Cross the Line (Boston Love Story #2)(7)

By: Julie Johnson


Except they aren’t steel bands.

They’re arms.

Really freaking muscular arms.

Arms that, if I weren’t a click away from death, I’d have to admit feel really good wrapped around me.

My eyes are still pressed closed, but I hear the distinct sound of a low, pissed-off male voice muttering close to my ear.

“Fucking Christ, are you trying to give me a heart attack?”

Recognition jolts into me harder than a punch to the gut. Every muscle in my body freezes like liquid nitrogen has been shot through my veins. My heart actually stutters inside my chest, its equilibrium totally and completely thrown off by the proximity of this man who, abruptly, I know is not an intruder.

I’d know that voice anywhere.

I’ve heard it in countless replayed memories, in hundreds of unspoken fantasies, in endless unfulfilled dreams.

Nathaniel Jackass Knox.

(His middle name is actually Xavier. Whatever.)

Nate.

The man who’s been steadfastly ignoring my existence for the past ten years as he traveled around the world doing dangerous things for even more dangerous people. The man I only very recently decided I was completely, certifiably, one hundred percent over being obsessed with.

Last I heard, he was in the Middle East, doing some kind of private security gig for a Saudi prince.

And now, he’s here.

In my brownstone.

Holding me in his arms.

Saving me from certain death-by-coffee-table.

Holy frack.

***

My lids snap open and take in the face mere centimeters from mine.

Sharp, angular cheekbones.

Broad, chiseled jawline.

Alert, assessing eyes.

His dark beauty steals what little breath is left in my lungs as I stare up at him, reveling in the fact that, after all these years, I’m finally in his arms — my soft girlie parts pressed firmly against the hard plane of his body, the scent of his skin invading my senses. He smells like leather and smoke and the sharp, coppery tang of metal. Or blood.

Maybe that’s just my imagination.

He’s still muttering under his breath though, in all honesty, it’s hard to hear him over Boo’s ceaseless barking.

“…falling over her own feet.” He shakes his head, as if deeply pained. “…off herself on a goddamned coffee table…those damn come-fuck-me heels…”

My spine stiffens as his hushed words register. “What did you just say?”

His eyes lock on mine, infuriating me all the more when I see how empty of emotion they are. Just two dark pools, staring back at me.

“Are you trying to kill yourself?” His arms tighten reflexively as the words slip out, revealing his anger — a small breach in that impeccable control he usually exhibits around me. I’d normally be stunned at any show of emotion, but right now I’m too pissed to do anything but narrow my eyes at him and glare. Which is hard because, well… did I mention that his face is about three inches from mine, and I can feel every contour of his muscular body hard against my front?

“Those fucking heels are a deathtrap.” His voice is low, vibrating with sheer intensity, but that’s nothing new. Nate always sounds like he’s got one finger in an electrical socket— his every atom charged with tense, elemental energy that buzzes off his skin. His arms tighten around me again, as though he’s having a difficult time bottling up his anger. “Don’t know why you insist on parading around in them.”

I blink. Hard. “Excuse me?!”

His dark eyes flash with something I can’t name. “Think you heard me. Shoes like that do one thing — they break. Hearts or ankles, well, that depends on the woman.” His eyes flicker over my face and I get the sense whatever he sees, he finds lacking. “Guessing you’re the ankles variety, West.”

For a moment my mouth gapes, torn between shock that Nate has even noticed my penchant for designer footwear, and rage that he thinks, after years of barely meeting my eyes during the few mandatory social situations that have forced us together since we both became adults, I’d give a flying frack about his opinion on my fashion choices.

Boo is still running in circles around us, trying to get in on the action. Silently, I give him full permission to bite Nate’s calves.

It’d serve the Louboutin-hating jackass right.

My eyes narrow further. “I’m a grown woman! I’ll wear whatever goddamn shoes I want!”

“You used to wear flats,” he grunts out, his gaze still locked on mine. “Yeah, they were always covered in glitter and sparkly polka dots and shit, but at least you could run in them if you had to.”

I blink, shocked once again.

He remembers the shoes I wore in middle school?