Burying his face in her hair, Lex inhaled the sweet, citrusy scent of her shampoo. “Hell yeah. That boy has had a crush on you since I can remember.” Her head popped up and that disbelieving honey gaze met his. “Back in the day, he used to talk about how pretty you were.” Lex lifted a hand and touched a springy curl. “How he’d never been with a black girl before and that he wanted you to be his first.” Thea’s abrupt laughter caught him off guard. He glared at her. “I’m not kidding.”
“Jeez, I guess I should feel lucky that he wanted to fuck me instead of hang me from a tree.”
“What the fuck?” Lex gawked at her. “Who threatened you with that?” Ice filled his veins at the thought of someone hurting her based on the color of her skin. Then shame hit next. Had she been exposed to racism? While Earl, Thea’s grandpa, was white as a damned snowflake, Thea’s momma was black and her daddy white, giving her smooth brown skin and a mutiny of jet black coils atop her head. Almost every physical attribute he found insanely gorgeous about her he could attribute to her mixed-race heritage and suddenly, Lex wondered if their children would don her stunning brown skin. Growing up, Lex hadn’t noticed her race. He’d only seen her intelligence and the keen gleam in her eyes as she debated anything. If he’d ever stumped her, she would run off, study the subject, and come back ready for more. So, more than anything he loved her intellect.
Thea rolled her eyes. “Lex, you can’t be that damned daft. The sheriff is as racist as they come. I’ve heard him talking with the boys and nothing he said makes me think he’d be happy to have my half black butt in his bed at night.” A shadow cast over her eyes and Lex wondered at the shit she’d been forced to hear. This was the South, racism was more than prevalent, but he and Earl had done their best to shield her for from that shit.
“No …” She gave a light chuckle, easing the fury inside of him. “One night I heard him at the bar pissed that some local kid tore up his lawn on his motorcycle. Him and some guys in a gang, that I now know was some motorcycle gang, said they wanted to teach him a lesson—”
“By hanging him from a tree,” he finished. “Damn.” The MC gang she was talking about was the First Sons MC. Lex had made sure to stay the fuck away from the MC; his small potato crimes were nothing compared to the murders and kidnappings the members had been charged with. After being approached by one of the members for a job, Lex made fast work of getting gone and fast. Thea’s next words pulled Lex from his thoughts and into a hell that burned his damned soul.
“He asked Earl for my hand in marriage.” Her admission caused his body to go rigid and his blood to boil. While marriage wasn’t something he’d had too much time to consider in his life, it also wasn’t something he’d take completely off the table. He had just thought of children with Thea, so marriage wasn’t so farfetched.
Threading his fingers through her hair, he softly pulled until she met his gaze. “And you told that piece of shit you have a man, right? And a date with him tonight.” For Lex, there was only one right answer to this question, and Thea got it dead wrong.
Pulling away from him, Thea took a step back. “Umm … we haven’t really decided what this is.” She motioned between the two of them. He hated that she’d retreated from him, from his words and the idea of them as a couple because he couldn’t think of them in any other way. He planned to woo her, take her out on a date and spend time with her. Not just fuck her.
Lex cracked his neck, moving it side to side and releasing the growing tension. “What do think this,” he copied her gesture and motioned between them, “is?” He hoped she didn’t think he made it a habit of running around screwing random women. That wasn’t what he wanted from her. She had to know that that wasn’t who he was … or did she? Ten years was a long time to be gone. People morphed into a myriad of different things in less time than that. Was that what she feared? Thea stuck the tip of her thumb in her mouth, and began nibbling on her nail. The foreboding silence she offered Lex freaked him the hell out. Last night, he explained his intentions and believed he’d been vocal in the fact that he cared for her. “Tell me,” he followed her to the corner of the room where she paced, “what do you think this is?”