“Dani. I haven’t sent any flowers.”
“Don’t be silly, Cohen. Of course you have. They’ve been coming every Saturday since you left. Who else would send them?” I feel what can only be a described as a flash of fear wash over my body. Oh my God. If Cohen isn’t sending them, then who is?
“Flowers . . . yeah, those aren’t my thing, Dani. They look beautiful for a little while and then they start to stink before they die. When I show you how much I love you, it damn sure won’t be with something that’s going to die in a week.”
“Put your brother on the phone. Now,” he barks.
I jump at his tone, the fear I started to feel only seconds before rushing into my system, and I almost drop the phone because my hands are shaking so badly.
I rush out of the bathroom door and almost tumble over my brother, who is standing there, looking guilty, with a cup in his hand. A cup I’m sure was just pressed against the door like the ghetto little spy he is. I mutely hand Nate the phone and step back until I bump into Lee. He looks down at me with concern, and I just shake my head, not trusting my words.
I listen through the roaring in my ears as Nate responds to what Cohen is saying in clipped tones. His eyes shoot to mine a few times, the anger that was there at first now turning to concern.
“I’ll take care of it,” he snaps and hands me the phone again.
“Don’t worry, baby. Your brother knows what to do, and he’ll take care of everything. Is Lee there too?”
I nod my head but then remember he can’t see me. “Lee’s here.”
“Good. Ask him if he can stay with you for a while.”
“I’ll do that.”
“I love you, Dani-girl. No one is going to mess with that. No one. Don’t worry, okay?”
“I’m not worried.” And I’m really not worried. I’m not. I am terrified.
“Liar,” he whispers. “God, I hate that I can’t be there to protect you. This is killing me, Dani. It goes against everything I feel to not rush to you.”
My heart breaks, the fear I felt instantly dimming. “I’ll be okay. I promise. I’ll make sure I’m not alone and the guys will watch out for me. I’m . . . I’m going to tell Daddy about us and, well, this. He won’t let anything happen to me, Coh.”
“That’s a good idea. Might mean he kicks my ass a little harder when I get back with all that time he will have to stew on it, but it will be worth it to know that you’re safe.” He doesn’t even hesitate. Not one second, which would have made me think he doesn’t want this.
“Tell me you love me, baby. I have to go.”
“I love you, baby.” I smile.
“Yeah,” he sighs. “And I you.”
“See you soon,” I whisper.
“Every time I close my eyes.”
I don’t move the phone away from my ear. Not when I hear the click or when Nate starts to ask his questions. I just smile to myself and let it sink in.
PREDICTABLY, THINGS GOT A LITTLE insane after that call. Nate demanded to know what was going on between Cohen and me. I was honest with him, and in the end, he didn’t have a problem with it more or less, just that I had kept from him.
Okay, that might be a stretch. He knew how I felt, of course, but he was shocked that Cohen had taken it that far without at least talking to him first. Then I had to explain to my irrational older brother that he isn’t my keeper.
Don’t ever tell a man who was raised by alpha males that he isn’t the keeper of his baby sister. It isn’t pretty and there is usually something that gets broken in the process. This time, it was my coffee table when I pushed the big ape over for telling me that I should be locked away on an island of Barbies and Big Wheels.
Yeah. I’m always going to be the baby sister.
That being said, justifiably, what he did have a problem with was the unexpected and unknown sender of the weekly flowers. I told him everything I knew about the delivery guy and how many had come, showing him the ones that were still around the house. Each of the vases held a big, black bow tied to the center of the glass vase. Black wouldn’t have been my first choice, but when I’d thought they were from Cohen, it hadn’t bothered me. Now, it makes me skin crawl.
And that was before Nate had found the first microscopic-looking wireless camera in the arrangement.
“You’re moving home,” he booms through the room. “That’s fucking it. No. You’re not staying here one more second, Danielle!” He starts pacing around my bedroom, his hands clenching in tight fists at his sides. Bringing out the full name is his way of showing me that he’s serious.