Irresistible(Buchanans, Book 2)(7) by Susan Mallery
Not that she cared if he was dating—she didn’t. But showing up with a pie and five bucks was weird enough to explain to him, without having to deal with a significant other hovering. Not that any woman Walker dated was likely to consider her much of a threat. Elissa knew exactly what she looked like—the wholesome girl next door. She didn’t mind. Her appearance meant her customers were far more likely to be protective than to come on to her, which made life a whole lot easier.
“Procrastinate much?” she asked herself as she forced her brain back to the task at hand. Namely, standing at the top of Walker’s stairs, inches from his front door. If he’d heard her climbing, he could be watching her right now, wondering why she’d come this far without knocking.
So she knocked, then waited until the door opened and he stood there, right in front of her.
He looked good. His T-shirt stretched across broad shoulders and a muscular chest. No doubt those muscles were the reason he’d been able to twist her lug nuts into submission without breaking a sweat. His jeans were worn, loose and faded. His dark eyes seemed expressionless, but not in a scary ax-murderer way. More like he kept the world at bay.
“Hi,” she said, when he remained silent. “I, ah, made pie.” She thrust it toward him and added, “It’s blueberry,” in case his confusion about the type of fruit was the reason he didn’t take it from her.
“You made me a pie?” he asked, his voice low. There was a hint of a question in the rumble, and more than a hint that he thought she was crazy, which she resented. She wasn’t the one breaking the rules here.
“Yes, a pie.” She thrust it forward until he took it, then held out a worn five-dollar bill.
“You’re paying me to eat your pie?”
“Of course not. I’m paying you—” She stopped and drew in a breath. She’d gone from grateful to annoyed in two seconds flat. “You bought me a tire. Did you really think I wouldn’t notice that bright, shiny bit of rubber? Is it me in particular or all women in general? Because I know this is a guy thing. You wouldn’t have done this if I were a man.”
“You wouldn’t have needed my help if you were a man.”
“Maybe.” Probably. But that wasn’t the point. “You slunk back here and put on the tire while I wasn’t looking. You even rubbed dirt on it so it wouldn’t look so new. And let me tell you, that’s just strange.”
He actually smiled. It was slight—no teeth, but somehow the action made him look open and approachable. “That was Randy’s idea.”
“It sounds like him.”
He took a step back. “Want to come in and talk about this or do you prefer my porch?”
“The porch is fine. This isn’t a social call.”
The smile faded. “Elissa, I get it. You don’t like that I bought you a tire. Yours had so many patches, it was dangerous. I should have let it go, but I couldn’t. I’m not going to apologize for what I did. I didn’t mean anything by it. I don’t want anything.” He held up the pie. “Except this. It smells good.”
She liked that he wasn’t using her tire against her. Gee, how many times had she been able to say that before in her life?
“I know you thought you were doing a good thing,” she said slowly. “But you don’t have the right to meddle in my life. I called Randy to find out what it cost. I think he lowballed me by about ten bucks, so I’ll be paying you back fifty dollars. It’s going to take me some time, but the pie is to show I’m sincere about it and here’s the first payment.”
He looked at the tattered bill. “I don’t want your money.”
“I don’t want to owe you.” She might not have much cash on hand, but she paid her bills on time and she never used credit except in emergencies where there was a risk of death or dismemberment.
“You’re stubborn,” he said.
“Thank you. I’ve worked hard to get this way.”
“What if I told you the money didn’t mean anything to me?” he asked.
Meaning what? He had plenty? She sighed at the thought. In her next life she was going to be rich for sure. It was right at the top of her wish list. But in this one…
“It matters to me,” she told him.
“Fine. But you don’t have to pay me in cash. We could work out a trade.”
White-hot anger blew up inside of her. Here it was—the truth. Behind that pretty face was a disgusting, evil, heartless bastard. Just like nearly every other guy on the planet.
Of course. Why was she even surprised? She’d been momentarily attracted to Walker, and based on her stellar track record, that meant there had to be something wrong with him. She’d expected a massive flaw. But she hadn’t thought it would be this.
“Not even if you were the last man alive after nuclear winter,” she said between gritted teeth. “I can’t believe you’d suggest that I would be willing…” She wanted to slap him. “It was a tire. It’s not like you gave me a kidney.”
He had the nerve to actually smile at her. “You’d sleep with me if I gave you a kidney?”
“You know what I mean. I’m done here. I’ll mail the rest of the money.”
She turned to leave, but suddenly he was somehow between her and the steps. How on earth had he moved so quickly?
His dark gaze claimed hers and all the humor fled from his face.
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