Whisper of Attraction(6)

By: Melanie Shawn

Being a big brother was not something that Axel took lightly. His mother hopped from relationship to relationship, and her children were, at best, an afterthought to whatever man she was involved with at the moment.

When he found out that she planned on leaving the country, he’d known that there was no way that he could allow her to take his sister. He’d thought that she might put up a fight, mainly because she still received child support from Izzy’s father. But to his surprise, his mother had been not just willing, but eager to sign over guardianship to Axel.

Once he’d become legally responsible for his baby sister, he’d looked into a school that his sister had been wanting to go to since they’d moved to the Midwest. It was a prep academy that specialized in educating gifted children and tuition was steep.

To afford the school, he’d taken a long-term assignment with the security firm he worked for. The firm is run by Seth Sloan his former staff sergeant when he served in the Marines in a Force Recon unit. The firm was highly sought after by both private and government contractors because Seth only hired and worked with the best.

Which normally, Axel was. But today, he was off his game.

“You have to come pick me up!”

“Izzy, give it a chance.”

“The girls here are horrible. They hate me.”

Izzy had been a tad on the dramatic side all of her life, but for the past couple of years he’d noticed a definite uptick in her emotional breakdowns.

“They don’t hate you. They don’t even know you.”

“I know they don’t know me! But they still hate me!”

“Izzy, you wanted to go to Mercy Prep. You begged Mom for years and—”

“I know, but I was wrong! I hate it!”

Axel hadn’t just picked this school out of thin air. Izzy had been talking about the high school since they’d moved to Chicago three years ago. His mom had always insisted that she go to public school, something he’d never agreed with. So when he was granted guardianship of Izzy it was the first promise he made to her. He’d told her he’d find a way to pay for her to go to that school. And he had.

“Please come get me!”

“I can’t. I’m working. You need to give it a chance.”

“Ughhhh!” she grunted before the line disconnected.

Axel stared down at the screen of his phone, which now displayed the time. He missed the sweet, angel version of his sister. He had no idea how to communicate with this irrational, over-dramatic version of Izzy.

He’d just put his phone back in his pocket when he felt something wet on his knee and he looked down to see the pug sniffing his leg.

If this was what Brynn had in the way of security, it was a good thing he was there. She’d invited a stranger who outweighed her by at least a hundred pounds inside her house and left said stranger alone with the “guard dog” that was responsible for her flashing him and the entire neighborhood.

Now who’s being dramatic? He heard Izzy’s voice in his head.

With a sigh, he bent down and scratched behind the dog’s ears. “Not exactly a guard dog, are you?”

“She hates men.”

Axel looked up and saw Brynn standing in the hallway. Her hair now fell to her shoulders, framing her sweetheart shaped face. Her wavy locks reminded him of spun gold and he suppressed an unexpected urge to reach out and touch them.

His eyes dipped down and he saw that she’d changed into a white T-shirt and cutoff sweats. He drank her in, finding himself mesmerized by the tiny threads that were resting against her upper thigh, the slope of her toned calf, the curve of her delicate ankle, and her bare feet which were painted with bright purple nail polish.

Axel had always been observant. During Brynn’s wardrobe malfunction, he’d noted a tiny heart-shaped birthmark below her left ass cheek. And now he couldn’t stop thinking about it. He wasn’t in control of his thoughts, they were being triggered by a force greater than any he’d ever faced.

Never in his life had he had this visceral, animal-based reaction to someone. And he needed to nip it in the bud.

He forced himself to look back up and saw that her emerald eyes were wide as saucers and filled with disbelief. She lifted her arm and pointed at the dog.

“Lucy hates men.”

Axel glanced back down at the pug who was nuzzling her face into his palm before looking back up at her owner. “She does?”

“She did,” Brynn mumbled before offering him her hand. He noticed that it was shaking. He wondered if it was from embarrassment or if he made her nervous. She sure as hell had him on edge.

“Hi, I’m Brynn.”

He held her gaze as he stood and held out his hand. “Axel. Nice to meet you, Brynn.”