“Um, no,” he said. “I never really knew my mother. My grandmother raised me since my father wasn’t around a whole lot. She used to like to push me out of the kitchen before I could get ‘Under her feet,’ as she liked to say.”
“I’m sorry that you never got to know your mother,” Rose said. “I guess that’s something that we have in common. I was so young when my mother died, I didn’t really know her either.”
“My mom split shortly after I was born. My father blamed himself, but I never understood why. She said that she didn’t know what she was getting into when she agreed to marry him and have a kid. She said that she wasn’t ready for what having a baby entailed and she just left.”
“That sucks,” Rose breathed. She dropped her towel to the kitchen counter and put the last plate away in the cabinet. “Raising a baby is hard. I had my dad to help me for the first year and a half of Sadie’s life. If it wasn’t for him, I don’t know how I would have made it through her infant stage.”
“I don’t believe that for a second,” Thorne said. “You’re such a good mother.”
“Thank you for saying that, but it’s true. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I had her. Of course, I didn’t agree to it or anything like that. Sadie was a happy accident and one I’ll never regret, no matter who her father is.”
Thorne dried his hands on the towel that she had thrown on the counter and turned to face her. “I like you, Rose,” he almost whispered. Thorne cleared his throat wondering what the hell was wrong with him. He was acting like a middle school-aged boy and all he wanted to do was tell the pretty girl that he liked her.
“Um, I like you too, Thorne. You’re a good guy, and you’re really sweet to offer to help Sadie and me,” she said. Rose was pushing him off, and that wasn’t what he wanted. Every time she thought he was making a move on her; she’d shut down or deflect. Usually, he let her do just that, but this time, he wanted to push her for more just as much as she wanted to push him away.
“Rose don’t do that,” he said.
“Do what?” Rose questioned.
“Don’t push me away. I like you and I know that scares the hell out of you, but I had to tell you. I’m not asking you to be my girl or spend your life with me. I just wanted you to know—I like you.” Rose nodded and he thought that was going to be the end of their conversation, but he should have known better. Rose was going to make excuses and come up with reasons why he couldn’t like her, but it wouldn’t change a thing.
“I’ve already told you that I’m not ready for something to happen with you or any man right now, Thorne,” she started. He wasn’t about to stand there and list the reasons why he couldn’t like her. He did the only thing he could think of doing, under the circumstances. He pulled Rose against his body and sealed his mouth over hers. He expected a fight, but she didn’t give him one. Instead, Rose seemed to melt against him and when she wrapped her arms around his neck, he knew that he had finally pulled down a small section of the wall that she had put up.
He broke the kiss, leaving them both breathless and she looked up at him with a mixture of desire and being completely pissed off at him. “Why did you do that, Thorne?” she asked.
“I told you—I like you,” he simply repeated as if that would explain his crazy behavior. He didn’t make it a habit of going around and kissing women who obviously didn’t like him back. But with Rose, he just couldn’t help himself.
“I told you that I like you too, but I’m not ready for something like what you just did, Thorne,” she said. “Listen, if this is going to be a problem, I can call Savage and ask him to send someone else or let me come stay with him.” The thought of Savage sending someone else to watch over Rose and Sadie had him seeing red. The last thing he wanted playing through his mind was Rose kissing another man in the safehouse while he took care of her.
“You can’t go stay with Savage and his family,” Thorne said, trying to talk some sense into her. “You’ll only bring danger to their doorstep, and he wouldn’t ever allow that to happen. I agreed to watch over you and take care of you and Sadie, and that’s what I’ll continue to do. This won’t be a problem, Rose. I won’t let it be a problem. In fact, you have my word that I won’t touch you again, not even if you begged me to.” He sounded like an ass, but he just didn’t care. Having her turn him away hurt like a bitch and he wasn’t going to stand there and pretend that it didn’t.
“Well, you don’t have to be such an ass about it, Thorn,” she spat. Her anger was something that he could take. It was the hurt look in her eyes, every time he made his move, that he hated. “And you don’t have to worry about me begging you to touch me because it’s never going to happen,” she spat.
“Good to know, princess,” he breathed as he brushed past her. He was going to steer clear of Rose as much as possible and hope like hell that Savage got something on her ex soon because their living arrangements just became unbearable.
Rose knewthat denying her feelings for Thorne was only going to end up with her getting herself in deeper than she wanted. She liked him, but she was also afraid of making another mistake. So, she gave him a song and dance about not being ready to date, and that was probably true, but the fact of the matter was—she really liked Thorne. He seemed like a nice guy, but sometimes, they were the ones you needed to watch out for.
Over the next few weeks, Rose found herself trying to avoid Thorne as much as possible. She thought that might be the best course of action, but she was wrong. Every day that passed seemed to end with Thorne being grumpier and grumpier. He’d offer to have dinner with her every night and when she refused, telling him that she had made something for her and Sadie earlier, he’d mumble something about giving up, or why bothering to try. She pretended not to hear him, but she had. Thorne was frustrated by her behavior, and why shouldn’t he be? She was treating him badly when all she wanted to do was tell him that she’d love to accept his dinner offer and then end up in his arms at the end of the evening because it was getting harder and harder to resist her feelings for him.
She walked into the kitchen after putting Sadie down for the night and found Thorne sitting at the table, eating his dinner alone. He had made chicken on the grill, and it smelled so good, that her mouth watered. “Hi,” she breathed.
“Hey,” he mumbled around a mouthful of chicken. “I’d ask if you want some chicken, but I wouldn’t want you to think I’m asking you out or anything.”
Rose smiled and sat down at the table across from him. “Actually, I’d like some chicken,” she admitted. He looked her over as though he didn’t believe a word she was saying, and she grabbed the plate of chicken and pulled it toward her.
“You weren’t kidding,” he breathed.
“Nope—I love barbecue chicken. This smells so good. Do you mind?” she asked, nodding to the plate to make sure that she was still welcome.
Thorne stood and she was sure that he was going to leave the room, much as she had done to him over the past few weeks every time he asked her to join him. That would serve her right, but instead, he crossed the room to the cabinets, pulled out another plate, and handed it to her. “Help yourself,” he said.
“Thank you,” she said, taking the plate from him and helping herself to some chicken.
“I have left over salad from last night if you want some. I only wanted meat tonight. I’m kind of sick of vegetables,” he admitted.
“I’d love some salad,” she said. “Thanks for this.”