Here’s a brief exchange between April and Eric. The scene is written from her point of view. She’s worried about her daughter’s babysitting arrangements, her dead coworker, and the secret tip she gave to a handsome police officer.
“I can’t leave Jenny with my mom anymore.” Her throat closed up. “I’m going to have to ask her to move out.”
Eric’s eyes softened with sympathy. He knew that physical contact made her uncomfortable, so he didn’t put his arm around her. At one time, she’d have been grateful for his restraint. Tonight, she felt empty and alone, aching for human touch.
She studied Jenny’s uncle from beneath lowered lashes, considering him in a way she never had before. He was younger than she was, but not boyish. He had the dark good looks of their culture, paired with above average height and an athletic physique. His black hair was cropped short, his white t-shirt immaculate.
She knew he was popular with the girls in the neighborhood, but he didn’t create drama. He was a player and a gentleman.
On the downside, he looked exactly like Raul. And she loved him like a brother.
“I have another problem,” she murmured.
His brows rose. “What?”
“Did you hear about Lola Sanchez?”
“No. I just got back from TJ.”
Taking a deep breath, she told Eric about her visit with the officers at the club. “I gave them Tony’s name.”
He straightened abruptly. “How?”
“In a secret note. I don’t think anyone saw me.”
Relaxing a little, he said, “Okay.”
“Do you think he did it?”
“He’ll be sorry if he did.”
April felt a cold sensation, like an icy hand on her spine. “What if someone figures out I mentioned his name?”
Eric’s expression turned fierce. “No one will ever touch you.”
His conviction was reassuring, and she believed he would protect her. She also couldn’t help but consider the literal interpretation of his words. It had been years since she’d been touched by a man. Not that she didn’t have urges. Usually, those were vague needs, easily ignored or self-assuaged.
Tonight, she wanted to feel close to someone else. And her desire had a specific reason, an identifiable source: Officer Young. She didn’t just want a man to touch her, she wanted him to touch her. She thought about his strong hands and intense blue eyes and shivered.
Eric gave her an odd look, as if he could sense her thoughts.
Flushing, she crossed her arms over her chest. It occurred to her that Eric might offer to help her out in that arena. Maybe he saw her as a woman, not a sister. From what she’d heard, he liked to make a girl feel good. Repeatedly.
His eyes traveled down her body, from her ultra-thin tank top to her fishnet tights.
“I hate that outfit,” he muttered.
It was such a brotherly thing to say, she laughed.
“Call me tomorrow,” he said, rising to his feet. “Let me know if you need anything.”
He reached into his pocket for a stack of bills.
She put a hand up in protest. “Eric—”
“For Jenny,” he said. “For a new babysitter.”
While she wavered, trying to decide what was best, he pressed the twenties into her palm, refusing to take no for an answer. After another quick buss on the cheek, he left.
For a long time, she just stared at the wad of cash, wishing she didn’t need it, wishing she didn’t ache for a man’s touch. Her eyes filled with tears, spilling down her face and splashing on the surface of the drug money.
Like her, it would never be clean.