Nobody But You (Cedar Ridge 3) - Page 45

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“Overlap?” he asked.

“Well, for one, the duke’s girlfriend doesn’t like the duchess,” she said, “and the feeling’s mutual. Last time they managed to run into each other in that twelve-thousand-square-foot home, there was a huge catfight. The duke stepped in to break it up and lost his toupee.”

Jacob grinned. “I’d have to shoot myself if I had your job. No, scratch that. I’d shoot the royals.”

“The client’s always right,” she said, repeating her mantra, the one she’d sang to herself a thousand times today. But the truth was, she liked doing these temp jobs. She got to meet a lot of people, she never had to do the same thing twice, and she also got to see firsthand that it didn’t matter which side of the railroad tracks you parked your head at night; everyone had problems. “I like doing my job.”

“You have a more positive attitude than I do. I wouldn’t last a day,” he said. “Hell, I wouldn’t last five minutes. You’re a much better person than me.”

She froze, caught off guard, not to mention flat-out surprised. How long had it been since anyone had said anything like that to her? Uncomfortable with the praise, she blindly grabbed a loaf of bread and turned to go.

But Jacob wasn’t deterred. She had a feeling nothing could deter him when he’d set his mind on something.

“You know you’re something else, right?” he asked. “Something really wonderful. Handling all you’ve been through with grace and courage. I mean, you didn’t even try to kill your ex for what he did to you.”

That made her smile, albeit grimly. “How do you know I didn’t?”

“Because you’re smart, resourceful, and determined. If you’d wanted to kill him, he’d be dead. And there wouldn’t be a body.”

Surprised again, she laughed. He got her. “You should remember that,” she said, and started to walk off.

“You’re being cautious.”

“I’m trying,” she said. “Join me, won’t you?”

“Where’s the fun in that?”

She stared at him. “Is that what we’re doing? Having fun?”

His gaze met hers and held for a long moment. “Among other things.”

She gulped.

“What are you afraid of?” he asked quietly.

“The list is long.”

He shrugged. “Try me.”

“Fine,” she said, ticking off the bullet points on her fingers. “Getting hurt. Trusting again.” She stopped and shook her head, feeling way too exposed.

“I’ll never hurt you,” he said. “Ever. We’re both in this, eyes open. We know what this is and what it isn’t. I’ll never hurt you,” he repeated, taking a step closer. “And you can take that to the bank, Sophie. I’m a lot of things, but a liar isn’t one of them.”

Her brain was on overload. It was just too much to process. “I’ve gotta go.” It took a moment for her feet to obey her brain, but eventually she did walk away, thinking, Holy cow, he was potent. She needed to remember that and stay out of his force field range.

A few minutes later she got to the checkout just as Jacob was walking out the door of the store. The clerk was staring at his ass. “That is one fine specimen of man,” the woman said, taking a long sip from her bottle of water like she was parched. “I mean what kind of woman wouldn’t follow that man anywhere, no matter what job he lands for himself?”

“He’s got a job,” Sophie said. “He’s military—”

“I mean after the military.”

“Maybe he’ll come back to doing what he’s doing now, lake patrol.”

The clerk stared at Sophie for a beat and then burst out laughing. “Honey, that man’s as hot as they come, and badass to the core. But he don’t wear no badge.”

Sophie blinked. “He’s not lake patrol?”

“No way. No how.”

She thought of how they’d met, when he’d made her move The Little Lucas that night. And the second night…Or when she’d asked if he was on duty…He’d let her make a fool of herself. I don’t lie, Soph, ever…Funny, but she’d actually believed him. Which made her the ass, not him.

Chapter 13

Sophie grinded her teeth as she unloaded the royals’ groceries in their mansion, cooked their dinner, and left. She’d told Jacob she’d bring him some dinner, but now all she wanted to do was roast him over an open fire.

Tags: Jill Shalvis Cedar Ridge Romance