Perfectly Protected (Addicted To You, Book Three)
Author:Covington, Lucy

Perfectly Protected (Addicted To You, Book Three) by Covington, Lucy

 

 

 

 

JUSTIN

 

 

When I opened my eyes, it was morning. Sunlight was streaming in through the bedroom window, and I was instantly aware of her body pressed against mine. I was still holding Lindsay in my arms, and to say that she fit perfectly would have been an understatement.

 

It’s like she was meant to be there, in just that position, in that moment.

 

I could smell her hair, her skin, could feel the slight movement as she breathed in and out. I wanted the moment to last, and so I didn’t stir at all.

 

I allowed myself to imagine that we could actually be together, like any normal couple. I let myself pretend, for just that small moment of time, that Lindsay and I would get up together and go to breakfast, joke and talk over eggs and bacon and coffee.

 

The scene was so vivid in my mind, that for a brief second, I actually believed it was going to happen.

 

And then Lindsay woke up. I felt her body stiffen in my arms. “Shit,” she whispered. And then she was sitting up and hurriedly getting out of bed.

 

“Everything all right?” I asked, pretending I’d just woken up myself.

 

She looked back at me. “I just realized that I need to get to my class. I’ve got a paper due.”

 

I watched her, wondering if it was the truth, or if she was just having a case of regret that she’d stayed in my bed last night.

 

I got up and put my pants on, and out of habit, checked my phone. It said I had a missed call and a voicemail from last night. Lindsay went to the bathroom and I listened to the voicemail.

 

“JB, it’s me,” croaked the voice on the other end of the phone. It was Gilbert, I realized, and my heart sped up a little bit. “I need to talk…” he trailed off, as if distracted, and then came back. “Yeah, man. I’m not—I’m not doing so good. I need to talk to you, JB. Can you meet me on Essex, over by the pizza place on the corner? I just need to, like, hear someone’s voice. Someone I can trust. Come soon. Please.” And then the line was mostly silent. I heard muffled voices, but I couldn’t make out what they were saying.

 

Finally, the message ended. Sweat had broken out on my palms and my forehead.

 

Gilbert had been in trouble and I’d ignored my phone last night, missing his call for help.

 

What the hell was wrong with me? Was I this hung up on some girl that I couldn’t take five seconds to check my messages, remember to look at my phone—or maybe even answer the damn thing when it rang?

 

I felt a surge of anger and had the urge to punch the wall, but then I decided that breaking my hand this early in the morning was the last thing I wanted to do.

 

But I did need to get over to the shelter and find out if Gilbert was there. I needed to talk to him as soon as possible. He’d sounded like he’d been at the end of his rope, like maybe he was on the verge of using again. The call could have been about almost anything, but whatever Gilbert’s reason for needing me to meet him last night, it wasn’t anything good.

 

And now I’d blown the chance to help my best friend, all because a cute girl was in my bed. A girl I had no business seeing.

 

Lindsay was just coming out of the bathroom and I’d already opened the door to the apartment.

 

“Hey,” I said. “I don’t mean to be a dick, but I’ve actually got…something to do.

 

I’m sort of in a rush, too.”

 

“Oh, okay. Yeah, that’s fine. We should go.” She smiled, but it wasn’t a truly happy smile.

 

I waited until she’d caught up to me and we headed out the door together.

 

When we got outside, she was heading the opposite way from me.

 

“I’ll text you or something?” I said.

 

She shrugged, gave me another half-smile. “Sure. Yeah, that would be nice.”

 

I gave her a wave. What I really wanted to do was kiss her. Really kiss her. I wanted to tell her she was coming back inside the apartment with me, that we’d spend the next week in bed, having sex and ordering in all our food. We’d block out the world.

 

Neither of us would go to class or the gym or do anything but be together.

 

Of course, I didn’t actually kiss her. Instead, I turned around and walked away.

 

***

 

The first place I went was the shelter where Gilbert had been staying. When I got there, an older African American man with a salt-and-pepper mustache met me at the door. “Help you?” he asked jovially.

 

“Yeah. I’m looking for Gilbert.”

 

He had on glasses with thick black frames, and he took them off, looked at me.

 

“You a friend of his?”

 

“I’m his best friend.”

 

“I’m James Rivera, I’m the manager of this shelter.” He reached his hand out and I shook it.

 

“Is he around?”

 

James Rivera licked his lips and looked down. “He’s not here, I’m afraid. We had to turn him away last night. He tried to get in, but he was clearly high on something.”