Home > Beneath These Shadows (Beneath #6)(6)

Beneath These Shadows (Beneath #6)(6)
Author: Meghan March

A quiet buzz sounded from Bish’s phone, and he tapped out something else. When he looked up, he nodded. “I got a place for you to stay for a couple days, but I need to clean up before I can take you.”

“I can go myself if you tell me where. I’m not completely helpless.”

He shook his head. “Not fucking happening.”

Delilah followed him as he disappeared into one of the small rooms toward the back of the shop where they must do the tattoos. It was actually a really cool place. The interior said gothic voodoo plus a touch of heavy metal and rock ’n roll—at least, that was my interpretation of it. Regardless, I could see why Delilah had given me such an odd look. It was way too cool for me and my polo shirt and Sperrys.

Part of me wanted to take a closer look at the pictures of their work on the walls, and maybe even stick around to watch them give someone a tattoo, but I knew that wasn’t in the cards. Instead, I stayed by the door, one hand wrapped around the handle of my suitcase as part of my brain told me to grab the door handle and run.

Delilah had plenty of questions for Bish, and her voice carried well enough for me to overhear.

“What the hell are you doing? You don’t get involved and try to help people ever. Where the fuck did you find a room, anyway? You taking her home?”

My fingers grasped the knob. There was no way I was going home with him. But before I twisted the knob, he replied.

“Fuck no, I’m not taking her home. A friend saved me a balcony room at the Royal Sonesta for a few days to party. I wasn’t in the mood to party tonight, so I was gonna let it go. Now I’m not. Simple as that.”

I released my grip on the door handle with a rush of relief. A hotel.

“You’re gonna give up a balcony room on Bourbon during Mardi Gras to help some girl you’ve never met? What the fuck happened while I was gone, Bishop?”

Bishop. I rolled the name around on my tongue, surprised at how much I liked it—and how well it suited him.

“Nothing happened. But you know as well as I do from one look at her that she doesn’t have a fucking clue what she walked into.”

“And since when do you care?”

“Leave it alone.”

Delilah backed off, and I dropped my gaze to the black-and-white-tiled floor and pretended like I wasn’t exercising mad eavesdropping skills.

Bishop strode toward me, his face impossible to read. “Let’s go.”

Decision time. Based on Delilah’s shock, this wasn’t something that was in character for Bishop. My hesitation must have been obvious, because he stopped in front of me.

“Your choice, cupcake. Hotel room or take your chances on your own. We both know the smart move here.”

Delilah followed behind him, her heels clicking on the floor. She propped a hand on her hip and her gaze swung from him to me.

“He’s not gonna hurt you, sugar. He might be an ass, but he’s the kind of ass you can trust with your life.”

What choice did I really have?

I forced my lips into an imitation of a polite smile. “Thank you. I appreciate it.”

He grunted in response before peeling back my fingers to release the death grip on my suitcase.

“What—”

My question was cut off when he lifted the carry-on and strode out the door.

“Would you look at that . . .” The words came as a whisper from Delilah. Her eyes cut from the doorway Bishop walked out of to me. “Better catch up with him, because at this rate, who knows what he’ll do next.”

 

 

I DIDN’T GET INVOLVED. I never got involved. So, why the fuck was I carrying a suitcase that had to cost more than a month of my rent to the Royal Sonesta with a girl trailing after me who had prim, proper, and helpless written all over her?

Because I couldn’t let her fend for herself in this mess? Since when did I care about random people off the street?

I glanced back to see if she was keeping up, and slowed when I realized she was lagging more than a few steps behind me.

Pink-and-white polo shirt with no doubt some fancy logo on it. Dark skinny jeans. Fucking Sperry Top-Siders. And then that face and those eyes. Like a sucker punch to the gut.

I wasn’t the kind of guy for women like her. The kind that fell into the category marked off with caution tape that read GOOD GIRLS – PROCEED AT YOUR OWN RISK. But for some reason, my brain and my dick couldn’t get on the same page.

Not that my dick was going anywhere near her. Fuck, she probably had some kind of force field to keep guys like me away from her pristine self. Then why does she look at you like that? I saw the fascination in her eyes when she looked at me, and I was going to fucking ignore it.

She finally caught up, and I shortened my stride so she could keep pace. Questions burned on the tip of my tongue, but I shut them down.

I don’t get involved.

But seriously, what the fuck was she doing in New Orleans with no hotel room during Mardi Gras? That didn’t scream sophisticated world traveler to me. Something wasn’t adding up.

Doesn’t matter.

I kept my eyes straight ahead, scanning the streets, moving to dodge people and glancing down at her no more than once every thirty seconds to make sure she wasn’t falling behind again.

But that excuse was bullshit because I never let her out of my peripheral vision. Still, that was how I saw her drag her gaze up to my face as though she was trying just as hard to figure me out when she should have been keeping track of the pavement beneath her feet.

“Fuck,” I bit out as she caught a toe on the uneven cobblestone and pitched forward toward a girl in a silver bikini top and not much else. Cupcake’s arms shot out to brace her fall, but before her hands could make contact with the girl or the ground, I wrapped an arm around her waist and yanked her up beside me.

The cry of surprise I’d expected to hear when she was falling didn’t come until she was flush against my side and the scent of something beachy and citrus invaded my nose. Of course she has to smell better than any woman I’ve ever gotten close to. Fuck me.

“Thank you.” The words were hushed, probably because her face was buried in my shoulder.

I stilled and waited for her to unwrap her fingers from around my wrist and disconnect us.

As soon as she became aware of how she’d clung to me, she jumped away like she’d just learned I was a leper.

“Watch yourself.”

“Sorry. I’m not usually this clumsy.”

I wasn’t sure I could believe that so I started walking again, and she hurried to keep up. When the door on the side of the Royal Sonesta finally came into view, relief and disappointment punched into me.

I just needed to get the key, get the girl in the room, and get the hell back to the shop. My good deed for the day—more like for the year—would be done, and I wouldn’t have to worry about what would happen to her on her own. And I’ll never see her again.

The crowd parted ahead of me, and I tugged on the knob of the side door. It didn’t budge.

Fuck.

“I . . . uh, I think you have to have a keycard to get in.” She gestured to the gold plaque and the card reader beneath it.

Shit. This was why I only agreed to party in a hotel room if someone I knew was already there or I already had the key. Dealing with front-desk managers wasn’t my thing.

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