Good Girl Page 21

“Of course not,” I say. “Much easier to point out other people’s flaws.”

“Oh, so you are aware you have some?” he says sarcastically, looking up at me with a bored expression. “Half the time I’m surprised you’re not polishing your halo.”

I blink. “Yeah. Okay. I’m plenty aware of my flaws, thanks. But at least I can admit that I’m on the run from something.”

That was a guess, but the way his eyes shutter tells me I’m dead on. Noah Maxwell’s a perfectly competent caretaker and it’s not my business who Prescott Walcott chooses to hire to fix up the place, but that’s definitely not the full story on what this guy is doing here.

Noah’s mouth is hard and angry and I know I’ve got exactly zero chance of getting more information, but at least I’ve managed to even the score. If the man wants to growl at me and keep to himself, that’s fine, but he doesn’t get to belittle my very existence in the process.

He doesn’t answer to me, as he reminds me often, but it goes both ways. I’ve got better things to do than try to make nice with a guy who thinks he’s got me all figured out without having a single civil conversation with me.

I saunter out of his little man cave, head held high, and march back to the main house.

“Hey,” he calls after me.

I don’t turn around. I’m a pretty easygoing girl, but I have my limits when it comes to how long I’m content to stay put and let someone take swings at me.

“Hey,” he says again, his voice closer. “Princess.”

I still don’t turn around, though I do bend down to let a squirming Dolly out of my arms. She gives a happy yip and bounds back toward Noah, and I try not to feel betrayed.

“Would you wait,” he growls, right behind me.


Firm fingers wrap around my elbow as he pulls me to a halt. “Jesus, Jenny.”


It’s the first time he’s said my name—usually he opts for “princess,” stopping just short of “you there”—and the sound of my name on his lips is delicious, even if it does come out all gruff and irritable.

I flick my eyes up to his, and he drops my arm immediately. “You shouldn’t be walking back alone,” he snaps.

I give him an incredulous look. “Seriously? Who’s going to get me, the fireflies? We’re in the middle of nowhere.”

“I’m walking you back,” he mutters.

“Don’t be ridiculous. The house is right there,” I say, pointing in the direction of the main house, which is less than a five-minute walk from where we‘re standing.

Although he does kind of have a point. I hadn’t realized how far away the caretaker’s house was when I’d ventured out. This property must be huge, which is…a little creepy, honestly.

Especially with all the night noises of Louisiana around me.

“Fine,” he says, bending down, picking up Dolly, and shoving her at me. “You want to walk alone, go crazy. But at least carry your damn dog before she becomes gator food.”

I snatch Dolly to my chest. “Alligators? You didn’t think to mention this earlier?”

“I should have,” he says quietly. “I forget you’re not from around here.”

To his credit, he sounds genuinely regretful.

“What are you doing?” I ask, because he’s not looking at me and instead is surveying the ground at our feet.

He bends down, picks up a large stick, and holds it out to me. “Carry this. One comes at you, swat hard at its nose and run.”

I stare at the stick. Then at him. “A stick? Are you kidding me with this? What about a gun?”

“Illegal. More relevant, a bullet’s not much good against a creature whose brain is the size of a nut. All you’re gonna get is a pissed-off gator.”

“Right, because I’m sure he’ll just love the bonk on the nose,” I say as I tentatively accept the stick. “That won’t piss him off at all.”

He shrugs. “You’ll be fine. But Ms. Parton would be easy prey, so keep her close.”

I cradle my little dog closer even as she squirms, as though preferring to be held by Noah. Too bad, baby. Noah doesn’t want you. He doesn’t want either of us.

“You good?” he asks.

I force myself to nod as my fingers adjust on the stick.

I am an independent woman. I can walk five minutes alone.

“Noah,” I call after him as he starts to walk away.

He turns, hands shoved in his pockets as he watches and waits.

So he’s not going to make it easy for me. Fine.

“Will you walk me back?”

He doesn’t move.

“Please,” I add.

He still doesn’t move, and I’m just starting to contemplate poking him in the nose with the stick when he slowly walks back toward me.

Noah doesn’t say a word as he reaches out to pull the stick from my hand. Our fingers brush, just barely, and my breath hitches, because apparently I turn into a complete floozy just by sharing the same oxygen with him. Awesome.

We’ve begun walking back toward the house when I belatedly remember his dog. “Wait! What about Ranger? Won’t the gators get him?”

“Nah, though he thinks they will, which is why he stays in the house at night.”

I sigh in relief. “That big dumb dog is growing on me.”

“That makes one of us then, huh?”

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