“Charlie? Can I talk with you, Sweetie?”
She looked up to see her mother standing a few feet away, one hip leaning against the porch railing. “Sure. What's on your mind?” She didn't stop sharpening her knife.
Rachel took a couple of slow steps towards her. “I...I saw you leaving Bass' room this morning.”
Charlie rolled her eyes. “And we're done.” She resheathed her knife. “Mom, I'm old enough to decide who I sleep with.”
“I just think you should be more careful...”
“Than what, Mom? You think you're the only woman who has needs? You've got Miles. Who am I supposed to scratch my itch with? Aaron? Grandpa? He's single, not family and fit. And his reputation is spot on; he really knows how to move his ass.” She wrapped the whetstone back up in a soft piece of leather and tucked it back inside the kit. “I'm not gonna apologize for getting laid.”
She made to turn around but Rachel reached out to touch her shoulder. “Charlie...it's not fair to play with him.”
That stopped her.
“Excuse me? You were raring to kill him. Did try to kill him more than once. Now you're worried about his feelings?”
Her mother frowned and sat down onto the railing. “I knew Bass from before the Blackout. He...didn't always used to be this way. And from what Miles told me, he wasn't this way for a few years after. Not until his wife and child died during labor.” It looked like the words were hard for her to get out. “Charlie...Bass doesn't deal well with loss. He was suicidal after his parents and sisters died, would have eaten a bullet if Miles hadn't stopped him. Miles says he was the voice of reason up until the day Shelly their baby died. And...he was even somewhat reasonable until after Miles left.” Rachel grimaced. “His biggest problem is he cares too much. He throws his heart into someone and if he loses them...he flips.”
This was beyond surreal. “Who are you and what have you done with Rachel Matheson?”
“No! You hate Monroe. You loathe him. Miles tried to kill him on more than one occasion.”
“And now he's working with us against the Patriots. If he's going to be effective, he needs to stay reasonably sane. That's not likely if you're going to string him along and then cut him loose.”
“Wow. I really don't know if I should be flattered or creeped out that my mother thinks what I've got is so good I can bring Sebastian Monroe to his knees.” Charlie shrugged. “Thanks?”
“You fucked him, Charlie. I think you can start calling him 'Bass'.”
“And I still think it's none of your business.”
“Just...don't break him, Charlie. He's still trying to put himself together.”
Charlie rolled her eyes again. “Whatever.” She pulled away from her mother and walked down the short set of stairs from the porch to the ground. They needed fresh meat if they were going to have anything of substance for dinner. The woods were calling.
She took the path around the south side of the safe house, coming into sight of the old carport where they kept the horses secured. Monroe was brushing them down, the muscles of his arms firm under golden skin. The sight of him drew her up short. He was like poetry in motion.
Sensing the weight of her gaze, he turned his head in her direction. Clear blue eyes met her paler, blue-gray and locked. There was heat in those eyes, a flame that drew her in and whispered promises of more nights of lips and hands and velvet steel pushing her to the edge and over.
When she'd let herself into his room last night, she hadn't really expected to get lucky. She was just wanting to steal the whiskey she knew he kept his in bag. But Monroe slept naked and the Texas nights were hot. He'd been lying there with the sheet kicked off, one arm thrown over his eyes and legs sprawled. Beautiful and powerful and she'd decided to go in for a taste. Once he'd gotten over the initial surprise, he'd been more than happy to comply.
And damn if she didn't want more.
Don't break Monroe?
She needed to be more worried about breaking herself.