Home > Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1)(10)

Flirting with the Frenemy (Bro Code #1)(10)
Author: Pippa Grant

I lift the bag of two burner phones I grabbed to keep here, because no guest should ever be without access to a phone. “I should be fine, and my phone will be all dried out by tomorrow night. But thank you.”

After I assure her that yes, I also now have her phone number, Jason’s phone number, and Grady’s phone number written on a piece of paper to give to Wyatt and program into both of the burner phones I picked up at Peg Legs and Planks—yes, the hardware store here sells burner phones—I climb out of her car.

I make it to the front door without limping despite the pain shooting from my knee to my tailbone, but I refuse to let Monica see me hurting. It’s her wedding week, and she doesn’t need to worry over me.

I wave as I push open the door. She reverses in the darkness to head back down the mountain to town, and as soon as I’m inside, I crumple to a heap against the wall beside the door and let out a soft groan.

The bedroom is a long fucking way away. Past at least seven massive floor tiles in the foyer, then down a hallway the length of six football fields, through the door, and a walk from here to China to get to the bed.

Or so it feels.

Five minutes.

I just need five minutes to sit here, kneading my twisted thigh muscle and resting my achy hip joint, and then I’ll be fine.

“Need help?”

I shriek in surprise at the voice coming out of the semi-darkness, and I realize I’m not alone.

Wyatt’s up.

Dammit.

“Just wondering the last time Beck’s maids dusted the floorboards. Plus, you get a totally different angle on that artwork.” I point to a row of prints on the wall outside the kitchen.

“The three-piece selfie of Beck’s nostril?”

“Most people think it’s a cave.”

“Most people don’t know Beck very well.”

He’s barefoot, in cargo shorts and a polo with a military-looking logo on his breast pocket, and when he tucks his thumbs in his belt loops and leans against the wall, my ovaries do a backflip, because yes, Wyatt Morgan is quite the handsome man.

And possibly I shouldn’t have had that glass of wine three hours ago. Clearly it’s still affecting my judgment.

“Overdid it?” he asks.

My eyes narrow and I start to scowl, and then the oddest thing happens.

Instead of narrowing his eyes right back at me, his lips twitch like he’s holding in a smile, he lifts his eyes to the ceiling, mutters, “Dammit, Beck,” and suddenly I’m more curious than I am irritated.

Until he squats down and picks me up, that is.

I yelp and try to twist, but I jolt my leg wrong and I end up gasping for breath and gripping him around the neck instead. “What are you doing?” I grit out.

“Annoying you,” he says as he straightens and moves toward the hall.

He hasn’t shaved. I could try to count his short whiskers if I wanted to. He’s always clean-shaven. Maybe he’s being a pirate this week too.

“You are not welcome in my bedroom.”

“That’s seventy miles away or so, isn’t it? Which part of Copper Valley is your house in again?”

“Quit being a smart-ass.”

“There’s no shame in taking help when you need it.”

“I don’t need help.”

I am such a liar. Every step he takes closer to the bedroom is like a weight being lifted off my shoulders. One less step I have to take…two less…three…

“It’s your boyfriend’s duty to carry you to the bedroom.”

“Don’t even—” I start.

His lips twitch again.

Right there. Right in front of my face. His lips are twitching.

Like I amuse him.

I don’t amuse anyone. Annoy them, yes. It was one of the reasons Patrick broke up with me. Ellie, you’re just…so perfectionist, it’s annoying. I’m well aware that my project managers back home at work are relieved as hell that I’m on vacation, but I also know that having high standards is the only way I’m going to continue my parents’ legacy and grow their business when they retire in a few years.

Which is in a few years.

Not right here.

Tonight.

With Wyatt not even breaking a sweat or straining while he carries me into the master bedroom, despite the weight I’ve gained since the accident.

“Thank you,” I grumble when he sets me gently on the bed.

“You’re not really welcome.”

I gasp in surprise.

He purses his lips together and turns, but not before I see his gray eyes twinkling.

Twinkling.

Like he’s enjoying being a shit.

“I should ask you to fetch my pajamas, but I sleep naked, so there’s no point,” I announce.

“You want a cowbell so you can call me to hang up your dress when you’ve flung it across the room?”

There’s no heat in his words. It’s like we’re playing a game not to see who can be more insulting, but who can be more outrageous.

Because there’s no way in hell anyone would give me a cowbell.

There’s also no way in hell he’s flirting with me, which is the other possibility reeling through my mind.

“I prefer a foghorn.” I bend to tug my boot off, and another splinter of pain makes me suck in a breath.

I really, really overdid it tonight.

Without looking at my face, Wyatt bends over my feet and tugs my boots off, first my right foot, then ever-so-carefully my left foot.

I duck my head, because there’s a sudden burn in my eyes that’s drifting into my sinuses as well. “Please don’t be nice to me,” I whisper. “Not when we’re alone. Though you owe me pretending to be my boyfriend this week, because that was a shitty thing to do to Grady.”

“I just wanted to confirm your feet stink. And they do.”

I shove him without thinking, because that’s what we do. “They do not.”

“I called you.”

And now I want to hit him for real, because the shift in his tone means he did just say exactly what I thought he just said, about exactly what I’ve been afraid he’ll want to talk about, and we are not talking about this. “My phone got busted in the accident. It’s apparently a recurring problem.”

“Beck had you a new phone with your same number sitting by your bed the minute you were conscious.”

“So?”

“So, I tried calling you for weeks.”

I swallow hard, because he’s not taking my easy excuses. And the truth isn’t nice. “I didn’t want to talk to you.”

“You usually don’t. But—”

“No buts. Thank you. I can get my dress.”

“I didn’t mean to hurt you.”

“All water under the bridge. You were right. It was a mistake. Didn’t happen. Moving on. Okay?”

He takes my chin in his fingers and lifts my face until I can’t help but look at him while he studies me with those intense gray eyes.

His lashes are stupidly thick. They’re not long, but they’re thick. And his nose is slightly off-center, but not in a weird way. Just in a rugged way.

And his lips—

I’m breathing too loud. And he’s watching me too closely.

Like he can see way down deep to the fourteen-year-old girl inside who turned around one day and realized that one of my older brother’s best friends was cute. And a little awkward, and still annoying with the way he always seemed to know everything, but also reliable and familiar but…new.

And dating Lydia Baker, who was smart and pretty and on the cheerleading squad. Not the head cheerleader, but still a cheerleader.

He was seventeen to my fourteen, which was basically illegal, and because I’ve always been that girl who knew everything, yes, I knew he was illegal, and I knew why I got all warm in my belly when he looked at me, and I was also pissed that I couldn’t control my body’s reaction to him.

But I don’t feel like I know anything tonight.

I don’t know who I am.

I don’t know why I’m here.

I don’t know what I want.

Not past the next five minutes, anyway.

It’s not the first time I’ve felt this way.

And the last time ended with me broken.

“Was it my fault?” he asks.

“You weren’t driving the car, Wyatt.”

“But it was my fault you were.”

It wasn’t. He didn’t force me into the car. He didn’t choose my route. He didn’t make me do anything.

He even tried to stop me.

“It takes two. Quit being the martyr.”

“Nobody trusted Beck to give us the truth about how you were doing. And you wouldn’t answer your phone. I was scared shitless.”

“I’m fine. Same old annoying Ellie.”

And there he goes again, seeing right through me. “Yeah. Same old annoying Ellie.”

Fuck. I whimper out a laugh, because it’s so damn normal to have Wyatt calling me annoying that I’m in danger of crying. “Shut up.”

“Annoying, know-it-all Ellie,” he adds.

I reach out to shove his shoulder, but there’s no speed or force behind my hand, and I end up resting it on his bicep instead. “Mansplaining Wyatt,” I whisper.

His eyes are boring into mine the same way they did that night while he plants his hands on either side of my legs. “Planner Ellie.”

“Stick up your butt Wyatt.”

“Refuses to take help Ellie.”

“Refuses to admit anyone else can know how to do anything Wyatt.”

Our faces are drifting closer. This is a bad idea. We’ve been here before, and it ended in disaster. Worse than disaster. I need to shove him away for real.

Or…we need to practice so that on the rare occasions this week when we have to be seen together in public for whatever reason—Shipwreck isn’t that big—we can fake affection.

“Jumps to conclusions Ellie.” His breath tickles my nose.

   
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