Whisper of Attraction(10)

By: Melanie Shawn


And passionate and sexual. Her core tingled and clenched as those descriptors ran through her head.

“Pita…” Axel tried to speak but the voice on the other end just got louder. “Pita, I ne—”

He shut his eyes and squeezed the bridge of his nose. When his arm fell at his side, he spoke with a command that he hadn’t had before. “I’m going to call you back.”

The authority in his stern tone did something to her insides that Brynn didn’t want to admit or acknowledge. She swallowed over a newly formed lump in her throat and tried to sound as unaffected as possible as she asked, “Your sister again?”

“Yeah.”

“Sounds like you’ve got your hands full.” Her cheeks started to flush at her choice of words.

What she’d felt behind the zipper of his shorts was definitely a handful.

Thankfully, it didn’t seem like Axel picked up on her double entendre. He looked distracted and…worried.

Brynn watched as he ran his hands through his dark brown hair. Her mouth automatically watered when she saw the prominent vein pop out on his forearm. A shiver ran down her spine at the chiseled perfection of his triceps. He blew out a breath. His eyes closed briefly and she noticed just how long and thick his eyelashes were.

Her mouth was alternating between watering and going dry as a bone. He had an effect on her that was making her senses go haywire.

When he opened his eyes again, her mind switched from hot and bothered to concerned.

There was a pain and vulnerability in his whiskey stare. She’d always been highly empathetic. It was a big reason she’d chosen the career path she had. But over the years, she’d picked up methods to protect herself when counseling people, or even just watching the news. It helped her not be a blubbering mess each night when she lay in bed, otherwise she felt the pain of all the hurting people and animals in the world. But Axel shot right past the barriers that she’d constructed.

It seemed her hormones weren’t the only thing that this man triggered; her heart was about to join the party, too.

“Are you okay?”

* * *

“No,” Axel admitted.

Stop talking.

Axel couldn’t believe that he kept sharing details about himself with Brynn. She was definitely in the right line of work because he couldn’t stop revealing personal things to her. It was more than just unnerving, it was unprofessional. He was here on a job.

He watched as Brynn’s lips parted and curled into an easy smile that had his entire body relaxing and strung tight at the same time.

“I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing.” He was referring to more than just the conversation with Izzy.

She tilted her head to the right and one of her perfect curls slipped out of place, falling along the side of her porcelain cheek. Her green eyes twinkled as she said, “I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that’s not something you’re used to feeling.”

“No. It’s not.”

“Well, coming from someone who always feels like they have no idea what they’re doing, feeling just means you care.” Her smile widened. “I’d love to tell you that it gets easier, but, based on my experience working at the high school, I don’t want to give you false hope.”

“So you’re saying this isn’t going to end with her telling me what a great brother I am and thanking me profusely for knowing what was best?”

Her nose scrunched in an adorable expression as she shook her head. “I wouldn’t hold my breath.”

He felt a wide smile pull on his lips. It wasn’t something that he did often. Usually, he only smiled around Izzy. Not teenage-mutant-hysterical Izzy, but sweet, funny Izzy.

His phone buzzed again and he glanced down to see that she’d sent him a meme of her favorite comedian Jim Gaffigan in an orange jumpsuit staring longingly through cell bars.

She was so dramatic. Funny. But dramatic.

“Are you two close?” Brynn asked.

“Yes. We’ve always been close, but I’m not used to…,” Axel stopped himself. He wanted to superglue his mouth shut. He wasn’t just sharing, he was oversharing. When did his life turn into an episode of Oprah?

“What?” Brynn prompted. “You’re not used to what?”

“I’m not used to having to tell her no.”

Her brow furrowed in confusion but she nodded as if she understood what he was talking about.

“I just became her guardian.”

“Oh, I’m so sorry.”

“No, it’s not…” It was obvious that she was giving him her condolences. This was why Axel was not a fan of conversations, communication was not his strong point. “Our mom didn’t die. She moved to Brazil a few months ago. Izzy moved in with me over the summer. I dropped her off at school yesterday.”