Home > Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(12)

Show Me the Way (Fight for Me #1)(12)
Author: A.L. Jackson

Nikki howled with laughter and sat back, smacking her knee, obviously thrilled I’d followed her into that trap. “Ha! He probably wishes she was. My guess is she’s just a selfish bitch who walked out when taking care of a baby became too much. Not that anyone knows since he doesn’t talk about her, but I was never a fan.”

She shrugged and took a sip of her cosmo.

Case closed.

“Not about her or about anything really,” Lillith added, back to waving a caution flag. “I’ve known him since we were kids. We went to school together on the other side of town with Ollie and Kale. The three of them have had some horrible stuff happen in their lives. It affected them, shaped who they became. But Rex? He changed after his wife left. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great guy. Honest. An incredibly hard worker. He grew his small construction company into the most successful contractor in the area. Loyal to the bone, and there’s no doubt he loves that little girl. But I’m pretty sure his bitterness has seeped all the way to the marrow.”

That sense I’d been feeling grew stronger. The need to look deeper inside the man who’d built a fortress around himself. Needing to protect himself from the pain so clearly etched in his eyes.

Mournful eyes I could feel continually flashing my direction.

Scorching me deeper with each hidden pass.

Nikki laughed. “You should see your face right now. Girl, you’re in so much trouble. It looks to me like you’re taking that warning as some kind of invitation. I told you I was the queen matchmaker, but I don’t think even I’m that good.”

Lillith almost rolled her eyes. “This from the girl who’s been trying to get Ollie to look her way for the last five years.”

“Hey! Sometimes these things take time. I’m a patient woman.”

Her attention jerked toward a man who came out from the back of the bar.

“He’s back. Look, there he is. That’s who I was telling you about. That’s my Ollie,” Nikki raved not so quietly as she slapped my thigh a bunch of times to get my attention.

With the way she shivered at the sight of him, I would say her patience was wearing thin. I understood her fascination.

Ollie was rough and hard and incredibly good-looking. As good-looking as the other straightlaced guy who sat on the other side of the table from Rex.

There had to be something in the water, because both of them were almost as beautiful as the man who’d taken my thoughts hostage.


But there was something about Rex that completely set him apart. Something that made him shine in all his surly darkness. Something that twisted my belly into a mess of anxiousness, attraction, and intrigue.

This prodding force that insisted I get to know someone who seemed desperate to remain unseen.

Nikki sighed when Ollie grabbed a couple drinks from behind the bar and carried them to Rex’s table. “God, I love him.”

With a sip of her wine, Lillith shook her head. “I’m beginning to think you’re just infatuated with what you can’t have.”

Nikki blinked at her. “Isn’t that the same thing?”

A tumble of laughter rolled from Lillith. “Not even close.”

Nikki’s gaze trailed back after Ollie. Not even trying to hide her stare when he rounded back behind the bar to help the other bartender. “For real . . . love or not, I would eat up that man.”

I giggled quietly. On the drive over, I’d worried I had made the wrong choice. Worried I’d be continually looking over my shoulder. Wondering who might recognize me. If there would be rumbles and whispers and rumors.

But I hadn’t felt it. Not for a second. I loved that these two had invited me out. That they were happy to make me feel a part of their tight-knit world. That they seemed to have no qualms about welcoming me into it.

I startled when a tall figure suddenly cast a shadow over us. I looked up to find a man towering at my side, his brown eyes raking me up and down, a grin riding his full lips.

I would have shrank away if I hadn’t been one-hundred percent sure I’d never seen him before.

Apparently, there really was something in the water.

He was ridiculously attractive. Clearly, he’d discarded the jacket of his dark gray suit, the sleeves of his button-down rolled up his forearms. His stance was so casual and confident as he looked expectantly at me.

“I just noticed you sitting over here, and I thought I could buy you a drink,” he said, his attention fully trained on me. “Name’s Tim.”

Nikki cleared her throat, the words ripe with mock offense. “I do hope that drink buying includes the rest of us.”

He glanced at her. “If that’s what it takes.”

Tim was a little cocky for my taste.

And he wasn’t Rex Gunner.

I lifted my margarita toward him, the green yummy goodness swishing in the salt-rimmed bowl. “I think I’m just fine. But thank you.”

“You sure about that? You look awful lonely over here by yourself.”

Irritation bristled beneath my skin. I was sitting there with my friends. How the hell could I appear lonely? But I was used to these kinds of pick-up lines in San Francisco when Macy dragged me out with her.

So I pasted on a fake smile and said, “I’m sure.”

The guy shrugged. “Whatever. Your loss.”

He turned on his heel and sauntered away.

“What an asshole,” I mumbled under my breath, my eyes trailing him with a special kind of disgust.

Nikki jerked my attention back to her by swatting me on the knee and lifting her spent glass. “Speak for yourself, Ryn-Ryn. I totally could have used another drink.”

I laughed. “At what expense?”

She widened her blue eyes. “Oh, come on. Take one for the team.”

Giggling, I dabbed at the trickle of margarita clinging to the edge of my lip. “He might not be bad to look at, but he was kind of a jerk. No thank you.”

Nikki nudged Lillith with her elbow. “Yet, she likes Rex Gunner.”

Lillith grinned before her expression shifted, swelling with soft affection. “I guess we like what we like. Broderick was definitely an asshole of the worst kind when I first met him.”

I made the mistake of letting my attention wander back to Rex. Ollie was back at his table, and he and the other guy were engaged in their own conversation.

Rex seemed totally removed from it.

Just sitting there.

Glaring at me.

Unabashedly with intense, heated hatred.

“Maybe there’s hope for everyone,” I mumbled.

Tearing my gaze from him, I pushed to my feet, cleared my throat, and pasted a smile on my face. “I need to use the restroom.”

Lillith gestured toward the hall to the right of the stairs. “Down the hall and on the left.”


I wound through the crowds huddled around the high-top tables. Voices were lifted to be heard above the hum of the band, laughter loud as people let go of the stresses of the week, embracing the chance they had to unwind.

I took the hall and ducked into the restroom, used it, and then washed my hands. I let a small smile lift the corner of my mouth.

Being there felt so right, even if Rex Gunner was messing with my head.

I dried my hands, swung open the door, and stepped out into the haze of the dimly lit hall. I gasped when the same guy who’d approached me at the bar stepped out in front of me, stopping me in my tracks.

“Hey,” I said uneasily, peering behind him at the people loitering at the far end of the hall. The noise level had escalated to a dull roar, the mood becoming rowdy, increasing with every second that passed.

I shifted anxiously on my feet, wondering if anyone would even hear me if I called for help.


So maybe I was getting ahead of myself.

But getting backed into a corner by a guy I didn’t know wasn’t high on my list of safest situations. Not when a shiver of apprehension skated down my spine. A cold warning.

“Finally got you alone,” he said.

I took a single step back and to the side, trying to put space between us. “If you’ll excuse me, I was actually headed back to my friends.”

He reached out, running the tip of his index finger down the side of my cheek. “You should ditch them and spend a little time with me.”

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