He laughs that loud laugh that cuts down into my stomach and vibrates my breakfast to the surface. “Of course. I haven’t seen you in quite some time and thought I’d pay my baby daughter a visit. Did you get my letter?”
I can’t help the tremble that takes root in my chin and bleeds up into my tear ducts. I fight the well of salt water. Seth was right. They were a weakness to him, and he’d feed on them. “You need to go.”
“I’ll go when I’m ready. I think you should remember whose roof you’re living under and be more gracious.”
The door across the hall opens, and I meet Seth James’ bold stare over my father’s shoulder. God no. Please, don’t watch this.
He leaves the door open and steps closer. “Everything okay?”
My father lurches back and clears his throat. “Everything’s fine.” He spins and thrust out his hand, all politician’s smiles and his kissing baby’s grin on his face. “E. Harrison, and you are?”
“Neighbor. Seth James.”
I grip my towel tighter, but Seth’s eyes never stray from Dad’s. He was so wrong about being a hero. He’d just saved me from pure evil. The two men stand taller. My father is forbidding in his expensive threads. He has years of cut muscles beneath that have kept him from sagging like most men his age. Seth, on the other hand, has youth on his side. He’s all hard ridges and full of territorial male dominance.
With a deep sigh that relaxes all those tightened nerves, I ask, “Father, did you need something?”
“I came by to speak to you about something, but, perhaps another time would be better suited.” He glances back at me and sneers, but returns to sleazy smiles before he gives a nod to Seth. “Mr. James, a pleasure. I’ll be on my way.”
Seth puts a hand out and catches my father’s shoulder. “Mr. Harrison, as the owner of this condo, I feel that I should warn you against making my tenants uncomfortable.” Seth steps across the hall and drops an arm around my scarred shoulder. His thumb soothes away the shiver chasing over my collar bone. “I’m not sure of your welcome here, so please correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t want to see either of these girls come to harm.”
I gasp. He spoke so eloquently. Bold and rich. I’d have never thought he had it in him if I hadn’t just witnessed it. And no one has ever come to my defense. Never. Seth James was ten feet tall and made of blue bubble gum right now. I’d chew him, blow him, and make him pop. Vulgar, I know, but there it is.
My father straightens his jacket. “Do you know who I am?”
“I do, but obviously you do not know who I am or what I’m capable of.” Seth tucks me even closer. If he’s noticed the scars stretching across my shoulders, he’s too polite to even give them a second glance, and for that, I’ll forever be indebted to him. “Don’t fuck with Alice again.”
He knows my name. And he just cussed my dad.
Harrison squints at us, and turns, clicking his heels together before stalking to the elevator. As much as I love seeing someone put him in his place, Seth James had just built me a coffin.
Fucking great. As soon as the sliding doors close on Dad, I shove Seth away from me. He’s too much right now. Everything is too much.
His brow wrinkles. “What?”
“What the fuck do you think you’re doing?”
He steps back and glances at the floor before smirking up at me. “Being your hero.”