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“Oh yeah, it’ll be worth it to be at my place. Not to mention I’m going to have to give the guys a briefing, and vice versa. It’s part of the reason Slade and I aren’t communicating right now. We didn’t want anyone to have a lead on where we are. So, your schoolwork will have to be put on pause for the day.” He’s leaning on the inside of the open door while the gas tank is being filled with fuel.

“I’m okay with that. Did something else happen besides the thing that shall not be discussed?” I quip, causing him to chuckle.

“No, sweetheart. Staying cautious until I can get you safe and at home with me.” He sets his coffee down in the cup holder before turning around to remove the nozzle from the gas tank so we can get on the road again.

“I love that, you know,” I say as he sits in the driver’s seat and starts up the vehicle.

“What’s that?”

“Being at home with you.” The way his throat works, the swallow he takes, the way Leo’s eyes devour me whole, I know he likes what I’ve just laid out for him.

“Me fucking too. It’s hard not to worry, but I’ll say it again. I promise everything will be okay, but we do need to get back on the road. I’ll feel better when we’re home, where there are other people around us and we have more of a game plan.”

“Not to mention it’s still my turn, you know?” I say to lighten the tone.

“Oh, I’m more than ready for that. There’s no doubt about that.” His voice is dripping with desire. It causes my core to clench and my legs to rub together to ease the need inside me.

We settle in for the long haul. Luckily, the Suburban he rented is comfortable, and when we stop for gas along the way, it also lets me stock up on snacks and run to the bathroom. How my body is handling the long car ride, I have no idea, but it’s probably due to the fear of the unknown and what my father is capable of.

“You think things will be normal after you guys get on the same page?” I ask. My mind is reeling. I told Leo I’d wait to find out what is really happening, but I’m on pins and needles waiting just the same.

“I think they will. It might take some skillful tactics and picking your brain, especially with what your grandfather told you. I’m going to go out on a limb and say there’s more that we haven’t figured out yet. Especially the money situation and your trust,” he mutters. Leo handles the car as if he was born to drive, no matter the traffic or the other drivers on the road, and believe me, I was on the edge of my seat some of this trip with the crazy way some were weaving in and out of traffic. I’m thankful that Leo told me all about Lodgeview, the small-town feel, no interstate in your backyard, and there are even areas where you’re surrounded by nothing but trees and grass. The way he described his home is something I’ve been visualizing, the small community-like feel in Drake’s subdivision but further in the back, so there’s still distance between them, but both can visit whenever. From the sound of it, Leo is trying to work on their relationship. Those years he was fighting, apparently, he wasn’t in a good place mentally or emotionally when it came to his family. It’s something that has raged a war inside of him, but he’s still mending the fences he broke years ago. A piece of me knows it’s misplaced guilt. From the way he’s talked about everybody, how they were willing to drop everything to help me in a time of need, there’s no way Leo is anything but loved. People make mistakes—some choose to learn from them, some choose to wallow in it. Leo isn’t wallowing in it by any means. I think he just needs to work it out in his own time.

“That’s good. I’m willing to help in any way I can. My laptop holds a lot of the information that you might be looking for.” I point to my bag that’s placed besides his in the back seat.

“Good to know. We may need Easton to take a look at it. You can use my laptop while he’s working on yours. He’s a mastermind when it comes to reading between the lines.” I hum quietly to the music playing in the background, trying not to dance in my seat about being in Leo’s bed tonight instead of another hotel room. Even with it only being two nights, it’s not the same. They don’t smell like your own home, or in this case, they don’t smell like Leo. His scent is that of autumn on a crisp day, the subtle scent of nutmeg and black currant. And he feels like warmth when you’re cold to the bone. That’s what Leo does for me—he’s my warmth on a cold day. That’s something I don’t ever want to disappear either.