Kate wrinkles her forehead and pushes her hand against his arm. “No,” she says. “He’s helping me stand up. He’s a cab driver.”
“Mind your own business,” he mouths, but he lets go of Kate, who stumbles a step forward. I don’t think about anything -- I just hit him, hard, my fist connecting with his face. I can hear the crunch of cartilage, and he falls back. “My fucking nose, you psycho!”
I sweep Kate up in my arms, carrying her across the lawn toward the car. “You had better not puke in my car,” I say.
“Did you hit him?” she murmurs. Her head is against my chest, and I inhale the scent of her shampoo, jasmine and lemongrass. It smells like Thailand, and I wonder if she’s been there.
“I hit him.”
“He wasn’t a cab driver.” Her voice is soft.
“Just some asshole.”
“You rescued me.”
I don’t answer, turning so I can angle myself to open the car door with the same hand that’s holding up her ass. I’m trying to ignore the fact that the fabric of the very short skirt is barely covering it, her smooth skin pressed into my palm. I deposit her in the seat and buckle it and she smiles at me. “You like me.”
I roll my eyes before I shut the passenger door and get behind the wheel. We’re silent for a few minutes, and I think she might be passed out.
“You like me,” she says. “You came to get me.”
“You were incoherent and drunk at a party.” I keep my eyes on the road, refusing to look at her, sitting in the seat with that skirt riding up her thighs. “I would have to be the worst person in the world if I didn’t come to get you.”
“You punched that guy in the face,” she says. “For me.”
“It doesn't mean I like you, Princess. So don't take it personally.” I don’t look at her. I don’t want to look at her as she insists that I like her. Because it's the truth.
When we get back to the house, she stumbles against me as I help her out of the car. “How much did you have to drink?” I ask, my arm around her as we walk.
“One beer,” she says.
“What the hell -- were you roofied?”
“And what?” She starts to step away from me, but stumbles again, and I pick her up the same way I did before.
“I don’t need carried,” she says. “I’m perfeckly -- perfectly -- able to walk.”
“Yeah, you’re real steady on your feet, Princess,” I say, carrying her inside the house and up the stairs to her room. I’m trying really hard not to focus on the fact that my hand is cupping her bare ass again. My cock is more than aware of that fact, though, pushing up against the zipper of my jeans like it wants to be unleashed.
“I took something,” she says.
“Something like what?”
“A pill,” she says. “I was anxious. Jo gave it to me.”
“Your friend, Jo?” I ask, thinking about murdering Jo. “Was she at the party?”
“Yeah,” she says. “But I don’t know where she went.”
“Was she drunk too?” I exhale heavily as I set her on her bed. “Give me your phone. You could have told me this before we left, so I knew if I had to go get her ass out of there too.”
“Don’t read my messages,” she says. "That's private."
“Relax, sweetheart,” I say, my tone sarcastic. “I’m not interested in reading your text messages. I’m trying to make sure you’re friend isn’t at some party being gang raped by who the fuck knows.”
Her eyes go wide. “You think that’s what’s happening?”
“No. It’s not. Calm your tits down.” Still, I scroll on the phone until I hit Jo’s number. The phone rings a bunch of times before going to voicemail. I dial it again.
I swear, if I have to go back to that party to track this fucking chick down, I will strangle someone. A female answers the phone. “Is this Jo?” I ask.
“Yeah, who the hell is this?”
“Jo!” Kate yells. “It’s Caulter.”
“Oh. Caulter.” She hushes someone in the background. “Hang on, I’ll be right there, Maverick.” Maverick? Are we in New Hampshire or a fucking eighties movie?
“Are you okay?” I ask.
“Yeah, why wouldn’t I be?”
Now I’m irritated. “Are you still at the party?”
“As if it’s any of your business, I’m hanging out with someone.”