The Bad Boy Next Door(6)

By: Jody Holford


“Thanks.”

He pressed the button and figured he’d achieved good-neighbor status for the day. Others certainly wouldn’t put him in that category, but he didn’t have it in him to care. He needed to figure out how to live again before he worried about friends or family. Which his sister and mother clearly didn’t understand, either, since his phone showed they’d both texted. Several times.

After pulling on his jeans, he went to make a sandwich before he headed in to the station. He barely opened the fridge when the knock came.

Wyatt opened the door to find Shay standing in the hall, her cheeks red, her blond hair windblown, and her blue eyes bright with unshed tears. His heart hammered. He did not need this. Her face was innocent and sweet, but Wyatt would never be fooled again. The last time he’d let himself get taken in by a pair of gorgeous eyes, he’d nearly ended up dead. It grated on his nerves that he wasn’t immune to this woman who was no more than a stranger.

“What’s the matter?” He looked her up and down, but she didn’t seem hurt.

She wrung her gloved hands together. “Ha. Well, a lot at the moment. The key I broke in the front door? It was to my apartment.” Her gaze was glued to his chest, and he realized he hadn’t grabbed a shirt. The way her eyes widened slightly sent a quick jolt of lust through his blood. He didn’t like people in his space, but what choice did he have?

“Come in for a minute,” he said. She looked so damn grateful, his heart twisted. An unfamiliar feeling for sure.

“I’m sorry,” she said, still eyeing his chest. He arched a brow when her gaze finally met his. “I tried to call Brady.”

The repeated mention of their neighbor bugged him. “So you said. It wasn’t that hard to buzz you in. Brady isn’t the only one capable of doing so, obviously,” he said.

Shay stayed by the door and gestured to him with her hand. “Do you, uh, want to put on a shirt?”

The way she stumbled over her words, licking her lips after she spoke, caught him off guard. Partially amused, partially turned on, he shook his head and walked away. When he came back, pulling a tee over his head, she was still standing in the entrance. He checked his watch. He needed to leave soon.

“I’m sorry to put you out like this.”

“Like what? Letting you into the building?” He gestured for her to follow him to the kitchen.

“Well, yeah. Um. I didn’t know what to do about the door. I mean, I need to call a locksmith, obviously, but I wasn’t sure if I should just do that or if there was one Brady would recommend. He said he’s kind of acting manager right now. I don’t even know if there’s a maintenance man in the building.”

Thankfully, she must have realized she was babbling. Normally, a person talking non-stop when he’d barely opened his eyes would have irritated the hell out of him. The fact that she didn’t was a source of frustration on its own. The rest of her body was stiff and still as her eyes moved around the kitchen.

Wyatt took a quick glance. Papers and files were piled on the countertops. Grocery bags he hadn’t bothered to put back in the hall closet were littering the floor. His dishes from whenever he ate last were in the sink. Heat warmed the back of his neck. Why did he care what she thought? They’re rinsed at least. He scowled. He didn’t ask for company and definitely didn’t want it. There’d been no time to clean up. So what?

“I work a lot.” He knew his tone was defensive.

Her eyes widened, and she nodded slowly. “Clearly not from home,” she said.

Surprised by her candor, his lips twitched and he nearly laughed. He hadn’t spent much time with people lately who made him laugh. “No. Not from home. Listen, I have to eat and go in to work. You can hang out here until Brady gets home. He’ll have a spare key and can take care of the front door.”

Something about her made him want to soothe her, but he shook off the feeling. Not even an adorable laugh, a sexy body, and a kick-ass smile would get past the shield he’d erected. Never again.

“Thanks. A few days here and I’m breaking things, imposing on people, and ignoring advice.” She chuckled, then stopped abruptly.

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