He hadn’t appreciated how well he’d slept next to Kenzie in the past. Not until that night, when he dozed off only to wake up in a cold sweat. The third time it happened, he went to the bathroom. As he wandered back to her bed, he saw it was quarter to four in the morning.
His eyes had adjusted to the dark, he found his pants, and quietly pulled them on.
“You’re leaving?” Kenzie croaked.
“Not sleepin’. Means you’re probably not sleepin’. Figure it’s better—”
She turned on her bedside lamp and he squinted. He watched her reach under her pillow and pull out her satin nightie. She got out of the bed, pulled on the nightie, and turned around.
Her eyes blazed at him. “You did not strike me as a runner.”
“Not running. We’re both—”
She leaned forward. “Tired! Whatever, Vaillant! I fucked up and told you how I was feeling because you told me not to bottle shit up and to always be honest with you. Is that a one-way street now?”
She shook her head. “I hear the placating tone coming my way, and I call bullshit. Seriously, Sam. I gotta be honest with you always, but that courtesy doesn’t extend my way?”
His head turned marginally. She’d turned shit around on him, and he didn’t like it. “What are we fighting about?”
“The double standard, Brute. You don’t have to say you love me, but you don’t feel anything for me?” she asked, throwing an arm out. She shook her head again, and stalked toward the bathroom. “I shouldn’t ask that. Besides, you’re right. It’s probably better if you go. Neither one of us is sleeping, not that I’m likely to sleep now, but have it your way. I’ll lock the front door in five minutes.”
She closed the door to the bathroom, and he heard the lock click. The hollowness in his stomach wasn’t hollow anymore. It burned with a pain he hadn’t felt in a long damn time. He sat on her bed, put his elbows to his knees, hunched over, and held his head in his hands. She was right, he’d given her a double standard.
What the hell was he supposed to do?
He wouldn’t leave her like this, that much he knew. Whether he could make it right with her, remained to be seen.
Waiting for her to come out of the bathroom felt like an eternity.
He turned his head when she opened the door and felt a gut punch. Her eyes were puffy and bloodshot. That was his fault.
With his eyes on hers, he sat up straight and held a hand out to her. She twisted her lips, but put her hand in his while she slowly made her way to him. He didn’t want her sitting next to him, so he let go of her hand and took her by the hips. She gasped, but her legs spread as he put her on his lap so they were chest-to-chest and face-to-face.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered.
Her hands wrapped around his neck. “What for?”
His forefinger traced around her eye. “This. I never want to make you cry, Zee. And, I’m sorry for giving you a double standard.”
Her brows went up even as her chin dipped. She kept quiet.
“I have feelings for you. More damn feelings than I’ve had for a woman in a helluva a long time.”
He heard and felt her shuddering breath. “That goes both ways,” she whispered.
With his forehead against hers, he asked, “You have feelings for a woman, too?”
Her fingers gave his neck a playful squeeze. “No. I have—”
“I got that when you laid the honesty on me, babe. Scares the hell out of me because I haven’t done anything to deserve that.”