Resisting Her Rival

By: Sonya Weiss

“That is such an excuse. You can’t think straight when you want to have sex? Is that what you’re saying?”

“Yeah. Kind of.” By the look on her face, Nick could tell he was digging himself in deeper. And he didn’t want to do that, not when he desperately needed her help. For the sake of his business, he needed to prove he’d changed and was no longer the guy he’d once been. The idea of how to do that had started the night he’d spent with Abby three months ago. She represented stability. Her family had roots in the town that probably went back to the Mayflower.

If people saw them together, word would travel quickly—the way it always did in their small town—that Abby trusted him enough to date him. Everyone knew that she didn’t trust just anyone. Being with her meant he’d be on his way back into the good graces of the town. They would trust him, trust his business. If he couldn’t do that, he wouldn’t be able to close the biggest deal of his life. He’d lose the opportunity to renovate historic, million-dollar homes in Charleston to his competitor. The guy had a squeaky clean reputation, a wife, a herd of kids, and he drove a minivan for crying out loud.

“Oscar said for us to work something out between the two of us. I want you to go to him right now and tell him that you don’t want the building.” Abby put her hands on her hips and it pulled her shirt even tighter.

Nick knew better than to sneak a look. That would really piss her off. And he needed Abby to think of him as dateable material so the potential client would choose him over Mr. Family Man. “I can’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because it would be a lie. The very thing you accused me of doing.” He smiled smugly. “Tell you what, why don’t you have dinner with me tonight and we can talk about this?”

“That’s how it started last time.”

“I don’t remember dragging you off kicking and screaming to my cave. In fact, you started it. We didn’t even get out of the elevator before you were all over me. I felt quite used.” He winked at her. Teasing her probably wasn’t his best idea, but he enjoyed the fire it put in her eyes.

Her flush deepened. “You’re impossible. I don’t know why I thought I could reason with you.” With an exasperated huff of breath, she turned around.

“You’re leaving in the middle of our chat? I thought things were going so well.”

“I’m going to get that building, Nick, come hell or high water,” she said over her shoulder with a glare.

“You wanna bet?” he called after her retreating back.

Chapter Two

Where did I go wrong?

He’d thought if he gave Abby some time to get used to the idea of him that she’d come around. He’d had it all planned out. They could spend some time together. Go on a few dates. They were good together—hell, they were great. As an added plus for him, everyone loved Abby and trusted her judgment. The client would see that, and Nick would win the bid.

If they knew she was with him, his reputation could be laid to rest, and he’d finally be able to land more lucrative renovating projects. Last week, he’d lost a bid because the client’s wife was a former teacher at the high school. She’d warned her husband that the “Coleman boys didn’t fall too far from the tree,” and just like that, he’d lost the job. Troublemakers. Thieves. Liars. Playboys. He’d heard those words directed his way all through high school. Angry and bitter, he’d done his best to live up to the labels pinned on him.

More than once during his teen years, his mother had had to bail him out of jail for foolish offences. He’d once painted a chalk outline of a friend’s body and put up crime scene tape around the principal’s driveway. Charged with vandalism, he’d received probation and caught hell at home. He’d been busted for underage drinking and cutting school. He’d done his best to raise hell and cause trouble for neighbors and businesses he thought had it out for him. But now, since returning from his stint in the Marines, he had to live down the labels in a town where others had long memories. More than he had to, he wanted to.

Nick paced the oil-stained concrete at his cousin’s garage while his thoughts ran around in circles. The summer heat poured in through the open bay doors and waves shimmered off the asphalt road in front of the garage. He stopped to wipe his face with the bottom of his shirt.

If he lived to be an old man, he’d never understand women. Okay, granted, maybe he should have listened to Abby, but how the hell was he supposed to concentrate when he’d had her in his arms?

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