Good Girl Page 34

I’m no stranger to a woman’s tears. It took me years to figure out that Yvonne’s frequent crying outbursts were deliberate and manipulative, meant to wrap me around her little finger and get her way.

Jenny’s tears are different. They’re real. I know they’re real. And they make me want to punch something. Mainly myself.

“Why do you do that?” she asks. “Why do you work so hard to convince me that you’re not a good guy?”

“Because I’m not,” I say automatically.

“Yeah,” she says with a little laugh. “I’m getting that, believe me.”

It’s what I want, but I feel a sting of regret anyway.

“Look, princess—” I break off, unsure what I want to say. “This thing with us, it’s got to stop.”

“You didn’t seem to be in much of a hurry to stop me last night.”

My cock twitches at the memory, but I shake my head. “We scratched our itch. As you said, we’re even. Anything more than that will end badly.”

“I brought you a drink, Noah. Not a wedding ring. Also, the lemon juice is from a bottle—it’s not even fresh-squeezed. You totally don’t deserve fresh-squeezed juice.”

I smile a little at that. “I was a jerk.”

She nods. “Yup.”

“I’m sorry.”

Jenny sighs and looks somewhere over my shoulder, her eyes slightly unfocused as though she’s lost in thought, before she finally looks back to me.

“You know, we’ve done this a couple times now. You’re a jerk—and I mean real, grade-A asshole stuff—and then you apologize. And I say okay. But then you do it again, and I think…”

She studies me, and I’m holding my breath, hoping she won’t say what she’s about to, even though I know she will. Even though I know I deserve it.

“I think I’m done,” she says quietly. Finally.

There it is again. The stomach drop. It’s what I wanted. What I’ve been pushing for. But it doesn’t feel right.

“Whatever this is”—she waves her hand between the two of us—”it’s unlike anything I’ve felt before. But as you said, we scratched the itch, right?”

“Right,” I say, even though I’m positive my body’s not even remotely done with hers. I’ve yet to discover her taste, or what she’ll feel like when I’m buried deep inside of her. “But—”

“It’s fine,” she interrupts, holding up her hand and leveling an unsmiling, zero-bullshit look at me. “Let’s just avoid each other as best we can until I leave.”

“Which is when?” I ask, before I can stop myself.

This time she does smile, but it’s a sad one that doesn’t reach her eyes. “I’m thinking the sooner the better. Aren’t you?”


But I don’t say it. I don’t say anything as she sidesteps me and walks into the house.

I stand there unmoving for several minutes, wishing I’d carried my drink with me instead of leaving it in the shed. I think about going back for it, but what I really need is water, and maybe someone to explain how the hell this girl has gotten under my skin so fast and so thoroughly.

I go into the kitchen, letting the door slam behind me. I automatically search for Jenny, but she’s nowhere to be seen.

I grab a glass from the cupboard, jerking open the fridge door for the pitcher of filtered water.

It takes my brain a few seconds to register what my eyes are seeing…to put it all together.

A pitcher of the drinks she made, along with a jar labeled “lemon juice” in her girly handwriting. She lied. She did hand squeeze it.

But that’s not the most damning thing.

That would be the steak.

Steaks. Plural.

As in there are two steaks on a plate, already seasoned. There’s also a plate of vegetables carefully lined up on skewers, just waiting to be grilled.

I try to tell myself not to read into it. That maybe she’s having a friend over for dinner.

But I know better. That’s what the cocktail was for. And the dress.

Jenny Dawson was planning to cook dinner. For me.

No, for us.

And as I stand there, trying to tell myself that I dodged a bullet, all I can think is that it feels like I took the bullet right in the chest.

It also looks like maybe I made a very big mistake.


Generally speaking, taking a bubble bath isn’t my first choice for how to spend a swampy summer evening.

But after my fight with Noah, I feel off and a little bit dirty, and for once not a single note of lyric comes forward, so I find myself filling up the tub and dumping in some of my favorite lime-blossom-scented bath gel.

Dolly trots into the bathroom to join me just as I step into the steamy water, her new penguin toy in her mouth. She curls up on the bath mat.

The company’s nice, even if the monotonous squeak of her toy isn’t.

“So, Noah’s an ass,” I tell Dolly.


“I know, right? We knew this. I just…I thought maybe there was a good guy under all that cranky arrogance.”


“No, no, you’re right,” I say, lifting a leg out of the water and watching as the soapy water slides off my calf. “Sometimes a jerk really is just a jerk. But on the plus side, maybe you can have the second steak.”

Squeak, squeak.

“Yes, you do have to share it with Ranger,” I say. “It’s too big for you to eat by yourself, and it’s not his fault he’s got a grumpy master.”

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