Home > Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(16)

Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(16)
Author: Jessica Clare

He pushes back from the table, his expression downright thunderous, and storms out of the diner.

Well, that went well. He might be upset at me, or at the fact I called him “ding-dong,” or my refusal of his help. I have to admit I’m not being the most helpful right now. I just feel . . . a little cornered. And when I’m cornered, I get difficult. Either way, I already know I’ll be calling him to apologize soon. I didn’t mean to hurt his feelings.

I’m honestly a little surprised at how violently he acted at the thought of me terminating the pregnancy. Don’t most guys want their side pieces to get rid of any unnecessary problems? He acted as if I’d slapped him. Maybe he does want to be a daddy.

Just as quickly as he stormed out of the diner, Knox pushes his way back in, his mouth set in a determined line. Uh-oh.

I sip my water, watching as he sits back down across from me at the table. He’s a little twitchy, but it looks like he’s doing his best to remain calm and cool. I wonder if this is the part where he threatens to take the baby from me even though it’s only a zygote at this point. I immediately tense inwardly. If he thinks he can do that, he’s got another thing coming to him.

Knox puts his palms together, almost like he’s about to do yoga, and gives me a patient expression. “What would it take for you to go out with me?”

Go out with him? He wants to woo me despite all this? I don’t understand. “Blackmail?”

Instead of being insulted, he looks thoughtful. “That’d work?”

I shrug. What else am I supposed to say? Yes, please blackmail me?

“That’s not a no.” His eyes narrow. “How come you won’t go out with me? I thought we got along.”

“We did.” And I can’t stop thinking about his beard. “But right now you’re too young and feeling too obligated at the moment.”

“Too obligated?”

“Yes. If you wanted to be with me, you’d have shown up earlier, before you knew there was a baby.”

He blinks at me. “You mean I should have skipped my brother’s funeral to come and beg you to go out?”

I flinch. Shit, I forgot about that. “Okay, that was crappy of me. Look, when I said it was me and not you, I meant it. You haven’t done anything wrong. Our timelines have not exactly meshed, I realize that. But listen, Knox. This is a kid that deserves two invested parents, not two assholes that can’t figure their own heads out.” When he continues to give me that watchful look, as if waiting for me to make an argument that he agrees with, I continue. “We aren’t even dating.”

“That’s not my fault. I want to date you.”

“No.”

He doesn’t look intimidated by my surly expression. “I can show you a good time.”

Fuck, now I’m thinking of his beard between my thighs again. I know he can show me a good time. That was never the problem. But I’m determined to hold him at arm’s length. “Prove it.”

Leaning back in his chair, Knox crosses his arms over his chest and watches me. “Fancy dinner and a movie?”

Ugh. “That sounds like hell to me.”

That gets a chuckle out of him. “Kinda does to me, too. What do you want to do, then?”

What do I want to do? My hormones want his mouth between my thighs again. My brain is screaming for me to run, run far away because me and relationships don’t work out. I’m conflicted. Part of me wants to launch myself into his lap and wrap my arms around him, but I see Laura peeking out of the kitchen, spying on us.

And I think of Keith. Ugh. What do I want? I want to be left alone, I think. I put my water down and stand up, giving Knox my sweetest smile. “You think of something. You’re the one that wants to get in my pants. If I give you all of the answers, I make it too easy on you.”

The look he gives me is downright predatory. “So you want this to be a challenge? Game on, baby girl.”

I’m pretty sure he can’t call me “baby girl,” since I’m five years older than him. I’m also pretty sure my nipples perked up at hearing that, though. Dear god, I am in so much trouble.

Chapter 9

Lexi

I am so rattled right now.

I go back to my studio and turn on the music, slip off my shoes, and start to go into a few warm-up poses for yoga. There’s no one here but me, but I need to clear my mind. Unfortunately, no matter how many asanas I go through, my mind is full of garbage and worry.

It feels like I’m eighteen years old again, being forced out of my house with no option other than to marry my boyfriend. I think of my rigid, religious parents, who had just caught us sleeping together. How shocked and appalled they were and how they went on and on about how I wasn’t the girl they raised, and how I couldn’t stay there for fear of corrupting my younger sister. My boyfriend, Jonas, was five years older and was about to be shipped out for active duty in the army. He had offered for us to get married, and since I didn’t even have a job at that point, it seemed like my only option. I married him, moved halfway across the country with him to Texas, and lived in base housing for a year. It was miserable for both of us. He wanted to control me way more than I wanted control after breaking free from my parents. By the end of the year, we were ready to kill each other if someone so much as put a dish in the sink wrong. It was awful, and I hated being so dependent on him.

I filed for divorce within another month, and lived on a friend’s couch while I worked two fast-food jobs. It was during that I discovered two things: I’m really not a people person and I really loved yoga. The friend was super into fitness, and when she couldn’t cancel a yoga class she’d signed up for, she had me go instead of her so she wouldn’t lose her spot. I ended up loving the peace of mind it gave me, the challenge of stretching my muscles, and the way people groaned and bitched but the teacher pushed them to work harder anyhow. Within a few months, I got certified to teach, apprenticed at a trendy studio for a while, and then a few years later, moved out to Luka just because with the ultra-cheap rent I could start my own studio.

Of course, I’m not great at running a business. It involves being super schmoozy to people, and I’m not great at peopling. I scare off more clients than I keep. But I like being my own sort of person. I like not having to answer to a supervisor. I really like not having to answer to a husband or boyfriend who wants to know where I am and what did I spend my money on and did I make him dinner. Screw that. So while being single can sometimes be lonely, I wouldn’t trade it for another Jonas.

Jonas was about the same age as Knox is right now when I married him. Jesus. They’re like night and day, of course. Jonas was a weed-smoking man-child even when I met him, and being in the army didn’t change that. He only cared about money when it cut into his pot habit, and since I liked things like groceries and a car, we usually clashed over money.

Knox . . . doesn’t seem like that? So far. But I don’t know him that well. I sure don’t know him well enough to marry him. I already did the impulsive-marriage thing once. I’m not ready to do it again.

I move to the floor and cross my legs into a lotus pose, putting my hands on my knees and closing my eyes to think. I wish I had someone to talk to. I want to call my best friend, Nat, but I feel bad for bugging her with my love troubles lately. She’s been so happy with Clay that I hate to bring her down.

And okay, I’m a little wounded that she eloped last weekend to the JP and didn’t invite anyone. I get it. I do. She wanted to get married and she didn’t want a big wedding at all because then she’d have had to invite her father, and Clay and her dad don’t exactly get along. She told me none of the other Price brothers went, either—it was just her and Clay and the justice. It makes sense . . . but she couldn’t have squeezed in a best friend? Somehow?

Plus, she still doesn’t know I slept with Knox. I’m not sure how to bring that up casually, so I haven’t brought it up at all. Besides, Natalie’s so love-struck right now she’d tell me to marry Knox and make babies with him (ha). I need a salty friend that will tell me to key his car and make him hate life. But that doesn’t seem quite right, either.

I’m not angry at Knox. If I try to analyze my feelings, I’m actually kind of flattered he showed up and tried to save the day. It’s sweet. Wrongheaded and foolish, but sweet.

I wonder if he’ll come back.

I wonder why I care. I shouldn’t . . . but I do.

Knox

She wants romance? She wants me to work to win her? I love a challenge, like I said, but I also like situations in which I can win. I’m not sure Lexi can be won by normal means. Whoever wins her heart is gonna have to think way, waaay the fuck outside the box. And since I’m determined to be that man, that means I’ve got to bring my A game.

I consider my options as I sit in my cheesy motel room. The ceiling is low and sagging, the bed looks like it should be in a police report, and I’m pretty sure there’s black mold in the bathroom. But this is the only motel in Luka, population too few for anyone to care, so here I am. I ain’t leaving without Lexi at my side. And growing up, I slept in worse places. I remember weekends with my mom, when she decided she should spend time with me, and her running off to crack houses to get a fix while I waited in her broken-down car for hours, sometimes a full day. I remember having to pull her out of a party house because I was sick and wanted to go home. I remember her home being full of her wasted friends and the bathroom sink full of broken needles.

I can deal with a little mold.

I sit in the only chair in the room, my feet up on the windowsill, and gaze out into the empty gravel parking lot, the window open to air out my room. Funny how I’m thinking about my mom. Haven’t thought about her in ages. My dad pretty much raised me. I think I was with Mom for the first couple of years, back before her addiction got too bad. She didn’t tell Dad about me, not until she needed some cash for drugs. I was really young at the time, maybe five or six, but I still remember the day I met him and he just looked at me, all tired instead of proud. “Yeah,” he’d said. “That’s my kid all right.”

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