12 Rounds (Knockout 1) - Page 38

Chapter Sixteen


There is definitely something going on next door.

First, I heard shouting.

Doors slamming.

Then it was like the wall was being drilled with a jackhammer.

Now soft sobs bleed through the door coming from the hall. What if someone is hurt? Or needs help? I eye the grandfather clock in the corner of the living room. Its 7:30 pm. Lara won’t be home from work for another two hours. I feel nervous when I leave the condo when she’s not here, but the sobbing is getting louder and listening to it is breaking my heart.

Peeking, out my door, I see a girl. She’s young. Has to be between the ages of nineteen and twenty one. Her pale cheeks are flushed and she holds her face in her palms as the sobs come out. Her agony tortures me and my eyes water up just watching her. I have this thing about seeing other people cry. I can’t really explain it, but the second I see the tears fall, I lose it myself.

I slip through the crack in my door, leaving it open and quietly make my way over the girl on the couch. “Are you all right?” I ask slowly.

Startled, the girl’s head snaps up and she throws her hand over her chest as if she’s just had a heart attack. “Jesus,” she gasps. “You scared the crap out of me.”

“I’m sorry. I just heard you crying and I thought if it were me and I was in your shoes, I’d want someone to ask.”

She sucks back a few oncoming tears and smiles weakly. “I’ll be fine. Eventually. Thanks for asking.” She pats the empty spot on the couch next to her. “I’m Teagan.”

I sit down. “Hadlee.”

“Well, Hadlee. I’m sorry if all the racket disturbed you. My brother can be a real dick.”

I stare at her, concerned. “He didn’t… He didn’t—”

She takes the words right out of my mouth. “Hurt me? Phyisically you mean?” I nod. “God no!” She dips her thumbs underneath her eyes and wipes away the remaining wetness. “My brother may have an awful temper, but he’d never hit a woman. My mother raised him better than that.”

She folds her hands in her lap and I place my hand on her shoulder. “Well that’s good.”

Teagan lets out a deep breath and her tears seem to have stopped. “I should have known better than to spring this on him.” She looks me in the eye, manages a half-smile, and I notice how green her eyes are. “I got married and he found out by noticing the wedding band on my husband’s finger. I tried to call him and tell him, but he didn’t get my voicemails or return my phone calls. She makes a hand gesture. “Then I show up out of the blue.” She groans and shakes her head. “I just should have known better. My brother is not the type who likes to be surprised.”

“I’m sure he’ll come around,” I say. “And congratulations on your marriage. That’s wonderful. How long have you been together?”

“Eight months. Look, I know most people balk at that, right? They think I don’t know him, but it’s not like that with Emerson. We were only together a month and I knew he was the one.” Her lips curl up into a radiant smile and I can tell just by the way she talks about him that’s truly and incandescently happy. “He finishes my sentences. We both love long walks on the beach. He says that every man should tell his wife how much he loves her at least three times a day.”

I laugh. “That’s amazing.” I bet a lot of women wish they had someone like that.

She snorts. “Listen to me, rambling on to a complete stranger about my marriage and overbearing sibling problems. I’m so sorry you have to sit here and listen to this. You can walk away at any time.”

“I don’t mind,” I mention. “I think it’s nice when people want to talk about how happy and in love they are.”

“Yeah, me too.”

A door slams somewhere in the four-plex and is then followed by plodding footsteps. By the time I look up Sean Reilly is standing right in front of me and I’ve got a blush of roses on my cheeks. “What…What are you doing here?”

Sean gives me a backward glance. “Me?” He points to his chest. “I live here and own the building. What are you doing here?”

“I live here too,” I say. Great. As if this doesn’t make things ten times more complicated. And what makes things even better is that he’s my freaking landlord!

I don’t look at him right away, but when I finally do I can’t help but gravitate toward his sapphire and emerald eyes. They’re beautiful. I’ve never seen anything like them.

Teagan is glancing between me and Sean, her brow furrowed, lips pursed. “So…” she trails off. “You guys know each other?”

“Kind of.”

Tags: Lauren Hammond Knockout Romance
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