Home > Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(21)

Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(21)
Author: Jessica Clare

“I do. I intend on prank calling her on a regular basis for the near future, just to make her regret that action.”

“So fierce. I love that in a woman,” he murmurs, handing the card over to me.

I reach into my black T-shirt and tuck it into my sports bra, since I don’t have any pockets on my workout clothing. I want to tease him back about not getting a swelled head, but he’s giving me this possessive look of approval that’s making me melt, and I realize the conversation could head in a direction that would be very bad for my independence. If he challenges me on my jealous streak, what happens then? Is he going to believe me when I say it’s nothing? I’m not even sure I believe me. Time to change the subject and deflect. “Have you ever ghost hunted before?”

“Me? Naw.”

“Do you believe in ghosts?”

He shrugs. “Think I’d like to. It’d be proof there’s something after death, y’know?”

I go silent, aching for him. His brother’s death is still too near, and I imagine that’s on his mind. Poor Knox. Maybe this was a bad idea and I’m an asshole for going through with this. After all, it was my hints about haunted houses that made him do this. Maybe I should have hinted about a love for steak or something along those lines. “Well, most people that have visited this hotel haven’t seen a full-body apparition of a ghost. It’s subtle things, like noises in empty rooms, lights turning on when no one’s home, and cold spots.”

“Cold spots? In an old, air-conditioned hotel? You don’t say.”

Now I can’t help but grin because he sounds just like me. “That’s right. People take pictures, too, and they see orbs and shadows where nothing was supposedly there.”

“Okay, then.” He pulls his phone out of his pocket.

I giggle at the sight of it. The screen is a spider web of cracks, and I swear to god, one side is duct-taped. “That’s your phone?”

He shrugs. “Yeah. It works fine.”

“You do realize you’re rich, don’t you?”

“You do realize it’s a perfectly good phone?”

“A cheap rich man. Never thought I’d see the day,” I drawl. “Pinky McGiggles down at the front desk would be so disappointed.”

He laughs and gives me another scorching look as the elevator dings our arrival. “It’s good for her that I have zero interest in her type, then.”

I know what his type is, and my heart skips a little beat. He likes girls that wear all black and give him shit. Girls like me. Oh god, I desperately want to have sex tonight, even though it’s such a bad call. Sex leads to relationships and connections, and I told Knox I’m not interested. I shouldn’t be. The last thing I need is a confrontation between Knox and Keith. Or another man in my life that thinks he owns me.

I give him a polite, tight little smile and rush out of the elevator as the doors open. As confused as I am about what’s going on between Knox and myself, the fourteenth floor provides the perfect creepy vibe to distract me. Plastic sheeting and ladders scatter the hallway, and at the far end, I can see part of the ceiling has been removed. Wires hang down, and the decorative old-fashioned chandeliers have been denuded of everything but the light bulbs. A door is open at the far end of the hall, boxes parked in the entryway to keep it open, and behind us, the hall is half painted.

“God, this is sexy,” I whisper. It’s bringing all my ghost hunting dreams to life.

“Is this more what you had in mind?” he asks me.

I nod, overwhelmed. I’m both humbled and utterly pleased that he went to so much trouble to impress me. Galveston is a few hours’ drive from Luka, and I know he lives a few hours away to boot. Couple that with how much money he must have spent to rent the entire floor—and how much wheeling and dealing to get them to let us stay here when it’s under construction—and I feel suspiciously weepy. I’m sure that’s the hormones talking, but I don’t think anyone’s ever gone to such lengths to make me happy.

“Let’s pick a room to sit in, shall we? I watched one of them ghost-huntin’ shows last night to see what we need to do. Apparently we sit in the dark and yell insults to dead people to try to get ’em to do something.”

I laugh. “We don’t have to sit in the dark.”

“Unless we want to, of course.” And he gives me the sexiest look. My heart does a little flip at the thought of sitting in the dark, alone, with Knox. Suddenly the ghosts seem secondary to just spending time with him. How wonderful is that? What’s this sensation moving through me?

Am I . . . happy? Ugh. I’m going to start giggling like the girl at the front desk soon if I don’t watch myself.

Chapter 11


We pick a room to do our “hunting” in. Knox admits to me he doesn’t know much about ghost hunting at all, so he lets me take the lead. I’m kind of pleased with that. Most of the men I’ve met in the past haven’t been keen on letting a woman have any sort of control, so it’s nice to have my suggestions listened to after all the Keiths and Jonases of the world. Since I’ve heard that ghosts are bothered by renovations, I pick the room that needs the least amount of work. I don’t want pissed spirits. I’m just curious about the situation.

Okay, I’m actually way more curious about Knox and spending time with him than actually ghost hunting. Maybe that’s another reason I pick the most finished room. There’s only one bed and no chairs, though, and I realize that after I’ve selected it. I turn on the lamp next to the bed and sit on the edge of the mattress. It feels a little presumptuous to assume I get the bed, so I slide down and thump onto the floor, resting my back against the mattress. “You can take the bed.”

“I’m good sitting with you,” Knox says, and thumps down right next to me, then stretches out his long legs. He crosses his ankles and looks over at me, his hands in his lap. “So . . . what do we do now?”

“Well, now we mostly wait to see if anyone decides to show themselves to us.” I shrug. “Ghost hunting might be boring to you. It’s going to involve a lot of wait and see.”

“I’m fine with wait and see. Nothing about spending time with you is boring.” He looks over at me. “You want room service? I bet if we wave enough money under their noses, we can get them to come up to this floor, haunted or not.”

I’m basking in the warm glow of his offhand compliment, but I’m also pretty freaking hungry. I haven’t eaten anything since lunch, and our drive down to Galveston was long. Knox had offered to stop somewhere to get a bite to eat, but I was too eager to get to the hotel. Of course, now that we’re here, I’m so hungry I think I’d eat anything tossed my way. “I’m down for room service. But you should let me pay.”

“I ain’t lettin’ you pay for shit,” he tells me, and puts a hand over mine when I dig into my purse for my wallet. “Stop that. You’re carryin’ my baby. Least I can do is buy you dinner.”

I can’t decide if that’s sweet or bossy, but I’ll let it slide. “Okay, fine. I’ll have a burger.”

He arches an eyebrow at me. “A burger? Not a salad? You seem like a salad type to me.”

“Oh, you know what?” I say in a mock-surprised voice. “A salad sounds great. They can put it on my fucking burger, because I want a burger.”

He throws his head back and laughs, clearly delighted at my sass. “That’s one of the things I like best about you, Lexi. You don’t let anyone tell you what the fuck to do.”

If only I were as confident in myself as he is. Keith tends to run the show lately, and I spend my time trying to avoid him. I hate that. “I’m just a real party,” I tell him drily.

“You are.” He nudges me with his elbow. “Okay, a burger, then. How do you want it?”

“Medium. Extra fries. Lots of ketchup.” Oh god, ketchup sounds so good right now. Actually, so do pickles. “Ask them for extra pickles, too. Lots and lots of pickles.”

“Dessert? Cookies? Cake? Ice cream?”

My stomach growls in response. “That sounds amazing. You pick. We can split it.”

He studies me for a moment, then eases off the floor and moves to the phone on a nearby table. I pretend to check the camera on my phone while he calls in food. I notice he calls in two burgers, extra fries, extra pickles, ketchup, and one of each of the desserts on the menu. Oh god, this man is going to be the death of me. Clearly he wants me to gain a hundred pounds while pregnant.

It takes forever for the food to get here, but it finally arrives just before I’m ready to chew my own arm off out of hunger. There’s an enormous chocolate-dipped cookie on the tray, and I can’t help but wonder what it’d taste like on my ketchupy, pickley burger. On a whim, I throw it under the bun and take a huge bite. Yup, it’s bizarre and delicious.

We eat in silence, and if there’s a ghost around, it’s clear they’re waiting for us to finish our meal before showing up. That’s fine. I’m in no particular hurry. I demolish my food and some of Knox’s fries, then take bites out of a few desserts before I’m done. I close my eyes and lean back against the bed, sighing happily. “That was probably the most disgustingly yummy thing I’ve ever eaten.”

“It did look . . . interesting.”

“I’m going to blame it on pregnancy.” Like so many other things.

It gets quiet in the room, and then Knox gives me another gentle nudge with his elbow. “So . . . what happened exactly? With the baby?”

Maybe it’s the food coma, but I’m not following him. “What do you mean?”

“You said you were on the pill. Did something happen?”

Oh. I cross my arms over my chest, feeling a little defensive. I know I shouldn’t. Hell, if it were me in his position, I’d be using a lot of cuss words to figure out what the hell happened. He was the one that had brought up condoms and I shot him down. He has a right to know. I think of Keith and his violence, and feel a little ashamed, though. Like it’s my fault he’s a psycho. “I was. Someone stole my purse the morning after, and . . . my pills were in there.” It’s most of the truth, while glossing over the scary, stalkery parts. “I didn’t have the cash to get a morning-after pill or my refills for a few days, and I guess by then it was too late. My doctor says the pill’s never a hundred percent effective anyhow.” I grimace. “I guess it’s my fault for seducing you and insisting that there be no condoms involved.”

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