Fallen Too Far (Chapter Eleven)

I finished the last of my peanut butter sandwich and dusted off the crumbs in my lap then stood up. I was going to need to go to the grocery store and buy new food soon. Peanut butter sandwiches were getting old.

I was off work today and I wasn't sure what I was going to do. I'd lain in bed thinking about Rush and how stupid I was most of the night. What did the guy have to do to convince me he just wanted to be friends? He'd stated this more than once. I needed to stop trying to get him to see me as something more. I'd made that jab at him last night. I shouldn't have done that. He didn't want to kiss me. I couldn't believe I'd begged him to.

I opened the pantry door and stepped into the kitchen. The smell of bacon met my nose and if Rush hadn't been standing at the stove with nothing but a pair of pajama pants on then I'd have been completely wrapped up in the delicious smell. The view of Rush's bare back took away from the bacon.

He glanced over his shoulder and smiled. "Good morning. Must be your day off."

I nodded and stood there wondering what a friend would say. I didn't want to break the rules anymore with him. I was going to play by his rules. I'd be moving out soon enough anyway.

"Smells good," I replied

"Get out two plates. I make some killer bacon."

I wished I hadn't eaten the peanut butter sandwich now. "I've already eaten, but thank you."

Rush put his fork down and turned to face me. "How have you already eaten? You just woke up."

"I keep peanut butter and bread in my room. I had some before I came out."

Rush's forehead wrinkled as he studied me. "Why do you keep peanut butter and bread in your room?"

Because I don't want his endless stream of friends to eat my food.  I couldn't exactly say that though. "This isn't my kitchen. I keep all my things in my room."

Rush tensed and I wondered what I'd said to make him mad. "Are you telling me that you only eat peanut butter and bread when you're here? That's it? You buy it and keep it in your room and that is all you eat?"

I nodded, unsure why this was a big deal.

Rush slammed his hand down on the counter top and turned back around to face his bacon while muttering a curse.

"Go get your stuff and move up stairs. Take any room on the left side of the hall you want. Throw that damn peanut butter away and eat whatever the hell you want in this kitchen."

I didn't move. I wasn't sure where this reaction had come from.

"If you want to stay here, Blaire then move your ass upstairs now. Then come down here and eat something out of my motherfucking fridge while I watch."

He was angry. At me?

"Why do you want me to move upstairs?" I asked cautiously.

Rush dropped the last piece of bacon onto a paper towel and turned off the gas stove top before looking back at me.

"Because I want you to. I hate going to bed at night and thinking about you asleep under my stairs. Now I have the image of you eating those damn peanut butter sandwiches all alone in there and it's a little more than I can deal with."

Okay. So, he does care about me in some capacity.

I didn't argue. I went back into my room under the stairs and pulled my suitcase out from under the bed. My peanut butter was inside. I unzipped it and pulled out the almost empty jar and the bag with four slices of bread left. I'd leave this in the kitchen and then go find a room. My heart was pounding in my chest. This had become my safe place. Being upstairs took away my seclusion. I wasn't alone up there.

Stepping back out of the pantry I walked over and put the peanut butter and bread down on the counter. I headed for the hallway without making eye contact with Rush. He was standing at the bar gripping the edges tightly as if he was trying to keep from hitting something. Was he considering throwing me back into the pantry? I didn't mind staying in there.

"I don't have to move upstairs. I like that room," I explained and watched his grip only tighten more.

"You belong in one of the rooms upstairs. You don't belong under the stairs. You never did."

He wanted me upstairs. I just didn't understand his sudden change of heart.

"Would you at least tell me which room to take? I don't feel right picking one out. This isn't my house."

Rush finally let go of the death grip he had on the counter and turned his eyes to meet mine. "The rooms on the left are all guest rooms. There are three of them. I think you'll enjoy the view from the last one. It looks out over the ocean. The middle room is all white with pale pink accents. It reminds me of you. So, you go choose. Whichever one you want. Take it then come down here and eat."

He was back to wanting me to eat again.

"But I'm not hungry. I just ate – "

"If you tell me you ate that damn peanut butter again I am going to throw it through a wall." He paused and took a deep breath. "Please, Blaire. Come eat something for me."

Like any woman on the planet would be able to turn that down. I nodded and headed for the stairs. I had a room to pick out.

The first room wasn't appealing. It had dark colors and the view was on the front yard. Not to mention it was closest to the stairs and the noise level from the parties would be hard to overlook. I went to the next room and the king size bed was covered in white ruffles and pretty pink pillows. A pink chandelier hung from the ceiling. It was very sweet. Not something I expected to find in Rush's house. Then again his mother lived here most of the time.

I opened the last door on the left. There were large windows that went from the floor to the ceiling and overlooked the ocean. It was gorgeous. The pale blue and green color scheme was accented with a king size bed that looked like it was made from driftwood. At least the headboard and footboard did. It had a very coastal feel. I liked it. No, scratch that. I loved it. I put my suitcase down and walked over to the door that led into a private bathroom. Large white fluffy towels and expensive soaps decorated the white marble. Splashes of blue and green were in the room but for the most part it was white.

The tub was a large round one with jets in it. Although I'd never seen one before I knew this was a Jacuzzi. Maybe I had come into the wrong room. Surely this one wasn't a guest bedroom. I'd want this room if I lived here.

Nevertheless, it was on the left side of the hallway. It had to be one of the rooms he'd mentioned. I walked back out of the bathroom. I'd go tell him I'd picked this room and if this one was wrong he'd tell me. I left my suitcase against the wall right inside the door and then headed back downstairs.

Rush was sitting at the table with a plate of bacon and some scrambled eggs when I walked back into the kitchen. His eyes immediately lifted to meet mine.

"Did you choose a room?" he asked.

I nodded and walked over to stand on the other side of the table. "Yes. I believe so. The one you said had a great view is it… green and blue?"

Rush smiled. "Yes it is."

"And you're okay with me staying in that room? It is really nice. I'd want that room if this were my house."

Rush's smile widened. "You haven't seen my room yet."

His must be even nicer. "Is your room on the same floor?"

Rush picked up a piece of bacon. "No, mine takes up the entire top floor."

"You mean all those windows? That's all one big room?" The top floor looked like it was made of glass from the outside. I always wondered if it was an illusion or if it was several rooms.

Rush nodded, "Yep."

I wanted to see his room. He wasn't offering so I didn't ask.

"Did you already put your things away?" he asked, then took a bite of his bacon.

"No, I wanted to check with you before I unpacked. I should probably just keep everything in the suitcase. By the end of this next week I'll be ready to move out. My tips at the club are good and I've saved most all of it."

Rush stopped chewing and his eyes turned hard as he glared at something outside. I followed his gaze; I saw nothing but the empty beach.

"You can stay as long as you want to, Blaire."

Since when? He'd told me I had a month. I didn't reply.

"Sit beside me and eat some of this bacon." He pulled out the chair beside his and I sat down without arguing. The bacon did smell good and I was ready for something other than peanut butter.

Rush moved his plate over to me. "Eat."

I picked up a piece of bacon and took a bite. It was crispy and greasy just the way I liked it.  I finished the piece off and Rush nudged the plate at me again. "Eat another."

I fought back a giggle at his sudden need to feed me. What was wrong with him? I took another piece of bacon and ate it enjoying the taste.

"What are your plans for today?" Rush asked once I swallowed.

I shrugged. "I don't know yet. I thought I'd look for an apartment maybe."

Rush's jaw ticked and his body tensed up again. "Stop talking about moving out, okay? I don't want you moving until our parents get home. You need to talk to your dad before you run off and start living alone. It isn't exactly safe. You're too young."

This time I did laugh. He was being ridiculous. "I am not too young. What is it with you and my age? I am nineteen. I'm a big girl. I can live on my own safely. Besides, I can hit a moving target better than most police officers. My skills with a gun are pretty impressive. Stop with the unsafe and too young thing."

Rush cocked an eyebrow. "So you really do have a gun?"

I nodded.

"I thought Grant was just being funny. His sense of humor sucks sometimes."

"Nope. I pulled it on him when he surprised me my first night here."

Rush chuckled and leaned back in his chair crossing his arms over his broad chest. I forced myself to keep my eyes at his face and not look down.

"I'd have loved to have seen that."

I didn't respond. It had been a bad night for me. Rehashing it wasn't something I was up for today.

"I don't want you to stay here just because you're young. I get that you can take care of yourself or you at least think you can. I want you here because… I like having you here. Don't leave. Wait until your dad gets back. It sounds like you two are way overdue for a visit. Then you can decide what you want to do. For now, how about you go upstairs and unpack? Think of all the money you can save living here. When you do move out then you'll have a nice padded bank account."

He wanted me here. The silly smile that tugged at my lips couldn't be helped. I'd stay and he was right I could save money. Once Dad got back I'd talk to him and then move. There was no reason to go if Rush wanted me here.

"Okay. If you really mean that then thank you."

Rush nodded and leaned forward to put his elbows on the table. His silver stare was leveled on me. "I mean it. But that also means that the friend thing with us needs to remain in full effect."

He was right, of course. Us living together and getting involved in any way would be difficult. Besides, once this summer was over he'd move off to another house somewhere. I didn't need that kind of heartache.

"Agreed," I replied. His shoulders didn't ease and his body remained strung tight.

"Also, you are going to start eating the food in this house when you're here."

I shook my head. No I wasn't. I was not a mooch.

"Blaire, this isn't up for argument. I mean it. Eat my damn food."

I pushed my chair back and stood up. "No. I will buy food and eat it. I am not… I'm not like my father."

Rush muttered something and he pushed back his chair and stood up. "You think I don't know that by now? You've been sleeping in a damn broom closet without complaint. You clean up after me. You don't eat properly. I am aware that you're nothing like your dad. But you are a guest in my home and I want you eating in my kitchen and treating like it's yours."

This was going to be an issue. "I'll put my food in your kitchen and eat it in here. Will that be better?"

"If all you intend to buy is peanut butter and bread then no. I want you eating properly."

I started to shake my head when he reached out and grabbed my hands in his. "Blaire, it will make me happy to know you're eating. Henrietta buys the groceries once a week and stocks this place expecting me to have a lot of company. There is more than enough. Please. Eat. My. Food."

I bit my bottom lip to keep from laughing at his pleading look.

"Are you laughing at me?" he asked with a small grin tugging at his lips.

"Yeah. A little," I admitted.

"Does this mean you're gonna eat my food?"

I sighed, "Only if you let me pay you weekly."

He started to shake his head no and I pulled my hands from his and started to walk away.

"Where are you going?" he asked from behind me.

"I'm done arguing with you. I will eat your food if I pay for my part. That's the only deal I will agree to. So take it or leave it."

Rush growled, "Okay fine. Pay me."

I glanced back at him. "I'm going to go unpack. Then take a bath in that big ole tub and then I don't know. I don't have plans until tonight."

A frown puckered his brow. "With who?"

"Bethy," I replied.

"Bethy? The cart girl who Jace messes around with?"

"Correction. The cart girl that Jace used to mess around with. She wised up and is moving on. Tonight we're going honky-tonking to pick us up some hard working blue collar men."

I didn't wait for him to respond. I hurried to the stairs and ran up them. Once I reached my new room, I closed my door behind me and sighed in relief.