“I hoped you’d say that.” Despite his calm exterior, Ty’s insides trembled. “But do you really want to make love with a party going on around us?”
“This is your home.” She nodded to the door. “Besides, I can kick anyone’s ass if they try something.”
Ty chuckled. She looked frail, but he had no doubt she could hold her own. He laced their fingers and guided her down the stairwell to the first floor. The tang of beer and sweat hung in the air. He crinkled his nose. Maybe bringing her to his room wasn’t such a good idea. Having an apartment on the ground floor rocked most of the time—just not when there was a rowdy party.
With her behind him, Ty pushed through the mass of people bobbing in his living room. How many people did his roommate invite? Five paces from the hallway he stopped short. Fuck. Rochelle slipped a lock of her inky hair behind her ear and pursed her lips. The Christmas lights decorating the living room glittered off the gloss on her cherry lips.
Livia crashed into his back, from the jostle of the crowd or because she didn’t realize he’d stopped, he wasn’t sure.
“Are you okay?” She squeezed his arm. “We can go slower.”
“No.” He gathered her in his embrace. If he wanted to face the demon in his life, he’d have to walk past Rochelle with his head held high. He pushed ahead, ready to get on with his life in peace.
“Got out of the way of a dancer?” Livia tipped her head, but didn’t move forward with him. “Or are you having a hard time dancing past your trouble?”
Ty fumbled for an answer. He opened his mouth, but never got the chance to reply. The scent of apple martini swirled around him, sickening his stomach.
“Tyler.” Rochelle wriggled, like she wanted him to see her assets. “I thought I’d find you here.”
“I live here.” He looked her straight in the eye. “It’s not hard to find someone where they live.”
“Still funny.” She elbowed past Livia and crowded Ty against the wall. “Dump the costumed frump and let’s get reacquainted.” Rochelle pressed her chest into his. “I miss you and the little General.”
He groaned. He hated that nickname. It was his penis. His junk, his manhood, not the little General.
“Don’t you miss me?” Her lips curved down into a frown. “You like the frump, don’t you?” Her top lip curled. “Since when did you start finding blondes hot?”
He glanced over Rochelle’s shoulder in search of Livia. Instead of waiting patiently, she kept backing away from Brett. Damn, the drunk hadn’t left.
Rochelle continued to speak, but Ty heard none of it. Brett knew how to be gentle. He’d managed to romance the clothes off of many a girl. But add in beer and whatever else he’d ingested—then the man was dangerous and uncontrollable. The moment Ty saw Brett’s hands on Livia’s arms, he saw red. Livia’s head jerked as Brett shoved her into the middle of the crowd.
“He likes her. Let them go.” Rochelle dug her nails into Ty’s forearm. “You have me.”
Ty shook away from her grasp and surged into the mob of dancers. Fuck this shit. The blur of Livia’s wings caught his eye.
“Come on, baby.” Brett clenched her breast in one hand and nuzzled her neck. “You owe me.”
Fear shone in her eyes. Livia glanced at Ty for a split second. Heaven help him, he wasn’t going to let anything happen to her.
The fear left her face and her mouth formed a tight line. “I owe you nothing.” Livia brought her knee up and connected with Brett’s groin. “Not now. Not ever.”
Brett’s face went red then white and he slumped over. “Fucking bitch. She burst my balls.” He wobbled and swayed. “I will kill you.”
Not on Ty’s watch. He grabbed Brett by the scruff of his neck and shoved him through the parted crowd. “Next time I tell you to go, do it.” He tossed Brett’s crumpled body out the front door. “Hell with it. The party’s going down the block to Nelson’s place. He’s got a new keg.”
Whoops and shrieks rang out in the room as the people thundered to the door. Forget the mess and the stench. He needed to find Livia. She still stood where Brett left her, but instead of the show of strength, she trembled. She looked up at him with watery eyes.
“I’m sorry I ruined your party, but I will not be a victim again.”
Ty crushed her in his embrace. There were so many things he needed to know, so many things he wanted to say, but in that moment, the party was the last thing on his mind. Hell, she saved his sanity.
“You didn’t ruin anything.” He stroked her hair and held her tight. “It was a stupid party anyway.”
“She’s still here,” Livia whispered.
Ty sighed. When one disaster died down, another always showed up. “Stick with me. I
owe you a good time. Okay?”
“I’m right here. Now deal with the woman scorned.”
If only Rochelle would make things easy.