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

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

I love it.

“No Nat or Clay?” Lexi asks as we head back to the covered picnic table.

Ivy glances over at us, a knowing look on her face as she makes eye contact with me. She keeps the smirk off her face. “They went rafting down the river. The boys took Wynonna and Gina with them. You should go join them. I imagine you can still catch up.”

“Sounds like fun,” Lexi says in a voice that indicates that it sounds like anything but.

“She hates fun,” I tell my sister-in-law with a wink, and sit down at the bench, grabbing the sunblock before Lexi can.

Lexi turns back to me, an amused look on her face. “You know me so well. It’s almost like we’re separated at birth.”

I tilt my head up at her. “That wounds me.”

“Why’s that?” Her voice is a low murmur.

“I think you woulda figured out by now that I don’t plan on bein’ very brotherly.” And just to test the boundaries of our new friendship, I squirt a little sunblock on my finger and wave it at her. “Now come and let me take care of your face.”

“Men,” she murmurs, her gaze locked to mine. “Always obsessed with rubbing white stuff all over a girl’s face.” The sly smile she gives me makes us both laugh, and when she sits next to me, I pop a blob onto the tip of her dainty nose. I can’t tell if we’re flirting or just teasing each other.

All I know is that I’m enjoying the hell out of myself.

Chapter 2

Lexi

Well, I did not show up to be a wanton slut, but it looks like I’m leaving that way.

Actually, I’m kidding myself. I can’t do it. Won’t do it after what I’ve been through, but someone like Knox Price makes me want to forget everything bad in my past and show him that I can put my ankles behind my ears. He’s just so damn . . . perfect for me.

Well, not the age. I’m pretty sure he’s younger than I am. And he dresses like something straight out of Duck Dynasty. But underneath that hobo beard and the ragged clothes is a guy with a quick mind and a sly sense of humor, and he finds my weirdness amusing and not just weird. That’s rare enough on its own.

But I’m not here to hook up with someone. Not today. Actually, if I could figure out how to avoid men for the rest of my life, not ever. But today was all about my girl Natalie. She’s been treated cruelly by her man of choice, Clay Price. I know she loves him because she’s crazy like that and wears her heart on her sleeve. It doesn’t matter that he abandoned her for days. He apologized and she wants so desperately to believe him that she’s willing to spend the day with his family at a picnic and river tubing excursion.

I’m here to be the shoulder to cry on in case he hurts her feelings again. Luckily, it looks like that might not be the case. They disappeared the moment we got here and it’s clear from the way he’s acting that he’s just as whipped by her pussy as she’s whipped by his big blue eyes. She’s been glued to his side, utterly happy, ever since we arrived.

Which is fine. I don’t mind being a discarded wingman. I’m just relieved she doesn’t need me after all. I can keep myself entertained, and since she’s having a good time, that means I can relax.

Which brings me back to the problem of Knox. He’s one of the weirdly rich, overly bearded, and completely redneck brothers of Clay Price. I knew Clay’s family would be here today, and I figured they couldn’t be worse than Nat’s dad. The family is actually kind of cute in a disgustingly happy sort of way. Boone’s all over his pregnant wife, and Clay’s acting all devoted, so I won’t kill him. Yet. The younger brothers are playful in the way men can be, and they’re all flirty. I can dodge flirting with the best of them, but I have to admit that I’m intrigued by Knox. He’s got these dark, watchful eyes that make me think he misses nothing. He’s not the talker of the group—that’s Seth. He’s not a flirt like Gage. He just sits back and watches everyone else, that intense gaze taking in everything.

And for most of the day, that intense gaze has been fixed on me. It’s been a while since a guy flirted with me. Everything I do and wear is pretty much designed to be antiflirty. That’s just who I am and I enjoy it. I prefer shooting someone down to tossing my hair and batting my lashes. You want to see how big the balls are on a guy? You challenge him. Most fold like a deck of cards. But Knox Price just takes my prickliness with one of those slow, knowing smiles and plays right along.

I’d be lying if I said that wasn’t hot.

It makes me remember how very long it’s been since I’ve had sex. A really, really long time. There’s practically been an ice age between my thighs since the last time a guy was there, and it’s been of my own choosing. I like being independent and strong. I like being on my own. I like being Fort Lexi, impenetrable (ha) and unlikable. I prefer being the salty, weird bridesmaid and never the bride.

I don’t date, after all. In fact, I do my very best to shut down all guys that think they should hit on me, but a few always slip through and make my life miserable.

Currently it’s Keith Lawrence, local lonely fireman and pesky neighbor. He’s been a nightmare ever since we met and toes the line of stalker. Not quite obsessive enough for the cops to do something, but just obsessive enough to make me sleep with a knife under my pillow. I wish I could say Keith would eventually get the hint, but I’m not sure he will. I think he views me as a tease.

I hate that shit. I swear he thinks I’m wearing black because I’m trying to toy with him, not because I want him to fuck off. And because he thinks I’m flirting with him, he gets too inappropriate right away.

Which is funny, because Knox is flirty, but in a way that’s subtly different. He doesn’t look at my clothing as if he’s just waiting to peel it off of me. He doesn’t act like I’m a huge cockhound just dying to get a taste of his dick. He talks to me like I’m a person.

So refreshing. More men should try it.

It’s been a long time since I was attracted to someone the way I’m immediately drawn to Knox, though. Maybe it’s the way he sabotages any beers his brothers leave unattended. Maybe it’s that watchful look in his eyes. More than anything, I think it’s the confidence he carries despite his young age. Because it’s also obvious to me that he’s younger than my old, crusty twenty-eight.

I should shut him down. Let him know with a look that I’m not interested in the secrets that lurk behind those smoky, dark eyes. The last thing I need is to get another man thinking I want something from him. When he puts his hand on the small of my back, I should push it away. I’ve been down this road before.

But maybe, my brain reasons, he’s young enough that he doesn’t want anything long-term. Just a quick hookup. A one and done. And maybe I’m okay with that. I’ve never had a one-night stand before, but when Knox smiles at me, I can see why girls chuck responsibility to the wind and let themselves be swept away for a night.

I won’t give in to it, of course. But that doesn’t mean I can’t think about it.

The object of my tormented thoughts must be a bit of a mind reader, because he nudges me with his shoulder as we sit next to the fire and I put the graham cracker on top of my most recent s’more. When night fell, everyone abandoned the water for a campfire and marshmallows. I joined them, despite the fact that I spent most of the day on the banks instead of in the water. Just because I brought a swimsuit doesn’t mean I have to use it all the time. I’m nonconformist like that. I squeeze my s’more to melt the marshmallow and chocolate together, ignoring my new companion. Immediately, Knox snatches it from my hand and scarfs half of it down, and then offers me a gooey bite. “Natalie looks happy with Clay,” he murmurs.

I ignore the half-eaten s’more and glance over at the couple from across the fire. “Happiness is fleeting. Misery is forever.”

He’s right, though. Nat’s cuddled against Clay near the fire, her skin bright red from sunburn, and she looks happier than I’ve ever seen her. I worry that she’s making a mistake, but then I think about her life back home, with her miserable-ass father and the ever-mounting pile of bills. Maybe she deserves a night or two of happiness, even if it’s not permanent.

So I’m not going to say shit. If she gets her heart broken, I’ll be there to support her and help slash his tires. Until then, she can have a few days of happiness.

Knox chuckles, slow and easy, and licks a bit of chocolate off his thumb. I can’t help but watch that tongue move over his skin and think incredibly unclean thoughts about him and licking. I make myself a new treat and take a big bite out of it to distract myself.

“Dunno if I agree with that assessment,” Knox says after a moment, leaning in to whisper in my ear. “Fleeting things can be a lot of fun.”

Okay, that’s definitely a cue for me, I think. One-night stand in the works? I consider it briefly. Very briefly. And then I think about that thumb and the licking. And the thick beard that curves his jaw. I’d be a crazy woman if I said the beard wasn’t a consideration.

Beards. Licking. Knox. Me. One-night stand.

Nope. Nope. I think of Keith Lawrence. He’s never seemed safe like Knox, but I also don’t need another guy hovering around. If Keith even so much as thought I had a boyfriend, he’d . . . Well, it could go one of two ways. He’d either buzz off completely, or I’d wake up to a boiled rabbit in my kitchen.

But Knox and Keith never have to intersect. Knox lives around here, near San Antonio. Me, I live out in East Texas, over in good old Luka, population 3,250. After tonight, we won’t run into each other again, except maybe if Clay and Nat get married. There’s really no downside to a fling.

Boy, I’m really, really trying to convince myself I need to get laid. I really don’t, though. I’ve got the world’s best back massager-slash-vibrator back at home. I don’t need a boyfriend for emotional support, either. I’m fine on my own. It’s just that Knox is so cute and disheveled and completely wrong for someone like me. We look like a mismatched pair . . . which might be why I find him so adorable.

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