12 Rounds (Knockout 1) - Page 39

“Sort of.”

Sean and I respond at the same time.

“I didn’t know we lived in the same building though,” I mention. “I know your brother from the gym. And well, yesterday he gave me a ride home.”

Teagan lifts an eyebrow. “From the boxing gym?”

“Well,” I say. “We haven’t met officially yet.” I will myself to look Sean in the eye again, but he’s beat me to it. I get the weird sense that he’s been staring at me since he walked out here. “It’s nice to see you again. I’m H


“Officially Sean,” he says and his lips quirk up into a half smirk. I’m surprised by the way he’s acting. The last time we met he wasn’t exactly the friendliest person in the world. In fact he was an ass.

My eyes sweep over him from his proportional face, all the way down to the tattoos on each arm, just above his elbows. They’re swirly tribal designs and I find part of myself wishing his shirt was off so I could see what they looked like as a whole. My observation of him comes to an abrupt halt when I notice his left knuckes. “Oh my god! You’re bleeding!” Instinctively, I grab his hand. He stiffens when my fingers brush against his, but I pretend to ignore it and examine the cuts further.

Flaps of skin peel away from the area of flesh surrounding his knuckles and the cuts have fresh bright red blood pooling in them with brown dried blood running down the length of the face of his hand. Little particles of drywall, sawdust, and paint chips adorn the wounds and I think about picking them out for him, but don’t.

“What the hell did you do?” Teagan interjects, a strern tone in her voice.

Sean yanks his hand out of my grasp and frowns. “Nothing, Tee. Come back inside. We need to talk.”

Teagan stands. “I don’t think that’s a good idea.” She takes a step away from us. “You know we both have bad tempers and I think I’ve had my fill of arguing for tonight.” She walks over and kisses Sean on the cheek. “I’ll be here for the next three days. We’re staying at the Renaissaince Inn.”

“At a hotel, Teagan? Really?” Sean fumes, clearly upset that his sister chose to stay at a hotel over his place. “You didn’t have to stay at the condo you know. You could have stayed at the lake house.”

“You have more than one house?” I blurt out then catch myself and cover my mouth. “Sorry.”

Teagan waves me off like she doesn’t care, but Sean just glares at me, intensely. “I’ll be back tomorrow, Sean. What’s your schedule like?” Teagan beams and Sean’s frown deepens into a scowl. Somehow I assume that this might be a private joke between them.

“Evening would be better,” he says levelly.

“All right then.” From my observation, it appears that Teagan seems to be over whatever argument they might have had and Sean seems to be wallowing in it. Teagan faces me and extends a hand. “It was so nice meeting you Hadlee. It’s good to know that my brother has friendly and courteous neighbors.”

I take her hand and shake it lightly. “Likewise.” On the nice to meet you part.

She walks toward the door backwards and points to Sean. “You behave.”

Sean rolls his eyes and huffs, “Please.” Then Teagan blows him a kiss and walks out the door.

My attention snaps to Sean as he turns to walk back to his apartment. “Wait!”

He stills then glances at me from over his shoulder. “Yes.”

“You should let me clean out those cuts for you,” I offer. Part of me thinks that maybe Sean has been on his own for a long time and isn’t used to people offering to help him. The other part of me thinks that even though he might refuse that he secretly does want to be asked. After all it is nice to know someone else is concerned about you. Once in a while.

“I’m fine.”

“But there are chunks of debris in them. They could get infected.” I wait to see if he’s going to continue walking to his condo, but he doesn’t. He stays completely still. Like he’s an ice sculpture in the middle of some swanky party. “Do you at least have any peroxide?”


“Just let me clean them out, please. I’ll feel better if you do.”

He’s silent for a minute. And that minute seems to stretch on forever. Swelling and expanding like the entire sitting room of the fourplex is full of hot air. Finally his chest collapses and he gives in. “Fine.” He walks back over to the couch and plops down next to me.

I get up. “I’ll be right back,” I tell him. He gives me a nonchalant shrug like he could care less, and with that I head into my condo to get some tweezers and peroxide.

When I return, Sean is sprawled out on the leather love seat, legs spread, one arm hanging over the back of the couch. I sit down next to him. Placing the peroxide and cotton in my lap, I reach for his left hand, but the second my fingers brush against his skin, he pulls back.

Tags: Lauren Hammond Knockout Romance
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