Because of Low (Sea Breeze #2)(4) by Abbi Glines

"You're welcome and if you keep looking at me like that I may become your personal chef."

I covered the giggle I couldn't control. He was quite possibly the most charming guy I'd ever met.

His eyes got serious a moment and I watched as he reached out and touched my cheek almost reverently.

"I really like your dimples," he whispered.

The heat rose up my neck so fast and flooded my face I knew I had to look like a red berry. I hated my fair skin.

"Go sit down and eat Low, please."

I obeyed without question.

I was on my second bite of eggs when he sat down across from me at the table.

"What class do you have today?"

I swallowed and took a drink of coffee to wash it down before responding.

"Calculus"

He grinned, "If you need any help, math is my thing." I needed help but I doubted I'd be able to stop smelling him and ogling him long enough to pay attention to the words coming out of his mouth.

"Thanks"

He nodded and took a drink of his coffee.

"Are you coming back tonight?" He asked after a few minutes. I wanted him to be asking because he wanted to see me. But I also knew I needed to get those thoughts under control before I set myself up to get hurt.

"Not sure but I doubt it. I'm probably going to stay at my sister's," I didn't want to elaborate but I was due a night since I'd kept Larissa yesterday. Besides I couldn't move into Cage's bed.

A frown creased his forehead and he appeared to be thinking about something that bothered him.

"You know I don't mind you being here. If you need to stay here I'm completely cool with it. This is Cage's place after all."

I smiled and swallowed my last bite of bacon.

"Thank you but that isn't why. I can't just move in here. It would crimp Cage's life and he'd eventually get annoyed with me. He doesn't see it that way but I don't want to wear out my welcome."

Marcus shook his head, "You won't wear out your welcome.

I'm positive Cage would never want you somewhere else.

He's very protective of you."

I smiled and stood up to take my plate to the sink.

"Whether he realizes it or not he needs his freedom and room to breathe."

Marcus frowned but didn't respond.

"Thanks again for breakfast. It was the sweetest thing anyone has ever done for me. I appreciate it." The small frown eased at my words and he smiled but I could still see the concern in his eyes. God he was going to get past my barriers. I needed to put some distance between us.

"I'm gone. See ya later," I called out as I headed for the door without looking back.

"Bye Will ow."

Marcus

Amanda called me from school upset shortly after Will ow left. Apparently Dad hadn't come home last night and Mom had locked herself in her bedroom crying and wouldn't come out this morning. I'd gone by to check on Mom first and she'd put on a happy face for me but the dark circles under her eyes told me she knew the truth. It was time I had a talk with dad.

As I pulled into the parking lot at Sea Breeze High School, I spotted Amanda sitting on a picnic table outside the cafeteria entrance with Sadie White right beside her.

Sadie's arm was wrapped around Amanda's shoulders as she cried. I wondered how much my sister had shared with Sadie. I hadn't seen or spoken to Sadie in over two months. I missed being around her but it was just easier if I kept my distance. Sadie had been the one that got away for me. She'd been snatched out of my reach by a freaking rock star as crazy as that sounds. Jax Stone, the hottest teen rock star in the world had been both mine and Sadie's employer last summer. We'd worked as staff in his summer home located on the private island connected to Sea Breeze. One look at Sadie and he'd been hooked.

Unfortunately for me she returned the feelings.

I parked my truck and headed over to get my sister.

Sadie's concerned gaze met mine as I approached. I could tell by the look in her eyes she knew.

"Hey Sadie, thanks for being here for her," I said as I walked up and reached out a hand to my little sister. She threw herself at me and began weeping harder. I wanted to kill my dad with my own bare hands as her sobs shook her body. Damn him.

"She told me Marcus," Sadie said quietly, "I'm sorry." I nodded, "Yeah, me too. He's an ass. A selfish bastard." Sadie didn't even flinch. She understood being furious with a parent. She'd had her hands full with her mother until Jax Stone fell in love with her and proceeded to fix all her problems. Sadie's spoiled selfish mother, Jessica had been one of the things he fixed.

"I just want to get away from it all. Can I come back to your place?" Amanda asked through her hiccups.

"Of course. Sadie, let the office know I have her would ya." She nodded and stood up, "Of course and Marcus if there is anything I can do please don't hesitate to call me."

"Thanks Sadie"

I pulled my sister up tightly against my side and headed back to my truck. First I'd deal with getting her calmed down then I was going to have a talk with my dad.

Chapter Four

Willow

My sister wasn't going to let me stay the night. I slipped my hand into the pocket of my jeans and squeezed the key Cage had given me. As much as I feared wearing out my welcome I needed somewhere to stay. Besides I'd left my suitcase in Cage's bedroom this morning. To pay him back for yet another night this week I'd do our laundry this evening. Feeling somewhat better about being a freaking charity case I headed for the stairs.

"Low, hey gorgeous it's been too long," Preston flashed me his pretty boy smile and tucked a strand of white blond hair behind his ear. The boy knew his affect on females but apparently he hadn't picked up on his lack of affect on me.

"hello Preston and yes it has. I'm surprised you're not around more now that your friend is living here." A small frown puckered Preston's forehead. He glanced back up the steps at the door to the apartment then turned back to me.

"Uh, yeah well about Marcus. He's having a bad day. His sister is up there and she's really upset over some family stuff they've got going on. Why don't you and I go grab something to eat and head over to hear Jackdown play over at Live Bay tonight that is if you're not working tonight. I haven't seen Dewayne and Rock in awhile. I'm sure Dewayne would love to see you."

Going to listen to Jackdown wasn't what I needed to do tonight. I had a fair amount of homework and tomorrow I would be working a double shift at the restaurant side of Live Bay. However, I also didn't want to intrude on a family problem. I knew enough about those kind of problems to know Marcus needed some privacy.

"Um, okay, sounds good. Uh," I glanced back toward the stairs, "Do you think maybe I could run in and change real quick. I'll just go straight to Cage's room and come right back out."

"Oh yeah that's fine. I just meant they needed some time alone. They're probably in Marcus' bedroom anyway and I doubt they even hear you come in. Come on I'll go with you and grab a drink while you change."

I slipped my hand into my pocket and pulled out my key feeling the strange warmth inside me at the sight of it. It was odd how something so small made me feel secure.

We stepped inside and I left Preston in the kitchen as I stepped into Cage's room. I could hear talking coming from Marcus's closed bedroom door as I'd passed by it. Maybe I could get out of here before they realized I'd come in.

Marcus seemed okay with my being here a lot. I didn't want that to change.

I slipped into a short jean skirt and put on an emerald green halter top and then pulled on the black leather jacket Cage had given me for Christmas two years ago. My cowboy boots sat in his closet lined up beside his and I laughed at this small hint from Cage. He wanted me here. That much was obvious. The boy had no clue how impossible he made things.

Stepping out of the bedroom I noticed Preston and Marcus whispering in the living room. I halted not wanting to intrude when Marcus eyes met mine. Slowly his green eyes traveled down my body and back up causing my pulse to race. I stood frozen in my spot until his eyes found mine again.

"Damn girl let's get your sexy ass out of here before Cage shows up. He'll have me hung up by my balls and you changing clothes while he stands guard at the door." Preston's words were meant to break the silence but it only made Marcus's eyes flare up.

"Um, okay, good idea," I forced a smile and then willed my legs to move until I was beside Preston. His arm slipped around my shoulders and he leaned his head down and sniffed me. "Mmmm... you even smell good." Marcus cleared his throat loudly causing Preston to chuckle.

"Go deal with Manda bro. I just gave y'all the privacy you need. Cage has a date with some girl from Monroevil e down here for spring break. And I intend to keep this one out late."

My face heated up at the insinuation in his voice. Surely Marcus knew I wasn't going to be out doing what Preston made it sound like I would be doing. What was wrong with him anyway? He never laid his flirting on this thick.

"Good night Marcus, I hope you get things worked out." I managed to say in a calm voice with no hint to the frenzy his attention had sent my pulse into.

He nodded and turned around without a word.

Marcus

Cowboy boots. Did she have to wear freaking cowboy boots with that tiny little skirt? I slammed the refrigerator door without getting a drink. A beer sounded really good after watching Preston walk out with Will ow tucked against his side. But Amanda needed me. I couldn't drink even if right now all I wanted to do was get really trashed and forget this crazy mess my dad had laid in my lap.

"Why're you slamming things?" Amanda asked stepping out of my bedroom.

I shrugged not wanting to share with my sister how I was having a small melt down over a girl I'd just met while we had bigger issues to deal with.

"Does it have anything to do with the girl's voice I just heard in here with Preston?"

Slumping into a kitchen chair I glanced up at her intending to tell her "no" and instead replied, "Yeah".

Amanda frowned at me and pulled the chair across from me out from under the table before sitting in it.

"Is Preston dating her?"

"No, not if he doesn't want a death wish." Amanda's eyebrows shot up in surprise, "You mean you like her enough to fight Preston over her?"

"Not me. Cage. He thinks he's going to marry Low." Amanda laughed, "Cage married? Has he gone from smoking pot to crack recently?"

It sounded ludicrous to me too but she hadn't seen him with Will ow. He was different with her. He actually gave a shit.

"It's complicated."

Amanda picked at the red fringe on the placemat in front of her. The placemats were just another one of those small touches around this place that Will ow had a hand in.

Preston was as bad as Cage when it came to women. I hated knowing he was out with Will ow.

"I need to get home to Mom. I'd say you could come with me but the awful scowl on your face would frighten her. You need to go get changed into something sexy and go after the girl. Preston wouldn't have taken her if he knew you liked her this much. Heck , he probably took her somewhere just to get her out of the apartment for our sake."

She was right. At least I hoped she was right. I stood up and glanced down at the faded jeans and Alabama football t-shirt I had on.

"What's wrong with the way I'm dressed?" Amanda sighed and stood up. "Come on my clueless brother. I'll make you look irresistible. Trust me, okay. I mean the last girl you liked you completely let slip through your fingers. I'd say you need my help."

"I was up against a rock star Manda. It wasn't exactly a fair game."

Amanda shrugged, "Maybe so but Preston and Cage are no Jax Stone. This time you're definitely the hottie in the group."

"Did you just call me a hottie? And Jax isn't better looking than me. He's just famous."

Amanda let out a loud cackle of laughter.

"No brother dear, Jax Stone is hotness incarnate with or without the guitar and sexy as hell singing voice. You never stood a chance. He was what you call playing with the big dogs. This time you're definitely playing within your league."

"Whatever, just tell me what to wear and get out of here.

You're pissing me off."

Willow

"You want a beer?" Preston asked pushing us through the crowd of people toward a table with familiar faces.

"No thanks. But a Coke would be good," I replied loudly so he could hear me over the music. Jackdown hadn't taken the stage yet but the band on before them had the crowd on their feet. From the sound of the band it was probably the alcohol that had them all on their feet screaming and dancing. The band wasn't that good. Jackdown was the reason the crowd was here tonight. They always drew a crowd from the locals.

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