I almost jumped up and down out of frustration. “I know it’s not. Trust me. I totally know that. I’m going to pay for the damages.”
“Roxy . . .”
Ducking my chin, I folded my arms across my chest. All day I’d felt like crap for what I had done. It wasn’t a pitying type of feeling like crap. Oh no, it was the I’m-such-a-fucker feeling like crap. I hadn’t felt this way since the last time I had to dodge my landlord when I was late on rent.
Once again, I found myself wishing I could drink at work.
“Well, there’s one thing at least.” He cuffed my chin, and I looked up. “You obviously got a hell of an arm.”
I rolled my eyes as a dry laugh parted my lips. “That’s what happens when you grow up with two brothers.”
“True. You tell your parents yet?”
“No. I’m leaving that until tomorrow.”
“Good luck with that.”
“Thanks,” I moaned.
Shaking his head, he gestured at the closed office door. “By the way, there’s something in there for you.”
His lips quirked. “Yeah, and after the day you’ve had, it’ll be a nice surprise. Check them out and get back behind the bar.”
“Yes, sir!” I gave him a jaunty salute, which he promptly ignored.
Since I’d been late getting in, I had gone straight to the bar, stowing my purse there, so I hadn’t stepped foot in the office. I opened the door and drew up short.
“What the . . . ?” I murmured.
There was no way Jax was talking about the flowers sitting on the desk. I looked around the small room. Nothing else stood out to me. The couch was there. The file cabinet. The bowl of possibly stale beer nuts.
My eyes traveled back to the flowers.
The roses were nice—way over a dozen, bright crimson, and had just bloomed. The light scent wafted over me as I walked toward the desk. A square envelope poked out between the baby’s breath and green stems. My name was clearly written on it. Somewhere deep in my belly, there was a bunch of wiggling going on—happy wiggling. I carefully plucked it up and opened it.
Next time will be better.
My brows inched up my forehead. Uh, what? I flipped the card over. No name. I turned it back over and read the message again. A slow smile tugged at the corner of my lips. It had to be from Reece. The message was kind of weird, but it had to be from him.
I curled my fingers along the edges of the dainty card as I bit down on my lip. Reece was normally off on Fridays, or at least, that’s what I thought. It was hard to keep track of his schedule. He’d been in the bar on Wednesday, and we had talked, but he hadn’t mentioned the whole wanting to be more than friends thing, and I hadn’t brought it up either, because I didn’t know what to do with that.
Well, I had plenty of ideas of what I could do with that. A lot of them involved getting naked and contorting our bodies into yoga-type positions and such, but as cliché as it sounded, I didn’t know how to handle wanting something/someone for so long and then finally getting it.
Maybe I could text him about the roses.
Grinning like a complete doofus, I slipped the card into the back of my jeans and headed back out to the bar. There was a crowd waiting to get served, and poor Pearl was running back and forth as fast as her legs would carry her.
Hours flew by before I even realized it or had a chance to pick up my phone and the crowd was finally thinning out a little. I took the precious downtime to gather my hair up into a quick ponytail and to grab a fresh Coke from the tap.
When the door opened one more time, the scent of summer rain tickled my nose, and I glanced up and over.
My heart flailed in my chest.
Reece walked in, his brown hair plastered to his forehead, the ends curling. Tiny drips of rain cascading down his temple and onto his shirt. As he reached up and smoothed his large hand over his head, brushing those wet strands back, he reminded me of Poseidon rising from the ocean.
He looked over, and our gazes collided. Held. As he crossed the floor, walked around the bar and came behind it, toward me, he didn’t look away for one second.
“Okay.” Nick stepped back before he got mowed over.
My lungs constricted as Reece took my hand and then turned, walking out from behind the bar, tugging me along.
“Nice to see you, too, Reece.” Jax shared a look with Reece and then nodded in Nick’s direction. “Don’t mind us. Take a break. We got it.”
Normally, I would’ve protested, especially since sarcasm dripped from half of what Jax said, but the wiggling in my tummy was back in full force. It was like that somewhat scary show I watched as a kid—The Wiggles.
Someone—was it Melvin?—catcalled as Reece led me down the hall, and my cheeks flushed. “Okay, he-man, I can walk all by my little self.”
He cast a look over his shoulder at me as he opened the office door. “I’m sure you can.”
Then he pulled me inside.
My gaze flipped to the roses—the roses!—but before I could say a word, he closed the door and my back was pressed against it, his hands planted on either side of my head and his face right in mine. Like right there, within kissing distance.
“So, I was at my father’s place in New Jersey most of the day, and you know, he lives out near the Pine Barrens, so service is shit.”
I nodded even though I really wasn’t processing what he was saying as I was too busy staring at his mouth. Those lips, fuller on the bottom, drove me to distraction.
“I pull out of his driveway and I have all these messages from Dennis,” he continued, and I finally caught on to what he was talking about. “I honestly thought he was messing with me at first.”
I cringed. “He . . . um, he wasn’t.”
He shot me a bland look. “That much I figured out.” His hands slid on the door, stopping just shy of touching my shoulders. “What did he do to you?”
“What?” I blinked.
“What did that bastard do to make you throw a book through his windshield?”
Oh. Oh. My heart was now wiggling along with my stomach. “He really didn’t do anything. I just lost my cool. He wanted to talk to me, and I didn’t want to talk to him.”
“You don’t have to talk to him.”
“That’s what Dennis said, but I shouldn’t have damaged his car.”
A muscle flexed along his right jaw. “That’s true.” He shook his head. “Damn, Roxy, can’t say I’m surprised.”