By the time Tag finally drops me off at my apartment, the morning sun is beginning to peek its eyes above the horizon. I yawn as I pull open his passenger door and give him a tired smile.
"Tag, that was - by far - the most fun I've had in a long, long time," I say.
Tag's green eyes stare back at me. He turns off his oversized truck, taking his hat off for a brief moment to run his hand through his hair.
"I did too," he says. "And I really am sorry I'm gettin' ya' back so late ma'am. Time just seemed to fly by."
Memories of the last few hours flood my mind - eating at the local diner, having a few drinks and going to a ho-down, and then going back to Tag's apartments for a pretty hilarious game of Wii tennis. For being such a country boy, he was surprisingly pretty good.
But I still smoked him, I think with a playful grin.
"Don't worry about it - seriously," I assure him. "If I wanted to leave, I would have said so."
"You say that now," Tag says and shakes his head, "but if your brother ends up at my apartment with a shotgun…my last words are gonna' be 'See Des? I told you so.'"
I laugh for what feels like the hundredth time that night and give him a friendly pat on the knee.
"I had fun tonight. And don't worry about Tyler. I can handle him."
"Alright…if you say so," Tag says, giving a fleeting glance up to my apartment complex.
I lean toward him, placing a quick kiss on his cheek before climbing out of his truck. As his vehicle roars to life, he screams out that he'll text me. I nod, giving him a final wave good-bye before sprinting up to my apartment. I pull out the key from my purse, but when I put it into the doorknob I see it's already unlocked.
I take a hesitant step into the apartment and notice that the TV is still on. A deep sigh pushes out of my lips as I close the door behind me. The fact that the TV is still on tells me all I need to know. Tyler has waited up for me. And he's probably pissed as hell.
He's not on the couch so I move towards the bathroom. I hear the water running as I reach the door and lean my ear closer. I don't hear any rustling or movement, so I assume Tyler is already in the shower and well-covered by the shower curtain.
Ok Des. Time to face the music.
Taking a deep breath, I knock twice against the door. I hear a quiet grunt from the other side of the door and take that as my cue to come in. Hot steam immediately sticks to my skin as I step inside, but that's the last of my worries.
Because the person standing directly in front of me isn't Tyler at all. It's a very naked and very wet…Cash. My jaw drops as my eyes travel down the length of his sculpted, tan body. Cash's smoky eyes look back at me, a wicked grin already plastered on his lips.
"Well good morning, Dizzy," Cash says in a teasing voice. "What can I do for ya?"
He gestures down the length of his body and then throws me a wink. "Or have I already done enough?"
My eyes snap back up to Cash's face and I quickly turn away from him. I put my hands over my eyes, blood flooding my cheeks. I only hope that Cash doesn't notice…or if he does, I hope he thinks it's because of the heat.
"I'm sorry," I sputter. "I thought you were Tyler."
Why the hell is he here anyway? I hear Cash pull down a towel from the rack next to me. He's quiet for a moment and then sighs.
"You can open your eyes now, Dizzy."
"Uhm, actually? I'm OK."
Because it doesn't matter if Cash is 'covered up' or not. Now that I've seen him in all of his naked glory, the image has been permanently branded into my mind. My fingers fumble to find the door handle behind me. Cash chuckles at my attempt, and a second later I feel his warm hand on top of mine, guiding my fingers to the door handle.
The heat from his arms and bare chest radiate against my skin. Oh God. I need to get out of here. Now. I yank open the door and tumble my way out. I don't wait to hear if Cash has any snarky remarks for me as I sprint into my room.
I throw myself onto my comfy bed, moaning slightly at how good it feels to be off my feet. There's no way I can talk to Tyler after what just happened with Cash. He'll just have to wait to talk to me until I've had a few good hours of sleep under my belt. I put my phone on silent before setting it on the night stand and closing my eyes. Instantly an image of Cash's naked body enters my mind.
Great. Just great, I think and try to force it out. But as my eyes get heavier and my breathing slows, I realize that the next few hours of sleep are going to be anything but peaceful……
Sharp sunlight hits my eyes and I roll over with a groan. Tyler must have turned down the air conditioning because it feels like it's a hundred degrees in my room. I fling the covers off me, still wearing my outfit from last night. I smack my dry lips together and grab for my cup of water by the bed. I look to see what time it is, and that's when I realize my cell phone isn't where I left it.
I frown and take a sip of water, my eyes scanning the area to see if it fell off my night stand. I slip off my bed, searching for my cell phone in every possible nook and cranny. When I've searched high and low with still no luck, I stomp out of my room with a frustrated sigh.
The TV is still blaring like it was when I came in this morning. Cash is sitting on the couch, shirtless. He gives me a fleeting glance and his lips quirk up into a knowing grin. I roll my eyes and move into the kitchen where Tyler is unloading a Jack's pizza from its plastic casing.
"Tyler, I can't find my cell phone," I say sourly. "Have you seen it anywhere?"
Tyler doesn't look up from his task as he lowers the pizza into the oven and shuts the door. The heat from the oven swarms around me and I grit my teeth. Why the hell would he cook a pizza when it's a thousand degrees in here!?
"Tyler!" I say again, this time louder. "Have you seen it or not?!"
Tyler leans against the kitchen counter, folding his arms over his chest and finally brining his eyes to my face. His expression is hardened, his eyes just as angry as they were last night.
"Well, glad to see you're finally up an' adam," Tyler says coolly. "And yes, I believe I have seen your cell phone."
I can feel Cash's eyes boring into me from the living room and I wonder briefly if he had anything to do with this. I stick out my hand.
"Give it back to me, Tyler."
"Nope," Tyler responds, putting emphasis on the 'p.'
"Why…..?" I ask, trying to keep calm, but the anger inside me is already beginning to build.
"I came in to check on you this morning," Tyler says in explanation. "And when I saw your cell phone on the night stand, I noticed you had a few new text messages."
My eyes narrow on my brother. He wouldn't have invaded my personal space and actually read the texts though - would he?
"There's a reason I don't like that sleazy bartender," Tyler says. "And his text messages to you only confirmed my prior suspicions."
"You read my text messages?" I question in disbelief.
Tyler gives me a clipped nod. "I did. And I didn't like what I read. So until you're over the bartender, I'll be holding your phone for a while."
My eyes widen at Tyler's statement and I shove him - hard.
"First of all," I say, pointing my finger in his face. "That is MY cell phone! And those were MY text messages to read. NOT YOURS!"
"Actually…..," Tyler says, drawing out the word, "I'm the one who pays for our plan. So technically, it's my cellphone and therefore, I have every right to read your texts."
I shake my head in disbelief. I always knew my brother was overprotective. But this? This was crossing a line. I don't know if he's trying to 'show off' since Cash is hanging around or if he really is that delusional in thinking he can keep me away from men forever.
Either way, I know it's useless arguing with him. I shove Tyler again into the kitchen counter, telling him to fuck off before going to my room and packing a bag. I throw in a few articles of clothing, my toiletries and my laptop. If Tyler is going to act like an asshole, that's fine by me.
Throwing my small bag over my shoulder, I grab my car keys and slam my bedroom door shut behind me.
"Where do you think you're going?" Tyler asks casually as I reach the front door.
I turn toward him, doing my best to mask the pain in my eyes. Tyler has never acted this mean, this controlling before. It's like now that Cash is here, we are all reverting back to years ago when the two of them would pick on me ruthlessly.
"Go put your stuff back," Tyler commands, "and come out and have some dinner with us."
"No," I snarl as I tug open the door.
Tyler's dark eyes flicker to my face and he gives me a warning glance.
"You're not going out tonight, Desiree Banks. I mean it."
A humorless laugh leaves me lips. "Oh yea, bro? Watch me!"
And with that I slam the door, skipping down the steps and racing to my car before my brother can stop me…