Good Girl Page 36

He takes the wine from my fingers, setting it aside as I turn around. Then, before I can brace myself for his touch, his hands are on my hips as he hoists me easily onto the railing.

I laugh a little, surprised to find my feet dangling in the air as I reach an arm out to the post on my right for support. “You’re good for a girl’s ego, lifting her easily like she’s all tiny and light as a feather.”

He blinks. “You are tiny.”

I smile, because there’s absolutely zero intent to flirt on his face, and it’s…well, flattering.

“Clearly you didn’t hear about my pregnancy a few weeks back,” I say.

He pauses in the process of handing me my wine, horror-stricken.

“Yeah, my thoughts exactly,” I say, snatching the wine. “I’m not, by the way. Pregnant, I mean. Never was.”

I lift a glass in a mocking toast.

“Who said that you were?”

“Oh, everyone,” I say, waving my wineglass around. “I’ve got a belly pooch on the best of days, and on the not-so-good days, admittedly, it could look like a baby.”

He stares at me. “A belly pooch.”

“Yeah. You know.” I tap my palm against my not so terribly flat stomach.

His eyes drift over me, lingering not on my stomach but on my breasts. My thighs. Suddenly I’m aware that I’m still wearing this dress and that I’ve skipped the bra.

“You live in a weird world if that world thinks your body’s anything short of perfect,” he says gruffly.

Just like that, I go hotter. With embarrassment at being so thoroughly studied, and also with want, and with being, well…wanted.

I want to beg him to touch me, but after last night…Nope. Ball’s in his court. If he wants me, he’ll have to tie me to the bed.

I mean, not really.

Or maybe really, I think, as I imagine what it would be like to be completely at his mercy, his hands everywhere, his mouth, hungry, exploring…

“It’s not perfect,” I blurt out.


“My body.” I bite my lip. “I mean…it’s surprisingly gentlemanly of you to say so, but sometimes I feel like I’m twice the size of the girls in Hollywood.”

“Which is exactly why I don’t live in Hollywood. And you shouldn’t either,” he says, turning and lifting the lid of the grill. He holds the back of his fingers a few inches above the grill, testing if it’s preheated, before he grabs the plate with the veggie kebabs I painstakingly put together with pieces of onion, mushroom, and bell pepper and lays them on the grill.

I tilt my head and study him.

“Who are you, Noah Maxwell?”

His shoulders stiffen for a moment before he seems to force himself to relax. He turns around. “What do you mean?”

“How did you get this job?”

He picks up his wine, and my eyes narrow slightly at the way he swirls it and takes a sip, almost as though it’s a habit. Which makes no sense. To be honest, it’s jarring enough that a guy like Noah is even drinking white wine. That he knows the whole swirl-and-sniff rigmarole is…interesting.

“Walcott hired me,” he says, by way of a (lame) answer to my question.

I roll my eyes. “You know, it’s always been my sister that’s the smart one, but believe it or not, I figured out that much on my own.”

“You have a sister?”

I nod. “Kelly. She’s only nineteen, but she’ll graduate from Georgia Tech next year. She skipped a bunch of grades.”

“You don’t seem bothered by it.”

I shrug. “Why would I be? I’m proud of her. And her of me. I mean, I’m not going to say that we’re not totally different, and yeah, sometimes we struggle to find common ground when we talk. But I have no issue calling her the smart one.”

“Does that make you the pretty one?”

I wrinkle my nose at him. “Did you just call me pretty?”

He doesn’t look the least bit embarrassed. “You know you are, princess.”

“Jenny Dawson the country music star is pretty, I guess. By the time they add my hair extensions and eyelash extensions and fourteen layers of makeup, I look the part of country pop princess. I get that. But when it’s just me, the real Jenny Dawson, I don’t know. Cute at best.”

“And who is the real Jenny Dawson?”

I glance down at my wine. “Will you laugh at me if I say I’m just a small-town girl?”

“Only if you tell me you’re livin’ in a lonely world.”

I laugh. “Noah Maxwell, I do believe there’s a bit of humor under there beneath all that crust.”


I wave a hand over him. “You know. The scowl. The dickhead comments. The glares.”

“Aren’t scowls and glares the same thing?”

“Don’t dodge the question. Seriously, what’s your story?”

It’s his turn to look down at his wine. “Just a city boy…born and raised in South Detroit.”

I laugh again, wishing I had something to throw at him. “You were not.”

He smiles slightly. “Nope. I’ve told you before, I’m from Baton Rouge. Just outside it, actually.”

I motion for him to continue. “More, please. Keep it coming.”

He rolls his eyes but surprises me by answering. “Village St. George.”

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