"I'm so goddamn sorry you had to live through that." Emotion made his voice husky from the memories of his own mother and her lack of one. "I would make it right if I could."
She shrugged. 'Don't apologize for something you can't ever control. People make their choices, and no one can be blamed for that. I looked up her name a few months ago and found her obituary in an archived paper. I'm sure she's roasting in hell for what she did."
"You don't have to be so strong all the time, Dominique. You can let someone in and share the load," he said softly.
She met his gaze. "Andrew, I learned long ago that the only person I can depend on is lil old me."
"You have me now," Andrew said.
She grinned. "Let's call it like how it is. I'm your only connection to finding the killers. This is vengeance for your sister and nothing more. If I didn't get caught on camera in that ER, you wouldn't even know I exist. And as soon as you have those fuckers in your custody that will be the end of it." She shrugged. "It's just another way of using me. This time I'm fine with it because this shit has to stop and let me get back to my life." She drank the last of her beer and wiped her mouth before standing. "Thanks for dinner, detective."
He watched her stroll away and pick up her bag. The appealing curve of her ass peeked out every now and again while she moved. He couldn't blame her for thinking the worse of him. She was right it started out as vengeance for Donna, and that was still part of it. He wanted her to understand that it was about her too. All of a sudden the urgency of making her understand he was there to protect her as well overwhelmed him. Leaving the remnants of their dinner, he bounded up the stairs after her. He opened the door to his bedroom without knocking, and Dominique looked up from the open bag on the bed with wide surprised eyes.
"I will be here for you, Dominique," he said quietly.
"Yeah we just covered that downstairs," she said amused. "My retort was..."
"I know what you said, and here is what I have to say." Andrew cut her off and with a sigh ran his hand through his hair. "You have to understand. Donna's death struck me so hard, and maybe I haven't let the grieving in because it would probably make me useless." He stepped toward her. "I will protect you. I will put my life on the line to save yours. You can talk to me and trust me. I won't bail like anyone else in your life did. I swear it to you."
He thought he saw something spark in her eyes, belief maybe happiness not to be in it alone. All too soon it was masked behind that defensive shield, and she smiled that sardonic way she used to deflect things.
She gave him a jaunty salute. "If you say so, detective."
He gave a frustrated growl and strode across the room to where she stood. Andrew grabbed her by the shoulders and turned her to face him. Her eyes widened with surprise. Then a spark of defiance lit her chocolate gaze. He shook her by the shoulders just a little. "Damn it, Dominique!" He searched her face for some sign that she would believe him. Instead he zoned in on her full lips and then the way she licked them as if they were suddenly dry. "Open your mouth for me because I'm going to kiss the hell out of you."
Before she could utter a refusal he took her lips, and the desire and the want that bloomed inside him was a shock to his system. Dominique tasted of the last honey ale sip of her beer that she took before she went upstairs. He drank from her like it was ambrosia from the table of the gods. No one woman should taste that good, yet she did. She made a little sound under the onslaught of his mouth, and he ached all the more for it. Andrew pulled her closer. Learning each curve of her body with his hands, he molded her against the hardness of his own. It was a kiss that knocked his socks off, and while he wanted to taste very inch of her body, he knew he should pull away. Reluctantly, he did, and she lifted her heavy eyelids to look at him. That one sultry look made him want to rethink his gentlemanly behavior.