Stuart “Saint” Paulson looked down at Sienna, his brow furrowed, shoulders tense, his own headache inviting itself in.
“I can’t do that,” he replied after a long pause. She didn’t respond. She’d fallen asleep. He sighed, went back to the bed, sat down and looked at the woman who had pulled at something deep inside that he’d forgotten. How to feel. Saint didn’t deserve to feel, not after what’d happened to his sister, Becky. Saint didn’t understand why he agreed to take Sienna home in the first place, let alone make sure he tucked her into bed. He couldn’t take care of his baby sister when she’d needed him the most, so why would he be able to take care of Sienna?
Saint’s head dropped down, chin to his chest, and his self-hatred sliced deep with each breathe. He gazed at Sienna, swept the hair out of her face, and skimmed his finger down to her chin, he couldn’t stop and indulged in the feel of her, her hair, her skin. She wasn’t what he would call a stunner. Sienna was…unique. Right now, her skin was pale and drawn because of the headache. Once she was better, he bet it would be flawless and pink as pale porcelain. Her jaw angled sharply down from high cheekbones, almost to a diamond shape at her chin. What softened her face was the subtle slope of her nose, and her big eyes lined with thick lashes that seemed to go on forever. He noticed she was tall when he held her on the dance floor, maybe six foot two instead of his six foot four. Sienna had fit him snug and in all the right places. She was muscular too, but in his arms, she felt soft and pliable. The way her firm breasts pressed into the planes of his chest as he helped her from his truck and then carried her into the house was like a shot of adrenaline. Saint wanted to take full advantage of all her curves. He jerked his hand away and balled it into a fist.
Saint got up, adjusted himself and left the room. Giggles caught his attention at the end of the hall. He took the stairs faster. At the front door, ready to leave, he stopped and looked up.
“Dammit!” Saint turned around and went to the couch that looked uncomfortably short. His ass met the cushion and his hands went to his leather boots, out of habit, he unlaced the right one first and then the left, yanked them off, and tucked the laces in at the top and set them side by side next to a round coffee table with a glass top. He saw that Sienna was definitely a Pilates fan by the large pile of magazines with the title, whatever that was, along with a taste for southern cooking. He ran his fingers through his hair and kicked back on the couch to stare at the ceiling. He extended his legs, his feet settled on an armrest, and he leaned back onto a flower-covered pillow that felt more like burlap than Goose Down.
As he stares into the dark, Saint tried to convince both sides of his brain to refrain from stupidity. But one side conjured Sienna naked in positions that would make Kama Sutra experts blush. The other side said to get the hell away from her before Saint turned to sinner. Few knew that side of him. Close friends knew his anger simmered just below the surface and he was very controlled in all things. Saint didn’t need to get involved with anyone. The sinner didn’t deserve a good girl like Sienna. He was selfish and angry. She didn’t deserve his darkness, not after the little bit he’d heard about the dick she’d been dating. But that was all he had to give.
Saint sat up and started to reach for his boots but changed his mind and lay back down. Anger started to rise, his guilt locked in tandem with it, as it pulsed in his veins. More laughter floated down the stairs. He crossed his arms and glared up at the noise Christoph caused Megan to make.
His jaw clenched in time with his fists as he tried to breathe through the build-up of tension. Just looking into Sienna’s pain filled eyes brought the guilt and regret to the surface, so similar to the final look on his sister’s face when he’d slammed the door. He didn’t need a reminder of what he buried a long time ago.
He looked at his watch. It was only one-thirty. His mind raced around his day, and he tried to forget about Sienna, not to look too closely at his sudden need to know she was okay. He told himself he would sleep and then make sure she had everything she needed in the morning. Then he would get to the shop so he could work on the bike he’d started to build, that’s all he needed. It was a good decision. He rubbed his face hard, and dug his fingers in as he shifted his bum knee on the couch.
Earlier that morning he’d hosted a slew of manufacturing reps at the track, Paulson Raceway. Several came out to scout talent that he’d been training for this year’s AMA Moto1 and Moto2 Series. The first race was only three weeks away and he had to trim his stable to four racers and two reserves. He yawned. A lot of his kids were going to be disappointed. He yawned again. Sleep finally tugged him under only to suck him into a nightmare.
“I need some money,” his sister Becky said when he opened his door. Her rancid breath came in heavy gusts. She looked behind her and wobbled reaching out to grab onto something. He stepped back on his crutches so she wouldn’t touch him.
Her body listed the other way as her hand pushed off from the doorframe and he still didn’t help. She continued to sway back and forth.
“I need money.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” His knuckles mottled white with the amount of pressure he exerted on the handles of the damned crutches. He wanted to pummel his sister where she stood for what she’d done. “You’re not getting anything from me. Not anymore.”
She started to itch at her arms, her nails dug in where he could see track marks. “Please, Saint. I need…”
“Don’t fucking call me that!” Flames practically fired from his mouth with the amount of anger shooting off him. “You lost that right when you took my one chance away from me. I tried to help you. I would have done anything for you. But you decided your next fix was more important than me.” He was breathing like a bull ready to stampede. “You only get one chance. One. To make it in this life, Sister. That’s it! That’s all anyone gets. You took away mine!” He slams the door in her face.
Saint’s eyes sprang open and he gasped for air.
He sat up and wiped the sweat from his brow. His hands shook. He closed his eyes but could not get that last image of Becky out of his head. She died that night, and he could have prevented it. After a few minutes, he could breathe again, but he was afraid to try to go back to sleep. Yeah, in a couple hours, he told himself, he would make sure Sienna was okay. Then he would get out of her life.
Saint was about to close his eyes but the sound of a car engine alerted him to trouble. It was too early. He reached for his boots.