I blinked several times, working the heaviness from my eyes. Somehow I’d fallen asleep, locked in this room, surrounded by people that thought I was lower than dirt. God knows how I managed that, especially after what happened in that bathroom. I shivered. Every time I thought about it, my body heated. I was more screwed up than I thought.
The light in the room was diluted, gray. I guessed sometime late in the afternoon.
I froze. I wasn’t alone.
Hunter. His volatile energy filled the room, saturated it. My skin prickled and I sucked in a sharp breath. I didn’t move, stayed right where I was. I had no desire to find out what came next. I was still here for a reason. I didn’t know what that reason was, but considering the way he felt about me, things were not looking great.
“I know you’re awake.”
His voice was rough, low, but not angry for once. Something else, something I couldn’t name, set off little zaps of electricity in my lower belly. I’d decided before I fell asleep that I was done talking. Every time I opened my mouth, I pissed him off. And since he didn’t believe a word that came out of it, I was going to save my energy. With that in mind, I sat up, shoved my hair back from my face, and waited.
He was standing at the foot of the bed, arms crossed over his wide chest, chin dipped, head tilted, eyes locked on me. I couldn’t read his expression. But he was studying me in a way that made me want to squirm.
His jaw tightened, not much, but enough that I saw it. That gaze got more intense, so intense I couldn’t hold it any longer. I picked at the hem of my T-shirt, fidgeting.
“Why?” he said into the quiet room.
That’s it. That one word. I knew what he was asking. I’d heard that one word, Hunter’s voice, echoing in my head, for three years. The pain and anger distorting it as he was dragged away by prison guards.
I had nothing.
Nothing I was prepared to give, anyway. I made myself meet his gaze. It wasn’t easy. God, how I wanted to tell him everything, but I couldn’t and clamped my mouth shut instead. I refused to put Josh at risk just to appease my guilt. No good would come from telling him what happened, not now. Nothing would change. Nothing would make any of this all right. If I knew without doubt that Josh was Hunter’s, maybe I’d open my mouth. But I didn’t know that. Telling Hunter would only turn a spotlight on my little boy. It would make him a target, if he weren’t already. I’d die before I did that.
Hunter’s expression hardened. “You fucking owe me an explanation.”
I didn’t move, didn’t blink, just kept my eyes locked on his and my mouth shut.
He shook his head. “What did I ever do to you, Lulu? To make you hate me so damn much?”
I jolted, a full body spasm. Oh God. It was him. There he was. My Hunter. Just a glimpse of the man I loved beyond reason. It hurt to see him again. I wasn’t prepared for it. I looked down at my hands, tears stinging my nose, the back of my eyes. I swallowed down the lump threatening to choke me. My tattered heart couldn’t take much more of this.
I felt his gaze hot on me, waiting. Hoping I’d give him what he needed, give him the answers he wanted. I couldn’t do it.
Finally, after what felt like forever, he hissed through his teeth.
I looked up, couldn’t help it. His eyes were back to that cold, dead stare. He was gone again.
He tilted his head toward the door. “Time to go.”
I wanted to ask where, but since I’d just made a point of not talking, I had no choice but to keep my mouth shut. I stood as he opened the door and followed him back upstairs.