The Bad Boy Next Door(8)

By: Jody Holford

“Good thing I’m not looking.”

And because he’d missed seeing the way a woman’s cheeks flushed, he added, “You don’t seem scared.” Lust twisted low in his stomach when her light skin turned pink. Not a good idea. Incredibly bad idea.

She didn’t back down or shy away. “Because I’m not. Scared…or interested, that is,” she clarified, lifting her chin slightly.

He read liars for a living, but he didn’t have time to call her on it. Plus, it was better she keep telling herself that. Wyatt cleared his throat and looked at his watch again. “I need to go. The door locks behind you. Obviously if you turn out to be a thief, I know where you live.”

She nodded, her lips forming a pout. “If I tried to be a thief, I’d probably mess it up anyway. I do that a lot lately.” She looked down at her sandwich, and he wanted to push her to tell him more. Which irritated the hell out of him. He didn’t need to know more.

He needed to go to work.

“You mind throwing that stuff back in the fridge?”

“Of course not. Thanks, Wyatt. You’re a nice guy.”

His chest tightened, and he stepped closer. “How did you know my name?”

Shay lowered her voice and leaned in. “Is it a state secret?”

Scowling at her, he put some distance between them. “Of course not. I just didn’t tell you.”

“Brady did.” She waved him off. “Anyway, the secret is out now. I know your name and where you live. And, unlike some of the other people in the building, I know you’re a nice guy.”

His heart squeezed painfully, because for one second, he wished it were true. “Said no one ever.”

She tilted her head, strands of hair falling across her face. His fingers itched to brush it back and see if it was as soft as it looked. “They would if you let them get to know you.”

A-ha. Someone—aka Brady the busybody—had already warned her off him. Saves me having to do it myself.

“Take care, Shay.”

Grabbing his jacket, gun, and holster, he didn’t look back before he left. If only he could avoid looking back in other ways. Wyatt saw Brady as soon as he stepped off the elevator. His neighbor was kneeling outside the double-glass doors, staring at the lock. Wyatt suppressed his grin. New Girl already had the men of the building on their knees. One of the men, he amended. Brady looked up and gestured to the lock and tugged on the door. Wyatt pushed it open.

“Hey. Someone’s jammed a key in the lock,” Brady said. He was about Wyatt’s height, stockier, probably from lifting heavy equipment. He knew the guy owned an auto body shop and did well. His neighbors might not know much about him, but Wyatt needed to know who he was living next to.

“That would be Shay. The new girl. I believe you’ve met her,” he said. And already given her your opinion on me.

Brady’s gaze locked with Wyatt’s. “I have. She did that?” He pointed to the lock.

“Not on purpose, obviously. She’s up in my apartment,” Wyatt said, still holding the door open.

“Wait. What? What the hell is she doing in your apartment?” Brady’s eyes took on a protective gleam.

Wyatt straightened to his full height and maybe he pushed his chest out a bit. “She’s in my apartment because she called me when she got in trouble and needed to be let in.”

Brady put his hands on his hips. From what Wyatt knew of the guy, through the few interactions they’d had, Brady was easygoing, friendly. But he didn’t look too friendly right now, and even though Wyatt knew Shay was better off with a man just like this one, it still rubbed him the wrong way. Especially when Brady pointed a finger at him. “You just left her there?”

“Why wouldn’t I? I need to get to work. I didn’t lock her up or anything,” Wyatt said. And because Shay’s words popped into his head…they would if you let them, he added, “She’s waiting for you. You weren’t here, and I was the only other person she’d met.”

All the ego drained from Brady’s posture. “Okay. Uh. All right…I’ll take care of this first; just leave it propped open. I have some tools in the office.”

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