Good Girl Page 14

It catches me by surprise. Obviously.

The kiss is all business at first. I can tell by the impersonal press of his lips against mine, the way his hands stay at his sides, his posture tense, as though he’s barely enduring the contact.

But as we stand there, two strangers who don’t even like each other, impatiently waiting for a nosy woman to take her camera phone and be on her way, something shifts.

My breathing quickens a little as I register the feel of his firm lips on mine, and his quickens in response before his lips begin to move.

Slowly. Slowly his lips drag over mine, from one side of my mouth to the other, as the kiss goes from being an immobile, get-it-over-with affair to being gently exploratory.

His lips are just slightly rough, as though he rarely thinks to put on Chapstick, possibly doesn’t own any, and the friction against the minty glossiness of my lips is electric.

Noah’s hands find my hips, nudging me forward slightly as his tongue slips between my lips, confident and unapologetic. I let out a quiet moan as my hand lifts to his chest, fingers clenching at the soft fabric of his T-shirt, wanting him closer.

The guy knows what he’s doing.

I lose track of how long he kisses me, and let’s be clear, he’s kissing me; I can do little more than stand upright, his tongue hot and wet and hungry against mine, his fingers equally greedy against my hips.

It’s not until Dolly lets out a little yip that I remember I have a dog in my bag. Heck, I barely even remember I have a dog.

But her sharp bark’s enough to make him draw back, his eyes lingering on my mouth just for a second, avoiding my eyes.

Noah turns his head slowly, and I realize he’s looking for the woman.

He steps back, and I sneak a peek around his shoulder. The woman and her camera are nowhere to be seen. I feel a little thrill of victory that if she did get a picture, it would have been of a redhead and her boyfriend locking lips in the electrical aisle of Home Depot. Without a clear shot of my face, Jenny Dawson was never here.

“Thank you,” I whisper.

He shrugs, seeming a hell of a lot less affected by the kiss than I am, but then again, he’s still avoiding my eyes.

“Figured I owe you,” he says. “For the jerk comment I made in the car earlier about married guys.”

I nod slowly. It was an asshole thing to say, but I can’t deny that the guy just did me a major favor to make up for it.

“Can I ask you something?” I ask, trotting after him as he begins pushing the cart toward the front of the store.

He doesn’t respond, but he also doesn’t tell me to shut up, so I ask the question anyway. “How was it? The kiss, I mean?”

Noah doesn’t look back. “What, you want like a star rating?”

“No, I just…you kiss different from the boys I know.”

“Well, maybe that’s your problem,” he says, still not looking at me. “You’ve been kissing boys.”

I want desperately to shoot back something witty, but he’s right. He just set a new gold standard for kissing in my book, and my pride insists on knowing if it was the same for him.

“Okay, fine,” I say. “Give me a star rating.”

“Jesus,” he mutters as we get in line at the cash register. “No.”

I poke his side. There’s not a bit of give, just firm muscle. “Come on. I can take it.”

He remains silent for a few moments, as though considering my question, as he pulls his wallet out of his back pocket.

Then, “I’ve had better.”

My stomach plummets to my feet.

Of course he’s had better. He kissed the hell out of me, and I more or less just stood there, letting it happen, holding on for dear life.

But even as disappointment settles around me that he wasn’t quite as rocked by the kiss as I was, it occurs to me that he still hasn’t looked at me. Not once.

I smile a little, because even if he’s had better…I’m pretty sure he’s had worse too.

And I’m way more excited about that than I have any right to be.


I survive the first week of being Jenny Dawson’s bitch.

Oh, I’m sorry, I mean caretaker of her run-down palace.

Although, to be fair…it hasn’t been all bad.

Ranger and I have settled into the little cottage with relative ease now that we’ve figured out that running the coffeepot at the same time as the microwave blows the fuse and that the hot and cold are reversed in the shower, and now that we’ve relocated the squirrel family living in the eaves to a nice tree on the opposite side of the property.

For her part, Jenny seems to be settling in pretty well. I don’t see her all that much, a distance I suspect we’re both taking pains to foster.

To be honest, I had serious doubts that the girl would last two days. No TV, no Internet, no cellphone. I know she’s used the landline a couple times to check in with her parents and some chick named Amber, assuring them that she’s fine and happy.

But the weird thing is, she really does seem fine and happy. As far as I can tell, most all of her time goes toward her music. The guitar plays nonstop from the moment she gets up, around eight, until at least five. It’s weird—I never thought of musicians as having a regular job, but the girl puts in more time with that guitar than I’ve put into anything in my life.

Until now.

To say that the old house is keeping me busy is an understatement. So far I’ve cleaned the gutters, replaced the sink in the downstairs bathroom, torn up the fraying, mildewing carpet on the main staircase, and replaced the broken window in what I suspect was once the dining room.

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