DANI PUT THE finishing touches on the romantic meal she’d planned all week. Tyler had left her a spare key to get in, and as soon as her mother had picked up Noah, Dani had started getting ready. Hair and makeup, check. Sexy negligée, done. Mood lighting.
She heard the key turn in the lock and fiddled with her hair as she tried posing seductively by the table.
But when Tyler’s gaze met hers, she stiffened, caught off guard by the raw pain in his face.
“Tyler, are you okay?”
He unclipped Duke’s leash and let him amble toward her to say hi. He’d gotten his cast off this week, and when he shoved his snout right between her legs, she jumped back with a laugh.
“Gross, go away, Duke.”
She focused on Tyler once more, and her smile died. His shoulders were stiff as he threw his cap across the room. He washed his hands at the sink, still not saying a word, and she folded her arms over her chest.
Why wasn’t he saying anything?
“I made chicken, garlic mashed potatoes, and green beans, and for dessert, I grabbed a cheesecake, fresh cut strawberries, and whipped cream.” He didn’t comment on the whipped cream, not even a lecherous grin about her attire. She took a few steps toward him and placed her hand on his arm.
He turned on her so swiftly she didn’t have a chance to react before his mouth claimed hers roughly. Tyler had always treated her with passionate sweetness, but this was different.
This was raw, painful need in every sweep of his tongue. Every nip of his teeth and press of his lips. His arms wrapped around her in a vicelike embrace, and she put her hands against his chest.
“Tyler, please talk to me.”
“I don’t want to talk,” he said, trying to kiss her again.
This time she pressed him more forcefully. “Well, I do.”
He released her swiftly and threw a glass across the room, startling Duke and her. The shattering ting of the glass scattering across the floor was the only other sound besides their heavy breathing.
He released a shaky breath. “I’m sorry. You should go.”
She was tempted, ready to grab her stuff and take off. After all, he was acting bizarre, scaring the crap out of her.
But on the other hand, she could hear the tremble in his voice, tell he was trying to keep it together until she left.
Well, she wasn’t going to go. Not until he told her what was going on.
She found his broom and dustpan in the closet and, flipping the lights back on, went to work sweeping up all the glass off the wood floor.
“What are you doing? Just leave it, I’ll pick it up later.”
“I’m almost done, just stay there,” she said.
“God damn it, Dani, can’t you tell when someone just wants to be alone?”
Dumping the glass into his wastebasket, she put the broom back, ignoring his question.
“Just get out!” he shouted.
Dani slammed the closet door, her desire to find out what was wrong disintegrating.
“I don’t know why you’re treating me like this, but you’re being a real asshole.” Grabbing her coat off the back of the chair, she shrugged into it. “Don’t call unless you’ve got one big fat fucking apology for me.”
Her hand was on the knob when she heard a thunk behind her. “I thought of you today.” She looked at him over her shoulder and was surprised to find his strong, handsome face tear-streaked. “When I thought I was going to die, I thought of you and Noah.”
Dropping the knob, she went to him and slid to the floor next to him, her back against the cupboards. “What do you mean, when you thought you were going to die?”
“I mean when I had an angry kid pointing a gun at me, telling me that he was going to murder me in cold blood, you were among the people I loved and would be leaving behind.”