Undertow (The UnderCity Chronicles)

Undertow (The UnderCity Chronicles) by S. M. Stelmack

Book: Undertow (The UnderCity Chronicles) by S. M. Stelmack Read Free Book Online
Authors: S. M. Stelmack
she wasn’t about to indulge his moodiness any further. The rules didn’t apply here.
    She stuck her thumbs under the shoulder straps of the pack to ease its weight, and hurried to catch up, matching his long, quick strides with hers, despite her thigh muscles screaming for her to slow down. “Boy, those seem bright,” she said conversationally, as if there’d been no sharp words between them.
    Jack didn’t say anything and she assumed that he was ignoring her, then he replied quietly.
    “Live underground a few weeks and they’re unbearable. That’s part of the reason the people in the communities stay there. After a while you can’t handle bright lights, let alone sunshine.”
    “It must have been hell on you after two years underground,” she said, still keeping it light.
    “Yes. It was.” He bit out, then faced her, his eyes a warm, deep copper. “That’s why your hair is no joke to me, Lindsay. There was a time not so long ago when I could never have stood to look at something so bright. I don’t take it for granted.”
    He didn’t touch her hair this time, but the way he focused on it seemed as immediate and real as his hand.
    On impulse she asked, “Why don’t you stay with me tonight?” Jack’s expression slid into wariness, and she rushed to explain. “I mean, you can come crash on my couch. The shelter must be full in this weather anyway.”
    “You don’t need to go to the trouble.”
    “Jack. I don’t have to make the couch. It’s there ready and waiting. How about it?”
    His jaw went solid and she could see the stubborn ass was about to refuse again. “However, if you’re into a communal mattress in a room with fifty other—”
    “Dammit, Linds. Fine .”
    Lindsay suppressed a smile and they caught a cab. When she gave the driver her address in Chelsea, Jack raised an eyebrow.
    “Posh area. You must be doing well.”
    Lindsay gave a noncommittal shrug. He’d already made it clear what he thought of her wealth. “More luck than money. There was a foreclosure sale that I got wind of through my business. As it is, I’ve got a ridiculous mortgage. Still, it’s a good investment, and the neighborhood is amazing.”
    “I know. I used to live on 24 th Street. Remember?"
    Lindsay recalled the small apartment he'd shared with his father. They lived like two stereotypical bachelors where everything was thrown but never out. It was a complete three-sixty from the way he lived now, though she didn’t like his present circumstances either. He needed the proverbial woman’s touch. On his apartment anyway. "So…what did you do after university in Paris?”
    He shrugged. “Travelled around, got my doctorate at Oxford.”
    “Dr. Cole, huh?”
    He gave her a dirty look. She persisted. “I heard you went on to explore all those cities, just like you told me you would when we were kids.”
    Jack turned to stare out his window. “My father loved to build tunnels. I loved to study them. There’s nothing more.” He shifted his head to look at the patch of seat between them. “Listen, Linds, I’m sorry to hear about your family. I was an asshole about it, and”—he lifted his dark gold eyes to her—“that was a hell of a responsibility you took on.”
    His unexpected tenderness sent her lips vibrating from emotion. Before she lost it, she spoke, “They were on their way to my graduation ceremony. They decided to all come in the same car. Seline was on a sleepover, so it was going to be a fun day. My brother told me that they were going to make it in the nick of time so when they didn’t show I was more disappointed than worried. Afterwards when the caps and gowns were with their families, the police made their way through the crowd to me.
    “A semi blew a tire changing lanes and plowed straight into the car. My Mom and Dad and my brother’s wife were already gone, and my brother was barely alive. He lived long enough to have our family friend Janice arrange to have guardianship

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