Big Man's Wife - Page 9

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Jenna inhales a deep breath and swallows hard. Clearing her throat, she shakes the tears away, pulling up her armor. “I'm not leaving, Ryder. I'm staying until I can convince you to see reason. This is the right thing to do. You know it and I know it.”

She wants to convince me. All right, I can play a long for a little bit.

I have an idea. One that causes an immediate grin on my face. She won't go for it, but it'll be fun to see the look on her face.

“Okay, how about this? You stay here.”

“What?” she asks.

“Stay here. You can sleep in one of the guest rooms and stay here as long as you're in town.”

Her jaw drops as her chin crooks to one side. “You're not serious. You're screwing with me, right?”

“I'm serious, but there is one catch.” Leaning forward, I hold my mug in both hands, a slick smile on my face. “You have to earn your keep, just like when we were kids. You help around the farm, and in exchange, I'll hear whatever pitches you have for me.”

“This has to be a joke. You're not serious.”

“No it's not, I mean it,” I answer. “But,” I quickly say, holding up a finger, “I'm not making any promises, I'm only agreeing to listen. You have my ears, but it doesn't mean I'm selling. I'll hear you out, though.”

She sits in silence. Her eyes staring me down. She's reading me, studying me intently. So, I do the only thing I can. I stare back. I'm still as a statue. She isn't going to see whatever it is she's looking for.

After a few long seconds of quiet, I calmly shrug a shoulder. “You can always hold up for the night at the rest area up near the highway. I'm sure it'll be cozy enough in the backseat of that sports car you're driving. The bears and psychos out there won't bother you at all.” Grabbing the mug of coffee, I take a long sip.

Jenna isn't good at hiding her emotions. She never has been. I know exactly what she's thinking right now. She's running scenarios through her head. Weighing her options.

Her eyes jitter in their sockets as she nibbles anxiously on her bottom lip. It's sexy watching her think like this. There's a vulnerability to her. And I like it.

“I accept.”

Is she really saying yes to this?

“What now?”

“I accept your offer. It's not like I'll be here long. I'm going to have you signing the paperwork in no time.”

“I think you're underestimating me, Jenna.”

She gently lifts the coffee to her lips and smirks. “And I think you might be overestimating yourself.”

Smirking back, I stand up. “Okay, it's settled. Let me show you your room.”

“What about your sister? Won't Melody be upset to find me here?” she asks, following me up the stairs.

“She's hardly here anymore. The girl is seventeen and spends a lot of time working at the motel. Most nights she just crashes there because it's easier. And when she is home, she's studying.”

I can visibly see the relief as it lifts off her shoulders. My sister isn't easy to deal with. She's head strong, and she isn't afraid to tell you exactly how she feels. I don't blame Jenna for being intimidated by her.

I'm sure it's weird to be challenged by a girl who was seven the last time you saw her. And if the last decade of your life people were bending over backwards to appease you, a mouthy teenager who doesn't take shit is a shock.

“Do you have a suitcase in the car? I'll go grab it for you.”

“No, I just have this.” Holding up a small tote, she tips her toe into the floor and looks down.

“Well, you have your own bathroom. There are clean towels and anything else you might need. My sister is pretty good about making sure our rooms are stocked like the motel,” I say, laughing out loud.

“That's not a bad thing.” Jenna has a warm smile as she giggles.

Fuck. I missed that laugh.

It didn't hit me until right then how much I missed about this girl. Her laugh. Her smile. The way her nose crinkles up when she's thinking. How she arches a single brow when she's cracking a joke. All the little things that no one else used to appreciate but me. She used to have such a bold and fun personality. I find myself wondering if that girl's still in there somewhere.

I'm staring at her and she notices, causing her eyes to lower curiously. Glancing away quickly, I shake the thoughts away. “If you get hungry, help yourself to whatever you can find.”

She nods, rocking her bag back and forth across her waist. There are million things running through my head. Questions I have. Words that I want to scream in her face. I hold it in, letting the silence between us become awkward.

Tags: Penny Wylder Romance