Home > Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(15)

Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(15)
Author: Jessica Clare

I sit back in the plastic diner chair and cross my arms, gazing at Knox. I’m silently praying for Laura to leave the room so we can talk in private, but she lingers nearby, adjusting ketchup bottles. Wasn’t she supposed to get our damn drinks? I drum my fingers on my arm, waiting.

Knox glances over his shoulder at Laura, his mouth crooking with a hint of amusement. He clasps his hands on the table and leans forward, talking in a loud whisper that Laura’s sure to overhear. “So, like I told my brother, the best way to get rid of bedbugs is with incense.”

“You don’t say.” I bite the inside of my cheek to keep from laughing at how quickly Laura jerks upright, her back to us.

“Yes. He said it was bullshit, but I told him it worked for me.” As Laura turns away, he makes sure to scratch really hard at his chest, then takes his trucker cap off and shakes it out.

I can practically feel her horror. God, I’m dying inside with laughter, but I manage to keep a poker face. “I have some incense you can borrow.”

“That’d be great. Patchouli? They really hate patchouli.”

“Oh yes. Patchouli’s the best.”

He glances back toward Laura, but she’s disappeared behind the swinging door into the kitchen. “Nosy around here, aren’t they?” Knox murmurs to me.

“You can say that again.” I nudge him with my flip-flop under the table, because I don’t know how to react to his presence. “Why are you here?”

“Well, I tried calling but someone never answered. Phone calls or texts.”

“Ah.”

“Yeah.” He says nothing else, just waits.

I trace someone’s carved initials on the linoleum table. “So, right after you and I, ah, met”—I glance back at the kitchen, but Laura’s still hiding, no doubt telling everyone about my “filthy” lunch companion—“I lost my phone. They wouldn’t let me keep my number, so I had to get a new one.”

“Nat mentioned something about that,” he says agreeably. “And I asked Nat to get me your number.”

I nod slowly. “I know. I told her to give me your number instead. But then your brother passed and . . .” I shrug. “I’m sorry. I should have said more or done something, but I’m not good with that.”

“It’s all right.” He looks at me with understanding, and I feel like a jerk because I imagine it’s been harder for him than it was for me.

I hide how flustered I am. “So yeah . . . it’s just been an awkward time.”

“Until . . .” He gives me a leading look.

“Yeah.” Until I got pregnant. We leave it left unsaid, though.

He studies my face, and then picks up one of the Luka Diner printed coasters, flipping it back and forth between his fingers. Before he can respond, Laura comes out with our coffees and my water. Neither of us speaks while she hovers, but I notice after a moment that she puts down a new coaster for Knox. The one that was in his hands a moment ago is gone.

When Laura leaves again, I nod at him. “Souvenir?”

It’s like I just gave him a compliment. A slow smile curves his mouth and he looks at me with so much heat in his eyes that I feel like my vagina just caught on fire. Holy fucking Christ, but this guy is amazingly hot. “You noticed that, did you?”

“I notice what you do.” And then I feel a flush coming on because that sounds incredibly sexual and now I’m thinking about his beard as it scratched between my thighs and oh god, I really, really want to get out of here and ride his face for hours. For some reason, I am incredibly horny today. But I can’t do that. I just cross my legs and clamp my thighs tightly together.

Knox just grins at me. “That’s one of the things I like about you. I . . .” He pauses and straightens, studying his menu, and I realize Laura’s swinging by again. Damn, it’s like she’s never had a fucking customer in her life the way she’s hovering. I hope Knox gives her the shittiest tip ever. I glance at the menu and then put it aside.

“Y’all ready?” she asks, all chirpy attitude.

“Pancakes,” I tell her.

Knox make a big show of scratching. Chest, neck, then arm. “Chicken-fried steak good?” he asks, leaning toward Laura.

She subtly leans away from him, frozen smile on her face. “Yep, it’s great. It’ll take about twenty to make it, though. That okay?”

“Fine with me.”

“You can bring out my pancakes with his,” I tell her, holding up my menu and giving her a go-away glare. She gets the hint, takes the menus, and hightails it back to the kitchen.

Knox looks over at me again. “Think she’ll be gone for longer than a minute?”

“Fingers crossed,” I say, and make the accompanying gesture.

He studies me for a long moment. “You don’t look it, you know.”

I’m not sure how to take that, exactly. On one hand, I’m grateful he’s not blurting out about how pregnant I am. On the other hand, does he think I’m going to grow a beach ball in my stomach overnight? Surely not. “Explain?”

He shrugs and leans back in his chair, scratching at his heavenly beard. God, it’s so arousing to watch him move. “I dunno. I kinda thought something would look different, you know? Like it would tell me for sure, yeah, there it is. But everything looks the same.” His mouth quirks, just a little. “You’re just as sexy as ever.”

“Well, yeah,” I say lamely. “But nothing visual happens for a while. Still in the early stages here.” I keep my voice low so Laura doesn’t overhear. “Only symptom I have is . . . well, it’s not a big one.”

“And you’re sure?” His casual demeanor is gone, replaced by an odd sort of tension. He cups his mug with both hands, but I could swear he’s on the edge of his seat.

“Went to my doctor this week. I’m sure. I have a due date and everything.”

His hands clench tight on the coffee mug, and I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. He’s going to ask me to get rid of it, I realize. He’s not happy. He’s going to yell at me or bitch about me ruining his life or—

“Marry me,” Knox says quietly.

I look up from studying his hands, surprised. “Um, what?”

“I don’t want our kid to be raised without two parents in his life. Let me marry you.”

Get married? Again? I think of my first husband from when I was eighteen and stupid, and how miserable I was. No fucking thank you. “Pass.”

His brows go down and a thunderous frown crosses his face. “Is this just a bid for child support, then?”

I pinch the bridge of my nose, frustrated. “You would think that, wouldn’t you? It’s okay, I can see how you’re getting there. Okay, let me make this clear. I don’t want child support. I don’t want anything from you. In fact, if it’ll make you feel better, we can sign some paperwork absolving you of any sort of parental responsibility. I don’t have to put your name on the birth certificate. Whatever it takes to extricate you from this. I didn’t send you flowers because I wanted you to come and open your wallet. I sent that because I felt like you should know.” I pick up my water and take a sip. “Now you know. Congratulations. You can go home now.”

He stares at me. Really, really stares at me. He’s quiet for so long that I wonder if he’s ever going to speak again, but he finally does. “This isn’t a bid for child support.”

“Nope. I’m happy to sign off on whatever you need to ensure that.”

“I don’t give a fuck about the money, Lexi. I don’t want our kid growing up being a bastard. I don’t want him to feel a moment of shame.” He glances around to make sure no one’s listening to our conversation and leans in. “Or her. Or whatever gender the baby comes out as or chooses. I don’t care what it is. I just know it’s our kid and I want him to have everything. Including two parents.”

“That’s sweet,” I tell him softly. It is. It really is. He’s trying, I’ll give him credit for that. “But while I appreciate the offer, I’m not ready to lock myself down to anyone or anything. A marriage between us might be what you feel is best for the baby, but I don’t think it’s the best for me. And you’re overlooking the fact that we can always hyphenate if you’re stuck on names.” I take a sip of water.

His jaw clenches, mouth hardening. “Did I do something wrong? Was the sex bad?”

I immediately choke on my water. Jesus. Talk about not preparing a girl. “Um, no, it was fine.”

“Then why’d you ignore me? I kinda enjoyed our night together.” The look on his face is intense, all teasing gone. His hands are tight on that coffee mug again. “Wanted to get to know you better. But after you ignored my texts, I kinda felt like I’d done something to piss ya off and didn’t know what. Then I wondered if you had a boyfriend already. That the case?”

I shake my head, toying with my own coffee mug. “No boyfriend. No problems with the sex. It’s just all me.” I glance up at him. “If I tell you that it’s not you, it’s me, would you believe me?”

“Gotta admit it sounds fake.”

“You’re not wrong.” I want to sniff my coffee, because I’m already craving caffeine, but I can’t. I won’t. I pick up my water and sip it instead, hating every tasteless mouthful. “I’m really not looking for a steady thing. I had that once. Didn’t like it.”

“That was someone else,” he says confidently. “I’m different. I want to be there for you and my kid.”

“Yeah, well, the more you push, the less I want it,” I snap back at him.

Knox stiffens, the look on his face one of pure betrayal and hurt. “The baby?”

“What? No, you and your money, ding-dong.” I put a hand to my stomach, already weirdly protective of the little parasite. “I knew right away I was keeping this.”

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