Ruthless Saints: Chapter 3

CARSON

I’ve been watching Hailey since I got back on Saturday. Mostly at night when she walks home after the bar closes.

For a moment, I was worried she somehow caught onto the fact I’m practically stalking her, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

My eyes are glued to the flowers, fragile in my grip. My skin tingles where we accidentally touched.

I feel uneasy, not knowing what to do next.

Act normal.

Hailey’s just a woman.

…Who gave me flowers.

Lifting my eyes, they meet her gray ones. She instantly smiles, the dimple peeking from her cheek. “Good. For a moment, I was worried you were angry.”

I shake my head.

“You’re really quiet.” The words pop from her as if she didn’t mean to say them.

A blush creeps up her neck, and she tucks her hands into the back pockets of her shorts. It makes her breasts strain against the cotton fabric of her shirt.

It’s not meant to look seductive. Hailey’s too nervous for that. It tells me she’s unaware of how beautiful and sexy she is, or she just doesn’t care what people think of her.

The past four days she’s all I’ve thought about, and being so close to her makes the need for more bleed through me.

I’ve been with a couple of women, or to put it bluntly, whores. One of the first lessons Alexei taught me was to never form relationships.

But now I’m faced with a problem I don’t have an answer to.

In front of me stands the most breathtaking creature with a bubbly personality that can rival the darkest pits of hell.

I want to step into her light. I want to taste her laughter. I want to touch her beauty.

But I don’t dare.

Not that I’d know how to go about it anyway. We’re worlds apart and complete opposites. I’m sure Hailey will run to the ends of the earth the second she finds out what I do for a living. She won’t be able to understand my world. Just like I struggle to understand hers.

Hailey’s eyes dart to my house before flitting back to me. “Not that there’s anything wrong with being quiet. I’m an extrovert. If you give me half a minute, I’ll talk your ear off.”

I wonder what she would talk about. I’d be able to listen to her for hours.

“So…” She swallows, and then nervousness tightens her features, “Are you an introvert?”

I nod. “I don’t get along with people.”

She lets out a chuckle. “Well, I’m your nearest neighbor, and it was quite a walk to your place, so you’re safe.”

I’m safe.

The corner of my mouth lifts at the thought, and the sound of my chuckle sounds foreign to my ears.

Hailey’s face brightens with a wide smile. Her eyes sparkle at me. “You should smile more.”

Instantly my lips settle back in a flat line. Feeling out of my depth, which is something I’m not used to, I take a couple of steps backward. “You should get going so you don’t have to walk down the mountain in the dark.”

“Ahh… okay.”

I turn around, and suddenly it feels like I can’t get to the front door quick enough.

“It was nice seeing you, Carson. Don’t be a stranger at the bar,” Hailey calls after me.

I lift the hand gripping the flowers, and give her half a wave. Stepping inside my house, the door slides shut behind me, and then I stop.

The beeping from the motion sensor Hailey triggered still sounds through the house.

I take deep breaths, trying to settle the burst of emotions Hailey made me feel.

Lifting my hand, I stare at the flowers.

Up until the moment I saw Hailey, my life was set in a strict routine. When I wasn’t busy with a contract, I locked myself up in my house.

I was content with my life. I felt in control of every single detail.

Until Hailey.

A reckless feeling washes over me. It’s intense, making my unwavering need for absolute control… waver.

Every move I make is thought out. I play out every scenario, looking at every possible outcome.

Not today.

Dropping the flowers, I open the front door. I make sure it shuts behind me as I quickly walk down the pathway. Reaching the road, I pick up my pace and rounding the bend, I see Hailey up ahead.

She stops to pick a single flower, and as she continues to walk, she slowly plucks the petals as if she’s deep in thought.

What are you doing, Carson?

If she glances back, she’ll see you.

What the fuck are you doing?

My pace begins to slow down.

Stop!

My feet listen. My hands clench into fists as my eyes burn over her back, her sexy as fuck ass, her legs tanned and toned.

I keep watching Hailey until she disappears out of my sight.

Taking a deep breath, I turn around and head back to the house, unsettled that I lost control.

Up until now, I’ve avoided looking deeper. It’s been two weeks since I met Hailey, and every passing day she fills more of my thoughts.

Like any other man, I’ve always been able to appreciate a beautiful woman. Within reason, of course.

There’s no reason when it comes to Hailey.

There’s no control.

There’s only want and need.

It’s more potent than anything I’ve felt before.

Reaching the front door, I enter my code. I step inside and crouching down, I gently pick up the flowers. They’re already wilting.

I silence the incessant beeping from the motion sensors then go to the kitchen. I tear two paper towels loose so I can place the flowers between them.

Staring down at the wilting petals, I know without a doubt the same thing will happen to Hailey if she comes close to my world.

And still… even knowing this… I can’t stay away from her.

 


 

HAILEY

 

It’s almost closing time, and crouching down behind the bar, I’m busy packing clean glasses on the shelves, so we’re ready for when we open tomorrow. I hear Lars ask, “Vodka?”

“Please.”

With a glass in each hand, I dart up. A happy smile spreads over my lips at the sight of Carson. I was worried he’d avoid the bar after the awkward encounter we had on Tuesday.

“You’re here,” I say, my voice spilling with relief.

Drops of water cling to his clothes, and his hair is wet.

And now I’m picturing this is what he looks like when he steps out of the shower. Sigh.

Carson takes a seat on the same stool he sat on when we first met. “I’m here.”

My smile widens even more. “It’s good to see you again.”

A weird expression flashes over his face, then he murmurs, “It’s good to be seen.”

My right eyebrow pops up, and I can’t resist teasing him, “Wow… not to jinx anything, but I like this talkative side of you.”

The corner of his mouth lifts, and just like Tuesday, the sight of his hotter than hell grin steals my breath and makes heat creep through my body.

He should really smile more.

Lars accidentally bumps the crate on the floor, and it reminds me of the glasses. I crouch down and pack them away as quickly as I can. When I’m done, I move the empty crate to the side so we can fill it with dirty glasses.

Because it’s raining, it’s been quiet tonight. I saunter closer to the side of the bar where Carson is seated while turning all the bottles so their labels show.

I glance at Carson, and finding his eyes on me sends another wave of heat through me.

Feeling the need to say something, I go with the dumbest question ever. “Did you walk here in the rain?”

Oh, Hailey. Facepalm.

“Yes.”

I watch as he lifts the tumbler to his lips and, when he takes a sip, how his throat moves.

Sigh.

Failing to come up with anything else but the weather, I say, “If it doesn’t stop, we’ll both have to walk home in the rain.”

He sets the tumbler down and then drags the pad of his thumb around the rim of the glass. Again, I notice the rings, and I lean on the counter to get a better look. The one on his pinky has a chain wedged between two metal bands. The second has a cross symbol with a skull at its center. The third is just a plain black band, and the fourth on his pointer finger has a star emblem.

Curious, I ask, “Do the rings mean anything?”

Carson shakes his head.

When he’s done with his drink, I ask, “Can I get you another one?”

“No, thanks.” He takes cash from the inside pocket of his coat and sets it down on the counter.

When he gets up to leave, I feel a rush to say anything that will make him stay but end up muttering, “Have a good night.”

Feeling bummed, I walk to the till and begin to close it. I place the money in a bag and hand it to Lars. “See you tomorrow,” I say as I grab my coat.

When I walk out of the bar and see Carson waiting, my happy smile instantly returns. “You waited.”

I shrug on the coat and button it up in front.

As we begin to walk, I have to admit, I’m getting used to Carson not having much to say. The silence doesn’t feel as awkward tonight as it did the other times we’ve run into each other.

Raindrops fall all around us, and I wrap my arms across my chest, ducking my head low. Not that it will stop me from getting wet.

Carson shrugs out of his coat and holds it open. “Come closer.”

For real?

Not wanting to give him a chance to change his mind, I zip closer and duck under the fabric. When his arm settles around my shoulders, I almost let out a bliss-filled sigh. I take hold of his coat and hold it up, so it won’t hang in my face.

Now, this is the stuff fantasies are made of.

I become overly aware of the heat coming from Carson’s body as our sides press together. There’s no hint of aftershave, and I get slammed with his natural scent. It’s all man, and it soon has me taking deeper breaths.

Clearing my throat, I ask, “How long have you lived in Saint Luc?”

“Three years.”

I glance up and get a raindrop in my eye. Blinking it away, I ask, “Where did you live before that?”

“Geneva.”

Before I can ask another question, Carson asks, “Why did you want to see Switzerland?”

“The mountains. The lake.” I let out a contented sigh. “All the pictures I saw of Switzerland always looked so pretty, and I wanted to experience it for myself.”

“Why are you traveling alone?” he asks another question, and just the fact that he’s showing some kind of interest makes me happy.

I shrug, and it makes me aware of his arm resting around my shoulders. “It’s what I want to do. I want to see everything this world has to offer.”

“You’re not scared?”

I shake my head, and as we near my cabin, I scrunch my nose. This walk went way too fast.

I contemplate asking if he would like to come in for coffee, but not wanting to push him, I decide not to. Gesturing at the house, I say, “This is me.”

Carson walks me to the front door, and then he instantly steps away from me, and I lose the warmth of his body.

“Thanks for walking me home.”

He only nods as he shakes out the coat before shrugging it back on.

I unlock the door, and opening it, I reach for the switch against the wall and turn on the lights. A beam falls over us, and looking at the drops trickling down Carson’s face, I have to admit, I’ve never seen anyone more attractive than the man standing in front of me.

It’s on the tip of my tongue to invite him in when he says, “Go inside, Hailey.”

It’s the first time he’s said my name, and it sends goosebumps rushing over my skin.

For a moment, our eyes lock. Anticipation, unlike anything I’ve felt before, begins to build between us until it feels like a live current crackling from his body to mine.

Carson looks at me for a couple of seconds longer, and just as my lips part to ask him to come inside, he turns and walks away from me.

Holy crap.

The man is intense.

I drink in the sight of his broad shoulders until he disappears into the darkness.

Never in my life would I have thought I’d have a crush on a hermit.

Maybe there’s some truth to opposites being attracted to each other? Or, at the very least, I feel the attraction. I’m not so sure about Carson.

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