Chapter Nine

OLIVIA'S HEAD WAS spinning out of control. Everything was happening so fast. She'd just been kissing Wyatt and saying goodnight after a very nice evening. Now everything fell apart around her and she felt paralyzed with fear. Someone had it in for her. It had to be Gavin. She couldn't think of anyone else that would want to hurt her or anyone else that would tell her 'you'll get yours, bitch'. He wanted her to suffer because he'd gone to jail after raping her. That had to be it. Unless he'd found out about…

No. She didn't want to think about that. Not right now.

Her chest heaved as she inhaled a shaky breath before she tried to focus on the conversation around her. Wyatt, Hunter, and Sadie were all surrounding her in Wyatt's apartment. After Wyatt had called Hunter, he hadn't let go of her. As they stood there now, he had his hand on her arm, holding her protectively. Despite the dire situation, it made her heart warm.

"She's staying with me," Wyatt told her siblings.

"Like hell she is!" Sadie retaliated with a hiss. "We don't even know you!"

"I wouldn't hurt her," he argued. "She'd be safe with me."

Sadie snorted obnoxiously. "We don't know that. For all we know, you're the one that left her that message!"

Olivia's mouth dropped open, shocked and appalled by her sister's nastiness.

"Right… like that makes any sense," Wyatt said, anger lacing his voice. "If I wanted to hurt her, I could have easily done so already."

"But you wouldn't because you want to terrorize her first," she retorted.

"Sadie, you're being ridiculous," Hunter finally spoke up.

"Am I?" she questioned, not willing to give up on Wyatt being the bad guy. "Don't you think it's strange that bad things started happening after they met?"

"STOP IT!" Olivia suddenly screamed. She'd heard enough. "Wyatt is not the bad guy! Nothing you say is going to make me believe that!"

She didn't believe for a second that he had any intentions to hurt her, and maybe that made her naïve because Sadie was right that they didn't know him, but he hadn't given her any reason to believe he wanted to hurt her.

"Liv, you are not staying with him," Sadie snapped.

Olivia's temper flared. "I am not a damn child you can boss around! I realize that because I'm blind I have to rely on my family to help me, but I am still an adult and I want to be treated like one!"

With that said, she used his hand on her arm to turn and face him and rested her palm against his chest. "Thank you," she whispered softly, "for wanting to protect me, but I'd be more comfortable in my own home. Hunter can stay with us, though. Right, Hunter?"

"Absolutely," her brother replied.

A shiver shimmied down the length of her spine when she felt the gentle sweep of his fingers along the back of her arm. Instinctively, she pressed closer and tilted her head up, as if she expected his kiss at any moment. It didn't come, but somewhere in the back of her mind, she'd known it wouldn't. Not with her brother and sister standing there.

"Okay," Wyatt murmured quietly to her. "I just want you safe."

"I will be," she promised, offering him a warm smile.

"If you need anything, you know where to find me."

She nodded, opening her mouth to respond, but Sadie cut in, saying, "Let's go. We need to call the police and file a report."

Olivia hesitated, but only for a moment before she reluctantly pulled herself away from Wyatt. She felt another strong hand grab her arm and knew it was Hunter. She didn't make a fuss as he guided her out the door, but she did have the overwhelming urge to run back into Wyatt's arms.

Resisting the urge, she allowed Hunter to walk her across the hallway and into her apartment, staying silent the entire time. But once they were inside, all hell seemed to break loose.

"How dare you talk to me like that and embarrass me like you did!" Sadie lashed out at her. "I'm your sister and your guardian. I take care of you. And I didn't have to! I could have left you there under Dad's thumb, but I didn't because I knew you wanted to get out of there and be more independent. And this is the thanks I get for that? Just because I'm trying to look after you…"

"You were implying that he could have been the one behind that message!" Olivia shouted at her. "And you were treating me like a child!"

"He could have been!" Sadie shouted back. "And you might as well be, flaunting yourself to our neighbor like a little horny teenager with a crush."

Olivia gasped, and fuming, lunged toward her sister's voice. Hunter caught her by her upper arms, jerking her back against his chest. "I am not flaunting myself!" she screamed, her eyes burning hot with tears ready to spill over.

"Why else would he be so interested in you, Liv?" Sadie asked. "A man like him doesn't want a helpless, needy girlfriend that can't see."

The tears suddenly burst from her eyes and spilled down her cheeks, Sadie's words cutting deep.

"Sadie, cut it out! You don't have to be so mean!" Hunter snapped angrily before she felt his hands guiding her to turn around in his arms so he could hold her.

Olivia buried her face against Hunter's chest, the tears rolling down her cheeks in fast waves. She was thankful to have him to lean on. He was the only one in their family that supported her and treated her like an adult. Without him, she'd be lost.

"Mean? I'm speaking the truth, Hunter! She needs to hear it. She needs to know that if he gets her into bed, that's the last she'll ever hear from him. Not to mention, if she doesn't put out, he's going to go get laid elsewhere. And worst case scenario? If things get heated between them and she freaks out and says no, who's to say he won't rape her?"

Hunter sighed heavily. "He's not going to rape her, Sadie. He likes her. I don't see why that's so hard for you to believe. Olivia's a great catch, blindness and all."

Slowly lifting her head from his chest, Olivia wiped at her eyes and her cheeks, trying to remove her tears. "Thanks, Hunter."

"You're welcome, Liv."

"Great," Sadie muttered, clearly annoyed. "Looks like I get to be the bad guy, all because I care about what happens to her."

"Hey!" Hunter responded immediately. "I care about what happens to her, but I also realize that she's an adult. If she falls for this guy and gets her heart broken, well… it'll suck, but it's a part of life. But if you haven't noticed, we have a bigger problem to deal with—someone wants to hurt her. We need to call the police. Maybe they can get a fingerprint from the knife or the picture."

"It's Gavin," Olivia murmured, feeling fairly confident.

"We don't know that for sure," Hunter replied, gently rubbing over her back.

"He's the only person we know who has motive," she went on. "He raped me and went to jail. Now he wants revenge. It makes sense."

"Well, if it is him," Hunter said, "he has one hell of a death wish."

WYATT STARED AT his cell phone as he scrolled up and down through his contacts. It was well after one in the morning, but he couldn't sleep. He desperately wanted to talk to someone, especially his father, but he didn't want to risk calling and waking anyone up. He'd told himself numerous times over the last hour that his father wouldn't mind if he woke him up, but he still couldn't bring himself to call.

Exhaling loudly, he finally set his phone down on the nightstand and closed his eyes, hoping for sleep to come sooner rather than later, but he already knew that wouldn't happen.

Ever since the police had arrived and taken statements from all of them, he'd wanted to go to Olivia and make sure she was alright. At the very least, he would have liked being able to call her, but he didn't have her phone number. The only number he did have was Hunter's and he didn't like the idea of calling him and bugging him. He made a mental note to exchange numbers with her the next time he saw her, which would be soon. He'd make sure of that.

Just when he felt like he could drift off to sleep, his phone went off. Who in the hell…? With a sigh, he snatched the phone off the nightstand and looked at the screen. His eyebrows furrowed at the sight of a number he didn't recognize.

For a moment, his thumb hovered over the reject option, but his curiosity was too great to ignore it. Swiping his thumb over the answer option, he brought it to his ear.

"Yes?" he spoke into the phone.

A soft, familiar voice filled his ear. "Wyatt?"

He bolted upright in bed. "Olivia?" he rasped, suddenly feeling panicked. "What's wrong? Are you alright? Did something happen?"

"No!" she exclaimed then sighed. "I'm fine. I'm sorry. I just… I couldn't sleep and… Hunter had programmed your number into my phone for me—I hope that's okay—and I… I shouldn't have called you so late. I'm really sorry."

"It's okay," he reassured her, feeling relieved that she was only having trouble sleeping like him. "I was awake, anyway."

She laughed softly. "I feel less bad, then."

A smile tugged at his lips just hearing her sweet laugh.

"Will you come over?" she suddenly asked.

His pulse spiked and his eyes widened, completely caught off guard. She wanted him to come over to her apartment at this time of night? Unsure of how to answer that, he lifted a hand, dragging his fingers through his hair.

"You want me to come over?" he asked like an idiot. "Livvi, I don't know if that's such a good idea. I mean, your sister hates me. I'm pretty sure she'd try to kill me if she caught me there."

"She won't catch you. She's asleep. Please, Wyatt. I just need someone close to make me feel safe until I fall asleep. When I'm with you… I feel safe."

How could he say no to that?

"Okay," he finally agreed, even though he had a bad feeling he would get caught over there. "I'll meet you at your door in about ten minutes."

"Thanks, Wyatt."

After they hung up, Wyatt climbed out of bed and tugged on a plain white t-shirt and a pair of khaki shorts, the entire time chastising himself for agreeing to go over there. Did he really want to stir the pot? No. So what are you doing? He shook his head at himself as sat down and pulled his shoes on. Taking in a deep breath, he pushed up to his feet and grabbed his phone, putting it on silent before tucking it into his back pocket.

When he slipped out of his apartment, he found Olivia already standing out in the hallway in front of her door, wearing a smile on her pretty face.

"Hey," he greeted quietly.

"Hi," she spoke just as quietly before lifting her hand to her face and placing her index finger over her lip to indicate they had to be silent. His pulse skittered out of control at the idea of sneaking inside her apartment. He'd really lost his damn mind.

She blindly reached a hand out toward him and after he regained control of his rapid heartbeat, his hand moved into hers. Swallowing hard, he allowed her to lead him into the apartment, the door clicking shut behind them. It sounded far louder than it probably was, making him grit his teeth and hold his breath for a long beat.

The apartment was dark aside from a few streaks of the light cutting through the windows from a streetlight. As Olivia pulled him through the apartment, he spotted Hunter asleep on the couch. Wait! If he was sleeping on the couch, where were they going?

Her bedroom, dumbass.

How had he not realized that when she'd mentioned sleep? Someone needed to smack him really hard over the back of the head. Maybe that would knock some sense back into him.

The smart thing would have been to turn around and go back home, but instead, he followed her right into her bedroom. And the moment the door shut behind them, they were encompassed in complete darkness.

"Do you have a lamp?" he asked, his voice low.

"Now what use would I get out of a lamp?" she whispered while pulling him toward the bed.

He grimaced. "Generally, every bedroom has at least one. I thought maybe yours would too, even if you didn't use it."

"Nope," she said in a hushed tone, "but we don't need one. We're just going to be lying down."

Right. In her bed.

Having difficulty seeing, he carefully climbed onto her bed. He didn't know how she did it—well, what choice did she have? He just couldn't imagine going through life never seeing anything around him. It had to be really tough for her at times.

"You know, this would've been easier and safer had you just come over to my place," he told her once they were both stretched out on their backs.

She didn't comment.

With his eyes adjusting to the dark, he quietly watched her roll toward him, move his arm, and press against his side. Her head rested on his shoulder as her palm rubbed across his chest, her touch seemingly innocent, but it sent a surge of awareness through him. Why had he agreed to come over here? Because he liked her… a lot.

"Thank you for coming over," she whispered softly. "It means a lot."

"You're welcome," he replied and lifted a hand to her head, gently easing his fingers into the silky tresses of her hair. At the same time, he felt her hand moving down toward his waist and inhaled sharply when her fingers dipped beneath the hem of his shirt and grazed his abdomen.

He snatched her hand before she could touch him further and jumped when she let out a loud screech of surprise. His heart thundered in his chest, and muttering a curse under his breath, he placed his hand over her mouth and breathed out a soft 'shhh' as close to her ear as he could. Then he tightly squeezed his eyes closed, listened for any sound, and waited.

He'd expected to hear rushed footfalls before the door busted wide open, but he didn't hear anything except their breathing. Crisis averted, it seemed.

After waiting a few more minutes just to make sure no one came barging in, he finally lifted his hand from her mouth and sighed in relief. His pulse, however, still raced wildly.

"I'm sorry," he murmured. "I didn't mean to startle you."

She didn't respond.

Before he could ask if something was wrong, her hand covered his mouth. He froze, and that's when he heard it—footsteps. It sounded like they were coming straight toward her bedroom. Pulling away from her, he carefully slipped off the side of the bed away from the door. Mere seconds later, the door swung open and the ceiling light came on.

"Liv?" Hunter called softly.

Olivia remained silent, probably feigning sleep, which Wyatt was thankful for because he was much too big to slide under her bed and hide if Hunter chose to sit and chat. Pressing as closely to the bed as humanely possible, he held his breath, his heart racing.

After a few very tense moments, the light went off and the door closed.

Wyatt released the breath he'd been holding in a hard exhale. That was close. Too close.

Shifting onto his knees, he peaked over the top of the bed. Eyes squinted; he could barely make her out in the darkness.

"That was close," he whispered, and as he climbed back on the bed and neared her, she started giggling and clamped a hand over her mouth in an attempt to stifle them.

"Shhh," he breathed out, trying not to laugh himself, but she only giggled more.

Sliding his hand over hers, he pressed both her hand and his tightly against her mouth, but her giggles were relentless. He was totally going to get caught. And then be murdered. Seeing this side of her, however, suddenly made the risk worth it.

He smiled and settled down on his side facing her before removing his hand from hers and using the tips of his fingers to lightly trace her hairline. Her giggles began to quiet almost immediately as if she sensed the shift in the air. As they slowly faded away, she reached toward him, her hand connecting with his chest and running around to the back of his neck.

At the feel of her fingers skimming over the nape of his neck, he shivered, completely forgetting about Hunter and Sadie and everything else around them. All that mattered was her and this moment. Closing the distance between them, his mouth pressed against hers, kissing her slowly and tenderly as his hand rested on her back, his fingers splaying across the span of it and traveling downward until his hand rounded her bottom and ran down the back of her thigh, dragging her leg over his hip.

When they intimately brushed together, she became deathly still against him, evidently feeling his permanent erection. Or what felt permanent.

She broke her lips from his then and cleared her throat. "You're—"

"Hard?" he interrupted her, his voice soft. "Yeah. But it's okay. I'm not trying to seduce you."

She nodded. "Wyatt, can I ask you something?"


"If I don't… you know, have sex with you," she started, causing his eyebrow to shoot upward, "will you lose interest in me and move on to someone else?"

Well, he hadn't been expecting that, but it was a fair question given his history with women.

"Are we talking never?" he asked jokingly.

She giggled and quickly buried her face against his neck to muffle the sound. "You know what I meant," she whispered softly.

His hand moved to her head, his fingers tunneling through her hair as his mouth rested against her ear. "Yes, I do," he said quietly, "and you don't have to worry. I like you, Olivia. You're different and special, and I think special things are worth waiting for."

He could feel the moment she smiled against his neck, and accompanying her smile was a warm, fuzzy feeling inside him. Oh, he had it bad, but acknowledging that didn't make him want to turn tail and run. Instead, it made him smile. And closing his eyes, he combed his fingers through her hair until he felt her body go slack and her breathing deepen.

At that point, he knew he needed to get up and leave before he got caught, but he didn't budge an inch. He just remained in bed with her, holding her, until he drifted off himself.