
every, last, single detail. He might think she didn’t know his reasoning behind
keeping the call private. Poor man, so deluded in thinking she didn’t know what
he was up to. Always trying to protect her, like she was some sort of shrinking
violet that would crumple at a bit of pressure or stress. Didn’t really matter,
she’d get everything Vincent, and his buddy, Shawn, talked about, out of him in
time. Even their plans to keep her cosseted away, and off of Moreau’s radar.

Shaking her head, she sipped her sweet tea.
Men.

He was gone for maybe ten minutes. She couldn’t
read his expression when he returned, which usually meant something wasn’t
right in his world.

“Shawn’s got three safe houses lined up for us.”

The relief was instantaneous. “When are we going
back?”

“We’ll leave tonight,” he said.

He was leaving something out. She could feel it.
She didn’t press though, for the moment. “We’d better get some sleep then, or
you should at least. I need to call my captain and have him pull the files.
Will Shawn be going to get them?”

“No, he’s going to send Trent to pick everything
up. Your boss will need to call Shawn when everything is ready.”

Taking his cell from him, Rhonda dialed her
captain’s number. Resting her forehead against Vincent’s jaw, she listened to
the phone ring. When her captain picked up, she identified herself and explained
what she needed, gave him Shawn’s information and got off the line as quick as
she could manage after getting his word he’d see to it.

“He’ll gather them once everyone’s out on the
streets for the night. He thinks he should have it all together by the morning,”
she told Vincent as she handed his phone back over.

“Good.” He slipped an arm around her shoulders, hugging
her closer. “Let’s go and have a nap. I need some sleep, and you definitely
do.”

She couldn’t argue that. Nodding, she moved off the
sofa and to the bedroom. She let him help her into the bed before shucking her
sweats. Rhonda had one of his shirts on, had been using only his shirts to
sleep in since she’d gotten mobile, so it was more than long enough to act as a
sleeping garment.

Settling onto her side, her casted hand resting on
a spare pillow, she smiled as he eased in behind her. When his arms slid around
her, cradling her close, Rhonda let out a small, happy sigh. Now this, this she
could get used to. His body heated her entire backside, wrapping her up in a
warm cocoon, and quickly proving just how tired she really was, she drifted off.

****

Dark had fallen before Vincent got them on the
road. They’d slept a solid six hours. Obviously they’d both needed it. He was
tense though, likely would be until the situation was resolved. Not that she
blamed him. She wasn’t exactly feeling ready to go running through the streets
doing cartwheels.

An oldies station provided background noise, just
enough to muffle the sound of the tires on the asphalt, but not so much as to
prevent conversation. Neither of them talked, though. She didn’t know why he
wasn’t, but she honestly didn’t know what to say.

Not the first time she’d been stumped for a topic
to break the ice. But this was different. Their relationship dynamics had
changed. Something she was grateful for, yet it left her feeling mildly awkward
around him.

Rhonda did not like that feeling. It was Vincent
for Christ’s sake. They’d hated each other while lusting after the other person,
apparently. Then they’d become friends, and now... Shit. Now they were going to
be more.
So much more.

She truly couldn’t wait for that next step. Yet, at
the same time, she was extremely nervous about taking the leap. What if it
didn’t work? What if it destroyed them? What if, what if, good God—what if?

“I can hear the hamster having a meltdown over
there,” Vincent’s voice broke into her turbulent thoughts.

Snorting out a laugh, Rhonda rolled her head on the
seat back to look at him. “I’m just having a mini-freak out, nothing to worry
about really. I tend to have them on a semi-regular basis around you.”

He shot her a quick look, his brows drawn down in a
frown. “That sounds like something to worry about, Ro. What has you freaking
out?”

“God, where to begin?” she muttered.

“Uh, how about with what started the freak out?”

“Right, that.” Shit, should she tell him? She had
to. He likely had similar thoughts, right?
Maybe.
God,
she didn’t know. Heaving a sigh, she studied his profile in the low light from
the console. He really was the sexiest man she’d ever laid eyes on. She’d
always been able to admit that, to herself anyway, even back in the days he’d
been nothing more than a pest getting under her skin.

“Come on, Ro. We talk all the
time,
this shouldn’t be an issue for you. Just talk to me, sweetheart.”

Right, she could talk to him. He was correct,
they’d talked all the time, discussing everything under the sun and often
getting into arguments. Nothing overly heated, just good-natured ribbing and
harassment.

“I’m worried,” she said softly.

“What about?”

“Fucking everything up between us.”

“You do know that it takes two people to be in a
relationship right?
Which means that it takes two people to
fuck it up.
One can definitely try their damnedest, but as long as the
other person isn’t willing to give in, they can work anything out. We’re going
to have bumps along the way. I’m not delusional enough to say we won’t. But you
and I can work through it, together.”

“I screwed up my one and only relationship.” Damn,
it sucked to have to admit that, but she was trying to be honest with him.

“How?” he asked. He shot her another look, this one
questioning in nature. “How did you screw it up, Ro?”

“I pushed too much,” she muttered.

“Explain that.”

At the sharpness of his tone, she bit back the
sarcastic remark about not being one of his Marine buddies. Taking a deep
breath, Rhonda pushed her annoyance away. “In the beginning it was
good,
we were young, in love, enjoying life. At least, I
was. Hell if I know what the fuck he was doing. We were living together, with
one other roommate. It was college, so the more people we had living there, the
cheaper the rent, the more money we had for other things.”

Vincent gave a nod when she paused, but didn’t say
anything. She was
grateful,
she really didn’t like
talking about that time in her life. Tamara knew of course, but no other.

“John and I studied hard, partied harder, and had a
huge circle of friends. It was great. The last year of college our roommate
moved out. His time in college was done so off he went out into the big, bad
world.
Ended up working for an investment banker.
Doing really well for
himself
the last I heard,
married with three kids and a huge house. Everything he’d ever dreamed of.
Anyway, it was just me and John living together after that. At first it was
perfect, more time to
ourselves
, no worries about
being interrupted, able to do what we wanted, when we wanted, all without
concern about pissing off our roomie.”

“That changed though, didn’t it?” Vincent asked
softly.

“Halfway through the first semester
that year.
I didn’t even know what it was at first, it was so
fucking subtle. I wasn’t attending nearly as many parties. It was my final year
so I had harder classes, more to learn and study. One night I came home from my
job to find a party going. It irritated me a little that he’d planned this
without at least giving me a heads up. John explained it all away. That it had
just cropped up, it was a celebration for one of our school-mates who’d gotten
an offer from some big corporation. The school-mate in question only had that
semester to finish before he’d be on the job market and to get an offer while
still in school was huge and worth celebrating. I said nothing about the party,
but told everyone to give me a few minutes to clean up.”

Vincent shifted slightly, his hands clutched at the
steering wheel hard enough to turn his knuckles white.

“We only had one rule in our
apartment,
the bedroom was off limits to anyone. We have a spare room then, since our
roommate was gone, so we’d lifted the ban on that room. Our room still was
banned from everyone.
Period.”

“Someone was in there,” he guessed.

“Uh, yeah.”
Rhonda let out a choked laugh and groaned. “Now it’s kind of funny, but
at the time I was pissed off and it marked the end of our relationship. Not
officially, but it was the straw that apparently broke my camel’s back. In our
bed was a fucking orgy. I don’t even remember how many bodies were there, but
they were all naked, and all having sex. I went ballistic. Anyway, long story
short, I blew up at John and from there out according to him, I was overly
critical of everything he did. He broke up with me and tried to toss me out of
the apartment. Only hiccup was, it was in my name so the landlord gladly threw
his ass out for me, along with his stuff that may or may not have been in boxes
at the time. The landlord even changed the locks on my door for free.
Said he felt bad for me.”

“Fuck that,” Vincent growled. “The douchebag was
looking for an excuse to either get you under his thumb or have you break it
off with him. The ex, I mean, not the landlord.”

Rhonda rolled her eyes at that as he continued.

“The fact he had to break it off shows he was
desperate to get out, that you weren’t working fast enough for whatever his
time table was. It was the last year, Ro. He likely figured he had to get all
his sowing done then. If you were being critical, sweetheart, it was with good
reason. So don’t go there. Besides, we’re adults, not a couple of teenagers on
the cusp of adulthood. If you have a fucking issue with me, I expect you to
just step up and say so.”

She felt the same way. “Ditto, Vincent. I know I’m
not exactly the easiest person to live with.”

“We’ve managed so far,” he pointed out. Then his
lips twitched and he snickered. “Of course, your mouth was wired shut for most
of that so…”

Twisting, she smacked his arm lightly with her good
right hand, tried hard not to laugh, and failed miserably as a chuckle escaped.
“You asshole.”

With a grin her way, he winked. “It’s true.”

“So you’re saying we’ll only survive as a couple
with my mouth wired shut?” Ro was poking at him, she knew it, but she also
wanted to hear his answer.

“Not at all, I can think of a number of other
things to keep your mouth otherwise occupied.”

It took her a second. It shouldn’t have, but it
did. She felt her eyes go wide before she smacked his arm again, harder.
“You sexist pig!”

He was laughing hard now, leaning away from her
slightly as she smacked his arm once more. Bugger was nearly out of reach of
her right hand but no way was she going to deck him with her left, casted hand.
“I’m kidding, Ro. Damn it, stop hitting the driver.”

Glaring at him, she let out a huff and settled back
on her side of the truck.

Once he calmed, he reached for her left hand. He
stroked her fingers sticking out of the cast lightly. “I like talking to you,
Rhonda. Never, ever doubt that. I don’t even care what you say, as long as you
always talk to me. Don’t assume, don’t guess,
don’t
fret. Just ask the questions and we’ll work through it as a team.”

With a sigh, she put her good hand on top of his
and nodded. “I expect the same from you, Vincent Bradley. No secrets between
us, ever.
Uh, unless it’s the job and then we can keep them
as long as necessary for security reasons.”
She had to add that in,
because they both had jobs that occasionally they just could not talk about.

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