Say You'll Never Love Me(5)

By: Ann Everett


“I’ll put it on my to-do list.”

For the rest of the day, Jared tried to concentrate on work, but Beth kept blowing up his phone. How did she ever get any work done? As if to prove his point, it dinged. Her. Again. Thirty-two texts so far. If he loved her, he’d probably welcome the calls. But he didn’t. Another sign he’d made the right decision.

He forced the problem to the back of his mind and stared at the stack of papers in front of him. Lately, on-site projects took him out of the office more. Regardless of how much effort went into drawing plans, clients always found changes they wanted. He spent hours traveling from place to place, making sure permits were in order, and contractors stayed on schedule despite the new modifications. He crammed the documents into his briefcase and headed out the door. He had one stop to make, then he’d go home to face Beth Ann.

At six o’clock, he pulled into his drive, and Beth waited on the porch. “Hey, babe.” She checked her watch. “You have a late client? I expected you forty-five minutes ago. If I’d had a way in, I could have dinner waiting. Why didn’t you answer any of my texts?”

“We’ve been over this a hundred times. You’ve got to stop sending so many. My answers are the same. I’m at work. Working.”

“Okay. I’ll try to do better but I think about you all day.” She placed a hand on his shoulder and trailed fingers down his arm. “Don’t you think about me?”

“I stay so busy, there’s no time to think about much other than work.”

“Pasta and bread sticks sound good?”

“Fine.”

“So, who kept you late?”

She’d pulled her hair into a messy twist on top of her head. Wind whipped dangling strands like the tail on a kite. He should break up with her right here. Not even let her in the house, but not knowing what reaction to expect, not a good idea. Might cause a scene. The last thing he needed was for neighbors to call the cops because of a domestic dispute. “I had to check on a construction site. Took longer than I thought. Had to wait on the foreman.”

He turned the key in the lock, and she stepped inside chattering on her way into the kitchen. “You want a green salad, too? I think you have all the ingredients. Did you eat a big lunch?” She opened the fridge and moved things around. “Yeah, there’s plenty here. Which site?”

“Doesn’t matter. Why don’t we skip cooking? I need to talk to you about something.”

She flapped her hand in the air. “Don’t be silly. I can have this ready in thirty minutes. Go jump in the shower. That will give us more time together after we eat. I want to discuss something with you, too.”

“Okay.” He sucked in a deep breath. This was it. She wanted more, and he planned to end it. After six months of dating, the next step seemed logical, but the constant interrogations wore him out. He should just do it. Tell her to hit the road. That he didn’t love her and never would. Cruel. Yes. Especially since he knew she was in love with him. But he couldn’t force it. Hell, he’d tried at the beginning, but she’d become a convenience, and that was unfair.

When he came from his shower, food was on the table. But because of his bad mood, he’d lost his appetite. She rambled on and on about some project where the client kept changing the color scheme. Jared moved pasta around on his plate and pretended to be interested, but all he wanted to do was get her out of there. When they finished dinner, she cleared the table, but he stopped her. “Leave everything. I’ll do the dishes later.”

“I don’t mind.”

“I insist.”

“At least let me put the leftover in a plastic container. You can take it for lunch tomorrow.”

“Fine.” Beth had good qualities. Smart. Hard worker. Kind. If she’d change her jealous behavior, they might have a chance, but no matter how many times he’d asked her to stop with the calls and texts, she didn’t. He was doing the right thing.

She leveled her dark brown eyes on him. “Is something wrong? You were quiet during dinner, and you hardly touched your food.”

“I have something on my mind, but it can wait until you’re done.” He wanted her undivided attention when he dropped the bomb. That way, no chance of miscommunication. “Did you turn in your bid for Escape Day Spa?”

“Yes, and after talking to the owner, I understand what she wants. I expect to get the job which means you and I will work together again. I love doing that. We make a perfect pair. Don’t you think? You design the building, and I decorate it.”

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