“Not all the time, sweetie.” She touched his hand, feeling the prickle of awareness that his touch always created. Xander had to be right if she was starting to feel something more for Luiz. “Most of the time you plan your visits. A phone call or something like that.”
He rolled his eyes, and she chuckled. “Something bad did actually happen.”
“What?” She tensed waiting for the bad news.
“It’s not so bad. You don’t have to worry too much, baby.”
Baby? He called her baby.
“Hit me with it. Will we have to move?”
“You want to be with Bradley some more.”
She heard the disgust in his voice. “I went on one date, and it was at Xander’s urging. If I need to move for Christie, I will. I’ll do whatever you need me to do.”
“You’ll always do that?”
“Of course. I love Christie, and I’ll do anything for her. So please tell me.”
“Okay. That’s good to know. Do you think you and Bradley will be a big thing?” he asked.
“I don’t know. It was one date, and he asked me to go out again. I told him I’d have to see Xander first. Why don’t you tell me what’s going on?”
Luiz sighed. “I’m remaining part of The Family.”
“I thought you said that you wanted it to be over. That you were making it easier so that you can have a life without threat.”
“We were all fools. There’s no way for me to walk away. If we walk away, we’ll be the ones on the chopping block. Someone else will just come and take my place.”
This was going to be her life forever. There was no getting away from the secrecy, from the fear. Even after seven years there were times when she heard bumps in the night that made her afraid.
She suddenly felt the overwhelming need to cry. Glancing down at her clothes, she released a sigh. “I’ve got to go and get dressed.”
Without waiting for Luiz to say anything, she left him sitting at the kitchen counter. On her way to her room, she passed Xander.
“What did he say?”
“Nothing. He said nothing. I’m going to call it an early night, okay?” She kissed Xander’s cheek, and quickly rushed toward her room. Closing the door, she collapsed against it, and pressed her face against her hands. Her chest was so tight, and she was hurting inside. There had always been hope that maybe one day this would all be over. She had wondered if Luiz was just being overprotective of them over the years. They had never been attacked here, but then he’d always taken care of everyone that even got close to them.
Moving away from the door, she grabbed her stuff, and went to the bathroom. Washing away the night, and the illusion of a future, she changed into her pajamas, and walked back to her bedroom, brushing her hair.
She gasped when she caught sight of Luiz on her bed. He was sitting, staring down at her bear. She still had a bear that she enjoyed, sue her. This was nothing like any of her sexy dreams where Luiz was completely naked, and wanting her.
“What are you doing in here?”
“I don’t want you to be upset.”
“Did Xander send you up here?”
“No. I came here because I know you were really upset.”
“I can’t do this right now. There’s nothing I can say to make you feel better, Luiz.”
“I’m here for you, Raine. Not for me.”
She moved toward him, and took a seat. “It’s nothing that a good’s night sleep won’t fix.”
“You’ve given up so much for Christie, and I really appreciate it.”
“Don’t worry about it.”
“You were hoping for a future though, right? A future of your own.” He took her hand. “You can tell me.”
“I’ll never give up Christie. I promise I’d never do anything to hurt her, but, she’s not going to be a little girl forever. She’s going to be eighteen and twenty-one, wanting to go to prom, to have some fun, fall in love, go on dates.”
“That’s what you want?” he asked.
“I didn’t know what I wanted until tonight. It’s amazing what one date can do.” She chuckled, but it was a forced sound, not natural.
“You’ve never been on a date?”
“Never been on a date. Never kissed a guy before, and I didn’t think it mattered, but it does. I’ll be thirty-three when Raine’s fifteen. I’ll probably still be a virgin.” She shook her head. “Can we leave this? I really don’t want to talk about it with you.”
She didn’t want to be talking about her virginity, or how she was reading dirty books at night, or that she craved being touched. When she took Christie out, or even if she went by herself, she watched couples, and craved the easiness that they all had, and it just wasn’t fair.
“You can come to me for anything.”
“No, I can’t. You cannot just drop everything for us, and I get that. I know you’re busy. I’m just being a girl, so ignore me.” She forced herself to look at him, and groaned when she saw the pity in his eyes. This was not what she wanted.
“A guy has never kissed you?”
“I’ve always kept my distance, Luiz. My first and only priority has been Christie.”
Luiz cupped her cheek, and ran his thumb across her bottom lip.
“What are you doing?”
“Something I should have done a long time ago.”
Before she could question him, Luiz pressed his lips against hers, shocking her still.
Raine’s lips were softer than Luiz imagined. She was tense as he kissed her. He didn’t know why she was so surprised, and why he hadn’t thought of them being together until now. It made total sense. They were both young, free, single, and they had Christie in common. He’d dated her sister, but Lora and Raine were nothing alike. Raine was bigger than Lora ever was. She possessed way more curves, similar to Paige in size. Cupping her cheek, he tilted her head back, and became aware of two things. One, he was hard as fucking rock, and hadn’t felt this alive in years. Two, Raine was as tense as a board.
Pulling away, he saw she was frowning at him, looking a little confused. “What’s the matter?” he asked.
“Why are you kissing me?”