Without another word, Hunter leaves the shop. The girl behind the counter studies me as if she’s experiencing a vision. “Now that has never happened before.”
The hotel has a “business center” that’s comprised of a long folding table, a chair with more rips than leather and a shoddy wireless connection. In between moments of connectivity, I found nothing on a Diana Perry of Vail, Colorado. In this day and age, it seems damned impossible to not have a digital footprint.
Diana Perry—my grandmother. A small part of me withers. Mom left her family and kept them a secret. They have to be bad, but is awful better than being alone?
I lean back in the seat and check the clock on the bottom of the screen. My shift starts soon, and I’m nowhere near where I’d thought I’d be. I could email the lady, but it’s not what I want. This one has to be on my terms, no one else’s, and I definitely need space.
I stare the monitor down like it’s a drunk guy waiting to take a swing. There’s another way to discover info on Diana Perry, but it’s an option that’ll kill my pride. Rubbing the lines forming on my forehead, I type the email before I can talk myself out of it. Only a few sentences because God knows we hated each other when she was paid to be my social worker.
Is it true that my mother’s family is looking for me? If so, I want their phone number and address.
I click Send immediately. I’ll deal with any regret later.
“What are you doing?”
My body freezes at the sound of Echo’s soft voice. With her arms wrapped around herself, she rests a hip against the door frame of the closet-size room.
“Looking for stuff on my mom’s parents.”
“Have you found anything?”
I should tell Echo I emailed Keesha, but I can’t. I fucking can’t. I don’t know how the hell I feel about contacting Keesha, and if I tell Echo that I sent the message, she’ll ask about my emotions. When I say nothing because I can’t sort through the chaos in my mind, she’ll get hurt because she thinks I’m not talking to her. Silence at times is better than words.
I close down my email account and switch back to my last Google search. “Not a thing.”
Echo’s shoes tap against the tile floor as she nears me, and I breathe for the first time in hours. As if sensing I’m seconds from implosion, she eases her hands onto my shoulders and kneads at the tension that has formed knots. “We’ll find them.”
We’ll—as in the two of us. Shit, she always has the right words. Echo’s thumb slides to the spot below my shoulder blades, and my muscles melt under her touch. My shoulders roll forward, and Echo deepens the massage. “You’re tight.”
“I’m fine.” Better now that she’s here, and we aren’t attempting to verbally kill each other. I peek over my shoulder. “Does this mean I’m forgiven?”
She presses too hard on a sore spot. I flinch. She smiles. “Is that your way of apologizing?”
“It is if it means it’ll work.”
Echo slaps my back, and I chuckle. I turn in the chair and grab onto her hips, bringing her closer to me. I drop my legs open, and she glides in, tangling her hands into my hair. I look up and see those green eyes drinking me in, something that never fails to take my breath away.
I ease my hand to that sweet spot below her gorgeous ass. She pulls my hair in reprimand while also sighing with my caress. Beneath my jeans, I spring to life, and I stumble upon the problem of having Beth and Isaiah in tow. “Close the door, and we’ll declare this make-up official.”
“We have a room,” she whispers.
Had. I take her hand and guide her onto my lap. I love how Echo molds her body around mine: head on my shoulder, her hair teasing my neck, her arms winding around my chest. I hug her and revel in her warmth.
“When do you have to work?” Her breath tickles my skin, making the fine hairs on my neck stand at attention.
I inch my fingers under her shirt. “I’ve got time.”
“I said we have a room.” Echo places an openmouthed kiss below my ear, and my grip on her tightens.
I groan, and my head hits the back of the chair. Reality is my and Echo’s greatest threat. “Beth’s sick.”
Echo raises her head and damn if there isn’t concern for a girl that’s treated her like shit. “Does she need a doctor?”
“No, she’s carsick from the ride. She’s green around the gills, but nothing sleep won’t cure.”
Echo lays her temple against my shoulder again, and I glance at the open door. We could lock it and there’s plenty of room in this chair.
“No way, Noah,” she says, disrupting my fantasies.
“Never said a word.”
“Your mouth isn’t the only part that talks.”
“Can’t help what you do to me.” I readjust Echo, shifting her away from the part of my body currently running its mouth, and draw my hand through her curls.
Her foot bounces against my leg. Something has her worked up. “What’s going on?”
“I need to talk to you about some stuff.”
Yeah. A long conversation needs to be had—my shit included. “Then talk.”
“Hunter asked me to paint a picture for him.”
Hunter needs his face rearranged. “Did you accept?”
“No, but I haven’t declined.” She pauses, and the rhythm of her foot picks up speed. “What if I need you to trust me on this?”
Why doesn’t she ask me to rip out my own jugular?
“I mean it, Noah. I need you to support me.”
Outside the office, a group of children sprint down the hallway and from the sounds of their squeals, they’re heading for the pool. Seconds behind, a woman laughs as a man calls for them to wait. I had that type of family once. A mom and a dad who took me on trips where we stayed in hotels and swam in pools. At one time, life felt simple—without complication. Exactly what Echo and I are searching for now.
“I’ll stand by you,” I say.
She nods, but focuses on her still-moving foot. Fuck this. We aren’t going back to any of this crap. Not today. “No more worrying. This is home base, Echo. Just us.”
“Okay,” she mumbles against my shoulder. “Did I ever tell you that Dad took Aires and me on vacation a few times? Sometimes with Mom, then without, then with Ashley.”
“Did you throw Aires’s clothes in the pool?”