“Would you still be with her if Trent hadn’t come along?”
He puffed out a frustrated sigh. “Probably. I don’t know. It depends on if she would have moved out to California like we’d talked about.”
He sighed. “Yes. Evidently, we need to talk more about this until you’re clear and you feel better about certain things, but right now, we have to get ready for the ceremony. Okay?”
“I’m never going to be okay with unresolved feelings.”
He looked at me with sad eyes. “Don’t do that. I’m sorry I talked about retiring here. It’s too soon. I freaked you out. I get it.”
“That’s not what I’m doing. This has been an ongoing conversation.”
“Liis…” He pressed his lips together, stopping himself from whatever he was about to say. After a few moments, he spoke again, “We’ll figure it out. Just hang in there with me.”
I nodded, and then he offered a small smile before pulling the shower door closed.
He opened the door again, aggravation darkening his face.
His eyes turned soft. He looked wounded. “You don’t want to get hurt.”
“You have to weigh the joy against the risk.”
I nodded and then left him to finish his shower. The foliage and ocean were visible even from the middle of the room, and I tried to forget about my present worries and our future and everything in between.
I fell onto the bed, bouncing twice. It was unsettling being with someone with such a strong bullshit shield. Thomas had called me out on making excuses to run before I’d even realized what I was doing.
There was a knock on the door. I looked around, not sure if we had even told anyone which room we were in. I crept over to the door and used the peephole. My blood ran cold and boiled at the same time.
I DIDN’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO DO, so I slid the chain and then yanked the door open with a smile. “Hi.”
Camille hesitated. Her navy strapless cocktail dress had the tiniest bit of sparkle in the threading. When she made the slightest shift, the fabric would catch the light, emphasizing her every movement. I imagined she had to stick to simple clothing to avoid clashing with the busy color-by-numbers on her arms.
“The, uh…the guys are all getting ready in Shepley and America’s room. They’re taking pictures, too.”
“Okay,” I said, slowly pushing the door shut. “I’ll let him know.”
Camille put her hand on the door, stopping it from closing. I shot her a look, and she immediately snapped her hand back, protectively holding it. With her arms and even her knuckles tattooed, the fact that she worked in a bar at least gave the impression that a dirty look wouldn’t have an effect on her. Camille stood a whole head taller than me, so her acting intimidated didn’t make sense.
She knows something. “You came here to see him?” I asked.
“No! I mean, yes, but it’s not like that.” She shook her head, and the ends of her razor-cut strands trembled as if they were nervous, too. “Is he here?”
“Oh.” She bit her lip and looked everywhere but at me.
“Would you like to come back?”
“I’m…in the other building on the opposite side of the property.”
I watched her for a moment in disbelief. Begrudgingly, I extended the last invite I wanted to give. “Would you like to come in?”
She smiled, looking sheepish. “If it’s all right. I don’t want to impose.”
I opened the door wide, and she stepped through. She sat on the exact spot of the bed where I had just been, and the fires of hell burned in my chest. I hated that she could get under my skin without even trying.
The shower shut off, and almost immediately, the bathroom door opened. A puff of steam preceded Thomas, who was covered only by the white towel he held loosely at his waist. “Baby, have you seen my…” He saw Camille first, and then his eyes searched for me. “Razor?”
I nodded. The shock and discomfort on his face when he had seen Camille gave me a tiny bit of satisfaction, as did her hearing that term of endearment. In the same moment, I felt foolish for being so juvenile.
“You put it in the inside pocket of your luggage this morning.” I walked the few steps to his suitcase and rummaged through it.
“Could you hand me a T-shirt and shorts, too?” he asked.
He closed the door, and once I located the items, I joined Thomas in the bathroom.
Thomas took the shirt, shorts, and razor from me, and then he leaned down. “What is she doing here?” he quietly hissed.
He looked at the wall in the direction of where Camille was sitting. “She didn’t say anything?”
“She said the guys were getting ready in Shepley’s room, and then you all have pictures.”
“Okay…but why is she still here?” The disgusted look on his face made me feel even more validation.
“She didn’t say. She just wanted to come in.”
Thomas nodded once and then bent down to kiss my cheek. “Tell her I’ll be out in a minute.”
I turned and grabbed the knob, but then Thomas spun me around, grabbed my cheeks, and attacked my lips with his.
When he let me go, I was breathless and disoriented. “What was that?” I asked.
He huffed, “I don’t know what she’s going to say. I just don’t want you to be upset.”
“Why don’t you take it outside?” I offered.
He shook his head. “She knew we were sharing a room. If she wants to talk to me, she can say it in front of you.”
He dropped his towel and then pulled his T-shirt over his head.
I returned to the room. “He’ll be out in a minute.”
I sat in the chair in the corner and reached for the closest reading material.
“Did they tell you they had the tuxes delivered? His should be in the closet.”
When Thomas came out of the bathroom, Camille immediately stood.
She smiled. “Hey. The, uh…the guys are in Shep’s room.”
“And your tux is in the closet.”
“I was, um…hoping we could chat for a minute,” she said.
“Last night…and other things.” She looked as terrified as he had.
“We talked about it last night. You have more to say?” Thomas asked.
“Can we…” She gestured to the hall.
“I think it’s more respectful to Liis if we don’t.”
Camille glanced at me, sighed, and then nodded, picking at her metallic black nail polish.
“You look really happy,” she said, looking down. “Your brothers want you home, T.J.” When Thomas didn’t respond, she looked up at him. “I don’t want things to be awkward. I don’t want you to stay away. So, I was hoping…since you seem so happy now…that you would consider visiting more often. Abby, Liis, Falyn, and I need to be a united front.” She chuckled nervously. “You Maddox boys are a lot to handle, and I just…want to get along.”