Home > Built (Saints of Denver #1)(12)

Built (Saints of Denver #1)(12)
Author: Jay Crownover

I rolled my eyes at him. “Really?”

He chuckled. “Women like me.”

“I bet they do.” Why wouldn’t they? He was gorgeous, smart as hell, well-spoken, charming, exuded wealth and confidence, and that smile was lethal. I was a fucking idiot for not responding to any of it. I would punch myself in the face if I could. Why couldn’t I get my act together?

“Not you, though. I mean you obviously like me well enough, but you don’t like me. Can’t say I’ve ever had a woman cancel on me more than once.”

My hair was braided and pinned up in a coil at the back of my head, but if it had been down I would be twirling it nervously around a finger. A bad habit my father had hated. I had spent my entire youth doing anything to avoid his disapproving looks and cutting words, but some of my less attractive habits he had been unable to scorn out of me.

“I’ve been busy. My caseload is full, I was in the middle of a renovation on my house, and I’ve been trying to spend as much time with my brother as I can.” It was complicated to explain to people why I was obsessed with being around Rowdy and being a part of his life, so I went with the half-truth that I told anyone who asked me about it. “We didn’t get to spend much time together growing up and I feel like I’m making up for lost time now that my father is gone.”

The promise of having someone, anyone, who I was tied to, who I could call family and rely on, the thought of not having to be just me, myself, and I anymore, made me determined to find a place for myself not only in Denver but in Rowdy’s life. Luckily for me my little brother was a kind and caring man, and after a rough start he had welcomed me into his fold with open arms. My long-lost sibling was the greatest thing that had ever happened to me.

“Well, thanks for making the time for me tonight even though I think we had different ideas about what this date was about.”

I cringed a little and awkwardly picked up my martini as he went on.

“You’re really a lovely woman, Sayer. You’re driven, intelligent, and dedicated to your job. We have a lot in common, I think, and I was hoping there was more of a connection between us. I think there could be, but you don’t seem interested in letting it take root.”

I chugged back the rest of the drink so hard that it made me cough and had my eyes watering. I was mortified at the spectacle I was making of myself, but Quaid didn’t so much as flinch and his gaze never wavered.

I put a hand to my chest and wheezed out that I would love a glass of water when the waitress stopped by to gape at me and ask if I was okay.

“Quaid.” I started coughing again and wanted to crawl under the table and die. It took a full glass of water and five minutes in order for me to reply to him. “Your divorce was only finalized a few months ago. You can’t possibly be ready to get into a new relationship.”

A smirk played across his mouth and his eyebrows dipped down over his eyes in an undeniably sexy way. “Who said anything about a relationship? You’re attractive, busy, and independent. You don’t need me for anything other than sex. We’re both single and we get along. I thought it would be a great arrangement until the first time you bailed on me. I get the feeling that even though you are very discreet, there is someone else in your life. And no, I am not talking about your brother.”

Good Lord, could this get any more embarrassing? Yeah, there was someone else in my life, only he had no idea I was infatuated with him or that I was wearing out my vibrator because of my idiotic crush on him. Not that Quaid needed to know any of that.

Instead I told him, “There isn’t anyone else, but that isn’t an arrangement I would ever be comfortable with, regardless.” I fiddled with the collar on my shirt and heard my father reprimanding me in the back of my head. “I’m kind of old-fashioned and boring when it comes to relationships, Quaid. Friends with benefits isn’t something I have the ability to navigate.” And if he took me to bed and was bored out of his ever-loving mind, I didn’t want there to be a chance in hell of that kind of gossip making the rounds in the courthouse. It would kill me.

“Fair enough. I kind of got the hint when you canceled on me for the second time.”

I smiled at him. “But I do like you in the normal way and I really do enjoy spending time with you. It’s nice to have someone who I can talk the law with.”

It was his turn to roll his eyes. “Of course you normal like me, not naked like me. Like I said, all women like me one way or another.”

We shared a stilted laugh. I was terrible when it came to men. That was one thing that was all on me and I couldn’t blame on dear old Dad. I could never figure out how to be invested in them and still keep myself separated and safe. No one wanted to date or make love to an ice sculpture and pretty much that was all you got with me. It was the only way I survived growing up under my father’s critical eye. When you’re made to feel like the worst sort of idiot, the biggest kind of failure, for showing any type of emotion—even tears at your mother’s funeral—you learn pretty quickly that if you don’t have feelings then they can’t be destroyed. Quiet disapproval and endless disdain could land just as heavily as a balled-up fist when it was all that was given to a child.

And now Zeb Fuller was not only threatening to melt the icy shroud that made me feel safe, he was also making it impossible not to feel things. So many hot, bright, and addicting things. It was no wonder I was equally terrified of and obsessed with the man.

The rest of the evening passed with easy camaraderie and friendly banter about the legal system. I wasn’t lying. I really did like Quaid and I appreciated his quick wit and effortless flirting even though I didn’t return the interest, but it was when my phone buzzed with an incoming text message as I was walking in the front door that all the attraction and lure I wanted to feel for Quaid flared to life because Zeb’s name flashed on my phone.

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