Fallen Too Far (Chapter Three)

Even with no windows in the room to tell me if the sun was up, I knew I'd slept late. I had been exhausted but a long eight-hour drive and footsteps on the stairs for hours after I'd laid down kept me from sleeping. Stretching, I sat up and reached for the light switch on the wall. The small bulb lit the room and I reached under the bed to pull out my suitcase.

I needed a shower and I needed to use the restroom. Maybe everyone would still be asleep and I could sneak in and out of a bathroom without anyone noticing. Grant hadn't shown me where one was last night. This was all I'd been offered. Hopefully a quick shower wouldn't be pushing the limit.

I grabbed clean panties and a pair of black shorts with a sleeveless white top. If I was lucky, I'd get in and out of the shower and be cleaning up before Rush made his way downstairs.

I opened the door leading into the pantry then walked through the rows of shelves that held more food than anyone could possibly need. I slowly turned the doorknob on the door and eased it open. The kitchen light was off and the only light was the bright sun streaming in through the large windows overlooking the ocean. If I didn't need to pee so badly I would go enjoy the view a moment. But nature was calling and I had to go. The house was silent. Empty drinks littered the place, along with leftover food and some pieces of clothing. I could clean this up. If I proved to be useful I might get to stay until I could get a job and a paycheck or two.

I slowly opened the first door I came to, afraid it could be a bedroom. It was a walk-in closet. Closing it, back I made my way down the hall toward the stairs. If the only bathrooms were attached to bedrooms I was screwed. Except… maybe there was one that people used outside after being in the beach all day. Henrietta had to take showers and use the restroom too. Turning around I headed back to the kitchen and the two glass doors that had been standing open last night. Glancing around, I noticed a set of steps going down and underneath the house. I followed them.

At the bottom were two doors. I opened one and life jackets, surfboards and floats covered the walls. I went and opened the other one. Bingo.

A toilet was on one side and a small shower took up the other side of the room. Shampoo, conditioner and soap along with a fresh washcloth and a towel was on the small stool beside it. How convenient.

Once I was clean and dressed I hung the towel and bath cloth over the shower rod. This bathroom wasn't used often. I could use the same towel and washcloth all week and then wash them on the weekends. If I was here that long.

I closed the door behind me and headed back up the steps. The ocean air smelled wonderful. Once I got to the top, I stood at the railing and looked out over the water. Waves crashed onto the white sandy beach. It was the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen.

Mom and I had talked about seeing the ocean together one day. She'd seen it as a little girl and her memories weren't that great but she'd told me stories about it all my life. Every winter when it was cold, we would sit inside by the fire and plan our summer trip to the beach. We never were able to take it. First mom hadn't been able to afford it and then she'd been too sick. We still planned them anyway. It helped to dream big.

Now, here I stood staring at the waves we'd only dreamed about. It wasn't the fairytale vacation we'd planned but I was here seeing it for both of us.

"That view never gets old." Rush's deep drawl startled me. I spun around to see Rush leaning against the open door. Shirtless. Oh. My.

I couldn't form words. The only naked male chest I'd ever seen was Cain's. And that had been back before my mom got sick when I'd had time for dates and fun. Cain's sixteen-year-old chest had nothing on the broad, cut muscles in front of me. He had actual ripples in his stomach.

"Are you enjoying the view?" His amused tone didn't escape me. I blinked and lifted my eyes back up to see the smirk on his lips. Dangit. He'd caught me ogling him.

"Don't let me interrupt you. I was enjoying it myself," he replied, then took a sip from the coffee cup in his hand.

My face heated and I knew I was three kinds of red. Turning back around, I stared out at the ocean. How embarrassing. I was trying to get this guy to let me stay for a little while. Drooling was not the best move.

A low chuckle from behind me only made it worse. He was laughing at me. Fantastic.

"There you are. I missed you in bed this morning." A soft female coo came from behind me. Curiosity got the better of me and I turned around.  A girl in nothing but her bra and panties was snuggling up to Rush's side and running a long pink fingernail down his chest. I couldn't blame her for wanting to touch that. I was pretty tempted myself.

"It's time for you to go," he replied taking her hand off his chest and stepping away from her. I watched as he pointed in the direction of the front door.

"What?" she replied. The confused expression on her face said she hadn't been expecting this.

"You got what you came here for, babe. You wanted me between your legs. You got it. Now I'm done."

The cold hard flatness in his voice startled me. Was he serious?

"You're kidding me!" the girl snapped and stomped her foot.

Rush shook his head and took another drink from his cup.

"You are not going to do this to me. Last night was amazing. You know it." The girl reached out for his arm and he quickly moved it out of the way.

"I warned you last night when you came to me begging and taking off your clothes that all it would ever be was one night of sex. Nothing more."

I shifted my attention back to the girl. Her face was in an angry snarl and she opened her mouth to argue but shut it again. With another stomp of her foot she stalked back inside the house.

I couldn't believe what I'd just seen. Was that the way people like this behaved? The only experience I'd had with relationships was with Cain. Although we'd never actually slept together he'd been careful and sweet with me. This was hard and cruel.

"So, how did you sleep last night?" Rush asked as if nothing had happened.

I tore my gaze off the door the girl had gone through and studied him. What had possessed that girl to sleep with someone who had told her it would be nothing more than sex? Sure, he had a body that underwear models were jealous of and those eyes of his could make a girl do crazy things. But still. He was so cruel.

"Do you do that often?" I asked before I could stop myself.

Rush cocked an eyebrow. "What? Ask people if they slept well?"

He knew what I was asking. He was avoiding it. It wasn't my business. I needed to stay out of the way so he would let me stay. Opening my mouth to scold him wasn't a good idea.

"Have sex with girls and then throw them out like trash?" I retorted. I closed my mouth, horrified as the words I'd just said echoed in my head. What was I doing? Trying to get tossed out?

Rush put his cup on the table beside him and sat down. He leaned back stretching out his long legs. Then he stared back up at me. "Do you always stick your nose where it doesn't belong?" he replied.

I wanted to get mad at him. But I couldn't. He was right. Who was I to point fingers? I didn't know the guy.

"Not normally, no. I'm sorry," I said and hurried inside. I didn't want to give him a chance to throw me out too. I needed that bed under the stairs for at least two weeks.

I got busy picking up the empty glasses and bottles of beer. This place needed a cleaning and I could do that before I headed out to find a job.  I just hoped he didn't throw parties like this every night. If he did, I wouldn't complain and who knows, after a few nights I might be able to sleep through anything.

"You don't have to do that. Henrietta will be here tomorrow."

I dropped the bottles I'd collected into the trash and then looked over at him. He was standing at the door again watching me.

"I just thought I'd help out."

Rush smirked. "I already have a housekeeper. I'm not looking to hire another one if that is what you're thinking."

I shook my head. "No. I know that. I was just trying to be helpful. You let me sleep in your house last night."

Rush walked over and stood in front of the counter crossing his arms over his chest. "About that. We need to talk."

Oh, crap. Here it goes. One night was all I was getting.

"Okay," I replied.

Rush frowned at me and I felt my heart rate increase. He wasn't about to bestow happy news.

"I don't like your father. He's a mooch. My mother always tends to find men like him. It's her talent.  But I'm thinking you may already know this about him. Which makes me curious, why did you come to him for help if you knew what he was like?"

I'd like to tell him it was none of his business. Except the fact I'd needed his help made it his business. I couldn't expect him to let me sleep in his house and not explain things to him. He deserved to know why he was helping me. I didn't want him to think I was a mooch too.

"My mother just passed away. She had cancer. Three years' worth of treatments add up. The only thing we owned was the house my grandmother left us. I had to sell the house everything else to pay off all my mother's medical bills. I haven't seen my dad since he walked out on us five years ago.  But he's the only family I have left. I had no one else to ask for help. I need a place to stay until I can find a job and get a few paychecks. Then I'll get my own place. I never intended to be around long. I knew my dad wouldn't want me here." I let out a hard laugh that I didn't feel. "Although I never expected him to run off before I arrived."

Rush's steady gaze was still firmly directed at me. This was information I would have rather no one know. I used to talk to Cain about how my dad's abandonment had hurt. The loss of my sister and father had been hard on my mother and me. Then Cain had needed more and I couldn't be who he needed. I had a sick mother to take care of. I'd let Cain go so he could date other girls and go have fun. I was just a weight around his neck. Our friendship had remained intact but I realized that the boy I once thought I'd loved had just been a childish emotion.

"I'm sorry to hear about your mom," Rush finally replied. "That's got to be rough. You said she was sick for three years. So since you were sixteen?"

I nodded, not sure what else to say. I didn't want his pity. Just a place to sleep.

"You're planning on getting a job and a place of your own." He wasn't asking a question. He was working through what I had told him. So I didn't reply.

"The room under the stairs is yours for one month. You should be able to find a job and get enough money together to find an apartment. Destin isn't too far from here and the cost of living is more affordable there. If our parents return before that time I expect your father will be able to help you out."

Letting out a sigh of relief I swallowed the lump in my throat. "Thank you."

Rush glanced back at the pantry that led to the room I was sleeping in. Then he looked back at me. "I've got some things to do. Good luck on the job hunt," Rush replied. He shoved off from the counter and walked away.

I had no fuel in my truck but I had a bed. I also had twenty dollars. I hurried to my room to get my purse and keys. I needed to find a job as quickly as possible.