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Home > Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(11)

Jagged (Colorado Mountain #5)(11)
Author: Kristen Ashley

“You’re payin’ for that!” I yelled.

His eyes were beyond me, examining my new space as his mouth moved.

“Not a problem. I’ll reimburse what they take out of your security deposit when we move you out of this dump.”

I didn’t know what he meant and I also didn’t care.

I switched subjects.

“How did you get here so fast?” I asked, and his eyes finally came to me.

“I hope to Christ you didn’t miss local gossip because you’re spendin’ your days at Deluxe Home Store and your nights at some titty bar.”

“I’m not working at a titty bar, Ham, so you can stop concerning yourself with me and move on”—I paused—“again.” I bit off the last word then what he said penetrated and I asked, “What gossip?”

“Managing The Dog, Zara, have been for a week. I live in Gnaw Bone.”

I felt my eyes get huge as my stomach clenched.

“You’re managing The Dog?” I whispered, aghast.

“Yeah. And you just got a new job. You start after you work out your notice at Deluxe,” he returned.

“What?” This also came out quiet and horrified.

“You’re waitressin’ for me. Shit hours but, if I remember correctly and since the view hasn’t changed except to get better, with your face, tits, and ass, great tips. In the meantime, we’re movin’ you out of this shithole and, you don’t got a girl who can take you on, you’re bunkin’ with me.”

Bunking with him?

Was he high?

“I am not moving in with you,” I declared.

“You aren’t livin’ in this place either.”

“It’s fine,” I snapped.

“It doesn’t have a f**kin’ peephole, and, babe, reminder, I just popped that f**kin’ chain not two f**kin’ minutes ago.”

“Well, seeing as my other callers won’t force themselves into my place, that shouldn’t be a problem,” I retorted.

“Zara, got a scar on my shoulder that proves f**ked up can hunt you down just ’cause you’re breathin’ and you’ve lived in this county through some serious, crazy, sick-fuck shit. You need a goddamned peephole and a decent lock. And, you can get it, a man at your back and that man’s gonna be me.”

“You’re either high or you’ve lost your mind, Graham Reece, because there is no way in hell I’m moving in with you.”

“I don’t want your body, Zara. I want your safety,” he shot back.

Ouch. That stung.

With no other choice, I powered through the sting. “Either way, neither are yours to have or give anymore, Ham. We’re done.”

“Don’t let pride or bein’ pissed stand in the way of reason, babe.”

It was then, I’d had enough. More than enough. Of Ham. Of life. Of everything.

And, seeing as I’d had enough, I totally lost it.

“You’re not listening to me!” I leaned in and shrieked the last three words so shrill Ham’s head jerked. “We. Are. Done. I don’t want to see you again. I don’t want to talk to you again. I do not want you in my… fucking…life. Now get out, get gone, and please, God, stay gone.”

Shockingly and infuriatingly, this tirade did not make him move toward the door. Instead, it made him take a step toward me, lift a hand my way, and say in a soothing voice, “Cookie, take a breath and calm down so we can talk.”

“I’ll calm down when you’re out of my f**kin’ house.”

“Babe—”

I took a step back, turned, didn’t know why the hell I was turning since, in that tiny pad, I had nowhere to go, so I faced Ham again, and said quietly, “I lost my home. I lost my dream when I lost my shop. I nearly lost my stupid car and I had to sell a bunch of shit like my stereo so I wouldn’t. I lost my husband and with him went my furniture. I’m working at a place I hate, making practically nothing. I have no idea what my future will bring. I have nothing to look forward to. I live day to day doin’ nothin’ but gettin’ through the day. I do not need this shit. Not now. Not from you. Not from anyone. If you care about me even a little bit anymore, Ham, you’ll get gone and stay gone.”

“I’ve always cared about you, Zara.”

God! Killing me!

“Then get gone.”

“You gotta listen to me—”

“You’re not getting gone,” I snapped and he leaned in.

“Shoe’s on the other foot, babe, you knew I needed you, would you leave me? No matter how much I said I wanted it, you knew my shit was f**ked, would you walk away from me?”

Seriously, it was exasperating that he had a point.

I decided not to speak.

Ham saw his advantage and took it while taking another step toward me.

“You saw me on TV, babe, and I know, the way you were freaked, you picked up the phone within seconds. We were disconnected for f**kin’ years, you saw the shit that went down with me, you reached out. So I know you wouldn’t turn your back on me.”

Definitely exasperating.

Ham kept going.

“I got a two-bedroom condo, good views, balconies off both bedrooms and the livin’ room, and you’ll have your own bathroom.”

“You can’t think I’d even consider movin’ in with you,” I replied.

“And I got a decent f**kin’ TV.”

Damn.

I wished he hadn’t mentioned the TV.

I stared at him and Ham held my stare.

I found this nerve-racking so I tried something new.

“I have a year lease that I signed one month ago.”

“And I have a way with talkin’ folks around to my way of thinking.”

I knew that. In fact, I was experiencing it at that very moment.

I tried something else.

“I have furniture and I don’t have the money to put it in storage.”

“That’s good,” he returned instantly. “Since I got a place that’s not furnished and I haven’t got ’round to buying anything.”

“I thought you said you had a decent TV?”

“Darlin’, I’m a guy. We can’t breathe without a decent TV. I don’t have furniture in the living room but I bought a bed and TV my first day in Gnaw Bone.”

And again. Exasperating.

“Do you have an answer for everything?” I clipped.

“When it comes to gettin’ you safe. Yes. I do. Absolutely.”

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