This is a little heavy on backstory and introspection, which might be cut in revision, but I need to make sure Elias is more than an asshole. At least sometimes.
Elias slipped his seldom-used key into her locked door and eased it open. Why so stealthily, he hated to admit. It made him feel sneaky and mean, hoping to catch her in a compromising position, and also sick to his stomach at the thought. He didn’t know if he could really face that reality. He could talk about it, even joke about it, but if he saw her having sex with another man, it might be the last breath that bastard would ever take.
Even if that man was Jesse, who managed to give off that helpless victim vibe that must have drawn the vilest perps in Dallas.
Elias knew he had no right to claim her sole affections, not after abandoning her these past months. Frustrated rage at his job had simmered over into his personal life. When Donnie had been killed, Elias could only picture himself lying dead in the street. He’d like to think that maybe he’d wanted to protect her from ever ending up a sobbing widow leaning over his coffin, but he couldn’t lie to himself.
Her client had blown his partner away.
She’d only being doing her job, that just happened to run counter to his. But she didn’t have to do it so f*cking well.
So he’d taken his rage out on her, even though he knew it was stupid. He knew he’d been a prick. She was a strong woman and she could carry a hell of a lot, but that didn’t make it right for him to dump the blame on her shoulders. Especially when I carry Donnie’s death on my back, too.
It would serve him right if she’d moved on and found another man. A man who didn’t work himself to death in case a drug dealer didn’t get to him first. Or a kid who worships the ground she walks on because she saved him.
The lights were off but the television was playing one of those ridiculous black-and-white zombie movies she loved so much. Two heads were visible above the couch, although Jesse’s was low and tucked into her neck more than Elias cared to see. Nothing suspicious was going on; they were just watching a movie.
Doubt ate away at him. She’d been so upset, so desperate earlier when they’d talked on the phone. Maybe they’d already done the deed hours ago. Instead of serving dinner, maybe she’d taken Jesse on top of the table.
Elias knew full well that she was a passionate woman. The kid was so eager and desperate to belong to her, that God only knew how far he’d pushed her. Elias couldn’t even bring himself to blame him. He’d do a hell of a lot to keep her himself, even if the last few months hadn’t proven how much he cared about her.
He shut the door quietly, but her head whipped around. Her eyes met his, and he knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that she hadn’t found release in anyone else’s arms. Not by the fire in her eyes. He swore the temperature in the room spiked twenty degrees.
Beside her, Jesse uncurled, stretching like a sleepy cat.
Elias forced himself to move slowly instead of falling on her like a starving wolf. Methodically, he stashed his gun and badge in the bolted-down safe he’d installed in her coat closet once they got serious. Shutting the door, he turned and raked his eyes over her as she stood. She wore jeans and a soft sweater instead of a slinky gown or low-cut blouse, but it was all he could do not to bury his hands in that cotton and rip his way into her lush body.
She stalked toward Elias, her eyes glittering, her body simmering that siren call of need. Need for him. Eyes only for him. Despite the handsome younger man hovering warily at her back.
Trying not to be an asshole, at least this time, he said, “Get your butt downstairs, Jesse.”
The kid shot toward the door like zombies had started crawling out of the TV.