Good Girl Page 37

“Sounds fancy.”

“It is. And it’s not. Depends which side you’re from.”

“And which side are you from?” I ask gently.

He spreads his arms to the side and glances down. “Isn’t it obvious?”

Yes, but you swirl and sniff your wine.


He sucks in his cheeks as though the answer is complicated. “A brother. Died before I met him.”

I blink. “Oh. I’m sorry.”

I try to figure out how that would work, to have a sibling and never have met them. Older brother who died in infancy, perhaps? Before Noah was born?

Noah shrugs. “I’m sorry he’s dead, but it’s hard to miss someone you’ve never met.”


“Also dead.”

His voice is cold and hard, but I suppose that’s not surprising.

Noah’s not that old, which means either that his parents were much older than average when they had him or there’s more to the story. Judging from the lines around his eyes, I’m guessing it’s the latter.

“I’m sorry,” I say quietly. “Recent?”

“My dad passed a few months back. Aneurysm. My mom…” He looks away, his eyes going sort of vacant and sad, but somehow angry at the same time.

“It’s okay if you don’t want to talk about it,” I say, not wanting to push him too hard and too fast and freak him out.

His eyes come back to mine. “She had a bad boyfriend. A string of them, actually. But the last one killed her before killing himself.”

It’s a good thing I’ve still got one hand on the post and that I’m sitting down, because that is so not what I was expecting him—or anyone—to say.

“Noah…” My voice is soft.

He shakes his head and swallows. “It was a couple years ago. I’m over it.”

“Nobody ever gets over something like that.”

He rubs at his eyes. “She had cancer. Stage four ovarian, so while I’m not glad she had a violent death, I am glad she had a quick one. But him…he deserved worse than a bullet to the brain.”

“Agreed,” I say vehemently.

He looks at me in surprise before turning away. “You hungry? I was going to put the steaks on.”

A frantic yapping noise comes from within the house, and he looks over his shoulder. “Cotton ball?”

“You said steak,” I say, starting to get off the railing to retrieve my dog. “She and I had an understanding about the second steak before I knew you were going to attempt to redeem yourself.”

“Stay,” he says, pointing at me. “I’ll get the dog.”

“I can practically hear the air quotes when you say ‘dog,’ ” I call after him.

A second later I hear the quick, happy tap of Dolly’s claws on the deck before she rounds the corner. Ranger gives a happy bark, immediately coming to greet her, and I can’t help but smile when I see that she wags her tail back, their noses nearly touching as he bends down to sniff her little head.

“They’ve come a long way,” Noah says, resuming his spot by the grill.

“Meaning she no longer wants to kill him, and he no longer wants to hump her silly?”

He’s about to put the steaks on the grill, but he turns back to me, barbecue tongs in hand. “Oh, I’m pretty sure he still wants to hump her silly.”

His eyes are dark, and I know immediately he’s not talking about Ranger. Or at least not just Ranger.

I swallow and say softly, “Well, I’m pretty sure she no longer wants to kill him.”

“Good to hear,” he says, giving me a little wink before he turns back and puts the steaks on.

I love the way they instantly sizzle. It reminds me of summer evenings growing up when my parents would sip pinot grigio on our deck while my dad cooked steaks and my sister and I ran around the backyard. Or maybe it was mostly me who ran around the yard, while Kelly read.

“What did you do before this?” I ask, watching the way the muscles of Noah’s sculpted back ripple and bunch as he rotates the vegetables. “Before you were a caretaker, I mean.”

“Odd jobs.”

I wait for him to say more, but he doesn’t, and as I sip my wine I realize I’m doing a heck of a lot more questioning than he is.

I wonder if he’s simply more polite or if he doesn’t care to know more beyond the fact that I have a sister.

Noah flips the steaks before giving me a glance over his shoulder. “What, no more questions? Don’t want to know my birthday or social security number or favorite brand of condoms?”

“Somehow you don’t strike me as the type of guy who’s all that picky about his condoms,” I say.

“Did you just imply I’m promiscuous, princess?” he asks, turning around.

“No,” I say, taking a sip of wine. “I lack your particular knack for that sort of shaming.”

To his credit, he winces, but then he turns around, flipping the vegetables once more. He removes one of the steaks and covers it with foil, leaving the other one on for a few more minutes.

I watch as he removes the second steak as well as the vegetables, adding them all to the plate before covering it once more with foil, then tosses the tongs down on the little shelf attached to the grill.

When he turns back, his expression is angry, but there’s a sort of agony to it, as though he’s more pissed at himself than me.

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