The house was dark, save for one light in the kitchen, but Chelsea Grand was still hopeful her older brother, Mike, would be home and awake. It was just past midnight, an early night for her, though he was often in bed that time of night if he didn’t have a date. Since it was a weeknight, she expected him to be watching TV, maybe in bed already if he had an early day the next morning. Since he was a construction worker, that was often the case. He’d have to be at work at the crack of dawn to get the majority of his work done before the heat of the day. Still, there was a chance he’d be up. Chelsea prayed that was the case as she dropped her car keys into her purse. She really needed to talk to someone.
It was a hot August night. If she’d been wearing a lot of clothing, it would probably be plastered to her skin. Even though she was only wearing a shimmery silver and white crop top that barely came to her navel and a short black skirt that hit several inches above her knees, the heat washed over her the second she stepped outside of the AC her Dodge Charger had been bathing her in as she’d driven over from the club downtown.
Chelsea didn’t bother to knock on Mike’s door. If it was locked, she’d go away, but if it wasn’t, she’d invite herself inside, the way she always did during the summer when she was home from college. She was about to start her senior year at TSU and had come back to her hometown for one last summer before she started her life as an adult. Her degree in business would keep her busy year-round, just as soon as she landed the perfect job, so she’d wanted to take advantage of this last opportunity to see her friends and visit with her older brother whom she’d always looked up to. She could definitely use his shoulder to cry on right now after that disastrous date.
The door gave as she turned the knob, and Chelsea stumbled inside, her high heels mixing with the few drinks she’d had which were finally catching up with her. She hadn’t thought she was drunk at all when she’d left the club, but now, as she caught herself from falling on her brother’s wooden floor, she thought perhaps she’d been mistaken. Maybe she should plan on sleeping over in Mike’s guest room. She definitely didn’t want to take any chances if she was more intoxicated than she’d thought she was.
Righting herself, Chelsea glanced around the living room, shutting the door behind her. Mike was definitely not sitting in front of the TV. It was off, no lights on in the living room or the adjoining dining area. But she did see that soft glow she’d noticed before coming from the kitchen. Maybe he was in there getting a late night snack.
Chelsea started for the kitchen door, the sound of footsteps coming in her direction assuring her that Mike was up. She was about to call out to him, to let him know how badly she needed his big brother advice when a form filled the doorway. It wasn’t Mike—but the man standing in front of her was familiar. “Holy shit,” Chelsea muttered, stopping in her tracks. The man standing across from her wasn’t her big brother. It was his best friend, Heath Black, wearing only a tight pair of fitted jeans, and an expression that said he was about to show her what it was like to be taken down by a marine.