“Be right there,” she calls out, then she lowers her voice to address me. “We’re lucky we didn’t get kicked out last night over the clothes.”
“We?” I repeat. “I’m not the one clogging hotel filters with boxer shorts.”
She pins me with a glare. I turn onto my side and prop my head up on my hand, deciding to enjoy the show of Echo hot as hell and strutting across the room. Spaghetti-strapped tank top and boy shorts that show a hint of her ass. On second thought… “You may want a robe if you’re going to open that door.”
Hell, a shirt would help.
“I’m going to crack it open to tell them that we’re still sleeping.”
“We’re eighteen and in a hotel. Did you want them to laugh?”
Her face turns red, and she shushes me.
Damn, she’s going to answer the door like that. I roll off the bed and grab a pair of jeans. “Let me. My luck it’ll be the maintenance guy, then he’ll be stalking you for the rest of the trip.”
Echo sticks her tongue out at me, but steps back to let me by. “Be nice.”
My lips tilt up as I rub my thumb against her cheek. “I’m always nice.”
“At least button your pants.”
With a chuckle, I open the door wide enough to see who it is, but not enough that wandering eyes can drink in Echo’s gorgeous legs and ass. My muscles grow rigid when I spot a guy my height, a smaller build and a few years older slouching in front of my room.
“What do you want?” I growl.
His eyes morph into two ovals. “Sorry, I thought this room belonged to a red-headed girl. Is this her room?”
He checks out the room number beside the door, and I broaden my stance. “What makes you think she’s here?”
The guy winces. “I followed her.”
A tremor runs through my body, and I have to keep from grabbing his throat and shoving him into the wall. Keep talking, asshole. I won’t have Echo pissed at me when I take a swing at this guy. I’ll allow him to bury himself first. “What do you want with her?”
“Noah,” Echo whispers behind me and touches my bare back. “Did he say he followed me?”
The guy pulls his hands out of his sagging jeans. “I know this is strange, but I want to talk to her.”
“Noah?” Echo inches as if she’s going to peek out, and I slide in front of the door, holding the handle to keep her safely inside. This guy’s going to need a hell of a right hook to get to her.
“You need to go,” I say.
He rams both fists into his hair, and he’s got dark circles under his eyes like he hasn’t slept. “Look, I know this is insane—”
“You’re right—you’re fucking crazy. Guys knocking on hotel rooms of girls without being asked is sick.” I jerk my thumb for him to leave. “Serial killers belong at the next exit.”
“You don’t understand.” He steps in my direction and in response I step into the hallway, letting the door hit me. The asshole retreats. “I need to talk to her.”
“You got two seconds to go before I rip your fucking heart out and shove it down your throat.”
He throws his hands in the air. “Tell her that she was right on the painting, and that I didn’t know that the star was supposed to be there. I wasn’t trying to stalk her. I was trying to catch up, but she entered the hotel before I could. I saw the room she went in, and it didn’t feel right at the time to knock so I went home, but I couldn’t stop thinking about the painting so I came back and—”
“I said go!”
My fingers curl into fists. Damn it, why couldn’t Echo stay in the room? Behind me, Echo edges around the corner of the door. I should crush the damn guy for the way he ogles my girl’s chest like he’s a starved cartoon character who’s seeing meat for the first time in weeks. “What?”
“That’s him,” she says in a soft voice. “That’s the gallery owner.”
This means she’ll want to talk to him. Fucking great. My eyes bore into his. “You hurt her and you’ll deal with me. Period.”
His name is Hunter, and he’s the owner of not one but three galleries. While that’s amazingly cool, Noah is amazingly hot, and not in the sexy way. As Noah stalks back through the door and Hunter walks down the hallway to the exit, I desperately search for the right words to explain why I did what I just did—why I agreed to meet with Hunter.
Noah pulls a shirt over his head and pushes his arms through the holes with so much force it could rip the material. I lean against the door, and it clicks shut behind me. “What he said made sense.”
He shoots me a glare that could freeze lava. “Sense? He fucking followed you, Echo, then turned up on your doorstep at nine in the morning. He thought you were alone.”
True. He obviously wasn’t prepared to find Noah fuming at the door, but I understood that look in Hunter’s eye. The feeling that something you’ve worked on for so long isn’t right, and that if you don’t fix it you’ll go insane.
That painting means something to him, and art means something to me.
“You heard what he said. He tried to catch up with me after we talked, but when he saw me enter the room he thought he should wait until this morning. He just wants to discuss the painting. I get that.”
“I get that he was staring at your tits.”
A shockwave of anger bounces throughout my cells. Don’t kill the boy you love. “I had my arms crossed over my chest. I was wearing a sweater yesterday so he was probably staring at my scars. Exactly like you did when you first saw them. It’s what people do!”
Noah clasps his fingers to the back of his neck as if that will keep him from throttling me. “Tits. Not your goddamned scars. You’re the one that obsesses over them, not the rest of the world. Trust me, he wants to talk to you because he liked what he saw, and I don’t care for it.”
My mouth pops open, and all the air rushes out, leaving me speechless. Shocked, hurt, pissed, just freaking frustrated. “You…that was…”
“What? It was what, Echo?”
“Sometimes people like to discuss things. Sometimes people might see me as a person with talent! He didn’t see the scars yesterday so it was a shock today. He showed not because of my—” and I wildly gesture at my top area “—stuff. He and I had an actual conversation, and he showed here because he wanted to have another conversation involving art! Not everyone is interested in sex!”