Rebel starts pulling the drawers open on the nightstand, searching for something. “That was different,” he says. “That was an exceptional situation.”
“Because he was acting on my behalf. He was there looking for my uncle. And he knew what he was gonna have to do if he found Ryan dead. He was going to have to declare war. Gotta be wearing official colors to do that.” He lifts out a large notepad in the bottom drawer, apparently having found what he was looking for. He points it at me, lifting one eyebrow. “Now put on the damn shirt.”
“Urgh, fine!” I wrestle the shirt over my head, doing my best not to drop the towel as I do so. It feels like he’s won, somehow, which is pathetic. We haven’t bet anything. He and I are not at war, not really. But wearing his club shirt makes me feel like I’m his property, and that doesn’t feel good. The material comes down to my mid-thigh, plenty long enough to preserve my modesty, but I still feel vulnerable all the same.
Rebel’s looking mighty pleased with himself when I turn around. “Do not look at me like that,” I tell him.
“Like you want to fucking eat me.”
“And what if I do?”
“Just…stop!” I throw my wet towel at him, aiming for his smug, smug face. He catches it out of the air and tosses it onto the ground by the door.
“You’re not helping matters,” he says, his head tilted to one side. “You’re really sexy when you’re angry.”
I lift up my right hand and flip him off. "There. You think that’s sexy?"
"Yeah. I do actually." He smiles even wider. I think he's going to come for me, then. I imagine how it would play out: him prowling forward, sharp eyes pinning me to the spot. Him reaching up underneath the T-shirt he's given me to wear. His fingers searching for the most sensitive of places between my legs. My hands pushing him away, but my body craving more. This is fucked.
This. Is. Fucked.
Rebel rubs his hand over his jaw, lifting one eyebrow at me. It appears my imagination is misguided; he doesn’t come for me after all. He turns around and starts tacking pieces of paper that he tears from the notepad onto the wall. God knows where he found the tacks. And god knows why I’m feeling slightly disappointed.
"What are you doing?"
"Something to occupy my mind while I problem solve. You're welcome to help." He pulls a sharpie out of his back pocket and begins to write. I stand there, mouth open, watching him as he scrawls what essentially equates to hieroglyphs on the papers he's pinned to the wall.
I angle my head, hoping that a different perspective will give what he's written some meaning. It's pointless, though. The mathematic equation—I'm smart enough to know that's what it is, at least—makes absolutely no sense. "What is that?" I ask.
"This," Rebel says, tapping his pen on the paper, "is a proof sketch for the prime number theorem, using big O notation. I'm gonna use this to try and solve Legendre's Conjecture.”
“How long will that take?”
Rebel, shirtless, absolutely covered in tattoos…Rebel, the leader of a motorcycle club, the man who refuses to let me go home to my family, shrugs. “I don’t know. Been working on it since I left college. I could prove the conjecture tomorrow. I might never prove it.”
“You’ve been working on this for years?”
He gives me a broad, reckless kind of smile. The kind of smile that makes women’s insides twist. “Only eight. My old professor’s been working on it for over fifty.” Turning around again, he starts scribbling at the paper, leaving a wake of marks and symbols behind him that are liable to give me a headache just looking at them. I’m beginning to feel really rather foolish. He’s obviously way smarter than I gave him credit for. Way smarter than me, and I accused him of never even finishing high school.
Oh god. He definitely did finish high school because he was just talking about finishing college eight years ago. I feel rather triumphant when I realize this gives me insight into a little tidbit about himself that he wouldn’t share with me earlier. I sit down on the edge of the bed, his bed, clutching one of his pillows to my chest like a shield. “Twenty-nine.”
Rebel glances over his shoulder at me, a bemused expression on his face. “Twenty-nine is not the correct answer.” He carries on scribbling, the muscles in his forearm, his tricep and bicep, across his shoulder blades and down his back all shifting beautifully underneath his skin. “It’s not forty-two, either. Might have worked in Hitchhikers but this is slightly more complicated.”
“Your age,” I say. “You’re twenty-nine. You finished college eight years ago, which means you’re twenty-nine.”
He doesn’t seem even remotely fazed that I’ve worked this out. “Am I?”
“And what if I went on a gap year to Europe with an ex-girlfriend in between high school and college? What if I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to major in and switched out courses halfway through?”
“Did you do either of those things?”
“Nope.” I can hear him grinning, even though he doesn’t turn to look at me. He doesn’t take his eyes off the paper in front of him and the ever-increasing spider web of mathematical figures. “Hand me that whiskey?” he asks, holding out his hand behind him. I pass him the bottle, wondering how alcohol is possibly the answer right now.