Taming McGruff(10)

By: Laurie LeClair


Now he knew who Rico was. “Used to be the beauty salon manager?” Relief shot through him. That feeling concerned him. Why should he care who she was close to or if there were a man in her life?

“Yes, he’s funny, throws the best parties, and a dream to pull pranks with.”

The smile in her voice caused warmth to spread in his veins.

“He’s my best friend.” Coming close, she said, “And my mother hates him!”

“She’s met him?” He thought since her and her sister’s departure from the family home that she’d had nothing to do with the woman.

“No. That’s the problem.” She sighed heavily. “She calls and begs me to listen to reason. She’s all about appearances. He doesn’t fit into her neat and tidy ideal. Plus, I don’t either.” He could see her shrug. “Her loss.” Her voice caught.

It bothered her that her only remaining parent couldn’t accept her for who she was. His chest tightened.

“So are we sleeping in here tonight?”





Chapter 5





The innocent question rushed back to him now. He bit back another groan.

Hours had passed, the storm still raged, and she slept beside him, both of them fully clothed under the blankets, in his king-sized bed. Sleep eluded him.

He turned to his side, away from her. She snuggled closer. “Cold,” she muttered, pressing her body along his. She murmured approval. “Nice. Warm.”

How many ways and in how many languages could he curse? Maybe if he began, it would stop him from thinking about turning over and having his way with her. “Damn, Pixie,” he grunted.

She giggled. “I heard that.”

Griff clamped his eyes shut, counting to ten before he answered. “Go back to sleep.”

Her non-answer eased his mind; maybe she’d dozed off. But when she put her hand on his side and reached around to rest it on his middle, he sucked in a sharp breath. “Relax,” she soothed. “I don’t bite.”

“Funny,” he said, trying to remove her hand, but she laced her fingers with his and held it against his thumping heart. She didn’t bite, but she could do a whole lot more damage than leave teeth marks. She already had.



***



The sound of rushing water woke Priscilla. She blinked her eyes open, and then frowned. Recollection returned. “Drat!” She bolted upright. “Griff,” she whispered, realizing he was in the shower.

Gray light peeked in the windows. The rain had eased up to a soft drizzle.

The alarm clock on the floor beside the bed flashed twelve. Well, the lights had come back on, she reasoned, but she had no idea what time of the morning it was.

Looking down, she checked to make sure all her clothes were still on. Prissy shouldn’t have been concerned; he didn’t even try to kiss her. Half of her was relieved. What would she have done if he’d tried anything? The other half was disappointed. What would it feel like to kiss him on the lips?

The water stopped running. She scrambled out of bed. Looking around for a mirror, she mumbled under her breath. “Who doesn’t have a mirror?”

Gazing at the rumpled covers, she wondered if she should make the bed. Was there etiquette for adult sleepovers?

Rustling from the closet cued her into the fact he must have another door connecting the bathroom to his off-limits space and he was in there now. She smiled at that. What could be so secretive?

Prissy made her way to the bathroom, knocking softly on the door just in case. No answer. “The coast is clear,” she whispered and snuck in. She caught a glimpse of herself in the mirror. “Good Lord, what in the world?” Her strawberry blonde hair stuck up in strange directions. “Rico would have a fit if he saw me looking like this.” Quickly, she raked her fingers through her bangs, taming them to the side, and then finger combed the layers so the length curled under to rest along her neck and fluffed up the crown area. She splashed water on her face. Out of the corner of her eye, she spotted his toothbrush and toothpaste.

She shook her head at the toothbrush. I don’t know him that well. But she did grab for the paste and within seconds squirted a dollop on her index finger. Scrubbing her teeth and then rinsing her mouth made her feel almost human again.

After using the facilities, she came out of the bathroom. No sign of McGruff. Maybe he’d gone downstairs.

More sounds came from the closet. Curious, she tip-toed to it, easing the door open. His bare back was to her as he tugged up the zipper on his jeans. “Wow,” she mouthed at the sight of his broad shoulders. The overhead light beamed down on his skin; the area near his left shoulder seemed shinier. Then she looked closer, seeing the long, jagged scar running from his shoulder to shoulder blade. “Griff,” she gasped.

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