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Authors: Kaylee Ryan

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BOOK: Unexpected Reality
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“Do you want me to take you back home?” I’m not dealing with the whining. If she wants to fuck, she has to endure card night. Simple as that.

“Ugh! Fine, but I don’t want to stay long.”

I grip the steering wheel tightly. I’ve never had a chick tell me what to do. Of course, I’m never around long enough for that to happen either. She’s delusional if she thinks that just because she’s the only one I’m fucking right now she can dictate what I do.

Not happening, darlin.’

Pulling into Kent’s driveway, I grab the bag of snacks and wait at the front of my truck for Stephanie. I’m not a total dick. Knocking once on the door, I walk in since it’s an open invitation at all of our places. We’re family.

“Hey, hey!” I call out. A chorus of the same greets us as we walk into the kitchen.

“Stephanie, right?” Mark asks.

She looks surprised that he remembers. “Yeah.”

“Welcome. You play poker?” Kent greets.

Fucker, he knows she doesn’t. I bite my lip to keep from laughing.

“No.”

The look on her face is priceless. She looks as though we just asked her to sleep with all five of us or something. That’s something else that I’ve begun to notice about her. She’s Miss Prim and Proper, never taking time to just relax—that is, of course, unless we are in the bedroom. All other times, she’s so uptight. She needs to learn to let loose every now and then; life is too damn short to be so serious all the time.

“Don’t worry, sweetheart. We can show you,” Seth says, throwing his arm over her shoulder.

She looks to me—for what, I don’t know. “I’m good,” she says, shrugging off his arm.

“Suit yourself. We all set?” I ask.

“Yep,” Tyler confirms, grabbing a bowl of chips and setting it on the table.

“Pull up a chair, or the living room is through there if you want to watch TV,” I tell her. Her mouth falls open. What did she expect? I’m not going to coddle her. She’s not my girlfriend, and frankly, I don’t like this side of her.

She rolls her eyes and stomps off toward the living room.

“Whose deal?” I take my seat at the table.

“Trouble in paradise?” Mark asks.

“Paradise? You know the score, brother. Deal em.’” We spend the next two hours playing cards, eating, and shooting the shit. It’s not until I hear Stephanie clear her throat that I remember I brought her. Shit!

“Are you ready?” she asks. Her arms are crossed over her chest and she’s tapping her foot, a scowl on her face.

So it was a dick move to forget she was here, but come on. She chose to separate herself from us. Looking at the time, I see it’s going on nine. “Yeah. This is the last hand.”

She looks irritated that I don’t just stand and leave, but we’re in the middle of a hand. It plays out quickly, with Seth raking in the winnings.

“We’re out,” I say, standing and stretching. “See you ladies in the morning.” I look over at Stephanie. “Ready?”

She doesn’t reply, just turns and walks out the front door. The guys chuckle, and I can’t help but laugh with them. She’s being a diva. I wave over my shoulder as I follow her out to my truck.

“Just take me home, Ridge,” she barks.

I don’t dignify her bitchiness with an answer, just put the truck in drive and take her home.

I pull into her driveway and don’t bother turning off the engine. She’s pissed, and honestly, I don’t care.

“I wanted to ask you something, but you were too caught up with the boys to spend any time with me.”

That’s a red flag. We don’t really call it ‘spending time together’—we eat and fuck, that’s it. “Well?” I say, prompting her to continue.

She blows her hair out of her face and takes a deep breath. “There’s a gala next week. It’s a big deal, showcasing my designs. I don’t want to go alone.”

Well, fuck me. “What day?”

“Friday.”

“Time?”

“We need to leave my place at seven. It starts at eight, but I want to be there early.”

I think about the bet. Shit, it’s the least I can do. I’m on the home stretch, and soon our time will end anyway. “Yeah, what do I need to wear?”

Her face brightens. “A suit?” she asks.

“Got it. See you then.”

She hesitates. “You want to get together this weekend?”

No. “I’ve got a lot going on with finishing up the Allen job. I don’t think I’ll have time. I’ll pick you up at seven on Friday.”

She doesn’t bother with a reply as she climbs out of my truck. I keep my headlights on her door and wait until she’s inside to leave.

Four more weeks.

 

 

Today has been one disaster after another. First, the job we bid on over on Southern Avenue called to let me know we were underbid. I have plenty of work, but I still hate losing. Although, with that particular job, I was as low as I could get. Not sure how the winning contractor is going to make money without cutting corners. Something else I hate.

When I arrived at my current job site, I found the wrong materials were delivered. The Lumber Yard mixed up the Jefferson and Williams jobs. It took me two hours on the phone to get them to bring a truck to each site to switch everything out. Their mix-up cost me and my guys a day’s work, putting us a day behind schedule, and leaving me the task of calling the customer to fill them in. Which led to my current situation. Did I mention that I hate to be off schedule?

I’ve spent my afternoon at the Jefferson job site, the final truck having just dropped off the correct supplies. Mrs. Jefferson was concerned that the materials would be wrong again, but I assured her they would be correct. In so many words, she insinuated that they better be or else. She’s a tough cookie, and was insistent that the job be complete before her sister and brother-in-law visit from California next month. To appease her, I stayed until the truck arrived, and checked the contents of the order myself. A hazard of the job is keeping the customers happy.

I was supposed to be ‘off,’—if that’s really even possible for a business owner—by five, because I have the gala tonight with Stephanie. Several times today, I thought about calling to cancel, but I gave her my word, and that’s not something I take lightly. Instead, here I am leaving the Jefferson site at six thirty, and to top off this fucktastic day, the skies open up and it starts to pour down rain.

The wipers are on high as they whoosh and skid across the windshield. I slow down when I see a car on the side of the road up ahead. As I get closer, I see a woman kicking what appears to be her flat tire.

Shit. I can’t in good conscience not stop and help her. I doubt she even knows how to change a tire.

Turning on my signal, I pull off on the side of the road, parking behind her. She’s wearing what looks like a nursing uniform and her hair is soaked. Reaching in the glove box, I grab two ponchos I keep on hand; you never know when Mother Nature is going to decide to open the floodgates. Working in construction, my supply has come in handy more times than I can count.

Tearing open one package, I slip the poncho over my head. Gripping the one I grabbed for her, I climb out of the truck. She’s watching me, her arms crossed over her chest. I see her car keys sticking out between her fingers as if she’s prepared to use them against me. Smart girl.

“Hi,” I yell over the rain. “Looks like you could use some help.” I hand her the poncho.

She hesitates, but the rain picks up and she relents, slowly reaching out to take the offering. I watch as she quickly unfolds the poncho and slips it over her head.

“I’m Ridge.” I point back to my truck marked with the Beckett Construction logo. “Just left the job site and saw you looked like you could use some help. Do you have a spare?” I ask.

She still looks hesitant; again, I think she’s being smart.

“I’m going to reach into my pocket and grab my wallet,” I warn her. Slowly, I reach around to my back pocket and pull it out. Opening it, I pull out a business card that has my full name and contact information and hand it to her.

The rain continues to beat down, and I will her to decide if she’s going to trust me so we can get this show on the road. I’m already late and can hear Stephanie whining already.

She studies the card, and then ever so slowly lifts her head and smiles warmly. Holding her hand out, she introduces herself. “Dawn Miller. Thank you for stopping. I have no idea what I’m doing.”

“I got this.” I wink at her. Even drenched, she’s beautiful, with big blue eyes and long blonde hair. “Pop the truck and get inside the car. There’s no need for both of us standing out here getting wet.”

She waves off my concern. “I’m not going to melt. I couldn’t sit in the car while you were out here, I’d feel guilty. I really do appreciate this, more than you know.”

She pops the trunk and I make quick work of releasing the spare tire and jack. Just as I get the jack set, the rain lets up. I busy myself with taking off the flat tire and quickly replacing it with the donut version. “You’re going to have to get this taken care of. I hope you don’t have far to go. It’s not safe on these wet roads to be driving on this thing.” I point to the smaller tire.

“Not far. I’ll get it taken care of tomorrow,” she promises.

After making sure the lug nuts are tight, I place the flat and tools back in the trunk. “You’re all set,” I tell her, closing the trunk lid.

“Thank you so much. How much do I owe you?”

“Nothing, just drive safe. It was nice to meet you, Dawn.” I offer her my hand.

She slides hers against mine and we shake. “It was nice meeting you too, Ridge. Thank you again, so very much.”

With a nod, I release her hand and jog back to my truck. I watch as she settles back behind the wheel and drives off. Grabbing my phone, I send a quick text to Steph.

 

Me: Running late, been one hell of a day.
Stephanie: Seriously, Ridge? You promised.
Me: Couldn’t be helped. I’ll be there soon.

 

I toss my phone in the cup holder and pull back out on the road. Mother Nature decides she’s not through torturing me today, as the rain once again unleashes. Huge, heavy drops hit the windshield and I have to slow to a creep, the visibility pretty much non-existent. I hope Dawn makes it to where she’s going.

A gust of wind hits the truck and I have to fight to keep it on the road. This storm just popped up out of nowhere. Readjusting my position, I grip the wheel and lean forward, keeping my eyes glued to the road. My phone alerts me to a new message, but it’s just going to have to wait. My gut tells me it’s Stephanie wanting to give me a hard time about being late. If that were Stephanie or my sister Reagan on the side of the road, I would want a decent guy like myself to stop and help them. There are a hell of a lot of creepers out there, and it’s just not safe. She’ll get over it, and if not . . . Oh well.

Eyes glued to the road, I stare hard, making sure I don’t hit stray tree branches—hell, even another car, for that matter. There’s debris all over the road, so I slow down, knowing the Jacksons’ curves are just up ahead. Old Man Jackson lives right in the middle of a hellish set of curves, and I’ve seen more accidents on this stretch of road than I care to count.

Just as I creep around the first set, I see lights. Lights that are coming from the other side of the small embankment.
Fuck! That’s not a good sign.
Today is just not going my way.

I pull my truck over to the side of the road. Reaching into the glove compartment, I pull out a flashlight. I’m still wearing my poncho, not taking the time to remove it knowing Stephanie was already going to be pissed. Not knowing what I’m going to find on the other side of the embankment, I grab my phone and shove it into my pocket.

As soon as I open the door, the wind blasts me and almost knocks me over. I fight against the gusts to slam the door shut, then turn on the flashlight and check both ways before sprinting across the road. It’s dangerous as hell, but my gut tells me that time is of the essence in this situation. I send up a silent prayer that I’m wrong.

BOOK: Unexpected Reality
13.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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