“They were never a couple. And don’t even go there. I’ll beat your ass. Do you understand me?”
Preston gave me that cocky grin that I’d hate if he wasn’t one of my best friends. Right now, though, I was considering knocking it off his face.
“Don’t piss him off, Preston. I’m not in the mood to handle that without some backup,” Marcus said, glaring at Preston.
I wasn’t going to let my little brother leave Sienna out there to the dogs. And there were lots of f**king dogs at this school.
“I’ll meet y’all in first period. I got something to do,” I told them, but didn’t make eye contact. I didn’t want to see the looks on their faces. I never messed with freshmen. But this one freshman needed me, and if my brother wasn’t going to take care of her, I was.
I didn’t have to shove through the crowd. It split for me as I made my way to Sienna. I was halfway there when her gaze found me. First her eyes went wide with surprise, and then a shy smile touched her face. Damn, she was pretty. Too damn pretty. My brother was an idiot.
“Hey, Little Red, looks like you found your way to the big leagues,” I teased her as I took her arm gently and pulled her to the side of the busy hallway. “You found your locker yet?”
She blushed and glanced down at her feet. I followed her gaze and noticed she was wearing a pair of cowboy boots with her skirt. That was sexy as hell. Fuck! She was a kid. She was also my brother’s girl. He just needed to grow up and realize it.
“I looked for it, but there are so many people and I couldn’t remember if the one hundreds are on the first or second floor. So I just figured I’d carry my books around today and stay late to find it.”
Her books weighed more than she did. “What’s your number?” I asked her. I wasn’t letting her carry those books around all day.
“One eighty-eight,” she said, frowning and looking around again. The hall was so full of people, it would be hard to see the locker numbers from her height.
“Come on. Can’t have you getting a backache your first day of school,” I told her, and put my hand on her back to guide her through the crowd. I could see people looking at us, and I wanted to glare at them all and warn them to be careful with her. But I didn’t. I made my threat silently. I kept my hand on her back as we walked down the hall and turned left to find her locker in the first row on the east wing.
“This is it. You got the combination?”
She looked relieved. She dropped her bag and began going through it until she pulled out a little scrap of paper. “Here it is,” she said, beaming at me before carefully turning the lock until it popped open. I took the door from her and made a little change to the inside of it.
“Now close it. Let me show you something,” I told her.
She closed it without question and looked up at me.
“Hit it twice.”
She barely slapped at it.
Chuckling, I shook my head. “No, Little Red. You got to hit it twice. Like this.” I showed her, then turned the lock once and it opened up.
Her eyes went wide. “How’d you do that?”
Winking at her, I grabbed her book bag and put it inside the locker. “Magic, sweetheart.” I closed the door again. “Now you try it again.”
She hit it harder this time, and with one twist of the lock it popped open. She laughed and clapped her hands in excitement. “That is so cool. Thank you, Dewayne.”
Yeah, my brother was going to have to do something fast, because this kind of pretty wasn’t going to be left alone long. I’d have to make sure no one else got near her until Dustin woke the f**k up.
Present day . . .
I had wanted to prepare myself for this. I needed time to think this through. Had they sent Dewayne over here to look at Micah? To see if he was Dustin’s? Was that what this was?
My stomach turned, and I was sure I was going to throw up right here at his feet. Micah didn’t know them. They hadn’t made any attempt to know him. I couldn’t just let them try to walk into his life. Not like this.
“It has been a long time. Why are you here?” I replied, not taking my eyes off Dewayne. He was still larger than life. More so than when I was a teenager. He had a few more piercings now and a couple more tattoos. His shoulders were even wider, and the thick, corded muscles in his arms were intimidating. The man was like a brick wall.
Yet those eyelashes of his were still too thick for a male, and even though he’d pierced his lip, it didn’t take away from the plumpness that women paid good money to mimic. The worn jeans that looked like they needed a good washing hugged him in a way I wanted to ignore. I had to ignore. This man was off-limits to me.
He wasn’t just the nice guy who had been my friend when I was younger. He was also a man who had abandoned me when I’d needed someone the most. Even if he was delicious and what female fantasies were made of, I would never forgive him. Dustin had adored him, yet Dustin’s son didn’t even know him.
He cocked an eyebrow at me, as if he was surprised by my reaction to him. “Came over to see who the new neighbors were. Beat-to-shit car parked out front concerned me. Neighborhood’s not what it used to be.”
Once I wouldn’t have been able to look past his perfectly chiseled face and full lips to get angry with him. That wasn’t the case any longer. My hands fisted at my sides, and I wanted nothing more than to punch him in the nose. I owned that car. I had worked hard to buy that car.