Home > One Snowy Night (Heartbreaker Bay #2.5)(8)

One Snowy Night (Heartbreaker Bay #2.5)(8)
Jill Shalvis

“I’m not eating your food,” he said, refusing to take the dinner she’d so clearly packed for herself.

She let out a sound of female frustration. “Tell me something. Are you always this stubborn or is it something special you save just for me?”

“I meant I’m not eating your dinner,” he clarified.

“I learned how to share in kindergarten. You should try it sometime.”

He blew out a sigh. “Fine. I’ll take half if you eat the other half.”

She looked surprised and then shrugged. “Deal.”

Starving to the bone, he wolfed through his portion of her admittedly delicious PB&J and then watched as she ate only half of her half, and then gave the last quarter to Carl.

His heart squeezed as Carl chomped his portion down in one bite, licked his huge chops, and gave her an adoring gaze.

Rory laughed and then pulled something else from her bag of magic tricks—­a thermos.

“Hot chocolate,” she said, pouring Max half of what she had. “Careful, it’s still hot.”

“Thanks.” He’d known he’d be making this drive tonight and he hadn’t given provisions a single thought. After all, he had an emergency kit in the back and he was good.

But she was better. She’d clearly given this lots of thought and was prepared, and it made him wonder why she was going home in the first place. He knew she hadn’t been there in years. “I was surprised to find that you were going to Tahoe,” he said, fishing.

She sipped her hot chocolate. “Should’ve packed marshmallows,” she murmured.

He had the oddest urge to stop and get her some but they were nowhere near a store.

She drained her cup and had a chocolate mustache. Her tongue came out and licked her lips with great relish and he nearly ran them off the road.

Startled, she glanced over at him.

He stared resolutely straight ahead at the road—­or what he could see of it—­wondering what the hell this odd reaction to her was. Uncalled for. Stupid. Very stupid.

“You okay?” she asked.

“Terrific. You didn’t answer my question.”

“You didn’t ask one.”

He resisted rolling his eyes. “Why are you going home this year?”

She shrugged. “My family and I have a rocky relationship. Mostly because I’ve flaked on them, a lot. I’m . . . undependable. I wanted to change that.” She paused. “If I can.”

Max thought of the life she led now, going to school, working hard. “You seem pretty dependable to me.”

“Yes, well, thankfully things change. ­People change.” She hesitated again, and he realized she was weighing how much she wanted to tell him. “I’m not sure my family gets that,” she finally said. “I’ve let them down.”

He was sympathetic to that. He’d been a punk-­ass teenager himself. If his family judged him off that asshole he’d once been, they wouldn’t like him very much either. “Then and now are different,” he said. “They’ll see that.”

She didn’t look convinced and he couldn’t blame her. Because even he’d been judging her off something she’d done in the past. Which made him a first-­class jerk.

“You do realize the gas pedal is the narrow one on the right,” she said.

He glanced over at her. “Excuse me?”

“You’re driving like a granny without her spectacles, and I’m in a time crunch.”

He choked out a laugh. “In case you haven’t noticed, things are a little dicey out there.”

She shrugged, unimpressed. “We’ve both seen worse.”

True enough. But she was also deflecting and trying to change the subject. “You left home hard and fast years ago and never looked back. So I don’t get it, Rory. What’s your sudden rush?”

She looked away. “It’s a long story.”

“And?”

“And trust me, we don’t have enough time.”

Before he could react to that, he saw the blockades ahead. “Shit,” he said. “Highway’s closed.”

The flashing sign said there’d been an accident ahead and to please be patient. Ha. Easy enough for the damn sign to say; it wasn’t stuck in a car with a woman he couldn’t figure out whether he wanted to strangle or kiss.

“Looks like we’ve suddenly got plenty of time,” he said, wondering if she’d talk to him now, surprised at how much he wanted her to. Because in spite of himself, he was fascinated and drawn to this Rory, the sexy, smart, resourceful woman sitting next to him. When she didn’t respond, he glanced over at her, startled to find her pale, her eyes suspiciously wet. “What?” he asked, whipping his head around to see what had happened, where the big bad was coming from, but he couldn’t see a problem. “What is it?”

She just shook her head and began to rifle through her bag, keeping her face averted.

Tears? What had caused such a strong emotion? Clueless and hating that, Max reached down and pulled out a few napkins he kept shoved into the door pouch for those days when he was chowing down a burger and driving at the same time. “Here,” he said, and thrust them at her.

She took them without a word and blew her nose. “Thanks,” she finally said. “I, um, had something in my eye.”

She was talking to her passenger window. Reaching out, he touched her to get her to turn toward him, finding himself stunned when he connected with the bare skin of her arm and felt a zip of electrical current that wasn’t electricity at all, but sheer chemistry. “Rory,” he said, hardly recognizing his own voice, it was so low and rough.

She stared at him and then her gaze dropped to his mouth and he had one thought—­ah, hell, he was in trouble. Deep trouble.

The next girl you feel something for, anything at all, you have to go for it, no exceptions . . .

He had laughed at Cass’s words, secure in the knowledge there wasn’t anyone in his life to feel something for right now. Or at least no one he wanted to feel something for.

But that was starting to change, right before his very eyes.

Chapter Four

RORY COULDN’T BELIEVE how difficult it was to stop staring at Max’s mouth, or to force herself to lift her gaze to his eyes.

Eyes that were dark. Deep. Unfathomable.

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