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Beautiful distraction, p.8
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       Beautiful Distraction, p.8

           J. C. Reed
 

  What can I say?

  That I would have felt cheap taking money from him? Which obviously makes no sense whatsoever.

  “It was too much,” I mutter. “You weren’t realistic. Besides, I didn’t know you.”

  He nods and looks away. The air is heavy with something I can’t define. I don’t know what to do with myself, so I just take another sip of my coffee.

  “Are you always so—”

  “Sensible? Rational?” I suggest the two words Mandy has been throwing at me for years.

  He shakes his head. “No. I was thinking more along the lines of sincere and brutally honest.”

  The way he sums up those personality traits makes them sound distinctly negative.

  Maybe I should have shut my mouth about the tire changing part.

  “So, where’s Mandy again?” I ask, eager to change the subject before we insult each other some more.

  “She’s headed into town.”

  “I can’t believe she would just leave without telling me. Did she say why?”

  He shakes his head. “No, only that it’s urgent and that she needs something from the shops.”

  I glance out of the window. It’s still windy, but the clouds are gone. When Mandy says something’s urgent, it usually isn’t. A sliver of hope colors my voice. If Mandy decided to walk, then the streets are clear and we’ll be gone by midday. She’ll be back soon, and I’ll no longer have to be alone with him.

  “She should have told me,” I say, even though I know I sound like a little girl who’s afraid of being alone with her first crush.

  “You were sleeping,” Kellan says, grinning.

  I regard him intently. “How do you know? Did you peek into my room?” Realizing my blunder, I add quickly, “Obviously not my room but your guestroom.”

  “Maybe I did.” He winks.

  I narrow my eyes as I try to read his expression. His face is relaxed; his lips are twitching. “I don’t believe you’d do that,” I say after a pause.

  “You’re right.” His smile slowly disappears. “Except…” He trails off and leans back, crossing his arms over his chest.

  “Except when?” I prompt.

  “Except when I’m welcome, Ava. With you, it’s only a matter of time.”

  My breath catches in my throat. Our eyes connect, and something happens between us. It’s like a current, and I know in that one moment that if I let go, there’s no coming back. The waters in there, between us, are deep and dark and stormy, much like the sky in Montana. They leave no room for hesitation. No uncertainty. I know in that instant that he’s waiting for me to invite him to my room.

  I wish I’d just do it.

  The thought is both intimate and frightening.

  “How far away is the next town?” My voice trembles as I force my gaze down.

  “Why?” he asks. “Are you getting bored of me already?”

  “No, I was just wondering.”

  “Don’t get your hopes up. The next big town with shopping facilities is almost two hours away. I told her she wouldn’t make it far, but she wouldn’t listen. Said something about shopping and hiking being her thing and all.” His eyes flicker with amusement, a sign that he saw right through Mandy’s lie.

  I’m not surprised. Who in their right mind mentions shopping and hiking in the same line?

  “How did she leave?” I ask because I don’t believe for a second that Mandy’s gone hiking.

  “She borrowed my truck.” Kellan cocks his head, misinterpreting my gloomy expression. “What? You think I have your friend tied up in my basement?”

  “Well, do you?” I raise my brows.

  “I’m into tying up, but not your friend…she isn’t exactly my type.” His words are deep and dark, full of unspoken promises. His gaze brushes my lips and lingers there. “I prefer the curvy kind I can tie to my bedpost.”

  “Did you just suggest I might be curvy and bedpost material? That’s so—”

  Sexy?

  Wrong on so many levels?

  I shake my head and laugh…until I remember he has a girlfriend.

  Before I can stop myself, I blurt out, “Yeah, you like the blond kind, too, don’t you?”

  It was meant as a joke, but the words that come out carry the slightest hint of bitterness and jealously.

  That’s so not what I was going for.

  Kellan regards me, amused. “Not so much the blond but the quirky kind. The kind that hits my car.”

  I can’t figure him out for the life of me. I know I shouldn’t ask, but my curiosity gets the better of me.

  Mandy mentioned the Boyd brothers own the famous Club 69 venues, and Kellan definitely owns the arrogance of Mr. Universe, which is often a sign that he’s successful. That and the fact that he drives such an expensive car. Yesterday at dinner, he kept evading my questions. To be honest, I’ve no idea what the big deal is. It’s not like being a nightclub owner is something worth hiding, although I guess everyone needs a break from reality.

  “What exactly are you doing, Kellan?” I ask. “Jobwise, I mean.”

  “I like to entertain my guests.”

  “As in clubs?”

  “Not in that kind of way. You have the wrong Boyd. I invest in my brother’s clubs.” Another evasion and so clearly a lie. He points to my plate, his tone a bit sharper than before. “Tuck in.”

  The accent comes through so pronounced it vibrates its way through all my hidden spots, and I almost topple off my chair. If he notices my growing discomfort at being alone with him, he doesn’t mention it.

  Obviously I can’t force him to tell me more about his life.

  I take a few hesitant bites of egg omelet and force myself to chew and swallow slowly. The rich taste of full-fat registers somewhere at the back of my mind, but all I can focus on is the scent of aftershave wafting from him and the fact it’s doing strange things to my body.

  Like impairing my breathing.

  And making it very, very difficult to focus on anything but him.

  “Caught a cold last night?” Kellan stops eating and turns to me. His piercing gaze reminds me of dark green meadows and the mystery that comes with them.

  “Why?” Narrowing my eyes at him, I put down my fork and take my coffee again to warm my hands. I might be hungry, but there’s no way I can eat around him. Not when we’re alone in his way-too-masculine house and he’s looking at me with a combination of disdain and intensity that makes me too aware of my body’s reactions to him.

  “You sound breathless. And I haven’t even made you come yet.” His brow shoots up, and a lazy smile tugs at the corner of his lips.

  He’s such a jerk!

  “FYI, it was cold outside. I froze my ass off out there and probably caught a cold.”

  “Or you’re into me.”

  “I can assure you I’m not.” I raise my chin and stare him down with as much frostiness as I can muster. “I’ll grab some aspirin from town.” I emphasize the last part so he won’t get the impression I want to stick around.

  “No need. I have some.” He gets up. His back is turned to me as he begins to rummage through the drawers. Eventually, he pushes an emergency kit toward me and sits back down. “Feel free to take whatever you need.”

  “Thanks, but I won’t be around for much longer,” I say.

  In fact, sticking around is the last thing I’d do, but I keep that to myself.

  His frown returns, and for a moment, his eyes remind me of emeralds—cold and hard. But the impression disappears quickly and makes room for the nonchalant, almost contemptuous expression that he seems to sport whenever he looks at me. It’s either contempt or lust, like he can’t decide which way to feel about me.

  I bet the words ‘jerk’ and ‘arrogant prick’, which pretty much sum up our first encounter back in NYC, have etched their way into his ego, and now he’s scarred for life at the idea some skirt doesn’t think he’s God’s gift to the female population.

  He can’t take rejection.

/>   It’s no longer a question. It’s a fact.

  “You know,” he starts with a smug grin, “the streets out of town are flooded. There’s no hotel so, as things stand, you’ll have to tolerate me for a little longer. You can keep busy by helping out with the livestock.”

  A kind of challenge flickers to life in his gaze, like he thinks I’d never dirty my hands.

  The condescending prick!

  I add that to my mental dictionary of words that perfectly describe Kellan.

  “When’s the mechanic coming?” I ask.

  He shrugs. “I don’t know.”

  “What do you mean you don’t know? Did you call him or not?”

  “The lines are still down. The storm must have hit a phone pole.”

  I take a sharp breath and let it out slowly. “So you haven’t called him, like you said.”

  “I never said I did. I only said I would.” His eyes catch mine, the glint in them naughty and devilish. “But no worries, you’re not imposing, if that’s what you’re worried about. The guestrooms have been vacant for so long, I’ll be happy to entertain you. I’m very good at it, as you’ve probably noticed.”

  “I’m sure you are.” I cock my head to the side, my voice dripping with sarcasm. “Do you have enough food for the three of us?”

  I can’t quite picture Kellan being the kind who stocks up before a hurricane hits.

  “This house was built to last,” he says, amused. “My family owns thousands of acres of land. There’s plenty to live on. You wouldn’t be starving. So, what do you say? Are you going to help me with the farm?”

  I don’t know why, but he kind of looks smug. And then I remember.

  He doesn’t think I have what it takes for physical labor.

  “Sounds like a date.” I take a huge gulp of my coffee, emptying half the mug, and jump up with a triumphant smile on my face.

  He downs his coffee and stands, a smile creeping up his face. It’s only then that I realize what I’ve just said.

  Holy shit!

  What the fuck’s wrong with me?

  “Obviously not a date but—” I wave my hand in the air as more heat rushes to my face.

  His smile widens, revealing two rows of perfect, white teeth. Teeth I can’t help but imagine nibbling on my body and tugging gently at my sensitive skin.

  The thought instantly makes me horny.

  Oh, God.

  I’m a lost cause.

  “Not a ‘date’ date,” I say through clenched teeth.

  “Obviously. Let’s call it earning your bacon while you’re lying in my hay.”

  He can’t possibly expect payment. But, in spite of his smile, his expression is so honest, I’m not sure he’s not serious.

  I clamp my mouth shut to keep back a snarky remark because, let’s face it, I’m flat-out broke and might just have to work to earn my keep. Judging by the way his gaze seems to brush the front of my top, I’m not sure what that work might entail.

  “If you think I’d ever fuck you in exchange for staying here, you’re wrong. I’d rather sleep outside, in the dirt.”

  He leans into me, his breath brushing my lips. I can smell the faint scent of coffee and bacon, the heady mix of aftershave and him. An instant throb forms between my legs.

  “It was a joke, Ava. I’d never expect you to pay for anything. Be my guest for as long as you want. The fucking part is voluntary, though I’m pretty sure there’ll be lots of that.”

  He pulls back and I stare at him, open-mouthed and struck speechless.

  Nope, I still don’t get him.

  CHAPTER TEN

  I’ve never considered myself ugly, but I’m no blond model material either. My figure is not bad, with a bit of extra padding here and there. Guys always seem to like my generous chest size, but that’s not impressive either.

  No one like him—rich and instant-panty-drop sexy—has ever hit on me.

  You rejected him, and now he thinks you’re a challenge.

  That must be my answer.

  Combine spectacular looks with a bruised ego in a guy, and he’s major trouble. It’s like he turns into a bloodhound, sniffing you out, pursuing you relentlessly. Once the job’s done, he’ll lose interest and be gone before you even realized what just happened.

  “I know I keep asking the same stuff, but I can’t figure you out.” I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. “How does the dirty talking usually fare for you?”

  “What dirty talking? I haven’t even started yet.”

  I sigh at his infuriatingly sweet tone. “Okay, let’s try again. So, what is it that you do? Irritate the hell out of a woman so she gives in just to get rid of you?”

  A smile flashes across his lips. “I don’t usually need to. Women usually throw themselves at me. But—”

  “But?” I raise my brows at him, silently coercing him to enlighten me.

  “But I might not have any other choice with you.”

  “Ah.” I nod knowingly, mocking him. “Maybe not everyone is into you, you know? Does that make sense?”

  Before I know it, he grips my chin between his fingers and leans forward. Our breaths intermingled, I’m forced to meet his green gaze, and I don’t like what I see there.

  Longing.

  My own longing for him to kiss me is reflected in his eyes.

  And then there is something else.

  Determination.

  Raw, hard, primitive determination.

  The kind I don’t possess.

  He’s used to getting what he wants. I knew that from the first moment I saw him. What I didn’t expect was that, for some reason, he might be wanting me.

  “I’m everyone’s type, Ava,” he says, his voice low. “You just have to realize it.”

  He lets go, his fingers leaving a tingling sensation on my skin.

  I shake my head, more out of need to convince myself that no man could have such an effect on me than disagreement. “Be that as it may, you’re not everyone’s type to handle, and I can assure you I’m not interested in getting involved with a guy like you.”

  “And what kind of guy do you think I am?”

  “Mmh, let me think.” I bite my lip in mock contemplation. “The kind of guy who thinks you’re on every woman’s bucket list of things to do before they die.”

  “Wow. You have me down to a T.” He eyes me, amused. “So, why don’t you join the crowd?”

  I let out a laugh. “Seriously? Is that even a question?”

  “It is.” He nods. “Women usually throw themselves at me. Except you. You seem to be the exception, which poses the important question: why do you keep rejecting me?” His question sounds genuine, like he’s given it a lot of thought and can’t for the life of him figure out the answer.

  “You’re too much,” I admit.

  “Too much of what? Sexiness?”

  “No, dude.” I shake my head in disbelief. “You’re too much to handle. Too much obnoxiousness.”

  “I never thought I’d hear a woman say something like that to me. It’s usually the other way around, you know?” His smile breaks into a grin. “Are you sure you’re even a woman?”

  I scowl. “Trust me, I’m as much of a woman as you’re a man.”

  “Prove it.”

  He’s playing me.

  I cock my head, annoyed that he’d think I’m so easy to trick. “If you think I’m going to flash you my breasts while you get to show me your private parts, you’re wrong.”

  Yeah, no need to show them to me when I’ve already seen them.

  And they’re huge.

  There’s a strange look in his eyes. I still don’t know if he saw me watching him last night, but I sure as hell won’t be asking.

  “I’m messing with you. But you’ve got to admit it would have been nice.”

  I smirk. “Yeah, if we were five-year-olds.”

  “If I were a five-year-old, I would have said, I’ll show you mine if you show me yours. But like I said, I never have to ask. It
s always the other way around.” He leans forward. His stubble grazes my skin, and for a moment, I think he’s about to kiss me. His hot breath brushes my lips as he says, “I’m perfectly well-endowed and will be happy to show you if you ask…nicely.”

  He leans back, his green eyes challenging me with so much fire it takes my breath away.

  I’m stunned. Lost for words. I don’t know what to say. But I know how I feel. I’m turned on by the memory in my head.

  His hand wrapped around his hard cock is all I can think about. It drives me crazy. It takes all my willpower not to look down at his crotch.

  “Not going to happen,” I mumble, more to myself than to him.

  “Now it’s my turn,” Kellan says coolly. “You told me your opinion of me, so it’s only fair that I tell you what I think your problem is.”

  My breath catches in my throat.

  I so don’t like where this is going.

  “I’m not interested in what you think my problem is because I don’t have one.”

  “You see, Ava,” Kellan says slowly, “you’re a good girl, which is why I irritate you. I’m the kind of guy you’ve avoided all your life. The kind of guy you’re too scared to fuck because you’re too scared to let go of your inhibitions.”

  “That’s not true.” I open my mouth to protest some more. He presses the tip of his index finger against my lips, instantly silencing me.

  “Don’t misunderstand me. You enjoy sex, and you look like you’re not half bad at it. But I’ll take you beyond the boring, predictable kind you’re used to. In fact, I can teach you a few things you’ll really enjoy. Things that will make your last orgasm seem like a waste of time. Then you’ll see why bad boys who are ‘too much for you’ always get the girls.”

  Coming out of this jerk’s mouth, it all sounds like an insult.

  He’s so right about me, I feel a strong need to vehemently deny it. But I can’t because he’d know. Sure, I have experience, but none of my previous partners had a body like his.

  They all had been nice guys.

  None of them had been arrogant and rich.

  Or so fucking self-assured that I might just want to find out if his words carry any truth to them.

  I’m about to tell him to fuck off in not so nice words when Kellan releases me, leaving me both breathless and strangely elated at the thought that he wants me.

 
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