“It’s depressing because it’s obvious that you removed every trace of Heather from your room.”
He froze, and for the first time I saw something like real emotion on his face. He looked … stunned. Like he couldn’t believe I’d actually said that.
Fair enough. I couldn’t quite believe it, either.
“I’m sorry,” I whispered. He turned and walked out, slamming the door behind him.
Well played, London. Kick the widower in the emotional balls. Classy. What the hell was wrong with me?
I turned back and set down my supply bucket. Might as well get to work, because there was no way I’d be leaving this room any time soon. I didn’t think I’d be able to face him for a while … I walked into the bathroom and flipped on the light, looking around. Oh, dear God. It was disgusting. Not moldy or anything, but really obvious that it hadn’t seen a good cleaning in weeks, maybe even months. Much worse than the bathroom upstairs had been, but I guess that made sense. Nobody lived up there anymore.
He’d have plenty of time to forgive me before I’d get out of here, I realized. My phone buzzed.
JESSICA: Getting done an hour early and need ride.
I rubbed my temple, frustrated. I’d never finish this in one shot, and now I had even less time, unless I made Jess walk home from the community center. Knowing my luck, she’d pick up a bunch of new friends along the way and bring them back to the house for a party …
President Friendly and I would need to schedule at least one more session, which meant more time spent with him than I’d ever imagined when we struck our deal. And that was before I insulted him about his dead wife in their bedroom.
Jessie is worth it, I reminded myself. This is nothing. Just get to work and keep your mouth shut. Think about Nate and Friday night. With any luck, you’ll go back to seeing Reese Hayes once or twice a month from a safe distance.
Just the way it should be.
I was only partially finished with the bathroom when my phone timer went off, reminding me to pick up Jess. I packed up my supplies and looked around in dissatisfaction.
At least the toilet was clean.
Walking past his freshly changed bed, I tried not to think about how soft and comfortable that silky fabric would feel against my skin … I suspected it would be fabulous, especially if his body was covering mine and I got to taste those lips of his again. My cheeks warmed, and I wondered how—exactly—I’d gone from being a sensible, responsible woman to one who could lust after two men in one day.
I tried to think of a way to blame that one on Jessica, but not even I could pull it off. I had to own up to the facts—I’d become a perv. I guess all those articles about women hitting their sexual peak in their thirties hadn’t been exaggerating.
When I entered the kitchen, I heard voices from the living room.
Hayes and a woman. I smelled food, too. Pizza. The hot-cheese-and-tomato scent wafting toward me was heavenly. I’d worked up an appetite, which I guess was one good thing about my job. I burned plenty of calories on a daily basis, no question of that.
As I approached the living room, I could see the back of Hayes’s head from where he sat on the couch. A woman straddled him, facing me. For one horrid, wretched moment I thought I might be about to walk in on him having sex again. She glanced up at me, curiosity written all over her face, saying something to him I couldn’t quite make out. He pushed her off gently. Thankfully, she was fully clothed.
“So,” I said, walking into the room, feeling unspeakably awkward. An open box of pizza sat on the coffee table, along with two open beers and a couple of empties.
Hayes stood, his thick thighs and heavy arms even sexier than I remembered, which seemed rather unfair. His companion gave me a friendly smile. She was young, cute, and apparently nice, too. Girls like that are the worst. I had a feeling I looked disgusting, and knowing my luck, I probably didn’t smell too good right now, either.
Oh, and old. I felt old.
“I’m almost done with your bathroom,” I said, realizing I should apologize for what I’d said earlier. I just didn’t know how. “But not quite. I’ll need to come back.”
“I can be here tomorrow afternoon.”
“I can’t. But I can come on Wednesday.”
“Wednesday isn’t good for me. Tomorrow.”
“No, I can come on Wednesday,” I repeated. “I have to take Jess over to the hospital in Spokane tomorrow. She has an appointment with a specialist and it’s not like you can just reschedule those.”
“What does she need to see a specialist for?”
“That’s her business,” I replied, straightening myself. “I appreciate your help the other night, but that’s not a license to invade our privacy.”
The girl’s eyes went wide.
“I need to go get something out of my car,” she said quickly. I started forward, deciding retreat was the better part of valor, but Hayes stood in my way. The man was like a brick wall. A really frustrating brick wall. I tried to slip past him, but he wrapped one big hand around my upper arm, stopping me. Shoot. I’d forgotten to be afraid of him.
This was a mistake, because he could turn on scary just like that.
“What’s up with your girl?” he asked again, his voice soft. “I know she’s a wild kid, but this sounds like more.”
I stared at his broad chest, refusing to meet his eyes. He wore a torn T-shirt that had seen better days, and it didn’t do much to hide the latent strength of his muscles or just how easily he could hold me here indefinitely. Not only that, he smelled good. So unfair.
“I really don’t want to talk about it.”
His eyes narrowed.
“Do you need help, London?” he asked. “You work for us now. If there’s a problem, you should tell me. Even if there isn’t, I should know if you’ve got something big going on. Everything that touches the club is my business.”
I snorted. Now he was interested in learning more about our lives?
“It’s nothing important,” I replied, forcing my voice to stay smooth, because it wasn’t nothing and never would be. “We just need to get her checked out. But I can come back on Wednesday right after lunch. Would that work for you?”
He studied me a moment longer, then slowly rubbed his hands up and down my arms before letting me go. This was fortunate, because I’m pretty sure I got goose bumps and the last thing I needed was him figuring out how I reacted to his touch.