Chapter Thirty Nine
The Eye of the Storm
The meeting with his coach and healer had left Larkin in a bad mood. There was no second-guessing why. A full week of slow, easy trainings, exclusion from the next two upcoming games and a thorough scolding from his coach for “unnecessarily” using up his energy stores and weakening his immune system… His good mood from this morning was non-existent.
I thought it was comforting that he still held onto my hand as he gave me a tour of the stadium and the team’s locker room.
“I want you to come to my games now,” he all but whined.
I looked up at him, confused. “Why wouldn’t I?”
He sighed and squeezed my hand. “Scythe and your brother may be locked up but that Morse guy and any accomplice he has are out there. They may not have the personal desire to harm you but may seek vengeance in your direction.”
“I can take care of myself,” I pointed out for what seemed like the billionth time in the weeks that I’d known him.
“Oh, aye, you’ve proved that,” he said sarcastically.
“Did you forget that I came close to breaking your nose when we first met?”
He gave me a firm glare. “Luke told me that Morse took you out without much of a fight.”
I tugged my hand out of his and felt like pulling my hair. “My arm was broken! Morse is superhuman!”
“He still is.”
“Big deal! You’re trying to tell me that attending your games, in the company of Garth and Luke, would be dangerous?” I threw up my hands. “Hell, I bet you would come charging out of the field if you knew I was in trouble. I’d be well in the public eye. I want to watch your games!” Now I was the one whining.
He grabbed my hand in a tight grip and pulled it back to his side. “No more arguing.”
I ripped my hand from his, nearly separating the bones in my hand and wrist. “No. No! You can’t just roll over me anymore.”
He stared down at me passively, waiting.
“I’m getting sick of it! You and Luke and Liam! You see me as something to protect! I’m not a priceless jewel! For crying out loud, I’m not of any worth!”
The warning came in his eyes. His features remained calm but a temper I’d never experienced from Larkin heated in his blue gaze.
I toned down my voice, hoping that I would calm him down in turn. “I want to argue and negotiate with you as an equal. I want to figure things out until we reach a compromise that we can both agree on. Can’t you see how being in my shoes would be frustrating? I love you as much as you love me but I trust that you can take care of yourself and come back to me in one piece wherever you go.”
“Are you trying to say that I don’t trust you?” He spoke in a low murmur.
“It seems that way to me,” I murmured back. “It feels like we always have this talk. You like to protect and I like to protect. We can’t have it both ways. Maybe you can give me the same trust that I give you.”
“It goes against the way I grew up. I took care of my family-”
“I’m not your family! I know how to take care of myself!”
Larkin’s limbs stiffened and he stopped walking down the hallway. “I know, I understand that. But it’s ingrained in me to protect. Just like it’s ingrained in you to wear clothing.”