Home > Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(4)

Dirty Bastard (Roughneck Billionaires #3)(4)
Author: Jessica Clare

I look over at Clay and Nat. They’re cozy and clearly about to get out of here. I can ride back with them and get a hotel room, or just head back to Luka on my own. It’s clear the third wheel-slash-wingman isn’t needed any longer. I can head home and see if my neighbor has left a “present” on my doorstep. Again.

Or I could take what Knox is offering and let him say howdy to my pussy.

And really, what’s a little cunnilingus between friends? It’s been so long since I’ve had sex that my cobwebs have cobwebs. But even so, I can’t help but think of Keith. Nosy, pushy Keith, who hides his obsessive behavior behind a gosh-shucks attitude, and who scares the crap out of me to the point that I avoid men just because of nutbags like him.

So even as much as I would like to hook up with someone like Knox, who pings me in all the right places, I won’t. Sorry, cobwebs. You get to stay a little longer.

“Come on,” Clay says suddenly to a yawning Natalie. “Time to go.”

Time to go? I’m not sure I’m ready. I look at how cozy they are, so wrapped up in each other, and I just feel . . . ugh. “Excuse me,” I call out in my best British accent. “Have you been drinking, good sir? I can’t allow you to drive us home if you’ve partaken of the spirits.”

“What did she just say?” Seth murmurs.

Clay shakes his head, a rueful smile on his face. “No drinking. I left that to Nat. I’m the designated driver, and now I’m going to take my girl back to our room.”

Damn. I was almost hoping he’d want to stay another hour to clear his head so I could make Knox a few more s’mores and see if he licks his thumb again. I shouldn’t even notice his lips or tongue, given that they’re practically covered by a dark, bushy beard, but that just seems to highlight how pretty his mouth is. It’s unfair. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m leaving right now with a couple that’s been all over each other all day. “Oh goody,” I say flatly. “Can I come along? I don’t feel like a third wheel at all.”

I see Nat flinch, and I immediately feel like an asshole. I should. I’m trying to rain on her parade instead of being a good friend. I’m such a jerk. I hate myself a little, but I can’t take the words back now.

That hand brushes over the small of my back again and then leaves. At my side, Knox pulls out his phone. “I’ll take Lexi home. I’m calling my driver right now.”

Oh. I don’t know what to think of that. But when I look over at Nat and Clay, and his arm is on her shoulder, all possessive, and she’s leaning into him like he’s the only thing keeping her upright, I know it’s going to be a long, uncomfortable ride back to the hotel. Then I’ll have to immediately grab my crap from their room and make the long drive home to Luka, despite the late hour, because I don’t have the cash for a hotel room.

But if Knox takes me home . . . I can at least avoid the awkward car ride with the smoochy couple. I can figure out the rest when I get to the hotel. I look over at Nat and she’s giving me this worried look, like she’s the world’s worst friend. I feel guilty for making her think that, so I do the only thing I can think of. I tilt my head toward Knox and wink at her, indicating I’m fine with getting a ride home from him.

“If you’re sure,” she says slowly, giving me an out. She knows I don’t date. Don’t drink. Don’t hook up.

But I don’t want to drag down their evening, not when she’s clearly having the time of her life. So I lean over Knox’s shoulder and put my chin there, as if I’m reading the screen of his phone. I see the driver text a quick “OMW,” and I add, “Tell him he needs to bring us Happy Meals.” As if this is normal and no big deal and I do this all the time.

I am such a good pretender.

So is Knox, because he immediately types in “Bring Happy Meals x 2” and puts his hand on my knee.

Of course, this might not be pretending to him. But weirdly enough, I don’t feel unsafe with him. Even if I climb in that limo and then climb into his lap and tell him not to touch me . . . I don’t think he would. He’s already shown that he respects my boundaries more in one day than Keith has in the last two years of being my neighbor.

Limo ride, here we come. I only hope Knox isn’t too disappointed when he finds out he’s not getting laid.

Chapter 3

Lexi

The limo arrives a short time later, and when it does, everyone seems to scatter. I grab my bag and hitch it over my shoulder.

“Let me,” Knox says in a low voice, and takes the bag before I can protest.

“My arms work just fine, you know,” I tell him, but he only shoots me a smile and pops it into the trunk before the driver can. We’re handed our Happy Meals, ushered into the back seat, and then the driver gets in the front and we’re off. Knox puts aside his Happy Meal and pockets his phone, giving me a speculative glance.

I nibble on a fry, acting more casual than I feel. “Mesmerized by my beauty?”

He chuckles and leans his head back on the limo seat, looking sleepy and delectable and unfair. “Something like that. Just trying to figure out why you didn’t want to get in the car with Nat and Clay.”

“Was I that obvious?”

“Only to someone who’s good at watching people.”

I nibble on another fry and then lick the salt off my fingers. I’m really not hungry, and I can’t even pretend it. “Let’s just say that Nat’s been missing him really hard for the last few days and I’m not convinced their clothing will remain on their bodies when they make it to the parking lot. Which would make it extra awkward if I’m there.”

He grins acknowledgment. “They do seem to be hot and heavy. But Clay’s always known what he wants, and I’m pretty sure it’s always been her.”

“Mmm, we might have to agree to disagree on that one.” Just because I’m loyal to Natalie above all and I know how much she’s missed him and suffered ever since they broke up. How there’s never been anyone for her but him, and how lonely she’s been. But that’s a lot to dump on Clay’s younger brother, who will be eternally loyal to him—and rightfully so. We’re going to be Democrats vs Republicans on this one, dog people vs cat people. Sticks vs stones.

“Where do you live?” Knox asks, and he toys with one end of my hair that’s somehow landed on his shoulder. I had no idea we were sitting so close, but our shoulders are pressed together despite the huge back seat of the limo, and I feel strangely reluctant to move away.

I shrug. “Out in Luka like Natalie.”

He grins. “That’s a long drive I just volunteered for.”

That grin is going to undo me. I shake my head and decide to let him down gently. “My car’s at the hotel that Clay and Nat are staying at. You can drop me off there.”

“You drove several hours to stay with Natalie at her hotel?”

“Yup. Natalie needed a shoulder to cry on when your brother abandoned her for a few days. Looks like they’ve kissed and made up, though.” I might be a little miffed that she forgave him so quickly. He must be a heck of a smooth talker. Three days of girlfriending and moral support vanishes in the face of the good dick. Not that I blame her, but . . . still kind of stings a little.

Knox only laughs at my sour tone. “Clay is terrible at playing hard to get. Natalie, too.”

Boy, he’s not wrong about that. They’re both awful at hiding their feelings. “Guess they’re perfect for each other. They can practice their poker faces together.”

He snickers and rubs his beard, then glances over at me. He studies me for a long moment and then gives me another one of those heartbreaking smiles. “Well, even if their relationship is a hot mess, something good came out of this. I got to meet you.”

He’s killing me. Straight-up killing me. “Knox,” I say softly, then hesitate.

“You don’t have to say more,” Knox tells me in a low voice. “It ain’t an invitation if you don’t want one. Just me acknowledging a kindred spirit is all.”

“It’s not that I don’t want the invite. It’s just . . . how old are you?”

“Gonna be twenty-four in another month.” He looks over at me with gleaming, dark eyes. “But we both know it ain’t age stoppin’ you.”

“Well, it’s definitely a speed bump,” I say drily. “I’m going to be twenty-nine when you turn twenty-four. You’re still at the age where it’s all party and no responsibility.”

“You make it sound like I’m twenty years younger than you, not five.” He puts his hand on mine. It’s callused and hard, big and warm. It feels way better than any casual hand should really feel. Unfair. “And just because I’m a bit younger than you doesn’t mean I’m not mature enough to be your friend.”

“Is that what we’re going to be, then? Just friends?” Part of me is relieved and part of me . . . is decidedly not. If I was going to be careless and fool around, it’d be with someone like him. Actually, screw the someone-like-him part. It’d be him.

He nods and rubs his fingers over mine gently. “I’d be happy with more, but I also ain’t the type to push a woman when she’s not comfortable with giving more. So we can be friends.” He picks up his phone and wags it at me. “Wanna exchange numbers, good buddy?”

I laugh at that. “Sure thing, pal of mine.”

By the time we type numbers into each other’s phones, send obscene and ridiculous test texts to each other, and then make goofy faces so there’s a photo to go with the number, we’re pulling up to the hotel. I’m a little sad to realize my time with Knox is at an end. I’m sure we’ll be text buddies, but I live a few hours away, and without a reason to hang out, I doubt there’ll be many meetings in the future. It’ll end up like every other long-distance friendship—slowly petering out.

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