“Looks like she's back,” Vince said as we pulled back up to the shop the next afternoon. He pointed at the two trucks parked along the street. She waved at us from the bed of one of the trucks as she she handed down boxes to someone. Her hair was pulled up into a ponytail that barely brushed her shoulders as she turned her head to talk to whoever was helping her move in. Why did she have to be so damn cute? Couldn't have been a dude or some homely girl that moved in next me, could it? That would have been asking the universe to cut me a fucking break and that had never been the case before. Why would it start now?
“Looks like she is,” I breathed. A part of me was kind of hoping that she wouldn't come back. Another part, the one that hoped she did, was taking notes on how great she looked as we approached. She smiled that excited, nervous grin that she had when Vince told her she could have the apartment. She had a certain look about her that reminded me of Audrey. The Audrey from before we hit it big. The one that just wanted to grab life by the horns. The one that didn't let the pressure get to her. Like the old Audrey, she hadn't yet been tainted. She was naïve and unassuming, at least from where I was standing.
“Need some help?” Vince offered up about the time I saw her helper step out from behind the truck. He was around the same height as me, which is where our similarities ended. This guy had muscles in places I didn't even know were possible, and I was an athlete. On top of those muscles he had tattoos and a look on his face that said “back the fuck off.” Or he did when he was looking at me anyway. Judging from his appearance, I guessed I wouldn't have to worry about him recognizing me. He didn't look like an avid golf fan. No, this guy was country, not country club. All the more reason for me to keep my distance from her. The last thing I wanted to deal with was an overprotective boyfriend.
When he turned his attention to Vince his demeanor seemed to change.
“I think we've only got it, but thank you,” he said politely. “I do have one favor to ask though,” he added, looking up at my new neighbor who appeared to be concerned with the next words that were going to come out of his mouth.
“Sure,” Vince answered, resting his arms on the back of the truck.
“Keep an eye on my girl here,” he nodded up at her. “She tends leap before she looks, if you know what I mean.”
“I do not,” she spouted. “I'll be just fine. I'm a big girl.” The way she popped her hand up on her hip and practically stomped her foot caused everyone of us to crack a smile. She hopped down out of the back of the truck and shut the tailgate. “Thanks for your offer, Vince, but this is the last load to go upstairs. Come on, Cole,” she urged, seeming to have better places to be.
“Vince, was it?” Cole extended his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“You too,” Vince replied. “We'll keep an eye on her.” Cole nodded, pleased with Vince's words.
“Didn't catch your name,” he said turning to me.
“Boone,” I replied, thrusting my hand out to meet his. I wasn't scared of this guy. Sure, he could have probably kicked my ass all over the street, but he had no reason to worry about me. I wasn't interested in his girl.
“Not going to have to worry about you getting her into any trouble, am I?” He raised up, his broad shoulders casting a shadow over me. His hand squeezed around mine in warning.
“Nope,” I said, matching the pressure of his grip. “Not going to have to worry about me at all.” I feel myself rising up to gain an inch on him. “If she's getting into any trouble she'll be doing it all on her own.” Which I didn't doubt. As sweet and naïve as she appeared, I could tell from our brief encounter that she was a spitfire. Cole didn't need to worry about me one bit, but he moved toward me nonetheless. This guy wanted to stand toe-to-toe, I was game. It'd been a while since I felt an adrenaline rush. I used to get them all the time—teeing off on the first hole of a major, sinking a putt to seal a double birdie. This was a different kind of rush, but I'd take it. It was good to feel something other than guilt for once.
“Good.” He finally broke the tension with a chuckle. “I'll see ya around, Boone.”
“Yep.” Guess he'd be back to visit.
FINDING YOU (#2) GOODREADS