The Bad Boy Next Door(7)

By: Jody Holford


Wyatt tilted his head. Ignoring advice? It was his job to read people, and something told him that if she didn’t want someone’s opinion, she had enough backbone to let them know. He couldn’t help but admire that. “You want a sandwich?”

He was damn good at his job, and the skills transferred to everyday life when he wanted them to. Right now, he wanted to know if his hunch was right—had someone said something about him? If so, it was likely Brady, since he interacted with damn near everyone. On purpose. Brady didn’t know him, and even if his neighbor was right, it grated on his skin like a rake over cement. Wyatt was a lousy bet in terms of a relationship. Most days he could barely put up with himself.

“Are you sure?” She pressed her lips together. They were bare and he liked that. Jesus. He could like whatever he wanted, but he did not need a romantic entanglement any more than he needed to talk about his feelings with a department shrink. Especially with someone in his own building.

“I’m making one anyway. You’re not a vegetarian, are you?” He pulled out deli meat and cheese, tossing them on the counter. She unzipped her jacket and shook her head while he grabbed condiments.

“Only the meat-eating variety,” she said. Again, her words made him smile. Shay looked around frowning and held her jacket against her. She was wearing jeans and a dark sweater that made her blond hair glow like a halo. Yeah. She was angelic looking. And he was the exact opposite of anything to do with angels. He also felt a lot older than she looked. Integrating himself into the worst of society had aged him.

“How old are you?” He grabbed the bread and some plates. She set her jacket over one of the chairs and came to help him with the sandwiches.

Picking up the mustard, she paused long enough to arch her eyebrows primly. “Twenty-four. You?”

He laughed under his breath. “Not twenty-four.” Too old for you.

“That’s not an answer. You look older when you frown. You seem to frown a lot,” she said.

He grabbed the mustard from her hand and squirted some on four pieces of bread. He’d have felt bad about her making her own, except she’d just called him old.

“I’m thirty.” Other than his sister, mom, and nephew, he hadn’t had anyone in his apartment. It was strange, standing side by side making something to eat with a woman he didn’t want to like. She reminded him of one of his other neighbors.

“You meet Gabby yet?” Wyatt didn’t socialize much, unless work and arresting people counted. But Gabriella had ignored his lack of social graces—made worse by his last assignment—and, like Shay, actually made him smile. Newly engaged to another one of his neighbors and endlessly sweet, Gabby seemed like she’d be a good friend for Shay. Young woman, new to the city—she’d need some friends, and he wasn’t the right person for the job. The thought that Brady might be got under his skin and made him scowl.

Shay’s shoulders stiffened. “No. Is that your girlfriend?”

Wyatt scoffed and closed his sandwich. As he leaned against the counter, he took a huge bite. She took a small bite of hers, and they stared at each other over their roast beef sandwiches. When he’d swallowed, he answered her with more amusement than he’d felt in a long time. “No. One, she’s engaged. Two, the last thing I want is a girlfriend.” A one-night stand? Sure. But nothing with strings or access to his heart.

Shay considered that and continued to chew as though she were dining with the damn Queen of England. “That could be a good thing.”

This time he arched his brow. Why the hell did she amuse him so much? Attraction he understood. Anything else? No thanks.

“Your apartment would probably scare off any potential candidates,” she said. And again, he laughed. He grabbed them each a soda, cracking the top on hers before passing it.

“Thanks.”

Wyatt nodded. He liked the sound of her voice. It was soft and sweet. Gentle. She’d make a good audiobook reader. His mother was always listening to those. Wyatt didn’t understand why anyone would listen to anything other than music, but if he was going to listen to someone talk, he liked the way Shay’s words sounded.

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