Nobody But You (Cedar Ridge 3) - Page 14

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He didn’t appear in the least bit bothered by this. “The Little Lucas,” he read. “I like it. How have you been?”

Not wanting to think about how his nonjudgmental smile and words warmed her. “Great.” She went to smash the bottle of Glenlivet against the hull, but he caught her wrist.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Rechristening the boat.”

“That seems like a waste of a very good twenty-five-year-old Scotch.”

She gave him a long look.

He smiled. “Right. You’re still not speaking to me. And just for curiosity’s sake, why is that again?”

“I’m into making new and improved choices for myself,” she said. “And not repeating any bad patterns is one of those new choices.”

“I’m a bad pattern?”

“The worst.”

He seemed amused by this.

“And plus, you didn’t tell me you were one of the infamous Kincaid brothers,” she said.

He shrugged. “Been away long enough that I don’t necessarily feel like one of them right now.”

This stopped her. Up until now she’d seen him as only Lake Patrol Guy, an authority figure she could happily and easily resent. Dislike.

But suddenly he was also a real man, and given that carefully blank look on his face and the hint of pain in his eyes, he was also much more. He was flesh and blood, with feelings and emotions, no matter how well hidden. It shamed her a little bit because she realized she wasn’t the only one hurting. He was just better at hiding it than she.

Proving it, he gestured to the bottle. “I can drink without speaking,” he said. “How about you?”

Sophie thought about that for a minute. “I was going to watch it dump into the water with great enthusiasm.”

He cocked his head, his eyes hooded, a slight curve to his lips. “Why?”

She decided to answer only because he wasn’t judging her, not because he had focused those warm chocolate-brown eyes on her. “It belonged to my ex-husband, and he’s the king of all the assholes in all the land.”

“A good reason,” he said agreeably. “Except for the flaw.”

“The flaw?” she asked mistrustfully.

“That bottle probably cost close to four hundred bucks.”

Shocked, she stared at him. Lucas had cut her off without a penny to her name. She’d been dodging lake patrol because she couldn’t afford a boat pass for going on two weeks now. He’d made her a criminal. “That asshole,” she finally whispered around a tight throat. But oh, hell no was she going to cry. She refused to shed a single tear over the disaster she’d let a man make of her life.

But damn. Letting out a breath, she jerked from Jacob’s hold and struggled to open the bottle. The alcohol was so going down.

Again he reached in and stilled her frantic movements. Slowly, like he was dealing with a deranged chick—which he totally was—he pried the bottle from her clutches and opened it without straining in the slightest, although the muscles in his arms moved quite enticingly. Then he offered the bottle to her.

She accepted it, lifted it in a mocking toast, took a tentative sip, and promptly choked.

Grinning, he took the bottle.

“Are you allowed to drink on duty?” she asked.

He gave her an odd look. “I’m not on duty right now.” He gestured to the cabin behind her. Now that it was becoming dark, she could see the cabin was lit up from within, looking homey and inviting. And she’d somehow missed the fact that there was a new truck parked in the driveway next to it.

“I saw you from the front porch,” he said.

“You bought the cabin?”

“Rented it.” And then he took a pull of the Scotch as well.

And didn’t choke.

She watched his Adam’s apple move as he swallowed. She stared at the stubble on his jaw and the way the corners of his eyes crinkled when he relaxed a little bit. And then there was his mouth. Pulling the bottle away from that mouth, he licked his lips, and from deep within her came a…quiver.

Not good. So. Not. Good. She already knew she couldn’t make a smart decision to save her life under the best of circumstances, of which this most definitely wasn’t.

“Something I said?” he asked wryly as she backed away.

“No.” Yes. She paused, because in truth she had no idea.

What she did know was that he churned her up, big-time—though she’d go to hell and back before admitting such a thing. “I’ve gotta go,” she said, and bolted belowdecks. She closed the door and then pressed an ear to it, listening, hoping to hear his footsteps moving off.


Tags: Jill Shalvis Cedar Ridge Romance
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