Dirty (Dive Bar #1)(9)

By: Kylie Scott


“Ha-ha.”

The smile came slowly, but again it was definitely there. Strange—he smiled and the weight on my shoulders lightened. All of the dust and darkness in the house faded from view. Maybe it was just me not feeling so alone, I don’t know. But it helped.

“No way I could’ve pulled off the underwear and dress as well as you,” he said contemplatively, thumb rubbing over the rim of his coffee cup.

“No?”

“I lack some of your finer assets.”

“Aw, that’s sweet,” I drawled, laughing softly. “I’m sure you look lovely in drag, Vaughan. But I appreciate you saying that.”

“No problem.” He took a sip of coffee, watching me all the while with those intense blue eyes. Not once did they stray down to the assets in question. Probably too busy admiring my fine collection of scratches, bruises, and general hot bridal messiness.

I shifted in my seat, fussed for a minute. Though really, what was the point? I looked like hell. Might as well just roll with it. I huffed out a breath and did my best to let all of the dross go. Everything would be okay. Life would go on. Me and my insane situation had even managed to raise this man’s spirits a little.

Yes, I’d made a mistake. Shit had definitely happened. But things weren’t so bad. Apart from my fine collection of scratches, bruises, and aching muscles, I still had my health.

“You’ve got a killer smile,” he said, still staring.

Heck, he was serious. Probably just being kind. “Thank you.”

A nod.

He rubbed at the stubble on his chin, little lines appearing between his brows. “You weren’t tempted to have a show-him-up, out him in front of all the guests?”

“Honestly?” I took my time and pondered the question, turning it over inside my head. “I wasn’t afraid, exactly, I just … they weren’t my people. All of those guests were business acquaintances, contacts, friends of his family. Most of them I’d never even met. Guess I haven’t been in town long enough to make my own friends. I’ve been either busy working or I’ve been with Chris. My parents couldn’t make it and I’ve pretty much lost touch with the girls I went to school with.

“I don’t really care what those idiots over there think of me. As for what they think of him, he made this mess. He can clean it up himself. I just wanted to remove myself from the entire situation, pronto.” I stared over his shoulder, lost in thought. “I guess I was embarrassed. How could I not be? He played me for a fool.”

He made a small noise.

“Anyway.”

“And that’s how you wound up in my bathtub?”

“Yes.” I gave him a strained smile. “I realized a bit late that I had no money or cards. Hiding out for a while until things settled down seemed like a smart idea. Have my meltdown in private.”

“Mm.”

“Speaking of which, guess I better head back around, check out the damage.” I took a fortifying gulp of coffee. “Get out of your hair and go fetch my purse.”

“No rush.”

“Think I’ve probably taken up enough of your time with my drama,” I said with a small laugh. It fell flat. I should give it a few days to sink in before attempting to make jokes. Right now things still felt raw, on edge. Like I might burst into tears again at any moment. Either that or go into some sort of psycho rage. Too many emotions were bubbling away beneath the surface. It didn’t feel like there was enough of me to contain it all. One small crack and everything would start pouring out all over again.

No. Nope. I straightened my spine. I could handle this. I could and I would.

“Seriously.” He waved a hand, motioning for me to stay seated. Then he stretched, raising his arms up above his head then gripping his elbows and cracking his neck. “You don’t really want to go back around there yet. Fuck knows, I wouldn’t want to.”

“Are you sure?”

He nodded. “Yeah. You being here also gives me a damn good excuse to put off dealing with my own shit.”

“You’ve got drama too?”

A shrug. “Doesn’t everyone?”

“A side effect of breathing, I guess.”

He smiled.





CHAPTER FOUR

“Nothing about your sex life didn’t make you think he might be gay?” Vaughan asked.

“Um…”

“If you don’t mind me asking.”

“Well, yes. I mean no, I don’t mind you asking. But yes, our lack of intimacy should have made me think twice.” Oh, god. It really, really should have. What with the lack of screwing, I’d screwed up magnificently. Shame filled me. “I still can’t believe I fell for his crap.”

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