Page 6 of Wild Night

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He turned away from Kelli, unwilling to finish that thought.

For a hot minute, he’d had an image of taking her from behind, his fist gripping that long hair.

Jesus. Maybe he should lay off the Guinness.

Kelli sighed, capturing his attention again.

Oh, to fuck with it. She didn’t annoy him so much that he couldn’t admit she was actually very attractive. She had one of those unforgettable faces with high cheekbones, porcelain skin, full, red lips, and an ever-present twinkle in her eye that some might mistake for humor, but he recognized as mischief.

When she’d first gotten boobs in sixth grade—big boobs, the kind that captured a young boy’s attention—Colm had fancied himself interested in her…for about three seconds.

Unfortunately, that was the same year his dad had thought he and Padraig should sport crewcuts, for some insane reason. His interest in Kelli ended the second she’d dubbed him “Chrome Dome Colm,” the nickname sticking for the better part of the school year, before he’d put his foot down with his dad that summer and insisted on growing his hair out again.

After that, his crush on her had ended, and their rivalry had elevated from hair pulling and rude nicknames—she’d been Smelly Kelli most of first grade, thanks to him—to eye rolling, smirks, and practical jokes.

“So you had a bad day too?” he said.

She nodded once, then shrugged. “Lately, it’s felt like one long string of bad days. But yeah, today was especially shitty.”

When it became obvious she wasn’t going to go into any details, he prodded. “What happened today?”

She glanced at him suspiciously, and he understood why. The two of them weren’t small-talk friends. Actually, Kelli liked to refer to him as her best frenemy, something he hadn’t bothered to deny since the term fit. If they were talking, they were bickering.

“My cat got sick in the middle of my new rug first thing this morning. I didn’t see it, so I stepped in it, barefoot, and slipped. I hit the edge of the coffee table, so I now have a bruise on my hip the size of Kansas. Then I was running late to work, rushing around my place like a lunatic, looking for my goddamn keys, and I spilled coffee all over my outfit.”

“That sweater wasn’t your first choice?” Colm didn’t bother to hide his grin.

Kelli didn’t take him to task for it. Instead, she gave him a weary smile back. “All of that happened before eight a.m. Work wasn’t much better. My hip hurt like a bitch. Believe me. Five-year-olds have sonar when it comes to sore spots. I swear every single one of the little rascals managed to bump into that exact spot today. Then one of my kids shit his pants—the smell was ungodly. After school, I had to sit through an eternal faculty meeting where we learned about a new round of budget cuts that basically ensure I’m going to continue to spend half my paycheck on supplies for my classroom.”


“Yeah,” she said, lifting her wineglass and draining it.

Colm reached over and poured her a new glass from the bottle Padraig had left in front of her.

“Thanks. So…that’s why I’m willing to face tomorrow with a hangover. What number Guinness are you on?”

Colm drained his beer. “That was three.” He lifted a finger and the part-time bartender came over and refilled it.

“Damn. Four beers,” she murmured. “Wanna talk about it?”

Padraig had asked the same question, and he’d turned his brother down. For some reason, maybe given the fact she was in the same funk and the beer was starting to work its way through him, he didn’t mind sharing with her.

“I’m working on a few rough cases. The worst of which is a contentious divorce with a custody battle that’s going to guarantee the kids are in therapy for the rest of their lives.”

Kelli frowned. “Young kids?”

For her tough exterior, Kelli was pure marshmallow inside when it came to children.

“Four and six.”

“Fuck. Some people really shouldn’t be allowed to have children. All they do is fuck them up.”

“Yeah. Tell me about it. I’m also representing a woman in the middle of a domestic violence case, and I’m pretty sure she’s going to drop the charges and go back with the man who put her in the hospital not once, not twice, but four times.”

Kelli sighed. “Jesus. I don’t know how you do that job.”

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