Dirty (Dive Bar #1)(5)

By: Kylie Scott


Shit. I really should have chosen another house.

“I don’t normally break into people’s places and hide out in their tub,” I babbled, on the verge of incoherency. “So I’m really sorry. Seriously. So very sorry. But you’ve got a lovely home.”

“That so?”

“Not that, I mean, that’s not why I’m here. I just…” Fucking hell, my mind was a disaster. I took a deep breath, letting it out nice and slow, before trying again. “I love the old Arts and Crafts bungalows, don’t you? They have such soul.”

His brows drew tight. “Are you high? What the fuck are you on?”

“Nothing!”

“You haven’t been popping any pills or snorting something?”

“No, I swear.”

“Nothing to drink?”

“I haven’t had anything,” I said, but the suspicion and anger still lined his face. Paired with the stubble on his chin and the shadows beneath his eyes, my unwilling host was one tired, cranky man. Couldn’t really blame him.

“So you’re completely sober,” he said.

“Completely.”

A pause.

“You’re thinking I’m bat-shit crazy now, aren’t you?” I asked, despite the answer sitting plain as day on his pretty face.

“Pretty much, yeah.”

Oh, god. “I’m not. I’m sane.”

“You sure about that?” He looked down the long line of his nose at me, distinctly unimpressed. “Seen a lot of weird shit in my years. Stuff like you wouldn’t believe. But I got to tell you, right now, this … you, are taking the cake.”

“Great.” And I was so definitely probably going to jail. Someone ought to give me a cookie. My ability to take a bad situation and make it worse today was amazing.

“You touch any of my stuff?” he asked. “Take anything?”

“Yes, your sofa is cunningly hidden down the front of my dress. You won’t believe where I fit the TV.”

Again, his eyes narrowed dangerously. “Between you and me, probably not the time to be funny, babe.”

Crap. “Sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean that. You have every right to be mad.”

“Damn right, I do.”

I nodded, contrite. “I haven’t touched any of your things.”

The dude just stood there, staring. Lots going on behind his eyes. None of which I could read.

A stray tear trickled down my face. It must have saved itself up just for the occasion. Gah. How pathetic. I sniffled, brushing it off hurriedly with the back of my hand.

“Fuck’s sake,” he muttered.

“I really am sorry about this. The truth is, I just needed somewhere to hide for a little while. I didn’t mean to freak you out.”

He sighed. It wasn’t a happy sound. “Lydia?”

“Yes?” Despite my best efforts, my voice trembled slightly.

“Look at me.”

I did so. He still looked cranky and crazy cool while I remained a hot mess.

“I’m Vaughan,” he said.

“Hi.”

He tipped his chin and silence fell between us once more.

With the tip of his tongue rubbing at his upper lip, he looked at the wide-open window, and then back at me. Yep, that’s how I’d gotten in. Houdini had nothing on my mad skills.

“What are you doing in my house, Lydia? The truth.”

“It’s kind of a long story, actually.” Along with being excruciatingly embarrassing. But then, what wasn’t about this day?

Vaughan crossed his arms over his wide chest and waited me out while I fussed with my ruined skirts and tried to come up with a way to spin the story to not make me look a complete fool. Christ, the holes in my stockings were huge. On one side, my entire foot stuck out. So screwed.

Vaughan crouched by the side of the tub, resting his arms on the side. Up close the shadows under his eyes seemed even bigger and darker against his pale skin. And there were bags big enough to use as carry-ons. Despite the strong lines of his lean face, the man looked done-in. Ready to sleep for a hundred years.

I knew that feeling.

“Looks like a wedding dress,” he said quietly.

“Yes, it is. I was going to get married today.” I took a deep breath, wiping my face with my hands. Just as expected, my palms came away smeared with black eye makeup. “Ah, boy. I must look a wreck.”

Without comment, Vaughan reached out and grabbed a towel, handing it to me. It was sort of threadbare, old. Dated like the rest of the house. I hadn’t seen more than one room, but real estate agents got a feel for these sort of things. Minimal upkeep for the past five or so years would have been my guess. Perhaps it’d even been left empty. Bushes out front hid the house from view, so I’d never gotten a good look at it before.

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