She’d do it herself.
He leaned his very nice ass against her car and folded those inked arms across his chest as he watched her struggle with the tire. “You sure? It’s heavier than you’d think.”
“I’m sure. I got it.”
“Last chance,” he offered, dark eyes sparkling.
Harper resisted the urge to growl at him. “I took the damn thing off myself. I can manage to carry it inside, where I’m sure a very nice attendant will help me out. You are free to go about your business, but thank you for your concern.”
His lips quirked. “All right. I’ll walk with you.”
She faltered. What the hell were they supposed to talk about in the forty-five seconds it would take to walk into the building? She had no clue how to talk to a man like him. She had no clue how to talk to any man.
His presence was so huge that even without speaking, he sucked in all the air from the atmosphere. Not to mention, Harper’s insane reaction to him transported her back nearly a decade to a time when she was a teenager crushing on the hottest boy in school. The boy who fucked up her life and landed her in jail.
“Thinking hard over there.”
She glanced up at him. “Huh?”
“I can practically hear your gears grinding.”
“Oh, uh…” She’d die before admitting her thoughts to him. “Just trying to figure out the rest of my day. This messed me up.”
“Need a ride somewhere while your tire gets fixed?”
“Oh, uh… no. I got it.” Prolong this torture by getting on a death machine with him? Hell no.
By the time they reached the door, her arms burned, and she probably had a bruise on her thigh from where the tired banged her leg with every step. But she’d rather lose the leg than confess she couldn’t handle it. She could handle anything.
Changing a tire.
Reintegration after prison.
She slowed to allow him to go first and get the door, but only because her hands were full, and it’d be plain stupid to set the tire down, open the door, then make an ass of herself wrestling the thing into the shop.
Instead of getting the door as she’d expected, he stopped next to her. Harper frowned and risked a glance up at him. Was he going to make her ask?
He arched an eyebrow. “Figure if I offer to hold the door for you, you’ll just say, ‘I got it.’ Seems to be your favorite phrase.”
Touché. Snarky bastard. Now she was forced to ask for his help or make a fool of herself trying to open the door while juggling the damn tire.
She bristled for a moment, then sighed. “Jinx, would you please open the door for me?”
His victorious grin drove her up a wall.
“Of course. After you, darlin’.”
Darlin’. She was no one’s darlin’. Never again. Damn backstabbing men.
“Thank you,” she said through clenched teeth.
He followed her into the tire shop. The scent of rubber and motor oil flooded her nose, as she would expect of an automotive business. Jinx strode past her with long, sure steps, then rounded the counter.
She frowned as she watched him take off his motorcycle vest, stash it under the counter, then straighten. His T-shirt bore the logo displayed on the sign for the shop. “Wait…”
He typed a few keystrokes into a computer, then glanced up at her. “Morning, ma’am. Welcome to Ty’s Tires. Looks like you got a busted one there. You wanting to patch it or replace it?”
If he was trying to hide his smirk, he was doing a terrible job. “You work here?”
“I do. Ever since it opened. Ten years and running. The owner, Ty, is a member of my club. I’m the second in command. So, you see, while you were busy thinking I was a big ol’ sexist who thought a woman couldn’t carry a tire, I was really demonstrating the stellar customer service our company prides itself on.”
His smile stretched so wide it nearly reached his tanned ears.
Ugh, why did he have to look so yummy? It flustered her, and she had no idea how to handle being flustered by a man, especially one laughing at her expense, so she fell back on the safe and comfortable. The steely backbone she’d formed over the years was unbreakable. If it kept her going through prison, it could push her through anything. “I’d have turned you down either way. As you saw, I’m perfectly capable of taking care of myself.”
He chuckled while shaking his head. “Anyone ever told you you’re a bit prickly?”
Her heart sank.
Before, she’d never been described as prickly.
Before, she’d been warm, open, outgoing, and fun, even if on the awkward side.
But before, she’d also been a naïve child. She was now a grown woman who’d never fall prey to a smooth-talking man again. “Look, I just need my tire fixed.”