She lovedher new job even if she had only been there for three days now. It was right up her alley and she loved her boss. He was awesome to work for and even seemed to understand her having to get home a little early to help Ryder. She assured her new boss, Jack, that it was only temporary, especially since she’d only be living with him for a few more weeks until she could find a new place to rent. She hated that she was going to have to move out of Ryder’s place. She had found herself settling in nicely there and it was the first place she felt completely comfortable at in a damn long time—since leaving her mother’s house, really.
The little bell over the door sounded and she looked up, flashing her best smile at the potential client who walked into the little boutique. When she saw Ryder hobble in, her smile automatically faded.
“How the heck did you get here?” she breathed. No one else was in the store, but she still felt the need to watch her language while on the clock. Cursing at him for being a moron could wait until later—when they were at home.
“Drove,” he said as if it wasn’t a big deal that he was driving with a broken leg.
“But your leg is broken,” she insisted.
“I remember, Honey,” he teased, looking down at his cast. “But I don’t use that leg to drive. My truck is automatic so, I don’t need to use my broken leg. Before you go all crazy on me, the doctor said I could drive as long as I wasn’t on pain meds and I’ve been off those for about a week now.”
Tatum sighed and pretended to be busy with something behind the counter. She was just talking herself down from arguing with him. If his doctor said it was all right for him to drive, who was she to tell him otherwise? “Why are you here?” she said more to herself than to Ryder.
He chuckled, “To see what time you get your lunch break,” he said. “I figured I could take you to lunch—you know like a real date.” He had asked her for a real date a couple of weeks ago and she agreed to go out with him but the more she thought about it, the more it seemed like a bad idea. She didn’t want to start something she might not be able to finish. She wanted Ryder, that wasn’t the problem. Tatum just worried that he’d get tired of her because she wasn’t like the other women he liked to “hook-up” with. After he told her the story of how he broke his other leg, getting run over by his commander’s daughter after they had sex in the back seat of her car, she chickened out of their date. She worried that he’d do the same thing to her once they went out. Tatum knew that she wouldn’t be able to resist him and she’d willingly fall into bed with him. Once he had her, would he turn her out like he had his commander’s daughter? Would she admit that she wanted more with him only to have him tell her that he wanted her for sex? She couldn’t take his rejection and she was pretty sure that if she ran him over with her car again, people might start to believe it wasn’t an accident. No, it was better this way. She’d keep her distance and her heart intact and Ryder could continue to play the field at Savage Hell.
“I’m all alone here, Ryd,” she said, looking around the small store as if to prove her point. “I can’t just take off for a lunch date.”
“Sure you can, Baby Doll,” Jack said, strolling in from the back room. Shit—she hadn’t counted on him coming out of his office any time soon. Ryder squinted his eyes at her boss and then looked back at her.
“I think we might need to buy you a dictionary, Honey. You should look up what the word, “alone” means,” he teased.
“Well, I—um, I meant that I am the only salesperson on the floor today. Jack is my boss,” she said, pointing to him. Her boss stood next to her checking Ryder out, smiling at him like a loon. She knew that Ryder was Jack’s type—she had seen the parade of men going through the store to his back office. He had a type and Ryder was definitely it.
“Well, aren’t you yummy?” Jack asked Ryder. She stifled her giggle at Ryder’s reaction to her boss.
“I’ve been told that a time or two,” Ryder said. Jack barked out his laugh and looked down at her.
“If you don’t go to lunch with this man, I will,” he warned. “And I won’t return him to you any time soon, Sweetheart.” Double shit—her whole argument went right out the window as soon as Jack opened his damn mouth. Yeah—she was liking her new boss less and less right now.
“So, which one of you am I taking to lunch?” he asked. “Don’t worry, it’s just lunch so I won’t expect my date to put out or anything—well unless you want dessert, then we can negotiate.” She knew he was teasing but the way he talked about sex made her hot.
Jack and Ryder were both staring her down and she knew she had to be bright pink with embarrassment. “I’ll get my purse,” she griped. “And, I won’t be ordering dessert,” she quickly added. Ryder and Jack both laughed and she disappeared into the backroom to grab her things. What the hell did she just agree to? Ryder was crafty but she never expected this from him. It was almost like he was waiting for his window of opportunity and once he found one, he ran with it.
She returned to the front counter to find Jack and Ryder deep in conversation as if they were old friends catching up. “She ran you down with her car?” Jack said, sending her an incredulous look.
“Yep,” Ryder said. “Me and my Harley.”
“Mmm,” Jack hummed, “I do love a man who rides a motorcycle.”
“Okay,” she said. Putting her hand on Jack’s chest as if trying to stave off his advances toward Ryder. “Down, Boss,” she said.
“You made it sound like you were taking care of this man out of the kindness of your heart. You never said anything about causing his injuries or anything like that, Tatum,” Jack said.
“It was an accident,” she defended.
Jack smiled at her, “Well, remind me never to get on your bad side, Miss T. I’d hate to see what you do to men on purpose when you’re angry with them.”
She teasingly stuck her tongue out at him, “I’ll be back in an hour,” she said.
“Take two,” Jack offered.
“But that’s my shift,” she said. “I won’t finish the day.” She really couldn’t give up the pay with saving for a new place. “I could use the money,” she admitted.
“I’ll pay you for the day, Tatum,” Jack challenged. “Just promise me you’ll order the damn dessert.” He looked Ryder up and down once more and turned to go back to his office. “See you tomorrow, Sugar. I’ll be waiting for all the dirty details,” he shouted back over his shoulder.
“I like your boss,” Ryder whispered.