“I’m not a hermit, Josh. Like I said before, you’ve seen me around.”
“In passing. Not like this. I like it.”
I stand up and cross my arms over my chest, then frown when he stands too and is more than a foot taller than me.
I’ve always been so damn short.
“Are you flirting with me?” I ask.
“Maybe.” He pushes the lid down on the ice chest, then moves around the table to stand right next to me, and I have to tilt my head way back to see his eyes. “You always were a little thing.”
“Little?! Oh my God.” I giggle and throw a hand over my mouth. “I’m just short. Hell, in high school I was f—”
“If you say fat, I will take you over my knee, Carolina. You were not fat then, you’re not fat now, and next to me, you are tiny.” He sets his mouth in a disapproving line and pulls on a lock of my hair. “Your pretty blond hair is soft.”
“Don’t f-flirt with me,” I stutter halfheartedly. Instead of moving away, I sway toward him, my heart racing.
“Why not?” He grins and continues to gently pull my hair between his thumb and forefinger, watching the strands as they fall out of his grasp.
“Because I’m your employee for the summer, and I like my job. It’s not like there are dozens of middle schools here in town that I can work at if I get fired.” I step away, pulling myself together, doing my best to remind myself of the blonde I saw leaving his house this morning and how I do not want to be another notch in Josh King’s bedpost. I open his sliding screen door and gather my tote bag and purse and turn to find him standing right behind me again. “I have to go.”
He sighs, props his hands on his hips, and looks as if he wants to say more, so I turn on my heel and walk briskly to the door.
“I’ll walk you out,” he mutters, and walks quickly to keep up with me. He holds his front door open for me, and I feel his hand on my lower back as he guides me to my little blue car.
He opens the door for me and settles my bags into the passenger seat.
“You’re very chivalrous,” I inform him dryly.
As I move to sit in the driver’s seat, he runs his hand down my bare arm, very much as he did with Blondie this morning, and smiles.
“Thanks for doing this, Cara. Don’t forget to wear jeans tomorrow.” With that he winks and shuts my door, stepping back to watch me drive away.
Looks like I’ll be wearing shorts tomorrow.
“Where are your jeans?” Josh asks as he meets me at my car the following morning.
“These are jeans.” I pull my tote bag out of the car and walk toward the front door of his house. “Is Seth here yet?”
“No, he’ll be a few minutes. I have him feeding the dogs at the big house.”
“Those are not jeans.” Josh is scowling down at my denim shorts as if they were the devil incarnate.
He narrows his chocolate eyes at me, but I see the humor there, and my stomach clenches.
I love riling this guy up.
“Fine, they’ll have to do. Go ahead and get settled, Seth will be here in a minute. I have to ride out with a few of the guys to repair a fence, so I’ll see you at lunchtime.” He pulls on some gloves and settles his green baseball cap on his head.
“You don’t wear cowboy hats?” I ask without thinking.
“Not usually. I have one, if you’d rather I wear it.” He smirks.
“No, just curious,” I mumble, and head toward the house.
“Don’t leave before I get back. I have plans for you.”
He grins wide, winks, and saunters off toward the massive barn that sits between his house and the big house.
Well, isn’t that view nice? His Levi’s hug his ass perfectly and sit low on his hips, and as he walks, I can see his buttocks and thighs flex.
Dear God, I’m lusting after a rancher.
Pulling myself together, I go inside and begin pulling out materials for today’s lesson.
Do I even want to get on a horse?
But I have a feeling these two guys are going to talk me into it.
The front door bursts open and Seth strolls in. “I’d rather be helping the guys with the fences today.”
“I’d rather be lying on a beach in Hawaii today, but neither of us is going to get our wish.” I sigh and gesture for him to sit, pulling the book he’ll be reading this summer out of my tote bag. “This is going to be your homework.”
“I’m going to have homework?” he asks, shocked. “But it’s summer!”
“I’ll make sure you finish all of the worksheets while I’m here each day, but I also want you to read this book, and we’ll talk about it every day so I know you’re reading it.”
“I hate the books the school makes us read,” he grumbles. I smirk and mentally agree. Some of the mandatory reading material is dry, and I understand why the kids don’t go crazy about it.
“This isn’t a book the school would make you read. It’s a book for fun, and I’m going to read it with you.”
“Really?” This piques his interest and he takes the book from me. It’s Exiled by M. R. Merrick.
“Really. This book is science fiction, and it’s about a boy who has to deal with demons and hunters and all kinds of stuff. I think it’s going to be fun.”
“It’ll probably suck,” he states defiantly, but he flips the book over and immediately begins reading the blurb on the back.
Adolescent boys are fun.
“You’re right, it probably will suck, but we can talk about all of its suckiness together.” I smile sweetly and push a math worksheet under his nose, hand him a pencil, and we get started with today’s lesson.
Halfway through fractions, my phone chirps with an incoming text. Seth is hard at work and not paying any attention to me, so I quickly check it and smile when I see Jilly’s name.
What are you doing?
Typical Jill, just get right to the point.
Good morning. I’m working. What are you doing?
I set the phone aside and check Seth’s work. All of the answers are correct, and he’s worked through them quickly.
“Impressive,” I murmur with a grin. “You were right, you are good at math, Seth.”
His lips twitch, as though he wants to smile, but he keeps his eyes on the paper, working diligently, and mutters, “Thanks.”