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“I’m fine. I’m sorry I panicked,” she said, but her voice came out as a squeak. Reality came crashing into her like a tidal wave. She was sitting in Tyce’s lap, surrounded by the only other two men that had ever made her throb with desire, and she had their full attention. Xavier’s hands had just been running all over her body, making her skin tingle. Her anxiety ratcheted up as she tried to come up with a believable explanation for her panic attack. She looked up, and when Xavier’s eyes met hers, she instinctively dropped her gaze away from the intensity in those blue orbs.
“Don’t be scared. It was a pallet of supplies that got dropped when the loader’s hydraulics broke. No one got hurt, thankfully. We just have a bit of a mess in the back room to clean up.” Noah crouched down next to Xavier, taking her hands into his and drawing her attention. “Honey, why did it scare you so much?”
“Umm…I don’t know…I mean, I heard it, and I thought it was a gunshot…” She fidgeted for a moment, but froze when she remembered that she was still in Tyce’s lap. The thickness underneath her told her that he was very physically aware of her wiggling.
“A gunshot? Why would someone be shooting around here, Sidney?” Xavier’s question set panic building in her chest again, and she started to pull away from Tyce’s embrace without answering.
“No, Sidney, you can’t run away from us this time. What is going on? Are you in trouble?” Tyce pulled her back against his chest and pressed her head back down to his shoulder. Her whole body was trembling, and he kissed the top of her head, running his hand up and down her back. For an instant she wondered how it would feel to be held like this through the night. Comforted and cherished like something precious. She quickly discarded the fantasy and tried to refocus on the situation.
“Tyce, please let me go,” she said with a strength that belied the fragile state her emotions were in. When she turned away from him, she found Xavier still kneeling in front of her . He reached out and gently but firmly gripped her chin, forcing her to look him in the eyes.
“Want to tell us about Robert Wicks?” Xavier said quietly. Sidney felt like her lungs would never expand again. Terror trickled down her spine, followed by sadness that was so overpowering she had to close her eyes against their questioning looks. Like waves each emotion swept over her, leaving her breathless and closer to the edge of an irrationally emotional breakdown. She twisted away from Xavier’s grip on her jaw and jumped up from Tyce’s lap.
“No, actually I don’t. That’s my business, and I don’t need to share it with anyone. I’m going back out to the front to help Kara.” She reached the door before she felt hands on her. Noah’s firm body pressed against her back, and he wrapped his arms tightly around her. One arm was across her chest and the other across her hips, holding her immobile while he pressed a kiss to her ear. It was a beautifully sweet touch that made her ache to share her burdens with him. “Stop, honey. Whatever it is, you can talk to us,” he murmured against her ear, and goose bumps prickled across her arms. She couldn’t tell them about Robert, and she couldn’t let them get any closer to her. It was time to leave.
“Look, I’m sorry if I gave you all the wrong impression, but I don’t want or need your help. What I need is my privacy, and my paycheck. I will finish my shift and leave my uniform in the locker tonight. Clearly I can’t continue working here.” She held herself stiff until she felt Noah reluctantly release her, and then she threw the door open and walked down the hallway. She could feel the tingle of all three men’s eyes on her again until the door shut behind her. Straightening her spine, she fought off tears as she reentered the bar dining room. She wouldn’t cry for a man again. No matter how much she wanted to.