Home > Just What I Needed (Need You #2)(5)

Just What I Needed (Need You #2)(5)
Author: Lorelei James


“Still counts. Quit stalling and guess.”

He’d set his hand back on the table by his beer glass. I reached over and ran the tips of my fingers across his rough-skinned knuckles. “Workingman hands,” I murmured. “Maybe you’re a Viking longboat builder?” When I looked up at him, the heat in his eyes set my stomach into free fall.

“That. Right there,” he said on a low growl.

Confused, I said, “What?”

“That innocent look in your big green eyes. Makes a man think about all sorts of things that aren’t even close to innocent.”

I blushed and felt like a complete dork. Wasn’t I supposed to be past this at my age? “With that smooth line, you’ve got to be a salesman of some kind.”

“Me? Smooth?” He laughed. Hard.

I half expected him to start slapping his knee.

Then he picked up my hand. “I’m not some smooth-talking bar rat. In fact, according to my mother and my sister, I’m more than a little rough around the edges.”

“It looks good on you.” I paused, resisting the urge to lift my hand high enough to stroke his beard. “What does a rough-around-the-edges man do for a living?”

“I’m in construction.”

“Any specific area? You build roads or hospitals?”

“No. Mostly we renovate.”

“Like historical renovations? You make sure that when houses and buildings are updated the elements indicative of their period remain intact?”

“Yes, in some instances. My business is eighty percent renovation, ten percent restoration and ten percent falls into an ‘other’ category. Right now we’re in the middle of two major restorations and three renovations. Summer is our busiest time since the season is so short. I hit a couple of snags today—the client demanding changes that a third party suggested. I had a late meeting with the building owner on one of the properties. And that conversation went so well I immediately needed a drink.”

“No girlfriend waiting to soothe you with a cold brew after a hard day’s work?”

“Sweetheart, I wouldn’t have let you kiss me like that if I was in a relationship and I sure as hell wouldn’t have kissed you back the way I did.”

I fought another blush. “That makes my behavior really irresponsible . . . not even considering you might be involved with someone.” I shook my head. “It was like I was in a lust-trance.”

“Lose the guilt. There were two pairs of lips working that kiss.” He swigged his beer. “And I don’t cheat.”

“Is that a rule you’ve always abided by?”

His left eyebrow winged up. “You think I made that decision out of guilt after cheating?”

“I just wondered if we have that hard learning curve in common. It sucks that I have to make a mistake—sometimes a big mistake—as a catalyst to change my ways.”

The intent way his eyes searched mine indicated I’d ventured too far into personal territory. This was the point where the guy usually retreats. In a preemptive response, I’d smile and say something noncommittal as I dug my car keys out of my purse. But for some reason this time . . . I froze.

Evidently my deer-in-the-headlights look amused him.

“You have any idea how hard I’m digging on you right now?”

“Digging on me,” I repeated. “Is that a construction worker’s come-on?”

He laughed. “No. But I wish I’d made that connection. What I’m trying to say is, I want to see you again. Is that a possibility?”

“Walker . . . can I be blunt?”

“I don’t know—you’ve been so vague in your answers prior to this,” he said dryly.

“That candor gets me in trouble more often than not. So here goes. You’re hot. Like hard-core hot. I honestly can’t imagine why I thought you’d be single. And guys like you don’t take an interest in women like me.” I held up my hand to keep him from interrupting. “That isn’t me fishing for compliments. So I have to know: Are you asking me out because you’re assuming that I’m okay with a hookup?” I had some pride. I didn’t want to be the weird chick he’d thrown a bone. I really didn’t want to be the tagline to his “This one time a woman kissed me in a bar and I ended up banging her next to the Dumpster” drinking tales shared around the construction site.

Walker angled forward. “Were you trying to be insulting with that question?”

“No! It’s a legitimate question, given that I threw myself at you and said hello with my tongue. It’s not a stretch for you to be hopeful that I’d up the ante to saying hello on my knees if we went on an actual date.”

The ferocity in his eyes and in the hard set of his jaw made him look even more like a Viking about to wage battle. “If I thought you were just looking for a hookup, I wouldn’t be sitting here. I’ve had a better conversation with you in the last half hour than I did the entire time I was with my last two girlfriends.”

He paused and looked at me—really looked at me. The way I’d always wanted a man to look at me, and it knocked the breath from me.

“From the moment I saw you, I felt that same unexplainable pull.”

“You did? Seriously?”

“Yeah. So let’s see where this goes. Say you’ll go out with me.”

Maybe it was crazy to say yes, but I did anyway.

His phone in his pocket started to buzz. He didn’t ignore it—I was on the fence whether that was a good or bad thing.

He answered with, “Hey. What’s up?” He frowned. “Are you okay?” He briefly closed his eyes and ran his hand over his beard. “Where? Yeah. I know that area—I don’t know what the hell you’re doing there. Just stay put. I’ll be there in fifteen. Is the tow truck already there? Okay, good. When it gets there, do not get in with the driver.” He held the phone away from his ear for a moment as the woman on the other end yelled at him. “Dallas. Knock it off! Jesus. You do not get to bite my head off when you’re calling for my help. I hear any more insulting shit and you can call your mom and dad for a ride.” Walker looked at me and covered the mouthpiece. “I knew that’d shut her up.”

I snickered.

“I’m leaving now. Stay put. Call me if you get freaked out.” He pocketed his phone. “My youngest cousin is having car trouble and I won the lottery to go fetch her.”

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