The sound of her name made her jump. It made her want to fall over and roll to her side, which only made her cry harder. Damn it to hell and back! Of all the people to walk through her damn door, it had to Emory. Not that his brother would’ve been any better… Well, yeah, she would’ve preferred his brother seeing her like this. Why, she really couldn’t say; she never wanted Emory to see her at less than her best. Byron, well he was more like a good friend, she wouldn’t have minded so much if he saw her all red and puffy-eyed.
“Kennedy, honey what’s wrong?”
It was too much. When she knew she was going to be working with Emory it was all too easy to get herself together before she actually had to face him. No matter how bad the day had gone. Him catching her like this, at her most vulnerable, it just made her feel worse. Raw and exposed. She wanted to dig a whole and hide, but it was too late. He was already squatting down on the warped wood floor, pulling her into the shelter of his arms. Oh God, this is the last place she needed to be. It was too easy to feel a false sense of security. And Lord it felt so good! He didn’t say anything for a while, just held her and let her cry while rocking her gently, rubbing up and down her back. Kennedy buried her face in his chest, tying not to notice his clean, woodsy scent.
This was wrong. So very wrong, in so many different ways. Emory wasn’t for her. She had no business taking the comfort he offered. After all, wasn’t she the one that despised pity? And that was all he was offering, pity. It took more willpower to pull away than for an unrepentant alcoholic to turn down a free drink, but she managed, turning her face so he wouldn’t see evidence of her weakness.
“I’m sorry I don’t know what got into me.” She put a little laugh in her voice; sounding pathetic even to her own ears. “I’m fine really. Guess I am just feeling all…female today.”
“Kennedy, don’t do that. Please.” He reached out to hold her shoulder when she would’ve walked away.
Kennedy should’ve been able to keep walking; should’ve put as much space between them as possible, but she didn’t want to. She loved the fact he wasn’t letting her walk away even at the sake of her pride. It was getting too damn heavy in the first place. She damn sure didn’t want to turn around though, but she let him whirl her to face him anyway. Keeping her head down didn’t help either because he only lifted it so she was forced to look at him.
“Look, I don’t need to know what that was about. I want to know, but I understand if you don’t want to tell me.” He had hazel eyes, just like his brother, only his were heavier on the green and gold. They looked at her with such genuine compassion it was hard not to be affected. “That doesn’t mean you can’t lean on me a little.” There was a full minute pause before he added, “As a friend.”