Home > Beneath This Man (This Man #2)(14)

Beneath This Man (This Man #2)(14)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas

See me or squeeze me for information? ‘Tomorrow?’ I try.

‘I thought we were doing today?’ He sounds so disappointed.

So am I. I really want to see him, but I really don’t too. ‘I’m sorry. I’m looking at a few places to rent, and then I’ve got stacks of drawings to finalise.’ I lie again, but I couldn’t possibly muster up the strength to appear reasonably normal in such a short space of time. Maybe by tomorrow I’ll have dragged myself out of my hole of depression and uncertainty. I very much doubt it, but at least I have time to try.

‘Great, we’ll make a day of it.’ he confirms my fears.

A whole day of evading his questions? ‘Okay, ring me in the morning.’ I say, and secretly hope he goes out with all of his mates tonight and suffers a dreadful hangover which delays his call to me. I need time.

‘Sure thing. See you tomorrow, kid.’ He hangs up.

I start thinking of ways to get around this and after an hour of aimless pacing around the penthouse, I come up with none. I can’t avoid him forever.

The intercom phone system chimes and I answer it to Clive. ‘Ava, the maintenance man is on his way up to fix the door. Oh, and Mr Ward’s window has been replaced.’

‘Thank you, Clive.’ I hang up and make my way to the door.

I answer to an old boy, who is already inspecting the damage. ‘You have a rhino ram-raid you?’ he asks, scratching his head.

‘Something like that.’ I mutter.

‘I can secure it for now, but it’ll need replacing. I’ll get it on order and let you know when it arrives.’ he says, placing his tool box on the floor.

‘Thanks,’ I leave him chipping chunks of splintered wood off the doorframe and turn to find Jesse half asleep, looking suspiciously at the door.

‘What’s going on?’ he asks.

‘John had a fight with your front door when you didn’t open it.’ I inform him dryly.

His eyebrows shoot up, but then he looks worried. ‘I should ring him.’

‘How are you feeling?’ I ask, assessing him and concluding that he looks a bit brighter after an hour power napping.

‘Better. You?’

‘Fine, I’ll get my bag.’ I sidestep him and make my way past.

His hand flies out and grabs my arm. ‘Ava.’

I halt and wait for a follow up, any words that are going to make this all better, but I get nothing, just his heat seeping into my flesh from his harsh grip of my arm. I look up at him and find him watching me, but he still doesn’t open his mouth.

I sigh heavily and pull myself free, but then I remember my car isn’t here. ‘Shit.’ I curse quietly.

‘Watch your mouth, Ava. What’s up?’

‘My car’s at Kate’s.’

‘We’ll take mine.’

‘You can’t drive one handed.’ I turn to face him. His driving scares the shit out of me at the best of times.

‘I know. You can drive.’ He tosses his keys at me, and I panic slightly. He trusts me to drive a car worth more than one hundred and sixty thousand pounds?

Holy shit!

‘Ava, you’re driving like Miss Daisy. Will you put your foot down?’ Jesse moans.

I throw him a scowl, which he chooses to ignore. The accelerator is so sensitive, and I feel so small behind the wheel. I’m scared to death I’m going to scratch it. ‘Shut up.’ I snap, before doing as I’m told and roaring off down the road. It’s his tough shit if I do bump someone.

‘That’s better.’ He looks at me and smiles. ‘It’s easier to handle if you’re not pu**y footing around on the power.’

I could pin that statement on him. He is right, though, but I’m not telling him so. Instead, I concentrate on the road and getting him to the hospital in one piece.

After three hours in Minor Injuries and an x-ray, the doctor has confirmed that Jesse’s hand is not broken, but he has some muscle damage.

‘Have you been resting it?’ The nurse asks, ‘If it’s been a few days since you incurred the injury, I would expect the swelling to have subsided by now.’

Jesse looks at me guiltily as the nurse wraps his hand in a bandage. ‘No,’ he says quietly.

No, he’s been clenching bottles of vodka in it.

‘You should have been,’ she reprimands him, ‘And it should be elevated.’

I raise my eyebrows at him and he rolls his eyes while the nurse puts his arm in a sling before sending us on our way. As we get to the entrance, he removes the sling and chucks it in the litter bin.

‘What are you doing?’ I gasp, watching him walk out of the hospital doors.

‘I’m not wearing that thing.’

‘You bloody are!’ I yell, fishing it out of the bin. I’m shocked. This man has no regard for the wellbeing of his body. He has assaulted his internal organs with gallons of vodka, and now refuses to co-operate so his hand heals properly?

I stalk after him, but he doesn’t stop until he gets to the car. I’m holding the keys, but I don’t trigger the door release. We glare at each other over the top of the DBS.

‘Are you going to open the car?’ he asks.

‘No, not until you put this back on.’ I hold the sling above my head.

‘I told you, Ava. I’m not wearing it.’

I roll my eyes before narrowing them back on him. ‘Why?’ I ask shortly. The stubborn Jesse is back, but this trait I’m not so pleased to see.

‘I don’t need it.’

‘Yes, you do.’

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